MARTHA (or the problem with making your universe smaller)

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I would tell you to stop reading if you haven’t seen Batman v Superman, but that would be pointless. If you haven’t seen it by now, the chances of you deciding to watch it are slim. So buckle up — I’m ‘about to spoil a key plot detail from perhaps the most disappointing superhero movie of the last two decades.

So in BvS, the audience is geared up for some superfight between the hero alter-egos of Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne. All through the TWO AND A HALF HOUR (THREEEEE!! if you watch the Ultimate Cut) of this dark and dreary movie we are told that this is the fight to end all fights. Somehow the audience was expected to buy into some punk Lex Luthor and how he manipulated two of the greatest superheroes on Earth to fight each other, specifically Superman.

But that isn’t the worst part.

Martha.

Now, I’m not opposed to the name Martha. In fact, I have a Martha in my life and my mother-in-law is a wonderful person (honest!). But when these two DC titans are engaging in some fisticuffs, Superman tells Batman not to let “Martha” die. Of course, Martha is Clark’s mother, but in a weird twist………Bruce Wayne’s mother was ALSO NAMED MARTHA. It makes him stop the fight and the entire movie hinges on the moment when Batman is shook by a name.

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Pretty much.

It’s lame, but ultimately what it does kinda makes it worse. Instead of giving the characters outside issues to affect their fight, it actually shrinks their universe and draws us back to their past. And when that happens, it hampers storytelling. It starts getting into an almost unspoken prequel territory (I’ll save my prequel talk for another day), and restricts the options for what the characters can do.

In a way, this is what fans want…up until the point it happens. For instance: Rey from the new Star Wars trilogy. Fans need to know: is she a Skywalker? Is she secretly Han and Leia’s daughter? Is she Emperor Palpatine’s long-lost daughter? Is she Lobot’s neice? Is she R2-D2’s mechanic’s dogwalker’s friend?

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She’s handing this to her father…or a complete stranger…

Or how about Finn? He’s black, so OF COURSE he has to be Lando’s long-lost son.

Why do we do this? Ultimately we like to have connections and meaning to something new. As a teacher, we get a new crop of 8th graders each year coming up as freshmen. Often we try to figure out who they are by older siblings, parents, what school did they come from — we try to peg these students as one thing before they’ve even had a chance to show us who they really are.

We like comfortable. Sure thing. But what challenges us and allows growth is fresh and foreign situations. What if Rey isn’t related to ANY character from the previous eight movies? Fine. We’ll get a lot more story and a widening of a vast universe that we already know and love. But perhaps the folks at Lucasfilm have added her to a family tree from a character we already know. That’s fine, too, but the problem will continue. If we really value fresh content and new stories from Hollywood, we need to push for that same freshness and creativity in our familiar franchises.

It’s the same reason that the Transformers are now embedded into the lore of Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable. It’s the same reason we’re making sequels of movies like Blade Runner and Alien. It’s the same reason that Disney is making “live-action” remakes of the films that were already near perfect in the first place (looking at you, Beauty and the Beast).

We need to demand originality, but not from the entire movie. We need to demand originality within the movie. The script, the characters, their mothers. With Justice League coming soon (a week and a half away), I’d like to see that DC has learned from their first few movies, but I’ll withhold judgment until I see it.

Until then…I’ll be looking forward to Thanksgiving at Martha’s house.

 

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Time To Finish What I Started

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It was three years ago this month that I started writing my first novel. By the time 2013 was up, I had one published novel (Dead Sleep), and its sequel (Dead Sight) just a few months away from publication. Then came the job of finishing the trilogy. I knew the basic plot, I knew what I wanted to do, I just had to write it. The summer of 2014 started well and I had 20,000 words before long.

Then…life.

Within a few months, my wife’s grandmother had a stroke and her father had a heart attack. In August, we were about to prepare for the start of another school year when the call came in. We’d been waiting for it, but it was unexpected nonetheless — our son was cleared to leave his African country and we could finalize our adoption. Within two weeks, we traveled overseas to pick him up, but his health concerns took us to one hospital after another for a few months. By the time 2014 was up, the wife and I were reeling from the adjustments our son had from the adoption, the loss of her grandmother around Thanksgiving, and a profound lack of sleep.

Essentially, that third book got shelved that summer and I haven’t touched it since. If it wasn’t the third book of a trilogy, I might have just said “RIP Dead Search” and be done with it.

But I can’t do that.

Over the past year, I’ve had to re-learn how to incorporate writing into my life. I think I’ve got it mostly figured out, but I know I can always do better. I need to credit Samuel Peralta with the assist in reinvigorating my writing chops. In October 2014, I was invited to be in The Alien Chronicles, and that first Chronicles short story appeared this month last year. Since then, I had the opportunity to write a story for The Z Chronicles (Z Ball), The Immortality Chronicles (The Control), the forthcoming Alt.History 102 (Requiem For An Austrian Princess), and my latest completed story for The Illustrated Robot Chronicles (The Holy, Sacred, and Eternal Book of Robotics).

In addition to stretching and challenging me, I’ve joined an amazing band of authors who each value good writing and treat these collections with importance and respect. I’ll forever be linked to these other authors and I can’t be more happy about it.

the partyBut I think the biggest thing from this past year is my collaboration with my brother, Paul. We live over 2,000 miles apart, but thanks to Google Docs, we have written a few things together, namely our novel, Blink, which will be released on Feb. 4. I started writing it last January, but I didn’t necessarily intend to. I allude to it in the book, but the first words I wrote for it were a Facebook post about my forehead. It eventually morphed into a fictional story and after writing for a couple weeks, Paul showed me some writing he’d done parallel to my own story and it blew me away. In fact, the character he’d centered on became our main protagonist and we both were each other’s biggest fan as we wrote this. Early reaction among Beta and Early readers has been great, but it’s time to look at what’s next.

In November, I turned in my alt.history story about Mozart and Marie Antoinette. In December, I finished the edits on Blink, and just yesterday, I finished my Illustrated Robot story. I have no more pressing writing commitments, so one thing remains…Dead Search.

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BB-8 says, “FINISH IT ALREADY.”

And so here we are. A year and a half after I put it aside, I’m returning to finish the final book in my Dead Sleep trilogy. I know I will try to put it off. I know I will be distracted. I know it might be the toughest thing I’ve done with a writing project. But, I promise I will finish. I need to catch up with my characters, so Job #1 for now is re-reading what I’ve already written. I know my writing style has evolved since I wrote that first book, so this might be super challenging. But…I will do this. Hopefully this summer I can have Dead Search ready for readers and I can finally put this story to bed once and for all.

The Best Things I Laid Eyes on in 2015

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So a few weeks before Christmas, I put out my “Best of” list for short stories, fully intending to do the same for books and movies and who knows what. Then…I didn’t. But, I don’t want to leave it all hanging out there, so I’m combining lists and putting out a “Best Things I Laid Eyes on in 2015” list. You’ll find movies, books, places, people and more. I tried to think of the entire past calendar year, but I know I missed a thing or two I loved. Forgive me. So…here’s my list:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

bb-8_14e2ad77I’ve seen the newest Star Wars film twice now and yet it seems like we’ve just shaken hands. I can’t even tell you how many times I saw IV, V, and VI as a kid. We had the movies on VHS and I watched them over and over and over. I loved them all and when Lucas re-released them in theatres with the latest effects, my dad made sure all of us kids were sitting in the seats.

Then the Prequels. Ugh. Like so many others I wanted to like them. Like so many others I was disappointed. I barely remember watching them and I know I’ve only seen Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith once each. And I know with the final movie I only saw it so I could say I did. There was no hype. No anticipation. No excitement.

Not so here. There are haters, but they can forget about trying to get me to hate it. It checked all the boxes for me and established new characters I care about. A re-tread? Hardly. Similar storybeats, but so was Harry Potter. So have been stories throughout the ages. I am an unabashed fan and I don’t care who knows.

Weapons of Mass Deception by David Bruns and J.R. Olson

weaponsmass_cvr_lrgBruns and Olson have a great book on their hands, I think. Reading this book brought be right back to the hours and hours I spent reading Tom Clancy’s books when I was in high school and college. Clancy had a knack for telling a complicated story with complex international political ramifications and making me care about it. With Weapons of Mass Deception, Bruns and Olson have done the same. The book is a tremendous achievement and I can only hope that the two coordinate their efforts again to give us more books like this down the road.

