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KRAD's Inaccurate Guide to Life
ramblings from a mad fedora'd writer
Nifty new project from eSpec Books on Kickstarter: The Best of Bad-Ass Faeries, edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, which will include a reprint of my story in the first BAF anthology, "House Arrest," a Dragon Precinct story. My other BAF story, the Cassie Zukav tale "Undine the Boardwalk," is one of the stretch goals.

There are also stories by a bunch of other cool folks:
    From Bad-Ass Faeries:
    Koscienski & Chris Pisano: "The Ballad of the Seven-Up Sprite"
    Keith R.A. DeCandido: "House Arrest"
    Adam P. Knave: "Futuristic Cybernetic Faerie Assassin Hassballah"
    Jesse Harris: "Hidden in the Folds"

    From Just Plain Bad:
    James Chambers: "Way of the Bone"
    C.J. Henderson: "Do You Believe?"
    Danielle Ackley-McPhail: "Within the Guardian Bell"
    John Passarella: "Twilight Crossing"
    Jeffrey Lyman: "Grimm Necessity"
    Bernie Mojzes: "Moonshine"

    From In All Their Glory:
    L. Jagi Lamplighter: "A Not-So-Silent Night"
    John L. French: "So Many Deaths"
    James Daniel Ross: "The Natural-Born Spy"
    Robert E. Waters: "At The Grasshopper's Hill"
    Kelly A. Harmon: "Selkskin Deep"

    From It's Elemental:
    D.L. Thurston: "The Face of the Serpent"
    Patrick Thomas: "Looking a Gift Horse"
    Jody Lynn Nye: "Fifteen Percent"
    Lee C. Hillman: "Bad Blood"
    N.R. Brown: "Melia's Best Wave"

So go! Back it!

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Everybody's gone surfin', surfin' Gotham City...... The Bat-rewatch catches a wave with "Surf's Up! Joker's Under!"

An excerpt:
It’s pretty much the same dumb plot we’ve already gotten in “Ring Around the Riddler,” “The Sport of Penguins” / “A Horse of a Different Color,” and “Louie, the Lilac.” Like Riddler and Penguin, Joker is taking on a sport to master in order to, like Louie, win over the youth of Gotham as a stepping stone to greater power. It’s less clear how, exactly, winning a surfing championship will lead to Joker’s plans for world domination (at least Riddler and Penguin had some cash attached to winning, and Louie actually actively tried to recruit the flower children), but then this is a guy who invents time machines and devices that can transfer someone’s surfing skills and athletic ability, yet hasn’t become incredibly rich selling these things to the highest bidder. Go fig’.

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Current Music: "Locomotive Breath" by Ian Anderson w/orchestra

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Larry Smith died today. For those of you who didn't know him, he and his wife Sally Kobee have been selling books at conventions for ages and ages. They didn't have an actual store, they just set up at cons all the time. He was a good dealer, a good book pusher, and I was always tickled that he loved the "Precinct" series and kept bugging me to write more original stuff.

We just saw him at Arisia, but I didn't get a chance to talk to him. My heart goes out to Sally and to everyone (including me) who bought books from him at conventions over the decades. We've lost a good one.

Rest in peace, you crotchety old bastard. We'll miss you.

Current Mood: sad sad
Current Music: "Pavane" by Ian Anderson w/orchestra

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A study in contrasts, and an even bigger study in lack of contrasts. Here's me in 1997 (at the San Diego Comic-Con, photo by Ken Estes) on the left and me in 2017 (in my home office, photo by my phone's selfie function):

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Current Music: "Budapest" by Jethro Tull

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The Farscape comics posse at BOOM! Studios' booth at the very first C2E2 in Chicago in April 2010 (the weekend of my 41st birthday, as it happens): Farscape artist Will Sliney (these days doing a magnificent job as the artist on Spider-Man 2099), Farscape: Scorpius scripter David Mack (a New York Times best-seller, currently working on nifty Star Trek fiction as well as an original fantasy series for Tor that will debut next year), and Farscape scripter and Farscape: D'Argo writer me. :)

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Current Music: "Flying Colours" by Jethro Tull

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The Enterprise goes to the center of the galaxy and meets the devil, which sounds more interesting than it actually is. The TOS Rewatch slogs through "The Magicks of Megas-Tu."

An excerpt:
As a general rule, when I do these rewatches, I write the plot summary as I go along, often having to pause in order to get it all down. I didn’t hit the pause button once while doing this one, because everything happened so friggin slowly! There are two action sequences, which are both spectacularly uninteresting, and between them we have endless monologues by Lucien and Asmodeus explaining the Megans’ backstory. At no point do they explain how the center of the galaxy can go from a point where matter is created—which is actually a nifty scientific concept, worthy of the Big E’s overall mission—to a wibbly wobbly funky-colored area of space with whirlwinds that serve as dimensional portals that take you to a place where magic works. Because that totally makes sense.

