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Sequels, Reboots, and Other Facsimiles

At some point in between catching up with The Orville, I paused to watch the new Star Trek television series. It occurred to me that while I enjoyed both series, it's fair to say they are simply two branches of the same tree. Namely the great and spreading arbor that is the Star Trek universe. It interested me that although The Orville is clearly meant as a shameless homage (rip-off?) of Star Trek, its use of certain classically Trekian tropes like the legal struggle over personhood and what it means to be human struck a more immediate and familiar tone than anything I've seen in Discovery so far. And yet, I wouldn't say I enjoy The Orville more than Discovery, in fact far from it. Orville is a decent amount of fun, but Discovery feels like the genuine and sincere look at what made Star Trek Star Trek that Enterprise always wanted to be. 


We live in an age of facsimiles. Facsimile food. Facsimile presidents. Facsimile art.

In part, this isn't new. No matter how unique t…
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Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 is not as indispensable as its predecessor Blade Runner. It is better than that almost anything else I've seen this year and a sincere redrafting of the original. What was great about Deckard's hunt for rogue androids in 1982 is updated here, explored in more detail or juxtaposed with other ideas. This is not simply a reboot or a redo. It is a child of the original movie. It shares creative DNA with its ancestor mixed with enough inevitable mutations to be a distinct and separate expression.



The plot here is wrapped in several layers of spoiler-bait. An replicant cop, K (short for KD9-3.7)  goes to retire a rogue android and discovers a secret literally buried for decades. A secret that pushes him to reconsider his own existence.

Let's talk first about why I think a lover of movies might want to see this film. Ryan Gosling's work here is top-notch and his role in the film, as a questioner and thinking being in the grip of an existential crisis, is fully…

Review of "Pretty Marys All in a Row" by Gwendolyn Kiste

Part of the reason American Gods works is that it offers a kind of reward to folk lore mavens and religious study majors. Do you have a working familiarity with obscure Northern European mythologies? Are you able to describe what Neil Gaiman got right and what he fudged a bit in terms of the Egyptian religion? Then the guessing games of that novel - just which Middle Eastern Goddess is this? - magnify its other charms. 
"Pretty Marys All in a Row" by Gwendolyn Kiste (released by Broken Eye Books), is a novella for people, like me, who are waiting impatiently for the next season of Bryan Fuller's show. It's not set in that universe, certainly, but approaches the question of folklore from a similar perspective. Namely, that myths have a definite, physical explanation and your knowledge of such things will expand your enjoyment of the work. In the case of Pretty Marys, the stories are urban legends and nursery rhymes about young women. The main character, Rhee, is named…

Story Acceptance Announcement

I am thrilled to announce that my short story, "Emissary," a weird-apocalypse take on love and betrayal, will appear in the first issue of the Selene Quarterly Magazine in their "Brides, Grooms, and Honeymoons," issue. 


Darra knows her husband is no hero. He rose to power in Shepherd Falls as a bandit and a thief. They married as a convenience, a way to legitimize his assumption of power while maintaining the influence of a decrepit gentry. There is little love lost between them. And yet, in order for her home to survive, she must find a way to convince this coward and tyrant to fight for her home. To stand against an unspeakable threat even though it will almost certainly mean his death. 
"Emissary" is a story about resistance and surrender in the face of the end of the world. It's also about a certain type of marriage that only exists because the people in it can't survive without each other.

I don't yet have information about when this issue w…

Review of I Wish I Was Like You by S.P. Miskowski

Even 23 years later, I remember 1994 and Kurt Cobain's death. I experienced that moment as a kind of inside out personal crisis. I felt ashamed by his death. As though his exit in someway indicted my own teenage miseries. "I wish I was like you," goes the verse in 'All Apologies,' "Easily amused." I felt as though a check I hadn't remembered writing had just been cashed. 


SP Miskowski's book, named after the first half of that line, is in the words of another reviewer, a novel that shouldn't work. The narrator is unlikeable, unreliable, and dead. The plot is almost entirely told as a flashback and long sections of the novel concern the inner processes of the writer. The daily grind to summon up enough self-esteem to carry a sentence to its logical conclusion is a real struggle, people, but it ain't exactly riveting.

But the thing is, this novel works. It is one of the best things I've read all year and a real achievement in weird ficti…

Spoiler Heavy Review of IT (2017)

My fandom of Stephen King and his adaptions is complicated by the sheer volume of his work. King has written some of my favorite books of all time (Pet Semetary and The Stand) and others I can barely believe I read five pages through.


However, no matter what I or anyone might say, King is an unescapable fixture in the world of 20th century and 21st century literature. Most of the people I've ever met have read at least one of his books and I generally find it's a good sign if a person has read a bunch of them.
"IT," in particular, occupies a special place in my mind. It was one of the first adult books I read as a kid - way back in the summer of sixth grade at summer camp. I didn't understand all of it on a conscious level but experienced it on a deeper, emotional level. The story of a gang of 'losers,' desperately trying to survive in the face of indifferent adults, hostile bullies, and a monstrous clown made a great deal of sense to me. As in, I didn'…

Thoughts on Promontory and "A Breath from the Sky"

Last month, my story "Promontory" appeared in Martian Migraine's "A Breath from the Sky" anthology. Promontory concerns a college president, Joseph Serrick, and his attempt to die in a way he could live with. At some point in the past, Serrick became the host for an ancient and possible extraterrestrial parasitic colony, their puppet in matters concerning the world surrounding a small forked lake in Upstate New York. I wrote the story as a reaction to a very real college president I'll leave unnamed here, who in addition to fostering a toxic environment for decades at the university he presided over, was a student of Immanuel Kant.


The paradox of a person dedicated to the philosophy of benevolence and self-agency also being a petty and tyrannical boss got me thinking about writing a mythos style story. Initially, the president character was meant to be the behind-the-scenes villain, seen only in the last few paragraphs of the story. But the story, at least i…