Friday fanfare: “Sweet Little Rock and Roller”

A glorious performance from one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction concerts of the Chuck Berry classic “Sweet Little Rock and Roller,” featuring (at least) Kid Rock, Steve Winwood, Tom Petty, and tons more (it’s just billed as “Kid Rock and the Rock Hall Jam Band,” which is less than helpful).

Star Trek: Picard‘s “No Win Scenario”

Stories from the past, some entertaining, some tragic! A changeling loose on the Titan! A new life form! Crusher actually being a doctor! A batshit crazy plan involving technobabble! Face front, true believer, this one has it all — well, okay, not all, as there’s no Worf or Raffi Musiker this week, which sucks, but otherwise, please do check out my review of Star Trek: Picard‘s “No Win Scenario.”

An excerpt:

The batshit crazy plan, by the by, is nifty on two different levels. For one thing, it’s Crusher who’s responsible for its genesis, because the writers finally remembered that she’s a doctor, not just a mother. She figures out that the nebula is, in fact, a creche for a lifeform that lives in space. Picard specifically cites the creatures from “Encounter at Farpoint” as an example of a similar type of lifeform, and the aliens that are born when the nebula “gives birth” look very similar to those aliens. (Regular commenter Christopher L. Bennett coined the term “cosmozoan” to refer to such lifeforms, which also applies to things like the giant amoeba from “The Immunity Syndrome,” the crystal entity from “Datalore” and “Silicon Avatar,” and Gomtuu from “Tin Man.”)

That moment of birth is the other nifty aspect of the plan, because we—as Crusher comes out and says—get the seeking out of new life. Which is, after all, supposed to be the point.

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “The Shipment”

John Cothran Jr. plays a friendly Xindi who winds up helping move the storyline forward and also provide some details on who and what the Xindi are. And the show continues to move away from the revenge plot that last season’s finale threatened and instead moves back toward being, y’know, a Star Trek show. The Enterprise Rewatch awaits delivery of “The Shipment.”

An excerpt:

I’m very grateful to see that that was at least partly a stress response to a horrific act. With time passing, the crew is coming back to themselves, and Archer isn’t doing “whatever it takes.” Indeed, he’s thinking rationally. Reed and Hayes really really want to blow up the facility, because that’ll set back the construction of the weapon. But as Archer rightly points out, what does that get them? It’ll just allow the notion the Xindi have in their heads that humans are horrible people to grow roots.

Instead of violence, Archer goes for talking and compassion and also learning. He learns on purpose by putting a tracker in the kemocite so they can find out where it’s going, and he learns by accident when Gralik tells him the Xindi’s recent history of a century-long war. The contentiousness among the members of the Xindi Council makes more sense now, as they all fought each other in the big war that made the planet go boom.

cover reveal: D20 or Die!: Memories of Old School Role-Playing Games from Today’s Grown-Up Kids

Coming soon from Becky Books, D20 or Die!, a book filled with reminisces about tabletop role-playing gaming in the waning days of the 20th century. This is a pure nostalgia-fest, edited by Jazzy Jim Beard, aided by Funky Forrest C. Helvie, and it’s tremendous fun. My own contribution is called “A Critical Hit with a Yo-Yo and Other Stories,” telling tales of my RPG adventures in high school, college, and my twenties, including how those experiences influenced my writing career.

The cover is above and here’s the back-cover copy:


Roll for Initiative!

A secret society once existed across the land, a roving band of thrill-seekers who defied the conventional pursuits of their elders to take on new personas in strange adventures that would shock the world! In basements, on back porches, and under barn roofs, they rolled the dice to decide their fates, hungry to play the ultimate games of chance!

This titanic tome will transport you back in time to the 1970s and 80s, an era when role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, Champions, and Traveller were new and exciting, attracting kids of all ages to draw fire from dragons, battle baneful bad guys, and surf the spaceways—all from the safety of a common card table.

In D20 OR DIE! writer-editor Jim Beard acts as a game-playing guru as he expands his “Memories from Today’s Grown-Up Kids” series of pop-culture reminisces to crack the covers of all the classic, old-school, tabletop role-laying games of legend and lore! Just watch those hit points, adventurers!

More information will be forthcoming as it’s revealed…..

Phoenix Precinct now officially on sale!

Meant to post this sooner, but when the calendar flipped to March, Phoenix Precinct, the sixth novel in my series of epic fantasy/police procedurals, officially went on sale! You can now get the trade paperback or the eBook from whatever your online dealer of choice is. Or you can order the trade paperback directly from me and I’ll send you an autographed copy! (This applies to the other Precinct books, too, as well as several other titles that I have in stock…) Email me at or comment below for details…

Star Trek: Picard‘s “Seventeen Seconds”

We find out why Crusher hid her kid from Picard and why Worf is running an op with Raffi Musiker, and while the latter is fabulous — every scene with Worf and Musiker is gold — the former is problematic to say the least. Nonetheless, we get some excellent forward motion and a greater linking of the two plots. My review of Star Trek: Picard‘s “Seventeen Seconds.”

An excerpt:

The Titan portion of the plot gives us a chance to explore the Picard-Riker dynamic, and in particular how it’s changed. We start with the flashback to Picard and Riker drinking a toast to the latter’s kid (complete with Jonathan Frakes’ hair dyed brown—but his beard more salt-and-pepper, a nice touch—and both Frakes and Sir Patrick Stewart digitally de-aged in that manner that makes their eyes look incredibly sunken…). At this point, the new dynamic is still, well, new, plus Riker’s off on his own ship now. But they’re not captain and first officer anymore, and in the present we see that the pair of them aren’t always on the same page.

More to the point, this is the latter-day Picard that we’ve seen on this show for a couple years now whose super-power as he’s gotten older is to royally piss off everyone who’s ever cared about him. And the admiral does a lovely job of doing that, mostly by bullying Riker into fighting the Shrike, even though it’s a fight Riker knows they can’t win. More to the point, they have to protect this crew that they stupidly endangered with their dumbshit off-book mission. And in the end, when the Titan has had the shit kicked out of it thanks to Vadic’s clever use of a portal weapon (like the one that destroyed the Starfleet Recruitment Center), Riker kicks Picard off the bridge.

talkin’ Resident Evil movies on A Podcask of Amontillado

I’m on the latest episode of A Podcask of Amontillado, the horror podcast hosted by Gary Mitchel and Erin McGourn. In this episode, entitled “Alice in Zombie-Land,” we talk about the six Resident Evil movies starring Milla Jovovich as Alice, and also featuring Oded Fehr, Sienna Guillory, Ali Larter, James Purefoy, Michelle Rodriguez, Colin Salmon, Wentworth Miller, Bingbing Li, Boris Kodjoe, Mike Epps, and more. Lots of zombies!

I wrote the novelizations of the first three RE films, and I’ve seen all of them, and we had a grand old time talking about the half-dozen movies.

Check it out here!

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Exile”

Sato gets to star in her very own version of Beauty and the Beast! Or Phantom of the Opera, if you prefer… Meanwhile, Archer and the gang learn Important Things about the Delphic Expanse. The Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch is cast into “Exile.”

An excerpt:

Thankfully, the story avoids the biggest problem with B&tB in particular, which is that it’s a rather creepy case of Stockholm Syndrome disguised as a romantic comedy, which has always sat poorly with me. (Even back in 1991 when the Disney animated version came out, I kept thinking, “But he kidnapped her! It’s not true love, it’s a damn felony!”) But even though Sato thankfully at no point gives in to Tarquin’s desire to keep her prisoner, there are so many little things that threw me out of the story. For starters, Archer just left her alone on the planet with this telepathic rando without any protection beyond a phase pistol. Seriously, why are the MACOs even there if they can’t provide security for a bridge officer stuck on a strange planet?

And then Sato is so nervous about being with this strange alien that she gads about the place in a tank top and shorts the whole time. Because the producers of Enterprise are never happier than when they’re sexualizing their female characters.