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

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

Geek at the truck show

A few non-work-related photos from my trip last week to the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville.

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I love amusement park skylines. This is part of Kentucky Kingdom, re-opening in May.

Next: Nerdworld and truckland collide:

IMG_20140325_164056_460 IMG_20140325_164106_126

…and again:

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Western Star Trucks’ Optimus Prime, from the next Transformers movie.

March 31, 2014 Posted by | Film, geek, photos, science fiction | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What I read in 2013

In terms of quantity, I had kind of a lousy year in 2013: I only finished 11 books, and five of those (marked with asterisks below) were re-reads.

The list:

On the other hand: Quality. I really enjoyed all of them, and my six first-time reads were a nice mix of popcorn fun, mind-bending, gut-punching, and thought-provoking.

January 4, 2014 Posted by | Books, geek, science fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Collect All 21! – Big Thanks and A Shameless Plug

This begins with an overdue thanks to the guys behind JediCon WV, who earlier this month published a really moving and heartfelt Tumblr post about Collect All 21!  and my presentation at their 2010 convention.

John writes he was six when he was first swayed by the Force. I was more like 11. But so many of his recollections are similar to my experiences. Here he was, five years my junior living in Ohio while I grew up in Virginia, older – not wiser – and it’s like we lived next door to each other.

So I want to thank you, John, for bringing out the Star Wars kid in me once again. Each re-reading brings back memories of the best childhood anyone could’ve asked for. Maybe that’s why I’ve never really left it behind.

I mean dang. Thank YOU. It feels like I’ve said this a million times, but god, that kind of reaction, and hearing that someone read what I wrote and enjoyed re-discovering long-lost secret joys? That’s one of my favorite things in the world, and it’s a huge reason I wrote Collect All 21! in the first place.

Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek - Expanded Edition

So, that’s the first part of the post as referenced in the title.

Naturally, the second part is this: You know what makes a good Christmas present? Unbridled Star Wars,-1970s-and-’80s nostalgia, conveniently packaged in classic paperback format, or in an expanded electronic book edition.

There’s an excerpt, and some nice things that nifty people have said about the book, and things like podcasts and interviews, and some non-Amazon Collect All 21! links here.

Deep and sincere thanks again to everyone who’s supported this book for the past five-plus years and encouraged me to keep sharing my Star Wars memories.

December 16, 2013 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, Books, eighties, geek, science fiction | , , , | Leave a comment

Jim C. Hines & Codex Born

I finally had a chance to read Jim C. Hines’ second “Magic ex Libris” book, Codex Born, and I wrote a review for GeekDad.

I’ve been a fan of Jim’s since meeting him at Penguicon in 2009, and have had fun interviewing him about his Princess series and the origins of Magic ex Libris, and was really excited when he won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2012.

So, I have to admit, when Codex Born arrived in the mail, and I saw the cover, I thought, <understatement>”Hm. This is kind of cool.”</understatement>:

cbcover

That front cover quote is from my GeekDad review of Libriomancer(And it still holds true, by the way: Hines has got some big, amazing ideas unfolding in this series, and the premise is just a ton of fun.) I don’t know who handles this sort of thing at DAW Books, but I heartily approve of their taste in blurbage.

Now, seriously: If you’re a science fiction/fantasy book geek, and you’re not reading “Magic ex Libris,” you’re missing out.

September 17, 2013 Posted by | Books, geek, science fiction | , , | Leave a comment

Collect All 21! – Five Years Old Today

Five years ago today, I released the first edition of Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek into the wild.

The first batch of pre-orders and sales that summer and fall of 2008 were mostly to family, friends, and the supportive Star Wars fans of the Ohio Star Wars Collectors Club and the vintage forums at Rebelscum.com. They really jump-started this whole thing with their responses to my 2007 online series of Star Wars recollections.

In early 2009, right around the time my last full-time newsroom job was eliminated and I found myself out of work, Rob Wainfur posted one of the earliest completely-neutral-party reviews of Collect All 21!  on his  Retro Finds site, which was a more-than-welcome bit of nice news, and especially neat because Rob’s from Wales.

Around the same time, Adam, my Collect All 21! editor, launched Deus Ex Comica, and suddenly I was like, “Hey: want a cool, professional cover and a foreword, too!” And that’s where Kirk Demarais and David Morgan-Mar came in, generously contributing their talents to the revised version of Collect All 21!, providing me with some amazing front cover art and a kick-ass introduction.

Working with a great digital publishing team, I expanded the book for a Kindle edition in July 2011, adding some new personal material as well as interviews and my magazine-length feature on Lorne Peterson.

Some of the other neat stuff that’s happened along the way:

  • In spring 2009, I got an incredibly kind and supportive email from George Krstic, another Northeast Ohio first-generation Star Wars fan who grew up to write neat stuff like MTV’s DowntownMegas XLR, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Motorcity. We’ve hung out a few times since, and recorded a few Star Wars nostalgia podcasts,  and it’s always a blast. (George also introduced me to Josh Ling, who’s also a first-generation Rust Belt kid that came of age addicted to Kenner toys, and, I think it’s also fair to say, deals with the same old-school v. new-era Star Wars internal conflicts that twist so many of us in geek knots.)
  • Jenny Williams and Curtis Silver both said really nice things about Collect All 21! on the GeekMom and GeekDad blogs, respectively.
  • At PAX East in 2010, thanks to the GeekDad crew, I met Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks author Ethan Gilsdorf, who bought a copy of the book on the spot while we were all hanging out, and later provided me with a superlative blurb.
  • CNN interviewed me for a 30th anniversary story about The Empire Strikes Back.
  • Sharing Star Wars memories became kind of a thing: My friend Jonathan Liu sent me an advance copy of Tony Pacitti‘s My Best Friend is a Wookiee (2010), and I wound up meeting Tony at Star Wars Celebration V to exchange books and stories. A couple years later, in 2012, Gib van Ert released A Long Time Ago: Growing Up With And Out Of Star Wars, which I read and enjoyed on the way to Star Wars Celebration VI. And, of course, earlier this year, Fanboys director Kyle Newman (who also encouraged me regarding Collect All 21! in 2010) put together The Return of Return of the Jedi.
  • Geek A Week artist Len Peralta and I recorded a Star Wars and 1980s conversation/podcast.
  • I got invited as a guest to a couple JediCon WV events, which were tons of fun, and got my name on a spectacular poster by Kenner toy photographer Kim Simmons.
  • Hugo Award-winning author and good guy Jim C. Hines read Collect All 21! and blogged about it.
  • Then there was that time in 2012 when the fantastic Renita Jablonski called me and said, “So, we were thinking of doing a piece on the 35th anniversary of Star Wars, and I said ‘I know a guy,'” and we talked on the phone, and then BOOM! I’m driving to work a day or two later, and right there in the middle of National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” is me. (And five years before that, when Renita was at WKSU, she produced a piece I wrote about not remembering the first time I saw Star Wars, which, again, is pretty much where all this started.)
  • Topless Robot put Collect All 21! on its list of The 10 Greatest Non-Fiction Star Wars Books, which includes the line, “Celebrate the love, yub yub.” Yes!
  • Somehow my book caught the attention of filmmaker Brian Stillman, who visited our house a couple summers back and interviewed me for Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toyswhich should be coming out later this summer.

Crunching some numbers from Lulu and Amazon to figure out about how many copies of Collect All 21! are out there – counting print and electronic versions – I come up with a number somewhere close to 2,500. (I’m always looking to make that number bigger, of course, but hey – that’s not a bad run for a completely independent, word-of-mouth effort.)

I will never be able to say thanks enough for all the encouragement and support from my friends and family and everyone who’s ever bought, borrowed, read, or shared Collect All 21! among fellow Star Wars fans and 1980s-era nostalgia loons (which I can say since I’m one of them).

The Force Will Be With You. Always.

July 2, 2013 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, Books, Film, geek, Ohio, science fiction, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

This is Me in ’83 – Return of the Jedi, Opening Night

Truly a high point of 1983.

GeekDad has published my two-part recollection of seeing the final chapter in the original Star Wars trilogy on opening night – 30 years ago this weekend.

What You Take With You: Return of the Jedi, Opening Night ’83 – Part One 

What You Take With You: Return of the Jedi, Opening Night ’83 – Part Two

Lapti Nek and Yub  Nub forever.

May 24, 2013 Posted by | 1980s, geek, Ohio, science fiction | , , , | Leave a comment

Plastic Galaxy preview footage

Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys SNEAK PEEK TEASER FOOTAGE! from Plastic Galaxy on Vimeo.

Not too sure about that goofy guy at the beginning, but I know several of those other people, and this looks like a fun, seriously nostalgia-inducing movie.

Brian and Karl visited me – gosh, a couple summers back, already? – and talked Star Wars toys and 1980s kidhood for a couple hours, and it was a blast. They were talented and professional, and I’m really excited to have played even a small part in this project.

May 23, 2013 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, Film, geek, science fiction | , , , | 1 Comment

GeekDad – Doctor Who Giveaway: Time Lord Loot!

 

Doctor Who Giveaway: Time Lord Loot! | GeekDad.

April 13, 2013 Posted by | science fiction, Television, Weblogs | , , | Leave a comment

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