Pensive

I’m in a pensive mood today.  I’m depressed over what has happened to the Hugo awards and to Worldcon.  I haven’t really addressed the Sad/Rabid Puppy mess because when two of the most respected figures in our field — George R.R. Martin and Connie Wills — have weighed in there really isn’t much for me to say except — boys, you’re whining and it shows.

I’m also very homesick for New Mexico.  My return to L.A. was uneventful, but now I’m into a frenzy of unloading stuff at the new place, lugging really large boxes out of the storage unit, preparing for movers on Monday which means I have to pack like crazy over the weekend.  Fortunately I don’t have a lot of things in California.  Still it feel daunting.

At the new townhouse I discovered that the deadbolt catches when I try to unlock the door, and I lacked the strength to force it.  I had to call my realtor to come and get the door opened.  The sellers were so kind and left me an orchid plant and a bottle of champagne.  I’ll open it with friends once I get moved in.  Still the place seems like a set and not a home.  This was only the second time I’m seen the place.  I offered on it after seeing it once.  Have I made a mistake?  I don’t know yet.

After off loading some things I headed to the barn.  Everyone has gone to the World Cup in Las Vegas.  I was ambivalent about going, but now it feels like I’m missing the party.  I was going to ride Vento, but I couldn’t fine my saddle and by the time I had located my tack it was getting late.  It was funny when Vento heard my voice he gave a stallion “bugle”.  I’ve never heard him to that before.  All the grooms starting laughing, and said he was giving me what for and indeed he was.

After the barn I headed to the market and the storage unit, and now I’m trying to figure out where and what to eat for dinner.  The other strange thing is having no television and only my personal hotspot for internet.  I turned it off while I was away for so long, but now I’m regretting that.  I can’t even fire up the XBox because without wireless throughout the condo I can’t get to the cloud saved games.  Sometimes I think I rely on the television to fill the silence, as a surrogate for companionship.

Which bring me to the final most pensive thing.  Someone who was very dear to me has pulled away.  Even though I didn’t see him often there was this sense that he was near and available.  The ground seems shaky now that he’s gone.  I wish I could do anger better.  All I feel is sad.

Write a Script First

So I’m adapting my Edge books as a potential TV series.  There is a reason I picked a novel — in fact a series of novels — and I have George RR and the success of Game of Thrones to thank for that.  Hollywood is now eager to pick up properties based on novels, particularly novels where there are multiple books.

I’m writing the pilot now, and even if it doesn’t got as as show it’s a new writing sample for my manager which is all good.  As for using my own work — well, I have the rights to it so no options involved, and hey, if you’re going to steal, steal from yourself.

Of course I’m making a lot of adjustments.  In the novel I could have a very long conversation between my hero and the Prometheus figure, but I can’t do that in a script.  After three pages a scene starts to “creak” so I have broken up the scene and even given some of the dialog to another character.  I’m dropping bread crumbs rather than laying out the entire feast at one sitting.

And I think it’s much better then the structure in the novel.  If only I’d written this out first as a screenplay I might have seen that and doled out information in a slower and more controlled manner.  Of course THE EDGE OF REASON was my first foray back into book writing after years in Hollywood so my excuse is that I was rusty.  At least the books keep getting better when is all any writer can hope for.

Point of all this is that I am even more convinced of the efficacy of outlining first.  In a way a script is a shorthand outline of a fleshed out novel.  You do that and I think you end up with a better book at the end of the writing process.

Getting Roped In

So this is what happens when you’re friends with George R.R. Martin.  A few months ago I was home in New Mexico and stopped by the Jean Cocteau theater.  George had really urged me to come by because Sibel  Kekilli who played Shae in Game of Thrones was in town filming a segment for the French/German show Durch die Nacht or Into the Night.  It was a pleasure meeting Sibel, but the next thing I know George has me on camera and he’s urging me to tell tales about filming my pilot STAR COMMAND in Potsdam Germany and all the hilarious things that happened.

Well, the show is now available to watch so here’s a link.  I haven’t had the nerve to check it out, but some of you might want to see what George and Sibel got up to in the wild night spots of Santa Fe (just kidding they roll up the sidewalks at 9:00 p.m. in my town), and see if I embarrassed myself.

You can watch the show by going through George’s blog.  Here is the link.Into The Night via George R.R.

Set It Up/Pay It Off

Back on my analysis of what made Inquisition such a terrific and satisfying game, and also using it as a way present writing tools that are useful to any story teller be it for games, TV and movies or books.

In my replay I’ve recruited Blackwell, and this time I’m taking him along a lot more often as well as Vivienne since they both got rather short shrift last time.  I found Vivienne to be an unrepentant bitch and Blackwell to be dull until I discovered otherwise to my shock and delight.  As before the spoiler caveat applies.

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So for those of you who have completed Inquisition, and for those of you who, like me, don’t mind spoilers, here’s the skinny.  Blackwell isn’t really a Grey Warden.  He was a recruit.  He was on his way to the joining when his mentor got killed.  Blackwell assumed his identity to escape his past as a betrayer and a murder for money.  All of this is discovered when you have a cryptic conversation with Blackwell and learn he has gone to prevent the execution of a man who was part of the massacre.  It’s a lovely Jean val Jean moment from Le Miserable.  It’s also terrific that if you mishandle that conversation if you go glib or cynical Blackwell simply vanishes and you have no idea why or what happened to him.  That is very cool and great game design.  Actions have consequences.  Just like with Liliana.

Anyway, if you learn the sad truth about your companion suddenly all your earlier interactions with him, and his remarks to his companions take on a stunning new meaning.  What was even better handled by the designers was the foreshadowing.  None of this comes out of left field (cough, cough Mass Effect 3).  Clearly the writers on Dragon Age had witnessed the disaster that was first the ending and then the reaction to Mass Effect 3 and they took careful note.

Here is what they did so well.  They laid in all the clues from your very first meeting with Blackwell.  They “set it up”.  When you first meet him he is training “recruits” but then after a battle with bandits he sends them all home to their farms.  If you’ve played Dragon Age: Origins you think, “hmm, interesting, why isn’t he taking them off for the joining?” but you let it go because of the hole in the sky.

Then there is his defensiveness about criminals becoming Grey Wardens.  My reaction was — okay the guy has a past.  That’s interesting, but will it be relevant.  There is a conversation about The Joining in which Blackwell is appropriately vague.  Once again you think it’s because it’s shrouded in mystery, but after it’s revealed that Blackwell doesn’t have a single clue about the joining it all takes on a new meaning.  A lot of the credit goes to the terrific voice work by Alastair Parker who shaded each exchange perfectly.  A broader reading would have given it away far too soon.  I admit I was expecting something because I’m a writer and this looked like foreshadowing and I was so pleased to see I was right.

The point is that you feel satisfied when the revelation drops and you get that little giggle/thrill when all the earlier dialogue suddenly has new meaning.  If you can give that moment of “How Cool!” to a reader, viewer, player, then you’ve done your job.

Dragon Age: Inquisition & Attention to Detail

As always the caveat that there will be spoilers as I continue my replay of DA: Inquisition and continue my musings.

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So last night I tied up most of the Hinterlands adventures.  Just one more fade rift to close.  I had been holding off on shutting down the rogue templars until I had the damn Inquisition banners requisition handled.  Last time I didn’t get to finish it and it bugged me no end.  (Yes, I am a completist).  So as those who play already know while you are pacifying the Hinterlands there is the sound of combat and the roar of angry men.  Buildings and wagons on fire along the West Road.  Then last night after the templar encampment and the mage hide out had both been dealt with the shouting stopped and when I rode down the West Road the flames were extinguished.  There are farmers back in the fields, and people conducting business in Redcliff and at the Crossroads.  (An aside, and something I found interesting.  When you run into gangs of templars and mages fighting and have to end the fights you are only pitted against men.  I have yet to come up against a female templar or a female mage in those instances which is an odd “soft” form of sexism.)  But back to the topic.

This is beautiful attention to detail, and as every writer knows it’s tremendously important if you want to give a reader or a viewer or a player a truly immersive experience.  For a gamer it adds to that sense of satisfaction that you have accomplished something meaningful.  One of my first gaming experiences that I really enjoyed was Halo, but I eventually lost interest because it was always the same.  Go to the next checkpoint, fight aliens, rinse and repeat.  I never had a sense it was making any difference until the final moment when you kept a Halo ring from doing something evil, and for those of us less adept players the fact you always had to drive really fast to succeed and escape made this ending fraught and frustrating.

You also see that the designers of Dragon Age actually thought about the consequences of your decisions on your companions.  I’m not in love with the “Solas approves, Sera disapproves,” etc. thing, but I have liked the fact that Vivienne gives you an immense amount of crap if you have sided with the mages and think they ought to be able to govern themselves, Cassandra is very suspicious of the spirit creature Cole, and in the case of one particular character the choices you make deeply affect her personality and her behavior near the end of the game.

And then there’s the war table.  If you just pick an advisor to solve a problem based on who can do it the fastest and who is available you may end up with an unfortunate outcome.  If you are playing an elf and you just rely on military force to try and help your clan you end up with a dead clan.  You actually have to stop and consider the problem, the advice being given and the outcome you want.

Dragon Age: Inquisition!

I want to start jotting down my thoughts about Dragon Age: Inquisition, but let me first put up a warning.  I can’t really talk about this game without spoilers so if you haven’t finished, or haven’t started the game — maybe don’t read my musings about the game.

 

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Okay, now that the disclaimer is out of the way….  I really loved this game.  I don’t think it’s quite as epic as Dragon Age: Origins, but the focus is different.  In Origins you’re really a kid, very young maybe 17 or 18 years old and your left isolated, outlawed and alone without guidance from the elders of your order — The Grey Wardens.  Despite that your country is faced with a terrible threat and it’s up to you to forge alliances to fight it.  Added to your problems is a vicious civil war.

The second game, Dragon Age 2 was… well, actually I have no idea what was the point of that game.  It felt cramped and small and unimportant aside from the growing tensions between mages and templars.

Inquisition is more like Mass Effect 3, (but be reassured — unlike ME3 Inquisition has a good ending) in that your task is to craft a massive fighting force to combat a threat that endangers the entire world of Thedas.  There are decisions to be made and how you pick between spies, diplomacy or military action has real consequences.  You have to recruit agents and allies and you can blow it with them.  One of the best sequences in the game is all about court intrigue at a royal ball, and it is friggin’ brilliant.

Dragon Age: Origins did an amazing job of building a culture, societies complete with an intricate history, and Inquisition builds on that history in fascinating ways.  Wisely, BioWare abandoned the ill thought out plan that forced you to only play a human in Dragon Age 2 and once again allowed you a choice of races as well as your gender and class.  I am partial to elves.  My warden in Origins was a Dalish elf so I played Dalish again in this game, and I think it might be the best choice given the focus of the game and what is ultimately discovered.

The designers also broadened the world significantly.  Ferelden felt big to me, but it’s nothing compared with Inquisition.  Kirkwall was very cramped a consequence of a rushed game, but they have more then made up for it in Inquisition.  Thedas is now a very big world, and there is one particular visual out in the Hissing Waste that is spectacular and really brings home that — no, you are not on Earth.  The maps indicated this wasn’t our world, but the image of that gigantic moon hanging at the horizon really makes the point in a very visceral way.

For the record I really disliked Skyrim.  I need some kind of narrative spine.  Just wandering about getting surly rulers elderberry wine and fighting endless walking dead in dungeons very quickly lost any appeal for me.  A big world meant nothing without a story.  BioWare and Inquisition have managed to give me the best of both.  A big world to explore, but a strong sense of what was at stake and what I needed to do.

So, there’s the big overview.  I’ll get into more specifics in future posts.

Why Spock?

As I’m trying to process the news of Leonard Nimoy’s death I found myself reflecting back on original Trek, and what it was about Mr. Spock, our beloved Vulcan science officer, that so touched generation after generation of viewers.  For me Star Trek was the first visual evocation of what I had read and dreamed about almost since I learned to read.  The stars, other worlds, alien civilizations, space ships.  But where Spock was concerned I think it went deeper then that.

It did seem like people fall in love with Trek in adolescence and in many ways Spock was the personification of all those adolescent angsts.  Who am I?  Where do I belong?  Will I ever fit in?  My emotions are out of control and sometimes terrifying to me.  Added to that was and is the fact that a lot of science fiction fans are brainy and probably didn’t spend junior high and high school running with the cool, popular kids, being captain of the football team or a cheerleader.  When the Enterprise first flew across our television screens “geek” and “nerd” were not terms of approbation.

Suddenly there was this fascinating (and for the girls) sexy figure who was super smart and now we all had a role model that said it was okay to be smart and conflicted and occasionally awkward, but the best and most loyal friend you could ever want.  It told us outcasts that we had a place and we had value.

