Category Archives: SciFi/Fantasy

DC’s Kryptonite is Superman

I went to see Justice League yesterday and, while it was better than most of the DC movies— admittedly not a high bar, it still fell flat in comparison to what Marvel has been producing.

I’ve been considering the whys and wherefores of DC’s continued failings on the cinematic front and have come to the conclusion that the root of the problem goes much deeper than the people involved in producing the movies. The crux lies at the heart of the DC universe itself:

Superman.

He is the gold standard for heroes. He can literally do almost anything— depending on which series of the comics you follow— and has an unshakable morality. In short, he is a god.

Now, when trying to create other heroes to exist in a universe with Superman, those heroes have to exhibit abilities which at least rival the Man of Steel, or they become laughably insignificant in comparison. Wonder Woman is almost as strong as he is, as well as having weapons of incredible power themselves; Flash is as fast— or slightly faster, again depending on which series you follow— so fast he can manipulate time; Aquaman is also incredibly strong and nigh invulnerable, especially in the water, and the list goes on.

It even seems like DC understands their problem, to a degree, when young Barry Allen asks Bruce Wayne what his super power is in the movie.

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***SPOILERS AHEAD***

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You have been warned. 🙂

So, the movie begins in the aftermath of Batman vs. Superman: a world that is now bereft of the man of steel and new threats are looming. Batman works on putting the band together and the big bad, Steppenwolf, (DC has always had a terrible time with names, in addition to their Superman problem) is doing his bit to bring an apocalyptic end to Earth. He does an impressive job in the beginning, wading through the Amazonians and Atlanteans to gain two of the pieces to his Unity puzzle box, and mostly puts the smack-down on Batman’s newly-formed team while trying to find the third and final piece.

To this point, the movie is pretty good for the most part and I was enjoying it. The characters were flat, but there’s only so much time for development in a team-up story such as this, so I was willing to forgive a few stereotypes and obvious gags. Because of the defeat, however, Batman decides the only way they can win is to try to raise Superman from the dead.

And it went downhill from there.

The fight scenes were amazing and comic book-esque, but all of the tension the story had built to that point evaporated once Superman returned and regained his senses upon seeing Lois Lane after the obligatory hero vs hero battle.

The big bad and all he had wrought suddenly became no more than a comic foil for the heroes and the concluding battle was just an excuse to smash stuff. Steppenwolf was barely an annoyance for Superman and only delayed his defeat because Superman had to go save a building full of innocent bystanders while Flash rescued one family in a pickup truck.

The apocalypse ended with a whimper and a laugh.

Hero stories are about someone overcoming incredible odds to eventually triumph against an implacable foe. The presence of Superman turns that on its head and suddenly the bad guys become insignificant and the other heroes merely sidekicks.

Pulling back and looking at the bigger picture, humans themselves become completely irrelevant in a world with Superman. The only ones who can carry water for him are like gods themselves: Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg. Commissioner Gordon exemplifies this when he calls for Batman to ask about a series of abductions in the film, claiming the police force could find no pattern to them. Half a second later, the heroes spout off a complete analysis of what they’re shown and disappear to act on the information. The message there is clear:

Regular people have nothing to contribute.

Who wants to live in a world like that?

Marvel’s universe has some incredibly powerful beings too, but they are also flawed in many ways, which makes them more relatable as characters. Normal people can still have an impact in that world, which, for me, makes for a much more interesting and enjoyable fantasy.

Please, tell me what you think! Did you enjoy the movie? Disagree with my assessment? I’d love to hear your opinions.

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Time Travel Stories Never Account for This One Thing

Don’t be surprised to see flashing lights behind you and hear a police siren while you read this blog post. And it’s not because that slightly illegal prank you pulled in your youth has finally caught up with you.

You’re speeding.

Yep. Sitting in your chair, sipping your coffee or munching on your favorite snack, you are moving at a pretty ridiculous clip.

We experience day and night because the Earth rotates. Being an inhabitant of the Earth and subject to its gravity, that means we are spinning along with it. Standing at the equator, you would be moving at the rate of just over 1,000 miles per hour. In the middle latitudes, where most of the human population resides, it’s roughly two-thirds of that, or six-t0-seven hundred miles an hour.

And your mom always complained about you being so slow to get ready for school in the morning!

We can’t stop there, though. We all know the Earth revolves around the sun. How fast does it have to move to do so? Pretty damn fast, as it turns out. In order for the Earth to make a complete trip around the sun in the span of a year, at a distance of ninety-three million miles away from the burning ball of hydrogen, it has to move approximately 66,000 miles per hour.

You’re really booking it! No wonder the cops are after you!

