The Next Book I’m Reading

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Cover image for Dan Simmons’ novel “Hyperion”

After Dan Simmons lambasted teenage climate change darling Greta Thunberg on twitter, and came on the radar of Mike Glyer’s File 770 (which must still be experiencing technical difficulties, since I haven’t received any email notifications of new posts in quite a while), AND finding out that his signature novel Hyperion is a Hugo Award winner, I’ve been dying to read the book and learn more about him.

Yes, I think he went too far in his insults of a little teenage girl who is clearly being manipulated by adults, but he also stood up to the more leftist powers that be in social media and the science fiction creators and fandom community, and occasionally, they need to be stood up to. So I put a hold on it at my local public library and today it became available.

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Tiptree Award Name May Change (Here We Go Again)

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Cover image from “Ten Thousand Light-Years from Home”

I read Alice Sheldon’s (pen name James Tiptree Jr) anthology of short stories Ten Thousand Light-Years from Home decades ago when I was a kid (all right, a young man) and recall thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve probably heard of the award named after her, but didn’t pay much attention until reading Mike Glyer’s pixel scroll this morning.

In this case, the award name may be changed due to a personal tragedy in Sheldon’s life. From Wikipedia:

Sheldon continued writing under the Tiptree pen name for another decade. The last years of her life were not happy ones, as her husband was a nearly blind invalid incapable of caring for himself, and she herself was suffering health issues caused by a lifetime of smoking. In 1976, then 60-year-old Sheldon wrote to a friend expressing her desire to end her own life while she was still able-bodied and active, but she was reluctant to act upon this intention, as Huntington would have no one to care for him, and she could not bring herself to kill him.

Eleven years later, on May 19, 1987, Sheldon finally carried through her plan—by shooting her husband in his sleep, followed by herself; she had telephoned her attorney after the first shooting to announce her actions. They were found dead, hand-in-hand in bed, in their Virginia home. According to biographer Julie Phillips, the suicide note Sheldon left was written years earlier and saved until needed. In an interview with Charles Platt in 1980, Sheldon spoke of her emotional problems and of her previous suicide attempts over the preceding 20 years.

The James Tiptree Jr. Award is given in her honor each year for a work of science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender. The award-winning science fiction authors Karen Joy Fowler and Pat Murphy created the award in February 1991. Novels such as Half Life by Shelley Jackson and Light by M. John Harrison have received the award.

At least one person commenting on File 770 had compassion, but who knows how many other people judge without understanding what Sheldon may have been going through (I still read 770 but choose not to comment there because of how I was recently treated by some of its other readers).

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Jason Reitman and the new Ghostbusters: Respecting the Fans isn’t Misogynistic

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From the teaser/trailer to “Ghostbusters 3”

Apparently, the whole “Ghostbusters” thing, the next movie in the franchise scheduled to hit the theaters in 2020 isn’t over yet. In fact, the controversy seems to be just warming up.

As you may recall, a little over a month ago, I wrote about the upcoming sequel to be directed by Jason Reitman, son of Ivan Reitman, director of the original 1984 film starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Sigourney Weaver.

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Screen capture from twitter

But the announcement that the 2020 film would be a direct sequel to the original, essentially bypassing the very badly received 2016 remake, made a few people angry, as if the younger Reitman’s vision was somehow a slight to that movie’s all-female cast in particular and feminism in general. In fact, actress Leslie Jones, who played Patty Tolan in the 2016 film, got on twitter to express her extreme displeasure (to put it mildly).

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Quoting: Reassess Your Value

Low self-image usually forms at an early age. A person might have had excessively critical parents or teachers, failed to get along well with other children, or received low marks in school.

Though this attitude was formed long ago, the only reason it lasts in the present is because a person now keeps repeating it to himself. Yet he has the ability to tell himself, “In the past I may have judged myself to be inferior, but I will now think for myself and appreciate my true value.”

Being aware of the source of poor self-image makes it easier to challenge the assumptions upon which it is based. It is possible that while you had certain faults in the past, you presently are learning to overcome them.

Or, perhaps the people who judge you unfavorably were using a yardstick that you do not presently accept. For example, in school a student is usually judged by the marks he receives on tests. Some students with low grades worked hard to understand, and more importantly may have internalized the concepts and practiced them to a greater degree than others who received higher grades. As a child, the diligent student with poor grades might have felt inferior, but as an adult he has the ability to appreciate how he may have really accomplished more.

-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s, “Gateway to Happiness,” p.129

Quoting: Turn Criticism into a Blessing

The biggest blessing for a person is when someone points out to him not only his strengths and virtues, but also his weaknesses and shortcomings.

