Why Ed Kramer is Evil but Marion Zimmer Bradley Isn’t. Go figure

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

The world is a funny place. On Mike Glyer’s “fanzine” File 770 this morning, I read an article called New Child Porn Charge Against Ed Kramer. I’d never heard of Ed Kramer before, so I looked him up. According to Wikipedia, he is:

an American editor and convicted child molester. Kramer lives in Duluth, Georgia and was a co-founder and part-owner of the Dragon*Con media convention. Kramer has also edited several works in the genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Before pleading guilty in 2013 to three counts of child molestation, Kramer was the subject of a long-running legal battle that began with his initial arrest in August 2000.

The word DragonCon got my attention. DragonCon has been associated with more conservative elements in Science Fiction and Fantasy. In and of itself, that means nothing. If you’ve been sexually abusing children or been into child porn, you are evil and deserve to be in prison, regardless of your politics.

But what gets me is that certain demographics in SF/F fandom seem to give other, similar people a pass because of their politics and because they are feminists, or at least they seem to do so.

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Fiction’s and Real Life’s “Bad Guys” and Stereotyping

I’ve been thinking a lot about villains lately. Actually, this particular File 770 “Pixel Scroll” first brought the topic up in my mind. If you scroll down to item #4 “AUTUMN LEAVES” and to “Watchmen” just below that, you can read:

Oct. 20, 9 p.m., HBO
Confession: I know nothing about Watchmen. Never read the comic or saw the (polarizing) 2009 film. I had to pause many times while watching the pilot so I could look up characters and backstories on Wikipedia. With that said, I can’t wait to see more. Set 30 years after the comics, Watchmen takes place in a world where police hide their identities due to terrorist attacks and a long-dormant white supremacist group wants to start a race war. The show is expensive-looking but not hollow. There’s a humanity to the characters that is often lacking in comic book adaptations, due in large part to the exceptional cast, including Regina King, Jeremy Irons, and Don Johnson. Hardcore fans will have to make up their own minds, but this novice is intrigued. [emph. mine]

I know I wrote a blog post sometime ago about adult-oriented comic books and how they are now themed to emphasize social justice, but I can’t find it again. I do remember that, thanks to Donald Trump, most, if not all of the villains are straight white men, and specifically alt-right white supremacists.

No, I’m not defending racism, white supremacy, bigotry, or anything like that. My wife and children are Jewish, so I specifically take a dim view of antisemitism as well as other forms of prejudice and bigotry. Yes, some of my political views are unpopular to certain demographics but I don’t advocate for hate.

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Well, That Was Fast – “Tales From the Southwest” Featuring My Short Story “The Strangers” is Published.

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Promotional image for the anthology “Tales of the Southwest.”

Right now, as the editor/publisher John Green says, all roads lead to Lulu.com. He says if a book gains enough interest, he’ll publish a digital version on Amazon, but the authors don’t make much from that. If you like western stories, classic and otherwise, please buy and read. Let me know what you think.

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My Short Story “The Strangers” is Being Published in “Tales of the Southwest”

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Promotional image for the cover of John Green’s anthology “Tales of the Southwest”

Yes, “The Strangers” is the eleventh story accepted for publication in an anthology this year and it has a slightly unusual history. I originally wrote it for a different publisher and it was rejected. “Ouch,” yes it always stings. However, I read that John Green was looking for stories to be included in his “Tales of the Southwest” anthology on Facebook. I happened to casually mention that I had a story that might fit but A) it’s set in Idaho (not exactly the southwest) and B) it has aliens. He told me to send it to him anyway.

He liked the story, but asked if I could change the location from Idaho City, Idaho to Cedar City, Utah. I did the research and although the presence of the Mormon church in late 19th century Utah complicated things a bit, I made the edits.

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

Promotional image of the television series “Star Trek Discovery”

Finished watching season one of Star Trek Discovery and the whole thing seems to be based on just about everyone having shocking secrets including Ash Tyler/Voq (Shazad Latif), the relationship between Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz), Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs), and even Sarek (James Frain). Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) has more lives than nine cats.

About the only person on Discovery who is exactly as she seems is Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman), the endlessly optimistic and hopeful cadet who is finally promoted to an officer at the end of the season.

A significant portion of the show took place in the mirror universe, first introduced in the Star Trek original series episode Mirror, Mirror over 50 years ago. This is where we find out the secrets of Lorca and Georgiou, and ultimately, how the Federation wins the war against the Klingons.

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Film Review of “Alita: Battle Angel” (2019)

When I reviewed Captain Marvel, I mentioned that one of the competing films released at the same time was Alita: Battle Angel. It’s not a movie I’d ordinarily watch, but because Brie Larson was such a pain in the butt about “Oh, look at me, I’m a powerful female warrior with a lot of victim issues,” I decided to view and compare the two works of art. In my view, Alita wins by a huge margin.

The really big issue is that Alita (voiced by Rosa Salazar) doesn’t have to rise to power by tearing men down the way “Captain Marvel” does. Her “father” Dr. Dyson Ido (voiced by the amazing Christoph Waltz), was a wonderful and flawed father figure. I would have loved a Dad like him, but he’s only a couple of years older than I am.

Everyone in the movie is complex and sometimes difficult to understand, especially Ido’s ex-wife Chiren (Jennifer Connelly) and Alita’s love interest Hugo (Keean Johnson), unlike in “Captain Marvel” where we’re playing to very specific progressive stereotypes (all women good, all men bad or at least silly, even Nick Fury).

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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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