More Social Media Dabbling: Video Reviews and Commentary

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Okay, fine. I’ve made another two TikTok videos. The first is a three-minute whimsical review of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s 2018 science fiction novel Children of Time. My written review of the book is more straightforward and detailed. TikTok videos are brief by design, so I had to compress everything into a max of three minutes. As I wrote my script, I realized there was no way I could deliver anything serious in such a short time period, so I punted and this is the result.

@james.pyles

I’m doing a series of three-minute SciFi book reviews. Today, it’s Adrian Tchaikovsky’s 2018 novel “Children of Time.” These are fast and whimsical reviews. To tead longer versions. Go to https://poweredbyrobots.com/book-and-film-teviews/ #bookreview #sciencefiction

♬ original sound – James

This morning…

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Does Every Single SciFi Story Absolutely Have to Have a Social Justice Theme?

social justiceIf you like my work, buy me a virtual cup of coffee at Ko-Fi.

Addendum: May 26, 2022 The Bounding Into Comics story Batwoman Writers Room Gets Savaged After They Claim The CW’s Batwoman Should Only Receive Positive Feedback Because Of “Strides For Representation For Queer Black Women” (yes, it’s a terribly long title) maps pretty well with the expectation in certain corners that representation and social justice completely override any responsibility to write a good story.

I asked that question in the above referenced twitter conversation. I actually expected an answer since the people involved usually interact with me, but this time… “crickets.”

The topic is addressed more specifically in the blog post The enduring appeal of the last ditch attempt.

I’m going to assume that from the perspective of the people referenced (who I like) and the progressive element reading science fiction that all SciFi MUST have a social justice element and that it is totally expected.

But why?

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To Say Gay or Not to Say Gay

don't say gay

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at last week’s bill signing
Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP

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No matter what I write on this topic, I know I’m going to get roasted by someone over it.

Yes, I know. I should never author something political on this blog, but sometimes, I really feel social media misses the point. Everyone has an opinion, and sometimes those opinions don’t seem to take reality into consideration.

Take for instance, the Florida HB 1557: Parental Rights in Education bill which was recently signed into law. That link leads to literally what the bill states and it doesn’t actually say “don’t say gay”

Well, not exactly, but I’ll get to that.

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Not the Comic Books I Grew Up With

gay bobby

Images from “Uncanny X-Men #7,” “Uncanny X-Men #52,” and “All-New X-Men #40” found at “Bounding into Comics.”

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I received quite a bit of feedback on my last blog post, mainly in social media. So when insomnia seized me by the throat tonight, I re-read some other “controversial” material I’d sampled earlier and figured, why not? I need to kill some time and let being sleepy overwhelm my anxiety (long story).

I follow the blog Bounding into Comics and yes it does come from a somewhat conservative place socially. While I periodically complain that the entertainment industry has forgotten how to entertain, they/it does have other characteristics. One can be found in the “Bounding” article Every Single Comic Book Character That Has Been Retconned To LGBTQ+.

No, I’m not going to rant about LGBTQ representation in comic books or anything else. The world is a diverse place and that will naturally be reflected in what we watch, read, and listen to. Any form of entertainment is a product of its times which is why making and then remaking a movie or TV show decades apart will yield two different products. Compare the original 1960s Lost in Space with the much more recent Netflix remake (which admittedly I’ve never watched, but I’m convinced the two shows must be very different from each other). It’s also why it’s reasonable to have gay characters in comic books today when you would never have found even one when I was growing up.

Getting back to the article, there are only six DC and Marvel characters listed out of hundreds or perhaps thousands of superheroes, so it’s not like it is a big deal. The complaint that author John F. Trent makes is that each and every one of these fictional people started out as totally straight characters. Every single one.

And every one was retconned to become bi or gay.

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Standing Up Against the Bullies

A couple of days ago, I posted a commentary about COVID and vaccines and I took great pains to shield the source of my conversation.

But when I woke up this morning and checked in on twitter, I found that the “haters” had discovered my commentary and decided to call me a bunch of names. No, it had nothing to do with “science” or “evidence.” It had everything to do with them being bullies.

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A Wee Bit About Comments

talk

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I apologize for the inconvenience, but for the foreseeable future, I’m going to be moderating every comment made on this blog. I had to do this some years ago on a companion blog to keep conversations civil, but events have occurred that have resulted in me making that same decision here.

I’m sure if you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you have realized I can be opinionated, and as fair as I want to be, as much as I want to provide a platform for all voices, occasionally one comes along that crosses the line. I bear some responsibility for creating the situation, but this seems the only decision I can make to correct it.

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Retro Hugos, Dragons, and Why I Don’t Care (for the most part) About the Private Lives of Authors

family

© James Pyles – My brother, my parents, and me. I’m the one on the far left. Yes, I used to be thin. The photo was taken about 35 years ago.

Just when I thought I was done with the Hugo Awards and with all this year’s drama and trauma, I ended up reading Looking Forward on Looking Backwards at the Hugo Book Club Blog co-authored by Amanda Wakaruk and Olav Rokne. I don’t know which one of them I talk to on twitter, but they seem like pretty good people.

Anyway, the blog post focused on the Retro Hugos, which are sort of “lifetime achievement awards” for science fiction and fantasy authors who were active before the Hugo awards existed. Being an “older fellow,” I’ve read more than a few in my day, plus a lot of old school Hugo Award Winners. That is, science fiction Hugo winners before the Hugos (in my personal opinion) became less about the quality of a story and more about the “wokeness” of the tale and the writer (both being a necessity these days it seems).

To quote their blog in part:

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Day Job and Insomnia

dreaming

Image: alghad.com

I’m beat.

I’ve been working at the new day job for a little over six weeks and I’m loving it, plus they seem to be loving me. The pay is good and I’m working from home. Probably will be too until at least the end of July and maybe longer.

But with doing a bunch of other, littler jobs before that, although the pay was lousy, I had tons of time to write.

Then there’s the insomnia. I go to sleep okay, but wake up in the middle of the night. Sometimes I’m able to roll over and eventually go back to sleep, but other nights, I’m up for a couple of hours.

Last night, I forced myself to stay in bed, but it seemed like it took forever to doze off again.  I finally was in the space to really sleep when it was time to get up.

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When Twitterati Troll Women in Action Films

Screenshot from twitter

So I came across a tweet on twitter from someone I follow named “Mara Jade” (@OG_MaraJade). It was a retweet of this.

I followed the link to the source and came up with |Blake| the Villain (@Enemies_Allies) who originated the image. He also said “This was a very successful tweet. They literally just expose themselves.”

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I Want My Old Normal Back

selfie

© James Pyles – Selfie in the age of COVID-19

I’ve been hearing the phrase the new normal a lot lately. It’s the idea that even once the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, the U.S. and the world won’t simply go back to “business as usual,” as if the pandemic never happened.

There are some people who even see this “new normal” as an opportunity to “improve” things. For instance, House Member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is advocating for people to not go back to work once restrictions are lifted. She is specifically referencing people who work 60, 70, and 80 hours a week at low paying jobs and who feel no security in their lives. You can watch a video of her statement on YouTube.

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden has said that the pandemic response is an opportunity for structural change. Of course that might only be a good thing if you share his political viewpoint.

Yet, from what I’ve seen, the protests people are actually doing go in the opposite direction from Ocasio-Cortez and Biden.

A few days ago, people in Orange County, California (where I used to live) held a mass protest at Huntington Beach opposing Governor Gavin Newsom’s closing beaches in Orange County and only Orange County. He did this in response to a perceived overcrowding at Newport Beach the weekend before. Just how crowded the beach was has been disputed, but based on the photos, it looks crowded.

Nevertheless, Californians are pushing back, including at a rally at the California State Capitol where 32 people were arrested, both because they were in violation of Newsom’s stay-at-home order, and because of the ban against protests on state property (but I thought people had a constitutional right to protest on any public property as long as it was peaceful).

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