The Camp David / Battlestar Accords

So, it has just been brought to my attention that FORTY YEARS AGO this week Battlestar Galactica was first seen by television audiences. That’s right, it was on September 17, 1978, that the full 148-minute pilot premiered on the ABC network. It’s an event I remember well.

Because I was stoked!

If you’re wondering why forty years ago is in all caps above, the reason is simple. I was ten years old when the dang thing aired, and I have a hard time believing that so much time has gone by so fast. That’s right, I’m fifty…and that’s not old, right?

Anyway, I do recall that day in unusual clarity. Star Wars had blown my mind that previous summer of 1977, and ever since I saw it, I was eating up all the Flash Gordon and Star Trek on TV I could watch. But here in this “Battlestar” thing was something new. Not an old serial from the 1930s or a show that had been in re-runs since the 1960s. But a new space show with all the bells and whistles my ten-year-old heart craved; robots, fighter ships, and blasters–oh my. The show had been hyped in Starlog Magazine and commercials for its premiere were all over the airwaves. I couldn’t wait to see it. What was the show even about? I had no fraggin idea, it was space and that was good enough for me.

On the night Battlestar Galactica went on the air, I had secured a big bowl of popcorn and my parent’s promise that I’d get to watch the whole thing. As it was scheduled, the two-hour-plus show was going to keep me up an hour past bedtime but that didn’t seem like a big deal. The epic show opened with some brief character introduction and then BOOM, the Twelve Colonies were completely destroyed in a cataclysmic Cylon on Human battle.

And then, ABC News broke in with; “We now interrupt this program…”

On that same night, September 17, 1978, after twelve days of secret negotiations, the leaders of Israel and Egypt had reached an agreement and signed the Camp David Peace Accords in the presence of American President Jimmy Carter. And they picked the middle of the most hyped show in my elementary school world as the perfect time to announce their treaty. In agony, I watched for an hour as Anwar El Sadat and Menachem Begin slowly signed a piece of paper and shook hands. Didn’t these people know the fate of the galaxy was at stake?

In my most mature ten-year-old whine, I complained to my parents but to no avail. For some reason, they seemed to think that peace between two actual countries was more important than a Cylon attack on a fictitious bunch of colonies. Nevertheless, mom and dad (and mostly dad) kept their promise, and when Battlestar Galactica returned to our TV screen, I was able to watch the show to its late-night end.

Of course, I wasn’t worth a fig in school the next day. My teacher found me sleeping at my desk, and when I honestly reported the reason I couldn’t stay awake a phone call was placed to my father. To this day I’m glad they called Dad…because Mom would have really lit into me. My father, however, merely took full responsibility for allowing his boy to stay up late; and swallowed the shame in the certain knowledge his son wasn’t destined for any sports hall of fame but would probably waste his life going to goofy conventions and publishing science fiction novels (now available on Amazon!).

So now, I’m fifty, and to be honest I’m quite happy that Israel and Egypt haven’t spilled each other’s blood in over forty years. In fact, I’d give the leaders of the Middle East the chance to interrupt The Orvil, the new lady Dr. Who, and one of my book signings if they would write a few more of those peace accords. But unfortunately, peacemaking presidents seem in very short supply these days.

Still, it’s worth reflecting on. Childhood fancy and grown-up priorities always race neck and neck in our lives. Now, I do not pretend to know which will come in first at the end of my race. But I intend to keep writing science fiction and working for peace in this world as long as I can.

By Clayton J. Callahan

PS: Jimmy, if you ever decide to run again, I’ll vote for you 🙂

Rose City Comicon 2018

When I was a lad of say, sixteen years, science fiction conventions were these small affairs that took place in airport hotels and run down community centers. But oh my, how times have changed.

Today, I just spent the day at the Portland, Oregon Convention Center with about thirty-five to forty thousand of my fellow geeks.

No kidding, the line just to have your bag checked literally wrapped around the block–twice, and I pity anyone who didn’t pre-register. Still, I have to admit, despite the crowded hall, I had a great time.

Dressed in my very best Star Wars rebel trooper uniform, I spend a day with like-minded souls as we discussed costuming, comic books, and old science fiction TV shows. And for one who grew up in the time when geeks needed to hide their passions from an unfriendly world, a modern Comicon is truly an amazing experience.

If you’ve never been to a fan convention of any kind, I highly recommend you go. Comicons are huge affairs that are well advertised and you can easily find one in most major cities. However, for every huge event, there are dozens of smaller cons that deserve your attention too. Remember what Yoda said, “Size matters not.” Because big or small, cons are a great chance to let your hair down and be yourself among people who won’t judge you for preferring to watch Dr. Who over Monday Night Football.

By the way, dressing in costume is never a requirement at any con. If you enjoy that sort of thing (as I do), you can get as creative as you want. If, however, cosplay is not your thing, just dress in the way that makes you feel comfortable. I think you will find that your fellow conventioneers will accept you no matter your appearance, as long as you’re polite and extend that same courtesy to them.

So, to coin a spots wear slogan, just go out there and do it. Use this interweb thingy to find something in your area and simply show up. And while you’re there, attend a few panels, schmooze with fans, play a few role-playing games in the game room, or buy that specific comic book you’ve been looking for since you were twelve that some random merchant at the con just happens to have. In short, have yourself a good time.

Because let’s face it, we all need a chance to blow off steam and have some fun before we die, right?

By Clayton J. Callahan