A Leave of Presence

On Planet X, things are always hunky-dory. But on Earth, things have not been so calm and this has affected me to a certain extent.

I think we all know what I mean.

Although I, nor any of my family members have caught the coronavirus, it has still had an effect on our lives. My brother has had some work woes due to the virus. I’m still lucky to have my job but our work environment, hours and paychecks, have been effected by the pandemic.

To top it all off, my mother had surgery for colon cancer in August and is undergoing chemo. I am her primary caregiver and I have to drive her to the doctor, run errands for her and pay all her non-medical bills.

Although I’m taking it like an Amazon, with my head held high, it’s given me a severe case of writer’s block.

There’s so much I want to write about. I’ve wanted to write a review of Wonder Woman 1984 (which I’ve seen four times on HBO Max already), write a post singing the praises of HBO Max as a streaming platform and even give my two cents on the Studio Ghibli film, Tales From Earthsea

But the creative juices just aren’t flowing right now. Sometimes I’ll start writing, then I’ll stop and save the article, only to struggle to pick up where I’ve left off.

So I decided that the best thing to do was to simply step away from WordPress – and possibly all social media – for awhile. I write this, dear readers, so that you won’t wonder why I haven’t posted anything in awhile.

Stay safe, never lose hope, remember that you’re not alone, and always look for the silver lining as related in this song…

This is The Lady From Planet X signing off… for now.

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Great Worm Moments In SF History

You didn’t think my series on SF Animals only covered vertebrates did you? Did you?! How could any species be so helminth/scoleci/vermiphobic? Worms have always been major characters in science fiction and fantasy you bipedal dummies!

Now worms are a hard group to categorize because the name is thrown about by scientists to just about any animal that doesn’t have legs, arms, eyes or scales and is slimier than a jar of vaseline. But when we hear the word “worm” the first image that pops into our heads is the earthworm (Opisthopora), which is probably the kind of worm sci-fi and fantasy writers also picture before they put pen to ink.

So grab yourself a bag of gummi worms, dig yourself comfortably into a pot of dirt and wiggle through this list of fantastic (and often fatal) worms.

DuneInfo - Dune Behind The Scenes - What Dune toy-line would be complete  without Shai-hulud? LJN had announced two sandworms, one was described as a  "large character in soft foam latex [that]

Sandworm, Dune (1965)

There’s no way, we’re going to start this list without Shai Hulud himself. This is the first image that comes to mind whenever people hear the words science fiction and worm in the same sentence. These critters can grow to over 1,300 ft long and 130 ft in diameter. They’ve been known to swallow ornithopters and people in large groups because they’re extremely sensitive to sand vibrations (remember worms don’t have eyes), which is why the Fremen always say, “walk without rhythm and you won’t attract the worms”. But the most important aspect of the sandworm is their ability to make melange – a spice that holds the Duniverse together. Oh and the Fremen use them as mounts. However, due to the revived popularity of Beetlejuice (1988), you’re more likely to see merch of sandworms from the Tim Burton directed film, instead of the ones from Frank Herbert’s award-winning novel.

Tremors (film) - Wikipedia

Graboids, Tremors (1990)

Directed by Ron Underwood and produced by Gale Ann Hurd (who knows a thing or two about movie monsters), this horror comedy film launched a franchise about a town in Nevada besieged by massive subterranean worm monsters who have a taste for human flesh. They can sense vibrations in the ground and I’m guessing their movements cause the titular “tremors”. Despite it’s box office failure (no surprise there), the film has since gone on to become a cult classic and has spawned a franchise consisting of five sequels, one prequel and a TV show.

Lamprey-Worms, Summer of Night (1991)

Pin by Beau Chivers on Dune | Science fiction, Dan simmons, Fiction

Nominated for the 1992 British Fantasy Award, Dan Simmons’ novel shares a lot of similarities to Stephen King’s It: a group of mid-20th century American boys observe supernatural events and characters unfolding in their small town. However the similarities end there. King never included in his book lamprey – worms. Summoned by the possessed Borgia Bell situated in the steeple of the local school house, the lamprey – worms will strike at anyone for whom the bell tolls. They have long, thick bodies and sucker mouths with rows of blade sharp teeth. Their tough-scaled hide and lack of vulnerable organs make them difficult to destroy. They’re also difficult to detect – they tunnel under their victims and take them by surprise. They’re large enough to swallow a full-grown dog and can knock over a truck. Oh and they’re vulnerable to holy water.

(Note: the above picture is by famed SF/fantasy artist Wayne Barlowe)

The Conqueror Worms: Keene, Brian: Amazon.com: Books

Earthworm Gods, The Conqueror Worms (2005)

Just what is it with horror and worms? They seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. Or should I say chocolate ice cream and gummi worms…

Then again, name an animal that hasn’t been used in the horror genre.

Anyway, this Brian Keene penned novel is a post apocalyptic story about two Great Flood survivors (not that Great Flood) who have to fend off their sanctuary from man-eating giant worms the size of buses. And yet the worms are the least of the protagonists’ problems!

Amanin/Amanaman, Star Wars (1977-present)

Making their first appearance in Jabba’s Palace in Return of the Jedi, the Amanin (sometimes called Amananman) are a planarian (flatworm) race from the planet Maridun. They stood two to three meters tall, had bright yellow and green skin, arms long enough to reach the ground and very short legs. They were often seen throughout the galaxy as mercenaries or wilderness scouts, which means you do not want to cross paths with these worms as the stormtroopers, seen in the above picture, learned the hard way.

Earthworm Jim game announced for the new Intellivision console - Polygon

Earthworm Jim

A very bizarre ’90s video game released by SEGA Genesis about an ordinary earthworm who unknowingly wriggles itself into the path of a falling spacesuit becoming an anthropomorphic hero named Jim. His foes included the Evil Queen Slug-For-A-Butt (the name speaks for itself), her right hand “man” Psy-Crow and Evil the Cat. I think some of Jim’s challenges involved avoiding falling grandma’s in rocking chairs, avoiding falling cows, bungy-jumping into mucus and “swimming” in someone’s intestine (the level was called “Villi People”). Many a ’90s child were icked out by the commercial where an old woman eats a bowl of live worms.

