Monday, December 29, 2008

Monday Game: Zed

According to the instructions, Zed is an android who wants a solid gold spacesuit. To me, he looks more like some kind of bug. And besides, what does an android need with a spacesuit?

However, it's just possible I'm thinking too much about the setup for an enjoyable little platform jumper.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Friday Radio: With Folded Hands... (Dimension X)

Based on the story by Jack Williamson, published in Astounding Science Fiction, July 1947.

Originally broadcast live on NBC, April 15, 1950.

The author of today's adapted story, Jack Williamson, wrote, among many, many other things over eight decades, "The Moon Era," reprinted in Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 1.

But enough of that. What goodies did you get for Christmas? An iPod Touch? An iRobot Roomba? A Humanoid from planet Wing IV to take on all the onerous drudgery of living?

What's a Humanoid? Come on, they've been out since 2006. Don't you feel left out at parties when everyone else is going on about their Humanoid? What are you going to do on February 17, 2009, after the federally-mandated conversion to all-digital labor?

Of course, I should talk. I finally bought an HDTV last week. My latest iPod is three years old. I don't even have a Humanoid.

Oops, excuse me. That's the doorbell.

Please enjoy today's completely dated and utterly fictional radio program. Rest assured that nothing like this will ever happen to you. Robot labor-saving devices are the wave of the future, and a boon to humankind.

The Editor would tell you this himself, but monitor eyestrain and carpal tunnel syndrome from keyboards can be serious problems, and we want to preserve him from any harm.

-Humanoid 64-J-L-19

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Thursday Preview: Moon over Luna

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Four weeks ago, I lamented that I didn't have a Thanksgiving-themed Thursday Preview.

As it happens, Christmas is also on a Thursday this year, and I do have a story that... well, mentions Christmas. Three times, though. It's also the only one of our new stories to mention Star Trek, and on the same page, yet!

So pleased am I at the page's appositeness that I present it, rather than the story's first page, as this week's Thursday Preview. Fortunately, the illustration by artist/chip off the old block Mishi McCaig is a full page, so it took but a moment in Photoshop to put it together. The story page in question is even a right-hand page, while the illustration is a left-hand, so they make a spread together. It's kismet, I tell you! Kismet!

In "Moon over Luna," Earth suddenly gains an extra natural satellite, a blank, mysterious body soon dubbed Aurora. But the story is far more about people than about this celestial newcomer. How do they react to Aurora's unexpected arrival? As you might imagine, in many different ways. And David R. George III deftly shows us several of them.

Among other forays into the Star Trek universe in print, David R. George III has written the Crucible trilogy, expanding on the events of the classic original series episode "The City on the Edge of Forever" with a novel each on their effects on McCoy, Spock, and Kirk. He also had co-story credit on the first season Star Trek: Voyager episode "Prime Factors," making him the most recent contributor to televised Star Trek to appear in Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 2.

(Please feel free to download, share, make a highly economical Christmas present of, and/or post the jpg file in its original and unaltered form, including all credits and copyrights.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday Game: Alien Clones

Move around the screen, pick up ammunition, and kill enemies. Okay, it doesn't sound that neat, put like that. What I really enjoy about this game is the character design, especially your robotic avatar's crawling motion. To me, it looks part gecko, part water spider.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Majel Barrett Roddenberry (1932-2008)

According to SyFy Portal and other online news sources, Majel Barrett Roddenberry died early Thursday morning after a long battle with leukemia.

She was with Star Trek from the beginning, playing the first officer of the Enterprise, the otherwise nameless Number One, in the original pilot episode. She was a semi-regular on the series in two roles, as Nurse Christine Chapel and as the voice of the ship's computer.

However, it was on Star Trek: The Next Generation that she came into her own as the "Auntie Mame of the galaxy," Lawaxana Troi, mother of regular character Deanna Troi. She also played the role on Deep Space Nine. On all the Trek series, she continued to voice various Federation computers to the very end (to date) of Star Trek on broadcast television, the finale of Enterprise in 2005.

