Some news on the MAJESTIC-12 books: Launch dates, formats and more!

The pre-order pages are up and running, so it’s high time I updated folks on the next iterations of the MAJESTIC-12 books. And I’m really pleased with the direction we’re going.

First off, the mass-market paperback of MJ-12: Inception is scheduled to drop on June 6! And it’ll include a nice little excerpt from the second book in the series, MJ-12: Shadows. And of course, it’ll be far cheaper than the hardcover — like two-thirds or more cheaper — and I expect the e-book price to likewise fall. So that’s cool.

And then MJ-12: Shadows is out September 5! And that, too, is coming out in mass-market paperback, which I think is pretty awesome since it’ll be much more affordable.

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My favorite snippets from MJ-12: Shadows

I just wrapped up the copyedits on MJ-12: Shadows this weekend, and it’s looking more and more like a book. And I think it’s pretty fun, too — distance has made my heart grow much fonder of this one. I think it’s a worthy successor to MJ-12: Inception and I’m excited to see what you think of it.

So by way of giving you a little tease, I thought I’d give you some snippets of dialogue and action that stood out to me as I worked my way through the editing process. These were just the most fun bits I had, the parts that made me smile. There’s other stuff that I like, but honestly, you don’t get to see those until you buy the book. Spoilers, sweetie.

The first one here is in early 1949 in Damascus, at the home of Miles Copeland, just before things go sideways. Maggie, who can sense and manipulate emotions, is having a conversation with Cal, an African-American man with the power to harm or heal with a touch.  Continue reading

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This is what you get when folks vote against their own interests

Warning: Political rant incoming. Feel free to skip if you like, though I hope you won’t — especially if you think you might disagree. Different perspectives are fun. 

Nearly two months into the great Trump experiment in governmental self-destruction, I hope it’s becoming clear that the populist veneer of the Donald was just that — a veneer. A thin layer of formica made to look like marble, slapped onto plywood, rather like the furnishings in his casinos.

The GOP replacement for the Affordable Care Act will result anywhere from 6 million to 10 million people losing health insurance coverage, according to the Standard & Poor’s rating agency (hardly a bastion of liberal socialism), while providing $600 billion in tax breaks to the richest 0.1% of Americans — roughly $200,000 per rich person. Let’s put it another way — that extra $600 billion is enough money to provide $50,000 in basic income for 12 million families of four for a year.

Now, I’m not so much a socialist liberal elitist or whatever to suggest that we do that. But I’m not so blind as to think that even a fraction those immensely rich folks are going to take their $200,000 and increase investment into industries and businesses that will help employ more Americans, as per the thoroughly discredited trickle-down economics the GOP seeks to cling to. No, chances are, that $200,000 will be rolled over into the market, or maybe go toward a really nice first-class vacation somewhere — just like the rest of us do with our tax refunds.

This is not populist. This is not any sort of salve to the middle class. This is a naked giveaway to the most wealthiest people on the planet. And it is shameful.

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Villainous motivations

Yeah, I’ve still got villains on the mind, probably because I’m preparing to write the third MAJESTIC-12 book and the bad guy is about to make his play. (And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.) Between that and yesterday’s post, I’ve got villainous motivation on the mind.

To reiterate: Villains are not evil for evil’s sake. Heck, they may not even be evil per se — just in opposition to the protagonists. With very few exceptions, villains don’t see themselves as evil, but rather they’re the heroes of their own stories. They have a goal, they believe it’s just and good to go get that goal, and they will do anything to attain that goal. They are, by and large, convinced of the rightness of their views and goals.

The difference, then, between the protagonists’ goals and the villains’ goals is primarily that they’re in opposition. Running a close second is methodology: Heroes tend to care about things like other people’s lives, collateral damage, hewing to generally accepted standards of morality, while villains tend not to be so diligent about these things.

So here’s a list, pretty much off the top of my head, of different villainous motivations. They’re drawn largely from my own experience in writing, as well as other books, movies, shows, etc. If you have others, throw them in the comments. Ready? Let’s go.  Continue reading

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Believable, credible villainy

I’ve been meaning to write this up ever since I recorded the Skiffy & Fanty podcast on Fantastic Four, because I think the biggest problem with that film wasn’t the casting or the special effects — it was in the way the villain was written. In fact, I think the movie is an object lesson in how not to write a villain.

Julian McMahon is a decent actor, but as Victor Von Doom, he’s given pathetically little to do, and the stuff he actually does carries so little motivation and weight, it’s comical — and not in a good way. In short, Doom funds Reed Richards’ space experiments, which go wrong and gives everyone — the Four, plus Doom himself — strange superpowers. The Fantastic Four, of course, ultimately decide to use their powers for good. No problem there, because that’s who they are.

What does Doom do? Well, given that Richards’ experiments were deemed a failure and waste of millions of dollars, the board of Doom’s company ousts him. So Doom exacts revenge on one of the board members by killing him. And…well, that’s that. And as Doom becomes more metallic and his lightning powers increase, he decides that Richards and his friends are to blame, so he decides to kill them too. And the Fantastic Four stops him.

End of story…such as it is.

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Podcast! I joined the Skiffy & Fanty crew to talk about Fantastic Four

We interrupt this stream of angry political rants to give you something much more fun — a Skiffy & Fanty podcast! Torture Cinema! Chris Evans before he was Captain America!

I joined the Skiffy & Fanty crew a few weeks ago to talk about the movie Fantastic Four. This isn’t the 2015 film, which was extremely horrible, but instead the 2005 edition which was only mildly bad in comparison. And it marked Chris Evans’ first foray into a Marvel Comics film as Johnny Storm/Human Torch. Obviously, Captain America was a much better move for him.

It also featured Ioan Gruffudd as Mr. Fantastic. Ioan is a very underrated actor, and if you can get your hands on his Horatio Hornblower films from the late ’90s/early ’00s, do it. He did a great job as Hornblower through the various stages of the character’s life.

In fact, the entire cast of Fantastic Four is top-notch. It’s the rest of the film that’s the problem. And on the podcast, we delve deep into the entire rainbow of problems this film has. So many problems. So many.

So if you like having a bunch of geeks talk smack about a mediocre superhero film — with humor and grace and drinking, of course — then click here and start listening, or be sure to subscribe to the Skiffy & Fanty podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast service. When not torturing people with bad movies, they do a ton of great stuff with authors and SF/F generally. Check ’em out.


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The importance of accepting dissent

WARNING: Political rant incoming. That said, no matter your politics, I’d urge you to give it a read.

Just this afternoon, journalists from The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, CNN, BuzzFeed and Politico were barred from attending a “gaggle” — kind of an informal briefing — with Press Secretary Sean Spicer at the White House. Anybody, of any political affiliation, should see this as the affront to American values it surely is.

Combined with the ever-increasing rarity of Republican congressmen and senators refusing to hold town hall meetings with constituents, apparently for fear of getting yelled at, and a veritable pall is settling upon American democracy. The very notion of the “loyal opposition” has been perverted into believing dissent is traitorous. And the critical function of a free press in American democracy has been mauled and spindled into “fake media” and “alternative facts.”

I cannot overestimate how horrible and threatening this is to the very fiber of America and her values.

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