Thursday, January 14, 2021

Sufficiently Advanced Technology

As we know, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" (Arthur C. Clarke). Conversely, many magical events in older fiction can be duplicated today by mainstream technology. A century and a half ago, someone who witnessed a translucent human figure floating in midair and emitting eerie moans would unquestioningly recognize it as a ghost. Now we'd respond with, "Cool special effect. I wonder how they did that?" Just such an apparition appears in Jules Verne's 1892 novel THE CARPATHIAN CASTLE, on the cusp of the shift between the two probable reactions. The local people think the vision of a dead opera star at the titular castle is her spirit, when it fact it's produced by a sound recording and a projected photograph.

In George du Maurier's 1894 novel TRILBY, the villain, Svengali, uses hypnotism to transform an ordinary girl who's tone-deaf into a famous singer. She can produce exquisite melodies only in a trance. When Svengali dies, she instantly becomes unable to sing. At the time of the novel's publication, little enough was known about hypnosis that this scenario doubtless looked scientifically plausible. Now that we know hypnosis doesn't work that way, Svengali's control over Trilby seems like magic, and to us the story reads as fantasy.

Several decades ago, I read a horror story about an author who acquires a typewriter that's cursed, possessed, or something. He finds that it corrects his typos and other minor errors. Gradually, this initially benign feature becomes scary, as the machine takes over his writing to an ever greater extent. He narrates his experience in longhand, since if using the typewriter he wouldn't even be able to demonstrate an example of a misspelling. At the time of publication, this story was an impossible fantasy. Now it would be merely a cautionary tale of a word processor with an excessively proactive auto-correct feature. From the beginning of J. D. Robb's Eve Dallas science fiction mysteries, set in the late 2050s and early 2060s, almost everybody carries a handheld "link," a combination communications device and portable computer. When the earliest books in the series were published, that device was a futuristic high-tech fantasy. Now the equivalent has become commonplace in real life. But another tool Lt. Dallas uses in her homicide investigations still doesn't exist and remains problematic. Police detectives employ a handheld instrument reminiscent of Dr. McCoy's tricorder to gather data about murder victims. One of its functions is to pinpoint the precise time of death to the minute. That capability would seem to run counter to the intrinsic limitations arising from the nature of the decomposition processes being analyzed. Therefore, the exact-time-of-death function strikes me as irreducibly quasi-magical rather than scientific, something the audience has to accept without dissecting its probability, like the universal translator in STAR TREK.

The distinction between science and magic can get fuzzy when nominal SF has a fantasy "feel." Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series takes place on an alien planet inhabited partly by descendants of shipwrecked Terran colonists. Strict "hard science" readers might not accept psi powers as a real-world possibility, however, and the common people of Darkover regard laran (psi gifts) as sorcery. Anne McCaffrey's Pern series, also set on a planet colonized by migrants from Earth, features fire-breathing, empathic, teleporting, time-traveling dragons. Although these creatures have an in-universe scientific explanation, they resemble the dragons of myth and legend. Robert Heinlein's novella "Waldo" blends SF and what many if not most readers would consider fantasy. The title character lives on a private space station because of his congenital muscular weakness. Yet he overcomes his disability by learning to control his latent psychic talent under the guidance of an old Pennsylvania hex doctor who teaches Waldo how to access the "Other World." Incidentally, "Waldo" offers an example of how even a brilliant speculative author such as Heinlein can suffer a lapse of futuristic imagination. Amid the technological wonders of Waldo's orbiting home, Heinlein didn't envision either electronic books or computer games; a visitor notices paper books suspended from the bulkheads and wonders how Waldo would manage to play solitaire in zero-G.

I've heard of a story (can't recall whether I actually read it) whose background premise states that, in the recent past, the wizards who secretly control the world revealed that all technology is actually operated by magic. The alleged science behind the machines was only a smoke screen. If such an announcement were made in real life, I wouldn't have much trouble accepting it. For non-scientists, some of the fantastic facts science expects us to believe—that we and all the solid objects around us consist of mostly empty space; that the magical devices we used to communicate, research, and write are operated by invisible entities known as electrons; that starlight we see is millions of years old; that airplanes stay aloft by mystical forces called "lift" and "thrust"; that culture and technology have advanced over millennia from stone knives and bearskins to spacecraft purely through human ingenuity—require as much faith in the proclamations of authorities as any theological doctrine does.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Reviews 59 - People of the City by Marshall Ryan Maresca

Reviews 59
People of the City
by
Marshall Ryan Maresca

Here is a non-stop action series we've discussed before,

https://www.amazon.com/People-City-Maradaine-Elite-Book-ebook/dp/B0852PDDC1/










https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2020/01/reviews-51-shield-of-people-novel-of.html

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2020/06/reviews-53-fenmere-job-by-marshall-ryan.html

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2019/06/reviews-46-police-family-love-by.html

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2018/05/reviews-34-by-jacqueline-lichtenberg.html

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2015/06/reviews-16-thorn-of-dentonhill-by.html

And I do recommend the whole series, as a study in "worldbuilding" -- even though it is not Romance Genre or Fantasy or Paranormal Romance.

It has a couple of "love story" threads, but they get buried in the detritus of action-action-action.

As in much fantasy-action, the fighters get badly injured but recover quickly, much more quickly than is realistic.  This casts a "comic book" atmosphere around the "Magic" so that "Magic" is just a way of imposing your personal will on the world, the adolescent male wish-fulfillment-fantasy.

But Maresca uses Magic as only one small thread of the tapestry he is weaving before our eyes.  Watch his future novels built on this foundation -- and use your imagination to figure how, if you and your readers explore such a "world," you could illustrate LOVE CONQUERS ALL.  The problems Maresca is setting up are exactly the type that love is best at conquering.

With PEOPLE OF THE CITY, Maresca brings to simultaneous climax all the threads begun and richly colored, woven and showcased in the previous Maradaine novels.

I do seriously recommend reading them in the order in which they were published, as it is actually one, continuous, long story -- a story-arc -- that behind the non-stop action-action format, leaves us with many serious issues to consider on a fundamental level.  And that is what fiction has traditionally been for -- challenging pre-conceptions, prejudices, and assumptions while at the same time provoking thoughtful consideration of other  explanations for how things are which lead to how things might be "....if only."

The essence of science fiction is the three ingredients, "What if...?" "If this goes on ..." and "If only ..."    When mixed with science, these three thinking processes lead to ideas that have never been promulgated before.

With this blast of novels centered on the city of Maradaine, Maresca uses political science, psychology, sociology and anthropology (and Magic) as his "science" ingredient, spending all 12 of these novels explaining "the problem" and setting that problem against a detailed survey of the sociological organization of a city based on neighborhood gang rulerships of territory, drug cartel rulership of imports, people-trafficking, a righteous constabulary, a corrupt constabulary leadership, a King with major political problems, a Throne in question, and a university struggling to teach two antithetical theories of the universe - Mechanics of Machines and Science-vs-Magic.  There are also mandatory Magic-user monitoring and controlling organizations called Circles which one enters upon completing certain University training to obtain "power."

But as with humans (and these people are human, though different, and with races and cultures unfamiliar to the reader), it is all about "power" --  physical, psychological, knowledge itself, or magic (or the knowledge of magic) and psychological power of trickery, illusion, misdirection.  Apparently, Magic is an individual endowment one is born with, but acquiring power takes real work plus some arcane tools nobody really understands or has ready access to.

We, as readers, can see the analytical thinking of engineers applied to investigating how these magical tools and substances can acquire, store and deliver raw Magic-power, but the denizens of this complex world can't see it.

Except, one suspects in the distant past, they did see the combination of science and magic, and came to a bad end.  Thus in the era of "The Maradaine Elite" there is a young generation beginning to awaken to this combination, willing to explore the possibilities to gain enough "power" to counter the corruption destroying their City from the top down.

The title page of PEOPLE OF THE CITY indicted the next book, coming soon from DAW Books, will be titled THE VELOCITY OF REVOLUTION -- a title combining a scientific mechanical concept "velocity" which has both speed and direction, with "revolution" which likewise has mechanical implications but is often used to discuss changing political leaderships.

It sounds like a very clever segue into a story about combining Magic and Science -- and that is a combination I find endlessly fascinating.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com

Saturday, January 09, 2021

Forced Transition (Why I Don't Eat Catfish)

Suggested soundtrack: "Eighth Day" by Hazel O'Connor, from the Breaking Glass album and movie.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBkvcQEGq9k
 

One of my earliest childhood memories is of being terrified of the family toilet.  I thought mutant crocodiles might emerge and bite me while I went about my business. Horror from the sewer goes back much further. At least since 1941, spec fic writers have imagined what might arise from polluted waters.

Consider The Penguin, aka Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot. As they write on Wiki, credits to
https://villains.fandom.com/wiki/Penguin_(Batman_Returns)

"The Penguin is one of the major villains from DC Comics, most notably appearing as one of Batman's oldest and most infamous foes. The Penguin, like most of Batman's foes, relies heavily on gadgets, since he does not have any superpowers."

Batman is science fiction, isn't it? Soft SF?  Speculative fiction? It's the stuff of superheroes and supervillains, and of super-heroines and super-villainesses. In the case of Batman, the goodies and the baddies rely mostly on technology, but also on genetic mutation. They use costumes and secret identities, and usually, if anyone important dies, they are resurrected by supernatural means or supernatural intervention.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superhero_fiction

The Penguin is particularly interesting because his problems stem from toxic waste pollution, although, I don't think we are told why his aristocratic parents gave birth to a deformed infant.

What's In Your Sewage? asked a science blog in 2008
https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2008/02/25/whats-in-your-sewage

Already in 2008 they knew about the feminization of male fish in lakes, and also in coastal parts of the ocean. Some male fish were found to be growing female parts and even laying eggs, and larger predator fish were ingesting sex-changed smaller fish. Lake fish are the worst. Don't eat them.  Similar issues have been found in flatfish in the oceans for instance in plaice, sole, skates... in bottom feeders, one might say.

The 2008 science blog's bottom line is, "Don't flush your drugs."

We cannot help flushing hormone laden urine -- or can we?  Should we?  Those who take Viagra, the contraceptive Pill, vitamin supplements, morphine etc, and those who believe that the safest way to dispose of unwanted or expired pharmaceuticals is to flush them may send surges of unnatural substances into the wild.

With everything Big Tech knows about every individual, and the continued weakening of medical privacy regulations (Covid Passports?) it should not be difficult to identify persons who ought to be disconnected from sewers, or else surcharged for their ungreen sewage output. 
 
This week, we hear that in New York, where, it is alleged, unused/unusable doses of mRNA vaccine are being flushed down the toilet. One would have thought that administrations that claim to be concerned about the environment would use more caution. Have there been studies on what mRNA does to rats and cockroaches? Likely not.

Michael Savage explains a bit about how mRNA works here:
 
It is perhaps not a particularly helpful blog with regard to advocating for defeating Covid-19 through vaccination --which everyone, of course, should do-- but the quote from The Independent is edifying.

“It uses a sequence of genetic RNA material produced in a lab that, when injected into your body, must invade your cells and hijack your cells’ protein-making machinery called ribosomes to produce the viral components that subsequently train your immune system to fight the virus.”“In this case, Moderna’s mRNA-1273 is programmed to make your cells produce the coronavirus’ infamous coronavirus spike protein that gives the virus its crown-like appearance (corona is crown in Latin) for which it is named,” wrote The Independent.

Delving back into the sewage issue, it's not just a problem for fish and fish eaters.  Solid waste from treatment facilities is used on farmland, and may poison the worms --not in a good way-- which are said to accumulate pharma products and also residues of whatever is flushed from human bodies during showering (or baths).

The link from what's in your sewage to discussion of worms goes to a deleted page.  The link to an active, environmental blog does work, and is thought provoking.
https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis

For spec fic writers, perhaps the bigger problem for the world is not what humankind exhales (C02), but what personkind excretes into the sewers.  Bottom line, don't flush your drugs, either first hand or second hand.  Also, don't flush "flushable" wipes. They are not truly flushable or biodegradable.

All the best

Rowena Cherry 


Thursday, January 07, 2021

Robot Pets

Here are two articles about robotic cats and dogs manufactured to serve as substitutes for live pets:

Robotic Pets Help Seniors Avoid Loneliness

Can Robot Pets Provide Comfort?

A FAQ posted by a company that makes these artificial pets:

Joy for All

The products are claimed to "feel, look and sound like real pets."

Some years ago, I remember reading news stories about robot dogs that looked like robots rather than real dogs. They were metallic instead of furry, which doesn't sound to me like a proper appearance for a surrogate pet. It would seem more like a clever toy, not a quasi-living animal. These present-day robotic pets look like animals, as shown in the still photos anyway. Or, at least, like cuddly stuffed animals—the kitty pictured on the first page linked above seems to resemble a toy more than a live cat. I didn't come across a video showing whether or not their movements appear natural rather than mechanical. They're described as interactive, but the FAQ linked above doesn't specifically state what they do. One of the articles does mention the robot dog performing some typical canine actions such as barking, panting, etc.

These devices remind me of Philip K. Dick's classic DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? In that dystopian future, human-caused mass extinctions have made live animals extremely rare and expensive. Therefore, people buy artificial pets as substitutes, such as the electric sheep in the title. Fortunately, we're nowhere near that plight yet. Today's robot dogs and cats are meant as pet surrogates for isolated elderly persons who can't own real animals because of health, housing, or financial constraints.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Worldbuilding For Multiple Alternate Universes Part 1 - Star Trek Fan Fiction

Worldbuilding For Multiple Alternate Universes
Part 1
Star Trek Fan Fiction 



In August 2020, the creator of the Sahaj Series of Star Trek fan novels asked if she could have a scene where Sahaj tours across universes, comes to the Kraith alternate universe, and wants to Affirm the Continuity with his father, Spock, but the Kraith Spock.


I said, YES!

The Affirmation of the Continuity is a ceremony I invented for my Kraith Vulcans while writing my Kraith Star Trek fanfic series.

In the early 1970's I wrote STAR TREK LIVES!

at the same time I was writing Kraith stories (and managing the gaggle of Kraith Creators who wanted to write in my alternate-Star Trek Universe),

http://www.simegen.com/fandom/startrek/kraith/





 and on alternating days I was also writing my Sime~Gen Universe novels.

I sold my first story, the first Sime~Gen story professionally published, in 1968 for the January 1969 issue of Worlds of If Magazine (edited by Fred Pohl, who later bought STAR TREK LIVES! when he became editor at Bantam Books).

That is OPERATION HIGH TIME - set at the threshold of the Sime~Gen Space Age.  You can find the issue here:
https://archive.org/details/1969-01_IF

The Kraith Universe and the Sime~Gen Universe have both attracted writers who contributed their own ideas to the Universe that I built, but both have also inspired writers to create ALTERNATE universes to mine, just as Star Trek inspired people to create alternate universes to aired-Trek's universe.

Sime~Gen is my own, original creation, but Kraith is built from aired-Star Trek and Kraith is an alternate Star Trek universe that has spawned alternate universes.

Later, I also contributed stories to other established novel-universes by famous authors I grew up being inspired by, Andre Norton and Marion Zimmer Bradley when they did anthologies of other writers creating in their universes, just as we are now doing anthologies of Sime~Gen stories by many other writers.

Writing in other people's universes, is complicated and all-absorbing. Writing in their Universe with the intention of adhering entirely to canon as defined by that original author is just like Worldbuilding From Reality -- there are things you have to learn and then account for if you violate them.

Here's the index to Worldbuilding From Reality:

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2017/05/index-to-worldbuilding-from-reality.html

Your job, as a writer of fiction, is to create a whole "Reality" where it seems inevitable, and self-evident, that "LOVE CONQUERS ALL" and the HEA are inevitable, real, tangible, unavoidable -- but there are obstacles to overcome.



That is a "meme" floating around in various versions of conspiracy theory commentary, which I found on Facebook having been posted by Donald Brinegar ( https://www.facebook.com/dlbrinegar ) who apparently searched for the earliest form of this image.

As I see it, the point isn't what image you see among the dots on the final panel, but rather the point is that the human brain FILLS IN LINES that are not there.

Presumably, imagination is a survival trait.

If imagination is a survival trait, imbibing fiction in whatever medium is handy (from Shaman tales to  Streaming TV) is the way to train the imagination to see the underlying patterns behind the data-dots.

You imagine correctly, you survive longer than if you imagine incorrectly. 

OTH erring on the side of "here be monster" is likely a survival edge. 

We all imagine. Train your imagination - train your kids' imagination - and get closer to surviving real threats. It doesn't take a "conspiracy" to survive.  It only takes individuals with well trained, honed, imagination, and the ability to know WHEN imagination is engaged, and when it's just data, information, and maybe knowledge.

The panel labeled "Data" is a good representation of the "reality" your reader lives in.

This is the reality you share with your reader, and it is the bedrock of all the alternate universes (or imagined Time-Travel settings, such as ancient Scotland) you create for your Characters to visit.

Readers who've grown up on fanfic, online or in 'zines, will have trained their imagination to take their perception of the aired-TV (or novel) Universe as "Data" -- and ride with you as you re-transform all their data into "Information."

Maybe after a few Seasons, or novels, you show them "knowledge" about their favorite Characters that they never guessed existed.

From watching and analyzing the Source Material (Reality, a TV show, a Novel Series), your readers have a set of lines connecting their colored-in Information-dots that is entirely their own.  Finding a writer who fills in the connecting lines the same way is a thrill.

Some readers, especially fans of science fiction, will be even more thrilled to find a writer who connects the dots in a different way than they do - they're open to a good alternate universe.

Using the tricks of the writing trade, you can lure them into a story and convince them of the solid, plausible reality of the universe with which your Characters must cope.

If you "plant" a foreshadowing dot in the first Episode, or novel, in your series, then you color in the texture of each dot in subsequent episodes, then you connect the dots with lines just the way they would, (show don't tell is the craft skill for doing lines), then you can trigger "INSIGHT" -- the connections among apparently unconnected data-dots.

Somewhere between book 20 and maybe 25, the bits of insight, the resonances, become "WISDOM " -- the understanding of your complex bundle of universes.

The reader lives in one universe, you live in another, but they have patterns in common.  Show don't tell, illustrate, use symbols.

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2018/02/index-to-theme-symbolism-integration.html

And use unique vocabulary, to hint at resonances among your Characters' universes.  Show how the vastly different settings and cultures construct imaginary lattice works of lines between the data-dots - but we all live among the same data-dots.

Fanfic uses a fictional-reality (TV, film, books) as if it were "reality" while your original Science Fiction Romance uses the reader's reality.

To create your Aliens - you use the same data-dots as your reader but color and connect them differently to make information.

Show the reader that even with all the additional decorative color and lines, the Alien civilization, culture, and peoples have something in common with humans.  Science fiction writers generally rely on physics and math -- assuming Aliens have to cope with the same laws of physics that we do.

That might not be entirely true in some of your Alternate Universes or historical realities.  The physics might be the same (or a bit altered with a different speed-of-light, for example), but the interpretation might be different, and there might be concrete evidence to support your Aliens' interpretation.  Humans who ignore the Aliens' "Wisdom" about their world will not survive long.

So square the human and Alien off against each other, and watch them argue about what "THEORY" picture is "real" when all the dots are connected.

Flip your characters between Universes, where the rules differ, then flip them into a Universe neither knows.  See if they team up to survive, or fight to the death and create a Legend for that unknown universe.

What is true? What is real?  What "all" might Love not conquer?  Would the lovers have to reincarnate and have another go at it if they failed to summon the power of Love?

As writers, we think about point of view.

Do you need knowledge before you can have insight or wisdom?  Or can you start with Wisdom and back-figure to knowledge?

Can an Alien brain avoid imagining a recognizable image superimposed on data-dots like the Unicorn here?

Do different people have to draw different parts of the Unicorn, and argue over where the lines go?  Argue over each others' imaginary lines?

Or does each person sketch their own reality out of the scattered bits of data that they perceive around them?  And not everyone sees all the data that's there.  How much of what's there do you let the reader see?  How much do you demand the reader just imagine on their own?

There are numerous neurological studies showing how the human brain fills in the gaps in personal reality with imaginary "lines" that, after a while, become solid truth, an inescapable reality, common knowledge.  This tendency is so well known, it is used when comparing "Eye Witness Accounts" of an Event.  No two people will report it the same way.

Today the popular example is phone videos of people doing (or not-doing) things -- and the added complexity of what is termed "deep fakes" (videos cleverly altered to make it seem some celebrity said something they actually never said).  It isn't just editing with cut-and-paste tools, but actual altering of the digital recording.

Your reader's "Reality" has become malleable and a matter of opinion.

Given the familiarity of imposing imaginary order on natural chaos as the human brain is hardwired to do, how difficult can it be for you to convince a reader that your bundle of alternate universes are plausible?

Maybe your Aliens have a more accurate interpretation of our reality than we do?  Or maybe they can change it at will?  How can Love conquer that?

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Over Watch

Today's theme is about over-reach, surveillance, games, greed and naming rights... of a timepiece. Please decide for yourself which is which.

Tech expert and ethical website developer Ibrahim Diallo poses a very interesting question: "Why ask the user what they think if you can watch exactly what they are doing?"

He was watching over a friend's keystrokes, initially without her knowledge or consent, when he came to an ephiphany about how moral lines may be blurred for the sake of convenience.

"Mouseflow" is on the legal blogging radar. Allegedly, Blizzard, also WebMD, and Chevrolet use a particular spy technology to surveill everything a user does with his/her/their mouse when visiting their sites. Blizzard Entertainment and Mouseflow are allegedly being sued by a Californian resident for invasion of privacy.

According to the law suit, Mouseflow captures and records, "full activity, location, device type, referral source, duration of session, browser/operating system, and much more."

Legal blogger Rick Zou, for the law firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz explains some of the ramifications for IP and Media Law.

Meanwhile, an Australian law suit is worth watching. A famous person attempted to monopolize a fairly common surname, including with regard to wristwatches, although that surname was already trademarked by an older watch-making company.

Shaun Creighton and Daniel Moulis for Moulis Law pose some questions that are interesting not only to purveyors of timepieces, but also to writers. 

For instance, "Can a famous person obtain monopoly rights over their common surname?"  and "Does a trade mark for a first name and last name prevent others from using just the last name on goods or services?" and "What legal rights do celebrities have in their names?" And more.

Disclaimer: the definition of Over Watch was taken from The Century Dictionary.

  • To watch to excess.
  • To exhaust or fatigue by long want of rest.
  • To watch over; overlook.
(It is also the name of a game which does not appear to be implicated in any of the stories reported on above.)

All the best, and Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year

Here's a page of New Year's customs from around the world:

New Year's Traditions

One immediately notices the universal theme of "noise."

In our family during my childhood and teens, the principal New Year's Day custom was to undecorate and remove the Christmas tree. After doing the same thing during the early years of my marriage, I later abandoned that exhausting, depressing practice. When my husband and I became Episcopalians, I learned that the Christmas season doesn't end until January 6 (Epiphany, Twelfth Night). I now start dismantling the tree on or about January 6 and work on the task for several days instead of trying to accomplish it in a single marathan burst. Because we have an artificial tree, we have no safety constraints on how long it can stay up. Oddly from our contemporary perspective, in parts of England it used to be considered unlucky to keep Christmas decorations past Candlemas (February 2, aka Groundhog Day), so as long as we get the job done sometime in January, we're fine.

Although I was born in Virginia and had a grandmother from North Carolina, I never heard of the black-eyed-peas tradition until I got married. My husband, from a Navy family with roots in the Midwest and West Coast regions, cooks them for himself every year. Each pea is supposed to represent a coin; the more you eat, the more wealth you'll receive in the coming year. Since I dislike the taste of them, he has to accumulate good fortune for both of us.

The Scottish "first foot" tradition holds that it's good luck if your first visitor after midnight on the cusp of New Year's Eve and January 1 is a tall, dark stranger. Sharyn McCrumb has a humorous story, "A Wee Doch and Doris," in which a bewildered burglar accidentally becomes an elderly widow's first footer. You can find this tale in McCrumb's collection FOGGY MOUNTAIN BREAKDOWN.

I haven't made New Year's resolutions as such in a long time. My immediate goals for 2021 are to finish and submit a story for a line of Christmas-cookie-themed fiction planned by one of my publishers and to work on getting more of my orphaned e-books (from defunct publishers) re-released through Kindle self-publishing.

My main Christmas present this holiday season was the full DVD set of the TV series MASH. One memorable episode begins and ends on two New Year's Eves, bookending a montage of a year in the life of the MASH unit. At each New Year's Eve party, Col. Potter proposes the same toast, which goes something like this: "Happy New Year, and may it be a durn sight better than the last one."

Amen!

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Interview with Anthony Darnell on Star Trek Lives! 45th Anniversary

Interview with 
Anthony Darnell
on 
Star Trek Lives! 45th Anniversary

Here are 3 versions of an interview Jean Lorrah and I did with a professional (very professional skilled) journalist who placed this with https://startrek.com for the 45th Anniversary of the Bantam Paperback STAR TREK LIVES!

Also note I did an interview with Larry Nemecek for his Podcast STAR TREK FILES, and posted about that here:

https://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2020/10/interview-with-larry-nemecek-on-star.html

Podcast: Trek Files Podcast covering similar material
https://www.facebook.com/TheTrekFiles/posts/1545927938914781

Here's a link to listings of those podcasts - you can listen to without Facebook.

http://thetrekfiles.trekfm.libsynpro.com/website

Now here is the text of the interview with Anthony Darnell -- which was done by email.  I wrote my replies to his questions, and Jean Lorrah wrote her replies. I don't have copies of her full replies.  Together we way-way over-wrote the word limit for an article, so Anthony had to edit it, then turn it in, and it got retitled, resubtitled and touched up a bit.

So here are my unedited replies to Anthony's questions.  What I wrote is prefaced with my initials, JL.  When he's addressing me, he writes Jacqueline. When both me and Jean Lorrah, he put's BOTH.

This is raw text.  Study how these polished items get published.  Try to get over thinking you have to write PERFECTLY to write at all.

-------Anthony Darnell and Jacqueline Lichtenberg----

Trek Files Podcast covering similar material
https://www.facebook.com/TheTrekFiles/posts/1545927938914781

From Anthony Darnell:

I’m going to pitch StarTrek.com to see if they’d be willing to accept the interview. If not, it’ll have a home on Phantastiqa.

I’m looking forward to reading your responses!

BOTH
Thank you both for taking the time to answer a few questions. I want to start off by asking you what it was like to see Star Trek for the very first time. Do you remember how it made you feel and what you thought? Do you happen to remember what episode you saw first?

JL: No, at that time titles were not prominent identifiers. I have told this story many times, and no doubt with different details.

When the Chicago Worldcon debut was announced, I was on my way out of the USA for a year abroad. I really didn't expect it to be much. As an active member of SF Fandom, I heard a lot. Eventually, (as I had moved many times leaving forwarding addresses), Bjo Trimble's "Save Star Trek" campaign announcement reached me.  Knowing Bjo for many years, I KNEW Star Trek had turned into something significant, so I wrote Paramont telling them to be sure to keep it on the air until I got back.

Meanwhile, I had married (still married to the same guy!), and was replanning my life around his family in New York.  We got back in early April, and his Aunt put us up, and invited the whole family (a lot of people) to a living room reception for us.  They all came, younger people sitting on the floor but they gave me a chair!  Conversation flowed, until someone pulled out a TV Guide (paper magazine) to see "what's on" -- handed it around, and it came to me, and flipped open to STAR TREK.  "Oh, can we watch that?"

They were so polite, they said sure and turned it on. Bored them all to tears, so conversation flowed while I tried to discern what the show was about.

Then came a final scene, the only scene I remember, a shot of Spock in profile which had been avoided throughout the show until then.

I ended up in the middle of the room, pointing at the screen, and shouting at the top of my lungs, HE'S NOT HUMAN!!!

They just stared at me silently.

Throughout the ensuing decades, even the publication of STAR TREK LIVES! not to mention my own original Science Fiction, they remained close, warm, friendly, family to depend on.  Didn't treat me as too strange to associate with.

So, no, I've no idea to this day exactly which episode I saw first except to look it up by air date.  I never really "saw" it until reruns, which were cut to shreds.

Have since rewatched complete DVD and Streaming sets of ST:ToS, of course, but I actually don't remember either the first episode I saw or the mumbled replies to questions I provided my brand new in-laws.




JACQUELINE
I read that you knew Bjo Trimble—who ran the infamous letter writing campaign that saved Star Trek—from your time living in the San Francisco Bay area in the 60s. If I understand correctly, she asked you to write a letter for the campaign while you were living abroad, but you hadn’t actually seen the show yet. Is that right? Can you tell us a little about the story there? Do you remember what you wrote in your letter?

JL via the N3F (National Fantasy Fan Federation which still exists, founded by damon knight), I got the generic mail-out Bjo sent.  In snail mail days, you sent out a few pieces of paper and asked 'zines to reprint and people to pass it on, somewhat like an old fashioned phone-tree. But I knew Bjo and the Fandom crowd and trusted their judgment which was spot-on, as we see today.



JACQUELINE
I’m fascinated by early Star Trek fandom and how it blossomed into what we have today. This year is the 45th anniversary of Star Trek Lives! Essentially, it’s a guide for fans highlighting how they can connect with each other and get involved. You were one of three writers on this book, along with Sondra Marshak and Joan Winston. Can you tell me about the genesis of the book and why you thought it was important to get it out there?

JL:  STAR TREK LIVES! was an idea I had. Having been an active science fiction fan since 7th grade, I knew what was happening inside Science Fiction fandom was a newspaper story.  Fandom had never - ever - been an "item" of interest to mundanes, to the media in any form. It just wasn't "important" in the world.  Suddenly it was!

I saw how Bjo's work hit "dry tinder" inside fandom, and I saw how that conflagration ignited some rather moist tinder in the mundane world ("mundane" being jargon for anything not in science fiction fandom; somewhat like muggle).

I saw the reception of this TV Series hitting other people the way it had hit me in that embarrassing living room moment.

It was only a spark, but a vastly significant Event in the entire span of Human History (thousands of years).

On rewrite, much of my "language" in STAR TREK LIVES! about that significance got edited out as "hyperbole" -- but you see, it wasn't hyperbole.  Today, people acknowledge that, but don't always see the Events of today as directly connected to being embarrassed before new in-laws, or the advent of non-human bridge crew on a human captained ship (on TV of all unimportant places).

TV Series in general were looked "down" on - fantasy as a genre was talking animals for kids, something you out-grew like believing in the Easter Bunny. Science Fiction was even more childish, idiotic, unimportant and certainly not for adults.  Adults had to be focused on reality, and everyone KNEW you can't go to the Moon.

TV was filled with Westerns (still a big favorite of mine), but everyone knew the "Wild West" depicted on TV never existed. It was Hollywood glorifying the ugliness of reality, but it was TV so what could you expect?

After cancellation, when fanzine readers and writers vowed, "They can't do that to us!" And, "If they won't do it, we'll do it ourselves!" I knew I had a newspaper story.

This was the fandom I had grown up with (book readers) doing what fans always did - stand on our own feet, walk to a different drummer.  It was an attitude from one world brought to bear on a different world.  And that different world grabbed it and ran with it.

It's not defiance.  It's, "Okay, do what you want. I'm doing this other thing."

Spock's appearance on TV -- so very out of context of TV shows in general - was the actual moment the world changed, the paradigm shifted under our feet.  I wasn't the only one who noticed.  Spockanalia coined the phrase, "Spock Shock" which is taken to be purely sexual, but it's never been all that pure.  It was the use of TV as a medium to depict a non-human crew member - just a working stiff doing a job on a crew of humans -- ON TV!

TV is a mass-market medium.  Science Fiction was never, ever, considered mass-market.  Changing the mass of the market for science fiction opened the door to the space program --it got slammed shut, taken up by other countries, and now is open again.

Meanwhile, computers, the internet, the web, Web 2.0, the browser, all this communication power has been likened to the the printing press as a fulcrum of change in society.

We are living in "interesting times" - and it all started with Gene Roddenberry growing up on Radio adventure series and then selling "Wagon Train To The Stars" - as a Western in Space.

Roddenberry sold "science fiction" as a genre as not about the future, but about the past.  But he snuck in my vision of humanity's future, as he said at so many conventions and speaking dates -- "When we are wise ..." humans will behave very differently.

He presented humanity with yet another tool for becoming wise -- video-media science fiction.



BOTH
How do you think Star Trek Lives! shaped modern fandom?

JL: I've often said, and I think it's still the most important thing we did -- we blew the lid on fanfic.

In doing that - in telling the world that "they can't do this to us" -- "they" can't take Star Trek away from us -- "they" can't cancel us -- "they" have no power over our imagination -- we opened the door and tore down walls for several generations to come to the gymnasium of the imagination and share visions, articulate emotional wisdom, and become strong enough to "make it so" in everyday reality.

The "message" or theme of STAR TREK LIVES! was simply, "You are not alone."

So many Star Trek fans were trapped in families that just couldn't see the vistas this TV show opened, and these people thought they were ALONE in their understanding of the importance of this TV show.

You see, it was the MEDIUM that was the MESSAGE -- this material had been done much better in books and SF magazines.  In fact, though STAR TREK (ST:ToS) was the first Science Fiction on TV, it was really BAD Science Fiction by comparison to novels we had all read and discussed.

There is the major shift from SF fandom of the past to ST fandom of the present.  SF fanzines almost never contained fiction.  They were discussions, articles, like blogs containing bits of personal life, the struggle of an SF reader to live among mundanes.  That struggle is wondrously well captured in modern day's Harry Potter among the muggles.

One point we tried to include in STAR TREK LIVES! but ended up in Sondra Marshak's VOYAGER series of fanfic worthy of professional publication was that TV depiction of Science Fiction was wholly inadequate for SF readers.  Therefore, ST fans improved on aired-Trek as they created much more solid Science Fiction out of it.

ST fanfic is better Trek than aired-Trek.

But that is true because, "You are not alone!" and "They can't do this to us!" and "Science Fiction is not escapist fantasy."

Those are very deep, philosophical points, obscure matters most people don't want to deal with.  But hand a person a Walkman or a Smartphone, and stand back before you get bowled over by swift change in humanity's direction.

So STAR TREK LIVES! blew the lid on fanfic, brought thousands more into it, fostered genfic (generic fanfic - fanfic dedicated to other TV Series (Man From U.N.C.L.E., STARSKY AND HUTCH, and now Harry Potter and everything in between).

Most people can't see that this is the most important event in human history since the agricultural revolution, but it truly is.

Agriculture let us feed the human body, team up in cities for defense, protect our less physically able so they could create, invent, innovate, manufacture and speculate.

Star Trek let us feed the human imagination, create the internet, the web, the browser, web 2.0, e-commerce, and today video-fanfic-Star Trek episodes, some of which have original actors, and writers engaged.

And now we have Zoom.

If you haven't read Asimov's CAVES OF STEEL and THE NAKED SUN -- hurry up and read them, along with Alvin Toffler's non-fiction FUTURE SHOCK.  Put this all together and make us a TV Streaming Series about "When Humanity is Wise."



BOTH
Do you remember the first convention you went to? What was that experience like?

I think you mean STAR TREK convention, not first convention. Science Fiction had a mature, happening every weekend, con circuit culminating in Worldcon (which at that time was held only in the USA).

Technically, the first Star Trek con was a backyard BBQ with a few dozen people involved.

I wasn't at that one, but knew the people involved.

I was at the first Star Trek Con held in New York City at a hotel, and the story of that con is told by Joan Winston both in her short chapter in STAR TREK LIVES! and in her book,

The Making of the Trek Conventions: Or, How to Throw a Party for 12,000 of Your Most Intimate Friends Hardcover – January 1, 1977

It was at the first Con that I accosted Gene Roddenberry in a hallway, told him about STAR TREK LIVES! and asked if he'd write a forward to it if I could sell it.  He said yes and gave me his home phone number. Eventually, I called and said the publisher bought it and would he do the intro -- he sent it to me right away.

What I remember most about those first few cons is how crowded it was.  More people always showed up than the con committee planned on. SF cons were not packed like that!

JEAN
I’m from Frankfort, KY, and I know you were living in western Kentucky in the early 70s. It was tough for me to connect with fellow fans in the 90s, so I can only imagine how it was in the pre-internet age. How did you learn about the broader world of Star Trek fandom? Why did you want to get involved?





BOTH
I love Joan Winston’s chapter on visiting the set of the original series and attending the final cast party. It’s more than 50 years later, and I’m even jealous reading about that! Did you have any personal connections with the original series cast? Are there any stand out moments that you remember?

I didn't know any of the cast and crew before the cons -- after a few years of several cons a year at which I was included with the Guests, hanging out in the Green Room or Guest Lounge, behind security lines, doing autographing, etc. I got to know most of them, and some of them remembered me from year to year.

In 1976, Joan Winston and I took a road trip together.  We had roomed together at a bunch of cons (SF and ST), and sometimes I'd pick her up at her Manhattan apartment to drive her to a con (and back). So that year Robert Heinlein was GoH at Worldcon in Kansas City, and Joanie and I planned a big summer tour for STAR TREK LIVES! (a 1975 title that went 8 printings, totally unexpected by the publisher).

I had dedicated my first novel, HOUSE OF ZEOR (a footnote in STAR TREK LIVES! as an example of proof of my understanding of Spock) to Heinlein, so I particularly wanted to give him an autographed copy of it.

He had a deal going with the Con - give blood at the bloodmobile, get a pin for your badge, stand in line and get his autograph.  He'd autograph only for donors.

I did that and stood in line, and instead of asking for his autograph, I gave him mine in a copy of my book.  He later read the book, called me, and we had a nice chat (As I was in the SFWA directory, he had my number.)

So, on this 1976 trip, I had done a few Cons before I met Joanie at another in Iowa, then we rented a car, drove to Kansas City, did Worldcon, flew to LA, rented a car and visited Paramount Studios, GR's office (where I found a copy of Kraith Collected on a coffee table, well dog-eared).

The best part of visiting the set on that trip happened in a nearby restaurant. We were sitting at a table, when the waiter brought over a bottle of champaign that we had not ordered, and classically, pointed across the restaurant to Gene and some VIPs having lunch, "Complements of that gentleman."  I still have the label.




BOTH
It seems like many of the people involved in and leading the fan movement in the late 60s and early 70s were women. Why do you think that is? Do you think it was important for women to take the lead in the area of fandom?

(see more on women under the Kraith question)

This is what most people don't understand about fandom.

The word fandom comes from "fanatic" and "kingdom" -- and essentially designates a place that has no physical location.

Science Fiction fandom existed entirely on paper by snail mail, and at cons which might be the same weekend every year but rarely in the same hotel, or same city -- but the PEOPLE were the same.

Anyone, literally anyone, a grammar school age kid even, could start a fanzine, and even win a Hugo for it.  Anyone could start a con, and it would be reviewed and reported on in dozens 'zines.

Today, this amorphous but well-defined association of people exists online and spreads across countries.  But then it was on-paper and rarely by telephone.

Anyone can do anything.  You don't need permission. You don't need to be selected or elected or anointed.

It is hard to grasp in a world so stratified as we are today, but humans function just fine without leaders.

That only works if everyone leads themselves and does a good job of it.

Science Fiction fans did that, and somehow Star Trek fans learned it.

So Star Trek fandom started out with no leaders.

Nobody followed anybody.  People just did whatever they saw needed doing, that they could do, and sometimes just did what they couldn't do because who cares if it's impossible - that just takes a little longer.

Today, though, the influx of mundane thinking has given the impression that we're followers.

In fandom there were no followers, and no leaders.  The structure of the social template was based entirely on vision, ambition, imagination, resources, individuality and ability, but mostly on attitude. People don't just do all they can, then quit - they get the job done, then pick up another job.

If fans had waited for a leader, we wouldn't have the internet or the web or e-books, or e-commerce, or the revived American space lift vehicles, Moon colony plans, etc.

Today, they often lump this attitude in with entrepreneurship, and in a way that is it.  The point is you don't need followers to do something nobody else has imagined.  No sane person would follow you, anyway - so just do it.



BOTH
In Star Trek Lives!, you talk about the Tailored Effect of Star Trek for television—the Spock Charisma Effect, the Optimism Effect, and the Goal Effect. From what I understand, these guiding principles went on to influence your mutual work on the Sime-Gen series. Can you explain these principles and how it influenced your work together?

JL: as I mentioned previously, House of Zeor was specifically designed and written for Spock fans, as I understood what captivated us about the Spock character.

Being connected into the SF fandom network and the ST fandom network (mostly the same people at the time), I put out an offer to sell HOUSE OF ZEOR (hardcover) on a money back guarantee to Spock fans - if you don't like it, send it back and I'll give you your money back.  I bought a couple boxes of books from the publisher and sold 60 copies - never had one returned.

To me, that indicates there's substance to the Spock Effect concept - to the entire concept of "effects" in an ensemble TV anthology series.

The TV Series had so much going against it, including the anthology format (watch in random order and it still makes sense? Really?)  But the anthology format was the most popular among local stations for reruns, so they were forced to go with that.

Making the best of it, knowing the Science Fiction audience was way too tiny to support a TV Series (even cheap-made like Trek), they went with the ensemble cast and created Characters who "spoke" to different audiences.  This is the template of the "family show."

What they didn't expect was that it appealed to women as strongly as to men -- and it was the technical science stuff that grabbed the women.

HOUSE OF ZEOR (and the pre-existing universe I built the novel from) was specifically designed to be science fiction for the jaded palate.  And it presented the argument that women are just as well endowed with imagination as men are.  It was designed to be different, and to spur the imagination in the same way the Spock character had energized so many fans.

When Jean Lorrah was gifted with a copy (I'm sure she'll tell that story) of HOUSE OF ZEOR, she wrote a review of it for a fanzine, which eventually turned up on my desk. I wrote her and asked for permission to reprint the review in the fanzine that had suddenly sprung up around HOUSE OF ZEOR.  She agreed - and we have it somewhere.

Here's the thing that glued us together.  She lambasted the awkward structural bits in my first novel -- which was so transparently a FIRST novel, but grasped what I was doing.

When we "printed" (I think it was hand-cranked mimeo then) her review, she of course got the standard contributor's copy - so she did what any fan does.  She wrote a story for the NEXT issue, so she could get another contributor's copy and read what others were writing.

At a ST Con later, she brought me an outline for another story, just like Star Trek fanfic delving into areas I had not planned for the published books to cover. I read it, and said, "Send me an outline and 3 chapters and I'll see if Doubleday will buy it."  We sold it to hardcover and it became FIRST CHANNEL.

Jean Lorrah started with Sime~Gen fanfic after she had been writing ST fanfic, and actually selling professionally before that.  But because she's such a good writer, and because she grasped the OTHER half of what I was doing with Sime~Gen (I write Simes; she writes Gens), I just had to get FIRST CHANNEL published on the main line.

The STAR TREK franchise is owned by other people - so there's a limit to what we (fans) can do with it.  I created Sime~Gen to be where I could do those things I couldn't do with Trek.

I couldn't take one of Jean's NTM fanzines to Roddenberry and get a TV Series made out of it.

I could take Jean's Sime~Gen fan story to a mainstream hardcover publisher and get a book published and in libraries and bookstores across the world.

The thesis behind all this - Star Trek ignited creativity and drew fans together to collaborate on extending those stories.  WHY DID THAT HAPPEN?  I have a notion of why that happened. To take that idea from hypothesis to theory, there has to be an experiment designed to demonstrate, "When we do this, that happens."

House of Zeor was my experiment, my proof that I understood why Star Trek ignited creativity in such a diverse audience.

I think it worked.

The Spock fans who didn't return the expensive hardcover copies show that.

The 5 or 6 fanzines that sprang up full of Sime~Gen fanfic show that.

Jean Lorrah (a Vulcan fan more than just a Spock fan - rich, glorious Sarek stories!) casually, impulsively writing the missing pieces of Sime~Gen as fanfic, just one disciplined rewrite from professionally salable, demonstrates that.

And now we've added Mary Lou Mendum, a fanfic writer we have turned professional by selling her Sime~Gen fanfic to our publisher, also shows that.

We also have a professionally published anthology of Sime~Gen short works by 13 Sime~Gen fanfic writers.

Way back when, they thought Science Fiction could be of interest only to teenage boys into Chess, Math, and maybe geology. I thought they were wrong, but what does a 7th grade girl know about anything?

Today, 3 women, a Ph.D. in English, a Ph.D. in Plant Genetics, and a Chemist write science fiction together.

And we're all Star Trek fans.

We all like Star Trek for different reasons. We all like Sime~Gen for different reasons.  That happened because of the Tailored Effect -- Two people looking at the same object see different things but they are both correct.

EXAMPLE GRAPHIC ATTACHED.



JACQUELINE
From what I can tell, your short story “Spock’s Affirmation” was one of the first (if not the first) short story published in a Star Trek fanzine using the characters from the show. This eventually evolved into the Kraith stories—I understand that it’s a shared universe with multiple writers contributing—but can you tell me a little about that series and why you were inspired to start it? Was this type of fan fiction common at that time?

JL: SPOCK'S AFFIRMATION is probably novella length, and was written because earlier issues of T-Negative had intriguing fiction.

Spockanalia and T-Negative were two of the first ST zines, and had opposing editorial policies.  Spockanalia was the home for those adhering strictly to facts established on-the-air, strictly to canon. T-Negative was the home for wild imagination, inspiration, and explanations involving made-up ideas that blended well with aired-Trek episodes.

I contributed an article to Spocklanalia, not my first fanzine writing, mostly because I wanted a contributor's copy, but also because I was inspired by the style and quality of the writing in the first issues.  Keep in mind, Spockanalia was intended to be a "one-shot" -- being the ONLY zine by that name, ever. Issue #2 was a surprise to the whole editorial crew.

Likewise, when I heard (on the grapevine) about T-Negative I had to see what Ruth Berman was up to, and then I wanted more editions.

Meanwhile -- there's always a meanwhile in fandom -- I was taking a course in commercial fiction writing.  There were homework assignments, and dreary ones at that.

So instead of following directions, I wrote Star Trek fanfic for the homework, and sent the homework assignments to T-Negative for a free copy.

I was practicing ways to convey what it is about Star Trek that energizes so much creativity among the kind of people who don't follow leaders and don't lead followers, but aren't loners.  I was practicing for Sime~Gen, even though I'd already started selling Sime~Gen professionally.

That ambition to practice turned into Kraith.

I loved fanfic, so I sent a Kraith story to every fanzine I heard of, and got lots of free copies.

At one of the Star Trek cons in NYC, I was sitting in the audience where Isaac Asimov was introducing Gene Roddenberry when someone behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked, "Are you Jacqueline Lichtenberg?"



Conversation ensued about the Kraith stories which were at that time scattered among a lot of Star Trek zines.  How can I get a copy of all of them?  The women behind me whispered, and after Roddenberry spoke, Kraith Collected was born.

They eventually went to offset printing doing over a thousand copies at a time.

This is a good example of fandom in action. There are no leaders. There are no followers.  Only do-ers.  You want something? Do it.

If you read my Kraith stories in order,
http://www.simegen.com/fandom/startrek/kraith/
you will have an entire writing course under your belt -- each story exemplifying a single technique over all others.

Hence one could claim they are "badly written" -- because to get a story just so, you have to balance all the techniques.

However, the creative notions of Vulcan culture that I cast into Kraith sparked 50 other creative people to contribute to this Star Trek Alternate Universe.

I was proving my Tailored Effect notion - that I do understand why Star Trek spawned fanzines and fanfic when no other TV Series ever had, and why Star Trek was the most important development since the agricultural revolution.

Keep in mind that at the time I was writing Kraith and researching fandom for Star Trek Lives! (which I thought of as a single newspaper article), there was an American effort to reach orbit (but the notion of a space station was idiotic because it's impossible), but nobody could conceptualize the Internet!

Kraith was a rehearsal for Sime~Gen - and I was writing them all simultaneously with Star Trek Lives!


JEAN
Jean, you’ve written several Star Trek fiction books—Metamorphosis, Survivors, and the The IDIC Epidemic, to name a few—how did you make that leap? Did you approach those publishers with your ideas? Or did they approach you first?

JEAN
Did you write any fan fiction before penning Star Trek stories professionally?

BOTH
What do you think about modern day Comic-Cons? Are you happy with the way that they’ve grown, or do you wish they’d gone a different direction?

JL: Oh, I'm happy with the way they've grown. The torch has been passed to the visual/audio media, and the Superhero story - the story of an individual, starkly different from all others, dedicated to making things better for people who aren't so very similar to themselves. These are stories to inspire us all to abandon the idea that once we've done all we can, we are finished doing even if the task is not complete.

These are stories about exceeding the design specifications of the body, mind and soul, and about choosing tasks that improve the world.

The superhero is the Science Fiction hero.

And don't forget Gaming - video-style as well as table-top, Sime~Gen is beloved by gamers.

BOTH
What advice would you give to someone attending a Star Trek convention for the first time?

Well, you're not a superhero.  You have physical limits, needing food, sleep, processing time. Don't be greedy. Decide which of the 10 conventions running simultaneously in the hotel that you're going to attend, and ignore the others.  Get to them next time, but focus on the programming track, the people, and the parties relevant to what you're doing now.

Collect flyers from the freebie table to investigate later. Be sure to buy a membership to the next edition of the con (cheaper now than at the door).


Thanks again!

------end quote of Anthony Darnell and Jacqueline Lichtenberg ------

NOTE: Anthony Darnell may post his submitted version with both Jean Lorrah and Jacqueline Lichtenberg answers on his own site, Phantastiqa .  So that's a 4th intermediate version to study.

Here is the version he edited down including Jean Lorrah and Jacqueline Lichtenberg answers to fit the specs for startrek.com

-------------quote edited version ----------
Living Star Trek: How Female Fans Breathed New Life into the Franchise
by Anthony Darnell

How did Star Trek survive?

I’ve always been fascinated by early Star Trek fandom. From Bjo Trimble’s infamous “Save Star Trek” campaign to the first major convention in 1972, fandom perpetuated and saved Star Trek from sinking into relative obscurity.

In the late 60s and early 70s, however, many Star Trek fans were isolated. This may be hard to comprehend in the internet age, but there was a time when Star Trek fans didn’t know that other fans existed.

Even for someone like me, who grew up in a small town in Kentucky during the 90s, it was hard to find and connect with fellow fans.

So, how did these early Trekkies do it?

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the publication of Star Trek Lives! Essentially, it was a how-to book, covering everything from conventions and clubs to zines and fanfic. It was hugely popular and had eight printings by Bantam Books between 1975 and 1979.

One of the writers of this book, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, created The Star Trek Welcommittee—with the blessing of Gene Roddenberry—in order to help newcomers connect. Lichtenberg also wrote “Spock’s Affirmation,” which is one of the first (if not the first) short stories written for a fanzine based on characters from the show. (Eventually, this would develop into) THE FIRST OF the Kraith stories—a fan-created Star Trek storyline with multiple writers contributing through zines.

In the mid-70s, Lichtenberg INVITED JEAN LORRAH TO COLLABORATE ON THE THIRD NOVEL IN THE SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL SERIES (began working with Jean Lorrah on the sci-fi book series Sime~Gen, (which was partly inspired by) AT A STAR TREK CONVENTION.  ( their mutual love for Star Trek.)

Lorrah was also an early fan who contributed to fanzines and (even) wrote a full-length fanfic novel (Night of the Twin Moons), before making the leap to writing for Star Trek professionally with books like Survivors, Metamorphosis, and The IDIC Epidemic.

I recently reached out to both Lichtenberg and Lorrah to see if they would answer a few questions about early Star Trek fandom, how women primarily led that movement, and how it has shaped modern-day fandom and Comic-Cons.

Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions. I’m fascinated by early Star Trek fandom and how it blossomed into what we have today. How do you think Star Trek Lives! shaped modern fandom?

LORRAH: It showed people all over the U.S. who loved the show that they were not alone—that there were organized fans, and that they could join them. It was just an interesting read for many people, but for the double-dyed fans it opened a world of connections to like-minded people at a time when such books still were found in libraries, so every copy reached many readers. For the first time [it] showed them how to find one another.

LICHTENBERG: I've often said—and I think it's still the most important thing we did—we blew the lid on fanfic.

In doing that, in telling the world that they can't do this to us; they can't take Star Trek away from us; they can't cancel us; they have no power over our imagination; we tore down walls for several generations to come to the gymnasium of the imagination WHERE WE (and) share visions, articulate emotional wisdom, and become strong enough to "make it so" in everyday reality.

The "message," or theme, of Star Trek Lives! was simply, "You are not alone."

Do you remember the first Star Trek convention you went to? What was that experience like?

LICHTENBERG: Technically, the first Star Trek con was a backyard BBQ with a few dozen people involved. I wasn't at that one, but knew the people involved.

I was at the first Star Trek con held in New York City at a hotel, and the story of that con is told by Joan Winston both in her short chapter in Star Trek Lives! and in her book The Making of the Trek Conventions: Or, How to Throw a Party for 12,000 of Your Most Intimate Friends.

LORRAH: I'm pretty sure my first convention was a SequesterCon, a midwestern convention with no media guests, where creative fans sold their zines and artwork and Trek-themed crafts to one another and held panels about every imaginable aspect of Trek.

LICHTENBERG: It was at the first con that I accosted Gene Roddenberry in a hallway, told him about Star Trek Lives!, and asked if he'd write a forward to it if I could sell it. He said yes and gave me his home phone number. Eventually, I called and said the publisher bought it and would he do the intro. He sent it to me right away.


LORRAH: We were such nerds, and primarily female. There have always been men in Trekfandom, but to be in this inner creative fandom they had to understand that women ran the show. That was not a rule—it simply was that way, as in zine fandom women outnumbered men by about ten to one.

I had been purchasing zines individually, [and] seeing ads in the ones I got hold of that let me find another one or two. But I went home from that convention with as many zines as I could fit into my luggage. The next year I came back with a complete draft of The Night of the Twin Moons. It was my kind of con—where fans came to talk to one another, not to crowd into auditoriums and corridors to hear and get autographs from actors.

It seems like many of the people involved in and leading the fan movement in the late 60s and early 70s were women. Why do you think that is? Do you think it was important for women to take the lead in the area of fandom?

LORRAH: Absolutely! Within Trekfandom, women were the creators they were rarely allowed to be elsewhere. Women created Trekfandom, which eventually morphed into media fandom. It was our little world, with no need to ask permission of men to do what we did there. Heck, we were Amazons on our own little island! And media fandom to this day is a female-dominated world.

LICHTENBERG: This is what most people don't understand about fandom. The word fandom comes from "fanatic" and "kingdom." [It] essentially designates a place that has no physical location.

Science Fiction fandom existed entirely on paper by snail mail and at cons. [The cons] might be the same weekend every year but rarely in the same hotel, or same city—but the people were the same. Anyone, literally anyone, a grammar school-age kid even, could start a fanzine, and even win a Hugo Award for it. Anyone could start a con, and it would be reviewed and reported on in dozens of zines.

Today, this amorphous, but well-defined, association of people exists online and spreads across countries. But [back] then it was on-paper and rarely by telephone.

Anyone can do anything. You don't need permission. You don't need to be selected or elected or anointed.

I love Joan Winston’s chapter about visiting the set of the original series and attending the final cast party. It’s more than 50 years later and I’m even jealous reading about that! Did you have any personal connections with the original series cast? Are there any stand-out moments that you remember?

LICHTENBERG: I didn't know any of the cast and crew before the cons. After a few years of several cons a year, at which I was included with the guests, hanging out in the green room or guest lounge, behind security lines, doing autographing, etc. I got to know most of them, and some of them remembered me from year to year.

LORRAH: Con going over the years, eventually as a guest myself with my pro Trek novels, I met George Takei, Walter Koenig, Major Barrett, and Mark Lenard. The latter, it turned out, had been asked to autograph so many of my Sarek and Amanda zines through the years that he had finally read them. He told me, "I was a little bit afraid to meet you!" Later, after he got over talking with the woman who had sexualized his character, he confessed that my stories had influenced his later portrayals of Sarek in the films.

LICHTENBERG: In 1976, Joan Winston and I took a road trip together. We had roomed together at a bunch of cons, and sometimes I'd pick her up at her Manhattan apartment to drive her to a con and back. So that year Robert Heinlein was guest of honor at Worldcon in Kansas City, and Joanie and I planned a big summer tour for Star Trek Lives!

I had dedicated my first novel, House of Zeor, to Heinlein, so I particularly wanted to give him an autographed copy of it. He had a deal going with the con: give blood at the bloodmobile, get a pin for your badge, stand in line, and get his autograph. He'd autograph only for donors.

I did that and stood in line, and instead of asking for his autograph, I gave him mine in a copy of my book. He later read the book, called me, and we had a nice chat. I was in the Science Fiction Writers of America directory, [so] he had my number.

On this 1976 trip, I had done a few cons before [where] I met Joanie at another [con] in Iowa, then we rented a car, drove to Kansas City, did Worldcon, flew to LA, rented a car, and visited Paramount Studios and Gene Roddenbery's office (where I found a copy of Kraith Collected on a coffee table, well dog-eared).

The best part of visiting the set on that trip happened in a nearby restaurant. We were sitting at a table when the waiter brought over a bottle of Champaign that we had not ordered. Classically, [the waiter] pointed across the restaurant to Gene and some VIPs having lunch, [and said], "Complements of that gentleman." I still have the label.

From what I can tell, “Spock’s Affirmation” was one of the first (if not the first) short stories published in a Star Trek fanzine based on characters from the show. This eventually evolved into the Kraith stories. I understand that it’s a shared universe with multiple writers contributing, but can you tell me a little about that series and why you were inspired to start it? Was this type of fan fiction common at that time?

LICHTENBERG: “Spock’s Affirmation” is probably novella length and was written because earlier issues of T-Negative had intriguing fiction.

Spockanalia and T-Negative were two of the first Star Trek zines and had opposing editorial policies. Spockanalia was the home for those adhering strictly to facts established on the air—strictly to canon. T-Negative was the home for wild imagination, inspiration, and explanations involving made-up ideas that blended well with aired-Trek episodes.

I contributed an article to Spocklanalia, not my first fanzine writing, mostly because I wanted a contributor's copy, but also because I was inspired by the style and quality of the writing in the first issues. Keep in mind, Spockanalia was intended to be a "one-shot"—being the only zine by that name, ever. Issue #2 was a surprise to the whole editorial crew.

Meanwhile—there's always a meanwhile in fandom—I was taking a course in commercial fiction writing. There were homework assignments, and dreary ones at that. So instead of following directions, I wrote Star Trek fanfic for the homework and sent the homework assignments to T-Negative for a free copy.

I was practicing ways to convey what it is about Star Trek that energizes so much creativity among the kind of people who don't follow leaders and don't lead followers, but [also] aren't loners. I was practicing for Sime~Gen, even though I'd already started selling Sime~Gen professionally. That ambition to practice turned into Kraith.

Jean, you’ve written several professional Star Trek fiction books. How did you make that leap? Did you approach those publishers with your ideas? Or did they approach you first?

LORRAH: At the time I first had ideas for pro Trek novels, they would only look at agented work from established science fiction writers. So once I had those credentials, my agent submitted the ideas. I didn't write the whole books until they were contracted, because by then I was writing steadily in both Sime~Gen and my own Savage Empire series and didn't have time to write what would have turned into fanfic if rejected.

I wrote the prospectus for Survivors while Tasha Yar was still a continuing character, and it was rejected because they did not want to establish that much background on a continuing character. A week after Tasha died on screen, Paramount contacted my agent and greenlighted the book!

What do you think about modern day Comic-Cons? Are you happy with the way that they’ve grown, or do you wish they’d gone a different direction?

LICHTENBERG: I'm happy with the way they've grown. The torch has been passed to the visual/audio media and the Superhero story—the story of an individual, starkly different from all others, dedicated to making things better for people who aren't so very similar to themselves. These are stories to inspire us to abandon the idea that, once we've done all we can, we are finished doing, even if the task is not complete.

These are stories about exceeding the design specifications of the body, mind, and soul, and about choosing tasks that improve the world. The superhero is the science fiction hero.

What advice would you give to someone attending a Star Trek convention for the first time?

LORRAH: Meet and befriend other fans with your specific interests, and friend one another online. I would tell a zine fan to see if there is a convention-within-the -convention of like-minded creative types. To find them, go to the dealer's room and see if anyone is selling zines, new or used. Strike up a conversation and see if you get invited to private parties. But hey—we all know you're not going to meet any zine fans. We are a dying breed.

LICHTENBERG: We are not a dying breed! We have moved to Comic-Con and online sites like FanFiction.net.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

---------- end quote edited down version with both Jean Lorrah and Jacqueline Lichtenberg -------

And here is a link to what startrek.com posted

https://www.startrek.com/news/living-star-trek-how-two-women-breathed-new-life-into-the-franchise

For a lesson in journalistic writing, read and compare all 3 versions, or even 4.  Learn how what you read in a professional publication is what the writer wrote.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Taking Names

As long as a former President is deceased, and also his widow (if applicable), the President's name can be trademarked as long as it is not a descriptive trademark.  

The Lanham Act is going to have to be rewritten in the next few years. Why?  Because the pronouns are outdated, as are some of the nouns. A future President might have a widower (rather than a widow).

Legal blogger Dorna Mohaghegh, representing the law firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein and Selz PC tells the topical trademark and copyright law-related emerging story of conflict between a genuine historical project named after President Lincoln, and what I would call a petard "project" for political fundraising.

Lexology link:
https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=1ad2906f-eed7-42a4-b73a-70a084b0e5e6

IP and Media Law Link: 


For those who may not know, a petard was an unreliable salt petre bomb  (basically a fertilizer bomb) used in the middle ages, most famously mentioned by Shakespeare in the context of army corps of engineers specialists blown sky high while attempting to undermine a beseiged city wall and thus being "hoist by their own petard".  Hamlet Act 3 Scene 4.

It's an interesting analysis of two groups both wanting to trademark "The Lincoln Project", and of some little known trademark trivia. 

For those considering a trademark, the cost of a trademark goes up in January 2021.

As for taking, but perhaps not trademarking, living student athletes' names and more, legal blogger Gregg E. Clifton wrote an interesting opinion for the law firm Jackson Lewis PC.
 
For College and ProSports Law:
 
Lexology link

One of the Heritage/DNA/Ancestry websites may be --and maybe should be-- in copyright-related trouble for monetizing former students' yearbook photos without permission. It is a class action, and likely to be important... because most Americans' photographs are in their old school yearbook, and the photos and comments may not be as amusing if made public today as they might or might not have been at the time.

That long ago time (my opinion) might have been before the internet, when the expectation was that the yearbook would be seen by a very limited number of people, and in the context of the in-jokes of the time. Perhaps "the time" might have been when Monty Python's Flying Circus was hugely popular, and everyone would have understood references to lumberjacks sniffing flowers, dead parrots and more.

The copyright in photographs generally belongs to the photographer, unless the photographs are clearly work for hire, or the copyright is assigned or licensed. The subject of a photograph usually has rights (of Publicity, for instance), unless they waive the rights.

Linda A Goldstein, and Amy Ralph Mudge, blogging for Baker and Hostetler LLP explained in a December 16th blog about the class action suit in California, and why the plaintiffs feel that the site in question were in the wrong to ask users to send in old yearbooks, and to ask those users to claim that they owned the copyright to the yearbooks, or that the yearbooks were not subject to copyright.
 
Anyone who is at all interested in their own privacy should read the complaint, which includes examples of the plaintiffs' yearbook photos, which were allegedly exploited for profit by the defendants.
 
When there is too much surveillance in general in society, and powerful forces in society try to control citizens' thoughts and actions through disinformation, vocabulary manipulation, destroying or rewriting history, intimidation etc, we call it Orwellian. 
 
Hillsdale College published an essay comparing Orwell's dystopian Big Brotherly world with ours.
 
https://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/orwells-1984-today/?utm_campaign=imprimis&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=103982981&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8Rqxsl2_EZyhORInqVNloCnM8j4uQMmFHHX36wjjt4g5QYbXTtxR6nQM4PU3wF1ij7FQ_9CBFBjZ2mdHrRTlwm2soqPQ&utm_content=103982981&utm_source=hs_email

On a less dark note, the fine copyright enthusiasts of MTP discuss Thom Tillis's thoughts for how the DMCA should be brought up to date to restore incentives for creative artists to... create.