Apart from all the wonderful stories that Original Trek brought to us — City on the Edge of Forever, Charlie X, Space Seed, Journey to Babel, Trouble with Tribbles, Where No Man Has Gone Before — to mention just a few there was this weekly morality play about the interplay of Heart (McCoy) Mind (Spock) with Kirk plotting (ideally) that middle way or the golden mean as the Greeks called it.

Taking a Note

So I’m writing a very emotional scene in my current Wild Card story and George R.R. had given me a note to add in thoughts and mentions of another character and earlier events in a particular exchange.  I was trying to answer the note because it’s a valid note, but it was a jarring leaden intrusion into the flow of the scene.  So I went looking earlier in the scene and found the perfect place to insert this call back to previous events.

That’s one of the harder lessons to learn for a new writer (actually the hardest lesson is learning to take a note, but more on that later) — you want to please the editor/show runner, but you don’t want to write a bad scene.  You have to trust your instincts and talent enough to find that alternative.

Interesting Advice On Blogging

I got some very interesting advice from a friend and fellow writer yesterday over lunch.  She said my essays here on my blog are too long.  She explained that people don’t tend to scroll.  That made sense to me, and gave me an enormous sense of relief.  If I don’t have to craft such long thoughtful posts I may be more inclined to post here.  So I’m going to try it.

 

I Think They really Are Gunning For Our Birth Control

It’s common among younger women to say “Oh, I’m not a feminist”.  Which kinda drives me crazy since a lot of us fought very hard to get into law schools and medical schools and not have to be secretaries, nurses and kindergarten teachers any longer.  I think in some ways this new generation thinks these fights are over and it’s all been settled.

Weeel, it doesn’t look that way.  Yes, the right has always been opposed to abortion and I agree it is a complex and difficult subject to discuss when one side thinks it’s murder — full stop, but some on the right now seem to have set their sights on limiting if not outright denying the use of contraception because —-??? Sluts?  It’s God’s will that women have babies?  On the more fringy, crazy, hateful part of the far right they seem obsessed with the continuation of the white race.  Who knows what is behind this.

Maybe it is really just the fact they can’t stand the fact that the pill freed women and gave us enormous power.  I reprinted an essay I wrote about what makes women dangerous and I said it was the Pill.  I guess these men agree with me.

We had Santorum inveighing against the pill, and Huckabee with his Uncle Sugar remark, and now this delightful loon, Matt Walsh, who is a staple on Glen Beck apparently.  I can’t possibly say it any better then this hilarious article from Wonkette, and the visual had me snorting my morning tea.  Enjoy.

Wonkette

It’s About The Constitution, Stupid

This morning I was doing my usual scroll through various news sites to see what was going on in the world, and I ran across Mike Huckabee opining on how he could have gay people as friends — big of him.  I gather this was him moderating his position that the states had the right to ignore a Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage.  An issue that was settled by a little event called the Civil War.

Then I read this statement:

“And as a biblical issue, unless I get a new version of the scriptures, it’s really not my place to say, ‘Okay, I’m just going to evolve.’”

“It’s like asking somebody who’s Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli. We don’t want to do that,” Huckabee continued. “Or asking a Muslim to serve up something that is offensive to him or to have dogs in his backyard.”

No, it’s not.  Because a particular religion’s holy book is not the law of the land in a secular pluralistic nation.  The issue will be decided on two cardinal principles of American jurisprudence and the Constitution (which conservatives swear they venerate though that adoration only seems to apply to the second amendment).  Those foundational precepts are Due Process, established in the Fifth and the Fourteenth Amendments, and Equal Protection found in the Fourteenth Amendment.

Huckabee’s entire argument is nonsense.  One’s choice of food, or a person’s choice to keep a pet has no impact on the lives of other American citizens.  The right to marry, the right to have that marriage recognized across state lines (another little concept from the Constitution called full faith and credit) that has an impact on people both financially and socially, in terms of health decisions, establishing parental rights, etc. etc.  These are not trivial matters and comparing them to shrimp and bacon and dogs does just that.

American Sniper

Last night I watched AMERICAN SNIPER.  There had been so much heat and very little light around this movie that I had been feeling ambivalent about seeing it.  It’s absolutely worth seeing.  It’s a masterful piece of film making with Clint Eastwood getting out of the way and letting the story unfold in all its brutal detail.  Bradley Cooper did a phenomenal job of portraying Chris Kyle his loss of humanity, his grief over that loss, and his fight to regain it cut short by the bullet of another deeply damaged and mentally scarred veteran.  To watch Kyle go from a charming, rather chatty man to a figure lost in silence and grief with this constant uncomfortable throat clearing that precedes the few words he will utter was very well done.

