Sunday, February 23, 2014

"Heroes" is coming back

NBC announced last night that Heroes will be returning to television for a 13-episode run in 2015, and I think this is fantastic. This comes on the heels of another limited-run reboot, this one for "24," another of my favorite shows from back-when, and a movie for "Veronica Mars." My wish list for more reboots: Chuck, Alias and Firefly.

The Heroes reboot will focus on a new cast of characters, with possible cameos from some of the original cast, which is not so fantastic, but I understand the necessity behind it. I would rather see a series focusing on characters such as Peter, Claire, Hiro and Sylar. But the actors have mostly gone on to other projects, some with great success. Getting them all back for a new series would prove a logistical nightmare.

As happy as I am over this news, I'm well-aware that the original run of Heroes had its issues. The first season was great. It was exciting and fast-paced, and "Save the Cheerleader, Save the World" became engrained for a while in the country's pop culture. The episodes of "Homecoming," "Company Man" and "Five Years Gone" were as good as anything else on television and better than most. After that, the show went downhill fast, until it finally petered out with a whimper at the end of season four and was given a mercy killing by NBC.

I don't claim to know what went wrong. The writers strike had something to do with it, I'm sure. Usually when a show's story lines go to pot, the problem originates in the writers room. In the case of Heroes, after the initial story line of the bomb in New York was resolved, it seemed that the writers didn't know where to go next. Which is why a 13-episode limited-run series might be just the thing Heroes needs to redeem itself. Creator Tim Kring and his (hopefully) new and better writing staff have had years to develop a story that will have a definite beginning and end, rather than going on indefinitely when there's nowhere good to go.

In any case, I will definitely be watching, and I'm rooting for Kring and company to prove that NBC made the right call in bringing Heroes back from the dead.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Review for Raygun Chronicles

I'm not generally in the habit of using my blog for blatant self-promotion, at least I try not to, because that can get boring after awhile. But I like to share sales and publications, and this time I get to share a review.

Intergalactic Medicine Show book reviewer Jamie Todd Rubin has nice things to say about "Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera for a New Age" in his January column, which you can read right here, including some very nice things about my contribution to the anthology. He says, "Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera for a New Age is a fun, entertaining read, and a good representation of how short fiction today can recognize its roots and then deliberately evolve into something new and impressive."

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ender's Game movie

I finally got around this week to watching the movie adaptation of "Ender's Game." Orson Scott Card's novel is one of the first science-fiction novels I ever read, probably when I was 10 or 11, and I absolutely loved it. I still do. I've gone back and forth over the years on whether "Ender's Game" or its followup "Speaker for the Dead" is the better book. I've read most of the sequels.

So the idea of a movie adaptation scared me. I was afraid they would screw it up. This fear turned out to be partially justified.

In watching the movie, I found it difficult to separate my opinions of what was on the screen from my love of the books. I tried. I really did. But I found myself making a mental list as the movie went along of all the places it diverged from the novel. Some changes and omissions were necessary to the medium, and others seems absolutely pointless, such as the weirdness of the ending.

My main issue with the movie, though, came from its rushed pacing. The script jumped from Big Scene to Big Scene without any of the little stuff in the middle, giving the movie the feel of being a Cliff Notes version of what it could have been. Most of the Battle School kids (and Valentine and Peter) were reduced to faces in the crowd. The emotional impact of what was happening to Ender and his fellow soldiers got lost amid big set pieces and fancy special effects. The "why should I care" factor was almost completely absent.

Now you might be reading this and thinking, Is there anything you actually liked about this movie? Well, yes, there was. I think Asa Butterfield and Ben Kingsley were excellent. Butterfield looks like what I imagined Ender to look like, except a few years older, and he pulled off what I always thought would be a difficult role -- a kid who is both exceptionally compassionate and a cold-blooded military commander. The battle room was visually awesome, and I wish the movie had spent more time there.

Overall, the movie is a mixed bag. It got a few things right but could have been so much better. My recommendation: Go read the book, instead.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Rib injury

A little more than a week ago, I injured my lower right ribs shoveling snow from the driveway. I'm rather embarrassed about this because the snow totaled about four inches, which is to say, not much. I figured I had pulled a muscle and the pain would subside in a few days. Fast forward nine days, and the pain is worse now than it was when it first appeared. So I went to see my doctor this morning, and the diagnosis is: costochondritis. That's a fancy way of saying I sprained my ribs.

I didn't know until today that you could sprain your ribs. I'm happy I didn't crack a bone, but at the same time, I can't think a break would hurt much less. I'm reminded of the injury every time I get in or out of bed or a chair, cough, sneeze, blow my nose, make a jerky movement, drive over a pothole, take a deep breath, etc. And I'm looking at four to six weeks of recovery time. While you can wrap a sprained ankle or wrist and minimize its use, the ribs have to keep working, and they take longer to heal.

My grand plan to hit the health club three times a week and do abs and butt exercises every day is now being set back until the end of March. But to every dark cloud, there is a silver lining. I'm going to sleep very well at night for the next couple weeks thanks to some heavy-duty painkillers.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Jimmy Fallon and The Muppets

I came across this in my Internet surfing this morning: Jimmy Fallon ends his last episode of "Late Night" by -- what else? -- singing with the Muppets. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sick day

I am writing this post this morning while sitting in my fluffy robe and socks at the kitchen table, while outside it's snowing. Next to me are a full box of Kleenex, saline spray and petroleum jelly. Yeah, I'm sick, for the second time this year. I've also managed to pull a muscle in my ribcage area, which means I  get a sharp pain every time I sneeze, cough or blow my nose.

Normally, all this wouldn't mean much in the normal scheme of my day. I'm a mother and wife with a full-time job. I don't have time to be sick. But today is my day off from work, my husband is at work and my kids are at school, and I have no errands that are so urgent that I must go out into a snowstorm to do them. Which means, for the few hours until I need to pick up the kids from school, I am allowed to indulge in being sick. I took a two-hour nap this morning, and now: fluffy robe. After lunch, I'll probably go take a bath.

Oh, and there's also watching random videos on YouTube. Here's my new favorite, of "Sherlock" star Benedict Cumberbatch on Sesame Street:

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Launch Pad application period open

Last year, I went to the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop for writers in Laramie, Wyo. You can read about my experience here and here and more here. It was fantastic. I learned a lot about astronomy and made some great friends. Our instructors Mike Brotherton, Christian Ready and Andria Schwortz were great at making the material understandable and interesting, and also are wonderful people. The application period for the 2014 workshop is open now through March 15. And here's some great news: thanks to support from grants, the cost to participants this year is $0. All you have to do is get yourself there and buy some meals. That's it. So if you're a science fiction writer who might need some brushing up on your science, I recommend you apply, which you can do right here.