cover and illustration reveal: Unearthed with new Cassie Zukav story!

Kara Dennison of Altrix Books has revealed the cover to her upcoming charity anthology Unearthed, art by Ginger Hoesly. This anthology of stories about containers of various kinds that are, well, unearthed will include a new tale of Cassie Zukav, weirdness magnet, entitled “Rán for Your Life.”

Here’s the cover:

Unearthed

 

And as an added bonus, here’s the illustration that will accompany my story, by Monica Marier!

Ran For Your Life final illustration

 

Ordering links for the anthology — which will benefit the American Research Center in Egypt — should be going up soon. Keep an eye here and on Altrix’s site for more details…..

new Kickstarter: In Harm’s Way, Footprints in the Stars, and Devil Dancers

The fine folks at eSpec Books have a three-part Kickstarter going, for two anthologies and a short story collection, all of which will debut later this year, assuming they’re all funded.

The primary Kickstarter goal is $800 to fund In Harm’s Way, the long-awaited eighth volume in the Defending the Future anthology series edited by Mike McPhail, which will feature military science fiction stories by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, James Chambers, Brenda Cooper, Robert Greenberger, Eric Hardenbrook, Christopher M. Hiles, Lisanne Norman, Aaron Rosenberg, David Sherman, Bud Sparhawk, Robert E. Waters, and Jeff Young.

The other two books will be stretch goals.

At $1900, they will do the second Beyond the Cradle anthology (following 2017’s If We Had Known), entitled Footprints in the Stars. Edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, this science fiction antho will be about what happens when humans learn about other life in the galaxy — not first contacts, as such, but evidence of possible contacts.

I will have a story in this one — it will be the second story featuring a new character of mine named Connie de la Vega, though the first story with her will actually be coming out around the same time in the Brave New Girls anthology Adventures of Gals and Gizmos. The full lineup includes Christopher L. Bennett, James Chambers, Russ Colchamiro, Vincent Collins, Bryan J. Glass, Robert Greenberger, Gordon Linzner, Aaron Rosenberg, Ian Randal Strock, and Dayton Ward, along with me and editor Danielle.

At $2800, the third book will be unlocked: a new short-story collection called Devil Dancers by Robert E. Waters, which will feature both new stories and reprints in this Devil Dancers milieu.

Among the rewards and stretch goals are additional stories and novels, Tuckerizations, critiques of your manuscript, mentoring your crowdfunding, and more! Among the bonuses being provided are eBooks of two of my novels, including my 2011 Afro-futurist novel Guilt in Innocence and my new urban fantasy novel A Furnace Sealed.

So check it out!

4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman

superhero_header

I forgot to do this last week, too, soooooooooo…….

The DCEU continues with two films, one of which deals with the fallout of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, the other of which gives the background of that movie’s best supporting character.

The first is yet another dank, dark movie, and one that establishes the Suicide Squad as one thing (an expendable covert ops strike team) and then writes them as something else (a normal superhero team), which negates the whole point of even doing the Squad in the first place.

The second is a lovely examination of the life of Diana of Themyscira. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s a very strong and powerful movie that is inspiring and full of magnificent performances, marred only by a bog-standard climax.

An excerpt:

With this movie, we finally get a good live-action female-led superhero comic-book movie and a good DCEU movie, and it’s about fucking time. In particular, for the first time in this particular cinematic cycle, we have a movie that remembers that the world has color in it. While Zack Snyder’s fetish for browns, blacks, and grays in his cinematographical choices are easy to blame, it should be pointed out that Suicide Squad was almost entirely in grayscale as well, with most of the action taking place at night, in the rain, or in a city that was covered in a literal cloud of evil. Here, at last, we have colors, and it’s amazing! From the tropical sunlight on Themyscira to the red-white-and-blue of Diana’s outfit—which we don’t really get a good look at until that crowning moment of awesome when she goes over the top—it’s a bright, beautiful movie.

Gal Gadot continues her superlative work. After being one of the few bright spots of Dawn of Justice, here she gives us a Wonder Woman who is strong, passionate, compassionate, a bit naïve (though the movie is about her getting past that), brilliant, and happy. She is a person who takes absolute joy in life, and is fervent in all her passions, whether it’s something as minor as seeing a baby or as unexpected as being able to break stone and metal with her bare hands or as major as walking across “no-man’s land” to save a town.

Star Trek: Discovery‘s “Such Sweet Sorrow” Parts 1-2

StarTrekDiscovery214-02

Forgot to do this last week, but luckily these last two episodes were a two-parter.

First, Star Trek: Discovery sets up a slam-bang finale with some benedictions, a Short Treks character returning, and some powerful emotional moments. Then we actually get the slam-bang finale, which is full of sound and fury and signifies quite a bit, though the ending goes a little too far in correcting perceived flaws in the show.

An excerpt:

While everyone’s running around getting ready for the big fight against Control’s Section 31 ships, we get lots of conversations and recorded messages, and these are where the episode shines. The plots may not always make sense, the science may be pulled directly out of the writers’ posteriors, but dammit, the character moments on this show land. Tilly’s reunion with Po, Michael’s farewell to Sarek and Amanda (whose presence on the ship makes no sense, but whatever), Pike’s benediction to the crew before returning to his proper command on the Big E, the meeting to discuss the crazy-ass plan, Po brainstorming (pausing to inform Georgiou that as queen, she made it a law that she doesn’t have to put up with any snark), Culber and Stamets showing that they’re each moving on with their lives, Reno volunteering to touch the time crystal and see visions of the future in order to facilitate the charging-up process (before leaving her to it, Stamets reassures her that he still doesn’t like her, and she smiles and says the feeling’s mutual), Georgiou bitching out Burnham for volunteering to go to the future all by herself (Burnham tartly declares that, if they survive all this, then Georgiou can talk to her about her “gaping character flaws”), and so on. Oh, and that great moment when Georgiou tells Pike who she really is and where she’s really from, and Pike makes it clear that he already knew. Because he’s just that awesome.

Friday fanfare: “Everybody Knows” by the Washington Squares

Another cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows”!

The Washington Squares were a trio that formed in New York in 1983 that were a delightful mix of beatnik-style folk, hippie-style protest singing, and Reagan-era crankiness. One of their signature songs was a cover “Everybody Knows.”

The band broke up after band member Bruce Jay Paskow died of AIDS, but the other two, Tom Goodkind and Lauren Agnelli, got together for a 25th anniversary concert at the City Winery in 2018. Here’s their version of the song at that show…..

I say it’s my birthday

Today was as good a birthday as you could hope for.

It started with getting the page proofs and contract for Thrilling Adventure Yarns from editor Bob Greenberger. I printed, signed, and scanned the contract and e-mailed the scan back to Bob, who then sent me the payment for the story via PayPal.

Then I went to lunch with Wrenn, all four parents, and the Godmommy at Serendipity 3, one of my favoritest restaurants, where I had a foot-long hot dog (with bacon and also French fries on the side) and a hot fudge sundae with cookies & cream ice cream for dessert.

Then I had to teach my usual Thursday afterschool, where the kids wished me a happy birthday several times (these are four- five- and six-year-old kids, mostly, who are never happier than when they’re repeating themselves….). I drove home through Fort Tryon Park and enjoyed the view there, and also had a lovely phone call with Meredith.

I went to the dojo for class, and afterward Shuseki and two other black belts took me out to dinner at Palace of Japan, which was wonderful as always.

I came home from that to find that Wrenn, the most wonderful wife in the world, baked me a cake! It was a pound cake with yummy chocolate frosting, and it was the perfect ending to the day, especially since I ate the cake while watching the season finale of Star Trek: Discovery (look for my review on Tor.com tomorrow).

Happy birthday to me!

 

 

the big five-oh

At 3.28pm today, the 18th of April, 2019, I turn 50 years of age.

It doesn’t really seem real. For starters, I don’t feel 50 years old. You can thank karate for that, at least to some extent as — my shitty knees notwithstanding — I’m in better shape now than I was 15 years ago at age 35 when I walked into the dojo for the first time.

Mostly what’s getting me is that not so much that I feel ancient or anything silly like that, but I’m really feeling the weight of the number of years I’ve been around. There are people graduating high school now who weren’t alive when 9/11 happened, much less when the Berlin Wall was still a thing, and personal computers and cell phones weren’t. Hell, the notion of a cordless phone was new when I was in high school. I’ve sat in front of a television to watch the first person land on the moon (okay, I was only a few months old, but my parents assure me I was watching it), to watch the Twin Towers fall, and to watch a black man sworn in as President of the United States — twice!

Anyhow, here’s a look back at my life at past 0 numbers….

Keith10

In 1979, I was ten years old and had a bit of a puppet obsession. Most of the time, my Daniel Striped Tiger puppet was the one I carried around with me, but this picture was taken on Christmas Eve, and so instead I had Noel Bear.

Here’s an example of how I feel the weight of years: when I was ten years old, it was normal for people to take off their glasses when they were having their pictures taken. It’s far less common now, but there was a societal stigma to glasses. It seems absurd now, but it was prevalent in the 1970s and earlier, lemme tell ya.

I’d only had glasses for two years at that point. In 1977, we took a trip to Montréal and Québec, and while in the former city, we went to an Expos game, and I had to squint to read the scoreboard. When we got home, I went to the eye doctor and I got glasses. It’s gotten to the point where having glasses now is part of my self-image, and I can’t imagine myself without them. (Which is why I’ve never done contacts or laser surgery or anything like that.)

1979 was also a difficult year. I finished fifth grade at a Montessori school called New Rochelle Academy. I was there from first to fifth grade, but my parents were unhappy with the school by ’79, as they’d gotten rid of all the good teachers there, and in the fall of ’79 I started at a different school, Halstead, where a couple of those teachers had wound up. Halstead turned out to be far far worse, but I did meet a friend who got me started reading comic books, so some good came out of it. (Neither of those schools is still in existence. The former was run by a married couple, but when the wife died, the husband didn’t wish to continue; the latter just went out of business, probably because it sucked, and it’s a religious school now.)

Keith20

In 1989, I was twenty years old, entering my senior year at Fordham University. This was also the year my professional writing career officially started, as I had sold some reviews and a news story to The Comics Journal, and toward the end of ’89, I was also commissioned to write an article for Library Journal about graphic novels in libraries. ’89 was also the year I got my first salary job. Prior to this, I had worked a couple of hourly paid gigs, mostly at the New York Public Library, but in the summer of ’89 I applied for a half-time Library Technical Assistant job, which gave me an actual salary with taxes taken out and W2s and all that nonsense. I did that gig until I graduated college in the summer of 1990.

Marina Frants and I had been dating for two years at this point, and it was in ’89 that it became a long-distance relationship, as that fall she started her graduate school work at MIT. It obviously turned out okay, since we got married after she got her Master’s and moved back to the NYC area…….

In the summer of ’89 I also lived on my own for the first time. See, my best friend, John S. Drew (my cohort on both the public access and podcast versions of The Chronic Rift, among other things), had gotten into a nasty argument with his parents, and got thrown out of his house in the fall of ’88, and my parents took him in. He slept on our living room sofa-bed for nine months. My second mother/third parent, Helga, had lost her father the previous summer, and after his widow moved into a nursing home, Helga had to sell the house. But some work needed to be done, so John and I spent the summer living in that house. It gave John his own bedroom for the first time in nine months, and we both got to experience living on our own for the first time, which was pretty awesome.

Keith30

In 1999, I was thirty years old. At this point, Marina and I were married and living in The Best Apartment In The World on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Seriously, this apartment was amazing: a huge place on West 100th Street near Central Park West. That apartment was a glorious place to live, and a great place to throw parties — not just for ourselves, but for other people, as my mother’s fiftieth birthday party in 1997 and the late David Honigsberg’s ordination party in 2000 were both held at our spacious place, as was David Mack’s “mock-a-thon,” where he screened his NYU film school oeuvre for his friends. We had a spare bedroom that many friends made use of over the time we lived there, and the apartment was also the home base for the Don’t Quit Your Day Job Players, as we would all get together at our place before and after gigs in the New York area.

One of the parties we threw there was for my thirtieth birthday, of course, and it was a magnificent gala, catered by my dear friend Rachel Bailey Giambra.

That year, Marina and I also went to Australia! The World Science Fiction Convention was in Melbourne, and we decided to make a trip of it, spending a week in Sydney prior to the con, the con in Melbourne, and then a week in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands before heading home. It was a glorious trip (we fell in love with Sydney, and actually considered the possibility of moving there for about five minutes — ironically, Marina would much later wind up living there for two years while doing an oceanography gig). The only damper was the minor motor-scooter accident I got into on Rarotonga. (I still have the scar on my right elbow.)

This was a year after I went freelance (so it was my first full year as a full-time freelancer), and it was in ’99 that I started my career as a Star Trek fiction writer, as I got the contract to write Diplomatic Implausibility (which came out in February 2001) and also was hired to write the Next Generation comic book miniseries Perchance to Dream (which came out at the end of ’99). I had three novels out that year, also, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer novelization The Xander Years Volume 1 and my two Young Hercules novels Cheiron’s Warriors and The Ares Alliance.

Keith40

In 2009, I was forty years old. It was one of the most amazing years of my life, to be honest.

In the ten years between 1999 and 2009, my marriage to Marina ended (mutually, and amicably; we’re still friends, though she lives on another coast now), I started up another relationship with Terri Osborne, and that crumbled and ended shortly after my fortieth birthday in April 2009 (that was not an amicable split, but the two of us are on good terms now). That fortieth birthday was itself a delight, as I was joined by those closest to me for a great day at the Bronx Zoo followed by dinner at Mario’s in Little Italy.

In May, I met Wrenn Simms at Balticon, introduced by our mutual friend Hugh Casey. (Years later, we would discover that we’d met before at a wedding in 1998, but neither of us — nor anyone else who sat at our table — has any memory of that wedding at all.) We hit it off rather a lot; a year after that Balticon, she (and her brother Dale) moved in with me, and we got married in April 2017.

In July, David Mack organized a roast of me by him and fellow Star Trek authors Kirsten Beyer, Peter David, Kevin Dilmore, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, and Dayton Ward. This was held at the Shore Leave convention, and it was glorious. I also got a Keith puppet, made by the great Kathleen O. David!

Also in July, I was given the Faust, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers. This was a humbling and supreme honor.

Then in October, I got the biggie: my first-degree black belt.

It’s hard to put into words just how ridiculous I still think it is that I can call myself a black belt with a straight face, even though I’ve now had one for ten years and have not only been training for that entire decade, but gotten two more stripes on the belt and I teach classes to kids three days a week. The notion of being physically strong is still one that confuses the me who spent his childhood as the shortest kid in class, and whose athletic accomplishments included playing right field for a last-place Little League team (right field being where they put the worst player) and playing soccer for a team that not only never won a game, we were never in any danger of winning a game, both in grammar school.

That year was the tenth anniversary of Farscape‘s debut, and I was doing a ton of Farscape comics for BOOM! Studios, including the second, third, and fourth issues of our debut miniseries, two more miniseries (Strange Detractors and Gone and Back), starting an ongoing monthly series, and writing three D’Argo-focused miniseries. My Star Trek: Alien Spotlight comic book one-shot on the Klingons came out that year, as well as short stories in Star Trek: Mirror Universe: Shards and Shadows and BattleTech: 25 Years of Art & Fiction, and nonfiction in Star Trek Magazine, In the Hunt: Unauthorized Essays on Supernatural, and Assembled! 2: The Unauthorized Guide to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Villains. In addition, my Executioner novel Code of Honor and what has so far been my last Star Trek novel A Singular Destiny were both published.

Keith50

In 2019, I’m fifty years old. What a long, strange trip it’s been…………………….

 

I will be at Awesome Con!

awesomecon

I haven’t been formally announced anywhere yet, which has me more than a little twitchy, but I nonetheless am going to be at Awesome Con from the 26th to the 28th of April in Washington, D.C.

I will be at Bard’s Tower, Booth 1311, alongside several other wonderful authors, among them Kevin J. Anderson, Charles E. Gannon, D.J. Butler, R.R. Virdi, Quincy J. Allen, and bunches more. I will have copies of Mermaid Precinct and A Furnace Sealed for sale, among other things, and that weekend is also “Alien Day,” which means the cover for my Alien novel Isolation will be revealed and preorder links will go live. (The 26th of April is Alien Day because the xenomorph was found in Alien on the planet designated LV-426, so 4/26 became a fan thing, and 20th Century Fox adopted it officially a bunch of years ago.) I will have a QR code for preordering the book at the con.

Anyhow, looking forward to seeing folks there!