Star Trek Discovery: The Episode “Lethe” and Relationships

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Actors Sonequa Martin-Green, Mary Wiseman, and Shazad Latif in a promotional image from the Star Trek Discovery episode “Lethe” (2017)

I wasn’t going to review the first season of Star Trek Discovery episode by episode, but show 6 Lethe, aired almost two years ago, got my attention.

I’m not going through the whole thing, I just wanted to talk about some of the relationships and a few surprise reveals.

It’s no surprise that Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Cadet Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) have become “odd couple” friends. Thrown together as roommates in a cabin aboard Discovery, Burnham’s dour moods and overly serious Vulcan demeanor is counterbalanced by Tilly’s almost oppressive optimism and cheerfulness. Tilly is the kid sister Burnham never had (she had a “kid brother,” but I won’t discuss that here), and the one she tries to mentor, especially in this episode. Of course, Burnham’s telepathic/hallucinatory interactions with Sarek (James Frain) change that. It’s an unlikely friendship until you realize how complementary Burnham and Tilly are.

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Review of Season One of “Star Trek Discovery,” Part One

Promotional image of the television series “Star Trek Discovery”

Disclosure: I rented the first season of Star Trek Discovery as a DVD set from my local public library. For the sake of this blog post, I’m reviewing the first two episodes.

I have to admit, I went into this expecting not to like Discovery. Even when CBS offered the option to watch the first four episodes free through their streaming service, I shunned it. I figured after the whole J.J. Abrams Star Trek movies mess, anything with the name “Star Trek” in the 21st century would be pretty bad and reflexively play to a certain social and political perspective with no thought given to quality stories.

Which is why I’m surprised that I like it.

First things first. The visuals, actually all of the production values, are through the roof. It is a first rate science fiction television series and the eye candy (space, spaceships, tech…I’m not talking about people in this case) is amazing.

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Film Review of “Star Trek” (2009)

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Promotional image for the movie “Star Trek” (2009)

Just for giggles, the other night I re-watched J.J. Abrams’ reboot of Star Trek (2009). Yes, I saw it in the theater ten years ago with one of my sons, and what I pointed out was wrong with the movie then, is still wrong with it now.

Oh, it’s a fun romp. There’s great action, poignant moments, and some good (and not so good) acting, but let’s face it. This isn’t your Dad’s (or Granddad’s) Star Trek.

Of course Abrams, who was selected to relaunch the franchise, went on record that he always felt like (Star Trek was) a silly, campy thing. I remember appreciating it, but feeling like I didn’t get it. Roddenberry must have been spinning in his grave.

The franchise deserved a director who grew up loving Star Trek, but it got Abrams instead. Go figure.

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Ashes of Avalon Revisited

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Undated photo of the late author Marion Zimmer Bradley, found at Wikipedia

I’ve been considering science fiction awards named after flawed human beings lately.

Of course, on my blog, this all started with Jeannette Ng’s Campbell Award Acceptance Speech and Here We Go Again, and then continued into The Sins of John W. Campbell Revisited, Tiptree Award Name May Change (Here We Go Again), and here, and here, and so on.

Then, I saw today that someone has read an article I’d written last January called Out of the Ashes of Avalon. I had been exploring the serious allegations of child neglect and abuse leveled at beloved feminist fantasy author Marion Zimmer Bradley, as well as the fact that her husband was sentenced to prison for sexually abusing her daughter (and some say Bradley actively participated in that abuse).

What surprised me most wasn’t that Bradley was possibly (likely) capable of both failing to protect her minor age daughter and possibly sexually abusing her own child, but that there seemed to be some sort of debate between more conservative and more liberal participants and fans in SciFi as to whether this constituted any sort of “problem” with Bradley.

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Book Review of “War Factory: Transformation Book Two”

Cover image for Neal Asher’s novel “War Factory”

Disclosure: My short story “Joey” appears in the Zombie Pirate Publishing science fiction anthology World War Four. It also features Neal Asher’s novelette Monitor Logan.

Neal Asher’s War Factory is the sequel to his novel Dark Intelligence and the second in his “Transformations” trilogy.

We continue to follow the travails of a plethora of characters, human, Prador, AI, and other, all orchestrated by the dark AI Penny Royal, who has mysterious motivations for manipulating lives and even entire regimes.

Asher remains a top author in the crafting of space operas, interweaving a large cast of players on his interstellar stage, this time upping the game. Penny Royal leads herself, the assassin droid Riss, and Thorvald Spear on a journey to rediscover their beginnings, which for the mechanized members, is a massive space station. “Room 101” was a sapient intelligence who felt a maternal instinct toward her martial creations, and who, when on the verge of destruction, did the unthinkable.

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The Nature of Social Media in a Nutshell

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Meme found on Facebook

I was checking on Facebook this evening and, alas, was inspired to end the work week with a bit of snark. This really is the nature of social media, and especially (but not exclusively) twitter. It’s also the nature of blogging and fandom.

Over the past year and a month or two, my investigation into “science fiction fandom” (as opposed to science fiction) seems to indicate something pretty similar to what you see above. The same as when you comment on twitter, and for that matter, blog in general, Facebook, Instagram, whatever.

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Once More On Awards And How Your Heroes Will Never Be Perfect

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Logo from Tiptree.org

A few days ago on File 770, Chris M. Barkley wrote a guest piece called “Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #44”. In it, he presented his wrap up of the whole award name/honors messiness involving mystery writer Linda Fairstein, John W. Campbell, Jr., James Tiptree, Jr/Alice Sheldon, and yes, even the “sainted” Hugo Gernsback (the Hugos will be named after him forever, regardless of his reputation in life…go figure).

You can click the link I provided above to read Barkley’s well considered commentary, but toward the end of his lengthy missive, he said:

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My Short Story “The Demon in the Mask” Will Appear in the Cloaked Press anthology “Fall into Fantasy 2019”

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Cover image for the Cloaked Press anthology “Fall into Fantasy 2019”

Yesterday, it was announced on twitter that my short story “The Demon in the Mask” will be featured in the Cloaked Press anthology “Fall into Fantasy 2019.” I was privileged to have my science fiction short story “The Recall” previously published in their anthology Spring into SciFi 2019, so this is a double thrill.

This marks the tenth short story accepted for publication 2019, and so far, my average is just ahead of one a month. I’m pretty sure that beats someone’s odds.

Actually, after my announcement about my horror short story “Retired” being featured in The Toilet Zone, I received one rejection after another, and was beginning to doubt whether or not to continue, especially in light of other life events. Thankfully, the Cloaked Press announcement came at a very good time.

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Never Forget, Never Let Your Children Forget

This is usually a message I give when talking about Holocaust Remembrance Day, which in 2020, will be observed on April 21st.

Yesterday at work, one of the fellows I’m training with called it one of the saddest days on our calendar. I’m talking about September 11, 2001. Just like the day of John F. Kennedy’s assassination (even though I was a child back then), I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing on that fateful September morning.

However, my grandson is 10 and my granddaughter is 4, and for them, this is history, something that happened before they were born.

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Margaret Atwood’s “The Testaments” and Other Stories

the testaments

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
Publisher: Nan A. Talese

Disclaimer: This is NOT a book review. This is a commentary on books, current events, and how all that gets filtered through my brain.

Over a year and a half ago, I reviewed Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale. It has since been adapted to a wildly popular television series on Hulu. I signed up for the one-month free Hulu trial and have watched some old movies and TV shows, but I tend to avoid “Handmaid.” I’ve quit watching all television series because I just don’t have the time to be chained to a streaming service. Plus, I suspect in the era of Trump, the message has been adapted to “white, religious men are all bad.”

No thanks. I have a hard enough time keeping my head above water as a white, religious male, and my anxiety attacks under control.

But I just found out that Atwood has gotten around to writing a sequel called The Testaments, set fifteen years after the original novel. I’m surprised she didn’t do this earlier.

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