Did she get paid for this?

The game must’ve been a success because it was followed by a rather lackluster cartoon show…

and a toyline by the same people who gave you TMNT.

There’s been rumors of a reboot for years but it seems this IP belongs strictly in the ’90s.

The Mongolian Death Worm

Jump to 4:58 if you want to skip The Wonderland Massacre part.

This is the only worm on my list that’s based on local legend. The creature first came to Western attention in the 1926 book On the Trail of Ancient Man by archaeologist Roy Chapman Andrews. Although dismissed by scholars as a biological impossibility (they claim no worm can survive a desert climate), the locals are convinced the olgoi-khorkoi (“large intestine worm”) exists and have reported sightings of this fearful creature. Click on the video above for more info. Here’s what it “looks” like:

Painting by Pieter Dirkx (date unknown).

Alaskan Bull Worm, SpongeBob Squarepants (Season 2, episode 40: “Sandy, Spongebob and the Worm”, 2001)

Overnight, something wicked comes to Bikini Bottom that destroys everything in its path including SpongeBob’s pineapple. SpongeBob immediately recognizes the monster as an ALASKAN BULL WORM!!!! (see above video for visual punctuation – arguably the greatest visual punctuation in TV history) As the town panics on what to do (Patrick decides to move the town to a safer place – literally), Texas tough Sandy Cheeks volunteers to wrangle the beast for taking her tail, despite SpongeBob’s warnings (IT’S AN ALASKAN BULL WORM!!!). As they encounter a cave, Sandy enters thinking she has finally wrangled the worm, only for SpongeBob to point out she actually has its tongue and the “cave” is the real worm.

You know what, just watch this video with a fun synopsis of the episode.

The Worm, Labyrinth (1986)

The second muppet Sarah meets that gives her advice (in a cockney accent no less) on how to work her way through the titular Labyrinth. Too bad it’s advice was no help. Karen Prell was the puppeteer, while the late Timothy Bateson provided the voice (“‘Ello!”).

This was Jim Henson’s final film. It flopped critically and commercially but has since gone on to become a beloved fantasy classic.

So what other wormly sci-fi moments do you remember? Let me know in the comments. In the meantime here are some pictures of cute and cuddly worm plush toys. Awwwwww!

Amazon.com: TY Beanie Babies Inch the Worm Stuffed Animal Plush Toy - 11  inches long - Multi-color - Style 4044: Office Products
TY Beanie Baby - SQUIRMY the Worm (12 inch): BBToyStore.com - Toys, Plush,  Trading Cards, Action Figures & Games online retail store shop sale
Glo Worms | Childhood toys, Childhood, Childhood memories
Amazon.com: Gofypel Magic Worm Toy, Wiggly Twisty Fuzzy Carnival Party  Favors Toy Xmas Gift: Toys & Games
China (FL-223) Long Stuffed Children Game Toy, Plush Simulation Worm Toy -  China Children Toy and Plush Worm Toy price

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Good News For Prequel Star Warriors!

Now that the shopping season has begun, there will be Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals online. And guess what I found???? At Boxlunch.com there’s a really whimsical Jar Jar Binks enamel pin for $6.23 – and oh my gosh, as I type this it’s already out of stock!!! Well if that proves anything, it’s that Jar Jar is popular and we need more Binks, less Porgs. Maybe you can email the Powers That Be and request a back order. Or you can order this “College T-Shirt” (for only 14.45) as a consolation prize.

And remember Hot Topic still has some Padme Amidala and Anakin Skywalker t shirts.

Next, Her Universe has teamed up with ShopDisney.com to release these Star Wars Heroine pins. If you think Queen Amidala was included, you’re right!

Now I admit, that after hearing about Alan Dean Foster’s battle with Disney over the royalties to his EU novels, I’m conflicted about buying from their website. But at the same time I still want to prove to the House of Mouse that the prequels are loved and still in demand. If only fans could start a fundraiser to help Foster out financially, that would be awesome.

Anyway, happy shopping and May The Force Be With You.

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A New Hope For Star Warriors

If you sensed a great disturbance in the Force today, it’s because I gave out a great big “WHOO – HOO!!!”

On my lunch break today I was browsing the website OutOfPrint.com. It’s a website of merchandise for avid readers. On this site you’ll find t shirts, tote bags, pins, socks and yes books, of some of your favorite authors, from Stephen King to Philip K. Dick. And you’ll find some unique Star Wars swag. Remember those “READ” posters you saw on the walls of your local library in the ’80s and ’90s? You can buy it here as a notebook, a pair of socks, a t-shirt, or an enamel pin. If you were around in 1976, you might remember seeing a copy of Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker at your local bookstore. Now you can wear Ralph McQuarrie’s iconic art as a t-shirt.

And then I saw this new Heir To The Empire t-shirt. Yes, an Expanded Universe/Legends t-shirt. Why is this a big deal?

A year ago I sent a customer e-mail to Out Of Print suggesting they sell SW EU merchandise. After all if you’re going to sell anything related to Star Wars and reading, wouldn’t it make sense to include Legends? After all it introduced star warriors to the joys of reading and led them to other sci-fi literature. It seems the powers that be listened to me and if we, the fans, buy this shirt in droves, it’ll send a message to manufacturers that we still want Lucas era SW.

But wait there’s more.

Here’s the official description from Penguin Random House:

Star Wars Insider, the official magazine of the Star Wars saga, presents an amazing collection of exclusive short stories from the galaxy far, far away.

Includes tales starring iconic characters such as Han Solo, Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian and Darth Vader, this collection also features stories showcasing supporting characters such as Darth Plagueis, Hondo Ohnaka, Captain Rex, and Darth Revan.

