Links for 2012-10-05

In which Heinlein helps out a friend, new Trek turns 25, the future isn't what it used to be, skeptics see a chupacabra, Star Wars characters can't read, and Frank Turner is brutally honest about John Lennon's worst famous song.


  • British folksinger Frank Turner on why he hates John Lennon’s “Imagine” | Music | HateSong | The A.V. Club

    AVC: You come from a punk background. That seems to fit in with the anti-nationalism, anti-corporate, and anti-religious messages of “Imagine,” no? FT: Yes, but that’s one of the things that’s so fucking annoying about it. Compared to, say, “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” or indeed anything by Crass or The Clash or Propagandhi, it’s so utterly vacuous. It’s a Hallmark card set to music. There’s a pretty high dose of hypocrisy in here as well. For a man who had a dedicated, refrigerated room in his New York penthouse apartment for storing his fur-coat collection to sing “Imagine no possessions” takes a fair amount of chutzpah. I mean, I have no problem with the man collecting fur coats. Whatever floats your boat. But there’s a certain strain of material disdain that can only result from being really fucking rich, which is intensely patronizing.

  • Most Citizens of the Star Wars Galaxy are Probably Totally Illiterate |

    Not once in any Star Wars movie does someone pick up a book or newspaper, magazine, literary journal, or chapbook handmade by an aspiring Jawa poet. If something is read by someone in Star Wars, it’s almost certainly off of a screen (and even then, maybe being translated by a droid), and it’s definitely not for entertainment purposes. As early as the 1990s-era expanded Star Wars books and comic books, we’re introduced to ancient Jedi “texts” called holocrons, which are basically talking holographic video recordings. Just how long has the Star Wars universe been reliant on fancy technology to transfer information as opposed to the written word? Is it possible that a good number of people in Star Wars are completely illiterate?

  • Travis and I see a chupacabra…. | Two Different Girls

    Travis is a native of New Hampshire. He likes to show me, as I’ve only lived in New Hampshire 17 years, some of the back roads and byways of the state. One evening we were taking a very rural shortcut when the headlights fell upon a creature. It crossed the road in front of the car, Travis had slammed on the brakes, and we just sat there for a moment. “Did you see what I just saw?” Travis exclaimed. I took a breath and think I answered something like “Yeah, if you think we just saw a chupacabra.” At this point, we just started to laugh. The last people that need to see a mysterious creature crossing the road late at night are leaders of the local skeptic group.

  • Who Knew a Failing Future Could Be So Exhausting? - Staffer's Book Review (and occasional musings)

    William Gibson’s Neuromancer is perhaps the closest thing to a Nostradamus that fiction has produced. And it feels like it’s getting truer every day. Think about that for a minute. Of all the realities in speculative fiction since the beginning, the ones that look most authentic in the here and now are the ones that remained more mundane — bound up in the struggles we have today posited a century hither. What does that say about science fiction’s success? Science fiction as a genre requires one thing, and one thing only. It requires the story to engage with the future. Not merely be set in the future, or use some form of technology to accomplish a goal, rather it must engage with that future in way that is reflective of both now and then. If a story’s science fictional, or fantastic, elements can be removed and the story remains largely unchanged then it cannot be science fiction.

  • 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' turns 25 - Grantland

    Captain Kirk's Enterprise was a ship of phaser-happy explorers always pressing onward toward the next undiscovered planet on which they could stage a fistfight; in comparison, Captain Picard's Enterprise is a calm, sleek vessel of end-of-history galactic administration — a kind of faster-than-light embassy, complete with chamber music concerts. There's very little fighting; there's a great deal of personal growth and trade-pact negotiation. Many, many episodes turn on the decidedly nonstandard TV plot of something has gone wrong with a diplomat.

  • Letters of Note: The Heinlein Maneuver

    The letter that Robert Heinlein sent in response to Theodore Sturgeon suffering writer's block, containing 26 "Sturgeon-ish" story ideas.


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I have to agree with Turner about Imagine. It's insipid.

Also, it wasn't just Star Wars that was full of illiterates. That's one of the things that ruined E.T. for me. It was set in a totally illiterate society.