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KRAD's Inaccurate Guide to Life
ramblings from a mad fedora'd writer
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Leonard Nimoy has died at the age of 83.

It's impossible to quantify how important a figure he was in the science fiction and acting community. He inhabited one of the three or four most important and influential pop-culture characters of the 20th century. He was a great actor, a fine playwright, an excellent director, a superb photographer, and just a generally impressive person. His loss is keenly felt.

I was fortunate enough to encounter Nimoy in person on three occasions. The first, in the mid-1980s, was not great -- but it was at a Creation show, so there's that. Anyhow, he walked up to the podium, delivered a lengthy, rambling monologue while staring at an indeterminate point on the far wall, and then walked off. The other two, though, were amazing. There was the Slanted Fedora show in Indianapolis in 2001 when he and John deLancie did a superb live performance of Spock vs. Q for the folks at the banquet. And then Wrenn and I saw a stellar production of Nimoy's one-person play Vincent about the van Gogh brothers performed at Symphony Space by Jean-Michel Rinaud, which was followed by a Q&A featuring Rinaud, the director, and Nimoy his own self. Unlike the Creation show, Nimoy was relaxed and engaging and -- I have to say it -- fascinating.

Today in particular, I treasure those experiences, and I'm also grateful for being lucky enough to write Nimoy's most iconic character in several of my Trek novels.

He lived long. He prospered. He will be missed.

Current Mood: sad sad
Current Music: "Skateaway" by Dire Straits

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The Dominion War and the series both come to a close. The DS9 Rewatch does "What You Leave Behind."

An excerpt:
Unfortunately, as the finale of the TV show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, it fails. The end of the war is not the same as the end of the show. Back in “Emissary,” Sisko was given two purposes: to become Emissary of the Prophets and to get Bajor ready to join the Federation. The former was handled ineptly with an inane storyline involving glowy red eyes and pretentious sounding prophecies that boil down to “we picked you because we needed someone to tackle a guy holding a book into a big fire,” and the latter was totally ignored. The final episode of the series should damn well have had Bajor actually entering the Federation.

Current Mood: busy busy
Current Music: "Ballad of a Thin Man" by Bob Dylan & The Band

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I will be the Author Guest of Honor at GalaxyFest 2015 this coming weekend in Colorado Springs. In addition to a bunch of fellow authors (including my dear friends Jessica Brawner and Rebecca Moesta), the guest list includes actors Hilary Shepard, Michael Copon, and Jason Faunt, who all starred on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

I'll have a table in the dealer room where I'll be selling and/or signing books, but I'm also doing a bunch of program items:

Friday
5pm: opening ceremonies
6pm: "So This One Time, at a Con..." (w/Jessica Brawner and Sarah Hoyt)
7pm: "How to be a Productive Creator" (w/Sam Knight, Paul Lell, and Jeannie Stein)
8pm: practical self-defense workshop (w/Jessica Brawner)

Saturday
2pm: "Zombies, Zombies, Zombies!" (w/Kevin Ikenberry, Sam Knight, Pam Nihiser, and Christopher Salas)
3pm: "Writing Characters with Mental Health Challenges" (w/Lou Berger, Carol Hightshoe, and Sam Knight)
6pm: "Art vs. Profit" (w/Mario Acevedo, Sarah Hoyt, Rebecca Moesta, and Christopher Salas)
7pm: "Supernatural Rocks!" (w/Bill Cherf and Paul Lell)

Sunday
1pm: "How I Broke Into the Industry" (w/Lou Berger, Kevin Ikenberry, Jeannie Stein, and Molly Tanzer)

Hope to see folks there!

Current Mood: busy busy
Current Music: "Midnight Special" by Leadbelly

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Hilariously, given that I spent seven hours at the dojo today assisting with a promotion, today my dear friend and fellow karateka, Kyoshi Jennifer Fremon posted this incredibly insightful piece on the subject of promotions in martial arts disciplines. As ever, she nails it.

Money quote:
I promote one of my little white belts (or many of them) to blue belt every two months. Some of them have simply taken the "right" number of classes, a milestone that we decided on many years ago. Some of them are the "Hermione Grangers" of the dojo who can perform every move perfectly and answer every question on command. Some of them cannot remember a thing, and do not know their right from their left, but at the time of promotion they can stand still for a full five minutes, a feat that when they first joined seemed as impossible as winning the marathon.

They all really, really love karate.

Current Mood: impressed impressed
Current Music: "Conundrum" by Jethro Tull

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Holy fuck, am I exhausted.

And it's mostly my own stupid fault.

So today's agenda included going to my parents' place for dinner with our accountant -- the woman who has done my and my parents' taxes for decades -- which would also include going over this year's tax stuff.

Me being a moron, I didn't actually get all my tax shit together until Wrenn and I got home from the reading of Love, Sex, Anarchy last night. (I'll talk more about that in another post when I'm conscious. Which, at this rate, will be next month. Blargle. But short version: this is an excellent play about the life of turn-of-the-twentieth-century anarchist Emma Goldman written by Melissa Bell that is being produced by Tasty Monster Productions, which our dear friends Luke Tudball and Heather Bagnall are directing and starring in, respectively.) Of course, we didn't get home until well after midnight. By 4am, I finally got it all together (freelance life is such fun), and I was cursing my procrastination on this particular task.

Of course, staying up till 4am isn't that big a deal....

...unless I'm getting up at 7am in order to be at the dojo by 8am. See, I'd promised Shihan that I'd be there for the promotion today, which included three different sections of kids (four-and-five-year-olds at 8, white belts at 9, color belts at 10.30) and then the adults at noon. Oh, and the adult promotion included four green belts going for their advanced green and from that point forward, all promotions include some sparring. So I also had to fight six rounds after wrangling kids and such all morning while functioning on three hours' sleep.

And it was all fine until I stopped -- like with most things, honestly. *laughs* Except my notion of taking the longest nap ever was postponed by our need to be at my parents' to meet with Mara-the-accountant and have dinner (my mother made lasagne! I LOVE MY MOTHER SO MUCH!!!!!). I was -- er, not entirely coherent during our sojourn to my parents' place. Having said that, I'm really pleased that, at the ripe old age of 45 (46 in two months), I can do six rounds of fighting after hours of wrangling children on only three hours sleep, and do it well. I am mighty. Or something.

Oh, and adding some injury to the insult, Wrenn threw her back out yesterday. It was poor last night, though not so bad as to keep her from joining me at Love, Sex, Anarchy, but it was far worse today. So she was being stiff and uncomfortable and I was being 100% brain dead, and we were just fucking hilarious.

So we get home, I walk Scooter, and then I collapse.....

.....for a whole hour until I get a nasty-ass acid reflux attack. This was a type I used to get on a regular basis when my hiatal hernia first developed over a decade ago, but which I haven't gotten many of since around 2007 or so. But when I do get an attack, it's really brutal, and of course it happened only an hour into what really needed to be at least a three-hour nap.

Sigh.

Anyhow, I wrote this blog entry while waiting for my tummy to calm down. It seems to have done so, so I'm going to try to sleep the sleep of the brain-fried.

Current Mood: exhausted exhausted
Current Music: "Still Got This Thing" by Alannah Myles

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IMAG4909

Current Mood: tired tired
Current Music: "Three Shots" by Jim Byrnes

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This grew out of a thread on Facebook where I posted a link to this hilarious video from BuzzFeed about what it would be like if Hermione Granger were the protagonist instead of Harry Potter. As someone who finds Harry boring as shit and Hermione to be more interesting in every possible sense, I approved of this filmlet, and besides, it was funny.

Anyhow, as is the way of internet conversations, things wandered including some people complaining about how the later books obviously weren't edited.

To which I made this response:

I just want to say something about the myth of the writer who gets too egotistical to allow themselves to be edited.

It is true that the amount of editing that happens on somebody once they reach a certain level of fame and sales is often significantly reduced, but that is almost never because the author demands it. Rather it's because the publisher demands it. "Why," the publisher grumbles, "are you wasting time editing this thing when it could be on the shelves earning us potloads of money????"

That's why, for example, the time between when Thomas Harris finally turned in Hannibal and when it was published was less than six weeks. It was rammed through production as fast as humanly possible in order to get it out there earning moolah, and what suffers in those circumstances is the editing.

I actually heard a publisher say one time about a particular top-selling series, "What's the value in editing it? The only people who care will have already bought the book, and will also buy the next one. Meanwhile, if we waste the time editing it, that's a month or two we lose in sales. So we just put it through production."

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful
Current Music: "I'm Living Off the Love You Give" by Jim Byrnes

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It turned out to be the swan song of the monthly Star Trek eBook line, but in 2007/2008, I edited a six-part series called Slings and Arrows as part of Simon & Schuster's celebration of Star Trek: The Next Generation's 20th anniversary (which also included an anthology, The Sky's the Limit, a Lost Era novel focusing on Picard by Christopher L. Bennett called The Buried Age, and three new post-Nemesis novels: Resistance by J.M. Dillard, my own Q & A, and Peter David's Before Dishonor).

In the movie First Contact, La Forge said that the Enterprise-E (which debuted in that film) had been in service for a year, but very little fiction about the E-E has taken place during that year (just Ship of the Line by Diane Carey and Section 31: Rogue by Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin, plus a few short stories in Strange New Worlds). However, that year included a lot of crazy-ass stuff, from a conflict with the Klingons to increased paranoia over changeling infiltration to martial law being declared on Earth, plus the ongoing conflict with the Maquis. My goal with S&A was to show was the flagship was doing during those turbulent times.

I told you that to tell you this: Dan Gunther has reviewed Slings and Arrows Book 1: A Sea of Troubles by J. Steven York & Christina F. York over at the Trek Lit Reviews blog. He should be covering the other five -- including my concluding volume Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment, a TNG/DS9 crossover -- in due course.

Money quote:
A solid first entry in the series, A Sea of Troubles was a fascinating story showcasing a Changeling infiltration of the Enterprise. The story truly reflects the tension that was inherent during this period of "cold war" leading up to open warfare with the Dominion. We get a strong introduction to one of my favorite "minor" characters, Lieutenant Hawk, and some insight into an enemy that we were not really provided with before.

Current Mood: pleased pleased
Current Music: "Three Shots" by Jim Byrnes

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It's snowing.

Again.

As you can see, I'm just fucking thrilled..........

IMAG4906

Current Mood: grumpy grumpy
Current Music: "Lookin' for a Love" by Jim Byrnes

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One of Jim Byrnes's costars on Highlander: The Series was Peter Wingfield, whose best known role was on that show as Methos, the 5000-year-old immortal. At a Highlander convention, Byrnes did a concert, and was joined by Wingfield for a magnificent acoustic rendition of "That River." I had no idea Wingfield could sing, and he sings quite well.......

Current Mood: impressed impressed
Current Music: "Broadsword" by Jethro Tull

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lrig_rorrim asked me to be her champion on LJ Idol this month, so she wrote a story called "Letter Home from a Beholder," and then I wrote a sequel/followup/companion piece set in the Dragon Precinct milieu entitled "The Other Side of the Story." Check 'em out!

Current Mood: amused amused
Current Music: "Downtown Train" by Tom Waits

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The fine folks at Buzzy Mag Online have informed me that my Cassie Zukav story "Down to the Waterline" will be going live on 24 April 2015! Yay!

For those of you who've read the other Cassie stories, this is the oft-referred to tale of Cassie facing a nixie who killed 1812's previous drummer. It's a direct prequel to the story "Ragnarok and Roll."

If you haven't read the other Cassie stories, you should totally pick up Ragnarok and Roll: Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet from Plus One Press (Amazon (trade) | Amazon (Kindle) | Barnes & Noble (trade) | Barnes & Noble (Nook) | Indie Bound | direct from publisher), as well as Out of Tune, which has a story that post-dates the collection (Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound | direct from publisher).

Also many many many many many thanks to Laura Anne Gilman, who edited the shit out of "Down to the Waterline" (which means she edited it and it was less shitty). Many thanks, sis. :)

Current Mood: pleased pleased
Current Music: "My God" by Jethro Tull

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From almost exactly 13 years ago: me at the "Grudge Match" panel at Boskone 39 in February 2002. I was on the panel with fellow author Esther M. Friesner and artist Bob Eggleton.

Keith1

Current Mood: nostalgic nostalgic
Current Music: "One Life (Creole Poetry)" by Jim Byrnes

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Keeping the Jim Byrnes theme going, here's a hauntingly beautiful cut off his 2009 album My Walking Stick.

Current Mood: awake awake
Current Music: "News" by Dire Straits

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Just back from seeing this Matthew Vaughn film based on a Mark Millar/David Gibbons comic book that's tremendous fun, batshit crazy, hilarious, disturbing, weird, but ultimately tremendous fun. The ending goes places you wouldn't expect, and the very ending is pretty much wrongheaded on every level (though it's mitigated with a mid-credits scene), but it's still tremendous fun (did I say that already?).

What especially works is that Colin Firth is the one playing the action hero and Samuel L. Jackson is playing the effete lisping guy who throws up at the sight of blood. The casting inversion adds to the entertainment value, plus nobody ever went wrong casting Michael Caine or Mark Strong in anything.

It's a violent insane throwback film that nonetheless is very much a 21st-century film, for all that it has the sensibilities of a 1960s spy flick. (Jackson and Firth even have a hilariously meta conversation on that subject....)

Current Mood: amused amused
Current Music: "Lady Writer" by Dire Straits

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Zek is retiring, Damar is a legend, Sisko and Yates are having a baby, Dax and Bashir stumble toward a relationship, Odo is bitter, and the station's got a brand-new Defiant. The DS9 Rewatch cries havoc and lets slip "The Dogs of War."

An excerpt:
The balance in this episode is perfect, juggling Damar’s rebellion, the revelations about the Founders disease, the arrival of the new Defiant, the Dominion’s new defensive strategy, Dax and Bashir’s stumbling toward the world’s most chemistry-free relationship, Yates’ pregnancy, and the future of the Ferengi Alliance magnificently. Almost everything works: the pacing, the acting, the writing. Plus, we get an episode that actually has a beginning, a middle, and an end unto itself, even as it services the larger story. Indeed, if not for the tiresome, irritating, utterly uninteresting Bashir-Dax subplot, it might be perfect. (You know something’s wrong with your romance plot when O’Brien and Worf talking about it is more interesting than the actual thing they’re talking about.)

Current Mood: amused amused
Current Music: "5:15" by Roger Daltry w/orchestra

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Culled from Facebook, here are some pictures from Farpoint 2015:

First, from the Boogie Knights concert, pics by either Paul Balzé, Todd Brugmans, or Laura Rizzutti Bergstrom:

BK1
BK2
BK3
BK4
BK5


Me photobombing Phil Giunta's picture of Daniel Patrick "Renfield" Corcoran at the Friday night Book Fair:
bookfair


Kelly Meding, me, Robert Greenberger, and Aaron Rosenberg discussing the business of writing, photo by Nick Minecci:
businessofwriting


Three views of my self-defense workshop from Todd Brugmans:
selfdefense
selfdefense2
selfdefense3


And finally two views of the panel on Star Trek comics, one before Peter David joined Howard Weinstein, Michael Jan Friedman, Steven A. Wilson, Robert Greenberger, Joe Berenato, and I, and one after -- both photos by Meredith Peruzzi:
trekcomics1
trekcomics2

Current Mood: tired tired
Current Music: "Look Mama" by Howard Jones

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Like many geeks, I was first introduced to Jim Byrnes via his starring role on Highlander: The Series starting in its second season. In addition to his superlative acting skills, Byrnes is also a great musician. I was fortunate enough to see him play a concert at SyndiCon back in the late 1990s, and I also treasure his music that I own, including the live album I Turned My Nights Into Days, which includes this superb version of "Love and Happiness":

Current Mood: pleased pleased
Current Music: "Love and Happiness" by Jim Byrnes

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Wrenn and I had a wonderful time at Farpoint 2015. The con itself was a bit more poorly attended than anticipated, especially since pre-reg numbers were actually up. However, the winter weather in general and a snowstorm on Saturday in particular probably scared a lot of people off (just anecdotally, I know of about a dozen people who intended to be there who couldn't make it, which means there were probably bunches more). Still, I sold enough books so that the weekend wasn't a loss financially, and it was also just a tremendously fun weekend.

Friday night Wrenn and I went to dinner at a fantastic Indian place with two dear friends for a lovely meal. Then there was the Book Fair, during which I sold a bunch of books, signed a bunch more books, and had fun chatting with the various fans, friends, and folks, as well as fellow scribes Allyn Gibson, Phil Giunta, Bob Greenberger, and Joe Berenato.

After that, there was general hanging out and avoiding the karaoke like the plague, including an impromptu gabfest among me and Wrenn, Meredith Peruzzi, Glenn Hauman, Dave Mack, and Eric Gasior.

Saturday was my busy day: Boogie Knights concert at 11 (less well attended than usual, a theme for the weekend, but the crowd was very much into it and appreciated our digging a bunch of older songs, including "Polymorph Your Mother," out of mothballs), self-defense workshop at 1 (only five people, plus a few onlookers, but still useful and fun), autographing at 3 (signed a few books, which is always good, and also had fun chatting with fellow authors Don Sakers and Greg Wilson, as well as Ron Garner of Silence in the Library and Glenn), panel on the business of writing at 4 (Bob moderating myself, Aaron Rosenberg, and Kelly Meding on all the stuff involved in a writing career that isn't putting words down), and reading at 5 (shared with Janine Spendlove and Daniel Patrick "Renfield" Corcoran, I read from my X-Files story, which was well received).

Then a bunch of us writer folk and our assorted SOs went to Andy Nelson's on York Road -- which I loudly and enthusiastically recommend to anyone in the area north of Baltimore -- for an incredibly yummy meal. I was at a table with Dave, Glenn, and his wife Brandy, while Wrenn sat with Greg. Also present were Janine, Ron, Aaron, Phil, Tim Zahn, Rich White, and probably some others (it was a big group).

Then we drove gingerly back to the hotel in the snow for general hanging out in the atrium during Ten Forward (which also meant there was some dancing). It was a true high point to hang out with Meredith, her wife Anneliese, Cherif and Rebecca Oubazar, Barbara Goetz, Jay and Pam Smith, Zan Rosin, and assorted other folks.

After finally collapsing at 2am, we woke up Sunday for a quieter day that included another autographing at 11, a panel on Star Trek comics at noon (with Joe moderating me, Bob, Peter David, Steven A. Wilson, Howie Weinstein, and Michael Jan Friedman), and a really nifty panel on writing dialogue at 2 (with Greg, Allyn, and Jay Smith). Then Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Mike McPhail, Wrenn, and I toddled up to Delaware for a lovely dinner with Greg Schauer, who's in the process of reopening his indie bookstore Between Books in Claymont, Delaware, and then home to a dog and two cats who missed us.

One of the high points of the weekend was discovering that Greg Wilson -- whose novel Icarus I adapted into a graphic novel for Silence in the Library and ComicMix -- only lives about half a mile from me and Wrenn in the Bronx. Small friggin world, I have to go to Maryland to find a fellow resident of the Boogie-Down. I was also pleased to get reassurance from both Greg and SITL's Ron that everyone was happy with my adaptation of Icarus (the only person I'd dealt with was Glenn at ComicMix). So that was nifty.

Oh, and Meredith gave me a T-shirt that has the German cover for Here There Be Monsters on it! So now I can proudly wear ACHTUNG, MONSTER! on my chest any time I want! Look, there's even a picture (though it doesn't showcase the T-shirt all that well)! I wore it for the self-defense workshop. (Todd Brugmans took the photo....)

selfdefense

Current Mood: tired tired
Current Music: "Massachusetts" by Arlo Guthrie

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Bashir and O'Brien cure Odo by ENTERING SLOAN'S BRAIN!!!!!!!!! The DS9 Rewatch takes "Extreme Measures."

An excerpt:
Look, there’s only three episodes left. There’s a lot of stuff going on. So it’s really hard to get anything but frustrated over an episode that consists of Bashir and O’Brien walking through corridors a lot. And they’re not even real corridors, they’re PART OF SLOAN’S BRAIN! And they don’t even make much an effort to make the corridors super-surreal (like, say, the Enterprise corridors were in Data’s dream sequences in “Birthright I”), they’re just corridors. That they walk through. A lot.

At least until they get shot, so then they sit in the corridor. A lot. And talk about their bromance. A lot.

Current Mood: tired tired
Current Music: "Going Home" by Dire Straits

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Keeping the Muppet theme, here's one of the all-time classic. The Muppets have always taken popular songs and either a) done them straight but superbly well or b) done a hilariously silly twist on them. This one is definitely b) and it's one of the best they've ever done -- not something you can say about a lot of the post-Jim Henson Muppet stuff.......

Current Mood: amused amused
Current Music: "Another Christmas Song" by Jethro Tull

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Thus far, all but one of the Cassie Zukav stories -- tales of Key West, Florida involving Norse gods, rock and roll music, scuba diving, folklore, and beer drinking, not necessarily in that order -- have appeared (either for the first time or reprinted) in Ragnarok and Roll: Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet.

That one exception (so far -- two more are due out in 2015) is in Out of Tune, edited by Jonathan Maberry, which is a wonderful anthology from JournalStone featuring tales inspired by old ballads. Besides my own "Fish Out of Water" (based on "The Mermaid"), the anthology features stories by Kelley Armstrong, Gary Braunbeck, Gregory Frost, Christopher Golden, Simon R. Green, Nancy Holder, Del Howison, Jack Ketchum, David Liss, Jeff J. Mariotte & Marsheila Rockwell, Seanan McGuire, Lisa Morton, and Jeff Strand, with commentary on each source ballad by folklorist Nancy Keim-Comley.

order direct from publisher
Amazon (Kindle)
Amazon (hardcover)
Amazon (trade paperback)
Barnes & Noble (Nook, hardcover, or trade paperback)


Here's an excerpt from my story...................Collapse )

Current Mood: pleased pleased
Current Music: "My God" by Jethro Tull

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Back in 2001, I wrote a Starfleet Corps of Engineers novella called Cold Fusion, which guest starred Nog and not only was the sixth story in the new S.C.E. series, but also served as a bridge between two DS9 novels, Avatar Book 2 by S.D. Perry and Section 31: Abyss by David Weddle & Jeffrey Lang.

The good and noble "nicky2910" has reviewed Cold Fusion for his blog. Check it out!

Money quote:
Overall, this is a strong entry in the SCE-series, with lots of fun (including the 5th Rule of Acquisition, "Always exaggerate your estimates", which Scotty used to apply decades prior to Nog's birth), a mildly interesting new foe and intriguing glimpses into the inner workings of the da Vinci that has whetted my appetite for more. Mission accomplished.

Current Mood: pleased pleased
Current Music: "Thick as a Brick" by Jethro Tull

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One of DS9's finest hours, as we get the culmination of ten years of Klingon politics and Bajoran-Cardassian rivalry in one superb episode that provides a great spotlight for Martok, Damar, Garak, Odo, Sisko, Dax, and especially Kira and Worf. The DS9 Rewatch starts "Tacking Into the Wind."

An excerpt:
I have been unkind to the manner in which character of Ezri Dax has been portrayed in this rewatch, and I think justifiably so, but regardless of what happened in any of the other 24 episodes of this season, this episode justifies the character’s entire existence, because the come-to-Kahless speech she gives Worf is one that only Ezri could have given. Only someone with all the knowledge and memories of Curzon and Jadzia, but without the closeness to those events that they had (Curzon’s diplomatic career in general and his friendships with Kang, Kor, and Koloth in particular, Jadzia’s relationship with Worf, etc.), could provide the perspective Ezri gives to Worf. It’s one of the most brilliant moments in the show’s history, putting the events of previous Klingon episodes into sharp relief, and leading Worf to the only decision he can make.

Current Mood: impressed impressed
Current Music: "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" by Jethro Tull

who is this guy?
Keith R.A. DeCandido
User: kradical
Name: Keith R.A. DeCandido
Website: DeCandido.net
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