With 2016 drawing to a close and 2017 about to begin, I decided to take a look back at 2016 and spotlight the best (or most significant) blog post of each month. Some months — July, quite notably — were more difficult that others; there were a few months, like March and August, where I only posted two or three times in the month.
Meaning in Life and What Atheism Is Not – NPR had a story about how atheism doesn’t offer a positive vision for humanity or a meaning to life. Whihc, frankly, misunderstands atheism entirely by attempting to fit it into a paradigm that it doesn’t belong in at all.January
One World, One Sky – In January I went to the Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles for their annual open house. While there, I saw a planetarium show with Big Bird and Elmo of Sesame Street about how, no matter where we live, we share the same sky and stars.February
Unfairy Tales – UNICEF created three animated shorts to raise awareness of the plight of Syrian refugee children. I made the mistake of watching them at my desk at work. They are harrowing and powerful, and I wept openly.April
Brexit and the Scottish Independence Question – My birthday coincided with Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. I had immediate thoughts on what this might mean for the prospects of Scottish independence. I wasn’t in favor of the IndyRef two years earlier, and I’m not sure that independence for Scotland is the right move now, but if Theresa May continues on her “bulldog in a china shop” path to invoking Article 50 and ignoring the wishes of Scotland and Northern Ireland, Scotland should look to its interests.June
An Irish Weekend – Shore Leave and the Annapolis Irish Festival fell on the same weekend, and to some extent I did both — Annapolis on Friday and Saturday, Shore Leave on Sunday. I also met my cousin Amber for the first time, and I managed to catch a summer collegiate baseball game. Busy weekend!July
The Little Prince – I imported the DVD of The Little Prince, Mark Osborne’s animated adaptation of the French novella, from Canada because I really wanted to see it. It’s a deeply affecting film — when I watched it again on New Year’s Eve I sodded uncontrollably — and it benefits from a second viewing. Undoubtedly the best film I saw in 2016.September
Playoff Baseball, Thwarted! – I went to DC for a baseball playoff game that was rained out. That didn’t stop me from playing tourist, though. And I don’t think my feet fully dried out for a month.October
Travels with Google Navigate – I was trying to get from Philadelphia’s New Jersey suburbs back to York. So why did Google Navigate send me deep into Maryland and then into gorges off the Susquehanna, one-lane roads, and Amish country?November
An Angel Tree Package for the Office – I participated in the Angel Tree program at work for the third time this year. I knew it was something I wanted to do, so I started buying items in October for an eight-year-old boy. I had a lot of fun doing it, and I know it went to someone who really needed it.December
This year, the scheduling caused some agony as the festival coincided with Shore Leave‘s weekend, back in July for the first time in a hemidecade, and Carbon Leaf, who are taking a sabbatical year, were playing a rare gig.
As friends were arriving at the Hunt Valley Inn for Shore Leave, I was heading down to Annapolis for a weekend of fun.
There was music. There were bagpipes. There was beer, though not a great selection; the only stout was the Armchair Nitro Stout which I found uninspiring. It was what I needed.
Friday night’s headliner, of course, was Carbon Leaf.
On drums for Carbon Leaf was Scott Devours, a session musician who’s worked on tour with Roger Daltrey and The Who. He looked like someone who was having the time of his life. The band’s drummer, Jason Neal, recently (as in, within the last two weeks) became a father.
When Carbon started to play, I felt so tremendously happy. They played a nice mix of songs over the two hours. One surprise was “Lake of Silver Bells.”
Near the end, Scythian came out and joined them for two songs, a ten-ish minute jam on “Let Your Troubles Roll By” and then the rarely played “Oi” from Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle.
I bought the USB stick with a live recording. It has some glitches (three files won’t open and there’s a speed issue on a fourth), but the rest is solid. Totally worth it. Any misgivings I had about skipping Shore Leave were gone.
Saturday morning, before The Annapolis Irish Festival resumed, I checked out a cemetery that was on a triangular piece of land where three busy roads met in Annapolis. While cars whisked by, I took some photos. It’s well-maintained, and I noted there were flowers and other momentos that had been recently left at some graves.
