Good Trippy Fun: The Avengers!

No, not Marvel’s Avengers. I’m talking about the British television series that aired from 1961 to ’69.

I have recently re-discovered The Avengers. This very British, very 60s TV show would appear on late night television when I was but a wee lad in Dayton, Ohio, and Jimmy Carter was president (we miss you, Jimmy, we really do).

Watching it as an adult, I find it to be much sillier than I remember, but oh so much fun. The show ran for almost the entire psychedelic decade but peaked when the show’s regular hero, Agent John Steed (Patrick Macnee), was paired with the deadly and talented Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) from 1965 to ’68.

As acting teams go, you just can’t get any better than MacNee and Rigg. They simply had an outstanding rapport, and easily half the fun of the show is watching them joust with each other. I say “joust” because the relationship between the two characters was always professional. Emma Peel’s husband was somehow lost in the Amazon, and Steed was far too gentlemanly to proposition another man’s wife. Thus, they performed as a dazzling sort of “buddy cop” team, not a romantic couple, and it was sensational!

To be sure, Diana Rigg’s Mrs. Peel character is far better remembered. She was a tough, smart, sarcastic woman to be reckoned with, and the inspiration for the Marvel Avenger-Black Widdow. Seldom had such a woman been portrayed before on big screen or small, and the positive feminist message remains inspiring to women and people who like women.

However, Agent John Steed was no slouch either. Whereas Emma Peel represented the modern age, in her jumpsuits and sports cars, Steed was the old-fashioned man. As chivalrous as any knight, he had a penchant for vintage automobiles, bowler hats, and dapper manners. He was witty, clever and extremely good-natured, the kind of chap you’d gladly invite over for tea once a week.

Both characters were supposedly deadly masters of hand-to-hand combat…but oh…the fight choreography was laughable. Emma’s sloppy karate and Steed’s flailing about with his umbrella always triumphed over the villains, but only because the script said so, and it showed.

But speaking of the villains, you will never find a more kooky bunch of weirdos trampling across a television screen than in The Avengers. No ordinary villains for these heroes to fight–heavens no! Mad scientists, bizarre conspiracies, secret organizations, and super spies are constantly bent on destroying all that is right and good in Britain, and only Emma and Steed can stop them.

The show is everything we fondly remember the 1960s for. It was trippy, cool, silly, and fun. If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recomend you do.

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New Cover For A Soon To Be Clasic

Well, my friend, Seka, just informed me that she’s finally found a cover artist worthy of Dirk Moorcock. Frankly, I think Adam Jolly did a spectacular job of bringing the richly tacky story of Passion Pirates of The Lost Galaxy to life. It’s the kind of art that this adult novella richly deserves, and I think it does a great job of letting the readers know exactly what kind of ride there in for.

If you wish to contact Adam for a project of your own, his website is listed on the title page of this science fiction masterpiece.

Enjoy Responsibly.

Also, Adam Jolly is currently working on the cover for the upcoming sequel, Romance Raiders of The Lost Continent! I’m very much looking forward to seeing it finished sometime this spring!

Haven’t Been To A Con, Yet? Go!

I just finished my Thanksgiving turkey, but a thing that’s left an equally filling aftertaste was the weekend before at Orycon 39. This year was my eighth, or maybe ninth Orycon. To be frank they all kind of blend together in one great fanish haze from time to time.

Again, this year I was honored to be a panelist (and grateful they forgave/forgot the whole “blasted out of my head” incident of three years back). I sat before various audiences discussing things ranging from Star Wars to Wonder Woman, and man did I get some challenging questions.

But panels be damned! I also went partying with my wife, drank more than a bit too much, played some great science fiction card games, and met a lot of truly great authors (I’m talking about you Susan R. Matthews), and fans.

Honestly, I’ve been going to these science fiction conventions since 1985 (Milinecon Minus 15, Dayton Airport Hotell) and highly recommend you give one a whirl. Oh, you can start out with one of those huge, sprawling Comicons if you like. They can be fun too.

But personally, I recommend you seek out one of the smaller, cozier ones close to home. You get a real sense of community at the local conventions that can’t be found in a larger venue. Great conversations take place in hotel lobbies with like-minded geeks you only met an hour ago, and lifelong friendships get off to a great start.

In short, it’s always worth it to seek out new friends and new conversations. To boldly con where few have coned before.

See you there!

 

See You at Orycon

Just in time for the new release of Tales of The Screaming Eagle, I will be speaking at Orycon this weekend (November 17 through 19, 2017).

I will be on several convention panels ranging in topics ranging from Getting Your First Professional Sale to Wonder Woman-How to Be Her (and I promise to do my best on that one). To be frank, Orycon is a blast, and my family and I look forward to it every year. The fact that it coincides with the release of a new book makes it all the sweeter this time around.

Tales of The Screaming Eagle is a space bar novel set in the Star Run Universe.  The story revolves around a lost graduate student on a remote colony world and the salty veterans of The Screaming Eagle who take him into their bar and into their trust. So far, it’s been one of my most popular books and besides a new and better cover, all that has changed in the new edition is some phrasing and a reworked prolog. I hope my fans approve.

Well, that’s it for now. I hope to see as many of you at the Con as possible.

Cheers!

A Good Movie…No Kidding

Have you ever been in the mood to just sit down and watch a terrible movie from a bygone era and just laugh at how crappy the film is? Well, I too have that sick fascination and indulge more than I would care to admit.

I was in just such a mood last night when I popped into my machine the classic It Came From Beneath The Sea. This black and white 1955 monster movie had just the kind of terrible title I was looking for. No way, I smugly concluded, can a movie with a title that bad be any damn good.

WRONG!

The first thing that got my attention was in the credits. None other than the great Ray Harryhausen did the special effects. For those not in the know, Ray cut his special effects teeth as an assistant on a little-known film called King Kong and went on to become the grand master of stop-motion animation. So to be clear, the special effects in It Came From Beneath The Sea are very, very good for the time. Sure, you can spot the fake, but you can do that in a lot of modern CGI too. Bottom line; at no time, did the special effects fail to enhance the story.

But let’s talk about the story itself, shall we?

Many of these 1950s monster movies were flat out boring. You’d watch an hour or so of celluloid go by without so much as a moment of suspense or dramatic tension. But It Came From Beneath The Sea starts off with a well-done submarine attack scene and continues to give the viewer regular monster attacks throughout the film. Also, I must say the acting was top drawer, and the three principal characters were very intelligently written.

Shockingly, the film also does a fine job of portraying the liberated woman, as a positive and strong influence on her male colleagues. I know, weird, right? After all, the 1950s were not famous for female emancipation. But at the end of this movie, the heroine declines marriage and offers instead to co-author a book with her love interest on the monster’s biology!

True, the pacing of movies in the 1950s was slower than audiences of today would be accustomed to. And, as much as I can and do praise the film’s feminism, there isn’t a person of color in the whole darn thing. However, if you are ever in the mood for a well made classic monster movie, I do recommend It Came From Beneath The Sea.

 

Where Are We, And Where Will We Be?

 

So, I just watched a fabulous episode of Star Trek Continues, a Youtube show that continues as if the original series was never canceled. Kirk, Spock and all the gang are simply played by different actors. However, the characters and the universe of Star Trek are very faithfully kept intact.

Thinking back, Gene Roddenberry’s original creation often challenged us to re-evaluate our own society. Issues of morality, justice, and prejudice were confronted–sometimes in quite nuanced ways. And after viewing the new episode, Embracing The Winds, I can happily state the tradition is alive and well.

Right now, we are living in a strange time. I’m an American, and I watched in horror the sexism and misogyny that paraded through our last presidential election. Since then, issues we often imagined to be safely in our society’s past have burst forth with a vengeance. Not only sexism but racism, homophobia, and religious intolerance are once again hot-button issues of our day.

To quote Robin William’s character from the movie Jumanji, “What year is this!?”

Well, sadly it’s 2017. And a reasonable person living at the time the first Star Trek was prime time viewing could easily have imagined we’d be a lot farther along than this. However, that same old Star Trek is speaking to us still, through well-written fan productions like Star Trek Continues-Embracing The Winds. 

Take the 45 minutes to watch this episode, and invite yourself to re-think your views on prejudice. I guarantee you will be entertained…and challenged.

And may you live long and prosper.

 

 

New Cover Comming For Passion Pirates

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As many of you know, my “good friend,” Seka Heartly has written a space opera parody called Passion Pirates of The Lost Galaxy. It’s a hilarious, if very raunchy, spoof of science fiction tropes that is far more funny than erotic…but it’s also erotic.

Trouble is, the current cover has not exactly propelled the book to the literary heights that are it’s due. So a new cover has been commissioned and is now awaiting colorization. Here, we see the bold and daring Dirk Moorcock ready for action with Conductor Sobo of the Gamoran Marching band ready to battle the dreaded Rift Pirates in order to save the planet Cin.