Star Trek Personnel Files

Compiled by Carl Slaughter: From Certifiably Ingame’s Personnel Files of notable Star Trek characters.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Personnel File

Benjamin Sisko: Personnel File

Kathryn Janeway: Personnel File

Chief Miles O’Brien: Personnel File

Micheal Burnham: Personnel File

Doctor Who Roundup

Compiled by Carl Slaughter:

  • Doctor Who and the Phantom Menace Effect
  • Doctor Who writers have no sci-fi experience
  • The Infallible Doctor
  • A British Doctor reaches for her sonic screwdriver, an American billionaire reaches for a gun.

“What’s wrong with you, why don’t you get a gun and start shooting things, like civilized people?”  –  Jack Robinson, Doctor Who, “Arachnids in the UK”, Season 11, Episode 4

  • Doctor Who villains

Doctor Who villains have included such memorable species and individuals as the Dalek, Cybermen, Sandaron, Slitheen, Silurian, Silence, Weeping Angels, Davros, the Master, the Rani, and Madam Kovarian. Now we have the Pting.  How does this new creature compare with the Doctor’s other foes?  Share your opinion.

Google search for Doctor Who villains

  • Rosa Parks in a powerful episode of Doctor Who

“Let’s Have a Spoiler-Laden Talk About That Powerful Episode of Doctor Who” at io9.

Tonight Doctor Who ventured back to 1955 for a long, hard look at the struggles of Rosa Parks in mid-20th century Alabama. Let us know what you thought of its take on a crucial moment in history in our weekly, spoiler-tastic discussion zone.

  • New v. Old Who Fans

New Doctor Who fans don’t understand the rage of old Doctor Who fans and old Doctor Who fans don’t understand why the new Doctor Who fans don’t understand.

Daredevil Roundup

Compiled by Carl Slaughter:

  • We don’t deserve Daredevil
  • Netflix turned a blind eye to popularity of Daredevil

“’Daredevil’: Netflix Turned A Blind Eye To Viewer Demand By Canceling Marvel Series”

When Netflix executives decided to cancel the Marvel series Daredevil they turned a blind eye to viewer demand.

That’s evident in the latest numbers from Parrot Analytics which reveal that Daredevil ranked fourth last week in viewer demand among all digital originals in the United States across all streaming platforms.

Demand for the sightless superhero series was surpassed only by three shows (Narcos, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Stranger Things, all from Netflix) during the week ending Dec. 1, the chart shows. The chart measures “desire, engagement and viewership” with weighted values that, for example, would give heft to the total “likes” a show accumulates but not as much weight as the total number of actual viewings.

More items follow the jump.

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Sci-Fi Video Roundup 12/8/18

Compiled by Carl Slaughter: Most of these selected videos are from Pop Culture Detective.

FANTASTIC BEASTS.  The New York Post, the New Republic, The Village Voice, Slate, and MTV expressed disappointment with the main character in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Pop Culture Detective is disappointed with their disappointment.  Obviously they were looking for a Hero’s Journey type protagonist.  Newt Scamander is not a typical Hollywood hero.  He is not The Chosen One.  He is a bit autistic and a bit misanthropic.  He dreams of writing a zoology book, not going on an adventure.  His is a nurturing masculinity, not a daring masculinity.  His is a quiet genius, not a brash genius.  His strength is empathy, not aggressiveness.  Newt is trying to save the monster, not slay it.  Newt Scamander did not draw the crowds like Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Tony Stark, and so on.  Will the studios resist the temptation to introduce and emphasize alternate characters in the rest of the 5-part series?

THE EMPIRE. For the vast majority of residents of the Star Wars galaxy, daily life is unaffected by the Sith, the Jedi, and the Rebellion/Resistance.  But what about life under the rule of the Empire?  What exactly makes the Empire evil?  What exactly are Emperor Palpatine’s policies and practices that Princess Leia finds so odious, besides destroying her home planet?  Disbanding the Senate?  Executing child Jedi?  Martial law? Excessive commercial regulation that results in the black markets and smuggling and gangs that receive so much attention in the series?  Commandeering natural resource to supply such a massive military force?  Drafting children into military service to fight and oppress and die for the empire?  Princess Padme sums it up:  “So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause.”  The Empire is a terrible place to live because its citizens’ individual freedom has been suppressed in the name of maintaining galactic order.

POP CULTURE DETECTIVE: VIDEO GAMES. Pop Culture Detective laments the fact that 93% of video games are combat, sports, or racing.

POP CULTURE DETECTIVE: THE JEDI. Pop Culture Detective theorizes that fan anger at Last Jedi is rooted in dashed expectations of male heroes who are challenged and changed by female heroes.  The Jedi represent Stoic masculinity.  As Anakin Skywalker discovered, suppressing emotions can be toxic.

POP CULTURE DETECTIVE: HARRISON FORD MOVIES. Harrison Ford’s most iconic roles are sci fi/fantasy.  Han Solo, Indiana Jones, and Rick Deckard.  Pop Culture Detective breaks down romance and sex scenes of these characters and draws some disturbing conclusions about the messages they send.

POP CULTURE DETECTIVE: RECRUITMENT. Watch the Independence Day sequel  –  and join the Army.

The Yesterday’s Kin Trilogy: An Interview with Nancy Kress

By Carl Slaughter: Nancy Kress likes to write about hard science.  Especially biotech.  She likes to write about alien contact.  She tends to populate her stories with scientists.  Her recently completed Kin trilogy is a multi-generational first contact pandemic story. The third novel in the trilogy, Terran Tomorrow, was published November 13 by Tor Books.

CARL SLAUGHTER:  Where did you get the idea for the science premise?

Nancy Kress

NANCY KRESS:  The trilogy revolves around microbes, especially pathogens that cause epidemics of various kinds.  Medicine has made good strides against bacteria-caused epidemics, but bacteria mutate, swap genes, and develop antibiotic resistance so fast that sometimes our drugs and vaccines aren’t effective (witness the hit-or-miss gamble with flu shots every year).  And we really can’t handle viral epidemics except by containment (witness Ebola, until recently).  Humanity is overdue for a major pandemic.  These ideas fascinate and scare me.  Fear is good for plotting.

CS: Same question for the plot.

NK: Science is only compelling to most readers if it happens to people.  So in the trilogy, a variety of characters cope with a pandemic on two planets: a geneticist, an Army Ranger, two brothers with vastly different ideas on how to live on a devastated Earth, aliens who are not what they seem, a man more at home in the alien culture than in his own.  These people fight, love, cope, strive.  For me, plot always grows out of character.

CS: Are the main characters throughout the trilogy or a different set of characters for each story?

NK: Both.  Geneticist Marianne Jenner, her children, and ultimately her grandchildren, are the common thread through all three books.  Other major characters appear in just one book: Ranger Leo Brodie,  physician Lindy Ross, the alien woman who adopts the name Jane.

CS: Are the main characters scientists, soldiers, journalists, linguists, professors, politicians?

NK: All of the above!  A large-scale space opera involves everybody.  There is, however, a preponderance of scientists and, in If Tomorrow Comes (book 2), soldiers.

CS: Do you reveal the plot through the characters or vice versus?  My personal preference is vice versa.

NK: This question doesn’t actually make sense to me, since plot and character are intimately connected.  A plot event occurs, and a character shows their personal qualities by how they react.  A character’s actions generate more plot.  It goes back and forth, or occurs at the same time.  There is, however, an inciting plot incident that starts everything going.  In the first book of the trilogy, If Tomorrow Comes, it is the appearance on Earth of aliens with a dire warning for our planet.

CS: Is this one of those ‘the human race might get wiped out’ plots or one of those ‘the human race will definitely go through fundamental change’ plots?

NK: The human race will definitely go through fundamental changes.  I once wrote a novel in which the entire human race gets wiped out (Nothing Human) and it was not a success, although I liked it.  But in this trilogy, there are gallant, resourceful, and hopeful survivors making new societies on two worlds.

CS: What are the recurring themes?

NK: Survival.  Difficult moral choices.  The power of persistence.  The need to connect with others—alien and human.  That faced with crisis, different people will react in far different ways.  Humanity is not a monolith.

CS: Are they the same themes in your other stories?

NK: Yes, I think so.

CS: I haven’t read all of your stories, but enough to know that a large number of them involve alien cultures, hard science, or both.  I’m guessing that’s not a coincidence.

NK: No, not a coincidence.  Writing about aliens is a way of making characters confront the alien in others—and in themselves.  Xenophobia is hard-wired into our genes: “That stranger from another tribe might be dangerous!”  Civilization depends on overcoming xenophobia and cooperating.  Civilization is fragile, and fragile situations make for good narratives.  In addition, our current civilization depends on science: computers, cars, medicine, heating and cooling, advanced manufacturing techniques and tools, agribusinesses.  The most intimate science is biotechnology, affecting and altering our own bodies, as well as crops and animals and the environment.  Much of my fiction concerns genetic engineering.  This is the future.

CS: What stories are in the works?

NK: I am working on a long novella that—contrary to everything I just said!—is not about biotech.  Rather, it’s about growing automation of our businesses that result in massive unemployment and the changes to society that will bring.

CS: What’s going on on the workshop front?

NK: I am delighted that you asked!  Taos Toolbox opened for submissions December 1.  Toolbox is an intensive, two-week, Clarion-style workshop that Walter Jon Williams and I teach every year in New Mexico.  Guest lecturers include George R.R. Martin.  This year’s dates are July 7-20.  More information is available at www.taostoolbox.com

CS: Where can fans catch up with you for an autograph/photo?

NK: I am Guest of Honor at a small local con in Seattle, Foolscap (www.foolscap.org).  I will be going to Dublin for Worldcon in August.  Between those two events, I’m not sure.  My husband and I are buying a house and moving—time-consuming if exhilarating events.  Real life goes on next to science fiction life—although sometimes, of course, they blend.  Maybe all the time they blend.  Maybe aliens will inhabit my house.  Certainly microbes will.  Maybe…

Enough.  Stop.  Thank you for the interview, Carl.

Nancy Kress at Capclave 2018

Interview with Rowankind Trilogy Author Jacey Bedford

CARL SLAUGHTER:  Let’s start with the main characters.  At the beginning of the story, Ross is just trying to stay off the Mysterium’s radar.  Then she goes on various quests.  Then she plays liberator, protector, and negotiator.  Has she got a plan or is she figuring it out as she goes?

JACEY BEDFORD:  She’s figuring it out as she goes at the beginning of Winterwood. She doesn’t really want anything to do with the mysterious magical box, and, indeed, she tries to throw it overboard, but it washes up on the next tide. She’s been able to stay off the Mysterium’s radar while she’s been at sea. They don’t have much authority outside the British Isles, but as soon as she steps back on British soil they become a tangible problem. Once she learns what the box is and what it contains she has to decide whether to follow through. She does, and it seems as though everything is rosy, until (at the start of the second book) there are repercussions. She’s scrambling once more, but each time she’s faced with a problem she grows to meet it (with Corwen, of course). Ditto with the third book, when all the problems come together.

What about Corwen.  Does he have a drastic effect on Ross and a drastic effect on the plot or is he a secondary to Ross?

Ross doesn’t meet Corwen until part way through the first book. She’s not looking for love. She has the ghost of Will, her dead husband, for company. Initially she resists trusting Corwen, which makes him secondary, but gradually she comes to see his worth and his support is vital. By the time the second and third books happen, Corwen is an equal partner in Ross’ endeavours. In fact, the second book is mostly about Corwen’s family situation and his problem brother, Freddie (a very reluctant shapechanger). The third book, ROWANKIND, sees Ross and Corwen in an equal partnership, each playing to their strengths.

All these other magical creatures.  Are they bumping into each other or seeking each other out?  

The rowankind, newly freed from their servitude, have a gentle weather magic of their own. Also there are magical creatures accidentally freed into the world. In the second book we met two kelpies, in the third there’s a troll who is both in danger and dangerous. The Lady of the Forests (the consort of the Green Man) rules over magical creatures, helped by a small army of sprites and a number of magicals who have gravitated to her home in the Okewood and become a community.

Is the Mysterium a nuisance or a menace?

It’s a menace. Any magic user who does not register with them by their 18th birthday is automatically an unregistered witch, and therefore likely to be hanged without trial if they are caught. In SILVERWOLF the Mysterium is exceeding its brief which causes a head-on clash with Ross, Corwen and a bunch of magicals. In ROWANKIND, the Mysterium has begun to realise that the newly freed rowankind have magic, so it’s treating them as unregistered witches. Thus the danger escalates and the Fae decide to step in. That’s bad news for Britain. The Fae may have left mortals alone for centuries, but that’s mostly because they didn’t care to be involved. However, don’t think that they are harmless. Once they get involved, they aren’t going to back down. Something’s got to give and it won’t be the Fae.

Is the Mysterium involved in political intrigue and social unrest or do they keep their distance?

They know their place and they have their instructions. They don’t intend to let anyone or anything stand between them and their duty to persecute unregistered magic. But at the end of the day they are simply a government department – albeit a powerful one. Walsingham is above the Mysterium while remaining independent. He reports only to the king and the king’s spymaster (or the first minister). He’s very dangerous once he gets you in his sights.

The social unrest is purely economic because (check out actual history) there have been a series of bad harvests and the wars with France are taking their toll. When the price goes up, there are bread riots. The government is truly worried that they are only one more bad harvest away from famine and then the social powder keg will blow. One of the driving reasons for peace with France (1802) is that Britain is getting close to the end of available resources and peace will give them a chance to take a breather and gather resources. Of course, France is doing the same, so it soon kicks off again.

How do King George and Emperor Napoleon factor into all this?

Napoleon is the unseen threat to Britain from overseas. His ships are the ones Ross’ privateer crew prey upon, but he’s not a character in the books. King George III becomes important as a character when the Fae expect him to be able to protect the rowankind. Of course it’s not as simple as that because the king’s personal power is limited by parliament. (The Fae don’t understand this because the last time they engaged with the human world, a king’s power was absolute.) Ross discovers King George’s madness is magical and hopes that this will make him sympathetic… well, it was a nice thought, but it’s not going to be that easy.

Same question for the Industrial Revolution.

That’s an interesting one. In 1800 the industrial revolution is not all that far advanced. There are steam engines for pumping water, but no steam locomotives yet. The cloth trade is changing. Cottage industry is being replaced by factories, but they are mostly powered by water wheels for some processes (fulling for example). Belt technology is not sufficiently advanced for mass production. What will make a difference from the end of ROWANKIND onwards is that the rowankind can manipulate wind and water, which, if used on an industrial scale, is going to slow down the advent of steam power. Why develop expensive steam technology when cheap magic does the job? Why light the streets with gas when you can light them with magic?

I see lots of plot activity and lots of character interaction, but I don’t see any themes.  Am I missing something?

Broadly the theme is tolerance and understanding for those with differences, but I don’t hit the theme with a hammer. It’s there if you look for it.

Are we going to see any spinoffs, prequels, or sequels to Rowankind?

I’ve been working on a YA book set in a present day which is a future projected from the Rowankind books. It’s the 21st century without computers, mobile phones and television. Technology is roughly a century behind where it is now.

What about your Psi Tech series.  Are you ever going to revisit that fictional universe?

I’m looking at the possibilities of that right now, but I’m not very far along the road with a new project. It might or might not happen.

What other projects have you got brewing?

I’m in the final polishing stages of The Amber Crown, a new standalone historical fantasy set in an analogue of the Baltic States in the 1600s. I’m very excited by it. It’s got magic and politics. It’s told from the viewpoint of three disparate characters and opens with the assassination of a king. The characters are Valdas, the failed bodyguard, whose job it was to keep the king safe; Mirza, a Romani witch, who is given the job of guiding Valdas in a task, and Lind, the assassin. These are complex characters, especially Lind who has more hangups than a wardrobe full of coathangers.

Are you still with DAW for the foreseeable future?

I certainly hope so. When I look along my bookshelves a huge proportion of the SF books I’ve been reading for years are published by DAW. I think I’m a good fit for them, and they’re a good fit for me. My (Hugo-winning) editor is Sheila Gilbert. She’s delightful to work with and brings a wealth of experience to any project I present. She’s also a really nice person to work with.

Jacey Bedford

Where can readers catch up with you for a signing, photo, or panel?

I’ve just finished my round of UK conventions for this year. I attended Eastercon, Fantasycon and Bristolcon, and just a few days ago gave a workshop on worldbuilding and did a panel on characters at the Escafeld event in Sheffield. Next year I’m planning to be at Dublin Worldcon, but I haven’t booked any UK conventions yet. But people can always contact me via my website: www.jaceybedford.co.uk. I’m always happy to engage with readers. I also have a blog at https://jaceybedford.wordpress.com/ and I do answer comments. My facebook writing page is https://www.facebook.com/jacey.bedford.writer/ and ditto about responding to comments. I also tweet @jaceybedford, though I confess I’m not on there every day.

Rowankind Trilogy Completed

By Carl Slaughter: In November 2018, DAW author Jacey Bedford wrapped her alternate history magic trilogy Rowankind.

A magic regulatory agency that controls magic by whatever means necessary, a swashbuckling crew of pirates and their lady captain, recently unbound magic creatures roaming the streets of London, a shapeshifting werewolf, a jealous husband ghost.  Throw in historical figures:  Mad King George, and the Industrial Revolution.  Plenty of plot twists and subplots.

The protagonist is a young woman trying to maintain her independence, stay alive, find romance, resolve family issues, and help her fellow magic creatures.  No, she’s not trying to determine the course of history.  Like the other protagonists in this story, she’s just trying to discover and achieve her destiny.

ROWANKIND TRILOGY
by Jacey Bedford
DAW

  • Winterwood

It’s 1800. Mad King George is on the British throne, and Bonaparte is hammering at the door. Magic is strictly controlled by the Mysterium, but despite severe penalties, not all magic users have registered.

Ross Tremayne, widowed, cross-dressing privateer captain and unregistered witch, likes her life on the high seas, accompanied by a boatload of swashbuckling pirates and the possessive ghost of her late husband, Will. When she pays a bitter deathbed visit to her long-estranged mother she inherits a half brother she didn’t know about and a task she doesn’t want: open the magical winterwood box and right an ancient wrong—if she can.

Enter Corwen. He’s handsome, sexy, clever, and capable, and Ross doesn’t really like him; neither does Will’s ghost. Can he be trusted? Whose side is he on?

Unable to chart a course to her future until she’s unraveled the mysteries of the past, she has to evade a ruthless government agent who fights magic with darker magic, torture, and murder; and brave the hitherto hidden Fae. Only then can she hope to open the magical winterwood box and right her ancestor’s wrongdoing. Unfortunately, success may prove fatal to both Ross and her new brother, and disastrous for the country. By righting a wrong, is Ross going to unleash a terrible evil? Is her enemy the real hero and Ross the villain?

  • Silverwolf

Britain, 1801. King George’s episodic sanity is almost as damaging as his madness. First Consul Napoleon is gathering his forces in France. The disease of democracy is spreading. The world is poised on the brink of the modern era, but the rowankind, long a source of free labor, have shaken off their bonds.

Some have returned to laru to find freedom with the Fae; others are trying to find a place in the world, looking for fair treatment under the law. The course of the industrial revolution may change forever.

Wild magic is on the rise. Creatures of legend are returning to the world: kelpies, pixies, trolls, hobs, and goblins. Ross and Corwen, she a summoner witch and he a wolf shapechanger, have freed the rowankind from bondage, but now they are caught in the midst of the conflict, while trying their best to avoid the attention of the Mysterium, the government organization which would see them hanged for their magic.

When an urgent letter calls Corwen back to Yorkshire, he and Ross become embroiled in dark magic, family secrets, and industrial treachery. London beckons. There they discover a missing twin, an unexpected friend, and an old enemy—called Walsingham.

  • Rowankind

What do you do with a feral wolf shapechanger who won’t face up to his responsibilities? How do you contain magical creatures accidentally loosed into Britain’s countryside? How do you convince a crew of barely-reformed pirates to go straight when there’s smuggling to be done? How do you find a lost notebook full of deadly spells while keeping out of the clutches of its former owner? How do you mediate between a mad king and the seven lords of the Fae?

Ross and Corwen, she a witch and he a shapechanger, have several problems to solve but they all add up to the same thing. How do you make Britain safe for magic users?

It’s 1802. A tenuous peace with France is making everyone jumpy. The Fae, and therefore Ross and Corwen at their behest, have unfinished business with Mad King George, who may not be as mad as everyone thinks–or if he is, he’s mad in a magical way. The Fae have left mankind alone up to now because they don’t care to get involved with mortals, but don’t be fooled into thinking they’re harmless.