January 2005

Moving on

I'm sitting here in my basement office, surrounded by computers, paintings, manuscripts, musical instruments, and old psychedelic rock posters, listening to -- the soundtrack for a video game. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I don't play video games, even though I worked at a video game company for a while some years ago. I know Jack about video games, and I care less. So why am I listening to a sound track for one? (Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, as it happens.) Because I am the new music reviewer for SciFi.com. that's why. My predecessor, Jeff Berkwits, has moved on to become the editor of the new, reconstituted AMAZING STORIES - long may it, and Jeff, prosper. (I am avoiding the temptation to use that other phrase that combines "long" and "prosper," but you know the one I mean.)

Jeff's departure left a slot open at SciFi.com. Editor Scott Edelman, emailed me and asked if I'd take over Jeff's position, and I agreed. As it happens, I had resigned from Far Sector SFFH a week or so before Jeff's offer arrived - funny how things work out. I'm pleased to be taking on a new challenge, but my focus as a reviewer will necessarily narrow - here at FS I've been able to cast a jaundiced (or not) eye on anything I damn well please - from plays to comic books to animated TV shows to CDs. At SciFi.com, I will only be doing music: sf-oriented rock bands, movie soundtracks, etc. I'll miss the freedom I've had here, but on the plus side SciFi.com probably has a wider readership that Far Sector SFFH, and the columns certainly come out more often - every two weeks as opposed to every cough cough. Overall, however, it's been helpful to have my writing-brain kick started after a couple of quiet years. This, therefore, is my last regular column here at FS. I have nothing to review this time - I simply want to say that I've had a hell of a good ride these last few years, through Deep Outside and FS. John Cullen has been good enough to allow me total freedom, and in return I have tried not to abuse it overmuch.

In that time I've also supplied a bunch of cover graphics and many pages of web design, following along in the more than capable footsteps of Brian Callahan, who was the chief design architect behind Deep Outside, and who started Far Sector SFFH with John, then stepped aside to begin his own business. I am not the web developer that Brian is, but I think that I've done pretty well overall. With more resources we could have done better, but that's a common cry in the publishing industry, and all the more so at a web-based magazine.

I've eschewed politics in this column, preferring to leave that to John - and even John Muir. Both guys are a lot more articulate on the subject than I am. Plus, they pretty much spoke my mind for me - if I had disagreed with anything they said I would have spoken up here. But it's my feeling that when the readers came to my pages they just wanted to know what was worth spending their hard-earned cash (and valuable time) on in terms of entertainment.

And that's all I've tried to do, really - search out interesting, quirky, funky stuff in books, magazines, TV, movies, and web sites. Hopefully I've provided some laughs and insight along the way with my purely subjective view of the creative world around me.

I find myself viewing the opening years of the 21st century with more alarm and sadness, at times, than joy and wonder. It's a fucked up little world we are brewing for ourselves and our children, and I wonder if we're gonna be able to pull off peace on earth and good will to all anytime soon. God knows we're set up to do it in material terms. But there is a sizeable chunk of the human race that seems bound and determined to be complete and uncompromising assholes. These "people" need to be eliminated - either disenfranchised, or, more to my taste, removed from the gene/meme pool altogether, and ASAP.

But I am not, sad to say, the King of the World yet. Look for substantial alterantions when the change-over occurs.

Until then, watch for my byline on the Sound Space pages at SciFi.com. And may the years be good to us all.