Dune and Foundation

Glad to hear we are getting a second Dune movie, because the first one really does just abruptly end in the middle of the story.

I definitely enjoyed the movie and it looked gorgeous, but nothing can top the deep level of childhood nostalgia I have for the David Lynch version. It’s just so iconic and weird in every single moment, full of really interesting visual designs and performances. Nothing in this 2021 version made an impact in quite the same way. Shout out to the 2000 SciFi mini-series as well!

I have finished reading the seven book Foundation series. It had its up and downs and was definitely “of its time”. The original trilogy was very clearly 1940s early sci-fi, and the 80s/90s prequels/sequels still had some clunky and problematic elements. Still, it was an interesting read and I didn’t remember anything from reading it as a kid.

My initial excitement for the television series has been dropping off with each episode. It’s so wildly different from the books as to be almost unrecognizable. Which is not in itself a bad thing, but I find some of the creative choices bizarre. Why is half the runtime taken up by the cloned Emperors, characters who do not even exist in the books? I’m guessing it’s because they (and Demerzel) are going to end up being the only characters to survive in future seasons as the timeline jumps forward centuries?

The show is ignoring what to me is the most fascinating aspect of the story, Hari Seldon himself, his life on Trantor, the love of his life, and his mysterious benefactor. That is what the first season should have been focusing on!

Also, the entire conceit of the Foundation series is that the heroes solve their problems non-violently. So to see main characters gunning down enemy soldiers left and right in the show feels like a step against the entire point of the franchise…

I feel the same way about the Y the Last Man television show, which was unfortunately cancelled. It ended up getting further away from the comic as time went on, which is a shame.


Terminus and Terminus

I’ve resumed writing Book Seven (of Fourteen!) of my sci-fi series TERMINUS. At the same I’m also rewriting the series outline and timeline for the first time in ten years. I’m sure I’ll be making some improvements!

Speaking of Terminus, I’m up to reading the seventh and final novel of the Foundation series. I’m still pretty sure I thought of the name Terminus before I ever read this… The books have been interesting but not astounding. I am curious to see how the series ends; I don’t remember it at all except for one big thing.

Speaking of Foundation, I’m afraid I’m losing interest in the television series. I was invested in the Seldon story and he appears to be permanently gone after the second episode. I’m also surprised to find nearly half the runtime occupied by the cloned Emperors, who are not even in the books.

Along a similar line, I’m enjoying the television adaptation of Y the Last Man, but I definitely prefer the comic book.

Writing Update

I reached a major milestone this week. I finished doing a second pass on every single book I’ve ever written. That’s eleven, count ’em, eleven, unpublished novels! I’ve got five finished books in my fantasy series (six intended) and six finished books in my sci-fi series (fourteen intended).

My next step is to update my episode-by-episode summary for the sci-fi series, which hasn’t been done in ten years. I’ve got dozens of pages of notes from over the years, but nothing coalesced into something anyone other than I could understand.

After that… back to original writing! I basically stopped writing a year ago to focus on editing the existing books. Kind of hard to be creative in these dark times.

The high fantasy series, DYNASTY, has five finished novels. The first book is the only thing others have actually read and it’s been rewritten many times over. That’s my first finished novel from way back in 2005.

The sci-fi series, TERMINUS, is my real dream project. I’ve been planning it since 1993 when I was a little kid. It’s supposed to be a seven year tv show, but in an unfortunate bend to reality, I’m writing it out as novels instead. Fourteen novels, with each book representing one half season (eleven hour-long episodes). It’s prose, but in five act episode structures.

I just finished writing the 70th episode of the series. Season Four, Episode Four. Which means I am 70 episodes into a 154 episode run. 46% finished writing my dream project! Hopefully one day someone else will actually see it!

There is also a ten book prequel series to Terminus and a trilogy as well. So I have a grand total of 33 novels planned, 11 completed. I’m one third done with my entire life’s work!

I’ve submitted queries to dozens of literary agents this year. Just got to keep plugging away…

What If? Lord of the Rings Edition

This week the Sci-Fi Pubcast did a second installment of the What Ifs? of Science Fiction.


Once again we ran out of time to talk about any fantasy properties, but that’s technically outside our pub purview anyway.

So I just wanted to point out one of the most common What Ifs? about Lord of the Rings…

What If the Eagles flew the Ring to Mordor? We wouldn’t have a movie/book!

Not true! Just looking at it on the surface level…. the Nazgul are flying around on Fell Beasts. The Eye of Sauron sees all. He’s basically got complete satellite coverage with jet interceptors. You would never get all the way!

But more importantly, it goes against the entire point of the story. Lord of the Rings is basically a Book of Job parable where Illuvatar, the God of the Tolkeinverse, wanted to test man/hobbitkind with good and evil to prove their worth. That’s why the wizards like Gandalf, who were sent to Middle Earth by the Valar and are angels themselves, don’t just do all the work. They act only as advisors and inspirations. The same is true for the Eagles. They, too, are direct servants of Manwe of the Valar. That’s why they only help in the story where it’s appropriate.

This one’s just for the book readers, but Tom Bombadil raised some other major What If scenarios they discuss at the Council of Elrond. Tom is this strange, all powerful, apparently invincible, forest spirit who the Ring has no power over. He’s basically the asterisk to the entire story. So why not just give him the Ring? Because he has no sense of responsibility and would forget about keeping it safe.

So here’s my Weird-Derek version: What If you cut open Tom’s belly and stuck the Ring in there, so that it could never fall out? Let’s say Sauron conquers the rest of Middle Earth and surrounds the Old Forest. Would an endless army of orcs and Nazgul be enough to overcome that bizarre rule-breaking magic protecting that location and Tom? Who knows!

Another What If? they discuss at the Council of Elrond is sailing the Ring in a ship to Valinor. But they would not accept its corrupting touch. Another scenario was to just toss it into the deepest ocean… but if Sauron commands all the nasty creatures of the world…. surely he’s got some Nessies under his hat!

Marvel’s Disney Plus Shows

Today the Sci-Fi Pubcast is recording our second What If? themed episode and this Wednesday brings the season finale of Marvel’s What If? So let’s take a look at these shows. TL, DR; they’re all great.

WANDA VISION: It was so much fun speculating from week to week what was going on and who was responsible. This is why shows needs to be watched weekly and not binged. I can’t stand when streaming services drop an entire season at once. The discussion and speculation disappears and the internet just becomes instantly rife with spoilers. I like to watch one a day, forcing me to mute and avoid the subject altogether.

I do think that the show should have begun in a different manor. As I recall it wasn’t until the end of episode 3 that we actually knew what was happening at all. I like Marc Bernardin’s (Fatman Beyond podcast) idea that the first episode should have been Monica’s POV as she investigates this mysterious anomaly and discovers Wanda at the center of it. That would have maintained a mystery while still letting us know what is real and what is fake.

I have to admit I was on the “It was Mephisto!” bandwagon but I wasn’t too disappointed when it turned out to just be Agatha slash Wanda. I definitely look forward to seeing the next chapter for Wanda, White Vision, and Monica.

FALCON WINTER SOLDER: this was the most traditional series and the weakest of the four, but still very strong. I really enjoyed the Falcon and Bucky pairing, but there were several aspects of the show that let me down.

Like everyone, I was extremely underwhelmed with Sharon Carter a) barely appearing and b) turning out to be evil. I’m still hoping she’s a Skrull, because this character evolution really did not ring right for me.

I was also hoping for more big budget movie action, the kind promised in the opening scene.

It was great to introduce Isiah Bradley, but he really needed more screen time. They should have done an entire flashback episode just for him.

Speaking of “What If?”, the original version of this story was about the Flag Smashers stealing a virus and a vaccine to use on people, but that was changed post-COVID. I’m afraid the Flag Smashers never worked as villains for me, and I wonder if it was due to these after-the-fact plot revisions.

LOKI: Far and away my favorite. This exceeded my every expectation. I thought it would be Loki bopping around in different timelines doing hi-jinks; instead we got a vital introduction of a major new concept and villain that will define the next five years of the MCU! Loki and Sylvie were such a wonderful character pairing, as was Loki and Mobius. The show was hilarious and moving and epic in every episode. Not one complaint. And I never expected to actually meet Kang in the finale! Well, “a” Kang. A delightful surprise. I thought this would be the most inconsequential of the series since it was a “fake” Loki in a “fake” timeline and I was delighted to be proven wrong.

WHAT IF?: I’m a big fan of animation, but I did set my sights lowest for this one. I figured because it was animated it would be fun but wouldn’t “count”. I’m not sure how much this will feed into the future of the MCU, but this is another series that exceeded my expectations. It has been so much fun seeing these alternate takes on the MCU. I especially love seeing character pairings we never got the chance to get in the existing movies. Wasp and Spider-Man! Thor and Captain Marvel! Can’t wait to see how it ends!

As for what comes next, I was not excited for Hawkeye until I saw the trailer, which does look pretty fun. I haven’t read the comic it’s based on. I like the character of Ms. Marvel but I never found her actual comics or villains to be very interesting, so the jury’s out on that one. She-Hulk will hopefully be a lot of fun, particularly with Bruce and Abomination in it. I’m most looking forward to Secret Invasion since that is a huge comic story-line and I can’t wait to see how they adapt it.