$1/month and up: reviews of Black Adam, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, The Gray Man, Innocent, My Cousin Vinny, and Violent Night
$2/month and up: 58 cat (and dog) pictures
$5/month and up: reviews of Star Wars: Andor and Blake’s 7
$7/month and up: excerpts from “This Little Light of Mine,” Star Hoppers Book 7, my essay on the Joker, and Feat of Clay
$10/month and up: vignettes featuring the Super City Cops and Dragon Precinct
$20/month: first looks at Star Hoppers Book 7 Chapters 1-7, my essays on “The Curse of the Fatal Death” and the Joker, and Feat of Clay Chapters 11-15 and the Epilogue
For the new year, the first movie review is likely to be Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, and on the TV side, I’ve finished watching Rings of Power season one as well as all of Red Dwarf, and I’m working on The Orville, among others. January will see me writing several short stories and a novella, so the $20/month crowd can expect a lot of first looks, and the $7/month (and up) folks will get a variety of excerpts.
Super City Cops: “The Battling Bensons,” “Family Matters,” “Unhappy Hallowe’en,” and “The Menace of Maleagris”
“Watching the Detectives: ‘Minerva, Millionaires, and Mayhem’,” in OOOFF! BOFF! SPLATT!: The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66–Season Three, ed. by Jim Beard, with Rich Handley (Crazy 8)
“Star Trek: Prodigy Arrives at Mid-Season with Hope and Fear” (Tor.com)
“Lonely at the Top: The Underused Leaders of Stargate Atlantis,” in Unauthorized Offworld Activation: Exploring the Stargate Franchise, ed. by Rich Handley & Joseph Dilworth Jr. (Sequart)
“‘A Little Strategic Violence’ — The Umbrella Academy Season Three Continues to Bring the Bugnuts” (Tor.com)
“The Chase is On as Star Trek: Prodigy Returns” (Tor.com)
Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch — from season 1 episode 7 to season 2 episode 25 (Tor.com)
“4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch” — Barbarella, The Batman, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Eternals, It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman!, The King’s Man, Mandrake, Morbius, Sparks, Spider-Man: No Way Home, Thor: Love and Thunder, Timecop, Timecop: The Berlin Decision, Vampirella, Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Tor.com)
Reviews of Star Trek: Discovery season 4 episodes 8-13 (Tor.com)
Reviews of Star Trek: Picard season 2 (Tor.com)
Reviews of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 1 (Tor.com)
Reviews of Star Trek: Lower Decks season 3 (Tor.com)
Patreon movie reviews: The Batman, Black Adam, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Clueless, Drive Me Crazy,Ferry, Free Guy, A Goofy Movie, The Gray Man, Innocent, The King’s Man, My Cousin Vinny, 9 to 5, Onward, Presumed Innocent, 10 Things I Hate About You, Thor: Love and Thunder, Turning Red, Violent Night
Patreon TV reviews: Animal Kingdom, Blake’s 7, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Falcon & The Winter Soldier, Grace & Frankie, Giri/Haji, Hawkeye, The Kominsky Method, Loki, Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, My Life is Murder, Our Flag Means Death, Sandman, She-Hulk: Attorney-at-Law, The Shield, Signora Volpe, Slings and Arrows, Star Trek: Prodigy, Star Wars: Andor, Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ted Lasso, Under the Vines, Undercover, WandaVision, What If…?
We have a new sofa! It’s incredibly comfy! And the two seats on the end recline! Getting there was a minor saga….
Back in 2016, we were rather unexpectedly forced to abandon our old apartment. One of the things we were in the market for in our new place was a living-room sofa, as the futon frame and futon we’d been using in the old place was pretty much dead. Conveniently, my sister from another mister, Laura Anne Gilman, was selling her NYC co-op after having settled in Seattle, and she let us have her sectional for a song:
The sectional was a good and noble piece of furniture that served us well for six years, but the second law of thermodynamics is a thing, and over the last year especially, the poor thing was starting to fall apart.