At its heart this is a character study of this one man and how he is damaged by the war he volunteered to fight.  Whether it’s pro-war or anti-war depends on the prism through which you view it.  If you want to see it as a rah rah, USA!  USA! you can, but truthfully I think Eastwood meant it and it’s true when he said it’s an anti-war movie.

It’s no secret that ultimately soldiers fight to protect their buddies.  They may have enlisted for god and country and all those other ideals, but once they are in combat they fight for the man or woman next to them in the foxhole.  That is so clearly and beautifully demonstrated in this movie.

The problem for Kyle was he was denied that sense of belonging and his isolation and loneliness is exemplified by his physical separation from the men Kyle is protecting.  They are in squads going door to door.  He’s on a rooftop often alone or with only a spotter with him knowing that the men in the streets below him are depending on him to keep them alive.  How burdensome it must be to be the “guardian angel”, and the guilt when you fail was presented as crushing.  Even the title they give him “The Legend” ends up separating him from his peers.  All of this Eastwood presents in this elegant, understated way.

It’s pretty much agreed by the majority of the American people that the invasion of Iraq was a disastrous move for this country, but this movie isn’t about that decision and the men who made it.  It’s about one man who thought he was doing the right thing to protect his family and his country.  Eastwood doesn’t ignore the doubts and the questions.  They  are there, expressed in the voice of Kyle’s brother who says in anguish “I don’t know why we’re here?”  There is some mention of the fact the citizens of Iraq are fighting against people they perceive of as invaders.

It does seem that much of the criticism has arisen over the portrayal of the Iraqi people, and I can’t argue with that.  They’re cyphers and none more so than the Iraqi sniper with whom Kyle has a personal duel.  This was added as a way to personalize the situation.  I get that, but I kept wondering as I looked at the etched profile of the “enemy” sniper, his dark eyes and long lashes, if he was undergoing to the same destruction to his soul and mind as his American counterpart?  Did he have a wife and children wishing he would come home.  Wondering what had happened to the man they knew?  Should that have been dramatized?  Maybe, but this was a character study so the focus was kept tight on Kyle and his situation.  If Eastwood had zoomed out to the enemy then it becomes a different film.

Was Kyle an admirable person?  Hero or villain?  For the men whose lives he saved they would say hero.  To the relatives of the people he killed a villain.  What I think this movie was trying to portray was that he was neither.  He was just a very fallible human being in an impossible, soul destroying situation.  The tragedy and horrible irony is that he was killed by a man he was trying to help.  A man who had also been seared and brutalized by this unnecessary war.

 

Is BioWare Insidious? (I Think Yes)

Yes, I have been obsessively playing Dragon Age:  Inquisition, and loving it.  Great companions.  A worthy task that seems far more noble and important then the problems set out in Dragon Age 2.  There was a power to Dragon Age: Origins in that you are basically a kid with out any support who has to save your country.  You basically grow up and have to deal with not only the Blight, but a civil war that threatens to tear your nation apart.  It also felt like a big world.

Then along came Dragon Age 2 and the world became very cramped and small — Kirkwall and a series of identical dungeons, and the stakes were equally cramped and small.  Get enough money to buy mommy a house.  Deal with some surly Qunari (though that act was the strongest of the three), and finally have everybody go nuts and have to fight them all no matter what choice you made.

And now Inquisition has arrived, and it’s gigantic.  Not only my beloved Ferelden, but Orlais and the Storm Coast, and the Emerald Graves.  Well, you get the idea.  In this campaign you are much more involved in being an effective commander and building a powerful army to protect, literally, the entire world of Thedas.

My fingers are crossed that BioWare learned from the disaster of Mass Effect 3 and they will give us a satisfying ending.  I’m still a long was from that ending, but I’ll let folks know once I get there.

Here’s what struck me as I was playing the other night.  You craft a lot of armor and weapons in this game, and you better because you will die if you rely on loot alone.  But no matter what kind of armor I build for the dwarf, Varric he ends up basically bare chested and sporting his bearish chest hair.  Then there is Iron Bull who is an impressive Qunari, and his armor leaves his chest pretty much bare as well.  I think I’ve finally got Bull covered so a sword doesn’t take him in one of his man boobs.

Then I remembered Mass Effect 2 and how Jack and Samara would accompany my male Shepard into a alien ship that had been breached and was open to vacuum.  I’d be in battle armor and they’ve be wearing spandex and virtual pasties with tiny breathing masks.  I had remarked on this foolishness, contrasting it with Mass Effect 1 and I know that other commenters had mentioned it as well.

So here come two males in Inquisition who are flashing some flesh.  Of the three female characters only Vivienne, a mage is wearing anything remotely sexy or revealing.  Overall I love BioWare.  They design the kind of games I like to play, and this just struck me as a little wink from the designers, and that they had they tongues drilled deeply into their cheeks.

So kudos to you BioWare and thank you for the man boobs and the chest hair.

 

Sincerely,

 

Melinda

Is It Relevant?

I want to give a shout out to Pat Rothfuss  index.asp.  There is a very valuable writing lesson in his novel A WISE MAN’S FEARS.  I had read THE NAME OF THE WIND when it first came out, and now I finally picked up Wise Man’s for my trip home to New Mexico for the holidays.

I’m very much enjoying this book.  Kvothe is a terrific character, and the framing device selected by Rothfuss works beautifully.  But today I’m here to praise a choice that he made in Wise Man’s Fears.  The set up is that our young hero is told that perhaps he ought to take a break from his studies at the arcane university because of a court case.  A friend sets him up to work for a nobleman in a different country.  There is a discussion about the dangers of a sea voyage versus a land journey, and I thought “oh no, here we go.  There will be shipwrecks and pirates and sharks and god knows what else.

And then Rothfuss surprised and delighted me.  He skipped it all.  Because it wasn’t relevant to the story he was telling.  The framing device is that Kvothe is telling his life story to a chronicler.  He is hitting the important thing.  The things that made him into the man he is today.  So Rothfuss dispenses with the journey in literally a paragraph.  He basically says there was a storm at sea, pirates, robbery, the upshot being that he arrived in the new city broke and dressed in rags.  I literally jumped up and gave a shout of joy over this elegant choice.  Because none of this so-called-action was relevant to the theme of the story he was telling.  Instead we got to see how Kvothe used his actor background to bluff his way into the palace so he could present his letter of introduction.  How his arcane training helped him serve his new lord, etc. etc.

Some may argue that he skipped over events that would have been exciting.  I don’t agree.  It’s only exciting if it’s important to the story.  Otherwise it ends up feeling like filler.  How many movies have we seen recently where you can hear the audience give an annoyed sigh when yet another CGI action extravaganza begins when all they really wanted was to see if the girl and guy get together, or if the hero finds his father and learns his identity — in other words something real that matters.  That is about human connection.

Think about the latest Hobbit movie.  The only authentic moments in that movie were the ones with Bilbo when he tries to reason with Thorin, when he takes the arkenstone to Bard the Bowman and Thranduil, king of the woodland elves.  The rest of it is sound and fury signifying nothing.

I had made the decision that in my current space opera I’m going to jump two years to two really important scenes between my hero and heroine that occur as they are graduating from the military academy.  I’m skipping two years because while I could make up some events to fill those years what happens during them is not relevant to the story.  And who really wants to read about the classes characters are attending?  I was pretty sure about my decision, but after seeing what Rothfuss did in THE WISE MAN’S FEAR any doubt I might have had about my choice was swept away.

I think the “show don’t tell” meme has been taken too far in writing and it can lead a beginner into a swamp.  Sometimes a simple declarative sentence is really what’s needed.  Not a detailed description of every step in a journey.  Or as my old boss on Star Trek used to say to me.  “Just say the words, Melinda.”

Globe Trotting Aces

Hey, the new edition of ACES ABROAD, the fourth book in our Wild Card series is now available from Tor books.  It also has extra crunchy goodness with two new stories.  One by Carrie Vaughn www.carrievaughn.com, and another by Kevin Andrew Murphy Kevin.A.Murphy.  Do check it out.  The Wild Card series has often set stories in diverse places around the world, and our alternate history can be both fun and alarming.

4ff

DailyQuote

I suspect that religion was some random by-product of mammalian reproduction… a necessary evil in the childhood of our species… but why was it more evil than necessary? Isn’t killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity? — Arthur C. Clarke (1917 – 2008)

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