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ignorance

One thing I’m not yet used to as a parent is the influx of stupid comments about my child’s appearance and behavior — especially from younger, childless couples.  A few years down the road, karma will no doubt gift them with an equally hungry, messy-haired toddler who has half the language skills of our 1.5 year old.   At which point, I will do this.

Police state

I’m going to say what I said on facebook last night.  One year ago, I sat on a grand jury in NYC.  I probably sat through over 100 cases, some of which had embarrassingly little evidence to the point of the vaguest hearsay. All but one of those cases resulted in an indictment. So I think you’ll understand when I say there’s no way that a grand jury should have or could have dismissed a case that involved video evidence of a police officer murdering an innocent man without severe corruption and illegality involved in the process.  Keep in mind that the prosecutors have the option not to include evidence in the grand jury proceedings.

The Ferguson dismissal was absurd enough, and the paragraph above applies to it as well.  But this case involved video evidence of an officer choking an unarmed, nonviolent man to death.   I mean, come the fuck on.  I could put this incident in a piece of fiction and I’d get people calling the outcome unrealistic.

Just when I think the justice system in this country couldn’t get any more warped or corrupted, it does.   I currently know of more than one person being prosecuted for crimes they didn’t commit, and I see the country’s biggest criminals hiding behind the law and literally getting away with murder.

GamerGate

I’m getting sick, as in downright one-man-pandemic style, of hearing the phrase “Two Way Street” used to defend not only sexist attitudes, but vicious attacks against women.   Instead of rehashing the whole story (which can be found here), I’ll handle the so-called rebuttals I’ve come across in various forms.

-If you say “What they did was terrible, but” and spend more time writing the “but”, you’re part of the problem.

-If part of the “but” focuses on the female gamer who slept with the male journalist instead of the male journalist who slept with the female gamer, you’re part of the problem.

-If you think the “angry young gamers” concerns need to be addressed despite their vicious behavior, you’re part of the problem.

Someone threatened a woman with rape and death and drove her from her house.  You don’t get to put that aside while you deal with “why” the attacker made those threats.   If you try do to that, it shows where your priorities are.

“But–”

No, stop.

“But–”

Shut up.

“But–”

*smack smack smack*.  A man (or men) threatened a woman with rape and death.  Are we clear?  Good.  Are we done?  Good.  Can we bring them to justice now, please?

Recent sales

“Escape From Planet Error”, originally published in the online Dark Expanse manual, has made it into the Dark Expanse anthology.  I also have a new story in the Dark Expanse universe coming out soon, “Save the Queen”.    I’m thankful for the opportunity to make these consistent freelance game fiction sales, especially as a new parent.  Raising an infant for the first time (especially one as stubborn as my son) doesn’t allow for an overabundance of time to pitch original stories to the SF pro spectrum.

 

 

 

 

“Last Resort”

My story “Last Resort” is now published at Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show.    http://intergalacticmedicineshow.com/

Yeah, this one you have to pay to read.  But I’m worth it, right?  Of course I am. 

This marks my second pro-level sale.  I need one more to qualify to join the SFWA, at least until they change the rules (I do have one story currently held for final consideration at DSF, so we’ll see how it goes).   Though I’ll have to look at how the internal mess is being cleaned up before I decide to join. 

 

 

 

 

 

Star Trek: Into Darkness — what I would have changed as a writer

I’m part of the slightly underwhelming minority who liked elements of Star Trek: Into Darkness, but wished it had been a different film.  I might have accepted it more if a complementary Star Trek TV series still existed, something that had slower, more intellectual drama, thus not putting such a burden on Hollywood.    But the fact is, being confined to the big screen has turned Star Trek into short term, popcorn fun and eviscerated many of the reasons why Trekkers (or at least I, as a Trekker) used to love it so much.   That spoof on The Onion, while funny, was also a bit dismissive.   In a different interview, someone compared the old Trek to “beautiful classical music” and Star Wars to “rock and roll”, stating that the newer Trek films have more rock and roll to them.   That’s all fine, but rock and roll could never (and should never) replace classical music entirely.

Let’s look at the villain of Into Darkness, where most of my issues come from.   We have a quiet, sad looking Benedict Cumberbatch saying “I can save her”, referring to a little girl on her deathbed.   If he were Gary Mitchell, this could have kicked off a pretty poignant, introspective story — a man starting out by using his new extraterrestrial powers for good, and slowly becoming corrupted by them as the film progressed.  While this may have allowed for fewer lens flares and explosions, it would still have been Trek at its Trekkiest, in a deeper way than having a bunch of self-referential in jokes.  Further, you could still have action scenes peppered throughout the film to avoid the whole “Vger” style plot pacing.

