Saturday, August 13, 2016

Not Another One...and NOT That One


And in related news...

Forgive me everyone, I'm a little ticked off at this year and what just happened. Let me tell you all a story. It's a true one as it just so happens and it's near and dear to my heart. Once upon a time, in the long ago year of 1983, a young boy went to see a movie with his mother. It wasn't just any movie. It was a classic and the last of a trilogy of iconic movies. It was called Return of the Jedi and it, along with more Star Trek: The Original Series than was probably healthy at that age, began what added up to a lifetime of Science Fiction fandom. Fast forward a few years. 

That same boy grew up to become a man with a child of his own.  The world's most beautiful little girl sat on his lap. She looked back at him, "I love Star Wars Dada," she said "I like R2D2. He's so funny." She laughed and he kissed her on the back of her head and thought back to a funny moment of his own. Sitting in that movie theater with his mother and laughing as the guy in the row in front of them walked out, disgusted by the appearance of Jabba the Hutt. Funny moment and good times, all courtesy of one of the greatest film trilogies (and later franchises) ever. 

A lot of icons came out of that movie. We all know lightsabers, X-wing fighters, TIE fighters, the Death Star, Luke, Leia, Han, Darth Vader, etc. But really, what was the biggest icon to come out of Star Wars? R2D2. Stop laughing. I'm serious. Think about it.

When the Star Wars book and record sets were released, it was an R2D2 clip that told you to turn the page. When you buy the Star Wars Trivial Pursuit game (the first one at least) it came with an R2D2 random number generator instead of a die. There are two characters that have been in every Star Wars movie: R2D2 and C3PO but it wasn't Threepio that carried the message. It has been R2 that the entire galaxy has relied upon twice to get the information about the enemy base/ship to where it needed to be. I've read a fan theory somewhere that the entire Star Wars movie franchise is told through the eyes of R2D2. He has been the biggest character in one of the biggest franchise in movie history. And now the actor who played him is gone.

For those wondering, the boy/man in the story was yours truly. Star Wars really does go back that far for me (yes, I missed the first two theatrical releases. I was born in 1976. This time it's not my fault.) I really have watched it with my daughters and my Riley really did speak those exact words. My life would have worse without Star Wars. One of the things I like about my ex-wife when I first met her was that she was a Wars fan. Without Wars I may not even have a child. That too is a true story, even if I did the computer room in fantasy instead of Star Wars like I was instructed. Oh well.

I guess I just can't get used to this. As a Star Trek fan I've lost quite a few of the people I grew up with. DeForrest Kelley was the first. Jimmy Doohan is gone. Leonard Nimoy got his own post here last year. When I think about it it makes me want to vomit. 

Wars is a different animal though. Granted, we lost Alec Guinness in 2000 but we've still got the rest of the main characters from the original trilogy. Christ, they're all still acting in the new movies. Well, maybe not Harrison Ford, but it's SF so who knows. They never found the body after all. But that's a different subject for a different post.

The bottom line is that we lost Kenny Baker today. The guy who made my daughter laugh. The guy who made me cheer. The guy who made one of cinema's most revered characters come alive. The guy who was with us through it all. He got our heroes out of the Death Star and got the ship working on the escape from Naboo. The memories could go on. 

I've read a lot about him today. His family has spoken about how ill he was. They've talked of how he was told that he probably wouldn't survive past puberty. How he defied all the odds and made it to the top despite what the world told him he could achieve. What a scrapper.  It's easy to give up but he didn't. Just like his character.

Kenny Baker was three feet eight inches tall. My five year old daughter is taller than that. There weren't many people who could have fit into the R2D2 outfit. It's weird though, because the shadow cast by that man has to be at least five hundred times that. The world will long remember the Star Wars movies. I'm going out a limb to say this but someday these films will be remembered the way a lot of literature is. I won't go so far as to compare George Lucas to William Shakespeare, but Lucas's stories are just as topical and far easier to understand. Kenny Baker was in all of them. 

The world changed today. Some people won't acknowledge that fact and I'm okay with that. Those that laugh and mock us will have a field day with this one and I'll shrug it off because I always do. Those that don't understand can't understand and that's not going to change. There's no point in wishing otherwise. We get it though. 

