Monthly Archives: February 2018

A Reply To “For the Sake of Fandom, Sanity and Star Wars”

On Monday, Coffee With Kenobi published a an article written by Lisa Dullard titled “For the Sake of Fandom, Sanity and Star Wars.” It is yet another plea for civility and kindness in the fandom post- Lucas. On Twitter, it has 18 retweets and 39 likes.

Yes, I agree civility is very important. Rest assured I would never berate, bully or hurt another fan’s feelings for liking The Force Awakens, Rogue One or The Last Jedi (heck, I helped a grandmother look for Rey and Phasma toys at Toys R US once). I do not blame the actors working on those films for the awfulness of those films. They were just doing their jobs.

But this article made me angry in so many ways I had to write this post immediately in response.Here’s what Ms. Dullard says in the first paragraph:

What I don’t understand is the constant drumbeat of negativity in fandom. It’s been there to some extent for a number of years, bubbling away. Most recently it’s become unglued, in my observation.

Rrrriiiiiggghhhttt.

From 1999 to 2015 I couldn’t pick up a magazine, be it Entertainment Weekly or Starlog, and not see some SW article bashing Lucas and the Prequels. I couldn’t look at any internet video or article referencing SW without the usual swipe at the Prequels (and to a lesser extent, the Special Editions). To this day the fake media continues the lie that all Star Warriors hate the Prequels. Even when Christopher Lee passed away, an obituary on RogerEbert.com had to call the prequels “dire” despite the fact that Lee admitted himself that he enjoyed working on them. And let’s not forget (as much as we want to) that horrendous “documentary” The People Vs. George Lucas.

I can’t believe that a certain subset of the Star Wars community – particularly those who run sites and podcasts – are now stepping up to the plate to defend some fans’ right to enjoy the current crop of Disney-made Star Wars films. But for nearly 21 years these same people were nowhere to be found when Star Warriors like me had to put up continuously with SE hate, prequel hate, EU hate, even Clone Wars hate from “unglued” fans who dared, DARED to equate the ’90s/’00s era of SW to rape. Where was the call for civility then?

Where were you when I needed you?

That’s why I find people’s recent attitudes so distressing. The attacks, not only on the films and the creatives behind them, but also on fellow fans who might feel differently, are just wrong.

Really? Were you distressed about Simon Pegg’s long running attitude about George Lucas and the PT (F.Y.I. Full of Sith came to his defense at one time)? Did you cringe when Wil Wheaton took an opportunity to publicly trash the PT at the premier of Rogue One? Did you see this man’s tweet?

And is it really the TLJ haters who are the bullies here? Look at how the media is smearing anyone who hated their precious Disney movie:

3 Ways Crybaby Star Wars Fans Are Trying To Ruin The Last Jedi For Everyone Else

Let’s Face It, You Hate The Last Jedi Because You Hate Women

Other’s are writing silly little “think pieces” analyzing TLJ hate because they just can’t wrap their minds around the fact that audiences disagree with critics:

The Backlash Against Star Wars: The Last Jedi Explained

Just How Seriously Should We Take This Star Wars: The Last Jedi Backlash?

Remember, these are the same people who sided with OT purists and never called them crybabies, bigots or losers.

And these “attacks” on the new films aren’t just a matter of taste, they’re a matter of principle. This trilogy has to be the most cynical trilogy in all of Star Wars history. It’s telling audiences – particularly children – that everything your heroes achieved in the first trilogy was a waste of time. The people you looked up to – Han, Luke and Leia – are failures that have to be killed off for a new generation of characters whose only personality traits are their skin color and sex. First The Force Awakens turns Han into a deadbeat dad – only to kill him off. Then The Last Jedi turns Luke into a snarky, apathetic coward – only to kill him off. A far cry from the men of Eps 4-6 who were willing to sacrifice their lives for the ones they loved. What lessons are these films teaching our kids?

What lesson will the upcoming Han Solo movie teach our children?

Now with Solo: A Star Wars Story, it’s all about how Alden Ehrenreich doesn’t look like Harrison Ford. How dare he! Seriously? He’s not meant to be Harrison, he’s meant to be Han Solo. As great as he was in the role, Harrison isn’t really Han, and he’d be the first to tell you that. Why not give Alden the room and support to put his stamp on the character? After all, he is playing a version of Han Harrison never did. It’s okay if it’s different.

Everyone is so willing, without hesitation, to embrace Donald Glover — who will be amazing as Lando, no doubt about it — but Alden is met with seemingly nothing but skepticism. I know, were I in Alden’s shoes, I’d be feeling a bit deflated right about now. I’m sure he busted his posterior to get his performance just right, and this should be an exciting time for him. Instead, fans gripe about how he looks or sounds and how he isn’t good enough. Is that really how we want to be?

Gee, I haven’t embraced Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. Why have Lando in this movie when he still hasn’t shown up in Eps. 7-9? What happened to him after the Battle of Endor? I don’t think I want to know because they’ll just get Darth Aardvark to kill him off anyway.

Harrison Ford originated the role of Han Solo. He’s who we think of when we picture Han Solo. When we’re reading any printed SW story about Han Solo we read his lines in Harrison’s voice. If Burt Reynolds had been cast as Han, we’d feel the same way. It’s OK to cast different actors to play James Bond, Superman or Philip Marlowe because those characters began in literature. But guess what, there’s a physical requirement for those characters too. No one will accept a black James Bond (not even Idris Elba), an ugly Superman (*cough* Nicholas Cage *cough*) or a female Philip Marlowe because that’s not how the authors wrote them. 

But Star Wars didn’t start off as a book. It’s a visual medium.

George Lucas cast Harrison Ford because he read the script with a mix of mercenary swagger and world weariness. Sure, I could picture someone else voicing Han in a radio program or an animated featureBut that’s because Han is drawn/ designed to resemble…Harrison Ford! The actors voicing the character mimic Ford’s voice.

Now you may be wondering how I can accept Ewan McGregor as young Obi-Wan or Sean Patrick Flanery as young Indiana Jones but not Alden Ehrenreich as young Han Solo? Because there’s a bigger age gap between the first two characters. The Phantom Menace takes place 32 years before A New Hope. There’s a 28 year gap between The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and Raiders of the Lost Ark. But Solo: A Star Wars Story looks like another lead up to A New Hope. There isn’t enough of an age gap. Harrison Ford was 33 when he was cast in ANH, Alden Ehrenreich is 28. That’s only 5 years apart. Not very convincing.

Another thing to keep in mind as we head toward Solo: Reserve judgment. We’ve seen around two minutes of footage and a few photos. That’s a far cry from seeing the finished product. Give Ron Howard, the cast, and crew a chance to deliver on their promise of a fun, exciting movie experience!

Well I saw the Super Bowl trailer and frankly, it looks like another forgettable Disney Star Wars project like the last three. Ron Howard’s last film (Heart of the Sea) was a massive flop. And why waste money on a film about Han’s early adventures when you could honor A.C. Crispin’s memory and pick up a copy (or copies) of The Han Solo Trilogy?

Anyway, I don’t know if anyone will read this, but if you did, I hope you’ll get comfort in knowing that it’s OK to publicly criticize The Last Jedi and Solo. I hope you’ll get comfort in knowing that it’s OK to pretend the Disney buyout never happened. The one bright spot in all this is that the days of prequel-bashing are coming to an end as more and more fans realize that Star Wars isn’t Star Wars without George Lucas.

For the sake of our fandom and our sanity, let’s uphold the Star Wars that truly matters.

May the Force Be With You.

 

 

 

 

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Great Whale Moments In SF History

Today is World Whale Day! As we use this day to think about how we can help out and appreciate our cetacean friends, I will take this opportunity to list all the whales that swam into our hearts via science fiction. So pour a glass of water, get out your copy of Songs of the Humpback Whale, and have a whale of a time perusing this list.

Image result for the godwhale

Rorqual Maru, The Godwhale (1974)

Somewhat of a sequel to T.J. Bass’ Half Past Human, this novel is one of the earliest examples of “biopunk” a subgenre related to cyberpunk and steampunk but with biotechnology. Rorqual Maru (is that a cool name or what?) is the titular Godwhale, a cyborg/blue whale hybrid that helps the novel’s protagonist in his search for answers.

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The Leviathan, The Leviathan Trilogy (2009)

What if Britain & it’s allies used genetically modified animals to fight World War 1? Scott Westerfeld answers that question with the Leviathan, a giant airship made (literally) of a whale that can fly through the air (airwhale) thanks to a combination of animal genetics (because Darwin was able to crack the DNA code a century ahead of schedule). Whether you think this is ethical or not is up for debate.

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Orca, Batman

Introduced in Batman Issue #579 (2000)

Experiments with killer whale tissue turns marine biologist Dr. Grace Balin into Orca, one of Batman’s lesser known antagonists. More info on her here and here.

Image result for orka marvel

Orka, Marvel Comics

First introduced in Prince Namor, The Sub-Mariner #23 (1970). With the help of his psionic amplifier belt, fallen Atlantean soldier Orka has the powers of a killer whale and uses those powers to fight various heroes in the Marvel universe (so why is he blue?) Read more about him here and here.

The Whaladon, Star Wars: The Jedi Prince Series (1992-1993)

First introduced in The Glove of Darth Vader, Whaladons are a species of intelligent creatures in the Star Wars galaxy that our heroes fight to protect from poaching. Detractors of the kids-centered books will summarize the series as “The Rebel Alliance Saves the Whales”. But hey, they can’t be worse than Aftermath, right?

Kenixkilhunter

(The one under Kenix Kil’s foot is a Herglic.)

Herglic, Star Wars Legends

These sentient, bipedal, water-based aliens are native to the planet Giju and have appeared in various SW comics and role playing games throughout the years. They made their first appearance in Dark Force Rising, the 2nd book in Timothy Zahn’s beloved Thrawn Trilogy. Because of their large size, it’s difficult for them to enter buildings and ships causing much embarrassment. Nevertheless they are peaceful, easygoing creatures. You can read more about them here.

Image result for star trek the voyage home

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

For all of Star Trek’s optimism, it seems illogical (no pun intended) that in the 23rd century humpback whales would be an extinct species. But they are and that’s bad for the crew of the Enterprise when they discover that a deadly probe is orbiting Earth. Spock comes to the conclusion that the “call” the probe sends matches the “songs” of humpback whales and will continue to wreak havoc until its call is answered. So the only solution is to go back in time to the 20th Century, capture some humpback whales, bring them forward in time to the 23rd Century and use them to respond to the probe’s signal. Not an easy task.

Didn’t they have a copy of Songs of the Humpback Whale on the Enterprise?

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Star Trek: Where Sea Meets Sky (1998)

Written by Jerry Oltion and part of The Captain’s Table Series. This is Captain Christopher Pike’s story. He and his crew encounter airwhales known as “titans” who, in Oltion’s words: “scooped hydrogen from the atmospheres of gas giants for food and laid their eggs on terrestrial planets.” Unfortunately this causes a lot of collateral damage to the inhabitants of the terrestrial planets so of course it’s up to the Enterprise to find a solution.

Kaminoan_rider

Aiwha, Star Wars: Episode 2 – Attack of the Clones

Non-sentient cetacean creatures native to Kamino and Naboo, they can launch into the air from the sea. Their names are taken from the word “airwhale”. They were designed by Terryl Whitlatch though an early concept was made by Ralph McQuarrie for The Empire Strikes Back. You can learn more about them on Wookiepedia.

And now to conclude this list, here’s some pictures of space whales:

Image result for space whale Image result for space whale

Image result for space whale

And an air whale:

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10 Short Stories Worth Reading From “By Any Other Fame”

 51mkhmLqMcL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_  Several leading lights among SF writers ask, What if some of the world’s greatest celebrities had taken different paths in life? We get such wacky, creative ideas as Toscanini as manager of the Yankees. Also notable are Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s similar story of Lillian Hellman as a senator; Michelle Sagara’s four versions of the same letter from Golda Meir to her sister in 1948, when she is acting prime minister of Israel; and Barry Maltzberg’s speculation on what would have happened had Hitler lived to stand trial at Nuremberg. Few of the stories, though, reach beyond the initial cleverness. Generally, however, this anthology ends up promising far more than it delivers.

Oh Publisher’s Weekly, I beg to differ. I  enjoyed 10 stories from the Mike Resnick & Martin H. Greenberg anthology, something I don’t always experience with alternate history. Some of these stories – unlike other works of alternate history – made me wish history had turned out differently (those titles will be in bold). Here are the 10 stories I enjoyed the most:

  • What if Humprey Bogart really was a private eye and Raymond Chandler was a famous actor playing private eyes? Fates collide in “Farewell, My Buddy” by Barbara Delapace.
  • How would’ve Gone With the Wind turned out if Groucho Marx had been given the role of Rhett Butler? You’d get “A Night On the Plantation” by Brian M. Thomsen.
  • When it comes to solving mysteries, everything’s coming up roses for detective Gypsy Rose Lee in “The Fifteen Minute Falcon” by George Alec Effinger.
  • Isadora Duncan gives up dancing to become a full-time race-car driver in “Dance Track” by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon. Try to guess the identities of the two young actors Duncan takes under her wing. Go, on try.
  • One morning, as Franz Kafka heard the rattle of the red roach phone, he prepared himself to change into a monstrous verminous bug to face off against the evil Sigmund Freud, once and for all in “Franz Kafka, Superhero!” by David Gerrold.
  • What would you do if you were an art instructor and your favorite student insisted on wasting his time drawing little sketches of antropomorphic mice and ducks? As multiple Nebula-winner Nancy Kress demonstrates, it’s not all that simple a question when the student is a kid named Disney. The story is called “Ars Longa”.
  • What if Marilyn Monroe survived her drug overdose (let’s set aside those conspiracy theories for now), had a feminist awakening, became Governor of California and then President of the United States? Beth Meacham chronicles her political career in the memorable “A Dream Can Make A Difference“. Very timely in the #MeToo era.
  • What if Helen Keller was not born deaf, mute and blind but her sister was? Janni Lee Simner answers that question in “Out of Sight”.
  • Do have a question about a certain tapestry? Mother Mae West has the answer. Come up and see her sometime in “Mother Mae I?” by Lawrence Schimel.
  • Does Wallis Simpson have the ability to change history? Any history? One young man will find out the hard way in Dean Wesley Smith’s “A Bubble For A Minute.”

So if you’ve read By Any Other Fame, tell me which stories you enjoyed reading. If you’re not familiar with this book, pick up a copy today.

 

 

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