Kelly McCullough writes fantasy, science fiction, and books for kids of varying ages. He lives in Wisconsin with his physics professor wife and a small herd of cats. His novels include the WebMage and Fallen Blade series — Penguin/ACE, and the forthcoming School for Sidekicks — Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan. His short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. He also dabbles in science fiction as science education with The Chronicles of the Wandering Star — part of an NSF-funded science curriculum — and the science comic Hanny & the Mystery of the Voorwerp, which he co-authored and co-edited — funding provided by NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope. Kelly on Twitter, Facebook, G+, ello
Has anybody seen Isabelle? I thought I heard her muffled meow…
I thought I felt a lump when I flopped down here…
I will get you for that. Both of you.
Man, cats are all set for fire and vengeance… I’m all set to nap.
I’m more about writhe than wrath!
Excellent, horizontal dance party! I’m in.
Bonus shadowlight and sun cats.
As it turns out, I have strong feelings about this movie and the bloody stupid waste it makes of great storytelling opportunities.
I watched about two thirds of How to Train Your Dragon II last night with my wife. When we hit the lovely reunion scene we decided the story was about to go to hell in a terribly predictable manner because older people aren’t allowed to have happily ever afters in this sort of movie. So, I went and looked up the rest of the plot online and we stopped the movie at that point and put it back on the shelf. This is because we were quite happy with the movie up to that point and didn’t feel any need to go on to the unnecessary cost scene that we had both seen coming. While I’m sure that the rest of the movie is lovely, I have no desire to see any of it.
I have zero patience for the whole: It’s a cartoon movie, some beloved parent/mentor/older person must die or sacrifice their happiness for the young protagonists to learn the true meaning of sacrifice/responsibility thing. It’s sloppy, lazy storytelling and doubly so in this instance.
Hiccup doesn’t have a responsibility problem with being chief—he’s plenty willing to take responsibility in dangerous circumstances. We’ve seen that time and again. What he’s got is a scatterbrained creative personality problem. I’m an author, I know dozens of scatterbrained creatives. Tragedy does not magically transform them into decisive organized leader types. It just transforms them into _heartbroken_ scatterbrained creative types. Dad’s death will not magically make Hiccup an appropriate choice for the next chief.
Compound this with the fact that there’s a natural successor on hand, one who has even been identified as someone who is going to become part of the chief’s family in the near future—in the first minutes of the movie we see Stoic identifying Astrid as his future-daughter-in-law—and the argh factor goes through the roof. I’m not a huge fan of leadership transfer by heredity, but if you have to do it, Astrid fits that bill, as well as the much more important one of being a natural leader.
Astrid is decisive, smart, adaptable, understands how to manage people (Hiccup included), willing to listen… She’s a perfect candidate to be the next chief. How much better would the movie have been if Astrid had rescued Hiccup (safely), instead of having the stupid sacrifice scene, and, this had caused dad to realize it was his future daughter-in-law who ought to become the next chief, and not his entirely unsuitable son?
Not only would that have made a less cheaply predictable story, it would have given Hiccup the chance to continue to roam and do the things that made him happy without feeling guilty about the fact that Astrid is running the village—because, let’s be honest, she’s the one who’s going to be doing the job anyway. Astrid would have the title as well as the workload, Hiccup would continue to do what he’s best at, and it would be much easier to justify a sequel. Wins all around.
It’s the sheer laziness of the writing there that gets to me. Sigh. Deep breaths.
Here endeth the rant.
It’s cold n gray out and sleepy n gray in
I’z the real napsterzzzzzzzz
Look at mah magnificent belly
I seez yer belly n raises a lap
Bonus big white woggie (Cabal)*
Blob cat blobs.
3 cats, 1 chipmunk, endless possibility
I killz it with my mindz!
Hold still down there, I needz landing pad
After 3 days in dezert dehydrated cat sayz:
Gin…I need gin…
There was a crooked cat who had a crooked tail…
Practicing jackknife for Olympic dive competition
Dis monorail kind of lumpy, actually…
I sun myself in your general direction.
You realize that makes no sense, don’t you?
I shun you for your sense making.
I shun you from my blanket fort of solitude.
Have I mentioned how very strange you McCullough cats are?
Not strange, diabolical! Engaging demonic laser eyes, in 3.2.1…
Random skull full of whiskey.
For anyone who is interested.
Rope Burns, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination (October 2014 issue)
Drawn Blades, ACE books. (October 28, 2014)
Broken Blade, Paul Boehmer (Narrator) Tantor Audio (March 4, 2014)
WebMage, Vikas Adam (Narrator) Audible Studios (August 27, 2014)
Cybermancy, Vikas Adam (Narrator) Audible Studios (August 27, 2014)
CodeSpell, Vikas Adam (Narrator) Audible Studios (August 27, 2014)
MythOS, Vikas Adam (Narrator) Audible Studios (August 27, 2014)
Spellcrash, Vikas Adam (Narrator) Audible Studios (August 27, 2014)
Krieg der Klingen: Roman (German Edition) Frauke Meier (Translator), Bastei Entertainment (June 13, 2014)