Re-reading Jean Lorrah’s “Night of the Twin Moons” (Part Two of Two)

(Read Part One if you have not)

Penthesilea, the world on which Night of the Twin Moons is set, is a female-led culture. The name of the planet suggests that, if you know your mythology. Penthesilea was a queen of the Amazons, sister to the more-familiar Hippolyte, whom she had killed in a hunting accident, making her queen. In Greek myth, the Amazons were not, like Wonder Woman’s Amazons, women who lived without men on an island. They were warrior women who dominated their timid husbands, lopped off one of their breasts to make them better archers, and lived in the city-state of Themiscyra. 

Lorrah’s Penthesileans are likewise women who dominate their men, with the added wrinkle that there is a tremendous IQ differential between the women and the men, with few of the men being of even average intelligence, compared to humans, while the women’s intellects are comparable to those of earth people, or even Vulcans. The women therefore use men for breeding, swap men, retire (and castrate) men when they become too old to be attractive. It is heresy on Penthesilea to even suggest that a man could be as intelligent as a woman. Men are, essentially, livestock. Indeed, “one man” is a unit of currency. But Penthesileans are not Amazons, for the very simple reason that they are not warriors. War has never occurred on their world, because there is literally no competition between the sexes, and the choosing of a mate is so well regulated that there is no jealousy. 

Into this unusual paradise comes the Starship Enterprise, on a diplomatic mission to negotiate rights for the planet’s dilithium resources. Two big challenges are evident: One, the ambassador has to be female, since Penthesileans don’t believe men can think: two, the Penthesileans expect, if trade is to be opened with the Federation, to be paid in men. 

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The Colonel’s Plan – Working Outside

February 21st, 2018

Dear Daddy —

Trees. Not spectacular, but we have a lot of them.

This morning I walked the back property. This house sits on 13 acres of mostly wooded land. When you bought the land, it was just a field with maybe a dozen trees. The Simpson family had used it for farming, and it had presumably been kept clear for decades. Since then, trees have grown up everywhere. I was reading up on tree growth after my walk. In 40 – 45 years, 192 trees in excess of 85 feet can be found per acre of wooded land. I wonder how many we have? None of them look that tall. 

A few years before you died, I arranged to have the trees harvested on your land in North Carolina. That’s a forest that’s been a forest a long time—probably your whole life. Our land there used to house a sawmill. The logging trails are still there. We were paid about $2200 per acre for the harvested wood. This lot may not be worth harvesting, to a lumber company, but I think I’ll find out. The money is less of a goal than having a more manageable woods back there. As it is, we have an okay walking trail all around the perimeter, but I’d love to be able to have a nature trail, and perhaps have the clearance sufficient to allow horseback riding. Right now, a walker has to dodge a few vines and low-hanging branches. 

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Enterprise Lost – Chapter Ten

Captain’s Log, Stardate: 8150.1 

Commander Uhura is effecting repairs on our sabotaged comm system with all the speed her department can muster. 

I am still puzzled by the behavior of Admiral Morrow during my last transmission, and thus I have not advised Starfleet of our situation with Lieutenants Saavik and Metcalfe. If our comm system is not repaired in time for me to reach Excelsior and head off my two missing officers, I may find myself with no other choice than to disobey the Admiral’s order that I avoid the Time Planet. Should this become necessary, I take full responsibility for the actions of this ship and its crew and for the consequences thereof. 

“Is it ready?” Kirk asked as Uhura approached his chair. 

She nodded. “Assuming there aren’t any more surprises waiting for us inside the system somewhere.” 

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Re-reading Jean Lorrah’s “Night of the Twin Moons” (Part One of Two)

Time was Star Trek books were very different from what fans have known for the past 37 years. The novels were not carefully reviewed by Paramount licensing for accuracy and continuity. They were not written by people who were Star Trek fans and knew every episode by heart. They were science fiction novels by professional science fiction authors who had no previous tie to the series, and the stories they produced bore little resemblance to the TV show whose title graced the books’ covers. 

In April, 1976, when Jean Lorrah first published Night of the Twin Moons, there had been only a single original Star Trek novel published. It was Spock Must Die! By James Blish, the veteran SF author who had thus far novelized 71 episodes of the original series, making Trek the first TV series in history to have (almost) all of its episodes turned into prose stories. (Blish never novelized the Kirk-era parts of “The Menagerie,” although he did novelize the original pilot episode, “The Cage.”) 

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The Colonel’s Plan – The Avocado Dishwasher LIVES!

The dishwasher that waited 50 years to run. Note the disposal that was mounted to the sink all those years ago, only to die a stupid death.

February 14th, 2018

Dear Daddy —

It’s been two weeks since I’ve written. This past weekend, we held Farpoint, a science fiction convention that Renee and I founded 25 years ago. You attended it once, when it was held on your 74th birthday in 1996. Michael Ansara joined us for your birthday dinner, and was eager to meet you. As I recall, you spent most of the evening discussing either physics or politics with Yoji Kondo. 

Farpoint always dominates a lot of my time, even though I no longer own it, am no longer in charge of it, and this year declined to accept a job on its committee. People still expect me to be a part of it, and people come to me with their problems to be solved. I’ve learned to accept that, but to try and help on my terms. I feel myself slowing down, after nearly forty years of working at a whirlwind pace. With all that’s left to do in front of me, I have no desire to burn out. I want to be here for my children and be here to see my grandchildren.

Speaking of grandchildren, the ones I gave you are amazing. Ethan is working two jobs and running his website, with a new blog (in your day it was called a “column”) being published every day. He was in charge of hospitality this past weekend, and even some of our hardest-to-please attendees complimented him. He’s hard-working, literate, and, above all, kind. Christian made the Dean’s List at Towson his first semester, also on top of a job, and is carrying 19 credits this Spring. He’s also rehearsing Othello 20 hours a week. He’s determined to complete his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting, somehow also get a degree in Astrophysics, and minor in Deaf Studies. I joke that he’ll be the deaf community’s Neil Degrasse Tyson.

Last night I completed a significant task in the house—at long last, Mother has a working dishwasher and a working garbage disposal!

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Enterprise Lost – Chapter Nine

This was the only chapter without an illo. Hmmm….

This time, it was snowing. 

The surface around the Guardian was covered completely by a white blanket of snow. The Guardian, as ever, stood untouched and isolated in the center of the landscape. Saavik shivered at the sight of snow again after so many years. 

Terry must have noticed her, for he looked over and grinned. “Well, Mr. Saavik, if we’d remembered to bring skis, this wouldn’t be such a bad leave after all.” 

Before she had a chance to ask what “skis” were, Saavik saw movement in the corner of her eye. Several feet from the Guardian, a tent made of standard blue Starfleet-issue plastic had been erected. The door which held the temperature-regulated air in had drawn back, and Spock emerged. Apparently, he had brought the portable shelter with him from Vulcan—the other Vulcan. 

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Two Panels in Doomsday Clock

These two images are from the latest issue of DC Comics’s Doomsday Clock. They especially resonated with me for a couple of reasons. In the first, three bullies have accosted a young girl, the daughter of an immigrant puppeteer in New York City (or is it Gotham City?). The girl, Erika, is walking with one of her father’s marionettes when the bullies approach and confiscate her toy. 

The lead bully insults Erika’s father and asks what kind of grown man plays with toys. In the second panel, the same bully concludes that the puppeteer must be a child molester. This is common thinking amongst the ill-bred and under-educated: if someone is different in some way—any way—they probably molest little kids. 

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The Colonel’s Plan – Next Steps

I’m off schedule this week–too much going on. I had planned to have this entry posted Monday, and to be doing my FIAWOL piece tonight. But the FIAWOL piece isn’t edited yet. It can go up tomorrow. Hope to get back on track next week. 

January 30, 2018

Dear Daddy –

Well, overall the meeting with the attorney went very well. Turns out he was from Cape Henlopen, Delaware. He commented on Mother’s Henlopen Lighthouse bag, in which she’d placed all the property deeds and our written plan for the split. She hadn’t wanted to take it—she thought it looked unprofessional. Turns out it established a little bit of a bond. 

When we initially told Mr. King that Mother wanted to give away all of her real estate, he said he advised against it. For one thing, the capital gains taxes, if we ever sold any of the properties, would be outlandish. Of course, we never do intend to sell, but it was something to think about. He also said that, if Mother went into a nursing home any time in the next five years and ran out of money, the State would demand that we surrender the deeds to pay for her care.

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Enterprise Lost – Chapter Eight

Still angry and dismayed over the mutinous behavior of his two officers and the on-going mystery of the ship’s malfunctioning computer, Jim Kirk came out of the turbo lift, pushing at the edge of the door with his left hand in an impatient gesture. 

He approached Uhura’s station. “Have you raised the Excelsior, Commander?” 

“No sir,” Uhura said apologetically, “I’m afraid I haven’t.” 

That wasn’t the answer he had expected. “What?” 

“I’ve tried, but there’s no response.” She shook her head, aggravated. “I don’t understand it.” 

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David and Saavik – Shooting Stars – Part 2 of 2

Seeing “Wrath of Khan” again, and remembering the feelings it kindled in me, made me realize what a comedown I was in store for as a fan. These young characters whom I cheered in this film would not survive the next one. My old friends would not be allowed to grow as real people do. I could not help reflecting how sad it was for Sulu, Uhura, Chekov, Saavik and David that we would never see adventures in which they were the heroes. (I’m talking about in the course of televised and movie Trek, here. I’m aware that they all have had their moments in licensed fiction. I wrote some of those moments!) 

What I wanted, what I expected, in 1982 was to see Star Trek both live and grow. To see Kirk continue to age, and teach me how to age, while finding purpose in his life. To see Saavik and David become mature adults. To see Sulu, Chekov and Uhura promoted, instead of stuck in jobs fit for junior officers. I wanted to see more. 

Star Trek – The Next Generation was not that. It was set 78 years later so that its creators could rule out the need to have to address what happened to the original characters. It was something called “Star Trek,” but it was not a continuation of the original crew’s adventures. It was a reboot, and it was a reboot so hog-tied by what came before that, despite its amazing popularity, it never knew what the hell it really was as a show.  Continue reading