Instead, what did we get?  A superhuman already bent on some zany revenge scheme, simply using the girl’s life as leverage to get her father to help him blow stuff up.  A superhuman who somehow changed ethnicity when the timeline was altered.  Maybe Nero’s actions in the first film triggered a bunch of events that caused Khan to attend British boarding school and get plastic surgery.

Let’s say for argument’s sake that we accept and embrace Khan as the villain, and not just a cheap fallback to a fandom safety zone.   While this Khan’s enhanced strength was more physically realistic — Kirk couldn’t even come close to beating him in a fight with pole dancing leg kicks — the subtle nuances that made him more than a rage machine in the original incarnation weren’t there this time.  In the original story, he accepted defeat at the end of “Space Seed” honorably, and you could tell part of him liked and respected Kirk as an adversary.  In Wrath of Khan, he had a much better reason for wanting revenge — his people had been condemned to a frozen hell, and his ‘beloved wife’ (presumably the woman he seduced in Space Seed) had died as a result.   In this new film, I’m still trying to figure out what his true motivation was.  He didn’t like being used as the weapon he was engineered to be, so his solution is to use himself and his crew (which he claims to be protecting) as…living weapons?  He somehow has a grudge against everyone, not just Peter Weller, but I don’t know exactly why.  Those motivations seem incomplete, at best.

I only wish I could try my hand at writing my own version of the film with that “Make your own TOS Episode” generator, but that no longer seems available.   Would I have done a better job in the script with my ideas?  I like to think so, but every Trekkie/writer probably likes to think so.  All I know is that I would have written a far more multifaceted villain, at least by my criteria. 

 

 

 

 

 

SFWA Sexism, part…?

Recently, I’ve come across a backlash to the backlash of women offended by the dialogue of Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg in the SFWA Bulletin.   A number of people, some of whom surprised me, are calling the responses “defensive” and “unprofessional”, and state how those two established writers don’t deserve it.

First off, I disagree.  The more the word “professional” is used to mean complacent, compliant, falsely polite, and protecting powerful people over victims, the more I want to go all Klingon and toss as much etiquette out the window as I can fit in my mouth.  Anger is no less professional than any other tool in a writer’s toolbox, and when it’s used to reveal societal mistreatment, it’s exactly what keeps the community honest.

Second, it’s not expressing that simple desire to go easy on Mr. Malzberg and Mr. Resnick that pisses me off.   Rather, it’s the asides that almost every person defending them seems to make about the offended women.  I’ve come to recognize a pattern.

-They start off by saying what “great guys” these two are.  Granted, I don’t know either of them from a hole in the wall, but this seems like the beginning of every bully defense ever.

-They follow by insulting the women who were offended, belittling what they felt, calling them anger addicts, sometimes more graphic names.

-They insult some of the men who stand up for them.   There’s one guy, a fairly prominent spec fic novelist, who’s been helping these women tell their story.   Someone who should know far, far better referred to him with a passage that included “the easiest way for a man to get a blowjob is to recite feminist cant”.    Someone else made a comment about wishing more men “had a sack” (i.e. participated in the bullying rather than standing up for the women).

I get that there are some honest, well meaning guys in the community who aren’t looking at all the angles and have the situation backwards.  They feel like Malzberg and Resnick are the bullied, and the women involved are the bullies.   To them, I say look a little closer at the balance of power and whose words have more influence over whom.   Even if you don’t think what these guys did is that big a deal, pretend you’re someone who does.  Pretend it really hurt you to the core and made you feel unwelcome and powerless.   Research the nuances of sexism and realize how certain comments may seem harmless to you, but it means a whole lot more to a lot of other people.   It’s not your place to judge how offended someone shouldn’t get at a comment that doesn’t apply to your situation.  (I admit I don’t always practice what I preach here, but I am trying to get better)

Let’s take an example closer to home.  I’m Jewish — only culturally, but Jewish all the same.  If someone did a professional column on me that was supposed to reflect my writing skills and instead focused on what awesome Matzoh Ball soup I make, or how cool my Jewish features look, I’d be pretty vexed, whether or not they meant to compliment me.

Next:  why am I making such a big deal about this, being a white guy with moderate life privileges?  Am I just sucking up?  Isn’t it none of my business? Not quite.

As I said, I’m not in the SFWA right now, but I have 2 out of 3 qualifying credits (unless they change the rules before my third sale), and I’ve thus been looking at the organization a lot more closely to see if it’s something I’d really want to join when the time comes.

Further, I may have no idea what being the victim of sexism and sexual harassment feels like, but I do know what it feels like to be bullied.  This happened to me a lot during my school and camp days, for various reasons.  I was quiet, overly sensitive, introspective, introverted, and moved a lot.   A socially deadly combo.   I was also kind of equal parts fearless and stupid.  More than once, when I was at the end of my rope, I slugged kids in the face who were much bigger than me, ignoring the consequences.  I don’t know what consequences posts like these will have for me, but I’m swinging the axe anyway.   Over and out.