In 2014, Nickelodeon, Paramount, and Michael Bay teamed up to reboot Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which was wracked with controversy before they even started filming. The end result is — mediocre at best, as it’s a retread of the 1990 film while managing to do pretty much everything worse than the prior film. The great superhero movie rewatch looks at the 21st-century reboot of the heroes on a half-shell.
The CGI Turtles are hit-and-miss as well. Mostly, the detail work is excellent—I like that each Turtle has a distinct look beyond the color of their mask, from Raphael’s full bandana rather than a domino mask to Michelangelo’s surfer-dude shell necklace to Leonardo’s button that has the old NYC token logo on it to Donatello’s steampunk-ish accoutrements for his gadgets. But the movements are a little too over-the-top. The fight scenes are more like watching a videogame than actual physical living beings jumping and hitting and kicking and swinging. By this point, CGI had evolved to the point where computer-generated images had mass, but the 1990s movies (especially the third one, where the animatronic turtles used actual martial arts moves) felt more tactile.
Discovery finds Spock’s shuttle, but it’s short one Spock. Stamets and Burnham go into the mycelial network to rescue Tilly and get more than they bargained for. And hey, look, it’s Emperor Georgiou — that can’t be good…. My take on Star Trek: Discovery‘s “Saints of Imperfection.”
What’s great about that plot is that it’s a classic Trek tale of a monster not being a monster, of things not being the worst-case scenario that we assume, and the solution coming from a place of compassion. May kidnapped Tilly because the jahSepp need her help. Discovery did the batshit-crazy thing of acting as a doorstop holding open the way to the network (Pike’s apt analogy) because they needed to rescue Tilly. And May, Tilly, Burnham, and Stamets work together to find a way to bring Culber home so everyone can live.
This whole episode is really a triumph of execution over idea. The entire notion of S31 as we see it on Discovery is terrible, but it works here. Georgiou’s having dirt on Leland is perfect, showing that the emperor is doing what she does best in this universe, too, and Pike and Leland’s friendship puts an interesting twist on the Starfleet/S31 rivalry that will obviously be playing out going forward. (It’s a rerun of the Tal Shiar/Romulan military conflict seen in The Next Generation‘s “Face of the Enemy” and the Central Command/Obsidian Order conflict seen throughout DS9, but those are totalitarian states where you expect that sort of thing.) And the entire Tilly-in-the-network subplot is just there so they can bring Culber back. You can see the strings, but since it’s righting a serious wrong from last season, I’m willing to accept it. Especially since it’s done in a way that shows our heroes being just that: heroes.
The hardcover of A Furnace Sealed, Book 1 of The Adventures of Bram Gold — my new urban fantasy series set in my home borough of the Bronx, New York — is now available from Amazon (along with the eBook and trade paperback)! You can also order directly from WordFire Press, and, of course, you can get the eBook from Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords.
In addition, the book is available from Baen Books, and you can get a bundle of all four of WordFire Press’s February 2019 releases in one shot, which includes A Furnace Sealed as well as Kevin J. Anderson’s Selected Stories Volume 2: Science Fiction, Alan Dean Foster’s A Taste of Different Dimensions: 15 Fantasy Tales from a Master Storyteller, and Nathan B. Dodge’s Shadow Warriors: Ambush.
Check out Robert Greenberger on SciFi4Me, talking about Thrilling Adventure Yarns, the anthology of new pulp stories that Crazy 8 Press will be publishing this summer (and which will have my story “Alien Invasion of Earth!”). The anthology is still on Kickstarter, and there’s still time to support it (as I type this, we’re just $208 shy of hitting our $7000 stretch goal, which means there will be illustrations in the book, which would be fantastic).
I Was All Over The Internet On Friday But Didn’t Post About It Until Sunday Night Because I Was At Farpoint Part 3:
John Scalzi has a wonderful feature called “The Big Idea,” where he lets authors wax rhapsodic about their work, and on Friday, he let me have a go, as I went on at great length about how great the Bronx is and how it inspired me to write the newly released A Furnace Sealed.
The Bronx has a long and fascinating history. It also has an image problem, as the only image most folks can conjure is the South Bronx forty years ago. Fort Apache, the Bronxwas released in 1981, Howard Cosell famously said, “Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning” during the World Series in 1977, and all too often when I tell people I live in the Bronx, they think it’s still like that. “Do you carry a knife?” (I used to carry a Swiss Army Knife, but post-2001 airport security has gotten me out of that habit.) “Is it safe where you live?” (Very.) “Are you the only white people?” (No, and also, even if we were, so the hell what?)
