Wednesday, April 11, 2018

30 Favorite Movies List: April 11, 2018

Updated since the last ranking in September of 2017.
These rankings do NOT include James Bond or Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, each of which have their own rankings I've done elsewhere. I choose not to include them here.

Here are my current 30 FAVORITE MOVIES:

The Top Ten:

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Extended Edition)
2. Star Wars (1977 cut)

I have watched Star Wars and Fellowship dozens or hundreds of times each, and not only do they never get old to me, I always get that same sense of exhilaration during and after seeing them, almost like it's the first time all over again. They have swapped the 1 and 2 spots back and forth ever since Fellowship came out in 2001, but it's always been one of those two in the top spot and neither has ever fallen below 2nd. They are the supreme "ragtag heroes get together and go on a journey to defeat the bad guys" stories, which are my favorite kind of stories. Both have epic moments of majesty and excitement and awe and wonder. And excellent pacing in the biggest moments.

3. Ready Player One

This movie debuts at #3 on the list. I waited until I'd seen it a third time, to be sure it wasn't just the excitement of it being new and my loving the novel it's based on that caused me to rank it so very highly. But it seems to be holding steady here. It's not quite the top two for me, but I can't imagine preferring anything else below here to seeing it again right now. It might drop later; I wouldn't be surprised. But not far.

4. Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut)

My love for this movie continues to grow. There's just so much there to love. The characters, the story, the travelogue (I tend toward those, as this list reveals), the history, the epic quality, everything. It's the only movie I can see jumping ahead of Ready Player One for third place any time soon.

5. The 13th Warrior

It has everything I love in a good travelogue adventure movie, including a compelling and appealing main character, a fascinating semi-historical background mixed with outright fantasy, a great score, and a team of specialists off on a journey to do a job that may turn violent. Same thing I love about Fellowship of the Ring and Ocean's Eleven, for example.

6. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

There's no reason this one shouldn't be higher. It is truly THE epic fantasy film ever. But for whatever reason--maybe the long stretches of the hobbits and Gollum--I get ever so slightly bored. It deserves all the acclaim and the Oscars, but it's not a Top 5 for me currently. Just barely.

7. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

An excellent film adaptation of roughly 2/3 of what is appealing about the books. If they'd given us just a few scenes of Dr. Maturin the deadly assassin while on land, it would have been perfect.
8. Last of the Mohicans (Michael Mann 1992)

Epic and wonderful. It somehow combines being almost an art film (and a gorgeously shot one) about Colonial America with a rousing adventure tale of Hawkeye and his family battling the French and their Native American allies. And it pulls off both things very well.
9. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Director’s Cut)

The only "real" Star Trek movie ever made and the only actual "Science Fiction" film out of them as well; the rest are action-oriented space fantasies. Which is fine, but they all lack the power and majesty of this one. The Director's Cut tightens everything up dramatically, moves things along better, and adds better effects (especially of V'Ger). The ending of this movie is almost transcendent for me as well as for the characters.

10. Ocean's 11 (2001)
My favorite heist movie. Extremely appealing cast. Just super fun.

The rest:

11. Ice Station Zebra
12. Casablanca
13. Serenity
14. Gandhi
15. A Bridge Too Far
16. Lawrence of Arabia
17. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (US)
18. Dead Again
19. Payback
20. Henry V (1989)
21. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
22. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
23. Babe
24. The Crow
25. North by Northwest
26. Die Hard
27. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
28. V for Vendetta
29. Tombstone
30. Where Eagles Dare 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Appearances (Conventions and More)

This page will be my permanent and constantly updated list of upcoming appearances at conventions and other events.
Updated March 23, 2018:

Windy City Pulp and Paper Con (Chicago) April 6-8, 2018

I moderated a discussion at Left Bank Books in St Louis on Tuesday, May 8 with author and comics writer Charles Soule. Hear it on the White Rocket Podcast here.

NEW: ConQuest (Kansas City) May 25-27, 2018
Confirmed: I will have two tables on Author Alley.

NEW: Sci Fi/Fantasy Fest (Hoover, Alabama) July 27-29
Confirmed: I will have a Vendor/Guest table.

LibertyCon 2018 in Chattanooga (TBA)
NEW: I will NOT be able to attend LibertyCon 2018. 
The schedule just does not work out for it.

DragonCon 2018 in Atlanta (August 30-September 3)  
CONFIRMED as of Feb 20, 2018!  
I will be a Guest and will have a table on Comics and Pop Artists Alley.

Penned Con 2018 in St Louis (September 20-22)  (waiting to hear)

Archon 2018 in St Louis (October 12-14)  (waiting to hear; author table request submitted)


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

30 Favorite Movies as of Sept 2017

Updated since the last ranking in January of this year.
Note: Still not including James Bond films in this ranking. They are their own thing and I couldn't begin to compare them to these.
Also: I'm close to removing Marvel Cinematic Universe movies as well. Only the Avengers remains in my top 30 anyway, at this point. I love those movies but, like Bond, it's a different experience from other films.
Finally: There's been some movement. 
Biggest rise: Kingdom of Heaven. I love it more every time I watch it, and discover something new every time. (Also Star Trek: The Motion Picture continues to rise as I rewatch it and enjoy the score.)
Biggest fall: Babe. I tried to watch Babe again recently and just wasn't into it anymore. Which is sad.
The original cut of Star Wars, restored by "Harmy" as a download, has moved Star Wars back to #1 and it remains there this time around. Fellowship held that spot from about 2002 until 2015.

Here are my current 30 FAVORITE MOVIES:

1. Star Wars (1977 cut)
2. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Extended Edition)
3. The 13th Warrior
4. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
5. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
6. Kingdom of Heaven (Director’s Cut)
7. Last of the Mohicans (Michael Mann 1992)
8. The Avengers (2012)
9. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Director’s Cut)
10. Ice Station Zebra
11. Casablanca
12. Serenity
13. Gandhi
14. Ocean's 11 (2001)
15. A Bridge Too Far
16. Lawrence of Arabia
17. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (US)
18. Dead Again
19. Payback
20. Henry V (1989)
21. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
22. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
23. Babe
24. The Crow
25. North by Northwest
26. Die Hard
27. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
28. V for Vendetta
29. Tombstone
30. Where Eagles Dare 

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Archon STL 2017 Panels

While at DragonCon, my Archon STL (Sept 29-Oct 1) programming arrived, and it looks very good:


3 pm: This Story Changed My Life

5 pm: Comic Books: Modern Mythology

7 pm: Game of Thrones: The Beginning of the End


10 am: Autographs with Van Allen Plexico and Deborah Millitello

12 Noon: The History of Pulp (w/ Bill Schaab)

1 pm: Crafting the Dark Hero

7 pm: Writing Scripts for Comic Books


1 pm: Author Reading with Van Allen Plexico, Donna J.W. Munro, and Ethan Nahté

2 pm: Marvel on Netflix: From Daredevil through The Defenders

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

My 2017 Tentative DragonCon Schedule

Here is my tentative 2017 schedule of DragonCon panels and events.
I will have a table in Artists Alley this year, and I will be there between the events listed below.
When I'm at a panel, my books will still be available at my table, sold by Brett Brooks and/or Jarrod Alberich.

The below information is the TENTATIVE program schedule for Van Allen Plexico.
Convention Dates are Fri(9/1/17), Sat(9/2/17), Sun(9/3/17), and Mon(9/4/17)
Van Allen Plexico

Title: Fearless Leaders: Leadership Dynamics and Shifts in Military SciFi
Description: What makes a leader? Is a military leader better, or should civilian leadership dominate? We will look at leadership from Stargate, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, and other franchises to witness the impact of MSFM leaders--and leadership changes.
Time: Fri 02:30 pm  Location: Chastain DE - Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: John Hudgens, Van Allen Plexico)

Title: Military SciFi Writers - Media Edition
Description: A roundtable with military science fiction writers--whether in tie-ins or independent worlds--to discuss the genre, trends, real-world accuracy, and how far you can take another world and make it your own.
Time: Fri 04:00 pm  Location: Chastain DE - Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Keith R.A. DeCandido, Van Allen Plexico, Janine K. Spendlove, Ronald Thomas Garner)

Title: Vikings - Valhalla calls
Description: This year's viking raids were vicious, we went from famine to feast, with the return of Ragnar. All is not peaceful though as things go from bad to worse. Does the Viking era move on at the end? We'll talk about this shift of focus and the adventurous life of Ragnar Lothbrok. -Season Review
Time: Fri 05:30 pm  Location: M301-M301 - Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Van Allen Plexico)

Title: World at war: Alternate history in the early 20th century
Description: The first decades of the 20th century have proven to be fertile ground for alternate historians. From German victories to Soviet domination, from the mundane to the fantastic, this panel looks at the various alternate takes on this crucial period of world history.
Time: Fri 07:00 pm  Location: Augusta - Sheraton (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Van Allen Plexico, Kacey Ezell, Michael Livingston, Taylor Anderson)

Title: Rewind and Rewatch Review: Which Shows Hold Up?
Description: We have all had shows that we loved and would die before admitting that they had flaws--but can they withstand a rewatch? Talk with us about your favorite military scifi shows--and if they can stand the test of time and stack up with TV and film today.
Time: Sat 10:00 am  Location: Chastain DE - Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Keith R.A. DeCandido, Van Allen Plexico)

Title: Game of Thrones Lookback
Description: A show only discussion of Season 7 and the upcoming and final season of HBO's blockbuster series.
Time: Sat 11:30 am  Location: L401-L403 - Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Van Allen Plexico)

Title: Marvel vs. DC Trivia
Description: Match your wits about the Fantastic Four to someone else's knowledge of the JLA! Let's see who wins when we play Marvel vs. DC Trivia!
Time: Sat 05:30 pm  Location: Hanover C-E - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Van Allen Plexico)

Title: More than Gears: The Neo-Pulp and Dieselpunk Author RoundtableDescription: Dieselpunk and neo-pulp, steampunk's historical next-door neighbors, present unique challenges for the storyteller who wants to use those settings. Listen to our panel of authors discuss the challenges, and the fun, of writing about a diesel-burning generation
Time: Sat 07:00 pm  Location: Augusta - Sheraton (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: James Palmer, Bobby Nash, Kacey Ezell, D.Alan Lewis, Van Allen Plexico)

Title: SF Jeopardy
Description: Test your knowledge of the sf field in this game of questions and answers. Prizes available for winners!
Time: Sat 08:30 pm  Location: Embassy AB - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Van Allen Plexico)

Title: Remembering Roger Zelazny
Description: Our panelists discuss the works and continuing influence of Roger Zelazny, author of the Amber series, Lord of Light and many other seminal works.
Time: Sun 10:00 am  Location: Embassy AB - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Moderator / MC for panel 
(Tentative Panelists: Van Allen Plexico, James Palmer, S.M. Stirling, Atlanta Radio Theatre Company)

Title: The Niven and Pournelle Hour
Description: Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle are among the giants of our field. Together they have written some of the best novels around. Van Plexico interviews these two legends about their work.
Time: Sun 11:30 am  Location: Regency VI-VII - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Moderator / MC for panel 
(Tentative Panelists: Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven, Van Allen Plexico)

Title: Historical Influences in High Fantasy
Description: Authors like Tolkien and Jordan drew upon their real experiences as well as their research in writing their stories.
Time: Sun 01:00 pm  Location: L401-L403 - Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Valerie Hampton, Michael Livingston, Van Allen Plexico, Constance G. J. Wagner)

Title: Starship Showdown
Description: With input from the audience, the best starship in fiction is determined in head to head battles.
Time: Sun 04:00 pm  Location: Embassy AB - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Moderator / MC for panel 
(Tentative Panelists: Van Allen Plexico, Doug Dandridge)

Title: Arthur Eld and His Line 
Description: Among the mysteries the Dark Tower holds are the many references to King Arthur, Lord of the Rings and other classics of High Fantasy.
Time: Sun 07:00 pm  Location: L401-L403 - Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Van Allen Plexico, Paige Gardner, Peter David)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Pulp Factory Awards 2017 Ballot! Anyone can vote!!

This was just announced today (Sunday). Very excited for Chris, as well as for me!
Anyone can vote!

Lombard, Illinois – February 26, 2017

With April’s Windy City Pulp and Paper approaching fast, the ballot for the 2017 Pulp Factory Awards – to be handed out at the conference – has just opened up for voting by the reading public.

The ballot can be found online at

Voters have until Tuesday, March 21 to vote. You may vote in as many of the five categories as you wish, but you are limited to one vote per category. We are again using electronic ballot via Google forms.

Nominees in each category are as follows:

·         Captain Hazzard: Custer’s Ghost by Ron Fortier (Airship 27)
·         Dead Man’s Melody by Fred Adams, Jr. (Airship 27)
·         Motor City Manhunt by R.A. Jones and Michael Vance (Airship 27)
·         Sentinels, Vol 8: The Dark Crusade by Van Allen Plexico (White Rocket Books)
·         Sherlock Holmes: The Picture of Innocence by Chuck Miller (Airship 27)
·         Tales of the Bagman, Vol 3 by BC Bell (Airship 27)
·         Wings of the Golden Dragon by Barbara Doran (Airship 27)
·         Companion Dragons Tales, Vol 3: Copper's Choice by Michael Hegedus (Pro Se)
·         Phantom Detective, Vol 1 by Pat Carbajal (Airship 27)
·         Rick Lai’s Major Sabbath by Pat Carbajal (Airship 27)
·         Sentinels: The Dark Crusade by Chris Kohler (White Rocket Books)
·         Sinbad: The New Voyages, Vol 5 by Terry Pavlet (Airship 27)
·         The Towers of Metropolis by Michael Kaluta (Airship 27)
·         Wings of the Golden Dragon by Rob Davis (Airship 27)

·         “Circle of Despair” by Gene Moyers (Phantom Detective Vol 1; Airship 27)
·         “Cowboy of the Dakotas” by Gordon Dymowski (Pulpternative; Pro Se)
·         “Lord Pemberton's Adjustment Service” by David Michelinie (Singularity: Rise of the Posthumans; Pro Se)
·         “Mysteries of the Buried God” by I.A. Watson (Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, Vol 8; Airship 27)

·         Rob Davis for Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, Vol 8 (Airship 27)
·         Rob Davis for Sherlock Holmes: Picture of Innocence (Airship 27)
·         Chris Kohler for Sentinels, Vol 8: The Dark Crusade (White Rocket Books)
·         James Lyle for Domino Lady, Vol 2 (Airship 27)

·         The Phantom Detective Vol 1 (Ron Fortier, ed.; Airship 27)
·         Quatermain the New Adventures Vol 2 (Ron Fortier, ed.; Airship 27)
·         Rick Lai’s Major Sabbath Vol 1 (Ron Fortier, ed.; Airship 27)
·         Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective, Vol 8 (Ron Fortier, ed.; Airship 27)
·         Singularity: Rise of the Post Humans (Jaime Ramos, ed; Pro Se)
·         The Towers of Metropolis Vol. 1 (Ron Fortier, ed.; Airship 27)
·         When the Shadow Sees the Sun: Creators Surviving Depression (Multiple editors; Pro Se)

After March 21, the committee will tally all of the electronic votes via
and the winners will be announced at the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention on April 21, 2017.

Questions and concerns should be directed to This will insure a more prompt response than reaching out to individual committee members.

Thank you for your interest, and looking forward to your votes!