Do You Have ESP?

The new year will see Elder Signs Press continue to grow and provide its readers with the best work by new and established authors. We’ll be starting things off with Blood and Ice by Lois Gresh and soon follow it with other titles guaranteed to keep people returning for more. And be sure to check out these recent titles:What To Do When You Meet Cthulhu by Rachel Gray and William Jones; The Spawning, the second book of the Hive series by Tim Curran; and The Ravening by Stewart Sternberg.

Look for ESP at the upcoming Confusion in Michigan and other cons through the coming year. And if you see us, ask yourself the all important question—“Do I have ESP?” If not, what the heck are you waiting for?

ConFusion 11, Lois Gresh, and a Roaring Good Time

The jaunty crew of Elder Signs Press will be piloting our airships toward Troy, Michigan at the end of January.  What glittery target  roused us from our nightly debauchery you ask? Why, ConFusion 11 of course.  Come visit our writers and editors as we manhandle panels and stagger about our book release party. Grab an autograph; buy a book; buy a hundred books. We are your humble servants (one of us, anyway, up to you to figure out which).

Panels and events featuring our curiously good-looking writers and staff:

SATURDAY

11:00 AM

Salons E Zombies are more popular than ever why do people love these images of impending doom? M Tobias Buckell, Cherie Priest, Ferret Steinmetz, Stewart Sternberg, Charles Zaglanis

Salon H Offbeat! It’s hard to say just what we mean when we say a story or a writer is “offbeat.”  What are the qualities that make a story offbeat?  Can a writer choose to be offbeat are there conscious methods at work here, or is it just something you’re born with? M Jim Frenkel, Catherine Shaffer, Lois Gresh, Jim Deak

12:00 PM

Dennison III/IV Lois Gresh Reading from her forthcoming novel Blood and Ice

1:00 PM

Salon H Spear Carriers: The Characters Other Than the Hero How are they created?  How can they be used to fill out the background of the story giving texture and detail without overwhelming the plot? M Christian Klaver, Lois Gresh, Suzanne Church, Stewart Sternberg, Brett Katz

2:00 PM

Dennison I/II Video Games as a Creative Media – Most young adults spend more time playing video games than at the movies or watching television, what part does science fiction play in their entertainment world? M Tobias Buckell, Paolo Bacigalupi, Cherie Priest, Ferret Steinmetz, Stewart Sternberg

Salon H “Talk, talk, talk: The Importance of Dialogue to the Story” M Jim Hines, Paul Melko, Suzanne Church, Christian Klaver, Christine Purcell

3:00 PM

Salon F Books that Frustrate (and Inspire): Writers talk about books that frustrated them, and the great ideas that came from trying to figure out how to fix those books. M Merrie Haskell, Catharine Shaffer, Steven Harper Piziks, Jim Hines, Christian Klaver

Elder Signs Press Book Launch for the new book Blood and Ice by Lois Gresh which mixes science and vampires and Antarctica. 

Lois has received Bram Stoker Award, Nebula Award, Theodore Sturgeon Award, and International Horror Guild Award nominations for her work. She is also a New York Times Best-Selling Author (6 times), Publishers Weekly Best-Selling Paperback Author, and Publishers Weekly Best-Selling Paperback Children’s Author of 24 books and several dozen short stories. Her books have been published in approximately 20 languages. 

4:00 PM

Salon F Zeppelins are a trademark of both Steam Punk and the Low/High Tech Future how did this happen and why do people like the big gasbags? M Tobias Buckell, Cherie Priest, Christine Purcell, Paul Melko

5:00 PM

Salon E            MASS AUTHOR AUTOGRAPH SESSION

ConFusion’s authors will be lined up to sign your books. Authors planning to be here include: Paolo Bacigalupi, Peter V. Brett, Cherie Priest, Aubrey de Grey, Mike Resnick, John Scalzi, Sarah Zettel aka C.L. Anderson, Anne Harris aka Pearl North and Jessica Freely, Lois Gresh, Stephen Leigh aka S.L. Farrell, Steven Harper Piziks, Tobias Buckell, Paul Melko, Jim C. Hines, Merrie Fuller, Dr. Philip Kaldon, Suzanne Church, Steve Buchheit, Christian Klaver, William Jones, Dr. Christine Purcell, Stewart Sternberg, Charles Zaglanis, Ferret Steinmetz aka “The Ferrett”, Doselle Young, Catherine Shaffer, and Jim Frenkel Tor Editor

SUNDAY

10:00 AM                   

Salon E Science Fiction as a mind altering substance A discussion about how readers often read genre fiction to make themselves feel certain emotions or to exercise their minds and how writers can create this effect. M Paul Melko, Jim Frenkel, Steve Buchheit, Lois Gresh, Jim Deak

11:00 AM

Salon H The Small Press Is the small press a breaking ground for new writers or a trap for those who can’t cut it in the big world of publishing? Who and what is the small press, why is does it exist, where can it be found, and how to use it as both a reader and a writer.  M Jim Frenkel, Stephen Haffner, Christine Purcell, Jim Hines, Peter Halacz, Jim Deak

12:00 PM

Dennison I/II Elder Signs Press is an independent press specializing in science fiction, dark fiction, fantasy, and horror based right here in Michigan.  Come meet the people behind it and learn more about it. M Deborah Jones, William Jones, Stewart Sternberg, Charles Zaglanis, Christine Purcell, Lois Gresh

1:00 PM

Dennison I/II Playing with Genre Conventions How can we take the mundane and shopworn conventions of our respective genres and reinvent them?  M Cherie Priest, Jim Frenkel, Stewart Sternberg, Charles Zaglanis, Christine Purcell

2:00 PM

Dennison III/IV Stewart Sternberg reading from his new book The Ravening

What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb?)

It’s hard to let Science Fiction and Fantasy History month go by without a nod to George Lucas and his epic Star Wars empire. Star Wars has been a global pop culture phenomenon for more than thirty years making more than 4.27 billion dollars in box office revenue alone. And George Lucas has made more than that on the toys!

For those of us who still feel joy in finding unique and interesting Star Wars stuff, here are a few holiday wonders you may not have seen.

Jabba The Snowman

A Lego Star Wars special that will make you groan:

 

The storefront of Silver Snail Comics in Toronto, Ontario. The photo really doesn’t do it justice. If you’re in the area this holiday season, make a point to stop by.

 

And finally, the classic song “What Can You Get A Wookiee For Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb)” from the 1996 album Christmas in the Stars.

Happy Holidays everyone!

The Beginning of Genre in Film

Interesting that the first few films where a story played out were works of science fiction. Georges Melies’ A Trip To The Moon (1902) is a standout. Laughable today for its special effects, it still gave future film-makers what to look for in an unpredictable future where technology would expand the borders of entertainment.  A more serious attempt to reach an audience through an established work of fantastic fiction came from Edison, who filmed the first version of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein.

Perhaps the use of genre in early film making was inevitable. Much science fiction and fantasy is visual in nature. It provides tremendous opportunity for metaphor and subtext without being overwhelmed by it. The audience for fantastic fiction is a dedicated following, many embracing technology’s potential. It made sense that the pioneers of the film medium should turn to content which sparked the imagination and embodied at once the light and dark side of human nature.

Below, for your enjoyment, find A Trip To The Moon, and the very first production of Frankenstein, by Thomas Edison.

A TRIP TO THE MOON

FRANKENSTEIN

The Covert Operations of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien

When I was growing up, you either liked Tolkien or you liked Lewis. There was no room for cross-over, no fraternizing with the enemy. I publicly ascribed to the Tolkien clan. After all, Lewis was baby stuff, and I couldn’t let anyone in on my secret love for Lewis, too. Oh, the shame.

Although the writing styles and target audience for both authors was very different, the subtext of their stories had a shared goal. Most writing has subtext, something underneath the plot that the author is trying to subtlety convey to an audience. In this case, it was Lewis’s and Tolkien’s intent to promote Christian values through fantasy. And whether you’re a believer or not, there’s something about an altruistic character that is a powerful archetype.
The similar undertones of Lewis’s and Tolkien’s writing are not surprising as they belonged to the same literary discussion/writers’ group, The Inklings. The group was associated with Oxford University in England.

Tokien’s The Lord of the Rings and Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet were some of the first novels read to The Inklings. Meetings were often reported to be lighthearted, the attendees amusing themselves by drinking beer and then reading the bad prose of Amanda McKittrick Ros. Whoever laughed first lost. (see a sample of her prose below).