There was a Greek Orthodox cemetery about a hundred feet away. That one was fascinating as many of the monuments were written in Greek rather than English. I did not take photos in that cemetery.
Saturday morning, there were again bagpipes from Chesapeake Caledonian.
There were a number of bands I saw — Barleyjuice, Scythian, Poor Man’s Gambit, and Cleghorn.
Cleghorn was quite interesting. They reminded me, sonically, of the 1960s mod rock band The Creation, but with some Pogues influence.
Other than the heat (95-ish degrees) and the humidity (easily 5,000%), Saturday was a wonderful day. Even if I did feel physically grotesque and prone to melt.
Later in the day, I met a cousin! My great-grandfather had several older siblings, and this cousin is descended from one of his older sisters. She discovered me on Ancestry.com several months ago. I knew there was a possibility of cousins down that line, as I’m aware of the possibility of other cousins from my great-grandfather’s siblings, but I had run into the wall of not knowing where to go.
Sunday morning I met some friends for breakfast in Hunt Valley, then went to the Hunt Valley Inn for the final day of Shore Leave. I’d run into people who reacted with some surprise that I was there… then they’d tell me that they were leaving at that precise moment.
I didn’t have any real plans for Shore Leave. The schedule for Sunday, to be frank, was a bit on the thin side, and I didn’t blame anyone for leaving early; had I been there all weekend, I would have left early, too.
I'm like the Mewtwo of #shoreleave38. But don't throw a Pokeball at me, okay?
Karen Gillan and her handler walked past me; I didn’t realize how tall Gillan was.
I attended John Noble’s talk, which isn’t the sort of thing I normally do.
I was telling someone this Sunday morning — I don’t collect autographs, I don’t usually attend the actor talks. These things don’t interest me. The one time I hopped in an autograph line, it was at Farpoint and it was because I wanted to talk one-on-one with Harve Bennett and tell him how much his work meant to me. So why did I attend John Noble’s talk? Even now, I’m not entirely sure.
Then I worked up the courage to ask Noble a question.
Unfortunately, the woman in the question line in front of me asked roughly the question I’d intended to ask — would you like to return to Elementary and reprise the role of Morland Holmes (Sherlock Holmes’ father) and what direction would you like to take the character?
So I had to come up with a question on the fly. And after rambling about how I’d been a Sherlock Holmes fan since I was a wee lad, how Elementary had built up Sherlock’s father as a dark unseen presence over the preceding three years and I wasn’t sure that any actor could live up to that, I was sold completely on Noble as Morland from the moment he first appeared with Jonny Lee Miller due to their chemistry, and could he speak to what it was like working with Miller and Lucy Liu.
Noble said that I paid him “a huge compliment,” then described Miller as “intense” and “not fuzzy”; he’s an intense actor playing an intense character and very focused, and after a scene he’d shake Noble’s hand. Liu, on the other hand, is “all fuzzies” and “a great friend,” not to mention “fiercely talented.”
I’d love for Noble to return to Elementary. In response to the question before mine, Noble said he expected Morland Holmes to die at the end of the season when he took the role, was surprised by how the season ended, and thinks the producers may have a follow-up arc in mind but they’ve not told him or contracted him.
I know how I’d want to see him return. Sherlock Holmes’ father is now, essentially, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, a role he’s taken on for the best of reasons — to destroy an international terrorist organization from the inside — and the question is, can Morland control the power at his disposal without succumbing to its temptations? Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Noble, by the way, is immensely personable and charming.
After Noble’s talk, with nothing else on tap, I went into Towson to see another Cal Ripken League baseball game — the Baltimore Redbirds were playing the Vienna Riverdogs in a double header.
The Redbirds won game one, 2-1. I didn’t stay for game two. It had been a long weekend. A good weekend. But also a long one.
This wasn’t an easy decision to make. Allyn Agonistes.
