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Interesting News - Interesting Editorials - Tributes

Black monolith appears in Seattle park. It's no joke - a large black monolith appeared on New Years' Eve in a park in Seattle. Made of steel, standing nine feet tall, five feet wide and one foot deep (the same proportions as the mysterious monolith in 2001: a space odyssey), the monolith hasn't begun testing humanity, but it has drawn quite a few perplexed onlookers - and, no doubt, amusement from those "in the know." And at least one visitor fessed up to the Associated Press that he walked up to touch the monolith, just out of curiosity. And within 48 hours, the monolith was gone. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the slab of steel. (Originally appeared January 8, 2001)

Fox Broadcasting: owners of the alphabet? A popular web site created by the University of Wisconsin-Madison has come under fire from an unexpected source - but it's not a fan site residing on the campus web servers. is a site which routinely posts scientific explanations of timely news events - and for the past year, Fox attorneys have been badgering UW-Madison administrators to take the site down, claiming that it "confuses consumers and infringes on its trademark television show, The X-Files." The catch? UW-Madison has registered the "WhyFiles" name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, just as Fox has with The X-Files. Fox has reportedly offered to settle if the university will surrender that trademark to the network, which would then be willing to license the name back to them. The editor/coordinator of WhyFiles is quoted as saying, "I'm not sure if Fox is trying to get a legal hammerlock on the alphabet or what their motives are, but that's what it seems." UW-Madison's final offer was to steer WhyFiles clear of any science fiction or supernatural-related content, an offer which Fox has rejected in favor of opening a legal battle. receives thousands of hits each month, is used by teachers at many grade levels across the country, and does not feature advertising banners or merchandise - which are often the sticking points with studios or networks bringing legal pressure to bear on web entities. We'll be watching this closely - if Rupert Murdoch, rich as he is, does succeed in buying the entire alphabet, we can all expect to revert to good old fashioned numerical IP addresses. (Originally appeared January 29, 2001)

Ding dong, Dreamcast is dead. As reported last week as a rumor, Sega is stopping production of the Dreamcast video game system, and is developing a limited number of in-house software titles for the machine. But all new hardware development has been frozen, and Sega will offer tech support for the next six years - and after that, the company will become a software developer for machines manufactured by rivals Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft. In the meantime, however, the Dreamcast will become a good deal for some gamers, as Sega is dropping the machine's recommended retail price below the hundred-dollar mark as of February 4th. The SegaNet online gaming service will be supported indefinitely. In the meantime, Sega already has the third-party software routine down to a science: Virtua Fighter 4, Space Channel 5, Sakura Wars and Let's Make A Sports Team will be available this year for the Playstation 2, while Nintendo's new Game Boy Advance system will be graced with portable versions of Sonic The Hedgehog, ChuChu Rocket! and Puyo Puyo. Sega is also planning to develop titles for palm computers and even Motorola cell phones. Further Dreamcast titles are expected this year include Sonic Adventure 2, Crazy Taxi 2 and - do I sense a trend developing here? - Shenmue 2. Sega will, of course, continue their arcade operations (and will likely reap a nice profit from bringing their arcade titles to all of these home video game systems). (Originally appeared February 5, 2001)

No escape for space station occupants? Not quite, but budget cutbacks have forced NASA planners to nix a study to create a new escape vehicle to be permanently parked at the new international space station. Presently, the use of Russia's reliable Soyuz capsule as an escape craft limits the station's population to three astronauts at a time. The same cutbacks, said to have been forced on NASA by the Bush administration, have halted development on a program to develop the next generation of reusable spacecraft, a new vehicle which would have replaced the aging fleet of U.S. space shuttles. Designs and engineering tests for that new vehicle have proven problematic. (Originally appeared March 5, 2001)

CNN hires telepath - mundanes revolt! Well, not quite. But fans of Andrea Thompson (who played telepath Talia Winters in the first two seasons of Babylon 5 and is the ex-wife of Jerry "Garibaldi" Doyle) will soon be seeing more of the ex-NYPD Blue star - on the evening news. Thompson has been hired by CNN Headline News as an anchor, and this alone has sparked much heated debate among TV news insiders. To make matters worse, CNN has found itself having to defend its new employee from those inquiring about a number of nude photos and questionable movie appearances which have just hit the internet, most of which date back almost 20 years. (Some accounts attribute the sudden resurfacing of this material to disgruntled employees within CNN, which has been laying off some of its higher-paid employees both in front of and behind the cameras in recent months.) Prior to her hiring by Headline News, Ms. Thompson worked for one year at KRQE in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For all the controversy surrounding her new CNN gig, she'll be working alongside a number of reporters and anchors who played key roles in the movie Contact, most of whom were chastised for their "guest appearances" at the expense of journalistic integrity. (Originally appeared May 7, 2001)

