May 8, 2018

Favorite Science Fiction TV: Blake's 7

Blake’s 7 was created by Terry Nation, who’s probably best remembered as the man who created The Daleks for Doctor Who. The show concerns the exploits of political dissident Roj Blake, who commands a small group of rebels against the forces of the totalitarian Terran Federation that rules the Earth and its many colonized planets. The Federation uses mass surveillance, brainwashing and drug pacification to control its citizens.

Blake is arrested, tried on false charges, and deported to a remote penal colony. En route, he and fellow prisoners gain control of a technologically advanced alien spacecraft. Blake and crew begin a campaign to damage the Federation while pursued by Space Commander Travis—a Federation soldier—and Servalan, the Supreme Commander and later Federation President.

Though marred by way too low of a budget, the top-notch writing and weighty themes clearly provided the inspiration for later shows from Farscape to Firefly, Cowboy Bebop to the reimagined Battlestar Galactica. And it wasn’t until Rogue One that mainstream science fiction ever again acknowledged that trying to overthrow a totalitarian empire was dirty and dangerous, a tight-rope walk that required making hard choices.

May 7, 2018

Cosmic Aggressions

In higher ed, we talk a lot about something called microaggressions—everyday unconscious verbal and nonverbal slights, snubs, and insults that communicate hostile and negative messages to marginalized persons.

My newest Dunwich Committee on Student Safety story came from wondering how that concept would manifest at Miskatonic University.

Read “Cosmic Aggressions” in the Walpurgisnacht issue of Lovecraftiana: The Magazine of Eldritch Horror.

April 25, 2018

Space Jesus

I’ve never liked the idea of Superman as Space Jesus or Space Moses. To me a big part of Superman has always been a story about an immigrant. (Kal-el becomes Clark Kent as if he went through Ellis Island.) 

I think you can understand a lot about those early Superman stories where he fights common criminals and the occasional mad scientist or robot when you parse it that way. Siegel and Shuster were two sons of Jewish immigrants. And the one thing that Jerry Siegel never talked about is the death of his father...when he was only 17, Mitchell Siegel was shot and killed by a robber at his second-hand clothing store.

April 24, 2018

Superman the Musical

In honor of my favorite character’s 80th birthday, I’ve thought about re-watching basically all of the Superman stuff I own and posting my thoughts....especially on some of the rare stuff like the 1975 ABC musical...

April 20, 2018

Superman Turns 80

The Man of Steel turns 80 this year. And tomorrow Action Comics releases it’s 1000th issue. Superman is unapologetically my favorite comic book character. Yes, even here and now, in this age of the cynic, the contrarian, and the naysayer, he’s my favorite. Even in what feels like an endless sea of Batman fans, he is still my favorite.


Harlan Ellison said it best when he wrote:

"If one of the unarguable criteria for literary greatness is recognition, consider this: In all of the history of literature, there are only five fictional creations known to every man, woman, and child on the planet. The urchin in Irkutsk may never have heard of Hamlet, the peon in Pernambuco may not know who Raskolnikov is; the widow in Jakarta may stare blankly at the mention of Don Quixote or Micawber or Jay Gatsby. But every man, woman, and child on the planet knows Mickey Mouse, Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, Robin Hood... and Superman. 

“He is more than the fanciful daydream of two Cleveland schoolboys. He is the 20th-century archetype of mankind at its finest. He is courage and humanity, steadfastness and decency, responsibility and ethic. He is our universal longing for perfection, for wisdom and power used in the service of the human race. 

“Of all the literary creations of American fiction, Superman, after all these years, born of a ‘dispensable, disreputable’ genre, is the only one that seems certain to get Posterity's nod. And that is because, simply put, he is our highest aspirations in human form."
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