Monday, November 20, 2017

Storypalooza: Intergalactic High

In the finished version of Where You Belong, Frost Devereaux wrote a series of YA books called Intergalactic High under the pseudonym Claire Lachance.  The idea for the series was kind of a combination of Futurama, Deep Space Nine or Babylon 5, and Harry Potter.  Here's the fake Wikipedia page I created for it:

Intergalactic High Series

Intergalactic High is a series of young adult science fiction books written by Frost Devereaux, under the pseudonym Claire McGuffin.  The books focus on a high school in the Horsehead Nebula called The Rigellian School for Females during the 25th Century.

The first novel in the series was published in 1997 by Planet X Publishing.  Eleven novels followed between 1997 and 2002, when the series ended with “A Look Back.”  Planet X Publishing was acquired by the Random House group, which did not pursue continuing the series.  Devereaux went on to edit adult novels and published the adult novel, “The Lifesaver” in 2005.

1.  Storyline

The story for the Intergalactic High series focuses on Lilly Mitchell, a fifteen-year-old girl from the 20th Century.  During an experiment by an eccentric scientist, Lilly is catapulted into the 25th Century through a temporal rift.

The Universal Coalition, the governing body of Earth and most of known space in the 25th Century, outlawed research on time travel early in the 23rd Century after a series of temporal disasters.  The Coalition’s Time Authority apprehend Lilly, at first holding her in custody as a “time criminal.”  After Lilly proves her innocence, she is turned over to her nearest relative, a scatter-brained niece named Edna.

Unable to deal with raising a young child, Edna—with help from her scheming nephew Horace—sends Lilly to The Rigellian School for Females in the Horsehead Nebula.  Lilly is at first an outcast among the students, befriending an unpopular alien named Frabpe.  Together they save the school from destruction from a misunderstanding with a new race of aliens.

The remainder of the series continues to follow Lilly and Frabpe through their four years at The Rigellian School for Females until their graduation in the final installment.  Most of their adventures feature science fiction staples like alien invaders, time travel, and space exploration.  In addition, the series incorporated elements of the fantasy genre such as vampires, zombies, and fairies.


Lilly Mitchell:  Lilly is the primary character throughout the series.  She was a resident of Phoenix, Arizona in the year 1996 until a temporal rift created by her neighbor transports her to the 25th Century.  Lilly soon finds herself enrolled at The Rigellian School for Females in the Horsehead Nebula.  Though at first an outcast at the school, throughout the series Lilly makes friends with several other characters and in “Against the Odds” makes the varsity razorsled—a version of bobsledding using rocket-powered sleds—team.  In “Taking Sides” Lilly is promoted to captain of the razorsled squad.  In addition to sports, Lilly also takes interest in playing the lungaphone, a combination of a French horn and harpsichord, making the school band in “Hard Choices.”  Despite her outsider status at the school, Lilly is always depicted as upbeat, positive, and strong-willed.  In most every novel Lilly and her friends are the ones who save the day, often through Lilly’s ingenuity and leadership.

Frabpe:  Frabpe is Lilly Mitchell’s best friend at the school and comes from a race of aliens who inhabit a world called Dekappra.  As the only Dekappran to ever enroll at The Rigellian School for Females, Frabpe is initially as much of an outsider as Lilly.  Throughout the series, the two remain friends with the exception of “Dangerous Love” where an alien parasite infects Lilly and turns her against Frabpe.  Because Dekapprans primarily live underground on their home planet, Frabpe wears protective goggles to protect her eyes from bright lights.  Frabpe’s primary interest at the school is the field of exobiology and she is often shown collecting alien plants and animals to study.  While Lilly is the unquestioned leader, Frabpe is depicted as capable in her own right as well as reliable and emotionally stable—a perfect foil for the more emotional Lilly.  Her presence helps make Lilly’s stay at the school more bearable and her steadiness and curiosity aid Lilly in solving the crises the girls face.

