Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Avengers: Infinity War Trailer

Time to take a look at what next big thing Marvel has in store for us.

Okay, we're going to open with a bit of recap to Avengers 1,

Let's see, Strange and Wong finding a confused Banner -- which means it's probably something that takes place after the Ragnarok tag scene....

Scarlet Witch giving ... a human-looking Vision a look that might lead to some comic-book related spoilers.

Ugh, black Black Widow? Oh well. There were a half dozen or so in the comics.

Hulk, Iron Man, with Strange in the Sanctum Sanctorum.  Heh heh heh. Though the stairs need work.  In the original Infinity War comic, it did pretty much start with Strange.

Spider Man ... are the hairs standing up on his arm supposed to be Spidey-Senses? I didn't see Homecoming.

Hmm, Loki handing over the Cosmic Cube to (probably) Thanos. Who could have seen that coming... oh, yeah, everyone who saw Thor: Ragnarok.

The CGI on Thanos is ... not bad. He looks like a video game character. Though I'm surprised they went with him without the headpiece he usually wears in the comics.

Oooh, the Iron-Spidey armor! Not the gold on red from the comics, but I like it. Somehow, it looks even more canonical than the clothe version.

"Evacuate the city, engage all defenses, and get this man a shield" .... Okay, that's cool.

... Okay, Thor in space. Whatever.

Okay, and the Vision is sort of screwed. I just hope that taking the gem out of his skull isn't going to be the end of the character. I actually like what Bettany has done with him, and I'd like him to come back.

We also have Thanos with the gauntlet, but he hasn't yet collected the whole set. Which is good, because that might be the moment we get a lot of actors retired from the MCU.

There's also Bucky standing with Wakanda soldiers. Again, not a surprise. Even I guessed there might be something to that after Civil War happened... And then there's the Falcon joining in the same battle, with Hulkbuster Iron Man, and I see War Machine. Yeah, if Wakanda doesn't have an Infinity stone, I will be shocked.

Heh. And Thor, with the Guardians of the Galaxy.  Heh heh heh. Well, this is going to get strange.

If I'm going to lay money on this, I'd say there's an infinity stone in Wakanda, and much of the movie will be to get the band back together in order to stop Thanos from getting the last stone. But that's just a guess on my part.

Either way, looks like it's going to be fun.

Monday, November 27, 2017

#CyberMonday 2017: Give the Gift of Books this Christmas

As I've done every year, this is just a list to make your shopping lives easier -- for Black Friday, or for the upcoming Cyber Monday. Because giving the gift of books is always a good thing.

You might want to try some of these items below. I've even reviewed a few of them.

In short: give the gift of books to people you care about. They're cheaper than iPods. Heh.

As with last year, I will start with suggesting my own novels. Not even all of my own novels, just some of them. The newest ones, for starters.

To start with, there's the Dragon Award nominated Love at First Bite series.  Because everyone loves this novel. Is it because it's romance? It is because it's vampires? Urban Fantasy? A little YA-ish? A little Christian-fic?

I have no idea.

But if you're new here, it's about a boy meeting a girl.  One of them is a homicidal monster. The other's just a vampire. It has Vatican Ninjas, and holy water burning vampires, and sunlight killing unholy monsters AND NONE OF THE VAMPIRES SPARKLE, DAMNIT.

Ahem. Anyway.

For the record, we mustn't forget the Set to Kill. Which is basically taking Sad Puppies Bite Back, and taking it to a whole new level of insane. It's another part of the Murder Con Series, including It Was Only On Stun!

Basically, take insane security agent who is a "mundane" at an SF convention

Drop him head first into the culture.

Drop the bodies to the floor.

Hilarity ensues.

Codename: Winterborn .... the "other" novel, also strangely well reviewed. Genre: character-driven scifi espionage. While on a mission to the Islamic Republic of France, Lt. Kevin Anderson's team is betrayed by the politicians who sent them. As the only survivor, Anderson must stop the senators involved before the next team is slaughtered on the altar of political greed. He's certain he won't survive, but he will make this sacrifice, for his Codename is Winterborn.

 I recommend this for all fans of Baen novels -- like John Ringo, David Weber, and even your straight up thriller writers, like Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, et al.

There is, of course, the sequel: Codename: UnSub, which only just came out.

For those of you who might think that distopias aren't dark enough, I bring you....

Dystopias plus a superpowered serial killer.

Yes. Because I like making things even harder than they already are.



Several of the following books you may have seen before.

Torchship / Torchship Pilot by Karl Gallagher: For anyone who really wanted Firefly to be good, this should be your cup of tea. Heck, for fans of: Firefly, David Weber, early David Weber, and people who would be really entertained by protagonists in an SF novel doing their calculations by slide rule.