But the Bronx has Little Italy (the real one, not the tourist trap in lower Manhattan), the aforementioned Bronx Zoo, City Island (a New England-style fishing village off the east coast of the borough full of great seafood and adorable crafts stores), several huge parks, the New York Botanical Gardens, Woodlawn Cemetery (where many famous personages from Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Miles Davis to Fiorello LaGuardia are buried), the Bronx Museum of the Arts, several great universities (Fordham University, Manhattan College, Mt. St. Vincent, etc.), and very soon an independent bookstore, the Lit. Bar. It’s where Edgar Allan Poe spent the last years of his life and where break-dancing and hip-hop were born. Alan Alda, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Neil deGrasse Tyson are all from the Bronx. And there’s so much more besides.
I Was All Over The Internet On Friday But Didn’t Post About It Until Sunday Night Because I Was At Farpoint Part 2:
An Ant-Man movie that nobody wanted, except Edgar Wright, and he wound up not even directing it. Meanwhile the movie itself cops to the fact that it should really be about the Wasp — a far more important character in Marvel’s history than either version of Ant-Man — and twists itself into a pretzel to justify Ant-Man being the main character. The great superhero movie rewatch is frustrated by Ant-Man.
So we have a movie that forces Ant-Man down our throats, at the expense of the Wasp. Not only that, the movie itself cops to the fact that the Wasp would be better suited to this, but she’s sidelined because Pym’s grief over his wife’s death is so great. Emily Asher-Perrin put it best on this very sitewhen the movie came out: “Essentially, Janet van Dyne was fridged to give Hank Pym enough pain to prevent Hope van Dyne from being the main character.” In order to justify having this be an Ant-Man movie, they have to kill the Wasp in a flashback (reducing her to a character with no lines cast with an extra, though that she’s in her helmet the whole time means that anyone can be cast in the role down the line, as indeed Michelle Pfeiffer will be—but that’s the next movie, and our issue here is with this one) and sideline the actual capable character.
I don’t even buy the reasoning—not that it’s rational at all, it’s a father’s irrational love, but still—because Hope is in danger every second of the movie anyhow. She’s pretending to be friends with a psychopath and putting herself in the same line of fire as everyone else. But Pym doesn’t want her to get hurt, so he keeps her out of the Ant-Man suit. Yes, much better that she be in a room filled with people holding guns and not have the super-suit that would allow her to shrink and grow at will, and also fly. Brilliant.
I Was All Over The Internet On Friday But Didn’t Post About It Until Sunday Night Because I Was At Farpoint Part 1:
The fourth episode of Star Trek: Discovery‘s second season has Rebecca Romijn being amazing as Number One, doing Majel Barrett proud; Tig Notaro returning as the awesome Jett Reno; Anthony Rapp and Mary Wiseman being their usual awesome selves as Stamets and Tilly; and Doug Jones upping the ante on his usual awesomeness as Saru. Check out my review of “An Obol for Charon.”
Prior to that, we get some magnificent banter between Stamets and Notaro’s Jett Reno, who’s still on board and now serving in engineering. In addition, Wiseman gives us some insight into Tilly’s childhood. (And of course her favorite song is “Space Oddity,” and of course Stamets knows the words, too. And yes, my wife and I sang along with them when they started singing it, and yay for a Star Trek show with the budget to actually get the rights to David Bowie songs, instead of subjecting us to the same twelve public domain songs over and over again.) Notaro and Rapp have their banter down cold, and it’s a delight, from Reno’s insistence that she can’t be insulted no matter how hard Stamets tries (and he does try), to the snotty comments about mushrooms, to Reno’s facility for fixing things with duct tape, to Stamets throwing Reno’s “house dressing” remark back at her. Plus this entire subplot has the three engineers throwing technobabble together at a great rate, in the finest tradition of Starfleet engineers who can, as a Vorta put it once, make rocks into replicators.
I’m pleased to announce that the UPS gods have smiled on us, and eSpec Books will have a limited number of copies of Mermaid Precinct available at Farpoint 26 this weekend! I’ll have them at the Book Fair Friday night, and if there are any left after that, eSpec will have them at their booth in the dealer room Saturday and Sunday.
(If you supported the book on Kickstarter and are entitled to a trade paperback, those are en route to me, and will be shipped out in the next couple of weeks.)
So this morning, I took this picture:
A lovely view of a river looking northward. Looking at this picture, you would think it was in a nice, rustic location, certainly far from any city.
You’d be wrong. This is the Bronx River.
Here’s what I saw when I turned around and took a picture:
Besides, the bustling thoroughfare behind me, there was the highway to the east:
And the commuter rail (and my neighborhood) to the west:
This is what I love about my city. It contains multitudes. Yeah, it’s concrete jungles and buildings slammed together and millions of people.
It’s also this:
A little food for thought.