Friday, April 29, 2016

Hugos, Puppies and Left Wing Whiners

For the second straight year a Hugo Controversy has erupted. This is the fourth iteration of the Sad Puppies movement, the second year of the Rabid Puppies and yet another year of many when SJWs and other assorted vermin thought that they had the right to lock anyone out of their awards if they didn't have the right, by which I mean Left, politics. Here's the funny things: As nerds and geeks we don't give a rat's ass what you think about us as people. I've been called names since before I knew there was a Right and a Left. I'm used to people like you and the bullshit they spout. Bring it.

Look guys, we tried being nice. Yes, for Sad Puppies One, Larry Correia got himself nominated because he knew you would all freak out. You did. Then came Sad Puppies 2. Correia decided he would nominated one work in each category based on entertainment value instead of Social Relevance and you got a little more pissed. How dare this misbegotten son of a conservative and his flea-bitten followers violate your safe space. And then, Sad Puppies 3 appeared over the horizon.

Sad Puppies 3 had a new leader. Brad Torgersen appeared over the horizon and he wasn't screwing around. This time he accepted suggestions from others for his list and came up with a bunch of nominees in most categories. He had the temerity to suggest that people read what was on the list and make their own decisions. You Leftist types were outraged. I get it. Free thought is anathema to those of you who wish to control decisions. How can the rest of us be forced to think as you do if you can't control the information we absorb? I get it. It was an approach that worked for Stalin, Mao and Hitler and now the Left in the United States wants to use the same approach. This is just one battlefront.

I've written here about the types of tactics the left is using in the United States and who pioneered them. TL:DR Berntards and Black Lives Matter types are using the same techniques Mussolini and especially Hitler did by committing violence to their enemies and attempting to rewrite history. And no, the SJW types in this country haven't quite burned the books that they hate, electing so far to either rewrite or ban them. I'd give even money as to what tomorrow holds. Make no mistake, the SJW types that want to ban alternate political views from their awards are using the same techniques.

Here's the thing folks: It is not possible to compromise with totalitarians. The only workable options are to rebel or submit. I choose to rebel. It's time to burn it all down. If you believe you're too good to share your awards then maybe you don't deserve to have them. What is happening here is not just a fight over awards, it's a fight over the only type of diversity that matters: The diversity of ideas. 

The Puppy Kickers would have you believe that we are the Nazis. Not so. Irene Gallo was one hundred and eighty degrees away from the truth. Let me tell you a story to illustrate my point:

Once upon a time there was a man. He believed in a cause. He railed against social injustices carried out by a race of people that controlled the money, the power, the press and even international banking. He blamed them for all of society's problems. He believed that the lives of people like him mattered and the lives of those he hated did not. He banned all ideas except his own and banned "degenerate" works. In other words, he removed the right of anyone to disagreed with him.  His name was Adolph Hitler. Although he is best known for hating and killing Jews, they only make up six million of the twelve million people he murdered.

As a matter of fact, when the concentration camps first opened, they weren't meant for Jews or Gypsies. The first people put into the camps were political prisoners: Those who committed the crime of disagreeing. That's why the gates of Auschwitz read "Arbeit Macht Frei." That translates roughly as "Work will make you free". The Jews weren't going to be released and everyone knew it. The point of the sign is that the political prisoners could eventually make it out... if they did as they were told and didn't step out of line. That's pretty much what the Puppy Kickers want from us.

Look, I'm not saying that the gas chambers are about to open for conservatives or that it's the Puppy Kickers who would do the gassing if they did. What I'm saying is that creating a precedent of banning people from things because they disagree with you is a dangerous step to take but it's one that WorldCon seems incredibly comfortable with. Refusing to vote for someone who deserves an award because of a possible political association between them and the people who nominated them is a symptom. If the Kickers want totalitarianism and unity of thought they're welcome to seek it, just not in my country or my genre.

The next question then becomes what to do with Vox Day because, let's face it, he's no different than the people that he hates. The SJW types and Vox want a war with each other with us caught in the middle. I say a pox on both of their houses. We're SF fans right? How many of you have read The Ashes series by William W Johnstone? In one of the books, and I can't remember which one in particular, Rebel leader Ben Raines is faced with fighting a group of white supremacists one on hand and a group of white hating blacks on the other, so he does the intelligent thing: He incites a fight between the two groups. He lets them kill each other. When they're too hotly engaged to effectively disengage from each other he cuts loose with the heavy artillery and kills both sides. I'm not advocating actual physical violence here, but if the two sides want to metaphorically beat each other to death it's only smart to let them. The enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy and nothing more, yet there is an opportunity here. Let them burn each other out. Once we've cleared the field of both sides we can help pick up the pieces and support stories that entertain rather than "inform."