Jessica Jones / Daredevil

David-Tennant-Jessica-Jones-Poster-Doctor-Who-BrasilI’m lumping these two together. The first two Marvel properties developed for Netflix and both were daring (pun intended) and showed us a side of Marvel we didn’t know we would ever get on the screen. In Daredevil we got a great introduction to the dirty underbelly of New York and were made aware early on that anything goes. Daredevil showed us that in violence, but keeping with the theme of Murdock’s blindness, a lot was kept in the dark and at night. That violence was brought to light big time in Jessica Jones. I loved Jessica Jones. I think I liked it better than Daredevil and that is saying a lot. As a father of a pre-teen girl, I am worried about the world she’ll grow up in and the boys she may date. As a high school teacher, I see a lot of borderline abusive relationships as well. In Jessica Jones, we see those relationships personified in the villain Kilgrave. What a performance and in a way it’s a shame what the end result was for his character. I’m looking forward to what Marvel and Netflix will be cooking up for us in 2016.

Chicago Architectural Tour

BoatTour2_NatalieTaylorI went on a school trip to Chicago early in the summer and one of the things we did was this. If you ever get the chance, it is a great trip up and down the Chicago River with historical context for nearly every one of the buildings along the shore. There is a lot of new building going on and the new Trump Tower gets its fair share of criticism, but I daresay that is part of what has spurred the new developments along the route. The day we went ended up being a lot colder than we anticipated, but I still wound up fascinated by what I saw and heard along the tour.

Constitution/Warrior by Nick Webb

warriorThese books were great. So great that when I was buying Christmas gifts, I bought them in paperback for my dad. He’s hard to shop for, but he’s a military space sci-fi nut, so I knew I was safe with these books. I enjoyed Constitution, but I wasn’t sure what Webb would give us in the follow up. Wow. He really set up a complex and interesting backstory for each side in the conflict (and there are many more than two) and set up a potentially explosive third book in this series. If you like action and intrigue in your science fiction, check out Nick Webb’s books.

Ant Man

The last movie I remember smiling about so much in the theatre before Star Wars was Ant Man. Such a great movie. Really impressed me with its humor and vibe. Just as Daredevil and Jessica Jones redefined Marvel for the TV audience, so did Ant Man for films after the success of Guardians of the Galaxy. I love the nods to Avengers and how it all fits in with the larger universe without feeling too small.

My Newest Book Cover

Coming Soon…. Check this out:

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The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott

I’d read the book by Andy Weir last year so I can’t credit that here, but the movie exceeded all my expectations. I have been burned too many times by books turned into terrible movies, and so when Scott managed to turn The Martian into not only a decent movie, but a GREAT movie, I was thrilled. Matt Damon did a fantastic job and I thought the changes made from book to film were slight and appropriate for the conversion to the movie theatre.

ALL the short stories

11160045_10207031928225789_1011873126454258904_oI read a lot of short stories in 2015. A LOT. I already did my Best of list for just short stories, so I’m not going to rehash them here, but if you like short fiction, you need to check out the Future Chronicles curated by Samuel Peralta. Some great works by a lot of amazing authors. (Myself included, Full Disclosure.)

My Family

Over the summer I had the opportunity to see a lot of family. My wife and I went on a joint vacation to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge with her parents. Unlike some, I do like my in-laws and we had a great kick-off to the summer and good stories for years to come.

We also had a family reunion for my family. My sister lives a couple states away and my older brother is over 2,000 miles away, so getting us all together is easier said than done. Fortunately it worked out and we all met at my parents’ home for a few days. Unfortunately, my 99-year-old grandmother passed away in North Dakota the same week, sending my parents off to handle that business. All of my siblings were able to make it for the funeral, but it did put a bit of a damper on the overall summer get-together. Regardless, it was a great time to see people I don’t typically get to see.