Iron Chamber of Memory - For adults only, really...or any mature 12 year old, like I was. I don't care in what format you buy it, but you owe it to yourself to buy at least one copy for yourself, though I recommend buying half a dozen, just so you can immediately hand out copies to your friends.
Review here

The Big Sheep - Perfect for anyone who likes SF mysteries, mild dystopias, and Terry Pratchett. As far as I'm concerned, if Rob Kroese wants to keep putting out books about Erasmus Keane for the rest of his life, I'll happily use him as a substitute for Sir Terry Pratchett. (Review Here)

Chasing Freedom -- for anyone who sees the USA falling to fascism, but also sees some small hope in our future. A Dystopia that doesn't make you want to slit your wrists. Yay. (Review here)

Murder in The Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes -- if you've been reading my blog for a long time, you know that I loved this one, and I can't possibly recommend it enough.... and then there's The Watson Chronicleswhich is even better.  The only books I will recommend over my own, and I'm told my books are pretty awesome, so, yeah...

The Book of Helen -- dang, this was a kickass little novel.  The West Wing meets the Trojan war, this novel goes beyond the "they all lived strangely ever after" of Helen of Troy, and follows the rest of her life after she came home from Troy.  Yes, Helen did have an "after Troy."  You know the mythology, and now, this is the rest of the story.

Black Tide Rising -- For those people who hate zombies ... you can like this, at the very least.
[Review here]Ordinance 93:  I've reviewed this book (on Amazon), I've interviewed this author back when still existed. Ordinance 93 is a thriller that sort-of centers around abortion, but is mostly a fun chase novel. I'd actually like the next one to come up.

Infinite Space, Infinite God II .... a Catholic scifi-anthology, so,

Greater Treasures -- Imagine the Maltese Falcon with dragons. Nuff said.

Stealing Jenny, by Ellen Gable: After 5 miscarriages, Jenny is about to have a pregnancy come to full term... until a psychotic woman kidnaps her and chains her in her basement with the intention of taking the child for her own. I liked this one.

Amy Lynn and Amy Lynn: Golden Angel.  Just buy them. Read them. The first one could be dark YA.  The second ... yeah, for adults only. One's a solid novel, the second one is a solid thriller. Just go with me on this one, okay?

Night Machines by Kia Heavey .... this one was interesting.  Almost Doctor Who-ish by way of Rod Serling.

And, of course, there is an endless list of books I can recommend, which happen to be a different tab at the top of the page -- includes Flynn, Ringo, Weber, Thor, etc, etc.

Tears of Paradox, by Daniella Bova, reviewed here

End of the road, by Amy Bennett: This looks like a fun one, a straight up, old fashioned murder mystery...Yes, I know I haven't read it yet, but I've been busy...

By the Hands of Men, Book One: The Old World.

Also, here's everything I suggested for the Dragon Awards in 2016

And here's everything nominated for a Dragon Award in 2016.

And everything I talked about for a Dragon Award in 2017.

And everything NOMINATED for a Dragon in 2017.

That should cover a fairly wide net.

If you have something you'd like to suggest for gifting opportunities, please feel free to mention it below.

You can also click one of the above tabs for suggested books.

Good luck with shopping, everyone.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

NEW TV Review: S.W.A.T.

Funny thing. When I was looking up SWAT for the DVR, I discovered ... the pilot for the original TV show. It opened with cops being ambushed by a gang who just wants to assassinate police officers. Any police officer.

Nothing freaking changes, does it?

While the opening of SWAT 2017 is painfully obvious, you can tell that a LOT of PC BS was left on the cutting room floor. It opens with an utterly unnecessary "shootout where cop shoots a civillian caught in the crossfire," leading to Shemar Moore's Hondo being promoted to team leader, in a PR stunt that's so blatant, the entire SWAT team is questioning it. The solution to the episode, however, was actually interesting -- our killers have been manipulating the public to expect domestic terrorism, political agendas ... and it's all in the service of a bank robbery.

I really wanted Hans Gruber to come out and laugh, saying "Who said we were terrorists?"

Much of this movie tries to take from the 2003 Sam Jackson film with Jeremy Renner and Colin Farrell -- it's why Shermar Moore is Hondo, one of our shooters is a Hispanic woman (who isn't replacing Michelle Rodriequez, honest!), and why Jim Street is regarded as a hothead who doesn't play well with others (which, while threatened in the 1975 version, never really followed through on). The new-guy hothead is a cliche that they're at least trying to ring the changes on, but they're not quite there yet.

Despite the commercials threatening to have SWAT play at community policing, it's not really that bad. In fact, I'm trying to imagine what the point is. Most of the "changes" and "being nicer and gentler" mostly just comes off as being common sense -- sorry, but DEFENDING A WITNESS and treating an obvious civilian as a human being doesn't really come off as anything special. I don't know if they're trying to imply that police just routinely brutalize people for fun, or if they're just suggesting that, hmm, maybe something called SPECIAL WEAPONS AND TACTICS generally don't interact much with the general populace. You know, maybe.