Includes fiction written by renowned best-selling Star Wars authors such as Jason Fry, Matthew Stover, John Ostrander, and Paul S. Kemp, this volume also includes stunning art from some of the saga’s best-loved interpreters, including Joe Corroney, Brian Rood, Jan Duursema, and Magali Villeneuve.

And if you’re having any doubts, it has the Legends banner at the top. It’ll be released on March 23, 2021 but you can pre-order it now. For some fans, it’ll be a chance to revisit some old favorites. But for other fans, it’ll be new stories and new adventures. And that’s only the first volume…

So does this give you hope for the franchise? Will you be making any purchases in the near future? Sound off in the comments.

And May the Force Be With You.

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Music To Space Out By

80+ Best The Art Of Jim Burns images | burns, science fiction art, sci fi  art

I know what you’re thinking: my list of space themed music will include classics like David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” (or the Ziggy Stardust album), Elton John’s “Rocket Man” and even Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” (or the electronic version by Isao Tomita). Maybe you think I’ll throw in some theremin music. Or music from your favorite sci-fi movie/TV show.

Well you’re wrong. This list won’t include any of those songs and symphonies. It won’t even include Sheb Wooley’s “The Purple People Eater” (1958) – even though it (sorta) opened the floodgates. These are the songs that jumped on the space band wagon and became the soundtrack of the Space Race. They’re catchy, they’re silly and they’re unforgettable. So let’s grab our electric guitars, don our spacesuits and blastoff to the sounds of space rock!

Note: sadly I couldn’t find much information about the making of these songs or the artists so if you have any information about these songs, let me know in the comments. You can find these songs on the compilation albums Rockin’ Orbit, Rock & Roll Invasion and Rockin’ In Outer Space.

Space Walk (1959)

The Bel-Aires

Man From Mars (1961)

Butch Paulson

Satellite Baby (1957)

Skip Stanley

Rocket to the Moon (year unknown)

Joe Johnson

The Martian Hop (1963)

The Ran-Dells

The Martian Band (1958)

The Wild-Tones

The Invasion Is Coming (1967)

Invasion

Rocket (1957)

Joe Bennett and the Sparkletones

X-15 (1960)

Johnny Bond

Space Needle (1963)

Starfires

Satellite Rock (1958)

The Rebelaires with Sammy Smith

Trip to the Moon (1957)

Wesley Reynolds

First Man on Mars (1957)

Jack Fautheree

Rocket Trip (1961)

Jackie Lowell with Duane Diamond & the Astronauts

The Sputnik Story (1958)

Bill Thomas

Rock Old Sputnik (1958)

Nelson Young

Creature From Outer Space (1957)

Sonny Day and the Tony Ray Trio

Rockin’ On the Moon (1959)

Deacon & The Rock Rollers

Flying Saucers Rock & Roll (1957)

Billy Lee Riley and His Little Green Men

Mope-Itty Mope (1959)

The Boss-Tones

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Your “Wonder Woman” Article Sucks

Note: The views in my post do not apply to all people who are pro-life. Not all people who support abortion are pro-woman and not all people who are against abortion are anti-woman. Some of my past posts have been critical of articles that take a liberal approach to sci-fi. This is the first post to criticize a conservative article.

Usually I never take sides in the abortion debate because I find the arguments of both sides to be irritating and outdated. Plus abortion is not as cut and dry as some people believe.

But lately I’ve been extremely irritated with the sheer hypocrisy of some that profess to be “pro-life” because they’re anything but when it comes to life outside the womb as seen in this July 4, 2017 article from the Christian website, ChurchPop, titled “8 Surprisingly Pro-Life Quotes From Wonder Woman“. Written by Mark Haas, it’s an admiration of Patty Jenkins’ 2017 blockbuster (appropriate, since we’re getting close to the theatrical release of Wonder Woman 1984 – someday). On the surface, it’s great to see a conservative Christian publication praise and admire a film and character with a feminist legacy. But on closer inspection, it turns out that this writer really missed the point of the movie.

As You Wish Cary Elwes GIF by Disney+

It wasn’t the fancy fighting techniques and impressive scenery that appealed to me. What really drew me in were the overwhelming pro-life themes, and the defense of the innocent. These sentiments were shared on screen (almost exclusively) by the main character, Diana, whom we later discover is Wonder Woman.

Hold on ‚Äď a strong female lead character ‚Äď from a major Hollywood blockbuster ‚Äď proclaiming the defense of innocent life? The themes and quotes were undeniable, so I began to write them down.

Um, “a strong female lead character proclaiming the defense of innocent life”? You think Diana is the first to do that? What about when Queen Amidala said “I will not condone a course of action that will lead us to war?” Or “I was not elected to watch my people suffer and die while you discuss this invasion in a committee!” Heck, her whole story arc in The Phantom Menace was about saving innocent lives from the Trade Federation. Or what about the whole plot of Disney’s Pocahontas – a film I feel gets more criticism than it really deserves – where the titular protagonist begs her father and her love interest to cease hostilities so that the settlers and her people can live in peace?

Maybe it’s because two of those films weren’t critically acclaimed enough?

“Who do you fight for?” Mercenary named Sameer, “No one”. “So you only fight for profits?”

(Note: She was talking to Chief, not Sameer.)

“For example, Planned Parenthood performed 323,999 abortions in 2016, (887 per day; 37 per hour; 1 every 97 seconds) all while earning $1.3 billion (in 2015) in revenue. Their CEO, Cecile Richards, is compensated just under $1 million while working for this ‚Äúcharitable‚ÄĚ organization. Again, a few are profiting for the sake of the many.”

Hmmm, 323,999 abortions. You know what else matches that number in loss of life? According to the Giffords Institute (the one founded by Gabrielle Giffords) 37,603 Americans die by gun violence every year – an average of 100 every day. 61% by suicide, 36% by homicide, 1.4% police shootings (interesting), 1.3% by accidental and 0.8% undecided. In 2017, gun deaths reached their highest level in at least 40 years, with 39,773 deaths that year alone. Domestic violence victims are 5 times more likely to be killed when their abuser has access to a gun (see “The Boyfriend Loophole”). And let’s not even get into the profits gun manufacturers make from gun production every year.

