How Cool Was That? Babylon 5

 

Back in the early 90’s, I was a full-time university student, father of two, part-time pizza delivery boy, and US Navy Reservist. Needless to say, I had very little time for TV.

My wife, however, was a little more fortunate. She was a night nurse for a home health service and was able to have a TV on as she caught up on the office’s paperwork. One morning, she came home to tell me all about this new show I’d never heard of called Babylon 5.

Now, I’ve ALWAYS been a science fiction fan (I was born during the premiere of Star Trek’s Friday’s Child in 1967), and I immediately started pumping her for information. She described the show as almost British in style, very unlike Star Trek, with great characters, and a well-defined universe. Since we didn’t actually have a TV of our own back then, I had to wait until a night I could bring her lunch to work for her in order to watch the show.

Frankly, I was intrigued right off the bat.

Bab 5 grabbed hold of my imagination and refused to let go. Sure, I still liked Star Trek and in some other post I’ll wax philosophic about how good Voyager and Deep Space 9 were in the 1990s. But Babylon 5 struck me as unique. Here was a franchise unbeholden to any previous book or film, presenting a fresh canvas. The show was creating its own rules, it’s own life, as it came fresh off the screen without a debt to some fourty-year-old fan base dragging it down.

How rare is that?

Let me ask this, do you like the new Star Wars movies or hate them? Is it because they’re too like the original trilogy, or because they’re too different? How about the spin-off films like Solo and Rouge One? Are they true to the vision of the original Star Wars or despicable abominations to be sent to Dante’s basement?

Having something fresh and original to offer means that a writer can take the story wherever it needs to go without fear of fan backlash. Frankly, I’m amazed that authors like Timothy Zahan seem to do their best work when writing in other people’s fictional universes. And although every author borrows inspiration, I must say a great deal of the fun in my writing in the Star Run Universe comes from the fact that I created it.

But Babylon 5 wasn’t just very original…it was also very, very good!

Good acting, good special effects (for the time), good music, and great writing by J. Michael Straczynski, resulted in a show that was sometimes frightening, sometimes hilarious, sometimes insightful, and never dull. The themes that Bab 5 played with were also quite relatable; loyalty, trust, morality, and the easy wrong vs hard right.

I was at Dragon Con in 1994 when Mr. Straczynski was asked by an audience member if he’d based his writing on the Balkan War that was raging at the time. He answered, “No, it’s based on human behavior, and that never changes.” And now almost thirty years later, I have to agree because, sadly, today’s news could just as easily inspire the international strife portrayed in that old show.

Now, the history of the Babylon 5 show is a bit of a jumble. Basically, Hollywood execs never quite got a handle on how to market something this good. Forced to jump from network to network and time-slot to time-slot, Bab 5 bravely soldiered on until all five seasons envisioned by Straczynski were completed. Afterward, two spin-off shows and a made for TV movie were produced, none of which, however, matched the quality of the original show.

If you’ve never seen Babylon 5, I highly recommend you do. Not as a piece of science fiction archeology, but as one of the greatest space shows ever put on the small screen. Its brash, its brave, it’s funny and it’s still very relevant.

Enjoy.

Clayton J. Callahan

 

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D. Wallace Peach Simply Can Not Write a Bad Book

I’ve been a fan of this author for a long time. Her fantasy and science fiction display a beautiful use of the English language coupled with great storytelling.  For those not already in the know, I recommend you give The Bonewall a try. But beware, The Bonewall is as dark as it is compelling; a richly textured journey through a post-apocalyptic nightmare that nonetheless shines through with human goodness and hope.

However, for her latest work, “The Peach” has taken a completely different direction and man is it worth it!

She’s just written a children’s book! Frankly, I’m always excited when an author breaks new ground and challenges themselves with a different medium. This is why I’ve occasionally broken away from science fiction to do other genres, and I always find I’m a better writer when I come back. D. Wallace Peach has now done this and done it well with Grumpy Ann And The Monsters. It’s a cute introduction for the wee ones into the fascinating world of science fiction through a very personal and uplifting tale.

I found her poetry endearing and her artwork (which Peach did all herself) charming. If you have kids from about four to six years old in your orbit. I highly recommend you start them out right in science fiction with this little gem.

https://www.amazon.com/Grumpy-Ana-Grouchy-Monsters-Childrens/dp/1975723945/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514316075&sr=1-2-fkmr1&keywords=grumpy+ann+and+the+monsters

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!

 

Going to Orycon 39!

So…it’s coming up on my favorite Con of the year. I haven’t missed but one Orycon since I moved to Oregon, and that year I was in Iraq.

This year I’m once again a panelist and will be speaking on such wide-ranging topics as Getting Your First Professional Sale to Wonder Woman How to be her and feel comfortable doing so. And you can be sure the guys where I work are more than a little curious as to how I’m going to pull that second one off. I will also be doing an after hours, erotic reading (with a little help from my wife) of Seka Heartley’s classic Passion Pirates of The Lost Galaxy.

So, If you find yourself in the Portland area next month, I know this great party and recommend you check it out at the Red Lion Hotel in Jenson Beach, Oregon. Learn more by checking the link below.

http://39.orycon.org/

New Book, THE SPIRIT OF CAHIR MULLACH, Now on Amazon

So, I did it again…I committed novel.This is my first “Fantasy” novel. No science fiction gizmos, just some Irish magic, and ghosts. It starts in the Viking age and then the reader is woodshed eight hundred years into the time of the American Revolution when a war weary redcoat returns to the British Isles and is ordered to billet in a haunted castle.

This time I skipped the whole publisher thing and went straight to Amazon so I could keep the price low. Frankly, I don’t see any reason for people to pay more than $5 for an e-book or more than $10 for a print on demand.  I hope folks like it.

I hope folks like it.

Crazy Lucky-A Space Romance, Now An Actual Book (with paper)

me-holding-crazy-lucky

So, my sequel to The Adventures of Crazy Liddy is now available in paperback. As you may recall, Liddy often spent her spare time reading cheap romance novels with titles like Starpilot’s Mistress. This prompted my “friend,” Seka Heartly to write Passion Pirates of The Lost Galaxy (which is now also available on Amazon).

So, I figured, “what the hell?” Dosen’t Liddy deserve a romance of her own? And then I wrote Crazy Lucky-A Space Romance. Of course, this being Liddy, it had to take place in space, involve crime, adventure, alien races and a secret mission to save a world. It being a romance novel, it also had to involve a handsome, suave, dude with roguish charm and a sordid past.

Fun for one and all!

If you’re like me, e-books are not quite “real” to you yet. Real books are made of paper and you can hold them in your hand as you smell the ink off the pages. A real physical thing that you can cherish on your bookshelf forever. And, unlike e-books, you can throw ’em at people who annoy you. 🙂

Feel free to check out the real Crazy Lucky-A Space Romance at…

https://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Lucky-Clayton-J-Callahan/dp/1539363813/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1476154646&sr=1-1

 

Star Trek Turns 50…And I Ain’t Feeling So Young Myself

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So, What do you think? I know, I know…a Starfleet admiral? Kind of egotistical, right? Well, I sure as hell am too old to be an ensign these days, so what else was I going to wear to Comicon?

Star Trek just turned fifty and I grew right up with it. In fact, I was born the day the episode “Friday’s Child” first aired. Yes, that’s the episode where McCoy delivers a baby…weird I know. Naturally, I was too young to catch Star Trek on the first pass. Instead, I grew up watching the re-runs on late night TV. Saturday Night Live would end, then we’d watch Star Trek and finally an old Flash Gordon serial before Channel 19 ended its broadcast day and the national anthem would play.

I’ve got to say, I’ve always loved the show, and it formed much of the framework for what I think science fiction is, or at least should be. Intellectually, I’m aware that SF encompasses cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic, and mad scientist stories. But, for me, if it ain’t got spaceships it ain’t sci-fi. To this day I gravitate to star-spanning adventures with strong human elements and a powerful moral theme that runs through ‘em. That’s what good SF is to me, that’s what Gene Roddenberry conceived when Star Trek first aired on September 8th, 1966, and that’s the kind of stuff I put in my books.

So, my point here is simply to say, “thank you.”

Thank you to every Star Trek, writer, actor, director, producer, costume sewer and right down to the guy who swept the floor. Also a hearty thanks to every fan who kept Star Trek alive for the past five decades. My imagination owes a debt to you folks that I cannot hope to repay.

So thank you. Thank you very much!