Enterprise Lost – Chapter One

Jim Kirk tossed his report board and pen down on the desk and sat back, picking up the Saurian brandy he had poured earlier. No, that report wouldn’t be written tonight. He was too tired. Taking a long drink, he pondered for a moment over the number of reports he had filled out and submitted to Starfleet Command in all his years. He couldn’t count that high.

Somewhere, in a case of software buried deep in the bowels of Starfleet headquarters, were the complete files of the USS Enterprise—no doubt untouched since the day they had been submitted. And Enterprisewas just one of hundreds of other ships, each of which took a week out every few months and had its poor, downtrodden senior officers fill out a set of reports on efficiency or the lack thereof. God, that storage room must have been a crowded place! He wondered if anyone at Fleet command could honestly explain to him the difference between that room and the station’s waste disposal tanks.

Probably not.

But he hadn’t been complaining, not one bit. This was the first time in ten years that he had filled out one of those mundane things which were the bane of every ship commander’s existence, and he had enjoyed every minute of it. The Enterprise was coming to the end of its first thirty-day mission with Kirk in command, and naturally the bureaucrats at HQ wanted reports filed. After all, the ship was up for a new commander now.

Wouldn’t they be surprised?

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Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations includes Republicans

“If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s intolerance.”

Back during the glory days of the Moral Majority—the one led by Jerry Falwell, not the current crop of holier-than-thou leftists—my friends and I used to make that joke a lot. I guess it was our way of reminding ourselves that, liberal though we were at the time, there was such a thing as reverse intolerance.

It’s a powerful sentiment, and one that I think would benefit a lot of people in today’s world to think about—science fiction fans especially.

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The Colonel’s Plan – Thanksgiving

November 27, 2017

Dear Daddy—

I’ve allowed another long break in writing to happen. It’s been a very busy time, and, of course, it’s been Thanksgiving—our first Thanksgiving without you. Mother’s first Thanksgiving without you in 66 years. It went well. There were irritations. There were arguments. I think that’s the definition of a family holiday gathering.

We ordered a turkey from Maple Lawn Farms. As long as we’ve lived in Clarksville, just around the corner from them, we’ve never done that. I think I was three or four the time, just before Thanksgiving, that Mother drove by and I saw all those turkeys on the lawn and asked, “Are we getting one of those turkeys?”

For some reason, we never did. But this year we did, and my whole family spent the night before in your house. Renee brined the turkey the night before, and got up at four in the morning to start cooking it, so that dinner could be ready by noon. Susan had to work the afternoon shift.

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Enterprise Lost – Prologue

Welcome to Fan Fiction Fridays! Think I have enough “themed” blog entries yet? I’ve decided to start sharing fan fiction produced by myself, my family and my friends herein, because, well, we put a lot of work into it. It’s the reason we got involved in crazy ventures like Farpoint and Firebringer Press. And I think it deserves to be remembered. I’ve shared some of my fic already. You can access it from the Fan Fic menu item above. But there are some big chunks missing.

In 1982, I wrote a Star Trek fan fic titled “A Noble Mind is Here Oer’Thrown.” Terrible title, right? I got news for you. Most of my titles suck. Not news. By 1984, it became its own fanzine novella, Enterprise Regained. You can read that here.

People liked “Regained” so much (and when I say “people,” I mean probably two or three) that they told me to write a sequel. “But,” I said, “‘Regained’ was a continuation of ST II, and ST III invalidated it. How can I write a sequel?” “Make it reconcile the two,” they said.

And Enterprise Lost was born. It has never seen the light of digital day, to my knowledge. So here it is, the prologue, anyway. I’ll post a chapter a week. My thoughts on this segment follow it.

Oh, and I did the artwork, too. I beg your forgiveness.  Continue reading

Do We Need Gatekeepers? Or, Robert Heinlein disappointed me (once).

I don’t like gatekeepers. By definition, a gatekeeper is someone who stands at a point of entry or exit and intercepts anyone trying to use that entrance or exit. In some cases, they just slow down traffic, in others, they tell people that they’re not allowed through the door.

I don’t like TSA, even though we’re guilted into believing we should. I don’t like receipt checkers at stores, who expect you to queue up in a line, afteryou’ve paid for your purchases, but before you’re allowed to leave the store. I don’t like locks on doors. They’re a nuisance. I don’t like big, burly men (or women) with lists at the doors of parties.

“Nobody likesthese things,” you might deflect, “but we have to have them! Without locks on doors, and people at the door, people would trespass, people would steal, people would take up illegal residence in other peoples’ homes and offices.”

I disagree with pretty much everything in that statement.

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The Colonel’s Plan – Losing it

November 15, 2017

Dear Daddy—

I suppose it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect to undertake a task as big as this one and never lose my temper; never come to the point where I think maybe I should just walk away; never feel despair.

Of course it’s not reasonable. I’m a human being, and I have feelings. More, I’m a strong human being, and you always told me strong people have strong feelings. Over the course of the past week, those strong feelings have gotten the best of me. I won’t go into detail. What upset me is my problem, not yours, and I have to solve it. And it involves others who don’t deserve to have half of the story told in public (since I’m sharing these letters publicly) without the chance to tell their side of it.

It’s enough to say that things started to get to me, and I came to the point of asking myself, “Do I really care that much about this project? About this house? Am I really willing to commit the rest of my life to maintaining a house that I could not afford to buy on my own?” Because, let’s be honest, I never could. I consider myself professionally successful, but my household income would buy maybe a third of this house you left behind. There are those who would say that it’s a white elephant, and that I’m throwing good money after bad trying to hang onto it. To say nothing of the fact that Mother may need the money that’s tied up in it, someday, so it’s still anybody’s guess whether it can stay in the family at all.

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Netflix’s Lost in Space – Finding Forgiveness

This past Friday, Renee, Ethan, Jessica and I made a date to watch the first two episodes of Netflix’s new Lost in Spaceseries. I was guardedly excited. I love Lost in Space, the original, classic, 1965 – 1968 series, campy, silly, scientifically inaccurate as it is. The show had heart, especially early on, before it became a Vaudeville showcase for the talents of Jonathan Harris, Bob May in the Robot suit, and Dick Tufeld providing the Robot’s voice. It was about a pioneer family who stuck together, looked out for each other, believed in morality and the Golden Rule. Its overarching message, delineated in the first season’s finale, was “Love. In all the universe, there is nothing stronger.”

In 1998, a disappointing attempt to revisit the adventures of the Space Family Robinson was brought to the big screen. Five of the original cast returned, with only Dick Tufeld taking on his original role voicing the Robot. It was neither a box office nor a critical success, and hoped-for sequels (hoped-for by the producers and pretty much no one else) never materialized.

In 2004, the CW commissioned a pilot, The Robinsons – Lost in Space, which was not picked up as a series, but was an enjoyable hour of television. Disappointment again, this time because the attempted reboot never got a chance to prove itself.

Last Friday, disappointment was blown out of the water. For me, anyway. I was so moved by the opening episode of this new series that I was literally in tears by the climax. These were not my childhood friends as I had known them, but this series had heart. This family stuck together, loved each other, and believed in morality, allowing them to overcome character flaws and weaknesses that 1960s television never dared expose in series regulars.

When the credits rolled, apart from annoyance at Netflix’s asinine habit of interrupting the end credits (and a new version of John Williams’s classic 3rdSeason theme!) to start the next episode immediately, all I felt was forgiveness.

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The Colonel’s Plan – Putting Things Off

November 8, 2017

Dear Daddy—

After some cleanup, this was still between us and my Grandmother Clara’s piano in the music room.

I’m in bed, sick. I don’t get sick very often, but I got this stomach thing four days ago, Saturday. I get very hungry, and, if I don’t eat, I feel like I’m going to throw up. Then, if I do eat, the food never seems to settle well. I haven’t actually vomited, but it’s not pleasant. Saturday was a shame, because it was Yoji’s memorial. Beatrice and Ursula had arranged a wonderful meal for everyone. I ate, but it’s hard to enjoy eating when your stomach is screaming at you.

I keep thinking I’m getting better, but today at work I got hit with a headache on top of the nausea. I had my flu shot, but I feel like I’ve got a touch of something. Mother and Susan have been complaining too, and none of us have eaten the same things. Something may be going around.

Today was my first day that wasn’t all-day meetings, the first in a long time. I was done by about 11:30, and then this illness just hit me like a baseball bat upside the head. Isn’t that perverse? That my body apparently waited until I had a clear schedule to allow me to be sick? That 11:30 meeting, by the way, was scheduled for two hours, but over in 15 minutes. I was reviewing my FY18 operating budget with our administrative team, and they were amazed at how well-prepared I was. I don’t know if you would be proud of me, or ashamed, because my being “well-prepared” consisted of my being reminded that the meeting was coming, realizing I had done nothing to prepare for it, and then making a  last-minute push.

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Action Comics 1000 – Changing the Wallpaper

I’ve begun a series of essays that, for lack of a better term, I’m going to categorize as “FIAWOL.” Fandom is and has been a way of life for me, like it or not, for a long time. Consequently, I’ve derived a lot of life lessons from fandom, and from the things that bind us together. So I’ve decided to start sharing them. These will not be “reviews” in the true sense. They’ll be observations which ties to things I’ve read, watched, heard or experienced in fandom. Like all my writing, they’ll be personal to me. I plan to share them, of course, on the holiest day of the week: Wednesday, when the new comics come out. Hope you find them at least thought-provoking. 

Action Comics is, if I’m not mistaken, the first comic book ever to reach 1,000 issues. It is not the oldest comic book. It’s not even the oldest comic book from its publisher, DC Comics. That honor goes to Adventure Comics,which, sadly, was canceled just after its 500thissue back in the 1980s. Action’s millennium celebration is, like its first issue back in 1938, an anthology of stories. Like its first issue, it is headlined by Superman. Unlike its first issue, it features only Superman stories.

One of these stories, much-lauded by DC, is by Brian Michael Bendis, who is taking over the reins of Superman for the foreseeable future. Bendis doesn’t tell comic stories like anyone else, and this is our first taste of what is to come.

But it’s not a story.

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The Colonel’s Plan – One Clean Table

November 6, 2017

Dear Daddy —

Charles and Dawson are in North Carolina today, staying at the Chocolate House, our vacation home in the mountains that you built over 60 years ago. Like your house here, it’s unfinished, but less so. It’s smaller, so there was less to finish. Dawson sent pictures of your military marker. Your headstone is not yet in place because, ironically, the supplier for the stone itself was killed this past week.

Thanksgiving is coming up, and we’re making plans. Mother wants a Christmas tree in the music room. We’ve never had a tree there before. We’ve never had much of anything in there before, except junk. Although I do dimly remember, when I was in high school, that the piano in the corner was open and available to play, if badly out of tune even then.

So back to Thanksgiving, 2014, when I began cleanup operations. I started in the dining room. I believe, before the holiday itself, I only cleared a walkway around the table. You had so much loose paper piled up, and loose video tapes stacked everywhere. And beneath the loose stuff was box after box of more stuff. As I recall, I carried 12 boxes just of papers to the West hallway upstairs. (One of the boys recently pointed out to me that it’s actually the northwest hallway, as the house intersects parallel on about a 30-degree angle. But “Northwest Hallway” sounds a bit silly to me. It’s the hallway on the side where the sun sets.

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