(Across the Void, by S.K. Vaughan. Skybound Books/Simon & Schuster, 2019, $27.00, 371 pp.)

reviewed by Zeke Teflon

The Library Journal review of Across the Void reveals that the author is “a pseudonym for an accredited film writer and director.” This explains why Across the Void reads like an expanded screenplay, and why it serves as an excellent illustration in printed form of the contempt with which Hollywood holds science fiction fans.

Vaughn’s novel is a decently written if cliched damsel-in-distress sci-fi thriller/mystery — injured astronaut with no memory of what happened to her awakens on a crippled space ship — that’s marred by, among other things, scientific illiteracy. Two examples: 1) the crew supposedly spent a week on the surface of Europa, an intensely radioactive environment, where an hour’s exposure would be extremely dangerous and a day’s exposure would cause severe radiation sickness and death; and 2) howlers such as, “Unfortunately, the star fields 621,000 miles in all directions are unidentifiable, . . .” a statement so nonsensical that it’s not even wrong.

(Why the odd figure 621,000? The author evidently realizes that a million kilometers equals 621,000 miles, and probably thinks American readers are too dumb to know that. Never mind that “621,000 miles” makes no sense at all in regard to “star fields.”)

There’s also an unnecessary flashback to open the book, a bit of bathos (in the relationship of the astronaut and her estranged husband — who of course comes to her rescue), and some heavy-handed passages designed to reveal character and/or wow the reader, none of which helps. Nor does the author having nothing of interest to say about damn near anything.

I only read the first 50 pages or so of this one, so the remaining 300+ pages might comprise a sci-fi masterpiece. But somehow I doubt it.

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Zeke Teflon is the author of Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia (large pdf sample here). He’s currently if sporadically working on the sequel to Free Radicals, an unrelated sci-fi novel, and a nonfiction book on the seamier sides of Christianity (24 Reasons to Abandon Christianity, which will appear in 2020).

Free Radicals, by Zeke Teflon front cover


“People like the idea of freedom of speech until they hear something they don’t like. When people say, ‘He crossed the line,’ I say, ‘I didn’t draw a line, you did.’ It’s relative. It’s subjective.”

-Ricky Gervais, quoted in CNN’s “Golden Globes reunion with host Ricky Gervais has a whiff of desperation.”


Image  —  Posted: January 4, 2020 in Christianity, Humor, Livin' in the USA, Politics


McCovey Chronicles reports that the best broadcasting team in baseball will be back in 2020: Kruk & Kuip, Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper, will be back this coming season and probably thereafter. I hope that they’ll go on until they, or I, drop. As Brian Murphy put it on McCovey Chronicles, “we get to enjoy two friends just talking baseball for a little while longer.” Both of them were better-than-average major leaguers with a dry sense of humor, and their friendship is almost palpable. Their broadcasts feel like you’re sitting in your living room talking baseball with two friends who are more knowledgeable than you. Not in a condescending way, but just knowledgeable, and funny.

Probably the best baseball comment I ever heard was one Kuiper (the play-by-play man) made ten or fifteen years ago. The count was 3 and 2, and the batter fouled a ball off the back of the plate. It hit the catcher square in the balls. He went rigid and toppled over, in agony. After maybe 10 or15 seconds of dead air, as the catcher writhed, Kuiper said, deadpan — despite the count — “One strike, two balls.”

The other bit of good news is that the second-best MLB broadcasting team will be back next season, Jon Miller and Mike Flemming, on the radio side of the Giants. They’re well worth listening to.

Even when the Giants are halfway (I hope) through a rebuild, and will almost certainly suck, coming in well under.500.

Tune ’em in and enjoy.

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Sour Grapes Department: There’s no longer Spring Training baseball in Tucson. It’s all up the freeway to the north in the hellhole known as “Phoenix.” Seats there for Spring Training games — yes, Spring Training — commonly go for as much as $50, and they’re often sold out.

Here, the Pecos League (independent — Tucson Saguaros, and other teams in AZ, TX, NM, CA, and Mexico) starts in May, and box seats are $7.50. Yes, $7.50, with dollar-beer nights every Thursday. The ball is roughly somewhere between high A and low AA, and is fun to watch — guys playing for the sheer joy of it or in a last attempt to catch on with an MLB organization.

I know which I’ll pay to see: obscenely high prices for near-meaningless Spring Training games a horrible drive and a hundred miles up I-10 or a couple months later the homegrown product.

Hope to see you at some Saguaros games. I guarantee it’ll be fun. Maybe 105 at game time (just before sunset), but fun nonetheless.

 


“Observation: The strongest men I know — guys who deadlift over 500 pounds, run 4-minutes for the mile, throw a discuss hundreds of feet, or run ultramarathons — tend to be caring, considerate, and generally calm dudes. The guys I know who want to be strong and tough — but who are not — tend to be loud, defensive, and overly proud. Toughness isn’t walking around with your chest puffed out trying to intimidate. It’s making the right decision under uncertainty and distress. This is one of the great paradoxes of toughness. Once you have it you don’t need to show it.”

Brad Thulberg, Fake Toughness

 


CHRISTMAS, n. A day of mourning set aside to commemorate a disaster which befell mankind, and more especially womankind, two millennia ago.

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–from the revised and expanded edition of The American Heretic’s Dictionary, the 21st-century successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary


Next fall we’ll publish what might well be See Sharp Press’s final nonfiction book, 24 Reasons to Abandon Christianity. Here’s a a season-appropriate reason that will be greatly expanded in final publication.

24. Christianity borrowed its central myths and ceremonies from other ancient religions. The ancient world was rife with tales of virgin births, miracle-working saviors, tripartite gods, gods taking human form, gods arising from the dead, heavens and hells, and days of judgment. In addition to the myths, many of the ceremonies of ancient religions also match those of that syncretic latecomer, Christianity.

To cite but one example (there are many others), consider Mithraism, a Persian religion predating Christianity by centuries. Mithra, the savior of the Mithraic religion and a god who took human form, was born of a virgin; he belonged to the holy trinity, he was a link between heaven and Earth, and he ascended into heaven after his death. His followers believed in heaven and hell, looked forward to a day of judgment, and referred to Mithra as “the Light of the World.” They also practiced baptism and ritual cannibalism—the eating of bread and the drinking of wine to symbolize the eating and drinking of the god’s body and blood. Given all this, Mithra’s birthday should come as no surprise: December 25th; this event was, of course, celebrated by Mithra’s followers at midnight.

Mithraism is but the most striking example of the appearance of these myths and ceremonies prior to the advent of Christianity. They appear—in more scattered form—in many other pre-Christian religions.