Nickle Forest:  The class president through all four years of her stay at The Rigellian School for Females, Nickle is the most popular girl at the school.  She frequently lords this over her social inferiors, especially the non-human students.  Because of this, Nickle and Lilly Mitchell frequently clash with each other, with the exception of “Dangerous Love” when the parasite-infested Lilly befriends Nickle.  Though often egocentric and cruel, Nickle is also depicted as having a conscience when anyone is hurt.  At times, as in “Growing Pains” and “Against the Odds,” Nickle and Lilly are forced to work together for the common good.  Because of this, Nickle is not a true “villain” of the series.

Headmaster SPNCR-7:  The headmaster of The Rigellian School for Females, SPNCR-7 is a automaton designed for bureaucratic management.  Its programming is based off some of the most heinous bureaucrats in history, including heads of the IRS and California DMV.  Throughout the series, SPNCR-7 is often shown jeopardizing the lives of students it is supposed to care for because of an adherence to rules and regulations.  Since it is a machine and performing its function, SPNCR-7 is not classified as a true “villain” in the series either.

S’Teir:  The only non-human on the teaching staff, S’Teir is a reptilian from the planet Sloparn who teaches music appreciation.  Because she does not have human vocal chords, she communicates with a computerized voice box.  Among all the teachers at The Rigellian School for Females, S’Teir is the friendliest with Lilly Mitchell and Frabpe, due largely to Lilly and Frabpe’s clearing her of murder charges in “Against the Odds.”  Though a member of the faculty, S’Teir is often shown working behind-the-scenes against the directives of Headmaster SPNCR-7.  At the conclusion of “A Look Back” it’s revealed that S’Teir is promoted to the headmaster post.

Paul Elmer:  The senior-most teacher at The Rigellian School for Females, Paul Elmer is so old that no one knows his true age.  He teaches composition and drama, often falling asleep on his feet.  His critiques of student work are severely harsh, though it’s usually shown they are also on-target.  Despite his cantankerous personality, Paul Elmer often treats Lilly Mitchell with kindness as “the second oldest person at school.”  At the beginning of “A Look Back” Elmer finally retires to direct a theater company of seniors on a tropical retirement planet.

Edna Boman:  The distant relative of Lilly Mitchell, Edna married a wealthy industrialist.  In time she inherited her husband’s money and nephew Horace.  Despite her wealth and privilege, Edna is shown spending most of her time gossiping with a group of sycophants.  Most of Edna’s appearances throughout the series—with the exception of “Growing Pains” when a visiting Edna is changed into a two-year-old through a temporal anomaly—occur through long-distance communication.

Horace Boman:  The nephew of Edna Boman, Horace is a teenager scheming to take over his aunt’s vast fortune.  When Lilly Mitchell arrives, Horace is a driving force to sending her to The Rigellian School for Females, concerned she might try to steal his inheritance.  Horace appears prominently in two novels, most notably “Summer Winds” where he and Lilly spend a summer at a razorsled camp on Neptune.  In other novels Horace makes cameos to support Lilly when she requires assistance, not out of love, but to keep her at the school.

2.  Themes

The primary theme throughout the Intergalactic High series is alienation.  Most of the main characters—including Lilly Mitchell, Frabpe, and S’Teir—are outsiders to the main student body and faculty.  Issues of prejudice and assimilation are frequently part of the crises threatening the school, such as in “Final Frontiers” when a race riot threatens to tear the school apart.

Other novels deal with deforestation, industrialization, animal experimentation, and similar environmental themes.  The bureaucratic mindset of Headmaster SPNCR-7 that often puts the school in danger also raises the issue of dictatorship versus democracy.  “Against the Odds” especially discusses the pitfalls of authoritarian leadership.

3.  Bibliography

  • New Arrivals (1997)
  • Playing With Fire (1997)
  • Growing Pains (1999)
  • Against the Odds (1999)
  • Summer Winds (1999)
  • Final Frontiers (2000)
  • Outcasts (2000)
  • Caught in the Middle (2000)
  • Dangerous Love (2001)
  • Taking Sides (2001)
  • Hard Choices (2001)
  • A Look Back (2002)

 Would you read this series?

Friday, November 17, 2017

Storypalooza: Help Wanted

The second of nonfiction ideas.  This would be tales from job searches in the recent past.

I'd go through the various hassles of resume writing, search engines, applications, and of course interviews.  Like how annoying some of these online applications are when you have to create a login for a site you'll likely never visit again and then fill out tests of like 100 questions, the answers to most of which are bullshit.  And interviews like one where they only asked like 3 questions before checking out.  Or one where a lady called me and said she had 3 wonderful jobs...until I showed up the next day (driving about 40 miles in cold, damp weather) when all the sudden there was maybe only 1 job she could put me up for.  As a postscript, then like two months later she emails me like we'd never met before.

You know, just all the headaches people go through in the job search.  Especially people like me who aren't good at it.  Maybe someone would find it amusing.  Or enlightening.  Whatever.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Storypalooza: From Gangster to Gun Moll

I'm going to throw one of my Eric Filler story ideas into the mix.  I actually keep a list of them on my computer in case I need something to work on.  I could actually fill up this whole month just with that.

One of the ideas is From Gangster to Gun Moll.  It's a pretty simple idea: there's a ruthless gangster in Chicago or whatever.  A rival gangster has someone slip him a potion that turns the gangster into a hot girl.  The rival gangster then takes the girl as his girlfriend.

As the former gangster gets used to being a girl, she hatches a scheme to get back what's hers.  She seduces a lieutenant in the organization and coaxes him into overthrowing the rival gangster.  Then she becomes the power behind the throne while plotting to someday be the one who's really in charge again.

Pretty straight forward but then it probably wouldn't end up that way if I actually started to write it.  What do you think?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Storypalooza: I Have An Island

Last Wednesday's story idea came from another story and so too does this one.  In early drafts of The Changing Seasons, the main character Floyd wrote a story that I'm calling I Have an Island after a song.

The story goes that in the 1910s there was a young couple.  Then the male half goes off to WWI.  Fighting there, he's disfigured in an accident and eventually shipped home.  But he doesn't want his lady to see him all messed up so he goes into hiding.

Meanwhile, the lady moves on with her life and gets married to someone and has a son.  The son, when he's 6 or 7 or so explores the creepy house in the neighborhood.  There he finds the disfigured guy holed up.  The guy and kid strike up a friendship while the kid keeps it from his parents.

I think in the end the guy decides that instead of hiding out like Boo Radley he should go somewhere else and start a new life.  But maybe that's too sad of an ending?  What do you think?

And here's the song I used for the title:

Friday, November 10, 2017

Storypalooza: Sour Grapes

NanoWriMo involves fiction but I decided to devote Friday's posts to nonfiction ideas.  This first one I call Sour Grapes

It would be about some of the more pathetic "reviews" I've received.  And maybe other authors too.  Give authors a chance to fire back and have some fun with some of the lamer attempts at criticism and let them blow off steam.  Kind of like this blog entry.  To do something like this I'd probably have to change names and stuff to protect the guilty.

I'm sure you think it's a bad idea.  That's probably why I don't write nonfiction.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Storypalooza: Bisexual

This story idea is one of the first gender swap stories I ever came up with.  The idea was part of the first draft for Where You Belong as an idea Frost Devereaux came up with for a story.  I don't think it had a title in that draft.  I'm just going to call it Bisexual.

In a future society on Earth or an Earth-like place, homosexuality has been outlawed.  Two explorers out in space--a man and a woman--have an accident on their ship and it crashes on a mysterious planet.  Something in the planet's atmosphere or biology changes the male explorer into a female.  They fall in love as they try to survive on the planet.

Then they're rescued and taken home.  The problem now is they love each other but they can't be together because as two girls it's illegal.  They sneak around for a while, but ultimately get found out and put on trial or something.  And maybe love conquers all or maybe not.

