Sunday, October 14, 2018

An Open Letter to Chuck Wendig

Hi Chuck,

Now, before I really get into this let me get two things straight here.

1.) I'm an asshole. It's true. I admit it.

2.) So are you. Seriously. I'm a reviewer/blogger. You're an author/comics writer. In a lot of ways you have more clout than I do and, I'll admit, that's because you've earned it. That much having been said, we are both equally assholes. You should probably just admit to it too.

Now, I didn't write this letter just to call you an asshole, Chuck. If that's all I wanted, I could very easily have Tweeted my opinion out to the universe and just had done with it. No, I'm writing this today to make you, and anyone else who sees this letter, aware that people like you are the reason I will never for as long as I live be civil to your side in a political debate.

Oh, and don't get me wrong Chuck. The fact that you've accomplished more than I have doesn't mean that I have a single shred of respect for you as an author, a political commentator or as a human being. There is no reason on I should. I mean, you said this:



This post was made in response to the fact that a man who stood accused of horrible things got confirmed to the Supreme Court. Here's the thing: There was no evidence that he did anything. The media may have said that the claims of Christine Blasey-Ford were credible, but that doesn't mean that they were. There was no corroborating physical evidence. There was not a single corroborating witness. The accusations were simply that, accusations with no proof.

And don't tell me that women don't make shit up Chuck. There is ample proof that is has happened in other cases. And, even a loud mouthed ignorant son-of-a-bitch like you has to admit that, although neither one of the links contained above any evidence that Blasey-Ford made anything up, they do both point to the possibility. And, quite honestly Chuck, do you remember all the #metoo hoopla surrounding the Kavanaugh confirmation? Yeah, if I were to present those stories above as conclusive proof that Blasey-Ford lied, I'd have just as much validity as any woman out there screaming about how Kavanaugh did it and she had been raped. Yup.

But honestly, I'm getting sidetracked here. This isn't a letter about Kavanaugh or any of the insanity surrounding him. This letter is about an even bigger issue.It's about civility between the parties in this country. It's about why we can't all just get along. It's about people like you and their hypocrisy. Check this out Chuck:





What you personally are saying here is that it's "chilling" if someone who supports your point of view is fired for their views, but it's okay if they disagree with you. She made a comment that was interpreted as racist, yes. You find that objectionable. I'm not sure it was even meant as a reference to race, but that's neither here nor there. What you're saying is that Roseann deserved to lose her job because you didn't agree with her statements. That's fine in and of itself. And it's not just about racism either Chuck. It's about "wackadoo conspiracies." I'll be honest here. I don't know what Roseann said outside of her racist comment because she's annoying as shit and I don't bother with many celebrities outside of the world of SF/F. That's just me. I thought they should have never brought the show back, not because of any statement but because it was annoying and boring.

My problem is that this statement proves that you think that comic book companies (and by extension others) should have the backs of their creators... but only if they believe as you do. What bothers me is that you think that you should have the right to spout your bullshit but that I don't have the right to spout mine. I know you think that there is a difference between what you said and what Roseann said, but there's really not. Free speech is free speech, even when you disagree with what's being said. So yes, Chuck, your losing your job is exactly the same as Roseann losing hers.

For the record, I can appreciate the fact that you at least admitted the fact that Marvel had the right to fire you. That applies even though you seem to think you didn't deserve it because you spouted the right ideas.

And that, Chuck, is the reason I refuse to be civil. As long as it's okay for you to call someone a "callous fuckneck," or a "grotesque monster," it's okay for me to call you an ignorant fuckstick or a troglodytic moron. It really is Chuck. And that's true even though I vote Republican. See, you are free to disagree with me.

Let's take this a step further though. I've already gone over your literary success versus the fact that I've never published anything. I don't have much of a writing resume outside of this blog. Do you know what I do have though? A history degree. One that I worked hard for. And do you know what I learned while studying history? I learned that any time a political party (in this case the Democrats) believes that only they should be able to speak their mind and that anyone who disagrees with them deserves to be punished, bad things happen. They try to make those they disagree with change their tune using physical force. I am aware of precisely zero times in history where this was not the case once they took power.

So yes, Chuck, people like you are why I'll be keeping my guns. People like you are the reason I believe that we have an honest-to-goodness shooting war, complete with bombs, guns, blood and fire, coming to the United States. People like you are the reason I hope that it gets here while I'm still young enough to fight in it and before my daughters are old enough to. Because Chuck, when it's not okay to disagree with the Democrats in this country and they try the Hitler/Stalin method (Hitler put his political prisoners in camps. That's how his concentration camps started. Stalin sent wrongthink speakers to Siberia.) there will be violence. And when you try to say that your point of view should be permitted but Roseann's shouldn't, or that Republicans shouldn't be able to ask why they should believe someone who can't provide a shred of evidence for her allegations, that's what you're leading people to, whether you intend to or not.

It's worth mentioning that in the not too distant past,  I would have been pissed that Marvel fired you. My reasons for no longer feeling that way are written here. Suffice it to say that if conservatives can lose their jobs for freedom of speech, then so can liberals. I know you acknowledged this yourself. Thank you.  I just hate the fact that I don't hate Marvel right now. Free speech should be for all, but if it's not for all then it's not for anybody. So, given the way conservatives have been treated, I'm glad that Marvel fired your and I hope your fiction publisher does as well.

At let's not forget this at the end of the day: I'm nobody's bitch. I'm not going to surrender and speak civilly to someone who won't act the same way. In the words of the rapper DMX, "If it's fuck me... then you know it's fuck you." (Yes, I left  a word that I found distasteful out. The point is still valid.)  I don't encourage anyone on my side to be a bitch either. You won't hear a call for civility from me.
You know why Chuck?

Because I won't surrender. Because being civil to a piece of shit like you gives you control of the battlespace. Because being nice means giving up. I won't be giving up.

So, yeah. Just a reminder: You're still an asshole.

Snoogans,
Jimbo

Friday, October 12, 2018

D.G. Lamb's Driven to the Hilt 1: The Deepest Cut

(Once upon a time, I became aware of an author named D.G Lamb who was looking to do a blog tour to promote her new book. I volunteered to host a guest post, but apparently my message wasn't received until too (maybe I should've responded to the Facebook post instead of sending someone who didn't know me a DM) late for that. Instead, I was offered a chance to review her book as part of the blog tour. And it's Science Fiction and reviewing SF/F is what I do, soo...

Yeah, it worked.

At any rate, that's my way of saying "Welcome" to any of you out there who stopped by because they were following the Driven to the Hilt Blog Tour. I hope you enjoy yourselves while you're here and if you like what you see, stay. We love new followers here at Jimbo's!)

Joshua is the main character of D.G. Lamb's Driven to the Hilt I: The Deepest Cut. He is also a survivor. That's probably the best thing I can say about him and that's awesome. I didn't start out thinking that. I wasn't sure I was going to like the kid much at first. I'm a nerd. He starts out as a jock. We're kind of natural enemies. It's not that he seemed like a bad kid. He's actually a good guy. And the series  is really well named. He is legitimately driven to the hilt. I don't know how a human being could survive more than what this kid went through, but he toughed it out.

And what's more, I really do like him. He has to go through some serious stuff and make some hard decisions, but he doesn't flinch from what he has to do.He's got both brains and guts and that's a rare combination. Joshua is a teenager, but he has more maturity, at least by the end of The Deepest Cut, than a lot of adults I know. Joshua is not always a nice guy. Sometimes being nice and being alive don't go together all that well. At the end of the day though, he makes the right decisions in circumstances I wouldn't like to face personally.

Oh, and he's both intelligent and well educated, especially for his age. The story begins with his mother home schooling him and he seems to be able to understand and explain the written word better than a lot of college students I've had classes with. He's read at least some of the classics of Western literature, including Machiavelli.  He also has a love for and knowledge of show tunes that even my girlfriend would envy.

He's resourceful too. When he finds himself alone in the world at a young age he does what he has to do. He's creative. He's intelligent. He finds sources of food that no one else would think to try and thrives off of them. He builds things. He finds work in unlikely places. I can't say enough about this kid and how much he impresses me.

He has a willingness to do research that a lot of adults lack as well. I've known people who get upset at kids who just google everything, but when you think about it, it makes sense. Granted, Lamb doesn't actually call it "googling" but if when Joshua needs knowledge and doesn't have a lot of time to get it, he knows where to look. That much is good in and of itself, but he also has confindence THAT he can learn what he needs to know if he tries.

The world Joshua lives on is not Earth. This makes me happy. Some of the wildlife in The Deepest Cut is quite frankly terrifying and the more light years away it is, the more comfortable I am. Spidervipers sound like something I'd have loved to talk about as a young kid, in a weird kind of way. Remember the conversations you had as a kid about "Would a wolf win a fight against a bear?" Yeah, a spiderviper would fit in well with that. Except that spidervipers are legitimately creepy on top of being badass. I'm not the kind of guy that runs from a spider but I'd pretty much soil my shorts if one of those showed up. There are other creatures as well. Joshua learns to contend with all of them.

He also seems to be more than he seems to be. I know that doesn't make sense but you'd really have to read the book to get it. Joshua does have a trick about slowing down time that seems to be some type of power, but there are other characters who talk about him. What they say leads me to believe that this kid has some kind of destiny, but he's not Harry Potter. There are hints but no outright statements about what the destiny is or even why they think it's Joshua. There are more books coming and that's a good thing, because Lamb seems to have asked more questions with her first book than she answered.

I don't want to take things too far though. Joshua is far from perfect. He screws up a couple of times and almost gets himself killed more than once. Still though, you can't help but root for the kid when he tries this hard and refuses to give up. He's one resolute kid and his failures only accentuate how hard he's working at what he has to do.

I'm guess that Lamb spent a lot of time doing research of her own. I don't have any real survival experience of my own, but I've done some reading (Surprising, I know) and most of what Joshua learns in his research matches what I've read almost word for word. When I say he does things in a "textbook" manner it's not just a figure of speech. The actions he performs are exactly the ones that I've read about in the textbooks. I like that. I already stated that he make mistakes sometimes, but not once did I put my phone down and scream "MORON" the way I have at some other books. It's a refreshing change.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that parts of this book bring me back to my days as a fan of both CSI and mobster movies. At some points, I almost forgot that I was in a Science Fiction novel because a lot of the action was so realistic that it could have been happening five miles from where I'm sitting right now. Lamb did an awesome job mixing the fantastical elements of her story with the mundane ones.

My only complaint about The Deepest Cut, and it's one I've mentioned with other books a few times lately, is that it starts off kind of slow. Now, I know it's the first book in a series and that they always start out slow, but it still took me a wee bit longer to get through the first chapter or two of the book than it should have. Overall though, The Deepest Cut is still an excellent work and was a true joy to read.

Bottom Line: 4.75 out of 5 Spiderviper Teeth

Driven to the Hilt 1: The Deepest Cut
D.G. Lamb
Calyse Publishing, 2017


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

L.E. Henderson's The Dragon Proofed House: Book Three of the Torn Curtains Series

Ya know, I've read a lot of books over the years. Fiction, non-fiction, totally fictitious crap that claimed to be non-fiction, etc. Many of them have been books that I read having been told that they would make me think. In the case of some of the non-fiction that was true. Very rarely has the fiction. I think this book changed that for me in a weird sort of way.

L. E. Henderson's book, The Dragon Proofed House: Book 3 of the Torn Curtains Series asks a question. I'm not sure it's intended to, but it does. (Queue that Venn Diagram) Seriously. At what point would life get so bad that an individual would voluntarily enter the Matrix and forget everything about life that came before? How bad does it get before someone WANTS to give their entire life up to gaming?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not here to insult people who game. Today is my day off work. I've already spent several hours playing World of Warcraft. After I write this review, I'm going to play some more WoW. Then I'm going to call my girlfriend. Then I'm going to play more WoW. Then I'll fall asleep to The Walking Dead. I love gaming.

This is different. After all, I'm doing my laundry, writing a post and calling the little woman today. The main character of the story, Christine, has made a choice that is only marginally different than suicide. For all intents and purposes, she has chosen to sink her life so far into a game named Mirror Mountain Valley that she is unable to remember anything that came before her life there. She has no ambitions for anything after she logs out. As a matter of fact, it appears that she has no way to log out at all.

That leads to a second question, and it's one that we all faced in high school: How far is a person ready to go to be popular? How much will an individual sell themselves out to get someone else to like them? The Dragon Proofed House is a thinking persons book.

I find myself surprised at how much I actually enjoyed The Dragon Proofed House. It's certainly not my typical fare. Don't get me wrong. It was a good time. It was just... different. There are no explosions here. For that matter, there is no real violence of any kind.  There is certainly some social intrigue, but nothing like the political maneuvering that would be familiar to a fan of the Battletech novels. Despite all of that, it's still a really good story.

I couldn't help but root for Christine throughout the book. If you like the underdog, you'll love her too. Despite the trials and tribulations the game sends her way, she's bound and determined to do everything she can to help herself. If she finds that things don't always go the way she wants them to, well, we've all been there. She doesn't give up. She doesn't give over to whining and trying to wish herself to success.

And that was a welcome surprise, because the first few pages gave me a Bella-like feeling. Fortunately, that goes away quickly. Henderson seems to have succeeded where Stepanie Meyers failed.  I would still urge the reader to give The Dragon Proofed House about five or ten pages to get going.  Once Christine picks herself up and starts working toward a goal things become a lot more fun and interesting.

At the end of the day, I think that what makes The Dragon Proofed House work is that almost everything in the book is familiar in one way or another. Christine is a person who has been through a lot but so have I. She has to fight every day to make things better for herself. So do I.  Probably the paradox of her character though, is that she never gives up.

I say that because she already gave up once or she wouldn't be in the game and we wouldn't have a story. Yet, once she has made her decision to enter the game (which we never actually see "on stage") she fights to get to the endgame and stay there. And that is a fight with which I am intimately familiar.

The game plays like a virtual reality version of The Sims, except that everything constantly falls apart. At it's heart though, Mirror Mountain Valley is a game about building a really cool house and interacting with your neighbors. Money comes to the player in the form of compliment credits which can be used to either repair or improve a player's house. Compliment credits are generally given by people who like a house. It's a vicious cycle which, in its way, is comparable to some things that real world MMORPG players go through. 

I kind of wish that The Dragon Proofed House  were available in Dead Tree Format, because I'd love to give a copy to my daughter, who doesn't have a tablet and can't take pictures on her phone half the time because the memory is so full. I'd like to get her take on it. Don't get me wrong, I'm a man and I enjoyed it. I'm just saying that this is something I think she probably should read and would enjoy. As a seventh grader, she's headed into the time in her life when she'll be facing the popularity question pretty soon and I like the way that Henderson handled that.

Christine fights to fit the tastes of others and is left dealing with the consequences of changing her personality to match someone else's. I don't want to go into too many spoilers but it's about what I expected. That's something I'd like both of my kids to think about before she decides to work too hard to fit in.

Seriously. As an adult you can enjoy this book. If you know any youngsters who would actually read it (and I know some kids aren't going to read anything no matter what.) you need to get them a copy of The Dragon Proofed House and talk to them about what's in there. As a guy with a history degree, I don't often consider non-scholarly work to be important, but I'm going to make an exception here. I think this one is worth their time not just for the entertainment value (which is there in spades) but for what they can learn vicariously.

Bottom Line: 4.5 out of 5 Rosebushes

The Dragon Proofed House: Book 3 of the Torn Curtains Series
L.E. Henderson
Self Published, 2018

The Dragon Proofed House: Book 3 of the Torn Curtains Series is available for purchase at the following link:

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Nope, Nope, Nopity Nope! UH-UH!

Shields up, Red Alert! Seriously, go to your men and tell them to get ready for a fight because I'm about to have Worf beam a proton torpedo aboard the bridge of the Death Star while it annihilates Babylon 5 in full view of the TARDIS as it is consumed by a supernova. As someone famous once said "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore." There is no need for this type of bullshit. None whatsoever! AT ALL! DO YOU HEAR ME HOLLYWOOD?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!?!??!??!??!?!?!??!?!?!?!??

Ok, so now we all know I'm mad. Who can tell me why? Oh, that's my job. Oops.

So what set me off is this piece. I found it while innocently checking my Facebook feed. I had some downtime at work and decided to see if I could find something interesting. Well, I found that article interesting in the same sense that Vlad the Impaler found the actions of traitors interesting. Unfortunately, I lack the authority he had and so the guilty are still at large and able to continue killing everything great that came before them. 

