DareDevil, a Netflix Original Series.

Well, I finally got around to watching the DareDevil series on Netflix. I’ll be honest, I thought the first episode was, at best, OK. I dealt with the origin material well, and as far as I could tell, stayed pretty true to the roots of the comics. but still, OK. I’ll admit, DD was not my favorite Marvel property growing up. I do seem to recall that there was a period were he seemed to be the crossover character of choice, kind of like Wolverine in the 90s. As a result, the show did have to overcome that bias that I brought to the table.

DD So I watched Episode 1… Next day, Episode 2. Better, they had gotten a lot of the background material out of the way, and started to build the storyline. Still, I was not on fire for it. It was just better TV than average. The next day, I watched Episodes 3… and then 4… and then 5. If you’ll pardon my saying so, it had become a World on Fire. The hook was in and set. Sunday, episodes 6, 7, 8, and 9. I was mad because I knew dang well my job did not care how much i was enjoying the show, I still needed to be up at 5:30 to go to work. As I said somewhere else, if you are watching the sun rise, it should be because you are getting up & getting ready for work, not because you couldn’t stop watching DareDevil. I finished out the show on Wednesday night. One week, total, had passed and i am cursing/blessing Netflix for releasing the whole series in one go, and very unhappy that it will be 2016 before we get any new episodes.

A word of warning. As many of the Superhero movies have been lately, this is dark and gritty. For those curious about the Marvel Timeline, Season One takes place AFTER the Battle of New York (Avengers), but before the rise of Hydra (Captain America: Winter Soldier) There is quite a bit of violence, and violent death. Matt Murdock, aka DareDevil, has has anger issues that would make Bruce Banner say, “Hey, now, just a minute…”  After interrogating a thug, Matt has no qualms about dropping him over the side of a low building, confident that, since he’s landing in a trash container, he’ll probably survive. Murdock personally has a code against killing, but he has little problem with going right up next to that line.

The lead is played, and played well, by Charlie Cox. I am not personally familiar with anything he has done since the movie Stardust. But he does well. He needs to, because otherwise, he is in serious danger of being overshadowed by his cast mates.

Elden Henson plays a great Foggy Nelson. The kind, idealistic partner at Nelson & Murdock, Attorneys at Law (or Avacados at Law, you’ll know what I mean when you see it). He is joined by Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, their Office Manager, and initial damsel in distress. But the real danger of show thievery is Vincent D’Onofrio, as Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin.

D’Onofrio is not generally one of my favorite actors. I was never a fan of Law & Order, and while I liked Full Metal Jacket, his role there went from pathetic to deeply unsettling. As with the series itself, it took a couple of episodes to get used to the idea, and there were many times he reminded me of his role as Edgar in Men in Black, but he developed into the believable villian mastermind, and a credible physicle threat to DareDevil, as well.

Finally, I’m going to give a shout out to Toby Leonard Moore, who played James Wesley, Fisk’s Majordomo. He played his role extremely well, providing the right level of utter professionalism as the lieutenant to a major power player, with the right amount of ruthlessness that you would expect from someone in that position, coupled with respect and friendship of a man working with a boss he genuinely likes and respects. I don’t want to get into spoilers, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing him in season two, and I’ll miss the guy.

So, in review, I’m giving DareDevil Season One Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five). I enjoyed the heck out of it, and I’m looking forward to returning to Hell’s Kitchen in Season Two.

~Old Shib

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No More Gatekeepers. With quotes from Terry Pratchett’s Wee Free Men.

“Nac Mac Feegle! The Wee Free Men! Nae king! Nae quin! Nae laird! Nae master! We willna’ be fooled again!”

― Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men

(I’ve included Pratchett quotes from the book Wee Free Men throughout this essay, because Pratchett had a true gift for saying what needed to be said. Read enough of his work, and you’ll see a solid, dependable and honorable philosophy and wonderful way of seeing the world around us. Now, to the essay…)

Earlier, I was reading through a thread started by a Hugo nominated TOR editor. The primary purpose of his posting seemed to be explaining the differences between being a fan of Science Fiction, and being a Capital “F” Fan. He went on to define what should constitute a true “Fan”. It goes well beyond reading and enjoying material from the genre. Frankly that is not enough. You need to be an active Fan. You must know the history, and be able to pass the knowledge tests. You must be participating in the approved activities and going to the approved cons. He goes on at length about the importance of the History and Traditions of Fandom, and how if you are not willing to invest that level of effort, then you simple are not a TruFan (He uses this term). The resulting implication? If you do not meet these standards, you are still allowed to hang around, but you don’t really have any business trying to make your voice heard, you should be self-aware enough to know that you shouldn’t be voting for any awards, and that you really just need to be quiet while the adults are talking.

“No,” said Tiffany, patiently. “It’s about zoology.”

“Zoology, eh? That’s a big word, isn’t it.”

“No, actually it isn’t,” said Tiffany. “Patronizing is a big word. Zoology is really quite short.”

To me, this seems more like he wants a professional (or perhaps semi-professional) organization, and not a community of fans. If this is truly what he wants, that’s fine, but he needs to change a lot of what Worldcon says about itself, and what the Hugo says about itself. He needs to change a lot of the definitions, and he needs quit pretending that he is anything other than a Gatekeeper, desperately trying to separate all the TruFans from the common rabble.

Personally, I have no use for Gatekeepers. I do not need them for my day to day life, and I do not need them between myself and the world of Science Fiction. I don’t need them telling me what I should be reading, what movies I should be seeing, what games I should be playing. I don’t mind people recommending things, saying, “Hey, I loved this, I think you might like it as well”, but telling me, “these are the qualitatively better authors and these are the qualitatively better books, and there is no reasonable argument against them”… well, no, thank you.

“I can see we’re going to get along like a house on fire,” said Miss Tick. “There may be no survivors.”

I have said many times and in many places, I don’t mind fiction that has a message in it. I don’t even mind if they are pushing things to which I might not totally agree. But story first, thank you. Entertain me first and foremost. When the message is more important than the story, or it seems to be tacked on to the characters for no discernable reason, or it becomes the only definition of the character, you have taken me out of the story. You have taken me out of the fun. You have basically built a homework assignment for me, and are now trying to convince me that I should consume this because it is good for me.

Personally, I do not care for the Twilight franchise, nor the Hunger Games. But these books, along with Harry Potter, have brought in thousands of new fans. Anything that can entice the average 7th to 9th grader to read books outside of school is amazing and the fact that they are bringing those readers into our community, a community that has been having challenges staying young and commercially viable, is outstanding! Bring more! Let us argue the relative merits, let us debate about what are the good parts and what are the bad parts, let us fight about whether we like this or that particular author, or book, or even series of books, but first, let us acknowledge that this is our community, we are kindred spirits, we have more in common than not.

I am a fan. Small “f” and proud of it. I love Heinlein and Asimov and McCaffery and many more of the “Old Masters”. I love that today’s Science Fiction and Fantasy, thanks in large part to G.R.R. Martin, and J. K. Rowling, and yes, Stephanie Meyer is becoming a growing, convoluted and active community. I love that when you go to a Con, you stand an excellent chance of coming across Deadpool, standing next to Tony Stark talking to Ned Stark (head attached), as Gandalf and Frodo walk by. I love that Trekkies can argue the merits of ship-to-ship combat with members of the Manticore Navy. I love that movies can be made into comics can be made into books can be made into games, and that this can happen in any order. I love that, thanks to the internet, I can see what happens at Cons, I can read about what happens at Cons, all without actually having to go to the Con. Am I missing out? Heck yes! I don’t get to hear the jokes, go to the room parties, gawk at the costumes, and meet the creators. But at the same time, I get to see that I am not (as I suspected and feared growing up) alone in my love for the genre.

“There’s no one to stop them.” There was silence for a moment. “There’s me,” said Tiffany.

I know now that there are thousands of us, and that there is just no way a self-appointed Gatekeeper has a chance. These weasels have exactly the amount of power over us that we give them and I, for one, will no longer be silent about it. I will take great pleasure in the self-professed “Pulp” of Larry Correia, in the Space Opera of David Weber, the amazing urban fantasy of Jim Butcher, and the excellent world building of Raymond Feist. I will read the covers off of everything that the late, great, Terry Pratchett ever put out, including the Bromeliad Trilogy. I will read authors who are out and out socialists (Eric Flint) and outspoken libertarians (Sarah A. Hoyt). Heck, I might even break down and read Ancillary Justice. But whatever I do, I will not let others define my fun, I will not let them define the terms and standards, and I will not let them keep me silent. I did that in high school when the “cool kids” made it clear that reading Clarke and Howard and Heinlein was not cool and I was desperately trying to fit in. It did no good then, and it will do no good now.

I willna’ be fooled again!

Crossposted at https://otherwheregazette.wordpress.com/

We’ve always been at war with Eastasia…

What to say about the current Hugo issue.

In a way, it’s disheartening. Like some I’ve read, I always imagined the SciFi community as THE place, where finally, we could all get along. That we had self-selected far enough down, that we had all reached a common point where we could finally be ourselves, accepted, and home… This, sadly, is not the case.

For three years now, Sad Puppies have impacted the field. The brain child of Larry Correia, grown to the point where it is not just making an impact, but it is, in fact, running amuck. Factions have formed, sides have been chosen, and that hope that we can all get along lies crumbling in the ashes. And the really sad part, is that might just be the best outcome that could be hoped for right now.

sad_puppies_3_patch

For too long, the Hugo, called the most prestigious award in all of Science Fiction and fantasy, has been developing problems. The first is the sheer paucity of the voting field. When “the very best book in the SciFi community” is getting there on less than 50 votes, there are serious problems, both with the field and the community. The second is the drift. Like many navigational errors, just a little drift, left long enough, will eventually result in your arrival at a place well off from your intended destination

boat

Is it the fault of the Puppies group? In a way, yes, it is. We should have done this years, decades, ago. Not arguing for a return to the “Golden Age of Science Fiction”, but to push to include worthy, adventurous works. To recognize and include the message fiction that we might not generally like, but recognizing such works that might be well crafted. To bring to the front those works that might be otherwise be trashed as “Pulp” or Space Opera, again, recognizing that not all Pulp or Space Opera would be worthy, but still, David Weber deserves a Hugo nomination or three. We need to be there so that the works nominated represent a greater variety, not forceing the drift all the way right, but countering the natural drift that always will occur, especially when we don’t bother to show up!

But we’ve let the boat drift for decades, the course correction required is, inevitably, severe. And those people who are comfortable with the way things have been going in those decades? Not happy, not happy at all. Again, in a way, this is our fault. Any of us with children know that a child will push boundaries just as far as you let them, and then a little more. If you never say “no”, if you never correct, the child will eventually become a terror. And when you finally decide to impose the boundaries that should have always been there, you are treated to a spectacular meltdown, and deservedly so. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

Are either side acting like adults? Not totally, of course, this is the arena, and everyone with an internet connection is invited. But still, there are bright spots, here and there. Brad Torgersen played nice for a long, long time. I think he may have lost his temper a few times, but after the attacks by Arthur Chu, and the article published by Entertainment Weekly, I find it difficult to the point of impossible to blame him. Before being forced into a correction, the EW article read, “Hugo Award nominations fall victim to misogynistic, racist voting campaign,”…Still, he, Larry Correia, Sarah Hoyt and some of the other “leadership”, I think, have behaved better than could have been reasonably expected (We organize, mostly, like a bag of cats. Leadership is therefor a bit of a challenge). Larry has been called a “rape apologist”, Sarah has been accused of being a white male (not that there is anything wrong with that), and of course, all of them have been called racists.

On the other side of the field, George R. R. Martin has made a reasonable statement. He thinks the Puppies are wrong, and have broken things, but his argument is at least rational, debatable, and seems to lack gratuitous insults. Mary Robinette Kowal has kindly asked that the folks arguing against Sad Puppies to try to refrain from Death Threats, so, there’s that…

nice

I’m not here to throw red meat, not yet. I’ve made my share of pithy comments, and I’ve thrown out the occasional insult. Clearly, I am not without sin. And I have chosen my side. I am on the side of no one telling me what is right fun and wrong fun. I am on the side that will say, “I honestly don’t know what politics that author has…” I’m on the side that can poke fun at anyone, and everyone who might step into the target zone. {Please note, there is a huge difference between “poke fun” and attempts to cleverly shame, degrade and drive out.). I’m on the side of the publisher who can successfully house, push and publish Trotskyites, Libertarians, Democrats and Conservatives, as well as gay, straight, and bi, all without making sure that is THE FIRST THING you see in the author bio.  I’m against the side that attempts to ostracize, the side that keeps blacklists, the side that makes ANYONE feel like they have to hide what they think or feel about certain issues. The side that whispers, the side that will accuse without proof in attempts to shut down the discussion. The side that says, “We’re open minded, but we won’t interview you, review your books, or ask about your side of the issue.” I have no use for the tolerant who are only tolerant of those who think like they do…

tolerant2

Hopefully, we can remain the Happy Warriors. This is a fight worth having, but after, we are very much family. Sure, some of us are the embarrassing crazy uncle, many are the unreachable liberal that just makes you grind your teeth, one or two might be cousin that maybe has too many guns (Williamson, Correia, maybe me, someday…) (But really, can you have too many?). But almost all of us came to this place because we were pursuing a sense of the magnificent, of wonder, of magic, or science so advance it is indistinguishable from magic. After this all settles out, we need to argue about things we disagree on, sure (I will no longer be silent, thank you), but we also need to find the things we have in common. Maybe a little of, “I disagree on this book, here, brother, but have you read Pratchett?”, and a little bit of “Let’s argue about the parts of The Lord of the Rings that were not so good, and which parts were transcendent!” Books or movies, you ask? Why both, of course!

~Shib

Why I am a fan, or perhaps, how I got here.

Growing up, I thought I didn’t fit in. As an adult, I’m pretty sure that is not uncommon. No one really fits in, we are unique individuals and until we learn how to empathize and adjust to each other, we will float along, banging into each other, but not necessarily connecting. Some of us can do this so quickly and naturally, it seems like magic. Others, not so much…

I was probably 10 when I discovered Tolkien. How? I honestly can’t remember, but it ignited such a love of reading that it probably scared my parents. After all, I was the youngest of 5, and this was not how the other kids spent time. I read anything I could find, as long as it was fiction and fantastic. Out of desperation, my Mom prevailed on one of her friends, and i was inducted into a book club. So there I was, younger than anyone else in the group by a good 8 years, but in a way, fitting in better than I did at school.

So Tolkien told tales of Middle Earth, and was followed by C. S. Lewis and Mars (Out of the Silent Planet), and Madeleine L’Engle. Did I mention it was Mom’s friend from Church? There was a theme, and still, these were wondrous books to a boy of ten. I went on to meet a farmboy named Luke, both in movies and books, Conan, King Arthur and The Book of Three. Buck Rogers and Battlestar Galactica (original series) were the choice a weekly appointment. Of course, Star Trek (Also original series), in syndication, whenever it was on… Can you guess my age yet?  Down the path I went. Still, I wanted more, there was never enough, and the library knew me on site.

But the final event that put me, unalterably, in to the universe of the Fantastic was when my good friend loaned me  The Color of Magic, by Sir Terry Pratchett. There was no going back. Pratchett led to Douglas Adams, and the Science Fiction Book Club provided me with Dragonriders. Wow. How can anyone turn from that? It was and is… glorious.

dragon

This genre, Science Fiction and Fantasy, can offer us everything!  There is nothing that you can imagine that cannot be, and isn’t that the point? We live the lives of great warriors, powerful mages, strong princesses and cowardly kings. We see men and women in powered armor fighting for their lives, against aliens or man. We listen to Roy Batty tell of attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. Of watching c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser  Gate. All those moments,lost in time, like tears in the rain. But they aren’t lost, are they?  We see humanity at both it’s best and worst, offered through the lens of fiction.

Do we, as a group of fans, agree on everything? No, we are unique individuals, and our tastes reflect everything that is unique in us, everything we have seen, everything we have experienced. But surely, we can look at each other and at least see kindred spirits. I can look over at the Twilight fan, shake my head, chuckle a bit, and go back to reading Ringo, or Correia. I may not agree with the choice, but I am glad they have the choice and glad they made the choice. I am ecstatic that Hogwarts and Sparkly Vampires brought so many new fans into the fold, because, if anything, it magnifies that chance of a Science Fiction or Fantasy book being made into a GOOD movie, one that respects the source material (I’m looking at you, Starship Trooper, and I am not amused) and has the budget to make it amazing. Who could have ever said, 20 years ago, that Peter Jackson would show us Middle Earth in such a way that I believe that J.R.R. himself would say, “That is beautiful.” . Still, even Peter can misstep…

hobbit

What a wonderful world we live in. I embrace my fanishness. I glory in being able to sit down with a good book, either a new one, or an old friend that I’m visiting again, and read. I love being able to put  Firefly into the DVD player and rejoin Mal and Zoey. I love that they cast Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. All of these things are of fandom, and so much more! And thank goodness for the internet, that allows all of us like minded (and semi-like minded) to meet and debate and push and pull and provide the spark that inspires the authors, the cartoonist, the directors, the comic publishers, and all the rest, that provide us such a multifaceted universe, full of the fantastic, the magical, the brave and craven, the costly victory and the glorious defeat. It is all there, we just have to reach out and take it.

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~Shib

A return, of sorts.

Without their knowledge, a person recently challenged me to put thought to paper. To that end, I began again.

I will be using this space to hash things out, mostly in my own mind, with the benefit of sharing with anyone that should stumble this direction. So what will you see? Well, things I like and find interesting. So, Science Fiction, Fantasy, books, movies, politics and whatever else might catch my fancy… So basically, Life, the Universe, and Everything.

godzilla-damage

Lets do some damage.

~Shib

Book Review Hard Magic: Book 1 of the Grimnoire Chronicles, by Larry Correia

Right off the top, I really like this book. So far, Larry Correia has published 6 books through Baen publishing, and I have enjoyed them all. This one may be my favorite.

The Grimnoire universe looks a lot like our own, or at least, what Correia imagines the 1930s would look like if somewhere in the early to mid 19th century, people developed magical talents. In this world, a small fraction of the population has access to fantastic abilities. Each of these “Actives” is able to manipulate forces in a specific manner, Brutes are able to gain great strength and resilience, Sparks can manipulate electricity, Torches control fire, and Cogs make great leaps forward in technology. Into this world comes Jake Sullivan, war hero, private detective, and felon. His ability to control gravity has made him a useful tool in the hands of the government. Now he finds himself between global forces, one side believing that the Actives, as superior beings, should rule, one side believing that Actives must use there gifts to help all humanity.

Is it simplistic? Maybe, but Correia revels in writing what he himself calls “pulp”. And simplistic or not (I lean toward not), it’s a great story. Besides, I cannot think of a single book anywhere that features a teleporting ninja battle on top of a flaming dirigible. That alone is almost worth the price of admission.

You can get the book at your local bookstore, or here, at Amazon. If you want to buy the ebook , go to Baen.com. As a bonus, the ebook is only $6.00, it arrives instantly, and has none of that pesky DRM of which Amazon ebooks seem to be so fond.

 

 

A picture can say it all…

I always love how people assure me, with a very serious and sincere look on their faces, that, ” if only we didn’t spend so much on Defense, why, we wouldn’t have any problems at all with the budget.”  With that one comment, that person has told me much more than they think. They have also informed me as to the value of their input.

Here is the issue:

Sometimes, I’ll try to explain that welfare spending, including Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid make up over 55% of the budget, and Defense spending a mere 18%. I’ll try to add that future unfunded mandates will make 55% seem like a pleasant fever dream, but it is generally a wasted effort. Still, the effort can be its own reward. Besides, I have had enough of being silent.

Pic was lifted from this article: Not a penny more

Tip of the hat to Cold Fury.

Shib