Month: August 2012

The Best of Stanley Weinbaum

The Best of Stanley Weinbaum

 

One of the great tragedies in the history of science fiction was the premature death of the writer Stanley Weinbaum. His death in 1935 at the age of just thirty-three cut short his writing career which had barely lasted for a year and a half. Even sadder still is that he is nearly forgotten today when in a just world he would continue to be remembered as one of its great authors. Although his first story, “A Martian Odyssey”, remains an oft-anthologized classic, the rest of his oeuvre remains largely inaccessible to contemporary readers. This is almost criminal, for while “Odyssey” is justifiably regarded as one the field’s greatest stories, Weinbaum’s other stories are no less outstanding.  With them, he demonstrated a remarkably ability to intelligently handle sophisticated ideas far beyond the state of the genre at the time, and Weinbaum was continuing to grow as a writer and potentially push the boundaries of science fiction further before cancer cut short a promising career. Continue reading “The Best of Stanley Weinbaum”

Freedom, Imagination and Story – Essentials of Good Entertainment.

I am at a loss sometimes.  Here I am writing for a Science-Fiction and Fantasy site and I suddenly realized the last such movie I actually saw in a theater was Inception.  Maybe I am just getting old, but there has nothing that has inspired me to get up and go to a theater and spend the money to watch it.  I suddenly realized that I watched this movie with my daughter in Mackinac City on a vacation two years ago, I think.  I watched it not because I was particularly excited about it, but it was filler time before we were going to do something else. I liked it.  It had some originality and entertainment value.  I really felt they used CGI to tell the story and not be the story at least to a point.  I wasn’t sitting there saying ‘cool’; I was trying to follow the storyline which was actually a challenging thing to do.  It was a smart movie that made me think.  It also happen to have a high “Wow!” factor.

This whole situation and trip down memory lane got me to thinking, what then makes for good entertainment and what qualities does that entertainment have?  What causes me to like something when I watch it?  What excites me enough to drop money on something and go watch it?

Freedom – No writer of any kind should be constrained by — “you can’t do that!”.  There are many forces in Hollywood and the other entertainment meccas like New York that spend a lot of time saying “you can’t do that!”  Write a story that doesn’t have a woman or love story in it — you can’t do that!  Have a woman who is portrayed as weak and needing a strong dominant male to help her out — you can’t do that!  Have a strong male character that isn’t also sensitive — you can’t do that!  Add in the restrictions of political correctness and the rest of the touchy-feely atmosphere that exists and it is no wonder Hollywood has to turn to old writers and stories.  The most free writer I have ever read was Heinlein.  His books offend people and he didn’t care.  He was about people having a reaction, hopefully one involving thought, but a reaction nonetheless.  He would rather be free and write something that offended others than write something where people just shrugged their shoulders.  Maybe, that is why I find John Norman’s Gorean Saga so appealing to me right now, because it so cuts against the female dominated and wimpified culture we possess.  To be free a writer must make you want to think, not be worried about what you are going to think.

Imagination – I swear all the imagination in entertainment has left the writers and entered the programmers.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the possibilities of CGI to help tell a story.  Stuff in science fiction and fantasy that couldn’t be put to film before is now well within reach.  I also realize that there is truly ‘nothing new under the sun’ but for the love of God could you please at least try to find something better than Abraham Lincoln — Vampire Hunter.  A couple of people tried to get me to go see The Hunger Games and I balked as soon as they gave me a synopsis.  Hmmm. Same basic theme as The Running Man only without Richard Dawson as the host of the death game.  Sorry, I will pass.  Maybe when the DVD comes out. Imagination of course requires freedom to be genuinely imaginative.  You can’t limit yourself to what has done before.  You may have to build on previous stuff, but that doesn’t mean you are actually being imaginative just because you link Abraham Lincoln to Vampires.

Story – There are two sub elements here: plot and theme.  I like a plot that makes sense.  It can be complicated or simple; that is not the issue.  The issue is that it actually has a plot and that plot is sensible.  I hate any writer who thinks up his plot last.  I also hate something that falls too completely into the plot pattern where plot twists are predictable.  I don’t mind some predictability, but I like to say somewhere in the story – “I didn’t see that coming.”  Theme is the message of the story and I think this is where Hollywood is failing the most.  How many different themes are actually used? This goes back to freedom.  If you are not allowed freedom in being a writer, you then limit the themes available to you to create your story with and that is going to kill you.  If you never allow a story to have a positive theme about capitalism, guns, patriotism, etc. you are limiting yourself.  If you never go negative on socialism, gun control, lack of patriotism, etc. you are also limiting yourself. You force yourself into the same mind numbing path and trying to go somewhere different.  You become the living definition of insanity.

Of course, I could just be getting old. I simply could be in the pattern of ‘I have seen this before’.  I too, may just be getting nostalgic for the good old days.  Except, I was like this even in the good old days — there were some things I thought were entertainment trash back then too.  Maybe I too am trapped by what I think is good entertainment and I have gotten to the point I wish someone would show me something truly original and maybe it just is not to be found.

To my readers, I beg then your pardon.  You will probably not see much in the way of me looking at new things to review.  I like classic science fiction and fantasy because it is where I feel most at home.  I like writers from the era before the world-wide web made access to writing commonplace.  I think people wrote better back then because they were just thinking about telling a great story and not about whether there would be movie rights, merchandising or a great CGI scene. Forgive me, I happen to like good entertainment that makes me think.

Asperger’s Man- The Search for Multi-Regional Human Speciation Part 2

Asperger’s Man- The Search for Multi-Regional Human Speciation Part 2

Could a Majority Aspergers Society Survive?

Aspergers is categorized as a dysfunction, but why would a society comprised of all aspies (affectionate term for Aspergers) be dysfunctional? There is nothing inherently dysfunctional about an individual with Aspergers. A society comprised of all aspies would be different socially and culturally than one comprised mostly of NTs (neurotypical or normal person) but not impossible or even improbable. Strength is not a problem in Aspergers they are no more or less strong than the general population. They are no more prone to psychological problems that aren’t caused by stress. Some researchers believe that many of the disabling aspects of Aspergers are brought on by stress.  This stress is caused by living in and around NTs. People with Aspergers experience many more stress related illnesses because they are constantly told to be and act normal.

The only thing that may limit an Asperger society is their sex drive which seems to be less intense than NTs.  This could be the reason NTs outnumber those with Aspergers from 100-500 percent depending on hich study you read. A low sex drive does not equate to “No” sex drive. If we look at the sex drive issue  in an evolutionary sense Asperger man’s decreased sex drive would result in fewer children and a lower population density than other hominid groups. This fits in with the overall speculative model for this possible human ancestor. Unlike his Homo sapien cousin Asperger’s man does not hunt in large cooperative groups. Instead he is a solitary hunter. This means that the Asperger groups would be protein poor compared to other human groups leading to lower population sizes. I think a suggestion for further study should revolve around family size in Asperger diagnosed families. Are the families smaller than average and a secondary study might look at infant mortality rates.

 What Would a Society Comprised of a Majority of People with Aspergers Look Like?

Hunters and gatherers tend to group in family units and extended family units. I see an aspie society as small 4-10 people where NT groups would have been 6-30 people possibly larger ( if I am remembering freshman anthropology). So political units in these hunting and gathering groups are merely extended families. We really don’t see much tribalism until the development of higher level social structures such as horticulturalists and agriculturalists. Aspies are social but they are social in a different way and tend to make small very tight groups of friends rather than the large social groupings that many NTs maintain. So an aspie culture is very possible on the hunting and gathering level of subsistence. In fact Aspie social groupings could be quite different from the extended family structure we see in NT hunter and gatherer societies. It is possible that instead of family groups aspies instead grouped into interest societies. Here I would also like to see a study of the relative strength of Asperger relationships between family members and those people the Asperger individual has deemed as friends. I would also like to see a study of the general age that an Aspeger individual leaves home. If these suggest that individuals with Aspergers form stronger bonds with non-family members and that these individuals become estranged from family more often it could lend credence to the idea that an Asperger society would be one revolving around common interests rather than common DNA. This could point to an evolutionary strength in Asperger populations. Where NT societies may be more (for lack of a better word) inbred, an Asperger population may seek outsiders to form cooperative groups. Interbreeding would not be as great a problem for the more outgoing NT society. They might breed with a greater number of individual in and outside their hunting and gathering group. These societies would remain genetically diverse in such a situation. An aspie society would not function in the same manner and the formation of interest societies over family centered societies would be a solution to inbreeding.

Genetic Evidence for the Evolution of Asperger’s Man

If Aspergers doesn’t have a simple single genetic component and these differences are more spread out over the genome say in two or more places it would explain why some people have more or less of these characteristics along the autism spectrum. It would bolster the idea that Aspergers represented a distinct genome inclusion separate from traditional Homo sapiens. These genetic markers would have been added to the human genome through interbreeding with ancient populations of people who expressed the Asperger genes. The simple explanation is that NT and Asperger populations interbred at some point in the past.

If Asperger’s man was a separate evolutionary sequence then these are  two things I expect to find relating to Aspergers.

1. Higher incidents of Aspergers in populations coming out of Central Asia, along European mountain ranges, within historically marginalized cultures such as among Jews, Romani gypsys, and the Basque. Also in areas that were traditionally considered harsh environments like parts of Scotland beyond Hadrian’s wall. I also would see spikes in parts of Asia that correspond to these same criteria.
2. We would likely see less Aspergers in Africa or in populations that have not traditionally intermixed with European and Asian populations.

 

Imagine Humans are Like Dogs. (not a perfect analogy)

Neanderthals are pitbulls they use their increased musculature to hunt large game and subsist almost entirely on meat.

Early modern humans are a social dog such as a spaniel they also hunt in large packs and subsist on both meat and vegetable matter. They are more emotive and outgoing.

Asperger’s man (Homo Aspergerensis) is like a herding dog. He lives and hunts in a much more dense or confusing environment. He has developed traits that help in this but are less useful as a cooperative hunter. He does his job alone or in small groups.

These three branches interbreed to create a mongrel race which is the ancestor of Both Asians and Western Europeans.

Like dogs the mongrel exhibits a variety of traits from each group. Some of these traits are dominate and some recessive so we don’t often see all traits in the same person at once. This creates a spectrum of traits that may be hard to define. Just like a mutt dog you can look at it and see traits but can’t always place which breed the dog is descended from.

What is the Future for Asperger’s Man?

Neanderthals evolved to hunt large game, early modern humans evolved in African savannahs and along coastlines in more open country both developed genetic traits that are specific to those environments. Humans living in open range and along coastlines would have required more in the way of social interactions and social hunting and gathering practices. Animals are much harder to stalk and hunt in open environments and there are larger animals living in these environments. To take these animals requires strong social interaction. In fact hunting in open areas and on coastal plains would have required a massive amount of team effort.

I believe Asperger’s man evolved in more restricted terrain  which favored very small groups and individual hunters. The aspie as a product of mountains and deep forests would have been a more solitary hunter who used methods of stalking prey that required much more concentration and detail orientation. Things aspies are good at. Reading tracks and being able to see distinct patterns left by an animal fleeing through a forested terrain, or even differentiating animals from the cover they are hiding in would have been their strength.

Some people believe that Neanderthal alone was the origin for Autism and Asperger traits in modern populations. I happen to think that there were two distinct hominids contributing DNA to ancient man, Neanderthal and the unknown group I call Asperger’s man. In either case these articles look at how groups of people who exhibit Aspergers would have lived and worked differently from early modern humans.

NTs will always outnumber people with Asperger Syndrome. However the future is a place where Asperger traits are not only welcome but may be cultivated for positive gain. Humans that can concentrate on problems for long periods of time and can differentiate patterns from vast amounts of information are the perfect vanguard of our information heavy age. We may even see the rise of Asperger’s man once again as he successfully out competes the NT along the intricate webs of knowledge that hold our society together.

Asperger’s Man- The Search for Multi-Regional Human Speciation Part 1

Asperger’s Man- The Search for Multi-Regional Human Speciation Part 1

 

Introduction

My first love will always be archaeology and the study of what makes us human.This article is speculation. This is my personal musing on the development of certain psychological and physiological human traits. This is not to be taken as anything but my personal opinion. I have no evidence that there was an Asperger’s man. This article was also written several years ago and since then more evidence for the possibility of interbreeding with other hominids has come to light in Russia and in Africa that may support my original idea.

Multiregional Theory

The current  model of Homo sapiens evolution is that all modern humans evolved in Africa and spread out from there displacing, destroying, or even out competing all those other hominids they encountered. Multiregional theory has been set aside because it postulated that Homo sapiens evolved in more than one place and there were regional variations. We now know that in at least one case that of the Neanderthal that there was an evolutionary event that created what has been considered a separate species of Human but one capable of interbreeding successfully with Homo sapiens sapien.

So we now know that 3-4% of our genome at least in Asian and European populations contains Neanderthal DNA. This means that Homo sapiens were able to breed with Neanderthals and produce viable offspring. Which means that Neanderthals are most likely regionally evolved Homo sapiens adapted to their unique environment. This would seem to bode well for a reexamination of multiregional theory.

 

Multiregional Speciation?

What if there are other regional human variants that have bone structure so similar to Homo sapiens that they are classified as such, but they have evolved to exist in a different environment?

Imagine that a group of Homo Sapiens evolved separately from other Homo sapiens groups possibly somewhere in the mountains of Central Asia. Neanderthal developed to hunt game in open areas in large family groups growing large bone structures and musculature, while this unknown species evolved in a more rugged forest or mountainous environment. Instead of evolving cooperative hunting and social structures like early modern humans, this unknown species developed a different more isolated way of dealing with the environment and unique ways of thinking. This unknown group is less social because they don’t hunt large herd animals cooperatively like both early modern humans and Neanderthal. Instead they hunt in rugged mountains or deep forests adopting a more singular hunting experience with one or maybe two hunters leaving for days or weeks at a time.
This group of hominids develop heightened senses. They are more sensitive to light because they hunt diurnally at dusk and dawn. Their others senses become heightened as well to make them more aware of danger. This is a dangerous time and while other hominids hunt in large groups our hypothetical people work alone. Their sense of smell and taste are stronger so they become somewhat picky eaters. Their sense of touch becomes more acute and along with that they would seem to have less tolerance to pain. While they are more sensitive to touch they are often more tolerant to temperature variations because they have evolved to live in smaller groups or alone and don’t have group body heat to fall back on. These heightened senses have a trade off. These people are less agile than their homo sapiens cousins because the brain and ear are working overtime on the other senses so these people may seems clumsier.
They are likely to sleep less soundly because they don’t have a large group to protect them. This group would experience more sleeping disorders as a result. Because they are less social they don’t develop as much social interplay or social understanding. They don’t require the ability to read the facial language used by other hominids when hunting in groups. They hunt in dense forests or mountains so this silent facial language would have no meaning to them. They have emotions but have no real evolutionary need to express these emotions because most of their time is spend outside of the main group or in very small groupings.
These people are also more intelligent on average than either Neanderthal or the other Homo sapiens branch. The are individual hunters so they can’t rely on the group dynamic to solve problems. This intelligence allows them to subsist in areas not suited to hunting large animals in groups. They become intensely focused on the task at hand and block out almost anything else. This would prove very useful when stalking prey animals and we see this behavior in many large cats. Their heightened senses have another advantage, they are much better at seeing patterns in their environment. They can discern the smallest detail that may be out of place this would make them excellent trackers, again an adaptation to hunting smaller game animals in a rugged environment.

Could this unknown race of man exist? Is there any evidence for him? Is he hidden somewhere in our genome? Yes, I would suggest that people with Aspergers fit this description. While there are some disabling factors in Aspergers most of those are stress related (fits of anger, depression, facial and body ticks). These stress related problems are almost entirely due to not fitting in properly in a non-Aspergers world. In an all Aspergers world those would probably not even exist.

What is Aspergers

The current belief is that Aspergers is a subset of Autism- The reasoning is that people with HFA (high functioning Autism) mimic Aspergers in many ways. I disagree and I believe that further study of the genetic component of both Autism and Aspergers will bear that the two are separate “disorders”.

Aspergers has a list of traits associated with it including

1. inability to “read” the emotions of other people through facial expression (this can be learned)This has often been mistaken for inability to show empathy.
2. Higher sensory sensitivity (light, taste, touch, hearing etc)
3. Lower sensitivity to temperature extremes
4. clumsiness
5. Intelligence level is always from normal to advanced (basically lower intelligent individuals do not fit into the criteria
6. ability to focus intensely on subjects (these are generally considered to be subjects of interest to the individual)

I’ll quote from wiki on the sensory aspect.

“Individuals with AS often have excellent auditory and visual perception.[33] Children with ASD often demonstrate enhanced perception of small changes in patterns such as arrangements of objects or well-known images; typically this is domain-specific and involves processing of fine-grained features”

If these are evolutionary traits then they fit well a hunter who spends much of his time focusing on prey in a very diverse environment. These hunters would by necessity and prey scarcity hunt and live in smaller groups and focus more on elusive smaller prey animals.

Yes this is all conjecture at this point, but all knowledge starts from someone asking a question. I am asking could there be an evolutionary component to Aspergers?

 

If It has Arnold in It, Don’t Remake It.

Actually, I would appreciate if people didn’t remake anything. Some originality would be nice.  While, I would appreciate no remakes, this goes double for ones with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It as actually quite interesting how many of Arnold’s films were science fiction or fantasy based.  It is also interesting how every remake of one of them is a complete flop.  The latest edition of Total Recall going to the remake scrap-heap is prime example.  Great CGI, No originality and No Arnold equals epic fail.  It seems the original which was recently called ‘cheesy’ by some critic did far better at the box office than the new one which is cooler looking.

The problem I have is the concepts of many of Arnold’s science fiction films are pretty solid.  Total Recall combines a lot of factors; psychological manipulation, space travel, ancient alien races and Mars are just a few themes in the story. These themes are no longer original, however and so the story better be killer with a new twist.  No such luck from Hollywood on this one.

I also think there is another problem – liberalism has grown and softened the themes of these movies.  Conan the Barbarian with Arnold is a single-minded Spartan themed ride.  “That which does not kill me makes me stronger”.  It was brutal and nasty.  When I saw the remake cover in the store, I didn’t bother.  The guy looks like a wimp compared to Arnold. He had that modern muscled look that tells of mass over aesthetics.  The look that speaks of modern gyms and supplements and not simply Pumping Iron and doing the work.  I simply could not see him as a brutal and nasty guy.

Of course, it could be the simple fact that Arnold’s personality and light-hearted humor are something we shouldn’t try to copy because they are too unique and every time Hollywood tries they fail because of it.

My beef is that all the liberalized themes are being done and redone ad nauseum. The fertile soil of all this seems to be to take something and redo it in the arrogance that we can make it better, kinder, gentler and cooler.  Perhaps it is simply time to revisit some themes we haven’t done in a while — conservative libertarian ones.  Perhaps we should simply take a book by Robert Heinlein and turn it into a movie without edits and let it stand on its own.  After all we might simply want to respect the genius of a writer who was trying to ask a serious question in his book “Why do men fight?”  instead of trying to change it so that it reflects our own disdain for the military and fascism (aka Starship Troopers).  Could someone simply turn a good book into a movie please without worrying how we’re going to wow them with CGI?  Could the CGI simply be used to tell the story and not be the story?  Maybe I am asking too much.  Probably, since I think liberalism limits the imagination there are certain thing you are not allowed to say or do in it.  Political correctness and being sensitive to everyone’s feelings being the order of your typical liberal’s day.

No remakes please.  And if Arnold already did it, leave it alone.  The man is in a class all by himself.

American Horror Story Season 2 Premieres October 17, 2012 on FX

American Horror Story Season 2 Premieres October 17, 2012 on FX

The second season of the acclaimed series, American Horror Story is scheduled to premier October 17, 2012 on the FX Network.

It takes place in an asylum in the 1960s on the East Coast and is appropriately titled, American Horror Story: Asylum.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Jessica Lange, Zachary Quinto, Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, and Lily Rabe will be returning from last season, but they’ll be in different roles.

Adam Levine, Jenna Dewan, Lizzie Brocheré, James Cromwell, Chloë Sevigny, Chris Zylka, Mark Consuelo, Clea DuVall, and Franka Potente will be joining the cast. Joseph Fiennes is also reported to be in negotiations for a role.

Video: American Horror Story: Asylum Teaser #9 Taste (HD)

More teasers


References:

Official site at FX

Wikipedia page

IMDb page

Metacritic reviews: Season 1

TV.com page

American Horror Story Wiki

Entertainment Weekly article: ‘American Horror Story’: See 4 terrifying images from season 2 ‘Asylum’ — EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS

International Business Times article: ‘American Horror Story’ Season 2 Spoilers: ‘Asylum’s’ Premiere Date, New Photos And Haunting 8th Teaser, ‘White Rave,’ Released [VIDEO]

Screen Rant article: ‘American Horror Story’ Season 2: Eerie New Promo Photos

Official Facebook page

Official Twitter page

What Would Robert Heinlein Say to Ron Paul and his Supporters?

What Would Robert Heinlein Say to Ron Paul and his Supporters?

You may not agree with what Heinlein says here but he is speaking directly across the years to Ron Paul and his people at the Republican National Convention.


Quoted from Take Back Your Government…

“In some states the right of a person to participate in a primary may be challenged and he may then be called on to prove his right by taking an oath to support the ticket which results from such primary. Such a procedure is morally correct; if universal it might do much to put a stop to the present eat-your-cake-and-have-it-too attitude of some irresponsible politicians.”

“Party regularity and party discipline are pragmatically necessary and morally correct in any political party if that party is to carry out its responsibilities. This is especially true with respect to unsuccessful candidates in a party primary; no man should offer himself as a candidate in a party primary unless he is prepared to abide by the majority will of the political group he seeks as a sponsor. Running in a primary is a voluntary action, very similar to joining a caucus; it carries with it responsibilities as well as privileges. A candidate need not enter a primary at all; he is always free to run as an independent instead.”

 

Robert A. Heinlein

 

I don’t often speak directly to political issues on The Freehold but Ron Paul is ripping the party apart. – Jonathan Baird

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Writer Mike Baron

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Writer Mike Baron

Mike Baron is the Creator of the comic Badger and co-creator of Nexus. He has worked on Marvel’s Punisher and is a contributor to Big Head Press.
I have always been a fan of your work. I first discovered Badger back in the late 1980s. I even painted Badger on a t-shirt because it was impossible to find t-shirts of comic characters back then that weren’t one of the top four spidey, hulk, superman, or batman. I think I was drawn to Badger because of the internal struggle between his personalities. At that time in my life I was struggling with who I was and who I wanted to be. The Badger story spoke to me as a teen in a way other comic characters did not. To show what a fan boy I was I think I still have all the first run of Badger, or at least most of them and they were not easy to come by in rural North Carolina back in the 1980’s.

Anyway I digress on to the questions…

 

The Hitchhiker asks…

1. What inspired you to create Badger and in a larger sense what inspires all of your creations?

Once Capital accepted Nexus I sought to capitalize by launching another title. The boys insisted on a costumed crime fighter. I was walking down State St. in Madison wondering why a guy would put on a costume and fight crime. He’d have to be crazy. That was the first note. I looked at the shops I was passing. Badger Liquors. Badger Barber Shop. Badger posters. That was the second note. I’d read The Minds of Billy Milligan and it had always stuck with me. I guess I’d been looking to create an MPD super hero all along. I also had those eight pages of Ham the Weather Wizard that Jeff Butler drew so we decided to tack that onto the front of the story and that’s where Ham came from.
The urge to tell a story, to reach an emotional catharsis lies at the heart of all my story telling. It’s the same urge that drives songwriters, I think.
2. How did you get into the comic writing business? What is your advice for someone that is trying to break into the business today?
I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. I’d been working with the Dude for several months when we learned via Steven Grant that Capital City Distribution wanted to branch out into comic publishing. I think the best way for young talent to break into the field is to produce their own comics. You can always get them read and all they take is sweat equity. I would guess that the second most popular route is to go to as many comic conventions as you can and hang out with the editors. Buy them drinks. Get them laid.
3. Comics sales seemed to explode in the 1990’s then sales contracted through the early 2000’s do you think that the trend towards the artist who was also the writer hurt comic sales? (I am a big believer that the artists draws and the writer writes and very few people are good at both) Or was it the internet that hurt sales in that time frame? There seems to be a rebirth in comics today is this due to Hollywood’s discovery of the superhero?
There are some terrific artists out there who for some reason think they can write. There are very talented writer/artists like Mike Mignola. But there are a lot of guys who draw great
who end up with writing assignments probably because it’s easier for the publisher. Some of these guys learn on the job. I don’t see where Hollywood has helped comic sales except in the case
of The Walking Dead. Maybe web comics will expand readership. The plethora of publishers today is due to numerous factors. People are desperate to do comics and will give their work away if it means being published. A lot of licensors are handing out licenses to publishers who don’t pay their talent just to keep the property in the public eye. There are a lot of vanity publishers. The big guys, particularly the big independents like Dark Horse, IDW and Dynamite, are very canny about what they publish. That’s why we see so many licensed properties and so few creator-owned at those houses right now. They are simply going where the money is.
4. What do you think is the future of comics? Is it online or are comics at least “profitable” comics going to stay print and paper for sometime to come?
When Henry Ford introduced the Model T experts quickly announced the extinction of the horse. They forgot that people love horses and collect them. Likewise comics. You can’t ride a comic and it doesn’t nuzzle, but you do get that warm thrilling feeling when you crack open a new book by your favorite creators. Print comics will always be with us. But the future of comics lies online. That’s where the readership will grow. These kids today, these kids…they don’t buy comics. They buy video games. And that’s why we see so many video game based entertainments as well.
You describe scififreehold as a science fiction site. I have written a science fiction novel called WHACK JOB which I plan to release digitally next year. It is guaranteed to blow your mind.
5. Scott Bieser of Big Head Press described you to me as the conservative of the crew there. Tell us a little about your political beliefs?
I think it’s fair to say I’m conservative. Of course Scott’s libertarian. Those guys are crazier than gerbils on acid.

 

Thank you for the interview. We appreciate your work and look forward to reading your new work WHACK JOB.

Environmentalism – Old Religion Redefined

Maybe I should subtitle this: Is Captain Planet the Messiah?  I thought I would use my theological expertise on this one and provide a glimpse into what we mean when we say Hollywood entertainment is biased in the favor of liberalism even in the area of science fiction, fantasy and yes even comic book characters.

I want people to understand that one should never underestimate the power of cartoons and comics.   If you look at any movement they try to teach young people early and they often use symbols and cartoons. Imagery is central to every religion and environmentalism is no exception.  Yes, environmentalism is a religion and it is actually an old one.  Originally, it was called animism – the worship of the forces of nature.

Exactly what the definition of what constitutes a religion is hotly debated.  There are; however, a few things all definitions have in common.

1) Symbolism: Every religion has symbols.  Environmentalism has its symbols — the earth symbol for Gaia the mother earth goddess.  The recycling symbol is another symbol.  In Captain Planet, this symbol takes a personal form in Captain Planet himself. The ideas of fire, water, earth, air and heart are also very symbolic.

2) Powerful Motives and Motivations: Three Words: “Save the Planet” and in Captain Planet – “The Power is Yours”.  What could be more motivation that to stop the corruption of the five elements with your own personal spiritual power.

3) Concepts of the Idea Order of Existence:  No buildings, no highways, no smokestacks, etc. Just nature – calm, serene and unspoiled.  “Everything in balance and uncorrupted by the presence of man”.  Yep, Environmentalism has that too.  It also has what it considers to be threats to this ideal existence – pollution and the big result — global destruction though – ‘global warming’.

4) Faith Established in Action: Actually, I know how this is accomplished – repetition.  If you repeat something long enough, slowly people begin to believe it to the point that people will act accordingly.  An environmentalist, ultimately shows his ‘faith’ not only by repeating the slogans and by honoring the symbols but he acts — he recycles, he votes in environmentalist candidates, etc.  Religion has religious action associated with it.  Habits of faith as it were.

I have always found the desire to keep religion out of schools by the left very hypocritical when with the same breath they advocate ‘responsible environmentalism’.  Personally, I don’t think you can keep religion out of schools and this is borne out in what type of religion is accepted in them and they has always been one or more accepted in them.  Once upon a time — it was Christianity, then it shifted to liberalism and its twin environmentalism.   Honestly, in order to really have a free society, I think you simply to declare that schools are an open forum for all ideas including religious ones.  At least this would acknowledge the simple fact that there has always been a dominate religion in the public forum and the only way to really get rid of that is to allow them all to talk.  As long as we also acknowledge environmentalism is one of those religions, I am game.

This whole idea of earth, fire, water, air and earth is interesting as it speaks strongly of magic, mystic animism and alchemy.  The idea of ‘heart’ in Captain Planet is actually a misdirection.  When you hear them describe what they mean by heart – love.  The love they are describing would be better described as — spirit.  But the idea of spirit does not veil the religious ideas of environmentalism as well as the word – heart.  In a sense I find this a revelation idea of revealing part but casing the rest in shadows so people have a mystery of faith.

Environmentalism is indeed a faith and it meets all the criteria of one.  The question as always is — is it the right one?  Probably not.  There are so many things that are said in this faith that there are no real ways to verify.  Faith is like that.  Religion takes that faith and solidifies it through symbols and action.  One thing is for sure, when someone is religious — it is nearly impossible to persuade them otherwise.  One has to persuade themselves to change religion and that requires time, consideration and crisis.  Some of the most zealous religious people I have ever met were environmentalists.  Some have even become so zealous over their faith as to engage in acts of environmental terrorism.  Only a faith and religious system invoke this kind of activity.

Environmentalism, the old religion of animism returned, has now endeavored to change the American viewpoint to its fold.  Ultimately, what we are really seeing is animism recast in different symbols.  The goals are the same, the faith is the same.  Environmentalism is animism.

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Author John Ringo

The Enquiring Hitchhiker Interviews Author John Ringo

This week we interview author John Ringo. He has had several books on the New York Times best seller list and he has over two million books in print. Ringo’s specializes in military/science fiction.

 The Hitchhiker asks…

Question 1- After reading There Will Be Dragons I had a sense that Heinlein had influenced your writing. Are you a fan of his work?

Very much so. Heinlein is the absolute sine qua non of science fiction authors. While I haven’t read all of his works, I’ve read most and he’s definitely my favorite SF author influencing both my writing and my life. Among other things, that bastard Sergeant Ho in Starship Troopers tricked me into joining the infantry.

Question 2- As an archaeologist I have worked on quite a few military bases .I have some amazing stories of insane things that happen in these places. Does your work ever reflect fictionalized real life occurrences from your time in the military and can you share one of these for our readers?

Duh. The US military is not competent. It is simply less incompetent than any other on earth and possibly any other in history. Every military organization, from the inside, appears to be chaos. That is, in a way, a good thing. War and any other ’emergency’ is chaos. The US military’s ability to float upon chaos can thus be seen as a strength, not a weakness.
For personal stories, Gods. Which? I was in the airborne. You don’t get much more chaotic than jumping out of airplanes, at night, the whole operation actually managed by a bunch of people who barely passed high school. The good ones are too long. Come to a con, bring a recorder and buy me a beer.

Question 3- What is your opinion of the importance of nanotechnology and genetic engineering? These two technologies seem to reoccur in your writing and I think many of our readers would like to hear your thoughts on them directly.

Nanotech is probably going to be a huge technology in the future. True nanotech, though, I think is further off than most proponents think. I could be wrong but even taking in Moore’s Law, I don’t see functional ‘in the environment’ nannites in less than fifty years. Too many hurdles in material science to jump.
Genetic engineering, though, ‘synthetic biology’ as it’s starting to be called, is the next ‘big wave.’ We’re at the point, as we were in the early ’80s with software, where everything is low hanging fruit and ‘basement labs’ are completely doable. That has both good and bad implications. The difference between software and bioware is that when some joker creates a software virus, lots of people are given a bad day. The potential for scriptkiddies in bioware is that they can give lots of people their LAST bad day.
The difference is sizeable and is the basis of the book I’m currently working on. I’m not a ‘Frankenstein’ believer in the ‘dangers’ of technology. But when you have the ability for some bright 13 year old to make Spanish Flu in his mother’s basement… There are some issues there that we’d better start addressing. And saying ‘you can’t do that, it’s illegal!’ is not ‘addressing’ the issue. It would both degrade research and be functionally useless. But that would tend to be any government’s reaction. Make a law and you’ve fixed the problem. Like, say, drugs.

Question 4- Many of your works involve the collapse of civilization and the heroes that rise to stem the tide of savagery that rises. If society were to collapse what precautions in your opinion could the average person take to ride out the worst?

The ‘worst’? None. Except be mentally and emotionally prepared for it. Have guns, have food, have friends and hope you have more friends (and or ammo) than the person who only has guns and friends. Doing ‘extreme’ preparations for apocalypse is silly. And unless you have a job that you can do in the middle of nowhere and don’t want to have a Hooters nearby… You really can’t ‘plan.’ All you can do is be mentally and somewhat physically prepared. Anyone who doesn’t have some stocks of food and water, no matter where they live and work, is an idiot. Probably the major attraction of an ‘apocalypse’ for most readers is that (contrary to Hollywood zombie movies) it really would tend to weed out the idiots.

Question 5- This website is devoted to conservatives, objectivists, and libertarians. It may be the only right of center science fiction news and lifestyle site on the web. I am not 100% certain of your political ideology but I think I can deduce some of it from your writing style. Do you think that there is a market for more conservative/libertarian science fiction?

First, I’m sort of libertarian with sense. I don’t think, I know, that humans cannot do without government. OTOH, it’s a good servant and a terrible master. So call me a fascist libertarian. I’m not sure that it’s the only ‘right of center’ site on the Web. In fact, if you count Instapundit, who regularly reads and often reviews my books, it’s definitely not the only one. But instapundit isn’t entirely SF based so you pays your money and you takes your choice as my mom used to say. As to the question does there need to be more? You need to read more Baen. Again, this discussion is endless. There are any number of liberals in SF and fandom who don’t even realize there are conservative/libertarian SF fans. My EXTREMELY libertarian novel Live Free or Die (Baen) was number 18 on the NYT hardcover list. And libertarian/conservative SF novels almost invariably outsell ‘liberal’ oriented novels. (Compare the my sales to China Mieville. He has the recognition, I get the money. I’ll take the money.)
Yeah, you definitely need to read more Baen.

 

Thank you for the Interview we appreciate you taking time out to speak with us.