Yet whenever a mass shooting (that often involves – wait for it – children) makes the news, these same “pro-lifers” downplay the tragedy and scream about their 2nd amendment rights. What do they need those guns for? Don’t they remember what Jesus said at Matthew 26:52 or read Isaiah 2:4? What good is having a child if that child will later be killed in a drive by shooting?

It’s also ironic that throughout this article Mr. Haas never for once lists any of the casualties of World War 1 (or any war) since that’s the setting for the film. The pro-life messages Diana talks about involve¬†war.

(Don’t even get me started on their refusal to wear masks or their demands to hold church services in the middle of a pandemic. Haven’t these people ever heard of Zoom?)

Yes, Planned Parenthood has its problems, but when it comes to a non-profit, single provider of reproductive health services in the US, PP is the only game in town. Not every woman goes to Planned Parenthood to have an abortion as shown by these personal testimonies below:

I am pro-life, however, I am also highly aware that many pro-life people do little to no work to help babies and children who are hungry, living in poverty, and/or in abusive homes. Why aren’t pro-life people making noise about these childhood issues as well? It’s important to try and protect the unborn, but why aren’t they putting as much effort into protecting the born?¬†– Kelly

A friend of mine was diagnosed with cervical cancer during a well care visit to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood, thank you so much for saving the life of my friend. РBill

People don’t realize that Planned Parenthood supplies testing, birth control and other good services. – V.O.

PP saved my life, I went in for a free pap and birth control after getting out of the army as neither my husband or I had insurance. I found out I had cancer cells during my pap. It was caught early enough that I just needed minor surgery. So I stand with PP. РBela

My son is adopted. His birth mother doesn’t believe in abortion but she had no medical insurance and went to Planned Parenthood for prenatal care which ensured she had a healthy baby that she was able to place for adoption. РP.D.D.R

Planned Parenthood does SO MUCH MORE than abortions. They provided my wife with low cost (or free, can’t remember) birth control when we were younger also helped diagnose and treat her ovarian cysts. Then she continued to go to them for prenatal care when she was pregnant with our first child, as she trusted the clinic and staff, and our lack of decent health insurance at the time would have meant a huge burden financially.¬†– Joseph

P.P. helps with OB/GYN services that people with low income or no insurance can afford, prenatal care, family planning, helps people enroll in WIC services, many POSITIVE things. Too many people think it is a fly-by-nite abortion clinic. Unless you have actually utilized their facility, you have no idea. They helped with yearly exams when I had no insurance. What major clinic would provide a pelvic exam for $18.00 and call it a wash? Not in this lifetime…¬†– Lynna

The anti-choice crowd is simply anti-abortion, not pro health of women. They do nothing to prevent unwanted pregnancies, only criticize the availability of the choice to have an abortion after the fact. When they begin to do something to prevent unwanted pregnancies, then they will be doing some good. And isn’t that what PP does?¬†– Bruce

My parents never had ‚Äúthe talk‚ÄĚ with me. My intro into sexual health was with PP. They were professional, friendly, and very knowledgeable. I recently had a dr. tell me that I didn‚Äôt need to do a full well woman‚Äôs exam because it was not over 5 yrs (should be every 3 – 5 yrs). I left and went to PP the next morning and they handle everything. Those in an uproar are oblivious to the facts and let a skewed narrative influence their opinion. – Crystal

The primary service of Planned Parenthood is cancer screening for low income women, primarily ovarian and breast. The obsession on the smallest aspect of their services deprives women of needed services when funding is cut. РMK

I went to PP in the 80’s. Got my first pap and 1st birth control there. They were wonderful. At no time was abortion ever pushed on me.¬†– Tina

Heck, my mother utilized Planned Parenthood’s services when she was pregnant with me and my brother – and it wasn’t to have an abortion and she wasn’t some rebellious, reckless, unwed teenager – she was an adult married woman with a working husband.

If pro-lifers disagree with Planned Parenthood’s stance on abortion, then why not just build more anti-abortion clinics that also provide pap smears, cancer screenings, pregnancy check-ups and birth control? And why aren’t they also exposing Planned Parenthood’s other sins (as seen in the links)?

‚ÄúYou should not be afraid to upset the peace agreement.‚ÄĚ

Wonder Woman is not satisfied by armistice peace agreements. Save the innocent ‚Äď or keep fighting. No one ever said that you have to be satisfied with a faulty societal premise.

Norma McCorvey (the Roe of Roe vs. Wade) passed away last year. Although she was a key player in the Supreme Court decision on abortion, she later became one of the most outspoken pro-life advocates, and devoted her life to the pro-life movement. Slavery was legal at one time. Abusing your wife (privately, and as long as you did not make a scene) was acceptable at one time. An exclusively male voter participation was commonplace at one time.

Laws can be changed. We must keep fighting for the innocent and the defenseless. After all, ‚ÄúYou should not be afraid to upset the peace agreement.‚ÄĚ

Once again, Diana is talking about the Armistice of 1918, y’know, the one that “ended” World War 1 but didn’t stop World War 2? Or Korea? Or Vietnam? Why does he keep ignoring this? Why hasn’t he talked about the lives lost by wars and genocide for the last 102 years? Is it because some priests and clergymen expressed support for those wars, encouraged people to enlist and even told soldiers that “God was on their side?”

If Mr. Haas is talking about outlawing abortion, then it’s pretty rich that he would compare it to outlawing wife abuse, when some wives have abortions because of an abusive marriage. It’s also reminds me of Christian women who’ve spoken out about sexual misconduct in the churches and are met with denial and anger.

And even if we we’re to overturn¬†Roe,¬†would that stop women from having abortions? Could that lead to a rise in infanticide? There was abortion before Roe¬†and it was deadly. Just recently women in Mexico (a country where abortion is illegal) held a protest for abortion rights. Again, if you’re going to outlaw abortion, you need to replace it with something to help women.
Being pro-life encompasses all lives. There is someone who could use a visit in a hospital or a prison. There is someone who could use some extra clothes. There is someone who could use a hug. Save someone today.
Yes, all lives matter, but it takes more than giving away hugs and clothes to save lives. It takes diligence, organization, effort and financial compensation. It takes government sponsored programs to help those in need. Do you believe in those kinds of programs Mr. Haas?
To be fair, Mr. Haas concludes his article with this very astute assessment:
This final line in the film is so profound. Lead your decisions in life with love. We should all meditate on that sentiment. As the credits rolled, I couldn‚Äôt believe what I had been hearing for the last two hours. I was in constant anticipation as I continued hearing these quotes, which clearly called for the defense of the innocent. And then as icing on this cake ‚Äď love ‚Äď of course!
Yeah, because that’s been her message for nearly 80 years!
When William Moulton Marston was envisioning a new superhero for the comics, he wanted one that emphasized the qualities of love, peace, wisdom and kindness. May I recommend that Mr. Haas read some Moulton era WW comics for further enjoyment? Or read the equally popular George Perez comics? Or watch the Lynda Carter TV show which also teaches some profound lessons?
I will conclude this post with a quote from author, speaker and nun Joan Chittister, who is pro-life but saw the hypocrisy within the movement:

“I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”

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3 Reasons I’m Not Excited About “Dune”

 

Is there a word in the Imperium for “I’m Not Profoundly Stirred”?

Maybe I’m just too hard to please. Maybe Herbert’s essential classic is too difficult to adapt from page to screen. Or maybe Hollywood is just too stupid and shallow to do the 1965 novel justice. I’m going with the last one, but the bottom line is: the Dune (2020) trailer is here and I’m not looking forward to it. I’ve seen artwork more impressive than this (and at the end of this post, I’ll show them to you). Here’s three reasons why Denis Villeneuve upcoming adaptation looks underwhelming.

  1. It’s Too Drab

Now I’m aware that the Fremen of Arrakis don’t wear bright colors every day, considering they’re living on a desert planet (don’t want to attract the worms, y’know), so I’ll give that a pass, but Caladan, home of House Atreides is a water planet! Shouldn’t there be more blues, greens and yellows in their clothing and decor? Why does Paul’s home (0:26) and bedroom (0:19) look so dark and dreary, considering his father is a freaking duke!!! Is Leto broke? Did the set designers run out of money? Does Villeneuve have chromophobia? Even the Lynch and the SyFy Channel versions had impressive sets and costumes.

Pin by Joey Retro on Cinema | Dune series, Dune frank herbert, Dune art
Princess Irulan from the film.
Pin on Fandom - Dune
Lady Jessica from the ’84 film.
The Kwisatz Sazerac | Dune film, Paul atreides, Dune art
Lady Jessica - Wikiwand
Lady Jessica from the 2000 miniseries.
Sci-fi and fairy tale legacies | Annie Jackson Books
Princess Irulan from the miniseries.
Images: Dune ‚Äď TV mini series - scifi.sk - Slovensk√Ĺ port√°l sci-fi,  fantasy, mystery a hororu
Even Chani got a nice wardrobe.

2. The Casting Is Problematic

And when I say “problematic”, I’m not talking about Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides. In fact he’s perfect for the part as the story starts with Paul at fifteen and ends with him in adulthood and Chalamet has a youthful face. I can’t say anything about Zendaya’s casting as Chani because I’ve never seen her other films. Nor do I take issue with Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho because, well, Idaho was a heartthrob in the books (if you get my drift). But I do have a problem with Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson and Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Duke Leto, Lady Jessica and Liet Kynes respectfully. Timothee Chalamet was born in 1995. Oscar Isaac was born in 1979. Isaac is sixteen years older than Chalamet, which means Leto was 16 when Paul was born. But Rebecca Ferguson was born in 1983. She’s only twelve years older than Chalamet, which means Jessica gave birth to Paul when she was 12 years old.¬†Can we say “squick” boys and girls? Bottom line: Isaac and Ferguson are too young to be the parents of a 15 year old.

Now some of you might reason that since the world of Dune is modeled after the feudal cultures of the middle ages, then maybe the filmmakers were following the marriage practices of the era. But¬†Dune¬†takes place millions of years in the future and thanks to melange, people live longer and the longer people live, the later they marry or pair off and reproduce. So why didn’t they cast Javier Bardem as Duke Leto and Oscar Isaac as Stilgar (I think Isaac would’ve made a great Stilgar)? Why not choose an older actress like Gillian Anderson, Marcia Cross, Nicole Kidman, or Judy Greer (I listed red-headed actresses because Jessica was described as having “bronze hair”)?¬†

Now for my problem with Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Liet-Kynes. Liet-Kynes, in case you forget is the Imperial “Planetologist” who discovered Arrakis’ potential as a hospitable ecosystem, who went native when he came into contact with the Fremen.

He’s¬†also Chani’s¬†father.¬†

I have no problem with them casting a black person to play Liet Kynes. I can think of a lot of black actors that would make great Liet Kynes. Herbert was never specific about the ethnicities of his characters, so Kynes can be any color. But Herbert wrote Liet as a man and a father. Why did the filmmakers turn him into a woman? Did they feel there wasn’t enough women in the novel – which is ridiculous because Dune¬†has a lot of memorable female characters – did they think that the Shadout Mapes, Harah, the Bene Gesserit, Lady Margot and Princess Irulan didn’t have enough screentime. Why not introduce her as Chani’s mother (whose name, Faroula, was revealed in¬†God Emperor of Dune) and expand her role (she was also revealed to be a medicine woman)? I smell a “woke” Muad’ Dib.

3. I Like My Shai-Hulud With a “Triangular” Mouth Thank You Very Much

John Schoenherr provided the earliest artwork for Dune when it was serialized in Omni and the first hardcover edition. He gave the worms three triangular lobes that form the lips of its mouth which has been the standard image for the sandworm ever since. Herbert praised Schoenherr as “the only man who has ever visited Dune.”

Dune-CardGameCover.jpg Sandworm (Dune) - Wikipedia

So the film goes with this design instead:

Dune: The giant sandworm, explained - Polygon

Maybe a lamprey attached itself to the camera and they filmmakers said: “ewwww, we’re too afraid to pull it off, maybe if we give it a part in our film and a huge salary, it’ll detach itself.” Either way this is not the kind of sandworm I’d ever want to ride, cosplay, or eat.

11 handmade Dune sandworms | Hodderscape Best cosplay IMO at ECCC! Shai-Hulud; She brought Arrakis to Seattle! #eccc  #dune #sandworm #thespicemustflow #alldemtee… | Best cosplay, Instagram,  Dune

 

Now some of you Villeneuve fans will object and use Blade Runner 2049 (and maybe Arrival) as “proof” that he’ll do Herbert’s book justice. But BR 2049 was a sequel to a film that was never faithful to PKD’s book to begin with (which I talked about here) and is more inspired by said film than Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep. Dick’s 1968 novel was only 210 pages, Herbert’s is 412, divided into three segments, with four appendixes, one glossary and a map (which begs the question: will this film be a trilogy or is Denis cramming it all into one movie?). Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep? is one of Dick’s most grounded novels (read: not trippy) while Dune is an epic planetary romance that touches on philosophy, religion, politics, the environment, history, gender roles and even mysticism (read: very trippy). Plus a lot of the characters engage in soliloquies throughout the book, which is tricky to translate onto the screen.¬†

But hey, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this will be a good film but I’m not spending $11-13 on seeing it in theaters. I’ll just rent it instead.

Meanwhile enjoy these beautiful works of art by local artists:

curatorofthisdigitalmorass:
“Manuel Robles
‚ÄĚ

muaddibjihad:
“ momarkmagic:
“ Fremen - Character design for my Dune Project from my archives #art #conceptart #digitalart #digitalpainting #characterdesign #scifi #dune
‚ÄĚ
More gorgeous Dune artwork from Mark Molnar.
‚ÄĚ
Looks inspired by the art of...

childrenofdune:
“ Children of Dune by minenanoah
‚ÄĚ

childrenofdune:
“ Glimpse of a Navigator by Childofdune
‚ÄĚ

tiffanyillustration:
“ Just some Spacer Guild steersmen from Dune swimming around in the spice goop that fills their ships.
Did this one in gouache and kinda fought it the whole way through. I guess I’m too acclimated to digital stuff now.
Not sure...

brynnart:
“ Final Muad’Dib piece for the upcoming #Dune show at Bergeron’s Books in Oakland. Pencil & Gouache. http://ift.tt/11VvgWy
‚ÄĚ

See more artwork here, here and here. 

And then read this hilarious article from The Babylon Bee. 

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Why Isn’t “Star Trek Day” A Thing Yet?

Every "Star Trek" USS Enterprise, Ranked

In 2007 TV Guide ranked it the #1 Cult Show of All Time. Rolling Stone ranked it the 18th Greatest TV Show of All Time in in 2016. And in the very same year (the year it reached its 50th anniversary) the Guinness Book of World Records declared it the Most Successful Science Fiction Television Franchise in the World. It’s Star Trek, need I say more? Need I remind you that September 8th is Star Trek Day?

Oh you didn’t know? Well I sorta knew but forgot every year because outside of StarTrek.com and CBS.com, no one makes a big deal about the holiday like they do Star Wars Day. You won’t see any discounts on sites like Amazon, Her Universe (which used to sell Trek swag until recently) or Walmart.com for ST shirts, jewelry and toys. No TV stations to my knowledge air Trek marathons all day. No online tips on how to throw a Trek party with Trek recipes. And no planned public events at your local comic book store or Barnes and Noble (of course this year is out of the question due to king COVID but ever before the outbreak, there was nothing of the sort).

Or maybe fans have always observed September 8th and I just didn’t know about it. Either way, it’s high time the public gets in on the action. It’s high time we treat Star Trek Day with the same reverence as Star Wars Day. Buy and wear ST clothes on 9/8. Contact online websites and request discounts for Star Trek Day. If you own any of the series or movies on Blu Ray or DVD, run a marathon. Listen to Trek music on YouTube or create a Trek playlist. Buy ST Itty Bittys from your local Hallmark and Hallmark.com. And don’t forget to have a cup of Earl Grey Tea – hot.

LLAP

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Queens of Sci-Fi: The Star Wars Expanded Universe

Our last entry in the Queens of Sci-Fi series.

From the introduction to¬†Star Wars: The Essential Reader’s Companion¬†by Pablo Hildalgo:

Before Star Wars graced the silver screens of packed movie houses, its story was presented to an eager public via the printed word. A tie-in novel based on the screenplay of Star Wars arrived in bookstores over five months prior to the film’s debut on May 25, 1977, helping to spread awareness of the movie to come in a pre-digital, word-of-mouth age. As such, the very first Star Wars fans were readers.

It was soon evident that Star Wars would surpass the bounds of summer entertainment to become much more than just a movie.

Since that time, over 145 full-length novels have expanded the Star Wars story. More than one hundred juvenile novels have helped open the door for young readers into a lifetime of reading. Over 170 short stories added to the saga.

… And many of these projects were written by women and have gone on to become some of the most beloved stories in the Galaxy Far, Far Away. Even though these women also wrote short stories, I will only cover novels for the sake of brevity. Let’s meet these women of the Force.

