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Next Gen is Anti-Hollywood Scifi

Next Gen is Anti-Hollywood Scifi

Hollywood should be scared of Next Gen, a throwaway animated project released by Netflix that looks like a rip-off of Big Hero 6. Before you can say ‘Are you satisfied with your care?’, Next Gen blows the doors off of every kid-movie trope over the past ten years. Strap in, sit back, and hold on. Slide to a stop two hours later, gasping to catch your breath with one unmistakeable conclusion: Next Gen is Anti-Hollywood scifi.

And oh man, does that feel good.

Why do we need anti-Hollywood scifi? Why is this movie important? The answers to those questions go to the heart of the conflict playing out in science fiction at this time. Where casual readers decry the lack of variety in mainstream sci-fi, where Hollywood bemoans a lack of interest in non-Superhero scifi, Next Gen plants a flag in the ground and says: “Here you go.” It’s important, then, that we talk about a movie that would otherwise slip through the cracks. There’s a lesson here that spreads out to the rest of the genre. Continue reading

Ahead of the Curve: Scifi and the Effortless White Woman

Effortless white women. Where have I been? This has been a thing for over ten years now. I was late to the party, but the resentment against that zeitgeist bubbles forth like a Hawiian volcano, and so it came to my attention. The happy news about this stale trope in our boring dystopia is that scifi has been ahead of the curve when it comes to this self-destructive mindset.

Who or what is an ‘effortless white girl?’ The Medium article explains: “a feminine ideal that has been part of women’s media ever since second-wave feminism made it taboo to publish articles about decorating to please your husband: The Effortless White Woman.”

As bad as that is, it gets worse: “This seemingly leaves women stuck in the familiar, dreary bind always created by internalized misogyny: hating ourselves, and hating other women because they remind us of how mu ch we hate ourselves, with only a few callous opportunists getting out ahead. But the anger under the Effortless White Woman has, of late, been transforming into something potentially illuminating—not deferred self-loathing, but an actual recognition of injustice.”

All that bad mojo aside, the good news is that scifi was, is, and will always be on the right side of history when it comes to the Effortless White Woman. We’ve never had much use for anyone, regardless of their gender, who does not understand the value of struggle.

Think of our favorite female heroes: Wonder Woman, Princess Leia, River Tam, Leela, River Song. Do we admire them for their effortlessness, or do we admire them because of their strength and their resilience?

I Am Woman: Hear Me Blast a Stormtrooper

Oddly enough, Gwenth Paltrow is at the center of this Effortless White Woman discussion and yet I only know her because I love her as Pepper Potts in Iron Man. Her Pepper Potts is hardly effortless. On the contrary, she’s a strong, determined person, capable of reigning in the mad genius of Tony Stark.

If I were to think of an EWW in the Scifi or Fantasy world, it would be the Childlike Empress in Neverending Story. Sure enough, she was the Ivory Tower girl come to life, waiting to be rescued by Atreyu. Do you even remember her? I had to google her name (Tami Stronach). That’s how little the character mattered to me.

So to wrap up – perhaps the answer to this social issue is not so much extrinsic (“Everyone should stop idolizing the Effortless White Woman”) as much as it is intrinsic (“My value comes from inside, not from a product I buy, and if you can’t understand that then maybe you need a time-out.”).

Just a thought. Just me. Please don’t be angry if I’m missing an important issue. Reach out to me on Twitter or Reddit – I’d like to learn.

“Derelict” – New Scifi Wallpaper

Spent a few creating a new wallpaper for you. Hope you enjoy ‘Derelict.’

It’s based on a story I never developed, about a junkyard in space. Just like cars, spacecraft rust away under the sun. Totems of a brighter age, they carry memories of forgotten hopes. Silence is the only answer for spectral heroes of abandoned futures. Vehicles of destiny turned into spacefill, archipelagos of life amongst the cold, dead space above Earth.

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

New Scifi Short: Battle of Victoria Crater

I’m pleased to say that I’ve published another short story. The Battle of Victoria Crater is now available on Amazon or anywhere else you like to buy your favorite books. What’s TBoVC about? Here’s a quick synopsis:

“Martin grows up on the harsh, haunting landscape of Mars dodging bullets, freezing temperatures and hired guns. How can a raw, hard-bitten group of colonists hope to survive against a menacing Earthbound corporation? What will happen if they give up and go home? Continue reading

Fast Scifi Notes – 05/07/2017

This ripped tendon is still affecting my typing – saving my writing energy for Mesh. Still seeing/reading/experiencing sci-fi, so let me jot down a few notes.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

I’m going to get some flack for this, but I don’t care. Having seen the first GotG, and now the second, I am remarkably ambivalent about this Marvel franchise. Yes, the acting is great. In fact, the actors consistently rescue what would otherwise be a plodding, hum-drum action story piling layer after layer of perilous escapes until you’re dizzied and numbed, going “Did Michael Bay direct this thing?”

I mean, if Michael Bay is your thing, great. I’m not going to judge. I just didn’t find anything compelling or interesting in the main plots. I thought the underlying themes of loss, redemption and family were interesting, but I didn’t go into the theater looking for Good Peter Quill Hunting.

And what’s with the music? Are we now living in an era where people are prepared to believe that the Seventies soft-rock classics are the pinnacle of the audio art form? When did that happen. It’s like you’ve never seen a Time Life commercial in your life. Continue reading

Wartime vs Peacetime Scifi

These are some comments about science fiction as a community and culture. If that isn’t your thing, feel free to ignore this post.

I caught a plane down to LA this week to see some friends from the old life. On my way back up, trying to ignore the incredibly loud lady behind me in 3E, I saw the guy next to me reading from Ben Horowitz’ book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things. He has some incredible insight about the world business and CEOs. I’ve read it before, but this time, I focused on his discussion about a ‘wartime CEO’ vs a ‘peacetime CEO.’

Applying his logic, one can see a few underlying causes of the tension within the sci-fi community from the past few years. We largely operate under philosophies of a peacetime-type culture: we have protocol, we talk about consensus-building and we think about the big picture. No one is ‘leading’ the community because the community is both self-organized and self-regulated, but the similarities in culture are obvious.

This culture has made our community successful for over a hundred years. However, as Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel said, “success contains the seeds of its own destruction.” The lessons learned from other enterprises absolutely apply to the science fiction community, since both groups include the carbon-based life forms of our wacky little planet.

We experienced what it felt like to have those seeds exploited when we read Laura Mixon’s report on Benjanun Sriduangkaew. We experienced those seeds poking out the ground when we saw the likes of Vox Day and the Sad Puppies attempting to ‘burn the Hugos down.’ Cynicism and disdain for science fiction as both an art form and community became a toxic distraction to the past couple years of sci-fi. Life has moved on, thankfully, but I can’t help but wonder where the next outbreak of toxicity will come from. Why did these toxic actors (TA) succeed, though, if they were so bad for us? Let’s go back to the ‘Wartime CEO’ example, because the answer is there: Continue reading

Full Spectrum SciFi – ‘Arrival’ and ‘Doctor Strange’

 

Well, there you have it: two different movies in the theaters that show the full range of science fiction in all it’s glory.

landscape-1459632762-benedict-cumberbatch-doctor-strangeI won’t spoil either movie for you, but I’ll say this much. If you want to learn how different science fiction can be from itself, you need look no further than the movie theater right now. The Arrival and Doctor Strange show how you can combine elements of the Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy genres to make a basic three-act story or a thoughtful, moving tale that asks ‘if you had it to do all over again, would you?’

I’m happy, because it means we get to experience the full spectrum of sci-fi again. We’ve needed that for a very long while.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve nothing against the Marvel Comic Universe. It’s just that, well let me put it this way: I love pizza … But I don’t want pizza every day. I love blues music, but after a while I need something in my life besides Stevie Ray Vaughn. ‘Variety may be the spice of life, but don’t look for it in the movie theater,’ we’ve been told over and over again.

It took directors like Christopher Nolan making movies like ‘Inception’ and ‘Interstellar,’ to smash through the conventional wisdom that hard sci-fi didn’t appeal to mass audiences anymore. Now we’re seeing more and more science fiction … real science fiction … coming at us and to that I say “Bravo!”

Now, as much as I love real science fiction, I want to add some caveats:arrival

  • Stories are designed to be enjoyed, not categorized
  • Not every hero has an ‘origin story.’
  • Sci-fi doesn’t have to follow the typical three-act story arc

I’m going to talk more about those thoughts later on but wanted to get this thought pushed out to make room for everything else I’m thinking about. Happy Monday, go make something awesome.

 

 

 

Forget #Brangelina – Remember Our Scifi Geeks Instead

Forget #Brangelina - Remember Our Scifi Geeks Instead

Raise a glass, lads.

We lost two of our own in the past seven days. I was saddened to hear of the loss of two of our elder geeks. You won’t see trending #RIP hashtags on Twitter for them. They won’t make the Oscar’s ‘In Memoriam’ reel either. Yet, their contribution to science fiction is both significant and enduring. These two geeks’ names are unknown except to a precious few, but their achievement is immortal. Like Steve Jobs said, they put a dent in the universe.

To me, it’s infuriating that two celebrities and their personal lives dominate the public consciousness. It shouldn’t be that way. Perhaps things can change. Let’s bypass that debate. Instead, let’s simply remember our friends for the amazing people they were. C. Martin Croker and David Kyle changed the way you see science fiction. Let’s take a moment to examine why that is:

C. Martin Croker

Forget #Brangelina - Remember Our Scifi Geeks InsteadYou didn’t know him but you loved him. Clay Martin Croker was both an animator and a voice actor. You enjoyed his work on the seminal Space Ghost show … he was the voice of Zorak and Moltar. It didn’t stop there: Croker was also an animator for the show. That made him a bit of a unicorn: animators rarely do voice work. Continue reading

About Me – Jackson Allen – Scifi Author

… Me

I’m Jackson Allen and I’m an author of scifi stories. Here’s a quick story on how I got here.

First thing, Jackson isn’t my real name. When I was young, I was a child actor in Hollywood. You might even know some of the films, commercials and TV shows I’ve been in. Sadly, it wasn’t a very happy way to grow up. The stories you read about child actors being abused – physically, emotionally, and mentally – are true. I came away from that life with a lot of scars and baggage.

Later in life, I made a number of bad choices with alcohol and substance abuse. Weird to go from the Hollywood lifestyle to six-foot cells and homelessness, but those are the breaks. It took a long time to pull myself out of the wreckage and start building my life again.

… The Stories I Tell

photo-1457364887197-9150188c107bAs a storyteller, my process is always evolving. However, there are some guiding principles I work with that are more or less constant:

– Be kind

– Tell stories that are safe for any audience

– Respect the reader by telling stories with integrity and authenticity

I love science fiction, so I tell science fiction stories. However, to keep things simple, I’ll be telling ‘young adult sci-fi’ stories, and my hope is that people of every age enjoys reading them. I’ll add to this as I go along. I’d love to be able to tell you the whole plan now, but I’m still figuring it out, myself! 🙂

Housekeeping Notes

One of the outcomes of my life is a severe anxiety disorder. Like millions of others, I live with a disabling mental condition that limits the interaction I can have with other people. I‘ve recently given a few more details, but please be assured that this a real problem that I deal with every day.

Because of my disability, I struggle with human interaction. This blog post helps explain what I’m dealing with.

Thanks for reading – grab a free ebook while you’re here.