New Project – A is for Apocalypse

I’m very pleased to announce my participation in “A is for Apocalypse,” an anthology of 26 apocalyptic-themed stories to be published early next year. From Rhonda Parrish’s announcement:

What do you get when you take 26 amazing writers, assign them a letter of the alphabet and give them complete artistic freedom within a theme? In the spring of 2014 we’ll find out with the release of the first of a series of anthologies:

A is for Apocalypse

A is for Apocalypse is going to be filled with 26 apocalyptic stories (one for each letter of the alphabet) by incredibly talented writers whose diverse styles and preferred themes leave no doubt that this collection will have something for everyone. The writers who are contributing to this collection are:

~ Brenda Stokes Barron ~ Marge Simon ~ Milo James Fowler ~ Beth Cato ~ Simon Kewin ~ Suzanne van Rooyen ~ Alexandra Seidel ~ Sara Cleto ~ Kenneth Schneyer ~ KV Taylor ~ Gary B. Phillips ~ BD Wilson ~ Ennis Drake ~ C.S. MacCath ~ Michael Kellar ~ Cindy James ~ Brittany Warman ~ K.L. Young ~ Pete Aldin ~ Cory Cone ~ Damien Angelica Walters ~ Samantha Kymmell ~ Lilah Wild ~ Jonathan Parrish ~ Alexis A. Hunter ~ Steve Bornstein ~

Yes, that’s me there at the end. The letter for my story prompt is Z, and if you think I’m going to do the obvious you probably don’t know me very well. This is gonna be fun.

Dragoncon 2013

I got to go to Dragoncon this year. After years of hearing about the costumes and the parties and the panels, my schedules finally aligned just right to allow me to go. Granted, I had to fly in from the rig at 6pm and turn right around to fly out to Atlanta at 9am the next morning, but remarkably everything went off without a hitch.

Now, I’ve been to Gencon a couple of times. I’ve been afloat in a sea of 30,000 gamers, cosplayers, and other assorted geeks. I thought I was ready for the Dragoncon experience, but boy was I wrong.

First off, the walking. Oh my god, the walking. Gencon takes place almost entirely in the Indiana Convention Center. It’s an enormous building, but it’s all in one spot. Panels are usually an hour or so in length, but game sessions typically run three to four hours long. It might take a few minutes to walk from one thing to another, and if you’re going to a game session you’ll be sitting for a while. Dragoncon, by contrast, is mostly nothing but panels that are spread about across four or five hotels in downtown Atlanta. Three of the hotels are connected by covered footbridges, but you still might have to walk blocks to get from one panel to another. That doesn’t take into account each hotel having multiple floors of events, either. If you go to Dragoncon, bring some good walking shoes because you’re going to be using them.

Then there were the costumes. Gencon had its share of cosplayers, but Dragoncon is one of the premiere con destinations for cosplayers. You’d see a good number during the day but they really came out at night, parading around and gathering in the hotel common areas. Just about everything I saw was brilliant and I’ll be posting a gallery of the best of them shortly.

Dragoncon is aimed much more at the general fandom crowds than Gencon, so the programming was a lot different. I got to see George Takei talk, attended several writing seminars (some of which were actually useful), attend a showing of the Dr. Horrible Picture Show (probably this generation’s equivalent of “Rocky Horror”), got to hear some famous authors dish out some excellent advice, go cosplaying myself, and generally wallow in the fandom for a holiday weekend.

There were a few hiccups, of course. I wasn’t prepared for all that walking, some bits of my costume got left behind and I had to improvise, schedules were just too full and some cool things had to be missed in favor of other cool things. But all in all it was a fantastic time, and I’m hoping to get to go again next year.

Paging Dick Tracy: Pebble smartwatch review

pebbleThe Pebble smartwatch was born on Kickstarter, raising over $10.2 million to make it the most successful crowdfunding campaign ever. It promised a watch you could customize and use with all manner of internet-connected apps via a Bluetooth connection to your phone. When the campaign ended on May 18, 2012, the company got right to work on finalizing specs and setting up manufacturing lines for the 85,000 watches that were funded during the campaign and the thousands more that would be sold afterwards. As with most new ventures, their timeline stretched out due to difficulties but watches have finally started shipping in the last few weeks and mine arrived a week before I headed back to the rig, giving me enough time to have a thorough test run before having to set it aside for a few weeks. So how is it? Continue reading

WHEN THE VILLAIN COMES HOME nominated for Foreword 2012 Book Of The Year!

WHEN THE VILLAIN COMES HOME, edited by Gabrielle Harbowy and Ed Greenwood, has been nominated for the Foreword 2012 Book Of The Year in the Short Stories (Adult Fiction) category! Congratulations to all my fellow authors!

When The Villain Comes Home

Heroes can save the world, but villains can CHANGE it.