Listen people, I have a degree in history. I understand the importance of academic presses and their mission of increasing the knowledge of humanity. The fact remains that houses like Baen, Tor and even Castalia do not exist in that capacity. They exist to entertain a mass audience, not to support one side or another politically. The big publishers in the genre keep complaining about how their market is shrinking even while Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Deadpool break box office records. Pull your head out of your ass people: Make the genre fun again. Make the award fun again. That's how you'll attract more attention and more readers. That's how you'll expand the genre. That's how you'll make more money for the dirty capitalist business owners that sign your royalty checks and provide you with the means to feed your family or at least live more comfortably. It's time to get over yourselves people.

Some Hugo related items can be purchased below:

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Rules for Watching the NFL Draft (Non SF/F Related Post)

(The following is a repeat posting from an old website that I used to do some occasional writing for. I thought it would be appropriate given the timing.)

It's time to let all of you goofballs know what's what on draft day. This is a sacred time of year when we all come together and are convinced that our teams just got ten thousand times better because now they get to have some player  that's played in the same amount of NFL games as I have: ZERO. It's an important time of year, so let's not screw it up MMMkay?

The Rules for Watching the NFL Draft

Don't be That Guy

If you want to be an overpowering know-it-all and drink your Perrier with your little finger up then feel free. If you want to pontificate learnedly on your extensive knowledge of the draft process and who ran what at the combine go ahead. Seriously. Just make sure you're nowhere near me, because I'll bitch-slap you. It's man time DAMMIT. Leave your little girl BS at home.

You can pretend you know everything about every player, but don't expect me to believe you.
Listen bro, I know you're like the God of All Football Knowledge and everything but stop pretending. I mean, I could sit here talking about Otis Hertz and Mike Easter and you'd start quoting stats. Those two don't even exist. You know just as much about these guys as I do, so deal.

I bought the pizza. I am eating the pizza. If you want pizza there is a place on the corner. They'll be happy to take your money.

And they only charge five dollars for a small with two toppings you cheap fuck! That's why I have one. You know what though? I'll be nice and let you call up there on my phone. That way I can get the reward points, because I'm a cheap fuck too.

If you bring your girl/wife/etc she'd better know the game.

Seriously. If I have to stop my geeking just to explain to some damn woman what a tight end is or if – heaven forbid – I hear a story about how she only watches football because she likes men who bend over while wearing tight pants I'm throwing you BOTH out. Oh, and I'm KEEPING your pizza.

If you stand in front of the TV when my team is picking you will be shot.

Then stabbed, beaten, hung, whipped, castrated, murdered and severely injured. Repeatedly. I may not know who this guy is either, but I still want to know what his name is and where he played. Sit your ass down, shut the fuck up and talk to me AFTER I get done geeking out.

There is a time and place to talk about your life, problems and issues.

And it's damn sure not in my living room during the middle of the draft. As a matter of fact you should probably find a woman to share your insecurities with. I'll just think you're a bitch.

If you crap in my bathroom, it'd better not stink.

Seriously. I know it's a long weekend. I know that we've been eating pizza and wings the whole time. I'm even aware that there is a reason the beer shits are called the beer shits. But dammit, I might have to go in there. If you can't control your gas enough that I can breathe in my own bathroom you'd best take yourself to the McDonalds down the street. You stinky fuck. And May God Help You if you take the last piece of my toilet paper.

Some NFL related products can be purchased at the link below:

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Deidre Gould's After the Cure

Imagine, if you will, a world. A world filled with people who have been cured of a virus that turned them into a zombie. A world where the Immune (who never suffered the disease) are living alongside the Cured (who were zombies not all that long ago). Imagine a world where a greater disease may be lurking hidden.. Imagine, in short the world of Deidre Gould's After the Cure. It is a well conceived world which contains enough plausibility that it actually seems possible. It's a world that I'll never forget. It's also a world that gives me nightmares.

I love post-apocalyptic fiction. I always have. Usually though, there's enough distance between the real world and what I'm reading that it doesn't really soak in past my defenses. I read it, enjoy it and then move on. This one got into my mind and soul hardcore. The premise is that a virus was released accidentally by a scientist who broke protocol and spread before it could be detected. Everything in the ATC universe springs from that one action. What made this one scary to me is that it seems way too possible.

