Television

and the winner is…

If you guessed Penny from Inspector Gadget, you are correct! It was a landslide vote in her favor on Wednesday’s poll, though I was happy to see Penny Robinson get one vote. Who the heck voted for the giant penny in the Batcave? Really?

I loved Inspector Gadget when I was a kid, and it was only later that I became a huge fan of Get Smart and realized that Gadget is essentially the same character as Maxwell Smart, played by Don Adams. Both of those shows also have a fair bit of influence on one of my all-time favorite cartoons, Darkwing Duck. What do I like so much about bumbling crimefighters? (Hmmm… I also love the Peter Sellers Pink Panther films.) Maybe it’s the idea that a positive attitude and a strong sense of justice can always win out, although competent “sidekicks” and extraordinary abilities sure help a lot.

Penny is clearly awesome all on her own, but what I loved most about her, I’m almost embarrassed to say, was… her computer book. Which was a computer, and an actual book. This was an incredible idea in the 1980s, and I desperately wanted one. I didn’t even get a regular computer until the mid-Nineties, and that was pretty amazing, but now I have a computer book too–a “netbook,” if you will–and I carry it around with me all the time and use it to solve international crimes, WHICH I DO ON A REGULAR BASIS. Don’t you?

Penny’s wristwatch was also cool. Still working on that one.

Kirk out.

*crickets*

It’s been a little quiet around here… Too quiet, I know. But I’ve been hunting wabbits edits, revising my novel. So that’s coming along.

Happily, my blogging hiatus is nearly over, though; I have a slew of posts planned, and a wee bit of “free” time opening up soon, because (drum roll) the Star Trek Animated Series Re-Watch has just concluded! It’s been a hell of a ride*, and fortunately the series ended on a high note with “The Counter-Clock Incident.” You can read our reflections on the entire series here, and of course, check out all our reviews of the cartoon and the original series over at The Viewscreen.

“What’s next?” you might ask. I’ll pretend you did, anyway. Torie and I are planning to continue our Star Trek re-watch with the films, probably beginning in September. In the meantime, we’ll have a few open discussion threads running on the site and we’re hosting virtual viewing parties for the movies so we can share the delights and pain of the even and odd installments, respectively. So let us know if you’d like to join us for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan on Saturday, August 27 at 2 p.m.

It hasn’t been all work and no play, even if it often feels that way. I finally started The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time (on the Wii)–not much progress yet, but it’s fun–and have been working my way through Mad Men and Skins (UK) and various other shows whenever I can justify the downtime. I’ve also been reading great books, most recently The Demon’s Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan, The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey and The Magicians by Lev Grossman (finally!).

So what have you been up to while I’ve been gone? Have any good television or book recommendations?

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*That could really mean anything, right? Take it however you like.

welcome to toontown

The brief hiatus at The Viewscreen is over, which means I’m as busy as ever: writing reviews, revising a novel, and juggling all sorts of miscellaneous tasks in addition to the day job. I have a small vacation coming up this weekend, and I really need it.

This time Torie and I are (re)watching Star Trek: The Animated Series. Though I went into this re-watch with some trepidation, so far I’ve been enjoying the show immensely. As with the original series, you have to overlook some flaws inherent to the budgetary constraints placed on the show, but these animated adventures often aspire to the same depth and quality of the live-action stories. Not many people have seen them and the series is rarely talked about, but they are very much an important part of the franchise’s long history.

This week we covered the first two episodes, “Beyond the Farthest Star” and “Yesteryear,” the latter which is D.C. Fontana’s quasi-sequel to the classic episodes “The City on the Edge of Forever” and “Journey to Babel.” I think they’re well worth your time, and fortunately you can now watch the entire series for free at CBS.com. Episodes are only 24 minutes long, so why not watch along with us and tell us what you think? You can also just read our lovingly-crafted recaps and commentary and share your two cents without having to watch a thing.

how is a writing career like Smallville?

No doubt some of you shuddered in horror at the title of this post, but bear with me for a moment.

Last Friday, the series Smallville ended its record-breaking ten year run on the CW. As I prepared to watch the finale with friends this weekend, I reflected on that improbable incredible milestone and realized that it closely parallels a milestone of my own: I’ve been writing for publication for ten years, the entire time that show has been on the air. I wrote, revised, and submitted my first short story–which really wasn’t very short at all, nor publishable–only a few months before Smallville premiered in October of 2001.

And like young Clark Kent, I’ve come a long way since then. Here are some of the strange similarities I came up with:

  • Like Smallville, my stories usually start with unimaginative, single-word titles.
  • Like Clark’s love life, I had to deal with a lot of rejection before my first story was published.
  • I wrote some of my worst stories during the absolute worst year of the show, season 4. And that’s when I considered giving up on both the show and my writing career.
  • But then I graduated from Clarion West, and my writing improved greatly–just like the seasons after Clark graduated from Smallville High.
  • As Clark began to involve himself in a bourgeoning Justice League, I joined my own team of superheroes, the writers in Altered Fluid.
  • I set way too many of my stories in New York City, and far too much happens in Metropolis on the show.
  • In the last year, as Clark finally learned to be Superman, I sold my first novel! (There was even a subplot this season that has some resonance with Fair Coin, but I won’t get into that now.)
  • And… I’ve been planning my own wedding alongside Lois & Clark.

Eerie, isn’t it?

For all the show’s faults, and there were many of them, I’m glad I stuck with it for all these years, just as I stayed on the long road to publication. It’s even possible that the show somehow influenced my own work, since I was always critical of its meandering plot arcs, cliches, and poor dialogue–and hey, I am writing young adult fiction now, so all that high school drama counted for something. To take this post to an even more ludicrous level, the gradual way Clark added to his arsenal of superpowers over the years and learned to control each new ability is similar to the way writers must learn new skills and practice them, always pushing themselves to try new things in their fiction. The only thing keeping us from flying is our own fear of heights.

At the end of Smallville, another phase of Clark’s journey is just beginning, with its own challenges and rewards, and I’m eager to move on to the next stage of my career as I prepare for my first novel to come out. Up, up, and away!

shimmery goodness

In what’s becoming an annual tradition, a new short story of mine was just published in a small press fantasy magazine, this time Shimmer magazine. I certainly feel lucky that my story “All the Lonely People” is in issue # 13, now available for order (in electronic and print editions). I’ve wanted to be published in Shimmer since I saw the second issue, which gives you an idea of how long I’ve been sending them fiction and the value of persistence.

Some of you may recall that I read “All the Lonely People” at the Altered Fluid reading at NYRSF last June, where people didn’t hate it. Here’s a brief excerpt:

I found the woman in the last train car; her kind is usually drawn to the edges of things, wherever they can be alone, wherever they can go unnoticed. She was reading a poster on the back wall, both hands gripping the seatbacks on either side of the aisle as if they were holding her up. I could see through her to the poster, an ad for classes at some community college.

She was a fader.

That’s what I call them, those caught in that limbo that claims more and more people every day. I don’t know what that makes those of us who can see them. I assume there are others like me, but it’s not like I got a membership card and a list of instructions the day I discovered my ability. No one told me what it’s for.

You should also pick up the magazine to check out great stories by other authors: K.M. Ferebee, Erik T. Johnson, L.L. Hannett, Richard Larson, J.J. Irwin, Georgina Bruce, Stephen Case, Ferrett Steinmetz, and Poor Mojo’s Giant Squid.

And if you want to read something free while you wait for the issue to arrive in your mailbox or inbox, you can always read an interview with me at Shimmer or my shortish essay on my history with Star Trek in today’s series wrap-up at TheViewscreen.com.