Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 4

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 4

“Brave coming back to your ship after so long.” The Specter’s monotone was either bored or appreciative.

“I can honestly say it wasn’t by choice. I was kidnapped by this crew and forced to work with them.” Sometimes telling the truth is a great way to throw people off. In this case I was stalling trying to get to the magnetic spanner, a fancy little wrench that was designed to return to the owner if it fell off into space.

“According to my psych profile for you, that’s not really surprising. I was never expecting to find you. You probably set up shop as a mechanic in a backwater world. Maybe even convinced yourself you liked it.”

I sighed loudly and dramatically. “You’ve got me. I actually enjoy not being yelled at by commanders and I especially enjoy not being ordered to kill civilians.”

“There is only the God and the Cause!” he replied.

I spit at his feet and replied, “No God of mine.” I found the spanner and tossed it at the Specter. As expected, he activated his phase and the wrench went right through him. With my hand hidden behind my back, I pulled it back just in time. The Phasing tech drained a lot of power; combined with the fact that he couldn’t hit me if it was on, he turned it off.

My timing had been perfect and I heard a small gurgle as his body tried to understand how a foot long piece of metal was inside it. He fell to the ground right after the spanner burst out of his chest like an alien in a bad movie. 

I cleaned the room and spaced the body, keeping the extra stun grenades. His sidearm was keyed to his genetics and would explode if I tried it.

The next thing I did was check on Onyx. The ship’s diagnostics were years ahead of anything else and it told me he had a major concussion. With a few flips of switches I was able to fix the damage. He’d have a hell of a headache, but no other side effects. I watched him sleep a little, the contours of his cheekbones and perfect skin. He was beautiful. Of course the moment I thought it, he released the most ridiculous snore, something between an old gas engine and a wild animal.

Placing Diamond and Sphene on the other bunks, I had time to move the Mountain, whose girth, if not his height, lived up to his name, and his crew back onto their ship before everyone woke up. The stun grenades have a massive range and if you don’t have shielding, you’re going to be knocked out. 

The old man, who I still didn’t know his name, came over the coms sounding groggy, “You all alive down there?”

“Hey, it’s Garnet. Onyx took a pretty hard blow to the head, but everyone else was just knocked out.”

“Well well, good job new guy.” The man sounded impressed but didn’t offer his name. “Is the ship working?”

“Yes. All good to go.”

“Great, then follow me and let the princesses dream.” He undocked and started out of the sector. I ran to the pilot’s chair and followed Diamond’s ship. From the outside, I could see it’s name on the hull, Revenge.

“Uh… Revenge. Where are we going?” We couldn’t just fly the Rainbow through any commercial gate and without a psychic, there was no way I could get her to jump safely. 

“Just follow me. Diamond’s got a trick up their sleeve.”

I watched as the Revenge piloted right into a large asteroid and disappeared. “A hollow emitter masking a gate? How much money does Diamond have?” I said to myself.

“Very little, but I do have a map to all the hidden gates in the system,” Diamond said from behind me.

“But… How?” I asked as we came out of the moon of Tryo. I activated the cloak on the ship and continued to follow the Revenge.

“Honestly, I don’t know. The gates are hundreds of years old. A secret lost to all but a few Diamonds.”

The ship shook and Diamond sat in the engineer chair. I checked the sensors as she worked the automatic repair drones. “Looks like the Specter had a partner. There’s a 2-12 Aurora following us.” I swore.

“What’s that? I’ve never heard of it.” Diamond sounded worried.

“Spector attack ship. Three pilots almost as fast as a Rainbow and twice as well armed.” I checked that our cloak was on; it was and it did nothing as we got hit by a second barrage.

“Revenge, are we close?” Diamond asked.

“Two seconds.”

I mentally counted to two and spun the ship around. I watched as the dark blur that was the Aurora was attacked by four asteroid mounted guns.

Not wanting to take any chances, I joined in with the Rainbow’s weapons. The other ship exploded in a dramatic display.

“Hidden weapons? Are those ancient too?” I asked.

Laughing, Diamond replied, “No, I added those. You never know who’s going to follow.” She paused and asked, “Anything we can salvage from that, you think?”

“Not unless you want to blow up or wait around for more.” I fired at all the pieces bigger than my head. “When it comes to Black-Sun there’s no such thing as overkill.”

