Tag Archives: tor

Upcoming Stuff & Events & Things (Nov. ’13)

Hello, website! Long time, no update! I swear that one of these days I am going to actually train myself to just make brief updates here as they happen, instead of these info dumps.

ANYWAY. I’ve got some stuff going on, because of course I do. It goes like this:

  • Saturday, December 7, I’ll be returning to MORTIFIED and performing some hilariously terrible songs that I wrote when I was 16. The performance will take place at Space 538 in Portland, ME; tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Do I know anyone in Maine that I can even embarrass myself in front of? I don’t know, but I can tell you that it is definitely worth it to go to Maine to laugh at my terrible, terrible songs.
  • I’ve also got 2 new short plays in the 4th Annual Boston One Minute Play Festival, January 4-6 at Boston Playwrights Theatre. They’ll be directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian and Meghan Mueller, which I’m sure makes my sister proud in some way.

Meanwhile, in addition to my normal duties at Five By Five Hundred, I have a review of Eric Smith‘s new book The Geek’s Guide To Dating on Tor.com, and some coverage of SpeakEasy Stage Company‘s world premiere production of Make Up Your Mind, a brand new play by Kurt Vonnegut even though he’s dead.

And then, ya know, the youge (like, the slang/shortened word for “usual,” but spelled phonetically? Is that right?): Workin’, writin’, so on and so forth. Tonight at the Huntington we start performances for The Cocktail Hour by A.R. Gurney, which is directed by Maria Aitken, a favorite of ours at the theatre. Here’s a little video I made for that:

I also wrote some fun stuff about ghost stories at the theatre on the Huntington’s blog which is still worth reading even though it’s after Halloween, as well as two pieces of flash fiction in this “Quantum Shorts” competition that you can go read and vote for so I can win some monies: I Kill Dead People and Not Dead Yet (which was the basis for my story in Grayhaven Comics’ Fifth Dimension anthology).

Wow that’s a whole lot of dead stuff. In that case, I should end this on a happy note, which is that Maurissa Tancharoen both listened to and enjoyed my song “I’ll Fight A Whedon For You”; unfortunately, her husband Jed was less than impressed.

So now I’ve pissed one Whedon and armwrestled another, which only leaves Zak for me still to cross. But overall I think that means that I’ve successfully become a Whedonverse villain?

Holy crap, I’ll be 28 in 2 weeks.

In Which I Talk A Lot About Nerdy Things And Everybody Listens

I’ve had a busy few weeks of pontificating on geeky pop culture things — I mean, professionally, as opposed to the normal all-of-my-free-time that I spend doing precisely that — and so I’ve got a few new articles / essays / thinkpieces / posts / whatever-you-wanna-call-’ems up on Tor.com:

So check ’em out, leave your comments, and then eagerly await the next installment of “Thom Talks Nerdy.”

The Multiverse On Stage

Over at Tor.com, I talk about Nick Payne’s Constellations, a play which I unfortunately have not seen, but one that I have read and would absolutely love to see. Except that maybe in the world of this simultaneous-multiverse-hopping-romance, I have actually seen the play somewhere. Plus every other parallel reality happening possible. It’s kind of nuts, and kind of beautiful, but I describe it better over there, so check it out:

“SFF Onstage: Nick Payne’s Constellations” on Tor Dot Com

Where Does Nick Fury Get All Those Wonderful Toys?

I recently read through the original Stan Lee – Jack Kirby (and later, all Jim Steranko all the time) run of Strange Tales: Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, which first introduced the cigar-chompin’ one-eyed Nick-Fury-as-Super-Spy to the Marvel Universe. I’ll be honest, I don’t always love older comics because their hokey nature and heavy exposition, but these were some pretty awesome spy stories. And even better they were filled with some of the most unabashedly ridiculous spy gadgets imaginable. Everything was so over-the-top and psychedelic, and with absolute no regret or embarrassment about it. And so I shared a list of my Top 10 SHIELD toys over on Tor Dot Com, mostly hoping that Joss Whedon’s now SHIELD TV series will feature every single one of them.

“Nick Fury And The Top Ten Toys of S.H.I.E.L.D.” on Tor Dot Com

Mow That Lawn! Yeah!

Hey kids! Remember the ’90s? Remember “virtual reality”? Remember Jeff Fahey? And mowing the lawn? Of course you do. In my latest piece for Tor.com, I take a look back at the 1992 film classic The Lawnmower Man to see just how well the evils of “VR” and dial-up modems still hold up today.

“Flowers For The Lawnmower Man” on Tor Dot Com

EPIC THEMES (and…some other stuff over there)

Jonathan Hickman is a comic book writer who has mostly taken over the two main AVENGERS books, and has also published a number of highly acclaimed creator-owned books that took remarkably innovative approaches to graphic narratives. But as much as I’ve enjoyed most of his work (especially his Secret Warriors which is one of my favorite Marvel series in recent years), I’ve noticed something…off…about his story telling (Red Mass For Mars and The Red Wing in particular both start off really cool and then…don’t really go anywhere).

Over at Tor.com, I’ve provided a detailed analysis of this strange narrative voice, but what it comes down to is that Hickman likes to explicitly tell his readers about his huge, epic, sweeping themes using marvelous spectacle and narrative devices. Then he finds a plot that works as an excuse for him to tell you about these themes and use these spectacles, and fills the plot in with characters, ’cause I guess you need those, too. And the theatre professional in me realized that this flies right in the face of Aristotle’s POETICS, which have long formed the basis for our understanding of Western dramatic storytelling.

I’ll let the rest of the article speak for itself:

“The Strange Poetics of Jonathan Hickman” on Tor Dot Com

Superhero Politics

Instead of the usual political opinions, I tried instead to write a piece that explores politics without being overtly political. Although my editors at Tor were initially hesitant of the controversy, they were ultimately pretty pleased with the product! And so, my latest article at Tor Dot Com explores the centrist politics of Brian K. Vaughan’s Superhero-Turned-Mayor-Of-New-York-City epic Ex Machina, which actually takes an impressively (if ultimately depressing) nonpartisan view at the ups and downs of American politics, only with lots more punching and invaders from alternate realities (obvi).

Ex Machina and the Great Political Machine of Brian K. Vaughan” on Tor Dot Com

All Actors Are Robots (no but seriously)

In an effort to combine my seemingly disparate interests, I pitched an idea for a new column to my editor at Tor.com, focusing on the depiction of sci-fi and fantasy in the world of theatre. People don’t typically think of plays as being bastions for weaving elegant tales of aliens and dragons and cyborgs (oh my!), but in fact, you’d be surprised! (In theatre, we just cover up the “genre” gimmick by giving it some pretentious name like “magical realism” or “futurism” etc).

Anyway, here’s the first of such columns, exploring RUR (Rossum’s Universal Robots), a Czech play from the early 20th century that actually introduced the word “robot” to the world.

“SFF Onstage: Rossum’s Universal Robots” on Tor Dot Com

Batman and Robin Will Never Die!

Is there anyone alive who doesn’t agree that Batman is totally awesome? No? That’s what I thought.

It’s also well documented by anyone who’s ever met me that I have a serious fascination with comic book writer / chaos magician / Scotsman / rockstar / occasional fictional character Grant Morrison, who, by sheer coincidence, has been guiding the adventures of the Dark Knight for the past 7 years or so as the man behind the pen. The good folks at Tor.com were kind of enough to let me indulge my Morrison obsession and love for clever poetic puzzles, and I re-read his entire story (so far) to provide a critical analysis of what appears to be his deconstruction of the identity of Batman — both as a symbol or piece of mythology, and as the man himself behind the mask, Bruce Wayne.

This undertaking proved to be much more epic than I had originally anticipated, but I’m still quite pleased with the end results. So check it out, even if you haven’t read all of Morrison’s Bat-epic (but really, you should probably do that).

“How Grant Morrison’s 7-Year Batman Epic is Becoming the Ultimate Definition of Batman” on Tor Dot Com