I recently reviewed The Wasteland Chronicles Omnibus by Kyle West. I love it. The difference here though is in real world possibility. The Wasteland Chronicles twisted the Sweet Meteor of Death with an alien invasion. I was well able to suspend disbelief while I was reading the books but once I put it down it didn't really haunt me. After the Cure isn't like that. I'm not against genetic engineering at all. Every fruit known to humanity, including so-called "organic" fruit, has had it's genetics altered through selective breeding for at least centuries if not millennia. The fact remains that protocols exist for a reason and it's way too easy to believe that a scientist would break them because they were overzealous. It hits really close to home.

Gould's characters come to life as well. Our heroine is Nella Rider, an Immune psychiatrist who has been hired to interview two of the scientists who were on the team that invented the virus that destroyed the world. She ends up being a lot more intrepid and resourceful than I would expect out of a big city doctor stuck in a fallen world but that's a good thing. She would not have made it otherwise. I teach my daughters to be strong, proud, tough, smart and brave. Nella is the type of woman I have in mind when I teach the girls that. She is someone I admire and what I want my daughters to be. If there is a higher compliment, I don't know what it is.

Her partner throughout the book is Frank, the defense lawyer. He is a member of the Cured. The book goes through some of the things he experienced while infected (which I won't spoil) and it's not pretty. He is still capable of great acts of intelligence and bravery but his memories are just plain disgusting. What amazes me about this character is how well Gould manages to keep us sympathetic to him while still revealing some of the revolting things that he has done. It helps that he contracted the disease by trying to be a nice guy but I'll be reading this one and trying to extract some techniques for my own writing. Gould really impressed me with this character.

The rest of the cast is impressive as well, both as zombies and just normal people. Something a lot of post apocalyptic fiction forgets is that a lot of the world after an apocalypse would still be just trying to get along. I loved, Mad Max but even in that type of a setting not everyone would be a bad ass. Gould remembers that. There are certainly brave good guys clearing out/ curing the infected and bad guy looters who would probably be good with a gun, but there are also neighborhoods full of people who just want to make a living in their new reality. I like that. I love heroic fiction but it's good to remember that not everyone is a super hero.

Gould also makes the Cured react with revulsion to what they've done. She mentions repeatedly a high suicide rate among those who have survived because of their memories. This is horrifying but it's true to life. Anyone who had been through what these people have gone through would have been damaged by it and they have. It just makes sense. It also adds to the believability of the story. I get the feeling she may have studied some psychology while writing this or before. It shows. She has thought through the consequences of her world and it works.

Speaking of the consequences of the world, Gould does a really good job in other areas as well. There is a clear divide between the some of the Cured and some of the Immune based on attitude. A lot of Immune can't forgive the Cured for what they've done while they were out of their minds and sick. A lot of the Cured can't forgive the Immune for killing infected individuals to protect themselves when the infected could have been cured. There are the predictable shortages that would occur in a fallen world. Perhaps most importantly for the book, all of the above happen to the main characters. This is a way a Chosen One (actually, probably Chosen Two) story, but that status doesn't prevent them from dealing with the same problems everyone else has to.

Somehow I've managed to avoid the fact that this is really a mystery novel with a SF background. That's what makes it great. I don't want to reveal too much and spoil the story. I will say that solving the mystery is not just a personal goal. It has ramifications for literally the entire world. So what we've got here is a cross between SF (zombies) a mystery (the whole plot) and my favorite thing about epic fantasy (literal world ending consequences). It's no wonder I enjoyed it.

Of course, After the Cure suffers from the same problem just about every other novel of this type does. Her virus affects the brain and produces a zombie like brain disability. I guess maybe it's just the nerd in me, but I'd like to see something about how it happens in the book and I don't. There is a characters whose brain is eaten by the virus but that doesn't make much sense either. I could be wrong here, and if so I apologize, but I don't think viruses act like that. If someone's body parts are eaten by a microscopic organism it's generally bacteria and not a virus, but then I don't claim to be a biologist or a doctor so I could be wrong here. Then again, even if I'm right the problem is well within the author's rights to adapt reality to the necessity of story. It's a lot less egregious than what Hollywood commonly does with history on a regular basis. These are all minor gripes though and I intend to hie me off to Barnes and Noble to purchase the rest of the series on payday. The first one was that good.

Bottom Line: 4.5 out of 5 Missing Bacteria Cultures

After the Cure can be purchased at the link below:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hey 2016, I've Got Two Words for Ya!

Ok 2016, we need to have a talk. Granted, I'm a George RR Martin fan but this shit is ridiculous. Seriously. This is a barbed wire wrapped baseball bat, it's for you. Check it out:

Now, take that thing and shove it up your ass while rotating it slowly to the right. Seriously. I'm not just a little pissed here 2016. This is freaking war. Do you know who we lost today? 

This Guy

And This Girl

I gotta be honest with you 2016. I'm a little pissed off right now. By which I mean, "Fuck you you fucking asshole year. You can take your bullshit and go straight to Hell. Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars. I hope you get impaled on a stake." Do you know what that looks like 2016? Let me show you:

Quite frankly 2016, this is a fate far too good for you. Now, I will grant you that dangling ten feet off of the ground with stick shoved up your ass would be a bad enough punishment for most transgressions. Let's face it though 2016: You're not a garden variety asshole. You're just not. I mean, honestly I've had some bad years. I really have. But you have taken so damn much not just from me, but from the world. If it was just me that would be one thing. I'm a big boy but DAMMIT 2016. What the fuck is your problem here?

Listen 2016, I'm not saying you're a dirty whore. I'm just saying you've fucked more people than Mary Jane Rottencrotch. It's time to calm this shit down. Like way down. Like moved my finger off a map in northern Canada and and it landed in Antarctica down. I guess, even if was just these two today I could get over it. I mean, we all loved Chyna. Christ, my ex-wife got me to watch a season of The Surreal Life simply because she was on it. (I can't believe I just admitted that in public.) Prince was a freaking legend that everyone loved. I even wrote a little ditty on my Facebook page today for him. Taking both on the same day was simply cruel and unusual but that's not what makes you a bad year. And oh yes, 2016 I do mean that you are a bad year. Let's examine some of the other people you took this year:

Alan Rickman. Allen FREAKING Rickman. Severus Snape. Yeah, he did some other stuff but the Harry Potter series is what he's best known for. Not only did you kick me in the teeth (and oh, how I loved to hate that character) but there are a bunch of depressed twenty-somethings out there who have never had this happen to one of their idols out there and now they don't know how to react. It's not fair! He wasn't old enough for this and neither were they.

Listen 2016. If you're looking for proof that this isn't personal it's in that picture. That picture is of Harper God-damned Lee and her book, To Kill a Mockingbird. If ever I hated a book, it was TKAM. If ever I hated a movie it was TKAM. That much being said, that's Harper Lee. That woman has sold more books than damn near anybody. You took her from us. That's just sick, twisted and wrong. 

That's Gary Shandling. Comedian extraordinaire. And if you're looking for proof that this IS personal look at that picture. Gary Shandling was the first dirty comedian I could watch in front of my parents. I remember him showing up on screen wearing a black dot over his junk and me almost falling out of my chair laughing. My dad was dying too. My mom got so pissed at him for laughing in front of me that she damn near slugged him. I'm sitting her laughing at the memory typing this. The thing is, it's not JUST about me here either. Millions of people watched The Gary Shandling Show. I can't imagine that any of them are happy about this.

That's Dan Haggerty AKA Grizzly Adams. How many people wanted to be this guy? He was a mountain man before The History Channel debuted Mountain Men. Seriously. He was one of my dad's favorites, probably because of that beard. That's sheer awesome growing out of his face. Or at least it was. Now it's not growing anymore and it's all your fault.
This is the one I hold against you the most 2016. That's Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He's probably the only Supreme Court Justice to read the Constitution in the last thirty years. You haven't just pissed me off, you've potentially screwed the entire country. Granted, he was seventy nine years old when he passed. He probably didn't have a whole lot left in the tank. That's beside the point. If the freaking RINOs in the Senate confirm an Obama nominated candidate the republic is over and I'm blaming it on you. Oh, and while we're talking politics...
That's Nancy Reagan. She was one of the finest women ever to own the title of First Lady of the United States. She encouraged kids to "Just Say No to Drugs." She never tried to legislate. She never whined about how she wasn't paid by a country that in actuality was not employing her. This woman had class. In this case though, 2016, I'll meet you halfway. You're only a minor asshole for this one. Nancy deserves a chance to be back together with her Ronnie and she really didn't deserve to suffer with what's potentially coming after  the loss of Scalia. 

Ok, so a lot of people won't recognize this photo but I bet they'll recognize these two:

Yep fucker. You took the voice of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. There have been generations of kids that grew up listening to these two. I remember watching them when I was a kid and talking to my parents about how they had watched them as kids and watching them with my kids. 2016, you are a FUCKING DICK. There's no other way to put it. You are a straight up ass.

Listen, I'm just get started but I think I've made my point. We lost Glen Frey. We lost George Gaynes (UNCLE FREAKING HENRY!!!) We lost Abe Vigoda. Merle Haggard, Maurice White, David Bowie, Jim Harrison, Ray Tomlinson (the guy who invented EMAIL!!!!)  "Iron" Mike Sharp, the list goes on. Oh, and by the way, 2016, I've got those two words for ya. Ready?

Some really awesome stuff by some of the people above is for sale at the links below:

Monday, April 18, 2016

Thoughts on Some Star Trek Rumors

I've heard some things regarding a couple of new Star Trek series recently and I'm not sure what to think. Both major rumors I've heard (and they could both be wrong for all I know) have me wondering though, and I guess that's a good thing. I mean, let's face it. I've been a Trek fan since literally before I can remember. My earliest childhood friends were named Kirk, Spock and Bones. Well them and my friend Mike from around the block, but I'm guessing that I probably knew the other three first. I can't help but love anything Trek, for which I blame my father. It definitely wasn't my mom that got me started and don't even mention the words Star Trek in front of my sister. It had to have  been him. He's the one I always watched it with. I could tell stories. (If you haven't heard my Encounter at Farpoint story it 's pretty epic. Buy me a drink sometime and I'll share.) I've always been excited when new Trek series came out and, with at least one of these confirmed, it's a great time. That much being said, I've come to a couple conclusions and found some questions, all based on information that may or may not be accurate. But I'm a blogger: I do rumor, speculation and innuendo. It's who I am. So:

CBS has confirmed that there is a new Trek series starting next January. I'm ecstatic. Yes, I know I'll have to subscribe to their streaming service to watch it. I don't give a rat's ass. A new Trek series is worth ten dollars a month all by itself. I know that's blaspheme to some and you're entitled to your opinion but I disagree with it. I'd bet my ass that someone in marketing got a bit raise for suggesting a new series as a way to promote the service. It remains to  be seen whether it will work or not for sure, but I'm guessing yes. We'll see how it goes.

The rumor I heard is that the new series will be in the original continuity (If there actually is such a thing. Trek has always had a million problems with it's timeline) and set in the time period between Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation. I'm not too sure this is a good idea. See the aforementioned continuity issues. A series set in that time period promises to create more and probably in job lot quantities. Don't get me wrong: I can't wait to see the new series. I'm just thinking that they could find a better time to put it in. There are only God knows how many years of Federation history after the end of the ST:TNG/ST:DS9/ST:VOY time period where a new series could be set. This is where the new series belongs.

Think about it. Technology has progressed a lot in the fifteen years since Star Trek Voyager ended. Do we really want a ship that looks more futuristic than the Voyager, the Enterprise or the Defiant but is from an earlier era? Does that make sense to anyone? Yes, the Enterprise D looks more futuristic than the original Enterprise. That makes sense. It is a much new ship. But to have a more futuristic look on an older ship (and it would have to have  a newer look because the Enterprise D doesn't really look all that futuristic anymore) would make zero sense. There's something else to think about too.

The Enterprise D computer core had a max capacity of a terabyte of memory. When ST:TNG came out that was a lot. It was a science fiction number. No one honestly believed that we'd live to see a computer that big. Now I can go buy a hard drive from Best Buy with that capacity. It would be impossible to get a modern audience to go for that now. It would have to be bigger. Virtual reality is much bigger than it was fifteen years ago as well. A holodeck doesn't seem that far off but it was made clear in the early episodes of ST:TNG that the holodeck was a new thing. Are they going to retcon that? I hope not. I hate retcons.

There's something else I've been wondering about and it's driving me crazy. What in the BLUE HELL is the name of the new series? They have to be preparing their promotional stuff by now. The debut is only nine months out. Why don't we know what the thing is called by now? I get that CBS wants to keep things under wraps for awhile. I'm not asking for plot details or the first view of the new sets here. This isn't some massive spoiler I'm requesting. I just want to know what the name of the show is. Please CBS? I'm not asking you to announce it here. I just want to know.

Here's another question: Who is going to be on this new show? I mean, a TV show takes actors right? Nine months out there have to have been some solid decisions made for the major roles. I'm not interested in the new redshirt who is going to be dead in the first ten minutes anyway but who is the new captain at least? The new first officer? I'm a Trekkie. I need to know.

Ok, so enough about the series we know is coming. I've got another question: Whatever happened to Michael Dorn and his quest for a series called Star Trek: Captain Worf? Is it dead? Is it continuing? Are we going to see it? I want to see it. I think it would be awesome. Worf was one of my favorite Trek characters of all time. I didn't always agree with everything he did but his actions always made sense in the context of his character and the story and he's entertaining as hell. Remember Abraham Lincoln's quote about a house divided? He wasn't a house divided. He was a WORF divided between his loyalty to the Federation and his Klingon heritage. He was coolness personified. BRING BACK WORF!!!

