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

tiptree

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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One More Commentary on the Dragon Awards

dragon

Image found at DragonCon.org

I’m new to the whole hype over awards for science fiction and fantasy, well, ever since last year when I learned about the controversy involving the Hugos and the so-called Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies.

However, I’ve been paying attention to the Dragon Awards. Unlike most other awards of this type, anyone who has internet access can register for no cost and be able to vote for their favorite authors, books, television shows, and so forth (in other words we mere mortals). I even voted myself, but unlike others, the purpose of this blog post isn’t to share who I favored.

I discovered at least three other commentaries on the Dragons: File 770‘s Mike Glyer, Camestros Felapton‘s, an apparently associated blog which I’ve just started following, and Richard Paolinelli’s SciFiScribe.

They all had slightly different takes.

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Disney’s Wonderful Opportunity in Casting an African-American “Little Mermaid”

bailey mermaid

Credit: Bailey: Rex/Shutterstock: Mermaid Snap/Shutterstock

I’ve been reading a lot lately about how 19-year-old R & B singer Halle Bailey has been cast in the role of Ariel in Disney’s live action remake of the 1989 animated feature The Little Mermaid. Certainly, a generation has grown up watching and delighting to this film.

More recently, Disney has taken to reimaging many of their 1980s and ’90s animated successes into live action films. I guess “the Mouse” has just plain run out of ideas. Actor Will Smith played the genie in the Aladdin remake, which I haven’t seen, but it’s hard to imagine Robin Williams not being the genie. Actually, I haven’t seen any of the remakes, and probably won’t unless its with my grandchildren (and so far, the next movie my ten-year-old grandson wants to see in the theater is Spider-Man: Far From Home).

According to multiple news outlets including SBS.com.au and The Root, there’s a huge amount of white outrage and a “Big Mad” over (hashtag) #NotMyAriel in twitter. Conservative commentators, including Matt Walsh claim otherwise, and the battle over social justice once more reigns in the news and social media.

Meh.

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Book Review: The Fifth Season

fifth

Cover image of NK Jemisin’s 2015 Hugo Award winning novel “The Fifth Season

“Jemisin is now a pillar of speculative fiction, breathtakingly imaginative and narratively bold.”―Entertainment Weekly

“Intricate and extraordinary.”―The New York Times

“[The Fifth Season is] an ambitious book, with a shifting point of view, and a protagonist whose full complexity doesn’t become apparent till toward the end of the novel. … Jemisin’s work itself is part of a slow but definite change in sci-fi and fantasy.”―Guardian

“Astounding… Jemisin maintains a gripping voice and an emotional core that not only carries the story through its complicated setting, but sets things up for even more staggering revelations to come.”―NPR Books

“Jemisin’s graceful prose and gritty setting provide the perfect backdrop for this fascinating tale of determined characters fighting to save a doomed world.”―Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“A must-buy…breaks uncharted ground.”―Library Journal (starred review)

“Jemisin might just be the best world builder out there right now…. [She] is a master at what she does.”―RT Book Reviews (Top Pick!)

“Wait! What? Sure, it’s an interesting story, but… –Me

I’ve read most Hugo nominated and award-winning novels from 1988 back to 1958, when the Hugos first came into existence, but recently, I decided for the sake of fairness, I should consume more recent popular SF/F novels and stories to see how cultural perception is changing the landscape of speculative fiction. The fact that N.K. Jemisin is a three-time Hugo award winner wasn’t lost on me, particularly after having read her latest controversial historic Hugo Award acceptance speech.

Fortunately, The Fifth Season (2015), the first book in “The Broken Earth” series, was available through my local public library system. Given its obvious “hype,” I was hoping for something spectacular and afraid that it wouldn’t be.

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Before Social Justice and Comicsgate, there were Comic Books

I’ve written about the modern state of mainstream comic books before (DC, Marvel) including how at least some of them aren’t safe for children, and the whole comicsgate vs. social justice comic books drama. Some of this still pops up in my twitter stream, though I don’t respond because, why bother? Still, I do consider the state of the industry as it relates to some of the movies I watch (I caught Deadpool 2 on DVD the other day). And that takes me back to the comic books I used to read, many years…okay, decades ago.

I’ve read some things about the upcoming Captain Marvel movie, which seems interesting, and maps to the original Ms. Marvel comic book of the 1970s, based on a non-superpowered Carol Danvers who appeared in 1968 in this comic book:

Here, Captain Marvel was an alien spy, obeying the commands of his Kree overlords in a spaceship orbiting the Earth, but eventually, he used his space suit’s powers to help human beings, bringing his loyalty into question. Not long afterward, he got a make over and turned into this:

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Here We Go Again: Comicsgate

superman

A public service announcement published in a DC comic book in the early 1960s

I’ve heard of this thing called Comicsgate, and after doing a bit of reading, discovered it’s pretty much the same sort of critter that launched the efforts of the Sad Puppies a few years back.

Allegation: The mainstream comic book industry (DC, Marvel) is overrun by Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) forcing their very narrow agenda down the throats of all comic book readers, no matter how totally unrealistic it is, so we independent comic book creators will fight back by creating more classic heroes of our own.

You can find out more about this perspective by following Jon Del Arroz’s twitter feed, particularly THIS and THAT.

Counter-allegation: Conservative, white, racist trolls want to destroy all participation of strong women heroes, people of color, LGBTQ+ writers, artists, and characters, and all other marginalized and vulnerable populations in comic books so comics are totally owned by white people, and we have to stop them.

You can read about Bill Sienkiewicz rebuttal at “The Mary Sue” (a fairly biased publication) as well as on his twitter feed HERE.

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I Was Curious About How the WorldCon 2018 “Refit” was Going

worldcon

Screen capture of the WorldCon 2018 homepage

In the past day or so, I’ve not seen a lot going on in the news or the blogosphere about the WorldCon 76 crash-and-burn fest, so I thought maybe there’d be something on their website. On their homepage, the words “We will do better” jumped out at me (If you’re having trouble reading the text in the image above, go to their homepage). The message was dated yesterday, and I can only imagine that behind the scenes, there’s a lot of frantic activity going on. There’d better be. Kevin Roche and the WorldCon organizers have got less than three weeks to pull victory (or something like it) out of the jaws of defeat.

Among the other words in Roche’s heartfelt missive was the sentence, “We are tearing the program apart and starting over.” Yikes. The whole chimichanga? That’s going to be a ton of work to get done in the meager time allotted.

I did notice one other thing, though. He wrote “It was intended to be a reflection of the cultures, passions and experiences of Worldcon membership, with room for both new voices and old (emph. mine).

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Diversity Training: Tales From The Dystopia

mind control

Image: activistpost.com

The technicians carefully positioned the electrodes at specific locations of Ronnie’s freshly shaved head. The adhesive paste was cold like the room and she started to shiver.

It wasn’t just the temperature, though. Ronnie was terrified. She struggled against the straps restraining her to the chair.

“Now Ms. Pierson. This will go easier for you if you don’t resist.” Dr. Williams, head of the University’s Department of Diversity Instruction stood directly in front of Ronnie, her arms crossed. “This really is for your own good as well as for the sake of the other students here at Libra U.”

“When I came in here this morning…I thought you said this was going to be a workshop.” In spite of herself, in spite of not wanting to give in to these bastards, Ronnie was close to tears.

“It’s much more efficient to provide the corrective programming digitally, through direct cognitive induction, rather than have you attend a series of classes.” Williams leaned slightly toward Ronnie. “Externally presented materials can be ignored or minimized. When we introduce the correction electrically, it will become a part of you.”

Mind control. Ronnie had heard rumors, but she didn’t believe them…well, not until now.

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The Conversation

It all started with a video:

Then someone said this about the video on Facebook:

It’s nice that she can speak calmly and clearly here. The rally’s that are blocking streets with people shoving journalists etc are the problem. Just the other day, one rally was blocking a bridge where a father was needing to get his infant to the hospital. He ended up having to hand his child through the barricade where the ambulance had to take a longer detour while the father sat in traffic not being able to be with his child. This is where the #blacklivesmatter is causing problems. I’m fine with it and agree with it if it is organized and doesn’t put other lives in danger. (Emph. mine)

This is my problem with the Black Lives Matter movement as well. As I said in a previous blog post, the concept upon which the Black Lives Matter movement is based is easy to understand and I can agree with it. However, as we see in the following story, how the movement is implemented isn’t always so reasonable or pleasant. In fact, sometimes it’s downright dangerous, particularly to children.

The Memphis Black Lives Matter rally shut down the I-40 bridge Sunday night with hundreds of protesters refusing to leave. Traffic could not go across, but paramedic Bobby Harrell with Crittenden EMS was determined to get to a child who was stuck on the bridge with his family.

“We received a call there was a child needing medical attention stuck in traffic up on the bridge and due to the protest going on the bridge the family was not able to get through traffic to get him to Le Bonheur,” Harrell said.

A photo shows parents handing the child off to paramedics on the bridge.

“The sheriff’s department had to escort us up the wrong way of the interstate to the child,” he said.

Harrell said after he had the very sick child in the ambulance, the driver had to go 25 minutes out of the way.

“We had to turn around and come back to West Memphis and cross over at MLK to get over to 55.”

-Larry O’Connor
“Black Lives Matter protest blocks ambulance with sick child headed for hospital,” July 13, 2016
HotAir.com
Quoting the story from Fox Carolina News

It’s unlikely that the people participating in the protest were aware of the medical emergency involving the baby and that they were threatening the safety of that child. Perhaps if they did, they would have allowed that family through.

That’s not the most disturbing part. These comments from Facebook are.

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The Loyalty Test

loyalty pledge

Image: The Federalist

“I see you received excellent marks on your overall training evaluation, Mr. Collins.”

“Yes Ma’am. Thank you.” Brad Collins was standing in front of his section chief’s desk on what he hoped was his first official day on the job. She had a reputation for being strict and pulling no punches, so needless to say, he was a bit nervous. But he needed this job. Actually, he’d wanted this job ever since he was a little kid. Being here was the culmination of a 20-year-long dream. Now if only the dream would come true.

“You can address me as ‘Ms. Nash’ or ‘Chief Nash,’ Mr. Collins.” Nash’s expression was stern as she stared at him through the thick lenses of her glasses. It was rumored that her expression almost never changed, at least during work hours.

“Yes, Ms. Nash.” He stood ramrod straight in front of her desk as she carefully turned the pages in his final evaluation report.

“You signed your loyalty statement this morning, I see.” Nash didn’t bother to look up when she addressed him.

“Yes, Ma…Yes, Ms. Nash.” The loyalty test was one of the most challenging examinations to pass, not because of any physical or intellectual difficulty, but because it was so hard for most people to purge all possible tendencies toward disloyalty. Duffy, Brad’s first instructor, told him that most applicants were denied employment because of this, even if they passed all of the other exams.

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