Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Emperor has no soul

The State of the Union has been assessed.

All style.  No substance.
All gloss.  No heart.

Our president presented the state of the union last night.  The state of the union, apparently, consists of simpering platitudes and teary-eyed human interest stories.  Of tall promises and no specifics.  Promises of infrastructure and great projects.  Lofty promises.  No blueprints.  No money in sight.

The leader demanded national unity, but offered no shared values on which to base it.  Just cheap jabs at people who don't stand during the national anthem.  No offers of healing or understanding or offers to address the root causes of the pain and anger and alienation of those who take a knee during the anthem.  Clearly, he doesn't care.  He just parades weeping parents whose kids were murdered by illegal aliens.  Let's build a wall across our southern border to keep out the rapists and murderers.  He didn't even mention some are good people.  Yeah, that just screams unity.

He did what all wannabe dictators do:  He praised the police and the military.  (Conveniently forgetting he's been trashing the FBI all month.) He praised the 2nd Amendment.  He touted religious freedom.  Yeah, we're gonna be unified, while we're building walls, racially profiling and shooting each other (not necessarily in that order, but probably) and kicking each other out of our respective homes and places of business in the name of Jesus.

He praised beautiful, clean coal.  (Why not beautiful, clean cyanide?) Not a word of support for the victims of flooding and wildfires who are the first of many beneficiaries to come of all that "beautiful, clean coal."  He wants to beef up our nuclear arsenals, reviving the madness of the 1980's with a vengeance.  Smaller nukes, easier and therefore likelier to use.  (Yeah, we're all gonna be unified in smoldering ashes.  Praise be.)

He went on and on about how wonderful we are as a people and how much we have to fear from all those inferior races out there in this terrible, dangerous world.  In between weeping parents and soapy human interest dross, he did add a touch of magnanimity by promising a path to citizenship for "dreamers".  They grew up in this country.  And, he'll graciously allow them a chance to become citizens after 12 years of probation.  Of course, they'll never see their aunts or uncles again.  Gotta keep America white.

The really sad part is that 75% of his audience took the speech favorably.  He told them what they wanted to hear.  We're great.  We're wonderful.  We're God's gift to humanity.  We've done so much for an undeserving, ungrateful world.  Now, it's our turn.  Build a wall.  Build those small, practical nukes.  Hell, let's have one in every home.  America first.  America uber alles.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Changing Planet...Unchanging Folly

Weather seems to have gone wild.  Like a bad science fiction film.

The North American east coast is experiencing an unprecedented cold blast.  Boston Harbor is flooded.  The flood waters will soon freeze in record low temperatures.  Meanwhile, the southern states are experiencing winter conditions alien to them.  Snow on palm trees.  Science fiction?  No more.  Science fact, alas, has caught up with science fiction.

As fossil fuel burning spews more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, global climate change has continued to intensify, doing possibly irreparable harm to the planet.  The glaciers melt.  The seas rise.  The gulf stream shifts.  Storms rage.  Warm air rises as Arctic air blasts southward.

Trump's answer:  More oil drilling, of course!  He's opened all America's territorial waters for oil drilling.  'Seems he won't be satisfied until the planet is destroyed.  Science fiction villainy?  No more.  This kind of suicidal madness is now business as usual.  The new sanity.

If true sanity is to reassert itself, it seems it can only come locally, from the ground up.  City by city.  State by state, committing to reduce carbon emissions.  It may already be too late.  But, if we're to save what remains, we must commit now.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The True Face of Darkness


Fiction can be a reflection of reality, good or bad.  But, in reality, what faces do we wear to identify ourselves, morally, and ideologically?  Are those faces also fiction?

Men like Donald Trump and Roy Moore identify themselves as Christian.  Those who vote for them identify themselves that way, hailing a return to "family values" when their candidates win.

Family values?  Really?  Accusations of sexual misconduct seem to have little or no effect on the voters.  They either deny the allegations or shrug off the significance thereof, citing Biblical passages and examples.

Trump is flawed, but like Mary Magdellan, he can be God's instrument, despite himself.

Roy Moore may have raped a 14-year-old girl, but so what?  Mary, Mother of God was of such an age when she married Joseph.

Even self-declared evangelicals have supported Trump, a double divorcee, adulterer and self-proclaimed molester of women.

Clearly, family values are not the true values of the segments of the contemporary population that vote for such men. No, not even of those who claim to value Christianity above all.  What then are the defining values of that crowd?  What values are clearly manifest in men like Trump and Moore?

Is it their maverick-like rebel status against the established order?  Their machismo?  Their blatant homophobia and misogyny?  Their racism?  Their religious bigotry?  Moore seems to have gotten a big boost in the polls by virtue of the fact the mainstream Republican establishment has rejected him.

A major defining value then, in so-called Millenarian Christian right-wing conservatives is their rejection of the established order.  The so-called "elites."  What they seem to want is mob rule.  Everyone who looks and prays as they do should be dominant.  Tribalism fueled by cynicism and complete alienation is their creed.  Morality in any true sense of the word, has nothing to do with it.  Unless you define morality exclusively as denying all human rights to homosexuals and robbing women of the right to control their own bodies.  Molesting teenaged girls, that's okay.  Greed, materialism and lying?  Also okay.  Nazis and Klansmen?  Perfectly okay, as long as they apply for a parade permit.

As with any other ideology, the so-called "Christian" right reveals its true face when it is dominant.  And, it 'aint pretty.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Future is Short

The Future is Short: Science Fiction in a Flash, Volume 4
Edited by Carrol Fix
Experience the power of Flash Fiction!

47 thrilling stories, each less than 900 words. 

New and established authors try their hands at writing to monthly prompts, vying for the coveted title of Science Fiction Microstory Contest Champion. 

Could you do this?

 How well do you think you would succeed?

 Check the prompts and see how each author met the Challenge.
Buy Now!       
$2.99  Kindle                  
$2.99  Ebook     
 $12.95  Paperback
Edited by Carrol Fix.

S. M. Kraftchak, Jack McDaniel, Andrew Gurcak, Chris Nance, Paula Friedman, Jeremy Lichtman, Tom Olbert, Marianne Petrino, John Appius Quill, Greg Krumrey, Justin Sewall, Jot Russell, C. Lloyd Preville, Joseph Minart, Rejoice Denhere, Jeremy McLain




Saturday, October 14, 2017

Anti-Life Dominates


Science fiction speaks of anti-life.  A form of life whose very existence is the exact opposite of our own.  It seeks only to destroy our life.

In real life, Sigmund Freud spoke of a death-wish hidden in each of us.  A controversial idea.  Some resist the notion that it's actually possible for any living thing, even one as complex as homo sapiens to desire its own death.  We are capable of suicide, of course, though society has always condemned the suicide of the individual as being a despicably immoral act.

Collective suicide seems perfectly acceptable, though, as long as it is wrapped in delusion and denial.

Incredible, on the face of it.  The idea that a whole intelligent species would actually and systematically destroy itself without even meaning to.  Logically, our primal, over-riding instinct for self-preservation should prevent it.  See a snake, avoid stepping on it.  See a precipice ahead, change direction.

But what about threats we create ourselves, like pollution and climate change?  We see the storms, the droughts, the wildfires.  But, do we change direction by moving away from fossil fuels and towards clean forms of renewable energy?  No.  Instead, we elect a president who wants to accelerate fossil fuel production, pollution and environmental degradation.

We see one mass shooting after another, each worse than the last as the technology becomes deadlier.  But, do we change direction by implementing sensible gun control legislation, as other nations successfully have?  No.  Instead, we drone on about 2nd Amendment rights as the killing goes on and on.

How have we survived this long without better survival instincts?  Have the instincts we once had deserted us?  Are we unable to adapt quickly enough in a rapidly changing world?  Have our own inventions simply outpaced our instinct for survival?

Or, has our ability to delude ourselves developed beyond all else?

The age of cyber-reality has largely cut us off from actual reality.  Whatever we wish to believe becomes reality.  Unpleasant actual reality is as easily discarded.  Rumor becomes fact when consulting a posting on the Internet is easier and far more emotionally gratifying than consulting a science book or statistical reference.

The Internet becomes an addictive opiate in an age of cynicism in which all faith in established authority is discarded with child-like abandon.  Hate becomes easier than love, as always because it's easier to blame the outsider for all our problems, but more so now in a medium designed to facilitate hatred and insolence of faceless, distant voices.  So much easier to dehumanize those you don't have to face.

And, so much easier to discount overwhelming real-world evidence of danger by simply creating a false world of pseudo-evidence based on wild rumor and pseudo-scientific nonsense.  We've created and become dependent upon a false world which disconnects us from our own survival instinct.

Our desire for gratification has overpowered our instinct for survival.  Seemingly impossible, yet it seems to be happening.  An inevitable occurrence when a species evolves intellect and technology?

Hmmm... Maybe that explains why we've detected no radio signals from other stars. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Visions VII: Universe


The final volume of Lillicat Publishers' Visions series is here:


The final journey of the final frontier...

There is truly no limit to the universe, save that of the imagination.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Reflections of Evil

In the realm of science fiction, evil takes many fantastic and horrifying forms.

In real life, it takes the form of Nazi storm troopers, Klansmen and white supremacists marching in torch-lit parades chanting their messages of hate.  And, the name of our current president.  Their great white hope.  That kind of situation was once the stuff of science fiction as well.  How things change.

Here's a science fiction idea:  What if the desires, hopes, ambitions and secret longings of the people could become palpable reality through artificial intelligence?  Vast clouds of nanites, perhaps, inundating the air we breath, reading our thoughts and assuming some ultimate collective form which was the sum total of what the majority...or those with the strongest desires, perhaps...wanted most in an idealized center of society?

Donald Trump is like that.  He's the sum total of the desires of a disenfranchised middle-American industrial, uneducated white working class.  In him, their anger, cynicism, disillusionment, frustration, bigotry, fear and hatred have come together as one in defining the values of the society they want.  And, what are those defining values?

Racism, that's one up front and certain.  All men are definitely not created equal.  Klansmen and fascists chant Trump's name in the street.  White school children bully minority kids, following the president's example.

Lies.  Alternative facts.  Orwellian double-think.  The truth is malleable as clay.  The press is fake news and fake news and wild rumor are the truth.

War and torture and police brutality are good.  The president loves them.  He has said this.

Close the borders.  Foreigners not wanted.  No more "send us your tired and poor and huddled masses yearning to breathe free."  We don't care about anyone but ourselves.  Selfishness and xenophobia are our new creeds.  Our country over all.  Familiar?

Threats of Armageddon.  Of fire and fury such as the world has never seen.  Idle threats, or Nero about to torch Rome?  Who can say in a world gone mad?

No rules, anymore.  Just the wild emotions of the public, usually confined to the cathartic cyber-space of the Internet, now given flesh and bone (and, nuclear weapons) by a time in which reality blurs with the monsters of the Id.

The primitive demons of hate and unreasoning fear of the outsider, of scapegoating the foreigner, of the gun and the wild rush of the kill have replaced conventional governance.  Organized anarchy.  Every last shred of dignity and respectability have been stripped from the once noble office of the presidency of the United States.

A president who tweets.  Who offers a divided and bleeding nation only the most perfunctory readings of pre-written speeches of brotherly love and anti-racist platitudes, his eyes never straying from the teleprompter, then reverts to a raving madman who sees no moral difference between Nazis and those who protest against them, who sees the American free press as the true enemy, not fascism.  A president who makes excuses for fascists and tyrants while attacking one of the pillars of our democracy.

Then, he offers national unity in the form dictators and demagogues throughout history always have:  war.  He hopes a clarion call to arms, and more dead American heroes in flag-draped coffins will rally the nation around him as it did around George W. Bush.

And, of course, the dictator's other old ally:  hate.  He'll kick the transsexuals out of the armed forces.  Rally, oh legions of haters and killers.  Wrap yourselves in the flag of hate.  Let ours be a nation united in common hatred, for we have forsaken love.

Hail the future.  It comes cloaked in darkness black as death.