I wasn’t going to watch it. Ever since the (pathetically weak) Season Six finale of The Walking Dead last Spring, it’s been clear that the show was determined to re-enact the storyline that made me stop reading the comic book. I therefore vowed that I would skip the Season Seven premiere, read about what happened on Facebook, and then decide if I wanted to watch.
But my wife Renee and my son Christian wanted to watch, so I grabbed a beer and a stack of comic books, and said, “Okay, I’ll be in the room with you.” Before the show started, we had our weekly Facetime session with my son, Ethan, who now lives in South Carolina. He wasn’t sure if he was going to watch, but, since we were, he fired up his AMC app and got ready to join the fun. Understand that the four of us have been Walking Dead fans since the series first aired. In Ethan’s case, he’d read the comics for a couple of years before that.
We signed off with Ethan and turned on the show.
My promise to be in the room lasted 21 minutes, including commercials. When Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s character chose his victim and lashed out with the first strike of his stupid, “named” murder weapon, and then began to recite his character’s sickening words from The Walking Dead comic book, issue #100, I left the room.
I haven’t moved my entire library of old blogs from LiveJournal to StevenHWilson.com, but here’s one from back in 2012 that’s relevant tonight. The Season Premiere of The Walking Dead was a shot-by-shot adaptation of issue 100 of the comic series. It seems fandom is split on whether this was a good or bad show. I made my decision four years ago, and I stick by it. The words I wrote then, when I stopped reading the comic, apply tonight, as I stop watching the show. And here they are
I try to avoid negative reviews of works. This time, though, I think there’s a lot of intellectual meat in a discussion of a work I had a very bad reaction to, and why that same work has been overwhelmingly popular. Here we go. Below are vague spoilers. No names mentioned, but some events described.
I’ve been behind on the graphic novel series The Walking Dead. Way behind. Volume 17 is due out next month, and, as of last week, I had read through Volume 8. Ordinarily, I’m not normally one of those comic readers who waits for the graphic novel to come out. There was no such thing as a “graphic novel” when I was growing up. Comic books came out monthly or bi-monthly, and you read each issue as soon as you had it in your hands. There was no waiting for the trade paperback edition to come out a week after the last part of the story was published, and stories were not designed to flow better as 144-page novels than they did as 24-page chapters. Now the creators are so conscious of the release of six or twelve issues at a time that reading a single issue seems almost pointless, like reading a page of a novel once a month. Nothing happens, and you lose the thread of the story.
Recently, at New York Comic Con, prolific author Peter David was asked a question about Romani representation in comics. As he explains on his own blog, the question triggered in him a memory of seeing a deformed child while visiting Romania, and being told that that child was deliberately deformed by the parents. By Peter’s own admission, the painful memory caused him to lose his temper with the questioner. He has apologized, and that apology I know was sincere, because I know Peter.
I’ve known Peter David for almost 30 years. We’re not best friends. We don’t call each other every week, or even make a point of having dinner when we’re at the same con. But we’ve done countless panels together, I’ve acted in plays he’s written, our families hang out together, and, more, we’re part of a very old network of Star Trek fans and creators whose number is shrinking. That’s a kind of family tie for a lot of us. Peter is a talented author, an opinionated curmudgeon, and an obviously loving and committed father and grandfather. The idea of a child being hurt clearly has a powerful impact on him.
I wrote this piece prior to the release of Donald Trump’s coarse remarks, made while he thought his mic was off, revealing his base attitudes towards women. I’m not a bit shocked by his remarks, because I knew that this was exactly the kind of person he was. But I understand that, for a lot of people, these remarks were the last straw. They serve as a wake-up call, making people realize that this guy just should not even be allowed to run for the office of President. I’ve re-read and tweaked my piece. I still believe in what I said, because, again, I always saw Trump as a misogynist asshole. The stakes are higher now, though, because the revelation of Trump’s “sins” was timed in just such a way as to discredit his candidacy after it was too late for the GOP to recover.
You cannot condemn Donald Trump’s selection as the GOP Nominee and embrace the two-party system as it exists in the US.
That is, you can’t if you want to be honest and consistent in your political philosophy.
As many of you know, I ran not one, but TWO Kickstarter campaigns this Spring. The first was for Sacrifice Play, my latest Arbiter Chronicles novel. The second was for Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity, an anthology of speculative fiction tales edited by my friend and colleague, Phil Giunta. A lot of incredible people put their money behind these two books, and I’m very, very pleased to share their names:
I’ve been silent for a LOOOONNGGG time, I’m aware. Lots has happened, including being part of the Ellicott City Flood last month–both as a survivor of the flood itself and as part of the recovery team, in a small way.
But mostly I’ve been knocking myself out getting an unabridged audio version of Sacrifice Play ready to go. This will be released first to my amazing Kickstarter supporters, then via Audible, and, finally, on the Prometheus Radio Theatre podccast.
All twelve chapters are done, with the exception of about a dozen “pickup” lines. That means someone’s reading of a line either wasn’t quite what I needed, or that it somehow didn’t get recorded at all during out many sessions. As of this moment three chapters are completely finished, and nine await final audio mastering and insertion of pickups. I wanted you to hear what we’ve accomplished, if only to hold you over until the whole thing is released. Here’s Chapter One!
So, it’s not like an official anniversary or anything. I kinda missed that. But the public first heard of my characters from The Arbiter Chronicles back in October, 2000–15 years and a half a year or so ago, when we performed my first radio drama at Farpoint.
Taken Liberty, my first Arbiters novel, premiered just ten years ago, officially in March, 2006. A few months ahead of that, the Prometheus Radio Theatre podcast premiered in the Fall of 2005.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, Sacrifice Play – A Tale from the Arbiter Chronicles, is the third novel based on my Mark Time and Parsec Award-winning Arbiter Chronicles science fiction series. It’s in final editing stages now, weighing in at about 60,500 words.
This time out, the Arbiters are passengers on a military vessel that’s been assigned to test a dangerous new technology. If word of that technology’s existence gets out to the public, the Confederate Navy believes their very way of life could crumble. They’re willing to kill to protect the secret, and the Captain of the CNV Haakon Rodriguez decides to sacrifice his own ship and everyone on board for the good of all.
The Arbiters, aboard the doomed ship, um, disagree. It’s a battle of wills and a battle against the clock as they race to save the ship from its own captain. Caio Cacau’s gorgeous cover painting of Metcalfe and Carson should make it plain that the stakes are high this time out.
I try to keep an open mind about different world views. That just seems reasonable to me. Like the five blind men and the elephant, we each see a different piece of the truth. It would be a bit silly for me to stand here, screaming “I have scientific proof that an elephant is just like a snake!” while I hold its trunk and you hold its ear, and neither of us sees the whole animal. It would be just awful if I then added that you are evil and a threat to our society because you were part of the “elephant-is-like-a-carpet” set, and thus a snake-denier.
Yet that’s just the kind of thing that’s happening right now in the United States, as a loudmouth, a gold digger and a senile idealist walk into a primary. (God, I wish that was the opening to a joke! If it is, the joke is on the American people.) People are just being nasty to each other.
So today I want to talk about bigotry.
Google “North Korea 15” and the first article under “In the news” will be this one. I saw it last night on Facebook, and I saw a lot of people cheering its author on. They used phrases like “ugly American” in their cheers.
There’s a problem with this article, though.
Its author is a bigot.
The author claims that the government of North Korea, one of the most evil regimes on Earth, has taught us all a valuable lesson about white, male, cis-gendered privilege.