Archive for August, 2009

Inglorious Basterds–with SPOILERS!

Monday, August 31st, 2009



I gather Tarantino regards this as his masterpiece, and that he rewrote it about 20 times; it shows.  The script borders on genius, and has to be one of the best things Tarantino’s written in years. . . I found a copy here; it’s so demented that when it was first leaked, people wondered if it was a hoax.  But as we all found out, it turns out that yes, Tarantino really does kill Hitler, and bring the war to an end in 1944.  You have to admire the balls of someone willing to get on the Alternative History Bus and ride it past the very last stop, subverting (and celebrating) every single WWII movie stereotype along the way:  the Elegant Evil Nazi, the Redneck American Soldier, the European Femme Fatale . . . all of it gets whirled up into a giant melting pot brought to a boil just in time for the final insane shootout.  It was a little surreal to watch all this from the balcony of the Uptown Theater (also known as the Rat-town, in celebration of all the actual rats that live there), and the audience was eating it up.

Of course, in real life, Hitler was a damn sight harder to kill than this, which is why he lived as long as he did.  There’s a great book, called (appropriately enough) KILLING HITLER which gets into just how well-guarded he was, and how many assasination plots fell short, not that you’d need to read it to know that Hitler wouldn’t have hung out in the balcony of a Parisian theater with the entire Nazi high command while not a single soldier patrolled the hallways outside.  But whatever.  QT can do what he wants, and I for one can’t wait to get my hands on the DVD so I can learn about all the coy little references that sailed over my head while I was trying to take it all in.

Next up:  District 9!

Local bloggers!

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

“Think globally, act locally”—last week, I participated in a MeetUp of local D.C. bloggers, all of them worth checking out: –the legendary Jade Pages — the Tao of Tracy T. — “unrestricted thought” — musings about DC and everything (politics, food, the environment…) — helping companies and writers thrive — strategies and techniques for establishing your online business — ideas and events on culture in DC — music, movies, and tv — free and cheap things in DC — dumb things I have done lately — A blog that studies the application of marketing and PR.

The Shepherd’s Eye

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

One of the highlights for me at ComicCon was meeting Richie Dent, a up-and-coming writer who landed a deal for his graphic novel the hard way, partnering with an artist as hungry as he is, and then putting together more than a hundred pages of graphic novel goodness based on a screenplay that got to the quarterfinal round in the Francis Ford Coppola competition.   The Shepherd’s Eye is a “Minority Report style futuristic Sci-fi thriller meets government conspiracy as a woman and a young boy become the key players in a battle to save the earth from the destructive forces of greed.” He’s got some cool art over on his website, so check it out. This is one to watch.

The demise of mundane SF

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

I posted yesterday on Suvudu about how mundane SF should be declared dead so we can get on with more important shit. I also take on atheists, as well as Kurzweil’s Singularity acolytes, so there’s something to piss off everyone. Have at it, folks.

Babylon A.D. and Vin Diesel, revisited

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Last fall I wrote this was the movie in which Vin Diesel approached the Rutger Hauer Event Horizon: that point beyond which a star makes only straight-to-DVD crud. It’s just as well for Vin that he was able to get back in on the Fast and the Furious franchise, and there’s been more recent talk about more Riddick movies, but I remain skeptical, especially after the underwhelming performance of Riddick director Twohy’s latest flick. Then again, if the Riddick franchise goes in the space-noir rather than space-opera direction, they might be able to recapture Pitch Black’s edge with Pitch Black-level budgets.  Stranger things have happened. .  .

But I’m here to talk about Babylon A.D.  Which, yes, I bought when I was in Montreal two weeks back for WorldCon.  But as the string physicists say, I can explain everything. . . so. .  .  I was looking for a copy of Sunshine, but that was 23 bucks, and I found Babylon A.D. for $8!  And, to be honest, I . .  .(deep breath) LIKE Babylon A.D.  The plot is incoherent, but I’ve got (as you can tell) a soft spot for Vin Diesel, and enjoyed watching him thrash his way through two hours of terrible dialogue and pointless action scenes.  And it’s a real shame the movie’s so bad, because some of the sets are spectacular (like the one where the Russian train goes through radioactive wastelands). I’ll go out on a limb, in fact, and say that this was a cyberpunk classic waiting to happen, but something went terribly wrong on the way to the studio.

But at any rate, when I got back to D.C., I realized I’d left the damn thing on the plane.  This has not been a good summer for me on planes.   I left a BURNING SKIES poster on the flight back from ComicCon, and I left an ipod on a flight before that.  I blame all of this, of course, on Gerard Depardieu’s appearance in Babylon A.D.  I mean, what else could be responsbile?


Monday, August 17th, 2009

is one heckuva of a cool town. Reading at Malaprops went great, and it was awesome to see my high school pal Karen Casey (now an Asheville denizen), as well as writer friends Richard Dansky and Melinda Thielbar, who drove three hours (!) from Durham to the reading. I love towns with lots of laid-back people and steep hills, and Asheville certainly qualifies. Weirdly enough, the Washington Post ran an article on Asheville the day I got back; I gather the reporter was at the same drum circle Friday night that I was.

And that’s all she wrote for the BURNING SKIES readings.  The summer’s almost over, and I am now steeped in book three edits.  (And I can’t help but notice that I’ve bought myself yet another day to explain that Babylon A.D. purchase to you. . . . )

Thursday, August 13th: reading in Ashville, NC @ Malaprop’s

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

I’ll be reading from BURNING SKIES Thursday night at legendary indie bookstore Malaprop’s at 7 p.m. I’ve never been to Asheville before, so can’t wait. Normal blogging will resume next week, which gives me a few more days before I have to try to explain to you guys why I succumbed and bought the Babylon AD director’s cut.

2009 Hugos/WorldCon

Monday, August 10th, 2009

I missed the last two days of the 2009 WorldCon due to a friend’s wedding on the west coast, so I had a slightly truncated Montreal experience. At any rate, Gaiman deserves full credit for his second Hugo (though personally I would have rather seen the prize go to Stephenson for ANATHEM). Oh, and apparently I missed the Campbell nomination by one vote!—21 votes to Felix Gilman’s 22. Hey, there’s still next year. . . .

Other highlights:

—Meeting up with Peter Watts again, who I hadn’t seen in over two years. Peter is in many ways the reason I’m published, since he read MIRRORED HEAVENS way back in the day and told me what was wrong with it.  Something about it needing an ending, as I recall.

—Watching Charles Stross and Paul Krugman converse on the problems inherent in predicting the future.  Without those crystal balls, it’s tough.

—Seeing Montreal.  Amazing city.  But how come everyone speaks French?

—Having lunch with Patrick St. Denis of Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist.  Per the above, it was cool to be going around Montreal with a native, and Pat’s sense of humor is my type of dry.

—Reading alongside cyberpunk legend Pat Cadigan.  Not only is her writing awesome, she’s got one hell of a personality.  Lives in London too!

—Seeing Joshua Palmatier again.  Joshua is probably the only professor of mathematics who also writes fantasy; I suppose that beats a history major who writes science fiction . . .

—Catching up with my inimitable agent Jenny Rappaport.  We talked about lots of things, including what I’m going to be working on next.  Watch this space.

WorldCon 2009

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

I’ll be at WorldCon the next couple of days, but will have to leave early for a friend’s wedding on the west coast—I fly out Saturday morning from Montreal, so will miss all the award hoopla. And my WC schedule is simplicity itself:

Friday, August 7th, reading w/Pat Cadigan (!), 5 p.m.

The bad news is I’m not on any panels.  The good news is I’m not on any panels, and can focus on catching up with various cronies. See you in Montreal!

Forecasting disruptive technologies/slides of yesterday’s NRC presentation

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

“Predicting anything’s hard, especially when it involves the future.” —Yogi Berra

Vernor Vinge and I tag-teamed “science fiction hour” at the National Research Council in D.C. yesterday; he was calling in from his home in California while I foolishly biked ten blocks through the humidity over to the National Academies of Science. Under the chairmanship of Gilman Louie, the NRC is doing some really interesting stuff, drawing on more than just the usual Inside the Beltway perspectives in taking stock of what’s to come. My contribution can be found here:  a series of slides that start by outlining the current realities of 4G warfare, and then sketch out a vision of what future 5G space/net-centric warfare might look like.

And for another vision of what such warfare might look like, check out BURNING SKIES!