We do, however, need to work on the title of the series. Think about it. It's not Star Trek: Captain Kirk, it's just Star Trek. It's not Star Trek: Captain Picard it's Star Trek: The Next Generation. So while I would love to see a series with Worf as the captain of a Starfleet vessel, I think it needs a new name. I'm serious about wanting to see this. Worf as a Starfleet Captain, trying to maintain his Klingon outlook while captaining a Federation vessel would be beyond awesome. The conflicts between himself and his crew would be easy to believe and hard to bridge. This would be sheer awesome. So make it happen, just with a new name. Name it after the ship. Name it after the era. Just name it SOMETHING and get it on TV. I'm waiting....

Various Star Trek products can be purchased at the links below:

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Interscope Communications's Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey

Sometimes you need the best of Science Fiction and Fantasy. There are days when only a desperate struggle against an implacable foe will do. When that one character standing in the breech is the only thing that prevents the total annihilation of all we hold dear. You know the drill: The cavalry isn't coming. The world ending supernuke is armed and waiting. From out of nowhere comes our plucky hero with their knowledge and know-how for a bit of daring-do that saves us all... And sometimes you don't. Sometimes, a bit of slapstick goes well with your craving for the strange and unusual. Sometimes, what you really have to have is a couple of goofballs playing air guitar. And believe me, there are times when "evil robot us-es" are the only thing keeping you from losing your mind. On those days only Interscope Communications's Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey will do.

I'll be the first to admit that this isn't Heinlein. That's not the point. If you're looking for deeply meaningful, masterfully written, high falutin' SF/F I really would suggest something else. The adventures of Ted Theodore Logan and Bill S Preston, Esquire are not for those impressed only by careful wordsmithing. Their words, while well meaning, are a bit annoying. If ever there were a male equivalent to the "Valley Girl" it's Bill and Ted. When the most meaningful line of a movie is "Be excellent to each other" you're not going to be impressed with the carefully crafted dialogue. This is a movie for someone who wants to have fun, not for some stuffy lit-er-uh-chooer aficionado.

With Bill and Ted traveling from Earth to Hell to Heaven and back, I can't quite help but wonder if Dante Aligheri isn't rolling over in his grave.  This can't be quite what he had in mind when we wrote it. There are no theological points to be made here, no attacks against enemies. Bill and Ted's version of hell is actually quite comical. And our heroes shouldn't feel bad. I can't do pushups either. Heaven is a bit different than Dante wrote it too. That's fitting. But please Lord, if I ever do get there, don't let THAT happen to me just as I'm about to walk in...

It's weird though, because this is a strangely inspirational type film. Bill and Ted are two guys who just don't know when to quit. They literally escape from Hell and come back from the dead on their journey to save their girlfriends. They don't let a little thing like not knowing how to play their instruments stop them from winning the Battle of the Bands. In the process they actually save the world. It doesn't get any tackier.

Yes, my friends, this is a schlock-fest. This is the type of thing you'd want to force feed to that high school Lit teacher who made you read The Scarlet Letter. B&TBJ is the be all end all of goofiness. There are no redeeming features for the arrogant snob who demands only the deepest in meaning. There are no extensive metaphysics here. This is a movie that sees no need to drag us all through a bunch of depressing BS just so that we can come out "better" at the end. The only good thing about this work is it's entertainment value but let's face it: If I want to "improve" myself there are any number of religious or self-help texts I could read. Since I watch and/or read my SF/F as a form of escapist fun though, I can make a guilty admission: I really, really enjoyed this movie.

Honestly though, I'm at a loss at to describe what I liked about the movie without giving too much away. I mean, a wimpy Grim Reaper is funny, but I don't want to give his best line away. The way Bill and Ted eventually get into Heaven is EPIC but I don't want to say too much. Their reaction upon reaching hell is way too metal for me. I mean, dude it's just..uhh... yeah. I don't want to go there. There may very well be a human being on the planet who hasn't seen this yet. I don't want to ruin it. It's only been twenty-five years since it came out (True story, bro. It was released in theaters in 1991.) so I have to be careful here...

A word about the special effects is in order: They were goofy but good. The robots (both good and evil) were really well done. Of course, the phone booth has to appear. The guns in the movie worked a little too hard to look futuristic but it's Bill and Ted. They had to look more funny than menacing. Ok, so some of the costumes were a bit too garish for words, but again that's the movie and the way things are supposed to look. I love the fact that this flick doesn't take itself too seriously. Really. Case in point: Two awesome robots were built out of vacuum cleaners and other assorted oddities. Death thought about trading in his scythe for a garden hoe. The whole movie constantly got goofier.

