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SHOCK Star Wars Has Politics And Strong Women And People Of Color And GASP GAY PEOPLE?

(This post first appeared on my Patreon page. Come on by and visit!)

I’ve seen, and you’ve probably seen, a certain amount of “alt-right” and company (social injustice warriors, as I think of them) complaining about the SUDDEN APPEARANCE of the above in the Star Wars universe.

Which might lead you to wonder if any of the complainers actually watched any Star Wars anything (much less any of the novels).

–Politics: baked right into the very core of Star Wars. Hello, a republic grown complacent and clogged with bureaucracy and clinging to tradition is upended by a genocidal authoritarian dictatorship, giving rise to a resistance movement… yeah. Politics, man.

–Strong women: Look, Leia was pretty badass even back in the first movie. She only got tougher as things went along. And now, of course, Carrie Fisher has become more powerful than you could imagine. So, yeah. Not a shock if more tough women are showing up.

–POC: A weakness of the Star Wars movies in the beginning, and a shame Lando Calrissian was the only significant nod to the existence of people other than Caucasians in the beginning — a lack made even more obvious by the huge diversity of aliens running around. Frankly, it’s good to see more human diversity in more recent movies.

–LGBTQ: Basically, see above (though the aliens observation, already a minor side-point of my perception, grows strained here as I’m not sure I remember a lot of alien sexuality showing up either). Cheers to more human diversity. We’ve got lots of it on only one planet, and how many planets are humans on in the Star Wars universe? Yeah.

Look, provincial and insular people can yearn for provinciality and insularism all they want, but rapid and relatively cheap travel plus the instant worldwide multimedia communication environment of the internet will inevitably keep drawing our world together and exposing all of us to each others’ diverse everything. Diversity isn’t some weird left-wing fetish, it’s a FACT OF LIFE.

So, if someone (hello, social injustice warriors) wants to cling to the past: keep clinging, or alternately stop and admit the plain fact that life is change and change will keep happening whether you rage against it or tolerate it or accept it or embrace it. I know of those four options, embracing is by far the most positive and fun.

The “best” angry clingers could accomplish is dragging humanity back into a primitive insular xenophobic barbarity we haven’t even managed to fully exit yet. We’re a half-birthed civilization. Don’t let the technology fool you. The clingers (Klingons? Wrong universe, but still…) say society has gone to far, but it hasn’t gone far enough yet. Being born is the hardest part. Well, until death, but that needn’t come for humanity for a long time if we get our butts off this one little planet… but that’s another rant and one I come back to often.

Anyhow, angry Klingons: let go of your anger. That way leads to the Dark Side and a big smelly pile of Sith (seriously, that name, geez).

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Thirteen Word Story: “We Need To Keep Watch On All The _____.”

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It’s not easy being green, Henson’s Kermit said — but would a green frog or a green alien have more trouble with humans than a green human would?

“We Need To Keep Watch On All The _____.”

We’ve met 1,001 alien species, yet still draw deadly lines within our own.

Thirteen Word Story: Back To The Trees

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    Wars, famines, politicians casting every disagreement as life-or-death division, the screw-the-future shortsightedness of deregulated banks and businesses, the ever-deepening US suspicion of neighbors as enemies and basic social behavior as the demon-Stalinist-bugaboo of Cold War Soviet communism, the push deeper into religious extremism in the Middle East (copied, in rehtoric if not action — yet — by increasingly mainstream figures in US religion, like Huckabee)… there are a lot of forces working against the survival of the human race in the long term. To return to harping on my favorite harp-able subject, if we don’t get a large number of humans out of this nest we call Earth, we’re going to collapse this civilization and where we go from there is up in the air. Back to the trees is an option, should intelligence fail to secure us a future.

But wait — you came here for a thirteen word story. Here it is.

Back To The Trees

“Cooperate or fail — these once-civilized apes chose regression,” the alien xenoarchaeology professor said.

Thirteen Word Story: Collateral Damage

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Collateral Damage

Faster than light, no warning to see: there’s a hole through Earth, collapsing.

Thirteen Word Story: They Walk Among Us

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Wearing the skins of the homeless, scouts for the alien invasion spied, invisible.

Thirteen Word Story: A Distant Relation of Armstrong

Why not? We’ve played this out enough times in our own history…

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The aliens pronounced him King of the Moon, then gave him his decrees.

Thirteen Word Story: The Great War of Bob’s Cat

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As Bob’s horror grew, the cat slowly devoured the tiny alien emissary. War!

Thirteen Word Story: Unidentified Flying Headline

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Headline:

Savage Planet Tours LLC Fined For Allowing Excessive Vehicle Sightings By Natives

Eat MORE Science Fiction — Any Fiction At All, Really

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     In my last post, EAT SCIENCE FICTION (link opens in new tab), I discussed the role of food in fiction, especially science fiction. I focused on the social element of eating meals and the way food and smells of food can evoke memories and feelings in us and in our readers when we include food in our fiction.

     There’s another important aspect of food in fiction, too. One that’s very important to the writer. Food is a good element to use to evoke and to flesh out characters and settings. Just as describing the warm kitchen-filling smell of a hot and gooey baked macaroni and cheese can evoke cozy feelings of family and friendship in your readers, it can also be the touch that nails down a character’s nurturing trait (who doesn’t feel cared for with a slab of baked macaroni and cheese set before them?) or makes the scene of a family get-together feel real.

     Think about the role that food plays in real life settings. If we travel to Maine, we look for a lobster roll. In New Orleans, you have to try the jambalaya, the beignets, seek out an oyster po’boy. A trip to Chicago calls for a deep dish pizza, or at least a Chicago dog. If you traveled abroad, wouldn’t you seek out the local cuisines? Or maybe you’re someone who craves a reminder of home in a strange land, and in the middle of Beijing you’d seek out a handy McDonalds. Foods are part of places for us, and how we relate to them says something about us as people. Consider that last example, an American in Beijing. The McDonalds seeker might be prone to homesickness, might be timid in the face of the different, or might be stuck on notions of cultural superiority, thinking that an American burger must be better than whatever these different people think is good food.

     Your story and dialogue (internal and external) sort out those differences in character traits. Food can be a good way to introduce or emphasize them. Same goes with settings. Maybe your story is set in Chicago. You name the city. Maybe the action touches on the Loop, Lake Michigan and Navy Pier, the river running through the middle of the city, the tall buildings, the traffic, the sprawling suburbs, the harsh consonants of the natives, the snowy winters. Great! All of that says Chicago. Fiction is about details, and the details can make the difference between a good story and a great, engaging story. If your Chesapeake Bay native bemoans the difficulty of finding fresh soft shell crab in Chicago, that can be a valuable detail that makes that character live for the reader. And if you’re writing SciFi, maybe your Earthling character misses cheesy, crusty deep dish pizza on a world full of carnivores. Maybe, like in Niven’s Ringworld books, your carnivores complain a bit about having to microwave their meat to make it blood-warm, instead of consuming it still living. Think of the way that the differences between klingons and Federation humans are outlined by a scene where the humans are offered klingon delicacies. We know they’re different—just look at those foreheads and costumes. But the food really drives the differences home, doesn’t it? As another example, I’m also reminded of William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy, in which noodles eaten with chopsticks become food shorthand for ‘look at all of the Japanese and Chinese influence going on around this place, huh?’ It’s hardly the only detail that says that, but it’s a good one, and it delivers its message well when it appears. Often, it also says ‘these guys are pretty poor, they end up eating cheap noodles a lot.’ Food is a complex thing; it can deliver multiple messages simultaneously.

I’m not saying there has to be food involved in a story to define your characters and settings; good stories have been written in which food makes no appearance at all, and more of them will appear in the future. I’m just saying, food is a good tool to have in your writing toolbox.

The End Of Climate Change — 100 Word Story

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The atmosphere’s warming trend slowed suddenly, tapering to a halt in only twenty years. Ocean temperatures shifted their immense inertia to follow suit. The icecaps began to regain weight. The composition of the upper atmosphere changed subtly, and excess carbon precipitated in tiny flecks, staining rains faint gray.

Climate change deniers crowed victoriously. Look how our god provides for us with a repaired environment!

When the aliens arrived demanding slave levies and mountains of resource tribute or else they’d turn off the weather control they’d been exerting from beyond Mars for thirty years — oh, how the deniers wailed and wilted!