Happy ending?  Sad ending?  Tragic ending?  What do you think?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Storypalooza: The Dognapping

So I promised I was going to be posting some story ideas I've come up with but have not actually written.  And, shockingly, they're not all going to be gender swap stories.  Like this one that I call The Dognapping.
Not Coming Soon!

So this idea came to me as basically a take on Fargo or the like, only instead of a husband paying to have his wife kidnapped, a college mascot handler pays to have his charge kidnapped.  And since I've followed Butler Blue II/Butler Blue III on Twitter/Facebook/Snapchat/Instagram, of course that charge would be a bulldog!

Once upon a time there's a bulldog mascot handler for a Midwestern university.  Dog Guy and his dog Trey are regional celebrities, but it doesn't necessarily mean tons of cash.  At least not enough cash to pay his debts.  Gambling debts?  Maybe a mistress on the side?  Whatever.  The point is Dog Guy owes a lot of money to some bad people.

He gets talking with someone who jokingly (probably) mentions that Trey would be worth a lot of money to the university.  So Dog Guy meets some local lowlifes and agrees to give them a percentage of the ransom if they'll pretend to dognap Trey for a few days.

The dognapping goes off with maybe a hitch or two (like the dog bites them or something) but the lowlifes manage to get the job done.  Then Dog Guy reports Trey has been taken and it becomes a big story on the news.

And maybe then there are complications like the dog runs away or gets hit by a car or something.  And the cops are probably putting some heat on Dog Guy.  Maybe Dog Guy and the lowlifes turn on each other out of greed.

In the end the bad guys get what's coming to them and Trey (if he lives) gets a new handler.

There are holes to fill in, which is kind of why I haven't done anything with it yet.

So what do you think should happen to Dog Guy, the lowlifes, and Trey the mascot?

Friday, November 3, 2017

Celebrating NanoWriMo With Storypalooza!

November is NanoWriMo which is the month when would-be writers attempt to write at least 50,000 words.  Some actual writers do this along with a lot of amateurs.  I've done it once or twice officially, not that I really need to.  My brother is going to give it a try this year, so we'll see how far he gets on it.

Anyway, I had an idea that to celebrate NanoWriMo on the blog I'd post some story ideas I have yet to develop.  I suppose someone could use them as inspiration for their own NanoWriMo effort--this year or next year.  There are 11 of them starting on Monday, following the usual schedule of Monday/Wednesday/Friday.  8 are fiction and 3 are nonfiction.  And as you'll see Monday they are not all gender swap stories--only 2 are.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Thoughts On Recent DVD Releases

At some point I joined Redbox's text club so occasionally I get coupons for free rentals or Rent 1, Get 1 Free, so that's always good.  I just wish the coupons were good longer than a day or two.

So here are some thoughts on 4 movies I watched recently.  I won't bore you with the older, unknown stuff.

Spider-Man Homecoming:  This was the re-re-reboot of the franchise that started in 2002.  Of course this Spider-Man was already introduced in 2016's Civil War.  This takes place after that as Peter Parker (Tom Holland) tries to get his feet wet as a crimefighter.  Meanwhile the Vulture (Michael Keaton) and his crew have been salvaging alien tech since the Battle of New York.  Somehow they've managed not to run afoul of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, or the Avengers.

Overall it's entertaining and well-made like all the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.  But the problem was while Peter Parker and Spider-Man are in it, it doesn't really feel like a Spider-Man movie.  Since Parker is in high school there's no Daily Bugle or J Jonah Jameson; I think since JK Simmons so thoroughly killed that role they've been reluctant to try anyone else.  His secretary Betty Brant is a high school kid who does daily TV broadcasts.  There's no Harry Osborne or his father Norman; I don't think there's even a mention of OsCorp, though maybe there's an Easter egg I missed.  Instead of Gwen Stacy or Mary Jane Watson, Peter lusts after a girl named Liz who (spoiler alert!) is the Vulture's daughter.  "MJ" is a grungy looking girl (Zendaya!) who makes a few sarcastic comments but otherwise doesn't contribute anything to the story; she and Peter have no real interest in each other--yet.  Aunt May is played by Marissa Tomei so she's not the feeble old lady from the comics or first set of movies.  She's more of an AILF, as everyone from Tony Stark to a Thai restaurant waiter seems to want to fuck her.  Other than a video diary of his trip to Berlin, Peter doesn't do anything photography related.  With so many changes, you have to wonder why Sony insisted on using Peter Parker instead of Miles Morales.