The Inklings was resurrected in Oxford 2006. Currently, the group still meets every Sunday evening, at St Cross College nearby the Eagle and Child. The goals of the group are the same as its predecessor, although the critiquing is reported to be kinder.

And whether you’re a Tolkien fan, a Lewis fan, or both, Science-Fiction and Fantasy History month can’t pass without a nod to our forefathers. These literary giants were responsible for fostering so many readers’ love of the genre. Thanks Papa Tokien and Big Daddy Lewis!

The opening of “Visiting Westminster Abbey”

by Amanda McKittrick Ros

Holy Moses! Have a look!
Flesh decayed in every nook!
Some rare bits of brain lie here,
Mortal loads of beef and beer,
Some of whom are turned to dust,
Every one bids lost to lust;
Royal flesh so tinged with ‘blue’
Undergoes the same as you.

Remembering H.G. Wells by Sidney Williams

History assumes importance by how we respond to it. The importance of past authors is the connections we make with them, either through reading their work or understanding how their work influences other authors we may be moved by.

Sidney Williams, is  an author of adult and young adult genre literature. Below is his personal reaction to an important figure in science fiction…

My Reading Life with H.G. Wells

I don’t often list H.G. Wells as a favorite author when I fill out those various and sundry message board or social media profiles asking for that sort of thing, but those who spend any of their reading lives on imaginative fiction are almost inevitably touched by Wells.

He wrote more than science fiction, of course, but it’s his work in the genre that captured my imagination early on, and since this is a moth of SF literary remembrance, it’s a nice time to reflect.

My first encounter was when I was in single digits, and my dad got me a Classics Illustrated edition of The Invisible Man. I couldn’t read yet, but between the periods Dad could read it to me, I thumbed the comic endlessly, looking over and over at the unwrapping of the bandages that revealed the nothing beneath. It was fascinating.

Classics Illustrated marked my earliest true reading of Wells also. Irwin Allen’s Time Tunnel had sparked my imagination about time travel, and when I noticed The Time Machine listed on the back of another Classics Illustrated title, it intrigued me enough to beg my mom to order it.

I was surprised when the comic came in the mail that the hero went forward in time instead of back to the Titanic or The Alamo, but a few pages in, I was enraptured by the adventures among the ruins of civilization. “I had come

upon mankind on the wane,” the traveler noted in one caption as he explored ruins, before he went on to encounter the Morlock and the Eloi and their conflicts and social messages.

The Classics comic was a gateway, and I read the full novel in the school library in a huge Wells omnibus.

In junior high, I also encountered Wells in a different way. Someone had a paperback called Stranger Than Fiction, which included a chapter on the Orson Welles “War of the Worlds” 1938 radio adaptation, which terrified millions. I’d seen the Gene Barry movie version on TV with my dad and been scared, but this showed me even more terror had abounded.

The Stranger Than Fiction book reproduced large segments of the script, with the Wells novel told in a series of news broadcasts set in the 1938 present—fascinating on many levels, as a story and as a phenomenon.

I encountered Wells again in college when I wasn’t expecting him, at a speech and theatre festival where I saw a brilliant adaptation of “In The Country of the Blind.” The tale about a lost traveler in the Andes who falls into a valley where everyone is without sight, offered itself nicely to a non-traditional, reader’s theatre staging with a narrator and plenty of action.

The “blind” players wore blindfolds to suggest their lack of eyes, and the dramatic confrontation in which they locked arms to thwart the efforts of the imperialistic mountain climber was wonderful.

There was Wells, on the bill with John Barth, at an event where they spelled theatre with an “r-e.” Important!

I encountered Wells again a few years ago when I was asked to write an audio adaptation of the War of the Worlds.  My assignment, as the Tom Cruise movie rolled out, was to script a period-accurate adaptation, so I spent a couple of months one summer immersed in the novel. It gave me a new appreciation of the material.

I walked with the struggling hero through the torn landscape and faced the assaults of Martians and the moral and social decisions.

On a visit to Seattle that summer, as I worked, I also got to see an incredible model of the Martian walkers at the Science Fiction Museum. I came to love the novel with a fresh respect when that was over.

While I don’t list Wells as a favorite author, it’s clear I should.

His work’s always been there for me and for my imagination, and I think it always will. The other day I downloaded his 1894 ghost story “The Red Room” for my Kindle.

What’s your experience of Wells? If you’re reading this blog, I bet you’ve had one or two.

[Sidney has also written a faithful audio drama of War of the Worlds available here. ]

Film Review: The Nutcracker 3D by Chris Welch

THE NUTCRACKER 3-D IS FUN FOR KIDS, WEIRD FOR ADULTS

Starring Elle Fanning, Charlie Rowe, Nathan Lane, John Turturro, Yulia Vysotskaya, Frances De La Tour, Richard Grant, and Aaron Michael Drozin.

Directed by Andrey Konchalovskiy

Released by Cinemarket Films.

Review by Chris Welch

When most people hear the title The Nutcracker, they almost always think of the ballet performances and accompanying music written by Tchaikovsky. This is, of course, a reasonable conclusion given the popularity of the ballet and its music. But Tchaikovsky did not originate The Nutcracker.

The original fictional story was entitled “The Nutcracker and Mouse King,” and was written by German Romantic author and opera composer E.T.A. Hoffman in 1816. The original story is a complex and long-winded fantasy tale. In short, a young girl is given a Nutcracker and doll house for Christmas; the toys come alive, and together, they defeat the evil, seven-headed Mouse King and an army of mouse minions, and the girl is taken away to become a queen in the land of toys. Along the way, there are sword battles, long journeys, and curses to be broken.

Hoffman’s only other famous work is a horror story, also from 1816, called “The Sandman.” Most of his other works have been lost over the last two centuries. Hoffman had addiction issues and suffered from mental illness, and most of his contemporaries held a very low opinion of his creations.

However, Tchaikovsky’s ballet is based on a translation by literary figure Alexander Dumas. The ballet was first performed in 1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The rest, as they say, is history. The ballet has become a seasonal tradition and there have been many film adaptations of the Napoleonic shell-smasher as well.

Which brings us to The Nutcracker 3-D.

This movie attempts to blend both the music from the ballet with an updated, more metaphorical interpretation of Hoffman’s original material. The result is a weird, anachronistic blend of family-friendly holiday musical-fantasy with steampunk military dystopia.

Set in 1920’s Vienna, the story focuses on nine year old Mary and her younger brother Max.

On Christmas Eve, Mary is given a wooden nutcracker doll by her Uncle Albert (who is likely Albert Einstein.) That night — in what may or may not be Mary’s dream — the Nutcracker comes to life. It turns out the Nutcracker, who prefers to be called “NC,” is actually a cursed prince, and Mary is the only person who can save him. But duty comes first, and NC rallies an eclectic group of dolls to strike back at the Rat King, who has taken over NC’s homeland. The Rat King hates daylight, and he has blocked out the sun over NC’s kingdom with thick clouds by constantly burning children’s toys. Mary and NC set out to win back the kingdom and to restore NC to his human form. This won’t be easy of course, as they face a whole army of Nazi-like rodents armed with both machine-gun equipped motorcycles and jet-packs. Yes…jet-packs. And don’t forget the musical numbers to move the plot forward.

Ultimately, the movie has not decided what it wants to be: a Christmas musical, an anti-fascist fairy tale, or a science-fiction adventure. It tries to be all three, and thus the film comes across as a schizophrenic.

Now having said that, it is likely children between the ages of 6 and 14 will really like this movie. There is enough magic, adventure, comic wit, and music to hold their attention. The movie is entirely age-appropriate; all the violence is of the cartoonish fantasy variety. The movie has positive messages such as gender equality, self-confidence, good will conquer evil, and that ultimately reality can be just as fun as fantasy. Overall, as a holiday movie aimed at youngsters, this film holds up pretty well. Kids will only see how weird it is when they grow up.

However, the best way to explain The Nutcracker 3-D to adults is this: It’s sort of like Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories and Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas having tea with Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Throw in some allusions to Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Babes in Toyland, Planet of the Apes, and Beowulf and you get the sense how off-kilter this film can be. Maybe “spot the allusion” can be a new drinking game?

According to published reports, the film was not originally filmed in 3-D, but was converted in post-production. The technical quality of the 3-D in this film is very good, considering it was an after-thought by the studio.

Science Fiction and Fantasy History Month Goes to the Movies

Film is a great medium for the likes of science fiction and fantasy.  Bizarre worlds, unbelievable creatures, impossible science–all can be made “real” thanks to the moving picture.

