David Hartwell Died Today

Social media informed me of some sad news: David G. Hartwell died today. He had many accomplishments, some of which I admit I’m ignorant of, and was very highly respected by authors and editors in the Science Fiction field. Every author I follow (Fb, Twitter) has put up their own eulogy for him. He appears to have been much loved by the people who knew him personally.

In a 2004 interview with Locus, he said:

“Every time one of the older authors dies, I am saddened by it and feel a loss; every time the publishing industry in some country in a part of the world that used to do a fair amount of science fiction stops doing science fiction, I am saddened by it — and that happens more and more. But on the other hand, we’ve got a vigorous science fiction publishing industry going in Poland. We didn’t use to have that. It’s great! So there is some birth and rebirth, as well as aging and dying.”

I’ve been scanning his Wikipedia page  for a list of works. Looks like I have some reading to do.

Blessed repose and eternal memory, David.

My Star Wars Thoughts! Who I think Rey Is…

reyObviously, spoilers. But hey, it’s  January and I figure you’ve had your chance! DON’T READ THIS IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW THINGS.

Mkay. Ahem.

The biggest question on my mind after seeing the movie was Ray: who is she? We’re led to believe that she’s related to Luke somehow, the most obvious indication the fact that Luke’s old lightsaber calls to her. Doesn’t that seem too easy? I mean, if it is true I guess it won’t bother me, but it seems lazy.  The Star Wars franchise is pretty cyclic, and by that I mean we’re always following the same characters and they all end up being related to each other, or they keep running into each other out of pure providence. Some coincidences are a surprise, some are dumb. ( Anakin made C3P0? Um, no. Dumb.)

So here’s my speculation: I think Rey is Obi Wan Kenobi’s granddaughter. This would fall in line with the typical providential storylines driven by the Force, and would make a nice narrative. In A New Hope Kenobi gives Luke his father’s lightsaber. At the end of The Force Awakens Rey presents that same lightsaber back to Luke. Full circle. Perhaps the Kenobi’s just exist to help the Skywalkers get their act together, especially Luke’s. Ben Kenobi urges Luke to take on the responsibility of becoming a trained Jedi, and now Rey will bring Master Luke out of his solitude so that he can redeem himself as a teacher after his failure with Kylo Ren.

There are also little clues in The Force Awakens that seem…coincidental.

  1. When Rey starts discovering her powers, she uses the same Jedi Mind Trick Kenobi did to free herself from her captor. “You are going to loosen these restrains and walk away.” (“These are not the droids you’re looking for.”)
  2. When Rey is aboard the Starkiller base, she disables the shields. Ben Kenobi does the same thing in A New Hope when on the Death Star. He disables a tractor beam before confronting Darth Vader.
  3. If Rey is a Kenobi, she’s inherited the mechanical skills and aptitude for the force, plus the wisdom and pure-hearted selflessness.
  4. If Rey is a Kenobi, she and Kylo Ren’s dual represents the old battle between their grandfathers in A New Hope, not just siblings or cousins duking it out.

So when would Ben Kenobi have had time to have heirs? Well, he was alone on Tatooine for 20-some years, so it’s possible he could have had a family and then left them for their safety. I know that a common Jedi trait seems to be their commitment to celibacy, but in the Clone Wars television series, young Kenobi has a love interest that he keeps at arm’s length, and she tragically dies. So that suggests that perhaps Ben regretted never committing to her. It also shows that he is certainly capable of falling in love and it doesn’t seem so far-fetched to think it could happen again.

Kenobi's love dies in The Clone Wars TV Show

Kenobi’s love dies in The Clone Wars TV Show

As to Rey’s orphan state, it seems plausible to speculate that if she were Ben’s granddaughter and she showed herself to be force-sensitive at a young age, her caretakers would fear for her safety. So, they dump her on a desert planet.

I’m not the only one with this theory: Read here for a more in-depth analysis by Ben Ostrower:

My favorite moment in the series comes in Episode 5 when Luke has abruptly and hastily cut short his training and Force Ghost Obi Wan laments, “That boy is our last hope.” Yoda replies, “No…there is another…”

Written originally to be a reference to Leia, how dramatic would it be for the “another” to ultimately mean a Kenobi? After all, we do learn pretty quickly in Episode 7 that Leia never becomes a Jedi. If Rey is a Kenobi and if by the close of Episode 9 she’s brought “balance to the force,” then all of the previous movies take on a new meaning. Even Obi Wan’s Force Ghost from Episodes 5 and 6 takes on a much more spiritual purpose than to just provide convenient story exposition. If Rey is revealed as a Kenobi, it changes the entire paradigm of the series.

Come on, you know it’s cool!

Additional thoughts:

-Am I the only one that thought Kylo Ren was um…cute? Just sayin’ I wasn’t alone. He took off that mask and a girl behind me was like, “Whoa, hot!”

-How much did Mark Hamill get paid to stand there at the end and say nothing?

– To the people being all like, “This movie sucked, it was just A New Hope alllll Over again!” You know what? Yea, IT WAS. Know why? Because the filmmakers had to earn our trust back after those atrocious prequels. The only thing that would have made The Force Awakens better would have been one of the characters accidentally killing Jar-Jar Binks in a really awful way like he gets caught in the jet stream of the Falcon and his smoldering remains get licked up by greedy Banthas on the ground. So quit being that guy at the party who gets drunk and take a gigantic dump in the community punch bowl.

Honorable Mention in Writers of the Future Contest

Well, that’s not nothing, folks. I’m pleased. This was my first short story entry in the Writer’s of the Future Contest, so I’m encouraged to submit again and get better.

So many authors have gone through this contest, and many of them start as Honorable Mentions. I did some searching to see how rare it is and found this:

Honorable Mentions are between 5 and 15 percent each quarter. It depends on how many good stories there were.

There is no set number on semi-finalists either but it is approximately 8 to 12 per quarter.

There are 8 finalists always. Those are the stories that get sent to the quarterly judges and the 3 winners are chosen from the 8 finalists.

I’m going to get a certificate in the mail from the publishing house, and I promptly found a market to submit the story to. What a nice feeling- the wind is in my sails today!

My Father Made Me Memorize All of Homer–Xenophon, Symposium 3.5


“And what about you, Nikêratos—what kind of knowledge do you cherish?” And he said “My father, because he wished for me to be a good man, compelled me to memorize all of Homer. And now I can recite the whole Iliad and Odyssey.” Antisthenes said “Has it escaped you that all the rhapsodes know these epics too?”

ἀλλὰ σὺ αὖ, ἔφη, λέγε, ὦ Νικήρατε, ἐπὶ ποίᾳ ἐπιστήμῃ μέγα φρονεῖς. καὶ ὃς εἶπεν· ῾Ο πατὴρ ὁ ἐπιμελούμενος ὅπως ἀνὴρ ἀγαθὸς γενοίμην ἠνάγκασέ με πάντα τὰ ῾Ομήρου ἔπη μαθεῖν· καὶ νῦν δυναίμην ἂν ᾿Ιλιάδα ὅλην καὶ ᾿Οδύσσειαν ἀπὸ στόματος εἰπεῖν. ᾿Εκεῖνο δ’, ἔφη ὁ ᾿Αντισθένης, λέληθέ σε, ὅτι καὶ οἱ ῥαψῳδοὶ πάντες ἐπίστανται ταῦτα τὰ ἔπη;

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Getting Ready for Comic Con

Boston Comic Con Starts tomorrow! The Boston Globe had a funny piece up about how to treat VIPs at a a Con. Basically, “treat them like people, guys.”

Me, I’m not in it to stand in line for a Q&A panel. Stan Lee is going to be there and I’m ok not standing armpit-to-armpit in some conference room. I mean, he’s great! I just go to nerd out about the back-issues and see cool new art and take random selfies with cosplayers.

I’ll probably buy way too much swag “for my kids.”


Is the Horror Genre Dying?

Hear me out: There’s this great interview with Kazuo Ishiguro and Neil Gaiman making the rounds, so I’ll reproduce a part that was really interesting to me:

NG I loved the idea, because it seems to me that subject matter doesn’t determine genre. Genres only start existing when there’s enough of them to form a sort of critical mass in a bookshop, and even that can go away. A bookstore worker in America was telling me that he’d worked in Borders when they decided to get rid of their horror section, because people weren’t coming into it. So his job was to take the novels and decide which ones were going to go and live in Science Fiction and Fantasy and which ones were going to Thrillers.

KI Does that mean horror has disappeared as a genre?

NG It definitely faded away as a bookshop category, which then meant that a lot of people who had been making their living as horror writers had to decide what they were, because their sales were diminishing. In fact, a lot of novels that are currently being published as thrillers are books that probably would have been published as horror 20 years ago.

 KI I don’t have a problem with marketing categories, but I don’t think they’re helpful to anybody apart from publishers and bookshops.

The rest of the interview can be read here.

I guess this is particularly of interest to me since I like writing ponderous stories with horrific elements, and I seem to be getting attention for my horror writing, not my fantasy work. A while ago one of my stories was shortlisted for a horror magazine, so if I get published my first appearance in print will be in the horror genre. I don’t think this is a bad thing, but I’v seen publishers give advice to new writers about the market: once you get published, stick with that genre. Your job as a writer is to build a fan-base and you can only do that if you stay consistent.

That seems narrow, but what do I know? More and more I see Horror/ Sci-Fi as a category and I’m not sure that’s fair.