Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Flea Market Find: Beyond the Stars: Tales of Adventure in Time and Space

Picked this up at the Hartville Flea Market a few weeks ago, and bought it pretty much on the cover image alone:

BeyondTheStarsCover

FANTASTIC. Definitely-not-Luke-Skywalker-in-Bespin-outfit and certainly-not-Princess-Leia and possibly-not-C-3PO beneath absolutely-not-a-Colonial-Viper-Cylon-Raider-dogfight.

Screams “shameless unlicensed late 1970s ripoff,” no?

But there’s the kicker: This is from nineteen eighty-four, and its contents mirror a British edition published just a year earlier.  So this book is, in fact, five years past the close of the original Battlestar Galactica series, and a year removed from the conclusion of the original Star Wars trilogy.

What’s inside? Let’s ask the back cover blurb:

Seventeen stories from the exciting world of science fiction, including Star Wars and Doctor Who and tales by Jules Verne, Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke.

Excellent! Without further delay, then, here are the contents:

  • Escape From the Death Star – from Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker, by George Lucas
  • Trial by Combat, by Jay Williams
  • The Lights of the City by Garry Kilworth
  • Through the Moons of Mowl – from Dragonfall 5 and the Super Horse, by Brian Earnshaw
  • The Star, by H.G. Wells
  • Johnson, by Guy Weiner (I did not make this up. – JB)
  • The Smallest Dragonboy, by Anne McCaffrey
  • The First Half-hour – from Round the Moon, by Jules Verne
  • A Walk in the Woods, by David Campton
  • Summertime on Icarus, by Arthur C. Clarke
  • Baptism of Fire – from Citizen of the Galaxy, by Robert A. Heinlein
  • Collecting Team, by Robert Silverberg
  • Marooned on Splatterbang – from Escape from Splatterbang, by Nicholas Fisk
  • Terrafied, by Arthur Tofte
  • Planet-fall on Isis – from The Keeper of the Isis Light, by Monica Hughes
  • Half Life, by Rachel Cosgrove Payes
  • Return to Peladon – from Doctor Who and the Monster of Peladon, by Terrance Dicks

Interesting mix, and I look forward to reading them.

(Digression: The text of Escape from the Death Star seems to be reprinted faithfully from chapter 10 and part of chapter 11 of the Star Wars novelization, although it does open with an original two-sentence setup: Luke Skywalker, the old Jedi warrior Ben Kenobi, Han Solo and their companions are deep in the heart of the enemy battle station, the Death Star. Danger threatens on all sides as they struggle to free the young and beautiful Princess Leia from the clutches of the evil dark warlord, Darth Vader…)

Here’s what else the back cover promises, though:

This spectacular collection is illustrated throughout with specially commissioned drawings.

And, oh, the treasures here. All the drawings are black-and-white and in the margins either alongside or beneath the text, and feel like they belong in a much earlier science fiction era.

Now, to be fair, I’m really only focused on the illustrations accompanying the Star Wars excerpt, because again, this was a full seven years after the movie’s debut, and we all knew full well what things looked like in that galaxy far, far away. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that at this point, some characters and ships were already considered iconic.

Here’s this edition’s illustration of R2-D2 and C-3PO:

BeyondTheStarsDroids

…and here are Han and Chewbacca:

BeyondTheStarsHanChewie

More? OK. Our heroes heading for the Millennium Falcon:

BeyondTheStarsEscape

…and blasting their way past the TIE fighters:

BeyondTheStarsSpaceChase

And maybe my favorite: Darth Vader vs. Ben Kenobi.

BeyondTheStarsDuel

Several of these are highly reminiscent of pre-production Star Wars art, which is also interesting.

As a bonus, here’s an illustration from the Doctor Who excerpt, including the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith.

BeyondTheStarsDoctorWho

The artwork and the typeface and the page layouts all combine to remind me an awful lot of the kid-focused science fiction books I loved when I was in elementary school.

It’s been a long time since I stumbled on anything this unexpected and fun at the flea market – and for less than a handful of change.

July 19, 2015 Posted by | 1980s, Books, eighties, geek, science fiction | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ohio Summer, Then and Now

My daughter’s high school graduation ceremony was more than a month ago, but her graduation party this weekend felt much more like the door closing on this chapter.

Earlier in the week, K and one of her friends had spent several hours selecting pictures and putting them on poster boards to display at the party. This picture in particular – which I had actually forgotten about – really jumped out at me:

Circa 2001.

Circa 2001.

She’s holding a fuzzy caterpillar. Something about her expression and posture and the sunlight just come together in a way that somehow both reflects the moment the picture was taken and strikes chords of her personality that still ring true today.

July 12, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Back in time, just before dawn

18227343570_6abe615ecf_k

When I was in elementary school, my friend Mike and I pitched a small orange tent in my backyard and camped out one night. I’m sure we stayed up late talking about Star Wars or playing cards by flashlight or something.

I woke up in the gray light before sunrise, surprised by how many birds were singing. It was a little chilly, with mist hanging over the cornfield behind the house.

We’d brought my dad’s old Boy Scout cooking set and some stuff for breakfast – although we were only a couple dozen steps from the house, at most – and I poured myself a bowl of Apple Jacks.

I went for a run before sunup today. The smell and feel of the air, the chattering of birds, and the color of the sky brought that long ago morning almost back to reality.

June 3, 2015 Posted by | 1980s, Ohio, running | , , | Leave a comment

Milestone and memory

My daughter graduated from high school this weekend. I’m incredibly proud of who she is.

We both attended the same school system grades 1 through 12, which made for a lot of flashbacks for me, and a lot of stories I’m sure she tired of hearing.

Here we are sitting on the same Canton Civic Center stage I walked across during my graduation in 1989.

KandMe1

Photo by Jim Carchidi

May 31, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

International TableTop Day 2015: What We Played

Celebrated International TableTop Day with nine straight jam-packed hours of gaming, graciously hosted by my friend Tom. So much fun. Here’s what we played:

Started the day learning TakenokoI’d been hearing good things about this one for awhile, and it was pretty easy to pick up, and a lot of fun.

Takenoko

Followed up with two brief Mars Attacks: The Dice Game contests –

MarsAttacks

and head-to-head Star Wars Trivial Pursuit(Classic trilogy, of course.)

SWTriv

Then Munchkin Loot Letter.

LootLetter

And then our game crowd grew, so we played a tremendously fun game of Cockroach Poker (another first for me) –

CockroachPoker

– and an 8-person game of Tsuro that ended in a two-dragon tie. (I was the last dragon to actually lose.)

Tsuro

Even more folks showed up, so we split the party into three tables. I introduced a couple friends to Roll For It (which we played twice) –

RollForIt

– and then Zombie Dicewhich we played once with the standard rules, and once with the School Bus expansion.

ZombieDice

I wrapped up my day with back-to-back games of Betrayal at House on the Hillwhich I’d never played before, and really enjoyed. The explorers triumphed over the betrayer both times, although my character died along the way in the second game.

Betrayal

So I learned three new games, played several that I don’t get to tackle very often, and spent a full day reveling with friends in dice, luck, strategy, and fun. It was almost like a mini-Gen Con – including the “Hey-it’s-almost-nine-o’clock-and-I-never-ate-dinner” thing. Not complaining in the least.

April 12, 2015 Posted by | Games, geek | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

USAF, South Korea, 1971-72 – Part 3

At the beginning of last year, I started scanning some of my dad’s photos from South Korea in the early 1970s, when he was serving in the U.S. Air Force. I’ve been meaning for a long time to pick up the project again, and just before Christmas, the spark to do so arrived in the form of a surprise email through the Flickr page where I’m archiving the pictures.

Pat Bachman served with my dad from January to December 1972, and said he found the pictures I’d posted through an online search for the 5th TAC Kojin. The radar site, he explained, was a detachment of 5th Tactical Air Command (The Road Runners), headquartered at Clark AFB in the Philippines. Pat also added a few comments to dad’s pictures on Flickr, so I updated a couple photo captions in a previous post. He said he remembered my dad fondly as a hell of a nice guy, and graciously offered to send along a few of his own pictures for the collection.

This is Pat’s shot of the “short-timers’ board” in the 269 Lounge. Pat offered the following notes: Placement on the board represented placement in line for catching the “Freedom Bird” (represented by the helicopter) and rotating out. The Freedom Birds belonged to the Army and were part of the Jolly Green Giants. The name tags under the helo are the 10 who had recently left site – pic shows 11 because two rotated out on same date. Tags at the very bottom-left were visitors (VIP’s or pilots making first trip to the site). Tags on the donkey cart were the “Mule skinners” – truck drivers who routinely delivered supplies.

“Short-timers’ board.” Dad’s tag is on the downhill train, directly beneath the helicopter’s front wheel. He was fourth in line to leave. Photo courtesy of Pat Bachman.

Sincere thanks to Pat for getting in touch, providing these photos and some background, and for inspiring me to finish scanning dad’s photos in the days and weeks to come.

(Click on any of the photos to visit the full gallery and larger versions of the images.)

This is the mine field above the base, with the radar antenna just visible at the upper right. Photo courtesy of Pat Bachman.

Base camp. Photo courtesy of Pat Bachman.

Butler. Photo courtesy of Pat Bachman.

Front door security post. Photo courtesy of Pat Bachman.

NCO club. Photo courtesy of Pat Bachman.

And finally, Lifer – the site mascot:

Lifer. Photo courtesy of Pat Bachman.

 

January 3, 2015 Posted by | 1970s, Family history, photos, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Things I’ve Learned So Far This Year

1) Household Tech Tip: If your vacuum cleaner motor continues to provide suction power, but the roller brush stops moving, before removing the entire bottom plate looking for something jammed in there; then borrowing your mother-in-law’s vacuum; then driving yours all the way to the repair shop – you should perform this simple step: Look for a button marked “BRUSHROLL ON/OFF.” If you own the same vacuum cleaner we do, you’ll find it cleverly hidden right on top of the vacuum, next to the main power switch. In the event you have already reached the local repair shop, you and the helpful repair person may share an enjoyable laugh at your own expense, which is still miles ahead of a vacuum cleaner repair bill. (In my defense: I’ve never used this particular button. Why the heck would I?)

2) That voice in your head you hear when you’ve returned from a trip to the store that says “You know, you really should take an extra two seconds and set down the gallon of milk to unlock the front door rather than try to juggle everything and risk dropping that milk and making a ridiculous mess of the door and sidewalk.” Yeah, you should listen to that voice.

3) Holy shit, The Legend of Korra is even better than I expected – and I expected a LOT, given the enthusiasm for this show. Binge-watched the first season on Amazon over the past few days. It’s gorgeous and well-written and amazing.

January 2, 2015 Posted by | geek, Ohio | | 1 Comment

What I Read in 2014

books2014

Here are the 16 books I read in 2014. Still not near the quantity I was reading five or six years ago, but more than last year (11 total, 5 re-reads), and only one re-read in the bunch.

  1. Heechee Rendezvous – Frederick Pohl (Wrapping up the original Heechee trilogy.)
  2. The Human Division – John Scalzi (Still love the Old Man’s War universe.)
  3. Among Others – Jo Walton
  4. The Alphabet Not Unlike the World – Katrina Vandenberg (Poetry. Really, really good poetry. Like “Inspires John Green while he’s writing The Fault in Our Stars” good poetry.
  5. Mystery Comics Digest No. 6 – The Twilight Zone (August 1972 – picked this up on Free Comic Book Day.)
  6. The Art of John Harris: Beyond the Horizon – John Harris (GeekDad review.)
  7. Avengers: Assembled – Brian Michael Bendis
  8. The Paleoart of Julius Csotonyi – Julius Csotonyi and Steve White (GeekDad review.)
  9. Alpha Centauri – Or Die! – Leigh Brackett (I picked this up a couple years ago at a bookstore in the small Ohio town where Brackett and her husband Edmond Hamilton lived. I wrote about it for StarWars.com.)
  10. Star Wars: A New Dawn – John Jackson Miller (I stopped reading most Star Wars novels long ago, but this one caught me, and it was quick and fun.)
  11. The Art of John Alvin – Andrea Alvin (GeekDad review.)
  12. The Future of the Mind – Michio Kaku (Fascinating stuff.)
  13. The Importance of Being Ernest – Ernest Cline (Author of Ready Player OneInterior illustrations by fellow Northeast Ohioan and cool guy Len Peralta.)
  14. Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury (re-read)
  15. Chicks Dig Gaming: A Celebration of All Things Gaming by the Women Who Love It – Mad Norwegian Press (GeekDad review.)
  16. Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (No, I can’t believe I’d never read it either. What an incredibly fun book.)

I also spent a lot of enjoyable time in the pages of the following four role-playing game books last year, and I expect it to continue in 2015:

  • Numenera (core rulebook) – Monte Cook
  • Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook (5th ed.)
  • Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual (5th ed.)
  • Dungeons & Dragons  Dungeon Master’s Guide (5th ed.)

 

January 1, 2015 Posted by | 1980s, Fiction, geek, science fiction | , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Favorite Present

Awhile back, I was reading a flier for a Church Family Fun Day or something like that. Activities for said day were listed like this:

  • Food!
  • Games!
  • Balloon Animals!
  • Bouncy Castle!
  • Face Painting!
  • Chip Richter!

And for a moment, that last one really puzzled me, because I didn’t know what sort of chips fit in with the kind of event I was envisioning, nor could I imagine what “richting” them would involve. Does one study to become a richter, or is it a piece of equipment for processing these particular chips?

Yes, a few blinks later, I read the fine print identifying Chip Richter as a musician who’d be performing that day. Still, the absolutely complete confusion in my head for those few seconds was really funny, and at some point not long after, I told Jenn & Kelsey about it, and they immediately latched onto it as a running joke. You know, like we’re watching a movie or something, and I’ll get up to get a drink, and ask if they want anything from the kitchen, and one of them will say, “Yeah, do you mind richting us some chips while you’re out there?” Because that’s the kind of family we are.

Come this past Christmas morning, there’s one present left, in a gift bag behind the tree, and Jenn & Kelsey are adamant about me opening it last. When the time comes, they are extremely goofy and giggly as I reach in, grab the first of two tissue-paper-wrapped bundles, and open it to reveal this:

chips

And while you can see it coming now, at the time, I was very much “Um….OK?” as I looked at this bag while Jenn & Kelsey were just quaking with barely-contained laughter.

So I open the second package.

richter

And I – I just don’t – it’s a kitchen thing…attached to a hardware thing – but…?

Yes, it is painful how slow on the uptake I am on this, and it’s not helping that Jenn and Kelsey have now completely erupted in hysterics, and I look at these objects in my hands, these things that make no sense together; these chips and this –

Oh God They’ve Built Me A Chip Richter.

And the pair of them: They can actually see the comprehension dawn on my face, and it just kills them and breaks them into explosions of joy and laughter, which in turn destroys me, and before I know it I am laughing so hard I can barely breathe and tears are running down my face because I love these two people so much and so absolutely, and this moment is fantastic and permanent and mine and ours forever.

Now, where are the instructions for this thing? These chips aren’t going to richt themselves!

December 31, 2014 Posted by | Family history | | 2 Comments

A Walk in the Woods

For various reasons (none of them really good ones), I haven’t been running lately. I felt the need to get into the woods at Quail Hollow today, though, so I put on some boots and warm clothes and went for a 2-mile hike.

It was sunny and in the mid-30s, with no wind. Really nice day to be out there.

It’s a little strange going out and walking on the trails I’m used to running, and it’s a completely different experience in the woods this time of year compared with summer: The sun reaches deeper pockets, with no leaves overhead – with the exception of the pine stands – and you can see further off the trails.

I made a few stops along this stream, because it was running high compared to summer, and I liked the way it looked and sounded.

Found a culvert, kind of oddly placed, since it’s not on any sort of trail.

And discovered that the Woodland Swamp Trail has had an eventful fall:

Then there was this weird thing. I thought it was a big blob of sap at first – it was probably 4-5 inches long – but it was squishy, like a giant rotted grape.

I also found a small, empty turtle shell.

I was out in the woods for a little more than an hour, and felt like maybe I’d needed it more than I realized.

 

December 7, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

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