Pioneer 10 still on line almost three decades after launch. On Saturday, April 28th, scientists at NASA's Ames Research Center were successful in coaxing a data transmission from the Pioneer 10 space probe, which is now over seven billion miles away from Earth. The probe is still functioning and returning telemetry, even though that data takes nearly 22 hours to reach Earth. The only experiment still powered up aboard Pioneer 10 is a cosmic ray and radiation detector, and according to principal investigator Dr. James Van Allen (who discovered Earth's own Van Allen radiation belts), the data from that instrument indicates that the probe has yet to cross the sun's solar wind boundaries. Pioneer 10 was launched March 2, 1972, and became the first spacecraft to visit and photograph Jupiter in 1973. Its identical twin, Pioneer 11, visited Jupiter and 1974 and became the first spacecraft to visit Saturn in 1979. Contact with Pioneer 11 has been lost, but NASA is continuing to track Pioneer 10. Both Pioneer probes were also the first to carry plaques giving clues about the nature and location of the species who created them - plaques which could, conceivably, outlast the Earth itself. (Originally appeared May 7, 2001)

Oh boy. Ziggy, can you fix this? I'm the captain now! Paramount has officially announced Enterprise, the fourth Star Trek spinoff, will be premiering this fall on UPN in an 8:00pm ET Wednesday time slot. Starring as Captain Jonathan Archer will be genre veteran Scott Bakula, who is of course best known for his stint on NBC's SF favorite, Quantum Leap. Some sources also say that Bakula is being given significant creative input into the development of his character (not surprising, considering that he has produced some of his recent TV vehicles as well as starring in them). Other members of the Enterprise cast include Linda Park, Anthony Montgomery, John Billingsley (who has guest starred in X-Files, West Wing, the short-lived FreakyLinks, and recently appeared in Crocodile Dundee In Los Angeles), Dominic Keating (a guest player on such series as Buffy, G vs. E, Poltergeist: The Legacy and The Immortal), Jolene Blalock and Connor Trinneer (another FreakyLinks survivor). Nothing has been announced about which characters the new cast members will be playing, but more information will be forthcoming soon. (Originally appeared May 14, 2001)

Fans protest Sisko's omission in Enterprise teaser. Those of you who caught the series finale probably saw UPN's first promo for the upcoming Star Trek prequel Enterprise, and you may have noticed that the voice-over places the new show "before Janeway and Picard, before Kirk and Spock" - but what about the captain of that other Star Trek series? Fans mounted a campaign to protest to omission of Captain Sisko of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the franchise's only African-American lead character thus far, and it seems that Paramount is listening. A spokesperson for UPN confirms that the Enterprise promo is being revised to add that the new series takes place before Sisko as well - and that same spokesperson also says that the omission of the character wasn't intended as a slight toward the series (considered by many to be both the most neglected series and the high point of the Trek franchise) or to its star, Avery Brooks. (Originally appeared June 4, 2001)

Nunan departing UPN. UPN's executive vice president of entertainment, Tom Nunan, is leaving the network. Nunan has overseen such UPN series as Star Trek: Voyager, and has greenlighted more recent shows like Seven Days, Mercy Point and Level 9. The network has yet to announce a replacement for that position. (Originally appeared June 18, 2001)

Godzilla vs. your stomach. A toy company in Tokyo has unleashed Godzilla in grocery stores! Their new product, Godzilla Meat, is actually canned corned beef with labels bearing pictures of the king of the monsters. The somewhat pricey canned meat goes on sale in October, and according to the Associated Press, a company spokesperson claims that consumers will become powerful by eating Godzilla Meat - "like Popeye and his can of spinach." Uh...right. For more musings on the nature of Godzilla - whether edible or otherwise - see Robert Parson's fine analysis in the Article Archive. (Oh, one more thing - sorry, Godzilla doesn't look like anyone's trying to bring Godzilla Meat to store shelves outside of Japan.) (Originally appeared June 18, 2001) mentioned in Playstation Magazine. A little late-breaking news here (but is it also live and local?) - I've just gotten word that the August issue of U.S. Playstation Magazine includes a mention of If you're checking the site out for the first time after seeing us in the pages of Playstation Magazine, welcome - and we hope you'll stick around! (Originally appeared July 2, 2001)

