Thursday, December 28, 2017

Books for a Happy 2018

So, the new year is coming, and the question is inevitably asked, "What are you looking forward to in the new year?"

And the answer for me is always: books.  But let's not talk about my books, which I certainly talk about plenty.  Instead, which books am I looking forward to reading in 2018?  Here's an incomplete list of the things on my radar, and they're all things I think you should be wanting to pick up in the coming year.  (In addition to the two I have coming out, but you've already got those wired in, yes?  Yes.)

Still So Strange by Amanda Downum
I've made no secret that Amanda is one of my favorite writers working in fantasy today, and one of my favorite people in the industry as well.  Her collection of short stories and poetry is coming out this year, and you should totally get your hands on it.

The Armored Saint by Myke Cole

Myke has been doing excellent things blending military fiction with urban, modern fantasy, and everything I've been hearing about his first dive into traditional epic fantasy has been incredible.  So I'm very excited to get my hands on this one.

Head On by John Scalzi
I've enjoyed just about everything John's written, including and especially Locked Inwhich this is the sequel to.  It's a very fascinating setting (in which a disease has rendered some people completely unable to use their bodies, but the use of robot avatars called "threeps" lets them interact with the world), and in the first book John did an excellent job of exploring the implications of the core ideas.  So I'm very intrigued to see where it goes.

Stone Mad by Elizabeth Bear
In another example of "Yes, more of that, please," I really enjoyed 2015's Karen Memory, so I'm looking forward to more western-steampunk adventures with Karen and her people.  I don't know if we'll get another steam-powered-sewing-machine-mecha fight, but a boy can dream.

From Unseen Fire by Cass Morris
This is the debut novel from the newest DAW Author, and it's been on my radar for a while now, so I'm quite excited to see it's going to come out this April.  It's set in an Ancient Rome With Magic, and everything I've seen from Cass Morris shows that she's really done the work in her research and worldbuilding, so I'm fascinated to see the results.  Plus, of course: she's DAW, so she's family.

Temper by Nicky Drayden
Nicky already has a follow-up to Prey of the Gods, but not a sequel.  Nicky is another one of my favorite-writers/favorite-people out there.  I swear, she once wrote a short story that was so funny it nearly killed me I was laughing so hard.  So, yeah, she writes so well, you could die.  This is definitely a book to get for next year.  It's a new book by Nicky Drayden, how could it not be?

The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

The Traitor Baru Cormorant was a fascinating work of worldbuilding and structure and defying expectations, and exactly the sort of book I want to see more of.  So of course I want to read the sequel.  I need to know what happens next, as Baru is possibly one of the most fascinating characters in fantasy in recent years.  We've already seen how far she'll go to achieve her goals.  I'm very curious what more there can be to get the title "monster".

So, what's on your radar for 2018?

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas 2017

So here we are on Christmas Day, which I celebrate in the traditional way of my people.

I've got plenty of things on deck for 2018.  We've got Lady Henterman's Wardrobe coming out in March, and more to come beyond that.  It's all very exciting.

So, where can you see me in 2018?  Well, for starters, in February I'll be at Boskone.  And, of course, I'll be at ArmdilloCon in August, and then in November I'll be the Special Guest at PhilCon. I'm sure I'll have more on my schedule over the course of the year as well.

And, of course, I'll spend plenty of time in the word mines.  And speaking of, even though it's Christmas*, it's time to get back down there.
Have a glorious holiday.

*- Back in the day, I remember David Eddings writing to write every day, and you could take a half-day on Christmas.  I've probably internalized that too much.  But that's me.  I don't advocate that you need to do that yourself.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

My Favorite Novel of 2017

It's the time of year when people are writing their "best of the year" lists and such.  Unfortunately, as a reader, I tend to be a bit slow and behind the times, so I'm hardly going to be able to tell you the best books from 2017 that I read. 

BUT, I'm going to tell you about one of the new releases from this past year, a spectacular debut, and definitely the book you should be looking at to give All The Awards to, and that's The Prey of the Gods by Nicky Drayden.

Now, full disclosure, I've known Nicky for a long time, and I even read Prey in rough-draft form way back when.  And I said then what I'll say now: It is delightfully batshit, and you'll enjoy the heck out of it:
In South Africa, the future looks promising. Personal robots are making life easier for the working class. The government is harnessing renewable energy to provide infrastructure for the poor. And in the bustling coastal town of Port Elizabeth, the economy is booming thanks to the genetic engineering industry which has found a welcome home there. Yes—the days to come are looking very good for South Africans. That is, if they can survive the present challenges:

A new hallucinogenic drug sweeping the country . . .
An emerging AI uprising . . .
And an ancient demigoddess hellbent on regaining her former status by preying on the blood and sweat (but mostly blood) of every human she encounters.

It’s up to a young Zulu girl powerful enough to destroy her entire township, a queer teen plagued with the ability to control minds, a pop diva with serious daddy issues, and a politician with even more serious mommy issues to band together to ensure there’s a future left to worry about.
And, I mean, look at the praise:
*A Wall Stree Journal "Summer Reading: One expert. One book" pick for 2017!
*The RT Book Reviews "June 2017: Seal of Excellence" pick!
*A B&N Sci Fi and Fantasy Blog "Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of 2017 So Far" pick!
*A Book Riot Best Books of 2017 Pick!

So I'm not alone in praising it.  Go get it, go read it.  You'll be glad you did.

Monday, December 18, 2017


We're about ten weeks away from the release of Lady Henterman's Wardrobethe second Streets of Maradaine novel.  The Rynax Brothers are back with the rest of their crew, with a brand new heist adventure.  Here's the first excerpt:

THERE WAS NOTHING A thief liked more than a boring, predictable person. Especially when that person was in charge of the security for the place he wanted to break into.
Asti Rynax had spent ten days trailing a man named Nel Pitter, and several more before studying him. In those days he had learned absolutely everything there was to know about the man, which was very little indeed. Pitter worked nights, so he slept during the day. His apartment was a second-floor flat in a whitestone in the tony southern end of Promenade in Inemar, which he shared with three other men. All four men in that apartment worked as security guards for the Pomoraine Building, in different shifts. Most of the residents of that whitestone worked at the Pomoraine. Asti imagined housing was part of the wage, as there was no way a security guard would otherwise be able to afford such an apartment, even shared with three others. The Pomoraine took care of its employees.
The Pomoraine was a seven-story office building, the absolute pinnacle of modern architectural grandeur on the south side of the city. It towered over its namesake street, just one block east of Lowbridge. Perfectly situated where the money of East Maradaine met the commerce of Inemar. It housed offices for trading houses, speculators, and merchant moguls.
And, most importantly, the legal offices of Colevar and Associates.
All of the men who lived in that apartment, including Pitter, were incredibly regular in their schedules. Asti had watched all of them, learning their habits. He had determined there was no viable moment of opportunity where he could count on the apartment being unoccupied, or everyone inside would being asleep. Breaking into the apartment wasn’t an option. But Asti had already dismissed that, since Pitter’s usual activities made him an excellent mark for a different kind of run.
He had explained it to the rest of the crew before they had prepared for the play.
“Pitter sleeps during the day, and wakes up at five bells in the afternoon each day. Helene can confirm.” Helene Kesser had scouted him through her scope from the opposite roof.
“Literally, the bells of Saint Ollickar wake him up. Not the three or the four. Just the five,” Helene had said. “It’s creepy.”
“Wakes up at five, hits the water closet, gets dressed. Always with pressed shirt and polished boots. Presses and polishes himself, every day.”
Asti had seen Pitter come out each day, right at six bells, looking as crisp as the vegetables in his sister-in-law’s garden. He would stride down to Low Bridge Street, arriving at The Gentle Shepherd for dinner. Or breakfast in Pitter’s case. His meal was always the same— alf a roast chicken dressed with pickled onions, cabbage soup, soft cheese and mustard, and a soft cider.
“Each night the same?” Asti’s brother Verci had asked. “You’re sure of that?”
“Not that the menu at The Gentle Shepherd offers much option,” Asti said. “But that’s his place. No change. Which makes him perfect.”
Asti sat in the back corner of The Gentle Shepherd at six bells, slowly nursing his own soft cider. Not what he’d nor
mally choose, but tonight was a run, so it was best to stay sharp.
The rest of the crew were in position. The only one he could see right now was Helene, dressed like a laundry girl. She had been disguised with Pilsen Gin’s ministrations, so her rich brunette locks were hidden under a mousy brown wig and gray kerchief. No one from the North Seleth neighborhood would recognize her. She even wore a set of spectacles— fake lenses— and sat at another table with her nose in a book.
That was the other thing their observation of Pitter had yielded— he man was a reader. His evening meal was taken while reading. When he wasn’t walking his patrol of the Pomoraine, he was reading. He read while eating his other meal at sunrise, and for another hour before going to sleep at exactly nine bells in the morning.
Helene was reading— r pretending to read— he Shores of New Fencal, the war novel that Pitter had been working on in the past two days of observation. She had balked at the idea of actually reading it herself. “I had enough of schooling when I ditched school.”
“You don’t curl up with pennyhearts every night in your bed?”
“You need to not be thinking about my bed and what happens there, Asti Rynax.”
So Asti had read it that morning and briefed her on it, or at least the first five chapters. Enough so she could fake her way. It was a serviceable enough adventure book, set during the early days of the Island War, though it was based on fantastical ideas about a squadron of Druth soldiers holding against an entire Poasian company. Under normal circumstances, Asti would probably enjoy reading it. But this was a job. They had had to get to Pitter. Pitter would get them the Pomoraine, the Pomoraine would get them Colevar and Associates.
Colevar and Associates would get them the client who had paid to burn down Holver Alley so they could force out the residents and buy up the land.
Pitter came in, right on time, his book tucked under his arm. He sat down at the same table he always sat at— right in Asti’s line of sight, and right where Helene could move in on him. He gave a signal to the proprietor, who knew him well enough to simply nod back in reply. In a moment, Pitter’s cider was delivered, and he was deep into his own copy of The Shores of New Fencal.
Almer Cort came in a few steps behind Pitter, taking a place at a far table. His job was simple, at least this part. He had to follow Pitter from his apartment to The Gentle Shepherd, and give signal if anything was wrong. Cort ordered wine and bread, which meant everything was going fine.
That gave Helene her cue. She reached from her seat over to Pitter’s table.
