Joss Whedon’s (and my) take on SF

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Director Joss WhedonJoss Whedon has a biography coming out (one of those things you look at with a strange crick in your neck, because biographies usually come out at the end of someone’s career), and in some excerpts printed in IO9, I’ve discovered some significant similarities in the way he and I see science fiction these days.

For instance, when he had the opportunity to submit a TV series concept to Fox, he wanted to do science fiction.  Problem was, most TV SF turned him off.  He wanted to see realism, but most sci-fi TV shows looked too plastic, too clean, like Star Trek.  Or too cheap and cheesy, like Blake’s 7 or (pre-2000s) Doctor Who.  One movie series he appreciated—Alien—but he wanted more than a “ripoff” of the Alien look. Continue reading

The Kestral Voyages, and their Star Trek roots

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cover of The Kestral Voyages: My Life, After BerserkerThe novels of The Kestral Voyages are my most popular stories, hands down; not only my best sellers, but earning more comments, reviews and requests for more stories than any other novels I’ve written to date.

It’s not hard to guess why: When I created the series, it was originally based on the Star Trek universe, a story idea I intended to pitch to Paramount as the next Trek series after Voyager.  Though I made changes to fit it into its own universe, it still has many similarities to the Trek universe that is still so popular with fans.

So, what happened?  Well, it’s like this… Continue reading

Doc Savage: The mold from which heroes were and are made

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Doc SavageIt was recently announced that Iron Man 3 director Shane Black is in discussion to helm a new movie for Sony, starring the pulp hero Doc Savage.  A friend of mine saw this, and correctly guessed that I would squee upon hearing the news.

Why? I grew up reading the famous “181 Supersagas” of Doc Savage—also known as the Man of Bronze—and his friends Monk Mayfair, Ham Brooks, Renny Renwick, Johnny Littlejohn and Long Tom Roberts, occasionally joined by Doc’s cousin Pat Savage, as they raced around the world, investigating scientific mysteries, righting wrongs, and punishing evil-doers wherever they were found.  Doc and his friends were among the very first “science heroes,” those who embraced the modern world of steel and wonder, and who used science and intellect to solve mysteries and save the day… but with plenty of very unscientific fisticuffs and derring-do thrown in for excitement.  Doc Savage, the leader of the group, was no less than the template that future superheroes would be based upon for the balance of the 20th century. Continue reading

A decade later, you still can’t take the sky from me

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Firefly (courtesy Mutant Enemy/20th Century Fox)

It seems like only a few years back that Joss Whedon gave us a new way to look at future fiction that resonated with a lot of people, weirded out a small but influential group of people, and was unseen by most people.

I am, of course, referring to Firefly, the futuristic retelling of America’s post-Civil-War period… cowboys in space.  At least, that was the prominent outer skin of the series; but as fans discovered, Firefly had more layers underneath than an onion from the seventh dimension.

Firefly presented us with a future that sounded more workable and believable than any future depicted by Star Trek, Stargate, Galactica or almost any other space-faring TV society: The future of the human race, having abandoned the used-up Earth of their ancestors, had discovered a single system of multiple-multiple planets and moons, giving them the chance to settle on and terraform each of them into worlds of their desire.  Like the development of the United States, some planets benefited from their available resources better than others, resulting in rich and beautiful cities on one planet, and desolate no-collar existence on another.  And after their own war of unification, the planets were settling into an uneasy alliance, while those who didn’t like the new order tried to eke out an existence on their own, away from authority figures and politics they didn’t appreciate. Continue reading