Issue #111: First robots, then a trek
When did it all begin?
When did the love of science fiction literature, television and films enter my universe?
Let’s look back.
When I was about five years old, I remember watching a movie called “Jason and the Argonauts.” The 1963 film legend about a Greek hero’s quest for the Golden Fleece captivated me when I watched the tooth-seeded, weapon-wielding evil skeletons rise out of the ground, thanks to frightening special stop-motion effects by Ray Harryhausen that scared the bejesus out of me.
Well, no, maybe not then.
Perhaps it was cringing over Vic Perrin, the control-voice opening narrator who sent me into chills when I watched the 1960s TV series, “The Outer Limits.”
OK. Then again . . .
Maybe it was the 1962 TV episode of “The Twilight Zone” called “The Dummy.” In this episode, ventriloquistJerry Etherson is convinced that his dummy, Willie, is alive and evil. I had nightmares for days watching Willie sit up on the couch and start speaking to Jerry. Yikes!
Actually, it was my mom who got me hooked on science fiction. Really. (Some mothers ripped up comic books. My mom, the sweetest, would hand me the books. What a fantastic mom!)
I remember Mom turning on the TV one Thursday evening and saying, “You’ll like this.”
So on April 5, 1967, I was watching Dr. Smith get tied down by miniature robots on an episode of “Lost in Space” called “The Mechanical Men.”
I became hooked on that weird and wild TV show very early on.
But even then, in the mid-1960s, I was tuning in to watch “Star Trek” before it became officially known as “The Original Series.” I liked watching it, but I was far too young to appreciate, let alone understand, what I was watching.
It wasn’t until about 1972 when Channel 48, WKBS-TV, began the syndicated broadcast of “Star Trek.” Every night at 7 p.m. Every night! I was hooked for good.
And then with the premier of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” in 1987, my love continued. I have watched every episode of every “Star Trek” series since (the only exception are the cartoons).
Religiously, I watch “Star Trek: Discovery” and “Star Trek: Picard” and a new series, “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.”
From the mini-robots to Lieutenant Commander Data, I have been watching and waiting. There was a point from about 2007 to 2019 when there was no “Star Trek” on TV, so in 2018 I wrote my own “Star Trek: The Next Generation” novel, WE’LL GATHER AT RUAPEHU, first pitched to the “Next Generation” TV producers in the late 1980s that was almost accepted.
Ah, but that’s another story.
As for literature? One day, bored out of my mind in junior high study hall, I reluctantly picked up the textbook containing the material for Eighth Grade English Class taught by Mr. Roy Young, a novel called ALAS, BABYLON by Pat Frank. A completely forgettable novel. But at the very end of the book (which had a sampling of American stories) was a story by Ray Bradbury called “The Wish,” incredibly short and unbelievably beautiful. Thank you for this book, Mr. Young. Thank for your love of science fiction.
All I know is, my novel, WE’LL GATHER AT RUAPEHU, is amazing because it is An Episode I Have Never Seen Before. But the many images remain fresh in my mind, as if it truly was an episode never seen, and easily remembered.
Next time in True Review:
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