108 – Author Spotlight: Lois McMaster Bujold

September 4, 2017 0

un_bujoldCongrats to author Lois McMaster Bujold and her Vorkosigan Saga for winning the first Best Series Hugo. (We totally planned the timing.) Lois requires no introduction from us, and we were thrilled to chat with her about the pleasures and challenges of writing extended series, changes in the industry and within fandom, and what’s in the pipeline for her beloved characters.

Review: Continuum by Wendy Nikel

September 3, 2017 0

Like Wendy Nikel herself, I am a sucker for almost any time travel story, so Continuum was a good fit for me as a reader. Time travel as vacation meets the problem solving of Quantum Leap in a satisifying package.

The story begins in the past when Elise Morley retrieves a client who has forgotten herself and almost takes a voyage on the Titanic with her fiancee. Elise saves the client, but the rather inelegant Extraction causes fallout which ripples through the book. Meanwhile, it turns out that the travel agency where Elise works is not the only entity to have access to this technology, and a government agency has been sending people to the future. Elise is sent to retrieve a rogue agent.

While I wish we could have spent more time in the heads of a couple of the characters who were relevant to the past, I found the story that focused on the future well-paced and interesting I wanted just a bit more to explain what Allen was doing and why, although his ultimate motivation was a solid payoff. Chandler charmed me a great deal. And while Elise strikes me as world weary at first, she has a noble turn of character and a surprise plot twist which work pretty well.

Nikel is a solid writer with vivid description, an imaginative future, and a command of accurate historical speech. Check out that purse snatcher in 1912. Her characters manifest their time stream’s habits and inflections brilliantly, which is a real value add for this reader.

Nikel creates a rich world in which she could easily weave a tapestry of other time travel adventures.  While Elise seems like she ends up in a place from which she cannot return, well, it is time travel after all, and whose to say continuity has to be linear?

107 – Author Spotlight: Kea Wilson

August 29, 2017 0

un_wilson We Eat Our Own tells a fictionalized account of the shooting of a horror film inspired by the infamous Cannibal Holocaust. Author Kea Wilson joins us to discuss her novel, the true story of the controversial film at the heart of the idea, her influences and her experiences. Put down that ham sandwich and have a listen.

Review: The Defenders

August 19, 2017 0

What does a writer who is working on two manuscripts do with a little spare time on Saturday? Well, she writes (first and foremost) and then she watches…oh, 8 hours of The Defenders. Caveat: This writer got up pretty early.

I know you are dying, DYING! to hear about The Defenders. Did it work? Was Danny Rand as bad an Iron Fist as he was in his own series? Could the four Netflix heroes work well together? What can you do in a police room full of supporting characters anyway? And what about Dr. Strange, The Hulk, Prince Namor, and the Submariner?

Let’s start with that last question first. The only thing similar to the comic Defenders and this show is the name. No, you are not going to see even the Valkyrie, who was a Defender in the seventies. Let’s face facts: Netflix was just looking for an available super hero name, and they didn’t want to go with the Champions of Los Angeles. Got it?

Our Defenders are the four action heroes on Netflix who have actually had their own shows: Daredevil, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. Incredibly well-balanced, moral compass Luke Cage is around to keep the rest of these guys from getting killed. Just saying. Mike Colter is so cool in this show, and his character makes my teeth hurt. In a good way. The acting is mighty fine among the mains. Charlie Cox keeps up Daredevil’s edgy vulnerability. Krysten Ritter delivers again as the hard-boiled Jessica Jones. And yes, Finn Jones as Iron Fist works here. As a matter of re-envisioning, if you look at the entire Iron Fist show as a set up for this show, suddenly you can see how that piece fits into this puzzle. Oh yeah, Iron Fist has many, many problems, but you need those problems to make this plot work.

The show is not without flaws. The pacing is still off, although not as much as in the 13-episode Netflix shows. Still, some parts of the show seem self-indulgent and could use more editing to make sure they firm up the story’s movement. And yet, there might be a counterargument, that everyone gets to see their favorite supporting characters do their thing. Like I live for Foggy, and so even if his bits don’t forward the story, I’m there.

One of the things the Hubs and I noticed as we watched the show: even the villains (sometimes especially the villains) have bad days in this universe. Alexandra, played by Sigourney Weaver tries her very best to destroy New York city with style, but the best laid plans…

Things to watch for that might press your Marvel buttons: first meeting between Colleen Wing and Misty Night. Money moment scene with Luke Cage and Iron Fist squaring off to fight the Hand. Matt Murdock agreeing entirely with Luke Cage that innocents shouldn’t get hurt because they are cut out of that same moral cloth. Jessica Jones telling the story about Matt Murdock’s boxer father to a kid who’s just lost her own father. Electra finally getting her groove back.

And…in this day and age, and especially after Iron Fist, Luke Cage talking about privilege to Danny Rand AND GETTING THROUGH TO HIM made me feel pretty good. Danny is far from a perfect character, but he grows. The only way to go for Danny is up.

I miss Frank, but I understand the next series to watch for will be Punisher, so I guess I can wait. Not too shabby, Netflix.

105 – Writing Excuses Cruise 2017 (BaltiXtravaganza Part I)

August 17, 2017 1

un_wxs2k17The great 2017 BaltiXtravaganza begins with the 2017 Writing Excuses Cruise! Cath and Chris board the MSC Fantasia for writing advice and excursions to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Tallinn and St. Petersburgh. We welcome fellow cruisers Sean Arthur and Ninette and Niklas Bahne to talk about their own experiences. Next time, it’s on to Helsinki for Worldcon!

104 – Editor Spotlight: Neil Clarke

August 7, 2017 0

un_clarkeWorldcon approaches! We take a break from the excitement to get on the horn with Hugo winner/nominee Neil Clarke, editor of Clarkesworld magazine. He gives us insight into the editorial process and his other projects, including Forever magazine and the Best Science Fiction of the Year anthologies.

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