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

How to Train Your Dragon II (Wasted Opportunities)

January 26, 2015 in Musings, rant, Writing

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.

 

Friday Cat Blogging

January 23, 2015 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Pets and other friends

Woke up next to…her! We must never speak of this again…

IMG_7056

Shame!

IMG_7116

Scandal!

IMG_7126

Dishonor.

IMG_6056

Walrus!

IMG_7073

Whatcha all fussing about? It never happened. It was a dream.

IMG_7092

You just keep telling yourself that, but I will never drink again!

IMG_7107

As always, with thanks to Neil Gaiman for Coconut and Lola.

Retro Friday Cat Blogging

January 21, 2015 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Pets and other friends, Reblogging Project

Iz in mah tent, campin’
IMG_5013

Go ‘way!

IMG_5014

It’s cold n gray out and sleepy n gray in

IMG_5012

I’z the real napsterzzzzzzzz

IMG_5010

Look at mah magnificent belly

IMG_4995

I seez yer belly n raises a lap

IMG_4808

Bonus big white woggie (Cabal)*

IMG_4992

*This is the first picture I ever took of the late great Cabal Gaiman. Miss him.

(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog July 30 2010, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)

Retro Friday Cat Blogging

January 20, 2015 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Pets and other friends, Reblogging Project

I haz found missing piece of da puzzle!
IMG_4961

Blob cat blobs.

IMG_4966

3 cats, 1 chipmunk, endless possibility

IMG_4968

I killz it with my mindz!

IMG_4970

Hold still down there, I needz landing pad

IMG_4971

After 3 days in dezert dehydrated cat sayz:
Gin…I need gin…

IMG_4989

(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog July 23 2010, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)

Retro Friday Cat Blogging

January 19, 2015 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Pets and other friends, Reblogging Project

Rare sighting of the Wisconsonian potbellied muskrat

IMG_4952

There was a crooked cat who had a crooked tail…

IMG_4955

Practicing jackknife for Olympic dive competition

IMG_4954

Your proposition intrigues me…

IMG_4953

(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog July 16 2010, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)

Retro Friday Cat Blogging

January 18, 2015 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Pets and other friends, Reblogging Project

Sprawlrus

IMG_4927

Anonysprawl

IMG_4926

sprawling cafe style

IMG_4929

I don’t want to sprawl and you can’t make me!

IMG_4935

Okay, maybe you can, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

IMG_4937

(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog July 9 2010, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)

Retro Friday Cat Blogging

January 17, 2015 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Pets and other friends, Reblogging Project

OMG, there’s a lolcat at the end of the runway–waveoff!
IMG_4865
I’z not ignoring you, I just can’t be bothered to notice you.

IMG_4893

Even basement cat likes white fluffy blankies

IMG_4890

Disgruntled cat is disgruntled

IMG_4882

(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog July 2 2010, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)

Friday Cat Blogging

January 16, 2015 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Pets and other friends

Dis monorail kind of lumpy, actually…

IMG_7090

I sun myself in your general direction.

IMG_7060

You realize that makes no sense, don’t you?

IMG_7110

I shun you for your sense making.

IMG_7086

I shun you from my blanket fort of solitude.

IMG_7087

Have I mentioned how very strange you McCullough cats are?

IMG_6227

Not strange, diabolical! Engaging demonic laser eyes, in 3.2.1…

IMG_7112

Random skull full of whiskey.

IMG_7104

Awards Eligibility 2014

January 15, 2015 in About Kelly, Publishing

For anyone who is interested.

Short Story:

Rope Burns, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination (October 2014 issue)

Novel:

Drawn Blades, ACE books. (October 28, 2014)

Audio Books:

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)

In Translation:

Krieg der Klingen: Roman (German Edition) Frauke Meier (Translator), Bastei Entertainment (June 13, 2014)

Retro Friday Cat Blogging

January 14, 2015 in Cat Things, Friday Cat Blogging, Pets and other friends, Reblogging Project

It is spring and I am picturesqueIMG_4796

Grump cat votes no

IMG_4792

Centered cat has amazing symetry skillz

IMG_4795

See!

IMG_4797

I iz thinking you should not have interrupted my nap

IMG_4799

Really! Go ‘way.

IMG_4801

(Originally published on the Wyrdsmiths blog June 4 2010, and original comments may be found there. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project)