Tag Archives: star trek

Book Review: LEONARD by William Shatner with David Fisher

I enjoyed this memoir from beginning to end, even though I’d already heard, seen, or read about 60% of it from other sources such as Leonard Nimoy’s own memoirs (I Am Not Spock, then later, I Am Spock), interviews with Nimoy over the years, and the recent documentary, For the Love of Spock, directed by Adam Nimoy. Much of Nimoy’s television and early film career is covered and often compared to Shatner’s own.

It was that other 40% that piqued my interest such as the depth of Nimoy’s love for the written word through his poetry and how he had come to love photography. These are parts of Nimoy’s creative career with which I was only superficially familiar. It pains me to admit that I’ve never read his poetry and have only seen a small subset of his photographs, but after reading Shatner’s memoir, I’m inspired to action and will make the time to delve more into these aspects of Nimoy’s art.

No memoir about Leonard Nimoy would be complete without mentioning his love for the stage and his brilliant performances in Fiddler on the Roof and his one man show, Vincent, about the life and work of Van Gogh. Shatner also touched on the enormous charitable donations made by Leonard and his wife Susan to theatres in New York as well as the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.

To his credit, Shatner was honest about his conflicts with Nimoy and Roddenberry in the early months of Star Trek and the reasons behind that. He also expressed great disappointment and sadness that Nimoy had stopped speaking to him in the weeks before his passing. All of that, and Shatner’s brotherly love for Nimoy, shined through as truly genuine and heartfelt.

 

Leonard by William Shatner

My Schedule for Farpoint 2017

My convention season begins, as usual, with Farpoint, a con I’ve been attending since its founding in 1993 by the man would later become my publisher at Firebringer Press, Steven H. Wilson.

This year, Farpoint will be held over President’s Day weekend, February 17-19. Flip through the Program Book here with a wonderful cover by Todd Brugmans.

One of the discussion panels I’m moderating is also one that I pitched called “Avoiding Cliche in Your Writing.” My co-panelists include fantasy writer Lauren Harris, veteran speculative fiction and comic book writer Peter David, and Nicholas Meyer.

Yes, THAT Nicholas Meyer, director of such films as Time After Time, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (which he co-wrote), and writer of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. In other words, three of the top-grossing Star Trek movies. He also wrote the Sherlock Holmes novel The Seven-Percent Solution.

No pressure for me there at all. Nope! Actually, it will be an honor considering Nick Meyer is a writer I’ve admired for years. Excited doesn’t describe it! Of course, con schedules are fluid, but I hope to have the opportunity to sit with Mr. Meyer for an hour. 

Below is my current schedule for Farpoint. Any updates will be posted as soon as they come in.

Farpoint Book Fair. 10PM to Midnight on Friday in Dulaney I. Mix and mingle with the author guests. Pick up some books and autographs!

Firebringer Press Presents! 11AM to Noon on Saturday in Chesapeake I. Moderator: Steven H. Wilson. Participants: Phil Giunta, Daniel Patrick Corcoran, Susanna Reilly, Diane Sahar. Firebringer Press authors discuss their current and upcoming releases and read excerpts from their stories, time permitting.

Author Reading. Noon to 1PM on Saturday with Steven H. Wilson and David Mack.

Autograph Session. 3PM to 4PM on Saturday at the Authors Autograph Table Area with Peter David and David Mack.

Avoiding Cliche in Your Writing. 6PM to 7PM on Saturday in Chesapeake I. Moderator: Phil Giunta. Participants: Nicholas Meyer, Peter David, Lauren Harris. How to describe emotions, actions, and situations in your story without resorting to tired cliches and inane metaphors like “his face fell”, “her eyes followed him around the room”, or “her heart sank into her stomach.” Panelists will discuss ways for writers to avoid these often laughable mistakes.

Social Media for Authors. 8PM to 9PM on Saturday in Chesapeake I. Participants: Pip Ballatine, Lauren Harris, Phil Giunta. There’s a skill in presenting yourself and publicizing yourself on social media–things to emphasize and things to avoid. Facebook or Twitter? Avoid politics and religion? Panelists will discuss methods for letting the world know about your work without becoming a spam machine.

Autograph Session. 1PM to 2PM on Sunday in the Main Authors Autograph Area with Steven Kozeniewski and Steven H. Wilson.

Farpoint 2017 Logo

Actor, Writer, Princess, General – Carrie Fisher (1956-2016)

Star Wars caught me at the tender age of six back in 1977 and has never let go. I remain a fan and collector to this day. I had the pleasure of meeting Carrie Fisher, for the first and only time, at a comic con in New York City about 10 years ago. While waiting in her autograph line, a lady ahead of me began a conversation with Ms. Fisher about a recent article that she had written for a travel website (or newspaper, I can’t recall) about her trip to Acapulco.

The conversation went something like this:

“So what did you think of it [the article]?” Ms. Fisher asked.

The woman shrugged. “Well, it wasn’t exactly great literature.”

Ms. Fisher, without looking up from the item she was signing for a fan, responded, “So you’re saying it was shit!”

Of course, everyone in the room broke out into laughter. Such was the acerbic, sometimes trenchant, humor of Carrie Fisher. I, for one, simply thanked her for coming and told her that it was an honor to meet her. She thanked me in return and signed my vintage 12″ boxed Princess Leia figure from Kenner (see below).

As Leia Organa, Ms. Fisher was a hero to me alongside Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford. It was Star Wars that led to me watching reruns of Star Trek when I was a kid and I became hooked on science fiction and space opera, which then inspired me to become a writer and storyteller in my own right.

2016 has been a tumultuous and tragic year, taking from us many talented artists. For me, however, the loss of Carrie Fisher cuts deeper as did the passings, within the last 20 years, of such icons as Gene Roddenberry, DeForest Kelley, Christopher Reeve, and Leonard Nimoy, just to name a few.

I cannot help but to think my own mortality as we watch the performers of my childhood exit the world stage for the final time. I only hope that I can leave behind such enduring legacies. Carrie Fisher was a marvelous, witty writer and an advocate for those suffering from mental illness. May the Force of her personality and strength be with us always.

Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in The Empire Strikes Back

 

Carrie Fisher as General Leia in The Force Awakens

 

Carrie Fisher Autograph
Vintage Kenner Leia and Luke figures from 1978
Star Wars Cast Members
Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew

Finally, A New STAR WARS Movie!

Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of Star Wars and I jumped on the Jawa Sandcrawler from day one when I was six years old. As such, I’ve been waiting for a new Star Wars film since 1983’s Return of the Jedi and Rogue One certainly did not disappoint.

I know you want to remind me that there were three prequels between 1999 and 2005, and that last year, The Force Awakens began the much anticipated final trilogy in George Lucas’s ambitious space opera (now owned and operated by Disney).

In my humble opinion, the prequels held none of the charm and magic possessed by Episodes IV through VI. This I blame on the writing and overload of unnecessary special effects and not on the fine cast.

While The Force Awakens graced us with the return of our favorite classic heroes Han Solo, Leia Organa, and (briefly) Luke Skywalker, the film was, for me, utterly forgettable. Although, it was a better J.J. Abrams vehicle than his paltry efforts on the first two films in the Star Trek reboot, which isn’t saying much.

For me, Rogue One simply felt like Star Wars. It resurrected the spirit of the original films, something for which I’d lost all hope while slogging through the prequels. While Rogue One certainly held its own with a solid story and exciting plot—detailing the events leading right up to the Death Star plans falling into the hands of Princess Leia—its consistency with, and nods to, Episodes IV through VI were delightful. No spoilers here, just effusive praise and a hearty congrats to director Gareth Edwards and an excellent cast that includes Felicity Jones, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Ben Mendelsohn, Genevieve O’Reilly, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen, James Earl Jones, and more.

Rogue One Poster

Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso

Mads Mikkelsen as Galen Erso

AT-AT

Stormtrooper Doll

Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera

Genevieve O'Reilly as Mon Mothma

 

 

Star Trek’s Cosmic Anniversaries

One of my earliest memories of any television show was watching an episode of the original Star Trek called, “Balance of Terror” co-starring Mark Lenard as the Romulan adversary to Captain Kirk. Of course, Lenard later went on to play Spock’s father, Sarek, as well as the Klingon Commander in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

For Star Trek fans such as myself, 2016 marks not one, not two, but three milestone anniversaries for the franchise.

On September 8, 1966, Star Trek took to the airwaves for three seasons.

Star Trek: The Original Series
Star Trek: The Original Series

On November 19, 1986, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was released to box office success.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

On December 6, 1991, the final film starring the entire cast was released, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

I owe a lot to Star Trek, and many other SF and space opera films and shows. They inspired me to become a writer, beginning in fan fiction before exploring the strange new worlds and characters of my own creation. My love for, and wonder of, SF brought me to the convention scene over 30 years ago, where I’ve forged lifelong friendships with so many wonderful and talented people.

Now, as I attend the cons—sometimes as a writer guest, sometimes just going because I love the con scene—I’m excited to see Star Trek continuing to live long and prosper through new generations of fans.

James Doohan
James Doohan
George Takei
George Takei
Walter Koenig
Walter Koenig
Nichelle Nichols
Nichelle Nichols
Leonard Nimoy
Leonard Nimoy

 

Shore Leave 38 Convention Recap!

My trek to Shore Leave last weekend was much different from any previous year in that I arrived at the con directly from a marvelous week’s vacation in Rehoboth Beach, DE. Clear skies and sparse traffic made driving through the bucolic town of Denton, MD simply serene.

For a fisherman like me, traversing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was indeed a religious experience. Looking right and left, the view was blue straight to the horizons. Gorgeous.

Then I reached the 695 Beltway right at the beginning of rush hour. Let the road rage begin! Ugh.  Nevertheless, I finally reached the Hunt Valley Wyndham Grand, checked-in, registered for the con, unloaded my car in the blistering heat, took a shower, and missed my 5PM discussion panel.

After dinner at Noodles & Company with friends Sharon and Cyndi Van Blarcom, Lance Woods, and Renfield, we met up with fellow scribe and Firebringer Press publisher, Steven H. Wilson, with whom I had spent the aforementioned week in Rehoboth Beach along with his family and several friends (click here to see vacation pics!).

Friday night at 10PM brought the traditional Meet the Pros book fair where all of the con’s writer guests gathered to sell and sign books. It also celebrated the release of two new books for Firebringer Press–Steven H. Wilson’s fourth novel, Sacrifice Play: A Tale from the Arbiter Chronicles, and Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity, the second installment in our speculative fiction anthology series. Seven of nine (pardon the obvious pun) anthology writers were on hand to sign copies including Daniel Patrick “Renfield” Corcoran, Michael Critzer, Susanna Reilly, Stuart Roth, Steven H. Wilson, Lance Woods, and myself. The night was so busy that it’s all a blur to me now and I did not have the time to take too many pics…

Special thanks to Ethan Wilson, Christian Wilson, Jessica Headlee, Jill Mardesich, Tim Marron, and Cheyenne-Autumn Christine Reilly for volunteering to shlep boxes of books from Steve’s car to Meet the Pros and then from there to my hotel room afterward!

Crazy 8 Press at Meet the Pros Firebringer Press at Meet the Pros Renfield at Meet the Pros Lance and Steve at Meet the Pros Susanna at Meet the Pros Michael Critzer and Phil Giunta Peter, Bob, Michael, at Meet the Pros

Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity

Saturday and Sunday brought about a myriad of discussion panels on writing and publishing. My panel schedule was lighter than usual this year. On Saturday morning, I was a panelist on “The Whole Package” with Richard White, Glenn Hauman, Aaron Rosenberg, Mike McPhail, and Jim Johnson. We discussed all that goes into quality editing, layout, and cover art.

Afterwards, I made my way down to the lower lobby to meet actors Michael Forest and Barbara Bouchet who each guest-starred on episodes of classic Star Trek.  They were both very friendly and I picked up an autographed photo from each of them.

While there, I was stopped by an attendee and asked to sign a Shore Leave trading card with my picture! I was honored, because after all, as Lucy Van Pelt said in the 1965 Charlie Brown Christmas Special, “How can you say someone is great who’s never had his picture on bubblegum cards?”

Phil on Trading Card

I then sat in on the Crazy 8 Press panel as several of the authors, including Peter David, Russ Colchamiro, and Michael Jan Friedman read excerpts from their latest books.

Crazy 8 Press-1 Crazy 8 Press-2

At 4PM, I had the pleasure of sitting in on John Noble’s talk in the ballroom. Mr. Noble is known for such shows and films as Fringe, Elementary, Lord of the Rings, and much more. He is an eloquent and engaging speaker.

John NobleJohn NobleJohn Noble

The “Firebringer Press Presents” panel occurred at what has become its traditional timeslot, 5PM. Of course, this is opposite the con’s official autograph lines for the celebrities and the dinner hour which often results in the panelists outnumbering the audience.  Nevertheless, it was a fun and lively discussion about current and future projects as well as our brand new aforementioned anthology, Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity.

Phil at Firebringer Panel Stu and Sue at Firebringer Panel

Steve at Firebringer Panel

After the panel, a few of the anthology writers gathered in my room for a book signing party, including Steven H. Wilson, Stuart Roth, and Lance Woods.  Once all of the Kickstarter books were signed, it was time to gather with friends for a delightful dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack.

Back at the hotel, it was another round of book signing with Susanna Reilly. We chatted for a few hours with Stuart and his wife, Maria, before turning in for the night.

Sunday morning saw me finally participating in Shore Leave’s Writers Breakfast in the Cinnamon Tree restaurant. Every year since becoming a writer guest, I committed to attending and every year I failed to do so. I sat with Stuart Roth and Shore Leave Co-Con Chair, Dr. Inge Heyer. Inge is a longtime friend who has been involved with Shore Leave as a magnificent writer liaison for many years.

By 11AM, I was in the autograph line for John Noble and Michael Trucco (Battlestar Galactica, Castle, Big Bang Theory). The lines moved quickly and both gentlemen were wonderful to meet and chat with.  Afterward, I had about an hour to relax in the comfy chairs that line the hallway near the elevators. I was joined there by veteran writer Aaron Rosenberg. We chatted for about 30 minutes about writing, vacations, and life in general before it was time for my final panel of the con.

Shore Leave 38 Autographs

At 1PM, I joined Joshua Palmatier, Mike McPhail, and Michael Jan Friedman for “Building an Anthology”.  We had no official moderator, but questions from our audience members guided the discussion, much of which was spent on the topic of how to use Kickstarter to fund anthologies.

Near the end of my day, I once again crossed paths with artist Todd Brugmans who created the artwork for several Farpoint program books as well as Heroic Park, the debut novel of Lance Woods. For Star Trek‘s 50th anniversary, Todd was commissioned to create cover art not only for Farpoint’s program book, but for Balticon and Shore Leave’s as well. Combined, the images create a triptych and I happened to have all three with me for Todd to autograph!

Farpoint, Balticon, and Shore Leave program books

Alas, it was then time for me to say my goodbyes to every friend I could find in my final patrol of the hotel before beginning my voyage home.  All told, it was yet another enjoyable, albeit frenetic, Shore Leave filled the typical cast of colorful characters.

Phil with Crazy 8 PressTrek and Roll!Orion Slave Girl Science Officer Saavik Rock on and Prosper  Klaatu Judge Q

Mon CalamariJoker with Bomb

Jill Mardesich             Jessica Headlee Cobra CommanderBorg

R2 Unit-2R2 Unit-1