Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Again 2016? Really?

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a Star Wars fan. I have been for over thirty years now. I've been enthralled ever since that magical moment in 1983 when I sat in a darkened theater with my mom and watched the words start scrolling up the screen. Seriously. That experience has stuck with me ever since. Some of you get it. The rest of you never will and that's okay.

Those of you who do get it will understand my attachment to both the characters in the movies and the actors that played them. Some of you may have even read the Star Wars Expanded Universe books and pictured the characters in the books as looking like the actors from the movies. Remember when Han and Leia got married and had a bunch of kids that rescued their Uncle Luke from the Dark Side? I do and in the books as in the movies, Princess Leia looked a lot like Carrie Fisher.

So I got a bit worried when I heard that Carrie Fisher had a heart attack Saturday night. We nerdish types have lost far too many of our heroes this year and I didn't want to lose another one. Sunday brought news that Carrie was stable and resting and I was extremely relieved. It wasn't about Episodes Eight or Nine. Carrie and her cast mates are a part of my childhood and dammit, she's only sixty. Was only sixty anyway.

So now, Carrie Fisher and Kenny Baker are together again at that big starship in the sky and it sucks. It was bad enough as a fan of ST:TOS when we lost so many of our idols, but Star Wars is ten years younger and Carrie Fisher was barely out of her teens when the films were made so we were going to have her for awhile right? I guess not.

Carrie Fisher was a pretty big part of my life in another way as well. At some point in the dim, dark, distant past I started noticing that girls looked different than boys and that the differences were interesting. It was at about that time that I got the first three movies on VHS and noticed that "Oh wow, Princess Leia is HOT!" I instantly had a crush that lasted for quite awhile. It was my first celebrity crush. According to some interviews I've seen featuring Miss Fisher it wasn't the only one either.

I've always had a love of strong female characters in both literature and film and I'm pretty sure it starts with Princess Leia. She may have been the subject of a rescue attempt but she sure as hell saved both Han and Luke when the Stormtroopers were after them. Then she ran the Rebel Alliance as General Organa. Along the way she married some idiot smuggler, but don't blame me for that. She was, and is, one of the baddest asses in the history of all Science Fiction. She always will be.

Carrie Fisher did more than just Star Wars, although most of her other work was off screen. She did a lot as a writer as well. I can't help but feel a kinship with her for that as well. I write fiction myself and, while the fact that she saw some of her work produced would indicate that she was better at it than I was, I identify with that. The nights in front of the keyboard aren't glamorous or exciting the way being a Hollywood star is, but they're meaningful and rewarding in a different way. She got that the way only a writer can.

I've seen some people claiming that Carrie Fisher was a hero. I've seen others that claim that she wasn't. My take falls more along the "not" category. Was Princess Leia a badass before it was common for female characters to be badasses? Sure, but Carrie didn't write the movie, she played the character. She did a damn good job and she left a huge impression but no, I don't consider her a hero. Heroes run into burning buildings to save lives. They risk their lives to take criminals off the street and fight wars. She was what she was: An amazingly successful woman who played an iconic role in one of my favorite movie franchises. She also played in many other roles but that's the one most of us will always remember her for.

It's weird to think about how hard some of the celebrity deaths we've experienced this year have hit me. I don't usually react to this kind of thing, but damn.  It's been one after another this year. So many of them have been from things that I loved. Whether you're a Trek fan or a Wars fan (or both, we do exist) it's been a rough year. I'm ready for this to be over.

I remember looking for a picture from Star Trek III when Leonard Nimoy passed. It had the four remaining bridge crew members taking a drink together. I wished them well since they are the only ones we have left. It occurs to me now that we've lost Carrie Fisher that all we've got left are Mark Hamill, James Earl Jones and Harrison Ford. Granted, it was a smaller cast to begin with but Harrison Ford and James Earl Jones are both much older than Carrie Fisher was. It's kind of scary.

It's weird too because this one has me feeling my age. It seems like it wasn't that long ago that I'd flip on the news or open the newspaper and find out that some actor I was too young to be a fan of had passed. Seriously. I'd see a person on the news and someone would say, "You're too young to remember them but they were in.." and I'd be like, "Oh, okay." Try that now. Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, Kenny Baker, Prince, Anton FREAKING Yelchin (I have over a decade on him), etc., etc., etc. I'm too young for this shit.

I guess I'll just stop whining and be glad we've still got who we do. I'll say a prayer tonight that we don't lose anymore this year, but I won't bet on it. 2016 is the year that refuses to die and it's going to take down as many of our favorites as it can get.

Some Princess Leia related products are available at the link below:

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Not Another One...and NOT That One


And in related news...

Forgive me everyone, I'm a little ticked off at this year and what just happened. Let me tell you all a story. It's a true one as it just so happens and it's near and dear to my heart. Once upon a time, in the long ago year of 1983, a young boy went to see a movie with his mother. It wasn't just any movie. It was a classic and the last of a trilogy of iconic movies. It was called Return of the Jedi and it, along with more Star Trek: The Original Series than was probably healthy at that age, began what added up to a lifetime of Science Fiction fandom. Fast forward a few years. 

That same boy grew up to become a man with a child of his own.  The world's most beautiful little girl sat on his lap. She looked back at him, "I love Star Wars Dada," she said "I like R2D2. He's so funny." She laughed and he kissed her on the back of her head and thought back to a funny moment of his own. Sitting in that movie theater with his mother and laughing as the guy in the row in front of them walked out, disgusted by the appearance of Jabba the Hutt. Funny moment and good times, all courtesy of one of the greatest film trilogies (and later franchises) ever. 

A lot of icons came out of that movie. We all know lightsabers, X-wing fighters, TIE fighters, the Death Star, Luke, Leia, Han, Darth Vader, etc. But really, what was the biggest icon to come out of Star Wars? R2D2. Stop laughing. I'm serious. Think about it.

When the Star Wars book and record sets were released, it was an R2D2 clip that told you to turn the page. When you buy the Star Wars Trivial Pursuit game (the first one at least) it came with an R2D2 random number generator instead of a die. There are two characters that have been in every Star Wars movie: R2D2 and C3PO but it wasn't Threepio that carried the message. It has been R2 that the entire galaxy has relied upon twice to get the information about the enemy base/ship to where it needed to be. I've read a fan theory somewhere that the entire Star Wars movie franchise is told through the eyes of R2D2. He has been the biggest character in one of the biggest franchise in movie history. And now the actor who played him is gone.

For those wondering, the boy/man in the story was yours truly. Star Wars really does go back that far for me (yes, I missed the first two theatrical releases. I was born in 1976. This time it's not my fault.) I really have watched it with my daughters and my Riley really did speak those exact words. My life would have worse without Star Wars. One of the things I like about my ex-wife when I first met her was that she was a Wars fan. Without Wars I may not even have a child. That too is a true story, even if I did the computer room in fantasy instead of Star Wars like I was instructed. Oh well.

I guess I just can't get used to this. As a Star Trek fan I've lost quite a few of the people I grew up with. DeForrest Kelley was the first. Jimmy Doohan is gone. Leonard Nimoy got his own post here last year. When I think about it it makes me want to vomit. 

Wars is a different animal though. Granted, we lost Alec Guinness in 2000 but we've still got the rest of the main characters from the original trilogy. Christ, they're all still acting in the new movies. Well, maybe not Harrison Ford, but it's SF so who knows. They never found the body after all. But that's a different subject for a different post.

The bottom line is that we lost Kenny Baker today. The guy who made my daughter laugh. The guy who made me cheer. The guy who made one of cinema's most revered characters come alive. The guy who was with us through it all. He got our heroes out of the Death Star and got the ship working on the escape from Naboo. The memories could go on. 

I've read a lot about him today. His family has spoken about how ill he was. They've talked of how he was told that he probably wouldn't survive past puberty. How he defied all the odds and made it to the top despite what the world told him he could achieve. What a scrapper.  It's easy to give up but he didn't. Just like his character.

Kenny Baker was three feet eight inches tall. My five year old daughter is taller than that. There weren't many people who could have fit into the R2D2 outfit. It's weird though, because the shadow cast by that man has to be at least five hundred times that. The world will long remember the Star Wars movies. I'm going out a limb to say this but someday these films will be remembered the way a lot of literature is. I won't go so far as to compare George Lucas to William Shakespeare, but Lucas's stories are just as topical and far easier to understand. Kenny Baker was in all of them. 

The world changed today. Some people won't acknowledge that fact and I'm okay with that. Those that laugh and mock us will have a field day with this one and I'll shrug it off because I always do. Those that don't understand can't understand and that's not going to change. There's no point in wishing otherwise. We get it though. 

So lift a glass tonight in a toast to one of the greatest actors you've never seen. Tell the world what a great time you've had watching Kenny Baker and what he meant to you. It's different for all of us. It's also the same for all of us. It's just weird. But remember this: I meant it when I said no.

 Kenny Baker is NOT dead. He may not be able to hug his family the way he used to. He may not be able to act in the forthcoming movies. There are a lot of things he can no longer do. But the Star Wars franchise lives. R2D2 lives. And as long as they do, Kenny Baker will live. It's our job to keep it that way.

Some R2D2 related products are listed below:

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Dragon Awards


Or sumfin'

Listen guys. I've been over this before. The Hugos are not a fan award. They are an award given out by publishing insiders. That's all there is to it. They have no interest in the opinions of actual fandom or anyone under the age of sixty. Oh sure, they'll take your money but try to vote against established groupthink and you're done for. Try it. We did last year and they No Awarded half the damn categories because we didn't nominated who they wanted. That's seriously what that whole kerfuffle was about. Well, at least up until they passed out wooden assholes at the award ceremony to let everyone know what they think of us. But hey, I've been called worse, believe me. This year I expect them to lose their collective shit once again. We'll see if there will even be a Hugo Award going forward. There may be. Tor is doing its best to make sure that the Hugo survives and becomes a house award. Good luck to them I guess. But that's not why I'm posting. This is actually a celebratory post. Wanna know why? Good, I'll tell you.

Dragoncon is making an attempt at actual fan-driven awards. All you have to do is vote to register. I'll be voting tonight. I know I've received my ballot via email. Here is the complete ballot:

1. Best Science Fiction Novel
Raising Caine by Charles E. Gannon
Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
Agent of the Imperium by Marc Miller
Somewhither: A Tale of the Unwitheriing Realm by John C. Wright
The Life Engineered by J-F Dubeau

2. Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)
Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia
Asteroid Made of Dragons by G. Derek Adams
Blood Hound by James Osiris Baldwin
Changeling’s Island by Dave Freer
Grave Measures by R.R. Virdi
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher

3. Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
Updraft by Fran Wilde
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Trix and the Faerie Queen by Alethea Kontis
Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley
Changeling’s Island by Dave Freer
The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett

4. Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel
Allies and Enemies: Fallen by Amy J. Murphy
The Price of Valor by Django Wexler
Blood in the Water by Taylor Anderson
Chains of Command by Marko Kloos
The End of All Things by John Scalzi
Wrath of an Angry God: A Military Space Opera by Gibson Michaels
Hell's Foundations Quiver by David Weber

5. Best Alternate History Novel
1636: The Cardinal Virtues by Eric Flint & Walter H. Hunt
Bombs Away: The Hot War by Harry Turtledove
Deadlands: Ghostwalkers by Jonathan Maberry
1635: A Parcel of Rogues by Eric Flint & Andrew Dennis
League of Dragons by Naomi Novik
Germanica by Robert Conroy

6. Best Apocalyptic Novel
The Desert and the Blade by S.M. Stirling
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
A Time to Die by Mark Wandrey
Dark Age by Felix O. Hartmann
Ctrl Alt Revolt! by Nick Cole
Chasing Freedom by Marina Fontaine

7. Best Horror Novel
Chapelwood by Cherie Priest
Honor at Stake by Declan Finn
Souldancer by Brian Niemeier
Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay
An Unattractive Vampire by Jim McDoniel
Alice by Christina Henry

8. Best Comic Book
DC Universe: Rebirth
Astro City
Ms. Marvel
Civil War II

9. Best Graphic Novel
Chicago by Glenn Head
The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman
Virgil by Steve Orlando
Sacred Heart by Liz Suburbia
March: Book Two by John Lewis & Andrew Aydin
Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine

10. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series
Game of Thrones - HBO
Jessica Jones - Netflix
Doctor Who - BBC
The Flash - CW
The Expanse - Syfy
Outlander - Starz
Daredevil - Netflix

11. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

Crimson Peak
Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens
The Martian
Captain America: Civil War

12. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game
Fallout 4 by Bethesda Softworks
Darkest Dungeon by Red Hook Studios
Undertale by Toby Fox
XCOM 2 by 2k Games
Overwatch by Blizzard Entertainment
Metal Gear Solid V by Konami Digital Entertainment

13. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game
Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes by Electronic Arts
Quaser One by Emre Taskin
Fallout Shelter by Bethesda Softworks
Hyper Burner by Patrick Cook
PewDiePie: Legend of the Brofist by Outerminds Inc.

14. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game

Codenames by Vlaada Chvatil
Monopoly: CTHULHU by USAopoly
Pandemic: Legacy by ZMan Games
Blood Rage by Cool Mini or Not
Talon by GMT Games
Star Wars: Rebellion by Fantasy Flight Games

15. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game
Star Wars: Armada by Fantasy Flight Games
Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game (7th Edition) by Chaosium Inc.
Mousguard 2nd Edition by David Petersen & Luke Crane
Magic the Gathering: Battle of Zendikar by Wizards of the Coast
Magic the Gathering: Shadows over Innistrad by Wizards of the Coast
Deluxe Tunnels Trolls by Flying Buffalo

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game
Congrats to all of the nominees!

Here are my votes and why:

1.) Best SF Novel: Raising Caine by Chuck Gannon. Simple. Chuck Gannon's writing is fast paced and entertaining. Caine Riordan is an awesome character and this book just rocks.

2.) Best Fantasy Novel: For those of you out there who may not be Larry Correia fans, he constantly states that every author's mission statement should include the words GET PAID. This one has a terrific new world, an awesome main character and a story that has enough mystery that I want to read more. Congratulations, Mr Correia. You're going to GET PAID when you get my money for the next installment.

3.) Best Young Adult/Middle Grade Novel: Honestly, I haven't read any of these. I did buy Changelings Island, but being a YA title it got pushed to the back of the queue. I won't be voting in this category.

4.) Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel: Hell's Foundations Quiver by David Weber because OMFG SAFEHOLD ROCKS!!! Epic  cast. Epic Action. Epic Heroes. Epic Villains. God, I love this series.

5.) Best Alternate History Novel:  Bombs Away: The Hot War Harry Turtledove. I'll tell the story of how I came to love Turtledove's work on the blog sometime. For now, just know that Turtledove is the master of Alt-Hist and this is another gem.

6.) Best Apocalyptic Novel: Control Alt Revolt by Nick Cole. Computer takeover. It's like the Cylons a few centuries early. Loved this thing. Look for a review here soon.

7.) Best Horror Novel: Honor at Stake by Declan Finn. See my review. 'Nuff said.

8.) Best Comic Book: I haven't done much comic reading this year for financial reasons. I won't be voting in this category.

9.) Best Graphic Novel: Ditto

10.) Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Series: Doctor Who, because Dr Who. I want a sonic screw driver.

11.) Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens because blatant fan bias. I went with my mom to see Return of the Jedi in 1983 during its original release. I've been a fan ever since. I loved this flick.

12.) Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Video Game: I spend a massive amount of time gaming but I'm a WoWhead and that's all I really play. I have neither the time nor the money to adequately research this and so I won't be voting.

13.) Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game:  Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes by Electronic Art. I checked this out and loved it. It's something to play when I'm not at home and can't get to my WoW account.

14.) Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game: 
Monopoly: CTHULHU by USAopoly because I will play it and so will my oldest daughter.
Magic the Gathering: Battle of Zendikar by Wizards of the Coast. I don't do many of these types of things but I walked up to the comic shop near my home and checked this out while some other people were playing it. It's a good time.

15.)  Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game: 
Magic the Gathering: Battle of Zendikar. I'll be honest. My card playing is fairly minimal but I have wandered into the comic shop next to my house a couple of times and I've enjoyed this. Some of the guys were nice enough to loan me their deck.

Now, the disclaimer: Should you vote for what I did? Well, maybe. I'm certainly not telling anyone not to vote for who I did. On the other hand, I don't want anyone voting for something just because I did. I definitely wouldn't want anyone to leave something blank because I did. Make up your own mind. Read, watch, play, love. Make up your own mind and make your choices known.  There's no reason not to. There is no cost associated. Just go to this link and register to vote if you haven't already. I'm stoked. It's about time SF/F got some awards that were actually chosen by the fans and not based on who sat with who at least year's award banquet. Here's our chance. Now is our time. VOTE DAMMIT!!!

Some of the products I voted for are listed below. I'd list everything but I've only got a few minutes left on my lunch at work:

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Seven Rules

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed earlier and I came across a photo that said, "Seven Rules I Learned About Storytelling by Playing Dungeons and Dragons." There were no rules listed with it. I took it that the readers were supposed to provide the rules ourselves. At least two others reached the same conclusion. Here are the rules I came up with and my justification for why they are important. Feel free to add your own and/or tell me I'm full of crap in the comments. I would seriously like to hear what everyone thinks.

1.) Every character should have a voice.

I guess I don't mean this literally. If the character goes to a restaurant and the only thing the server does is refill their cup, then the server shouldn't have anything to say. Any character that is a big part of your story should have a reason to be there and something to say though. Yes, I know that in many D+D groups, and this goes for other RPGs too, the healer is there because you needed him and you invited your dumb friend to play one because you needed one. He still gets a say in what happens to the group. 

This works in a book or movie too. There is often one side character who just seems to go along with the group. That's fine. Not everyone has a world-ending super powerful personality. They should still have something to say about what's going on, even if it's just to agree. How many people hear are Kevin Smith fans? Silent Bob doesn't usually have a lot to say but when he says things, people listen. If you have a character that is around a lot and doesn't say much it needs to matter more when they do. Leonard Nimoy refused to do Star Trek: Generations because his character had no voice and no purpose. He was an actor, author and director. I figure he knew what he was doing.

2.) Characters act in their own best interest.

Remember when the rogue (or thief depending on your edition) gouged the jewels out of the statues eyes and the paladin lost his mind? Both were doing what would benefit them: The rogue wanted to get rich and the paladin wanted to stay in good graces with his deity. Neither could be expected to act any other way. They both did what they perceived as benefitting them. That's not to say that characters won't help each other out, but how many times has everything gone to crap because a character did what was best for them? Whether it was Peter in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe or Boromir trying to steal the ring in Lord of the Rings at some point someone is going to do something to benefit themselves.

If I'm reading a long story with a core group and nobody goes off the reservation it loses something. Keep this in mind if for no other reason than that a good story stays good when things go awry and this is a good way to MAKE them go awry.

3.) Failure is sometimes necessary to a good story.

A good way to ratchet up the tension is for something to go horrendously wrong. When your engineer is fixing the whatchamacallit and his thingambabobber gets stuck and tears it loose just as the bad guys are about to launch the gravity bomb and blow up the ship things get INTERESTING. When your main character is about to fight a kobold and the head of his warhammer pops off everyone starts to worry. (At least I like to think so. I actually used this one.)

Seriously. Things don't always go well. Luke Skywalker doesn't save his aunt and uncle. Kirk can't save his own son from the Klingons. Spock can't save Vulcan in the Trek reboots. The list goes on.

4.) Villains are often as intelligent as heroes.

This is important. I watched the GI Joe cartoon when I was a wee little Jimbo. I enjoyed it when I was nine.  GI Joe always found the obvious hole in Cobra Commander's plan and then they kicked his ass. It was great! My heroes won and it was easy. But here's the thing: I'm thirty-nine now. I don't necessarily get caught up in that crap anymore.  It's much better to see my heroes sweat.

In the Dragonlance Chronicles, Tanis Half-Elven finds himself face to face with Queen Takhisis, that universe's version of Satan. He knows that if he can't honestly worship her he won't survive. She can see into his soul and knows what he is thinking and feeling. He manages to pull it off but just barely. In the same series, Sturm Brightblade faces a determined enemy that it as smart as he is, and he watches two thirds of the Knights of Solamnia butchered when the good guys get suckered. That's an oh shit moment that I'll never forget. Weis and Hickman got this one right even if I am still bitter about what eventually happened to Sturm.

5.) The unexpected can be awesome.

And furthermore, it usually is. Something that MAKES SENSE but is unexpected can make a story. Seriously. Going back to the Dragonlance Chronicles, no one saw Tasslehoff Burrfoot breaking a Dragon Orb the way he did. No one expected Gollum to bite Frodo's finger off at the end of Return of the King. And, well, when Darth Vader looked at Luke Skywalker and said "No, I am your father" the whole world stopped and we all pooped our pants. See what I mean?

If you drop something in from seemingly out of left field and make it work your whole story can benefit greatly. That includes when the group in your D+D campaign finds itself trapped in a fairy ring, or popping up in Ravenloft, or wearing a really neat cloak and then the ship lifts out of the sea...

And yeah, your fiction can be made better with this as well.

6.) Never promise something and fail to deliver.

You remember that one time when your DM told you that the Grand Duke Whatshisname was supposed to award you the Awesome Thing of Coolness and a pile of gold when you completed your quest. Do you remember how badly you wanted to murder him when you found out that the town had been sacked and the Grand Duke beheaded while you were off risking your life to achieve the objective? Do you? I do. Any reader is going to feel the same if you screw the hero in the book. There are good reasons to do this sometimes but even then it should be more of a temporary setback than "Never, never gonna get it." I like En Vogue's music but I've never bought a book written by one of them.

If any of you are World of Warcraft players, think about the Lich King fight. You spent the entire expansion chasing this guy and defeating his minions. You found your way to his castle, Icecrown Citadel. You fought your way up to him by defeating waves of mobs, only God knows how many bosses, fighting a battle with another airship and killing dragons along the way. You finally get to his throne high atop ICC where you battle him... and watch someone else (Tirion Fording) kill him. Talk about ripped off. I get the fact that they wanted to match the book but COME ON. I spent the whole raid wanting to take this guy out. Why take that away from me and every other damn player that made it that far?

7.) The Law of Unintended Consequences applies in fiction as well as in fact.

Yay! The adventure is complete. You've rescued the princess, stolen the Orb of Ouchness and returned safely from the caper. You think everything is awesome. It's time to sun your buns, spend your gold and research your new spell. There's only one problem: That door you opened that didn't have anything behind it? It was a portal to The Sucky Place of Suckiness and now all of the evil Suckmonsters are here to suck the life out of everything. It's all your fault. That same guy who paid you to rescue his daughter and steal the Orb of Ouchness is now pissed at you because the Suckmonsters have consumed three villages worth of farmers and livestock. You're the one at fault because they're all coming from the place you just left and everyone knows it. Your life as you know it is about to be over and all because you opened a door... and had NO CLUE that any of this would happen.

It's a lot like when the Event Horizon (in the movie of the same name) tried to travel to another solar system... and went to hell. Apparently, folding space doesn't do what everyone thinks it should. In Robotech when the SDF III takes the Robotech Expeditionary Force to the other side of the universe, they left the Earth vulnerable to an enemy that they knew nothing about. They never meant to do that, but it spawned an entire part of a series. Stuff like this just works.

So that's my version of how to tell a good story as taught by playing RPGs. What isn't here that should be? What's here that should not be?

Some Dungeons and Dragons related products are available at the links below:

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Confused Host Says "Welcome"

Like a lot of bloggers I can be a bit obsessive about checking my stats. I mean, I write it and I hope you read it. I like to know that with the world wide web as my platform I can be read by people all over the world. I think it's awesome. I've gotten hits from all over the world. Whether it was when I had a run of readers from Australia after reviewing a book from an Australian writer, or the odd hit from Denmark or Germany, it's always a good time. I have to admit that I'm a bit confused by the latest development. I'm serious. I didn't see this one coming.

It seems that over the last few days, I've had a mass of hits from Russia. I'm not really sure why that would be. I don't write in Russian. I don't even know the Cyrillic alphabet. Admittedly, if someone wanted to teach me I'd love to learn but that does nothing to change what I've already written. I'm a little bit flattered and a lot lost. I'm not sure what the appeal of a blog written in English that consists primarily of reviews of works written in the English language would have there, so I'm just wondering if someone can tell me what the appeal is.

As an aside, I seriously mean it when I say I'd like to learn to speak and read Russian. I have a degree in history and a dream of writing some kind of masterwork about the world wars, with research done in English, Russian (which I don't speak or read), German (which I don't speak or read), French (which I don't speak or read) and Japanese (which I don't speak or read). Learning your language would be a step in the right direction. It would be pretty cool. Russian is the language of Peter the Great and Josef Stalin. It's the language of Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn and Leo Tolstoy. And I hear it's also a great language to swear in. Seriously. I'm not sure how realistic that would be, but it would be pretty cool.

So, I guess I'm wondering. If you're a Russian and you're reading my blog why? Don't take that as a bad comment I'm just wondering. Is there an American ex-patriot community there that is interested in American science fiction? Is there an interest in American authors in Russia? Is there something that appeals in Russia content wise? I'm trying to process this here. If you're a Russian and you're reading this blog please leave a comment and let me know why you're here.

There is another aspect to this. I'm a child of the Cold War. There is a strong distrust of a person like myself and the former Soviet Union. I know that the people of modern day Russia are not the Communists of the Eighties when I was a wee little Jimbo. Let's face it though. The memories are still there and as a kid who was reading way too much at far too early an age and who knew what a nuclear missile was before I knew that there was such a thing an attractive girl. This is a wee bit creepy as well. 

On the other hand, I've always been a fan of good vodka and conversation.  Also, although I have mentioned political opinions here this isn't really a political blog, nor have I mentioned anything about current day international relations that I remember. So it's not like Russians have any reason to hate me personally.  It's just weird.

So seriously, let's have a roll call. Sound off people. Tell me where you're from and what brings you here. I want to know what you're thinking. Let me know what brings you to my blog.

The following Russia related products are available at the links below:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

I Get it, But DUDE!

First off, the disclaimer: I'm not criticizing anyone for playing Pokemon Go. I'm just not. Granted, I have not played but that's weather related. The heat index in Tulsa has been 100+ pretty much every day since the game dropped last week and I am NOT taking my whiny bitch ass out into weather like that. It will make me whine and bitch too much. That being said,  I do have a similar hobby: I'm a pet collector in World of Warcraft.

Yup, that's me. Over 600 types of pets with many more captured and sold. I don't save doubles and some of them go for lots of gold. I love it. I've spent not just hours but days and probably weeks at my keyboard going all over Azeroth in search of rare pets. I've camped some places. I went to the same damn spawn point every day for two months to get one. Guys, I respect your hobby. I really, really do. If this is still popular come fall, I may very well play. Pokemon GO! sounds like a really awesome game.

There is, however,  something that I have to call you all out on. It's not the fact that you play a game. I know that most of the adults that play are gainfully employed and many of them are playing because they've finally found something their kids will do with them. THIS IS A GOOD THING. I get the desire to collect virtual stuff. I'm a hardcore WoWhead. I haven't even talked about my in-game toy or mount collections either. I'm with you. I'm a lot like you guys. Here's what I'm saying though:

PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND YOU WHILE YOU'RE PLAYING. That's all. Don't be a danger to yourself or to others. The stories I've heard over the past few days amaze me. I've heard stories of car accidents. A life long friend almost ran over a kid that ran out in front of her.. and then got flipped off by the kids father. I know of a church that had to post signs in their parking lot about "Play at your own risk" because people were injuring themselves by WALKING INTO LIGHT POLES. People, help me out here.

I get the love of a cell phone. I sell them for a living. Seriously. I have one in my pocket. I have two chargers for it in case it runs down at work. I play Candy Crush to the point where I have all three apps and can't watch a TV episode without playing. I get it. But guys, really, it's not worth dying over.

Look, a lot of good can come from this game. I get that. People exercising is a good thing. (Yes, I'm a hypocrite here. So be it.) People socializing is a good thing. Increases in business are a good thing. Seriously. I have a friend who works in marketing. He went to one of the places where he works and set a couple of Pokemon lures in the parking lot. In an hour or so, twenty-seven people went past him playing. Twenty-three of them went into his store. If this keeps up (and who knows if it will) this game could be really good for the mass economy. I approve. As a guy who just spent a bunch of money at the urgent care clinic yesterday, I'm just not looking for it to add to the amount of money paid to the medical profession. Can we please set some common sense rules here? And no, I'm not talking about government regulation and asshattery. I'm talking about some basic stuff.

1.) Look where you are going.
Seriously. Running into stuff sucks. Walking out in front of a car can be fatal. So can running your car into something or having a car run into you because you were watching your screen instead of driving. Texting and driving kills and a game like Pokemon Go requires even more of your attention. Before you leave is good. After you get there is good. While you're driving is bad. The person you kill could be me and I'd be pretty pissed off if that happened. So would my kids.

2.) Use basic courtesy
Seriously, if you DO walk out in front of someone the proper response is "My bad." That's all it takes. There's no reason to get hostile with someone who is simply trying not to kill you.

3.) Ask permission before entering private property
For the record, yes, parking lots are private property but that's not what I'm talking about here. If you track a Pokemon into someone's back yard, ask if it's okay to go after it. And seriously, if it's three AM and you're out playing think about passing it up for now. See "basic courtesy" above.

4.) Be aware of suspicious people

I'm aware of at least two cases where people have been robbed when criminals downloaded the Pokemon Go app and used it to find a Pokemon... and then waited for people to show up and try to get it so they could rob them. I'm not a believer in blaming the victim but I do believe in using common sense. If there's a shady looking person standing on top of your Pokemon with his (or her I guess) hands out of sight looking tense, it might be a good idea to go catch some other Pokemon and no, I don't care if it's a Pikachu. If they rob you for your phone you're still not going to have it. And yes, I know that people shouldn't rob each other but that doesn't mean you don't need to use some common damn sense.

5.) Enjoy it!

Listen, I'm not trying to ruin your fun. Honestly, if I wasn't fat and lazy with a severe aversion to sun stroke and sunburn (and yes, my pasty white ass is easily scorched) I'd probably be out there with you. Actually, I'm trying to increase your fun. How much fun are you going to have if you walk off a curb and break your ankle? How much worse would it be if you walked out in front of a car and got run over? And let me mention something else.

I could be off base here, but this REALLY sounds like a good chance to trash talk your buddies. Lord knows what whould happen if I were hanging out with someone and they were tracking a rare... and then I caught it. Dude. Can you imagine? There would be no end to it. I'd be telling that story at my boy's funeral fifty years later. And don't let me find out that your wife/girlfriend plays and would get the story. That would just be epic. So, I'm going to encourage trash talk. It's a good time.

And yes, I know I'm a sanctimonious ass for telling people how to play a game I don't take part in. Frankly, I don't give a rat's ass. I'm not making fun of you. I'm not telling you not to play. I'm just asking you to be smart about it. That's all.

Some Pokemon related products are available at the links below:

Sunday, June 19, 2016


(First off the most obvious. Hey 2016 FUUUUCK! YOOOOUUUUUUU!!!)

So, I'm working a Sunday (I'm over it. I work every Sunday) and things are going okayish. It's lunchtime and I have a couple of sales already with another one lined up for after I smash this TV dinner. My last call was a little bit weird, but yeah that'll happen and at least I learned how to do something I've never done before. So that's good, right? Best of all, I start a four day weekend tomorrow because I decided I needed a staycation and I had the time so why not? It's my vacay and I'll pajama if I want to. So I pulled out my phone because I always do at lunchtime and what do I see? Star Trek has lost a cast member.

No, not the Star Trek I grew up on that's been around for fifty years. Not anyone from the string of TV series that followed it. Nope. Twenty-seven year old Anton Yelchin is dead. Fans of the new Trek movie series know him as Chekov, and he was in lots of other stuff too. I'm a Trekkie though (and proud of it) and so that's the role I'll always remember him for. At any rate, I have a question.


Listen, I've never been happy to see a beloved celebrity go, but it happens to all of us eventually. Yelchin was twenty-seven though and that makes things that much worse. Leonard Nimoy was nearly eighty-four when he passed. I was devastated. I posted about it. I hated it. But at the end of the day, it didn't matter that I was sad to see him go.  I could at least be happy that one of my earliest childhood friends had lived a long life, had a family and accomplished more than can reasonably be expected of any human being. Guess what? Yelchin was twenty-seven. He had much more left in him.

You'd think I'd get used to this kind of thing. As a Detroit sports fan, I've seen a lot. Reggie Sanders of the Detroit Lions suffered a career ending neck injury on the football field. Mike Utley, who played for the Lions as well, was paralyzed on one. No Red Wings fan will ever forget the day Vladi Konstantinov and Sergei Mnatsakanov. No one ever deserves what happened to them but it's a little worse to see it happen to someone you follow. I had a number sixteen Red Wings sweater. I loved that guy.Oh, and I grew up watching pro wrestling. I could tell a million stories about wrestlers we've lost far too young.  So maybe I should get over this. I mean, I've been through it and I can't change it but... but... DAMMIT!

There's a lot about the death of Yelchin that we still don't know, the most obvious being how he got ran over with his own car in his own driveway. That sounds like something from a Chevy Chase movie, but it's what's being actually reported. I want to know what happened here. That doesn't even seem possible. This almost sounds like it had to have been human error. Was the car a stick? Was the e-break on? I don't know. But let's focus on something else for a second and never mind the franchise.

I hate it when things like this happen. How old are Yelchin's parents? As young as he is I'm guessing (and no, I don't know for sure) that they're still around. How hard did it hit his father to find out that this had happened ON FREAKING FATHER'S DAY?!?!? No one EVER wants to lose a child. I get that. I have kids. The fact remains that it happened. I feel so sorry for both of his parents. Nothing I've found about him says that he was married or had kids of his own. I don't know whether to be happy about the fact that there are less people hurting because of that or if I should feel sorry for him because he never got to experience those things. Ugh.

Whenever I hear the story of someone who was lost too young, I remember the day my father passed. We just passed the eighteenth anniversary of the day it happened. He was forty-two and every year that fact hits me just a little harder. I mean, I'm thirty-nine now and I'm not planning on heading off to heaven in three years because that's just not long enough. I guess what really bothers me though is that Yelchin never even came close to forty-two. He never even made it to thirty.

I don't know what led to this. I don't know how a guy who should have been at work rehearsing ends up squished by a vehicle that he owned. I'm quite frankly not sure I want to. Whatever it is, it has to be a mess. I just... I don't know. This has me worked up and I'm not sure why. I've never met Anton. I don't know anyone who has. I really enjoyed him in the movies but I haven't spent anywhere near the amount of time with the guy as I have with any of the regulars of the TV series. It's just... I dunno. This one hit me the wrong way, I guess.

So now will come the predictable speculation, but honestly I'm just not in the mood for it. If this next movie hits like we all think it will (and I'm talking about ticket and merchandising sales, not trying to debate about how it compares to ST:TOS) there will undoubtedly be a sequel. I'm not going to spend my time wondering whether or not there will be a Chekov in future movies and who'll they'll get to replace him if so... At least not for today. For today let's all just think about a life taken far too early for apparently no reason and a family that is in mourning. I've suffered the loss of some of my idols before but never like this and never this young. This sucks.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Somebody Help Me Out Here

Okay, so I just don't grok something. I tend to think of myself as a pretty smart guy. I've got a decent IQ. I did well in every subject I've ever studied except handwriting and I'm told that that's because smart people tend to sign quickly and without putting a lot of thought into it. That's one of the reasons that doctors are known for poor handwriting. They tend to be pretty smart people. Here's my thing: I just don't understand something here and it's Science Fiction related in this context so I'm going to write about it: How in the BLUE HELL is the society of Panem, found in Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games series considered to be a rightist culture? It is true that Ms Collins has been interviewed multiple times and considers herself to be a leftist. I respect that. She has the right to be a leftist. But seriously, I just don't get this. Let's go over the evidence as it is contained in the text and someone here, anyone here, please explain to me how this adds up to a rightist society. I'll start with the most obvious reason that this is a leftist government and go from there.

All economic activity is controlled by the government.

Seriously. All of it. The first thing that happens in District 12 when it gets a new mayor is that they close down the Hob. Why? Because unregulated economic activity takes place there. It's not taxed or controlled. People meet and exchange goods freely and the powers that be see this as a bad thing. It is literally illegal for people to have a freaking flea market because the government isn't getting their cut. Listen, I get the necessity of a certain amount of taxation, but seriously why shut it down? At worst there could have been some taxation put in place. The fact of the matter is that the government in the Capitol couldn't stand the thought of someone making money that they weren't taxing and would rather burn something down that allow the people of the District to profit by it. That's a leftist thing folks. The Hob is a free market. That's what those of us on the right support. Burning it down and punishing the dealers there is the mark of a Communist, not a rightist.

And yes, I get the fact that the people of the Capitol are rich. Guess what? Josef Stalin had five dachas and a chauffeur driven car. He was the leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Yes, my friends, the leaders of Socialist/Communist nations have always been rich. "From each according to his abilities and to each according to his needs" is the Marxist idiom. It's weird how the leadership in a Marxist nation always "needs" more than the family of four in the three hundred square foot apartment.

Religion has been eradicated

"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo."

It took me a minute to realize what was missing in the books here. Religion has been killed so thoroughly that it's not even brought up as a taboo subject. Seriously, we don't get so much as an "Oh God" when a tribute is wounded or a quick prayer by that one weirdo when their friend/child/brother/sister/whatever gets chosen as Tribute. There isn't even a crumbling old church that has been abandoned for a generation or generations. There is literally no trace of religion whatsoever. The Marx quote above says it all where that's concerned. The father of the Communist movement hated religion and so do his followers.

Gun Control is absolute

"Every Communist must grasp the truth, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."Our principle is that the Party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the party." - Mao Zedong

Read the books. Watch the movies. Owning a gun, or even a bow and arrow, carries the death penalty. The reason for this is simple: An unarmed society is a society full of slaves. The Districts are Hitler's labor camps writ large. (And yes, the leader of the National SOCIALIST German WORKERS Party was a leftist.) Would anyone with a gun put up with the government seizing their child to fight in some sick game? Taking the guns out of the hands of the people and placing them all into the hands of the government is a common tactic of every totalitarian government and was pioneered by the Left. Oddly enough, gun control in the United States started as Jim Crow laws that sought to keep blacks from owing firearms. Yep, you guessed it. It's easier to lynch a man that can't shoot back to defend himself. And those are the same laws pushed for by the Left in the states today, only now it's the state doing the lynching and the general citizenry, as opposed to just one race of it, that is forced into subjugation.

Even in the Hunger Games, where the entire POINT is to kill everyone the Capitol still doesn't want anyone getting funny ideas about guns. I don't see that as just a coincidence. The fact of the matter is that guns are dangerous to oppressive governments and the Capitol knows that. What if the kid with the gun won and told other people how to use guns? (And for the record, no that's not as easy as the movies make it look.) They're scared of guns. They're scared of what the people will do if given the ability to resist. They're communists.

Media production and consumption are controlled by the Capitol

"A newspaper is not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, it is also a collective organizer." - Vladimir Lenin

Leftists have always understood the power of the media, whether in their hands or the hands of their enemies. I wish I saved the notes I took for a paper on the effects of nationalism on the troops serving on the Eastern Front during World War II. The Capitol uses the media both to inform and to terrorize. Forcing people to watch the Hunger Games every night is an intentional reminder of the war they have lost. It is also a reminder that things will be worse if they rebel again. Snow states as much in his office. He uses the games to take hope away.

Media control is thought control and it's something that every Communist government has used. Lenin, yes, but also Ma, Stalin, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh, the list goes on. Control the media and you control the message. Control the message and you control belief. Control belief and you control the people. It's simple really. It's what the Capitol does. It's what Communists do.

The Peace Keepers are Ubiquitous

"We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded." - Barack Obama

One of the defining characteristics of a fully developed Communist state is it's ability to react overwhelmingly to threats within its own borders. The media controls the mind, the national security apparatus controls the bodies. Whether it's the secret police ala the KGB or its forerunner the NKVD or tanks rolling on Tiananmen Square, a  hard left government must always have the means to crush an uprising should they lose control of any aspect of the society for one to develop.  The Peacekeepers are clearly that force. They're feared by the populace. They're never shown serving the public, but simply in keeping it in check. Would you call a Peacekeeper to help you find your lost child? Neither would I.

Oh, and let's talk about District Thirteen for a second. Don't they beat people up for the "crime" of over-eating? They're more Communist than the Communists. And who does Katniss execute at the end of the series?  President Coin of District Thirteen. The one who allows this to happen. So, we execute the Communist who is more Communist than the Communist and this is a book a rebellion against a rightist government? Huh?

So here's my question:

Why is it that an avowed leftist has written a book where the central government is controlled by leftists? Where food is withheld from people to enforce obedience and given to them in reward for government service ala the zeks in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago? Could it be because, even to an avowed leftist, a truly leftist government is the scariest thing she cold come up with? That her villains are ultimately the very thing she claims to support? I mean, how much proof do you need? When your own supporters think that you're the worst case scenario isn't it time to back up and evaluate what you're doing?

At the end of the day, I think that a work (series of works?) like this reveals the problems better than anything else in fiction could. Yes, there are real world examples of why this doesn't work. Some have happy endings, the death of Nicolae Ceaușescu being the most obvious example. Others still don't. North Korea is still imploding. China is still nominally Communist while working toward a free market-ish economy. It should be noted that the lives of the people are improving.

There is a disconnect here and it bothers me. I don't get how to get my head around the fact that a supposedly leftist individual can write a book that's all about a rebellion against an obviously leftist government and this is supposed to make sense. Now, don't get me wrong. I love the books. That's why I put the effort into A.) reading them and B.) writing about them. I just don't get it. Any help figuring this one out would be appreciated.

The books and movies of The Hunger Games series are available at the links below:

Friday, June 10, 2016

Darths and Droids by The Comic Irregulars

(Yeah, I'm a fan)

How does one (that one being me) review a story before it's finished? Do I guess what the big finish will be? Do I leave the readers hanging the way the authors have left me well, not hanging, but in suspense? I certainly don't know how it ends and at the end of the day, I guess I'll just have to live with that. At least with The Comic Irregulars webcomic Darths and Droids, I have faith that the ending will be satisfying, if just a bit zany and probably not exactly how anyone planned it.

The comic is a mix of genres. It is based on both the Star Wars movies, starting with Episode One, and pen and paper role playing games, ala Dungeons and Dragons. In reading their FAQs to find out who to credit, I came across info leading me to believe that others have questioned them for the name of the strip, but I think it's pure genius. What could be better than naming your RPG themed webcomic D+D?

I'll let it be known up front that most of the fans of D+D are hard core geeks. You don't have to know the movies, but it helps. You don't have to have played tabletop RPGs but that helps as well. If you don't have at least a passing familiarity with both though, this is going to be a hard story to follow. If you know a little about both, the story is awesome. If you love both and you haven't read this strip from the beginning it sucks to be you. I've been reading this thing for a few years now, faithfully. It updates, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday and I can never wait for lunchtime at work so that I can read the latest.

The story really doesn't revolve around the characters from Wars the way it probably seems like it would at first. The story is about the players. We follow the players through school, through loves and breakups and all of life's other little ups and downs based on conversations they have while they're playing. With the "real life" adventures of the players so often mentioned, their personalities come out beautifully. It's awesome. Read this comic enough and you can almost smell the Cheetos on Pete's breath and anticipate how he is going to find even further ways to min/max his character to make it unstoppable. (For the record, Pete plays R2-D2 and his constant min/maxxing does much to explain how R2-D2 ALWAYS comes up with a way to save the day.)(Oh, and for those not familiar min/maxxing is a thing that Role Players where they minimize their abilities in most areas to maximize them in one area. So, with R2D2, he can't talk or walk right and doesn't have arms but when the crew needs something fixed or a computer hacked he's all over it. He is the perfect example.)

The hilarity of the strip, and OH MY GAWD is it hilarious, comes from viewing the decisions that the characters make in the movies as coming through the lens of what a roleplayer would do during a gaming session. Well, that and misunderstandings between the GM and the players. If you don't understand what a Cheddar Monk is or why someone would cast Summon Bigger Fish then hie thee off to the website and get thee to reading!

Part of the fun of the comic is in a box at the bottom of every strip in which TCI makes comments about the movie, they strip or some tips for GMs of various RPGs. It is also worth mentioning that a lot of their GM tips would make for good story leads in fiction as well. Seriously, for those of us (and yes, I am a part of that group) who aspire to one day tell stories for a living getting some good tips from people who tell stories well is a major leg up. I'm not saying that anyone should follow every tip these guys give, but I haven't seen anything that isn't worth at least considering, even if I end up not using a given piece of advice in whatever I'm working on at the moment. The best part is that, even though it's good advice, it's usually given in a humorous manner so it doesn't feel like I'm being preached at. Good stuff.

They have a pretty cool store here too.  All of the proceeds go to some charity or other (the details are on the page) so not only are these guys good storytellers, they're good guys too. I got the shirt I'm wearing upthread there and I love it. Everybody thinks Star Wars when they see it but I know better. It's good quality too. They use Cafe Press and everything has the associated quality that goes with it. I wear this thing so much I'm surprised it hasn't died on me yet but it just keeps ticking.

Honestly, my only complaint about the strip makes me sounds like a whiny little bitch, but I don't care. Every so often, their webmaster goes out of town and I'm stuck wondering whether my next dose of comedy gold is going to post on time. It always does but then I'm stuck in limbo for a few days wondering if the next one will be there.. and so on. One day it's not going to be there and I'm going to...uhhh... well... probably not DIE or anything but I'll be like, totally disappointed and probably sad for a good minute or two.

That actually brings up another good point. These guys are scary consistent in their posting, in a way that most webcomics are not. When you log into the site to view the Thursday comic it's going to be there. Well, unless you log in early which is actually your bad and not theirs. I'm not sure exactly what time it posts but I always check it on my lunch at work at 4 PM Central on the days it's supposed to be there and it always is. So kudos to them for doing what they need to do to get the strip out on time. This kind of dedication to their fans is something I really do love about the strip.

At the end of the day the biggest takeaway I can impart is that this isn't the kind of strip that's ONLY worth your time until you can get caught up on it. It's the type of strip that's been worth my time for the last few years now and something that I look forward to. These guys helped me get through my divorce and an unplanned move of over a thousand miles literally without even trying. So check 'em out. They're worth your time too.

Bottom Line: 5.0 out of 5.0 Natutral Twenties

Darths and Droids
The Comic Irregulars
Self Published, 2007-2016

Unfortunately, Darths and Droids doesn't have anything I can link to using my Amazon Affiliates links, but here is some stuff that is related to either Darths or Droids or Both:

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Well... If Hollywood Can't Get Itself Together...

It has recently come to my attention that Hollywood execs thing that the whole universe is stuck on repeat. We have, after all, seen reboots of just about everything that doesn't still have a reboot coming. Think about it. People keep talking about how it's a great time to be a nerd because of all the movies coming out and how mainstream gaming has gotten ( I'm going to leave gaming for another post, mainly because I've been spending so much time playing World of Warcraft that I haven't played anything else in approximately forever.) but what's really coming out? Think about it:

Star Wars: listen, I'm a fan. I wear the gear. I watch the movies. Before I got so wrapped up in MMOs I played the video games. I've even played the old RPG by West End Games. The fact remains that these movies debuted forty years ago and as much as I loved The Force Awakens it was basically a remake. Star Wars basically started the nerd era with its re-releases, special additions and prequels. There were geek movies before all of that to be sure, but it was the wild success of Star Wars and its later iterations that led to the great times we're enjoying now.

Teenage Mutant Turtles: I am, admittedly a bit of a weird Turtles fan. They came in just as I got to old to collect the toy line, but I've read the comics and seen the movies, and I played a collected the old Palladium RPGs back in the day. I love these guys too, but how did they come out of nowhere again? The first of the new movies was kind of meh, and I don't expect the next one to be any better.

The Telegraph has posted a list of reboots coming soon. The list continues and it's quite frankly getting annoying. Very rarely you can get a reboot that was better than the original (Battlestar Galactica anyone?) but it's definitely not something you can count on. I have however, been informed by a good friend and retired Marine noncom that you should never bring up a problem without a solution. Since I believe in taking advice from intelligent people, and since I've been told that Gunny is never wrong, I have a solution. Are you ready for it? It's revolutionary. It's going to turn the whole world on its head. Here it goes: HEY HOLLYWOOD: MAKE SOME NEW STUFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Since that was a relatively imprecise suggestion, I will endeavor to make a few examples of books that I have read that would make great movies. Granted, the whole book to movie thing has been done repeatedly but that's because it works, so without further ado, let me get to my list:

Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia: Note to every producer who has ever held a pen or typed a word: If you can't take a story that starts with a big ass accountant throwing his werewolf boss out of a thirteenth story window and continues with battles against vampires, and an ancient curse and make a blockbuster out of it you need to stop trying. Seriously. At that point your probably so inept that you're not sure whether you should retire to bake mittens or knit cookies but it doesn't matter. Just get out of the way and let someone with some talent in. There is a whole series here. I could see this being a TV series ala Game of Thrones, but I'll be honest: I want to see it on the big screen. It'll look cooler when things blow up that way. Also, I want to see who they get to play Julie Shackleford. The only thing better than a hot blonde is a deadly hot blonde. Someone make this happen.

Pixie Noir by Cedar Sanderson: Ok, I'll be honest. Part of the reason I want to see this made it so that I can see a movie with a female protagonist named Bella that doesn't suck. Of course court intrigue, massive monsters and big explosions are why the rest of me wants to see it. Bella gets sucked into a world that she had no reason to suspect existed and things get crazy. This could be massively successful because it would be so much fun. I'd pay to see it and I'm sure a lot of others would too.

Impaler by Kate Paulk: Yes, it's Count Dracula but not as we've ever seen him. This is a story that involves two things no other Dracula story I've ever read or seen does: Vlad's younger days and his family. The real Vlad Dracula was a complicated man and this story reflects it. Also, if there is anything that has been proven by The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings it's that massive medieval combat appeals to modern audiences and there is plenty of it here.

Draw One In the Dark by Sarah Hoyt: Shapeshifting people. Dragons. Diners. Sexual tension. Death. Romance. What else do you want out of a movie? This one is heavy on the paranormal but so is a lot of other stuff and it sell tickets. They're remaking The Craft and Sarah blows that away. Of course, there are only two sequels to this novel published so far but they'd both make great follow ons after this one makes millions and millions.

Dipped, Stripped and Dead by Elise Hyatt: Ok, so this is a mystery and I'm mentioning it on a SF/F blog. Good thing I'm not a purist. Not only is this a great mystery but it has one of the best casts of characters I've ever read. Dyce is the main character and she's a little off but her son Enoch aka "E" is the coolest little kid ever.

Artifice by Lianne Miller: Wow. If you've ever wondered what a modern hospital would do if presented with a vampire read this book. If you want to sell millions of tickets, turn it into a movie. Eliza is not only a great character but her character arc is amazing and the twist and turns in this one will keep an audience enthralled.

Castaway Planet by Ryk Spoor: Robin Crusoe IIIINNNNN SPAAAAACE! 'Nuff said. Honestly, I see this as more of an animated family film but it's one I'd love a chance to take my daughters to see. Disney could rock this thing and I'd love every minute of it.

I'm tempted to add Amy Lynn by Jack July, but there is one scene in particular that would have to be in the film and I don't know if Hollywood has the balls to do it. I mean, I'd love to see it, but umm... yeah. Then again, maybe they would if half of what I've heard about the Game of Thrones TV series is true. (Sorry, I don't have HBO). But regardless, what's better than southern justice and war stories? Both in a single package!

That's just a few but it's my two cents. If any of you have suggestions, I'm open to them. The point here is as much about the fact that there is plenty out there to use and I'd like to see it. I seriously heard a rumor that there may be a Greatest American Hero remake coming and that wasn't even all that good the first time. It's not that hard. Just find an awesome book, fork over a bunch of cash to the author and make a movie out of it. We really don't need remakes and reboots of movies from thirty years ago.

The works suggested above can be purchased at the links below: