Heinlein’s To Sail Beyond the Sunset – Inventing your own morality

As with all of my blog series, the FIAWOL blogs are written weeks in advance. But I was a day late posting this week because the online science fiction world was exploding with news about Chris Hardwick and Chloe Dykstra. I have thoughts about that news, and about the #MeToo movement at large. So I took a day out and tried to write about them. This was the second time in recent months I’ve tried to do so. And, just as with my first attempt, I wrote about 2500 words, re-wrote a second draft… and then decided I wasn’t ready to share my very personal thoughts on the subject with the world. Maybe I’m a coward, and maybe I have good reason to be. You see, my morality doesn’t work like most peoples’.

Which is a good segue for this piece that wasready for publication yesterday…

This was Robert A. Heinlein’s final book, moodily (and prophetically) titled with a quote from Tennyson’s “Ulysses” about old age and death. But this book is not at all about old age or death, it’s about life, about living it wisely and passionately, about defying death, and about maintaining youth.

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Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations includes Republicans

“If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s intolerance.”

Back during the glory days of the Moral Majority—the one led by Jerry Falwell, not the current crop of holier-than-thou leftists—my friends and I used to make that joke a lot. I guess it was our way of reminding ourselves that, liberal though we were at the time, there was such a thing as reverse intolerance.

It’s a powerful sentiment, and one that I think would benefit a lot of people in today’s world to think about—science fiction fans especially.

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Do We Need Gatekeepers? Or, Robert Heinlein disappointed me (once).

I don’t like gatekeepers. By definition, a gatekeeper is someone who stands at a point of entry or exit and intercepts anyone trying to use that entrance or exit. In some cases, they just slow down traffic, in others, they tell people that they’re not allowed through the door.

I don’t like TSA, even though we’re guilted into believing we should. I don’t like receipt checkers at stores, who expect you to queue up in a line, afteryou’ve paid for your purchases, but before you’re allowed to leave the store. I don’t like locks on doors. They’re a nuisance. I don’t like big, burly men (or women) with lists at the doors of parties.

“Nobody likesthese things,” you might deflect, “but we have to have them! Without locks on doors, and people at the door, people would trespass, people would steal, people would take up illegal residence in other peoples’ homes and offices.”

I disagree with pretty much everything in that statement.

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Netflix’s Lost in Space – Finding Forgiveness

This past Friday, Renee, Ethan, Jessica and I made a date to watch the first two episodes of Netflix’s new Lost in Spaceseries. I was guardedly excited. I love Lost in Space, the original, classic, 1965 – 1968 series, campy, silly, scientifically inaccurate as it is. The show had heart, especially early on, before it became a Vaudeville showcase for the talents of Jonathan Harris, Bob May in the Robot suit, and Dick Tufeld providing the Robot’s voice. It was about a pioneer family who stuck together, looked out for each other, believed in morality and the Golden Rule. Its overarching message, delineated in the first season’s finale, was “Love. In all the universe, there is nothing stronger.”

In 1998, a disappointing attempt to revisit the adventures of the Space Family Robinson was brought to the big screen. Five of the original cast returned, with only Dick Tufeld taking on his original role voicing the Robot. It was neither a box office nor a critical success, and hoped-for sequels (hoped-for by the producers and pretty much no one else) never materialized.

In 2004, the CW commissioned a pilot, The Robinsons – Lost in Space, which was not picked up as a series, but was an enjoyable hour of television. Disappointment again, this time because the attempted reboot never got a chance to prove itself.

Last Friday, disappointment was blown out of the water. For me, anyway. I was so moved by the opening episode of this new series that I was literally in tears by the climax. These were not my childhood friends as I had known them, but this series had heart. This family stuck together, loved each other, and believed in morality, allowing them to overcome character flaws and weaknesses that 1960s television never dared expose in series regulars.

When the credits rolled, apart from annoyance at Netflix’s asinine habit of interrupting the end credits (and a new version of John Williams’s classic 3rdSeason theme!) to start the next episode immediately, all I felt was forgiveness.

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Action Comics 1000 – Changing the Wallpaper

I’ve begun a series of essays that, for lack of a better term, I’m going to categorize as “FIAWOL.” Fandom is and has been a way of life for me, like it or not, for a long time. Consequently, I’ve derived a lot of life lessons from fandom, and from the things that bind us together. So I’ve decided to start sharing them. These will not be “reviews” in the true sense. They’ll be observations which ties to things I’ve read, watched, heard or experienced in fandom. Like all my writing, they’ll be personal to me. I plan to share them, of course, on the holiest day of the week: Wednesday, when the new comics come out. Hope you find them at least thought-provoking. 

Action Comics is, if I’m not mistaken, the first comic book ever to reach 1,000 issues. It is not the oldest comic book. It’s not even the oldest comic book from its publisher, DC Comics. That honor goes to Adventure Comics,which, sadly, was canceled just after its 500thissue back in the 1980s. Action’s millennium celebration is, like its first issue back in 1938, an anthology of stories. Like its first issue, it is headlined by Superman. Unlike its first issue, it features only Superman stories.

One of these stories, much-lauded by DC, is by Brian Michael Bendis, who is taking over the reins of Superman for the foreseeable future. Bendis doesn’t tell comic stories like anyone else, and this is our first taste of what is to come.

But it’s not a story.

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