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.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Star Trek: Discovery: Fear Itself By James Swallow - A Great Story Featuring Saru Learning To Deal With Fear

Star Trek: Discovery: Fear Itself by James Swallow

With a new Star Trek series will also come new books set in and around the new series. Several Trek regular authors are up to the task of telling some fascinating stories, mostly surrounding the characters we (at least those of us who watch) see on the show. So far, Fear Itself is the third installment of the new Discovery novels, and it focuses on a character that, up until now, I have not really cared for, namely the Kelpien officer, Saru. So before I get any feathers ruffled and generate a bunch of hate mail, or whatever kind of trolling anyone has in mind, just let me say that I personally did not like the character. That is not to say that Saru is not well written, or that the actor, Doug Jones, doesn’t do a great job portraying him, but Saru just makes me nervous.
The events of Fear Itself take place about four years before the premier of Discovery. Philippa Georgiou is the captain of the U.S.S. Shenzhou, and Saru is a lieutenant aboard that ship, along with Michael Burnham, also a lieutenant.

When the Shenzhou detects a damaged ship in a sector that is between space claimed by the Tholians and the Peliar, they send hails to see if the damaged vessel is in need of assistance. When there is no response, Captain Georgiou takes it upon herself to lead the Shenzhou on a mission to offer aid, if needed. An away team is formed that includes Saru. After the Peliar ship is stabilized, Saru discovers that the cargo hold of the ship contains many Gorlans that are living in primitive conditions. When Saru makes contact with the Gorlans, they tell him that they are living as they choose and the Peliar also try to convince him that they are only refugees and are being relocated to another planet. Saru senses that what he is hearing from both parties may not be completely true and begins to investigate. What Saru finds is that things are not all what they seem, nor what he has been told. When the commander of his away mission is incapacitated, he is forced to take command of the away team aboard the Peliar ship and he finds himself forced into making several very difficult decisions. Will he be up to the task or will his natural tendency toward caution get in the way?

As mentioned before, Saru is a Kelpien, a race of humanoids from a planet that has a binary food-chain system, in other words, the inhabitants are predators or prey. Kelpiens are the latter, they are the prey on their planet, and nearly every other species are predators. Saru tells about his race even being hunted, bred, and farmed as livestock. According to Saru, Kelpiens live in a constant state of danger beginning at birth. It is their nature to avoid situations that are risky or dangerous which has earned them the reputation of being cowardly. Kelipens have threat-ganglia that present themselves when danger is perceived. When a Kelpien is faced with a new situation, they automatically assume it is dangerous and that they are under attack until they are not. They would seem not to have the fight-or-flight response to dangerous situations, rather, it is their nature to take flight in any case.

In this story, it would seem that Saru is very concerned with trying to learn how to conquer his fear, but not having a great deal of success. He has a holographic device in his quarters that projects threats to him in different forms and he tries to cope with them. Like many of us who are fearful of things, Saru works to conquer that fears. A person who is afraid of flying might go to therapy, take some sort of medication, or perhaps just force themselves to get on a plane and deal with it. Or one might just take the bus or drive instead and not ever get near a plane. Saru has many fears to deal with in Fear Itself. There is the fear of going into an unknown situation full of unknown people. He also fears that everything he is trying to do might go wrong and someone he cares about, or a crewmate might be hurt or killed. Keep in mind that fear is part of the character’s nature.

It is difficult for one to go against one’s nature. We all have certain propensities that, no matter how hard we try, we just cannot seem to change. In the case of Saru, he temporarily loses the confidence of the away team when the leader is incapacitated and Saru, being the most senior officer, finds himself in command. While there are several themes running through the book, Saru’s fear and how he deals with it is the strongest theme. Most of the way through the book he is constantly trying to conquer his fear and behave as a Starfleet officer should, or at least how he sees most of them behave as they perform their duties. Just when it looks like everything is going to go to pieces, a young female Gorlan tells Saru that instead of trying to deny fear, that he should embrace it and use it to help him solve the problems. This is a huge turning point in the story for the main Character. By taking that advice and using his fear as an advantage, he is able to get things under control and carry forward to the eventual resolution of numerous problems. Bravo to the author for this plot point instead of taking the easy way out and making Saru temporarily fearless.

It is pretty plain to me that James Swallow had to give a lot of thought to this story and it’s telling. Thanks to him, I have a better understanding of the character from the television series and a better appreciation of the behaviors and attitudes that Saru displays on the television show.

Now the question is whether I like Saru any better than I did before I read the book? Well, I am sorry to disappoint you, but I am not going to answer that. However I will say that I liked the growth of the character in this book which made it a fun read. I recommend this book along with the other character studies that have been penned in this new Discovery line of novels.

Well, there it is…


Qapla’!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Empty Space Comics by Michael Jan Friedman - Boosting The Signal

Empty Space #1 by Michael Jan Friedman, Illustrated by Ciao Cacau and Lettered by James Campbell

There is a new comic series available and the price is extremely reasonable! For those of you familiar with the work of Mike Friedman, there is no need to tell you that this is going to be good. Mike is the author of numerous novels both in and out of the Star Trek universe. Recently he has published a collection of his own short stories that I reviewed on this blog. That was called Cabal and Other Invocations of the Muse. At any rate, I am writing to help get the word out about this new series of comics by one of my favorite authors, and a good friend.

Normally, I try to get in on the funding of Mike's projects, but for some reason, I missed this one. Unfortunately, I don't know a great deal about the comic itself, but you can read what it is about on Mike's Kickstarter for Empty Space #1.

If you don't have time to see that, here is what is on the promo for the book...


"Empty Space #1: The Awakening
 "Captain Robinson Dark wakes up on a ship similar to his own but eerily different. He knows he can get to the bottom of the mystery if he can find this ship's captain and crew. But where are they?"

If you are intrigued, as I am, you may purchase the first installment of this story at Mike's ComiXology page.

Now, you are going to have to excuse me, I have to go an order a comic!

Well, there it is...

Qapla'!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Fall Of Hyperion by Dan Simmons - Stories Are Resolved, But There Are More Questions

The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons

After reading Hyperion, there was no doubt in my mind that I would be reading the rest of the novels in the series. I enjoyed the first novel so much that I grabbed the second novel and started reading even knowing that there were other things I should be reading for the book podcasts I am on.

In Hyperion, the first novel in the series, seven pilgrims are sent to the planet Hyperion, an out of the way planet on the edge of Hegemony space. The pilgrims are to seek out the Shrike, a creature of mythical proportions. The shrike is known for causing much pain and suffering to its victims. While traveling to a place on Hyperion known as the Time Tombs, the characters decide that they will tell each other their stories of encounters with the Shrike. The journey to the Tombs is long and it is thought that the stories will help the pilgrims get to know each other, understand why they were chosen to make the trip, and for entertainment purposes. Along with the pilgrim’s stories, there is war on the way with a race known as the Ousters, who are planning to conquer Hyperion.

One thing that is certain as far as I am concerned, is that The Fall Of Hyperion is a very complicated book and I am finding it difficult to summarize, but I will try. So, as they say, here goes nothin’...

It would seem that there are three distinct stories going on in this book. That of the pilgrims as they move in and around the Time Tombs, but sometimes it is told as a communication from Brawne Lamia (one of the pilgrims) to Joseph Severn, the second of a pair of “cybrid” reincarnations of the poet John Keats. Lamia has been fitted with a subcutaneous device that allows her to transmit the experiences of the pilgrims to Severn. Severn receives these transmission in the form of dreams that he can remember. He reports his dreams to the leader of the Hegemony of Man, CEO Meina Gladstone. For a good portion of the story, we see what is happening to the pilgrims through the dreams related by Severn.

Along with the exploits of the pilgrims, there is a war that is raging in space between the Hegemony and the invading Ousters. At the beginning of the story, CEO Gladstone is being advised by a few high-ranking officers of the FORCE, or the Hegemony military. The commanders have analyzed the Ousters numbers and their attack on Hyperion and report that the Hegemony forces will, in short time, easily defeat the Ousters. This proves to be a gross overstatement and the war quickly gets out of hand as the Ousters overrun the Hegemony forces and begin attacking Hegemony occupied worlds. There are billions of lives at stake, even though the Ousters do not travel by Farcaster (a type of transportation that allows one to travel from place to place instantaneously; it also connects all of the worlds in the Hegemony). Instead, the Ousters use what is known as Hawking Drive which is much slower, but that doesn’t matter because the Ousters seem relentless.

When CEO Gladstone learns that the Ousters are not flesh and blood beings, but rather are TechnoCore androids, she hatches a plot to destroy the Farcaster network where the TechnoCore (much like our internet, but far, far more sophisticated) resides.

The most compelling part of the story is the fate of the pilgrims themselves. They are:
  • Martin Silenus - Poet who is hoping to finish an epic poem called the Hyperion Cantos.
  • The Consul - A diplomat who is bitter toward the Hegemony, and has also been an agent of the Ousters.
  • Brawne Lamia - A private detective who had/has a relationship with Joseph Severn.
  • Sol Weintraub - A scholar who is bringing his infant daughter to the Time Tombs to reverse an infliction that is causing her to age backward toward her birth. Rachel, Sol’s daughter became ill when touched by the Shrike as an adult archaeologist studying the Time Tombs.
  • Fedmahn Kassad - A former FORCE officer who seeks to destroy the Shrike and kill Moneta, the Shrike’s keeper and Kassad’s former lover.
  • Lenar Hoyt - A Catholic priest who is hoping to die so his mentor Father Paul Dure can live again. He wears a thing called the Cruciform that allows him to be resurrected as Dure upon his death.


All of their stories are compelling and if you want to learn more about them, you’ll just have to read the book. If I summarize much more, I will be giving some major spoilers, even beyond the ones I have already given.  Let just suffice to say that The Fall of Hyperion is a complicated story that is very involved and engaging. There are many facets to this story and they all seem to be interwoven in such a way that makes is hard for me to summarize in just a short space without telling the story.

As in the previous volume, I loved the way that the story unfolds and how Simmons writes it. He changes voice numerous times as he moves from one character to another, but the descriptions of what things look, feel, and smell like are quite poetic. The use of language in this book is beautiful. His descriptions of people, places and things are just fun to read as well as providing a complete picture that I was able to visualize as I read. The places he talks about in this book are places that are colorful and interesting and I would love to visit them myself. As for the people, they become entities that one cares about and are engaging; even the not-so-nice characters are living, breathing people while one reads.

The main motivation I had for reading this second book in the Hyperion series was to find out the fate of Sol Weintraub and his daughter Rachel. This was the most compelling story for me and I was not disappointed in the outcome. I could feel Sol’s pain as he had to make decisions, very difficult decisions, and finally came to the conclusion that he was going to have to trust the Shrike to grant his wish to restore Rachel to normal. Along with Sol’s story, the other pilgrims stories were just as appealing and interesting in their resolutions, but for some reason, I latched onto that one character, who, to me, was the one that had suffered the most. I do think that whoever reads The Fall of Hyperion, may find that while they sympathize with all of the pilgrims, as well as many of the other characters, that each reader may be able to identify more with one than the others.

I found this series when I searched for science fiction to read that would be something new and different. In looking back over what I read, while it may be classified as Sci-Fi, it is also a story that might appeal to Fantasy fans as well. I think that putting this book, and the one before it into a single category might limit who would enjoy these books. It is very much a work of fantasy; there are some very ‘magical’ things happening in this story that makes me think it is a Sci-Fi and fantasy story. There is the Shrike that would cause nightmares in many people, there is the quest of one individual character to take the Shrike down, and there is even a ‘magic’ carpet that carries one character across the planet to return with help.

In any case, the Hyperion Cantos books are well worth looking at whether you are a fan of one genre or the other. In my estimation, they are entertaining, engaging, and fascinating stories that are well written. But reader be warned, they are also very complex in their content and, should you decide to give the series a look, you will need to pay attention.

Well, there it is…


Qapla’!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Perry Rhodan #1: Enterprise Stardust & #2: The Radiant Dome - Fun Retro Sci-Fi from Germany

Perry Rhodan: Enterprise Stardust & The Radiant Dome By K.H. Scheel and Walter Ernsting

Just as I was finishing another book and wondering what to read next, a friend on Facebook ended my wondering by telling me about a series of books that I had never heard anything about. That is probably because the books he pointed me to is a German pulp fiction series that began publication in 1961 and is still going today. The Perry Rhodan series is found in novella form and is widely popular in Western Europe. Even though there was an attempt to bring these stories to the United States in the late 1970’s, it never caught on. When I looked the name up on Google, I discovered I could easily spend the rest of my life catching up on these stories, if they were all translated into English. My friend sent me the first 120 novellas in the ePub format that I have to convert into the Mobi format to read on my Kindle (yeah, there’s an app for that).

The first two novellas I have read so far involve a first contact situation. In Enterprise Stardust, American astronaut and physicist, Major Perry Rhodan, leads the first expedition to the moon in a spacecraft called the Stardust. With all of his crew’s training complete and the spacecraft outfitted with enough supplies for the trip, the ship launches for the several-days long trip to the moon. Unfortunately, there are some radio emission from the lunar surface that cause the ship to malfunction forcing Rhodan to crash land on Earth’s only natural satellite. The Stardust ends up near the south polar region of the moon, just out of the line of sight with the Earth and their base in Nevada. Fortunately for the crew, the damage to the ship is minimal and easily repaired, but the radio emissions are preventing the Stardust from a return trip. In an effort to learn and correct whatever is causing the radio interference, Rhodan leads a few of his crew on a ride to the source of the problem

Upon arrival, the Terrans discover a huge spherical ship that belongs to an alien race calling themselves Arkonians. They appear to be an interesting race. The leaders are intelligent, but the rest of the crew only seem interested in playing some sort of video games, and outside of that, would seem to be imbecilic. The main body of work is carried out by artificial intelligences in the form of robots. The commander of the alien ship is a female who is quite militant and has a great deal of disdain for the inhabitants of Earth, considering them to be low class of intelligence, at least by their standards. On the other hand, there is also an Arkonian scientist on board the alien craft that finds humanity quite fascinating, which saves Rhodan and his companions from being killed out of hand.

Perry notices that the Arkonian scientist is not well and Rhodan callus upon a doctor from the Stardust who examines the Arkonian. The doctor discovers that the scientist has leukemia and will die without treatment. After talking with the alien commander, Rhodan is able to convince her to allow him to take the scientist back to Earth to be cured of the blood disease. Perry and his crew travel back to the Earth knowing that if he lands at his base in Nevada, the military will take the Arkonian into custody. This will likely trigger a nuclear war between the superpowers on the planet, which appears to be imminent anyway. WIth the help of the Arkonians, the Stardust returns.  Rhodan lands his ship in the middle of the Gobi desert where none of the Earth’s superpowers will have access to the alien scientist before he can devise a defense. Rhodan is very concerned that if the alien should fall into the custody of any one government, they would try to wring secrets out of him to gain an unfair advantage over their opponents. This is where the first story leaves off.

The second installment, The Radiant Dome, picks up where the first ends with Rhodan, his crew, and the Arkonian scientist in the Gobi. The ship is being protected by an invisible dome that is generated by a machine on board. Further, the Arkonian commander is also transmitting a field that renders nuclear weapons inert. The scientist is treated with a miracle medicine and is cured of leukemia, but remains in a coma while his body heals from the stresses that has been placed upon it. In the meantime, the superpowers all gather to try to convince Rhodan that he has to turn over the scientist and tell everything he and his crew has learned. Rhodan remains steadfast in that he is not going to cooperate and announces that he is setting up his own superpower to thwart the plans of the three existing powers, knowing that they will only exploit the Arkonian and his knowledge to further the cause of war among them.

When the commanders of the superpowers learn that they are being stopped by the Arkonians still on the moon, they launch three manned rockets to destroy the spacecraft on the moon. The rockets are armed with a type of weapon that cannot be affected by the Arkonian damping field At the same time, they begin a heavy bombardment on the dome that is protecting Rhodan’s ship in an attempt to overload the generator and take it out. The three ships make it to the moon and deliver their cargo of bombs, but not before the alien commander escapes to Earth, joining Rhodan and her fellow Arkonian. The dome generator is about to overload and burnout when the Arkonian scientist wakes from his coma and explains how to repair the machine.

Despite being stranded on Earth, the commander accepts that she and her scientist compatriot will never be able to return to their home. That is where The Radiant Dome ends, I presume that the story will continue in the third novella.

First off, I will say that I enjoyed these stories a lot, and what I didn’t like was mostly technical in nature. While the translation of the text was very good, there were a few typos here and there that weren’t too distracting, however the formatting of the translation from the ePub format to the MOBI was not at all good and, for the most part, caused me some confusion as I read the story. The paragraphs, in many places, ran together and the dialog was hard to follow. Often times I had trouble knowing which character was saying what and had to reread a lot to make sense of it. After a while though, I was able to adapt to the problems and with a little careful reading, I was able to enjoy the story. That is the only complaint I have about these stories. I corrected this by downloading an ePub app on my iPad. The formatting is far better and will make the text easier to follow.

I liked pretty much everything else about the stories. They are short and easily read in one or two sittings, and they are focused. There is also a lot of story packed into the text including details that are well described and offer a vivid backdrop. In Enterprise Stardust, the writers go into some detail on the structure of the ship and how it gets to the moon. It was pretty astounding to me how close the writers came to describing a mission to the moon that wouldn’t take place for over eight and a half years before the Apollo 11 mission landed on the moon. Rhodan was in command of a three-staged vehicle that used chemical propellant for the first two stages, then used nuclear power to make the trip to the moon. So while not being totally accurate, the authors pretty well understood how things might be done.

I also enjoyed getting to know Perry Rhodan, hard-nosed commander but also a man with principles. He is smart and can make snap decisions. All around the perfect man for the job, whatever it may be. He makes me think of other characters such as Buck Rogers, Doc Savage, Flash Gordon, and others that filled the same role as a flawless hero that never lets his friends down. Not only is Rhodan able to think his way out of situations, he is also a charmer to boot, as one might expect from a character from the early 60’s. He was able to get the captain of the alien vessel to go along with his ideas despite her better judgement. It would be interesting to read a more modern version of one of these stories to see if the women are made to be stronger as we move into this era.

Rhodan is accompanied by a few companions in these two novellas and they all look to his leadership and knowledge for guidance in nearly every situation. It is quite amusing how Rhodan remains in complete control of himself while everyone around him continually goes to pieces until the leader intervenes and brings everyone back to their senses.

The technology is quite far fetched all the way through, but that is one of the things that make the stories interesting. In the days of past sci-fi, the fantastic was what people wanted. The more over the top it was, the better. In today’s sci-fi, it seems that people want what is at least plausible. I suppose that is because what seemed out of reach fifty years ago has now become reality.
In any case, I had fun reading these stories and have several more that I can call upon between books to read for podcasts run out. The Facebook friend that suggested I read some of these books said that if I start I will get hooked and what to continue reading. I will continue reading the Perry Rhodan stories, but I think I will be interspersing them with other, more modern stories.

Well, there it is…


Qapla’!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Promise of Stars: A Great Collection Of Young Adult Fiction And On Meeting David Gerrold

A Promise of Stars by David Gerrold

Back on March 2-4, 2018, the Gage County (Nebraska) Historical Society held a celebration of the life and work of Gene Coon. The event was held in the city of Beatrice, Nebraska, the birthplace of Coon, whom many of us will know as a writer and producer for original series Star Trek. When I learned that David Gerrold was going to appear in person at this celebration, I knew that I had to go. David appeared at the public library at the and of the day for a meet-and-greet and a book signing session. So I waited my turn in line choosing to get two Tribbles (Chrissy would have never forgiven me if I hadn’t brought one home for her) and the book, A Promise Of Stars. As an addendum, I will discuss more about meeting Mr. Gerrold after the book discussion.

When I picked up this book, I thought I was purchasing a short story collection. While there are a couple of short stories contained therein, there are also what Gerrold calls short novels. In any case, A Promise Of Stars is a collection of stories that are young adult sci-fi, owing to the fact that the stories all focus on young people. There are five stories in the volume and each one is unique, but after reading, I found some common threads that connected the stories, mostly in some of the terminology used by the characters. In the seven stories are some interesting and appealing adventures, but it was the first one that I was very much able to relate to personally. I would imagine that many of us who are older, sci-fi fans can relate to it as well. That first story is called Nowhere Man.

Have you ever been that kid that constantly gets picked on? You read hard books for enjoyment, you do well in your classes, you might even be a little bored with school because things come easy for you. But instead of receiving admiration, you have to put up with some bully that constantly ridicules you, and may even cause you harm if you stand up for yourself. Yeah, I was that kid.

I wasn’t necessarily any smarter than anyone else, but I loved school and took learning very seriously. I studied my butt off all the time. I also enjoyed learning when I didn’t have to. I was a nerd before the word nerd even became common. Well, I always wanted to get back at those that made going to school torture outside the classroom and that is what Nowhere Man is about. A young man, a genius really, teams up with his uncle and devises something that allows him to get his revenge. I must say, I wish I had come up with the idea to avenge myself upon my antagonists in the way the hero does.

Other stories include:

  • A father attempting to kidnap his sons by taking them to the moon, but there is an interesting twist for this dysfunctional family. 
  • A group of young people are taken to the moon to work on a habitat, but as will happen with young people, hormones get in the way.
  • A young woman and her grandmother literally knit a starship after their lives are changed due to some shady business practices.

And there are more, including a very short and very interesting list of what future travelers to the moon might comment after they return.

One of the things I appreciate most in an author is that person’s ability to write in such a way that I can visualize the people, places, and things that they are communicating in their stories. If I cannot get pictures in my mind’s eye of what I am reading, then I usually give up on the book. Mr. Gerrold is a master at painting pictures with his words.  I hold his work up there with Asimov, Heinlein, Anderson, and Ellison in that regard. I have not read as much of David’s work as I should, but what I have read fits the bill brilliantly. I will absolutely include the collection, A Promise of Stars as one of those that fit the bill because the writing flowed off the page and the internal visuals I got were stunning.

There’s also a lot of emotional content in A Promise that runs from the feeling of triumph to deep despair. There is also fear, apprehension, and a lot of love. And perhaps that is what sets David apart from more common writers, he loves what he does and it is obvious. I especially enjoy what I call David’s lists. He will take a commonly used phrase and find every synonym to that phrase and then even  make up a few more. Some are quite humorous, some are irreverent, and some will even make the reader blush, but they are never boring. I catch myself reading David’s lists a couple of times to be sure I don’t miss something before I go on with the story.

In any case, I highly recommend A Promise of Stars as a collection of great stories that are well told. One might even read this volume as an introduction to the authors brilliant work without investing in a full novel.

So, with the book review part of the post done, I will continue with my experience meeting and talking, however all too briefly, with David Gerrold. Just a quick note here, I am calling what came before this a book review, which I know David would disagree. A while back, David posted on Facebook what a review is, and there is way too much about myself in what I have written; a book review should be about the book and not about the reviewer (See sir, I am paying attention). So, there is the reason that I am writing reviews on a blog as opposed to writing professionally.

I have known the name David Gerrold for most of my life, ever since I first saw his name as the writer of The Trouble with Tribbles. After that, I began seeing his name on a number of television shows that I enjoyed; Babylon 5, Land of the Lost, and Twilight Zone to name a few. I found him on Facebook and clicked the “Friend” button and waited. And I waited and waited.  And I waited some more. I kind of felt bad that he hadn’t responded to my Friend request until I learned that his cue was completely full, and there was no more room for friends and that I was on a waiting list. So I continued waiting. One day, I was surprised that I had been accepted as a friend.

Since that time, and before, when I was a follower, I have enjoyed reading David’s Facebook posts and have learned a lot from them. David is a self proclaimed curmudgeon, and describes himself as an old grouch and not a nice man. He posts on many subjects and if one takes the time to read his posts, one can gain some insight on humor, politics, and a number of other subects. He is outstanding at expressing himself, as I have already mentioned. He will even accept argument and disagreement, but be warned, your argument better be well researched and based on evidence, otherwise you may find yourself getting launched on his famous “Trebuchet.” In other words, off the friends list. So needless to say, I was not sure about who I was going to meet when I went to the event in Beatrice.

I found out about the celebration for one of Beatrice’s native sons, Gene L. Coon, quite by accident on Facebook from a friend who was planning to go and was spreading the word. I thought it would be fun to take a drive and spend the day at a place I have heard about, but have never been. Then I learned that David Gerrold was going to be a guest speaker and signing books there and that pretty much made it a must go for me.

Although it was touted as a three-day event, I was only able to attend on Saturday. I had brought my Klingon costume and had intended to wear it for most of the day while at the event, but when I arrived, I saw immediately that it was not that kind of event, so my Klingon persona remained in the trunk. At any rate, there was a speaker who talked about Gene Coon’s roots in Beatrice, his time in the military, and how he came to be in Hollywood as a writer/producer for television. I was not aware that Coon had done so much in television and that he had penned episodes for many of my favorite television shows. Following the talk, the audience was treated to an episode each of Wagon Train and Bonanza, both written by Gene Coon. At noon, we were sent to lunch and I finally got to see David Gerrold in the flesh who was the guest of honor at a Q. & A. session at the local Valentino's (I will just add here that the food was excellent, and if you are in Beatrice, consider stopping at Valentino's!). I raised my hand to ask a question, and knowing that David was good friends with Harlan Ellison, I thought to ask after him. It was almost three and a half years since Ellison had had a stroke, and I wondered how he was doing and if he was working again. David’s answer was that Harlan was still Harlan and that he would pass along well wishes to him (in case you weren’t aware, Harlan Ellison, a man that I admired as a champion for what is right, recently passed away).

After lunch, it was back to the theater for David Gerrold’s keynote speech and another Q&A session with the audience. David talked for nearly ninety minutes about his relationship with Gene Coon who turned out to be a mentor. Next up were two episodes of Star Trek by Gene Coon, one was Devil in the Dark and the second was A Taste of Armageddon.

Following an hour dinner break, I headed over to the public library where David was having a book signing session. I finally had my chance and when I got my turn in line, and after purchasing the Tribbles and the book, I asked David if he would mind if I had a photo with him, to which he heartily agreed. So, online, he may be a curmudgeon, but in person, he is a very nice man and friendly with fans. I handed my camera to a friend and took my place behind the table with David. When the picture was snapped, he announced to those gathered, “This is our engagement picture!” everyone, including me, cracked up and it was great fun.  I thanked him for the photo opportunity and told him that I appreciated his writings on Facebook and that I had learned a lot from him. I further mentioned that because of what I do, and the political climate locally, that I was unfortunately unable to interact on Facebook with him. He turned to me, and whispered in my ear some advice. He said, “Keep reading and vote.” Four words that say a lot. To David, I promise you that I will do as you suggest.

It is my hope that one day, I will have the opportunity to see David again and maybe even get him to autograph that engagement picture.

Well, there it is…


Qapla'!

Edited by Benjamin Arrowood