Part 2 of “This is the World of Science Fiction and WorldCon?”

Okay, so in doing research to respond to some of the readers of my flash fiction story We Don’t Want Your Kind Here, I had to revisit my essay Who is a Nazi and Why Should I Care?. This led me to search the #WorldCon76 and #WorldCon2018 twitter hashtags for any mention of Nazis, which led me to this twitter conversation by Patrick S. Tomlinson (here’s one of his books on Amazon), and the screenshots below:

nazi1

twitter screenshot

nazi2

twitter screenshot

nazi3

twitter screenshot

Yeah, what a great guy, huh (However, if the allegation that the protesters deliberately were blocking access to a bloodmobile was true, I’d have a problem with it, too)?

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Is Jeff Sessions Trying to Establish an American State Religion?

I know I’m pushing it, but I decided to share these thoughts here on my “fiction” blog.

Morning Meditations

sessions U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

I just found out that “Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday announced the Department of Justice’s creation of a ‘religious liberty task force’ to ‘help the department fully implement our religious guidance'” over at CNN.

Actually, someone I know from my Powered by Robots sister blog reblogged an article called The First Amendment Under Siege posted at The Shinbone Star. You can find out more about their staff here (although discovering that one of their reporters used to work for MSNBC told me a lot about the particular bent of this publication).

I suppose I shouldn’t get into politics on my “religious” blog, but this topic is or should be of interest to all people of faith in the U.S.

It’s tough to get an unbiased view of what Sessions is up to, so I had to look at a number of differing…

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An Outsider’s Point of View: Why Did WorldCon 76 Implode?

implosion

The Wellington Annex in Albany, collapses in a picture perfect implosion by Jackson Demolition of Schenectady as seen from the roof of the Albany County Office building Saturday – Used as an example of “implosion” – Photo credit: Peter R. Barber

In following the Superversive SF blog, today, I came across two related articles: Declan Finn’s WorldCon Melts Down and Richard Paolinelli’s My Thoughts on WorldCon 76…. Paolinelli’s wasn’t particularly illuminating, but he promised a more detailed account later today. Finn described a situation where the Con violated its own rules by “misgendering” one of the guests causing some sort of meltdown.

Pending Richard’s subsequent blog post, I decided to look for more information. Interestingly enough, the only article I found was at The Daily Dot, which I can’t say is a completely neutral publication. The missive in question is Worldcon faces backlash for sidelining marginalized authors (updated), originally published yesterday (July 23rd) and updated today.

WorldCon is one of the oldest, if not the oldest science fiction convention in the world, and apparently, that’s the problem. Traditionally, according to the article, it’s been dominated by white, conservative people, it’s fan base, and has struggled to accept more marginalized and #OwnVoice participants in recent years. I get the feeling the Con wants to be more progressive, but, at least from The Daily Dot’s perspective, its own history and biases have gotten in the way.

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Where the Ghosts Come From

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Pedro Fogueras pexels-photo-626164 shadow

“Let me out, do you hear? Let me out!”

Olsen Hoyt pressed his intangible form against a non-existent boundary between the neither-world and the real one.

“Why did you do this to me? I didn’t do anything wrong!”

Pressing his non-face against the nothing holding him, he wept nullified tears.

Their plan was to leave Hoyt, and everyone like him, alone in the dark for all eternity, but inventor Dennis Tyson couldn’t resist adding more payback. He walked into the Qualdonitron control systems matrix and selected his former supervisor’s virtual cell, one of over a billion. Then he whispered across the void, “You deserve it.”

“Who’s there? Why do I deserve this?”

“Your kind has been in control long enough. It’s time for the rest of us to take charge. Monsters don’t deserve existence, but death isn’t punishment enough. Now thanks to the invention of the Qualdonitron, the privilege of dominance is ours.”

“Privilege?”

“Your people have caused millennium of suffering. Now it’s our turn to create the pain.”

It took all those like Hoyt countless years, but eventually, they learned how to come back to the world as ghosts. Now their presence would be forever haunting.

I wrote this for the Week #26 Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is ~200.

I very loosely based my story on some of the lyrics from Gordon Lightfoot’s 1971 classic song If You Could Read My Mind and specifically:

If you could read my mind, love,
What a tale my thoughts could tell.
Just like an old time movie,
‘Bout a ghost from a wishing well.
In a castle dark or a fortress strong,
With chains upon my feet.
You know that ghost is me.
And I will never be set free
As long as I’m a ghost that you can’t see.

Of course, there are other themes involved, but I’ll leave it to the reader to discover who Hoyt and Tyson could possibly represent.

To read other tales based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com. As I’ve said in previous weeks, this link up still needs a lot of love, so please consider contributing a story. Thanks.

Should We Burn Ray Bradbury’s Books?

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Book cover for Ray Bradbury’s novel “Fahrenheit 451.”

I just read an essay by Katie Naum at the Electric Lit website called The New ‘Fahrenheit 451’ Movie Fails to Reckon with Bradbury’s Racism.

First of all, I had no idea HBO had remade the film adaptation of Bradbury’s classic novel (I have seen the 1966 film version, and of course I’ve read the novel a number of times). Secondly, Ms. Naum and I seem to have read very different novels titled Fahrenheit 451 and authored by Ray Bradbury.

Here’s what I mean, quoting from Naum’s essay:

I still have that same copy of Fahrenheit 451 — a trade paperback edition printed circa 1993, whose creased cover and flammable pages are already yellowed and crumbling. I reread it prior to watching the new film version, starring Michael B. Jordan as protagonist Guy Montag, and Michael Shannon as his boss — and ultimately, the bad guy — Captain Beatty. The novel was largely as I remembered it, until I got to the end. At the back of the book, there are a few pages Bradbury wrote decades later, in 1979, where he gets into what he thinks the real threat to literature is. I’d forgotten that reading this coda as a child always left me feeling uncomfortable, in a way I couldn’t fully interpret yet.

He is angry at a “solemn young Vassar lady” who asked whether he might write more female characters. He is angry at other readers who disapprove of how he wrote “the blacks” in one of his stories. He is angry at “the Irish,” “the Chicano intellectuals,” at “every minority” that has some perspective on his stories at variance with his. In his own words, every last one of them “feels it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse…. Fire-Captain Beatty, in my novel Fahrenheit 451, described how the books were burned first by minorities, each ripping a page or a paragraph from this book, then that, until the day came when the books were empty and the minds shut and the libraries closed forever.”

Sorry for the lengthy quote, but I wanted to provide enough specific information to convey the issue at hand.

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Anticipating the Anthology “To Be Men”

to be men

Cover image of the soon to be published book “To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity.”

I’ve become aware of a book soon to be made available through Superversive Press called To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity. It’s an anthology and actually the sort of project I’d have loved to contribute to. The theme is based on a premise currently popular in speculative fiction and in certain social perspectives, that traditional masculinity is considered toxic or otherwise undesirable or harmful.

Actually, the issues are more complicated than they seem on the surface, but they are also very polarizing (like so many social issues are these days).

I came across the term Beta Male in relation to this, and depending on your perspective, it’s either highly denigrated or highly celebrated. If traditional masculinity is “toxic,” then “beta maleness” seems to be the goal in some circles.

In response to Disney’s current “take” on the “Star Wars” franchise, I’ve decided to “take back” Star Wars by re-watching the original trilogy (“Star Wars,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” and “Return of the Jedi”). To me, those are the only three films that truly embrace “StarWars-ness”), even though “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi” (the latter film I have yet to see) feature some of the original actors.

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The Difference Between a Goal and a Dream is a Deadline

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Science Fiction wallpaper found at imgur

Earlier today, I wrote and published the short story A Black Matter for the King just for myself, but later, I adapted it slightly so it could be a response to the First Line Friday writing challenge hosted at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie.

Although it’s gotten several “likes,” no one has ventured to comment. That happens sometimes, and I suppose it doesn’t have to mean anything, but this story does have an overtly Christian character. He has volunteered to fight in the Vietnam War, both because he’s already had friends drafted into the service who have been sent over and died, and because he believes that as a Marine, he has to fight in our wars to keep the people back home, especially his family, safe, and so our nation can remain free.

Now those are all ideas that have fallen out of favor lately (or not so lately). I did have another character in the tale comment on how the Vietnam War did nothing to protect our nation’s people or their freedom. However, it wasn’t so much the purpose of the war that’s at issue, but rather my male protagonist having a certain set of values and a code of honor to uphold.

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The Religious Defector

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Found at YouTube

“We appreciate you allowing us to interview you, Mr. Kwon.”

“Not at all, Ms. Singer. It is a pleasure to be here, to be able to tell my story.”

The middle-aged gentleman was dressed casually in a button down checkered shirt and jeans. He looked uncomfortable in the television studio but the reporter, Judith Singer, tried to put him at ease.

“Just tell us your experiences in your own words.” Her tone was soft, gentle really. She leaned forward slightly to indicate interest but not enough to block the television camera. Off to one side, she could see the wall mounted monitor that displayed what the audience was seeing. The dialogue was translated and projected as subtitles because he didn’t speak the same language as most of the audience.

“My country is officially atheist. Except for the show church in the nation’s capital that tourists visit, our religion is illegal, well, all religion actually, but especially any public Christian worship.

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