Open door closed at Paramount. Perhaps it's because Rick Berman and Brannon Braga want more control over Enterprise, or perhaps it's due to concessions made in the recent Writers' Guild contract negotiations, but it appears that the long-standing open script submission policy at the Star Trek production offices has come to an end. This policy, through which writers without an agent (and, in some cases, without talent) could submit scripts directly to the Star Trek writing stuff, has been in place since 1987, and also brought on board some of the show's best talent, including former Next Generation/Deep Space Nine scribe Ronald D. Moore and Sarah Higley, writer of the Hollow Pursuits installment of Next Generation (and creator of Reg Barclay).'s webmaster, in fact, once availed himself of Paramount's open script policy during the Next Generation era - and was rejected fairly quickly (though not without reason, looking back at the script!). There is no word on whether or not Paramount's long-standing "open door policy" on Star Trek script submissions will be opening again anytime soon, if at all. (Originally appeared July 30, 2001)

Harrass your female employees? Sued you will be! It hit many news publications last week that Star Wars creator George Lucas has filed a lawsuit against a medical equipment manufacturer for naming their new laser surgery tool the "light saber." But there's another vaguely-Star Wars-related lawsuit you probably haven't heard about. An employee of a Hooters restaurant in Panama City, Florida is suing her employer over a prank which she says led her to believe that she had won a new car. According to the lawsuit, the manager announced a contest in which one of the employees would win a Toyota, but when the employee in question was blindfolded and led outside to the parking lot to pick up her prize, she was handed a Star Wars action figure - a toy Yoda. The employee is suing for damages and attorneys' fees. (Originally appeared July 30, 2001)

Knight Rider: The Next Generation? No, no, you must put out of your head all memories of the godawful Team Knight Rider syndicated action series which bowed in 1997. No, this could, in fact, be far worse. David Hasselhoff has apparently inked a deal to turn Knight Rider into a big-budget movies - and according to a published interview, he's already having delusions of turning it into a Matrix-style action thriller, complete with Edward Mulhare brought back as "a hologram." More news as this frightening story develops... (Originally appeared August 6, 2001)

Episode II title announced. It's official! Love it or hate it, Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones is coming to theaters next May - and word has it that we'll probably see the first trailers for Attack Of The Clones attached to this fall's eagerly awaited Harry Potter film. (Originally appeared August 13, 2001)

Majel abandons ship. Citing too many cooks in the kitchen, Majel Barrett Roddenberry is bailing out of Earth: Final Conflict and Andromeda, two weekly syndicated shows spawned by unfinished scripts and outlines written by her late husband, Gene Roddenberry. Barrett feels that star/producer Kevin Sorbo is in the driver's seat with Andromeda, a show she says is right on track, but she joins many fans in voicing disapproval with the newfangled direction of Earth's upcoming fifth season (which seems to be dispensing with a majority of series continuity and the show's mapped-out story arc), along with the fact that every guest appearance she made on the show meant a trip to Canada. Her recurring character on Earth, Dr. Belman, will not be reappearing (though it's unknown how this will be addressed in the show's storyline). Majel also confirms that while she thinks the upcoming Star Trek spinoff Enterprise has promise, it will be the first Trek series not to feature her as the voice of the ship's computer. (Originally appeared August 20, 2001)

Luke's back - and boy, is he pissed. Director Kevin Smith - an admitted longtime Star Wars fan with a habit of working references to George Lucas' universe into his films such as Clerks and Chasing Amy - scored a real coup by getting Mark Hamill to turn in a lightsaber-swinging cameo in his new film, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. There's just one problem, though - Hamill didn't think his cameo would even be credited, let alone be used to promote the movie. (This could be because Jay and Silent Bob hasn't exactly been greeted favorably in pre-release movie reviews and the studio is looking for any way to get moviegoers to buy tickets to see it.) No word on whether or not the Lucasfilm camp has any comment on the matter. (Originally appeared August 27, 2001)

Club Mir? MirCorp, the Netherlands-based company that bought Mir from the ashes of the Russian space program with the hopes of turning it into a top-priced tourist trap (only to see it go down in flames when the Russians decided to ditch Mir into the Earth's atmosphere), hasn't given up yet. They're working on a new project, tentatively titled Mini Station One, which they expect to cost no more than $100,000,000 (or roughly the cost of Hollywood's next blockbuster) and hope to have in orbit for tourist visits by 2004. The Russian space agency, however, is denying reports that MirCorp has contracted them to build the highest-priced resort in (or off of) the world. (Originally appeared September 10, 2001)

