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Posts Tagged ‘Star Trek’

“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” — Woodrow T. Wilson

Friends are on my mind today. Two of my good friends, Karen and Wendy, have birthdays this week. Just last week, I had the opportunity to spend several hours (including lunch) with Patti, a friend who I haven’t had a chance to visit with in-person for two years. I chatted with dear friend Kelly on the phone just the other day. And I’m looking forward to spending time with more friends this summer.

Besides family, I think friends and their friendship are the most important thing holding my world together–which is why friendship often plays such an important role in my stories and books.

BeyondSheercliffs_Balticon Like the unlikely group pulled together in JRR Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring, sometimes the friendships we forge because of a common goal turn out to be the most meaningful. At their core, Star Wars and Star Trek, are also about unlikely friendships. As is JK Rowling’s Harry Potter. For “Things are never quite as scary when you’ve got a best friend.” [Bill Watterson].

The concept of friendship growing from a common goal (and enemy) led me to cobble together several groups of seemingly dissimilar individuals in my epic fantasy novel, The Enchanted Dagger (Book 1 of The Chronicles of Lifthrasir). And the idea of friendship is also playing an important role in my current work-in-progress novel, Beyond the Sheercliffs (Book 1.5 of The Chronicles of Lifthrasir). 

The fight against evil; the quest for an item or person of great value; shared hunger, thirst, and danger; a common goal; and unexpected circumstances that link characters together are all wonderful devices in storytelling that can be the seeds of friendship. And best of all, readers understand friendship. It is something we all have in common.

A great majority of us desire strong friendships. We all have known the pain of a friendship that has ended. Many of us have watched a friend grown apart from us or change in a way that makes them a different person–and one which we no longer want to be friends with. Most of us remember the joyful feelings of realizing someone has moved from friendly acquaintance to friend. And we embrace the truth of Helen Keller’s sentiment: “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”

And so, as I shape and polish the various friendships in Beyond the Sheercliffs, I urge you to reach out to your friends. Take the time to phone, message, or better yet, visit with your friends. Or maybe, make the effort to develop a friendly acquaintance into a friend. Because “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out” [Walter Winchell], and we could all use more of those sorts of people in our lives.

 

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News today of Leonard Nimoy’s death brings sadness to many fans of Star Trek. As a kid, I watched the original show on television. Later, I enjoyed the re-runs and Star Trek movies featuring Spock, Kirk, Scotty, Bones, and the rest of the crew of the Starship Enterprise. And it was a delight to see an older Leonard Nimoy reprising his role in the new Star Trek movies.

Saturday is not my usual day for quotes, but an exception will be made. The man who played the ever logical Vulcan, Spock, Leonard Nimoy said: “Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.” Which, if one thinks about it, is quite true.

On the subject of exploration, one would assume Nimoy would promote space exploration, instead he said: “That is the exploration that awaits you! Not mapping stars and studying nebula, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence.”

And lastly, I’ll quote a tweet from Leonard Nimoy sent on February 23, 2015 from @TheRealNimoy – “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP”

For those Star Trek fans, like me, we know what LLAP stands for, and can raise a hand and separate our fingers in a Vulcanish manner. For those who don’t know (or remember), Leonard Nimoy’s final wish for his followers was “Live Long And Prosper.” And I, for one, will remember him.

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Happy Star Wars Day and May the Fourth be with you! Here’s a link for a brief history of how this holiday began.

May is a special month in the Star Wars world – not only was George Lucas born in May, but most of the live-action Star Wars movies debuted in May, including Episode IV – the movie that began not only the Star Wars franchise, but was a major leap in film and special effects. And I think my birthday being in May is no coincidence!

Star Wars had a profound effect on my creative life. Since childhood, I’d been a watcher of Star Trek and other science fiction (and fantasy) television shows. When I got the chance to go to the movie theater, I usually chose to see speculative films. Many of the books I borrowed from the library or had on my bookshelves were adventure tales, fantasy, and science fiction. But I hadn’t yet embraced sf/f/h as my creative niche.

After Star Wars, I realized I belonged as an artist and writer in the fantastical worlds of fantasy and science fiction. I wanted to write about heroes (both male and female), sidekicks, magical creatures, faraway galaxies, and strange worlds. I wanted to paint the landscape and inhabitants of those imagined lands (or seas or starships or mysterious places).

When asked to list my creative influences, JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, and Arthur Rackham always make the cut – but in truth, George Lucas should be mentioned, too!

Here’s NASA’s May 4th greeting for your viewing pleasure.

Here’s a short video with a May 4th wish delivered by R2D2.

And finally, a link to a fun and geeky Star Wars website. Enjoy!

(And by the way, my new book, Owl Light, has several science fiction stories in it for SF readers.)

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Creator of the fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has dozens of marvelous quotes. I know I’ll pick another one to use in the future, but for now, I’ll share this often re-quoted tidbit from The Sign of Four: “How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”

Star Trek fans and others will recognize this quote. And for writers who want to challenge their readers, this quote is something worth thinking about. As long as you give the clues, improbable out-comes often make for better stories.

 

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The third eye, the eye that sees into the mind of another or into the future or past, is often needed when writing a speculative fiction story.

In Science Fiction, it’s common for diverse cultures and alien beings to cross paths. But how do they communicate? A version of the Star Trek universal translator can be employed. I used a translation device in my SF short story, “Pawprints of the Margay.” But that technology isn’t always available in the storyline.

Another SF communication option is to have one or more of the characters able to read minds or sense feelings. An empath (think Star Trek Next Generation’s Troi), a mind-reader, even Spock’s Vulcan mind-meld will all do. The ability to see into another’s thoughts can be a trait of one of the races included in the tale, or a special talent of a select character or group. The singing opossum in my story, “Assassins,” seems to know what is going on in the mind of the central character, Flynn. In this case, the reader is never certain whether an animal third eye is being used, since the point-of-view of the tale doesn’t include the opossum.

In Fantasy, the universal translator is replaced by a wisewoman or wizard character who understands multiple languages (and quite often has special third eye abilities, too). JRR Tolkien’s wizard, Gandalf, and The Lord of the Rings’ elf queen, Galadriel, are examples.  In my story published in UK’s Ethereal Tales, “The Garden Shop,” the main character has the ability to speak and understand the language of plants — certainly an uncommon linguistic talent, but one necessary for this tale.

Sometimes in Fantasy (and SF) there is a Rosetta Stone that serves as a translation device. At other times, a “common” language (or tongue) that all races understand is present. But most often, one or more of the characters has third eye abilities.

In the new anthology from Dark Quest Books, Dragon’s Lure, the dragon in my story, “Weathermaker,” can both send and receive communication by thought. The young woman at the center of the short, May, speaks out-loud. She soon realizes the dragon must be talking to her in mind-speak as well as in an audible voice.

The Residential Aliens anthology, When the Morning Stars Sing, includes my fantasy short, “Blood of the Swan.” Liv, the swan-maiden at the center of this tale has foreknowledge of the arrival of Jorund, the man who comes to ask for her help as a healer. Liv not only has foresight, but also the ability to read some of what is in a person’s mind or heart. And that special ability is intrical to the plot.

Whether called an empath, psychic, mind-melder, thought-reader, swan-maiden, wizard, or dragon — it’s common to find a character with a third eye in speculative fiction. Just take a look at your favorite SF/F tales, and you’ll see what I mean.

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vcw-a-cvr[1] Hooray! My second eShort, Assassins, was published.   This time around, the short story is classified as an “Adventure” tale even though it is set in the future on a planet far, far away. And more than a science fiction adventure, this story could be classified as a Space Western!

Hmm. Does this mean I have a stagecoach rattling along a prairie trail? No, but I do have a bus driven by a reluctant hero rattling down that same prairie trail (only it’s on Konur Prime instead of in South Dakota or Kansas). Does that mean there’s a chase scene? Yes, and the get-away horse is a big-rig truck. Does that mean there’s a damsel in distress? Yes, she’s a failed genetically altered “experiment” who is running for her life from an assassin with her pet singing opossum. There’s even a saloon and gambling establishment run by a red-headed woman. And I took the cover photo in Colorado at Garden of the Gods that stands in for The Canyons on Konur Prime.

A little more about Space Westerns. These stories take advantage of the character-types, challenges, and situations typically found in traditional westerns — only they take place in the future on frontier planets or “along the trail” between planets.  A recent example of a Space Western is the television series, “Firefly,” and its movie offspring, “Serenity.” But the spirit of the Space Western was really rejuvenated years ago by movies like “Star Wars,” “Alien,” and the “Star Treks.”

Whether Assassins is called an adventure, science fiction tale, or space western — it’s a fun read. If you’re a writer — why not try and write one? And a note to you readers, Assassins has a gun fight by the train tracks at the story’s end between the good guys and the bad guys! (But I’m not telling you who wins).

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