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Current Music: "Bourée" by Jethro Tull

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There's lots of things I could say on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but I can't really top the man himself......

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Current Music: "Speedway at Nazareth" by Mark Knopfler

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From the thriller, on the subject of foie gras:
"So let me get this shit straight. They torture motherfuckin' geese and motherfuckin' ducks so they can use their fat to sell it to rich folks to eat?"

"Basically, yeah," the second cop said.

"You white people do some crazy-ass shit."

The second cop let out a laugh that sounded like a bursting pipe. "You aren't wrong."

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Current Music: "Pussy Willow" by Jethro Tull

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Egghead teams up with Olga, Queen of the Cossacks, for an egg-cursion that's less egg-citing than you might egg-spect. The Bat-rewatch sees a total waste of Vincent Price and Anne Baxter in "The Ogg and I"/"How to Hatch a Dinosaur."

An egg-cerpt:
It’s fun to watch Baxter chew the scenery, and Price is never not fun, and there are a few other good moments—Alfred doing the telephonic watusi to get info to both Batman and Barbara, the Brass Samovar of Genghis Khan being roughly the size of Rhode Island, the fact that Bessarovia’s object of monarchial power is a samovar that was supposed to have been used by Genghis Khan, Adam West in a dinosaur outfit, Alan Hale’s cameo as a character named Gilligan—but ultimately, this is an egg-scruciating mess that one can’t help but egg-scoriate, as it serves to egg-cise any good feeling engendered by Egghead’s egg-cellent first appearance.

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Current Music: "Sixteen Tons" by the Nighthawks

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On Hallowe'en 2017, Macmillan will publish Joe Ledger: Unstoppable. Edited by Jonathan Maberry & Bryan Thomas Schmidt, it features a bunch of cool folks writing new stories in Jonathan's Joe Ledger horror/thriller mashup series. My story is "Ganbatte," and I honestly think it's one of the best stories I've ever written. Other contributors include Steve Alten, Jennifer Campbell-Hicks, P.G. Charles, Larry Correia, David Farland, Dana Fredsti, Christopher Golden, Mira Grant, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Tim Lebbon, Jon McGoran, Joe McKinney, James A. Moore, Weston Ochse, Jeremy Robinson, Aaron Rosenberg, Nicholas Seven, Scott Sigler, and James Ray Tuck Jr., as well as both editors.

Jonathan revealed the cover today, and here it is:

Here's the publisher's ordering page, which includes links to preorder from any and all of the major booksellers.....

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Current Music: "Greenback Dollar" by the Washington Squares

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I wrote and recorded a "Couch Potato Salad" segment for The Chronic Rift, and it wound up not being used. It was a review of Feed the Beast, an AMC adaptation of a Danish show, which starred David Schwimmer, Jim Sturgess, and John Doman, and it had a portrayal of my home borough that pissed me right the fuck off.

The show is long since cancelled and forgotten, as it deserves, but my rant still applies, so I'm posting it here for posterity and in defense of the Bronx:


I started watching AMC's new show Feed the Beast when it first aired, and found myself unable to continue after about two or three episodes. The concept is a decent one. An adaptation of a Danish series called Bankerot, it's about three friends, the husband and wife team of Tommy and Rie and their best friend Dion, who intended to start a fancy restaurant called Thirio, until Rie died, Tommy fell into alcoholism and depression, and Dion went to jail after going bugnuts. After Dion is freed, he talks Tommy into going ahead with their plan, but it requires them to get into bed with a mobster and with Tommy's scuzzbucket father.

The acting in this is strong, with David Schwimmer selling the depressed Tommy, Jim Sturgess being rather convincing as the psychologically damaged master chef Dion, and John Doman knocking it out of the park (as he always does) as the bigoted father.

The problem I have is that the entire premise of the show is that they're opening a gourmet restaurant in the cultural and food wasteland of the Bronx, hoping that it will be the next big thing, because nobody's ever opened a good restaurant in the Bronx before.

I have lived in the Bronx for most of my life. As it happens, there are dozens of gourmet restaurants in the Bronx, particularly in Riverdale, in Little Italy, and on City Island. As a lifelong resident of the Boogie-Down, I am well and truly sick of people who assume that Fort Apache, The Bronx a) was a documentary and b) still applies to the Bronx 40 years later. News flash: it doesn't. To this day, when I tell people I live in the Bronx, I get confused stares and shocked looks and queries as to whether or not I carry a knife for protection. Drives me nuts.

The Bronx is, in fact, a lovely place with a diverse population and—and I can't emphasize this enough—tons of great restaurants. A pretentious hipster eatery like Thirio would barely even be noticed in a borough when people can go to Palace of Japan or Mario's or the Crab Shanty.

