Monthly Archives: July 2013

Early Nerdsday – Book Series Review – The Callahan Chronicles

Yeah, I know. I know.

I’ve been slacking.

A lot. 

Life getting in the way, computer down, reasons and excuses and you’ve heard them all before so, to hell with it.

I’m back, with a vengeance.

A former boss of me shared a list of the 100 Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy books of all time today.  I’ve read 70+.  But what appalled me is a series of my favorites were NOT on the list.

The Callahan Chronicles.  

ImageBear in mind, this is a collection of short stories, which all started as works in Analog Science Fiction & Fact in the 80s.  The cast of characters included a time-traveling Irishman, references to his brothel-running wife, a doctor afflicted with puns, an ex-hippie guitarist, alcoholic vampire, and more, all set in a Long Island, NY bar.

I stumbled on the series out of order (that’s a shock if you know me) with a side-project called “Lady Slings the Booze” – how Lady Sally Callahan and her staff, Nikola Tesla, a PI and a mutant dog save the world from nuclear annihilation in the mid 1980s, and cause Dan Rather to get beat up, and an REM classic to be written (What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?).

The humor, wit, and “well hell, maybe that coulda happened” had me hooked. It was my dad’s book.  Totally his fault I’m a geek. And I’m totally ok with that.

My dad and I both read that one, then quickly acquired the previous short stories about Callahan and his crew.  The Crosstime Saloon is the first anthology – and “The Guy With The Eyes” is the first story.  Over time the stories and anthologies have combined and evolved. Every one as hysterical and well-written as the last.  Most of them revolve around humanity – and simply being a decent human being, with the plot inclusions of nuking New York, aliens, mobsters, and music thrown in for good measure.

The longer stories, including Callahan’s Touch, Callahan’s Con, Callahan’s Lady, and Callahan’s Key, all involve some element of saving the world, whether from “local” terrors or alien forces and AI.  

Yes, the issues have been covered a million times over in sci-fi/fantasy, but it’s the humanity of the characters and frankly the balls out humor that makes Robinson’s tales special.

Image

Of course, while researching the book, I discovered that sometime in the 1990s, a computer game was made.

And the gamer geek in me, who helped her dad code Hitchhiker’s Guild to the Galaxy for his TI99 on cassette tape as a kid, just screamed “OMG OMG GET IT GET IT GET IT NOW.”

There may be a review of that to come.  

 

 

Until then – I’m going to revisit the bar, and have a God’s Blessing or three.  

If you’re looking for something new and good, even if it’s old, to read.  Pick up or download Callahan’s tales.  You won’t be disappointed.

 

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Dealing with current events

Yeah. So, just down the road from me was the “trial of the year” aka the Zimmerman trial.  I’ve got a million opinions about this, as does everyone else on the ‘net, but first and foremost, I think this has all been a hate hype.

I said it. It’s mostly hype.

Honestly, I think Mr. Zimmerman would’ve done exactly the same thing, to any strange kid in his neighborhood, regardless of whether they were black, white, hispanic, Native American, or green with purple stripes.  He felt empowered to patrol his neighborhood as a watch member, and was legally entitled to have a  concealed firearm.  The neighborhood had a history of recent break ins.

The real tragedy in this, in my non-legal opinion, is that it doesn’t matter who the kid was, the outcome with the average 17 to 20 year old guy (and nobody new Mr. Martin’s age until after the fact) would’ve been the same.  Just as Zimmerman was empowered by his handgun and his “home turf” many young adult men have an entitlement complex where they will buck up and be macho about a guy following them when they are doing nothing wrong.

I honestly think Zimmerman himself isn’t racist.  But I think the judicial system is.

Therein lies the rub.  Because the issue became “white man (or half white/half peruvian man) kills black boy” rather than “neighborhood watch guy kills teen” the incident got a full head of steam and drama queens.  Not a year earlier Zimmerman ticked off the same Sanford Police Department (and its then chief) when he was trying to bring the department actions to light when the son of a department officer beat a homeless black man within an inch of his life.  A lot of that was left out of the national and social media.

Before the police department and prosecutors office in Sanford could complete their investigation, FDLE and the special prosecutor took it over.  Because of the public outcry, they shot for a second degree murder charge.

Zimmerman didn’t help things any by lying to the judge about his history and his defense fund.  I’m sure someone’s going to come back at him and his wife for the perjury charges.

I watched a lot of the trial. I work at home, and frankly it was on every goddamn channel in the metro Orlando area.  I watched a lot of the analysis.

Our justice system is set up that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Period.

The state did not prove it’s case for second degree murder. Period.

The jury found Zimmerman not guilty by reason of self defense. Period.

That means even finding him guilty of manslaughter – which by definition is actions causing death – they found Zimmerman fired in self defense.  Even though Zimmerman shouldn’t have disobeyed the police dispatcher and followed Martin, and even though Martin could’ve run the distance to his dad’s home, Zimmerman is “not guilty.”

Not guilty is a far cry from innocent.

My takeaway from this is several fold.

First – what happens the next cold raining night a neighborhood watch guy sees a strange kid in his neighborhood and follows him, or her?  Can’t tell in a hoodie at night in the rain.

Second – why is there not as much outcry in similar situations where “stand your ground” is claimed?

In Jacksonville – a white man killed a teenager over his stereo being too loud at a gas station.  http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/11/27/florida-man-charged-with-killing-teen-over-loud-music/

In Miami, a man killed his wife’s lover, shooting him in the back several times and claims self defense and stand your ground.  He was acquitted last month.  http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/06/04/2095821/citing-stand-your-ground-jury-acquits-man-who-killed-wifes-lover/?mobile=nc

And again in the Jacksonville area, just a day before Zimmerman was acquitted, a black woman received a 20-year sentence because she fired warning shots at her abusive husband, and cited self-defense/stand your ground.  http://jacksonville.com/news/crime/2012-05-11/story/jacksonville-woman-sentenced-20-years-prison-stand-your-ground

Interestingly, three of these cases are being prosecuted through the Jacksonville State Attorney’s office.  Dunn is being tried in September on 1st degree murder charges.  Hopefully they are slightly more competent in the prosecution in that case.

What’s the difference, besides the gender and race of the accused?  I put money on having money for representation.  Zimmerman had one of the best defense lawyers in the area.  O’Mara easily deflected the overreaching prosecution theories and circumstantial evidence, and proved a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman acted in self defense.  I’m sure the rich Miami man had similar representation.

And likewise, Marissa Alexander, had a public defender.

Are Zimmerman, the jury or all Floridians racist?  Everyone’s got some preconceived notions, even the most liberal of folks, about racial stereotypes.  Some protest to much in an effort to over come them.  But I don’t think any of the individuals involved in this acted purely on racial intent, if at all.

The real racism lies within the system.  Where enough publicity can be raised to create a modern-day lynching on one person for a questionably heinous act, but not on others just as abominable.

Let’s see the same hew and cry over Marissa Alexander’s situation.  Or what happened with Ralph Wald in Miami.  Or Michael Dunn in Jacksonville.

And let’s see how we can fix the judicial system to make justice not only blind, but color blind.

 

 

 

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