So, I Just Saw Star Wars VII…

Nope, there will be no spoilers here so you may feel free to read on.

Star Wars Awakens

Was it good? Yes, but I’m not here to write another review as there are plenty of them out there already. Was it as good as the first time I saw Star Wars back in 1977? Of course not! There is simply no way to recapture youth. When I first saw that movie, I was a very different person living in a very different world, and you simply cannot relive the past.

Oh, but we do try.

As I look at the big budget movies of the past several years I’m noticing a distinct pattern; Guardians of the Galaxy, and other Marvel movies that had their genesis in comic books now thirty to fifty years old, Star Trek, with a new version of the original cast of characters who graced our TV screens back in the late 1960s, add to that The Lone Ranger, Jurassic World, the Robocop reboot and the latest Terminator movie and I’m sure you get the idea. Do I blame Hollywood? Hell no! Hollywood only makes what people will buy, and right now nostalgia is selling like hot cakes.

Now a part of me is happy to see a new coat of paint on a favorite old automobile. Part of me is actualy happy to shell out a few bucks to relive my past. But another part of me is downright frustrated. I know for a fact that there are some kick-ass new stories being told (Yes, mine– but not just mine) that are not getting any room to breathe because of all the dinosaurs that still roaming the Earth. If you have not read the comic book Saga, go out there and buy a copy. If you have never heard of D. Wallace Peach, Sheron Wood McCartha or April Aashime, you are missing out on some good novels.

Today’s world is not out of fresh ideas or new talent. We just need to push past the nostalgia to find it.

Advertisements

Starblazers, hokey, but good.

 

Back in the 1970s my brother and I used to get up early every weekday morning (in the summer time!) to catch a cartoon show called Starblazers. This was long before the term “anime” was a thing. To be honest, we didn’t even know the show was from Japan and probably wouldn’t have cared if we did. To us, it was just a great space adventure with lots of action and an exciting story line.

Years go by…

It seems I’m not the only one who remembers that old show. Like all the campy classics of sci-fi (I’m talking to you Lost In Space) it has a dedicated fan following that has kept it alive over the years. Alive and thriving perhaps, because it now has a live action movie in it’s name.

In this story, the Earth is being bombarded into an uninhabitable ball of rock by the evil alien Gamilons. But there is hope! A strange message arrives from the distant planet of Iscandar promising a gift called “cosmic DNA” that will restore Earth to life, all humanity has to do is go and get it. With resources stretched to their limits, the people of Earth use an ancient battle ship’s hulk to construct a starship capable of reaching Iscandar before it’s too late.  The ship to be resurrected? The Yamato!It dosen’t take a great historian to see where the originators of this space opera got their ideas.

Made in Japan, at a time when survivors of the American bombardment were still around, the inspiration is obvious. The Yamato was perhaps the greatest battleship ever built. The Imperial Japanese Ship boated the largest ship cannon in history (19″ muzzle width compared to the American battleship’s 16″…size does matter). In the American version of the show the ship is called “the Argo” which, perhaps,  compares cosmic DNA to the Golden Flees.

Recently I’ve discovered there is now a live action movie of Starblazers. It’s unapologeticly Japanese. Witch is fine by me as America saves the world in every other film, I figure it’s about time some other country got a turn. Themes of courage and self sacrifice run through both the cartoon, and the live action film, as our heroes take a very samurai attitude to serving in a space navy.

To be frank, they over do it at many points and the show can get a bit hokey. That being said, Starblazers is still a great space opera with a lot of well done characters and daring do. Proudly, I will admit that the show is part of the science fiction pantheon that I refer to as “my influences.” If you have an hour or so to kill and a bowl of popcorn, I recommend you click on the link above and enjoy.

Orycon 37, Oregon’s best SF weekend

Me at Orycon panell 2015

Well, as many of you know, last weekend was Orycon 37. I had a great time and met some wonderful people. To everybody who attended one of my panels, thank you. To everybody who went home with one of my books THANK YOU. And to those who just hung out with me and talked nerdy until the wee hours, thank you too.