Jude Watson | The 39 Clues Wiki | Fandom

Jude Watson

The pseudonym of Judy Blundell, her SW work is mostly aimed at younger readers. They include the Jedi Apprentice series (1999 Р2002), the Jedi Quest series (2002 Р2004), The Last of the Jedi (2005 Р2008), the Star Wars Episode 1 Journals (Darth Maul and Queen Amidala, 1999 & 2000), Princess Leia, Captive to Evil (1998)

Elizabeth Hand 

What happened to little Boba Fett after the Battle of Geonosis? Ms. Hand answers that for you in the young adult Boba Fett series (2002 – 2004)

Karen Miller

The Clone Wars: Wild Space (2008), Clone Wars Gambit Duology (2010)

Karen Traviss

Republic Commando: Hard Contact (2004), Triple Zero (2006), True Colors (2007), Order 66 (2009); The Clone Wars: No Prisoners (2009), Imperial Commando: 501st (2009), Legacy of the Force: Bloodlines (2006), Sacrifice (2007), Revelation (2008)

A. C. Crispin

The Han Solo Trilogy: The Paradise Snare, The Hutt Gambit, Rebel Dawn (1997 – 1998)

Maya Kaathyrn Bohnhoff

With Michael Reaves she wrote Shadow Games (2011) and The Last Jedi (2013; no not that one)

 

 

Voronica Whitney-Robinson

With Haden Blackman she wrote the first SW video game tie-in novel Star Wars Galaxies: The Ruins of Dantooine (2004)

Kathy Tyers

The Truce at Bakura (1994), Balance Point (a New Jedi Order novel, 2000)

Barbara Hambly

Children of the Jedi (1995), Planet of Twilight (1997)

Vonda N. McIntyre

The Crystal Star (1994)

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The New Rebellion (1996)

nancy-richardson-fischer-800 - Edited

Nancy Richardson

Who also goes by the name Nancy Richardson Fischer, she chronicled the adventures of Han and Leia’s youngest son, Anakin, in the Junior Jedi Knights Series (1995 – 1997)

Martha Wells

Razor’s Edge¬†(2013)

Rebecca Moesta

She also wrote some entries in the Junior Jedi Knights series (see above) and co-authored the Young Jedi Knights series (1995 – 1998) – about Jacen and Jaina Solo’s years at Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Academy – with her husband Kevin J. Anderson.

 

Elaine Cunningham

Her only contribution to The New Jedi Order: Dark Journey (2002).

Christie Golden

Fate of the Jedi: Omen (2009), Allies (2010), Ascension (2011)

She was working on a trilogy that would focus on Jaina Solo and her husband Jagged Fel called¬†Sword of the Jedi,¬†but all that was cancelled when Disney decided to end the Expanded Universe (but fans still hope… and wait). So it’s only appropriate that we end our series here.

Thank you for joining me as we explored the history of … the Queens of Sci-Fi!

 

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Queens of Sci-Fi: The Star Trek Novels

To begin, here’s a brief history of Trek publishing, courtesy of the introduction to Voyages of Imagination: The Star Trek Fiction Companion¬†by Jeff Ayers:

In 1967 Bantam Books acquired the rights to publish adaptations of Star Trek episodes. Noted science fiction author James Blish was approached to write short stories based on the episodes, working entirely from scripts.

Around the same time, now-defunct publisher Whitman commissioned author Mack Reynolds to craft the first original Star Trek novel. Published in 1968, this young adult novel was entitled Mission to Horatius, and was Whitman’s only foray into Trek fiction.

During it’s run, Bantam also published two original Star Trek short story anthologies and thirteen original novels, edited by science fiction luminary Frederick Pohl.

In 1979, Simon and Schuster’s mass-market publishing division, Pocket Books, became the official publisher of Star Trek books with the release of of the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In 1981, Pocket published it’s first original Star Trek novel, Vonda N. McIntyre’s The Entropy Effect.

But McIntyre wasn’t the only woman who dipped her toes into the Trekverse. New Trek novels are still being published to this day. For the sake of “brevity”, we’ll only be looking at the novels published between the ’70s and 2006, the year Star Trek celebrated it’s 40th anniversary. Anthologies won’t be included either.

Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath

Together, they wrote The Price of the Phoenix (1977), The Fate of the Phoenix (1979), The Prometheus Design (1982), Triangle (1983),

lasfsinc.info - Funcon I

Sky with Owen Hannifen at Funcon, 1968.

Kathleen Sky

Her books are: Vulcan! (1978) and Death’s Angel¬†(1981)

Behind the scenes of the original Star Trek series - San Diego ...

 

Sonni Cooper

Black Fire (1983)

M.S. Murdock

Web of the Romulans (1983)

Diane Duane

Diane Duane - Wikipedia

The Wounded Sky¬†(1983),¬†My Enemy, My Ally¬†(1984),¬†The Romulan Way¬†(1987),¬†Doctor’s Orders¬†(1990),¬†Spock’s World¬†(1988),¬†The Empty Chair¬†(2006),¬†Intellivore¬†(1997),¬†Dark Mirror¬†(1993),

Melinda M. Snodgrass | Memory Alpha | Fandom

Melinda Snodgrass

The Tears of the Singers (1984)

Sime~Gen Authors

 

Jean Lorrah

The Vulcan Academy Murders (1984), The IDIC Epidemic (1988), Survivors (1989), Metamorphosis (1990),

Janet Kagan in Full List of the Greatest Science Fiction Writers ...

