Star Wars Fans: Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’

I hate to say I told you so, but … there it is. Star Wars fans – a very small and vocal minority of them – are continuing to push us down a path of self-destruction.

According to this article, ‘The dark side of “Star Wars” fandom recently reared its head when Kelly Marie Tran, the actress who plays Rose Tico in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” was run off Instagram by misogynistic and racist messages from fans who didn’t like her character.’

That’s not the only example. Over the weekend, I found myself in the middle of some Reddit-shaming in /r/scifi. A poor kid, improving his writing skills, had the temerity to ask /r/scifi with help on some science fiction. It doesn’t get any more clear than that: we need help.

Other people have already attempted to put these toxic actors in their place, but the damage is done. Unless a strong community message comes forth, firmly advocating for the inclusion and tolerance we all claim to represent, I fear that the entire science fiction community is at risk.

As you can see in the Steven Colbert clip below, the world is already preparing itself to take out the trash. Angry, racist, and misogynistic speech was not supposed to be a part of science fiction, or geek, but it’s happening. If it doesn’t get better, we might all find ourselves banished to the Phantom Zone.

Colbert makes the joke playful, but it’s a joke with teeth. There isn’t an A-List celebrity out there that’s more into Lord of the Rings than Colbert. He knows geek, he is geek, and unless you like finding yourself called out every night on national TV, it’s time to take a step back. So, please.

Please.

If you happen to be a toxic actor, or if you know one, please take this opportunity. Please take this moment. Please stand up for science fiction. We aren’t supposed to be like this. We aren’t supposed to be known for this. Science fiction rallied together to save Star Trek, in the late 60s. Science fiction rallied to name the first Space Shuttle Enterprise. We have been, and can be, a powerful force for good.

I said it before – let me say it again: “Sooner or later, history will allow us to look back on our time now with some candor and insight. Who do we want to be when we get there? How do we want to remember ourselves? How do we want the elder generation who entrusted this community and genre to us to feel? How do we want the younger generation to see us?”

Please folks – take a step back. We’re better than this. It’s time to show it.

Death Clock – New Microfiction

Death Clock - New Microfiction

Happy Sunday – here is some new microfiction to get you started on your week. I hope you enjoy it, I ended up typing the whole thing out on my mobile phone while I waited for a new writing computer to arrive.

The writing prompt was fairly complex, but the concept is simple. It’s based on that old Internet meme: ‘If you ask him, he can tell you how long you have left to live, but only because he shoots everyone who asks him with a revolver as a joke.’ I hope you enjoy …

Death Clock

Author Nightmares – Write Anyway

Another episode of ‘if you’re an author, this is terrifying’ happened this week. Chuck Palahniuk reports that he’s ‘close to broke’ after his literary agency’s accountant was arrested and charged with embezzlement. This kind of story is a nightmare to me, so I’m trying to explain why I have to write anyway.

I can’t expand on details beyond what’s available in the paper. It just feels compelling to say that a story like this represents my worst nightmare as I move forward with Mesh and other projects.

Look, it’s one thing if you’re crazy about money like Johnny Depp. But for a guy who just wants to tell stories and not go broke in the process, this is frightening. How am I supposed to justify this difficult path toward self-actualization, knowing how many risks are involved?

Continue reading

Docking Sequence – Scifi Wallpaper for May

Docking Sequence - Scifi Wallpaper for May

I’m very pleased with ‘Docking Sequence.’ This started out as a simple experiment with photomosaics and comic art and ended up being one of my new favorite wallpapers. With May drawing to a close, it makes me happy to end the month with a new chunk of scifi to share with you.

Creating new scifi all the time – even if it isn’t as cool as other artists’ work – is important to me. Along with finding my voice, I need to learn how to use it. Struggling, trying, learning – that’s all part of the trip. Putting your stuff out there into the world is a valuable skillset for any creator to learn.

Hope your summer is as good as you deserve it to be.

 

Lake Geneva Shores – New Scifi Microfiction

I won’t focus on Elon Musk this week. Wrote something nice for him the other day, now he’s pissing off the Internet. That’s life for you. Instead, let’s talk about ‘Lake Geneva Shores’ – this new piece of scifi microfiction I wrote this week.

People enjoyed it. I try to stick with writing prompts that are original and scifi focused. That’s what scratches my itch, and the itch of the readers I want to write for.  The prompt’s premise is simple enough: “‘Why does your ID say you’re only 17?'” “‘Time travel.'”

Sound like fun? Okay, let’s roll – hope you enjoy:

Lake Geneva Shores

What’s Wrong With Every User Community Ever

Whoa – I did not expect that. On a side thread about keto dieting, I stumbled upon an answer to a question I’ve been asking ever since the late 90s. In three paragraphs, a justifiably-angry Redditor outlines what’s wrong with every user community ever.

This Sub Has Really Gone Downhill

This doesn’t just apply to people on /r/keto, or Reddit. Forum trolls are a thing no matter where you go. User communites are designed to support an interest, and the benefits of welcoming new members should be self-evident. Not so, in the day and age of trolling. As the Redditor brings out, working for the greater good seems to be in decline, and toxic behavior leaves many communities with a bad name, as people leave discouraged, and defeated.

But you already know this.

This isn’t another point-at-the-problem post. God knows you’ve seen a ton of those. The real question we should be answering is, how do you avoid this behavior? How do you pull back from this reality? Good user communities are good tribes, and good tribes come from good tribal leadership. Let me share this Ted talk on Tribal Leadership with you, and I hope you find it useful in your community-building activities.

 

 

 

 

Evil Genius – New Scifi Microfiction

Now it’s time for some new scifi microfiction – I wrote ‘Evil Genius’ in response to the writing prompt: ‘You are an Evil Overlord about to conquer the known world, but there is a catch: You are competent.’

Writing a good bad guy is harder than it looks. You find yourself mentally filtering out every movie villain ever, because they usually fail at the end, and you want to make sure you don’t set them up for failure.

In the end, I thought of a guy with the charisma of Barack Obama and the evil intent of Admiral Thrawn. After that, the story just flew out of my fingertips. I hope you enjoy …

Evil Genius

If You’re an Author, This is Terrifying

Sometimes I weep for the species. Jimmy Kimmel did a bit, where they asked random people if they could *name* one book (“The Bible, 50 Shades, whatever …”). You’d think that a question like this would be a lay-up, right? Not in 2018, muchacho. The conversations did not go well, and if you’re an author, this is terrifying.

 

Of course, maybe I shouldn’t worry – they were asking these questions in LA, after all.  It’s no secret that literacy is in crisis in America. As difficult as the problem seems to be, the answer is actually simple: Read. Pick up a book. Read Reddit. Read the paper. Read one viewpoint on an issue, and then go find another side and read that too.

Reading makes you happy. Reading is a relaxing habit. You can read anywhere: the train, the john, in line at the supermarket. You can make it into a gamified social experience. However you do it, just go read. It’ll make your life better.

Mesh Update #8 – Inspirational Schools

Ran across this story about the Midland School in California, and fell in love. For over a thousand years, education has been the root of every civilization. But how do you teach young people to be good people? How do you teach them the skills necessary to be successful beyond business, in life itself?

Midlands seems to have found the answer. What makes a school like this stand out is the level of life skills they’re giving to each student. “The students more or less run Midland, which has no janitorial or maintenance staff. They plant and pick about half of the food they eat on a 10-acre farm. They clean the windows, maintain the landscape, and sweep the old chapel.’

“‘We know we’re different and we know we’re a little crazy,’ said Christopher Barnes, the head of school. ‘The question for each student and for each family is if we’re your kind of crazy.'”

How does this tie back to Mesh? Our protags, Roman and Zeke, are going to visit a school like Midland when the Mesh is discovered. A school full of tough nerdy kids, ready to do battle against the bad guys? I can see them having a lot of fun. My hope is that you will, too.