I know this wasn't an origin movie and that's probably just as well, but why wasn't there even a flashback to Uncle Ben's murder?  There didn't even seem to be a mention of him.  Or Peter's parents for that matter.  I guess Tony Stark was kind of taking up the Uncle Ben mentor role.  I think Stark and Happy Hogan were more of a distraction than a positive; you could almost call it Iron Man 3 1/2, especially when Pepper Potts shows up.  It's kind of funny in that this movie actually goes in reverse with the hero downgrading his costume from the start of the movie to the end.

Call me nostalgic or corny or whatever, but I never thought this rose to the level of the first two Raimi movies.  Sure the effects were a little better but there was never anything as good as the upside-down kiss in the rain or the final battle between Spidey and the Goblin.  Nor was there really as much attention paid to the characters as Spider-Man 2.  But at least Peter didn't show his face to half of New York like in previous movies--at least until he lets Aunt May find out his secret.

Of course some of my bias might be that most of the Spidey comics I've read have been during Dan Slott's roughly 10 year run (that's still ongoing) where Peter is an adult and even had his own multi-billion dollar company until recently and I'm old enough to have watched the Raimi movies when they were new.  I suppose other people might feel differently.  (3/5)

Random Thought:  Watching Michael Keaton in this it occurred to me that he'd be the right age now if DC wanted to do a real Dark Knight Returns movie.  He could reprise his role as Batman/Bruce Wayne and they could bring back Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, Jack Nicholson as Joker, and Billy Dee Williams as Two-Face.  I mean, they're all still alive, so come on.

Baby Driver:  This was directed by Edgar Wright, whom you might remember was originally making Marvel's Ant-Man movie until the whole "cinematic universe" thing started cramping his style.  What was surprising to me is this is a fairly straight-forward crime caper movie.  There's really not the humor in Wright's other projects like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, or The World's End, all of which starred Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, neither of whom is present in this.

Basically this is pretty similar to movies like Drive starring Ryan Gosling a bit over five years ago I think.  There's a kid who goes by the handle "Baby" who after his parents died in a car accident has lived with an old deaf black guy and listens to various iPods all the time because of tinnitus.  Baby stole a car belonging to "Doc" some time earlier and wound up owing him a lot of money.  To recoup it, Baby works as Doc's wheelman, using fast & furious driving to escape the cops after robberies. 

Then he meets a girl working as a waitress in a diner and they fall in love.  But of course there's one last big job--robbing a post office to steal money order paper.  Though really couldn't you do the same at just about any pharmacy or liquor store?  Maybe they don't have as much.

Not surprisingly things all go tits-up.  The end takes a while and is kind of sad, but there's a happy ending of sorts.    It's a fun ride even if a bit too straight-forward.  (3/5)

Batman vs Two-Face:  This was one of the last projects of Adam West before he died.  It's a sequel to another animated movie featuring the 1966 show cast--or what's left of it.  Sadly by now the only ones left are pretty much Burt Ward (Robin) and Julie Newmar (Catwoman).  So obviously most of the characters they have to use different voices for, most of which don't really sound that close.  Like my brother says too even the ones who were reprising their roles don't sound right because they're so much older than in the late 60s.  This is definitely a project that would have worked better about 25 years ago.

I don't think Two-Face appeared on the old series, probably because the makeup would have been expensive.  And he's kind of a scary character for a kid-friendly show.  In this case Two-Face is voiced by William Shatner, which the Harvey Dent half drawn to look very similar to Shatner when he was playing Captain Kirk on the original Star Trek series.  Instead of acid being thrown on him, Two-Face is created when an experiment by Dr. Hugo Strange (another comic book character I don't think was on the old show; I don't know if he was around yet in 1966) goes wrong and "concentrated evil" from the Joker, Penguin, Egghead, Riddler, and whoever else splashes half of Harvey and creates an evil self.

