This blog, by writer and aspiring novelist Stephen G. Parks, is about science fiction, space, creativity, and occasionally wildly off-topic ideas such as ethics, politics, music, or journalism. Take a look around, maybe leave a comment!


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Thoughts on Shel Silverstein

Recently, Shel Silverstein has become a topic of conversation in the blogosphere, not bad for someone who died in 1999. The cause of this sudden surge of interest is a new interpretation of one of his classic works, The Giving Tree. The upshot of this new interpretation is that the book is not about compassion and greed, but in fact about "patriarchy" and that it “romanticizes self-destructive and self-negating behavior in women."

I guess that I'd have to say that people sometimes read a book too deeply, projecting their own themes onto those of the author. Shel wrote simplistic stories with a child-like perspective. I've always had a soft spot for that perspective, but he wrote in broad storkes, and in doing so, left room open for others to fill in the details as fit their psychology.

Tau Ceti - an update

The last time I wrote about Tau Ceti’s progress was in September when it was sitting at 77,000 words. I was worried at the time that the story might wrap up too quickly, that it might be only 90,000 words complete. A lot has changed since then. I got to spend a lot of time working on the story in December, and I’ve found that some key scenes took much longer to develop than I had expected, pushing the current, not-yet-complete, word count over 105,000.

Star Wars (1977) vs Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

In 1977 I fell in love with a movie that doesn't technically exist any more. That movie was called Star Wars. Its creator has tried his best to destroy every existing print of the negatives, to ensure that the movie would be lost. Why? Because he wanted to use the guts of the film to make a new "enhanced" version called Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

Will Aaron Sorkin Burn The Newsroom to the Ground?

Spoilers for The Newsroom, season 3 episode 5 follow. Read at your own risk.

Throughout this truncate season, I’ve had some real glimmers of hope for The Newsroom. The show, about a plucky, holier-than-thou newsroom that decides not to pander to the lowest common denominator, but to treat their audience as if they were intelligent, moral people, has had its detractors, many of them in newsrooms throughout the US. Personally I like the idealism that it strives for, but the show often brushes off key factors like ratings and advertisers, adding a layer of surreality to the proceedings.

Some of those neglected elements have been coming back to bite the fictional newsroom this season. The network has been sold to a nouveau riche new media ‘visionary’ who stands for everything the newsroom doesn’t -- citizen journalism and immediacy over fact checking and second-sourcing news. Add to this that the newsroom is still suffering from a loss of credibility for getting suckered into presenting a detailed and very incorrect report on the US military using sarin gas in Afghanistan.

Christmas in Malaysia

I’ve been meaning to write about Christmas in Malaysia since, well, last Christmas. I’m glad I waited, as this year I’m noticing things that contradict what I thought I experienced the first time.

Malaysia is a country at a unique intersection. It is a Muslim country* but it is also an Asian country. Although Muslims don’t generally celebrate Christmas, Asian retailers love any holiday that promotes consumerism, and in that sense, there’s no holiday like Christmas.

Christopher Nolan's Interstellar: The Great Filter and Timey-Wimey Stuff

This post most certainly contains spoilers for the movie Interstellar.

Christopher Nolan had a lot to say in Interstellar, and he took almost three hours to say it. I’m just not sure that it ever amounted to anything. In this film, ex-astronaut turned farmer Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is convinced to leave his family in an attempt to save them (and Earth) from certain destruction. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t Armageddon, this is a much bleaker, darker, and realistic doom — we’ve destroyed the Earth’s environment and now it’s killing us.