Slaughterhouse-Five Review, Classic

Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.

To do a Slaughterhouse-Five review is to do your own ‘duty-dance with death.’ So it was when I read Kurt Vonnegut’s classic about, among other things, the bombings of Dresden and a man moving backward and forward through time. I read it about two years ago, but the most powerful reads feel like you read them yesterday.

Some books, as you know, do more than take you away, or inform you. Some books change you just a little bit, and help you to find your own voice. The late author connected so easily with me. If you are new to Vonnegut, or his black humor, or if you intend to read based on a review such as this, you might be surprised just how easily he connects with you.

My first experience with Vonnegut was the novel Cat’s Cradle, which my friend Joe probably lost in the sands of Afghanistan soon after I lent it out to him. This is very Vonnegut. To lose a book warning about the perils of a doomsday weapon, and war, in the midst of a war where it might have been useful, is the kind of unfortunate thing that might have made him smile just a little.

Next came his short story, “2 B R 0 2 B” which we (my WYRM cohorts and I) used as the basis for a round of The Gauntlet some years ago. This, too, yielded some hilarious results, as it led to a copypasta job (I hesitate to say plagiarism) from Wikipedia, and then one entrant deciding to ascribe some curious, and very conservative, political viewpoints to the author, which he did not hold. Why?

None of this made sense, yet, that is what Vonnegut is always telling us in his work. Life often doesn’t make sense. There may be nothing intelligent to say about a massacre, but there is something quite intelligent to say about Vonnegut. And along the way, he might make you laugh inappropriately. Without further ado, this was my experience with Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children’s Crusade, a Duty-Dance with Death.

I wondered what a ‘Children’s Crusade’ might be a reference to when I first picked this up, or what one might look like. Evidently, it would look a lot like World War II.

Vonnegut himself was an American soldier during the war, who witnessed the fire-bombing of Dresden, Germany as a POW. He noted just how many of the soldiers were youngsters, from both the Allies, and their enemies, and how much was riding on youth. Is that because so many more seasoned men had already been killed, or because the young are inevitably the ones who get sent off to war? Picture something so significant and grim acted out by mainly children. Makes one speculate about the rest of history.

No one I know, not me, my soldier-friend Joe, nor Vonnegut himself, can really compare to Billy Pilgrim, the protagonist of this novel. He is the utterly hapless American soldier who begins to relive the events of his life after he becomes ‘unstuck in time.’ These events include the war, his career as an eye doctor, his unhappy marriage, later career as a conspiracy theorist, his death, and of course time spent with the Tralfamadorians.

This book can be classified as science fiction. The Tralfamadorians are the aliens who take notice of Pilgrim’s time traveling. This moving backward and forward through the years is not done in a machine, or in any way we’ve become accustomed to in sci-fi. Pilgrim’s traveling is more personal; he simply wakes up at different points in his life.

Though they abduct him, and place him in an alien zoo, these aliens also endeavor to teach Billy something. The substance of this lesson could be taken two ways, either as serious philosophy, or more gallows humor. Perhaps it is both.

When one begins to see things the way they do on Tralfamadore, one asks if there is any point in trying to change anything. Does anything we do matter? Is this nihilism? That’s up for debate, but if you read with an open mind, you may begin to look at your own life differently, and no matter what terrible things befall you, you may think twice before you despair.

On Tralfamadore, they can see how things really happen. Events in time occur simultaneously. My duty-dance went like this: even though I will die, I was quite alive in the past. I guess I shouldn’t fret, huh? I am always alive.

Or, maybe like this: I will read this book. I have read this book. I have always been reading this book.

When are you going to dance?

Slaughterhouse-Five was made into a movie in 1972. Next on my Vonnegut reading list is Mother Night.

(For anyone deeply concerned over whether or not I get my copy of Cat’s Cradle back, do note that I myself lost soldier-friend Joe’s copy of The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac in the depths of my closet. Even Steven.)

#genrethon Excuses, in Bullet Form

They’re not excuses, #genrethon. They’re reasons.

[clears throat]

To Whom It May Concern,

  • I’m new
  • I started late
  • I woke up late
  • I went to bed early
  • I had to work
  • I had to eat
  • I was too ambitious
  • I wasn’t ambitious enough
  • I’m a slow reader
  • I got stuff going on here
  • There were too many words
  • Ditto on the pages
  • I had a stomach ache
  • I had to watch Legends of Tomorrow
  • I read at my own pace
  • I wasn’t taking any shit from John Milton this week

Milton disapproves.

  • Really, I was busy outlining my novel
  • I can’t be expected to do everything around this place
  • Psh, I read a variety of genres already
  • Enough people finished #genrethon; they didn’t need me
  • I’m much too valuable in my present capacity to spend time reading
  • I was arguing with people about dinosaurs having feathers, and that took up some time
  • I was too busy blogging about reading to read
  • It’s not like once the week is over I can no longer read
  • I wasn’t ready; preparedness is a prerequisite for victory
  • Look, I don’t need some readathon to feel good about myself
  • I can’t win ‘em all
  • But mark my words, I’m going to win one
  • I’m sorry, #genrethon
  • The truth is
  • I been downhearted, baby
  • Ever since the day we met.

On words and up words,


Genrethon is Taking Me Places

It’s my first Genrethon, or as I saw it on Twitter, ‘#genrethon’, and for those who don’t know, this is the readathon when one tackles three different genres in one week (April 10-16). Sound daunting? Well, it is, if you’re a slow reader with any plans to finish the books.

I’ll wait ‘til Saturday to see how I do. Write-a-thons I know I can do; Readathons make me dig down pretty deep. But I’ve always been a firm believer that readers or writers who wish to have any idea what they’re talking about should read it all. As much as you can in as many genres as you can. So, whether you finish or not, this is a good habit.

(That’s right. I’m already hedging my bets.)

Anyhow, I think I first owe some thanks to the people who brought this to my attention by blogging, booktubing, tweeting, or reviewing. It’s much appreciated, SFF180 and Reader Rayna! Following the links will bring you their three choices.

Where am I going with my own Genrethon? The first place I’m going is Hell.

Genre #1: Epic Poetry, Paradise Lost by John Milton


The mind is its own place, and in itself / Can we make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven. / What matter where, if I still be the same, / And what I should be, all but less than He / Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least / We shall be free.

Christopher Hitchens once said that Paradise Lost was not in fact John Milton’s greatest poem. However, a lot of other fine scholars disagree, and we’ll see what I think. This work of course details the fall of many of the angels from the Christian Heaven. It is considered by many to be a must-read of the English language.

These next two (one, two) you know, but I’ll freshen it up a bit with different photos and quotes, and hope that it’s not considered cheating that I began these books a bit before Genrethon week.

Genre #2: General Fiction, Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

Ah feel thit ah love thum aw. Matty, Spud, Sick Boy and Lesley. Ah want tae tell thum. Ah try, but it comes oot as: — Ah’m cookin. They look at us, fuckin scoobied. – That’s me, ah shrug ma shooders, in self-justification. Ah go ben the livingroom.

Genre #3: Graphic Novel, Star Wars Infinities edited by Mark D. Beazley


Play “What if?” with the original trilogy in a series of tales exploring the endless possibilities of Star Wars. How would A New Hope have gone if Luke Skywalker had missed the target in his attack on the Death Star? What would have become of the Rebel Alliance if Luke perished in the icy wastelands of Hoth during The Empire Strikes Back? What if Return of the Jedi’s rescue of Han Solo had gone wrong?

I’ll see you Saturday with my update/excuses, as it were. Are you taking part? If not, what other readathons are you missing out on?

#amreading Trainspotting

On Renton! On Sick Boy! On Begbie! On Spud!

On Nina! On Tommy! On Donner and Blitzen!

Tonight, we venture out of genre. I #amreading Trainspotting, the classic novel by Irvine Welsh, at last.


The wait is nobody’s fault but my own. I spend probably three-quarters of my time in genre, but you may be surprised to learn that I once called the film adaptation of this book my favorite all-time movie. To let you in on a little secret, though, I think it helped that I saw it well after the Star Wars prequels came out. My familiarity with Ewan McGreggor, and fondness of young Obi-Wan Kenobi was already well established. In any event, it always feels like everyone else has read this but me.

I am about seventy pages in. It’s hilarious and sad, and the Scottish slang does not apologize. Ye cunt, ye. So, am I crazy, or has everyone read this? Because I know everyone’s seen the movie.



Onward, and happy reading,


Book Review: Startide Rising by David Brin

So, I hope you didn’t think I just gave reading updates around here. I still review books, too.

I read this one late last year. What did I think of Startide Rising by David Brin? Let us dive into that question, into an off-world ocean filled with sentient dolphins, with unique spacecraft, and with what some have called bad poetry.

For starters, I don’t call it bad poetry. I don’t because I myself know little about crafting good poetry; Mister Brin at this moment is a finer poet than I, as I’m sure he was in 1983, before my birth.

True, the ‘trinary’ poems of characters like Hikahi and Creideiki are not on the level of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by S.T. Colridge or “Dover Beach” by Mathew Arnold, two of my favorite poems, but let’s not forget we’re talking about dolphins here. Dolphins who have not mastered sentience, let alone the finer points of iambic pentameter. Perhaps they’re not supposed to be good poets. But, to look at some of these goodreads reviews, you’d think these verses were crimes against humanity, making the book impossible to enjoy.

Actually, I appreciated a bit of trinary, especially some that came later in the novel from Keepiru, which served to reveal a side plot about secret genetic engineering:

* Cold water boils

               When you scream

* Red-jawed hunger

               Fills your dream

* Harpoons slew

               The whales,

* The nets of Iki

               Caught us,

* Yet you, alone

               We feared at night

* You alone—

               . . . Orca.

It made me a little frightened of killer whales.

Anyway, I guess this review has begun in the middle of a story. Let’s catch up.

Startide Rising is the second book in David Brin’s Uplift saga. ‘Uplift’ is the process of elevating other animal species to human-level sentience and intelligence. In the novel, species such as chimpanzees and dolphins have been uplifted by human beings through genetic manipulation. A number of these creatures form the crew of the deep space vessel, Streaker.

They are of course accompanied by a few respected humans, who are veterans of this sort of thing. However, technical rank belongs to the dolphins, and with a character I grew fond of, Captain Creideiki. He will bring much needed wisdom and Zen to the crew, as many of them show signs of succumbing to the Whale Dream, a primal state of madness brought on by the stresses of the mission.

Their mission? To report back to Earth about their discovery of an ancient fleet of alien vessels, which are rumored to belong to the species that uplifted humans.

What stresses could this mission bring on, you ask? Well, we’ve got a few.

  • Galactics hunting the dolphin/human crew, as they want the information for themselves.
  • A full-blown mutiny aboard Streaker, instigated by both human and dolphin collaborators.
  • Getting marooned on an ocean planet saturated with heavy metals.
  • Indigenous, pre-uplift creatures who are put in danger by these shenanigans.
  • One traitorous chimpanzee.

I believe I liked the dolphins best, especially Creideiki, Akki, and Keepiru. They are the finest examples of humanity in this novel, though Gillian and Toshio, the humans, are okay, too. Tomas Orley on the other hand struck me as very much a superman who could do everything well. While he undertook a dangerous mission, I did not ever really fear for his safety. I found him too perfect for me to like, and I could not really consider him the hero of the novel. To me, that will always be Akki, who, if you read his desperate underwater fight scene, might just make a believer out of you.

As for the galactics, while they could be entertaining, and they make great use of some unique psychic abilities, many of them come across as cheesy in their design and behavior. They are brutal in their beliefs and mentalities, making me wish I never run across one. To galactics, to provide uplift means getting indentured servitude in return. The humans are, well, more humanitarian.

The book’s habitual scene breaks, and just as many shifts in point of view, made reading sluggish for me, like other readers, but I cannot deny the payoffs, nor the unexpected mysticism, I was finally treated to. It may not be for everyone, but the concept alone for Startide Rising is so strong, and along with the story’s excitement, I can safely say it deserves respect.

Startide Rising won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards for best novel in 1984. It is followed by The Uplift War, and preceded by Sundiver. I do wish the books were more connected than they appear to be—apart from the obvious connection of uplift—or that the characters I’ve gotten to know appear in the other books, as I would read the rest of this first trilogy.

There is a novel set in the Uplift universe that came out years later, Brightness Reef, that I’d like to check out, though. It would be interesting to see how Brin’s characters or writing style have changed.

#amreading Update

After reading the highly entertaining “Lila the Werewolf” from Beagle’s collection, it’s time to cavort with some popular science fiction. Of a sort. This week’s #amreading update was a gift, a comic collection:

Front Cover

The cover artist is Nick Runge. These comics are re-imagined stories based upon the original Star Wars trilogy.

Back Cover.

Back cover artists are Tony Harris and Chris Blythe. I am intrigued by Star Wars: Infinities, since it conjures another old trilogy graphic novel I read as a kid, The Early Adventures. I’m of course wary of the many things being re-imagined these days, but I cannot say I have never played what-if with these characters myself.

Anybody out there read this one? I now flip to the very first page…




All the best,


Batman v Superman Backlash, Fan Edition

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has come out, and to no one’s real surprise, a lot of people dislike it.

Some would say they hate it.

Others would even say they are boycotting it.

But what is behind Batman v Superman backlash? Is it the reaction of fans who got another lazy blockbuster when they would rather have had a film with some feeling and character continuity? Is there more to it for these fans, myself included, who respect comic book history? Who do we ask? Where do we begin?

We can begin with a story. Once upon a time, my friend Dan and I went to see a movie.

(Well, I saw the movie. Dan is another matter.)

My own issues with this film are not unique, but I think I can sum them up in a blurb: plot all over the place, awkward dream sequences, why is Doomsday in this movie?

However, to get a better sense of a purist’s distaste for Batman v Superman, I had a conversation with a longtime reader of Superman and Batman comics. I talked to Dan. I told him that I was seeing the movie, to which he replied, On Easter Sunday, dude?!

Well, we kept talking, and he even said I could blog about it. So, read on. You may find his opinions illuminating.

Dan, the obvious question. Do you plan to see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice?

Maybe at some point. Certainly not in the theater.

Sounds like a full-on boycott.

Well, that’s my intention. It won’t mean much to the overall success of the movie, but I’ll be happy knowing it won’t be making any money off of me.

I know I’ve felt the same way about movies, so I can understand. And I know you’re fond of both characters, but out of curiosity, would you say you’re a bigger fan of Superman, or of Batman? Does it even matter?

Probably more of a Superman fan these days. As a kid, Batman was one of my favorites. I didn’t compare him to Superman, but I loved Batman. It wasn’t because he’s human, but because he has these crazy cool villains. And he had a sidekick which I identified with as a younger brother to a kid who loved Batman, too. In my mind, I could be the Robin to my brother’s Batman.

But somewhere along the way, I started investing more time into Superman. I loved reading about this guy who came to this planet as an orphan. He was raised to put others before himself, can fight the most powerful creatures on the planet, but still takes the time to help a little girl find her mom when she’s lost in the mall. He tells a girl who’s contemplating suicide, ‘Hey, you’re stronger than you know. It’s not as bad as it seems, and I’m here for you.’ Both these types of things happen in the comics, which makes me love him more.

To me, Batman is the hero who shows kids that he’s stronger than the growing pains, and whatever life throws at us. Superman is the guy I look to when I want to find hope in myself, or in others, or when someone I don’t know well asks for a favor.

Do you think the producers of this movie understand the Superman you’ve just described? We have, by all accounts, been seeing a dark Superman.

They don’t understand Superman, that much is true. They barely seem to understand Batman as I know him. They’ve just turned him into an asshole who is no longer worried about killing because ‘if it happened in other movies—why not ours?’


Dan with Kevin Conroy, longtime voice of the animated Batman

People wanted to see Superman hit things, not necessarily a dark and whiny character. But Snyder and Goyer don’t see a difference with that.

You may not have seen the film, but you have been told about it by a number of people, and I’ve seen you share nearly every review or article about Batman v Superman. So, what’s wrong with it?

What’s wrong with it? Besides the fundamental misunderstanding of the characters whose names are in the title, there are problems with plot, not being able to control or maintain enough storylines for the movie to work, and everything seems to suffer because of it.

They didn’t just fly too close to the sun. They flew into it. What’s left is the ash of a movie that could have been good if they decided to focus on what matters.

Let’s pretend for a minute that DC and Warner Bros. care what you and I think. As a comic book fan who wants to see a good comic book movie, what could have made this film better?

I mean, any number of things. Editing, character development, a sensible plot, a taste of things to come, and maybe a lesson to be learned by the characters in it? But that’s not what we got. Yet, people will go anyway because it’s the first time the trinity of DC is in a movie. Or, because it’s got Batman fighting Superman, like casual fans have been wanting since the comic Dark Knight Returns came out in the 80s.

Maybe give Superman and Batman a real resolution to their fight, not ‘Hey, both our mom’s names are Martha. Let’s forget the fact that I think you’re an overpowered God who should be killed, or that you think I’m a deranged vigilante whose brutal methods make me just as bad as the people I’ve sworn to fight.’ Maybe make Lois less of a damsel in distress. Maybe give Lex a decent motive for why he’s pissed at Superman.

But Zack Snyder can’t tell a story to save his life. He can make things look beautiful and spectacular, but that’s not enough to make a story good. It’s enough to get someone interested, but not enough to enjoy the movie. And I know because I’ve seen Sucker Punch. The movie looked great, but made no sense at all.

Do you agree with sites, such as The Comics Beat, which have said that Batman V. Superman sacrificed storytelling just to set up a Justice League franchise? iO9 has also detailed how much of the movie was set-up.

I think it did take time away from plot and character development to introduce characters, and set up the League. The problem with that was it came off as forced, and seemed more like a pathetic attempt than an organic sequence in the movie.

You said that they barely understood Batman earlier. Can I ask, did Tim Burton or Christopher Nolan understand him?

Hollywood seems to lose more and more of its understanding of who Batman is, and how he does things. Nolan and Burton made fine Batman films, but there were flaws to the character. Burton’s Batman saw him attaching dynamite to a thug, and tossing him into the sewer to kill him, where Nolan’s Batman took eight years off after the death of Rachel. These things would never happen, and I say this as a fan of both the Burton and Nolan films.

Will we–can we–ever see an ideal movie for either Batman or Superman? Have we seen one already?

You can take liberties with these characters. Lord knows you can’t make them 100% like the comics they come from, but even then there are some things that are vital to what makes these characters who they are.

Richard Donner Superman movies were my ideal Superman movies. They made the character believable. He didn’t live in our world, but we wanted to live in his. Superman hadn’t been brought down to our level as humans like Zack Snyder has done, but he had helped elevate us to his level like he’s supposed to.

As for Batman, the Adam West movie was an ideal version of him in that time period, although I’ve never seen a perfect live action version of the character. The closest we’ve been is probably The Dark Knight.

But there are several animated movies that have shown the Superman I know and love, and the same goes for Batman. Superman vs the Elite, and All Star Superman. Batman: Under the Red Hood, and Batman Year One. I hold out hope that we’ll get another chance to see a live action movie where the caped crusader meets the blue boy scout, and become the best of friends they’re known to be in the comics. Yeah, they can fight, but let it be more believable as to why and how it ends. Let the movie have no clear winner.

Scott Snyder wrote in a more recent issue of his acclaimed Batman run, ‘Who wins in a fight between Batman and Superman? The answer? No one does.’


Dan with Batman writer Scott Snyder and brother Jim

Dan would like to thank his brothers Jim and Stephen, and his friend Ryu, for giving him detailed descriptions of the film. Ink’s My Thing would like to thank Dan for his time. We know readers who will appreciate his honesty.

If you’re a reader dropping by with an opinion, we hope you won’t keep it to yourself.

Not Much but an #amreading Update

For this edition of #amreading I delve into the imaginings of one of the finest living fantasy authors. I just finished up a short story (writing one) yesterday, so I’m cracking this bad boy open…

Peter S. Beagle

I’ve read and loved The Last Unicorn already, so I’m definitely looking forward to more Beagle. Now wish me luck. I may not wish to come back.




All my love,

The Guy Who Writes in this Blog

The Texas Floods, Friends, My Selfish Plea

The Texas floods, and flooding in parts of Louisiana and Mississippi, have been covered by USA Today, Click2Houston,, and other news organizations, and as I may have mentioned, my friends are out there.

Writing is a lonely occupation, they say, filled with shameless self-promoters bent on the get-rich-quick scheme. Oftentimes that’s true. But sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes you meet people along for the same ride as you.

The day I decided to write seriously, it seemed like a lot of other people made that same decision. Some had been lifelong writers seeking to take their hobby to the next level, others were new at it, with a lot to learn like me. I don’t see or hear from many of these peers anymore. They have gone into different careers, got busy in their personal lives, got tired of the dream, or just disappeared without a word.

I want to tell you about two women, from the vicinity of Southeast Texas, who welcomed me into this realm of writing and criticism. To this day, I know what they are up to, and they still know about me.

Nobody puts more effort into character development than Chy Burch, whose neighborhood resembles a lake at the moment. She has also judged and helped organize WYRM’s Gauntlet nearly every year since its inception, and anyone who knows her knows there is a popular fantasy series waiting to burst forth from her pen and into the mainstream. Some of us have been lucky enough to glimpse already.

Stephanie Cassey, who began the GoFundMe page “Deweyville Flood Victims” a few days ago, is also affected. When she and I began exchanging reviews, she made me consider vampire fiction in a whole new way, and I came to admire her use of bare bones dialogue, among other things.

Both helped me nail down the fundamentals, and urged me to tell the difficult stories, ones I was not always comfortable telling.

To anybody who can relate–fellow writers, readers, those who have lived through a natural disaster–if you are able to, please give. For my part, it is the least I can do. When I think of my friendships (my lasting friendships, of which there are too few) and my own development as a writer, there are no two people who’ve mattered more.

Book Review: Encounter at Farpoint by David Gerrold

The most dangerous ‘same old story’ is the one in front of me right now. Self-righteous life forms who are eager not to learn, but to prosecute, to judge anything they don’t understand or can’t tolerate.

I love Star-Trek: the Next Generation. When I meet someone who loves Star-Trek: the Original Series better, I don’t understand or tolerate them. They may be family or friends, but still I stand dumbfounded, as they tear down Picard and Data, and sing the praises of Kirk. Who are these people? Where do they come from? Will they admit—at the very least—that Q is the greatest villain we have ever seen?

I love the show, so it follows that I would love the TNG novels. Well, I don’t love them all, but I intend to review a bunch. Reading the novels in the voices of one’s favorite characters brings one great joy.

I come at this one from a different place since I’ve been made aware of the new Star Trek TV series that may be on our horizon in the not-too-distant future.

Though I am told I saw Star-Trek: The Voyage Home at the movies when I was a baby, my beginnings as a fan is tied to TNG. The forthcoming series may make a lot of new fans, and it may turn out to be a fine starting point for them. Who’s really to say? But, why not delve a little bit into Star Trek’s past to learn what the future could hold.

I invite you to read this novel by David Gerrold, based on TNG’s pilot episode, because Farpoint is the ideal station to visit for any new Starfleet hopeful.

Here’s what happened when I went there.

What fans don’t always talk about is that this entire show was about the human race getting put on trial by a superbeing. It had a fearful symmetry that way. The first episode/book (Encounter at Farpoint) began with Q charging us all with being a savage, war like, un-evolved race which was not fit to venture outside our own solar system. Of course, it is put on Picard to answer for all of our crimes, real or imagined, and setting out to do so was the basis for a series, right up to the finale.

Reading this book, I remembered the little things. They are not all good things, so to speak. I roll my eyes with the best of them when Riker (ship’s new first officer) and Troi (ship’s counselor) trip over their feelings for each other in the midst of adventure. I’m human. I get annoyed, or start to laugh out of turn, when Troi winces painfully as she detects an unpleasant emotion.

Still, the author did these characters justice. My impression of Gerrold is that he knew who these characters had the potential to be. It helps to remember that Captain Picard is meeting most everyone for the first time, and most of the crew only have vague ideas about him. Unlike TV, prose has the capacity for internal dialogue.

Since I’m a grammatical case study, trained to root out this sort of thing, I stumbled over some of the editing flaws in my copy of the book. One occurs on the back cover, where they insist Farpoint Station lies in orbit of the planet Cygnus IV. Anyone who flips through a couple chapters can see that it’s actually hanging out at Deneb IV. (Did it just get nerdy in here? Good.)

But it’s the philosophy of TNG that sets it apart from other shows, even in the Star Trek franchise. Kirk has been accused of being a space cowboy or cop, and DS9, which I love, has been categorized as military science fiction. TNG really was about explorers learning about new species, and why the prime directive of not interfering with these species, is actually kind of a good thing. It was also about understanding strange creatures for the first time.

At Deneb IV, the strange creature was the size of a space station, not what it appeared to be, trading its life force for cheap energy, and it didn’t know any better. With Q watching, Picard and his crew must sort out a moral dilemma. It would be their first of many.

I thought the book succeeded, but as it turns out, nobody knew if the show would succeed. It was sluggish for a time, but overcame this uncertainty, and eventually became something special. I’m glad that it did. When people ask me who the best captain is, I’m comfortable answering like this. “Picard is the best captain. He was smart enough to stand aside and let Data figure things out.”

Life as it is lived isn’t necessarily the way life has to be lived. We can do better.