1,500. That’s a big number. That’s how many followers this blog now has. And if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of them. And I have to thank you very much.

Without my regular readers who keep coming back, this wouldn’t be as much fun as it is. For those of you who leave comments, thank you! For those of you who like my posts, thank you! And for those of you who read my posts, thank you!

I started this blog for myself, to keep track of the books I read, and to write out reviews. I also started this blog for you, all the people who read it. I wanted to do a couple things, show you my writing and create a community of people who have similar interests as me. The community is now the size of a small town. 1,500! My hometown has a bit more than 2,000 people, so it’s quite comparable. It’s kind of amazing, come to think of it.

But I think the thing I have to say about reaching 1,500 followers is this: I appreciate every one of you who has followed this blog. Again, thank you very much!

Authors Answer 99 – That Annoying English Class Question

When we were in English class in school, I’m sure we all dreaded that one question that we were always asked. What is that question? Of course, we never liked to decipher the hidden (or obvious) meaning that the author is trying to tell us. But what happens if our books are being dissected in English class?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 99 – If something you wrote was read by an English class, how do you think they would answer this common question: What message is the author trying to convey?

Paul B. Spence

That there is hope.

D. T. Nova

I guess I’ll go with my still-unpublished first novel.

I imagine that a common answer to that question would be “The system is broken, but the will to change it for the better is unbreakable.” Alternately the more simplistic “Queer people can be heroes, and organized religion can be destructive.”

Elizabeth Rhodes

I don’t think Jasper will be in any classrooms, but I’ll entertain the thought. I’d like for students to make parallels between the Jasper universe and our own political climate. It’s not a scenario that can plausibly happen, it’s more of an extreme case. But the culture of fear, casting out an entire group of citizens as the “other,” those are scenarios that can make one think.

Eric Wood

Thinking of my children’s stories, I think the message they would believe I was trying to convey would be that you can grow up to be whatever you want. You are only limited by your imagination.

Gregory S. Close

IN SIEGE OF DAYLIGHT.  The message: gooseberry pie is the key to victory.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Well, I assume they’d be reading “Nowhere to Hide“, since that’s the only option we’ve got at the moment, and they’d probably say that I was trying to convey a sense of disgust for humanity in general. I won’t say much more than that because, hey…I want people to read the book…but I’d say that theme is fairly obvious if you have read it.

Jean Davis

If an English class were to read A Broken Race, they would hopefully see that even the most unlikely person can make a large difference in a community by speaking up and taking action.

H. Anthe Davis

Heh, I have wondered this a lot!  And I do write toward certain themes which I think could be easily excavated with a little work.  A major one is that diversity adds skills and value to any group; my army guys start off as just normal soldiers but slowly accrue ‘special’ soldiers, mages, outsiders and former enemies into their group, whereas the villains they’re up against stick with their old ranks and tactics and so can’t really adapt to how the good-guy group operates.  Another message would be that cultural homogenization (especially when forced) robs people of history, community and context for many things that go on in their lives.  I would draw some connections between the actions of my evil Empire and the Native American boarding schools that ran during much of the 19th and 20th centuries to try to get Native Americans to conform to Euro-American ways.  Several characters suffer the after-effects of this, as they feel disconnected from their home cultures but unwelcome in the dominant one because of their origins; two don’t know their own native languages because they were taken away too young.  There are a lot more themes and undercurrents at work in the story, but I think these are the most clearly visible.

Linda G. Hill

If you take as an example my recently published novelette, “All Good Stories,” I’d say the author was trying to say it’s okay not to take life too seriously. And be as creative with it as you can be.

Beth Aman

Well I write High Fantasy, so that’s a bit unlikely.  (Why don’t you have to read High Fantasy in school?  That’s so stupid!)  But maybe something like “you should do what’s right no matter the consequences” or “nothing is impossible if you try hard enough and have friends backing you up.”  I mean there are definitely themes of loyalty and friendship and sacrifice in my writing.

C E Aylett

Not sure I can — or should — answer that! My themes are usually quite dark or controversial.  And each story is different, of course. But as a generalisation, I think the main underlying message is that people are people and we all have our light and dark spots, as well as lots of grey areas too. There’s rarely such a thing as good vs evil; we are complex creatures.

Cyrus Keith

That brings to mind the meme that shows up every once in a while on social media, where the teacher is lecturing his students on the symbolic significance of the blue drapes in a story, where the blue represented a certain mindset of mood the author was trying to fold in as a literary tool, and the author’s take was, “I just meant the drapes were freaking blue.”

Sure, I have a lot of hidden backstories and meanings in my books. I like to ask questions and make my readers answer them on their own. If I wanted to make one thing clear in my work, it’s that Life is a gift so precious that we can’t afford to take even a single breath for granted. And it’s not just our own life which is precious, but all lives. I know it sounds odd coming from an author of white-knuckle thrillers with characters dropping and bullets flying all over, but I guess you just have to read it to get it.

Jay Dee Archer

I never liked answering this question. I always thought that the teacher didn’t know the answer to this. In many cases, it was likely that the author had no real message to give, they just wrote the book to make money. But in other cases, there is a message. As for my first unpublished Ariadne novel, I’d hope that they’d understand that differences between people are not something to be afraid of or to fight about. We’re all human, and we’re all trying to live our lives. We need to trust each other and make the world a better place to live in. This doesn’t mean that my book ends like this, though.

How about you?

If you’ve written a book or want to write a book, what message would you hope that the students and teachers would get from your book? Let us know in the comments below.

My Reading Habits

I have terrible reading habits these days! But with a new job starting next week, I’ll have a rather lengthy commute, which will allow me to read for about two hours a day! Maybe I can get back to my old reading productivity. Maybe even better than before.

So, today, I did a video called The Currently Reading Tag. However, I don’t even talk about the book I’m currently reading. Basically, I talk about how I read. Take a look.

If you’re curious about the image at the beginning of the video, that’s the thumbnail. I don’t actually hold that book in the video. Besides, that’s a strange place to read. What I’m doing to record these videos is to put my iPhone on the dresser while I kneel on the floor next to the bathroom door.  Think I need a change of venue eventually.

So, what do you think about my answers? What are your reading habits like? Let me know in the comments below.

Three Days Until a Big Change

Today, I went to the police. I didn’t see any police officers, though. I went to the police information check office to get my criminal background checked. You see, I start a new job on Monday!

But why do I need to have my background checked? I’ll be working with children, the elderly, and disabled. Since I have a lot of experience with children, that’s no problem.

But that’s not what I want to talk about. I have three days until I start work. So, what will I do? Of course, there’s a lot of work around the house this weekend. But other than that, I want to focus a lot on doing a few things:

  1. Watch a lot of Star Trek. That means a lot of posts coming about that.
  2. Work on updating the Authors Answer index.
  3. Contact some people about a special event coming at the end of October on this blog.
  4. Play SimCity 4.
  5. Record as many videos as I can, including a new format for The Star Trek Project.
  6. Start work on an end card for my videos.
  7. Start working on new playlists for my channels.
  8. Start working on updating video descriptions, titles, and tags for search engine optimization.

Is that too much? Anything you’re interested in seeing? Let me know in the comments below!

When I Become Silly

I did something I never thought I’d do. I made a very silly video, and I’m not sure how people are going to take it. In this video, I attempt parkour, survival in a forest, a Gollum impression, showing off my talents, and gaming. Curious? Watch:

This is not what I’m going to do normally for my vlog. Just brainstorming and doing my worst at these things. Hope you enjoyed it! I’m not exactly the best actor. And stay for the blooper at the end.

What did you think? Let me know in the comments below. And if you’re interested in following my vlog, then please subscribe!

Star Trek S1E06 – Mudd’s Women

Star_Trek_TOS_logo.svgI went into this episode thinking it was a different episode. You see, there are two episodes featuring Harcourt Fenton Mudd, a serious one, and a silly one. Well, what we get here is the serious one. And of course, spoilers!

Season 1, Episode 6: Mudd’s Women

Original Air Date: October 13, 1966

Stardate 1329.8

Planet: Rigel XII

Featured Alien: None

Main Cast: Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scott, Sulu, Uhura

Main Guest Characters: Harcourt Fenton Mudd (Roger C. Carmel), Eve McHuron (Karen Steele), Ruth Bonaventure (Maggie Thrett), Magda Kovacs (Susan Denberg), Ben Childress (Gene Dynarski), Herm Gossett (John Kowal), Benton (Seamon Glass), Farrell (Jim Goodwin)

Things I Noticed

Talk about a lot of guest stars. This is the first time we get to see Harcourt Fenton Mudd, the con man. He went by the name Captain Leo Walsh.

There’s another uniform change. This time, Uhura was wearing yellow. But this was one of the earliest episodes made, and was considered for the second pilot episode.

As we move on, we see an asteroid belt. Now, I blame the digital remake of this scene. There were too many asteroids. Asteroid belts are not that dense. You’re unlikely to ever see an asteroid as you pass through a belt.

This is also the first time we hear about lithium crystals. As we all know, dilithium crystals are used in starships. But since this is an early episode, I don’t think they’d established dilithium crystals as the focal point for matter and antimatter streams. I have the technical manual. I know how it works.

Mudd has a rather hairy neck. It’s a bit odd.

In the transporter room, this is the first time we hear about McCoy’s distrust of transporters.

I’d like to know how Mudd knows Spock is only part Vulcan, or as he says, Vulcanian.

I’d also like to know why there was a sine wave on the monitor during the lie detector test.

The police record on Mudd is somewhat humourous. Of course, no metric. Looks like a typed card with a colour mugshot. I love being able to pause to see things like this.

The women’s lives were basically described as being women who did the cooking and mending clothes on farm worlds, merely doing traditional women’s roles. Very outdated, and I wouldn’t have thought they’d be like this in the 23rd century.

Mudd says the lithium miners are rich. I thought money was not a factor in Star Trek. At least in Starfleet, they don’t need it.

I find it humourous that Mudd thinks he could buy the Enterprise and become Kirk’s commander. You can’t buy a Starfleet ship and command its crew. That’s like some rich con man buying an American aircraft carrier and assuming command of its crew.

Mudd says lithium is worth hundreds of times more than diamonds and thousands more than gold. Didn’t know they were trade commodities in the 23rd century.

The mining camp’s doors look like giant styrofoam blocks, not rock. Incredibly low tech for the 23rd century, including pans and wood furniture. The outside of the quarters are futuristic-looking, but the inside is like a cave. Weird.

I have issues with the mining camp’s attitude and willingness to collude with Mudd, basically holding the Enterprise hostage. Wouldn’t that result in the arrest and charging of the miners? I mean, they’re Federation citizens betraying the Federation’s military.

They have circular playing cards. Maybe they exist today, but I haven’t seen them.

So, a placebo can actually make someone’s appearance and skin condition change within seconds? Wow.

My Impressions

Another classic, especially with Mudd. He’s made the two episodes he’s in fun. I enjoyed this episode, though it wasn’t incredibly strong. There were so many things in this episode that made me question whether it’s supposed to portray the 23rd century. Star Trek was quite progressive for the 1960s, but it’s so incredibly outdated, especially regarding the attitude towards women. It handles race as being something that’s completely accepted. There are no racial issues. However it still treats women as being the “weaker sex” and objects for men’s desire.

Regardless, I still enjoyed the episode. Of the main characters, Kirk was the focus. Spock was a secondary focus, but it was mostly Kirk, Mudd, the women, and the miners. People criticise Shatner’s acting all the time, but I thought he was good in this episode. For one thing, he completely resisted the women! Amazing!



Your Voice

What did you think about this episode? Do you notice how women are treated in Star Trek? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Passengers Official Trailer

It’s not often that a science fiction movie is completely unknown to me when the trailer is released. Usually, I know about it long before then. But this one happened. It’s Passenger, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. I didn’t even know it was science fiction when I saw the title. But then I saw the trailer. That looks very interesting! Have you heard of it? Take a look:

The trailer ends with a big question. What the hell is going on? This is a trailer that has me so intrigued, I feel like I need to see the movie. I want to find out what happens. What is this mystery?

What did you think of the trailer? Do you want to see it? Let me know in the comments below.

The official blog of Jay Dee Archer. Exploring new worlds, real and fictional.