Monthly Archives: April 2016

What do Heroes do When They Run out of Milk?

What do Heroes Do When They Run out of Milk?

Have you ever thought about your favorite action, sci-fi or otherworldly hero taking the time to perform a totally mundane task, such as picking up a gallon of milk or the dry-cleaning?  These are moments we wouldn’t really want to see on the screen or in a comic, in fact we would most likely feel cheated if we did, but they have to happen, right?

Sure, some few heroes are rich enough to have a butler (Batman); but for the most part they all have a home or lair that needs maintenance, transportation that requires fuel, clothes or costumes that get dirty and physical needs like food and sleep that require attention.  The only time we might witness any of these actions taking place is in a montage after said home or vehicle is destroyed.

Can you imagine a costumed hero stopping at a convenience store on the way home from saving the world?  The store clerk would probably give them whatever for free, or at least ask for a USIE (that’s a group selfie for readers over thirty, I looked it up).  More likely, the hero would go in disguise, like celebrities who wear sunglasses and baseball hats to confuse tabloid photographers.

Of course, some heroes have established alternate identities that are supposedly ordinary people, where they can perform all there ordinary tasks without fear of recognition, and others simply live isolated lives when they’re not rescuing strangers.  Superman doesn’t need to worry about mundane tasks; he has Clark Kent to do them for him.  The Cullen family lives in an isolated house so no one notices they never eat.

Other heroes, the ones without superpowers or fancy costumes, tend to their needs between paperwork at the police station or on coffee breaks at the hospital.  They live in ordinary homes, and they blend in so well with regular society that no one comments when they go out in public and run normal errands.  The fact that they don’t garner attention everywhere they go does not make them any less heroic than their brethren in tights, in fact, sometimes quite the opposite.  The quiet, unexpected heroes are the ones that we are mostly likely to meet outside of a movie theatre or comic book shop.

Heroes give us hope, and an ideal to aspire to.  Whether we want to be heroes ourselves, or just meet one in person, we cannot deny we love our heroes as much as we depend on them to always save the day.  Here’s hoping we can always find a hero when we truly need one, and that our heroes have time to live a life that is larger than their next rescue.

Amy

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Update-Exclusive Excerpt from Virtual

In lieu of a my regularly scheduled blog post this evening, I hope you enjoy this sample from my upcoming novel Virtual. 

Amanda approached the entrance to Virtual Technologies, heart racing, knees weak, thinking about what she was about to do.  She had waited three days, but still had not gotten a call or even a text from her husband.  She needed answers, and she needed them now.  She had a visitor’s pass card she could use to get into the building, but technically she was supposed to be escorted by Pete or another employee if she went anywhere but the lobby or the first floor restrooms, and it was nearly closing time.

She managed to keep her hand from shaking long enough to swipe her card and open the door when it buzzed. She then barely contained a sigh of relief when she saw the guard at the security desk.  She recognized Mr. Stub from past visits with Pete.  He was a short, balding man, with a wide, friendly face, who wore a uniform he’d been issued when he was at least one size smaller.

“Hello, Mrs. Connor.  You’re coming in a bit late, aren’t you?” he asked with a soft smile.

“Yes, Mr. Stub.  Pete forgot some paperwork and he asked me to pick it up for him on my way home.”

Amanda hated lying to the man, but she could hardly tell him she was planning to snoop around in hopes of uncovering what sort of emergency had required her husband’s unplanned and unexplained business trip.  He was a computer programmer, not a secret agent, and she was worried about him.  He’d been working so many extra hours lately, and now he’d apparently disappeared on his bosses’ orders, without even a phone call.

“I suppose it’s alright, between you and me,” Mr. Stub said with a wink.  “You know the way up don’t you?”

Amanda resisted the urge to confess, and reminded herself she was doing this for Pete.  “Oh yes, I’ll be fine.  Thank you.”

She crossed to the elevator bank, punched in the button for the third floor, and waited for a car.  When she made it into the elevator, she had to lean against the wall in order to resist sinking down to the floor.    Ok, he bought it, she thought as she took a deep breath, and then another.  Now I just have to get into Pete’s office without being seen.  This sort of thing is so much more fun with my virtual character.

The elevator chimed and she ducked into the corner, and then peered out into the hallway.  The coast was clear, so she half-ran, half-walked to the end of the hall and unlocked Pete’s office with the spare key she had borrowed from the peg on the kitchen wall at home.

She felt her hands shaking as she turned the knob of the office door.  Stop it, she ordered herself, it’s not like you haven’t been in here before.  She slipped the door open quietly, and tiptoed in.  She closed the door again, being careful not to make a sound.  She rounded the secretary’s desk, taking care not to disturb the piles of paper and knickknacks arranged in neat groups around its perimeter, and made her way into the inner office.

The lights were off in both offices, but Pete’s desk glowed thanks to the glare of a parking lot light beaming through the window.  As Amanda moved behind the desk she was surprised to see Pete’s computer was running.  Maybe he left a schedule up, she thought.

Leaning over, she hit the space bar to wake up the monitor, but instead of the expected planner, she was surprised to find a test version of Virtual World running.  A quick check of the status log showed Pete’s character, Rex Cade, was logged in and active.  He’s playing games!  He can’t call me because he’s on some secret assignment for the boss and he’s playing computer games.

Amanda didn’t take the time to calm down or think logically.  She sat down in his empty seat and placed his goggles which had been sitting on the side of the desk on her head.  She logged her character, Leslie Storm, into the game, with only one thought in mind.  She was going after her husband, and when she found him, he would regret worrying her so much she was starting to act like her game avatar.

Everything I Need to Know about Life I Learned from Watching The Mummy

This weekend I was doing a little channel surfing when I came across a rebroadcast of one of my favorite movies, The Mummy (1999), starring Brandon Frasier and Rachel Weisz.   I saw this for the first time years ago, and frankly, it scared me.  But then I saw it again, and since I anticipated the scary parts, I was able to look beyond them and appreciate the witty banter between the actors and the unexpected truths they shared in the improbable situations they faced.  I decided, in honor of the reboot expected next year, (Yes that does seem to be a big trend for Hollywood right now); I would share some of my memories of this classic movie.  So here it is- Everything I Need to Know about Life from Watching The Mummy:

  • Don’t take something that doesn’t belong to you. This should be obvious to practically everyone, but apparently treasure hunters don’t realize it should also apply to the internal organs of a “juicy” mummy that may be capable of coming back to life, if the right conditions are met.  The conditions being, one group finds the Book of the Dead, which the other group, which finds the mummy’s coffin, then steals and recites the incantations out loud.  Imhotep, once reanimated, will need those organs back, and he will exact a toll from everyone involved.
  • Always be ready to help a stranger; they may just save your life, or at least know the way to a fabulous lost treasure guarded by a malevolent mummy. The secret could have died with Rick, who actually was in the process of being hanged, because we all know Benny was only trying to scam the Americans.  Rick repaid Evie and Jonathan back several times over before they defeated the mummy, and they never would have made it to the tomb in the first place without him.
  • Never betray your friends, and always get the merchandise before rendering final payment. Benny was only able to extract half of his fee from the Americans before arriving at the tomb, so he could not abandon them in the desert.  Benny then got his comeuppance, just as Evie predicted, when he was unable to follow the others out of the tomb before it closed.  (Side note: don’t bully the scarab; he may have friends nearby.)
  • Don’t judge a person based on your first impression, because you never know where love will find you. The filthy, vulgar former soldier Evie and Jonathan meet in the Egyptian prison proves to be the perfect guide to uncover the secrets of Hamunaptra, the lost city of the Pharaohs. Without Rick’s presence, Evie may have never been kidnapped by Imhotep, but then she also would never have been rescued by the love of her life.
  • Be true to yourself, and be proud of your accomplishments. Evie learned that all she needed to join the Pembroke scholars was field experience, which she despaired obtaining in the beginning of the movie.  She found her self-confidence, though in a late-night heart to heart with Rick though when she said “I am proud of what I am…I am a librarian.”  And actually, it was Evie’s skills at reading ancient Egyptian script and research that enabled them to first animate the mummy, and then destroy him.

 

For those who’ve seen the movie, I’m sure you understood the references I made, and for those who’ve not, do yourself a favor and download it to watch before the remake comes out.  This film has action, romance, suspense, and thrills all in one package, complete with beetle-filled sarcophagi and end-of-the-world drama.

 

What else could you ask for on a lazy weekend?  As always, thanks for reading.

Amy

Anatomy of: A Science Fiction Story

Anatomy of: A Science Fiction Story

Recently I’ve been concentrating on finishing up a bunch of coursework (I’m graduating soon, thank you so much!) and I haven’t had nearly as much time as I would have liked to spend on my true passion, my original writing.  So with the end of my studies comes the moment I’ve been waiting for-it’s time to open my files and metaphorically dust off the novel I’ve been waiting to finish.  I hope to complete the manuscript and have my novel, entitled Virtual, ready for publication by the end of the year.

I have already put so much into this story-my time and imagination, and my personal feelings and memories, that it has become a part of me, a part I want to share with the world.  How can a science fiction story be a part of me, you might ask?  After all, it’s not as if I could visit the future or travel to an alien world, right?

What I believe truly makes a good story is drawing on one’s own experiences, and those of others around, to add realism and depth to the fiction.  Even the most light-hearted, fanciful prose can contain truth in its lines.  As readers we feel the excitement of The Time Traveler as he embarks on his 800,000 year journey in H.G. Wells’ classic novel, The Time Machine.  We ooh and aah as he explores the world as it has become, and cover our eyes as he encounters the mysterious and horrible Morlocks for the first time.

My story does not involve time travel or previously unknown species; it does contain references to things that I know and have experienced in my everyday life.  The setting is modern day, or the not-too-distant future, and much of it plays out in, as the title suggests, a Virtual Reality world.  There is a small excerpt from the first chapter on my website under Upcoming Works, which I will be amending or replacing soon.  Please stay tuned in the upcoming weeks as I work on my manuscript, and I promise I will include updates as often as I can.

Wish me luck, and I hope you come along for the ride!

Amy