Monthly Archives: March 2010

How the Hell Do I Get Myself Into These Things?

No, this isn’t exactly earth-shattering news, I get that. But, I’ve somehow* managed to find myself re-watching four–Count ’em. Four!–shows on DVD.

We’ve got two of my all-time favorite sci-fi shows (I’d be willing to say all-time favorite shows, period) Farscape and Babylon 5. Look! Spoilery videos!

Then, we have Veronica Mars…a show that not only has one of the best TV dads ever (it’s true…even Joss Whedon says so), but also introduced me to my future wife:

And, finally, we have the underrated sci-fi/action/comedy The Invisible Man:

*: Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s all Ashley’s fault. Even if it isn’t, I’m just gonna blame her anyway.

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And the Winner of Two Free Max Barry Novels Is….

amorporchoco–who, when asked about the worst job they’d ever had, wrote:

I spent a few weeks of the summer before my senior year building a fence in the Arizona summer sun. The thing about building the fence is that it involved digging 2-foot deep holes in caliche, this dense clay that pickaxes get stuck in. Overall, it took about an hour a hole and at over 50 holes it was a great time for minimum wage.

I’d offer to send you a post holer (for digging holes for posts), but I’ll just send you a copy of Max Barry’s Jennifer Government and Company, instead.

Just email me your address and let me know where to send ’em.

#FridayFlash: Broadus, MT

Broadus, MT

“I know what you can do.”

Cassie looked at the older man sitting across from her. He’d approached her outside of the small roadside diner near Broadus, Montana. He offered to buy her a cup of coffee if she’d give him ten minutes of her time. He seemed harmless enough and, if he wasn’t, she could certainly take care of herself.

He introduced himself as Arthur Sheridan and claimed to be a scientist—a geneticist, he said, among other specialties. Sheridan appeared to be in his early fifties, but with a youthful vitality despite walking with a cane. His close-cropped red hair was graying at the temples and streaks of gray ran through his carefully trimmed beard.

“You know what I can do?” she asked, not bothering to meet his blue eyes with her own. “Great. My mom and dad are real proud that I know all the state capitals. I can name the presidents in chronological order, too.”

Sheridan smiled and damned if that smile didn’t say “We both know what I’m talking about.”

“Okay, look, I appreciate the coffee, Mister, but I gotta go.”

Cassie started to slide out of their corner booth—

“Doctor.”

“What?”

Sheridan took a sip of his coffee—he drank it black with lots of sugar, just like Cassie’s dad. “I have a PhD. Several, actually. So it should be Doctor. Not Mister.”

Cassie laughed. She couldn’t help it. He had said it without reproach or any indication of wounded pride. He was simply stating a fact and doing so with a smile. “Sorry,” she said. “I appreciate the coffee, Doctor.”

“You should probably eat something,” Sheridan muttered as he scanned the diner’s simple, two-page paper menu. “Especially after you single-handedly stopped that runaway train earlier this morning.”

That got Cassie’s attention. No one saw her stop that freight train, not even the engineer. She was sure of it. She’d been careful. Her parents always taught her to be careful. She wasn’t like other girls and not just because she was adopted. No, she was special; she could do things. And, in a place like Rampart, Alaska–where there were less than one hundred residents–being different would have been noticed. So, she had kept her abilities hidden. Even now, almost ten years after leaving home, she made sure no one saw her use her abilities. It wasn’t possible that anyone other than her mother and father could know she was special.

Yet here was Dr. Arthur Sheridan, and he apparently knew it all.

Cassie leaned over the table. “How did you—”

“Doesn’t matter,” Sheridan waved his hand. “What matters is I know. I know you’re special. I know you want to help people. And I know others like you who feel the same.”

She sat back, arms folded across her chest and thought for a second. “Okay,” Cassie finally said, brushing a wayward strand of black hair behind her ear, and looking at the menu. “But first, how about a bacon cheeseburger?”

Sheridan got the waitress’s attention with a simple nod and, looking back at Cassie, said: “John Tyler.”

Cassie grinned. “James K. Polk.”

Max Barry Giveaway

It’s time for a little spring cleaning. And, I thought what better way to free up some shelf space than to have a little giveaway.

I’ve got two Max Barry books–Jennifer Government and Company–looking for a new home. Check ’em out*:

Taxation has been abolished, the government has been privatized, and employees take the surname of the company they work for. It’s a brave new corporate world, but you don’t want to be caught without a platinum credit card–as lowly Merchandising Officer Hack Nike is about to find out. Trapped into building street cred for a new line of $2500 sneakers by shooting customers, Hack attracts the barcode-tattooed eye of the legendary Jennifer Government. A stressed-out single mom, corporate watchdog, and government agent who has to rustle up funding before she’s allowed to fight crime, Jennifer Government is holding a closing down sale–and everything must go.

With broad strokes, Barry satirizes corporate America in his third caustic novel, taking aim at corporations that turn people into cogs in a machine. A bitingly funny take on corporate life by the author of acclaimed bestseller JENNIFER GOVERNMENT. Nestled among Seattle’s skyscrapers, The Zephyr Holdings Building is a bleak rectangle topped by an orange-and-black logo that gives no hint of Zephyr’s business. Lack of clarity, it turns out, is Zephyr’s defining characteristic. No one has ever seen the CEO or glimpsed his office. Yet every day people clip on their ID tags, file into the building, sit at their desks, and hope that they’re not about to be outsourced.

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If you think these books sound like something you, or someone you know, would enjoy reading, just leave a comment telling me about the worst job you’ve ever had (or just say “hi”). A winner will be randomly selected after midnight on Friday, March 19. That’s right…you have a little less than a week to enter.

Get to it. Tell your friends.

Sorry, only US/Canadian residents are eligible.

* Synopses courtesy of Barnes and Noble.

#FridayFlash: The Hunt, Part Three

The Hunt, Part Three

The girl screamed. It was a primal sound that was almost devoid of all humanity. Blood was splattered on her face and across the front of her smock.

The headman fell to the ground at her feet. Admund’s arrows had found their targets, despite the ill-fitting pieces of armor that the slaver wore. One arrow had pierced his throat, the broad arrowhead entering just below his chin and continuing until it erupted out behind the opposite ear. The second arrow, moving too fast for the eye to see, grazed his meaty thigh and struck deep into his groin. As he died, the slaver’s grip on the length of rope tied around the girl’s slender waist tightened. Panicking, the girl tried to pull herself free. Tugging, tugging. Finally, the rope was freed from the slaver’s death grip, but the force with which she had pulled the rope sent her stumbling backwards.

The other slavers noticed their leader go down and started towards the wagon, swords drawn. Admund dropped two with well-placed arrows to the skull. By now, the remaining slavers were cautious, looking into the trees to see if they could locate the faceless assassin who had made them his target.

Abandoning the bow, Admund charged from the trees, drawing his twin long knives. “Get down!” he shouted, hoping that the girl understood his words. “Under the wagon! Now!”

The girl complied, disappearing under the slaver’s wagon just as the first group of dark-skinned miscreants converged on the body of their fallen leader. Admund was on them within moments, the blades of his long knives flashing in the early morning sunlight. He sliced through the throats of two slavers as quickly and cleanly as he would skin a hare. He plunged a blade into the stomach of a third, gutting the man where he stood.

The remaining two slavers spread out, taking care to keep just beyond the reach of their assailant’s knives. They barked at each other in the same unknown language that Admund had heard their leader use. One spoke. Then the other. The first nodded and lunged at Admund, swinging his curved sword wildly.

Admund dropped his knives and drew his own sword, a straight-bladed long sword that had once belonged to his father. He caught the slaver’s blade on his own, deflecting the attack and pushing his foe back several steps. Admund stared into his opponent’s dark, bloodshot eyes and allowed himself a momentary grin. These slavers were large men, to be sure, but their sheer size and bulk were nothing compared to Admund’s sinewy frame. He knew they would tire long before he did.

If they didn’t make a serious mistake before that.

The slaver spat some invective that Admund couldn’t decipher as he came again. He held his sword high, leaving himself exposed. In a single motion, Admund stepped into his attacker’s path and let the darker man’s own momentum drive his blade hilt-deep into the slaver’s own stomach.

He was so intent on pulling his sword free from the corpse of his newly-fallen foe that Admund hadn’t noticed the shadow creeping up behind him. It was the rasping sound of labored breathing that finally drew the hunter’s attention. Admund spun and saw the final slaver looming over him, sword in his hand and murder in his eyes.

The slaver took one step closer. Admund struggled to free his sword.

The slaver took another step.

Unable to pull his sword from the corpse at his feet, Admund was weaponless. He watched as the slaver prepared to strike, a wicked smile on his lips matching the wicked curved sword in his hand, the sword that was surely mere heartbeats away from repaying Admund for what he had done to the slaver’s companions.

The slaver’s eyes flashed with menace as he swung, but his attack unexpectedly missed its mark, grazing Admund’s arm and barely cutting through the sleeve of his buckskin tunic. The slaver staggered, eyes wide. He dropped his sword and started to claw at his back. He coughed once. Twice. Blood began to bubble at the corners of his mouth.

Admund watched as his attacker fell forward, one of his own long knives protruding from the slaver’s back. The knife’s twin was currently in the trembling hand of the blood-spattered girl. She studied Admund with cold, vacant eyes.

#

They stood like that for several moments, the girl and her rescuer. Eventually, having been satisfied by some unknown or unspoken impulse, she simply nodded and placed Admund’s knife on the ground. Although she spoke little, Admund learned that her name was Rayna and that she was born in a small fishing village on the western shores of Aradorn. The slavers had come from the sea and killed as many of the men in the village as they could, taking her and her three sisters, as well as several of the other girls from the village.

Rayna had watched as the slavers took most of the girls back to their ship. Her and a few others, including her sisters, had been loaded into the wagon and taken east. She didn’t know where they were being taken, but she knew only she had survived.

Admund looked into the wagon and saw the lifeless bodies of several girls, some as young as seven or eight summers. Even though he had hunted and killed most of his life, Admund still felt his gorge rise at the sight of the pale, emaciated girls.

“Your family?”

The girl simply nodded.

“If you like, I can build a fire and we can send them to the afterlife in the proper fashion.”

Rayna smiled for the first time since he had seen her pulled from the slaver’s wagon. “Yes. I would like that very much. Thank you.”

Assemble This, Part Two: The Major Motion Picture

A few weeks back, I wrote a post about who I’d want on the Avengers. Since then, Marvel has announced the actual rosters for two of the fifteen* new Avengers titles that are coming our way later this year. Personally, I think I’d still rather see my lineup. But, since that doesn’t seem likely to happen, the least I can do is make a movie in my brain with these characters. (We’re going to have to ignore a very old post wherein I already cast an Avengers movie. Hey, times change, deal with it.)

Ryan McPartlin as Captain America/Steve Rogers

Yeah…I’m still pulling for Chuck‘s Captain Awesome to play Captain America.

Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man/Tony Stark

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Sean Bean as Thor

Yeah…I know they’re making a Thor movie and they’ve already cast some guy–an actor? a football player? an underwear model? I dunno… The point is, Bean should play the Norse god of thunder.

Jensen Ackles as Hawkeye/Clint Barton

Admit it: Dean Winchester is pretty much just Hawkeye with a shotgun.

Anna Torv as Mockingbird/Bobbi Morse

TORV!