We see this in the Torah when Yaakov blessed his children before he died. Yet we see that he reprimanded some sons for having faults such as impulsiveness and acting in anger. But that itself was the blessing! When Yaakov told Revuen that he acted impulsively and Shimon and Levi that they acted in anger, he was helping them to focus on the traits they needed to improve. This is the way to self-completion and it is the best blessing possible!

Today, think of a weakness that someone pointed out to you that you need to overcome. Think about how you can improve in this area and turn this criticism into a blessing!

(Sources: see Genesis 49:1, 2, 28; Rabbi Chaim Mordechai Katz – Beair Mechokaik, pp.83-4)

Quoting: Thanks for the Criticism

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Rabbi Zelig Pliskin – Found at the website promoting the book “The Light From Zion.”

Be resolved for the next two weeks to thank anyone who criticizes you.

Visualize yourself being able to do this with a sense of inner joy. Since you’re mentally prepared to do this, it will be much easier to implement.

-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Self Knowledge, pp.184-6.

I suppose this one is good for me today, since when I checked my emails a little earlier, I found two rejections of my submitted short stories, one from a Christian speculative fiction magazine. That brings me up to about thirteen, including two stories that were rejected twice. The other periodical said that they had received more than 400 submissions, so I guess competition is pretty stiff out there. Well, at least people are reading my works before saying “No.” I love Rabbi Zelig’s commentaries, but I must say they aren’t always easy to accomplish.

Quoting: Soften Criticism

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Rabbi Zelig Pliskin – Found at the website promoting the book “The Light From Zion.”

If someone is critical of you in a harsh tone of voice, try telling them the following:

“I appreciate your strong feelings about the matter, but I would appreciate the comments more if they were expressed more pleasantly.”

From Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book Gateway to Self Knowledge, pp.184-6

Given all of those shrill voices in social media and occasionally in real life, this is a much needed reminder that we can ask folks to turn down the volume a bit.

Quoting: Love Criticism

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Rabbi Zelig Pliskin – Found at the website promoting the book “The Light From Zion.”

Work on developing a love for accepting criticism. When you have a sincere desire to grow and develop, you will appreciate the opportunities that arise for further growth and development.

Criticism expressed with profound love and concern is easier to handle than criticism expressed with anger or condescension. But if what is said to you is beneficial for you, accept it regardless of how it is said.

-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Self Knowledge, pp.184-6

This one’s particularly difficult, because while some people criticize you in a sincere effort to help you improve, others do so as a method of tearing you down. That said, even the latter can sometimes be useful, but only if you can accept the criticism without blame or shame.

The WorldCon 76 Incident: The Consequences of Twitter

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Toxic Twitter

After I wrote The WorldCon 76 Incident: This Never Happened to Me on Twitter Before (and yes, I posted links on twitter and Facebook), I thought it was over. True, I did get one response from a very nice person saying (basically) that I was overreacting and people on twitter were just trying to be helpful.

I responded to him by saying that it was difficult for me to tell if their intent was to be helpful or critical, since at least some of the statements were ambiguous. I also compared twitter to a “wild west show.” I didn’t hear back from him and so that was that, or so I believed.

Then this morning, I got another response from someone who hadn’t addressed me before, stating (again basically) that I was uninformed about WorldCon, the Hugos, and one of the people who had been most critical (to the point of hostility) of me. As I looked at the tweets of the person who is supposed to be an important voice, I saw said-individual was pretty critical of a lot of other folks, specifically conservatives who have questioned the objectivity of the aforementioned Hugos (AKA, the “Sad Puppies”).

None of the people who addressed me have their tweets hidden, so I thought I’d take a look at what else they had to talk about. I wanted a wider understanding of the individuals involved. To that end, I’m posting screen captures of a few tweets of two of these people while doing my best to hide their identities (except for David Hogg’s since he seems to thrive on publicity).

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The Crushed Wraith

wraithThe irony is that the Wraith is lucid as a man. It took last night’s sleep plus a nap this afternoon, but the Wraith is thinking clearly.

Not that it matters in the slightest.

The man is continually crushed, so that the Wraith is the only escape.

The man cannot do anything right, or at least it seems that way. The man must live in community, and the only escape is the Wraith.

The Wraith does not crave community. The Wraith craves solitude. Solitude means peace. Community means war, but a war in which the man is forbidden to defend himself.

The Wraith seeks solitude and even when he is the man, the man seeks solitude.

If only humans were not contentious. If only the humans didn’t seek to destroy.

Humans in general are destructive, but the ones you live with are the most destructive of all.

Humans in general can destroy your body, but the ones you live with destroy your soul.

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