Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lincoln: Still Busy Changing the Future

This Friday, November 19, marks the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address, one of the most well known and celebrated speeches in American history. does a fine job of concisely reporting on this moment in time. Regardless of our individual left/right/middle political leanings, few Americans will disagree with the notion that he was indeed a great president and an inspiring leader, one who served the nation with tremendous courage during some truly troubled times. The key message of his 272 word speech is one of dedication toward making a just future for all. Who can argue against such a message?

What can I say? I am a Lincoln Lover.

What makes Lincoln so inspiring in real life also makes him a great character in many works of fantasy and science fiction, in comic, film, and written form. My first exposure to Abe as an SF character came in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, where he reminded us to "Be excellent to each other" and to "Party on, dudes!" Robert V. Barron aptly played Abe in what was one of four different Lincoln portrayals he did over the years.

Not all Lincoln appearances in Speculative Entertainment Land are quite so inspiring. Take Time Lincoln, for example, as seen in this YouTube clip: Aqua Teen Hunger Force - Time Lincoln . But then inspiration takes on different forms for different people. Even this little segment acknowledges Abe's likely impact on the future with its people-and-buggy ending. And I am guessing that the comic book version (Antactric Press Time Lincoln Issue 1) is a little more in depth. ( I might actually know, but when I bought the issue, I thought I was purchasing read-me-right-now e-copy, and ended up ordering a hardcopy instead. As of this writing, the issue is still in transit, so I can't tell you the real story just yet. )

Of course we have a bloodsucker tie-in because lately there simply must be a vampire-themed version of, well, everything. Here we get Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (YouTube clip). I heard from several personally trusted sources that Seth's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a lot of fun. I cannot say anything very specific about Seth's Abe book because I have not read it. But esteemed SFOO site owner and writing friend Ann Wilkes highly recommends it in her review of the book on the Mostly Fiction Book Review site.

This is no exhaustive list of all things fictionally Lincolnesque. But it would be boldly beyond incomplete without mention of a Star Trek tie in. Trekkies know of what I speak: "The Savage Curtain" episode of the original series, from March of 1969, where Abe again gets to battle evil doers and fight for justice.

Past, present, or future, I just can't imagine him doing anything else.

- D. E. Helbling

Special Note: Kudos to Jeff Wilkin, who wrote another article on fictionalized Abe I found after writing this entry.

Because bandwidth is cheap, but ideas are not, below are those 272 words, just in case you didn't memorize them back in middle school.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

- Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863

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