Shore Leave, I’ve attended every year since 2001. (And I went to the Shore Leave-related book signing at Towson Town Center in 2000, long before I ever moved to this area.) Karen Gillan will be there, and by now everyone knows I have a soft spot in my heart for Scots, redheads, and Scottish redheads. My friends will be there, friends I haven’t seen since Farpoint in some cases, since last Shore Leave in many others. Shore Leave should have been any easy decision.
But Carbon Leaf isn’t touring this year. They didn’t play Shamrock Fest in March, which was a major factor in why I didn’t attend. They are, however, playing two festivals this summer. One is in Buffalo in August. The other, the Annapolis Irish Festival this weekend. I’ve been to the Annapolis Irish Festival before, like last year.
I’ve known about this conflict for months. The band would periodically send out e-mails about the summer’s two shows. I’d read the e-mails, and with each subsequent e-mail I’d find my resistance to the idea of taking a pass on Shore Leave breaking. Yet, as decisions go, it was a difficult, wrenching one.
I can’t say exactly when I decided for the Annapolis Irish Fest over Shore Leave. It may have been a month ago. Certainly, when I bought the ticket for Annapolis last week, I’d made peace with the decision.
Yes, I’m sad that I’m not going to see many of people this weekend — and I’m sure they’re as disappointed that I won’t be around for the annual Shore Leave hijinks. But, I feel this is the right decision for me, and I’m thinking about coming down to Hunt Valley on Sunday.
I’ll be at Farpoint in February, and I’m going to make an effort to scrimp and save so I can be at Philcon in November.
Shore Leave is a convention, held outside Baltimore in Hunt Valley, that I’ve attended every year since 2001, and every year as a guest since 2006. Normally, Shore Leave is in July. This year, however, it’s in August.
The big thing for me this year is the release of Crazy 8 Press’ ReDeus: Divine Tales. I have a short story in the anthology titled “The Ginger Kid,” a baseball tale set in an urban fantasy world. It’s a different kind of story for me, but I’ll say no more at this juncture.
The big thing for you, the reader of this, is where I can be found this weekend at Shore Leave. And to that end, I’ve produced this handy stalker’s guide. Did I say stalker? I meant fan.
Friday, August 3rd
The Dark Knight Rises
6pm, Hunt Panelists: Greg Cox (the author of Titan Books’ novelization), Glenn Hauman, David Mack, and me
A discussion on the final chapter in the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale Batman trilogy.
Meet the Pros
10pm, the Downstairs Hallway
The annual book signing fest. I’ll have a few copies of ReDeus: Divine Tales for sale, and I probably have some older stuff as well.
Saturday, August 4th The Hobbit: A Long-Expected Film
11am, Salon F Panelists: Me
This December Peter Jackson returns to the world of Middle-Earth with his long-awaited film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, nearly a decade after Frodo Baggins cast the One Ring into the fiery chasm of Mount Doom. What can audiences expect of the return to J.R.R. Tolkiens Middle-Earth, and will Jackson recapture the Middle-Earth magic? Note: I’m sure I’ll address the news today that The Hobbit, planned as a two film set, will now be split into three with reshoots and additional filming to take place next summer. Mind you, I don’t know anything official, but I have a theory.
What Is a Weekend?: The Magic of Masterpieces Downton Abbey
12 Noon, Salon E Panelists: Me, Jen Rosenberg, Howard Weinstein, Renee Wilson
For two years PBS audiences have been captivated by the world of Downton Abbey, with its noble aristocracy headed by the Earl of Grantham and its serving class led by the unflappable Mr. Carson. Audiences have swooned to the romances of Matthew and Mary, Mr. Bates and Anna, and hissed at the machinations of Miss OBrien and Thomas. What has made this British import such a hit in its two seasons, and what can fans expect from the forthcoming third season? Note: Yes, I pitched a straight-up Downton Abbey panel at a science-fiction convention. I love pitching off-the-wall things…
Everything is Better with a TARDIS
1pm, Salon A Panelists: Me, Lorraine Anderson, T. Alan Chafin, Kieryn Nicolas, Phil Giunta, Terri Osborne Doctor Who is a unique television program in that it can cross genres from story to story, moving from sci-fi space opera to historic costume drama to contemporary settings without missing a beat. The panelists will discuss non-Whovian movies and television series that would work as Doctor Who stories and speculate on which existing characters would work as companions. Get a different view of your favorite stories by dropping the Doctor into something like Blade Runner, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, A Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, and many more, and discover what makes a good Doctor Who story work! Note: I’m going to double-check with my co-panelists and make sure they’re okay with this concept for a panel; it’s what I pitched, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure that they don’t think I had an ordinary “Steven Moffat is a golden god” Doctor Who panel in mind. There’s three other Doctor Who panels at Shore Leave this weekend. Yes, four hours of Doctor Who programming at Shore Leave. I remember when I suggested one back in 2005 and got a packed room.
