4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Logan

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Wolverine is old. Professor Xavier is even older. The world has gone to hell in a handbasket. But there’s a young mutant who needs help, and they wind up having to ante up and kick in. The great superhero movie rewatch looks at the third and final Wolverine solo film, Logan.

An excerpt:

To Jackman’s credit, he looks old in this movie. He doesn’t just count on the gray coloring they put in his hair. Throughout the movie, he’s slow, broken-down—defeated. He’s going through the motions. We see it in his very first scene: the younger Wolverine wouldn’t have hesitated to tear apart the guys trying to boost his limo. But now, he gives them the chance to walk away, and even after they shoot him and he gets back up, he is reluctant to go full crazy on them.

Eventually he does, but unlike every other time we’ve seen him, Logan hesitates. And when he’s finished, it takes him a while to recover. There are lots of wonderful little touches showing how much he’s slowed down, from one claw not coming all the way out to the limp he walks with throughout, to the simply defeated look in his eyes. Just to remind us what he used to be, we have his performance as X-24, a pure killing machine who is the old Wolverine turned up to eleven.

I’m interviewed by TrekSphere

 

When last I visited the Star Trek Original Series Set Tour, I was interviewed by JP Cardin of TrekSphere. That interview has gone live, and look, here it is!

I talk about my Trek fiction, especially Articles of the Federation and A Singular Destiny, as well as my writing about Trek for Tor.com.

Check it out!

another update to Dragon Con schedule

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I’ve put up what should be the final update to my Dragon Con 2018 schedule for next weekend, to wit, three sessions autographing at the Bard’s Tower booth. BT will have a bunch of my books for sale all weekend, so you can go by there any time to get my stuff, but if you want to get my scribbling on it, and can’t make one of my panels or my official con autographing, you’ll have your chance……

 

new on Patreon: BlacKkKlansman, M*A*S*H, Mermaid Precinct, cat photos

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Buncha new stuff on Patreon. I’m still horribly behind on TV reviews, and hoping to rectify that soon.

For $10/month and up, I’m planning to write this month’s vignette this weekend, which will be a Dragon Precinct bit involving Gan Brightblade and his crew from that first novel (as well as the stories “Heroes Welcome” and “Gan Brightblade vs. Mitos the Mighty”).

 

4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Wolverine

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Hugh Jackman’s second solo outing as Wolverine is better than his first one, but that’s damning with the faintest of praise. Still, this is a fun, if incoherent, adaptation of one of the seminal Wolverine comics stories. The great superhero movie rewatch sinks its claws into The Wolverine.

An excerpt:

As long as you don’t think about it, and just enjoy the location shooting in Japan and the nifty action scenes with ninjas and stuff, and don’t mind a climax that’s mostly just the hero fighting a CGI creature (a mode we’ll be coming back to, um, a lot as we move forward in this here rewatch), this is an enjoyable film. Just don’t think about it too much.

midweek music: “Crossroads”

One last Mary Spender cover, this one, like “Sultans of Swing,” showing off her electric guitar chops like whoa: “Crossroads.” A classic Robert Johnson blues piece, the song came to mainstream prominence thanks to Eric Clapton’s cover of it, and in truth Spender’s cover owes as much to Clapton’s guitar work as Johnson’s. Anyhow, here ’tis….

#trektuesday — President Bacco’s commencement address from Articles of the Federation

So apparently it’s #trektuesday, and I thought I’d commemorate it with a piece of my own writing that I’m particularly fond of. It’s what I read for the 50th anniversary Star Trek reading hosted by the New York Review of Science Fiction here in New York in September 2016, and I think it sums up a lot of what Trek is about.

The 2005 novel Articles of the Federation is an off-kilter Trek book, as it isn’t about a starship or a space station or about any of the characters we know from television. Rather it’s about the first year in office for Federation President Nan Bacco. (Also the year following the events of the movie Star Trek Nemesis — so, among other things, she has to deal with the Romulan Senate having been turned to pixie dust, and the originator of that coup d’état being blown up by the Enterprise.)

This is a commencement speech President Bacco gave to the Starfleet Academy graduating class during that first year in office. (I’ve edited it down to just the speech without the narration.)

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Ex astris, scientia. Those words are on that flag over there. It’s from an old human language called Latin. Nobody’s spoken it conversationally for several hundred years, mind you, but we like to trot it out every once in a while to make ourselves sound more interesting. It means, “from the stars, knowledge.” Which makes it kind of a funny motto for a place that has you spending the bulk of your time right here on Earth.

The thing about the stars is that they do provide knowledge—but that comes with a concomitant risk. Nothing underlines that risk more than the fact that you are the first Academy class in quite a while to have gone through your entire tenure at the Academy when the Federation wasn’t at war. And that, my friends, is something to be celebrated. Because the classes before yours either came as first-years when we were at war, or were cadets when the war was declared, or joined when they thought war was pretty damn likely. But you all are the first to come through without that particular Damoclean sword hanging over your collective heads.