Janet Kagan

Uhura’s Song¬†(1985)

Della Van Hise (Author of Killing Time)

 

Della Van Hise

Killing Time (1985)

Margaret Wander Bonanno | Memory Alpha | Fandom

Margaret Wander Bonanno

Dweller’s In the Crucible¬†(1985),¬†Strangers From the Sky¬†(1987),¬†Probe¬†(1992),¬†Burning Dreams¬†(2006),¬†Catalyst of Sorrows¬†(2004)

Majliss Larson

Pawns and Symbols (1985)

J.M. Dillard (Author of The Lost Years)

J.M. Dillard

Mindshadow¬†(1986),¬†Demons¬†(1986),¬†Bloodthirst¬†(1987),¬†Recovery¬†(1995),¬†The Lost Years¬†(1989),¬†Surak’s Soul¬†(2003)

The 'Dreadnought' and I | Diane Carey

Diane Carey

Dreadnought! (1986), Battlestations! (1986), The Great Starship Race (1993), First Frontier (1995), Swordhunt, (2000), Honor Blade (2000), Final Frontier (1988), Best Destiny (1992), Ghost Ship (1988), Ship of the Line (1997), Station Rage (1995), First Strike (1996), Day of Honor (1997), Fire Ship (1998), Wagon Train to the Stars (2000), Belle Terre (2000), Challenger (2000), Red Sector (1999), Chainmail (2001), Cadet Kirk (1996)

Carmen Carter

Dreams of the Raven¬†(1987), The Children of Hamlin¬†(1988),¬†Doomsday World¬†(1990),¬†The Devil’s Heart¬†(1993)

Barbara Paul

The Three-Minute Universe (1988)

Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens | Memory Beta, non-canon Star ...

Judith with her husband and coauthor Garfield.

Judith Reeves-Stevens 

Memory Prime¬†(1988),¬†Prime Directive¬†(1990),¬†Federation¬†(1994),¬†The Return¬†(1996),¬†Avenger¬†(1997),¬†Spectre¬†(1998),¬†Dark Victory¬†(1999),¬†Preserver (2000), Captain’s Peril (2002), Captain’s Blood (2003), Captain’s Glory¬†(2006),¬†The Millennium Trilogy¬†(2000)

Some of the novels listed she co-wrote with William Shatner himself!

Judy Klass

The Cry of the Onlies (1989)

Julia Ecklar | Memory Alpha | Fandom

Julia Ecklar

The Kobayashi Maru (1989), with Karen Rose Cercone: Ice Trap, Death Count, Firestorm, Traitor Winds, Present Tense, Future Imperfect, Past Prologue

Carolyn Clowes

The Pandora Principle (1990)

V E Mitchell

V.E. Mitchell

Enemy Unseen (1990), Windows On A Lost World (1993), Imbalance (1992), Atlantis Station (1994)

Summary Bibliography: Dana Kramer-Rolls

Dana Kramer-Rolls

Home is the Hunter (1990)

Melissa Crandall

Shell Game (1993)

Pamela Sargent

Pamela Sargent

Heart of the Sun (1997), Across the Universe (1999), Garth of Izar (2003), A Fury Scorned (1996)

Josepha Sherman 1946-2012 ‚ÄĻ Scott Edelman

Josepha Sherman 

With Susan Shwartz she wrote¬†Vulcan’s Forge¬†(1997),¬†Vulcan’s Heart¬†(1999),¬†Exodus¬†(2004),¬†Exiles¬†(2006)

Eloise Flood | Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Authors | WWEnd

Eloise Flood

Chains of Command (1992)

Laurell K. Hamilton (Author of Guilty Pleasures)

Laurell K. Hamilton

Nightshade (1992)

Rebecca Neason

Guises of the Mind (1993)

Susan Wright (Author of Confessions of a Demon)

Susan Wright 

Sins of Commission (1994), The Tempest (1997), Violations (1995), The Best and the Brightest (1998), One Small Step (2001), The Badlands Duology (1999), Dark Passions Duology (2001)

Kij Johnson - Wikipedia

 

Kij Johnson

Dragon’s Honor¬†(1996)

Kathleen O’Malley

Possession (1996)

Esther Friesner in 2006.

Esther Friesner 

To Storm Heaven (1997), Warchild (1994)

Doranna Durgin, 2006.jpg

Doranna Durgin

Tooth and Claw (2001),

Charlotte Douglas

The Battle of Betazed (with Susan Kearney, 2002)

Lois Tilton | Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Authors | WWEnd

Lois Tilton 

Betrayal (1994)

Melissa Scott (Author of Trouble and Her Friends)

Melissa Scott

Proud Helios (1995), The Garden (1997)

Una McCormack | Tardis | Fandom

Una McCormack

Hollow Men (2005)

S.D. Perry

S.D. Perry

The Avatar Duology (2001), Rising Son (2003), Unity (2003), Cloak (2001)

Heather Jarman

Mission: Gamma, Book Two (2002), Evolution (2006), Balance of Nature (2003), 10 Is Better Than 01 (2006)

Karen Haber

Bless the Beasts (1996)

Nina Kiriki Hoffman - Wikipedia

Nina Kiriki Hoffman

Echoes (1998)

Jeri Taylor

Jeri Taylor

Mosaic (1996), Pathways (1998)

Kirsten Beyer | Memory Alpha | Fandom

 

Kirsten Beyer

Fusion (2005)

About Christina F. York

Christina F. York

Enigma Ship (2002), Spin (2004)

Terri Osborne | Star Trek Book Club

Terri Osborne

Malefictorum (2005), Progress (2006)

Ilsa J. Bick (Author of Ashes)

Ilsa J. Bick

Lost Time (2005), Wounds Duology (2005), Well of Souls (2003)

Phaedra M Weldon

 

Phaedra M. Weldon

Blackout (2005)

Jerry & Kathy & Stormy & Trackball

Kathy with her husband, Jerry.

Kathy Oltion 

The Flaming Arrow (2000)

Barabara Strickland 

Starfall (1995), Nova Command (1995), Crisis On Vulcan (1996)

About Patricia L. Barnes-Svarney

Patricia Barnes-Svarney 

Loyalties (1996), Quarantine (1997)

Bobbi JG Weiss - Creative Writer - Self-employed | LinkedIn

Bobbi JG Weiss

Breakaway (1997), Lifeline (1997)

Kathi Ferguson

The Haunted Starship (1997)

Diana G. Gallagher (Author of Obsidian Fate)

Diana G. Gallagher

Arcade (1994), Day of Honor: Honor Bound (1997), The Chance Factor (1997)

Have you read any of these books? Did you enjoy them? Who’re your favorites?

Up next, my final post in the Queens of Sci-Fi Series will be on the women writers of the Star Wars Expanded Universe!

 

 

 

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