me talkin’ A Furnace Sealed on Mary Robinette Kowal’s “My Favorite Bit”

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It’s a day for A Furnace Sealed on the web, it seems. Today, Mary Robinette Kowal featured me on her regular feature “My Favorite Bit,” as I talk about how much fun it was to write a book that took place in my home borough.

An excerpt:

I love writing about the people here. The Bronx is one of the most fascinatingly diverse places you’ll find. In 2009 and 2010, I worked for the U.S. Census Bureau, and I got to see so many different places and things and people.

My favorite was going to a Buddhist monastery, located in an old two-story house on a side street near Kingsbridge Road. From the outside, it looked like just another house, but inside I was greeted by a wizened old monk and his acolyte. They gave me tea, and for half an hour, I felt like I’d been transported to a secluded region of Asia rather than the middle of the Bronx.

The team I supervised for the main Census operation included people who were from (or whose ancestry traced back to) western Africa, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Korea, Cambodia, Trinidad, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Poland, Russia, Italy, and Ireland.

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my take on The Umbrella Academy

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I reviewed The Umbrella Academy, the new Netflix series based on the same-named comic book by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá. I compare the comics to the TV show, and the TV show actually improved on the comic in many ways.

An excerpt:

A lot of the show’s extra depth is courtesy of Hazel and Cha-Cha, who actually have a genuine story arc. Hazel has become disillusioned with their endless travels through time killing people and wants to settle down. Cha-Cha doesn’t want to break up a good partnership. Britton (who was overwhelmingly brilliant as Ed Kemper in Mindhunter) beautifully plays Hazel’s exhausted cynicism, while Blige is equally spectacular as the much less apologetic Cha-Cha, who is genuinely befuddled by her partner’s change of heart. What’s especially hilarious about their arc is that, while it’s about friendship and disillusionment and falling in love and all that stuff, it still involves two total psychopaths. (Hazel’s idea of a great second act, as it were, is to be able to kill whoever he wants, not who the bosses tell him to kill.)

look what I got in the mail!

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The first book that came out with my name on the cover was OtherWere: Stories of Transformation, an anthology I edited with Laura Anne Gilman in 1996. The day 23 years ago when my contributor’s copy of the book came off press and I got my hands on a copy was an absolute thrill, one that filled me with a tremendous glee.

In the ensuing two-decades-plus, a lot more books have come out that have had the words “Keith R.A. DeCandido” emblazoned on the cover, and I’m here to tell you right now that the thrill has not abated, as I was just as giddy today getting A Furnace Sealed in the mail as I was in ’96 when I got my hands on OtherWere, in 1998 when I held a copy of Spider-Man: Venom’s Wrath in my hands (that was the first novel with my name on the cover), in 1999 when I held Young Hercules: Cheiron’s Warriors in my hands (that was the first one where I had the byline all to myself; the previous books all had at least one other name on it, or I used a pseudonym), in 2001 when I held Star Trek: The Next Generation: Diplomatic Implausibility in my hands (that was my first Star Trek novel), in 2003 when I held Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda: Destruction of Illusions in my hands (that was my first hardcover), in 2004 when I held Dragon Precinct in my hands (that was my first novel that I kept the copyright on), in 2005 when I held my novelization of Serenity in my hands (just because that was so cool to do!!!!), in 2006 when I held Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Blackout in my hands (because at that point, that was my favorite book to actually write, taking place as it did in New York in 1977), in 2008 when I held Farscape #1 in my hands (as that comics project, working with Rockne S. O’Bannon to continue the story of Farscape, is one I took particular joy in), in 2011 when I held Unicorn Precinct in my hands (as that meant the series was a going concern again), in 2013 when I held Leverage: The Zoo Job in my hands (bittersweet, as the show had been cancelled, thus depressing sales like whoa, but I still loved having the book in hand, as I adored that show), in 2014 when I held Star Trek: The Klingon Art of War in my hands (because that book was such a thrill and a pleasure, and because it marked my, sadly temporary, return to writing Trek fiction, and, looking back, because that book has gotten such tremendous praise), in 2016 when I held Orphan Black: Classified Clone Report in my hands (because that book was huge fun to write and because Insight Editions did an amazing job putting it together), and just a couple weeks ago when I held Mermaid Precinct in my hands.

And again today when I got my contributor’s copies of A Furnace Sealed. The thrill has not dimmed even after fifty-plus books, even after spending half my life writing books and stories professionally.

Check this earlier blog post for ordering links for the book, as well as an excerpt, and if you do pick it up (or already have), please consider writing a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Thanks so much!

 

4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Darkness

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The CGI version of the heroes on a half-shell return for a 2016 sequel to the 2014 film, with Megan Fox and Will Arnett returning, and adding fan favorites Casey Jones, Krang, Bebop, and Rock Steady. It’s a better movie than its predecessor, but it didn’t do as well, and it’s still flawed. The great superhero movie rewatch orders some 99-cheese pizza to watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.

An excerpt:

The movie also benefits from strong performances from Tyler Perry as the very nerdy, but still dangerous Stockman and by Brad Garrett, leaving no piece of scenery unchewed as Krang’s voice. And I like the fact that Shredder, after casually betraying Stockman, finds himself betrayed in the exact same way by Krang. (I particularly love the dialogue exchange between them. “You betrayed me!” “Actually, I barely even thought about you.”) While Stephen Amell isn’t quite as batshit as Elias Koteas was as Casey Jones, he still inhabits the role quite well, and he actually has chemistry with Megan Fox (who remains mostly harmless as O’Neill). More to the point, he sells Jones’s desire to bring the criminals to justice, as he has something at stake here. Laura Linney also does well as the cynical police chief.

Star Trek: Discovery‘s “The Sound of Thunder”

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Discovery does an episode that is a sequel to both “An Obol for Charon” two weeks ago and the Short Treks episode “The Brightest Star,” as Saru proves that you can go home again, and you can completely up-end your whole civilization when you do! My take on “The Sound of Thunder.”

An excerpt:

One of the biggest issues I’ve had with rigid “we must not interfere at all!” Prime Directive stories—the worst offenders being TNG’s “Who Watches the Watchers?” and “Homeward” and Enterprise’s “Dear Doctor”—is that they tend to turn the main characters into uncaring bastards when they’re supposed to be heroes. Heroes should never allow people to die when they can be saved. And many of them—”Dear Doctor” being a particular offender—tend to view evolution as this rigid straight line of inevitability that the Prime Directive keeps Starfleet from interfering with. But that’s not how evolution works. It’s not a straight line, it’s a jagged, curved, random, ridiculous line being navigated by a drunk driver. Evolution is constantly shifting, and it’s affected by dozens of external factors.