Crankings

     It’s important to take a break now and then from obsessive news-reading. Keeping up with the news does provide fodder for a lot of opinion-editorials, but it can also turn one into a Curmudgeon Emeritus. I’m here to tell you.

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     Sometimes an act of charity – even simple cordiality toward a lonely stranger – can cost you a lot more than you planned to “spend” on it. It can be difficult to foresee and damned near impossible to “budget” for.

     Be careful with whom you share anything over the Web. Yes, yes, that’s already “received wisdom,” but it’s remarkable how easily even a suspicious old man such as your humble Curmudgeon can be seduced out of the path of prudence. I’m currently paying for an indiscretion of that sort. If it can happen to me, it can happen to you. Verbum sat sapienti.

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     I’ve often derided the application of the term hero to figures that aren’t heroic in the classical sense. I particularly dislike the practice of calling a prominent entertainer a hero. I seldom disguise my disdain for the practice.

     Yet there are a few entertainers who are worthy of note, and not merely for their entertainment skills. One of them appears to be the New York Yankees’ right fielder and notable slugger, Aaron Judge.

     According to the reports, Judge isn’t just a terrific long-ball hitter. He’s also something that we haven’t seen much lately in professional sports: a nice guy. He’s not a glory hound, and he’s not an obsessive. He plays the game as it deserves to be played. When he does promotions for the team, he’s universally welcomed and applauded. When he was a rookie, he did a couple of promotional spots where he even succeeded in concealing who he was, as difficult as that sounds for a 6’ 7”, 280 lb. titan feared by MLB pitchers everywhere.

     The Bronx Bombers have been blessed by several stars of this sort: Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Derek Jeter come to mind at once. It’s a peculiarly rare thing in pro sports…and one we should appreciate when it manifests.

***

     I struggle to avoid getting caught up in the “hot trends” in fiction. That’s not as easy as it sounds for one who writes science fiction, fantasy, and romance. For example, you may have noticed that the hot ticket in romance is “billionaire romances.” (It was once millionaires, but, you know, inflation.) I sneered at it from a distance…and then unthinkingly used billionaire venture capitalist Evan Conklin as a co-protagonist in Antiquities. Whoops! Well, maybe once doesn’t spoil an otherwise spotless record.

     Another trend I dislike is the “never-ending series.” These days, series rule the fictional roost, for reasons I need not explicate for my intelligent Gentle Readers. Yet I’ve almost been caught in the same trap. Also, I continue to situate most of what I write in my fictional inland New York county of Onteora. Perhaps that’s a venial sin, though a number of the characters have popped up, some by surprise, in novels that were not intended to include them.

     I’ve done some difficult things to prevent myself from perpetuating a Marquee character for too long. I gave Louis Redmond terminal cancer. I made Armand Morelon choose mortality of his own free will, like Luthien Tinuviel and Arwen Evenstar. Most recently, I knocked off Fountain with a world-record case of exhaustion. (That one reduced my “alpha reader” to actual tears.) In each case, readers have written to upbraid me for killing a favorite…sometimes in language I hesitate to reproduce here.

     I still have a couple of demises to contrive. I expect more savagely critical email when those moments come, but needs must. If only those readers could know what such character executions do to me.

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     Among the consequences I should have expected for my stuff is the occasional blast of unintelligent criticism from a reviewer with too high an opinion of himself. I got some of that just yesterday. It had me shaking my head.

     I make extensive use of Christian themes and motifs. However, because of the ideas I explore, I sometimes posit departures from “traditional” Christian doctrines. That irritates some people. The problem isn’t mine; it’s theirs. They lack either imagination or the ability to see the consequences of some plot elements.

     For example: the doctrines of Christianity as it was reborn on Hope were far less restrictive than “traditional” Christian teaching in the here-and-now. That’s because the people of Hope are cut off from those “traditional” doctrines. There are no inheritors of the Apostolic Succession among them. They steer by a single star: a copy of the Bible that was preserved for 1700 years.

     How could anyone miss the implications? Well, perhaps my reviewer didn’t miss them. Perhaps he dismissed them. The ultra-orthodox can be like that: There shall be no messing around with the teachings of the Church! I’d imagine he doesn’t cope well with the doctrinal variations among the various denominations. But that’s the life of the speculative-fiction writer.

***

     The sun is up, the grass is acceptably dry, and the weather service predicts more rain within a day or so. Therefore, it’s time for this suburban homeowner to seize the moment. Enjoy your weekend, and always remember and abide by the Three Laws of Humanics. No, not those laws. These!

  1. Get your first serve in;
  2. Don’t draw to fill an inside straight;
  3. Shoot first and worry about the paperwork later.

     Be well!

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