And so, the one and only present we got for the holidays this year from, basically, our entire family was to get us a new sofa. We went to a Raymour and Flanigan outlet store and sat on a bunch of couches until we found the one we liked. It meant our family had to spend more — you can order a couch way cheaper online — but this is what we’ll be sitting in for the next several years, and it needed to be one our butts had field-tested, as it were.
Once it was ordered and a delivery date set, we had to then get the old couch out.
This is where the “saga” part comes in….
We live in a hundred-year-old house with narrow hallways and a front door that’s 85″ tall. The house has been subdivided into three units, and the entrance to two of those units is on the second floor, with front doors facing each other in a tiny landing at the top of the stairs. The long part of the sectional is 87″. “So how did you get it in?” you may ask, and the answer is, “with the help of our neighbor.” The only way to get the long part of the sectional into our home was for the neighbor to open her door, also.
Problem: said neighbor flew to California a few weeks ago to be with her brother, who is not doing very well, health-wise, and she is going to stay out there with him for the duration, as it were. She has no ETA for when she’ll be back, obviously — unfortunately, she also hasn’t given anyone a spare key.
So in order to make an 87″ couch piece get through an 85″ doorway, we had to engage in some creative destruction:
I spent a good chunk of Wednesday using wire-cutters, a saw, an exacto knife, a hammer, and my own brute strength to remove large chunks of the long part of the sectional so it would fit out the door. All the wood pieces that made up the thing’s support were glued and/or stapled (mostly glued), which made it a challenge, but it was fun to rip it apart…. *laughs*
We deliberately timed the delivery for a Thursday because that’s the day that the garbage pickup includes big-ass and unusual items like sofas. We put the sofa out onto the street Wednesday night, and by the time I drove Wrenn to the subway station for her job in the morning, the sanitation trucks had already come and gone, and it was like the sofa was never there!!!!!
The final bit of the saga came yesterday. R&F gave me a 9am-12.45pm window for delivery on Wednesday, which was narrowed down to 11am-12.45pm Thursday morning. Mind you, the truck didn’t actually show up until 2pm. Sigh. Having said that, the two guys got the thing up and put together and ready to go in about seven-and-a-half seconds, so that was nice.
The couch not only has two recliners, there are also USB ports on either side, so we can charge things!
So now we are be-sofa’d. Many many thanks to Laura Anne for the old sectional, which had a long and happy life, and to the Forebearance and ToniAnn & Kyle for the gift of the new reclining couch!
As we prepare to close the books on 2022, here’s what I have to write going into 2023….
The Bram Gold Adventures. Book 2, Feat of Clay, the sequel to 2019’s A Furnace Sealed, is written! It’s with three editorial types right now: Wrenn and The Mom for editing, and another dear friend who is backstopping me on the specifics of Judaism (of which there is a lot in this book in which Bram has to deal with a golem run amuck). Once those three are done beating it into shape, it’ll go off to the fine feathered finks at WordFire Press and with any luck be out in time for summer convention season! In addition, I’ve been talking to the folks at eSpec about doing another Systema Paradoxa book featuring Valentina Perrone.
Tales of Cassie Zukav, weirdness magnet. I need to finish “Stop Dragon My Heart Around,” at which point the manuscript for Ragnarok and a Hard Place will be completed. That should happen in January if all goes well, and then that collection will be out from Plus One Press some time in 2023, a good ten years after Ragnarok and Roll. Wheeee!
The Four ???? of the Apocalypse. We’ve been awful about this, and I do apologize. The goal for January is to FINALLY get this damn thing moving. My hope is to have it out in time for Shore Leave in July. And yes, I know, this is the latest in a series of goals, but we’re trying, we really are….
Tie-in short story. I have written the first 54 words of this short story, which is due on 9 January. Assuming the story is approved, I’ll let y’all know what it is once there’s a signed contract and I’m allowed to talk about it.
Cases by Candlelight. My novella for this Sherlock Holmes anthology, “The Thick Blue Line,” is due in January, so I should probably get on that soon. Ahem. This is another one that’s set to be released in July…
Short fiction. I’ve got two stories in the hopper for projects that haven’t been announced yet. One will be a Weird Wild West story for an anthology, which is due 16 January, the other is for a thing that I can’t talk about, but which will be incredibly fabulous when it happens. (If it happens, but I prefer to be optimistic.) All I can say about the latter short story is that it will take place in Manhattan’s “Little Italy” neighborhood in the early part of the 20th century. Meantime, I’ve looked over the edited manuscript for “This Little Light of Mine” in Phenomenons: Season of Darkness and the galleys for “Ticonderoga Beck and the Stalwart Squad” in Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2022, and both those anthologies should be out in the first half of 2023.
Brave New Girls. I fully intended to submit something for the 2023 volume of Brave New Girls, the charity anthology series about girls who do science, but the deadline is 23 January, and given all else going on in January, I’m not optimistic, but I’m putting it in here as a possibility anyhow. If I do write a story, it will likely feature Connie de la Vega, the protagonist of my previous BNG story in 2019’s Adventures of Gals & Gizmos (and also of my story in 2019’s Footprints in the Stars).
Collaborations with Dr. Munish K. Batra. My Animal collaborator and I have written a second book, a medical thriller which is currently with our agent, who will be shopping it around to publishers once we’re past the holidays. Meantime, one of the goals of 2023 is to do our third book together.
Tie-in novelette. I’ve been invited to participate in an anthology of novelettes featuring characters I’ve never written before, but who I’m very much looking forward to penning a tale with. Don’t have a solid deadline on this one yet…
Mystery. Another goal of 2023 is to finally write the first book in this mystery series that I’ve been wanting to write for a decade now…
Science fiction novella series. This is still proceeding apace, but we’re taking our time with it. It’s likely that this will finally be announced and see the light of day some time in 2023. Or maybe not. It’s a work-for-hire, so it’s not up to me, I’m just gonna keep writin’ ’em. I’m in the midst of the seventh novella in the series, with twelve already planned out for the first leg of stories, and more planned beyond that.
Tie-in novel. I have a proposal with the publisher of a tie-in line that was solicited, and which they’ve had for over a year now. I’m not holding my breath that this will actually happen, but we’ll see…
Shared-world novel trilogy. I have a proposal for a science fiction trilogy with a publisher that’s part of a larger shared-world notion. Weirdly for an SF story, it involves dragons. Trust me, it’ll be fabulous.
EDITED TO ADD: Nonfiction. Knew I forgot something when I first posted this… I’ve got an essay in The Man Who Laughs: Exploring the Crown Prince of Crime, where I talk about the 2019 Joker film’s riff on the Bernhard Goetz shooting here in NYC in 1984. I’ve got a piece in Outside In Regenerates, discussing the Comic Relief skit “The Curse of the Fatal Death.” Both those books will be out in early 2023. On the Star Trek side of things, I’m still doing the weekly Enterprise Rewatch for Tor.com, and I’ll be reviewing the new episodes of the live-action shows and Lower Decks as they’re released, plus periodic pieces on Prodigy (one is due to go live after the new year, discussing the end of the first season). I’ll also be finishing off my semi-annual revival of the great superhero movie rewatch in January with looks at Samaritan, Black Adam, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
I wrote a grand total of 102 posts for Tor.com this year, which included my weekly Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch, my regular reviews of Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, and Star Trek: Lower Decks as their new episodes were released, my occasional looks at Star Trek: Prodigy, my semi-annual revival of “4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch,” and, finally, a review of The Umbrella Academy season three.
Sixteen posts broke 100 comments, and 15 of those 16 were reviews of either Picard or SNW. The one exception was the rewatch of Enterprise‘s “The Andorian Incident,” which is something of an outlier, as most Enterprise rewatch posts have between 20 and 60 comments. (The other Enterprise Rewatches that had more than 60 comments were “Dear Doctor” and “Carbon Creek.”)
As a general rule, though, there seem to be three tiers of average comments on the Trek stuff. SNW and Picard get the most, with Discovery and Lower Decks in the middle, and Enterprise on the bottom.
I’m surprised by the number of comments on the great superhero movie rewatch revivals, as I expected Thor: Love and Thunder, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and The Batman to have more comments than they did. The real shock, though, is Venom: Let There Be Carnage, which has only elicited five comments, which is I think the fewest number of comments on any post I’ve made to Tor.com in eleven years I’ve been writing for the site…
Here’s the full list:
194: “Must it always have galactic import?”—Star Trek: Picard’s “Farewell”
157: The Terror of Balance—Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “A Quality of Mercy”
151: “Welcome back and welcome aboard”—Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Strange New Worlds”
141: “How much worse could it possibly get?”—Star Trek: Picard’s “Two of One”
141: The Semblance of a Point—Star Trek: Picard’s “Hide and Seek”
124: Giant Gas Cloud of Death—Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Memento Mori”
115: Secrets and Lies—Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Ghosts of Illyria”
113: “We’ve got a planet to save before breakfast”—Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Children of the Comet”
113: ARRRRRRR!—Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “The Serene Squall”
109: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “The Andorian Incident”
109: “Now is the only moment”—Star Trek: Picard’s “Assimilation”
109: “Hijinks are the most logical course of action”—Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Spock Amok”
107: “Top shelf or hooch?”—Star Trek: Picard’s “The Star Gazer”
103: “I’m not myself”—Star Trek: Picard’s “Penance”
Since 1977, Christmas Eve has been celebrated at my parents’ house. Over the subsequent four-and-a-half decades, it’s gone from a huge raucous celebration with extended family to a much quieter celebration with immediate family, as other family members have moved away, moved on, or passed away.
In 1982, I was thirteen years old, and I had the rather ridiculous insistence of wearing a hat all the time. I had just started high school at Cardinal Spellman three months earlier. The Christmas Eve celebration included all four of my parents, my paternal aunt, my maternal twin uncles and their respective spouses and kids, and my father’s old college chum Bert with his girlfriend and the latter’s daughter. We often took people in who didn’t have anywhere else to go on Christmas Eve, as was the case with Bert et al that year.
Standing, l.-r.: Roxanne (Fred’s wife), Fred (maternal uncle), Jared (Fred & Roxanne’s then-eleven-month-old son), John (third parent), my mother, Helga (fourth parent), me, Bert, Aimee (Barbara’s daughter), Barbara (Bert’s girlfriend).
Not pictured because he was taking the picture: my father.
In 1992, I was twenty-three years old. I had met Marina in college in 1987, and by the time this picture was taken, we’d been married for seven months. This was during my first attempt at being a freelancer, having been laid off by Library Journal a few months prior to this. My parents had bought a new house, in which they still live, the year before.
Nat had divorced ToniAnn and married Ginny and had two kids with her. Fred and Roxanne had two more sons. Also my old buddy John Drew (my cohort on The Chronic Rift, among other things, and who is referred to below as “Drew” to distinguish him from my third parent) had moved in with us from 1988-1989 when he had a falling out with his parents. By this time, he was living on his own, but he still came for Christmas Eve.
Back row, l.-r.: Helga, Nat, Marina, me, Roxanne, John, and Dillon (Fred & Roxanne’s youngest son).
Middle row, l.-r.: Jared, Ginny (Nat’s wife), my mother, Vicky (Nat & Ginny’s younger daughter), my father.
Front row, l.-r.: Alyssa (Nat & Ginny’s older daughter), Fred, Blair (Fred & Roxanne’s middle son), and Drew.
Not pictured because she took the picture: Livia.
In 2002, I was thirty-three years old. Marina and I had split up in 2000, and in 2001 Terri moved in with me. For the first couple of years, our plan was to alternate years, having Christmas with my family in odd-numbered years and with hers in Indiana in even-numbered years, so we’re not in this picture because we weren’t there. However, this is the only year I missed, as Terri had a major blowup with her family in 2003 that led to us deciding not to bother schlepping to Indianapolis every other December. I had done my time at Byron Preiss for the late 1990s, and in 1998, I’d gone freelance, and by the time this picture was taken, I had had ten novels out.
In 2012, I was forty-three years old. Terri and I had split up in 2009, and shortly after that, Wrenn and I started dating. She and Dale moved in in 2010. Nat had married Donna, and Alyssa had moved south to be near her mother. Fred and Roxanne had split up, with Blair and Dillon having moved to Florida with Roxanne. Jared stayed local, and brought his girlfriend with him.
L.-r.: Donna (Nat’s wife), Nat, Helga, Jared’s girlfriend, my mother, Jared, Vicky, John, Livia, Fred, Dale, me, Wrenn, my father.
In 2022, I’m fifty-three years old. Fred has moved to Florida, Nat has split with Donna and is now with Natalie, and they do their own thing on Christmas Eve. Vicky is now married and living in Philadelphia, and Jared is now married with two kids and also does his own thing on Christmas Eve. Dale died suddenly in 2018. Livia decided not to come to Christmas Eve this year, and given that it was 16 degrees outside tonight, I don’t entirely blame her…
L.-r: me, Wrenn, Helga, my mother, John, my father.
We’re in the midst of the eight days of Hanukkah, and so what better time to present one of the few Hanukkah carols? The incredibly catchy “Hanukkah in Santa Monica” is written by Tom Lehrer, who reportedly wrote this song because all the Jewish songwriters were too busy writing Christmas carols…..
I’ve confirmed with two conventions for 2023 — they are obviously not the only cons I’ll be doing in ’23, but these are the only two (so far) that have confirmed me on their web sites. *chuckle*
After skipping 2022’s con due to inadequate COVID mitigations in the midst of a nasty surge, I will be back at Farpoint at the Delta Hotel by Marriott in Hunt Valley, Maryland from 10-12 February 2023, doing my usual thing of being both an author guest and a music guest, the latter with Boogie Knights. Also present will be actors Carlos Alazraqui, Rylee Alazraqui, Wilson Cruz, and Billy West; fellow word-slingers Christopher D. Abbott, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Rigel Ailur, Zach Be, MJ Blehart, Diane Lee Baron, Russ Colchamiro, Mary Fan, Michael Jan Friedman, Phil Giunta, Robert Greenberger, JL Gribble, Glenn Hauman, Kim Headlee, Heather E. Hutsell, Arrow J. Knight, Steven W. Kozeniewski, Mike McPhail, Christiopher D. Ochs, Jennifer Povey, Josh Pritchett, Scott Rohrback, Aaron Rosenberg, Jonathan Roth, Alan Smale, Jay Smith, Bryan “Kaiser” Tillman, Howard Weinstein, Gregory A. Wilson, Steven H. Wilson, and Sherri Cook Woosley; and various science, kids programming, and performing guests.
Don’t worry, there’ll be more chances to see me next year. I’ll be doing the usual batch o’ cons with Bard’s Tower, including almost definitely Pensacon in Pensacola, Florida in February, Planet Comic-Con in Kansas City, Missouri in April, and GalaxyCon in Raleigh, North Carolina in July (and lots more besides), plus I plan to be at HELIOsphere in Piscataway, New Jersey in April, Shore Leave in Hunt Valley, Maryland in July, Dragon Con in Atlanta, Georgia over Labor Day weekend, and Philcon in Cherry Hill, New Jersey in November at the very least.
So the shortest day came, and the year died, And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world Came people singing, dancing, To drive the dark away. They lighted candles in the winter trees; They hung their homes with evergreen; They burned beseeching fires all night long To keep the year alive, And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake They shouted, reveling. Through all the frosty ages you can hear them Echoing behind us — Listen!! All the long echoes sing the same delight, This shortest day, As promise wakens in the sleeping land: They carol, feast, give thanks, And dearly love their friends, And hope for peace. And so do we, here, now, This year and every year. Welcome Yule!