But, back to the headline of this post: time travel. Why is this movement through space important?

Let’s look at one of the most famous examples of time travel from popular culture: Doc Brown’s first experiment with Einstein the dog in Back to the Future.Bf1firetrails In the movie, Doc sends his pooch, strapped into the famous DeLorean, one minute into the future to arrive at the exact same spot. Yet, in order to do that, he would not only have to travel through time, but space as well. Consider how far you move, sitting in your chair, in the span of a minute.

Rotationally, spinning along with the Earth, you travel ten or eleven miles in that single minute. In addition, you’ve moved about 1,100 miles with the Earth following its orbit around the sun!

“All right then,” you say. “Maybe we can travel through time in exact-year increments.”

Interesting thought, but we’re not done calculating your speeding violation.

In addition to the Earth rotating and revolving around the sun, the sun is also moving at a pretty astounding pace, and dragging all of us with it in the general direction of the star Vega, within the constellation Lyra. That motion is calculated at roughly 43,000 miles per hour. Yet, even that isn’t all. The sun and our solar system also orbit within our Milky Way galaxy as it spins. Our speed as we waltz around the mysteries at the center of our galaxy? Merely 483,000 miles per hour.

That’s over 8,000 miles per minute. And we’re still not done.

The Milky Way itself is also moving, hurtling away from a universal central region we associate with the Big Bang. That speed? 1.3 Million miles per hour, or over 21,500 miles per minute.

So, in a single year— one trip around our sun— the Earth is displaced several billion miles through space from its starting point across a number of vectors of direction.

In order to travel through time to visit our own past or future, we must travel vast distances through space as well. I turned 50 years old this past year. If I wished to witness my own birth, I’d have to not only pass through those years of time, but also half a trillion miles of space!

Don’t get me wrong, I adore time travel stories— I’ve written a few! And Back to the Future is one of my all-time favorites, but it’s also fun to think about the bigger picture of time travel and what it entails. Our universe is an incredibly complex mechanism that we’ve only barely begun to understand. Maybe one day we’ll crack the code that will allow us to bounce around willy-nilly through space and time. Until then, we’ll just have to let our imaginations wander the reaches and laugh at the exploits of Doc Brown and Marty McFly.

“I’m sorry, Officer. I had no idea I was going that fast.”

MonsterCon and The Devil You Know

In honor of the Magic City MonsterCon (which I’m attending all weekend!) I’m doing the cover reveal for my newest writing project: The Devil You Know.

You can read the first four chapters of the book (what will comprise “Episode 1” in the final product) right now at Wattpad! Here’s a link: https://www.wattpad.com/user/TuckerAuthor

Two alien races vie for control of Earth amidst a human population decimated by a merciless plague, famine, and war.

Meanwhile, the denizens of Hell grow restless. The apocalypse they were supposed to instigate and revel in is happening without them…

Doing their best to create new lives in the aftermath of the chaos triggered by the aliens’ arrival, Abraham Black and Neri White come from backgrounds about as different as their last names would indicate. Yet, together, they may hold the key which allows humanity to remain the primary tenants of Earth. The question is: how much are they willing to give up to save the world? Their memories? Their lives? Their souls?

I’m describing this story as a Post-Apocalyptic, Epic, Suburban Fantasy… with Aliens. Yes, I think it’s going to be something unlike anything you’ve read before and I’m very excited about it. The story is more adult in nature than my previous works and it’s in the final stages of editing and rewrites and my goal is to have it available this winter, hopefully in time for the holidays.

So, without further ado, here is the cover:

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What do you think? Let me know in the comments below and I hope to see some of you this weekend!

The Roller Coaster of Crowd Funding and Free Stuff!

Being a writer is often a lonely occupation.

I spend a great deal of time inside my own head. Too much time almost certainly. For me, writing stories mainly involves staring at a computer screen while my fingers peck away to fill the white space with darker pixels, punctuated by periods of gazing at a blank spot on the wall of my office while I ruminate on how best to continue the current scene or chapter. In the realm of spectator sports, it ranks just below watching grass grow or paint dry.

Unless you’re inside my head.

In there, the action flies at a blistering pace, with a multitude of permutations for each action by the characters playing out almost simultaneously until I settle on one with the most conflict/danger/insight/humor and the process starts anew. Have you ever read a book, or watched a movie, where something happened and you thought, “Man, it would have been so much cooler if they’d done _______”? That’s basically my creative process, for each and every scene. I don’t always get it right, but I examine a number of possibilities before deciding on any particular path for each story. It’s sort of like a choose-your-own-roller-coaster.

Recently, I signed up for another type of roller coaster: crowd funding. I’ve seen a number of other authors try this route to gain exposure and help with the expenses of publishing and promoting their books. One of my writer friends showed me a site called Inkshares.com, which is a new take on crowd funding, exclusively for books. Skeptical, I took a look at the long, steep uphill stretch of track before me and shuddered. The lonely introvert within me reigned supreme and I stepped away, giving it little thought after that.

Sword-LaserThen, the Sword & Laser stepped in. Now, if you’re a scifi/fantasy fan and haven’t heard of the Sword & Laser, let me direct you to their YouTube channel and Podcast. Oh, and they have a thriving GoodReads group as well. Tom and Veronica are smart and funny and do an amazing job of presenting scifi and fantasy books and authors to the world through their monthly book club, interviews, and news discussions. For the second time now on Inkshares, the Sword & Laser is sponsoring a contest where the winning book will be published and promoted in conjunction with the group, as well as the other top two of three receiving the full backing of Inkshares, regardless of the number of copies preordered. The contest runs until January 15, 2016.

Unlike my first foray, this time I’ve jumped into the front seat and thrown my arms up high, a look of glee mixed with sheer panic plastered on my face.

Here’s where you, dear reader, come in.

Having the opportunity of presenting my work to such an active and vibrant fan base as the Sword & Laser commands is amazing, to say the least. Achieving that goal requires pledges in the form of pre-orders for the book I’ve entered in the contest: The Devil You Know. Here’s the cover I’ve worked up, along with some “back cover” copy:

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Two alien races vie for control of Earth amidst a human population decimated by a merciless plague, famine, and war.

Hell is not pleased and the denizens of the Underworld have decided it’s time to fight back.

Doing their best to create new lives in the aftermath of the chaos triggered by the aliens’ arrival, Abraham Black and Neri White are about as different as their last names would indicate. Yet, together, they may hold the key which allows humanity to remain the primary tenants of Earth. The question is: how much are they willing to give up to save the world? Their memories? Their lives? Their souls?

I’m describing it as post-apocalyptic, epic, suburban fantasy… with aliens.

You can read the first two chapters on the Inkshares site.

“How can I get my hands on this enormous slice of awesome?” You ask. Here’s how:

  1. Create an account on Inkshares.
  2. Once you’ve done that, Inkshares will gift you with $5.00 in credits you can use toward funding the project of your choice! (Sometimes the credits take a few minutes to a couple of hours to show up, so be patient)
  3. Click on The Devil You Know and pre-order an ebook for only $5.00 (after applying your credits) or a printed copy, shipped directly to you when it’s published, for only $10.00 more.
  4. Tweet or Share on Facebook the fact that you’ve just been a completely awesome person and done the above!

“Why do I need to do that last step if I did all the rest?” You wonder.

Because I’m sweetening the pot, that’s why! For every 10 new readers, you’ll be entered into a giveaway for a Print$10.oo Amazon gift card. (I’ve already given one away!) Yep, every time we hit another 10 readers, all the previous readers will have a chance to win a $10.00 Amazon card. So, the more you share and get the word out, the more chances you’ll have to get a little bonus for yourself! Additionally, if someone places an order based on your Inkshares recommendation, you’ll receive more credits to spend on other interesting works from the site. How cool is that? You get an amazing book, chances to win Amazon gift cards, and credits to get even more amazing books — all for just a $5.00 investment! They even accept Bitcoin if you happen to have some of those lying around.

Now, I realize for many folks even $5.00 can seem like a lot to spend on someone you may not even know or have read before. Believe me, I’ve been there. Rest assured, you aren’t tossing your money away on nothing. If the project doesn’t reach the top three in the contest and isn’t funded, you’ll get your money back and you might have even won a gift card along the way.

Being the lonely, introverted writer type I referenced at the beginning of this post, it’s extremely hard for me to ask others for help. I don’t like doing it. My anticipation at realizing a dream, however, has overridden my fears of reaching out and asking for this assistance. I can’t do this alone. So, please, if you can sacrifice that double mocha latte, or a Happy Meal, on fulfilling a dream, I’ll be forever grateful. Thank you and Happy Holidays!

You Are Here

The universe is a big place.

It’s so big, the vastness is difficult to comprehend for even seasoned astronomers. I never get tired of contemplating our place in the universe. Recently, a group of scientists studied the dynamics of several thousand galaxies around our own Milky Way and discovered some incredibly interesting patterns. Yes, the universe as a whole is expanding, but the relationships among the pieces within that expansion are even more complex than it first appeared. Have a look at this fascinating video (about 4 minutes) and see for yourself where we fit into the cosmic scheme of things.