Hunt the Manxome Foe

Heroes are often warriors and fire fighters who protect, but those healers who repair the hurts and console the lost are as important.

One excellent advance is finding a way to deal with antibiotic resistance.  The stronger and stronger antibiotics have nasty side effects and may not work.  Jorn Bolstad Christensen got a patent for breaking the antibiotic resistance, and it’s one of those great repurposings of an existing medicine so it should be quick.  It’s an isomer, a left hand and milder version, a win-win, and should be inexpensive.  If pharma don’t want to undercut the current market, the chemist would rather donate it than let it wither.

“Hero” is slung around for too many famous, but heroes not only have to do good, but also be worthy of respect in behavior and motives.  Making sure this gets made even if he has to give it away, makes him a hero.

(Column title is of course from Lewis Carroll)

When Petitions aren’t bold

I wish I could sign petitions like these:

They both mock, and justifiably so, a surprising petition that was signed by multiple professional writers.
I regret a dozen writers I’ve read, and some who claim large chunks of my self-space have signed on for this.  They want respect for themselves and their works from fans and general public, but that means the organ of their organization should be professional not frat boy.  This isn’t the 70s when SF/F publications were more humorous in tone because most writers did it on the side and no one took it seriously.   Those days are gone, SF is big money now, feeding the TV, movie, comic, and gaming industries.  People aspire to join and organization so they can learn and so they connect with other professionals with the same challenges.
I hope these authors I respect are having a knee-jerk reaction on a bad day and not honestly suggesting that fans or others in the industry don’t have to respect them and their works, because ‘hey, it’s free speech.’
Another thing the signatories could be over-reacting to is the ‘review board.’  The final say for a submission should lie with an editor and whichever group of assistants they have helping them for that half a peanut-butter sandwich or gold star.  Managing by large committee is never a good idea, there just isn’t enough time; the buck needs to stop somewhere.  If the editor screws up, policies are revised and a new editor may come in.  But the size of the editorial staff and logistic limitations of a review board should have been discussed openly and negotiated before jumping to an online petition by a non-member.   Especially for an online petition that effectively chastizes those who are tired of a professional publication that is more wink-wink entertainment than relevant professional.
Petitions like the revised one are also censoring the writers seeking a fair and respectful publication.  I happen to love free speech, but it is a double edged sword and the ?third? version indicated by the file name doesn’t seem to allow that a publication or blog has a right to block any submission.  Many of these people who signed have edited anthologies and I am sure they have rejected inappropriate materials that didn’t fit those themes.  That’s editing and the editor has the right and responsiblity to exercise judgement over what is put forth under the publication’s banner.  Censorship is yanking someone off their soapbox on the street corner and beating them up.  A guild owns one soapbox as a group and it must be shared with every member even if they have three arms, cooties, or whatever, without dismissal.  There are plenty of shoeboxes for all without the SFWA magazine.  It is not censorship when they cannot use my soapbox.
The first posts collected qith the petition seem irritated that they did not get instant reaction; odd here because we are spending much of this winter outside shoveling and everyone has other responsibilities.  I’m not a pro but this level of closing in the wagons does not make me interested in anything else put out by the SFWA but Writer Beware.  These two parody petitions are only a little more silly than the one they’re reacting to.  I think I most object to raiaing a brou-ha-ha with a non-member petition when the editor’s position and responsibility are in transition.  The large censorship board they seem to be fearing is not set in stone, impracticable, and unlikely.  I can’t like that they jumped to a trolling petition instead of raising a real discussion about their concerns first

It’s not the battle…

In the press of adult life and holding a budget, I had to give up some hobbies.  Sadly, reading comic books was one of them, but that doesn’t mean I don’t value the archetypes and characters.  Both Superman and Captain Marvel are orphans from a time without many protections for children.  Clark’s parents were originally old and Billy has no known parental influence.  They both are pure good, considered too good to be interesting.

That is bullshit.

I saw a section of a comic that illuminates why Superman is the model hero, despite the occasional misstep in individual projects and titles:  Superman and Captain Marvel

It’s the aftermath.

Some say Clark is a flat and boring character.  He has so many powers and no great tragic flaws.  Some believe that he has nothing to say for today because he is too nice.  But what he keeps over most of his peers is that he retains his compassion and empathy.  That isn’t for the approval for the crowd, isn’t because of a lack of standards, but because of his compassion.  What happens if the near gods in these universes forget compassion, mercy, and respect for those who don’t have such powers?

Billy has possibly the most tragic origin because he didn’t just have tragedy, but that he is that tragedy.  Traces of his 1940’s origin story are still there in the food cans and bare mattress, but he is the product of not just harsh or unfeeling events, but cruel ones made worse by a ‘wise’ man.

Here Shazam throws it back on Clark for Clark to fix, never admitting that he was wrong. The wizard chose Billy, who is expected maintain a standard of good that the wizard cannot.  Deprived of emotional support and forced to act beyond his maturity, the wizard is the villain in this tragedy; fate should not require that it arrive today.

Billy is in pain and too much of a victim.

Because this is Clark, he will try to help. He will reach out to help someone in pain. Not because it requires his Kryptonian powers, but because it requires his humanity.  There may be stronger characters, there may be character with more exotic powers, and there are many characters who fight their own demons, but Clark helps people.

Superman may be filled with a just wrath but he overcomes that to help a lost boy.  Clark doesn’t keep that aggressive entrance to give readers yet another fight.  He was enraged a minute ago, but he doesn’t give away his humanity.  It may be hard, but he does it.  That maturity is his greatest strength, to do the right thing even if it’s hard.  He is what we should try to be, someone to help a weeping child in over his head.

That’s why they are called superheroes!