Her final role in Star Trek, completed before her death, will be in the original series-reboot feature film, coming out next May, again as the Enterprise computer. The final Trek performance released during her lifetime was the Star Trek New Voyages episode "World Enough and Time," reprising the role of the original NCC-1701 Enterprise's computer.

She married Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry shortly after the end of the original series in 1969. Following his death in 1991, she was instrumental in bringing two of his unmade projects, Earth: Final Conflict and Andromeda, to television, where they enjoyed long runs.

I only ever saw her once in person, at a convention in Chicago in 1986. She happily delivered the news of the very positive preview figures for the then-upcoming Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and the first news about what became Star Trek: The Next Generation. I'll never forget how she raised goosebumps reading the Federation President's speech from Voyage Home, recounting the disaster that had befallen Earth and urging all listeners to avoid the planet "at all cost."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Radio: The Last Martian (X Minus One)

Based on the story by Fredric Brown, published in Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1950.

Originally broadcast on NBC, August 7, 1956.

I'm not an editor by training, although I started making magazines when I was seven. I've always had kind of a knack for it, mentally holding a blue pencil as I read. But since I worry about everything, I sometimes ask myself who died and made me a science fiction editor.

Enter this week's Friday Radio. I picked it because I have a story by Fredric Brown in Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 2, and I like to say Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 2 to you as much as possible. But as it happens, I'd never read this particular Brown story.

When I listened to the episode, I noticed that it changes point of view character for a while, about two-thirds of the way through, and it just struck me as wrong... particularly because, up till then, it was narrated in the first person by a character who was suddenly no longer present. I also thought it wasted rather casually what should have been the big twist punchline/reveal.

So afterwards, I opened up my copy of From These Ashes: The Complete Short SF of Fredric Brown, and found, to no surprise whatsoever, that the section that had rubbed me the wrong way wasn't in it; it was made up by George Lefferts, the radio scriptwriter, probably to add a couple of plot beats to a fairly short story. And the twist was in the last scene, where it belonged.

Now I'm feeling better. And it'll probably last for, oh, a day, day and a half.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday Preview: Dark Energies

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As you know, and I try to tell Google frequently, all the fiction, old and new, in Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 2 is by writers associated with the various televised incarnations of Star Trek.

Eventually, we're going to get around to a preview of Fredric Brown's "Arena." It has the distinction of being the only existing story adapted into an episode of the original series... although, as I've mentioned, producer Gene Coon wasn't consciously aware he'd adapted a story until after he wrote the script.

But it's not the only story adapted for Star Trek. Larry Niven adapted his own 1967 novella "The Soft Weapon" into the animated episode "The Slaver Weapon."

But that's not this week's preview, either. In fact, it's not in TWS2 at all. Why not? Well, hell, man, if you had a choice between reprinting a Larry Niven story and printing an entirely new one, which would you choose?

To be honest, it's a short-short. Still, it's not short enough to be a two-page "Wonder Storiette" like Ben Bova's "Jovian Dreams" from Volume 1. As a result, it has its own illustration, the second in TWS2 by longtime Trek TV and film scenic art supervisor Michael Okuda.

Larry Niven has been one of the giants of science fiction since the 1960's, winning his first Hugo in 1967. He won both the Hugo and Nebula three years later for his novel Ringworld. And among his other Hugos is one for the novelette "The Borderland of Sol," adapted from his original pitch to the animated Star Trek.

For television, he also wrote three episodes of the original Land of the Lost, and adapted his story "Inconstant Moon" (another of his Hugo-winners) for the revival of The Outer Limits. In the Star Trek universe, he also wrote for the syndicated comic strip.

(Please feel free to download, share, and/or post the jpg file in its original and unaltered form, including all credits and copyrights.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Well, This Is Disturbing

Brain scans can now retrieve images of what you're looking at. Probably coming soon: images of what you're thinking or dreaming about.

"John-Dylan Haynes of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany... says it may be possible to 'make a videotape of a dream.'"

That would come too late for me. I haven't had any dreams worth preserving since I finished puberty.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Radio: The Incident at Switchpath (Beyond Tomorrow)

Based on the story "The Sky Was Full of Ships" (aka "The Cave of History") by Theodore Sturgeon, published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, June 1947.

Remember when I said we'd run through all the stories from Thrilling Wonder adapted for radio? Well...

I've read "The Sky Was Full of Ships," and seen the television adaptation from Tales of Tomorrow. So when I started listening to this episode, it seemed kind of... familiar. Oddly, the announcer twice says that "The Incident at Switchpath" is the title of Sturgeon's story.  But there's no such story, and this is clearly "The Sky Was Full of Ships."

This episode was intended for radio, but there's no evidence it was ever broadcast. Beyond Tomorrow recorded a pilot and three episodes (one of them a re-recording of the pilot). All the sources show that this episode was recorded on April 11, 1950, but it doesn't seem right to me. Dimension X premiered on April 8, 1950 with an adaptation of "The Outer Limit." But the fourth and final recording of Beyond Tomorrow, supposedly set to disc ten days later, was... "The Outer Limit." Go figure.

Another Theodore Sturgeon story from the original Thrilling Wonder appears in our upcoming Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 2. See a preview of "The Golden Helix" here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday Preview: No Studio, No Network, No Problem

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So far, all of our previews from Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 2 have been for fiction. But TWS2 also has over forty pages of non-fiction features.
The main article this time around is an in-depth look at the making of "World Enough and Time," an episode of the Internet series Star Trek New Voyages (since renamed Star Trek: Phase II).

And these aren't three-minute "webisodes," mind you. "World Enough and Time" (known to the cognoscenti as WEAT—pronounced "wheat") runs over an hour, and features three actors from the original series reprising their roles: George Takei (Sulu), Grace Lee Whitney (Janice Rand), and Majel Barrett Roddenberry (the computer voice in all of the Star Trek series and, so Wikipedia tells me, the upcoming movie).

But what really amazes me about New Voyages/Phase II is that although it's a series run by fans on a relative shoestring, it looks as good as many modern television shows made by professionals. Or maybe I should say "entirely by professionals," because although it's primarily a fan—ahem—enterprise, many professionals have taken part. Not just the ones on screen that I've mentioned, but writers, special effects artists, graphic artists, and others who have worked on official Star Trek productions, taking part out of love for the franchise, and for the original series in particular.

With modern home computers, affordable broadcast-quality digital video, and the Internet, it doesn't take a studio or a network to make some truly stunning productions. Mostly, it takes skill and dedication. And if you're making Star Trek, it certainly helps when CBS-Paramount understands (as Lucasfilm does with Star Wars fan films), that emulation is not only the truly most sincere kind of flattery, it's also free publicity.

I have to admit, I'm not a disinterested observer. I became involved with WEAT through my friends, director/co-writer Marc Scott Zicree and co-writer Michael Reaves. I shot DV footage of the auditions and other elements of the pre-production. I drove my Macintosh G5 from Los Angeles to upstate New York in my self-titled capacity of Digital Media Wrangler, downloading the high-def footage from P2 flash memory cards, cataloging it, backing it up, and making daily DVDs of the rushes. Near the end of filming, I became associate producer, and during post-production, co-producer.

The author of the article, Crystal Ann Taylor, also came to the project through association with Marc Zicree. As script co-ordinator, documentarian, and (as many of us on the production had to be) person-of-many-trades, she had a front row seat at the eye of the storm (to mix a metaphor). I, by contrast, spent most of my time in New York at my computer, tucked into a niche between sick bay and the bridge.

Through interviews with many of the people involved both behind the scenes and on the screen (including George Takei), Crystal tells the whole story of this production fueled by can-do spirit, including the few instances when it couldn't-didn't. You'll think you're with us on meticulously-recreated sets, swatting flies and getting increasingly giddy from lack of sleep, and yet having one of the major experiences of your life.

(As usual, feel free to download and share the preview, or post it on your blog or website, as long as you leave the file as it is, including all credits and copyrights. A link back here would be nice, too.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

YouTube Tuesday: Space Adventure, Episodes 1-3

In YouTube Tuesday a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 1, was originally going to come with a bonus DVD. You could only get it by buying TWS1 through our website.

Problem was, the whole website thing sorta went south for reasons I'm not going to talk about, and just stew in my bitterness over.

For now, here's something else that would have been on the TWS1 DVD: the first three episodes of a fun science fiction-comedy with original songs, Space Adventure.

Episode 1

Episode 2: A Gross Shave

Episode 3: That Toast Is Toast!

My favorite phrase for weeks after seeing Episode Two: "This is so important, my groin hurts."

Monday, December 8, 2008

Monday Game: Mission Mars

An e-mail from our friend Xxorxt:

"Yes, my increasingly hairy, binocular bud, as you surmised yesterday, I indeed do all my Snqxrtmas shopping online. Going out in the cold, exterminating the crowds—who needs the frustration?

"Besides, it leaves more time to get together with family and engage in activities reflecting the true meaning of Snqxrtmas. Like taking a leisurely flight and singing carols while we watch the bright lights of a neighboring, but technically inferior, civilization's soaring towers below our ship, and blast them to dust.

"But my favorite part of the Snqxrtmas season comes afterwards. You simply haven't lived until you've cooked sptzznuts over an open fire. And if you can leave the sptzz alive to see his nuts being cooked over an open fire, and the fire is the debris that used to be his home... well, my hearts simply sing."

Uh, thanks, Xxorxt. Remember, if you ever want to drop by for Christmas... don't. We'll be busy.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Forrest J Ackerman (1916-2008)

I'm sad to announce the death of Forrest J Ackerman, founder/editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland, agent for the estates of many early science fiction authors, coiner of the term "sci-fi," and proud wearer of the sobriquets "Super-Fan" and "Mr. Science Fiction."

You can read the announcement on the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) website.

I knew Forry a bit. As you know, I interviewed him for Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 1. I was at his big 90th birthday party two years ago. Reprints I contracted with him in his capacity as estate agent have appeared in TWS, and will be appearing over the next several months. Like, I suspect, many people my age who knew him, I kind of thought of him as the science-fiction-nerd grandfather I never had.

I'm dedicating Volume 2 to Forry and to Jack Speer, another icon of First Fandom whom we lost this year. Without them, and others like them, we science fiction fans wouldn't have what we have today. Certainly I wouldn't be publishing something called Thrilling Wonder Stories.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Radio: The Seventh Order (X Minus One)

Based on the story by Jerry Sohl, published in Galaxy Science Fiction, March 1952.

Originally broadcast on NBC, May 8, 1956.

Here's a first: an adaptation of a story published in the current incarnation of Thrilling Wonder Stories. See a preview of its appearance in the upcoming Volume 2 here.

Continuity hiccup: The (fictional) radio announcer refers to "the bodies of six policemen on the lawn" killed by George (as it were), yet, as we're told earlier and later, George's weapon vaporizes its targets.

Speaking of his weapon, I love the sound effect. I don't know if it was intended to be comic, but between the pause and the "poof" sound, I laugh every time it happens. In the original story, it's "soundless," but of course, that would hardly have worked on radio.

This episode originally aired on my minus fourteenth birthday. So considering that I grew up feeling that 1956 was somewhere between "a long time ago" and "an unimaginably long time ago," and that it's now only about 36% older than I am... well, it makes a fella start to feel not so young anymore, is what I'm saying.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thursday Preview: The Seventh Order

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Apart from one more recent reprint, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 1 featured only reprints from the original magazine and its predecessors. We're casting the net wider this time. In addition to two stories from Thrilling Wonder (one of them previewed here), Volume 2 draws from Astounding, If, and Galaxy (this one), plus one first published in a single-author collection.

