About krad418

Author, editor, anthologist, musician, podcaster, black belt, curator, and all-around hoopy frood. Farscape comics writer, multifaceted Star Trek writer/editor, Boogie Knights percussionist, Scattered Earth contributor, voice of Todd Rage, author of the Dragon Precinct and SCPD novel series, and a whole lot less.

tentative Dragon Con schedule

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After missing it last year due to moving, I will be back at Dragon Con this year in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend! And as usual, they’re working me pretty hard………….

Here’s my tentative schedule — I’m still hoping to get a reading, too….

Friday

11.30am-12.30pm: “Alien: Bug Hunts and the Need to Nuke Things from Orbit,” w/Andrew E.C. Gaska and Jonathan Maberry (M103-M105–Marriott)

1-2pm: “X-Files: The Reading of Books,” w/Kevin J. Anderson and Jonathan Maberry (Valdosta–Sheraton)

2.30-3.30pm: “Red Dwarf,” w/K’Tetch and Rob Levy (Galleria 5–Hilton)

4-5pm: “Military Sci-Fi Writers–Media Edition,” w/Ronald Thomas Garner, Van Allen Plexico, and Janine K. Spendlove (Chastain DE–Westin)

8.30-9.30pm: “Nights of the Living Dead,” w/David P. Dreher and Jonathan Maberry (Peachtree 1-2–Westin)

 

Saturday

10-11am: “Rewind and Rewatch Review: Which Shows Hold Up?” w/Van Allen Plexico (Chastain DE–Westin)

1-2pm: autograph session, w/Laurell K. Hamilton, E.K. Johnston, and Jane Yolen (International Hall South 1-3–Marriott)

5.30-6.30pm: practical self defense workshop (313-314–Hilton)

8.30-9.30pm: “Lost Boys and 80s Vampires,” w/Jonathan Maberry, Debbie Viguie, and Dr. Scott Viguie (M103-M105–Marriott)

 

Sunday

11.30am-12.30pm: “Aliens: Bug Hunt,” w/Jonathan Maberry, James A. Moore, Mike Resnick, and Scott Sigler (Peachtree 1-2–Westin)

5.30-6.30pm: “Sherlock,” w/Kristin Jackson (Crystal Ballroom–Hilton)

8.30-9.30pm: “Apocalyptic Throwdown: Aliens vs. Zombies,” w/Robert E. Hampson, Jonathan Maberry, Alison Sky Richards, and Widgett Walls (Chastain F-H–Westin)

 

Monday

11.30am-12.30pm: “Lost Threads and Boiled Plotbunnies: Untold Stories in Military Sci-Fi,” w/Peter David, John Hudgens, and Georges Jeanty (Chastain DE–Westin)

 

Looking forward to seeing folks there!

 

from the archives: James Cameron pisses on movie novelizations

Seven years ago, James Cameron did an interview with MTV discussing his forthcoming Avatar novel, and while doing so, pissed all over the work done by people who novelize movies. Y’know, like me. The punchline to this is that Cameron never finished the novel, having apparently realized that writing an entire novel is a lot of work — more work, in fact, than writing a screenplay, as a screenplay has less actual story content than a novel. (That’s not a value judgment, just a simple truth of length of story.) Instead, he hired Stephen Charles Gould to write four novels. Gawrsh. Anyhow, here’s my reply to Cameron from seven years ago:

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James Cameron provided the following gem while discussing his forthcoming Avatar novel with MTV:

I didn’t want to do a cheesy novelization, where some hack comes in and kind of makes s–t up. I wanted to do something that was a legitimate novel that was inside the characters’ heads and didn’t have the wrong culture stuff, the wrong language stuff, all that.

Yeah, heaven forfend a writer make shit up. That might be, I dunno, fiction or something!

More seriously, novelizers have to make shit up because a movie only has a long short story’s worth of actual plot in it. If you’re gonna get a novel-length story in there, you have to add stuff.

Whether or not that shit is true to the film generally depends on the level of cooperation the film studio provides the publisher of the novelization. As a for-instance, the producers of Darkness Falls were hugely helpful, providing me with a ton of backstory that didn’t make it into the final cut of the movie. As another, the producers of Resident Evil: Extinction encouraged me to add a ton of material — lots and lots of “making shit up” — to bridge the gap between Apocalypse and Extinction, and also to fill in what was happening with the Jill Valentine character. As a third, Serenity had fourteen hours of televised episodes of Firefly as additional background.

And sometimes producers don’t cooperate at all and the novelizers don’t have a choice to make shit up. That’s not hack work, that’s writing and creating. But, y’know, it’s just prose, so it doesn’t count. It’s not real writing, not like a script is…. *rolleyes*

As ever, I am amused by the fact that a writer who adds plot and characterization to an existing story in order to make a movie into a novel is dismissed by people like Cameron as hacks, while screenwriters who (ahem) hack away at a novel’s story and remove huge chunks of it in order to whittle it down to a movie’s length get their own Academy Award category.

This is why a bunch of us formed the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, to combat this obscene prejudice against our craft. Ignorant comments like Cameron’s are a good reminder of how far we have to go.

4-Color to 35-Millimeter: the Christopher Reeve Superman movies

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In 1978, we could believe a man could fly — and 40 years later, we still believe that a pair of glasses is a good disguise for Superman in the hands of the right actor. The Great Superhero Movie Rewatch looks at all four of Christopher Reeve’s Superman films from 1978-1987.

An excerpt:

The first movie is, unsurprisingly, the strongest of the four, though even there you can see the seams from the lunatic process by which it and its sequel were both written and filmed. (It doesn’t help that top-billed Marlon Brando can’t even be arsed to do anything as good as phoning in his performance; he’s a disaster, and substituting Susannah York’s Lara for him in the second film is frankly something of a relief.) The opening on Krypton is actually quite well done, even with the drag effect of Brando’s somnabulent line readings, the crystalline art direction for Krypton making Superman’s home truly alien. The Smallville scenes are brief and effective (if you’d told me before this week that Glenn Ford was only actually in two scenes as Jonathan Kent, I’d have said you were lying; he created that much of an impression that it felt like he was in it more), and while Luthor’s plan is pretty over-the-top and absurd (also, where does he get the resources to build an underground headquarters, fly around the country to alter missiles and steal Kryptonite, and so forth?), it still works, and has consequences. Superman going back in time to save Lane probably seemed like it would show the depths of their love, but mostly it just comes across as artificial suspense.

support Mine! to benefit Planned Parenthood

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ComicMix is currently running a Kickstarter to fund the production costs for Mine!, a graphic novel anthology to benefit Planned Parenthood. Once those production costs are covered, all the proceeds from Mine! will go to benefit PP, whether from the crowdfund or from direct sales.

Some of the folks contributing:

Yup, that’s me in there. Along with fellow karateka (and spiffy keen artist) Tom Daly, I’ll be doing a story for the book as well.

So please go and support this anthology. Planned Parenthood is under fire by right-wing shitheads who are trying to defund it and keep people (mostly women) from getting necessary health care. We can’t let this happen, and contributing to this anthology will help.

Thanks!

 

GISHWHES over and out

As some of you may know, for each of the last seven years, Misha Collins — who plays Castiel on Supernatural — has run the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, or GISHWHES for short.

For each of the last three years, I’ve been part of one of the 15-person teams that tries to do as many of the various Scavenger Hunt items as possible in a week. Last year, my participation wound up being minimal due to unexpected apartment hunting, but this year I was back with the same team, Inevitable Innuendo, and this time Wrenn joined me for the fun.

Here’s what the two of us did as our contributions to Team II’s glory:

One item was described very succinctly: “Groucho a piece of fruit.” The thing is, it doesn’t take much to “Groucho” anything: just add eyebrows and a mustache, painted on in black (preferably but not necessarily in greasepaint), a pair of glasses, and a cigar. Heck, that’s all Julius Marx did to “Groucho” himself, which is also all that his brother Harpo did to look like him in the famous mirror scene in Duck Soup.

So I Groucho’d a small watermelon (since my glasses wouldn’t have fit on a big watermelon):

item 15 Groucho a piece of fruit

 

Speaking of Groucho, another item was to visually do the title of a movie. My original plan was to do Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead because I was in Denver International Airport at the beginning of the hunt, but sadly I didn’t get to DIA in time — I took one shot at looking corpse-like while riding the train to my terminal, but it was too blurry to see the DIA logo behind me. And I had a plane to catch.

So I went with Plan B: Duck Soup, as I ducked a can of soup…………………..

item 66 act out movie title

 

Another item was to re-create an illustration from a favorite children’s book in three dimensions. Now one of my favorite kids books ever is the 1942 tome The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde H. Swift & Lynd Ward. So it was simplicity itself to re-create one of the illustrations in the book just by going to the lighthouse (which is still there 75 years later) and getting a picture at the right angle. (I’d wanted to re-create the cover, which you can see by clicking on the title in this paragraph, but there was nowhere to stand to get that particular shot…..) It also gave me an excuse to visit the little red lighthouse. I take pictures of the great gray bridge every Thursday during the school year, but the lighthouse is harder to get to, so it was fun to do that.

item 84 re-creation of a childrens book illustration

 

Artistic skill was required for this next one, so I was out. Wrenn, however, was very much in: spicy art! Re-create a comic book cover or a beloved cartoon character using only spices. Armed with ground cloves and curry, Wrenn went and re-created Scooby Doo!

item 17 spicy art

 

One item Wrenn and I had to do, as we’re the only Noo Yawkas on the team. Every morning, The Today Show is live in a studio in Rockefeller Center that’s on ground level, and people can stand outside and watch in through the window. The item was to hold up a self-shaming sign, but a shame that’s minor and inconsequential. We decided to go with “PLAYING HOOKY FROM OUR FREELANCE JOBS,” which is what we were actually doing. (So meta!)

For the first hour on Friday, you could occasionally see me right next to Matt Lauer’s bald head, and then shortly after the first hour, we held up our sign. (The security folks asked us to not hold up any signs until after the first hour, as that was when the serious news was happening. This was absolutely correct of them to so insist, as it’s horribly inappropriate to hold up silly signs of any sort while Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker, et al are discussing things like possible war with North Korea, Taylor Swift testifying about being groped, and batteries exploding.)

Anyhow, I recorded our DVR’s recording of the big moment in question, when Wrenn held up our sign for all to see:

 

One item was to come up with a list of items we wish were on a GISHWHES list. One of our mighty team members, Catherine Sharp, took all our various suggestions and actually formatted it in the GISH style.

172-TeamGishlist

C# (as we call her) took it one step forward by putting me as taking #9 and submitting it, which leads me to the next one. Wrenn, my brilliant wife, suggested as an item to re-create a scene from a Supernatural novel, and you get bonus points if the author of the novel is involved in the re-creation.

The item after the above one was to actually do one of the things we suggested, and we went with this one, as it was perfect for us to do — I’ve written three of the Supernatural novels (the first, third, and fourth, in fact), and one of them (Nevermore) takes place right here in the Bronx. So we did this:

item 173 re-create a scene from a Supernatural novel

Pity this wasn’t a real one, as Jeff Mariotte, Joe Schreiber, Rebecca Dessertine, David Reed, Christa Faust, John Passarella, Alice Henderson, Tim Waggoner, and/or Yvonne Navarro could’ve gotten in on the fun…………..

 

Another item was to get a bunch of people together in a national forest or a park and hug trees. Because tree-hugging is awesome. Wrenn got a bunch of her fellow Ingress players together in Martin Luther King Jr. Triangle Park here in da Bronx to hug some trees……

item 185 tree-hugging

 

Finally, we have the traditional mosaic of the whole team (there’s almost always at least one). In this case it was supposed to be candid pictures of us all doing everyday activities that were actually surveillance photos by aliens. The mosaic has all of us and identifies where we are and why the aliens would want us. My sister from another mister, Laura Anne Gilman put the mosaic together, and came up with the one-word descriptions. For our parts, I’m “gusto,” and I’m practicing karate in our back yard, while Wrenn is “dauntless,” teaching Kaylee how to use the internet.

Item 8

 

There are other cool things our team did, including picking berries, couch surfing (to wit, going surfing on an actual couch), getting a tattoo (two of our team did that), dancing with animals, and on and on and on. Oh, and driving a big-ass stuffed teddy bear across the country in stages………..

This is apparently the last GISHWHES — I can see how Collins might be a bit burned out on the whole thing after seven years, as it gets bigger every year — and it will be missed, but I think if it is the end, it’s going out on quite the high note.

For our part, we enjoyed doing fun, noble, silly, glorious, absonome things with people who were already friends and people who became friends. Just a delight.

 

an open letter to the Dragon Awards

The following is something I sent to the Dragon Awards, via their official contact page, inspired by my dear friend and fellow tie-in author David Mack, who put out this particular call to arms on Twitter:

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My name is Keith R.A. DeCandido. I’ve been an author guest at Dragon Con fairly regularly since 1998.

In the press release for the Dragon Awards, you say that the categories cover, “the full range of fiction, comics, television, movies, video gaming and tabletop gaming.”

And yet, there is no category that covers media tie-in fiction. This is a major subgenre of the SF/F/H experience, one that is the entry point for many people into the wonderful community that we are all a part of.

This may seem self-serving, as a large chunk of my own bibliography over the past 23 years is in this category, but this isn’t for me or for my colleagues, it’s for the readers who devour the Star Wars novels and World of Warcraft novels and Star Trek novels and movie novelizations and X-Files short stories and HALO novels and Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics and all the other tie-ins. The Dragon Awards are supposed to be for all fans, but by leaving out this segment of the genre, some fans are being underserved.

I therefore ask that you guys consider adding a category for media tie-ins for 2018.

Thank you for your time.

—Keith R.A. DeCandido

(I realize this may seem odd after my previous rant about awards, but the two aren’t mutually exclusive. If the Dragon Awards are going to be as all-inclusive as they say they are, they should include tie-ins. That has nothing to do with me, as I said above, it has to do with the readership and fan base — which is also the voting base for the awards — which should get all their entertainment represented.)

4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Superman and the Mole Men and Batman (1966)

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It’s the triumphant debut of “4-Color to 35-Millimeter: the Great Superhero Rewatch,” as I take a look at the first two superhero feature films, both of which are connected to popular TV shows: Superman and the Mole Men, the 1951 lead-in to The Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves, and Batman, the 1966 film that was released between the first two seasons of the same-titled Adam West series.

An excerpt:

It’s fascinating to watch these first two attempts at long-form live-action superhero movies back to back. Both were tie-ins to TV shows, the first as a sort-of pilot, the second as a reward for a job well done. Both show the main characters in the best possible light, as they do everything they can to preserve life, even to extremes. Superman stands in front of a weapon he knows nothing about in order to save the life of an asshole he’s been railing against for the whole movie. Batman goes to great lengths to dispose of a bomb without harming anyone. For all that “Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb” has justifiably become a pop-culture punchline, the message of that scene is still an important one: life is sacred and should be preserved. Heroes are the people who work hard to preserve lives.