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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Red Letter Day

Read an excerpt of A Red Letter Day at Indies Unlimited. The latest Red Menace book is featured as a Sneak Peek.

Friday, May 24, 2013

"Crag Banyon is a two-fisted P.I. with a heart of gold and a liver of stainless steel."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Goofball Review of Goofball Star Trek Episode "What Are Little Girls Made Of?"

At the start of this week's Star Trek we learn that the Enterprise has been sent to ice planet XO III, which is either the Tic-tac-toe world or the hugs and kisses one.  I pray to Allah it's not the latter, because this is the episode where Nurse Chapel has finally climbed down from her pedestal on Easter Island and stomped on her giant rock feet to enlist in Starfleet.  Her old squeeze was some big muckety-muck scientist who went missing (I'm assuming when he got his eyesight back), and she's chased him in her granite wedding gown all the way from her pappy's front porch outside the quarry to the other side of the galaxy.

The Enterprise circles XO III a few times knocking on the clouds but nobody's at home.  They're about to pin a note to the subcontinent when Chapel's runaway fiance shows up at the door wrapped in a towel and claims he was taking a meteor shower.

The scientist's name is Dr. Corby, and he says he just mopped the ice outside his cave so only Kirk and Nurse Cigar Store Indian can come in, but they have to wipe their feet on the taiga first.

When Kirk and Chapel show up, Corby isn't there so Kirk calls up to the ship and orders down a pair of corpses.  Spock sends down two Red Shirt crewmen instead, and Kirk figures there's no sense returning them because they'll fit the bill soon enough.

Some other scientist shows up and turns a spotlight on Kirk, but instead of singing "Hello, My Baby!" Kirk wets his space pants.

The other guy takes Kirk and Chapel down to Corby's lair.  As soon as they're gone, Lurch from the Addams Family shows up wearing one of my mother's old housecoats padded with Joan Crawford's NFL shoulder pads and shoves one Red Shirt into a bottomless pit.  Then Lurch performs an improvised version of the Heimlich by sticking his hand down the throat of the other guy and pulling him inside out.  He's altogether ooky.

We find that planet XO's entire population moved into caves at some point in the distant past because it's cheaper than filming outside.  If the room Kirk is taken to is any indication, they were masters of picnic table technology and the first civilization in the galaxy to come up with the concept of the "break room."  Corby shows up and shows how advanced they were by pointing out some ancient sandwich vending machines, condiment carousels on the tables, and softball sign-up sheets on the bulletin board.  Then he has to carry out the most vile, revolting task in the universe that no man should ever be forced to perform.

Once Corby is done kissing Nurse Chapel, Corby's buddy scientist gets into a fight with Kirk.

There's a dame scientist there too, and Chapel keeps glaring at her like the gift a neighbor's dog has left on her front lawn.  While Kirk is fighting the other guy, he bravely hides behind this other chick like a human shield and shoots the other scientist until the radio parts in his stomach fall out all over the floor.

It turns out the other scientist was an android and that this is Corby's great big exciting secret.  Then Lurch runs into the room and bangs Kirk's head into the ceiling and William Shatner's toupee sticks to the smoke detector.  

Lurch mimics Kirk's voice to talk to Spock to tell him everything's okay down here and that he'll be a little late and to put out the cat and tape Survivor: Orion's Belt for him.  Then Lurch mimics Nurse Chapel's voice.  Lurch is prettier.

The robot dame is wearing a couple of crisscrossed mini-hammocks across her rack, and on orders from Colby she alternately makes out with then slaps Kirk, thus demonstrating the course of a ten-year marriage in the span of ten seconds.

"This is how you make an android," says Colby.  I think I'd probably rather go android-less, since the process involves spinning Kirk naked on a roulette wheel next to a pile of damp papier-mâché.  It also involves some deeply technical stuff like turning a couple of unlabeled Fisher Price knobs and making bloopity-bloop noises.  Whatever you do, don't let junior say "bloopity-bloop" next to the Play-Doh while he's playing with his Fisher Price Lil Mechanic's Kit or you might wind up with naked golem William Shatner clomping around the nursery.

Sure enough, the damp papier-mâché turns into a tubby replica of Kirk, but not before Kirk repeatedly yells "shut your pointy-eared Vulcan pie-hole, Mr. Spock!" at the top of his voice in front of Colby, the robot lady, Lurch (in my mother's old housecoat), and Nurse Gargoyle.  I'd assume that he was trying to implant a false impression of his everyday interaction with Spock on the papier-mâché version of himself, but I'm not a super-smart scientist or genius alien robot, so what do I know?

By the way, how many duplicate Kirks does this one bring the total to?  I think it's a billion-and-eight, but I lost count somewhere in the mid-700,000s.

Nurse Chapel says she can't tell the difference between the two Kirks.  They just spun around at a million miles an hour for five minutes.  If this were anything like reality, she'd be able to tell the real Kirk by the simple fact that he'd be puking up his lunch of multicolored cubes and his wig would have flown off and done a soggy tarantula-splat on the wall in the first minute.

Back in the break room, the real Kirk is now wearing a pair of space pajamas that are different from the yellow pajamas he usually wears.  That's because the fake Kirk has put on his uniform because, naturally, in the future it will be easier to duplicate living organisms down to the last detail including memories than it is to stitch a yellow pajama top and a pair of black pants.    

Kirk gets Colby to banter while he surreptitiously unties a convenient rope that happens to be tied to his chair for no reason whatsoever while Lurch and the robot chick stand two feet away looking right at him doing it.  He then uses the rope to escape somehow.  I forget how, because it was stupid.  Maybe he plays some snake charmer music and uses it to climb up to the Paramount sound stage catwalk.  If the total disinterest for him untying the rope is any indication, everybody there would just stand around as he put on a swami hat and hauled out a wicker basket like Bugs Bunny.

Out in the caves, Kirk busts a hilariously shaped stalactite from the ceiling and lies in wait for Lurch, who I guess he figures will die laughing when he gets one look at it.

It turns out that Lurch doesn't have a sense of humor, so Kirk instead tries to hit him on the head with the wang-shaped rock, but he winds up hanging off a cliff.

 This is the last time I let Sulu plan my shore leave.

Robot Kirk goes up to the Enterprise for no real reason other than to yell at Spock to mind his own pointed-eared beeswax.  This gets Spock suspicious enough to come down to the planet much later in the episode, but ultimately has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the story since Spock arrives after Kirk saves the day.  I figure it's because Shatner made them rewrite the script so that he doesn't need saving because he's such a he-man hero, but they still had an hour to fill so Robot Kirk yelling racist stuff got left in there even though it matters not one whit to the plot.

Colby wants to go to a different planet with lots of raw materials so he can start mass-producing robots of all kinds of important people.  Of course, he'd have to first get the important people to the planet to duplicate them.  I doubt that plan would work, because if tons of the galaxy's bigshots started disappearing for two weeks and then showing up with bolts in their necks, someone would notice.  Or maybe he plans on tricking them there by telling the president of Melmac that he's won an all-expense paid trip to Planet RoboCop(y).

Of course Real Kirk is too busy to do anything at that moment because he's making out with the sexy robot chick.  She tells him to stop downloading his tongue into her mouth as smoke comes out of her panties.

Kirk somehow miraculously figures out without the aid of computer records, newspapers or even cave paintings that the dead civilization that built the robots was killed off by the very robots they created.  He says this to Lurch who says he forgot all about the genocide.  Apparently he's creepy, kooky and altogether German.

So Kirk very cleverly awakens dormant genocidal bloodlust in an eight-foot behemoth who's already murdered two of his crewmen before he remembered how evil he really was, plus didn't even get a headache when he got smashed over the head with a stalactite dong.  Smart plan, Captain Genius.  While you're at it, tell him he looks like Frankenstein's monster's homelier brother and that he dresses like a sissy.

Lucky for Kirk, Lurch first goes nuts on Colby who shoots him.  Whew, that was convenient.

Kirk gets into a fight with Colby, who gets his arm caught in the supermarket door.  The big surprise reveal?  Colby is a robot too!  What a shocking twist.  Why, I never saw that one coming!

The dame robot with the hooter slings finds a ray gun on a fuse box and asks Kirk to make out with her.  He says making out does not compute, so she shoots him.  She then marches into the break room and says Kirk escaped but she is shocked to find that she shot Robot Kirk by mistake.  I'm shocked too.  Will these crazy, unexpected twists never end!?

The robot dame says she loves Colby, even though the real Kirk is standing right there and she shot the fake one out in the hall two seconds ago because he wouldn't help her change her knobs back to their factory presets.  Then she shoots herself and Colby.

Spock shows up to save the day, which has already been saved by the actions of his heroic captain, who I'm sure set his tantrum to the producers on "maximum tirade" when he found out he'd have to be saved by his second fiddle first officer like Pearl White tied to the railroad tracks in The Perils of Pauline.

Back up on the Enterprise, Spock is smirking all over the place and complaining that Human Kirk tricked Robot Kirk to be mean, and Nurse Chapel says she's decided to stay on the Enterprise for the free plastic surgery coupon that comes at the end of every five year mission.

Destroyer Movie Treatment

I posted about The Destroyer movie at my Web site forum three years ago. It was already stuck in development hell back then. Beats me if there's been any movement since then; all I do know is nobody's called me. My post three years ago was about the movie treatment I'd written. It was so good that I recently stole a tiny little bit of it for The Red Menace #4. For you Destroyer fans who didn't see my post years ago, here's a section that might interest you:

I won't give out any plot details, but I will say that it's a totally new adventure. I think that's best for Remo on the screen.

--It's not an origin story because I mostly hate origin stories.

--When the script starts, Remo is already Remo. Think of our first intro to Indiana Jones in South America in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indy was already Indy.

--Smith is involved in the action and gets out from behind his desk. Many folks make the mistake of seeing Smith as just some guy who gives Remo his marching orders then fades into irrelevancy. Not so. Smith is part of a triumvirate. He's important to The Destroyer so he's important to my story.

--It's got two all-new villains.

--It's a globe trotting adventure that takes place on four continents, and one of those is the one you'd least expect.

And that's all I'm going to tell you about the movie you're never going to see.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Sea No Evil

"Crag Banyon is a two-fisted P.I. with a heart of gold and a liver of stainless steel."
Available NOW on Amazon!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Whose moronic idea was it to install TVs in medical waiting rooms? They are always annoying, no one ever watches them, and after four hours I was ready to rip it from the ceiling and heave it out into the parking lot. If they're there to pacify us, it ain't working on me. At least put on Green Acres, for crying out loud.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Goofball Review of Goofball Star Trek episode "The Enemy Within"

In a captain's log voiceover at the start of this week's Star Trek, Captain Kirk informs us that the planet they're stomping around on gets to 120 degrees below zero at night.  It's daytime, so it is very peculiar that he doesn't mention anything about the current weather conditions like, say, the humidity, barometric pressure or how that one bunch of puffy white clouds looked like a kitty cat.  It's almost like he knows that that 120 degree below zero thing, although unimportant right now, will soon become significant somehow.  For the life of me I can't imagine how, since he's confident that everybody will soon be beaming off the planet and into a nice warm pair of wool socks.

Geological Technician Fisher, who I assume will be dead in about two minutes, falls off some Styrofoam scaffolding, hits his head on a papier-mâché rock and gets sent back to the Enterprise.  He materializes with yellow paint all over his coveralls, so I figure he was intercepted by some of those interstellar PETA wackos who are always tossing simulated yellow blood all over everyone whose coveralls are made from flying Andorian flipper beasts.  Meat is murder!  Ban the photon torpedo!  No blood for dilithium crystals, etc! 

Scotty runs a car buffer on Fisher for a little bit to make sure everything is okay, then Armor Alls his tires, hangs a pine-scent air freshener on his rearview mirror and rolls him out of the transporter room.

Kirk beams up next and we know the end is nigh when -- horror of horrors -- Captain Confident stumbles a little getting off the transporter pad.  Mr. Swashbuckling Swaggerpants apparently isn't allowed to stub his toe, so everybody runs from the room in a panic to call the newspapers.  While they're gone, a second Captain Kirk appears on the transporter pad even though in every episode before and after it has been established that the machine doesn't work unless someone is there to push those sound amp buttons.  This would be like your blender turning on after you've left the room and making smoothies without you.

We know this second Kirk is evil because of the creepy camera angle that looks up his nose, the way he fondles the beaming controls, and the gobs of extra mascara.

Good Kirk is in his room running around with his shirt off and his gut sucked in; somewhere there's a poodle with a rhinoceros horn; and Evil Kirk tries to rape Yeoman Thatch Head, who is wearing less mascara than him. 

Here's where that button that directly linked Yeoman Thatch Head to the bridge a couple weeks ago would have come in handy.  One poke of that button, a scream for help and the Red Shirt cavalry would come a-running.  Evil Kirk must have been planning this even when he was still stuck inside Good Kirk, because obviously somebody disabled that button.  So instead of being able to holler upstairs to Spock, Yeoman Thatch Head is stuck with throwing pillows and Precious Moments figurines at Evil Kirk while he chases her around her room with his pants down.

Yeoman Thatch-for-brains scratches Evil Kirk and he runs out of the room like a vampire that's been doused with holy water.  For good measure he beats up poor Geological Technician Fisher who was listening at the door with a glass pressed to his ear.  So let's take stock, shall we: so far Evil Kirk gets into unnecessary fist fights and sexually assaults women.  And I'm supposed to see this as a great departure from a normal day at the office for "Good" Kirk how?

Down in sickbay, Yeoman Thatch Head is recovering from her assault, and Good Kirk tells her, "Lady, you got the wrong guy, see?"  Geological Technician Fisher comes stumbling out of the broom cupboard and swears to the cops on a stack of bibles it was Kirk.  I've never seen Geological Technician Fisher before or after this episode.  After nearly being killed in a harrowing Styrofoam avalanche, he gets doused with yellow highway paint, then beat up by his boss whom he later calls a lying rapist.  I'm assuming after this worst day of his career, he was transferred from the Enterprise to the garbage scow U.S.S. George McGovern to spend the rest of his backbreaking career shoveling Kirk's used prophylactics into the furnace.

Science genius Spock takes a million light years to figure out there is an "impostor" onboard, but once he comes to that conclusion it doesn't occur to him or any of the other heroic fellas in sickbay that's it's probably a good idea to keep Yeoman Thatch Head under guard seeing as how her rapist who looks like the captain is still wandering around out there somewhere.  They tell the rape victim to toughen up, put some ice on it and send her home.  I'm an insensitive misogynist lout here in 2013 but apparently in the 23rd century I'd be friggin' Alan Alda.

Good Kirk runs up to the bridge and announces on the loudspeaker that there's a horny impostor on the ship and the only difference between him and the usual horny captain is that Evil Kirk has scratches on his cheek. 

The scene cuts to Evil Kirk listening to the announcement and somehow he clairvoyantly reaches up to his cheek before Good Kirk mentions the scratches.  I figure this is evidence that he's so evil that he clearly skipped ahead in the script, and I hope he doesn't reveal the surprise ending.  I mean, do we ever find out who Evil Kirk really is?  Don't tell me...he's Martin Landau in a rubber mask!

Evil Kirk figures out that he needs to cover up the scratches on his face with makeup, so he starts smearing tan blush on his cheek.  I figure when he grabs up the makeup that he must be lurking around some dame's quarters with his phaser out again, but it turns out he's in Kirk's quarters.  So he-man Captain Kirk keeps women's cosmetics in his room.  I'm just glad that Yeoman Wicker Hair didn't sock him in the mouth because I don't think I could bear the sight of William Shatner smearing on lipstick while singing "I Feel Pretty!"

Meantime, back on the planet, Sulu and a bunch of guys are stranded in the 120 degree below zero weather.  Since Kirk announced the temperature drop for seemingly no reason in that captain's log earlier, maybe he read ahead in the script too.

Sulu is spooning with the guys to share body warmth.  "Dear Diary, it's George.  I just had my best day on the set ever!" 

We find out that the Enterprise couldn't beam down "thermal heaters" because the machines doubled in the beaming process and stopped working.  So, complex living organisms can be duplicated with no problems and each half can go on his merry, horny way, but a toaster with eight working parts can't.  Okay, so why not send down...oh, I don't know...blankets, quilts, mittens, tents, gloves, scarves, hats, thermal underwear, boots, afghans, bun warmers, coats?  Even some matches and sticks would be nice.  Instead, Sulu and the others are left down on Planet Antarctica with nothing but flimsy yellow uniform pajamas and one thin sheet of plastic tarp each.

In a voiceover, Kirk says the transporters are "inoperable," which works, yeah, but not as well as "inoperative."  If someone goes back in time please change this word in the script because there was a better one available and it annoyed me.

  It's first-rate, understated acting like this that wins Emmys in the future.  In fact, I'll be sharing one for the Hallmark Hall of Fame version of "Of Mice and Men" with time-traveling Shemp Howard in 2025.

As usual everybody forgets that the Enterprise has shuttles that can fly down and save Sulu and the others.  Also, why does a ship that size with a crew of over 400 only have one transporter that can only move six people at once, especially since the thing is always breaking down?  If they ever have to abandon ship there's only room for six, which means Chekov, Uhura and Sulu will be fighting like girls to not be the odd man out.  (I give the edge to Uhura in that cage match.)

The two Kirks meet and everybody realizes that it's just the various aspects of Kirk's personality split into two separate people.  One is aggressive, violent and wears lots of makeup, the other is a spineless, wig-wearing doughboy who wears slightly less makeup. 

Good Kirk says, "I have to take him back inside myself."  No kidding.  And this doesn't sound creepy to anyone.  So poor Sulu finally had his chance and he's stuck down on an ice planet with no mittens.

Hey, why would the two Kirks weigh the same?  If Kirk was, say, 180 pounds and was split in half, wouldn't each of him only weigh 90 pounds?  And how does the Incredible Hulk's weight increase when he changes from Dr. Banner?  Where does the extra weight come from?  I don't think anybody ever thinks any of this stuff through.

They decide to send the dog with the horn through the transporter.  They beamed it around before and it split into two halves, one docile, the other pit bull.  When they beam it back, it turns into one dead dog.  But, wait, if the transporter is splitting everything in two, shouldn't there be four dead dogs?  Or shouldn't they at least be worried that they might wind up with four dead dogs?  And if they ran it through enough times would they have enough dead dogs to cater a Vietnamese Thanksgiving dinner for the whole crew?

Bones says of the dog, "He's dead, Jim."  Hey, that's a good line.  Maybe he should use that one again sometime.

Spock says he has a human and an "alien half."  He grew up on Vulcan and hates being human.  Wouldn't he consider his human half to be the alien half?  And is there really such a thing as an "alien" -anything anymore when every other guy you meet has blue or green skin and a novelty shop pig nose?

Good Kirk is left alone with Evil Kirk who is strapped to a bed in sickbay.  Good Kirk unfastens the straps and lets himself go.  So much for Spock's theory that Good Kirk got "intellect" along with the fancy China service-for-eight in the divorce.

Evil Kirk beats up good Kirk and scratches his face...  Wha'?!  Why, now they look exactly alike!

Instead of shooting them both and letting Allah sort it out, everybody stands back and lets Evil Kirk have a nervous breakdown on the bridge.  They realize that they can tell he's Evil Kirk because of the weird camera angles.

Evil Kirk is subdued and Good Kirk hugs him a little too snugly on the transporter pad.  For some reason Evil Kirk has his back to us the whole time so we don't see his face.  Also, he appears to be taller and in better shape than Good Kirk.  He must have also got "height" and "muscle tone" when they were split apart.  Also "real hair."

They beam both Kirks out into space and pull one back in.  He immediately orders them to beam up Sulu and the others, and they do so pronto.  But when Kirk was first split into two Kirks, there was a delay before Evil Kirk showed up.  Shouldn't they at least wait five seconds to see if Dopey Kirk or Grumpy Kirk appear before risking a shipload of frostbitten Sulus running around all over the place?

Back up on the bridge everything turned out just swell.  Spock actually smiles and says to Yeoman Thatch Head that Evil Kirk had some "interesting qualities."  Yeah, he violently attacked her and tried to rape her.  How interesting.  If I were her, I'd "interesting" a knee to Spock's groin and then repeatedly interesting my boot to his head until his interesting rubber ears fell off.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I finally did the math. Seven books in a year and a half. Tons of work, tons of stress, virtually every waking moment -- and many sleeping and sleepless ones -- devoted to one book, then another, then another... No one who isn't a writer can understand what that year and a half was like. Total immersion, barely coming up for air. Not whining, just saying. And, frankly, kind of smug.

All right, enough of that crap. On to the next one.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Shane Black Cover Blurb

I just now got some author copies of Red and Buried from my publisher, so I suppose it won't hurt to let everybody know the cover blurb:

"(Mullaney is) a miracle tonic for today's ghostwritten knockoffs and so-called 'novels of suspense.'" -- Shane Black, Lethal Weapon, Iron Man 3

Many thanks to Shane for taking time out of the madness of finishing up Iron Man to blurb me.
Thanks as well to Warren Murphy for the very kind intro to the book, which is way too long to reprint here. He'd tell me that you must buy the book to read his blurb, and who am I to argue? So buy the book to read his flattering words about how great I am, and many thanks to Warren for lying.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sea No Evil cover reveal

Available soon on Amazon and Smashwords

The Rocketeer

I watched The Rocketeer for the first time in a couple of decades. I'd completely forgotten that composer James Horner "borrowed" so heavily from his own Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan score in a couple of places that he could have sued himself.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Red Letter Day/Destroyer Connection

I mentioned here the other day that my latest Red Menace novel  began as a Destroyer. A bunch of years ago, back when we had to start thinking about a fifth Tor Remo, I came up with the idea to introduce a new Destroyer supervillain in a novella in an Assassin's Handbook 3. It was a flashback story that took place immediately after the events of one of the 1970s Destroyers, and the supervillain wasn't really in it...he had his hand in the events of the story, but only appeared at the very end. My plan was that Warren could release AH3 as an ebook at the same time the fifth Tor Destroyer was released, and that the supervillain only hinted at in AH3 would be featured prominently in the Tor book. None of that happened, obviously. It was too good an idea to let die, so I dusted it off when it came time to do The Red Menace #4. I had to toss out pretty much everything except the skeleton of the original Destroyer story; I hadn't realized how different The Red Menace was from The Destroyer until I tried banging the square peg into the round hole. Many of the same original story beats are still there, but I think only two or three scenes survived, and those were heavily rewritten. But I was able to take the idea of the supervillain who was to appear in the fifth Tor Destroyer, who never existed as more than a kernel of an idea in my head, and include him.

And now, as Paul Harvey said, you know -- more or less -- the rest of the story.