Open Thread: Star Wars

I saw The Force Awakens last night, and I have thoughts, so here's an open thread to discuss the movie. Warning: spoilers ahead!As Lore Sjoberg once said, the best Star Wars will always be the one that reverts you to the wide-eyed 8-year-old you were when you saw it for the first time. By that standard, this movie delivers the goods. It doesn't just hit all the nostalgia buttons, it plays them like a symphony: the scavenged, used-future technology, the desert and ice planets, the colorful … [Read more...]

Beware the Man Who Knows One Thing

OK, let me admit this first and get it out of the way: I used to be a big fan of Scott Adams.In the early 2000s, I regularly read Adams' Dilbert strip and subscribed to his newsletter, "Dogbert's New Ruling Class". I signed up for the jokes, but in retrospect, what I overlooked was the condescension. In between the office anecdotes and corporate-jargon humor, Adams insisted that his fans were naturally superior, that they're the ones who see how the world really is. In Ayn Rand-esque … [Read more...]

Some Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation

This summer, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts staged a "Kimono Wednesdays" event where visitors were invited to don the traditional Japanese garb and pose with a Claude Monet painting of his wife wearing a kimono. But the museum was taken aback when protestors showed up in force, accusing the event of perpetuating dehumanizing "exotification" of Asian culture. Ironically, the Japanese cultural attaché didn't see what the big deal was:"We actually do not quite understand what their point of … [Read more...]

SF/F Saturday: Jessica Jones

I have a new favorite show to recommend: Marvel's Jessica Jones, just released in its entirety on Netflix. It's technically a superhero show, but unlike any superhero show I've ever seen before.Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is a private eye living in the New York City neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen. She doesn't look intimidating, but she has superhuman strength: she can throw a man twice her size across a room, twist a padlock off a door with her bare hands, or jump so high and so far that … [Read more...]

If John Galt Invented the Internet

A hero's work is never done. I've been recapping Atlas Shrugged, including the movies, for over two years, and the end was finally drawing into sight. But now I've found out that yet another adaptation is being planned, this time a TV series. The new producer, Albert S. Ruddy, plans on taking some liberties with the source material:The main thing, Mr. Ruddy said, is to honor Ms. Rand's insistence on making a film for the future. That means redrawing its capitalists and creators, who go on … [Read more...]

Dark Heart Now Available For Free!

Happy Halloween!Because it's the season for tricks and treats, I've got one to offer. For a brief time only, I'm making my first novel, DARK HEART, available for free (update - see below). It's a fantasy epic set in a world where mortals rose up, overthrew the old gods and took their places, only to find that divinity isn't all they dreamed it would be. If you haven't read it yet, now's the opportunity you've been waiting for!Here's the capsule summary:Three gods rule the world … [Read more...]

SF/F Saturday: The Culture

For all its virtues, Star Trek was a series that often failed to do justice to its own ideas. We're told that Starfleet is just one small part of a vast, advanced utopian civilization, but that means that the settings and characters of the various TV shows were atypical representatives of the Federation. We only ever saw brief glimpses of what ordinary life in such a society would be like.Iain M. Banks, who died tragically early in 2013, did better with his Culture sci-fi series. Like the … [Read more...]

If Ayn Rand Wrote Shakespeare

If you're not reading the comments on my Atlas Shrugged posts, you're missing half the fun. Commenter Sneezeguard's excellent "Cobra Commander Dialogues" have brought a whole host of supervillains flocking to Galt's Gulch, including Doctor Doom (in three parts so far!) and even the ghost of Stalin.But the latest post has spawned one of my favorite memes yet. When I pointed out that Ayn Rand scorned Shakespeare as an insufficiently pro-capitalist view of life, several commenters have been … [Read more...]

The Post-Work Society

Laziness is a good thing.For as long as civilization has existed, people have been trying to live as well as possible with as little work as possible. That drive has created kings and kleptocrats who get rich by robbing their subjects, but it's also led to every technology that makes work easier, from horse collars to steam engines to industrial robots.Think of how few people in the industrialized world work in jobs that have a direct connection to the necessities of life: agriculture, … [Read more...]

So Wrong For So Long: On Liberal Biblical Reinterpretation

Following up on last week's affray over cognitive dissonance in pro-LGBT Christians, I have one more point I want to make.Liberal and progressive believers have a variety of theological rationalizations for why they remain in a church that's historically been an unrelenting enemy of people like them. One of the most common is that God is continuing to deliver new revelations, updating and overwriting old beliefs, and they have faith that this will eventually result in all believers … [Read more...]