Right now, much of this show is resting on Shermar Moore's charisma. Thankfully, he has plenty. It's okay. It's not stand out. Hell, it's not even NCIS: New Orleans. It's watchable. It's okay. And if I have five minutes, I'll have this on in the background while I do something else. 6/10

NEW TV Review: Must Miss TV

I think I'm going to skip the in-depth reviews, and just to straight to the stuff that sucks.

The Good Doctor: An autistic savant wants to become a surgeon. The show jumps straight to the surgical residency, and has totally avoided medical school. Sorry, it's already stretched my credulity to expect that someone who literally doesn't answer anything phrased in the form of a question to have progressed this far in a medical career. Yes, I'm serious about the inability to answer questions. The emotional manipulation evident in the show is ham-handed, ham-fisted, and just plain "shoot me now." It's easy to make a character likable when nearly everyone else is a scumbag, a parasite, or a pathological schumck-- one character steals every idea from the autistic and claims them for his own, one surgeon is a coward who lies to patience as long as they think good things about her, and one of the hospital board is busier trying to play Game of Thrones than running his department. It's blatant emotional manipulation, making everyone a dick. There are only two characters here who are worth the time -- our savant, and Richard Shiff, who plays the president of the hospital, but he's still playing Richard Schiff, really.

And what do you expect from the guys who brought you House? Doctors who are actually interesting and likable? And the flashbacks break the pacing to Hell and gone. Daniel Dae Kim left Hawaii 5-0 to produce this crap? Oy.

Inhumans: I watched the two-hour pilot, and the third episode. They had some interesting moments here and there, but it got lost in the slow, plodding execution of the story. The Inhumans have a base on a moon -- an invisible city, with a city run by those with powers, while the unpowered drudge away in the mines beneath the city... what they're mining, we have no idea. A Game of Thrones hostile takeover ensues, sending four (later five) members of the royal family to Earth.

There are some interesting bits of business, such as the mute Black Bolt communicating largely through faces, and some of the fighting is okay. But really, Ken Leung ran from The Night Shift for this? It is slow, it is ponderous, and when only the bad guys get the best lines, I'm out.

X-Men The Gifted: I'm getting to the point when I hate the X-Bitches. Hugh Jackman carried the movie franchise, and I haven't been interested in the series as a whole since the animated series went off the air in the 90s. The X-Douches are whiny, angsty, and a pain to watch. But I'd try this for Amy Acker. The pilot opens strong, with a mutant being chased by the cops ... for reasons we don't get. It's followed by a strong, intense action piece. It ends with one of the rescue team being chapters, and the scene punctuated with -- wait for it!!!-- and angsty scream of futility. Oh, come on.

This is then follow with Amy Acker and her character's husband in a principle's office, then followed by her managing children at home ... no. Thank you. I'm done. Good bye. They can waste someone else's time. This is a gift that should be returned.

Review: The Defenders

So, I saw Marvel's NetFlix series for The Defenders a few weeks ago.

What did I think?

Here's a hint: It took me this long to review it. What do you think?

The short version is: it was okay.

The premise is simple: The Hand, magical Yakuza Ninjas, have come to destroy New York.

How? I'm not entirely certain. There's something about a dragon underneath the city, and if you take too much away from the dragon, the city falls down? I think. It was either never spelled out fully, or it was partially explained in Iron Fist (which I'm so glad I didn't see), or I fast forwarded through it by accident -- and I made it a point to watch everything the good guys were in in full, so if it wasn't explained to them, it wasn't explained to me.

Slowly, each of the quartet of heroes is dragged into this little fiasco. Danny Rand / Iron Fist is given a warning that the Hand are going to destroy New York. He chases a hired street kid working for the Hand ... a kid who Luke Cage is trying to keep off the streets. They fight. Hilarity ensues. Meanwhile, Jessica Jones is hired to find an architect, and when that goes bad, she's represented by a blind attorney from Hell's Kitchen. They end up colliding together in an office building owned by the Hand. Then the fun starts...

The fun takes a while to get there. About episode 3. There are the occasional moments before that, but ... eh.

On the positive side, when these people are together, they're actually not too bad. Most of them balance out each other's more annoying qualities. Luke Cage is the rock upon which everything else could stand if they wanted. Iron Fist's whining and stupidity is balanced out by everyone smacking him upside the head. Daredevil is still probably the best part of the show. Jessica Jones' misanthropy is balanced out by her having to share the screen with everyone more interesting than she is.

And of course, "Jessica Jones, stop talking" is so perfect a line I want it as my ring tone.

Though one of the crowning achievements of this show are bringing the side kicks together. Sorry, but I really enjoyed watching the Night Nurse with Colleen Wing, or Hellcat... sorry, Trish ...meeting with Murdock's law firm. It was fun. And strange.

