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.)