We’ve assembled a great mix of science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction. Come with us while we explore villains of all stripes — sons and daughters, lovers and fighters, minions and masterminds, in this giant volume of thirty great stories by award winners, rising stars, and bold new voices. With masterful tales by: Camille Alexa, Erik Scott de Bie, Chaz Brenchley, Eugie Foster, David Sakmyster, Marie Bilodeau, Richard Lee Byers, K.D. McEntire, Peadar Ó Guilín, Jim C. Hines, Ari Marmell, Karin Lowachee, Jay Lake, Julie Czerneda, J.M. Frey, Clint Talbert, Rachel Swirsky, Tony Pi, Leah Petersen, J.P. Moore, Ryan McFadden, Todd McCaffrey, Erik Buchanan, Gregory A. Wilson, Rosemary Jones, Gabrielle Harbowy, Ed Greenwood, Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon, Chris A. Jackson, Steve Bornstein.

Damn Terrorists, Get Off My Lawn! – A Good Day To Die Hard (2013)

A Good Day To Die Hard (2013)
Director: John Moore
Stars: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch

A Good Day To Die Hard is the fifth film in the Die Hard franchise. The original Die Hard premiered all the way back in 1988 and quickly became a classic action movie, launching Bruce Willis’s career as an action star. The series slowly went downhill from there with Die Hard 2: Die Harder and Die Hard With A Vengeance receiving lower and lower reviews. Live Free or Die Hard came out in 2007 after a 12-year series hiatus and was widely praised as being on par with the original. 20th Century Fox probably should have left well enough alone.

AGDTDH opens with a pair of Russians being corrupt at each other, then an apparently Russian guy shooting another Russian, and then John McClane in an NYPD shooting range chatting with a friend who gives him a file on his long-lost son (who until this moment was only a picture on Holly Generro’s desk in the first movie) who *gasp* is the apparently Russian shooter. That’s about as surprising as the plot twists get.

Is Moscow always this loud?From there we see Daddy McClane fly to Moscow, meet a stereotypical quirky cabbie, then get caught in the chaos that’s the hallmark of the Die Hard series. He’s supposedly flown to Moscow to see his son get his day in court, but when everything starts blowing up and going to hell he doesn’t turn into the man of action we expect to see in a Die Hard movie. Instead McClane just sort of stands around, squinting this way and that as if wondering where all that noise and smoke is coming from. When he finds his son escaping from the courthouse with another Russian in tow and other guys shooting at them, he doesn’t try to hustle them to cover or fight the shooters or offer to drive the getaway vehicle. Instead he stops and yells at him like he’s ten years old. Cue the car chase through morning rush hour traffic as McClane Jr and friend try to escape from the bad guys with John McClane chasing them both, all the while whining and complaining.

Eventually father and son are reunited and escape the bad guys and find some shelter only to have more bad guys show up and get things moving again. There’s a meeting to get an Important Thing with a double cross you can see coming a kilometer away. There’s more shooting, this time including a Hind attack chopper. The McClanes steal a car full of firearms and then hightail it to Chernobyl for a climax that involves sneaking around, questionable radiation problems, another double cross, a lot more shooting, and more helicopter hijinks. In the end, father and son fly back to the US and they and daughter Lucy (from Live Free or Die Hard) all walk off into the sunset.

Honk honk!The action scenes were decent enough, though I’m not sure they deserved the Die Hard name. The car chase in the beginning had tons of rapid-fire cutaways and camera zooms, but that didn’t help disguise the fact that it was just slow. There was a delivery van, a wheeled APC, and a flatbed truck. The chase was less about “drive fast and try to not hit things” and all about “hit all the things.” I’m pretty sure a sizable chunk of the movie’s budget was spent on cars to wreck just in the opening act.

John McClane’s entire reason for going to Russia in the first place never really gels either. At first he goes because his estranged son’s in jail, but when he gets there he just keeps pissing and moaning about how he’s supposed to be on vacation. Jai Courtney does a decent job as Jack McClane but Bruce Willis just seems like a grumpy old man who just wants all the shooting and fuss to stop so he can get back to his pudding cup. Don’t get me wrong; he can still run-and-gun just fine, but I lost track of all the times he whined about something or grunted, “Jesus!” when the bullets were flying. Even his trademark “yippee kai-yay motherfucker” line is delivered with all the vigor of a man who just woke up from a post-Thanksgiving dinner nap.

It's Chernobyl, who's going to notice?The movie is almost 30 minutes shorter than any of the other four movies, and it didn’t really wrap things up so much as just run out of stuff to do. After the big pie fight at the end we’re simply treated to a slow-motion reunion of father, son, and daughter on American soil, as if the McClanes said, “Welp, we’ve pretty much blown the shit out of everyone and everything. Guess we’ll head home now.” I think Bruce Willis is still a fine action star, but after AGDTDH I think the Die Hard franchise has pretty much run its course.

It's OK - 3 stars out of 5