Marvel’s Big Bad in the Multiverse Saga

Disclaimer: this is pure speculation on the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). My track record of correct predictions is pretty bad. Like the protagonist in Foucault’s Pendulum, I often find myself “clinging stubbornly to an elegant but false hypothesis.” But this is how I have fun.

Fans of the MCU already know that Phase Four was the beginning of a story arc that’s being called “The Multiverse Saga.” We know Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania will officially introduce Kang the Conqueror, the multiversal villain hinted at in Loki season 1. But what if Kang isn’t the ultimate multiversal threat?

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Something Unspecifically Seasonal This Way Comes

Matthew Schmitz in The American Conservative wrote that “Pumpkin Spice Loneliness” is eclipsing more traditional autumnal holidays. He is right. As Ray Bradbury would have warned us, beware Mr. Autumn Man and his Autumn Gang, who have come to make your season anodyne, ungrounded, and unattached.

Beware the pumpkin spice people.

For some, autumn comes early–even before Labor Day, and stays late where Friendsgiving replaces the family with the found-family, and then instead of December and Christ’s birth, our country, and the reassuring (if unreal) past we used to know, Pumpkin Spice Lattes come again, with no winter, spring, or revivifying summer. For these beings, autumnal vibes are ever the normal season, the only weather, with nothing beyond.

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“Don’t Make Me Come Down There”

I’m thrilled to announce that my 2,100-word short story “Don’t Make Me Come Down There” is published in Translunar Travelers Lounge! It features the Hindu trinity of deities, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, who (try to) work like an Agile software team to iteratively perfect the universe. But Vishnu keeps going off-process with all his avatar hot-fixes.

Link to the story:

Please enjoy “Don’t Make Me Come Down There” in Translunar Travelers Lounge issue 7.


Author’s Notes

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I loved Ms. Marvel. Now give me The Marvels!

SPOILERS for Season One of Ms. Marvel on Disney+

Ms. Marvel on Disney+ reached its season finale and ended on a high note, both for the characters and the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For me, the main charm of the show was how it felt like Marvel’s answer to Netflix’s Never Have I Ever, another quirky, comedic, coming-of-age show featuring a South Asian-American teen and her family. Iman Vellani perfectly embodied the Kamala Khan of the comic books. Most importantly, she played a kid: uncertain, determined, funny, awkward, vulnerable, and loyal. She is easy to root for, in much the same way as a high school Peter Parker is easy to root for. And her family, friends, and community were similarly charming: likeable, quirky characters who have their own goals and arcs, making Kamala’s world feel alive and fleshed-out. For this Indian-American viewer, it felt beautifully authentic, for the most part.

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“Act One, Scene Five”

I’m thrilled to announce that my 900-word flash fiction “Act One, Scene Five” has been published in Brilliant Flash Fiction WHEREIN the only Korean-American kid in school gets into character to rehearse Romeo’s first kiss with Juliet.

Please enjoy “Act One, Scene Five” in Brilliant Flash Fiction. (It’s a ways down the page of the June 2022 issue, alongside other tiny stories you’ll want to read!)

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“Epilogue”

I’m thrilled to announce that my 4,100-word cozy fantasy story “Epilogue” appears in the inaugural issue of Wyngraf Magazine! It features eldritch wine, delicious leftovers, reminiscence, glimmers of magic, and long-overdue kissing.

Link:

Please enjoy “Epilogue” in Wyngraf Magazine Issue 1.


Author’s Notes

Have you ever been so immersed in an epic fantasy world that you never wanted the story to end? Because ending meant a return to the ordinary world, without magic, without purpose written in prophecy, without thrilling possibility? What if the characters in that epic fantasy felt the same way?

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Measure What Matters as a Fiction Writer

In my middle-management day job, “measure what matters” (the title of a book by John Doerr) is an oft-uttered phrase. In business, “what matters” is an articulation of the real goals, the things that, if achieved, will enable the business to succeed, and if not, may cause the business to fail. You can measure a lot of things about your business, some more easily than others. And when you consider yourself to be “metrics driven,” you’d better be sure you’re driving from the right metrics, not just the most accessible ones. Choose the wrong metrics, and you can win battles but lose the war.

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First Principles of Productivity

I’m back from vacation, and ready to be productive. But I’ve forgotten what that means, and I suspect it’s something philosophical. So it’s back to first principles.

Goal: The most basic, unambiguous measure of success. Examples: Delivering a competitive software product that can generate revenue. Writing a story I’d want to read.

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I’m an SWFA Member Now

[EDIT: It should be “I’m a SFWA Member Now”–members pronounce it “sif-wa.” But the URL generated from the title is out in the world now, so there we are.]

I’ve always loved to write, but it was only as an adult that I became serious about it. That word, “serious,” made it weird. “Serious,” to me, meant committing to improving my craft and increasing my output. The latter goal served the former. “Commitment” meant setting up structures of internal and external accountability. I took night school classes. Wanting some tokens of accomplishment, I finished two, 2-year certificates in the Creative Writing of Fiction at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. And finally, in 2012, I submitted my first story for publication. It was rejected, and I didn’t try again until 2016. That was when I got three acceptances–and the validation to keep trying.

What I didn’t realize was that “getting serious” about something, at least in my mind, entailed shaping it into something that looks serious to others. Academic credentials. Product. Revenue. Exclusive community membership. During the dry spells, when those things didn’t come easily or at all, I made a philosophical commitment to stop distracting myself with activities that were adjacent to writing, but not actually writing. That lasted as long as my next set of completed stories, and an ego-driven impulse to see if I could sell them. One sold, and I was back on my bullshit.

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