Tricia Helfer as Ms. Marvel/Carol Danvers

Personally, I never really dug Helfer on BSG. But, as the nefarious Carla on Burn Notice? Now we’re talking. I’d like to see what she can do with Ms. Marvel.

Bridget Regan as Spider-Woman/Jessica Drew

Yeah…I dunno…just because.

Alexandra Daddario as Stature/Cassie Lang

I know, I know…she’s a brunette and Cassie is a blonde. Well, calm down, there’s this new shit called hair dye that can change the color of a person’s hair. Why her? Well, someone obviously thought she was plucky enough to play Annabeth in Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, so I imagine she’s plucky enough to play Stature.

Anton Yelchin as Vision/Jonas

I like this kid. I thought he was great as Chekov in Star Trek and part of me feels he could really nail this younger version of Vision.

Katharine Isabelle as Firestar/Angelica Jones

I can’t figure out if Katharine Isabelle is irrationally despised or just criminally underrated. I’m not saying she hasn’t been in some questionable productions…but, she’s also been in some pretty good shit, too.

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*: Or four. Are there four? I think there are four.

#FridayFlash: The Hunt, Part Two

The Hunt, Part Two

Swift yet silent, Admund moved through the brush. His father had been the royal game warden and raised both of his sons to be expert woodsmen. His skills grew over time and now, as an adult, Admund could track anything and move through even the densest woodlands without leaving a trace of his passing.

The slavers, however, were a good deal less concerned with stealth. They marched through the trees, speaking and laughing loudly, as though they were carousing in a tavern. Their wagon creaked and rattled as it moved over the uneven earth, the draft horses pulling it huffed and snorted in the cool morning air. Unlike Admund, the slavers didn’t care if twigs snapped beneath their boots. A few of them even hacked at low-hanging branches with their curved swords. They assumed they were alone and, on most days, they would have been correct.

Admund stalked them as he would any other prey. He needed to know why these men were here and, more importantly, where they were going. Slavers were concerned with one thing: profit. And, slavers needed prisoners to keep their purses full of coins. The hill country and highlands to the north were sparsely populated, but those few small villages would make easy targets. It was very likely that Admund was the only thing standing between these innocent villagers and a brief life of harsh, brutal labor. Or worse.

In addition to the dozen broadheads in his quiver, Admund also carried a pair of long knives and a small hatchet, more useful in the hunting and skinning of game than for combat with a man. Fortunately, these slavers were clad in nothing heavier than wool or buckskin, neither of which would keep his arrows from finding flesh. And, if things became too dire, he always had his father’s longsword at his side.

Sarret!

The word the horseman bellowed meant nothing to Admund, but his men immediately came to a halt. He dismounted and handed the reins of his horse to the two slavers who had come up to tend to the older draft horses. He paused by the door of the wagon and threw back the heavy wooden bolt that had kept it secured. The door slowly swung open—from his hiding place, Admund could clearly hear the squealing protest of the door’s rusted hinges—and the slaver reached a thick-fingered hand inside and took hold of something. Something that was struggling or squirming to get out of his grip.

Tak! Ungterren ramu tak!” the headman barked as he pulled the girl from the wagon.

Admund watched as the girl—no more than twelve or thirteen summers—collapsed on the ground at the slaver’s boots. Under mud and dried blood, Admund could see that she was fair skinned, like himself, with hair that had once been the color of wheat and dark, sunken eyes that no longer resembled the eyes of a girl. No, Admund recognized that look. The look of an animal. A frightened animal that had been hunted, beaten, and broken.

The slaver’s hand tugged at the rope that was used to keep the girl’s filthy, homespun shift in place.

Admund, his ears attuned to the slightest rustle of leaf and bush, could hear the girl’s whimper. He could also hear the coarse laughter of the slavers.

Before the vile, black-hearted slaver could finish removing the broken girl’s simple, tattered garment, Admund had strung and loosed two arrows. The twin missiles flew, their path unerring, their final destination without question.

*****