So lift a glass tonight in a toast to one of the greatest actors you've never seen. Tell the world what a great time you've had watching Kenny Baker and what he meant to you. It's different for all of us. It's also the same for all of us. It's just weird. But remember this: I meant it when I said no.

 Kenny Baker is NOT dead. He may not be able to hug his family the way he used to. He may not be able to act in the forthcoming movies. There are a lot of things he can no longer do. But the Star Wars franchise lives. R2D2 lives. And as long as they do, Kenny Baker will live. It's our job to keep it that way.

Some R2D2 related products are listed below:

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Dragon Awards


Or sumfin'

Listen guys. I've been over this before. The Hugos are not a fan award. They are an award given out by publishing insiders. That's all there is to it. They have no interest in the opinions of actual fandom or anyone under the age of sixty. Oh sure, they'll take your money but try to vote against established groupthink and you're done for. Try it. We did last year and they No Awarded half the damn categories because we didn't nominated who they wanted. That's seriously what that whole kerfuffle was about. Well, at least up until they passed out wooden assholes at the award ceremony to let everyone know what they think of us. But hey, I've been called worse, believe me. This year I expect them to lose their collective shit once again. We'll see if there will even be a Hugo Award going forward. There may be. Tor is doing its best to make sure that the Hugo survives and becomes a house award. Good luck to them I guess. But that's not why I'm posting. This is actually a celebratory post. Wanna know why? Good, I'll tell you.

Dragoncon is making an attempt at actual fan-driven awards. All you have to do is vote to register. I'll be voting tonight. I know I've received my ballot via email. Here is the complete ballot:

1. Best Science Fiction Novel
Raising Caine by Charles E. Gannon
Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
Agent of the Imperium by Marc Miller
Somewhither: A Tale of the Unwitheriing Realm by John C. Wright
The Life Engineered by J-F Dubeau

2. Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)
Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia
Asteroid Made of Dragons by G. Derek Adams
Blood Hound by James Osiris Baldwin
Changeling’s Island by Dave Freer
Grave Measures by R.R. Virdi
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher

3. Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
Updraft by Fran Wilde
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Trix and the Faerie Queen by Alethea Kontis
Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley
Changeling’s Island by Dave Freer
The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett

4. Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel
Allies and Enemies: Fallen by Amy J. Murphy
The Price of Valor by Django Wexler
Blood in the Water by Taylor Anderson
Chains of Command by Marko Kloos
The End of All Things by John Scalzi
Wrath of an Angry God: A Military Space Opera by Gibson Michaels
Hell's Foundations Quiver by David Weber

5. Best Alternate History Novel
1636: The Cardinal Virtues by Eric Flint & Walter H. Hunt
Bombs Away: The Hot War by Harry Turtledove
Deadlands: Ghostwalkers by Jonathan Maberry
1635: A Parcel of Rogues by Eric Flint & Andrew Dennis
League of Dragons by Naomi Novik
Germanica by Robert Conroy

6. Best Apocalyptic Novel
The Desert and the Blade by S.M. Stirling
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
A Time to Die by Mark Wandrey
Dark Age by Felix O. Hartmann
Ctrl Alt Revolt! by Nick Cole
Chasing Freedom by Marina Fontaine

7. Best Horror Novel
Chapelwood by Cherie Priest
Honor at Stake by Declan Finn
Souldancer by Brian Niemeier
Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay
An Unattractive Vampire by Jim McDoniel
Alice by Christina Henry

8. Best Comic Book
DC Universe: Rebirth
Astro City
Ms. Marvel
Civil War II

9. Best Graphic Novel
Chicago by Glenn Head
The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman
Virgil by Steve Orlando
Sacred Heart by Liz Suburbia
March: Book Two by John Lewis & Andrew Aydin
Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine

10. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series
Game of Thrones - HBO
Jessica Jones - Netflix
Doctor Who - BBC
The Flash - CW
The Expanse - Syfy
Outlander - Starz
Daredevil - Netflix

11. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

Crimson Peak
Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens
The Martian
Captain America: Civil War

12. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game
Fallout 4 by Bethesda Softworks
Darkest Dungeon by Red Hook Studios
Undertale by Toby Fox
XCOM 2 by 2k Games
Overwatch by Blizzard Entertainment
Metal Gear Solid V by Konami Digital Entertainment

13. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game
Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes by Electronic Arts
Quaser One by Emre Taskin
Fallout Shelter by Bethesda Softworks
Hyper Burner by Patrick Cook
PewDiePie: Legend of the Brofist by Outerminds Inc.

14. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game

Codenames by Vlaada Chvatil
Monopoly: CTHULHU by USAopoly
Pandemic: Legacy by ZMan Games
Blood Rage by Cool Mini or Not
Talon by GMT Games
Star Wars: Rebellion by Fantasy Flight Games

15. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game
Star Wars: Armada by Fantasy Flight Games
Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game (7th Edition) by Chaosium Inc.
Mousguard 2nd Edition by David Petersen & Luke Crane
Magic the Gathering: Battle of Zendikar by Wizards of the Coast
Magic the Gathering: Shadows over Innistrad by Wizards of the Coast
Deluxe Tunnels Trolls by Flying Buffalo

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game
Congrats to all of the nominees!

Here are my votes and why:

1.) Best SF Novel: Raising Caine by Chuck Gannon. Simple. Chuck Gannon's writing is fast paced and entertaining. Caine Riordan is an awesome character and this book just rocks.

2.) Best Fantasy Novel: For those of you out there who may not be Larry Correia fans, he constantly states that every author's mission statement should include the words GET PAID. This one has a terrific new world, an awesome main character and a story that has enough mystery that I want to read more. Congratulations, Mr Correia. You're going to GET PAID when you get my money for the next installment.

3.) Best Young Adult/Middle Grade Novel: Honestly, I haven't read any of these. I did buy Changelings Island, but being a YA title it got pushed to the back of the queue. I won't be voting in this category.

4.) Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel: Hell's Foundations Quiver by David Weber because OMFG SAFEHOLD ROCKS!!! Epic  cast. Epic Action. Epic Heroes. Epic Villains. God, I love this series.

5.) Best Alternate History Novel:  Bombs Away: The Hot War Harry Turtledove. I'll tell the story of how I came to love Turtledove's work on the blog sometime. For now, just know that Turtledove is the master of Alt-Hist and this is another gem.

6.) Best Apocalyptic Novel: Control Alt Revolt by Nick Cole. Computer takeover. It's like the Cylons a few centuries early. Loved this thing. Look for a review here soon.

7.) Best Horror Novel: Honor at Stake by Declan Finn. See my review. 'Nuff said.

8.) Best Comic Book: I haven't done much comic reading this year for financial reasons. I won't be voting in this category.

9.) Best Graphic Novel: Ditto

10.) Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Series: Doctor Who, because Dr Who. I want a sonic screw driver.

11.) Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens because blatant fan bias. I went with my mom to see Return of the Jedi in 1983 during its original release. I've been a fan ever since. I loved this flick.

12.) Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Video Game: I spend a massive amount of time gaming but I'm a WoWhead and that's all I really play. I have neither the time nor the money to adequately research this and so I won't be voting.

13.) Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game:  Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes by Electronic Art. I checked this out and loved it. It's something to play when I'm not at home and can't get to my WoW account.

14.) Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game: 
Monopoly: CTHULHU by USAopoly because I will play it and so will my oldest daughter.
Magic the Gathering: Battle of Zendikar by Wizards of the Coast. I don't do many of these types of things but I walked up to the comic shop near my home and checked this out while some other people were playing it. It's a good time.

15.)  Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game: 
Magic the Gathering: Battle of Zendikar. I'll be honest. My card playing is fairly minimal but I have wandered into the comic shop next to my house a couple of times and I've enjoyed this. Some of the guys were nice enough to loan me their deck.

Now, the disclaimer: Should you vote for what I did? Well, maybe. I'm certainly not telling anyone not to vote for who I did. On the other hand, I don't want anyone voting for something just because I did. I definitely wouldn't want anyone to leave something blank because I did. Make up your own mind. Read, watch, play, love. Make up your own mind and make your choices known.  There's no reason not to. There is no cost associated. Just go to this link and register to vote if you haven't already. I'm stoked. It's about time SF/F got some awards that were actually chosen by the fans and not based on who sat with who at least year's award banquet. Here's our chance. Now is our time. VOTE DAMMIT!!!

Some of the products I voted for are listed below. I'd list everything but I've only got a few minutes left on my lunch at work: