I just finished reading Redshirts, by John Scalzi, and it’s just about the best, most entertaining, brilliant story I’ve read in a good long time. It’s so good that I have to place it with other best-of-kind laugh out loud science fiction delights such as Galaxy Quest and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
It has a lot in common with Galaxy Quest in being a multi-level utterly ingenious send up and hysterical deconstruction of Star Trek (The Original Series). Scalzi has captured and lampshaded so many of the things fans have discussed over the years. And, as with Galaxy Quest, it’s a pretty good story all on its own.
But it is an absolute must-read for any fan of the original Star Trek.
The other night, I watched the first episode of the CBS reboot of Murphy Brown, and my first thought is that I hope it gets better. A lot better. The only part I liked was the cameo by Hillary Clinton playing “Hillary Clindon,” a potential secretary for Candice Bergen’s Murphy Brown. (If I remember the original show correctly, Brown had a long and troubled history with secretaries, which puts a bit of icing on the scene.)
Seeing the main characters again, for me, was awkward and close to cringe-worthy. They seem very much a product of their era (1988-1998) and didn’t translate well across the two decades that have brought so much social and technical change.
Part of the problem might be that I find CBS half-hour sitcoms tediously dull, cliché-filled, totally unfunny, marshmallow realities.
Come over here. Go over there. Let’s go over the bridge, over the wall, and over the plan (while we still have a roof over our heads). But let’s not get over-confident and allow our enthusiasm to spill over. (For that might over-turn the apple cart and we won’t get a do-over!)
Something can be over — that is to say finished, done. And one can be over something (finished with it, done with it). I’ve been struck, lately, by a number of things that are over as well as by the realization that I’m over some things.
The former make me a little bit sad, and a couple of the latter, especially one, took me a bit by surprise!
I don’t know that synchronicity plays any greater role in my life than it does for anyone else. I seem to notice it fairly often, and I love when it happens. It’s generally an illusion; coincidences occur all the time. Sometimes they stand out in a way seems like evidence of greater import or design.
But that is usually a matter of selection bias. Coincidence that impresses us is memorable. Cops, as well as doctors and nurses who work ER shifts, often think the full moon brings out the crazies, but the data doesn’t really support that.
Regardless, synchronicity is fun when it happens.
The punchline is that I was suddenly struck by how modern fiction seems to have conditioned me to expect an apparent White Hat to secretly be a Black Hat. The question I find myself asking now is whether fiction has actually changed (and if so why) or is it just me? The more I think about it, the more I’m inclined to think modern fiction has changed.
If so, does that reflect a modern sensibility about people today? Does the rise of the modern anti-hero bring with it the idea of the betrayer? Do we expect so little of people anymore that our heroes need to be dirty and double-agents seem matter of course?
This all started with Diane Duane…
It’s hard to remember exactly, but I think I first noticed it back in the days of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It’s even possible it really started in the earlier series, Star Trek: The Next Generation. By the time of the final series, Star Trek: Enterprise, it was definitely a thing, and by then it went way too far.
In the original Star Trek series, Gene Roddenberry gave us Vulcans. They were, in many ways, better than humans. They lived longer, they were stronger and smarter, and — crucially — they were, in some ways, wiser than us. Rick Berman, Roddenberry’s heir apparent, re-wrote that vision to make them conniving, lying, self-interested bastards. In other words, he made them more human.
My question here is: Why did our heroes turn into such assholes?
“These are the voyages of the…” Wait! Wrong great SF TV show!!
Do you know about the impossible girl? How about the girl who waited (for 12 years and then again for 36), or her other half, the boy who waited (for 2000)? There are others: the woman who forgot the greatest adventure ever; the woman who became a doctor and a warrior; the woman who was forever lost to another dimension. And there is the stolen daughter raised as would-be assassin, but who instead became a wife traveling backwards in time.
Do you know about deadly monsters encased in metal armor? How about fearsome monsters that are as stone statues when you look at them, but who remove you from time when you don’t?
Most of all, do you know about the madman with a box?
In my family, we were rather casual about birthdays and other event days. It wasn’t unusual to celebrate a birthday, not on the exact day, but on a nearby day. We were fairly poor, so birthdays mostly consisted of a cake and a token present of some sort. (Put it this way: I can’t recall a single birthday present I ever got. We just weren’t that into birthdays.)
But I don’t recall ever not celebrating Christmas or Easter on the day. That may be as much due to my father being a pastor and having to do his thing at church on those days. The religious upbringing — and the strong streak of anti-materialism that went with it — likely accounts for downplaying birthdays and other gift-giving occasions.
Which is all to say that I missed posting on John Venn‘s birthday!