A blog post I read recently made me think back to when I was growing up. The world was changing. Vietnam was done, and now we got our Asian war fix from the 4077th. Disco and prog rock gave way to hair bands and pop. And while we were moving from the hippie idealism of the ’70s to the cold capitalism of the ’80s, a young director came on the scene and changed the face of science fiction films. He had only made a couple movies before, but his new film, a tale of robots and rebellion and redemption, created a world so rich it would touch sci-fi movies for decades to come and attract a legion of devoted fans.
But then we come to find out that the movie he made didn’t live up to his expectations, and when time and technology allowed, he recrafted it, adding bits here and subtracting bits there, even changing one scene in such a way that it totally altered the nature of Harrison Ford’s character. And when the final product was revealed to the fans, they loved it even more than the original, and spent lots of money on the new release, and were thrilled that the director could at last have his vision realized.
“Wait a minute,” you say, “what on earth are you talking about? Everyone hated the special editions of Star Wars. George Lucas is a monster who took a giant dump on my childhood! HAN SHOT FIRST!” Well, that’s as may be, but what does that have to do with Ridley Scott and Blade Runner?
So John Scalzi, in addition to writing really good sci-fi novels, also writes a column for filmcritic.com. Since he’s on a book tour in Germany, instead of the usual sci-fi movie stuff he writes, his latest column was a list of writing assignments for his readers. Now this is not the sort of thing you can do to my brain, which proceeded to wake me up constantly last night with new lines for the first topic, namely convincing him (and his flamethrower) that I am not the Thing. In rhyme. Here’s what my sleepy head came up with. (Note: Spoilers for the 1982 movie, The Thing, ahead. And if you haven’t seen it, well why not?)
Back at the end of May, the picture at the right was unveiled to the world by John Scalzi and Wil Wheaton at Phoenix Comicon. And while the picture itself is incredibly awesome, it was made even more awesome by the revelation that there would be a fanfic contest to come up with the best story describing the events in the picture. And then, just to prove that whatever we might be able to come up with for possible awesome things would pale in comparison to this new awesomeness, John and Wil revealed that the culmination of the contest would be an e-book of stories, the proceeds of which would go to benefit lupus research. Not just the profits. The proceeds. All the money.
That culmination is finally here. So if you want to help find a cure for lupus while getting a collection of awesome and funny and silly (and occasionally a little blue) stories about two of the nicest guys on the Intertubes and their epic battle, head on over to unicornpegasuskitten.com and download and donate. (If the occasional cussword puts you off, you don’t have to download the book to donate.)
Below the fold, my attempt to be immortalized in fanfic history. (So you know all the stories in this e-book must be better than this.)
When I was a kid, we had one of those put-it-together-yourselves Christmas trees. It had what looked like a broom handle painted green for a trunk, with holes drilled in it, into which you inserted fake pine branches. When it was all put together… well, picture the “before” version of Charlie Brown’s tree from the Peanuts Christmas special, and you’ll get a pretty good idea.
It turns out that my wife had pretty much exactly the same tree growing up. (She and her sisters used to lie underneath it and pretend they were presents.) The thing is, while my dad went through “have-to-have-a-live-tree” and “a-really-good-fake-tree-is-a-lot-less-work” phases, her parents had never bothered to upgrade, and were still using it until a few years ago.
When they finally bought a really nice artificial tree (seven feet tall, pre-strung with lights, looks better than the real thing), we decided to surprise her dad with a “funeral” for the old tree. We had everything you need: mourners, my brother-in-law the pastor providing a little (hysterical) sermon, and me reciting this sonnet eulogizing the dear departed. (Because really, what’s a funeral without a drunken Scotsman reciting poetry?)
One of the instigators for me starting up a blog again was the death of my grandmother a few weeks ago. During the drive to and from Ontario with my brother for the funeral, this kept worming its way into my brain. My brother may be the poet in the family, but occasionally I get the itch, too.