FUN VIDEO – tune from Status Quo band: In The Army Now

Want to see Darth Vader & Storm Troopers dancing? (And some cute girls and guys?) Watch!

The tune is from an album by the UK band Status Quo. Video by videditor KM Music in Thessaloniki Greece. One of my favorite YouTube channels.

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FUN VIDEO – Sugar, Sugar (the Archies, 1969)

I lack any announcements of sci-fi/fantasy news this week, or any other news I want to shout about. Not because there is none, but because I’m lazy.

So I’m starting a new practice. Each week without news I’ll post a YouTube video I came across that just gives me joy. I hope you will enjoy each too.

Oh, and in case you detect videos that have more women than men shaking their booties, that MIGHT clue you in that I’m a cis-gender male.

Here’s a video put to the tune of Sugar, Sugar which you can read about on Wikipedia.

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THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY quirky superhero series

Last week I came across an announcement that Season 2 of the Netflix series The Umbrella Academy has been renewed.

This jogged a vague memory of an announcement some time back of the superhero series. It’s a Netflix production and I’ve rarely been impressed at the quality of productions for Netflix. I passed.

The announcement made me wonder. Had I’d passed on something good? I sought a YouTube trailer for the series to help me decide. I found it, it intrigued me, and I signed up for Netflix for a month. Then I watched the first of ten episodes. Over the next several days I watched the rest of the episodes. I’m glad I did.

So watch the trailer and make up your mind. Remember, we can look forward to a season 2.

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Another winner from LOIS MCMASTER BUJOLD

I always buy anything by Lois McMaster Bujold. I know from past experience that no matter what genre her story is it will be engrossing, touching, fun and funny, rarely sad. Written with economical but not spare grace.

Just such is her recent Penric and Desdemona novella, The Orphans of Raspay.

Click image to preview and buy it.

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How BLACK WIDOW could come back – version 2

I just received and put up on my wall a photo of Natasha Romanoff as Black Widow. It’s from “Captain America: Civil War.” It’s directly in my line of sight when I lift my gaze from my computer monitor. It gives me a tiny kick to help me continue writing on the final book of the Space Orphan trilogy. (It just passed the two-thirds milestone, incidentally.)

I have another theory about why in “Avengers: Endgame” the BW did not die. She’s a super soldier.

In the comics she was treated with a super-soldier serum or the like, as were some other Russian women such as Yelena Belova (who also worked under the title Black Widow). This is why in the movies Romanoff is seen being super strong, fast, and tough. So tough that when thrown by explosions or enemies across a room against a wall she leaps back to the fight unhurt. Or jumps from great heights to continue a fight. THUS: the fall on the Soul Planet only SEEMED to kill her.

To get your own copy of the 8×10″ photo click this image.


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How BLACK WIDOW could come back

At the end of the last Avengers movie several of the Avengers have disappeared, retired, or SEEM to be dead. Among them is Natasha Romanoff: the Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson. But in the comics and movies based on comics even death is not final.

We know Natasha will be back in the upcoming Black Widow movie, now shooting and scheduled to premiere in 2020. However it will be an origin story taking place before Avengers: Endgame. If it makes good money there will almost certainly be a post-Endgame movie. How will Marvel bring the Widow back?

To see how they might manage that read this chapter of a book showing how.

Click image to see a larger version of it.

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Just when I’ve almost despaired of finding a new favorite SF/F writer I stumble across one. Her name is Emily Croy Barker.

The book which introduced me to her is The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic. It’s available from several sources. See her web page to find one you prefer.

Excerpted from Amazon: “Nora Fischer’s dissertation is stalled and her boyfriend is about to marry another woman.  During a miserable weekend at a friend’s wedding, Nora wanders off and walks through a portal into a different world where she’s transformed from a drab grad student into a stunning beauty.  Before long, she has a set of glamorous new friends and her romance with gorgeous, masterful Raclin is heating up. It’s almost too good to be true.

Then the elegant veneer shatters. Nora’s new fantasy world turns darker, a fairy tale gone incredibly wrong. Making it here will take skills Nora never learned in graduate school. Her only real ally—and a reluctant one at that—is the magician Aruendiel, a grim, reclusive figure with a biting tongue and a shrouded past. And it will take her becoming Aruendiel’s student—and learning magic herself—to survive.”

Click on the image to read the first few chapters and to buy the book.

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I’m halfway through Book 3 of the Space Orphan trilogy. At this point my hero/ine Jane meets the centaur-like cat people. Before she only knew them from the city they left behind 19,000 years ago inside an asteroid in the Belt. There is also a good deal about them in the two versions of the Galactic Encyclopedia which Earth has.

The idea for the cat people came from the terrific short story “Call me Joe” by classic SF writer Poul Anderson. It appeared in the April 1957 issue of Astounding Science Fiction magazine and provided the inspiration for the cover by artist Frank Kelly Freas seen below. (The issue is available through several Amazon third-party sellers.)

Other aliens similar to Earth animals were also inspirations, such as the Hoka people of SF writers Anderson and Gordon Dickson. My centaurs are not as muscular as Freas’s Joe. They are, however, just as strong and fast, being the recipients of thousands of years of genetic improvements.

You will come to know more about the cat centaurs in Book 3 of the Space Orphan trilogy.

Click image for more info on “Call Me Joe.”

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I’m a gun owner and fan from way back. My first gun was a Winchester-like BB gun. The second I got when was I was 17 – a Colt .45 1911 pistol which I customized with Goncala Alves grips. I recently sold it to as a trade-in on a Glock 19 pistol.

I also carried a pistol as a military policeman, and have experimented with sniper rifles at gun shows. All this and more experience shows up in my books. This includes my Super Olympian books where the heroine is a three-sport Olympic athlete – and a superhuman. And in the forthcoming The Star Woman, whose heroine is a Marine sniper – and another superhuman.

Some of my fellow gun enthusiasts carry our love of guns to silly heights, romancing them, overstating their usefulness, and resisting fanatically any attempt to regulate them. I’m an engineer. I deal in facts. Though I regularly practice at my favorite gun range,, there are a few facts that only the fanatics would dispute.

  • Pepper spray is usually a more practical self-defense option than a gun. HERE are some pointers for those who want to buy them. I suggest three PS devices: one on you, one in your car, one in your home.
  • Talent, skill, and control are more important aspects of gun use than the weapon itself. A deadly shooter with a .22 long target pistol is more dangerous than an AR-15 “fun” shooter – or a drugged-out gangbanger.
  • No civilian has a use other than fun for a military-grade gun.

A responsible gun-lover and gun-owner owes it to keeping our right to bear arms to resist both the far-right and the far-left efforts to institute totally free or totally nonfree gun ownership. We can do this by pressuring the NRA to cease its efforts to totally resist RESPONSIBLE gun laws. And to join organizations such as Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership.

Click image for more info.

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Some characters stick in our minds after we’ve finished a story. Such is the case of Athena Sarah Mawusi Akwete Ocampo, the main character in my Athena’s Journey. I’ve been almost forced by my subconscious to write a second novelette about her. Maybe the Ring of Fire Press is a better fit for her stories than the Grantville Gazette.

If you’ve not encountered it, the RoF Press is a treat to explore. Not all the books in their catalog are to my taste, but several of them I really enjoyed. A few of them are below. Click on each image to learn more.

To read the story I’ve submitted to the Gazette click the following image.

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