Me and my fan Contessa

Fed Up With Bigotry

12208419_904792026264944_7118242064311184092_n

When I grew up in the 70s and 80s, race slurs were no longer said in polite company. Although not particularly diverse, my home town of Kettering, Ohio had a mix of folks from a wide variety of backgrounds. I found out early on that I was as likely to get along with a kid of a different race as I was to be bullied by another kid of that same race; thus bigotry proved itself a total failure in predicting human behavior.

I then went on to serve in the military with folks of an even wider variety of backgrounds. Once again, I discovered that a man’s religion, or cultural heritage had absolutely no bearing on whether I could get along with him or not. To put it bluntly, there are good people everywhere and jerks come in all colors and faiths.

I don’t consider myself a genius so I just took it for granted that most other folks could figure this out as well. After all, tolerance is not that complicated, right? Turns out that assumption was wrong, and ether I’m a genius or there are just a lot of dumb people in the world. I’m now I’m hearing slurs all over the place.

Since the Paris attack last week, it’s been mostly anti-Muslim slurs. However, anti-transgender slurs are coming in a close second and I’m sick of it all. People are people, regardless of background, faith, sexual orientation, race, or taste in music. Some people’s behavior makes them a disgrace to the entire human race. But most people are decent folks that I find easy to get along with, and some behave in a way that is a credit to us all.

In regard to Muslims, I’ll put it this way. I served in Iraq and while I was there some Muslims tried to kill me. Should I now hate all Muslims? NO! Because if all Muslims had tried to kill me I’d be dead.

Right now, I’m trying very hard to promote my books and entice readers to my work. However, if you are an un-repentant bigot…I’m not interested in your business. Sorry, but the truth is I’ve had all I can take.

The Death Of The Old Guard and the Birth Of The New

 perihelion_science_fiction_sweatshirt

The science fiction short story is an ancient and honorable art form. Many of the great SF authors of antiquity got their start practicing the craft and found their niche in the pages of Astounding, Galaxy and Analog. My first encounters with these magazines were as a high school student waiting for homeroom to finally be over. I read some great stuff like Astounding, Galaxy and Analog; like Ender’s Game by Orion Scott Card (yes a short story before it was a book, and before he became such a homophoic nutjob) and The Cold Cash War by Robert Lyn Asprin (also later made into a book). These great stories inspired my understanding of SF and made there way into my gaming in subtle and obvious ways. Unfortunately, the SF short story magazine is dead.
Galaxy went under in the 1980s and Astounding changed it’s name, and it’s focus, when it became Analog. Analog still exists as a print magazine but…it’s BORING! Seriously, the print magazines of today are simply no fun to read. The stories focus on high-minded technologic what-ifs to the detriment of a good tale. No elements of humor, of adventure are allowed to cross the page and the characters are as interesting as American cheese on white bread.
The good news is that there is a new place for the SF short story in the new millennium. Online publications like Lightspeed, Apex and Perihelion have stepped into the gap, and are publishing some very good stuff. I laughed out loud when I read To Dance With The Girls Of Ios Five by Ted Blasche in this months edition of Perihelion. For those who love a good SF tale as much as a good SF game, I highly recommend you check them out.

New Short Story Available on Amazon!

Time Travel Impossible Cover

 

This was the first short story I ever wrote professionally. Its historical science fiction, which means that it uses advanced science in a backward period. In this case the science is time travel and the period is World War II.

I have worked extensively in the prison system, and in that capacity have met many modern Nazis. Professional decorum prevents me from discussing politics whit these guys, but to be frank, I just want to shake ’em. That’s right, grab ’em by the shoulders and say, “You stupid son-of-a-bitch, don’t you know that the Nazis lost for a reason and that not even the German people are sorry for that today? Don’t you know that the Nazi beliefs are so screwed up that no one with any critical thinking skills can entertain them without vomiting?”

But no, modern Nazis are as stupid as their name implies. So I wrote a story. A story about time travel that forces people to look at themselves through the eyes of history and see what the rest of the world sees. Will this story convert any modern Nazis? Probably not. Those dim-wits seldom read anyway. However, for the rest of us, the story can be eye-opening to view the world from the perspective of the greatest failures in world history.

The story sells for only $2.50 and is available on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Time-Travel-Impossible-Clayton-Callahan-ebook/dp/B017GUJA9I/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1446621956&sr=1-2&keywords=time+travel+is+impossible