Partly, we've done this in order to have all our stories, old and new, from writers of Star Trek. For instance, Jerry Sohl, the author of today's previewed story, wrote numerous stories and novels, but nothing for Thrilling Wonder. In the case of Fredric Brown—who did write for Thrilling Wonder —we wanted to reprint "Arena," which originally appeared in Astounding, because it was the only existing story to be adapted (however unconsciously) into an episode of the original series.

Jerry Sohl (1913-2002) was equally adept at writing for television and print. He ghost-wrote three episodes of the original Twilight Zone, co-plotting with the ailing Charles Beaumont and writing the scripts. He used his own name on the original Outer Limits and The Invaders, as well as series outside the genre, such as Route 66 and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

He seems not to have had a particularly good experience with Star Trek. Although he had a solo writing credit on "The Corbomite Maneuver," the first episode of the series' first production season, he had only co-story on "This Side of Paradise" and "Whom Gods Destroy," his original stories heavily reworked and scripted by other writers.

"The Seventh Order" was Sohl's first published story. Collections of his short stories and Twilight Zone scripts are currently in print.

Ed Emshwiller (about whom more here) drew three illustrations for "The Seventh Order," all of which appear in Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 2.

As usual, feel free to download the jpg file and/or use it on your blog or website as long as you leave it intact, including all credits and copyrights.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday Game: Alien Abduction

[voice of the guy from those old Dunkin' Donuts commercials] Time to abduct the humans. (Zoom, zoom, beam, zoom, beam, zoom, zoom, zoom, beam, zoom, beam, zoom, zoom, beam into mothership.) I abducted the humans. [/voice of the guy from those old Dunkin' Donuts commercials]

The protagonist of this week's game has been kind enough to write an introduction.

"It's tough out for an alien. Sometimes I feel over the hill (Betty and Barney Hill—ha! I kill me!). Not only has the boss given me a quota of humans and their odd, hydrocarbon-consuming vehicles to abduct, he's given me a time limit as well. And there are enemy ships out to stop me, and I don't even know who they are. Human-lovers? Rivals? Just plain killjoys? I dunno. To make matters worse, all the potential abductees seem to be men. I mean, used to be they wouldn't even let you be an alien if you wouldn't terrorize women, and now I don't get to?! Sigh. When I'm done, I guess I'll just have to watch Heavy Metal. Again."

Thanks, Xxorxt. The check's in the mail. Unfortunately, it'll take eighty-one billion years to reach your home planet. Plus, it's an out-of-system check, so it'll take another eleven billion years to clear your bank. But hey, ten bucks is ten bucks, right?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thursday Preview: Manifest Destiny

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We tried to find a preview appropriate for Thanksgiving, but no dice. Just be thankful that what happens to the characters in this story hasn't happened to you.

Steve Perry, co-author of this story, is the one exception to our policy for Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 2 of having all authors, of stories old and new, who have worked on the various televised iterations of Star Trek. But he is the father of Trek novelist S.D. Perry, which perhaps makes Steve a grandwriter of Star Trek. His preferred SF franchise has been Star Wars, for which he has written several novels, both solo (as it were), and in collaboration with Michael Reaves.

Michael Reaves co-wrote the first season Next Generation episode "Where No One Has Gone Before" with Diane Duane (who also has a story in TWS2) and the Nebula-nominated script "World Enough and Time" for the Internet production Star Trek New Voyages (covered in a feature article in TWS2). He also won an Emmy award as story editor of Batman: The Animated Series, and has written over 400 scripts (a total aided only in recent years by bionic implants).

Of the new stories we've published so far, "Manifest Destiny" is probably the closest in tone to the Golden Age. It's an exciting tale very much like something out of H.L. Gold's Galaxy, or the original Thrilling Wonder Stories, but still fresh and surprising.

Mishi McCaig, whose work we've seen before for "Enterprise Fish," turns in a fine illustration that could have appeared alongside this story in either of those magazines of yesteryear.

(As usual, feel free to copy or link the jpg file for use in your blog or website, as long as you leave the file, with all credits and copyrights, intact.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

YouTube Tuesday: The Tiny Spaceship

Two astronauts. Too-small ship.

I enjoyed this one so much that when I was going to package a free DVD with Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 1, I bought rights to include this there.

But since the DVD never happened, go ahead and enjoy it here for free.

Incidentally, I know one of the actors (Kurt Carley, who plays Travis—or as I think of him, the guy on the right) from working on Star Trek New Voyages. He played a security guard in "World Enough and Time" (the episode we're covering in depth in TWS2). That's a step down from his previous role in the Internet series as Captain Pike, but I'm sure it was worth it to act in a scene where he gets his lunch handed to him by George Takei as a barbarian Sulu.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday Game: Rock and Roll Space Monkey

This week's game is based on a story by Kendall Foster Crossen, called "Jaunt to Juggurthine," published in the Spring 1954 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories. Draco Manning and his wife Vega have just arrived on the title planet for a well-earned vacation when beanie-wearing green aliens attack.  Things are looking bleak until an odd, simian-looking creature arrives in his rocket and begins shooting the aliens with his... um... guitar...


Okay, it's not based on a story at all. I just wanted to make today's game seem more like it ought to be here. I'm so ashamed of myself.

But, come on... Rock and Roll Space Monkey, for Pete's sake!  Who doesn't want that?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Chesley Awards Announced

The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA) has announced the winners of their Chesley Awards for the eligibility year 2007.

According to their website, "The Chesley Awards were established in 1985 as ASFA's peer awards to recognize individual works and achievements during a given year. The Chesleys were initially called the ASFA Awards, but were later renamed to honor famed astronomical artist Chesley Bonestell after his death in 1986."

The cover (pictured here) to Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 1, by Iain McCaig, was nominated in the category of best magazine cover artwork.

Here are the winners:

Best Cover Illustration – Hardback Book:
Donato Giancola, The Outback Stars, by Sandra McDonald, Tor, 4/07

Best Cover Illustration – Paperback Book:
Donato Giancola, Crystal Dragon, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller Ace, 11/07

Best Cover Illustration – Magazine:
Cory and Catska Ench, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, 3/07

Best Interior Illustration:
James Gurney, Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara, Andrews McMeel, 9/07

Best Gaming Related Illustration:
Donato Giancola, "Vanguard: Saga of Heroes," Sigil Games Online

Best Product Illustration:
Todd Lockwood, "War of Angels," poster for Bullseye Tattoo

Best Monochrome – Unpublished:
Donato Giancola, "Season of Change," Pencil and Chalk on Toned paper

Best Color Work – Unpublished:
Donato Giancola, "Red Sonja," Oil

Best Three Dimensional Art:
Vincent Villafranca, "Conscious Entity and Its Maker," Bronze

Best Art Director:
Irene Gallo, Tor Books

Award for Artistic Achievement:
Michael Wm. Kaluta

Congratulations to the winners... although, of course, it's an honor just to be nominated.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday Preview: The Golden Helix

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When the subject of science fiction's greatest prose stylists comes up, two names dominate the conversation: Ray Bradbury and Theodore Sturgeon. Both started in the pulps, both wrote numerous tales for Thrilling Wonder Stories. But while Bradbury became famous to a much wider audience, and gradually left the science fiction label behind, Sturgeon—who was an acknowledged major influence on Bradbury—continued to plug away in the low-paid genre trenches until his death in 1985. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., based his character Kilgore Trout on Sturgeon, perhaps as a negative object lesson of the fate Vonnegut worked hard to avoid.

Sturgeon wrote two scripts for the original Star Trek: "Shore Leave" (heavily rewritten by Gene Roddenberry) and, most famously, "Amok Time," introducing the Vulcan "seven-year itch," pon farr. In 1996, James E. Gunn (who wrote the "Space Opera Revisited" article for Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 1) expanded an unproduced storyline of Sturgeon's into the Star Trek novel The Joy Machine, credited to both writers.

"The Golden Helix" first appeared in the 25th anniversary issue of the original Thrilling Wonder Stories, Summer 1954. Appropriately enough for a haunting and beautiful story by a great prose stylist, it featured two illustrations by the pulp age's greatest visual stylist, Virgil Finlay. (Both are reprinted in TWS2.)

Despite the obvious effort his intricate linework required, Finlay managed to be highly prolific, producing artwork on a regular basis for many of the science fiction, fantasy, and horror magazines of the time, as well as other types—he drew beautiful illustrations for astrology magazines, and produced 845 images for The American Weekly.

Thursday Preview: Float Like a Butterfly

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While Blogger is actually accepting uploads, instead of just spinning and spinning its progress wheel, let's catch up on previews from the upcoming Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 2.

Norman Spinrad is known to Star Trek fans as the writer of the original series second-season episode "The Doomsday Machine."  Frequently highly-placed in polls of favorite episodes, it inspired a sequel by the fan-run Internet production Star Trek New Voyages (now Star Trek: Phase II) that you can watch on their website.

Spinrad wrote an additional original series script, "He Walks Among Us," which he withdrew after rewrites by producer Gene L. Coon left him dissatisfied with the direction the project was headed. You'll soon learn a lot more here on the Thrilling Wonder Stories website, as we bring you a multi-part feature about this script's evolution (or devolution?), starting in December.

Perhaps Spinrad's best-known novel is the Nebula-nominated The Iron Dream, an alternative-history tale that takes the form of a novel, Lord of the Swastika, by an Austrian-born American science fiction writer named Adolf Hitler, with a critical commentary thereof.

"Float Like a Butterfly" is a truly dreamlike story—not in the all-too-common psuedo-Fruedian representative sense, but in a sense more true to the dream experience, with the fantastic and familiar seamlessly blending one into another, but all making sense somehow, with a logic deeper than logic. Usually, I prefer strongly-plotted stories for Thrilling Wonder, but I just couldn't resist the emotional reality of Spinrad's story—the best dream I've ever read.

The illustration is another wonderful work by Kevin Farrell, who does the honors on three stories for TWS2, as he did for the first volume. I first saw his work at the Los Angeles WorldCon in 2006. His film storyboards immediately impressed me as the sort of highly-arresting pen-and-ink work I was looking for. I feel his work more than bears comparison with the great artists of the pulp era. You can see more of his work at his website,

As usual, feel free to use our preview jpg file on your own blog or website, as long as you leave the file, with all credits and copyrights, intact.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday Game: Connectors

Connect the light bulbs with exactly the number of wires shown on the outlet, or blow one of your three fuses! Okay, it's not science fiction. It's not even science, really. But it's a good time-waster. And, hey, isn't that why they invented Flash games?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday Game: Chronotron

How can you get past gates and other obstacles when the buttons don't activate them for long enough for you to reach them?  Why, it's simple!  You press the buttons, and then travel back in time so that you can get through when your former self presses the buttons.  By your bootstraps, as Heinlein might say.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thursday Preview: Rock-a-Bye Baby, or Die!

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All of the stories in Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 2 are by writers from the televised iterations of Star Trek.  But this is the only one that actually started out there.

George Clayton Johnson was well-known as a television writer by 1966.  He worked on seven episodes of The Twilight Zone, including the classic "Kick the Can."  He was no doubt an obvious choice to pitch to Star Trek as soon as NBC picked up the series.

One of his pitches, "The Unreal McCoy," was sold, produced as the fourth episode of the first season, and had the distinction of airing as the series premiere on September 8, 1966 under the title "The Man Trap."

But not all pitches can be so lucky.  Writers usually come in with several ideas, some fully worked-out plots, some just one-line concepts.  This week's preview is the first page (and, appropriately enough, the teaser) of another of Johnson's pitches, which he first published in his book All of Us Are Dying in 1999.

Johnson wrote only one episode for Star Trek, but the next year saw the publication of his most famous work, the novel Logan's Run, written with William F. Nolan, which became a popular 1976 movie and short-lived 1977 TV series.  The on-again, off-again development of a feature remake is currently on again for a 2010 release.

For the Thrilling Wonder Stories presentation of "Rock-a-Bye Baby, or Die!" we have a Star Trek two-fer.  The illustration is by Michael Okuda, scenic artist on all of the series and movies from 1987 to 2005, and co-author of several reference books about Trek.

(If you'd like to use the jpg file for your own blog or website, go ahead, as long as you leave the file, with all credits and copyrights, intact.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday Preview: Enterprise Fish

(click on thumbnail for full-size image)

As you may have gathered from the banner ad, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 2 focuses on the writers of TV's various Star Trek series who are also known for their work in prose fiction.

Most of them, like last week's preview subject Harlan Ellison, were well-known in literary science fiction before making the move to television.

David Gerrold is something of an exception.  He hadn't yet made his name in literary SF when he sold his original series teleplay "The Trouble with Tribbles"... which makes the sale all the more impressive.  A Richard Matheson or a Theodore Sturgeon had a reputation on both page and screen to get him in the door.  Gerrold was just a college student with enthusiasm and a great idea.  (And was canny enough to get college credit for his script assignment, on top of a paycheck.)  The reputation came later.

For TWS2, he brings us an exclusive excerpt from A Time for Treason, the upcoming sixth volume in the War Against the Chtorr series.  "Enterprise Fish" works well as a standalone, and— like the Editor —you don't have to have read the novels to understand it.  But it may well persuade you— like the Editor —to catch up on what you've been missing.

The illustration is by Mishi McCaig.  Her father, Star Wars prequel designer Iain McCaig, created the cover of Volume 1, and artistic talent obviously runs in the family.  They worked together on "World Enough and Time," the episode of Star Trek New Voyages that we cover in detail in Volume 2.

If you'd like to use the jpg file for your own blog or website, go ahead, as long as you leave the file intact.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

YouTube Tuesday: A Trip to the Moon & Steam Trek

In 1902, Georges Méliès created the first science fiction adventure, A Trip to the Moon.  Here it is with the narration written by Méliès to be read as the film played, and the lost ending re-created from stills.

"Well, that's all fine and good," you may say, "but he didn't invent Star Trek."  Well, what if he had?  It might... look... something... like... this:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday Preview: Life Hutch

(click on thumbnail for full-size image)

Here's our first preview from our second volume, coming in December.  Thrilling Wonder Stories, as I like to tell people, is 100 pages of new fiction, 100 pages of classic fiction, and 50 pages of non-fiction.  "Life Hutch" is very much an example of classic fiction, the very first professional publication by Harlan Ellison®, who became such an icon of imaginative fiction, he's had to trademark his name.

And while we're talking about celebrated names, how does Ed Emshwiller grab you?  "Emsh," as he signed himself, was one of the all-time greats in science fiction illustration, and we're delighted to feature four of his distinctive black-and-white illustrations in TWS2.  Here, he helps the story deliver a wallop in more ways than one.

I have to confess something.  I can't see the title "Life Hutch" without singing it to the tune of "Love Shack" by the B52's.

Life hutch, baby, life hutch
Life hutch, baby, life hutch
Life hutch baaay-beee-eee...
(repeat until thoroughly sick of yourself)

Anyway, enjoy the opening spread.  If you'd like to use it in your own blog or website, please leave the file intact.


"Harlan Ellison" is a registered trademark of the Kilimanjaro Corporation. (You thought, maybe, I was kidding?)