And then there's the downside: the bad guys. Sorry, Marvel, unless the villain is Kingpin or Kilgrave, or they just go full comic book villain, we don't care. We really don't. Sigorney Weaver was wasted as Nameless Psycho #4 (no, really, I can't recall what the bleep her name is). She was amazingly boring, she's obviously too old for this crap, and her next step on the creepy train is to go full Susan Sarandon.

Then there's Elektra... sigh. Yes, for those who remember the end of Daredevil season 2, Elektra died. It's a bad habit she's kept from the comic books. Another bad habit is that she keeps coming back. The only difference is that she's been brought back ... wrong. I don't know if she's supposed to have been programmed as a mindless super weapon, or if she's just even more broken than she was from her first appearance. Here, she's as crazy as a bag of cats.

Another major downside: some of the idiocy that just falls trippingly off the tongue. If I hear "White Privilege" one more time, I will hit someone with a 2x4. Thankfully, that was only one particularly stupid conversation and was never repeated ... or I fast forwarded right past it, and never heard a thing about it.

There was also the obligatory superhero beat down. There were two of them. No one one's surprise, it was beating up on Iron Fist. Because this Danny Rand needs to be beaten routinely.

And, honestly, the intelligence of the characters was 100% dictated by the needs of the plot. Thankfully, Iron Fist is stupid enough to be more than stupid enough for everybody. The best idea he's had all throughout the series was that they would make a good team.

The team is fine, when they're actually on the move and DOING SOMETHING.  Seriously, this was a major issues with Supergirl, why is this the end of a Marvel series? They usually do things fairly well. Nope. Not any more.


At the end of the day, yes, I do recommend this ... on fast forward. There is exactly one moment where watching the bad guys comes in handy, and it's Elektra's best moment. But aside from that, you don't need to watch them, and they are in dire need of editing.

Crisis on Earth-X

Another four-part crossover. How bad will this suck?

Okay, it doesn't look too bad. I would call this game on account of "Nazis? Really? Again? Are they actually trying to virtue signal with this?" but there is at least one of the 52 universes where Nazis won World War II. I think it's called the Wolfenstein universe.

Also, they brought back Snart. From the dead. Again.... I'll take it. He might actually have a hope of saving Legends of Tomorrow, even though the show has become as stupid as their series name.

The action looks good -- as in they have any-- though I really want Hellboy to show up. Because it's DC Nazis, there should be Hellboy, damnit. Where's Ron Perleman? Time for him to suit up again.

I will watch the four part, though I haven't bothered with the other three series since the season began -- Arrow is the only one I'll tolerate regularly.

Will this suck?


... Damnit.

Facebook Launch Party: The Awful Truth About Forgetting

Starting at 2:30PM Eastern, today, L. Jagi Lamplighter will host the Facebook launch party for The Awful Truth About Forgetting, the fourth book of the "Books of Unexpected Enlightenment."

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, text

Or as the press release says...

Coming from Wisecraft Publishing, the YA Imprint of Superversive Press, the fourth Book of Unexpected Enlightenment: THE AWFUL TRUTH ABOUT FORGETTING

The launch will take place on Tuesday, November 21st on Facebook from 2:30 to 5:50. There will be games, giveaways, a video reveal of the book trailer made by Superversive’s own Ben Zwycky and lovely singer Sarah Koolbeck, and conversation with Rachel Griffin and Sigfried the Dragonslayer.

There will also be a Spoiler reveal, so get your questions in early!

The invitation reads:
Come one, come all and join in the wonder! 
Rachel Griffin and Sigfried the Dragonslayer invite you to a Facebook Launch party for the fourth Book of Unexpected Enlightenment: THE AWFUL TRUTH ABOUT FORGETTING. 
Festivities will included: games, giveaways, meet the characters, guest authors (TBA), and one Spoiler in response to reader’s questions (the person who submits the winning question will receive a set of four Unexpected Enlightenment bookplates signed by the author and illustrator. )

Grand prize winner may choose one item from among The Wright Stuff Zazzle store’s Roanoke Alchemical Shoppe.

The giveaways might include freebies some people you recognize.

I enjoy this series. I suggest you join in.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

MAGA: Why Trump?

After last year's election, I had the attack of the psychotic Leftists attacking me.  The following is a comment I made back then. I didn't realize it was a whole essay.

But now that MAGA 2020 has come out, I thought it was time to have this discussion.

Yes, it's about politics. Because how can you avoid it?

By the end of this, you will have to comment to tell me if the headline was clickbait. Perhaps this is less a matter of "Why Trump" and more a matter of "Anybody But Leftists."

You'll have to decide.

Obviously, some of the observations I made at the time have become invalid. As I said then, one of the biggest things against Trump was that he switched parties to become a Republican.

I think people should be forgiven their mistakes when they as for it.


"Every slander said about Trump has been said about almost every Republican nominated since 1980, if not 1960. (Look up Barry Goldwater sometime. Especially Johnson's campaigns against him.) Reagan was going to lead us to nuclear devastation. George Bush the first was supposed to be too stupid to know anything. I don't think I even need to go into everything said about George Bush the younger. And of course there was McCain. And Romney. I can show you some very interesting anti-GOP ads. And know the exact same thing is being said about the exact same political party's candidate. And the same exact people are having hissy fit. The same exact people are faking swastikas and lynching nooses.

"Look up every single incident for the last 20 years about supposedly racist threats. You find that they are faked by a Democrat. Though in the case of vandalism against one's own church / temple / et cetera it is typically a member of the congregation. The same exact people are threatening violence again. Democrats. Every time Democrats lose, it is the electoral college is at fault. Because they would rather have 5 particular sections of the country rule over every other section of the country.

"These people born me. With the threats and their swearing and the calls of nazi-ism, racism, mysogyny, homophobia, transphobia, phobia phobia.

"While their side of the aisle seems to be scared of anyone armed with anything more than a plastic butter knife. Democrats say to call the cops, you don't need to gun. Then they say the cops are evil and racist and then ... in which case, why are we calling them?

"At the end of the day Democrats, liberals, SJW's, are all boring. Repetitive. Frankly, if you want to fight an author by telling their readers what the author believes, you should do something as radical as look up the author, read their blog, because for all you know, the readers already know because the author has it plastered all over their blog.

"My general disdain for Trump stems from his history of basically being a Democrat. That is the only regard in which I would believe that he was a member of the Klan. After all, the Klan is a Democrat party institution. Just asked Robert Byrd. Though I gotta tell you, Vs Hillary, everyone short of a serial killer looked more interesting... or at least like a better option.

"Okay Gary Johnson look like a complete moron, but what can you do?

"Though to be honest, I was more of a Ted Cruz person. Though I am relatively sure that everybody protesting in the streets right now would be bitching about him as well."

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

NEW TV Review: Wisdom of the Crowd

Everything wrong with Wisdom of the Crowd can be summed up in an episode of The Orville called "Majority Rule."

Though for the more politically inclined, perhaps this is better summed up by the realization that the lead, Jeremy Piven, is also one of the producers, a Bernie Sanders supporter, and the setting is San Francisco, hippie capital of the universe.

Zuckerberg knockoff Jeffrey Tanner (Jeremy Piven) leaves his social media empire in order to hunt down "the real killer" of his daughter, who died over a year before. He's using Sophe, an AI program that uses crowd sourcing to investigate crimes -- presuming that a few million eyes on the same piece of evidence will see more than a few cops working a case.

Think about this a moment, please: the Internet is going to solve crimes. Yeah, really. But don't worry, we have magical filters that will not only filter out political bias, but also internet trolls. This smacks of The Machine from Person of Interest, and making is an app feels like the late lamented APB. Then they layer on political BS, because it's San Francisco, we have a good socialist Brit (played by Harry Potter's Natalia Tena), a lefty Muslim "hacktivist" idiot, another IT guy who I expect to come out of the closet any time now ... because it's San Francisco, no one can be straight.

Of course, we have Tanner's ex, a member of Congress played by Monica Potter. Sorry, but Monica Potter is beautiful. I used to confuse her with Julia Roberts ... many, many moons ago. Here, they make her look kinda ugly, as though she has had heavy plastic surgery. I'm not sure if Potter has had the Mark Hamill face lift, or if she's supposed to look like Nancy Pelosi. She's grating, adds nothing to each episode, but will probably be the key to the year-long conspiracy series arc.

By episode three, we have the politics-heavy episode, where every right-winger is a Nazi.  Because we're supposed to believe that San Francisco is a racial powder keg ... and no, they don't discuss Oakland. Because that would be racist, I'm sure.

Episode 4 is the "viral suicide game," which was so message-heavy, it's fake. And in a world where we have crowds gathered underneath a jumper, you're going to have at least one idiot crying "JUMP! JUMP!"  So having "the internet" come to the rescue there? No. I call BS.

Their politics is so out of touch, they literally brought out a white militia group from 90s central casting. We won't even go into the lousy "business law" subplot which is a struggle over ...600 lines of code. Which even I know is solved by REWRITING THE CODE.

Despite having an okay start, and Richard T Jones (who deserves a much better series, that will stay on for any length of time) this show is really only for the socialist at heart.

Given that Piven is one of many Hollywood types that is accused of sexual molestation, assault and / or rape, I expect this show to crash, burn, and die in a fire. The show started at a mere 8.83 million viewers, on CBS, a channel that canceled the far superior shows The Mentalist and Unforgettable when they had 9 and 10 million viewers, respectively. The low point for the raitings have been under 7 million.

