Previously on Friday Night Videos... Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Midway through Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, Molly Mahoney, played by Natalie Portman, explains to the eponymous Magorium that as a child, people marveled at her potential as a classical pianist -- but now that she's an adult, people are still waiting for her to fulfill that potential. That, in a nutshell, sums up Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium -- a movie with its heart in the right place, but one that never quite lives up to its promise.
I became a fan of Raiders of the Lost Ark -- and subsequent Indiana Jones films -- almost from day one, so it was with great enthusiasm that I pulled up a chair to watch the debut of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles as a college senior back in 1992. I remember the excitement I shared with my friends when George Lucas announced the project, and the unbearable anticipation as we counted down the days to series premiere. An Indiana Jones series!
I clearly recall that excitement just as clearly as I recall the growing horror I felt as I watched the pilot and realized Lucas had committed the one unforgivable blunder I'd never have expected of him: He made Indiana Jones boring.
The Hijo Afortunado drew steadily away. After half an hour, it appeared less than the length of a little finger held at arms length. An hour after that, the Nueces ship caught up to her.
"How do you think the conversation's going, Diego?" Cisneros asked with a gallows grin.
"Not well, for Escarzaga, at any rate," Diego said. "Even if Nueces didn't seem him dump us, he's going to have a time explaining away his Brazos contract."
They stared after the ships, the two hulls seemingly merged into one.
"It's taking a long time," said Del Hoyo. "That's bad, right?"
"Probably taking Hijo Afortunado as a capture," said Diego. "Serves that bastard Escarzaga-- hold on, they're moving off."
The two ships separated, the space between them rapidly widening.
"That's odd," Diego said. "Why are they--"
A volley of sparks lanced out from the Nueces ship into the Hijo Afortunado. Hot, sharp flashes erupted along the Hijo Afortunado's hull. Smoke boiled forth. Then another barrage hit the stricken airship.
"Dios mio! They're pounding her with rockets," Diego said, mouth agape. The implications sank in. Nueces merchantmen were now armed for ship-to-ship combat. "Nueces has gone completely insane."
Flames fully engulfed the Hijo Afortunado, a cloud of gray-black smoke wrapping around the conflagration. The Nueces ship unloaded one final volley into its prey, then turned away to resume its hunt.
"Señor Brazos, what's happening?" Del Hoyo asked in a voice as coarse as grinding rocks. The crooked scar across his throat flushed red with panic.
Diego swore to himself, ignoring Del Hoyo. Almost the entire ship's complement had turned out.
"Señor Brazos, what in the name of Cibola am I going to do with you and your companions?"
Diego's eyes darted to the rear of the safety cage where a fat, yellow-bearded man clung, peering intently through a spyglass.
"Transport us to Ansuly, like you've been paid to do, Capitan Escarzaga," Diego said evenly, the faintest hint of anger seeping into his voice. "A very... generous fare it was, too, for simple passage."
Capitan Escarzaga heaved himself over the clustered airmen and clambered along the ceiling with surprising agility. He hung there weightless, glowering at Diego. "If it's just a simple passage, then why's there a Nueces ship running me down just three days out from Cydone?"
Oooooooooo. NICE and sick! Good writing, sneaky story. Only one problem I can see: Protect yourself from fundamentalists with flaming torches and pyres in mind, hahahaha.
"The Makeover Men," a dark and troubling near-future novelette by Jayme Lynn Blaschke, has been published by the online science fiction magazine HelixSF #6 in the Fall 2007 issue.
"The Makeover Men" can be read online at www.helixsf.com.
"The Makeover Men" takes place in mid-21st century Houston, a city of the future that is both alien and familiar. Radical cosmetic surgery is accomplished in almost cavalier fashion via genetic engineering while religious fanaticism lurks beneath society's superficial facade like a bomb waiting to explode.
"This is the most difficult story I've ever written. It's the closest I'll ever likely get to doing something in the James Tiptree, Jr., vein," Blaschke says. "It's a cautionary tale, in the mode of a lot of classic SF. It's brutal and graphic. I had to travel down some dark roads while I was writing it--places I wasn't entirely comfortable visiting--but as a writer, you have to be true to the story. 'The Makeover Men' is a wicked little story with a cold, black heart, but it's one I'm proud of."
HelixSF was founded in 2006 by noted science fiction authors William Sanders and Lawrence Watt-Evans as a reader-supported venue specializing in stories too fierce, too eccentric, too politically incorrect or simply too weird for publication--the stories that just didn't fit in any of the standard niches.
Blaschke is a resident of New Braunfels and works at Texas State University-San Marcos. His short fiction has appeared in various anthologies as well as the long-running British science fiction magazine Interzone. He is also author of Voices of Vision: Creators of Science Fiction & Fantasy Speak, a critically-praised collection of interviews with 17 editors, authors and comic creators, currently available from the University of Nebraska Press.
"I knew it was probably going to be controversial," Franchione said. "I certainly didn't mean for it to be that. When I knew you guys were starting to ask around a bit, I thought, 'Maybe we shouldn't do this.'"
"We asked them to sign something," Franchione said. "And for them not to do that."
Franchione lands a decent left hook to start the fight. Zwerneman lands a little uppercut and they exchange jabs. Zwerneman catches Franchione with a stabbing right uppercut, FRANCHIONE GOES DOWN. Dennis Franchione is sent down to the canvas in the very first round. Franchione rises at the count of three. Zwerneman moves and lands three huge shots to Franchione's chin. He's bobbin right into the power punches of Zwerneman. Zwerneman lands another big right and Franchione is wobbling. Zwerneman lands a huge straight right and FRANCHIONE FALLS AGAIN!!! Dennis gets up again is trying to move away. Zwerneman pushes forward and looks for the kill, he lands another huge right uppercut, FRANCHIONE FALLS DOWN AGAIN!!! He rises at the count of 6 and goes wobbly back to his corner.
To be continued...?
A loss is a loss, and I don't take heart in moral victories. Coach Fran was hired at $2 million a year to win national championships, not put together two losing seasons in a three year period.
I'm not one of the potbangers that thinks Fran's contract should be bought out now. I believe every new coach deserves five years to make his system work, with his players. But Fran's made some terrible, ill-advised decisions regarding this football team, and I'm not talking about failing to go for two when you're only up by one.
"The Miami fans were chanting 'OVERRATED' and the Aggies look overrated at no. 20. They're certainly not the 20th best team in the country."
"They burned a time out and came up with a quarterback sneak?"
"A&M is tring to run a zone defense, but no one runs it like this anymore. They are using a High School zone defense."
"The defensive line can get no penetration and the wide receivers are running free in the secondary. That's no way to coach defense."
"Wow! How good does Oklahoma look tonight after the statement that Miami has made?"
"This rout is a complete team effort by the Aggies."