Category Archives: conventions

Roddenberry’s Forgotten Dreams

If someone knows the name Gene Roddenberry it is almost certainly due to the 60’s television series Star Trek and it’s sequel series Star Trek: The Next Generation. During the 1970s Roddenberry attempted to launch a few other series before Paramount green-lit a Star Trek film and the whole cascade that followed in the wake of the titanic success of Star Wars. At my suggestion Loscon43 this year has a panel discussion, which I will be participating in, on these failed pilots.

In order the prep for the convention panel I have tried to hunt down the pilots and re-watch all of them. I succeeded in all of them except The Questor Tapes. If you are in Los Angeles do consider coming to the convention this weekend, but if you can’t make it here are some of my brief thoughts about these pilots.

Genesis II: NASA scientist Dylan Hunt is undergoing an experimental suspended animation technique when an unexpected rock-fall collapses the cavern where the experiment takes place and Dylan isn’t revived until well into the 22 century. The Earth is fragmented with some locales in post-apocalyptic barbarism while other areas have retained advanced technologies. Dylan ends up recruited by a group called Pax who are dedicated to rebuilding humanity but this time without its warlike nature. The pilot is dreadfully dull with most of the scenes tiresome exposition as everyone explains things to the poor Dylan and the audience. The most action packed parts of the pilot, Dylan rigging a nuclear device to foil evil-minded mutants, takes place off screen.

Planet Earth: Same set up as Genesis II, again our main hero is Dylan Hunt, a scientist from the 20th century who due to a suspended animation accident is transport to a post-apocalyptic Earth and works with a group called Pax rebuilding society. This pilot skips the origin story and drops us into an adventure as Dylan and a science team are forced to infiltrate a society where women enslave men in hope of finding a missing doctor needed to save the life of a leader of Pax. This pilot worked better, a lot less exposition but the dialog is stilted and the moralizing is heavy-handed.

The Questor Tapes: An eccentric scientist that few have ever met tricks the government into building an android. When the officials try to decipher the robot’s programming they damage the files. The android, Questor, awakens and escapes. The damaged programming has left him without emotions or knowing his purpose. With the help of a human friend, he tracks down his mysterious creator and learns that humanity has been guided through the centuries by androids keeping mankind for destroying itself. His creator is an android but is damaged and was unable to create his replacement, Questor. Questor is supposed to be the last in the line and if humanity survives Questor’s lifespan it will have matured.

I have memories of this pilot but I have not seen in it decades. Of course the moment Data was introduced in 1988 during the pilot for Star Trek: The Next Generation I felt very strongly he was Questor 2.0.

Spectre: The only non-SF pilot Roddenberry produced after Star Trek. Will Sebastian and his physician friend Dr ‘Ham’ Hailton are the occult’s answer to Holmes and Watson. Sebastian and Ham travel to London investigating an English Lord who is either a hedonist or a Satanist. Of Roddenberry’s post Star Trek pilots I liked this one the best, but when the credits flashed I noticed that on the screenplay he shared credit with Samuel A Peeples so it is clear he worked better with a partner than writing alone.

It should be fun discussing these project on the panel at the convention.

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LosCon Next Weekend

Next weekend is Thanksgiving Weekend here in the United States and for me that mean the Los Angeles Area Science Fiction Convention, otherwise known as LosCon. I think I may have attended every LosCon from 1997 until now. It is one of my favorite conventions.

My very first turn at being on a panel and not simply in the audience was at a Loscon when I was drafted for an on the spot Firefly panel. (That was a blast.)

Now for the last several years I have been a panelist for local San Diego Conventions Condor and Conjecture. This year I will be on several panels for Loscon as well.

I do not yet have the rooms, date, or times for these panels but here is where you can find me at LosCon

 

Redshirts and Bodycount

Description: Star Trek, with its many generations and recent reboot, gives us the opportunity to consider the way stakes and violence have been portrayed in media from the 60s until today. Is it possible to have high stakes without violence? Is the threat of death always necessary? How does an exceptionally nonviolent movie like Star Trek IV hold up today? Is sanitized violence in fact more offensive than ‘honest’ violence? And is there actually any reason to strive for nonviolence, if the audience is enjoying it?

 

Science, Fiction, and Politics: Shaping Reality

Description: Come join our panel of people working in science and science fiction for a discussion of how science, and science fiction affects politics – and vice versa.

 

The Politics and Socioeconomics of Space Exploration

Description: How do politics, economics, culture, and space exploration affect each other?

 

Roddenberry’s Forgotten Dreams

Description: From the TOS episode “Assignment: Earth” until Star Trek: The Motion Picture Gene Roddenberry attempted to launch a number of SF television programs that never progressed beyond an aired pilot. Join us as our panel discusses the shows that might have been

 

In addition to the panel discussions I will also be leading a critiquing session either Friday or Saturday evening.

 

Rogue Read & Critique

Description: Bring 1200-1500 words of a work in progress. In a supportive environment we’ll listen and give feedback.

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A General Update

 

So life has been – interesting of late and it has kept me away from my blog.

The principle issue is that ‘minor’ sprain I suffered at World Con in Kansas City. Well I had it x-rayed and while there are no broken bones the doctor pronounced it a serious sprain. I am wearing a brace on my dominant hand and that makes everything a challenge. I can type – poorly and slowly – so I am not out of work at my day job. I am working on my novel — nearly finished — but beyond those items I have little endurance at the keyboard.

However the convention was wonderful. There were events every hour and often more then one that I wanted to attend. I met old friends and new ones. I had a great time and came away from new idea and new energy.

Soon, next week, I will loose the brace and get back to my usual self.

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Quick WorldCon 2016 report

Hello Everyone:

Well I have unusually returned to my hotel early – it is now 9:25 pm – and I can make at least a brief report on MidAmericon 2 here ins Kansas City MO.

The programming has been very good. From the time it starts – and the Academic Track starts at the unheard of hour of fandom of 9 am – until it ends there is nearly always something I want to attend. To make room for lunch or dinner usually requires me to jettison some programming I wanted to see. This is not me complaining, it is far better to have too much to see than too little.

The last minute change to a hotel more than a mile away has been mildly annoying. There is a free streetcar/trolley two blocks from the hotel and then two blocks from the convention center so that works out most of the time. (It was walking from the streetcar to the convention center at night where I stumbled over a but of uneven sidewalk and tumbled, spraining my wrist.) Tonight as we came out of BRGR where we have had dinner twice rain started and the trip to the hotel turned quite wet. (Thunder and lightening — yup we’re in the midwest in summer.)

I’ve seen good friends, had good times with people I primarily knew on-line, and in general I have been more social than most conventions. A good thing.

The first night here I even had a very — unique — encounter. My sweetie-wife had turned in, tired from our day of travels – and I had gone down to the hotel’s lobby to edit and work. After a while I took a brake from the editing to play a little Pokemon Go — the lobby has two Poke-Stops –. I was engrossed in play when I heard a female voice to my right say ‘Sir?’

I looked up and to my right, as I did she darted to my left side, kissed me fast on the cheek, and hurried away to her friends. She was maybe 17 or so and said ‘thank you’ as she retreated. I have no idea what was up. I assume the entire thing had been some sort of dare from her gaggle of friends. I went back to my game and eventually back to my editing.

Time to start sorting out what I want to do and attend tomorrow, I do know I will get to met an editor who bought my last story and that I am looking forward too.

 

 

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Post Convention Update

Well, Condor XXIII went very well. Despite a nasty and persistent cough I made it through all my panels. I am happy with how they all turned out and there were loads of good discussions.

Now a few days out the cough has nearly disappeared, just in time as yesterday I had a dentist’s appointment. Missing a few molars I need bridges and we have now started that work. I am currently wearing my first temp bridge and my mouth is getting used to the new architecture.

Work proceeds on the outline for my new novel. The outline alone is now more than 5600 words long. In addition to that I am thinking about trying to knock out a few short stories.

I went in my library of short I had written about 2002 and shocked myself with just how far my prose has come. Man, I was in love with the past progressive tense. Many critiques will call that passive voice, but technically it is not, though both weaken your prose and its impact.

 

Anyone know anything about StokerCon?

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Condor XXIII – This Weekend

So I will be participating at San Diego longest running SF convention, Condor, this weekend. If you are in the area drop by, it is a small but fun conventions. Here are a list of pnael evets you will be able to find me taking part in.

Friday

12:00 p.m. The Internet Generation: For better or for worse, the Internet has profoundly changed our lives. Some say it’s turned us into media zombies who go into withdrawal without our social media fix. Just how addicted are we, anyway? Windsor Rose (D. Gerrold, R. M. Evans *, B. Benson)

1:00 p.mRPGs as Fanfic: Basing a campaign on your favorite book, comic, or movie. Brittany (R.M. Evans, J. Swycaffer*, W.H. Stoddard, K. A. Murphy)

2:00 p.m. The Bromance of Star Trek. Yes, Kirk was the Captain and Spock was the First Officer, but wasn’t a lot of the series just a buddy adventure show? Brittany (J. Trimble, R. M. Evans.)

4:00 p.mArt, Eroticism & Censorship: Implied and explicit sexual content in the visual arts. When is it a valid theme and when is it exploitation? Is there ever a justification for censorship, or for rejecting the claim that something is “art”? Clarendon (S. Dawe, L. Maudlin*, R. M. Evans.)

Saturday

2:00 p.mWorkshop: Read and Critique headed by Robert Mitchell Evans Bring 1500 words of a story. Le Sommet. 2hr.

 

Sunday

11:00 a.m. Crossing Genres:  Science fiction westerns, horror romances, fantasy mysteries. Crossovers are hot these days, especially in the YA markets. What works? What doesn’t? And how do you come up with something fresh enough to sell? Clarendon (J.L. Doty*, J. Robinson, K. Thompson, R. M. Evans.)

12:00 p.mI Don’t Want to be Eaten: Zombies, vampires and werewolves: is the trend of these stories fading or will I have to continue to sleep with garlic and carry a shotgun loaded with silver buckshot? Brittany  (J. Robinson*, R. M. Evans, T. Dawson.)

2:00 p.m. Self-Publishing: Reality vs Myth- the Good, the Bad & Ugly How to succeed and avoid the traps. Clarendon (J.L. Doty*, D. Welch, R. M. Evans.)

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Post Worldcon entry

I am sorry that the daily entires dropped out. but I was just too dang busy. That’s a good thing when you are at a worldcon. The previous entries had been written at breakfast, and on those days I ate breakfast alone. The last few days of the convention we discovered a chain place that was suitable to both my and my sweetie-wife’s diets. So having breakfast with my sweetie-wife took priority over blog posting.

The Con was a blast. Each day I was there at the start of panels and they carried through into the late night. The fires nearby were bad. Sadly a few firefighters were killed battling the blaze. On Friday the winds shifted and the smoke overtook downtown Spokane. By evening the air quality had degraded to ‘hazardous to all’ and everyone was advised to no go outside unless required and to wear filter masks. Luckily this condition did not last long and Saturday the winds flipped again and it became much better.

I hung out with friends, learned new things in publishing and science, played a new game, and had the wonderful reinvigorating time I needed. I am already looking forward to next year in Kansas City MO. (2017 was won by Helsinki Finland, a convention I am unlikely to attend.)

 

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WorldCon Day 2

Well there was certainly a lot going on yesterday. Programing started at 10 am and for me the last panel ended at 10 pm. I did managed a short dinner with my sweetie-wife, but other than that it was panels panels panels. All of which made for a happy Bob.

I’m not going to recap all of them, there are simply too many and too much, so here are my highlights.

150 Years of Alice in Wonderland. A standing room only 10 am panel. Fun panelists, informative and well worth the time. Got a chance to introduce myself to my potential publisher as I wait for her acquisitions editor to make a call on my novel.

Pluto in the Rear-View Mirror. A standing room only panel on the recent discoveries at Pluto by the New Horizons mission. Pluto joins the list of bodies in the solar system that has produced unexpected mysteries.

From Starship Troopers to Honor Harrington, a look at Military SF. Informative and lively the discussion covered the topic well without getting bogged down in politics.

 

 

All in all things are a blast.

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Worldcon Day 1

So here it is at the start of Day 2 and I’ll give you a recap of the previous day here the 2015 Worldcon in Spokane Washington.

First off we awoke to a weather report of warm and smokey. Wildfires near the city have turned the sky yellow/gold, casting a lovely light but everywhere is the smell of smoke. As sunset approached the sun became a fiery red blood color more suited for an alien world than the pacific northwest,

We had registered and picked up our badges the day before so we avoided the long lines at the convention. The panels were good on the first day. I started out with  the best advice I had been given on writing. Nearly all of the advice I already knew but the speakers were entertaining and I had fun.

I followed that with Understanding Contracts, a useful topic and one that I feel is going to become more and more important to me in the near future. There were just two panelists, but both were experienced from different angles (Author and Agent) and provided plenty of precautionary advice.

Next up was a spot of fun with a discussion of Hard SF films. There I learned that Connie Willis truly does not like with Interstellar. The panel could have been better, a little too much audience taking over, but I still enjoyed it.

My sweetie-wife and I then went to a panel designed to welcome Discworld fans to the WorldCon. Naturally I know quite a bit about worldcons and I am a discworld fan, but it was nice seeing the con introduced from a different perspective.

There was time for a dinner break at a local spot The Onion, it was nice but I think I liked the burger at the Irish Bar the night before better. Then back to my final panel on legends of the Northwest followed by horror film in the film festival. (Most were okay but one was a dry dull nothing happens slashers film. boring)

now onto day 2.

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A phrase I nearly always distrust

‘We’ve got to take back …”

“Our Country”

“Our Awards”

“Our Government”

I’ve heard this uttered on the left and on the right. I’ve heard this uttered for deadly serious things like the country as a whole and less serious things like SF’s award The Hugo. Wherever I hear this I tend to cringe. The unspoken – but only just barely unspoken – underlying assumption is one of ownership and possession. The subject of the ‘take back’ it the rightful property of of those proclaiming the mission. An ownership that is exclusionary to a segment or population.

Sorry, that’s just not freaking true. It wasn’t ‘your’ country. It wasn’t ‘your’ award. It wasn’t ‘your’ thingie. Especially with something like our nation or our government it is ours, collective. You know, our government, our nation, our conventions, they are always changing. Not always in ways you like. Not always in ways I like, but it always happens and always will.

Reverse is a suitable gear only for automobiles.

 

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