So even if you like this show, expect this crowd-sourcing fantasy to require crowd-funding to stay alive.

While the pilot is okay, starting at a strong 7/10, it's going to 4/10 and crashing. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

NEW TV Review: SEAL Team / The Brave

Never have I seen two parallel TV shows on at the same time, doing similar things in such a different fashion, down to the extent that they basically had the same exact premise for their pilot episode. They both have stock, cliche characters that are in painful need of development, but while one tries, badly, to develop those characters, the other makes no real attempt to, but is perfectly okay with that.

To begin with, there is SEAL Team, starring David Boreanaz, who is rapidly approaching 50, and he looks it. He is the epitome of "getting too old for this s**t." The former vampire FBI agent is trying very hard to convince us that he is a SEAL door-kicker burnout waiting to happen, but the only believable part is the burnout. Mr. Boreanaz is dangerously close to joining the Tom Cruise club for actors who don't realize that they're too old to be the sexy heartthrob anymore -- and even Tom Cruise has reached the point in his career where his ego acknowledges that taking body shots to the ego is good for him.

The premise of SEAL Team is simple: Boreanaz is a leader of one of the Teams, and he has just lost his best friend before episode 1 begins. His marriage is on the rocks, and his buddy may have left a secret behind. And meanwhile, there's a new recruit going through training, the offspring of "a SEAL who wrote a book" ... so, Richard Marcinko, I guess. The two storylines had diverged after the pilot, and appear to have no chance of intersecting ever again.

Half of every episode seems to be dedicated to the home life of the SEALs: the burnout, the marriage, the newbie getting a college coed into the sack... ie: pure melodrama. The other half is dedicated to some well assembled action pieces.

I think I would rather bring back The Unit.

At the end of the day, it's hard for me to care about any of the characters here. The pilot episode had Michael Rooker as the head of SEAL training. He had less than five minutes for the first episode, and has disappeared. I would have rather had a TV show about him.

I must admit though, I like their CIA spook, played by blatantly hot Jessica Paré -- that's not a complaint. She's got surprising amounts of depth in her character, even in the first episode. I didn't know that spies were allowed to be human. Pity that Team members aren't allowed to be.

Cliche characters out of central casting, poor development, half of each episode is boring melodrama, broken up at the end with some action pieces. If you watch the show, bring your fast forward button, and don't watch it live.

On a good day, 5/10.  At most. I recommend finding old episodes of The Unit instead.

Then we have The Brave ... who also have a collection of stock characters. Seriously, these people are so cliche, some of their character names are probably labels that they had in their notes. The Brave is seriously plot heavy, and character light. The most vivid character with the best overall development is the guest du jour, especially in the first few episodes. Everyone else is a collection of personality traits, not people.

You've got the petite female sniper, who wants to be Michelle Rodriquez when she grows up. There's the white bread leader be named Dalton -- I don't know if they wanted to steal from the original or the new MacGyver ... though he's way more tolerable than the more recent version. There's the obligatory skinny Muslim, the spiritual black guy literally named "Preach."

At this point in the series, one of their most interesting characters is analyst Noah Morgenthau, who has already had an episode where he got to insist that he's "just an analyst, not a field agent." I actually want to see more of that guy than the actual shooters. I could seem him groomed for Scott Murphy at some point down the line.

Overall, the series is a plot in search of personality for the main characters. But the stories themselves are good, some nice witticisms here and there. I don't really hate this show. They want to be military fiction Mission: Impossible, and they sometimes manage it, though the original Mission: Impossible had more charisma from the beginning. I can honestly say that the show is getting better as it goes along. At its worst, 6/10. At its best, maybe 8/10. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Review of Thor: Ragnarok

If you know Norse mythology, you know that Ragnarok is basically the doom of Asgard. It is the end of all things. Can Thor, god of thunder, stop the cataclysm from happening?
Going by the first minutes of the film, yes. Yes he can.

When last we saw our intrepid Avenger, Thor had flown off in search of the Infinity Gems (the shiny MacGuffin devices from half the franchise). Finding none, he is now in search of the cause of his dreams: dreams of Ragnarok. It leads him to Surtur ... some sort of magma ...Satan ... thing. Surtur monologes a bit about how he will destroy of of Asgard, bwahahahaha ... and Thor interrupts him for some comic moments, and we're off.

However, the end of all things isn't quite averted. Hela, goddess of death, has been trapped for half a million years, and she's out, and she's ready to rule everything.

So, nicely epic. But can they pull it off?

Largely, yes.

Hela is released, and due to a problem with the Rainbow Bridge, Thor and Loki don't get a full confrontation with Hela, but are thrown down onto an alien planet. Thor is captured via cheap technology tricks, and is made to fight in a gladiatorial arena owned by Jeff Goldblum.  Yes, Jeff has tired of playing with dinosaurs, and wants to play with comic book characters instead. It's all very strange.

The whole film is strange from start to finish. There is a definite departure in tone from the other Thor films, giving it more of a Guardians feel to it. Thor, the deadly serious, makes for a surprisingly good slapstick artist. I was surprised too. I think I laughed at this one more than I did at Guardians.

All in all, this was straight up fun. There are shoot outs that make me think of Flash Gordon (the one with Topol, Queen, and Max von Sydow) to such a point that I thought excerpts of the soundtrack would start playing at any moment. At one point, "Pure Imagination" does start playing. Yes, really. There's comedy. There's some well-done plotting. Nothing is really forced (okay, one scene is, to be seen below). I'd even say the Pulp crowd would be entertained, given that we have a space ship firing a machine gun at Fenris while a horde of zombie soldiers are being mowed down by a lightning-wielding demigod, who shot his way out of an intergalactic gladiatorial ring with a laser rifle.

Now, you know that there are several elements they must address in the film. such as the post-credit scene in Doctor Strange. You know from the end of The Dark World that Loki is on the throne of Asgard, pretending to be Odin. You know that he was looking for the Infinity gems. You know that someone might want to mention that Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) isn't in this movie -- and frankly, I have no idea how they could have fit her in as well. All of these plot points are actually addressed and resolved within-- at a guess-- about fifteen minutes in.

I have two major problems with the movie, and a minor one, below. One, we have a moment that is a variation on the "you have hidden depths" meme that we've seen before -- though I don't have a problem with how they did it, I have a problem with where they put it. It's rather awkwardly jammed in. I blame whoever edited the film together. It's fairly jarring.  You'll see where they put it. I liked the scene itself (it could have been a minute longer), and it had some witty lines, but it's sort of shoehorned in, like the editor went trigger happy somewhere along the line. I know there are several shots and lines of dialogue cut from the trailer to the film; I know that it happens, but given some parts of the ending, I think someone went overboard.

My second major problem: character deaths. Of the five character deaths in this film, only one is lingered on for any length of time. The other four were murdered off-handedly, making me wonder why some of these people were even brought in.

The acting is surprisingly well done. Hemsworth is a great straight man, and pulls off the big epic moments, as well as the slapstick. Don't worry ladies, you'll get shirtless Thor -- though he seems to have bulked down, and has gone more for martial art muscle than gym muscle.

Cumberbatch as Strange is even better, and funnier here than he was in his own movie. It was fun, and they got rid of him in a matter of three minutes, a good thing, since he might have stolen this film if he was more than a cameo.

Tom Hiddleston as Loki ... is Tom Hiddleston as Loki. Has anyone ever had any problem with his Loki? Loki's still insane, but dang, he's got style. And he knows how to make an entrance.

Hela ... she's a serviceable villain. She's fun, and she leaves more of an impression than the dark elves from The Dark World. She even comes with her own army of zombie Rivendell elves. Yes, I know they're supposed to be old Asgard warriors. And she comes with Fenris as her pet.

Valkyrie -- Sigh. You know, I didn't mind Idris Elba as Heimdall, because he brings gravitas and .. he ACTS LIKE HEIMDALL. I didn't mind a random Asian dude thrown in as one of the Warriors Three, since they're largely background characters. But when you replace Valkrie, a six-foot blonde who should be built like Red Sonja, with a 5'4" Tessa Thompson, I have multiple levels of why this is a problem. It will help if you have no actual attachment to the comic book character in the first place. Trust me on this

Karl Urban as the Executioner ... while I like Urban, pretending that this character is anything like the comic book version is idiotic. I presume that this is the last Thor film, for multiple reasons, but most of all because they felt the need to jam in certain characters without bothering to make them anything like their comic book counterparts. Damn it, Idris Elba at least acts like Heimdall.

Again, a fun film. Possibly the best Thor film. Definitely the funniest Marvel film. Though I'm surprised at their restraint: I had expected at least new one Infinity Gem, and didn't get one. If I recall correctly, there are still two missing.

But we'll see.

Right now, I don't have an analysis for what this means for the rest of the Marvel universe. I have some guesses, but it's pure speculation.

Ragnarok is definitely recommended on the big screen.

Publishing Schedule, 2017-2018

I finally got around to that break. I've only been threatening to take one since July. But this year has been a bit busy.

Let's recap quickly.


January: Live and Let Bite

July: Rerelease of A Pius Man
Astounding Frontiers 1: Give Us 10 Minutes, We'll give you a World, magazine

AugustGood to the Last Drop

September: Tales of the Once and Future King, anthology.

October:  Lyonesse, Volume 1, anthology.
Paragons: An Anthology of Superheroes

November: MAGA: 2020 & Beyond, anthology.

