Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Basics, Part II”


The Kazon have taken over Voyager, and the only hope for retaking the ship lies with the EMH, a psychotic killer, and Tom Paris. Amazingly, they’re successful. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew has to survive with no technology on a violent world. The Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch kicks off season three with “Basics, Part II.”

An excerpt:

And that’s as nothing compared to the bravura performance of Brad Dourif. There’s not a hell of a lot of characterization elsewhere in the episode, as most everyone is focused on the plot—staying alive on Hanon IV, taking the ship back in space—but in Suder we get a compelling character study. Suder has been trying so hard to move beyond his psychotic past, and the situation has been shoved into his face that forces him to backpedal. The sadness etched on Dourif’s face as he does what has to be done is heartbreaking, and adds tragedy to the events on the ship.

Monday music: “Crossroad Blues”

You probably think this is an Eric Clapton song. And he did cover it, along with a lot of other blues songs by African-American artists. Legend has it that Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil to become a great guitar player. Said legend has been the fodder of fiction for ages, including an episode of Supernatural and one of my Cassie Zukav stories. Anyhow, here’s his most famous song (due, it’s true, mostly to Clapton).

KRAD COVID reading #36: “Deep Background”

In 2017, Titan published an Aliens short-story anthology, edited by Jonathan Maberry, called Bug Hunt. Building on the Colonial Marines established in the sequel to Alien, most of the stories in the book focused on the Marines and their lives in the dank future of that movie series. My own story, “Deep Background,” was about a reporter embedded with a platoon of Marines, and it’s what I read here.

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Happy Fathers Day


This Fathers Day is not the best, as we’re still gripped in an awful pandemic, but we’re doing what we can. Our dinner plans include takeout from a favorite Little Italy restaurant, Tra Di Noi.

I have two fathers, even though only one contributed genetic material. But both of them were responsible for raising me (along with my various mothers, whom I discussed a month ago).

My father, Robert DeCandido, met my mother at Fordham University, in a Romantic Literature class (yes, really). They got married on Fordham’s campus in September 1968 (after he graduated and when she started her senior year), and my mother gave birth to me in April of 1969 right before finals.

For the first few years of my life, Daddy was a cab driver on the night shift, thus allowing him to take care of me while my mother attended graduate school at Columbia University’s Library School. It was there that she met John Peters, an expat from Denver, Colorado also attending Columbia, and he became my nanny and eventually part of the family. When my parents got an apartment in the north Bronx, John slept on the couch until he decided to stay in NYC rather than return to Denver, and he grabbed the apartment below ours when it became available. Four years later, he went in with my parents on the house I grew up in, and that was that.

Both Daddy and John instilled in me so much: love of reading, love of odd hobbies, love of intellectual conversation, love of bullshitting with random strangers, love of storytelling. I don’t become a writer without these two inspiring me, and I don’t become as thoughtful as I am without these two, either, which is, honestly, even more important than my being a writer. (And, I hope, that quality makes me a better writer.)

But more than that, both these two take tremendous joy out of life. Besides being smart and learned and curious, the pair of them are also two of the funniest humans you’ll ever meet.

(My mother’s twin brothers, Fred and Nat, are both goofballs, and were even more so when they were teenagers. When my mother first brought my father home to meet the family, Fred and Nat were very unhappy to meet my father, because he was funnier than they were, and they really resented that.)

So Happy Fathers Day to my two Dads, who helped make me smart, who helped make me curious about the world around me, and who helped make me funny (and not just in looks).

(Picture taken by Wrenn Simms outside Mario’s Restaurant in Little Italy in the Bronx on Fathers Day 2017. Yes, the wind is blowing my hair around, but I don’t care.)


Friday fanfare: “Underneath a Harlem Moon”

The original version of “Underneath a Harlem Moon” was an appalling racist piece of crap by Mack Gordon from 1932 that was, of course, incredibly popular because people are horrible. (Randy Newman recorded the song in 1970 for the express purpose of making people uncomfortable, at which he succeeded.) But Ethel Waters, an African-American woman, decided to change the lyrics up and reclaim them magnificently. She first performed her version in 1933 in the short film Rufus Jones for President, and the great Rhiannon Giddens dug up Waters’s version and put it on her Factory Girl EP, and continues to sing the song live. (Here’s a great blog post by Yuval Taylor on the history of the song from 2007, which predates Giddens resurrecting the song.)