“I’m sorry,” she said, talking through her nose. It was slightly painful to Asti’s ears— Pilsen hadn’t given her much instruction on accents or voices, and she insisted on using one for this job. It was not in her skillset. “I couldn’t help but notice.” She held up her book to him.
“Oh, yes,” Pitter said. “How far are you?”
“Chapter five,” she said. “You?”
“Nine,” he said. He was a bit standoffish, like he wanted to get back to his reading. Helene wasn’t going to quite let that happen. She moved herself, book and cider, to his table and sat down.
“I’m just loving it so far,” she said, putting one hand on his arm. “I mean, it’s the first one of this author that I’ve read, but it’s thrilling!”
Pitter put his book down and locked eyes with Helene. Which, of course he would. Even in the dowdy disguise, she was a good-looking woman, and she had already shown a mutual interest. Now she just had to keep him.
“I’ve been following this writer for a bit now,” Pitter said. “He started out doing serials in— do you read the Sword Pulps?”
“No,” Helene said. “But I want to know about them.”
She scratched her ear, to cue the next step. Mila was in place for that, watching through the window of The Gentle Shepherd from the street.
Mila Kendish wasn’t in disguise, other than wearing a similar laundry girl outfit. She came into the Shepherd and went straight for Helene and Pitter.
“Cassie,” she said to Helene. That was the name they chose when they worked out this bit. “What are you doing? You were supposed to come home an hour ago!”
“I’m having a perfectly lovely conversation with a fellow imaginative soul,” Helene said.
“This steve?” Mila said, prodding at Pitter.
“Who are you?” Pitter asked.
“She’s my baby sister,” Helene said. “And she’s annoying.”
“You shouldn’t—” Mila started, her hands giving a signal to Asti and Helene. She had Pitter’s keys.
“Go home yourself, Sera,” Helene said. “I’ll get there when I get there.”
“Gerry won’t—”
“Not your problem.”
“Fine,” Mila rolled her eyes and stomped off. Perfect performance. “But I ain’t gonna lie for you!” She went out.
“Ignore her,” Helene said. “Tell me more about this writer’s other work.”
Pitter launched into a description while his meal arrived. That, and Helene, should keep him suitably distracted while Mila ran the keys to Verci and Win Greenfield, sequestered in a back alley flop a block away. Win could make an imprint of the keys in a matter of minutes.
That was all the easy part.
Helene kept up her end of the conversation while Pitter went on, eating and drinking the whole while. She was engaging, and he was engaged.
Asti had to admit, he was pretty impressed with her here. He had always known her to be a crack shot with the crossbow. Three months ago, that’s all anyone thought of her, and no one wanted to bring her in on a job. Her attitude had given her and her cousin a bad reputation, and several folks on the street couldn’t stand working with her. But Asti had known her since he had been out of swaddling, and knew she could be better, do more. She just needed a reason.
Getting the folks who burned down the alley, killed her grandmother, that had given her a damn good reason.
Mila was in the window, nodding. Now she just had to get the keys back in his pocket. Time for the big move.
Asti gave a nod to Almer, who loudly ordered a cider from the barman. That let Helene know what was coming. She signaled to the barman for another round of cider herself.
Mila came running in, faking she was out of breath. “I told you—” she heaved. “I told you he wouldn’t—”
“Shove off,” Helene said, getting up.
“Gerry asked where you were, and I said I wouldn’t lie for you!”
“You told him?”
“I told you—”
“Cassie!” A giant brute of a man came into The Gentle Shepherd. “Gerry,” or rather Helene’s cousin Julien, also disguised by Pilsen.
“Why can’t you let me be!” Helene cried as Julien stormed over.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Julien slammed a massive fist on the table, rattling the plates and knocking over the ciders.
“Who is he?” Pitter asked.
“Her husband,” Mila said, cowering near Pitter. “Blazes of a temper.”
“And who are you?” Julien snarled at Pitter.
Pitter held up his hands, open wide. “Hey, she just came over to talk about the book. I didn’t . . . I just talked about books.”
Helene got on her feet, moving in close to Pitter. “He likes books. He’s interested in those things. Unlike some people.”
Mila had clutched on to Pitter. “The last time she did this—”
“Last time?” Pitter asked. “You make a habit of this, you slan?”
Helene gasped, and then slapped him.
That was off script. A bit worrisome, but Mila had already gotten his keys back into his pocket. That girl had incredible hands; she could steal a feather from a bird mid-flight.
“Well then,” Pitter said. He turned to Julien. “Sir, I’m sorry for any inappropriate appearance. I had no untoward intention to your wife, and wish no quarrel with you.”
“Cassie,” Julien grunted. “Get home.”
Helene stormed out of The Gentle Shepherd, inventing new invectives and curses as she left. Mila followed after her.
“Enjoy your dinner,” Julien said, and stalked off.
Pitter huffed in discontent and sat back down. Taking a moment to situate himself back to his meal, he again started eating and reading, drinking the cider he had presumed the barman brought when the old one had spilled.
He hadn’t noticed Almer was the one who had delivered the new mug.
“It won’t taste any different,” Almer had said. “The stuff I’m slipping him pretty much tastes like cider anyway. The only difference is, an hour after he drinks it, he won’t be able to get out of the water closet.”
Asti had been on the receiving end of a few of Almer’s apothecarial nightmares, and he didn’t doubt that Pitter would be in for a horrible night.
With Pitter out of commission, and copies of his keys, they were all set to get into the offices of Colevar and Associates. After a month of planning, tonight was the night.

Forthcoming March 2018

Mixing high fantasy and urban fantasy, the second novel of the Streets of Maradaine series follows the Rynax brothers’ crew of outlaws as they attempt their biggest heist yet and restore justice to the common people.

The neighborhood of North Seleth has suffered–and not just the Holver Alley Fire. Poverty and marginalization are forcing people out of the neighborhood, and violence on the streets is getting worse. Only the Rynax brothers–Asti and Verci–and their Holver Alley Crew are fighting for the common people. They’ve taken care of the people who actually burned down Holver Alley, but they’re still looking for the moneyed interests behind the fire.

The trail of breadcrumbs leads the crew to Lord Henterman, and they plan to infiltrate the noble’s house on the other side of the city. While the crew tries to penetrate the heart of the house, the worst elements of North Seleth seem to be uniting under a mysterious new leader. With the crew’s attention divided, Asti discovers that the secrets behind the fire, including ones from his past, might be found in Lady Henterman’s wardrobe.

Available at Amazon and more!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Writing in the Here and Now

Every once in a while the idea crosses my mind-- what might it have been like to have been a writer in a different time and place?  Writing plays in Elizabethan England, for example?  But most of the time, I'm fairly anchored to the here and now, which is possibly the best time ever to be an SFF writer.

I'm the right age to remember how dire the SFF options were when I was young.  For me, Sci-fi and Fantasy was a single rack of shelves in the back corner of the Waldenbooks. 

Not too long ago, there was a twitter thread , talking about the fantasy genre and the tropes within it. But the whole thing addresses "fantasy novels" in the most painfully generic way. It's not about actual fantasy novels. It's more about the idea of how fantasy novels are, from people who know little more than the cliches, and outdated ones at that.

Thankfully, nowadays, so much of what that thread accused Fantasy Novels of aren't true anymore. Today, just in "mainstream", traditionally published stuff, we've got a ridiculous wealth of new Sci-fi and Fantasy, and there's so much creativity and vibrancy and variation in the genre, it's astounding.  I'm thrilled to be writing in this genre right now. 

And right now, exciting things are happening.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Wrap Up for 2017

So, the year has nearly come to an end.  And what's been accomplished?
Well, the big thing for me, of course, was having two more novels come out.  For the record, both Holver Alley Crew and The Imposters of Aventil are eligible for any Best Novel of 2017 awards, including and not limited to the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, etc.  Both meet the criteria for "novel" in terms of word count (both being more or less 100K), and if you honestly believe either one deserves award recognition, I welcome your endorsement. 

What else is has been going on?  Well, plenty.  In addition to getting Lady Henterman's Wardrobe ready to go into your eyeballs, I drafted A Parliament of Bodies and a few other Secret Things that I will be talking about very soon.

I know this year has been especially hard for a lot of people, and it certainly hasn't been easy for me.  The best thing is that I've had the ability and freedom to immerse myself in my work and make More Stories for all of you.  And that'll be continuing, though I can always use your help. 

How can you help?  Well, if you've been reading Maradaine novels and you enjoy them, talk about it.  Write reviews on Amazon or Goodreads.  Tell your friends about them.  Give The Thorn of DentonhillA Murder of Mages or Holver Alley Crew as Christmas gifts.  Share and enjoy. 

I'm looking forward to plenty of more things in 2018.  Until then, I'll be down in the word mines.  See you down there.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Work Space for my Head Space

I do not have the luxury of being especially twee about my writing space.  For various logistical reasons, I do not have a permanent desk or workspace.  So I've got to be a writing nomad, moving to whatever flat surface I can find.  That's what I've gotten used to, and I've managed to make it work for me, even though it can be rather frustrating at times.

So, for me to get into the creative headspace, it takes a certain degree of focus.  Distractions or interruptions tend to knock me out, and I need to start over again.  So I do my best to minimize them.  Oddly, working in public can be a good thing for me, as long as it's a public space where I'm not expected to interact much.  Coffee shops are good.

BUT, I need the focus, and that means a good set of headphones.

Nothing is more critical in terms of centering me, regardless of where I'm working.  If I can drown out the world and give myself a good dramatic score or thumping baseline, then everything comes together.

That's it.  As long as I have the comfortable place to sit and the outside world can be shut out with a good beat?  I can work miracles.  Everything else?  That's extra.

(Not that I don't want an office of my own.  I so do.  I will also happily accept any offers for writing retreats, if anyone wants to make them.  The advantage of being a Writing Nomad is I can easily go anywhere, including a remote lakeside cabin in the mountains.  If, you know, you've got one of those.)

And speaking of, new works won't write themselves.  Time to get to work.

Monday, December 4, 2017

TURK 182!: A Bad Movie I've Seen Many, Many, Many Times

This is a special entry into the Bad Movie I've Seen Many, Many, Many Times Canon.  For one, it's our first request.  Now, surely you're asking, who can make a request for a movie that I've seen many, many times.  Well, my sister, that's who, since any movie I saw many, many times, she almost certainly did as well.
This one is also strange because, while I've seen every scene in this movie oh-so-many times, I honestly don't think I've ever actually watched it in its entirety in one sitting.  This sort of thing isn't uncommon if you grow up with a all-the-movie-channels cable package, because you'll flip around and settle on a movie that's only got a half-hour left, or you'll watch the front half of something on HBO for forty minutes to kill time before you switch to the movie you actually want to see on Showtime.  Turk 182! is kind of the perfect movie for that.  It's a movie nobody wants to watch, but if it's on, eh, fine.

The movie focuses on two brothers.  Our main character is Timothy Hutton, who's the young, ambitious smart guy in a blue-collar family.  I honestly can't recall if he's got an actual job or career or such in the movie, but he probably doesn't, because there's no way he'd have the time to do everything he does in this movie if he's also got to go to work every day.  I'll get into that.  His brother, played by Robert Urich, is a salt-of-the-earth good-guy firefighter.  Timothy worships his older brother, and Robert will point to his brother and say, "This kid's gonna make something of himself!"  Or something like that.  It's been a while.  Anyhow, one night they're drinking at the local firefighter-bar in New York City when someone runs in and says there's a fire.  Robert Urich, despite being a few drinks in, just charges out and into the burning building, saving a little girl.  But while he's in there, other firefighters burst in with the hose blasting, knocking him out the window and smashing into parked car below.

So, Robert's badly injured, but because he was off-duty and drinking, the city is all, "Sorry, nope" about paying his disability or medical expenses.  Which is a fascinating dick move.  Like, regardless of him having a few drinks, his injuries were 100% because of the negligence of other firefighters.  Maybe that's why his fellow firefighters are hanging him out to dry with the city.  But the point is, he's looking at a long rehabilitation, and no one is going to pay for it.

That's no good as far as Timothy Hutton is concerned.  So he takes it all the way to City Hall to confront the mayor and get what's fair for his brother.  The mayor blows him off ("Your brother's a drunk!") and no help is given.  And I can stress this enough: the other firefighters nearly straight-up murdered him.  Fault is so obviously theirs its almost comical.  But this sort of thing was typical in 80s movies: city officials that are nothing but bureaucratic penny-pinchers who will never do the right thing.

So, Timothy Hutton gets his hot-head on and wallpapers the mayor's office with all the rejection letters his brother's received from the city.  He does this while the Mayor Tyler (Robert Culp) is doing crunches in the next room and his deputy-mayor eats a burger.  I am not making that up.  This was the glory of movies from the 80s that you just don't see today: utterly random, go-nowhere character traits in secondary characters that honestly make them feel more real.  Namely, the idea that the mayor used to be fat, but now has lost weight and is into fitness. 

There's a lot of strangeness in orbit of the mayor in this movie, but we'll get into it.
Anyhow, since Timothy Hutton's character was previously yelling at the mayor about his brother's treatment and then letters to his brother were all over the mayor's office, Timothy Hutton is the obvious suspect and he's immediately arrested and the movie is over.

I'M KIDDING.  That doesn't happen for no real adequately explained reason.  Instead, Timothy Hutton continues to stalk Mayor Tyler, and in the meantime make eyes at his brother's social worker, because she's played by Kim Cattrall.  That's the obligatory romantic subplot, and I'll get back to that. 

See, Mayor Tyler has his own problems, in that there's some inadequately explained scandal involving a guy named Zimmerman who fled the country before his trial.  The Mayor wishes people would forget about that and instead focus on his whole anti-graffiti, clean-up-the-city campaign.  But protestors disrupt one of his events by painting "ZIMMERMAN FLEW AND TYLER KNEW!" on the golden apple that was supposed to symbolize the clean city.  The mayor is incensed, obviously.  Timothy Hutton sees all this go down and then GETS AN IDEA.  Namely, that he is going to copy those protestors. 

This is where we get into the real meat of the movie, in which Timothy Hutton becomes GRAFFITI BATMAN. 

He starts this campaign when the mayor is unveiling this fancy graffiti-proof train, that has some special coating that spray-paint won't stick to.  His tech people assure him, in order to tag this train, someone would have to take a sandblaster to it first.  Cut to: Timothy Hutton sandblasting the train.  Seriously, ALL ALONE he pretends to be a city worker, stops the train before it gets to the event, and sandblasts and spray-paints the train, and ALL THE WHILE none of the people who are on the train adequately question the guy who IS CLEARLY SPRAY-PAINTING THE TRAIN before it arrives at an Anti-Graffiti Event.  The only person who even thinks something might be off is Peter Boyle, the Mayor's Chief of Security.  But by the time he manages to bumble over to check things out, the damage is done and the train engineer drives right into the press event, with ZIMMERMAN FLEW, TYLER KNEW, TURK182! plastered on the side.

Needless to say, the mayor is put out.

I'm just amazed that the logistics of pulling all this off are kind of glossed over.  It's basically, "Every city official, including cops and train engineers, are super-incompetent, so he just gets away with it."  Same thing when, later in the movie, he just takes over the Yankee Stadium Jumbotron to further tweak the mayor. 

That's most of it: we get a whole lot of montages of TURK182! getting tagged everywhere, the mayor getting steamed, and the cops being in full Keystone Mode because no one can catch this mysterious Turk182, whoever he might be.

Except Kim Cattrall figures it out, because it's literally no mystery at all.  Robert Urich's nickname is "Turk" and his badge number is 182.  But he's in the hospital with all the broken limbs, so it's clearly Timothy Hutton.  When Kim Cattrall figures this out, she does what any reasonable person would do: gets naked and waits in his bed.


So Timothy and Kim get together, as the romantic subplot dictates they must.  My favorite bit of all this is, when she presses him about the whole "Zimmerman Flew, Tyler Knew" thing, he admits he really has no idea what that's about, it's just something to piss the mayor off with. 
She convinces him to go public, but Turk182 has become such a sensation, hundreds of people are confessing to be Turk182.  So when he goes to a reporter and gives the whole story, it gets filed away as "just another nutcase". 

The big climax is on a bridge, where there's going to be a huge lighting-up-words on the bridge ceremony, so of course Timothy is on the scene, rearranging the lights while pretending to be one of the workers.  This time he finally gets noticed in the act, because you can't scaffold up and down a giant bridge with cameras literally broadcasting the event live without a few people noticing.  While he tries to finish re-setting the lights to make it read "TURK 182!", Peter Boyle is losing his damn mind about it all, and tries to murder Timothy Hutton, and failing that, kill any city electricians who want to keep the power on.  But Turk182! has become such a beloved folk-hero that the city electricians are all, "screw that, turn the power back on" when Peter Boyle goes away.  So the lights stay on, and the final, giant Turk182 message goes out.

And the mayor... he doesn't really have a change of heart, but he knows a publicity opportunity when he sees it, so he basically decides to just roll with it, telling the deputy mayor, "When he comes down, we're going to say we've been rooting for him the whole time."  All is well, Robert Urich finally gets the financial support he's due, and Timothy and Kim are a happy couple or... something.

So a campaign of public vandalism... works?  Is that the message?  I mean, what he does is the 80s equivalent of getting a hashtag trending, and because the people like a good story that gets the mayor mad, he succeeds. Like I said before, there was a definite streak in the 80s of hating city officials and bureaucrats (like Walter Peck from Ghostbusters), so a story about a little guy winning against a heartless bureaucracy with nothing but wit, heart, and Jason Bourne levels of skill when it came to spray-painting things.

Or maybe it's all about what Timothy said when Kim asked him why he's doing it.

"To get girls."

Yeah, that's about it.