BATMAN #684: A Very Short Review

At this moment I suppose it is fair to say that Batman is the biggest DC hero going.  batman684A blockbuster movie will do that.  This means that it is to DC’s advantage to suck this brief phenomenom dry by reissuing old classics, plastering Batman everywhere,  repackaging popular runs, and in general beating the drum as hard as they can.  (This will get even worse if the late Heath Ledger wins a posthumous Oscar for his role as the Joker; look for DC to go briefly All Joker All The Time.)  Certainly there are masses of Batman titles and collections out there — I confess I am looking forward to see the Batman Annual collection, predicted to contain nuttier Bat stories like his various adventures on alien planets.

This latest issue of Batman is therefore a bizarre rarity — a stand-alone issue in which Batman does not actually appear at all.   To recap briefly, in the previous far-too-long arc Batman fought and defeated a villain but took sufficient hit points that he has either died* or is laying low to recover.  None of his usual intimates — Alfred, Robin, etc. — know his whereabouts.  This leaves his first lieutenant Nightwing (aka the original Robin aka Dick Grayson; his evolution is more complex than that of Eohippus and cannot be gone into now) to pick up the ball and run.

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Rise of the Lichens

I’m really looking forward to the release of the new movie Rise of the Lichens. We have far too few movies about lichens, algae, archeobacteria, fungus, mold, or pond scum, though yeast gets some play in the sponge of Hollywood.

Sponges themselves, on the other hand, get very little live-action screen time, which is quite a shame. Rumor has it, however, that the producer of the cult movie Sponge Diver is planning a sequel, Revenge of the Sponges, in which sponges and giant clams unite to immobilize their ancient enemies and scrub them to death.

I haven’t been able to put my hands on a screenplay for Rise of the Lichens, as it’s being very closely guarded by the studio, but the buzz on the movie is amazing.

Don’t read past the jump if you don’t want to see spoilers.

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Crossing Borders — Both National and Linguistic

Otras Miradas

My story, “Three O’Clock in the Morning” (“Las tres en punto de la mañana”), appears in Spanish in a new anthology, Otras Miradas, edited by Sergio Gaut vel Hartman.

Sergio is a science fiction writer and editor in Argentina. Among his many projects are two flash fiction blogs: Quimicamente Impuro, which consists of stories between 40 and 149 words, and Breves no tan Breves, stories between 150 and 750 words.

My story, “Statuary,” which is still available here on Book View Cafe, is now on Breves no tan Breves as “Estatuaria.”

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Exotic Animals as Pets

As the New Year starts, a lot of families are probably getting used to caring for the new pets that came to their homes over the holidays. Holiday times are the top time for families bringing pets home. Puppies, kittens, baby bunnies and baby chicks are all common holiday adoptions. Unfortunately, as breeders and real animal lovers know, in January and February, too many of these pets end up dumped at shelters, and very few of them are re-adopted. These animals are often euthanized, with short, unhappy lives – all things that could be avoided with time, care and planning. Even more serious than the problem of unwanted common domestic pets at the holidays is the growing trend toward adoption of exotic animals, from exotic hybrid cats to chimpanzees to sugar gliders, a small Australian marsupial that is rapidly growing in popularity.


I had a fairly large number of animals to take care of when I was growing up. I had a Shetland pony named Dapple, an English Setter named Freckles, a Siamese cat named D.C. and at one time, up to 25 ring-necked doves. When I was a baby and toddler, I learned to walk by hanging onto the head and ears of a very patient – one might say “saintly” – basset hound named Rebel. FYI, my pornstar name is Rebel Roberts. Not bad, huh? (To get your pornstar name, take the name of your first pet and use your mother’s maiden name). Continue reading


Organizing for the New Year: How do you do it, if you do it at all?

One of the most frequent questions we hear – after ‘where do you get your ideas’ – is ‘how do you manage to do all that? My response has always been to ask the questioner if they only work on one project or class or report at a time. 95% of the time the answer is ‘no.’ And there’s the answer right there – we multi-task the same way you do. But everyone does it a different way, proving once again that the proper way to write is What Works For You.

So, on this first Monday of the new year, for those of you who are trying to juggle work and life and writing, and starting to feel a bit overwhelmed, here’s a glimpse into how three members of BookView Cafe handle it. Continue reading


DR. ATOMIC: A Very Short Review

To be accurate, DR. ATOMIC is not a comic book, but a modern opera. However, the title fits in perfectly here, and there are no interesting comics this week anyway. It should be of interest to readers of this site, since the opera is about Robert Oppenheimer and the development of the atomic bomb in 1945. And for writers DR. ATOMIC is a great petri dish of plot and character.

Relentlessly highbrow, opera is arguably the reverse of comic books, and modern opera is tough sledding for nearly everbody with its atonality and lack of ‘a hummable tune’. DR. ATOMIC is exactly what you would expect an new opera to be — lots of singing. There are fascinating characters — physicists Oppenheimer and Teller, the General in charge of the bomb project, and many minor characters at Los Alamos. There is a story in there, about the development of the bomb — will it be a successful test? Will the explosion set off a chain reaction that destroys Earth’s atmosphere and all life? Will it ever quit raining so that we can launch, or will the wind sweep all the fallout the wrong way and depopulate New Mexico? Will the Japanese hear of the project, and by the way is it OK to drop the bomb on them?

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Nancy Jane Rants on the Radio

High Heeled ShoesNPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday let me rant about high-heeled shoes on the air this morning (Jan. 4) — an appearance that had nothing whatsoever to do with Book View Cafe or with fiction, but which did allow me to address a personal obsession of mine: Fashion that makes women vulnerable. Wearing high heels shifts your pelvis forward, putting you off balance. It’s hard to walk far in them, or to run at all. Basically, they limit what you can do, making you helpless in some situations.

Heels do make you look taller and there is a school of thought that says they make your legs look sexy. But those advantages don’t outweigh the fact that high heels handicap the wearer.

Enough ranting. I also want to announce that my Book View Cafe posting day for both stories and blog posts is moving to Thursdays as of this week. My next story,”God Bless,” a story that offers one solution to the problems facing us today, will appear on the front page Jan. 8.