Anyhow, here’s Giddens’s version….

KRAD COVID readings #35: “Meiyo”

Back in 2008, I was asked to write a Classic BattleTech story by the fine folks at Catalyst Games Lab for their Battlecorps web site. While most of their fictional resources were focused on MechWarrior, there were still fans of the old BattleTech storyline, and they still did stories in it for subscribers to that site. Said site is long gone (though the story is archived at The Trove), but here’s me reading my original manuscript of the story……

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Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: Second Season Overview


Kazon! Vidiians! Seska! Aron Eisenberg! Brad Dourif! Q! Will Riker! Michael McKean! Amelia Earhart! Traitors on the ship! The EMH falls in love! Harry Kim is a moron! And Janeway and Paris get turned into salamanders! The Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch does the second season overview!

An excerpt:

But there were also far too many episodes that had a scope beyond the 42 minutes of the episode, but were unable to address that scope because the reset button had to be jumped on at the end. So we can’t have anyone staying behind in “The 37’s,” nor can any of the 37’s join the crew (even though the notion that Amelia Earhart would turn down a chance to fly through space is completely unconvincingly absurd). So there’s no long-term (or even short-term!) damage to the ship after it gets all “Twisted.” So Kes’s telepathy charge-up suddenly stops because Suspiria isn’t around anymore even though there’s no reason why it should be that way in “Cold Fire.” So there’s absolutely no impact on Paris and Janeway even though they were turned into salamanders, and they leave their offspring behind to probably die on an alien world in “Threshold.” So Q inexplicably doesn’t send Voyager home even though he can do it with a snap of his fingers in “Death Wish.” So Janeway has to make an awful choice in “Tuvix,” and we see zero of the fallout from that choice.

I never could get the hang of Thursdays…


I have been Domestic Boy today….

Woke up early, as I have been pretty much every day since the lockdown started a thousand years ago — or mid-March, whatever. This started as a stress thing, but the cats have grown accustomed to it, and now we’re doing the thing I swore we’d never do, which is get the cats used to food at a particular time. Sigh.

After midnight last night, I set up an Instacart order at our local supermarket to be picked up at noon today. However, it was ready at 9.30am (and I spent the hour or so before that approving or not approving changes to the order), so I went and got that.

And then I attacked the living room.

We hadn’t vacuumed in, um, a while, and it showed.IMAG4568

I emptied the vacuum’s receptacle before I started, so that’s everything that was on the living room floor. Sigh. I mean, seriously, we could make a third cat out of that…..

We recently got a cubby-hole-style bookcase thingie for the corner of the living room (which is, truly, a combo living room and dining room), and it’s improved our storage capacity significantly. We’re so much happier with the room right now. (It’s still not 100% organized yet, but when it is, I’ll provide a picture.)

Now I have to do dishes. And clean the stove top. It never ends…..

At some point, I have to do some writing, probably. There’s a short story to write, three novels to plot, another novel to do revisions on, plus the usual stuff for Tor dot com and Patreon.

How’s your week going?


KRAD COVID reading #34: “House Arrest”

Back in 2007, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Lee Hillman, & Jeffrey Lyman launched Bad-Ass Faeries, an award-winning series that so far includes four anthologies, one best-of collection, and several spinoff novellas by Danielle and James Chambers. In that inaugural anthology, I wrote a Dragon Precinct story, which was reprinted ten years later in The Best of Bad-Ass Faeries (and also in 2013 in my Tales from Dragon Precinct collection). Here I am reading the story of Torin interviewing a house faerie about a murder.

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midweek music: “Loves Me Like a Rock”

Paul Simon wrote “Loves Me Like a Rock” for his 1973 album There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, and the Dixie Hummingbirds — a gospel group that’s been around since 1928 — sang backup vocals on it. The Hummingbirds loved the song so much they recorded it themselves shortly thereafter. In 1999, for their 70th anniversary album Music in the Air, they did a version with both Simon and Stevie Wonder. Below is a re-creation of that 1999 collaboration from a concert done in honor of Simon being given the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in 2007.