John Carter: Barsoom Rising
3pm, Chase Panelists: Me, Peter David (writer of Marvel Comics’ John Carter: World of Mars), Rigel Ailur, Steve Wilson, Aaron Rosenberg
In March, Pixar visionary Andrew Stanton released his first live-action film, John Carter, based on the Martian novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Despite weak reviews, the film was warmly received by Burroughs fans and science-fiction fans as a century-old novel, A Princess of Mars, was brought up to date for modern film audiences. Did John Carter work? What could the film have done better? Is there a future for this franchise? And did the film lead audiences to discover the work of Burroughs?
Sunday, August 5th Beyond Watchmen
10am, Derby Panelists: Glenn Hauman, Allyn Gibson
Twenty-five years ago Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons revolutionized comic book storytelling with their graphic novel, Watchmen. This summer, DC Comics controversially revisits the world of Watchmen with a series of mini-series, Before Watchmen. Why has DC Comics decided to return to the world of Watchmen? What do these characters say to modern audiences? Are the Before Watchmen series worth the controversy? The panelists discuss the comics, the work of Alan Moore, and more! Note: I need to get caught up on Before Watchmen this week before the convention. Also, I’m sure the Rorschach toaster will get brought up.
ReDeus: Divine Tale
1pm, Salon E Panelists: Bob Greenberger, Aaron Rosenberg, Phil Giunta, Allyn Gibson, William Leisner, Steve Wilson, Dave Galanter
This panel is devoted to the book that’s launching at Shore Leave this weekend. In the world of ReDeus, the ancient deity pantheons return to Earth in the present day and demand worship and fealty. What was it like to work on this project, and what will readers get out of the book?
I’m planning this week on writing up notes for my panels. Talking points are helpful to have, and when I try and “wing” a panel I either talk aimlessly or I run out of things to say. Notes are a roadmap and they’ll keep my focused.
I intend to do something different with those notes. Basically, I’m going to turn them into an epub, so I can carry them on my Nook. Then, after the convention, I may let people have my Shore Leave panel notes if, for some reason, they want them.
A random thought. It’s a packed convention. There’s stuff going on all the time this year.
My schedule isn’t quite as grueling as last year’s. (I’ve had to beg off two panels due to double-booking.) And I’m still thinking about trying to arrange a guerilla happening — a group reading of Wesley Crusher, Teenage Fuck Machine. Yes, because I’m just that crazy.
Shore Leave is four months away, and yesterday I started to brainstorm panel ideas for the convention.
I scribbled fifteen ideas on a notepad — it was either that or pay attention to a discussion by Baltimore’s methheads about how a woman’s pelvis is made of sponge — and last night I pared the list down and wrote out descriptions.
For anyone who’s curious — or anyone attending Shore Leave as a guest who sees something that interests them — here’s what I pitched to the Shore Leave peeps:
Thirty Years Since Sci-Fi’s Greatest Year E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Blade Runner. Tron. The Dark Crystal. Conan the Barbarian. The Thing. Released in a single year, these films made 1982 the best year for science-fiction films, ever. What made these films so spectacular? Why have they continued to entertain and inspire at the span of three decades? Come celebrate the greatest year for science-fiction cinema!