Maybe the best part about this movie was all of the other stories it reminded me of. I've already mentioned The Divine Comedy. There was also a scene that reminded me, oddly enough, of just about every Battletech or Mechwarrior I've ever played, watched or read. One particular scene played like a cross between Weird Science and The Six Million Dollar Man. The Bill and Ted movies came out around the same time as the Wayne's World movies and there a billion similarities at least. I loved it. The only problem(?) is that I'm going to have to go back watch a bunch of other stuff now.

Was Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey a perfect movie? Yes it was. NOT!!! Nothing is perfect but there are times when things do get a wee bit annoying. The continuous air-guitar thing was a bit over the top. Robots playing basketball with their own heads -while funny- stretched the believability limits past their breaking point. There was a scene with Station that was quite frankly grosser than it needed to be. Overall though, this movie was a rocking good time. Now party on and be excellent to each other!

Bottom Line:  4.5 out of 5 Excellent Guitar Riffs

Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey
Interscope Communication, 1991

Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey can be purchased at the links below:

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Down With the Old (Awards) and In With the New

Fans of the blog (both of you but I wuvs you both) will note that I have in the past commented on the Hugo Awards/Sad Puppy controversy. For those that have not, I support the Sad Puppy side because I believe that Science Fiction and Fantasy  awards are a field that should not be dominated by a cabal of geriatric liberals. I honestly believe that a guy like me who has attended a WorldCon and honestly feels that he would be immediately asked to leave the premises should he ever go to one (I'm an open conservative) can be a fan. I further believe that WorldCon is not truly a fan convention at all, being primarily attended by people who work in the industry. I'm sorry folks, but fans are people from outside the industry who enjoy the product. Writers, publishers, artists, actors, etc, are insiders not fans. Hugo voters are primarily industry insiders in their sixties and seventies who don't want young whippersnappers such as myself (I'll be forty in December) attending their convention and ruining their good time. (Their loss. I know where to get good deals on Geritol and Efferdent.) My girlfriend will be attending MidAmeriCon this year. She's only thirty-six. I wish her luck.

Furthermore, I've often wondered when the old blue hairs who run and attend WorldCons will acknowledge that people under retirement age actually do consume and enjoy Science Fiction and Fantasy. The edgy, new-fangled Hugo category for youngsters is "Best Graphic Story." Guess what guys? Superman debuted in 1938. He may actually be older than one or two of you antiques that want to keep us young'uns out. Not only that, but there were actually comic books before that. There is nothing new or interesting about adding comics (I'm sorry, "Graphic Stories") as a category.

No, the Hugos have not shown any interest in attracting younger voters. Youngsters (a term I use loosely here, meaning basically forty-five and younger. IE Not necessarily in diapers but younger than the average Hugo voter) grew up playing video games. There are people in their twenties now who don't remember a time before Harry Potter. A quick Amazon search for "Young Adult Science Fiction" in "Books" turns up 44, 529 hits. Science Fiction and Fantasy Role Playing Games have existed since the 1970s. Card games like Magic, YuGiOh and Pokemon have flourished for over twenty years now. None of these have been acknowledged by elitist oldsters of WorldCon. But there's good news: Another organization will soon be issuing awards in the ares of Science Fiction and Fantasy on an annual basis and they're actually offering categories inclusive of the under seventy crowd.

Yes, my friends, the Dragon Award is a reality. Check it out at their website. Oddly enough you don't even have to pay in the new, inclusive system. It's almost like DragonCon is a big enough concern that they can afford to pay for their con based on the people who attend it instead of providing an atmosphere solely for aging relics on fixed incomes. It's a weird concept to some I will admit. Allowing the great unwashed to vote based on their love of the genre instead of limiting the franchise to people who pay to be part of the club is sure to offend those who have so zealously defended the gates against outsiders who haven't come to their meetings every year since 1939.

