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    JOURNAL #156

   March 2, 2014

 

          I'm a rabid Sherlock Holmes fan. Which might explain why I don't watch "Elementary." And why I will probably not bother with "Sherlock" again. Bear with me, but I'm hopelessly conservative. A lot of people would laugh at that statement. But it's true. I liked President Clinton largely because he had balanced the budget. I was not encouraged when President G. W. Bush did his across the board 10% tax cut, because the bulk of the money went to people who would probably invest rather than spend it. I like to conserve the lives of the people who serve in the military. And I think it's smart to do what we can to conserve the environment.

          When there's a series based on a literary character, or, for that matter, a comic character, I want them to stay with the original script. I had a problem when I was a kid with a Captain America serial in which there was no shield and Steve Rogers was missing. Or when, in the Captain Marvel serial, CM took to machine gunning the bad guys, and throwing others out twelfth-story windows.

          So if they're going to do Holmes, I need the originals.

          There are two detective shows that Maureen and I have connected with recently. One is "Father Brown," which captures most of the flavor of Gilbert Chesterton's brilliant series. The other is based on the Murdoch Mysteries by Maureen Jennings. I'd never heard of the series until we blundered onto "The Artful Detective." 

          We've only seen three of The Artful Detective episodes so far, but they were so good that I'm assuming they're consistent with Ms. Jennings's creation. The characters are well done, and the mysteries are clever. And there is periodically an historical link. Characters appearing on various episodes include Jack London, Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Winston Churchill, the Wright Brothers, Annie Oakley, Thomas Edison, and Buffalo Bill.

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          My book club is reading Elaine Pagels's The Origin of Satan. A fascinating account of how people started accusing each other of being devilish. Or worse, of being taken over by the powers of darkness. It's an illustration on the value of allowing other people to entertain their own views without somebody else imposing judgment. Or getting upset when there's disagreement over ideas that no one can prove.

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          Feels like the Cold War is coming back. People who didn't live through it can't understand what it was like to be in a world that seemed literally doomed. Back in the sixties, when I was in the Navy, I did not believe we'd survive into the 21st century. It seemed then as if nuclear war was inevitable, and that the only question was when.

          I can remember sitting in my car outside the Philadelphia Library on the Parkway in 1962, listening to reports coming in on the Cuban Missile Crisis. I felt like a character in an end-of-the-world SF story. Sometimes I wonder if we realize how much we owe Jack Kennedy. Had someone else been in the White House, we might not have gotten through all that.

          Anyway, I'm probably overreacting. I hope so.

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          This is the busy season for SFWA members. Whatever other projects we may be working on, the Nebula nominees have been released. Inevitably there is material we haven't read, usually two or three novels, and a substantial amount of short fiction. So charge the hill, baby.