Notice...

The purpose of this blog is to have a little fun. It is NOT to start arguments. I don't profess to be an expert on Sci-fi, nor do I aspire to become an expert. You are welcome to comment on any and all content you find here. If my opinion differs from yours, as far as I am concerned, it's all okay. I will never say that you are wrong because you disagree with me, and I expect the same from those that comment here. Also, my audience on the blog will include some young people. Please govern your language when posting comments.

Posts will hopefully be regular based on the movies I see, the television shows I watch, and the books I read as well as what ever strikes me as noteworthy.


***SPOILER ALERT***
Spoilers will appear here and are welcome.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

These ARE The Voyages: TOS Season One - The Difinitive Behind The Scenes Story Of The Orignal Series

These Are The Voyages: TOS Season One by Marc Cushman and Susan Osborn

While looking at my Facebook news feed, I saw an advertisement for a book that really caught my eye.  It said that Leonard Nimoy called it “astounding”  Well, if it is good enough for Nimoy, then I knew it would be good enough for me.  Good enough?  It is indeed astonishing and if you are interested in seeing behind the scenes of Star Trek and how it got it’s start, I would have to say that this is the definitive story.

Previous to reading this book, I thought that the best book about the making of Star trek was a book by Herb Solow and Robert Justman called Inside Star Trek.  I am not now saying that Solow and Justman’s book is not definitive, it remains another one of the best books about Star Trek I have ever read.  But it is from the point of view of the authors.

What sets Cushman and Osborn’s work apart from the many other books about Star Trek I have read is that this one is from the perspective of the research done.  While These Are The Voyages was not authorized by CBS or Paramount, it was apparently endorsed by Gene Roddenberry and Robert Justman to be a “definitive history of the first Star Trek” according to Memory Alpha, the Star Trek Wiki.

Inside the book, you will get not only the story behind original series Trek, but you get an indepth look at how a television series is produced with all the ins and outs of developing the concept, casting, choosing directors, and getting the show aired.

The opening chapters discuss Gene Roddenberry’s biography, how the show was pitched, and how the concept was developed, including ship design, costumes, etc.  Next is the filming of the first pilot, and how Roddenberry was given an unprecedented opportunity to make a second pilot.  The chapters that follow are a breakdown of every aspect in the production of each episode of the first season.  In these pages you will learn about how the feud between Gene and Harlan Ellison began.  One will also learn why that while Star Trek received top ratings every week, why it was never deemed a hit by NBC.

One of the aspects that I personally most enjoyed reading was how the authors put the episodes into historical perspective by discussing what other television shows were being aired at the time, what movies and music were popular, and many historical events that were taking place at the time.  All of this really resonated with me because I was eight years old when Star Trek hit the airwaves and can remember much of the history.  Another aspect that amused me was how many of the sets used for episodes such as City On The Edge Of Forever and Return Of The Archons were the same ones used for The Andy Griffith Show; Some of Star Trek actually took place in Mayberry!  Classic!

Marc Cushman
These Are The Voyages is a must read for Star Trek fans who enjoy the history and would like to know the real story behind the first season as it is mostly devoid of opinion (the author does once in a while get a small quip in here and there).  Based chiefly on research and interviews it is the story behind the story.

I highly recommend this book as a Star Trek book, and a how to guide for producing a television show.

Well, there it is…

QaplaH’!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Lost Days - Michael Jan Friedman's Newest Kickstarter Project - Worthwhile and Important



Lost Days – A Kickstarter Project by Michael Jan Friedman


Back in October of 2013, Mike Friedman asked if I would help him spread the word for a new project he was working on called I Am The Salamander, the story of a young cancer survivor who unwillingly becomes a superhero.  I contributed (after all, I feel that it is important to support something that I am endorsing), then wrote a blogpost.  You can find that my Salamander post HERE.  As promised, I received a trade paperback copy of Salamander, complete with autograph, and an eBook copy that I have since read, and enjoyed.


But I am not writing to talk about a successfully funded Kickstarter.  I am writing to talk about a new project by Mike called Lost Days.  Once again, Mike has asked me to help by boosting the signal to get the word, and I am all too happy to do so.


You may know Mike from his work as a Star Trek novelist, or you may be familiar with his other numerous works.  I have read several, and blogged about them on this forum.  Just put Friedman into the search bar above and you can read my other blogs.  But, is you don’t take time to do that, you need to know that I have a lot of respect for this author and his work.


Here is a video of Mike describing what this project is all about…




So, you might ask, since Mike is such a good writer, and has been so well published, why does he need to raise money through Kickstarter?  Well, the answer to that question is publishers get very jittery about stories that they believe may not have a wide appeal, so they are reluctant to take on a project that is as focused as Lost Days.


As an educator, Mike knows how important it is to get young people reading at a young age.  He teaches middle school history and wants to teach through his writing while showing students that one can learn about history, and have fun doing it.  So Mike is teaching about how Pope Gregory brought his calendar into being by eliminating ten days from the Julian calendar.  Therein is the lesson, but to bring this fact to life, he speculates on what might have happened during those ten days that were eliminated.  So we have a historically accurate fantasy story aimed at students in the 6th through 8th grades.  As an educator myself, I believe in what Mike is doing and have once again contributed to making his dream into a reality.


I learned that Mike was interviewed by The SciFi Diner recently.  In this interview, he talks about the indie publishing business, other projects he has worked on, and about Lost Days.  Give it a listen.


Perhaps you will consider contributing to making this project a reality.  If you feel that reading is important, as I do, and have the means, make a pledge.  There are some neat perks at various levels of contributions, but anything $1 and up will be very much appreciated.  If you are interested, click on the link at the bottom of this post and it will take you directly to the Kickstarter page.

Well, there it is...

Q'aplaH!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Klingon Art Of War - A Great Book On Many Levels


The Klingon Art Of War by Keith R.A. DeCandido

In early 2013, I noticed that author Keith DeCandido was posting in his blog and other various internet outlets about something he was calling a “project that can not be named (yet).”  As a fan of Keith’s work, I was very curious, hoping for another Trek novel. I followed the posts waiting for some word on what was coming down the pike. Later, I learned that Keith was coming to a convention in Omaha as an Author Guest of Honor.  I was able to make arrangements for an interview with him (Scifi Diner Episode 204).  He spilled the beans to me on this project, as well as others.  Little did I know what was in store for me as a reader; a great book, perhaps one of the best I have ever read.

I have read The Klingon Art of War (KAOW) twice now.  This is a great book on several different levels.

KAOW is patterned after Sun Tsu’s Art of War, a treatise on the correct way to wage war.  Keith’s treatise is about how Klingons who choose to live an honorable life may do so by following ten precepts that involve how relationships should be conducted between Klingons and others.  Keith puts himself in the role of translator of the text as penned by a Klingon author named K’Ratak (take a close look at that Klingon name, see anything cool?)  K’Ratak gives a quote from Kahless for each precept, then gives stories to show how the precept applies to Klingon life, then follows with a commentary.  The original “qeS’a’” (the Klingon title of KAOW) contained many stories from adventures of Klingons while on their home world.  K’Ratak explains that he has updated the work to include stories that have taken place as the race has moved out among the stars.

On the surface, KAOW is a monumental gathering of stories that have appeared in the various television shows and novels in the Trek universe. The first precept is “Choose Your Enemies Well” and includes the story of the Klingon who chose to face a vicious storm and “make the wind” respect him at the walls of Quin’Lat.  This story appears in the ST:TNG season six episode, “Rightful Heir.”  If you enjoy Klingon lore, KAOW is loaded with it.

Further, the first precept looks at how a warrior needs to take care in choosing their enemies.  When choosing an enemy, there is no honor in choosing to battle an enemy that is easily beaten, while at the same time, it is foolish to choose an enemy that is impossible to beat.

Going even deeper, the reader can try to apply the precepts to their own life. Keith sets this idea down as a quote in the Introduction by K’Ratak discussing the authorship of the qes’a’:

“Whoever the author might be, that Klingon gave us a guide to living that can apply to all warriors - regardless of class or standing within the Klingon Empire. As Kahless himself said, “All life is a battle.” And those who live to wage war in one way or another. qeS’a’ provides a guide to fighting all of life’s battles.”

In other words, one can look at the enemy not as another person, but as the challenges we are faced with in life, and the battle not as physical conflict, but rather as how one faces those challenges.  So, if one has the choice of what challenges to choose, can one take pride in choosing challenges that are very easy? Is there any sense in choosing a challenge that is impossible and will assure one failure?  For me, it comes down to something my principal told me when I first started teaching, “choose the battles you can win.”

If one reads this book on a level that is more than just mere entertainment, it can speak to the reader on many levels.

Another aspect of KAOW that I found as I read was in the language that Keith used in the telling of the stories and in K’Ratak’s commentaries.  As I read while alone and when it was quiet, I could hear the voice of the author speaking to me in a very Klingon way.  I found myself imagining that I was sitting in a place with subdued light, perhaps a fire burning in a huge fireplace, listening to how I might, one day, become a warrior.  As you may or may not know, Keith is a student of the martial arts, and the influence of his experience is palpable all the way through this book.

Something else to keep in mind before you read KAOW is that before each precept is presented, there is the image of artwork that is absolutely beautiful. If you are planning to read this book in an electronic format, make sure it is on one that has a color display, the impact in B&W is just not there when it comes to the images in the book.

In any case, this book is so good on so many levels, I know that I will be coming back to it over and over again for inspiration, advice, and just for its pure entertainment value. I give The Klingon Art of War my highest recommendations, whether one is a Star Trek fan or not, there is a lot in this volume that will help one behave honorably and just makes good sense.

Well, there it is…

Q’aplah!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My Weekend - OSFest 7 - Omaha, Nebraska - August 1-3, 2014



My Weekend at OSFest 7
August 1-3, 2014


There are many conventions that are larger out there, but I cannot think that, at least for me, there are any that could be called better than the Omaha OSFest.  You may find that to be a debatable point, and that is your right.  As for me, I love OSFest.


It was a busy weekend for conventions when one takes into account that Shoreleave was taking place on the East Coast and STLV was raging out west.  Someday I might be able to get to one of those huge ones, but I really enjoy Omaha’s hospitality and being able to hobnob with friendly people the likes of which seem to be very common in Nebraska.


Anyway, it seemed that this year’s OSFest attendance was down a bit from last year’s event (read my blog post from OSFest 6 HERE).  As I visited with people also attending, there were many ideas, rumors, and speculations as to why this was, which I will not go into here because there is really nothing substantial to talk about.  The atmosphere was also more subdued then last year’s event; far more relaxed and not so hustled.  That, I am sure, is due in part to the fact that I had been there before and the experience wasn’t new as it was last year.  However, in light of what I just said, it is not to say that there wasn’t plenty to do.  There were wall to wall activities, displays, demonstrations, and panel discussions, and all on numerous subjects that should have been able to appeal to everyone.


On Friday night, I participated on a Dune panel that I had proposed earlier this year.  I was joined on the panel by John Shoberg of the IKSRaptor’s Heart group and at the last minute, was also joined by Patrick Kennedy of PoKoArt (if you are a Dune fan, Pat is an artist who produces some very beautiful art and due to how Dune has influenced him, much of his art reflects this).  The Dune panel was patterned after a panel discussion held at this year’s Farpoint convention by my Dune Saga Podcast partners David Moulton and Scott Hertzog (access that panel discussion HERE).  I designed the Dune panel to be a broad discussion with audience participation to discuss the books and films.  It was well attended and some of the audience did indeed participate.  It was fun and I am hoping to do another panel next year on the same subject, however, as my partner John suggested, it will be a bit more focused on one aspect of the Dune universe.


After the panel was done, I found a room party to attend where Pat Kennedy and I discussed Dune some more; a lot more actually.


Maggie Egan at Opening Ceremonies.
Saturday was another busy day.  The Media Guest of Honor was Maggie Egan of Babylon 5 fame.  If you are not familiar with Maggie’s work, she appeared as Jane, the Interstellar Network News anchor in ten episodes of Babylon 5 and also came back in the same capacity in the Crusade series.  She has also appeared in numerous other shows and about 600 commercials.  What a pleasant person she was to listen to as she told her stories.  I was able to score an interview with her in the afternoon which will appear in a future episode of The Babylon Project Podcast hosted by Raul Ybarra and me.  I also attended panels with Maggie and got two autographed photos, one for me and one for Raul (I couldn’t very well leave out my partner, could I?).


Troy Rutter with a license plate signed by Jason Carter
I also met with Troy Rutter.  Now his name may not be as familiar, but he was also (and continues to be) a part of the Babylon 5 family.  Troy was the man responsible for all of the internet media that was involved with the show.  Long before Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, he was pioneering what we now take for granted today.  I was also able to have an extensive interview with him which will also appear on The Babylon Project Podcast in the near future.


By Sunday, I was pretty wiped out.  I attended a panel on the Philosophy of Star Trek which we discussed the extension of sentience to beings other than humans.  This panel was hosted by Natasha Mohr and Matt McKeever.  After that, it was time to head home.


Maggie and Me
All in all, it was another amazing weekend.  I brought home some things to think about and am looking forward to next year’s OSFest 8.


Here are some of the other pictures I snapped during the weekend…


Chrissy holding a blaster and wearing a "Fett" helmet.  She had the right shirt.

I found Q shopping in the dealer's area.

Chrissy and I with Boba Fett. That is an amazing costume.

Another Great Costume.

Cat Woman!

A Starfleet Officer tending her tribble.

The pictures cannot do the detail on these models justice...





John Shoberg of the IKS Raptor's Heart in full Klingon regalia.

Troy Rutter, Maggie Egan, and Mitch Obrecht at the B5+20 Panel

Art by Patrick Kennedy - Shai Hulud.

Also by Patrick Kennedy.

Chrissy chose R2.  A graphite drawing.

Autographed photo of Maggie Egan as Jane.



Well, there it is…


Q’aplaH!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fluency - A Fresh Story by Jennifer Foehner Wells - Excellent Story From A New Author


Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells.

A few months ago, I cannot remember how, I learned about a new author, Jennifer Wells, was working on a new novel that was based on space travel.  I followed her on Twitter and friended her on Facebook in hopes of getting some idea on what the book was going to be about, and when it might be released.  A few weeks ago, I learned that the book had been released and immediately put it on my Amazon wishlist with the intention of reading it yet this summer.  A few days ago, Jennifer mentioned that her book was available for the Kindle at a very reasonable price so I snagged it since I was getting to the end of another book I was reading.

So I purchased Fluency on Monday and finished it this morning, Wednesday.  It isn’t because the book is short, it is about an average length, but when it comes to quality, in my opinion, it is well above average, especially for a new author.

A NASA craft called Providence is on a mission to Mars with a crew of five.  At least that is the story for the public.  Actually, the crew is on a mission to a huge spacecraft that was discovered in 1964.  It seems that most of the U.S. space program has been geared toward studying this mysterious ship that is just hanging, apparently not functional, in the asteroid belt near Mars.

The story revolves around one astronaut on this mission in particular; a linguist named Jane Holloway.  Jane is at the top of her field and was at the top of a very short list of linguists that NASA considered for the mission.  Being someone who can quickly understand languages, spoken or written, it is her job to act as an ambassador to whomever may be residing on the “Target” as the ship is called.

After a year of travel from Earth, the crew of the Providence reaches the Target.  Suddenly the heretofore thought to be a possible derelict ship comes to life.  Jane is inundated with images of her past as a child and soon hears a voice in her head from the navigator of the ship, Ei’Brai the last sentient inhabitant of the craft.  The remainder of her the Jane’s crew worry that she is being manipulated by the voice of the ship.  Some want to leave immediately while others want to stay and learn as much as they can.

As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that Jane is being groomed by Ei’Brai for an adventure that no human has ever experienced before.

Jennifer has written one of the strongest female characters in science fiction, since Ellen Ripley of Alien fame.  Jane’s character is compassionate and maintains her humanity while establishing herself as a hero.  Jane doesn’t use violence as her tool for being heroic, but rather uses her intellect and wits to analyze and resolve the obstacles that are thrown her way.

Another prominent member of the crew, Alan Bergen is an engineer/astronaut that tries to aid Jane along the way.  Bergen believes in jane and somewhat reluctantly follows her lead to keep the rest of the crew on track.

Ei’Brai, the ship’s navigator was one of the most interesting characters written because as I read, I felt that at some points he was benevolent, while at others he was the real enemy to be feared and beaten.  It isn’t until the end that we find out which.  This was one of the most fun parts of reading Fluency

If there is a weakness to this story, it might be that the author, while doing an awesome job of developing her main characters, but I personally would have liked to known a bit more about the other members of the crew, particularly the motivations behind Walsh, the mission’s commander.

This story is a tapestry of action right from the opening lines. It never lets up with exception of some interludes and images of flashbacks caused by the ship’s navigator in the minds of some of the crew  The situation on board becomes desperate and seemingly hopeless a few times, but thanks to Jane, Ei’Brai, and Bergen’s level-headedness many of the situations are solved in some very interesting ways.

This story is very open-ended and would seem to be begging loudly for a sequel, which would be fun, but I personally think this story stands very well alone.  I wonder if Jennifer didn’t intend for the reader to use their imagination to continue the story.

Fluency is a real page-turner; I really hated to stop reading and found that even though I had other things I should have been doing, I kept drifting back to see what happens next.

I recommend this story for sci-fi fans that enjoy a good book that deals with humanity and how we might behave during an encounter with an unknown.  Jennifer has a good grasp on how a situation such as what is in the story might shake out.  I am very much looking forward to her future work

Well, there it is…

Q’aplaH’!