December: The Hundred World's anthology (ed: JF Holmes)

Oh, yes, and while we're at it, I've coauthored a novel with Dawn Witzke, the cover artist, and I'm halfway done with the book. AND I sent a space opera to Baen. They'll take a year to reject me -- I'm just assuming I'll be rejected, the odds are against me.

Meanwhile, as I'm waiting for Baen to reject me, I'll be working on a few things.

I know that I had previously mentioned that I was going to have three murder mysteries released by year's end... but my time was sucked up by the anthologies. And they needed more work than I thought they would.

But wait, there's more.


January: The rerelease from Silver Empire of A Pius Legacy: A Political Thriller
The Mercury anthology, from Superversive Press

February: The rerelease from Silver Empire of A Pius Stand: A Global Thriller
The Mars anthology, from Superversive Press

March: The rerelease from Silver Empire of Pius Tales
The Venus anthology, from Superversive Press

April: The rerelease from Silver Empire of A Pius History
The Earth anthology, from Superversive Press

May: Silver Empire project To Be Announced.

June: Silver Empire project To Be Announced.

July: Silver Empire project To Be Announced.

August: Silver Empire project To Be Announced.

September: Silver Empire project To Be Announced.

October: The Moon anthology, from Superversive Press ... probably

November: The Moon anthology, from Superversive Press

December: The collected plantary anthologies.

Yes, you read that right, I'm going to be releasing 9 books through Silver Empire next year. On top of (minimum) six anthologies.

So, yeah, next year's gonna be fun.

Illegitimi non carborundum

The Love at First Bite series. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Signal Boost: Silver Empire UF Giveaway

Russell Newquist of Silver Empire press is giving away 10 Urban Fantasy ebooks this week, and 2 signed paperbacks.

10  Urban Fantasy eBooks + 2 Signed Paperbacks!

The URL is: The books:

  • Beast Master by Shayne Silvers - plus SIGNED paperback! 
  • War Demons by Russell Newquist - plus SIGNED paperback! 
  • The Builder's Pride by J.A. Cipriano 
  • Devil's Descent by Percival Constantine 
  • A Game of Witches by Kit Hallows 
  • Fade by Daniel Humphreys 
  • Fae Generations by Tom Keller 
  • Death Mage by Brad Magnarella 
  • Skull Master by William Massa 
  • Underground Druid by M.D. Massey

For YOUR chance to sign up for these novels, just click here.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


I am proud to introduce to you the latest release from Silver Empire publishing: Paragons: An Anthology of Superheroes.

Silver Empire's mission statement is "to find and publish the best heroic, wondrous adventure fiction out there. Like you, we wanted stories that still showcased heroism. And we like fiction that dares to show us wonders we've never imagined."

To seek out new authors, creating new civilizations. To boldly go where no fiction has gone before!

... Okay, yes, I added that last part. But if you read it again in a William Shatner voice, with the original serious music in the background, wouldn't that be cool

Anyway, with a mission statement like that, an anthology about superheroes was something we all should have seen coming.

On the flap copy.

Look - up in the sky!

They awe us. They fill us with wonder. But most of all, they inspire us – to be stronger, faster, and smarter. Superheroes teach us how to aspire to the best versions of ourselves. Enjoy this master collection of collection of 13 tales of all-new, all-original superheroes from today’s up and coming science fiction and fantasy masters!

When the police fail to take down the super powered mobs a rogue vigilante steps up to the plate in Nightstick by Kai Wai Cheah. Peek in on a superhero marriage proposal via Blackout by Morgon Newquist. When a young nuclear engineer gains superpowers, the Soviet government wants to control her for the sake of the motherland in Stalina by Sam Kepfield.

Enjoy these tales and more by Alt-Hero novelist Jon Del Arroz, Dragon Award and Hugo Award nominee Kai Wai Cheah, Dragon Award nominee Declan Finn, and others!
My own particular contribution to the series is "The Weather Witch."  I originally used the story as an origin for a superheroine in a series to be developed with Robert Bertand, who I count as a friend, though we haven't talked in a while, so we may be down to acquaintances. My fault as much as anything else. We outlined this novel together, came up with some concepts.  This was one concept he decided to take a completely different route with, so the story, as written, became useless.

Then Russell at Silver Empire decided he wanted superhero short stories. Guess what I just happen to have lying around.

"The Weather Witch" about an African girl, raised in a missionary school, attacked by slavers. Only in this case, the leader of these slavers is a giant fellow, with crackling yellow electricity eyes. He jokes that "His mother was the lightning."

And since this little girl has grown up with this risk her entire life, she decided that she's not going to go down easy -- she jabs the guy in the eyes.  They both get a bit of a shock...

So what happens when a ten year old girl basically finger jabs the eyes of a monster run on elemental forces?

Fun fun fun.

Obviously, there are some really obvious parallels. African girl with weather powers ... comic fans will think "Ah. Storm. X-Men. Mutants again?" Not quite. Get the book. Find out.