Violence… and violence

Here in our world, the ‘western world’, when governments use violence to control it’s citizens it is said that ‘they protects the democratic system from hooligans and terrorists’.

When governments outside that select cultural, not geographical, sphere uses violence in the same way it is said that those governments ‘represses free speech’.

In our world people who raises their voices are ungrateful, lacking in vision, and misguided.
When people outside our world raise their voices they are in their right, and the regimes are wrong, per definition.

That a nation which resort to violence to keep it’s dissidents in check cannot be a democracy is something most people chose to forget, and the willingness to see it for what it is apparently diminishes with the closeness to home. So when protesters around the western world gets bashed on their heads, or when disenfranchised immigrants voices their desperation we all know those people should rightfully be stripped of their legal rights.

Because, you know, we say we live in an egalitarian society were everyone has equal rights and opportunities. If those people can’t see that, that’s their fault.

I tear my hair in desperation. Talk about the “covert disciplining” strategy being successful…

(Not why I wrote this, but if you want to know more about “covert disciplining” as a strategy I recommend Silently Silenced /which to be fair I haven’t read – my edition is named Den dolda disciplineringen, an older and swedish language edition/)

Knowing more – a reflection

My son loves Star Wars.

I have to admit I loved Star Wars back in the days when there was just one film, then two and three, but I’ve always been more of a Trekkie (even if I enjoy Babylon 5 and a handful others as well, including the stuffy Space 1999). It follows that I never felt any enthusiasm over the ‘prequel’ films – even the names have evaded me – so I’m virtually clueless when it comes to how Darth Vader came to be. What I know of it mostly comes from playing Lego Star Wars with my son.

This past spring I caved in and let my son watch the very first Star Wars film. I thought him too young but he and his friend loved playing Lego Star Wars and he begged and begged and begged to see at least the first film. I gave in.
Maybe not a surprise, given my love for science fiction, even if I truthfully think of Star Wars as more in the high fantasy genre.

As he can’t read yet it means I have to read all the lines for him, reading off the subtitles (but sometimes I improvise, because the subtitles are too far from the original intent and tone).

Anyway, he was a bit scared, that first time, because he felt it too real. A couple of months later he encountered the animated Clone Wars series, watching with his older second cousin. He explained to me it wasn’t as scary as the figures clearly wasn’t real. Then last week he started to nag me about watching the two other films, and a couple of days ago we started with Empire Strikes Back. Yesterday evening we watched the last part of Return of the Jedi.

Afterwards it was one thing that stayed with him – why Luke had to fight his father. In his world no son should have to do this, and I agree with him. BUT. I never thought of it that way. To me Darth Vader was truly evil, some one to be scared of.

The difference is my son knows a) Darth Vader is Anakin Skywalker, so no surprise effect in the films, and b) he likes Anakin, he’s a good guy, and the Evil Emperor (as my son labels him) has perverted him, by force.
It follows that my son never ever thinks Darth Vader scary, taking away a lot of the tension from the films. But it also means that to him the very last scene – when the the ghost of Anakin joins the ghosts of Yoda and Obi-Wan – is crucial, because it means Anakin gets redress, is exonerated, which is a relief to anyone used to thinking of him as ‘good’.
While to me that last scene is just a general feel-good moment and not terribly important.

What a difference a couple of decades and more knowledge of the back story can do.

Amazing. And perhaps a lesson in itself.

Review: Rift in the Sky, by Julie E Czerneda

This is the third and concluding Stratification book, telling the story about Aryl Sarc but also about how the Clan ended up in space, in the position and situation they occupy in the Trade Pact trilogy.

In books one and two we got to know Aryl and the people that surrounds her. In this book the imperative imposed on the author is they MUST get off Cersi, NOW. Accordingly that is what happens, and not at all in a way that is satisfactory to the reader.

No, I don’t say an author has to write feel-good stories. I’m saying sometimes the story, and the length of the story – the actual number of pages, forces the author to invent implausible plot devices. When the newly named M’hiray Clan arrives at Stonerim III, that is what happens. The removal of some of their memories, the shearing off of the connection with the O’mray, the cursory way the story is told. Not what I have come to expect from Czerneda.

While part one – Reap the wild Wind – felt like it was good on it’s own and with part two – Riders of the Storm – was well worth reading part three felt crippled, forced, by comparison. Maybe this is because I hadn’t read the Trade Pact trilogy first. I guess a lot of the more inexplicable things that happens has justification in those books, or maybe in the sequel Czerneda is planning. As I like her other books, this far, I’m willing to forgive her, to go on reading the rest of the Clan Chronicles. I would, however, not recommend this book on it’s own.
As a part of a greater story arc it is acceptable, though.

Mostly human

When analysing why I favour certain fictional characters over others I have come to realise an important factor is their struggle with what in a sciencefictional framework could be dubbed species identity.

It didn’t take me long to realise, some fifteen plus years ago, that it was the driving factor behind my liking of the Data character, on Star Trek TNG. Granted, he is not human at all, technically speaking, but it wasn’t hard to identify with his ongoing struggle to understand what is human – growing up, being grown up, even, is an ongoing battle against the oddness of the self as related to the rest of the society in which it exists and we are endlessly defining an redefining our selves against the cultural context that surrounds us.

Ultimately Data can’t win his battle, because so can’t we. The only reasonable way is to surrender, to embrace that which makes the self different, to use that difference as a strength. Because if we don’t we become identical and as diversity is part of what drives evolution and development the lack of diversity would also be the end of humanity as we know it.

To be mostly human is the most human trait of all.

Review: Riders of the Storm, by Julie E Czerneda

Some books are almost impossible to review. Riders of the Storm is one of those. While reading it (it’s book 2 of 3 in the Stratification Trilogy) I was immersed in the story but when my head popped out of the book, after the last word left my retina… I just don’t know what to think.

In the first book (Reap the Wild Wind) I felt grateful that she – Czerneda, author of these books – didn’t let her characters drown in needless romantic involvements. True, there were hints of possibilities, but nothing overt. This is also, partly, how this, the second book, starts.

Book one focuses on how change and evolution is inevitable, that not even the strictest rule/r can stop it from happen, and that knowledge – if not understanding – can be a facilitator for such change.

In this second instalment focus has shifted to look at consequences, what happens when you do things without understanding the larger context, but it’s also about taking responsibility and about society; what do a society need to sustain itself?
This is the main storyline, carried by the young woman Aryl Sarc.

The second storyline, or point of view, is that of Enris Mendolar. His use is to provide character depth and back story to some of the supporting cast, and to convey a wider, more complex, picture of the world than one person – Aryl – possibly can provide. This works well. Until the last handful of pages. I can forgive that, it’s a good read. But I think it was a bit too much, even given what happens is founded in the previous 800+ pages of the story. It’s also more romance than this books needs.

All in all a good read; I look forward to reading part three, whenever it arrives in my mailbox.
But be prepared for some truly deus ex machina moments, however consistent with the described world they may be. (Hint – on Star Trek they originally invented the ‘transporter’ so the cast could go places without spending TV time/production cost on being ferried around…)