I'm going to take a moment and tell you what is wrong with this. I mean, yes, recasting Lando and G'Kar as females is insulting to the fandom, the original cast and J. Michael Straczynksi.Yes, they should be played by different actors. Yes, the uniform pictured is thirty-one flavors of fucked up. But honestly, none of that should matter. Because there is NO FREAKING NEED TO REBOOT EVERY DAMN THING EVER!

(Oh, and for the record, I'm not a big fan of Crude Reviews and their rampant SJWism. I don't recommend their site. I was reading the article before I realized what site it was on.)

I've talked about this before. Listen Hollywood. I get the fact that not every idea is Hollywood caliber. I support not making everything that get suggested because I support quality entertainment and some stuff is just crap. I mean, it doesn't all sink to the depths of gender-swapping Londo and G'kar just to virtue signal in a show that already had females in prominent roles. (Can you say Ivanova, Delenn, Talia and Lyta boys and girls.) Oh, and that includes two women who took command of squadrons of ships in battle. And there is no badder-ass in all of SF/F than Susan Ivanova. Still though, that's not the problem.

The problem is you morons and your absolute obsession with rebooting old content. Let sleeping dogs lie. Listen, I came to a love of B5 late. If not for the love and patience of a good woman (who, for the record, never once looked at me and uttered the words "Just watch the show, dumbass." She's obviously a better person than I am.) I may never have watched it at all. The fact remains that it makes no sense to shit all over a show that millions of people watched and loved. And no, if they're going to gender-swap Londo and G'Kar, they don't have a respect for the original show.

Look, I get the desire to make a profit. Television studios are capitalistic endeavors. I'm good with that. I'm just saying that

A.) There is no need to reboot old stuff just to make a profit.
I am watching an episode of The Walking Dead while writing this piece. When it debuted, the Walking Dead was a brand new show, not a remake. It just finished recording its ninth season. It has an absolutely huge following. It is very obviously profitable, because if it wasn't it would be gone by now. Oh, and the network that created it? American Movie Classics. Reshowing old stuff wasn't good enough I guess. The same with Netflix and Amazon Prime. Odd, that.

B. There is no lack of ideas out there.
The Orville worked. It's not a reboot. It's not a remake. It's just good TV. Remember what that's like?

C.) Gender-swaps have been known to fail.
We all know the records of the Ghostbusters reboot and Oceans 8. Stop flushing your money down the toilet. Those won't aberrations. It's not going to get better next time. If you want to make money with a movie about one or more women, make it with either original content or with content that was originally conceived with female characters. You know, like Wonder Woman? That made more money than any previous super hero origins movie. (It has, admittedly, since been surpassed by Black Panther, but it made over eight hundred million dollars at the box office.) And honestly, if women and/or minorities want to more representation then they need to show some integrity and write their own stories instead of stealing them from someone else.

and

D.) Sometimes it takes some intestinal fortitude to get thing done.

At some point in the not so distant past, somebody pitched a movie about a tornado filled with sharks. It could not have been an easy sell. It has made millions and produced two profitable sequels.  Take some responsibility and make something that hasn't been done before.

I know it's not easy. J.K. Rowling and George Lucas created probably the two most successful science fiction universes in the history of the genre. Hell, they created two of the most successful stories in the history of humanity. Both faced rejection. Rowling was rejected thirty-two times before Harry Potter was accepted for publication and created an entire new market of readers. There was no Young Adult market before someone at Scholastic showed some guts and let J.K. Rowling create one.
So yes, it does make sense to make new content. It makes good money if it's GOOD new content. And no, I'm not suggesting that Hollywood should start making every idea that comes their way. I'm just saying that there is plenty of new ground to explore. Hollywood needs to start looking toward the future instead of the past.

Everything they're rebooting came from something that was once a new product. No matter how far back they pull from that's true. Gilgamesh is the oldest surviving written story. Go back far enough, and somebody told it for the first time. It's time to tell some new stories for the first time. Not new versions of old stories. New stories. Get it together guys. Stop digging up corpses and looting them. Put something new on my TV screen.

(Five of my favorite SF franchises were referenced in the first two sentences of this blog. Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Doctor Who, and uhh... what? Two nerd points, exchangeable for major bragging rights, go to whoever can name the last franchise in the comments.)

Some products related to things that were named above are listed at the links below: