Friday, July 13, 2018

OH, UNTIMELY DEATH! THANKS, MARVEL!


Hope all of you caught at least one of my Facebook posts from the Shore Leave Science Fiction Convention in Hunt Valley, Maryland last weekend. The con was a lot of fun, as always, with the cosplayers showing all their creativity and Captain Kirk himself making an appearance.

One of my traditions post-Shore Leave is to check out a new film in the theaters on Sunday night before I head for home. This year’s multiplex offering was Marvel’s Ant-Man and The Wasp, starring Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly (with Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer and Lawrence Fishbourne along for the ride).

The main body of this sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man is just as much slapstick fun, with all the smart-alecky banter and size-jokes you might expect from the franchise. Michael Pena on truth serum is a hoot, Michael Douglas can roll his eyes with the best of them, and I love Walton Goggins (who played bad guy Sonny Burch) in just about anything.

So, [GREAT BIG SPOILER ALERT] why didn’t the filmmakers (director Peyton Reed, writers Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, et al) quit while they were ahead? The answer is, apparently, that the folks at Marvel have lost their minds and gone on a homicidal (or maybe suicidal) rampage. The victims in this case were the inventor of the “shrinking” technology, Dr. Hank Pym, his lovely-and-just-recovered wife Janet Van Dyne (the original Wasp), and the new Wasp, their daughter, Hope Van Dyne. All were reduced to ash by an unseen something in a “bonus” scene that unfurled as the credits rolled. Thanks, Marvel!

[MORE SPOILERS, IN CASE YOU’VE BEEN LIVING ON A SPACE STATION SOMEWHERE.] It all started with last spring’s Avengers: Infinity War, in which half the Marvel Universe’s superheroes died in a bloody battle against the mega-villain Thanos. Yes, poor, pitiful little Peter Parker/Spiderman dies weeping in Ironman’s arms. Marvel’s newest and coolest creation, Black Panther, goes down swinging. If you liked a Marvel hero, chances are pretty good he or she bit the dust in the last brutal half-hour of that film. Oh, a handful survived, I suppose so they could feel guilty and mope uselessly through the first half of the next film. Can you tell that I hated that film?

For the same reason (or ONE of them) I hated the ending of Batman vs. Superman. I don’t appreciate having my emotions man-handled for no other motivation than corporate profit. [YOU GUESSED IT, MORE SPOILERS.] We all know there is no such thing as true death in the superhero world. You can’t kill Superman. And, as all you grieving Marvel fans out there will soon discover, you can’t kill Spidey, or Black Panther or any of the others who died such glorious and (sob) touching deaths in Avengers: Infinity War.

Why? Because, for one thing, these characters are too valuable to their corporate owners. For God’s sake, Black Panther just set attendance records all over the world; do you honestly think Marvel is going to permanently kill off its most profitable Golden Goose before Panther has even had a chance to film a single sequel? No.

So, the deaths in Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and The Wasp and Batman vs. Superman are blatant and irrelevant manipulation of the audience’s emotions merely to get folks back into the theater for the next go-round. Are the filmmakers really so unsure of their abilities to come up with a good story line for the next film? I suppose it’s either that or recycle yet another oldie but goodie from the Hollywood vault, since original stories seem to be so hard to come by these days.

Cheers, Donna

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Where to now for Star Wars?


Well, well. Copies of Solo haven't hit the stores yet, so I haven't seen the movie – but it's interesting that the media has described the film as a 'flop'. Google 'Solo flop' and you'll get everybody (and their dog's) take on the sales and the so-called reasons. Franchise fatigue is one – Solo came out just five months after The Last Jedi, but as the writer of this article from the Daily Express points out, Marvel has churned out a heap of Avengers movies in a short time, so that's not it. And the argument that people got their knickers in a knot over The Last Jedi to the extent they abandoned Star Wars isn't very convincing, either. The fellow at the Express reckons Solo wasn't marketed well, since Alden Ehrenreich had to fill Harrison Ford's larger than life shoes to play the role of Han Solo.

Whatever. All the messing about with the production didn't help. When Ron Howard was hired to replace the original directors, he re-shot 70% of the film so costs soared.

What constitutes a box office flop? This is Variety's take on the matter. "The numbers don’t lie. “Solo” earned a disappointing $103 million in North America over its opening weekend and stalled out with $68.2 million overseas. At this rate, it will fall short of the $1 billion mark that each Disney-released “Star Wars” adventure has managed to fly past. The latest instalment will struggle to make even half that amount globally. Analysts project “Solo” could end its run with approximately $400 million to $450 million in revenues, a dreadful result for a film that cost at least $250 million to produce and $150 million to promote." [Variety]

But that's in the past. Let's move on to the future. We've learned a few things about Star Wars 9.

The first is that it will be directed by J.J. Abrams.  Since he directed The Force Awakens, that bodes ill for me. I thought SW7 was absolutely derivative, so much like A New Hope that I was almost dizzy from rolling my eyes. He also directed Star Trek: Into Darkness, which also had me rolling my eyes (although not quite as much). So I have a bad feeling about this.

Princess Leia was supposed to have been front and center of the last film in this trilogy, but she is no longer with us. I'm glad to say she won't be resurrected in CGI, but the writing elves at Disney will have to come up with something in this movie to bring the trilogy to a satisfying conclusion. (Let's hope Rey kills off that exasperating jerk, Kylo Ren).

It seems Disney (or Abrams) can't help itself with the links to the past, though. Billy Dee Williams will be reprising his role as Lando Calrissian. As Han explains to Leia in Empire, 'He's a card player, a gambler, a scoundrel. You'd like him.'. Oh lordy I do so hope this isn't going to be another eye-rolling episode. Abrams keeps pulling characters out of the past. He reprised a young Khan in ST:Into Darkness. I still can't believe the best he could come up with in TFA was an orphan with strange powers who was abandoned on a desert planet, is caught up in a quest to destroy a super weapon.

Oh, I'll be watching SW9, of course. But I'll have a certain level of trepidation. There's plenty of time for Disney and Abrams to convince me, though. It's due for release in December, 2019.
Fingers firmly crossed.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Back in the Saddle Again. For Realz!

I'm going to skip blogging another snippet this week. If you're interested, you can catch several here:

New Scene from StarDog (All New Scene) -- May 28, 2018

Scene from StarDog (More About Hero Taro Shall) -- June 4, 2018

Story Bloopers that Make You go *Headdesk* Part I -- June 11, 2018

Story Bloopers that Make You go *Headdesk* Part II -- June 18, 2018


This week I want to talk about something else that's going on in my life. And, for me at least, it's kind of a biggie.

I just climbed back in the saddle again after more than 15 years! And I mean that literally. On an actual horse.

Me with one of our past Thoroughbreds, Africa.
I know, I know. People get the impression that I ride a lot. Well, I used to. And yes, we have horses. We've had them all of our married lives and we were both involved in equestrian pursuits prior to our first meeting, but the truth is in the last decade-and-a-half, life happened...a lot (to borrow a buzz phrase from my friend, author Pauline Baird Jones).

I'd been so busy with 50+ hour work weeks, managing a small Thoroughbred breeding operation, and doing all the author-ly related timesuckers to boot, that I just hadn't had TIME to actually get on a horse.

I've been retired for two years now, so a few months ago, I started giving that another look. Hmmm.

Actually, the thought was a little daunting. First of all, I'm no spring chicken anymore and I don't bounce like I used to. Heh. So I knew it wasn't going to be an easy thing. Though a lot of people ride well into their 80s, in the majority of those cases, the individual has been riding all of their life, and certainly not with a 15-year break. And riding a horse the correct way actually requires a lot of muscle, effort and balance.

So I started prepping about a month ago. I began an exercise program that's building up to about a full hour a day (I'm at about 45 minutes now) to strengthen legs, arms, and core, and to start re-using some of those muscle groups that have been on a very long vacation. And most of my riding equipment is so old now, I also had to invest in new gloves and helmet, for starters.

I found a local trainer that focuses on meeting personal goals and enjoyment of the activity, toured her serviceable but not fancy facility and talked to her about my goals. She's very knowledgeable, low key and seems like a good match for me at this early re-boot stage. That's important. In my dressage days, I trained under some instructors who were very demanding and meticulous. It's going to be a long while before I get back to the "demanding and meticulous stage"...if ever. Ha!

I hope to work up to being adept enough to do some hunter under saddle and low hunter classes at Edgewood's shiny new horse arena. Possibly I'll return to riding and showing in dressage at some point, though I'll have to find a different trainer to do it. And, of course, after David retires, we'll have time to go on trail rides or jogs around the property together.

My ultimate goal? To ride Stars--the 3-year-old Thoroughbred filly that we bred and raised. That may be a pipedream, but we'll see how things progress for both of us as we work in that direction. She'll probably be at least a 4YO before we're ready to seriously consider that. :)

Sooo....My first session was last Friday as part of a group of five other adult riders. After the day started out a bit ugly, it actually turned into a perfect day for riding...not too hot (we've been hitting the high 90s), not too sunny, not to windy, a bit overcast with no threat of thunderstorms. The cloudiness meant it wasn't so great for photos, but I'll post a few below.

Was I excited? Yes! Intimidated? Well, to be honest, yes. A little. I wasn't as worried about being in the saddle as I was about coming out of it. I don't have the same flexibility or reaction time that I did when I was younger. But I knew I'd be starting out on a seasoned schooling horse so wasn't anticipating any rodeos, and figured it would be just the basics we'd be working on--seat, posture, balance and hand position at a slower pace for these first few sessions.

Introductions and safety briefing. I'm on the little paint--Ginger.
The instructor is to my right on a dun.

Fortunately, I wasn't totally out of my element. My fellow classmates all had their own challenges. One hadn't ridden in six years. One was only twelve (a very mature 12--she looked more like 19). One had had a hip and knee replaced in the last year. One had taken a bad spill years earlier and was trying to regain her confidence. One was taking lessons on her new, and somewhat volatile horse, she brought to the class. So at least I didn't feel like I was in over my head.

It did turn out to be a little more adventurous than I bargained for when the assistant instructor got thrown and we had to contend with a loose horse. Then a couple of the riders had some issues with their own horses, which they'd trailered in for the session. All-in-all though, it was fairly stress free.

Doing some cone work (practicing leg work--or aids--while weaving in and out
of the orange cones.)

We also did a little bit of very elementary barrel work, which also required
a lot of use of leg aids.

So how did it go for me?

Well, some of it was like riding a bike. It came back. My mount, Ginger--a solid little mare with a stunning chestnut overo coat--was a little more of a challenge than I expected. She was a bit barn sour and though my main goal was a good ride, hers was getting back to the gate. ASAP. We had a few battles of will, but it was all good. She did give my legs a pretty strenuous workout, though. (To the point that when I tried to dismount my ankle and calf muscles were so fatigued they wouldn't support me, so it was kind of a "sack of potatoes" landing. Shhh. Let's keep that our little secret. LOL)

We'll see where this goes. Wish me luck...just please don't say "break a leg." :/




Friday, July 6, 2018

FORTY YEARS OF SHORE LEAVE!

Wow! The country's largest fan-run Star Trek convention in Hunt Valley, Maryland has been going strong for forty years this year! Among the guests at the con will be Captain James T. Kirk himself, William Shatner. Your faithful correspondent is in the thick of things again this year, too, so my usual blog post will be superseded by this little video of Shore Leave past and an invitation for you to check out my Facebook page for all the updates from my weekend at the Trek-fest!

See you next week!

Cheers, Donna



Thursday, July 5, 2018

Collision ties up (almost) all the loose ends in the Prophecy universe


Today our good friend Lea Kirk is my guest on Spacefreighters. You already know she has a new book out, the third in her Prophecy series. I thought I'd ask Lea why she wrote Collision.

Here's her response.
I could say it was because more than one person told me that readers prefer book series of at least three stories, or more. Or that once my brain got going, it didn’t want to stop with Alex and Gryf’s story. Or even—as my family suspects—that I wrote this one so I could have the redheaded children nature denied me.

All of this may be true, or not, but I cannot deny that I adore Flora and Fander and the vital role they fill toward lasting peace in the Prophecy universe. I have been excited about their story since the first glimmers of the idea filtered into my consciousness. Before they even had names—which is hard to fathom now.

Collision is the third book in my Prophecy series, and the one that ties up almost all the loose ends. It completes the invasion-arc of the series so I can turn my focus to stories of post-invasion survival and rebuilding. “Real life” stories that don’t necessarily spell doom for Earth/Terr, Matir, and Anferthia. I want to write those stories too, so watch for them. They are coming. Maybe as early as the holidays if I’m super diligent.

In the meantime, check out Collision and discover that not all aliens are little green men.

Collision, Book Three of the Prophecy Series
 
A heart-rending loss…
Flora Bock will never forgive the Anferthian invaders for murdering her birth-parents. Growing up with the grandson of her sworn enemies is living a nightmare—until the day she sees him through the eyes of a young woman. But giving her heart to him is the ultimate betrayal of her parents’ memory.

A life in peril…
There are precious few places in the galaxy where Fander K’nil is safe. One look into Flora’s beautiful, hate-filled eyes is proof enough that Terr is not one of those places. He must keep her at a distance and stay alive long enough to fulfill his destiny. No matter what his heart desires.

An empire at stake…
Just as Fander and Flora begin to discover the depth of their feelings for each other, they are thrust into a deadly game of politics and assassination with an enemy who stops at nothing to stay in power. With the lives of everyone they love at risk, they must find a way to avert a new invasion before it’s too late—even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice.

You can buy Collision at
Here's an excerpt to whet your appetite. 

Fander gave her a grin. “Yes. But, here’s the difference. I intend to convince you to marry me.”
Gods, he loved seeing her cheeks turn pink. She took a half step back and raised her chin. “It’ll never work.”
“Pfft. So you say.”
She pointed toward the portal. “You remember what you did back there on my planet, right? You laid the groundwork for a civil war. Your people might, might, accept me as tangol because that bond is part of your culture, but as your wife? I’m a Terrian. Lots of them will hate me for that reason.”
“Once, you hated me for being Anferthian.”
She lowered her arm and blinked, twice. Three times. Four, five. If she had to think about it that long, then he almost had her. He stepped into her personal space and cupped his palm along her jaw. “But, you changed your mind, didn’t you?”
Her tongue darted over her lips. “You think we could change their minds?”
“I’d like to try.”  

If you'd like to find out more about Lea and her Prophecy series, you can find her at

WEBSITE     
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FACEBOOK       
TWITTER       


 

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Hosted by 5 Science Fiction Romance authors with 8 RWA Golden Heart finals and a RITA final between them. We aim to entertain with spirited commentary on the past, present, and future of SFR, hot topics, and our take on Science Fiction and SFR books, television, movies and culture.