Amazon’s Pilot Season has begun and for me, the winner is the SF show, OASIS.
Without giving too much away, Richard Madden (from Game of Thrones) plays Peter, a young minister in the dystopia of 2032, who travels to Mankind’s last best hope, a distant space colony called Oasis where the best and brightest (and wealthiest) of Humanity is establishing a shiny new future for our species – a future without the ‘treacherous illusion of faith”. At least that’s what it was supposed to be until colony founder David Morgan suddenly and mysteriously invites Peter to take the ride through the Big Black Empty.
I think it best anyone interested experience the show for themselves, so I’ll avoid spoilers. But in my opinion, Oasis is the stand out show of the five potentials. It is the pilot, so there are some intentional plot holes and unresolved issues. Of course. It also comes off as smartly written, well acted, with great visuals and camera work. More importantly for me, it hits that spot where future science and technology intersect with human nature and religion, and portrays my particular faith (Christianity) in a solid, three-dimensional character. Peter comes off as human and humble, as well as definite and devoted, without being insipid or obnoxiously dogmatic.
Amazon’s ‘after-the-show’ survey wanted to know if I thought Oasis was the best thing I’d ever seen and could be my favorite show ever. Well… that’s impossible to say on the basis of a single episode. It all depends on where the writers go with the characters and what answers they forward through the show’s plot, but I will confess Oasis certainly got my attention. So much so, I spent some time in my shop today and as I closed up, I caught myself thinking, “Nice. I can go watch the next episode” only to remember a split second later that was all there was. So that’s a good sign, I think.
So if you’re fiending for a SF fix with some intrigue, substance, and perhaps a little soul, I highly recommend Oasis. Here’s hoping there’s enough of us to recommend it and get the show in production.
Have a good weekend.
A NY Times article by Ross Douthat
Yes, I am posting it on my blog. Irony can be pretty ironic, eh?
So far, in my ongoing series of columns making the case for implausible ideas, I’ve fixed race relations and solved the problem of a workless working class. So now it’s time to turn to the real threat to the human future: the one in your pocket or on your desk, the one you might be reading this column on right now.
Search your feelings, you know it to be true: You are enslaved to the internet. Definitely if you’re young, increasingly if you’re old, your day-to-day, minute-to-minute existence is dominated by a compulsion to check email and Twitter and Facebook and Instagram with a frequency that bears no relationship to any communicative need.
Compulsions are rarely harmless. The internet is not the opioid crisis; it is not likely to kill you (unless you’re hit by a distracted driver) or leave you ravaged and destitute. But it requires you to focus intensely, furiously, and constantly on the ephemera that fills a tiny little screen, and experience the traditional graces of existence — your spouse and friends and children, the natural world, good food and great art — in a state of perpetual distraction.
Used within reasonable limits, of course, these devices also offer us new graces. But we are not using them within reasonable limits. They are the masters; we are not. They are built to addict us, as the social psychologist Adam Alter’s new book “Irresistible” points out — and to madden us, distract us, arouse us and deceive us. We primp and perform for them as for a lover; we surrender our privacy to their demands; we wait on tenterhooks for every “like.” The smartphone is in the saddle, and it rides mankind.
Which is why we need a social and political movement — digital temperance, if you will — to take back some control.
Of course it’s too soon to fully know (and indeed we can never fully know) what online life is doing to us. It certainly delivers some social benefits, some intellectual advantages, and contributes an important share to recent economic growth.
But there are also excellent reasons to think that online life breeds narcissism, alienation and depression, that it’s an opiate for the lower classes and an insanity-inducing influence on the politically-engaged, and that it takes more than it gives from creativity and deep thought. Meanwhile the age of the internet has been, thus far, an era of bubbles, stagnation and democratic decay — hardly a golden age whose customs must be left inviolate.
So a digital temperance movement would start by resisting the wiring of everything, and seek to create more spaces in which internet use is illegal, discouraged or taboo. Toughen laws against cellphone use in cars, keep computers out of college lecture halls, put special “phone boxes” in restaurants where patrons would be expected to deposit their devices, confiscate smartphones being used in museums and libraries and cathedrals, create corporate norms that strongly discourage checking email in a meeting.
Then there are the starker steps. Get computers — all of them — out of elementary schools, where there is no good evidence that they improve learning. Let kids learn from books for years before they’re asked to go online for research; let them play in the real before they’re enveloped by the virtual.
Then keep going. The age of consent should be 16, not 13, for Facebook accounts. Kids under 16 shouldn’t be allowed on gaming networks. High school students shouldn’t bring smartphones to school. Kids under 13 shouldn’t have them at all. If you want to buy your child a cellphone, by all means: In the new dispensation, Verizon and Sprint will have some great “voice-only” plans available for minors.
I suspect that versions of these ideas will be embraced within my lifetime by a segment of the upper class and a certain kind of religious family. But the masses will still be addicted, and the technology itself will have evolved to hook and immerse — and alienate and sedate — more completely and efficiently.
But what if we decided that what’s good for the Silicon Valley overlords who send their kids to a low-tech Waldorf school is also good for everyone else? Our devices we shall always have with us, but we can choose the terms. We just have to choose together, to embrace temperance and paternalism both. Only a movement can save you from the tyrant in your pocket.
The latest installment of my mistress project, a mil-SF short “Zombie 6”, is up.
This one is dedicated to the work and memory of Mr. Bill Paxton. Thank you, sir. May you Rest in Peace.
Click on the link below or the drop down tab in the Top Menu.
More Arts and Crafts glass work. Installed today. Two panels for the sun porch in a private residence on the bay in Orleans, MA. 80% salvaged antique glass. Period design to match existing work in room and around the home.
Back to writing now.
Took advantage of a slow week to hammer out the next installment of my ongoing mil-SF story Zombie 6.
Click on the Tab in the top menu bar, or here –> Chapter 5: #RighteousFlames
Hope you enjoy. Have a good weekend.
Bit of writing news for the new year.
I’ve decided to alternate fiction projects in 2017. My first and main effort continues to be the post-apocalypse fantasy novel Shattered Worlds, (currently hammering out Act II, Into the Scorned Lands) while the second, ‘mistress project’, is a straight up military science fiction novella presently titled Zombie 6.
Focused on a spec-ops team ordered to support the embattled Colonial Administration Security forces on the mining colony Mèng Tiān, Zombie 6 will be offered free here on HSSJ as it progresses. I have added a tab to the top header menu. The first three chapters are up already and I plan on posting new ones bi-weekly. I’m getting a kick out of where the story is taking me and I hope you enjoy it as it develops too. Feedback is welcome and comments are always appreciated.
In other fictional realities, the second Eshu International book, Shift Tense is now available in print. You can pick up a copy here at Amazon. For whatever reason, reviews for the Kindle version have not, are not, (will they ever?) carrying over to the print listing, so would some of you nice folks who have read Shift Tense fire off a few lines or Copy-n-Paste your Kindle review so it doesn’t look so forlorn there? Thank you very much.
Finally, thank you all for your continued support. The older I get the more convinced I am success is defined by creativity, community, and contribution more than anything else. I’m fortunate to have such excellent family, friends, and fans. Thank you and happy new year.
Finally finished this personal project: an Arts and Crafts light fixture. White-cedar fence posts rough-sawn into 3″ x 3″ beams. 1″ copper bands for accents. Over all dimensions are 48″ x 36″. Four, 6′ x 9″ panel lamps in a modified Roycroft design at each intersection, fabricated with Youghiogheny Restoration glass. The wiring runs through copper pipes to junction box above the ceiling. (which is a shame as I purchased some nice, period cloth-wrapped lamp cord. But hey, at least I know it’s there) A Christmas gift for my wife, it was finally installed last night.
Today is going to be a writing day.
Method 1 – Not a movie prop.
According to Task and Purpose, AMP Suits, Mech-Warrior, and other Big Stompy Robots aren’t that far away. Just add some Chobham armor plating and a chain gun and off we go.
Let the stable still astonish:
Straw-dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the child–
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.
Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said,
“Yes, let the God of Heaven and Earth
Be born in this place”?
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms
Of our hearts
“Yes, let the God of Heaven and Earth
Be born in this place.”