Check out the categories they're offering:

  • Best science fiction novel
  • Best fantasy novel (including paranormal)
  • Best young adult/middle grade novel
  • Best military science fiction or fantasy novel
  • Best alternate history novel
  • Best apocalyptic novel
  • Best horror novel
  • Best comic book
  • Best graphic novel
  • Best episode in a continuing science fiction or fantasy series, TV or internet
  • Best science fiction or fantasy movie
  • Best science fiction or fantasy PC / console game
  • Best science fiction or fantasy mobile game
  • Best science fiction or fantasy board game
  • Best science fiction or fantasy miniatures / collectable card / role-playing game
I stole those categories from this press release. I wanted to make sure I got them right. View them for yourself and make your own judgments about what's there, what's not there and what should be. Here's what I see though:

To being with, there is quite apparently a lot of overlap with the current Hugo setup. "Best Comic Book" and "Best Graphic Novel" sound a lot like "Best Graphic Story." "Best Episode in a Continuing Science Fiction or Fantasy Series, TV or Internet" sounds like a much longer way to say "Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)." "Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie" sounds about the same vis a vis "Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)." There is still a "Best Science Fiction Novel." Speaking of the awards for novels that's where one of the big changes occurs and it's one that I have mixed feelings about.

 Best novel still exists but has been broken up a bit for those fans who prefer to read in particular subgenres. This works for me because it gives more books a chance to win and not just because there are more awards. Many fans prefer to read only in a particular favorite subgenre or two (I'm big on Alt-hist and military SF personally) and a lot of them are going to have a chance to see one of their favorite books of the year nominated when they may not have otherwise. Seriously, I'm a huge Harry Turtledove fanboy. (If I ever meet you in person and you want to know how that happened buy me a glass of single malt and listen to my story. I may get a bit maudlin but it's worth your time.) I'd love to see one of his alt-hist works nominated.

Here's the thing though: For me, the Hugo for Best Novel will always be the WorldCon equivalent to the Oscar for Best Picture. I mean, I guess the award for Best Science Fiction novel covers that, sort of but I don't know if it goes far enough with the rest of the categories getting awards as well. I guess what I'm saying is that my spoiled ass wants to have my cake and eat it too. I guess I'll live. I may very well pout about it though.

What I really like though is something I alluded to earlier: This really is a  ballot that offers options to those of us who were born after 1960. Pong was released by Atari in 1972. Pac Man was released in 1980. Games like Space Invaders (1978) and Galaga (1981) have been carrying the Science Fiction banner in the gaming world for over thirty-five years. Yet the Hugos, which claim to be an award for all Science Fiction fans, have never given an award for Best Video Game. I played Magic: The Gathering when it first came out in 1993. Spellfire: Master the Magic (the Dungeons and Dragons game) came not much later. I'm not sure when Munchkin was first released (it won an award in 2001 so presumably then or earlier) but it's crazy popular and has been translated into fifteen languages. The Hugos have never acknowledged games that are not only frequently SF themed, but are wildly popular with the SF loving crowd.The Dungeons and Dragons Basic Set debuted in 1977.  The vast majority of role playing games since then have featured SF/F themes. It's about damn time we see some awards for that. I'm an old school Battletech fan. It's been around for over thirty years now. So have only God knows how many other SF/F board games (Anybody remember Hero Quest? I wish I still had my copy.) It's well past time they were recognized as part of the genre. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone will be celebrating its twentieth anniversary next year. It's awesome to see the huge wave of Young Adult fiction it promoted and its young fans finally being acknowledged.

Now, I'm not saying that this is a perfect set up. I'd love to see a specific category added for Media tie-in novels. Games like Halo and Dungeons & Dragons have a rich literature attached to them. I have no idea precisely how many Star Trek novels have been written but probably not as many as in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. There are enough new entries every year with a big enough following that I'd love to see a special category for them. I'd also like to see a category similar to the "Best Related Work" Hugo. I believe that *AHEM* people who write about the genre deserve some recognition too. (For the record, no I don't think I'd win one if it did exist. I'd still like a chance to cheer for someone LIKE me.)

I also wonder if the Dragon Awards will be promoted well enough to draw in a truly representative crowd. As much as the old blue hairs want to paint their genre as dying without them that's simply not true. Science Fiction and Fantasy are growing. They're just not willing to admit that the SF/F genre is no longer limited to the way that they're used to consuming it.

Speaking of Munchkin, I have a question: If a game releases an expansion (whether it's the latest edition of Munchkin or Magic or even World of Warcraft) is that eligible? Or is it only original games? And what about when the next Halo hits? I'll be honest. I didn't read the FAQ and these answers might be there but for the moment I'm confused. At the end of the day though, at least I get to ask the questions. That's more than I could ever do with the Hugos.

All in all, I really think that this is a good thing. The WorldCon crew and their move to lock everyone out via E Pluribus Hugo is a clear indication that they're not willing to listen to anyone's opinions but their own. That's fine. Those of us who aren't part of the clique now have a place to call our own and this doesn't mean we have to give up our attempts to reform your award into something that includes other viewpoints. It's a good day for the Pups, the Fans and SF/F in general. I'll take it.

Various DragonCon related items are available at the links below: