Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Course: Oblivion”

Paris is a lieutenant again! He and Torres are getting married! They have enhanced warp drive and will get home in two years! And the ship’s falling apart. What the heck is going on? Well, it turns out that it’s a faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaake! The Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch writes up a great sequel to a terrible episode, “Course: Oblivion.”

An excerpt:

As much as I disliked “Demon,” that’s how much I love this magnificent tragedy of an episode. Since we’re stuck with the duplicate Voyager crew anyhow, it’s fun to follow up on them. I love the idea that they’ve forgotten that they’re duplicates and are blithely barreling forward as if they’re the bona fide Voyager. Best of all are the hints of other adventures and accomplishments: first contact with the Kmada, the N’Kree trying to conscript them into their battle fleet, the acquisition/creation of an enhanced warp drive that will get them home faster. And thanks to the wonderfully tragic ending (which was apparently at the urging of co-writer Nick Sagan—one draft of the script had Voyager at least find the time capsule), it’s all lost.

two books with me in them are now on sale!

Now on sale are two new anthologies, one of short stories, one of essays, both of which include me in their tables of contents!

Out yesterday is BIFF! BAM! EEE-YOW!: The Subterranean Blue Grotto Guide to Batman ’66–Season Two, the followup to 2020’s ZLONK! ZOK! ZOWIE!, which followed season one. Published by the fine folks at Crazy 8 Press, this volume is also, like the season one book, edited by Jim Beard, aided and abetted by Rich Handley. You can read the whole table of contents here — my own contribution is entitled “Transcript of the Mayoral Debate Between Batman and the Penguin,” and chronicles the second debate between Batman and Penguin from when they ran for mayor against each other in the “Hizzoner the Penguin”/”Dizzoner the Penguin” two-parter. (The first debate, as seen on the show, was interrupted and not completed.)

Here’s an excerpt:

EDSEL: Thank you, Penguin. Our first topic is a subject that I’m sure both candidates have a great deal to say about: the police department and fighting crime in Gotham City. Penguin, your thoughts?

PENGUIN: I’m glad you asked me first, Mr. Edsel, waugh waugh, because, as you so rightly say, this is a subject on which I may speak eloquently! As you all know, I am a convicted felon. I make no bones about that—I have nothing to hide! But I have also served my sentence in the Gotham City Penitentiary, under the progressive reforms of the fine, upstanding Warden Crichton, which is why I stand before you now as a candidate for mayor. I believe that our prisons are doing their jobs.

            But do you want to know who’s not doing their jobs? The police department! Do you know who it was who put me in jail? Who tracked me down and arrested me? It wasn’t any of the boys in blue, no. It was my opponent! Batman, who is not a member of the police!

            Not only that, but just recently, I saw a crime in progress—a poor blind news vendor was being robbed at gunpoint. One of Gotham City’s finest was nearby, but did he do anything to stop this atrocity? No! He was too busy keeping an eye on me, a private citizen who has already paid his debt to society! An armed thug felt free to commit a felony right in front of a copper, because he knew they’d do nothing!

            I submit that the police in Gotham City are incompetent! And when I’m elected mayor, I will clean house, and make sure that our citizens are protected by true police officers who don’t come running to a man in a pointy-eared costume and a boy in short pants every time they come across something difficult! Thank you!

On sale today is Turning the Tied, a charity anthology published by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, of which I am a proud member. Benefiting the World Literacy Foundation, the anthology is edited by Jean Rabe & Robert Greenberger and features stories about various public-domain characters by some of the finest tie-in writers in the biz — full table of contents can be found here. My own contribution is called “In Earth and Sky and Sea Strange Things There Be,” and features Ayesha, the immortal title character in H. Rider Haggard’s 1886 novel She. Here’s a preview:

“Agent LaManna. I wish I could say it’s good to see you again, but that would be a lie.”

“Ms. Yatie. Wish I could say I’m surprised to see you here—hang on, no, wait, that’s the God’s honest truth. I will say, though, that it really is a surprise to see you in this rotten condition.”

“I will make a full recovery, worry not.”

“I’m going through a whole lot of emotions, Ms. Yatie, and I gotta tell you, ‘worry’ don’t even crack the top ten.”

“What would be atop the list, then, Agent LaManna?”

“Amazement, mostly. You slipped on a wet floor. You broke your neck. You should’ve died. Yet here you are, sitting across from me in an interrogation room, under arrest, something I’ve been trying and failing to do for ten years. And the docs tell me that your neck is healing.”

“And this amazes you?”

“Kinda does, yeah. How else am I supposed to react when someone gets a fatal injury and doesn’t die?”

Both these books are on sale from Amazon, and Turning the Tied is also available from Barnes & Noble. Not sure when or if they’ll be available at other book dealers. But they’re both excellent anthologies that are very much worth your time, and you should check them out!

second shot, no waiting

Weather as metaphor: Three weeks ago when Wrenn and I got our first shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at Yankee Stadium, it was 30 degrees and snowing. Today, when we got shot #2, it was 70 degrees and sunny.

And it went even more smoothly. Three weeks ago, one of the people working the vaccine center at the Stadium very loudly recommended that we come back to get our second shot some time in the afternoon, as it’s always less crowded then. Sure enough, we got there at 2.20 or so, and there was no line, no waiting. They checked us in right away, there was no line for the metal detector or to get in or to check in at the computer station or to get the shot. It went as fast as humanly possible, and it was just as smooth as it was last time.

Once again, I must sing the praises of the fine folks at SOMOS Community Care and the military personnel who were assisting in keeping things running smoothly.

Now we wait two weeks for the full immunization to take effect. And then we can almost start acting human again…………

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “The Disease”

Harry Kim falls in love with an alien, which makes sense, as she’s played by Musetta Vander at her most radiant. What makes less sense is why she fell in love with his whiny ass. The Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch suffers from “The Disease.”

An excerpt:

On the one hand, it’s not a bad idea to establish that Kim isn’t the fresh-out-of-the-Academy ensign anymore. In fact it’s such a good idea that we’ve already seen it several times: in “The Killing Gametwo-parter, in “Demon,” in “Timeless,” and here.

And I’d have a much easier time accepting it if Kim was acting in any way like a grownup, but instead he’s acting like a whiny teenager. Worse, he’s acting like the same kind of whiny teenager that he keeps defaulting to over and over again. This isn’t the first time he’s had a breakdown on the bridge, for starters, as he whined at Tuvok on the bridge in “Resolutions.” For that matter, he had an existential crisis regarding a love affair in “Alter Ego” (an event mentioned by Paris in this very episode). It doesn’t really count as character development if you keep treading the same ground over and over again.

Turning the Tied is out this Saturday!

Turning the Tied is available for preorder, and will be out for realsies on Saturday the 13th of March, just three days from now! Featuring some of the best tie-in writers in the business writing about various public-domain characters, this very nifty anthology will benefit the World Literacy Foundation, so it’s not only a really good book, it helps an important international cause!

My own story, “In Earth and Sky and Sea Strange Things There Be,” is about Ayesha, the title character in H. Rider Haggard’s 1886 novel She. I was poking around through the various public domain characters that were floating about, and I wanted in particular to do a story about a woman of color. There were vanishingly few — in fact, I didn’t really find any, as Ayesha herself is described by Haggard as being white. She’s also immortal and the ruler of a remote, hidden African nation.

She has a lot of common 19th-century tropes, including being structured as a travelogue-style account found in someone’s papers or sent as a manuscript to a personage of some sort, who then compiles it and publishes it. I thought this was a fun way to play with Ayesha’s story, as that extra layer of narrative provides a handy way to lend doubt to certain events of the novel, especially since the narrative itself claims to be an edited version of the original account. It meant I could make Ayesha a woman of color who was whitewashed by Haggard, who knew full well that his Victorian-era audience would never accept the notion of a black woman running an empire.

I also thought it would be fun to see what Ayesha would be like in modern times, and what kind of roadblocks an immortal might find to keeping her secret in an age of photo IDs, DNA profiling, and especially in the post-9/11 era of increased verification of identity. So in “In Earth and Sky and Sea Strange Things There Be,” I get to use one of my absolute favorite settings: an interrogation room. It’s the main reason why I write so many types of police procedurals: I love the verbal dance of an interrogation between an investigator and a witness/suspect. And in this story we have Ayesha Yatie, as she now calls herself, being interrogated by Special Agent Francesca LaManna of the FBI after she was caught with a fake passport.

I also wrote the story entirely in dialogue, since it’s just two people in a room talking to each other, which is a mode I love to dive into every once in a while.

(By the way, this now holds the record for longest title of one of my short stories, vaulting ahead of “A Vampire and a Vampire Hunter Walk Into a Bar” by two letters.)

Check out the rest of the Turning the Tied blog tour:

Melinda M. Snodgrass has a new book out!

One of the things I love about my life is that people whose work I’ve admired have become good friends and colleagues. One such example is Melinda M. Snodgrass, whom I knew as the author of the Star Trek novel The Tears of the Singers, one of the co-creators (with George R.R. Martin) of the Wild Cards book series, and one of the best scriptwriters in Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s early years (among many others, she wrote the seminal episode “The Measure of a Man”). She has since become a dear friend, not just to me, but also to Wrenn (the pair of them are part of a gaming group that’s been meeting over Zoom weekly during the current apocalypse).

Currency of War, the fourth book in her Imperials series of science fiction novels is now out from the fine folks at Prince of Cats Literary Productions, and you should go buy it right now!

how WandaVision explores consequences

Over on Tor.com, I take a look at how WandaVision allows the MCU to do things the movie series can’t do as well, and that the comics have always done: develop the characters and show that actions have consequences.

An excerpt:

One is the impact of Thanos’ snap in Infinity War, and, more to the point, the impact of the Hulk’s counter-snap in Avengers: Endgame. The latter in particular was pretty much an abstraction in Endgame and played for laughs in Spider-Man: Far from Home. WandaVision has done a much better job of showing the terrible toll it has taken, both on those left behind and those who were reconstituted. Monica Rambeau was dusted at a time when her mother’s cancer was in remission, and one subjective second later was told that the cancer came back and killed her. With Rambeau mère dead and Rambeau fille dusted, SWORD winds up in the incapable hands of the Peter Principle That Walks Like a Man, Tyler Hayward.

Meanwhile, Wanda Maximoff had just watched Thanos kill Vision in front of her face, and then came back to find that, not only had his body had been taken by SWORD, but Hayward won’t let her have his body for burial. Oh, and Wanda finds out that Vision also bought them a house. (It’s not clear whether the house was torn down in the intervening five years or if construction had started on the house and was abandoned during the blip years.)

KRAD COVID reading #93b: Star Trek: S.C.E.: Invincible Book 1, Part 2

For 2021, KRAD COVID readings is covering the only short fiction I didn’t read in 2020: my novellas for the Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers series, a monthly series of eBooks that ran from 2000-2007. I’ll have a new reading every #TrekTuesday.

This week, we continue the two-book Invincible, which was a collaboration between me and David Mack. In this second part of Book 1, Commander Sonya Gomez slowly starts to earn the trust of the Nalori workers under her supervision after she fixes the ever-malfunctioning antigrav units and starts to get the project on schedule. But there are many who still resent her presence…..

Check it out! And please subscribe to the channel!