Sorry, Shatner! Looks like William Shatner's advanced scientific hypothesis about God (seen at right, as depicted in Shatner's thankfully singular stint as a Star Trek filmmaker) living in the center of the galaxy has been nixed by new data from the Chandra X-ray telescope, currently orbiting Earth and peering into the heart of the Milky Way. What Chandra has found there, however, is some of the best proof yet for the existence of black holes - namely, according to astronomers, very strong evidence that there's a great big one sitting in the core of our home galaxy. While the light-eating phenomenon, which has been speculated to be at the center of every galaxy, can't actually be photographed, Chandra is taking observations of something very massive and very dense at the heart of the Milky Way - and Mr. Shatner's whereabouts are accounted for, so the black hole theory is gaining ever more weight (not unlike the aforementioned Mr. Shatner). (Originally appeared September 10, 2001)

SF series win Emmy Awards. Though Buffy fans are still smarting about their favorite show's unusual total lack of any Emmy nominations, other shows' personnel have reason to celebrate. Following is a list of some genre shows which won in their technical categories:

  • Best Music Composition For A Series (Dramatic Underscore): Star Trek: Voyager - Endgame (Jay Chattaway).
  • Best Cinematography For A Miniseries Or Movie: Frank Herbert's Dune, part II (Vittorio Storaro).
  • Best Art Direction For A Variety Or Music Program: Peter Pan starring Cathy Rigby (while this may seem out of place, the award went to the show's production designer, Babylon 5 veteran John Iacovelli).
  • Best Special Visual Effects For A Series: Star Trek: Voyager - Endgame (Dan Curry, Mitch Suskin, Ronald B. Moore, Art Codron, Steve Fong, Eric Chauvin, Robert Bonchune, John Teska, Greg Rainoff).
  • Best Special Visual Effects For A Miniseries, Movie Or Special: Frank Herbert's Dune, part 1 (Ernest Farino, Tim McHugh, Laurel Klick, Frank H. Isaacs, Elaine Essex Thompson, James Healy, Gregory Nicotero, Anthony Alderson, Chris Zapara).

Congratulations to the above winners - and best of luck to everyone working in the genre next year. Visual effects are nice, music is nice - wouldn't it be great if an SF series merits a Best Writing nomination in 2002? (Originally appeared September 17, 2001)

UPN president sues his own network for millions. The president of UPN since 1997, former Disney exec Dean Valentine, has sued UPN itself, claiming that the network has failed to make good on a multi-million dollar incentive package if ratings increased under his management - which, probably due more to WWF Smackdown! than anything else, one has to begrudgingly admit that they have. Valentine is trying to get $12.5 million from UPN, but sources have said that it's altogether more likely that Valentine will be shown the door before the end of his contract - which would've been later this year anyway - and things will likely get nastier and more litigious from there. (Originally appeared September 17, 2001)

Deep Space 1: mission successful! JPL's Deep Space 1 cometary flyby probe had a successful rendezvous with Comet Borrelly last weekend, taking valuable measurements from the comet's immediate vicinity (the only other such data collected was from an unmanned probe that flew by Halley's Comet in 1985) and snapping many a memorable photo that scientists will be gawking at for years to come. Borrelly was on its way away from the sun, and was 137,000,000 miles away from Earth at the time. Even more Go see the pictures! surprising than the scientific information captured in the encounter was that Deep Space 1 survived the flyby; scientists and engineers expected it to be destroyed by the comet's coma, a cloud of fast-moving dust and debris surrounding its nucleus. (Originally appeared October 1, 2001)

The First Church of Yoda? If you're ready to make that leap of faith and "reach out with your feelings," it looks as though you can do it officially in England. So many Star Wars fans listed "Jedi" as their religion on U.K. census forms that the Office of National Statistics has granted it its own category for processing purposes, though officials are quick to point out that they're not in the business of defining what is or isn't an actual religion - it just makes their paperwork easier. While "Jedi" joins such religious categories (for census purposes) as the C of E, Roman Catholicism, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhism, it's probably in the lower numbers along with druidism, Wicca and satanism. (Originally appeared October 15, 2001)

Yeah, but will The Rock star as Vincent? >From the you-gotta-be-shittin'-me department is the announcement this week that UPN is considering a new version of the much-loved cult classic fantasy series Beauty And The Beast. Daily Variety says that the original show's producers are attached to the prospective new series, but that the original cast - including Ron Perlman as Vincent and Linda Hamilton as Catherine - will most likely not be brought back, and this further blurs the line as to whether the new show will be a sequel to the original, or a complete re-telling of the story from the ground up. Before you get your hopes too high, please remember that this is only a show they are considering taking to the pilot stage - nothing has been gone before a camera yet, and indeed it may not happen at all. Somehow, it's just possible that the romantic millieu of the original series may not mesh with the plans of a network whose flagship franchise is wrestling... (Originally appeared November 26, 2001)

Final Hitchhiker's Guide book to be cut-and-pasted together posthumously? It appears as though we haven't heard the last of Douglas Adams, who died in May. May 2002 will see the release of A Salmon Of Doubt, which is being touted as the sixth and final book in the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy series (despite the fact that Adams killed off his characters in the fifth book, Mostly Harmless, and Salmon has been mentioned on and off for over a decade as a Dirk Gently book). There's no word on who will be editing the unfinished rough drafts together, or if anyone will be assigned the unenviable task of writing new material to bring it all together. (Originally appeared November 26, 2001)

Is the real SF in the comics? Tonight I watched about five minutes of Roger Corman's latest atrocity, Black Scorpion. The initials of this show are no coincidence, let me tell you. Bad acting, bad lighting, bad costuming, bad action name it, it was bad. Once, it might have bothered me a great deal that sci fi was giving its 8 PM slot to such a piece of garbage, but then I realized that the state of speculative fiction on television doesn't really concern me that much anymore. Lately, I've been getting my serial storytelling fix from the comics market, and I couldn't be happier. 2000 was a great year for comics, and 2001 looks like it should be equally strong.

Do you miss Babylon 5's epic storytelling and nifty three-dimensional graphics? Take a look at Image Comics' The Red Star, an SF/sorcery epic that's also a historical allegory to the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. It blends computer coloring, CG models, and conventional pencil art damn near seamlessly into a breathtaking visual package. There are action sequences in this book that are simply stunning - it's like reading a movie. Red Star creator Christian Gossett spend six years researching Soviet history to be prepared to tell this story, yet this isn't a history lesson. The characterization and storytelling are very powerful here, with subtle touches mixing with the cataclysmic battles.

Heck, if you just miss J. Michael Straczynski's writing, there's Image/Top Cow's Midnight Nation, a 12 issue miniseries about a police officer literally trying to save his soul. There are plenty of supernatural forces and larger conspiracies at work here, with a touch of mystery thrown in. Four issues are out so far, and this comic is sure to be collected down the road.

Disappointed in Phantom Menace but craving SF action? The recently completed Shockrockets miniseries by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen tells the story of a young man who finds himself forced into duty as one of Earth's elite fighter pilots, defending a fragile society from treason within. I know I made the Star Wars reference, but this is an original look at the hero's journey, with great pacing, dialogue and characterization by Busiek, and terrific design and action sequences by Immonen. Check it out from Image Comics' Gorilla imprint.

Also from Gorilla: Mark Waid and Barry Kitson's Empire. Imagine a world where the bad guy does take over the world. What happens next? That's the focus of this book, which is having its problems meeting its production schedule but is well worth the wait. There is superb suspense and intrigue here, and a compelling look into the dark side of humanity along with beautiful art by Kitson.

If you're mad as hell and don't want to take it anymore, there's Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson's Transmetropolitan, from DC Comics/Vertigo. Imagine a ticked-off gonzo journalist in a City that makes Blade Runner's megalopolis look like a hick town - that's Transmet. Ellis has a brilliantly inventive mind, and he goes all out with this book. The creatures and situations explored in this book will have you thinking for days afterward, at the very least, and you may find Ellis' venom towards the world cathartic.

There's plenty more out there; like I said, there's an embarrassment of riches at this point. If you can't find a comics store, go to your local bookstore - many, but not all, of these titles get collected into trade paperbacks you can get from Barnes and Noble, Borders or Amazon. I'll keep trying to call attention to the good ones, here and at This Is Not News, because this is an art form that has so much to offer, and you owe it to yourself to check it out. Happy reading. (Originally appeared January 15, 2001)

Dave Thomer correspondent

The ancient one. Oh, man, but I'm getting old. I did a little bit of thinking recently, and with the prospect of a fourth Star Trek spinoff around the corner - fifth if you count the animated series based on the original series - the age of the franchise is really beginning to show. The merits, or lack thereof, of Star Trek: Voyager are bound to be debated for several years, and already fans are pining away for the good old days of Deep Space Nine. But what about Star Trek: The Next Generation? Next year will mark the 15th anniversary of that show's premiere, and TNN - recently bought out by Paramount parent Viacom and de-Nashville-ized - will begin airing nightly repeats of the series this October.

It's officially a classic, responsible - or, in some cases, guilty - of sparking a renaissance of television science fiction, just a few years after a show about a man-eating lizard invasion had nearly bankrupted Warner Bros.' TV production division and almost permanently scared Hollywood off of launching any new SF on the tube.

But it's humbling for me, personally, to think that in a couple of years, kids who weren't even born when Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered will be getting their drivers' licenses. And to them, it'll be every bit as old hat as the original Star Trek was to me in my childhood.

Let me put it in perspective for you. When Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered...

  • Ronald Reagan was still President of the United States.

  • The space shuttle Challenger had exploded the previous year; the first U.S. shuttle launch after that disaster took place mere weeks before the premiere of Next Generation.

  • The Mir space station had only been launched the previous year. Voyager 2 had visited Uranus the previous year, and was two years away from Neptune. Galileo and Magellan wouldn't be launched for another two years, and the Hubble Space Telescope was even further away.

  • The Soviet Union and Libya were perceived as major world threats to the United States; very few of the general public had ever heard of Saddam Hussein.

  • The Nintendo Entertainment System was the ultimate video game. A few games were still being made for the Atari 2600. No one would hear the name "Game Boy" until the series was in its third season.

  • Battlestar Galactica had only been off the air for 7 years; Buck Rogers had only been off the air for 6 years; V: The Series had only been cancelled two years before.

  • The biggest SF movie at that time was arguably Aliens, which premiered a year before Next Generation. The Vasquez character inspired Gene Roddenberry to create Tasha Yar, whose original name was Macha Hernandez. Return Of The Jedi had premiered a mere four years prior to Next Generation, and the most recent Star Wars spinoff - the second of two Ewok TV movies - had aired just two years before.

  • The most recent Star Trek film had been 1986's Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Rumor at the time had it that Star Trek V, still two years away, would feature - like Next Generation - a new cast of younger actors depicting Kirk, Spock and company as Starfleet Academy cadets. It had only been eight years since Star Trek: The Motion Picture had revived the public's appetite for Star Trek.

  • Paramount had a hard time convincing stations to buy a syndicated, hour long, non-network action/drama; the market which later gave rise to Xena, Hercules, Babylon 5, Earth: Final Conflict and Andromeda simply didn't exist yet. The next two major syndicated action/drama hours to hit the market were also from Paramount: War Of The Worlds and Friday The 13th: The Series.

  • The Fox network was one year old.

  • The home computer market was still divided between PC-compatibles, the Commodore Amiga, the Apple Macintosh, and even a few stalwart Apple II users.

  • In England, Doctor Who had just finished its 24th season in 1987, and would stay on the air for two more years. Red Dwarf didn't premiere until 1988.

  • The current crop of teen pop music stars were in their mid-single-digits. Jody Watley, Cutting Crew, U2 and Crowded House were big; Paula Abdul's main claim to fame was as Janet Jackson's choreographer, not as a singer.

  • The webmaster of this site was a sophomore in high school.

Scary stuff, huh? Especially when a lot of the kiddies building pre-emptive online tributes to the next permutation of Star Trek are younger than my Odyssey 2.

Next year also marks the tenth anniversary of the first production of both Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5...don't get me started. (Originally appeared April 9, 2001)

Earl Green webmaster/editor-in-chief

So long, and thanks for all the fish, Doug. I was already having a frustrating weekend, still dealing with some of the fallout of my recent move, when I received the news of the death of Douglas Adams tonight.

I can't even begin to tell you how much this bummed me out.

Douglas Adams has been a fixture in my literary landscape since I entered my teens. His novels taught me that one could still be funny without stooping to the lowest common denominator, that all those big words I knew (which nobody else knew) could be used to humorous effect. Along with Harlan Ellison, whose writings I foolishly waited until my 20s to discover, Adams was a seminal influence on my writing. To this day, even my promo work carries some of his literate-but-matter-of-fact flippancy (much to my bosses' chagrin).

God bless Douglas Adams. Here's someone who has created something that has brought people together, inspired them to create something themselves, and most of all, made people laugh - and perhaps even think a little bit. That's not something that someone does everyday - nor is it something that anyone does nearly enough of. (Originally appeared May 14, 2001)

Earl Green webmaster/editor-in-chief

Seeking out new life forms, new civilizations, and better tunes. In some previous editions of the Logbook, I have shown little if any restraint in my frustration with the music of the Star Trek television series. It was something of a obsession of mine back in the early '90s to poke fun at the music, which had grown increasingly stale and boring after the third season of The Next Generation. Despite promises from the producers of more adrenaline in the music with the launches of DS9 and Voyager, the music remained, ultimately, as lifeless as ever.

This issue still baffles me - and it's been 10 years since I first spoke out about it! My only hope is that Rick Berman and company will loosen the rules a lot further for the next incarnation of Trek, Enterprise. Of course, I don't expect that to happen. Berman's answers to questions about the music have always been somewhat cryptic and open to wide interpretation. We'd all be better served if he'd simply come right out and say up front that the music will be pretty dull, which is always what it ends up being.

Why is the music of Star Trek so bad? Most of the blame can be placed on the producers, who seem to believe that melodic and energetic scores distract or somehow cheapen the episode. There have been other excuses like, rhythmic or percussive scores don't translate well in the complicated sound mixing process or they're too "hokey" - a reason frequently cited by Mr. Berman himself. So what we get, at no real fault of the composers themselves, is a sustained, ambient score that acts more like a social wallflower in the episodes than an active player.

The music of Star Trek has been as much a character in the show as the ship and its crew. The movies of Trek were clear examples of this. Berman, who took over the franchise after Gene Roddenberry passed away 10 years ago, wanted to make Star Trek a more "serious" show, taking away its hokey metaphors and cardboard rocks and replacing them with serious themes and complex character issues. The music, he felt, had to reflect this more sophisticated approach.

One of the Next Generation's original composers, Ron Jones, didn't take too well to the new rules, and was unceremoniously booted off at the end of the fourth season. In my opinion, Jones' departure signaled the death of Star Trek as an adventure show. Jones knew how to balance the show's elements of adventure and contemplation through music. Berman and fellow producer and scribe Michael Piller, wanted Star Trek to be less about physical exploration of space and more about intellectual exploration, and there was no room for snare drums and tympanis in that objective.

This new mandate alienated many fans, but since many of us pledged loyalty to the bitter end, we were willing to live with the changes. I was one of these people. But a lot of the enthusiasm I had for the show began to die. Maybe I got spoiled after seeing The Best of Both Worlds, a dynamic installment of the Next Generation that had the best music of any show before or since. Whatever the reason, it became harder to watch Star Trek.

I'm curious about the new series. It was nice to read that Berman wants to make this one more of an action-adventure series. But then, every series after The Next Generation has had its little hook or gimmick meant to engender interest and set it apart from previous series. None have has measured up to The Next Generation, in my opinion. At least up until its fourth season, TNG was the best thing on television, and much of that could be attributed to the music. Hopefully, I will be able to say the same thing about Enterprise, but I'm not holding my breath. (Originally appeared August 27, 2001)

Robert Heyman correspondent

Ray Walston, 1914-2001. Actor Ray Walston, best known for his starring role as My Favorite Martian but also famous for recurring roles on Picket Fences and both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager as Starfleet Academy's crusty resident groundskeeper, Boothby. His appearances on Picket Fences earned him two successive supporting actor Emmy awards in 1995 and 1996. Walston also made countless appearances in other television shows, ranging from both the theatrical version and the short-lived TV spinoff of Fast Times At Ridgemont High, to the miniseries based on Stephen King's The Stand, to episodes of Buck Rogers, Mission: Impossible, Amazing Stories, Night Court, Friday The 13th: The Series, Ally McBeal, and Touched By An Angel, and even a one-off attempt to revive ALF. Walston's film appearances included Addams Family Reunion, Popeye, South Pacific and even a cameo role in the recent big-screen remake of My Favorite Martian, but he seemed much more at home on the small screen, making him one of American television's most venerable and best-loved character actors. (Originally appeared January 8, 2001)

Obituary: John Alonzo, 1934-2001. Cinematographer John Alonzo, whose work spanned everything from local TV news to Star Trek: Generations, died on March 13th at the age of 66. Alonzo was nominated for his camera work in 1975's Chinatown, and his work has graced other high-profile films like Blue Thunder, Navy SEALs, Steel Magnolias, Cool World, Harold and Maude, and last year's TV remake of Failsafe. (Originally appeared April 2, 2001)

David Graf, 1950-2001. Actor David Graf, forever known as Sergeant Tackleberry in the Police Squad series of films, died April 7th of a heart attack. Graf made a number of guest appearances on TV series near and dear to SF fans, perhaps most notably in the role of aviator Fred Noonan in the original season finale of Star Trek: Voyager's first season, The 37s (which was later relocated to the show's second season by UPN). Mr. Graf also guest starred on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Quantum Leap, Lois & Clark and Beauty And The Beast, as well as appearing alongside ex-DS9er Terry Farrell in some recent episodes of Becker, a recurring role in The West Wing, and providing character voices for the Star Trek: Voyager Elite Force video game. (Originally appeared May 7, 2001)

Douglas Adams, 1952-2001. The creator of the insanely popular (and maniacally funny) Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy franchise - spanning two seasons of BBC radio series, five novels, a game and a brief TV series - died suddenly of a heart attack in his California home on Friday, May 11th. Douglas Adams created the Guide in 1978 as a radio series, and the subsequent "trilogy" of five books sold over 14 million copies worldwide. Recently, Adams had been working on H2G2, a cyberspace version of the Guide (to which visitors could add their own entries), as well as collaborating with Austin Powers director Jay Roach on an upcoming movie version of the story. Mr. Adams is survived by his wife Jane and a six-year-old daughter. (Originally appeared May 14, 2001)

Carroll O'Connor, 1924-2001. One of the last great American actors has passed away. Star of the popular series All In The Family and In The Heat Of The Night, Carroll O'Connor died on Thursday, June 20th of a heart attack. So many colleagues have praised O'Connor for bringing dignity and believability to his numerous unique characters, I'm not sure what I as a mere viewer could say to add to that, other than that I always enjoyed his work. O'Connor had the skill and sensitivity to understand that what he would be saying, as Archie Bunker, would be controversial - and that overplaying the part would obscure the message about the pointlessness of bigotry. If only some of today's vacuous faces of prime time had that same degree of humanity, there might be something worth watching on TV, which, last I checked, there isn't - especially now that another of our best acting talents gone. (Originally appeared June 25, 2001)

John Yardley, 1925-2001. One of the designers of the first American manned spacecraft has died. John Yardley, a McDonnell-Douglas engineer, headed up the team which drew up the specs of the Mercury space capsule, the vehicle which launched Alan B. Shepard, John Glenn and the other Mercury astronauts into suborbital and orbital flights. Yardley served on the advisory group investigating the fatal 1967 launch pad fire that killed the crew of Apollo 1, and had design input into the two-man Gemini space capsule as well as the space shuttle. He was 76. (Originally appeared July 2, 2001)

Delia Derbyshire, 1937-2001. British composer and musician Delia Derbyshire, probably best known for the unforgettably haunting arrangement of Ron Grainer's Doctor Who theme music which graced the show from 1963 to 1980 (and is still in use today by Big Finish's range of Audio Adventures), died on July 3rd, 2001. The first female composer to work in the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Ms. Derbyshire also contributed a great deal of music both otherworldly and otherwise to the BBC's library over the years, and remained an active participant up until her death. (Originally appeared July 9, 2001)

Poul Anderson, 1927-2001. Acclaimed science fiction and fantasy author Poul Anderson died Tuesday, July 31st, after a long battle with prostate cancer. Anderson, whose first published story appeared in 1947, has amassed such honors as seven Hugos, three Nebula Awards, the Science Fiction Writers' Association's Grandmaster Award, and as recently as 2000 won an award for the best science fiction novel of the year (Genesis). (Originally appeared August 6, 2001)

Gloria Foster, 1936-2001. The actress who played the Oracle in The Matrix (and who already shot her scenes for the upcoming sequel, The Matrix Reloaded), has died at the age of 64. Ms. Foster's acting career spanned over 30 years, with appearances in several movies and guest appearances on TV series such as Law & Order, Soul Food, and The Cosby Show. (Originally appeared October 8, 2001)

Roy Brocksmith, 1945-2001. Ubiquitous character actor Roy Brocksmith, who has appeared in everything from Ally McBeal to L.A. Law to Star Trek: The Next Generation to an Emmy-nominated guest shot on Picket Fences, died on December 16th of diabetes-related kidney failure. Once he moved to Sherman Oaks, California, to ply his trade, Brocksmith and his wife became well-known for turning their home into the California Cottage Theatre, literally putting on stage productions in their living room for over a decade. SF fans may know Roy Brocksmith best from appearances in Total Recall, his portrayal of a rather uptight monk in the Deconstruction Of Falling Stars episode of Babylon 5, and Zakdorn strategist Kolrami in Peak Performance. He has also appeared in Nowhere Man, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Lois & Clark, Seinfeld, and several episodes of HBO's Tales From The Crypt. Source: Los Angeles Times - originally appeared December 31, 2001)

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