Alas, the passing of greats…

An unfortunate roundup of passings…. 

I note the passing of a science fiction legend. My friend and colleague Eric Flint left us, after a long illness. Best known for his his innovative and way-fun slipstream SF novel 1632, Eric then used the enthusiasm of that readership to spawn the most successful and extensive exploration of a shared universe, ever, using it to mentor many rising talents, along the way, particularly through his publishing house, the Ring of Fire Press.

In fact, when it came to raw storytelling – utter devotion to character, consistency and gripping narrative – he was among the best since Poul Anderson. (I had the honor to supply a canonical novella for this vast and wonderful 1632 gedanken cosmos.)

Eric will be deeply missed.

– Alas, trailblazing actress Nichelle Nichols, who was unforgettable in portraying communications officer Lieutenant Uhura in the original Star Trek series and its sequels, has died at age 89. In later years she was active in recruiting women and minorities to NASA. She will be remembered…

–  In addition, scientist and environmentalist James Lovelock, who proposed the Gaia hypothesis that all living organisms on the planet are inter-connected, died recently at 103 years old. I drew upon the Gaia concept in creating my novel, Earth. Lovelock remained active, publishing his latest book: Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyper-Intelligence a couple of years ago. 

– RIP also Vangelis, best known for his film scores, e.g. the haunting score of Bladerunner. But also brilliant music that I’ve oft cited. For example, I touted this early work by him that recites visible traits of our planet…. including the last one that we are changing fast. He warned us…. so beautifully.

My favorite of his works… it gives me chills… is “The State of Independence.” The classic version by Vangelis himself offers incredible instrumentals including a spine tingling saxophone. 

But then there’s the wonderful version covered by Donna Summer with elements of both disco and gospel. A dose of optimism you may be needing, right about now. In this video.


Oh, here’s one with slightly better sound plus a glimpse of the recording session when the backup group – including a very young (and still black) Michael Jackson shows some early sign of his moves.  

And one more…

Amid all the kvelling on James Caan as Sonny in The Godfather. Meh, it was a solid role done very well. But many of us will always remember the beautiful, understated and poignant portrayal he gave – of a confused but soulful hero-athlete – in Rollerball, one of the most under-appreciated of all SF films and with a plausible warning!

Though he was great in the film Misery, with Kathy Bates. And let us not forget Alien Nation, which became a really rich social science fiction franchise, the first expressing real faith in our unusual civilization bent on flawed but improving tolerance.

On a more positive note…

To help motivate us…I happen (personal quirk) to be an absolute sucker for feminist anthems. Other than political/social motives, I confess I am simply jazzed by the pure sass and gumption of songs like “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and “I am woman, hear me roar,” all the way across the spectrum to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!” ….  But my favorite is “Sisters are doing it for themselves!” – this version in which the great Aretha Franklin joins the Eurythmics simply kicks ass!  How can you watch this and not tap your feet… and sing along and (if you’re male) say “yes ma’am! Tell me what you need done and I’ll help you get it done.” 

And yes Helen Reddy:

Reba McIntyre:

Loretta Lynn:

And more… and more… and more…

Finally… A fascinating riff on how not just sci fi but children’s literature in Soviet times satirized how a people can kowtow to power.

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