The Dark Man/The White Night by Desmond Doane

26105206A different kind of books than Webb’s offerings, but still just as compelling. If I was going to put out a Best Books of 2016 list, I really think The White Night would have held the top spot. Who is Desmond Doane? That’s the penname for Ernie Lindsey, an accomplished author on his own, but for these horror/supernatural books, he wanted a little edge he couldn’t provide as himself, so Desmond Doane was born. The first book is good, but the second…man, I couldn’t put it down. There was a moment – and you’ll get there too – when I read it and I had to send a message to Ernie cursing him out for what he did to me. I couldn’t wait to write up my review for it and I am strongly anticipating the third book in his Graveyard: Classified series in 2016.

Humbird Cheese, Toma, Wisconsin

humbird-cheese-mart-910750A must stop on our family trips to North Dakota. On our way up for the funeral, we had to stop here. If you love cheese, this is a great place with free samples of nearly all the varieties of cheese. Me? I love a good smoked cheddar and buffalo wing-flavored cheese curds.

Collider Movie Talk on YouTube

We ditched the Dish this year. After over 10 years with either Dish Network or DirecTV, we finally cut the cord so to speak. We rely on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu for most of our traditional TV viewing. However, I’ve come to expect one show each day – Collider Movie Talk on YouTube. Each day, John Campea leads a panel discussion show to discuss movie reviews, box office returns and general movie news. It isn’t dry – each of the hosts have their own unique brand of humor and their passion of movies and genre movies in particular is infectious. In addition to Movie Talk, they also produce weekly shows for comics (Heroes) and Star Wars (Jedi Council) as well as a plethora of TV show recap episodes. If you like entertainment news that isn’t just Kardashian this and Kanye that, check this out.

Things I Think – December 2015 Edition

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Been a while…sorry about that. Had a story due a couple days ago I was obsessing over…tried NaNoWriMo (and failed, but I’m okay with that)…had my yearly evaluation…Thanksgiving…stuff…you know.

So to try to ease my way back into the blog, I thought I would go (mostly) lighthearted with a random buckshot of thoughts rolling through my head right now.

  • Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson is the best instrumental Christmas song. Hands down. Proof: 
  • Just finished Jessica Jones yesterday. Wow. I thought Daredevil was edgy, and then I watched JJ. It was phenomenal. I’ve read a number of articles that talks about how Kilgrave is essentially representing domestic abuse and what happened in the past couple years with Gamer Gate (here’s a good one: LINK) and they couldn’t be more right. As a high school teacher, I see this with young couples who are testing their limits and too often we try to get the girls out of those type of relationships (and a boy or two as well), and they keep on getting sucked back in. It’s hard to see and disturbing in Jessica Jones’ case as well. There was some criticism of her as a character by a Facebook friend last night and I can understand that, but I think we initially have the same thoughts about women in these situations. “Why are they staying? Why are they acting like that? Can’t they just be happy?” I think (without spoiling too much), that the Jessica we see down the line will be different after everything she goes through in these 13 episodes.
  • I think I might be able to just drink Diet Mtn Dew for the rest of my life. Maybe.
  • I have two tickets for Star Wars: The Force Awakens for Friday, Dec. 18 for me and my daughter. CAN NOT WAIT.
  • Every month there is a new edition of The Future Chronicles put out by curator Samuel Peralta. If you haven’t read any yet, the latest — Galaxy — just dropped the other day. Just $1.99 for a limited time and a huge collection of space-based stories. My brother (and co-author on our upcoming novel), Paul will be one of the featured authors in The Cyborg Chronicles, releasing at the end of December. Great books — check them out.
  • How about that Bears-Packers game on Thanksgiving? I know…I know…the general trend isn’t going the Bears way, but allow me a moment of joy. (Also a note…first NFL game I’ve watched since Week 2. We ditched the Dish in September.)
  • 26105206I’ve been a giving a lot of thought on my best books of the year and Ernie Lindsey’s alter ego is probably getting a lot of First Place votes from me. Which book? Maybe this will give you a hint…
  • Black Friday was still crazy, but I think Internet shopping has dramatically changed things. There were decidedly less people than I’ve ever seen and the crowds tended to be fairly civil. Of course, the news wants the insane videos so we got that, but I think those tended to be the exception rather than the rule.
  • It is impossible to diet in November and December. Maintain, yes, but to actually diet and intend to lose weight? Forget it.
  • I am not a fan of Thomas the Train (or Tank Engine for you Trainheads out there. ;).
  • Not that it needs to be said, but Adele is amazing. I could listen to her sing the phone book.
  • Speaking of, who uses the phone book anymore? Maybe I should say I could listen to Adele sing my contact list from my phone. Better.
  • And…that’s it for today. Tune in next time for a smattering of my thoughts.

