THRESHOLD: A really extreme makeover

There was, for a while, a nicely-done television series on Friday nights in the USA entitled Threshold, about a quasi-invasion strategy being implemented by extraterrestrials, and the “homeworld security” task force that was working to foil it. The extraterrestrials’ tool was an audible signal that altered listeners’ DNA — and the structure of organic life in general — to match the ETs’. Humans who couldn’t endure the process died horribly; others in effect became the aliens.

Hm. Y’know, Threshold could be taken as an allegory about television viewing and the New York/L.A. entertainment industry.

“The signal is turning us into them ….”

Posted in SFF: Writings | Leave a comment

SERENITY and faith

There’s power in the ’verse — and the verse is Revelation 3:15

(Note: Fear not — I hate spoilers as much as you do, and if I’ve done this right there aren’t any here.)

One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who have only interests.
— John Stuart Mill

It arrived, and it delivered as promised.

One of Joss Whedon’s strengths as a scriptwriter is that he is not afraid to take a problem to logical extremes. If his characters find themselves in a “one false move and it’s all going to hell in a handcart” situation, likely as not somebody will make that false move and leave the viewer wondering how in bloody blue blazes are they going to get out of this one? During the course of the remarkable SF television series Firefly, the crew of the good ship Serenity found themselves in more than one hell-in-a-handcart fix; in the long-awaited film sequel Serenity they do so again.

In the process they teach us one heckuva lesson about faith.

Continue reading

Posted in SFF: Writings, Theology & SFF | Leave a comment

You know you’ve made it when …

Reverend Fun cartoon 'Too Sexy'… Celestial Seasonings puts a quotation from your novel on a bag of its throat lozenges (T.A. Barron).

… your music is used as the background for an erotic film festival (Milton Babbitt.)

Reverend Fun uses your suggestion for its daily cartoon.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

When life didn’t go according to plan

So here you are. You’re getting older, and what’s happened to your life? Precious little, that’s what.

Continue reading

Posted in Theology | Leave a comment

Reflecting on Hurricane Katrina

My boss returned yesterday from Shreveport, Louisiana, where he helped to organize relief operations in Hurricane Katrina’s wake. Like other experiences of extreme conditions, the aftermath of the hurricane has shown us humanity at its best and at its worst.

Continue reading

Posted in Theology | Leave a comment

A weak moment

I can, therefore I am.
Simone Weil

I once knew a woman like that. Man, the amount of zucchini, mincemeat, and rhubarb preserves she had stashed away in her cellar …

What?

Oh.

Never mind.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Bad reasons not to write

Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.
Salvador Dali

Would that I knew the context of this line, found in many quotation lists. In isolation it’s a good thought, enough so that I’m willing to risk ripping it out of context thus:

I happen to be (gasp!) over fifty. That in itself is no scandal: so is Robert Silverberg. So is Harlan Ellison. So is Ursula K. LeGuin. And so forth, and so on. What is regrettable is that my creative output isn’t even a bare fraction of theirs. And why is this? Because for the longest time I refused to write anything, convinced that whatever I did was either (a) “too much like …” or (b — et pardonnez-moi mon français) crap.

Continue reading

Posted in SFF: Writings, Writing: The process | Leave a comment

Vintage literature

Placemats at local diners contain all kinds of strange and wonderful tidbits. Consider the following quotation found beneath the plates at The Nook in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, in an ad for the nearby Market Street Wineshop:

Wine is, above all, pleasure. Those who would make it ponderous make it dull. … If you keep an open mind and take each wine on its own terms, there is a world of magic to discover.

No argument here. But it occurs to me that the quotation would be just as true, if not more so, if for the two instances of the word wine you substituted literature and story (or poem, play, etc.). If you’re a teacher, may you never allow the magic to become ponderous — and blessings on you as you help the wonder in the words shine through!

Posted in Writing: The process | Leave a comment

Waiting for SERENITY

What you care about is the ships — and mine’s the nicest.
— Kaywinnit Lee “Kaylee” Frye

. . . and it was to have hit the screen today at A Theater Near You. But ’twas not to be, alas; the current release date is now 30 September, when we will have forgotten the assault of advertising for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Typo. (As they say on Vulcan, “Oy vey.”)

Ah, well. If you haven’t viewed all the episodes of the late and much-lamented Fox TV series Firefly, on which the film Serenity is based, the complete series is available on DVD and worth every nickel.

Meanwhile, until the end of September … just call me Dr. Browncoat and take me out to the black …

Posted in SFF: Writings | 2 Comments

Valuing persons 3

Observation on the preceding article: What I’ve called “assigned value” shows up all the time in the pricing of merchandise. How much is commodity X worth? Answer: Not what the maker thinks it’s worth, not the cost of the materials and labor that went into it, but what people will pay for it. They’ve assigned it its value. Continue reading

Posted in Theology | Leave a comment