Scott Edelman has a wonderful podcast called Eating the Fantastic, for which he takes a genre author out for a meal and interviews them while they eat. The latest episode is now up, and it features me! Scott stole me away from Farpoint 2020 last weekend and took me to the Iron Rooster in Hunt Valley for a yummy brunch — I had sausage gravy, biscuits, and grits, he had chicken and waffles — and a talk about Marvel Comics, childhood influences, Byron Preiss, Stan Lee, the weird-ass way I got my first novel contract, tie-ins, crowdfunding, and tons more. It was an excellent meal and a great interview, and you should check it out!
Picard sets foot on a Borg Cube voluntarily for the first time and it goes a lot better than he fears. Narek pokes Soji with a stick and it goes both better and worse than he fears. Musiker helps Picard, and it goes better for the mission but worse for her. My take on “The Impossible Box,” the latest episode of Star Trek: Picard.
Picard is only able to board the Cube thanks to the awesomeness of his erstwhile aide. Michelle Hurd turns in another brilliant performance, as Musiker is asked to convince Captain Emily Bosch, an old friend of hers, to grant Picard diplomatic access to the Artifact. The expert manner in which Musiker gets the access—even though it means burning the friendship with Bosch—is contrasted perfectly with how she falls apart as soon as she’s done, ignoring the applause of the rest of the gang. That applause is deserved, mind you, as Musiker’s manipulation of Bosch is brilliant, thanks in part to her easy charm, and also due to her use of Picard’s dual reputations as a great captain (Musiker jokes that his face is probably still on the brochures) and as a self-righteous pain in the ass.
Musiker is spectacularly broken, and Rios—her old friend, and Cabrera and Hurd play that friendship with nary a false note—is the only one who seems to even notice. We find out that her neglect of her son extends beyond her direct relationship with him: in all the years she’s known Rios, this is the first she’s told him that she even has a son, much less a daughter-in-law she’d never met before and an impending granddaughter she will likely never ever meet. Hurd absolutely nails the disconnect between Musiker’s completely together professionalism with her trash fire of a personal life. As Rios says, “Nobody gets it all right, Raff.” Truer words, man…
Rhiannon Giddens, who is one of my absolute favorite musicians, put together an amazing album where she collaborated with master percussionist Francesco Turrisi. Among the songs on the album, which is entitled there is no Other, is a beautiful version of the Italian folk song “Pizzica di San Vito.” Here is another version, this one performed in the WFUV radio studio.
Because Indie GoGo is awesome, they let you continue to support projects after their funding period is ended, soif you want to support “The Gorvangin Rampages: A Dragon Precinct Story” and “Ragnarok and a Hard Place: A Tale of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet,” you still can!
“The Gorvangin Rampages” is a story taking place during the one-year gap between Gryphon Precinct and Mermaid Precinct, with the Cliff’s End Castle Guard having to deal with riots connected to a charismatic figure named Gorvangin. “Ragnarok and a Hard Place” sees Odin and Loki both returning to Key West after seemingly dying, just in time for the end of the world.
Check them out!
This classic from John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers has always been a favorite. Great toe-tapping melody, superb harmonica playing, and a great scat bit. If “Room to Move” doesn’t have you bopping about with joy, there’s no hope for you…..
This coming weekend, I will be in Pensacola, Florida for Pensacon 2020, which is my first Bard’s Tower con of the year. There’ll be a ton of folks with me at the tower: Brian Anderson, Kevin J. Anderson, Jim Butcher, Michelle Cori, Phil Foglio, Charles E. Gannon, JB Garner, Andrew E. Gaska, Marion G. Harmon, Kevin Ikenberry, Megan Mackie, and Jody Lynn Nye.
I’ll also be doing a panel on “Heroes and Villains as Opposing Philosophies” with Mr. Gannon, which ought to be a blast. That’ll be Sunday at 5.15pm, so hopefully people will still be at the show then………….
There’ll be tons of other guests there, too, so come on by if you’re in Pensacola this weekend!
I will be playing with my band, Boogie Knights, this weekend at Farpoint, with our usual Saturday-at-11am concert at the convention.
Here’s us at Farpoint six years ago with what was then a brand-new song, “If I Had a Mighty Army,” a riff on Barenaked Ladies’ “If I Had a Million Dollars.”
Picard plays dress-up — and puts on an outrageous accent — and we get some nasty reunions involving Seven of Nine, Raffi Musiker, and Dr. Jurati, plus some actual forward movement on the plot! It’s a Christmas miracle! I have a great deal to say about Star Trek: Picard‘s “Stardust City Rag.”
While “Stardust City Rag” is a fine title, it could just as easily be called “Seven of Nine is Back and She’s Pissed!” In the two decades since Voyager came home, Seven has joined the Fenris Rangers, helping keep law and order in a lawless and chaotic area of space. She has tremendous bitterness toward the Federation, and a particular animus toward Bjayzl, which is the real reason why she helps Picard.
We get the first hint of that in the opening flashback from fourteen years earlier, where we see Icheb—the former Borg drone who served on Voyager during its final two seasons—being tortured and killed, his Borg implants being violently removed. When Seven shoots him in the end, it’s a mercy killing to end his suffering.
There are two nice touches in this scene: Icheb was an officer on the U.S.S. Coleman, having completed the Starfleet training he began on Voyager, and the person removing his implants can’t find his cortical node, which Icheb donated to Seven in the Voyager episode “Imperfection.”
The crew meets a friendly people who love food and nice things and love stories and are great at hospitality. They also have technology that can get the crew closer to home. But in the end, the people are assholes and the technology won’t work for them. Life sucks, sometimes. The Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch does “Prime Factors.”
Ronald Guttman has been a favorite of mine since his role as the chief engineer in The Hunt for Red October all the way to his recent brilliant turn as an old man turned into a vampire in Preacher, and he’s perfect here. He’s a hedonist, and he is all over Janeway, but he also offers the crew something they desperately need. Honestly, he’s the perfect predator, which is exactly what the role calls for. Indeed, all the Sikarians are to a degree, as they are hungry for new experiences, and are willing to manipulate people and give them pretty gifts in exchange for it, whether it’s Labin’s offer to give Janeway tons of clothes, Otel’s offer of the trajector, or Eudana taking Kim to another world.
And as soon as Janeway sees through it, he gets pouty and angry and throws a tantrum, blaming her for harshing his mellow. It’s classic predator behavior, and Guttman just nails it. To Janeway’s credit, the minute he shows his true colors and makes it clear that there’s no longer a benefit to her crew to stay, she packs up and leaves.
First they think they’ve found a new element. Then they realize they’ve found a mass grave. Then there’s a transporter accident, and they wind up pissing all over an alien culture’s beliefs about the afterlife. The Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch journeys to the next “Emanations.”
I did love the final scene between Janeway and Kim, showing how much the captain cares about her crew’s well being. And in general, this is a nifty science fictional concept that shows the difficulties of cultural relativism, especially when you’re not prepared for a first-contact situation. I also like the fact that we never do find out exactly where the Vhnori homeworld is. Neria talks of other dimensions, and it’s perfectly possible that they are in an other dimension. We just don’t know, and I find that appropriate in an episode that is about the greatest unknown of them all, death.