I Believe In Sherlock
The second season of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ updating of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes aired this spring on PBS’ Masterpiece. What has made Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the consulting detective so appealing? What has made Martin Freeman’s Dr. Watson so captivating? What can fans expect from the third season, and what of the forthcoming series Elementary on CBS?
Everything is Better with a TARDIS Doctor Who is a unique television program in that it can cross genres from story to story, moving from sci-fi space opera to historic costume drama to contemporary settings without missing a beat. The panelists will discuss non-Whovian movies and television series that would work as Doctor Who stories and speculate on which existing characters would work as companions. Get a different view of your favorite stories by dropping the Doctor into something like Blade Runner, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, A Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, and many more, and discover what makes a good Doctor Who story work!
What Is a Weekend?: The Magic of Masterpiece‘s Downton Abbey
For two years PBS audiences have been captivated by the world of Downton Abbey, with its noble aristocracy headed by the Earl of Grantham and its serving class led by the unflappable Mr. Carson. Audiences have swooned to the romances of Matthew and Mary, Mr. Bates and Anna, and hissed at the machinations of Miss O’Brien and Thomas. What has made this British import such a hit in its two seasons, and what can fans expect from the forthcoming third season?
Star Trek: The Four-Color Frontier
As Star Trek fandom prepares for the next theatrical adventure of the starship Enterprise, IDW Publishing is chronicling the adventures of the crew in the rebooted timeline in their ongoing Star Trek comic by reimagining classic episodes and spinning new stories. Elsewhere, IDW has also boldly gone where no comic book has gone before with stories that bring the crews of the Enterprise into contact with the worlds of the Legion of Super-Heroes and Doctor Who. For fans unfamiliar with IDW’s Trek tales, what can they expect from a Star Trek comic? And for longtime fans, what’s to come in the months ahead in these four-color pages?
The Hobbit: A Long-Expected Film
This December Peter Jackson returns to the world of Middle-Earth with his long-awaited film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, nearly a decade after Frodo Baggins cast the One Ring into the fiery chasm of Mount Doom. What can audiences expect of the return to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, and will Jackson recapture the Middle-Earth magic?
In March, Pixar visionary Andrew Stanton released his first live-action film, John Carter, based on the Martian novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Despite weak reviews, the film was warmly received by Burroughs fans and science-fiction fans as a century-old novel, A Princess of Mars, was brought up to date for modern film audiences. Did JOHN CARTER work? What could the film have done better? Is there a future for this franchise? And did the film lead audiences to discover the work of Burroughs?
Twenty-five years ago Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons revolutionized comic book storytelling with their graphic novel, Watchmen. This summer, DC Comics controversially revisits the world of Watchmen with a series of mini-series, Before Watchmen. Why has DC Comics decided to return to the world of Watchmen? What do these characters say to modern audiences? Are the Before Watchmen series worth the controversy? The panelists discuss the comics, the work of Alan Moore, and more!
Yes, I really did pitch a straight-up “Let’s talk about Downton Abbey!” panel. What can I say? I like the show, and why not?
Last year I pitched a similar number of panels for Shore Leave — then ended up on nine panels and eleven hours of programming. I barely saw anyone at Shore Leave last year; I was always rushing to another panel. Hopefully, I won’t be on a similar number of panels this year, but if I am, I’ll soldier on, because that’s what I do. :h2g2:
Dayton Ward suggested that this belongs in the pantheon of late-night con readings, alongside The Eye of Argon and Star Trek: The Death Wave.
Dayton is absolutely correct. It really does belong there.
The first chapter is insane. The Moriarty hologram shoots Picard in the gonads, Wesley talks like he’s an extra on Gossip Girl, and just for kicks he fills the Enterprise with methane gas, err, excuse me, “space gas,” and ignites it, burning everyone in the ship up, except for Wesley, Moriarty, a felinoid, and Geordi (who is, I guess, Wesley’s homeboy).
Here’s a sample: “The SHO shot off into space just as the Enterprise exploded, vaporizing Picard, the entire crew of the Enterprise, and even Wesley’s own mother Dr. Bev Crusher.” That’s hardcore, man.
