My name is Steven Howell Wilson, and I do a lot of different things…

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I’ve written fan fiction and published fanzines. I’ve assumed the role of custodian for my friends who created a fanzine called Contact. I founded a convention called Farpoint, which has run for over two decades. I’ve been a comic book writer for DC Comics (Star Trek and Warlord) and a comic reviewer. I run Prometheus Radio Theatre, and we put out a (mostly) weekly podcast. I’m publisher for Firebringer Press, and a contributor to Crazy 8 Press. Finally, in the mundane world, I’m a recovering librarian, an IT Director and a consultant. And yes, I do all this because I’m allergic to work. I figure as long as I look busy, I won’t have to perform actual labor. It’s worked for nearly half a century so far…

The First Time I Saw Lost in Space

s0120-robbit-and-robotFirst impressions are lasting ones. Not always accurate, but lasting.

Working on a novel that I just started this past week, I’m a little drained of big, substantive blog ideas right now. I do have a lengthy list of topics I want to write about, but I’m saving them for an interlude when I have more emotional energy, more creative spirit, and just more time to play with.

So, for times like now, I’m kicking off a new series (which has already resulted in a lengthy list of potential sub-topics) to explore my first impressions of some fictional worlds that became hugely important to me later on.

And one of the first fictional worlds I fell in love with… other than maybe those of Winnie the Pooh and Samantha Stevens of Bewitched, was Lost in Space.

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The Intergalactic Nanny

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My brother says this isn’t the box art he remembers, but it’s what appears to have been the 1969 release art. Image courtesy of Scalemates

My brother had a model Saturn V rocket. Assembled, I believe it stood about 30 inches tall. I guess he assembled it. I remember yellow streaks of model glue on the… does a rocket have a fuselage? But you could separate it into stages (what good is a rocket if you can’t separate it into stages?) and it was almost always disassembled. It was almost always disassembled because his annoying little brother, who was much too young for such a model, wanted to play with it all the time.

And who wouldn’t want to play with it? It had the Apollo command module and capsule, the capsule just the size of an acorn, but still… It may have had a lunar module on the side. And I’m pretty sure there was a completely-out-of-scale figure of an Apollo astronaut in full gear.

It now lies in state in a cardboard box in my old bedroom at my parents’ house. What’s left of it lies in state, anyway. The bright orange launch pad is still around, and some odds and ends, including that little capsule. Yeah, we’re that family. I haven’t lived in that house for 28 years, but my room is still full of my stuff. And… y’know… stuff I permanently “borrowed” from my brother.

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The remnants…

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Jennifer Granick – Listen to Her If You Want the Future to not SUCK

Read this article. Just read it. Now. Every word. If you don’t understand it, ask someone who can explain it to you. Hell, ask me. Or, if available, ask somebody smart instead.

But don’t ignore it.

I had a whole blog post prepared for tonight about Saturn V rockets, Star Trek and childhood memories, with a gentle dose of being careful about your political environment tossed in. You can read that next week. This week, read something by someone who’s paying close attention than I am, and is here to tell you that the future is going to SUCK.

At least, the future is going to suck if you keep letting power-hungry assholes convince you that “the issues” are the need to re-illegalize abortion, legislate away climate change, defend marriage against those who just want to get married, or provide for absolutely FREE every damn thing our parents used to work for.

Those are not the issues. HERE are the issues, the ones important to people way beyond the borders of these United States, and the threats that exist to your future, brought to you by someone a lot smarter than I am. Her name is Jennifer Granick, and this is her keynote speech from this year’s Black Hat 2015 information security conference:

https://medium.com/backchannel/the-end-of-the-internet-dream-ba060b17da61

Read it. Read every damn word.

(Or watch the video.)

Spoiler: CyberSecurity is the threat. Donate to EFF.

Lies

There’s nothing more baffling to me than having to deal with someone who lies. In particular, I’m concerned with someone who lies about another person in order to look superior, or, more accurately, in order to make that other person look inferior.

The whole concept of making yourself look good by making someone else look bad is alien to me. Sure, you made that other person look bad, but can’t someone else just do the same to you? What have you proven?

If we throw objective measures of virtue and success out the window, isn’t life just a free-for-all? And then there is no virtue, and no success, just an endless parade of people trying to boost their image.

You make yourself look good by, well, making yourself look good. By doing something of value.

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Mini-Review – Ultraman X

This is a short entry. Today is my birthday (my 50th) and I’m spending it all with my family and dear friends.

329A while back, I reviewed Ultraman Mebius, a series from 2007 which continued the very successful Ultraman franchise. I believe I explained then that Ultraman was a character created by Eiji Tsuburaya, also the creator of Godzilla, in 1967. The show had been imported to the US shortly thereafter, and was a big hit with kids my age in the early 70s. Mebius was the 40th anniversary tribute series, and I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it.

Since then, Tsuburaya Productions has released a couple of other series, including Ultraman Ginga. I didn’t watch it, and I got the impression it largely existed to market toys. Apparently, its premise was that all the Ultramen and all their monster foes had been turned into vinyl miniatures call Spark Dolls. None of the subsequent series seemed to hold the same interest for me that Mebius did.

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Out on the Long Tail – Advice and Encouragement for New Media Creators

So, you created something original and put it out there for the world. You probably tried selling it to New York or Los Angeles. You probably collected more than your share of rejection notices. Maybe you were once a successful, paid creator, and your prospects have noticeably faded. Or maybe you still are a successful, paid creator, but you don’t like the limitations placed on you by commercial publishing and distribution.

Well, you live in a good time. There are podcasts. There are eBooks. There’s Libsyn, Smashwords, Amazon, Kindle, Nook, B&N.com, Audible ACX, OverDrive…

OMG, who needs an editor or an agent, right? You can publish a short story, a novel, a book, a radio show, a TV show or a movie, all on your own! And, as soon as the public sees your wonderful product, they’re going to beat a path to your door to demand more and more content from you. And those smug acquisition and story editor types who turned down your comic book, your short story, your novel or your screenplay, they’re going to see the error of their ways and sign you to a multi-book or multi-picture deal.

Right?

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The Fortune Cookie: “Your dearest wish is coming true”

o-ROMANTIC-FORTUNE-COOKIES-facebookIt was a fortune cookie that got me thinking. The paper inside it said, “Your dearest wish is coming true.” We were eating Chinese food, my parents, siblings, my wife and kids and I. My brother said, “Well obviously, your dearest wish is to go to Hawaii.” I was, after all, going to Hawaii that weekend. “But,” I said, “I don’t think that’s my dearest wish.”

So what was my dearest wish? And was it coming true? I had a feeling the answer might be “yes.” That’s just the way I look at life. Call me a cockeyed optimist. Many people have called me worse things. Most people, in fact.

Getting ready for a long trip keys me up, as it does a lot of people. And Baltimore to Lihue is a particularly long trip–twelve hours in two planes. I don’t like flying anyway. I don’t like any situation where access to the bathrooms is in any way restricted, having, as I do, a bladder the size of a gnat’s left cheek. So I didn’t go to sleep too easily any night that week. One night–it may have been the same night I received the fortune cookie–I fell back on one of my patented sleep aids: I put in my earbuds and pulled up a random episode of Lux Radio Theater. Continue reading

I Don’t Publish Literature. I Publish People.

demelloI’m reading a very strange little book called Awareness by Anthony De Mello. It’s apparently a transcript of all the talking he did at a retreat many years ago, and was published after his death. And, boy, did he do a lot of talking at that retreat! I both love and hate the style. It’s filled with bold statements that make you want to read more to figure out what the hell he’s really saying: “You are never in love with anyone. You’re only in love with your prejudiced and hopeful idea of that person.”

Wait, huh? That kind of thing grabs you.

Unfortunately, like a lot of spiritual / religious texts, it’s repetitive. I know repetition is a technique often used to emphasize a point and make sure the reader / listener doesn’t forget something, but it’s my least favorite rhetorical device. It annoys the hell out of me:

“Call 1-800-GET-LOST. That’s 1-800-GET-LOST. Call 1-800-GET-LOST. 1-800-GET-LOST. Today!”

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The Hawaii Episode

IMG_4170So, remember back in the Sixties and Seventies, when just about every sitcom, sooner or later, did their season premiere in Hawaii? My particular favorite is the I Dream of Jeannie visit, which spanned at least three episodes and featured the world’s most pointless musical interlude in which singer Don Ho and a random kid (his son?) wandered the beach, climbed trees, and, at one point, Don kicked the kid in the ass for no apparent reason. Don Ho was a guest in all the sitcom Hawaii episodes, as far as I know. He was there when the Brady family got cursed by Kona. He was there when the Jeffersons… um… I don’t recall what they did. George was probably an ass, Weezie was probably wise and assertive, and Florence probably chased good-looking men. Continue reading

What I Was Taught About Race – A Southern White Boy’s Reflection

“They’s people just like us,” my Grandmother would say to me about people of other races. A simple observation, in 2015, but she was born in 1901. By the standards of the time, she was already “an older lady” when the schools in our home town were desegregated, and when the black folks and the white folks started attending the same churches. Although I understand they already mixed for special events, like the 1949 funeral of my other Grandmother, who died young of cancer. Grandmother Clara was beloved by her community. Not her white community. Her whole community. Continue reading