The credits are a montage of Two-Face trying to trap the Dynamic Duo and then it picks up with a captured Dent being given a new face thanks to Bruce Wayne.  As Harvey goes back to work in the DA's office (as assistant to the assistant DA), the Dynamic Duo have to battle King Tut and Bookworm in schemes that involve duality or the number 2.  Hmmmm...

Since this is animated they can do a lot of stuff the old TV show never could do, like have most of Gotham turned into Two-Faces!  They probably should have left Chief O'Hara as a Two-Face; he couldn't suck more at his job than the regular one. 

It's fun and only about 70 minutes so it doesn't take a lot of time.  Other than the issues I already mentioned it's not that bad if you like the old TV series.  Too bad there's no Batgirl in it.  Though since it's a DC property of course we had to get a Harley Quinn reference in; God forbid she's not in every fucking thing they do anymore.  BTW, you have to watch all the way to the end of the credits for the Adam West tribute. (3/5)

Transformers:  The Last Knight:  I went into this with really low expectations.  And yet this still failed to reach them.  Despite the vaunted "writer's room" beforehand, this still has all the same problems as the three previous sequels:  nonsensical storytelling, boring humans, obnoxious humans, and robots who have an accent or gimmick in place of personality.

What this tries to do is merge The da Vinci Code or National Treasure with Transformers.  Idiot humans in America and the UK meet up with Anthony Hopkins who's the head of some secret order founded by Merlin or whatever bullshit.  It's so fucking stupid and contradicts everything we've seen before, like the idea that Bumblebee fought in World War II.  Though I suppose we didn't see Bumblebee fall to Earth in the first movie so maybe he could have been around; I suppose his solo movie will get into that.

Having already ruined Jetfire, combiners, the Matrix, Shockwave, Soundwave, Galvatron, and the Dinobots, Bay and company ruin Hot Rod and Quintessons, both key parts of the 1986 animated movie.  As mentioned previously in lieu of any personality Hot Rod has a French accent and a gun that freezes time.  It's a wasted opportunity as it would have been pretty easy to make the character like the overeager youngster voiced by Judd Nelson in the '86 movie.  I mean if a fucking Oscar-winning screenwriter can't manage that they ought to take his Oscar away.  Quintessons in the movie were five-faced alien robots who in the third season of the TV show it's revealed they created Transformers to serve them until the Transformers revolted.  Quintessa was the Quintesson homeworld but in this movie "Quintessa" is some kind of goddess or something. 

They also borrow a plot from Transformers Prime where it turns out Earth is actually the body for the evil Unicorn.  Though this isn't really dealt with and I guess it'll be the focus of a sixth movie that is sure to be fucking terrible.  I don't often say this, but can't we get a reboot already?  Maybe with a writer's room that actually includes people who know something about Transformers.  My brother and I are available.  I'm just saying. (1/5)

Monday, October 30, 2017

Spooky Halloween Reads!

Last year I posted a list of Halloween gender swap books I'd written.  Some of those might be free right now.  I forget which ones.

Anyway, here are the ones for this year:

For eight years Sam, Dean, and their cameraman Malik have explored haunted houses around the world. On Halloween night, they go to a house in northern California that was the site of an infamous triple-murder of three young women 50 years ago. As they explore the house, they find themselves transported to the night of the murder as the three young women who were killed. Will they manage to change history or are they fated to repeat it?

WARNING: Contains graphic violence and sexual situations

And there's also this:
35 years ago Vance Williams and his friend Cindy went into a spooky old house on Halloween--only Vance came out alive. Now Vance is back in town to sell his parents' old house. But on Halloween night he finds himself being drawn back in time, getting younger and girlier until inevitably he will be forced to relive the night his friend died.

They're each $2.99 or FREE with Kindle Unlimited


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...