Friday, October 24, 2014

Remembering Gene...and Oct. 24, 1991



I remember where I was when we heard Gene had died.

We, of course, were still back "home home"...in what they call flyover land: Janet and I had been married just four months and two days... we had just moved to Midwest City to be near her college, and I was commuting to the Norman Transcript... the phone call from Pocket Books to do the first TNG Companion was a month away... and on this day, at this moment, the old-style, REAL Headline News was on TV. And broke the story.

I had to sag into a chair at the kitchen table when I heard. I called Janet over. We immediately began to try to tape off CNN—back when it was real news, and the *only* 24-hour news. It's all we could do. As with millions of others worldwide, that instant would become a flashpoint of memory—and a trigger, in that moment, to realize what the Great Bird had meant to us, even subconsciously. Even before my career went to Trekland. If nothing else, Gene's creation was why and how Janet and I had even met.

I met him only once... a bit more than a year earlier... to thank me (!!??) for doing my self-published TNG concordances that the writers had been using. As a first-time tourist, I'd actually paid attention to the Paramount signs and not brought a camera on-lot. To my everlasting regret. But that moment, that image is etched into my memory, as well.

And, of course, of the headliner names of Trek... not to forget Gene Coon or Bill Theiss... Gene was also the first to go. Our immortal little universe would become all too mortal, and it's been increasingly so. In hindsight, I think the biggest insight into what "GR" was all about... was realizing later that Majel decided to go on with their annual Halloween party that year a week later, knowing that's what he'd want.

He lived a big life, he lived a hard life, and it certainly wasn't a perfect life...or done all by himself. But oh, what Gene Roddenberry wrought.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I'm excited about 'Enterprise in Space'—and so will you!


You've never seen anything like this.

You've seen Kickstarter and other crowd-funded projects… you've seen fan films, games, novels, events… a lot of them I'm involved with. But no—you've never seen anything like this: 

"This" is the Enterprise in Space project you may have been hearing me hint about in recent weeks.

Look, I had no clue I'd be wrapped up in this non-profit mission as the year started. Now I'm thrilled I got involved and can spill the beans and the excitement: There's so much!—but hang with me while I try. The site and project is finally LIVE, and it is based on a few simple premises:


Take our shared and inspired love of space and exploration, whether fact or fiction (right?)... give 100+ student minds worldwide a chance to fly their space projects in orbit—all disciplines and, for once, for free ...let the donors come along as virtual crewmembers... and make science fact out of that science fiction. It's a great way to play the adventure and pay homage to all our sci-fi heroes and creators with a real-world result.

There are SO many groovy moving parts, it's hard to get it all out. For starters, you can take a look at the website's first video to get an idea.

But as founder Shawn Case says, simply: "Isn't it time a real Enterprise flew in space?" That was Shawn's starting premise... and if all goes as planned, that will finally happen in 2019—along with a big outreach to educators and students, helpful corporations and non-profits, and of course grassroots funding... all over the world. And after the 8-foot craft re-enters for recovery, the whole thing goes on a tour of museums and conventons before going on a display at a major space museum (yes, we're talking with THAT one). And, of course, the experiments' data will be maintained, analyzed and made available.

Just to be clear: The NASA space shuttle Enterprise was an unpowered test ship, remember, and flew key but dummy drop-tests; Richard Branson's same-named Virgin craft was sub-orbital. Thus, the name "Enterprise" is an honored one, from namesakes of Star Trek's various iconic and beloved ships to their own namesake as two heroic US Navy aircraft carriers, and even sail ships before that.

Shawn, a Trek fan and space buff from Oregon, did what a lot of us do in our daydreams:  figure out how to marry up the most inspirational, optimistic science fiction with science fact, right? It got me excited, and it got the National Space Society excited too—where both Gene and Majel Roddenberry served as prior board members...excited enough to sponsor what Shawn and his team have planned out for over three years, now officially the "NSS Enterprise orbiter." It's got the likes of Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin and Nichelle "Uhura" Nichols, Grace Lee "Yeoman Rand" Whitney and renowned broadcaster Hugh Downs...and many more... just as excited.


And the first part of all is... there's a contest—open to ANYONE—to design the thing! Sure the orbiter has to be spaceworthy, but check out these rules and get your entry in. Call all the designers, doodlers and CG artists you know as well. That's why there's no shiny spacecraft to show off—yet—but the contest ends Nov. 27, so get cracking. Or sharing.

The optimistic brand of science fiction—from Gene's Star Trek to the forward-tilting futurism of Heinlein and Asimov—has always had a mutual love affair with NASA and our real-life space heroes, right? I mean, as I've said often, I was a NASA kid way before I was a Trek fan, growing up on all the early flights—especially the Apollo moon landings. We played Apollo at recess, guys! I turned our treehouse into a LM and we put on whole Apollo missions.

I bet you feel the same way, right? You swell with pride every time we fix a satellite, discover a new deep-space secret, or rev up another rover on Mars. And I bet you've fumed "Stop picking on NASA, budget-cutters!" more than once the last decade or two, right?

Now, yes, we're not talking backyard model rockets here. But Shawn's dream isn't just shared by you and me: It tugs at the heartstrings of inspiration for a lot of fans—many of whom are today's aerospace pros, rocket scientists, project managers, top educators... and that's exactly who got excited enough to join the EIS team. I now know the guy who oversaw Citibank's world-record eCommerce system ... the woman who managed the $6 billion expansion of O'Hare Airport... a longtime engineer for the space shuttle and unmanned probes galore... NASA's only two-time educator of the year—but Buck Field, Alice Hoffman, Fred Becker and Lynne Zielinski are just the tip of the iceberg of the talent within the EIS group, all under the legal sponsorship of the National Space Society. The meet has been meeting twice weekly for months, jointly on Skype calls from California, Oregon, Texas, Illinois, other states and even Chile.

And THAT is why this $40 million project can be done, with Space X boosters and SpaceWorks capsule fabricators as the intended contractors—that kind of talent pool. ... Wait, did your eyes glaze over at that budget? How about, as Shawn says, you think of it as "2 million people worldwide giving $20 each...one time"? We have non-profit and corporate grants, too, and aerospace tech testing materials for re-entry... but our viral target stays the same. No one or two big sponsors in control ... but
grassroots for "the cost of a movie ticket," as Shawn says.


See, fans, don't think of your typical Kickstarter, here. One of Shawn's goals that I Iove is that there IS no donor bureaucracy with EIS—no levels, no toteboard, no manic requests on ticking-clock deadlines. 'Cause let's be honest: you know I will support all my projects and hope you do too, but there is a bit of crowdfunder fatigue out there.

So, with EIS, just send in $20 for the entire project, and be a virtual NSS Enterprise crewmember: You get an immediate certificate, plus first updates on every step of the mission AND, most cool: Your name goes on a chip that will fly and come back post-flight, for you to see yourself at an event near you. And, for just that $20, you've got plenty left still to help out your other fave projects asking for your help—or shop for those great Trek Christmas gifts!

Look, do me a favor: Share the design contest info now (it closes Nov. 27). (Later there'll also be a contest to design the mission patch.) Share the website, Facebook and Twitter, Google+ and YouTube with everyone you know—the more far afield the better (I'm lookin' at you, my European and Asian friends, for starters!). Tell all the cool teachers and bright young minds you know about the experiments submission and curricula materials. Volunteer to help out, either live or online...or even be a sponsor if you want to go big. We need everything from local event speakers to video/animators to social media voices.

Most of all, please "sign aboard", cadets, with your $20 donation that helps make it all possible—and claims your place on the digital manifest you can see yourself in a few years.

Then follow along as Enterprise in Space, step by step, makes this inspired dream a reality. There's more to come: a tablet showing your "crew" image waving from the portal window, filmed by a tether-towed camera? A new technology of AI-style vocal smart computing for experiment and craft control, a la Starfleet? The ideas are rolling in as we speak...others are volunteering help from their expertise areas .... and there will soon be a weekly EIS podcast produced by our Trekland: On Speaker producer and friend Chris Jones at trek.fm to really keep everyone up-to-date, along with the e-newsletter you sign up for on the homepage.

I am aboard as the "promotions manager" for EIS, which mostly means I'll be the voice and face of bringing the excitement and details and talented people of EIS to the fan, space and genre community at our live and recorded events...and at conventions and conferences. I won't blog here at Trekland so much as link you over to our posts, podcasts, and press releases as each
project milestone is reached. 

But I do hope you sign up and join us on this adventure—a positive, real-world outcome based on all the good vibes from that positive future that Gene and so many others aspired and inspired to.

As for me ...It feels great to be a "space kid" again!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Kevin Dilmore shows Hallmark's new Trek ornaments —plus sneak peeks at the 2015s, AND his new book


Hey, it's that time of year again: Time to chat again with Trek novelist and Hallmark hangabout Kevin Dilmore...

Because it's THAT time of year again: Here's Hallmark's new Star Trek ornaments for 2014! And even 2015...

As usual, Kevin—my onetime Communicator magazine hire;ing—and I have way too much fun looking at all the new baubles and their subject matter, which find a way to get cooler and cooler each year. And what better backdrop than the raucous roar of Comic-Con #SDCC behind us?

What's more, hang on to the very end for a word about Kevin's latest Trek novel now out from Pocket Books with co-author Dayton Ward, whom I've caught at SDCC before as well. The new title is second in the Seekers series, Point of Divergence ... in stores now.

I'll give a prize if you can watch this and list off all 47 Star Trek riffs we took off on....!



BTW: Would you believe the gummy "RECORD" button on my HD cam? We actually did this entire bit once through before I realized it had not been captured—and thus our extra giddiness at diving back in for an even more brilliant chat.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Brit-bound—Hello Destination: Star Trek London!

It's been 12 years in the making… but we're finally back in Londontown, U.K. 

And the third Destination: Star Trek show this weekend at the Excel Center is a big splash to have as a comeback event: 20 to 30 thousand hungry Brits—and all manner continentals. 

Including all those over-the-pond colleagues at the old Fact Files, and at Titan Magazines since 1996, that I've left so many IOUs for lifting a pint with over the years.  Can't wait to finally see them...

Not to mention the overdue meeting with so many great fans directly who have written to my Fistful of Data column and other writings in the official UK-turned-all Trek mag over that span.  Or those who have have found us via our Trekland CDs, podcast appearances, Star Trek Continues—and of course, the good ol' TNG Companion

What's more, we've arranged with Titan and Forbidden Planet stores to have 30 fresh in-country copies of Stellar Cartography on hand for sale and signing.

I can't wait to sample UK Fan opinions in our Trek forum format …and well, party in general. Sadly, the show is so massive, with so many guests, there's even more overlap conflict than Vegas/STLV … and yet, I know we'll get a lot of interaction. Sad to say, but I even hope sometime over the weekend I get a chance to actually catch up with some on-camera Treklanders that I missed in Vegas! 

We'll also have a "Dr. Trek" Crowdfunder party for "The Con of Wrath" Saturday night @ 11 pm-1 am…stay tuned.

Here's my own schedule—this is an update over even the titles and detail posted at the DST site.  I'm be at my table much of the rest of the time. Also, note I'm going to a judge at two of the quick costume contests as well:

—FRIDAY:

1430-1515:  Stage C: "Backstage at the NX-01": Q &A with Enterprise extra Jim Morehouse.

1900-2030: Stage A: Opening Ceremonies

—SATURDAY:

1345-14:30: Stage C: Costume Contest judging

1545-1630:  Stage C: "Trekland: Between the Cracks":  Yes, a it's a special Brit edition of our regular ribald traipsing through Trek headlines and my archives .

2300-0100: Crazy me! Doing a "Dr. Trek" crowdfunder meetup benefit for The Con of Wrath—site TBA but don't be surprised where it winds up...

—SUNDAY:

1400-1430: Stage C: Costume Contest judging

1645-1730:  Stage C: "The State of the Trek":  My fan forum, where I offer some food for thought and you offer fellow fans your opines and feedback.

I'm hanging on for an extra day to continue my overdue meet-ups.







Friday, September 26, 2014

Call in LIVE Sunday: We're on Question Reality radio


As this whirlwind summer dies down, this is a hoot:

Catch me live on an online radio show THIS Sunday night and call in... Priscilla Leona' s "Question Reality"—5-6 p.m. Pacific/ 8-9 p.m. Eastern on LA Talk Radio's Channel 1.


That includes YOU, you UK-ers getting ready for Destination: Star Trek London.

I love the feel of live radio, and call-in is so much more immediate than even chat rooms. You LISTEN at the LA Talk Radio Channel 1 site, but the number is (323) 203-0815 when calls are taken at the bottom of the hour—5:30-5:45 PT, and so on.

I ran into host Priscilla at the recent Burbank International Film Festival—where Star Trek Continues won for "Best New Media, Drama, Short"—and she practically grabbed me to come on her show. Being so close, I had to go over and do it live, of course.

Please listen in and razz me —we'll be talking about my projects, our recent Con of Wrath  shoot, Enterprise in Space, and of course the latest rumors in Trekland.

By the way, here's two recent podcast appearances of note: 

I was just on trek.fm's Commentary Trek Stars Ep. 99, during their Robert Wise career series, to talk about the fan intangibles around The Motion Picture—the stuff that does not survives on a disk or a box.  Max and Mke were their usual inquisitive and acquiescent selves!

Plus, I was just invited on an actual experimental podcast with visuals, Star Trek Greece, co-hosted by my friend Dimitri from our 2010 trip to Terraformers II in Sounion. It's a bit long, posyed on YouTube and simple on graphics—but those Greeks, they love to indulge. And list the sidebar links!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

LA ALERT: This Friday FREE in Glendale: Celebrate "Mirror" past and present with Star Trek Continues and author Marc Cushman


And all of this is free, with lots of parking!:

For you SoCal Treklanders, here's a chance THIS FRIDAY NIGHT in Glendale for a big-screen viewing of both the original HUgo-niminated "Mirror, Mirror" and the Star Trek Continues' inspired follow-up, "Fairest of Them All," with a chunk of the STC cast on hand and hosted by author Marc Cushman.

The event is actually titled "Star Trek: Past, Present and Future" and has a Facebook page; it starts at 7 p.m. at the Glendale Central Library, 222 E. Harvard in Glendale.  Marc will share notes on the TOS version from his "These Are The Voyages" book on Season 2, and then it's all capped off with a Q&A with STC cast and crew.

Unfortunately for my STC family feels, I will be in El-Paso for EP-Con—a wonderful opportunity to be with fans there and screen it—but  slated to be on hand in Glendale (check the poster (left)!) are Vic Mignogna, Todd Haberkorn, Chris Doohan, Kim Stinger, Michele Specht, Asia DeMarcos, Kipleigh Brown, and co-writer/director James Kerwin — plus guests stars past and present Bobby "The Gorn" Clark and Michael "Apollo" Forrest. And "more"….in surprise...

In case you didn't hear, this is my first chance to blog it and boast like a proud uncle: STC just won "Best Web Series" at the live-streamed Geekie Awards, and only last weekend took home the festival win in New Media—Drama at the Burbank International FIlm Festival after its World Theatrical Premiere…check it out here (at left)!  




Hello, El Paso: Trekland comes to EP-Con



Hey, a quick note to everyone in the Rio Grande Border Corner of Texas/ New Mexico! The birthplace of Gene Roddenberry!

Julian and the fine folks at EPCon in El Paso are having me back THIS weekend at this multi-genre extravaganza. It's my third time in El Paso in the last three years, and the second time at EPCon.

If you're in the region, would love to see you out at the Wyndham Airport Hotel: I'm the only Trek-related guest at all, and we need to represent! Here's what I've got planned:



I'll be at my table all three days, when I'm not at these away missions:

FRIDAY:

8:30 pm: A combo of our "Trekland: Between the Cracks" show of in-jokes and insight, and the State of the Trek franchise forum for fans to vent and opine.... plus some new headlines from my Trekland projects. 



SATURDAY:

Afternoon: Some kind of hosting mischief TBA... better watch out, casue it's a mystery to me, too!

9 p.m., film program: I'll be helping to close out the weekend with a BONUS big-screen screening and post-panel Q&A: audience choice of Star Trek Continues— episode 1, 2 or 3!

10:30 pm: Another edition of the Dr. Trek Show! Crowdfunding meetup to benefit The Con of Wrath documentary—prize trivia, rare Trek clips, doc sneak peeks, and two hours to wrangle tales out of me...


Hope all Treklanders in the Rio Grande/BIg Bend country can make it out. 





Monday, September 8, 2014

Happy 48th, Star Trek: How they sold it in '66


No— I was not there at 7:30 p.m. Central Time on Sept. 8, 1966, breathlessly awaiting the premiere of the most adult attempt at episodic, non-anthology science fiction ever on American TV.

I was just a kid, you know, and one who didn't control the TV —which was by a rotary knob...that got you to three networks and "NET". But I had heard vaguely about a show with a guy with pointed ears, and it sounded scary.  Far scarier than the Lost in Space robot that I loved to imitate on the playground at recess.

No, it took my ninth grade science teacher to "shame" me into watching Trek reruns, finally.

But it IS official Star Trek "Birth" Day today (even though, as I always point out, you can make a case for marking it from some date in 1964 related to "The Cage" as first pilot—a subject coming up in a big feature I just did for the next official Star Trek magazine from Titan, Issue 51.)

So, amid all the cool documents coming out for the 9-8-66 anniversary—I loved seeing this one, thanks to theinvisibleagent.wordpress.com—and I'll just celebrate with it.

Look below that for a little personal add-on:  the re-run of my first-ever Star Trek T-shirt, made with a Lincoln Enterprises iron-on scene!