Yep, I’m pitching a midnight reading of this misbegotten puppy at Shore Leave. We’ll pass around a Kindle and a bottle of scotch or whiskey and epics will be sung!
It’s even more insane than its title suggests. I’ve read this, so you don’t have to!
After capping Picard in the ‘nads and torching the Enterprise, Wesley and his motley crew — a felinoid (Meow Solo), the Moriarty hologram, Wesley’s homeboy Geordi LaForge, and three women (one of whom, we learn later, is named Mary Sue) — get the Borg on their case at the local Circle-K when they stop to put some space gas in the tank of their stolen Taurus SHO. Wesley takes out the Borg ship’s headlights with a well-thrown football, and the gang tries to hightail it, but the Borg catch up with them and take them prisoner.
Wesley wakes up in a Borg assimilation chamber. Geordi has been assimilated, and he is now Borgy Laborg. When he threatens to assimilate Wesley, Wes, despite being tied down, gets a straight-edge razor from underneath his tongue and slices through the ropes(!) that are tying him down to the assimilation table, and then he slits Borgy Laborg’s throat. Then, after freeing Meow Solo, the two hoodlums pick up some axes and start decapitating Borg.
Meanwhile, Commander Kitteh (yes, it’s a fucking LOLcat) receives a distress call from Worf, who somehow survived the torching of the Enterprise. Kitteh decides that he’s going to kill Wesley Crusher himself, because that’s the kind of LOLcat Kitteh is.
Back on the Borg cube, Wes and Meow Solo realize that their Taurus SHO (which I guess is a shuttlecraft) is hot, and since they’ve killed all the Borg drones, they’ll torch the Taurus SHO and tool around in the Borg scout cube. Well, Mary Sue and the other two girls didn’t survive, so after rescuing Moriarty and torching the Taurus SHO, Wes and Meow Solo go back to the Circle-K to pick up some new girls.
Fortunately, there are three bikini-clad girls in the Circle-K who look just like Betty Veronica. (There’s no conjunction or punctuation in the text. That’s really what it said.) However, these girls want no part of being the sex slaves of Wesley Crusher and Meow Solo, so Wesley shoots out their eyes with his phaser and kills them. This gets blood on Meow Solo’s suede pants, which the cat doesn’t care for. Then the Circle-K clerk, also female but very overweight with greasy hair, bares her chest and offers to be their sex slave (obviously a ploy to save her life), but Wes shoots her in the chest and kills her. Then Wes has sex with one of the dead bikini girls.
Back on the Borg cube, Meow Solo goes apeshit on Wes for getting the girls’ blood on his pants. “If it weren’t for me” (not an exact quote) he rants at Wes, “you’d be nothing but the biggest loser of all the losers on the Enterprise. But with me around, you have sex all the time.” Wes tries to counter that he’s still better than Data, but Meow Solo won’t hear of it. He pulls out a secret weapon, which he’d had on him all the time, and he banishes Wesley to another dimension where he can’t disrespect Meow Solo any more.
Then Commander Kitteh arrives! Dismayed to discover that Wesley Crusher is no longer in this dimension, he phasers Meow Solo in the groin, vaporizing it. (The imagery here, by the way, is hilarious.) Then Commander Kitteh takes Moriarty, and they go through the dimensional rip after Wesley Crusher so Commander Kitteh can kill him dead.
To be continued…
It’s very short. You can finish it in about twenty minutes.
The title, by the way, really oversells the book. There’s a lurid sex scene to open the book, and then other than a necrophiliac encounter Wes has, there’s no “fuck machine” in this book at all.
The writing, which is often atrocious, is hilarious, but it’s not hilarious bad. Instead, it’s hilarious because the writer has absolutely no idea what Star Trek is. This isn’t a Star Trek: The Next Generation story. This is a Grand Theft Auto story about a couple of hoodlums from Liberty City, except it’s told as though it’s about a couple of hoodlums from the Enterprise-D.
We come to it at last, the great battle of our times.
No, wait. That’s not right.
Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup.
No, that’s not it, either.
Oh! I’ve got it!
Next weekend, July 8th through 10th, in Hunt Valley, Maryland, is Shore Leave, a science-fiction and fantasy convention. This year marks the start of my second decade of attending Shore Leave as either a guest or a regular con-goer; my first Shore Leave was in 2001, and this is now my eleventh.
Meet the Pros Hunt/Valley Hallway — 10pm-Midnight It’s the traditional author meet-and-greet; meet your favorite authors and get your books signed.
“The Game Is On!” — Sherlock Holmes Is On The Case Salon E — 10 o’clock Doctor Who‘s Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss updated Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective Sherlock Holmes for modern audiences in a new series of films for the BBC and Masterpiece Theatre starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Can the world live with two Holmeses — Cumberbatch and Robert Downey, Jr.? What made the Sherlock series so successful, and what does the future hold for the series and the next Downey film, coming this Christmas? Panelists: Allyn Gibson, Roberta Rogow, Rigel Ailur, Paul Simpson, Alan Kistler, Mike W. Barr
Doctor Who & Torchwood Salon A — Noon There’s some quirky show from the UK that people for some inexplicable reason happen to like… Panelists: Allyn Gibson, Rigel Ailur, Paul Simpson, Alan Kistler
From Comics To Film Salon E — 2 o’clock People keep making movies out of comic books. Just this year there’s Thor, X-Men: First Class, Captain America, Green Lantern, The Smurfs, Tintin, and a whole lot more that I’m blanking on. What’s the appeal? What do people want from comics adaptations? And what’s coming out that people are going to be energized by? Panelists: Allyn Gibson, Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, Dave Galanter, Alan Kistler, Mike W. Barr
The Beatles… Just Because! Chase — 6 o’clock “What should have happened is that the Bonzos and the Beatles should have turned into one great Rutle band with all the Pythons and had a laugh…” — George Harrison This could be an interesting panel. I know I’ll find a way of filling the hour… Panelists: Allyn Gibson, William Leisner
A Long-Expected Hobbit Derby — 10 o’clock Filming began this spring on the long-awaited Hobbit films by Peter Jackson, with the first of the two-part adapation due in theaters in December 2012, nine years after THE Return of the King took the world by storm. What can audiences expect of the return to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, and will Jackson recapture the Middle-Earth magic? Panelists: Allyn Gibson
The Once and Future Camelot Salon A — 11 o’clock While I pitched this as an opportunity to talk about Merlin and the just-cancelled Camelot, I imagine that we’ll also talk about Peter David‘s soon-to-be-released The Camelot Papers. And maybe we’ll ever sing tunes from Spamalot… Panelists: Allyn Gibson, Peter David, Mike W. Barr
The New DC Comics Salon E — 2 o’clock For seventy-five years, comics readers have been following the adventures of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the DC Universe. This September, DC Comics wipes the slate clean and relaunches their universe after the Flashpoint event and embraces the digital medium. What can readers expect from the new DC Comics and their “new 52,” and what does the company’s embrace of digital mean for the industry as a whole? Panelists: Allyn Gibson, Alan Kistler
The Golden Age of Science-Fiction is Twelve Salon E — 4 o’clock Literary critic Peter Graham famously wrote in 1957 that “the Golden Age of science fiction is twelve” when describing the age at which many readers discovered the possibilities of the literary genre. In an age of television series, movies, video games, and comic books, does science-fiction literature still have a place? How can we best reach the next generation of readers? And which books and which authors will hook nascent fans and draw them in? Panelists: Allyn Gibson, Paul Simpson
And after all that? I’m going to need to sleep for three days…
As always, this is tentative and subject to change, and no, I don’t expect to moderate all of these panels, because that would be insane. And, of course, when in doubt, look in the bar, because the bar is where writers gravitate.
Be sure to check out the convention’s Programming page for more information about what’s happening next week.
Meet the Pros Hunt/Valley Hallway — 10pm-Midnight It’s the traditional author meet-and-greet; meet your favorite authors and get your books signed. Note: I’m planning on having copies of the limited edition of Star Trek Magazine #26 with me, which has my article on Star Trek: Generations, as well as a few of the chapbooks I produced for Farpoint.
Writing Fiction at Stupidly Short Lengths Salon A — 10am-11am Learn about Twitterfics, Drabbles, and Flash Fiction as writers talk about creating stories at super-short lengths that make conventional stories look like War and Peace by comparison. Discover the appeal of the super-short form, uncover the techniques writers use to conceptualize and create at that length, and try your hand at your own super-short story! Panelists: Allyn Gibson, Dayton Ward (Note to self: Prepare handout)
Doctor Who: Smith and Steve Salon A — 11am-Noon The fifth season of Doctor Who — and the first since 2006 without David Tennant — has just concluded on BBC America. With an entirely new cast headed by Matt Smith in front of the camera and new people headed by Steven Moffat behind the scenes, the show underwent a creative rebirth. What did we learn about the last of the Time Lords, and what does the future hold for the new series? Panelists: Kathleen O. David, Allyn Gibson, Terri Osborne, Rigel Ailur, Alan Kistler
Magic, Myth, and Merlin Chase — 5pm-6pm The age of Camelot lives again in Merlin, the reimagining of the Arthurian legend now airing on the BBC and SyFy. What makes this take on the King Arthur myths different and where might the stories take us in the season to come? Panelists: Allyn Gibson, Terri Osborne, Marco Palmieri
If I Were Joe Quesada for a Day! Derby — 2pm-3pm Imagine you were Joe Quesada, in charge of one of the major comic book companies, like Marvel Comics, today. What would you do? What comics would you publish? What movies would you develop from your properties? What are the trends shaping comic books today? The panelists discuss the comic book industry, where it is, and where it might be going, all by asking the question, “If I were Joe Quesada for a day…?” Panelists: Allyn Gibson, Dave Galanter, Glenn Hauman
And, of course, there’s the Shore Leave Bar. :cheers:
Attention: If you’re attending Shore Leave this weekend and were planning upon using local transit in and around Baltimore, this blog post may be important to you.
Baltimore’s Light Rail system is under construction this week. The Howard Street corridor through downtown is having work done — an old switch removed, overhead wiring replaced, a station moved. As a consequence, the Light Rail in Baltimore is not running from Camden Yards to State Center; the MTA has a “bus bridge” in place to ferry passengers between the two stops. Construction is supposed to last through Saturday.
For the most part, this didn’t affect me greatly; my subway stop lets me off at State Center, so I’m not having to use the bus bridge. But the trains did run late; I now know to give myself an extra twenty minutes or so, especially coming home at night, this week.
How This Affects Shore Leave:
For people coming in to Baltimore via Baltimore-Washington Airport and wanting to take the Light Rail from BWI to Hunt Valley, you won’t be able to avoid the bus bridge. If you have a lot of luggage, I would honestly recommend another mode of transportation. Reasons plural? The buses will likely be crowded, MTA generally finds new and inventive ways of screwing things up when needing to use buses in place of the train or the subway (like this time in February), and there’s not likely to be anyone official at either stop to offer help, assistance, or advice.
For people coming in to Baltimore via Penn Station and wanting to take the Light Rail from Penn Station to Hunt Valley, the Light Rail train is apparently running out of Penn Station to the Cultural Center stop. (I say “apparently,” because the MTA’s website doesn’t say otherwise.”) Penn Station is being serviced by the shuttle buses during this construction as well. It may be easier, though, and certainly less nerve-wracking, to simply walk the two blocks to the Mount Royal station, which is where the northbound train to Hunt Valley would be boarded. However, if you do have luggage and the train is not running out of Penn Station, I would recommend taking the shuttle bus from Penn Station to the State Center/Cultural Center stop, then board the northbound Light Rail station there; there aren’t going to be many people taking the shuttle bus out of Penn Station even in the busiest of times.
Construction on the Light Rail system is supposed to be finished on Saturday, so leaving Hunt Valley on Sunday via Light Rail should not be an issue.