Oh, and for the record? Nobody who called himself "the tooth fairy" would last more than fifteen seconds as a gangster in New York City. Or anywhere in the United States, honestly.

So to the producers of Feed the Beast, I am glad that AMC cancelled your stupid show after one season, and I'm not at all sorry I didn't make it through the only season your unthinking little piece of crap got. Next time you're going to write a TV show that takes place in a real location, maybe take the time to learn about it before assuming you already know what it's like because you remember Howard Cosell saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning" during the 1977 World Series.

Current Mood: grumpy grumpy
Current Music: "Factory" by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band

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Well, this is cool -- Rich Handley over at Hero Collector has provided the ten best Star Trek comics stories/runs over the decades, and one of the items listed is the Alien Spotlight series of one-shots, to which I contributed the "Klingon" issue (ably abetted by the mighty JK Woodward).

There's also work here by my buddies Glenn Greenberg (the excellent Untold Voyages miniseries), Peter David (his Star Trek Annual about Scotty's marriage, which was a highlight of Peter's excellent Trek comics work), Chris Claremont (Debt of Honor), Michael Jan Friedman ("The Worst of Both Worlds" from DC's TNG comic), and Mike W. Barr (the Mirror Universe story from DC's first run), among others. Check it out!

Money quote:
If you've ever wanted to know more about Andorians, the Borg, Cardassians, Gorns, Klingons, Orions, the Q, Romulans, Vulcans, or even tribbles, this series is a must-read. Alien Spotlight features stories set throughout the timeline, involving Pike's, Kirk's, Picard's, and Sisko's crews, from multiple writer-artist teams including fan-favorites Scott and David Tipton, John Byrne, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Ian Edginton, David Messina, J.K. Woodward and others.

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It's the attack of the 50-foot Vulcan! Spock gets yuuuuuuuuuuge in Walter Koenig's sole contribution to the animated series, as the TOS Rewatch encounters "The Infinite Vulcan."

An excerpt:
This is a very ambitious episode, with a lot of really nifty ideas, and some rather heavy plot elements. It’s pretty impressive for a 1970s Saturday morning cartoon to show us a room full of corpses, though the censors probably didn’t blink because they were plants. The notion of sentient ambulatory plants is a fun one, though not as much is done with it as one might hope, and the design is nicely alien, continuing the work the animated series has done from jump in giving us truly alien designs. And given that Spock has been regularly shown to be a kind of superman, the idea that Keniclius views him as a perfect base for a clone army of telepathic soldiers with the strength of a Vulcan and the passion of a human is actually a really clever extrapolation of how Spock has been portrayed. I like that the script acknowledges something that Star Trek in general has ignored repeatedly, which is the very real possibility of bacterial contamination of the strange new worlds they visit. And it’s good to see so much contributed to the story by Uhura and especially Sulu. (The ending cracks me up every time, though I could live without the oh-so-70s wink at the camera.)

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The weekend did not go as planned. For the second year in a row, our Twelfth Night party was fucked by snow. It wasn't enough to completely shut down the city like it was a year ago, but it was enough to convince most folks to stay away -- especially since it snowed all day Saturday. However, we extended the party to Sunday, and so we wound up with a few people Saturday, a few more on Sunday, and it was fun. More of an open house than a party, but whatever. Still good people, still good food, and we have leftovers, so all is well.

I also went to our dojo's annual new year's workout, Kagami Biraki, a Japanese tradition in which we have an intense workout to start the year off. We had 42 of our students -- mostly adults, but some teenagers -- of all ranks from white belt all the way up, and it was fantastic. We started with around 500 punches and strikes, then did tons of kicks, open-handed strikes, blocks, and, of course, pushups -- 100 all together over 90 minutes. The dojo mirrors and windows were fogged up, we were all drenched in sweat, and it was fantastic.

And then tonight I wrote a 1000-word article for a book of essays that will be out next year, which is fun, and then tomorrow is the TOS Rewatch, work on the soooper-seekrit project, teaching, and working on the thriller. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

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Current Music: "Passion Play Extract" by Jethro Tull

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Part of a conversation between two African-American gentlemen:

"Christie is one dumb fat motherfucker. Him and Giuliani both. They was suckin' Trump's dick, and after the election, he dropped them two motherfuckers like that!"

I love this town.....

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Current Music: "A Song for Jeffrey" by Jethro Tull

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Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we're back!

The first new episode of Dead Kitchen Radio: The Keith R.A. DeCandido Podcast in two and a half years, as I look back on what I've been doing since the summer of 2014, and then take an in-depth look at the three new Super City Cops novellas, Avenging Amethyst, Undercover Blues, and Secret Identities, with a reading from the latter.

You can subscribe to DKR on iTunes or through The Chronic Rift Network, or just click on the link and listen to it directly on DKR's site.

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Hey, look, it's Uncle Milty! Milton Berle plays a Bat-villain in a role that does count as one of his most memorable. Plus bonus tone-deaf portrayal of hippies! The Bat-Rewatch introduces "Louie, the Lilac."

An excerpt:
Okay, I have a confession to make—I have never liked Milton Berle. I remember growing up and seeing him and Bob Hope and Johnny Carson and never understanding what the fuss was about. To be fair, I mostly saw them in the twilight of their careers, but even watching old clips, I was less than impressed. The only time I actually liked a Berle performance was when he appeared on The Muppet Show, specifically when he tried to do a standup routine and was mercilessly heckled by Statler and Waldorf. Of course, the whole routine is predicated on the fact that Berle isn’t funny... (Amusingly, one of the inspirations for Statler and Waldorf was Sidney Spritzer, a character played by Irving Benson on Berle’s variety show who heckled Berle from the balcony.)

So I’m not particularly predisposed to this episode anyhow, but even the biggest Berle devotee wouldn’t find a lot to like here. For one thing, aside from puffing on a cigar, there’s none of Berle’s trademark bits here, nothing that stands out aside from the comedian’s rather distinctive face.

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Current Music: "When a Soldier Makes it Home" by Arlo Guthrie

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Premiering today: The Liars Club Oddcast! A new podcast put together by the writers cabal (of which I am a proud member).

Here's what it's all about:

Just a bunch of people who make stuff up for a living, interviewing other people who make stuff up for a living, and all while drinking beer and wine in the middle of the day. What could possibly go wrong? Yeah, that’s us.

Join us for lively rounds of lies and exaggerations featuring everyone from New York Times bestselling authors to National Book Award finalists to debut novelists, screenwriters, actors, stand-up comics, and more.

Note: We are not responsible for the truthiness of any content, because, well, Liars. You get the picture.

First up is Jonathan Maberry, a cofounder of the Philadelphia Liars Club back in the 1870s... No, really!

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Current Music: "Mother's Voice (I Hear You Sing Again)" by Arlo Guthrie

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The Enterprise rescues a missing philanthropist -- OR DO THEY??????? Plus Kirk yells at a biobed! The TOS Rewatch rescues "The Survivor."

An excerpt:
As with far too many animated episodes, this feels derivative of a live-action story, in this case “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” with a bit of “The Man Trap” thrown in, but as with “One of Our Planets is Missing,” the animated version takes a more compassionate view, as the Vendorian is actually redeemed in a way that the Korby robot and the salt vampire aren’t.

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Current Music: "He Don't Live Here No More" by Robbie Robertson

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Snurched from Tamora Pierce on Facebook:

42 Questions You've Probably Never Been Asked: Let's go!!!
1. First thing you wash in the shower/tub? Face
2. What color is your favorite hoodie? Black
3. Do you plan outfits? Rarely, but occasionally
4. How are you feeling right now? Enjoying the shit out of my coffee
5. What's the closest thing to you that's red? The cord charging my phone
6. Tell me about the last dream you had? I don't really remember my dreams
7. Did you meet anybody new today? Not yet
8. What are you craving right now? MORE COFFEE!!!!
9. What comes to mind when you think of Cabbage? Nausea, I hate cabbage
10. Have you ever counted to 1,000? No
11. Do you bite into your ice cream or just lick it? Yes
12. Do you like your hair? Yes
13. Do you like yourself? Yes
14. Would you go out to eat with George W. Bush? Fuck no
15. What are you listening to right now? Robbie Robertson
16. Are/Were your parents strict? Depends on the situation
17. Would you go sky diving? Possibly?
18. Do you like cottage cheese? Never
19. Have you ever met a celebrity? Yes
20. Do you rent movies often? Not rent, no. I either watch it via a station or streaming service, or I just buy the fershlugginer thing
21. Is there anything sparkly in the room you're in? A couple of Wrenn's shirts
22. Have you made a prank phone call? No
23. Ever been on a train? Yes, and will be on one later today
24. Brown or white eggs? Yes, those are the choices, generally
25. Do you use chap stick? No
26. Can you use chop sticks? Yup
27. Are you too forgiving? Probably
28. Ever been in love? Oh yes
29. Last time you cried? July
30. What was the last question you were asked? This one
31. Favorite time of the year? spring
32. Do you have any tattoos? No
33. Are you sarcastic? I'm a New Yorker, duh!
34. Ever walked into a wall? Yes
35. Favorite color? Red
36. Have you ever slapped someone? Yes
37. Is your hair curly? A bit
38. Do looks matter? More than they should
39. Do you like your life right now? There's room for improvement, but yes
40. Do you sleep with the TV on? I slept through an earthquake once.....
41. Can you handle the truth? Generally
42. Do you have good vision? Goodness, no.

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Current Music: "Sacrifice" by Robbie Robertson & Leonard Pelletier

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Tomorrow, Bastei Entertainment will release the second of my three Super City Cops eBook novellas, Undercover Blues. This is the latest tale about the police who serve Super City, a great metropolis that is filled with costumed heroes and villains, following last month's release of Avenging Amethyst. You can get the book for your Kindle or Nook, or get the eBook from Kobo.

Here's the cover:

Here's the promo copy:
The great metropolis of Super City is the home of dozens of costumed heroes -- the Terrific Trio, the Bruiser, the Superlative Six, the Cowboy, and many more -- who do battle against the super-villains who terrorize the citizenry.

These aren't their stories ...

When the heroes are done punching out the villains, it's left to the stalwart men and women of the Super City Police Department to restrain them, arrest them, and hope that this time there's enough evidence to actually convict them.

Just another day on the job for the Super City Cops.


Detective Elias Vondelikos has spent months working undercover to infiltrate the organization of Apollo, one of Super City's most dangerous and insane supervillains. But working for crazy bad guy has its risks, and the job the undercover cop was hired for turns vicious in a hurry. Meanwhile, Detectives Kristin Milewski and Jorge Alvarado follow a trail of dead bodies left by the new Amethyst--whose methods are far more brutal than the average superhero, and whose true identity will rock the SCPD to its core!

And finally, here's an excerpt:
Detective Elias Vondelikos sat behind the wheel of the idling cargo van, feeling like an idiot, dressed in a toga.

Himation. Whatever.

The van was parked outside the same warehouse where he'd been given the himation he was currently wearing, and also meeting the other "subjects."

He couldn't help but notice that the other half-dozen people Apollo had hired for the job were, at the very least, pale-skinned. There was one black guy and one Latino guy, but both of them were very light-skinned, and the other four looked either Greek or Italian.

One of the latter turned out to be Turkish. Vondelikos had struck up a conversation with him—his name was Frank, and he was the B&E guy who'd be getting them through the security fence around the airfield. Frank had told Apollo he was Greek because he didn't want to risk getting killed. Greeks and Turks were often enemies, and Frank had heard enough about the super-villain to not want to take the chance.

Today, they were doing a dry run of the job, using the Helios Trust warehouse—which Apollo owned, apparently—as a substitute for the hangar at Robinson Airfield where the diamond plane was to be placed after landing.

Vondelikos watched from the van as Frank attached some kind of doohickey to the fence that was supposed to interrupt the electricity running through it—Frank had explained it at one point, but it was all gobbledygook to Vondelikos—and then clipped the fence so the seven of them could get through.

Well, six of them. Apollo himself just floated over the fence, but he couldn't very well carry six people hauling equipment and AR-15s.

Vondelikos had no idea how it was going, as the only members of the crew he could see were the two guys standing guard outside the warehouse-cum-hangar.

A bolt of lightning sizzled through the air, startling Vondelikos so much that he jumped in the driver's seat, the seatbelt biting into his ribs.

Instinctively, Vondelikos reached for his weapon, but of course, he wasn't armed. Yay, police training, he thought to himself dolefully. I guess Apollo's bag of tricks includes lightning. The dossier on Apollo had been skimpy, as he was a relatively new addition to Super City's ever-changing roster of super-powered bad guys.

Moments later, Frank and the other three who'd gone inside with Apollo came running out while Apollo himself floated out of the hole in the roof his lightning had made. The two guards followed as well.

The side door to the van had been left open, so the other six subjects all entered the van that way while Apollo floated to the passenger-side door and got in.

As soon as all of them were inside, but before they'd closed the side door, Vondelikos hit the accelerator and drove off.

When he turned left on Giacoia instead of continuing down 1st to Wolfman Street, Apollo cried out, "What madness is this?"

"It's not madness, it's good sense," Vondelikos said as he turned right on 3rd. "The streets by Robinson are in the same grid as the streets here." He turned left onto Wolfman, then went left on 4th back to Giacoia, then up to 7th before going left again all the way to Siegel.

"Explain yourself, and quickly!" Apollo sounded furious.

"Look, I know this isn't the route you told me, but I did some research. If we go straight on 104th—the equivalent of 1st here—and turn onto Simonson—which is the same as Wolfman—we'll hit four different traffic cams. The route I just took? Graft it onto the neighborhood by the airport, and we'll miss all the cameras in the area."

Apollo just stared at him for a second.

Then he clapped him on the shoulder. "Well done, my subject! I believe when first we met, I spoke of the appalling state of justice in this era, and the proliferation of these surveillance devices on the very streets are among the worst offenders! Avoiding them will aid in our ability to remain out of the clutches of the constabulary!"

Vondelikos smiled. "Thanks, boss."

Turning to face the half-dozen guys in back, Apollo said, "You all performed admirably! We are, I believe, prepared for the engagement itself tomorrow! We shall gather at the warehouse first thing in the morning!"

His smile falling, Vondelikos turned onto 10th heading back toward Giacoia in order to return to the warehouse. First thing in the morning for a four p.m. job was going to make for a very long day...

* * *

After taking the van back to the Helios Trust warehouse, Vondelikos changed out of his himation and into normal clothes, then drove to the halfway house where "Phil Spiros" was staying.

Once there, he pulled the burner cell phone out from under the mattress—the existence of which was known to the administrators of the halfway house, which was why it hadn't been confiscated during bed checks—lay down on the bed, and called Zimmerman's direct line.


"It's your old buddy Phil."

The lieutenant chuckled. "Good to hear from you, Elias. How goes it?"

"It goes. We just did a dry run. I impressed the shit out of Apollo with my intimate knowledge of traffic cams so we can make our getaway without being seen by Big Brother. Not that we're gonna get that far, right?"

"Right. I talked to Singh. The EATers will be in place at Robinson at two."

"You're gonna let those poor bastards sit around for two hours?"

"They're pros, they've sat around for longer. And this way they have time to close up any holes so our Greek god won't know they're there until after he takes the diamonds."

Vondelikos shrugged. "Whatever. How 'bout the costumes?"

"I've talked to the representatives for both the Superlative Six and the Terrific Trio, and they promised to give Robinson a wide berth tomorrow at four. Castelli and Stinnett came across Major Marine and gave him the word, too. Still haven't been able to get ahold of the Bruiser."

"What, you don't have his number?" Vondelikos chuckled.

Jesus DeLaHoya had been changed—no one knew how—into a super-strong, invulnerable guy, and he'd decided to do what he could to clean up Simon Valley. He'd acquired the nickname "the Bruiser" from his days as a Gold Glove champion boxer, and had kept the sobriquet as a costumed hero. Vondelikos had come across him a couple of times on previous UC ops. He was one of the rare costumes who went out of his way to cooperate with the SCPD.

"Yes, Detective," Zimmerman said slowly, "I have his number, but I keep getting voicemail, and I generally prefer not to leave the details of undercover operations on civilian voicemails."

"Geez, it's like you're responsible or something." Vondelikos yawned. "Okay, it's been a stupid long day, and I've gotta go rob an airplane tomorrow."

"Good. Oh!"

Vondelikos had been about to say goodbye when Zimmerman let out that particular interjection. "Oh, what?"

"I officially got the signoff from Dellamonica. Once Operation: Sun God is done, you will be reassigned to desk duty."

Somehow, Vondelikos managed not to leap in the air and scream with joy. The fact that he was on his back and pretty damn tired had a lot to do with how he was able to so restrain himself, but he still found himself thrilled.

"It's about damn time!"

"Don't give me that, I told you it would take a few weeks for the paperwork to worm its way through the commissioner's office."

"You said that a few months ago."

"The point is, you got it. After ten years of UC, you will officially be a desk drone." Zimmerman let out a small chuckle. "Which is good, as we've been shorthanded since Fiorello and Baptiste went back on the street. Paperwork's backing up something awful."

"Believe me, Zim, a mountain of paperwork sounds like a day at the beach right now. Look, I gotta report in first thing in the a.m., so this is the last time we'll get to talk before the op goes down."

"I'm sure it'll all be fine, Elias," Zimmerman said. "Good luck."

"Thanks, Zim. And thanks for letting me know about the paperwork."

* * *

Lieutenant Therese Zimmerman hung up the phone after saying goodbye to Vondelikos. Everything was coming nicely into place. She actually had a good feeling about this op.

Which probably meant it would go horribly wrong.

But no, she refused to give in to that kind of superstitious thinking. That sort of nonsense was the bane of good police work. Vondelikos had worked hard, been patient, worked his way into the good graces of Apollo's recruiter, and now the op was about to go down.

Just to reassure herself, though, she called Mike Singh's cell.


"Mike, it's Therese. I just got off the phone with Elias, and everything's a go. They did a dry run and it went well, so Apollo's feeling confident. Everything set at your end, yes?"

"Exactly as much as it was when you called me an hour ago, Therese," Singh said indulgently.

"Look, you aren't the one Dellamonica's been giving shit about UC ops that don't go anywhere, and about how we don't put away enough of the costume bad guys ourselves."

"No, that would be you, giving me the same shit after the commissioner gives it to you." Singh chuckled. "It's fine, Therese, I understand. The abused kick downward. Worry not, all will be well. My people are running drills right now, and tomorrow will go smoothly."

"I hope so. Call me after the drills are done, let me know how they did."


"Humor me, okay?"

With that, she hung up.

The moment the phone hit the cradle, it rang again. According to the display, the call was coming from the McLean Foundation.

Run by billionaire philanthropist Marc McLean, the Foundation was responsible for, among other things, handling the Superlative Six's finances and marketing, and the Foundation also was responsible for the Cape Charity, which had been set up to assist people who suffered in the wake of costume fights.

Zimmerman had had an on-again-off-again relationship with McLean for a couple of years now.

Currently, they were in an off-again phase, which was why she let the call go to voicemail.

Another line rang, and this was internal. She picked it up. "Zimmerman."

On the other end of the line was the unmistakable voice of the desk sergeant, Karen Taylor. "Getcher butt down here, Bruiser just brought someone in."

She'd told Taylor to let her know if Bruiser showed up, so she immediately hung up and went downstairs.

Jesus DeLaHoya wasn't very tall, but every time Zimmerman saw him, she was overwhelmed by how massive he was. Trapezoid-shaped head, huge arms, no discernible neck—he always seemed to take up all the available space in any room, even one as open as the main squad room.

Bruiser saw Zimmerman after he turned over the young man he'd brought in. "'Sup, Lieutenant?"

"Jesus," she said, with the standard Latino pronunciation of "Hay-zoos." "What'd you bring us?"

"Kid's been hitting shops all up and down Ayers. I found his narrow behind running out of Columbia Florist. I'm gonna head back down to Simon Valley, get the other shop owners to come in to ID the little punk."

"Before you do that, I need a favor. I've got an undercover operation tomorrow at four at Robinson Airfield. We're going to nail Apollo. Kinda need you to stay away from there."

Bruiser grinned a perfect smile—completely fake, as his real teeth had all been knocked out during his boxing days—and said, "Not a problem, Lieutenant. I don't get that far uptown too much, anyhow, you know what I mean?"

"If you could spread the word, too? We've got the Trio, and the Six, and Major Marine on board, but if you could let some of your street-level colleagues know?"

Nodding, Bruiser said, "I'll tell 'em if I see 'em. And good luck, Lieutenant—Apollo's one crazy-ass sonofabitch."

"Thanks, Jesus."

They shook hands, and Zimmerman headed back to her office.

She saw the voicemail light flashing as she entered. Sitting down, she inhaled slowly through her nose and then exhaled slowly through her mouth.

Then she played the message.

"Therese, it's Beth from Marc McLean's office. Mr. McLean wanted to know if you'd be interested in joining him at the opening of the new wing of the Quitely Museum of Art tomorrow evening. Call me back. And, uh, Therese? He'd really like you to go."

As she stabbed at the ‘7’ button on her phone to erase the message, Zimmerman muttered, "Getting desperate, are we, Marc?"

She shook her head. No, true desperation would be if he actually made the phone call himself. Which would be a first for him...

The Quitely Museum's north wing had been destroyed in a battle between the Superlative Six and the Trumpeteers a year ago, and the McLean Foundation had been the financial might behind the rebuilding. Zimmerman knew that this opening meant a lot to Marc.

Maybe I will go.

But she didn't call Marc back just yet.

Current Mood: happy happy
Current Music: "The Sound of Silence" by Paul Simon

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Well, so far 2017 hasn't been too bad. Rang in the new year with dear friends, came home, snuggled cats, went to bed at 4am, got up at 11, watched some Barney Miller episodes on DVD (I've been watching them a lot since Ron Glass died), and drinking all the coffee. In a bit, we'll go to my parents' for the traditional new year's goose. Then back home to watch Sherlock and work on the thriller.

Just a typical day, in other words. I'm fine with that.............

Current Mood: awake awake
Current Music: "A Heart in New York" by Simon & Garfunkel

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Here's what should be released of mine in 2017 that a) I'm aware of and b) I'm allowed to talk about in public:

A Furnace Sealed, Book 1 of the Adventures of Bram Gold. This is the first in a new series of urban fantasy novels to be published by WordFire Press about a nice Jewish boy from the Bronx who hunts monsters.
Mermaid Precinct. The next (and likely last) novel in the series of high-fantasy police procedurals should at last come out from Dark Quest Books in '17.
Marvel's Warriors Three: Godhood's End, Book 3 of the Tales of Asgard trilogy. This final novel in the series will be released by Joe Books in the spring, and features Fandral, Hogun, and Volstagg questing to recover the Golden Apples from Immortality after they've been stolen by the Frost Giants.

Super City Cops: Undercover Blues and Super City Cops: Secret Identities. Two more novellas about police in a city filled with superheroes will be released by Bastei in January and February, the former showcasing an undercover cop trying to infiltrate Apollo's gang, the latter putting Lieutenant Zimmerman in an awkward spot when she finds out a nasty truth about Spectacular Man.

Short fiction
"Baker's Dozen: Danthres & Torin's Second Case." This Kickstarter-supported story will finally be done in 2017, and everyone who supported it will get lots of rewards, because I suck and am taking forever to do it.
"Identity" in Baker Street Irregulars. My contribution to this anthology of alternate takes on Sherlock Holmes is the first of what I hope will be a bunch of stories featuring Shirley Holmes and Jack Watson in modern-day New York City. It'll be out from Diversion in March.
"Deep Background" in Aliens: Bug Hunt. Reporter Nickole Kejela gets embedded with a Space Marine unit, and gets a lot more than she bargained for when a rescue mission goes sideways, in this new anthology of stories based on the film series to be released in April from Titan.
"Live and On the Scene" in Nights of the Living Dead. This anthology is edited by George Romero and Jonathan Maberry, and has stories that take place simultaneously with the seminal 1968 zombie film. My story is about a TV reporter who gets caught up in the nightmare both professionally and personally. It will be released in July from St. Martin's.
"Ganbatte" in Joe Ledger: Unstoppable. Jonathan Maberry has opened his "Joe Ledger" universe to other authors in this anthology to be released by St. Martin's in the summer. My story focuses on Lydia "Warbride" Ruiz, and provides her background -- and a nasty reunion with a childhood friend.
"Behind the Wheel: A Tale of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet" in TV Gods: Summer Programming. The next Cassie story will be in Fortress Publishing's second TV Gods anthology, due out in the fall, and focusing on Tyr and Thor and a TV interview.

Comic books
Icarus Volume 2. The rest of my adaptation of Gregory A. Wilson's Icarus should come out in '17 from Silence in the Library, with superb art by Mark Dos Santos.

The rewatches of Star Trek The Original Series and Batman '66 will continue on Tor.com, and I'll likely be writing other things for the site as well.

I have three projects for another publisher that I can't talk about. Yet. The first book will be out in the summer, another will be out probably in the fall, the third in 2018. Can't wait to be able to say more....

And there will be other stuff. At least, I hope there will be........................................

Current Mood: happy happy
Current Music: "Memorial" by Michael McCloud

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It's been a good year for me as a writer. Here's a guide to my 2016 output:


Marvel's Thor: Dueling with Giants ("Tales of Asgard" Book 1), Joe Books. Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound
Marvel's Sif: Even Dragons Have Their Endings ("Tales of Asgard" Book 2), Joe Books. Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

Stargate SG-1: Kali's Wrath, Fandemonium. Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Short fiction

"William Did It: A Tale of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet," in A Baker's Dozen of Magic, edited by Jessica Brawner, Story of the Month Club. Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

Super City Cops: Avenging Amethyst, Bastei Entertainment. Amazon | Barnes & Noble

"Streets of Fire," in V-Wars: Night Terrors, edited by Jonathan Maberry, IDW. Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

Save the Cheerleader, Destroy the World, in Heroes Reborn Event Series Collection Two, Titan. Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

"Right On, Sister!" in Limbus Inc. Book 3, edited by Brett J. Talley, JournalStone. Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

"We Seceded Where Others Failed," in Altered States of the Union, edited by Glenn Hauman, Crazy 8 Press. Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

"The Stone of the First High Pontiff," in The Best of Defending the Future, edited by Mike McPhail & Danielle Ackley-McPhail, eSpec. Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

Comic books

(w/Gregory A. Wilson, Matt Slay, & Mark Dos Santos) Icarus Volume 1, Silence in the Library. Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound


"Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch," every Tuesday on Tor.com. Link

"Holy Rewatch Batman!" every Friday on Tor.com. Link

"A Brief History of Luke Cage in the Comics," Tor.com. Link
"How the MCU Changed Luke Cage from the Comics," Tor.com. Link

"'We Will Find Hope in the Impossible' -- Star Trek Beyond Non-Spoiler Review," Tor.com. Link
"'I Think You're Underestimating Humanity' -- Star Trek Beyond Spoiler Review," Tor.com. Link

"Must-Watch Episodes: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise," Entertainment Weekly: The Ultimate Guide to Star Trek. Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Current Mood: impressed impressed
Current Music: "Here Comes the Sun" by Michael McCloud

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As is traditional these days, my first convention of the year will be Arisia 2017 in Boston over Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. I'll be there all four days, but my schedule's a bit lighter than usual:

1-2.15pm: Highlander: The Series 25 Years Later, w/Donna Martinez, Liz Salazar, and Michelle Wexelblat (Douglas)
2.30-3.45pm: FastTrack: Learn a Bit of Karate (Webster)
10-11.15pm: reading, w/Suzanne Palmer and Sarah Smith (Hale)

5.30-6.45pm: practical self-defense workshop (Paine)

Looking forward to seeing folks there!

Current Mood: pleased pleased
Current Music: "Locomotive Breath" by Jethro Tull

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