There’s an old human saying—not in Latin, you’ll be happy to know—that says that knowledge is power, and another one that says that power corrupts. Since its founding two hundred and nineteen years ago, the Federation has tried to bring a message of hope and of knowledge to the galaxy. The galaxy, unfortunately, hasn’t always been impressed. We may not be at war anymore, but the possibility always, tragically, exists. The people who sat in those seats seven years ago were embroiled in a war six months later when the Dominion took Deep Space 9.

But the purpose of Starfleet isn’t to fight the Federation’s wars. That is their task—and that might be your task—when it’s required, but it’s important for all of you to remember that it is a last resort, not a first one. Starfleet was formed when the Federation was, but it grew out of Earth’s space exploration arm, and they had a Latin motto too: ad astra per aspera. It means, “to the stars for hope.” And every time we go to the stars, we’re filled with hope—no matter how many times it would be better to be filled with dread. Their job then, and your job now, is to seek out new life and new civilizations. Some of those will be like the Klingons or the Romulans or the Cardassians or the Tzenkethi or the Tholians, none of whom were kindly disposed to us at first, and some of whom still aren’t. Some of those will be like Bajor or Evora or Cairn or Delta Sigma IV, all of whom joined the Federation in the last decade. Regardless of who you do meet out there, though, you will bring the hope of peace.

It sounds funny, doesn’t it? You’ll be flying around in ships that have sufficient weaponry to lay waste to a planet—not really much of a peaceful message, is it? When we’ve had to, we have fought, and we have bled, and we have suffered—but it’s because with this Federation, we’ve found something that’s worth fighting for, worth bleeding for, worth suffering for, and yes, worth dying for. And we’ve also found that the hope we come to the stars for must be tempered with a willingness to defend what we have, because if we don’t, there are plenty of people all over the galaxy who’d be more than happy to take it away from us.

Every day I go down to the first floor of the Palais de la Concorde, and there are over a hundred and fifty people in there. Each one is from from a wholly different world than the person in the next chair, and both are from worlds wholly different from the person in the chair behind them. Yet they come together, they argue together, they discuss together, and they work together to make this Federation better than it already is. It would be easy to fall into old patterns. Before the Federation formed, Vulcan fought against Andorian, Tellarite fought against Klingon, Earth fought against Xindi, Romulan fought against pretty much everybody. But now, worlds stand together instead of apart.

I’ve always had tremendous respect for Starfleet. My chief of staff and my security advisor are former officers. Some of our finest presidents are former Starfleet—Lorne McLaren, Thelian, T’Pragh. Still, I never really understood their importance until something that happened during the war.

When the war was getting particularly bad, Starfleet sent the U.S.S. Enterprise to talk to the Gorn, see if they could be convinced to ally with us against the Dominion. Turns out their timing was pretty spectacularly awful, since Starfleet arrived just in time for a coup d’état on the Gorn homeworld. The new regime sent ships to Cestus III and actually occupied the planet for a while. In the end, though, we were saved, because the Enterprise was able to stop the violence and convince the Gorn not to count us as their enemy. They didn’t do it by force, they didn’t do it by blowing Gorn ships out of the sky, though both things did occur out of necessity. But even with a war on, even with the powerful arsenal the Enterprise had at its disposal, their captain and crew were able to negotiate a settlement, and bring the Gorn into the war. It was a show, not of force, but of ideas that led to the Gorn signing a treaty with the Federation that they signed in my office in Pike City.

Starfleet is the glue that holds the Federation together. The responsibility you each have now is to maintain this little miracle that we’ve kept going for over two centuries, through tumult and strife, through feast and famine, through war and peace. It will be difficult. All of you will face hard choices in the years ahead, if history’s any guide—and it usually is. But throughout it all, you must remember that it is from the stars that you find knowledge, it is from the stars that you find hope, and it is from the stars that you will find peace.

I’d wish you luck, but I suspect you will not need it. Simply continue to do well. Thank you.

 

cover copy for A Furnace Sealed

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I’ve turned in A Furnace Sealed, Book 1 in The Adventures of Bram Gold, to the fine folks at WordFire Press. It’s going through copy-editing right now, and I’ve also created the back cover copy. Here ’tis:

Bram Gold is a Courser, a hunter-for-hire who deals with supernatural creatures, mystical happenings, and things that go booga-booga in the night. Under the supervision of the Wardein—his childhood friend Miriam Zerelli, who is in charge of all magical activity in the Bronx, New York—he’s who you hire if you need a crazed unicorn wrangled, some werewolves guarded while they gallivant around under the full moon, or an ill-advised attempt to bind a god stopped.

The Bronx is the home to several immortals, who are notoriously hard to kill—so it comes as rather a surprise when one of them turns up murdered, seemingly by a vampire. In addition, binding spells all across New York are either coming undone, failing to work, or are difficult to restore. As Bram investigates, more immortals turn up dead, and a strange woman keeps appearing long enough to give cryptic advice and then disappear. Soon, he uncovers a nasty sequence of events that could lead to the destruction of New York!

The first in a new series of urban fantasy thrillers taking place in the Boogie-Down Bronx from best-selling, award-winning author Keith R.A. DeCandido.