Let The Hate Flow?

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Chuck Wendig.

(Sorry if I lost half the audience right there, but it had to be said.)

star_wars_aftermathIf you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can visit the Amazon page for Chuck Wendig’s latest book, Aftermath, and peruse through a few of the reviews. I’d recommend not staying too long, but you get the picture. The book is one of the first big Star Wars books since Disney bought out George Lucas and decided the existing Star Wars fiction (known as the “Expanded Universe”) published over the past 20 years or so would be now branded as “Star Wars Legends.” All the novels and stories written in that universe were now deemed “non-canon” — a move that upset a lot of Star Wars fans.

In fact, as of this blog, the book has 41 percent of its reviews as one-star, and has a 2.6 star average. While book criticism is one thing (I’ve certainly disliked books before), there seems to be outside reasons for a lot of the hate that has very little to do with Wendig.

I’ve read a lot of Star Wars books. My dad made a significant investment in the SW titles as soon as Timothy Zahn published his Thrawn trilogy and I was immersed for a few years. I thought the Thrawn novels were fantastic, and I know I wasn’t alone. More Han, Luke, Leia, and Chewie? New characters, for sure, but a continuation of the stories we fell in love with thanks to the original three Star Wars films. But, thanks to Disney’s decision to now relegate those books to non-canonical works (perhaps fanfiction in many people’s eyes), it soiled anything to come down the pipeline for many.

And so here comes Wendig.

Chuck Wendig has what you might call…a unique writing style. Just from the reviews, here are a few descriptions: “jarring,” “poorly written,” “irritates the reader,” “meh,” “thrilling action,” “Choppy sentences,” ” strange and off-putting,” and “unreadable.”

Ouch.

For every positive reaction, you’ll get four or five negative. His writing style is certainly different than what a lot of people may be used to, but it isn’t bad writing. At least, not in my opinion. I am working through it — not done yet — but I’m probably about a third of the way through Aftermath. While I’ve read some, I’m doing a lot of the “reading” with my ears and listening to the audiobook. Maybe he didn’t intend it this way, but from what I’ve heard, the Wendig writing style is perfect for audiobooks. The immediacy of the action and the sharp, crisp dialogue just jumps through the speakers.

But before I praise Wendig too much, let me say here: I am not a Wendigger. I saw a few commenters slamming the positive reviewers as being Wendig fanboys. I am not. Not to say I won’t be, but Aftermath is the first Wendig book I’ve read. Honest to God. I can’t be a Wendig fanboy without having a history with him. And there is none.

As for other criticisms, let’s just do a bullet list of some of the biggies:

  • Gay character. Um. So what? It isn’t like they made Han or Luke gay (although I’m sure there is some fanfic out there…). Homosexual people exist, and I’m sure in a universe with countless planets and alien species, there are any number of orientations. You don’t want boundary-pushing fiction, don’t read sci-fi.
  • None of the “Main” characters. Somewhat of a valid concern, but it isn’t like Wendig would’ve had much say here. I have NO idea how the deal went down for him to write this transition from Jedi to Awakens, but I can guarantee he wasn’t allowed to have Han or Luke or Leia appear. Frankly, he should thank his lucky stars he got Wedge Antilles. At least with Wedge he is able to tie in character-wise with the established film universe. But if fans were expecting Luke to come in with a squad of brand-new Jedi, they don’t understand geopolitical situations.
  • It’s a Small Story. True enough. BUT…what is Disney doing with Star Wars? They are doing EXACTLY WHAT THE FANS ASKED FOR. “We want more!” so they give us “Rogue One” releasing next year that is a smaller story that includes exactly NONE of the main characters we know. What do you expect from a book that connects the films? Besides, this is just part one of a proposed trilogy. How do you know how big the story actually is?

Ultimately, there are some criticisms that are fair. I totally get the writing style one, but I also think if the fans could get past some of the other aspects, the writing style is something people could become accustomed to. The Hunger Games was also criticized for its writing style when it was released, but you rarely hear complaints about it anymore.

At the end of the day, the true fans are showing themselves to be true trolls. Many of the five-star reviews have multiple comments about how the review is paid for, or a corporate shill, or not a true fan, or something else. They can’t understand how it can loved and appreciated by a whole new generation, and if they aren’t careful, they could alienate the very people who could make episodes 7, 8, and 9 the basis for their own lifelong fandom. Much of it is coming off as spiteful of DIsney and their decisions with the property, or hateful towards homosexuals, or even irrational about a fictional universe that you never had any control over in the first place.

To Mr. Wendig — congrats on the success. I’m working on the book and I’ll post a review when I’m done. If it’s a great book, I’ll say so. If it isn’t, I’ll say so there as well. I won’t base my judgement on previous iterations of the universe or on corporate decisions out of your control. Thanks for carrying the torch between the movies, even if most of the fans would like to turn it on you.

Author Interview — Patrice Fitzgerald (Dark Beyond The Stars)

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Dark Beyond The Stars is a wonderful new science fiction short story anthology just released this week. I reviewed it early on and highly recommend the collection for space opera buffs. (Find my review here.)

I was curious about how the collection came about. I’m friends with Patrice Fitzgerald all the way back to our days writing WOOL fanfic and think she is a great person to know in the current day in indie publishing. As it turns out, Patrice took some of the lessons she learned seeing Samuel Peralta shape The Future Chronicles series and decided to play around as the curator and publisher of her own science fiction anthology. I think she’s done an amazing job, taking the things Future Chronicles does well, and adding in her own touches of flair.

Here are some words from Patrice on how the anthology came about and all the amazing talent that went into it:

darkWhat’s the story behind the anthology?

The truth is that this idea came from many of us knowing each other and having great enthusiasm for all the wonderful stories we were reading by our friends. The idea of a space opera collection was so wide open (literally!) that we decided to jump in and explore it. Kind of a “Hey kids, let’s put on a show” mentality. So we did.

And it’s fair to say that the results have been stunning. Fabulous stories, an incredible response from readers, and a bestseller right out of the gate. DARK BEYOND THE STARS jumped to #1 in SF Anthologies on the Amazon charts on launch day, and was also in the top spot in SF Time Travel. The same position showed up in the UK and Germany. Maybe other countries, too, but we were so busy collecting accolades we didn’t see all of them!

What inspiration did Samuel Peralta serve?

Sam Peralta organizes a dozen anthologies in the time it takes the rest of us humans to choose a title. He made it look easy. Turns out, there are lots of moving parts!

But after watching the Future Chronicles explode onto the science fiction radar screen, we knew it was doable. And it is truly an amazing time to be writing and publishing when you can come up with a concept, act on it, and have a finished product on sale within less than a year. Boggles the mind… and yet, here it is. A real book, and people are reading it in droves.

I don’t want to ignore that all the authors are women. Was that a conscious decision and why?

It wasn’t so much a decision as a group of friends saying we wanted to create an anthology together. And we did, while coincidentally remaining female.

We don’t mind at all that we look cool and radical in staking out our position that women can write science fiction. But that’s not news. From Mary Shelley of “Frankenstein” fame to Octavia Butler, P.D. James, Margaret Atwood, Ursula Leguin and beyond, women have been writing in this genre for a long time. It just happens that there is some conversation about this at the moment.

How important were the ancillary parts — David Gatewood, Julie Czerneda, the cover?

We love that cover!  Julie Dillon, who just received her second Hugo Award, had several pieces of original art available that were created in connection with a glorious book of illustrations she financed through Kickstarter. I found her art and the only challenge was deciding which piece to use of all her excellent work.  We may try to purchase another for the next book in the Beyond The Stars series, which will come out in November.

The text on the cover was done by the talented (and patient) Kendall Roderick.  She was recommended by several of our authors, and she did satisfying and professional work.  We will definitely go back to her.

Julie Czerneda was gracious enough to write us the Foreword that helped pull the entire collection together.  A wonderful author in her own right, she hopes to be able to contribute a story to one of our anthologies in the future.

And David Gatewood?  What can you say about David?  He’s the editor you want when you need to have every story shine.  He put a lot of his own heart and soul into this anthology.  And of course, he’s the only man we let into the clubhouse.  So you know he’s special.

In truth… we will have male writes in the next anthology, including Sam Peralta.  At least, he is welcome into the November anthology if he can find a moment in between spearheading new anthologies to write us a story!

What do you hope people get out of the collection?

I would love to think that they are surprised by some of the stories, and even disturbed by some. And certainly entertained.

The great gift of science fiction is to bring to life new worlds and new ways of contemplating the world we know. The great joy in writing it is to have a huge canvas on which to paint bold ideas.

Are you pleased with the response to the anthology?

The debut of DARK BEYOND THE STARS is beyond (I had to say it!) anything we could have dreamed of. We are humbled by the response from fans old and new, and encouraged by the reviews and the number of books sold.

Both of those realities make it easier to dig in and get ready to do it again for the November release. But the primary reason I’m going to publish another one is that it is great fun to get together with your friends and create. The fact that it gives joy to others is just a side benefit.

Thanks, Will, for having me!


Patrice Fitzgerald is the Series Editor for the Beyond The Stars anthologies as well as an author, publisher, attorney, and occasional opera diva. Her books include Karma of the Silo, a dystopian story based on Hugh Howey’s WOOL, Running, a political thriller about two women competing for the U.S. presidency, and a boatload of sci-fi shorts, including three included in the first several Future Chronicles.

You can find DARK BEYOND THE STARS in digital and print form at http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Beyond-Stars-Patrice-Fitzgerald-ebook/dp/B0147F216Y.

The BEST thing about The Hobbit being 3 Films

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So I took my nine-year-old daughter Molly to see the second installment in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy today. We saw the first part last winter so this has now turned into a tradition for us and she had been looking forward to seeing the movie for quite a while. 

Before we get to my point, let me talk about the movie a bit. I’ll admit it’s been a couple years since I read The Hobbit, but I really enjoyed the movie. The inclusion of Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel was really inspired casting — I thought she was one of the best parts, even better than Legolas and a reprise by Orlando Bloom. Legolas’ character really suffered without the foil of Gimli throughout the film. The barrel scene down the river rapids was one of the best chase scenes I’d seen in a movie in a long time. 

Now, of course, since Jackson took a smallish book and made it into three gigantic movies, there are bound to be slow parts and some of the Laketown parts dragged, but I look forward to the payoff in the third movie for Luke Evans’ Bard and the rest of the city. 

Now, as for Molly, this isn’t her first experience with movie series, sequels or trilogies by any means. As a matter of fact, we’re working out way through a few other notable sci-fi series. We’re taking out time with them, but we’ve watched together:

— Parts IV and V of the Star Wars movies. 

— The Fellowship of the Ring and half of The Two Towers

— Back to the Future (just the first so far)

All of those I plan to conclude sometime in the next year, but we can do those at any time. If we wanted to, we could watch the final pieces to each of those series tomorrow and she’d be done with them once and for all. 

The difference with The Hobbit is the movie-going experience. She saw both the movie this year and last in the theatre. She’ll see it next year the same way, but not before then. In fact, last year when she saw it, I didn’t tell her beforehand that it was going to be multiple films. After the dwarves and Bilbo were left staring out in the distance at the end of the film’s runtime with no obvious conclusion, she stared at the screen and said, “Really?!”

Same thing this year. The final credits roll as Smaug is preparing to lay waste to Middle Earth…I lean over and tell her it’ll finish next year…and she says “Really?!”

There’s a lot to be said for delayed gratification and that is one thing that she’s experiencing with The Hobbit. Could Peter Jackson have shrunk the movies? Sure, but with three movies Molly has to wait to see the epic tale finished on the big screen. Just seeing her experience a movie trilogy in real-time is paying for itself and for that, I’m thrilled.