“You’d know as well as I could, Engineer First Class.” She winked at me and said, “You locked down the ship, but didn’t secure the database. Nothing there really but the crew manifest.”

“How long have you known?” I asked.

She shook her head. “I suspected when you first got on board, but wasn’t sure until I saw how comfortable you were in that chair.”

“What now?” I asked. The penalty for harbouring a Black-Sun deserter was death, of you, your family, and anyone dumb enough to call you friend.

“Us deserters need to stick together.” She smirked and added, “Now let’s get to the base and plan a Heist.”

Read Next Chapter (May 2020)


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 3

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 3

“A fight?” I asked.

“Yeah, scavenger rules say that the first person to a wreck has the rights to it,” Onyx said, shrugging, grabbing a bag and filling it with medical supplies.

“Yeah, but we ain’t scavengers we’re thieves!” exclaimed the teenager from earlier. She had a long loose coat and I could see several guns and a lot of knives.

“What does that mean?” I asked, trying to sound timid and hide my excitement. It had been a while since I’d been in a fight.

Diamond answered as everyone started strapping themselves into seats. “It means we dock with the Rainbow and beat the shit out of the Mountain and his crew.”

The older man came over the coms, “We’re about to dock. Hold on. This is going to be bumpy.”

“Why not blast them?” I asked.

“First off, my ship doesn’t have weapons. Second, if they did we’d be risking hitting the Rainbow and that’s a terrible idea. Third, I want to teach those chumps a lesson and no one learns when they’re dead.”

Onyx leaned over to me from his chair and said, “Don’t worry. You’ll stick with me and I’ll protect you while you’re making the repairs.” I glanced at his bare shoulders and the contour of his arms. He was in good shape, good enough to make my heart do double time anyway, but a seasoned fighter he wasn’t. The tell was in how he leaned away from the gun on his own hip. Like he’d rather be anywhere but touching it.

Trying not to sound condescending or fake, I said, “I’m glad to have you watching my back.”

“Um. I think he’s been watching a lot more than that,” said the teenager.

“Sphene, shut up.” Onyx blushed as he chastised her.

“Oh come on, brother. That man is very good looking and obviously has a thing for you. Now you both know you like each other and that should make things easier.” It was my turn to blush.

“Goodness, you’re young,” Diamond said and whistled. “Nothing is going to make these two’s affection easier.”

“We’ve docked. May the sun shine on you,” the voice over the coms said.

We all unlatched our restraints and Diamond got a large familiar case from the corner. “Here’s your favourite tools. Should be everything you need in there.”

As we got ready to open the airlock, Diamond put on her holo-emitter and pulled out a long stun baton. Sphene was holding a large bat of some sort. I have no idea where she was hiding it.

The door opened and we were off. 

The Rainbow wasn’t large; it had a bridge at the front with three seats, a triple bunk room, a washroom, a tiny nook that served as the kitchen, and an engine room in the back.

The ship was designed to be piloted by three people; an engineer, a gunner, and a psychic. The jump drive attached to the ship could go anywhere in the solar system in seconds, but without a psychic, there was no way to do the math required. Most regular ships used the jump gates that took the math out of the equation, so to speak.

The two airlock hatches were between the kitchen nook and the engine room. The other crew had docked on the starboard and we’d docked on the port. The double docking ports allowed for the ships to connect and do longer jumps. At least that was the theory. I’d never been involved in the inter-system jumps and never met anyone who’d come back. It also allowed for adding storage or personnel carrier pods.

The Mountain must have been more cautious than Diamond because we were already onboard and ready to protect the small ship before they opened their airlock. Diamond was on the side of the kitchen and living quarters, Onyx tried to look intimidating on the other side, blocking me from view as I fixed the engine, and Sphene stood in our airlock.

I expected a gunfight, instead I got a tense standoff. The first person I saw coming out of the airlock looked less like a mountain and more like a hill, or bump. He came to midway up my chest. His deep voice however left no ambiguity as to who he was, “Diamond you old jackass, did you really risk decompression and the cold of space to beat us to this thing?”

They’d had no idea that the ship had air or that it didn’t have any hole to the outside. That was either reckless or brave. Not much difference there.

“Yeah and my bet paid off, as usual. You gonna fight us? Sphene would love another shot at your daughter.”

I tried not to laugh as I ran diagnostics. I had disabled the ship and added a code that no one but me could know. With enough time and the right computer it could be unlocked, but I didn’t need either.

“You can’t possibly think you can fix this thing or pilot it?” The Mountain said. I punctuated his words by turning on the ship’s main power. “Well, you can’t possibly pilot it.”

“And you can?” Diamond asked.

“I can’t, but I hired someone who can.” The words made me go cold. The only people who could pilot this ship were Black-Sun agents or Black-Sun deserters like me.

I turned on the protective shield for the engine room a split second before the stun grenade went off. Diamond, Sphene, and the Mountain fell to the ground. Onyx yelped and walked into the forcefield. “Why would they knockout their own people?”

“They didn’t. They invited Black-Sun to the party. Probably a Specter.” 

Onyx pulled out his gun and tried to look brave. Specters were Black-Suns assassins and cleanup crew. They were the boogeyman that other boogeymen feared.

“Clever turning on the shield to stop the stun grenade, but you won’t live long enough to gloat,” the Specter said as he walked through the shield. They had a form of phasing that let them go through anything. 

To Onyx’s credit he threw a punch that connected and I heard a crack before he fell to the ground unconscious.

Read Next Chapter

While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 2

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 2

This time I woke up on a bed. It was a raised hospital bed, but still a bed. I smelled the spaghetti before I opened my eyes.

“I’m not tied up. You must trust me.” I just lay there trying my best to stop everything from spinning. “Can you ask the pilot to stop doing loop-de-loops?”

A laughing voice replied, “That’s not the ship. You’re having a bad reaction to the sedative. Did you know you have an incredible immune system?”

I risked opening my eyes as I replied, “Doc, I just met you and you’re already checking out my immune system?” I was rewarded by a great smile.

“Will he be able to work?” Diamond’s voice was tight and she sounded worried.

“He’ll be fine. He needs some food and drink, but by the time we get there he’ll be fine.” The doctor sounded protective.

“So, Garnet, are you up for the challenge of repairing a ship that doesn’t exist?” Diamond asked.

The smart answer when the galaxy’s greatest thief asks you something depends on who you are. If you’re into adventure, you answer yes, if you’re not, you don’t. I, well, I chose to not be smart. “Why do you need the ship?”

“You’re so clever, you tell me.”

Shoving a bowl of spaghetti and a fork in front of me, the doctor made an eating motion. Maybe he thought I needed time to think or that I needed food before I fell unconscious. I answered before my first bite. “You need to steal something.”

The spaghetti was amazing. It might have been the extra garlic, the side effects of the sedative, or that I was a crappy cook, but it was like pure love and joy in my mouth.

“That was an easy guess. Try again.”

“Doc, if you cook like this all the time, I might have to marry you,” I said, ignoring Diamond.

“My name’s Onyx, at least it is here. First time I’ve been proposed to over my spaghetti.” He was blushing.

Sighing, Diamond said, “Wait until he tries your cheesecake. Now, if we’re done flirting?”

“Fine. I assume you need the ship, which I’d guess is high military or Black-Sun to infiltrate a government facility and steal something. Since it’s a small ship, I assume military tech, probably the schematics and not the actual thing.”

Diamond nodded. “They’ve apparently created a  device that can use the atoms from waste matter and reuse it to create nearly anything.”

I had never heard of any such tech, even in my time with Black-Star. If what she said was true, this tech could help millions in the outer planets with medicine, food, construction material… The possibilities were staggering.

“What do you plan on doing with it once you have it?” I hadn’t meant to say it in a challenging tone, but there it was. 

Diamond walked up to me and she smiled. It was a predatory smile, a smile that screamed mischief. It was probably meant to scare me or intimidate me, but it actually put me at ease.

“I aim to make sure every server, every computer, every watch with a stars-damned chip in it has a copy of the plans. I want this information spammed across every world in the system and I want everyone to have one of these things by the end of the year. If every household can make its own food, building material, medicine, and weapons; the government and cursed Black-Star will not only be brought down a peg, but they might have to start respecting the people.”

I’m not sure if she expected me to demand payment or act impressed, but she seemed pleased with herself. I simply nodded and replied, “I’m in.”

Onyx whooped with approval and brought me a glass of milk. “Milk?” I asked.

He shrugged and said, “You need the proteins and sugars. Also, it goes great with spaghetti.”

Once I had eaten, showered, and gotten dressed in fresh clothes, I heard Diamond’s voice over the ships PA; “Garnet to the bridge.”

The bridge wasn’t much more than a four person cockpit with standing room, if you crouched and didn’t mind being jostled. I took the engineer’s seat which gave basic readouts from the engine room.

Out the viewports, I saw what looked like a massive debris field. I recognized the emblems and makes of a dozen ships, Black-Star, government, Independents, and Zombie Raiders. The last weren’t zombies, or really raiders, but rich hippy environmental activists that liked to think they were important. 

“Where are we? This looks like quite the battle.”

“We’re around Yreld, at what was the site of the largest inner ring battle that no one knows about. You probably heard that Yreld had been devastated by a mutant locust plague, but the truth is much worse. The Independents had a base there and the Government decided to make an example of it. The planet and its three moons are now lifeless. No one who’s gone down to salvage has come back. Looks like the Independents and the Zombie Raiders didn’t go down without a fight.”

I knew all this. I was there. It was where I decided to defect from the Black-Star and fake my death. The ship flew into a hard to navigate section and through the view ports I saw my old 16-19 Rainbow, the ship that shouldn’t exist.

I was so fixated on the ship that I didn’t see the salvage ship with the big red crossbones painted on it’s hull. 

“Well shit. Looks like the Mountain made it here before us. Alright folks, get ready for a fight.”

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While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

The Untitled Mystery Book Project

Hello readers,

Here’s some exciting news. Jen and Eric have started working on a book together. This is the first time either of us have co-authored a work of fiction.

The book is an Urban Fantasy Romance, with a superhero and robots.

Here’s the synopsis:

When Kennedy, a recent graduate trying to find her purpose in life or at least a job in her field, saves Jason, the leader of a secret community of supernatural people called Aetherborn, from an attempted assassination, they embark on a whirlwind epic romance and adventure.

For Kennedy to help Jason discover why people are disappearing in time to save her friends, they’ll have to navigate teleporting assassins, grumpy wizards, gossiping hags, mafia robots, and secret military groups all in the city of Westmeath, Ontario, which has more secrets than residents.

We’re currently 1/3 of the way through writing and have planned out most of the book. Accounting for us slowing down a little, we should have the book ready for beta readers in Fall at the latest.

So what do you think? Hope you are at least a tenth as excited as we are.

Éric and Jen

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 1


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 1

The blindfold was soft and smelled vaguely of strawberries. I could tell I was on a ship from the vibrations I could feel through my hands and feet, which were tied to a heavy metal chair. The smell of strawberries from the blindfold wasn’t strong enough to cover the smell of cooking. 

“You’re obviously not Galactic Police or Army,” I said wishing I was back on Viol. I had come to think of the backwater planet as home.

“Why would you think that?” The question was asked by a woman; she had a deep voice and sounded amused. 

“From the vibrations of the engine this is a Raft class ship with augmented long range engines.”

“Impressive.” The voice didn’t sound impressed but gloating.

“Also the police and military don’t use that much garlic in their tomato sauce.”

The woman laughed and so did three others. So there were four of them. From the laughter, the woman was joined by a young girl, an older man, and a younger man.

“If you aren’t military or police and you’re certainly not Black-Star, who are you and what do you want?” If they’d been Black-Star, I’d be already dead.

I’d figured out the knots on my hands but didn’t want to release them without knowing more of the layout and where everyone was. 

“If you had access to a 16-19 Rainbow that was broken, could you fix it?” The Rainbow was treated as a myth but I’d not only seen them, I’d piloted and fixed them.

“They don’t exist, but if they did, I could,” I lied. Never admit you know a myth really exists, it only leads to more questions.

“Cocky. Fine. There is a problem with this ship. What is it?” She asked the question with conviction, but I knew it was a trick.

“There’s nothing wrong with this ship. It’s purring great.” I paused before adding, “However, in order to add augmented engines on a Raft ship, you’d have to rebuild the engine hold. I’m going to guess that whoever did it was more concerned with speed. If you tried to activate your aft or fore thrusters for an emergency turn while in a jump, the entire ship would shut down.”

Another voice, the old man, “Well shit, that’s what happened?”

This was the point where I had to make a choice. It seemed like they wanted me because of my mechanical knowledge and experience. Did they know who and what I was before? Did they know the things I’d done? If they did, I’d have to kill them all and hope I could cover the traces up well enough.

“Can we trust you?” asked the woman.

I tried not to laugh, but I failed and it came out as a choked giggle. “I’m tied to a chair, I think you drugged me, and the only thing that smells stronger than the garlic in that sauce is the smell of ozone from your laser rifles. I’m the one who should have trust issues.”

“You can’t fault that logic. Although I’m a little offended at the shots about my sauce.” There was the younger man, he had a wonderfully light voice, like he didn’t have a care in the world. I wondered if it was an act or if he was genuinely that innocent.

“Fine,” the woman said and took off the blindfold. It took me a little longer than I expected for my eyes to adjust, maybe that was the sedative they gave me. When they did, in front of me were two older men, a young man, and a teenage girl.

All but one of the men were dressed as delivery people. The one who wasn’t wore silver tight pants with a shiny black shirt and a domino mask. I recognised him from the films and novels. It was the galaxy’s most notorious thief, Diamond Stars.

“So Diamond Stars is a woman,” I said, seeing the faint glow of the holo-emitter around the man. 

She turned off the holo and shook her head, “You saw the glow or you counted voices.”

“Both. What does Diamond Stars want with me?”

“Well you see… that’s kinda my fault.” The old man looked sheepish but I recognized him as one of the landowners on Viol. “I heard your reputation and sent a friend over with a puzzle for you.”

“The jump limiter. I thought that was odd. Wouldn’t tell me what ship it was for. It’s definitely not this one.” I took a few moments to pretend I hadn’t already guessed and then added, “Oh you’ve found what you think is a 16-19 Rainbow and want me to fix it.”

“Damn, he is good.” My eyes turned to the man who I’d deemed the young man; he was in his early thirties like me and was standing at the galley kitchen with an apron and a chef’s hat. The hat had the words, Kiss the Chef written on them in permanent marker.

Other things were said at that time that I didn’t hear, when my eyes fixed on his face everything else became noise. He had a little black stubble on a strong jaw but what made him truly handsome were his eye crinkles and smile lines. He was a man who’d laughed and smiled a lot, his deep hazel eyes and perfect bronze skin didn’t hurt.

The man suddenly dropped his knife and ran around the little kitchen island. He grabbed a bag from beside me and I was vaguely aware of a loud thumping. Was it my heart or my ears? I wasn’t sure.

He mouthed something about a sedative and I did something I had never done before, I said the first thing that came to my head, they came out slurred,  “You’re pretty… Pretty good looking… I like your smile… well, not that one… it’s much too upside down for me.” My perception tilted wildly as if the ship were being thrown around but no one else moved and then the world became all bendy and I lost consciousness.

Read Chapter 2


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

Serial Story 2021 – Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist

Hello My Imaginary friends and readers,

I asked you what you wanted for this years serial story. You were very clear in what you wanted.

What should be the genre of the 2021 Serial Story?

Romance 42.31%

What should be the setting of 2021’s Serial Story?

Future Science Fiction (Star Trek, Firefly, etc.) 33.33%

What should the main character be?

Regular Human 37.50%

What should be the conflict?

Character vs. Self 44%

With that I give you this year’s serial story blurb:

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist

Garnet never expected he’d be kidnapped, especially not by the System’s most notorious thief Diamond Stars. He was supposed to be in hiding from his previous life and employers, living quietly as a glorified spaceship mechanic. Diamond wants him to join a heist; it’s a bad idea but there’s something enticing about the offer and it’s not just the handsome Doctor. 

Can Diamond’s crew pull off the greatest heist in the galaxy or will they be sidetracked by what they discover along the way?

This should be an interesting and fun year.

Thank you,

Éric

Ever After – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1998 film Ever After.

Story

An interesting twist on the Cinderella story that concentrates more on the meeting and courting before the ball of the lovers. It makes the love story feel slightly more real.

One of the few “realistic” takes on a classic fairy-tale that manages to work.

Score: 1

Characters

The evil stepmother was evil, the prince was handsome, and the Cinderella was spunky and kicked ass. I like that one of the stepsisters was nice.

I’m not super comfortable with the portrayal of the Romani in the movie. Showing them as brigands and thieves with a sense of honour and humour is very cliché and borders on racist.

I adore Da Vinci as an artist, inventor, and plot device but it made me sad that they had to remove a positive female role from the story to have him in there. Couldn’t they have made Gustave’s patron a famous female artist?

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

This is a movie with a lot of dialogue and a lot of subtext. It might be a Cinderella story but it takes a lot from modern romantic comedy banter and Much Ado About Nothing.

I’m not sure how quotable it is, but listening to the banter and dialogue is like listening to a good musical piece.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie includes some beautiful locations and clothing. It was beautifully shot but everything was marred by a weird blue-green filter. It darkened the movie and made everything look wrong rather than stylish.

The music was lovely and unobtrusive but nothing special.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Watching a movie this long with a three year old and a fourteen month old isn’t very conducive to fun. The three year old liked the colours and movement but lost interest in the long conversations that were the heart of the movie.

Despite that, I enjoyed myself and look forward to watching it with them when they’re older.

Score: 1

Overall

The movie manages to strike the perfect balance between love story, fairy tale, and alternate history. It’s romantic and lovely without much to cringe at.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

The Christmas Setup – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film The Christmas Setup.

Story

Borrowing partly from indie slice of life and partly from Christmas romances, this is an easy to watch mix of the two. There’s a mystery and a little angst, but overall wasn’t too bad. There are two parts that I didn’t like. I hate the trope of forcing a character to go on stage and then they rock it. If someone doesn’t want to do it, they shouldn’t be pressured. The second time it happened the character didn’t even do what they were supposed to.

I did however love the mirroring in the story of the train station and the main characters. That was cute and awesome.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Fran Drescher plays the perfect meddling mother. She’s never hurtful and she’s somehow always respectful. A nice change of pace for this character archetype. The rest of the cast is both pretty and easy to watch. The characters are believable and overall pretty authentic. I really liked the dynamic of the brothers and how they had to work at understanding each other.

I also like that the main couple being gay didn’t add to the drama but still influenced the character’s stories and conversations.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This movie had an interesting effect. I laughed and loved the clever dialogue… but I don’t remember any of it. It was fast and clever and never took itself seriously.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie was well shot, the clothes were fantastic, and locations were stunning. That being said, I wasn’t a fan of the “Northern Lights” scene that looked pretty fake.

The music was good if not memorable.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The movie was fun to watch. It kept my 18 month old completely enthralled. I’m thinking it was the banter, but it could have been my popcorn. The entire family liked it and I hope there will be more like it in the future.

Score: 1

Overall

This is an adorable Christmas love story that is made all the better by wonderful dialogue and authentic representation. I liked this one and look forward to buying a copy for annual watching.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

The Christmas House – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film The Christmas House.

Story

I’ve watched a lot of Christmas movies and they’re all a little shallow, but this one felt very surface level. There are 3 major storylines and none of them get the time or treatment they need. The mother’s depression, the older brother’s love story, and the younger brother’s adoption issues are all glossed over with Holiday Magic. However, I do have to give them credit for bringing up emotions and issues that are relatable.

Score: 0.5

Characters

There’s a nice mix of characters with a gay couple and a hispanic love interest. It could have used some more realistic diversity, but it certainly tried. I like that the gay couple weren’t portrayed as perfect or as stereotypes, but as any busy young couple. They were set as the stable couple. Unfortunately, their storyline was short and they were the most interesting characters.

The mom’s depression after retirement was understandable and a little too easily overcome. The main love story was sappy and cute. I don’t feel like any of the characters got enough screen time to talk through their issues, making the whole thing feel like Christmas magic fixed it. I don’t like that.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The main character being a TV lawyer led to a lot of really funny lines. There were some great magic puns and the younger brother was nice and wise. The quips between siblings was well done and believable.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

I’ll cut them some slack since Hallmark movies are filmed at breakneck speeds, but there were a lot of editing hiccups and some weird camera angles. The house was gaudy, but not all that fantastic. The actors were pretty though.

The music did what it needed and rarely got noticed.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I enjoyed watching some of my favourite sci-fi tv actors in a holiday movie. Beyond that, it was a lovely, sappy movie that had a smile on my face the entire time.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a step in the right direction, in my opinion, for queer representation. That being said, the movie was a sappy holiday movie with surface level storylines that could have been better served with more talking. It is, however, a joyful stress and angst-lite movie.

Final Score: 3 stars out of 5

A Christmas Prince Series – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2017 film A Christmas Prince, The 2018 film A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding, and the 2019 film A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby.

Story

A Christmas Prince

The main plot of the movie is typical undercover reporter fall in love with subject. It makes reporters look bad and honestly the entire things is awkward.

The parts of the story that shine are when the characters are soul searching or making genuine connections. The sister character is fantastic and I could have watched the whole movie about her instead.

Score: 0

The Royal Wedding

The weak mystery is barely explored instead they spend most of it on wedding angst and pushing the main character around.

Again, like the first on the bright spot is the sister. She’s inspiring and adorable.

Score: 0

The Royal Baby

This was a well written closed-circle mystery that kept me guessing until the end. (Although I did have the culprit in my top 3.) The characters were less wet towel and they gelled with each other more. There was some awkward drama and they tried much too hard to pin the blame on Simon, again.

Score: 0.5

Characters

A Christmas Prince

The main character does a great job of being doe-eyed and fell for the prince the same time we all did, when we saw him with his sister. There’s some nice developement for the main three characters but overall it felt lack-luster.

Score: 0.5

The Royal Wedding

The king went from an unsure prince who doesn’t want to commit to being king to now being an unsure king who trusts his advisors way too much. The main character gets pushed around and is only really interesting when she pushes back or is helping the sister. There’s also a storyline that’s lifted directly from Princess Diaries. I’ll give the movie this, they did a great job with the redemption arc.

Score: 0.5

The Royal Baby

Overall this was a cute and joyful set of characters, something that should be standard for a Christmas movie. I liked the new additions.

Score: 1

Dialogue

A Christmas Prince

Mostly acceptable, if a little over the top. There are a few good speeches about identity, but nothing spectacular. The dad and the sister got all the great lines.

Score: 0.5

The Royal Wedding

Completely over the top; comparing the dialogue to a telenovela would be an insult to telenovelas.

However, as a giant nerd, I did appreciate the quotes and nods to other movies.

Score: 0.5

The Royal Baby

The writers built on the geeky quotes from the last one and made sure to include as much dorky future parents stuff as possible. The dialogue for them was believable and cute.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

A Christmas Prince

The cinematography of this movie made me angry and gave me a headache. My family didn’t seem to notice, but the constant slow paning for no reason was extremely frustrating.

The locations were lovely and very thematic.

The music was lack-luster and was only elevated by the christmas music included. (You can’t go wrong with Tchaickovsky.)

Score: 0.5

The Royal Wedding

The cinematographer discovered quick cuts since the last one and they were almost as over used as the pans.

That being said, the scenery and clothing were good and the music classic.

Score: 0.5

The Royal Baby

Finally the useless pans are gone and the director and cinematographer started to frame the shots better. It’s not excellent, but good. The castle and clothing are as beautiful as ever.

The music didn’t stand out much; a few cute scenes but nothing spectacular.

Score: 0.5

Fun

A Christmas Prince

Breaking a ming vase or shooting an arrow through a window is a level of awkward I don’t like. There’s a lot of the movie that just isn’t fun to watch even if you know everything will end up fine.

Score: 0.5

The Royal Wedding

The obvious mystery was dragged out too long, and the angst was also dragged out too long. I spent a lot of the movie rolling my eyes and not yelling.

The sister and eventual warm ending was good though.

Score: 0.5

The Royal Baby

I have a soft spot for good mysteries and this was pretty close. It also isn’t angsty and kept my attention. A lot of fun.

Score: 1

Overall

A Christmas Prince

An excellent cast with a mediocre script and lots of cringe, the only thing that truly saves this is the interactions with the little sister.

Final Score: 2 stars out of 5

The Royal Wedding

An acceptable sequel to a lack-luster movie. Too little plot and too much angst. Again the sister saves the movie but she’s joined by a delightful redemption.

Final Score: 2 stars out of 5

The Royal Baby

Finally a balance between urgency and angst, this movie is the best of the three, with a fun mystery and lots of the best parts of the first two movies. I will probably skip the others in future years and just watch this one.

Final Score: 3.5 stars out of 5