Clayton J. Callahan- Author

I am Clayton Callahan. I write I design games. I hang out in bars. I do nerdy things at science fiction conventions, and I’ve worked in a lot of jobs that required me to carry guns.

As I am a college educated suburbanite, of course, I have a blog. Like my fictional outer space bar, The Screaming Eagle, I want people to enjoy what they find here. This is a place to share what I find intriguing, stimulating and cool in the world of science fiction, gaming and things related to that stuff.

I hope you find what thrills you here.

 

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RIP Ms. Le Guin

My respects to a fellow Portland, Oregon SF writer (with deservedly higher accolades). May she rest in peace.

IN REMEMBRANCE

Ursula K. Le Guin, 1929-2018

We are saddened to report that acclaimed author Ursula K. Le Guin passed on Monday, January 22nd, at her home in Portland, Oregon as confirmed by The New York Times. She was 88 years old.

Le Guin is internationally known for lending her distinct feminist voice to science fiction and fantasy, and was writing even as a child. At age 11, Ursula Le Guin submitted her first short story to Astounding Science Fiction. In 1964 her first Earthsea story, “The Word of Unbinding,” was published. The series continued over six books and eight short stories, including A Wizard of EarthseaThe Tombs of AtuanThe Farthest ShoreTehanuTales from Earthsea, and The Other Wind. In 1970 The Left Hand of Darkness won both the Hugo and the Nebula, and the sequel, The Dispossessed, was also so honored when it was published in 1975.

Her upbringing in a house of anthropologists influenced works like the Hainish Cycle, with its tales of contact between futuristic human species. The Left Hand of Darkness envisioned a radical speculative future of sexual identity and gender identity, raising the bar for subsequent SFF works.

She received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1995; the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted her in 2001; and in 2003 The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America named her the 20th Grand Master. Her life-long contribution to the shape of genre fiction cannot be understated, and that is the legacy she leaves behind to fans and readers across the world.

Le Guin is survived by her husband, son, two daughters, and four grandchildren. All our condolences go out to her family and friends. She will be deeply missed.

We leave you with words of wisdom from the incomparable author herself:

“We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel… is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.”

Sex In Science Fiction

So, first off, this is likely to be my most popular post this month. And secondly, it’s not going to be “dirty.” Instead, this is intended to be a serious discussion of sex in fiction and how it should be portrayed.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying some sexual acts should be portrayed but not others. Heck no! The sky’s the limit these days depending on what kind of reader a writer wishes to attract. However, I am saying that sex scenes need to fit within the context of the larger story, and not be considered apart from that. Otherwise, they are a needless distraction at best and a turn off at worst.

If the story is not about sex or romance in particular, an author can simply shut the bedroom door on the readers when sex arises. Two or more characters engage in some kind of lead up, and then they go away someplace to have sex. The story then resumes after the copulation, and the reader then discovers what the results of the sex were as far as plot and character development.

Naturally, if your story is a romance, the sex should be a little more explicit. However, as the term “romance” implies, it’s not about the physical act of love as much as the emotional content of it. The reader should find the scene compelling because of the emotional weight the characters feel while engaging in sex. Sure, some “naughty” things will be mentioned, but that’s not where the emphasis should be.

And then there’s erotica, or “porn” if you will. In this type of fiction, the reader should know what they’re in for on page one. Let’s face it, many people are uncomfortable with explicit sex scenes, and they have a right not to have it thrust in their face. However, for those who do choose to read erotica, they expect their money’s worth. Here, emotional content and plot take a back seat to explicit descriptions of fornication. And that’s fine. However, the challenge of erotica is for a writer to make it interesting. Face it, folks, the mechanics of sex itself are pretty boring and unless the author can get creative in the descriptions, the whole thing can be rather dull.

And here’s where I feel compelled to mention my good friend Seka Heartley. As of now, her adult book; Passion Pirates of The Lost Galaxy is selling so well she’s working on a sequel (after having promised never to write a book like that again). In her case, she uses humor and over the top metaphors to liven up the sex scenes. And, recently she received an extremely high compliment from a veteran SF master who said; “What I like about the sex in this book is that neither party is being exploited. It’s all mutual.” She liked hearing that because she very much wanted the reader to have as good a time as the characters she wrote about.

Sure, for reasons of plot, some other fiction may contain less than pleasant sex. If the story is about a rape victim recovering from the trauma, we may need to read about the experience to get into the character’s head. But pleasant of not, I believe sex scenes in fiction must merge with the work as a whole.

Therefore, I’m just as comfortable with writers who close the bedroom door as those who describe all the sorted details. For me, it simply depends on what kind of story is being told that determines whether sex is an enhancement or a tedious distraction of the tale.

By Clayton J. Callahan

By the way, if any of Seka’s fans are reading this; her new book is due out in the spring of 2018. Look for Romance Raiders of The Lost Continent on Amazon.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi & All The Drama

So, I’m a fan.

I’ve been on the Star Wars train since I first saw that humongous ship chasing the little one on a movie screen in Dayton, Ohio back in 1977…and I was ten. Star Wars opened up a whole new world for me. A world of adventure, comradery, space travel, and mysticism. Have I seen all the movies? Yes. Read all the books? No. bought the comic books? A few. Made a costume for conventions? Yep, see above.

