Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday Preview: Palladium

(Click on thumbnail for full-size image. Right-click [or control-click if you have a one-button mouse] and select "Download Linked File" to save jpg file to your computer. Feel free to distribute the unaltered file.)

Okay, I know it's unlikely we'll find many—if any—planets where we can open the door of our spaceship and breathe the air.  And the chances are practically zero that we'll find such planets with intelligent life within a few thousand years of our technological level, who think and live pretty much the way that we do.

You can explain it away if you like—that it's not normal Earth air, it's just converted with nanowhatsits and technoblaaah—but it doesn't matter that much to me. Sometimes, I just love me some old-fashioned space adventure with strange—but not too strange—people in different—but not too different—lands.

And here we have a member of that particular species, Diane Duane's novelet "Palladium." Our heroes are a two-man... uh, two-person... uh, two-intelligent-life-form team from an interstellar confederation including Earth.  Their mission is to make contact with a pre-industrial world torn by the continual war of two major powers.  They find a way to, well, gently help the development process along.

As you may have read here a few dozen times by now, all thirteen of the tales in Thrilling Wonder Stories, Volume 2, are by writers associated with televised Star Trek in its various incarnations. "Palladium" author Diane Duane co-wrote the early Next Generation episode "Where No One Has Gone Before" (so early, if I remember correctly, that its working title, "Where None Have Gone Before," was from an early draft of the opening narration).

However, she's better known in the Star Trek franchise as a novelist, having written nine so far and co-written another. (In fact, "Where No One Has Gone Before" used elements of her novel The Wounded Sky.) Her 1984 book My Enemy, My Ally and its sequels revolutionized our view of the Romulans... or as she taught us to think of them, Rihannsu. She also wrote for the first volume of DC's Star Trek comics series, and for DC's Next Generation comic.

Outside the Franchise, she's written novels based on Spider-Man, the X-Men, and SeaQuest DSV, and a story for a Doctor Who anthology. She has a novel franchise of her own with the Young Wizards series, and its spinoffs Adult Wizards, Feline Wizards, and Alternate Universes. And she's written for many, many animated series.

So we're as pleased that she found the time to write this story for us, as you will be to read it.

Don Anderson, who illustrated Isaac Asimov's "The Portable Star" for Volume 1, created the exciting full-page illustration. Really full-page; he asked we push it all the way to the edges of the page, and who are we to argue with printing something this good as big as possible?  In fact, if you saw last week's Thursday Preview, we felt it was so nice, we used it twice—here, and on the back cover.

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