Mourning the Loss of Escapism

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Photo of Lester Del Rey

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What disturbs me more is the whole concept of purpose as applied to any literature. To the Marxists, intent upon subordinating everything to the good of the state, the arts must serve a direct purpose of life — usually propaganda, I’m afraid. But why people in this country accept such Marxist ideas is a puzzle.

Lester Del Rey as quoted from The World of Science Fiction, 1926-1976: The History of a Subculture

I suppose it’s a mild coincidence that I’m quoting Del Rey on his birthday. These words from his tome, which I reviewed HERE and HERE, are predictive of the world of science fiction (and entertainment in general) we experience today.

Del Rey saw SciFi as a lot of things, including instructive, but most of all, he believed it should be fun.

But where has the fun gone?

And while Lenin read a book of Marx
The Quartet practiced in the park
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died

And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died
And they were singing bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing, “This’ll be the day that I die”
This will be the day that I die

Don McLean from “American Pie” 1971

Just substitute “escapism” or “fun” for the word “music” above, and it fits. There’s a lot inspiring this missive, including this recent one.

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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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My Review of Star Trek: Picard Season 1

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DVD case for season 1 of Star Trek: Picard

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I saw the DVD set for season 1 of Star Trek: Picard at my local public library and worked up the nerve to actually watch it. Fortunately, since I got it at the library, it was free, and also it was only ten episodes, so not an enormous investment of time.

Keep in mind, I fully expected to hate it based on what I’ve read so far, so that’s why it took this long to get around to it.

The show wasn’t horrible horrible, but it wasn’t over the top great either. Fans are quick to point out that the first few seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation were poor as well, and they’re right. This was different.

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Science Fiction and OPPs (Other People’s Priorities)

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Image found at K. Tempest Bradford’s blog

I’d heard of K. Tempest Bradford before, but only tangentially. So far, she hasn’t blocked me on twitter, but I expect that to change any time now.

I came across her blog post I Challenge You to Stop Reading White, Straight, Cis Male Authors for One Year thanks to a notice posted on Facebook by Louis Antonelli (I’m aware that Louis can be quite controversial, but on the other hand, he’s frequented by a favorite SciFi author of mine Neal Asher).

Among other things, Bradford has “issues” with Antonelli, particularly with his current bid for the Presidency of the SFWA board.

Here’s part of what she wrote on her blog:

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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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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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In Response to “Toxic Fandom”

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Found at knowyourmeme.com

Oh heck. I wasn’t going to comment on this here. Seriously. I admit, when I saw the title of the File 770 article Fandom, Entitlement and Toxicity I had a pretty good idea of what it was all about. When I saw the author was my old “friend” Hampus Eckerman (really, we’ve only had brief online encounters, but they were pretty unpleasant) I was sure of it.

Turns out I was wrong.

What Eckerman was really saying was that his “ownership” of certain characters and franchises, he focuses on “The Amazing Spider-Man” comic book, can lead us as fans to respond pretty badly at times when the creators of these pieces of work do something that rubs us the wrong way.

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Science Fiction, Opinions, and Why It’s Okay to Disagree

A statute honoring Ray Bradbury was unveiled outside the Waukegan Public Library just after sunset on Aug. 22, 2019, the 99th anniversary of the late author’s birth. (Dan Moran / Lake County News-Sun)

I just read an article at File 770 called Waukegan Public Library Unveils Ray Bradbury Statue (click the link and read, the story’s pretty short). Waukegan was Bradbury’s hometown and I’m thrilled to see that he is being honored. He is a truly timeless writer, and I can prove it, since my 33-year-old son Michael just read Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Over a year ago, I wrote my own wee Bradbury essay titled Should We Burn Ray Bradbury’s Books?. I crafted my missive in response to Katie Naum’s essay at Electric Lit called The New ‘Fahrenheit 451’ Movie Fails to Reckon with Bradbury’s Racism.

I seriously doubt he was a racist, at least in the dictionary definition sense, but assuming Bradbury had character flaws and perhaps some dated beliefs given that he was born in 1920, that doesn’t change his influence on the field of science fiction, nor make him unworthy of being honored.

Of course, we’ve seen this sort of thing before.

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