Now, that being said, every little thing Star Wars does isn’t magic. The prequel trilogy was a big disappointment, and I need only mention the Star Wars Holiday Special once. Which brings us to Holywood’s latest installment, The Last Jedi.

Hardcore fans have rejected it, even going so far to circulate an online petition demanding The Last Jedi be removed from “official Star Wars canon.” Mark Hamill, has even come out against the film for its portrayal of his own character, Luke Skywalker! But as for me, I had a good time at the movies.

Blasphemy you say! Perhaps, but I never was one for orthodoxy anyway.

Oh, I still do have some quibbles with the movie. I thought the pacing was too fast and that they tried to cram too much action into the movie and not enough character and world development. As for Luke portrayed as a grumpy old bastard, well people change and it’s been over thirty years since we last saw this character, and it worked for the story.

And speaking of the story…it wasn’t Luke’s. Nore was it Leia’s. This is a new story of Poe, Rey, Fin, and Rose. And frankly, I like these characters and want to see more of them. Face it, this isn’t the old Star Wars, it’s the next generation Star Wars. And just like, next-gen Star Trek new ground is being plowed.

Frankly, I don’t see how ANY movie company can continue with ANY major sci-fi franchize without pissing off old fans. It is impossible to recreate the past, however, some people will simply never accept that. My solution is for Holywood to start producing…brace for the shock, new material! Great science fiction ideas are all over the internet. Many a new screenwriter, novelist, or comic book artist is right now begging to get their ideas before an audience. And with fresh material, you don’t have legions of old fans complaining about how you failed to do it right. You instead have a new opportunity to entice new fans who will love your thing.

And, Hollywood, if you’re reading this blog, I have an author to recommend. 🙂

By Clayton J. Callahan

D. Wallace Peach Simply Can Not Write a Bad Book

I’ve been a fan of this author for a long time. Her fantasy and science fiction display a beautiful use of the English language coupled with great storytelling.  For those not already in the know, I recommend you give The Bonewall a try. But beware, The Bonewall is as dark as it is compelling; a richly textured journey through a post-apocalyptic nightmare that nonetheless shines through with human goodness and hope.

However, for her latest work, “The Peach” has taken a completely different direction and man is it worth it!

She’s just written a children’s book! Frankly, I’m always excited when an author breaks new ground and challenges themselves with a different medium. This is why I’ve occasionally broken away from science fiction to do other genres, and I always find I’m a better writer when I come back. D. Wallace Peach has now done this and done it well with Grumpy Ann And The Monsters. It’s a cute introduction for the wee ones into the fascinating world of science fiction through a very personal and uplifting tale.

I found her poetry endearing and her artwork (which Peach did all herself) charming. If you have kids from about four to six years old in your orbit. I highly recommend you start them out right in science fiction with this little gem.

https://www.amazon.com/Grumpy-Ana-Grouchy-Monsters-Childrens/dp/1975723945/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514316075&sr=1-2-fkmr1&keywords=grumpy+ann+and+the+monsters

Good Trippy Fun: The Avengers!

No, not Marvel’s Avengers. I’m talking about the British television series that aired from 1961 to ’69.

I have recently re-discovered The Avengers and I love it. This very British, very 60s, TV show would appear on late night television when I was but a wee lad back in Dayton, Ohio,  when Jimmy Carter was president (we miss you, Jimmy, we really do). At the time I thought it was okay, but it wasn’t really geared for kids.

Watching it as an adult, I find it to be a much sillier show than I remember, but oh so much fun! The program ran for almost the entire psychedelic decade but peaked when the show’s regular hero, Agent John Steed (Patrick Macnee), was paired with the deadly and talented Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) from 1965 to ’68.

As acting teams go, you just can’t get any better than Macnee and Rigg. They simply had an outstanding rapport, and easily half the fun of the show is watching them joust with each other. I say “joust” because the relationship between the two characters was always professional. Emma Peel’s husband was somehow lost in the Amazon, and Steed was far too gentlemanly to proposition another man’s wife. Thus, they performed as a dazzling sort of “buddy cop” team, not a romantic couple, and it was sensational!

To be sure, Dame Diana Rigg’s Mrs. Peel character is far better remembered. She was a tough, smart, sarcastic woman to be reckoned with, and the inspiration for the Marvel Avenger-Black Widdow. Seldom had such a woman been portrayed before on big screen or small, and the positive feminist message remains inspiring to women and to people who like women.

However, Agent John Steed was no slouch either. Whereas Emma Peel represented the modern age, in her jumpsuits and sports cars, Steed was the old-fashioned man. As chivalrous as any knight, he had a penchant for vintage automobiles, bowler hats, and dapper manners. He was witty, clever and extremely good-natured, the kind of chap you’d gladly invite over for tea once a week.

Both characters were supposedly deadly masters of hand-to-hand combat…but oh boy…the fight choreography was laughable. Emma’s sloppy karate and Steed’s flailing about with his umbrella always triumphed over the villains, but only because the script said so, and it showed.

But speaking of the villains, you will never find a more kooky bunch of weirdos trampling across a television screen than in The Avengers. No ordinary villains for these heroes to fight–heavens no! Mad scientists, bizarre conspiracies, secret organizations, and super spies are constantly bent on destroying all that is right and good in Britain, and only Emma and Steed can stop them.

The show is everything we fondly remember the 1960s for. It was trippy, cool, silly, and fun. If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend you do.