Sadly, younger fans do not always experience the classic older films because so much gets buried under the newer films.

Therefore, I decided as part of Science Fiction and Fantasy History Month,  I would focus on films of these two genres.

May as well put my film degree to use, eh?

Here is a list of ten of my favorite, must-see “classic” science fiction and fantasy films.

This is by no means an all inclusive list, just a few of my favorites.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Space travel.  A murderous computer.  Violent apes.  What’s not to like? The special effects toward the end of the film are still amazing.  Speaking of violent apes…

Planet of the Apes (1968)

This movie is more than just Chuck Heston running around in a loin cloth.  Sure, the make-up is a bit goofy by today’s standards, but some of the themes and scenes are just as powerful today as they were back in the ’60s.

Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

The skeleton fight scene alone makes this movie worth watching over and over. This is a pure fantasy story: a hero must go on a quest to find a magical item.  Hilarity ensues.  OK, not really, but there are plenty of monsters, including a nasty hydra.

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

Another classic fantasy tale.  Sinbad fights monsters and searches for treasure. The popularity of the sword fight with a skeleton scene in this film led to the skeleton fight scene in Jason and the Argonauts.

Forbidden Planet (1956)

This proto-Star Trek film stars a young Leslie Nielsen and still holds up fifty plus years later.

It features an electronic music score, which was a big deal in 1956, and even has a robot, Robby, as the co-star.  The space explorer team lands on a planet formally inhabited by a super-advanced alien race.  This film also features some amazing special effects, with help from Disney animators.

Gojira (1954)

Edited and repackaged as Godzilla, King of the Monsters! here in the USA. The big guy’s influence is undeniable.  His legacy had lasted more than fifty years, and they are still making sequels and spin-offs.

Flash Gordon (various serials, 1936)

Star Wars fans can see where a lot of the influence came from in these old, action packed serials. The special effects and costumes are super-campy by today’s standards, but that’s half fun.

Trivia: Larry “Buster” Crabbe also played Buck Rogers.

King Kong (1933)

He’s called King for a reason, baby.  My favorite part?  When King Kong fights the giant T. Rex-like creature and breaks its jaw.  Intense.  No computers here, that was just puppets and it is still pretty brutal.

Metropolis (1927)

Perhaps the holy grail of old school science fiction films, Metropolis has it all: a futuristic society that is equal parts utopia and dystopia, a crazed scientist, and a robot made to look like a real woman.

It is a silent film, but it is very much worth watching.  And good news: they recently found a long lost version with additional footage.  The influence of Metropolis can be seen in many, many films.

A Trip to the Moon (1902)

Perhaps the first ever science fiction film–and what is it about?  A team of scientists develop a way to get to the moon–a giant cannon!

Fun stuff. Once on the moon, the scientists run into all kinds of crazy creatures. The most famous shot of the film is the “man in the moon” with the space capsule stuck in his face.

If you are looking for a way to celebrate Science Fiction and Fantasy History Month, I highly recommend making sure you’ve seen every film on this list.

I asked folks on Twitter for their own suggestions, here are a few:

@andyboyan: “Moon, Princess Bride, Hobbit, Back to the Futures, T2, Matrix, 12 Monkeys, Contact, 5th Element, Starship Troopers, Galaxy Quest.”

@ashetler: “Blade Runner, Back to the Future, Aliens, Equilibrium, Serenity, LOTR, The Dark Crystal.”

@Melissa_Stewart: “Merlin.”

Please feel free to list your own favorites in the comments.

December is Science Fiction and Fantasy History Month—Pass It On and Celebrate by Stewart Sternberg

December is Science Fiction and Fantasy History Month. Since when? Since now. However just declaring it to be so doesn’t make it so, but one has to begin somewhere. Hopefully  writers, editors, bloggers, and their fans will take up the cause.

What is the purpose for designating a month to the history of Science Fiction and Fantasy?  Isn’t there more genre in film and on television than ever? Isn’t the fiction market dominated by genre?

Perhaps, but as lovers of science fiction and fantasy, we owe it to ourselves to promote quality work and to ensure that the young have a cultural perspective, understanding the traditions and tropes of this corner of the literary world as well as  a broader understanding of literature in general.  Is it a necessity? No. Is it important to us as a culture?  Yes. Consider the political and cultural influence of science fiction and fantasy, and how it has helped us vent our angst, voice our identity, and celebrate our optimism. It has touched into a primal need to escape and redefine a complex world into a more manageable paradigm.

I think this idea of Science Fiction and Fantasy History Month first hit me when I read this email posted on http://www.latinoreview.com/

This movie [The Wolfman]was a complete waste and I feel that it offends ALL Twilight Fans around the world, that including myself. For one, it was a COMPLETE remaking of the Wolf Pack from the Twilight Saga: New Moon. It gives the werewolves a bad name and makes them look like some deformed mutation of a rabid dog. I actually started to like werewolves after seeing Jacob Black and all his awesomeness on the big screen at the movies. That was until I saw your crappy remake of what you call to be a “were wolf”. I don’t see how you live with yourself for making it the way you did. If I made this movie, I would be ashamed to even admit that I owned it. How can a werewolf be killed with a silver bullet?

Reading this rant,  I rolled my eyes, but it occurred to me that for many younger audiences, The Twilight series might be their first and only exposure to such staples of fantasy as vampires and werewolves (and I include horror in the sci-fi and fantasy realm). While many will argue fans of Twilight are actually fans of romance more than fantasy, the argument can be made that if it is a starting point for some, they may seek other, more ambitious work. But only if we keep such work alive, grounded in the past as well as the present and future.

Some will disagree, celebrating the new with  delight bordering on fetish, arguing it is the only way to reach out to young readers. They may claim the world is better for not being forced to read the work of a handful of “Old White Men.” While I agree it is important for fiction to be inclusive, it’s also important to understand its roots and influences. And while the history of those who created science fiction and fantasy isn’t always an demonstration of multiculturalism, the visions of these men and women helped frame social commentary and stimulate discussion on all manner of social issue.

I worry who will read the work of Robert E. Howard, Joseph Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Donald A. Wollheim, Usula K. LeGuin, Anne Maccaffrey, Arthur C. Clark, Gene Wolf, and JRR Tolkein, Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, Leigh Brackett and their ilk some twenty years forward. The only way to influence the future of literature is to continue to promote the work of the past which we feels best represents that which made science fiction and fantasy such an important part of our culture and identity.

So spread the word, perhaps put a button on your blog or tweet that December is Science Fiction and Fantasy History Month.

Calling Perry Rhodan by Stewart Sternberg

Rhodan was the name of a character in a best-selling science fiction series. Actually,  the most successful science fiction series ever written. The franchise sold over one billion copies. Compare that to the five hundred  million copies of the Harry Potter series and one hundred million for Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight series. Rhodan’s figures are even more fascinating when one considers that the series wasn’t pumped up by a worldwide multimedia campaign bolstered by the release of blockbuster motion pictures or television series [actually there was a film, Mission Stardust, but it was considered so appalling that most fans of the books distanced themselves from it.]

The series was created in 1961  by K.H. Scheer and Clark Darlton, with new installments of the series coming out weekly. Numerous writers lent their talents to the brand, with over 2500 volumes being released during its run.  Originally published in Germany, in the United States, Ace paperbacks would pump out one hundred and eighteen of the brand’s titles. While out of print in America, there are always rumors of a television series re-sparking interest, at least in its native land, according to this Rhodan fan site.

Perhaps the allure of the Rhodan series was the hope it offered. In 1961, when a Cold War between superpowers could easily have melted into a very hot one, possibly involving the deployment of  nuclear weapons, the storyline offered a future history where global conflicts were resolved and mankind found a place in a galaxy populated with other life-forms, full of potential for adventure. While the immortal Rhodan wasn’t exactly James T. Kirk, the character, was an easy to follow hero. He was an astronaut (who possessed specialties in Nuclear Physics and Celestial Mechanics, with a sub-specialty in Atomic Jet Engineering). Courageous, observant, grounded in logic and reason, but at the same time in compassionate and in possession of a dry sense of humor, he was the best of who we were as globally united people.

In 2011,  it would not be surprising to see  a relaunch of Perry Rhodan. If not in print, then at least as a television series of the same caliber as Battlestar Galactica. The time is ripe for the return of the hero. A smart producer and director could mine popular culture’s psyche, finding a need for empowerment of the individual in a world where power is lost in a maze of technology and overwhelmingly complex geopolitics. Such a hero could be Perry Rhodan.