Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...

...of Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander.

Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series is one of my all-time favorite epic fantasy tales. It tells of the Seeker of Truth, the Confessor who loves him and the wizard who protects him.

Each of these characters is rich with backstory and uniqueness. Each has his own strengths, weaknesses and character arcs. Even the secondary characters are fascinating, Shota, the Mord-Sith and Darken Rahl.

But Zed is perhaps the most eccentric wizard there is. Wizard's First Rule? Take your pick. Zed quoted many rules, and not always in the same order. And Bruce Spence portrayed this aspect of Zed's character wonderfully in the two seasons of Legend of the Seeker.

In almost every tale of fantasy that has a wizard, there is a preeminent purpose for his existence. Dumbledore's was to ensure Voldermort's demise. Gandalf's was to see the One Ring and Sauron destroyed. Even the Wizard of Oz attempted to take Dorothy home.

Zed was no different. His purpose was to name the Seeker and make sure he fulfilled the prophecy.

Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander is one reason why I love science fiction and fantasy.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for Tasha Yar

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...

...of Tasha Yar.

I really hated the turn of events in Skin of Evil. That's the Star Trek: TNG episode in which we lost Lt. Tasha Yar. Denise Crosby's character was by far my favorite, more than Picard, more than Data, more than Worf.

It took STTNG a good year before most of the characters really started settling into their roles. That settling was important because only then could the characters grow and evolve. I would have loved to see where her character could have gone.

There was something satisfying about seeing a female in the role of Chief Security Officer. She was competent. She was diligent. And she cut a much nicer figure than Worf.

It was good to see her resurface (in character) in Yesterday's Enterprise and All Good Things. I'd loved to have seen her in the movies too.

Lt. Tasha Yar is one reason why I love science fiction and fantasy.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for the Professor

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...

...of Professor X.

Marvel Comics has enriched the lives of many young minds over the years. It just wouldn't be right to wrap up my A-to-Z Challenge of why I love science fiction and fantasy and not mention Stan Lee.

Without Stan Lee and Marvel, there would be no Professor X, no X-Men at all. There would be no Hulk, no Iron Man or any of the Avengers. We'd have no Fantastic Four and no Spider-Man.

And this holds true for the DC Comics universe as well. They gave us Superman, Wonder Woman and the entire Justice League. They gave us Batman, Green Lantern and awesome villains like the Joker and Lex Luthor.

These characters have given generations decades of entertainment and escape. They have employed artists, writers, printers, distributors and so many others. They've made stars out of actors and bigger stars out of other actors.

These characters have become part of our culture, part of our identity. What child hasn't dreamed of having a super hero's super power and saving the world? Of course, Professor X's mind powers are pretty cool.

All these characters are reasons why I love science fiction and fantasy.

Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for Wizards

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...

...of Wizards.

Who doesn't love a little wizardry? A flash of light. A whispered enchantment. A thrown voice. An optical illusion. So many possibilities.

Wizards are handy to have around. Questing without one isn't wise. Angering one isn't either. You never know when they might turn you into something...unnatural.

They have a way with dragons. They have a way with weather. They have a way with just about everything.

From Gandalf to Zed, from Merlin to Dumbledore, from Middle Earth to Oz, they cast their spells upon us all.

Their magic ensnares imagination, quickens the pulse and fills us with wonder.

Wizards are wondrous reasons why I love science fiction and fantasy.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for Vader

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...
...of Darth Vader.

Star Wars: A New Hope was the first science fiction motion picture I remember watching in the theater without parental supervision. I distinctly recall the moment I exited the building. I looked up at the night sky...and I wondered.

Was there a rebellion somewhere amongst those stars? Could there really be some kind of Force? Did a place exist where lightsabers and Tie fighters and X-wings were the tools of war? The universe became alive to me that night.  The thrills of possibilities excited me.

And Vader...what a marvelous villain. Everything about him was cool: his appearance, his voice, his...breathing.

Keep it a secret if you don't appreciate the ultimate villain. He'd find your lack of appreciation...disturbing. And that doesn't work out well for anyone.

Vader, with his bad sci-fi self, is the perhaps the coolest reason why I love science fiction and fantasy.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for Ursula K. Le Guin

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...

...of Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin
There is something to be said for writers who capture the imaginations of younger readers. This author did that for me. Her Earthsea books were some of the first fantasy books I ever read.

I loved her take on dragons and still see them largely through her eyes. I remember wishing I could learn magic at the school of Roke. She added gebbeth, otak and harrekki to my fantasy lexicon.

She showed me that not all quests are over land. Some quests cross seas and delve deeply into self-discovery. And she knows the power of one's true name.

She's an author who asks simple questions that don't have simple answers. She has five Hugo and six Nebula awards to her credit, and more Locus awards (19) than any other author. I've even read that she inspired Neil Gaiman.

Ursula K. Le Guin is one reason why I love science fiction and fantasy.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Tolkien

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...

...of J. R. R. Tolkien.

This one individual has probably inspired more creative writers, artists, musicians, filmmakers and dreamers than any other author. And perhaps most importantly, from my own narcissistic perspective, he inspired me.

J. R. R. Tolkien
Many call him the father of epic fantasy. I call him hero, for he saved me from an existence without magic.

He introduced me to the elves of Rivendell, the mines of Moria and magnificent eagles. I rode with the riders of Rohan, heard the shrill cries of Nazgûl and witnessed the wonder of wizards. He revealed the weaknesses of men and showed men rising to overcome them.

He escorted me through a world as vast and wonderful as any world can hope to be. And that world will forever be a part of me. If I could shake the hand of any author, I'd choose his.

In one way or another, directly or indirectly, J. R. R. Tolkien is why almost everyone loves science fiction and fantasy.

Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for Star Trek

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...

...of Star Trek.

The Star Trek franchise offers nearly 750* hours of video entertainment:

Series # of Episodes # of Seasons
Original Series 79 3
The Next Generation 178 7
Deep Space Nine 176 7
Voyager 172 7
Enterprise 98 4
Animated Series 22 2
* Episodes run ~40-45 minutes without commercials, 
but I rounded to an hour for simpler arithmetic.

And once Star Trek: Into Darkness is released we'll have twelve Star Trek movies.

Plus we have the couple hundred or so novels set in our favorite Federation.

I love Star Trek because of the characters and settings and richness of its portrayed reality. I love it because of its exploration of science, space and the human equation. But I love it most, I think, because of the hopeful promise it paints, its vision of humanity at its best.

Star Trek, with its immense reservoir of material exploring the final frontier, is a huge reason why I love science fiction and fantasy.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for Ellen Ripley

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...
...of Ellen Ripley.

If ever I need a woman to come to my rescue, this is who I hope shows up.

Save me next, Ripley!
Who can forget the moment in Aliens just after she found Newt and that egg opened up. That tilt of her head that told the queen, "It's on!"

Aliens was the only movie of this type that really stayed with me for a few days after watching it the first time. The first movie (Alien) was okay and I liked Alien 3 as well, but Aliens was the best.

The creatures introduced in this series were the most unique aliens to enter the mainstream in a very long time. They were virtually unstoppable--at least until they met Ripley.

Sigourney Weaver was arguably at her best in this role. (I loved her in Galaxy Quest too, but that's a post for another time.) She's a talented actress and a credit to her profession.

Sigourney's role as Ellen Ripley is one reason I love science fiction and fantasy.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for Q

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...
...of Star Trek's Q.

John de Lancie's character was named Q, not to be confused with everyone else in the Q Continuum, who were also all named Q.

Q delivers one quotable quip after another in every episode that featured him. We saw him in at least one episode every season on The Next Generation. We saw him at Deep Space Nine where Sisko punched him. We saw him in the delta quadrant with Janeway who refused to mate with him.

The guy is everywhere. All the time. He's omnipotent with an IQ of 2,005. He introduced us to the Borg. Carried us back and forth in time, not to mention other dimensions and places that don't exist.

He was an adversary we loved, looking down at the pitiful bipedal species called humans, yet endlessly curious about our quirks and oddities. He put the entire human race on trial and then gave us just a little bit of help to exonerate us.

And when this adversary shows up to do something nice for you, you'd best put the ship on high alert. Q is one reason why I love science fiction and fantasy.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

P is for Picard

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...

...of Star Trek's Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

Patrick Stewart is a top-notch actor and did an excellent job of making Captain Picard a top-notch character.

Picard and Kirk were so different in so many ways, yet they both have dedicated fans and admirers. And many who admire one, admire them both.

Picard's refined sophistication was always being put to the test, whether he was dodging Lwaxana Troi, taking a holiday on Risa or bemoaning the fact that Starfleet allows children on Galaxy class starships.

As Locutus, he made a convincing borg. He was an entertaining Robin Hood and a rather cool kid in the Rascals episode.

He was quicker to talk his way out of a fight than throw a punch, but he held his own when punches were necessary. Any man who can impress a Klingon is okay in my book.

Captain Picard is one of the reasons I love science fiction and fantasy.

And a brief little clip showing what Picard loved most

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O is for Orion

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...

...of Orion

Constellation Orion
I not only love science fiction and fantasy, but I love science as well--especially astronomy. And Orion is my favorite constellation. It contains the Orion nebula (M42), the stars Betelgeuse and Rigel and is one of the easiest to locate thanks to the hunter's (Orion's) belt and sword, often mistaken for the big or little dipper.

My love of fantasy began in my teens when I encountered Tolkien's work, but my love for science fiction began even earlier. The night sky has always left me in awe, whether viewing it through a telescope, binoculars or the naked eye.

As an adolescent, I would lie on the roof of our house and stare at the stars for hours on end. I'd imagine what it would be like to travel among them, praying that one day it would be possible.

But to keep true to my theme, I find myself obligated to mention the green Orion slave girls of Star Trek, of whom it's said no man can resist.

I fell in love with astronomy, in large part, due to Orion. So thanks to Orion, I fell in love with science fiction and fantasy too.

The Orion Nebula (M42)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for Leonard Nimoy

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...

...of Leonard Nimoy.

Before I begin, let me just state for the record that anyone claiming to be a fan of science fiction, but not a fan of Leonard Nimoy, is a heretic and should be subjected to the Vulcan nerve pinch immediately. Just sayin'.

He made his role as Spock on Star Trek one of most recognized and loved science fiction characters ever created.

This actor has one of the most distinctive voices in the industry. Scan his list of credits on IMDB and notice how many credits appear where only his voice was featured--including The Big Bang Theory. (Took them long enough!)

Having just turned eighty-two years old last month, his acting credits, starting in the early 1950s, has spanned more than sixty years. And he's still going strong.

Leonard Nimoy is the most logical reason why I love science fiction and fantasy.

Mr. Nimoy, I have been, and always shall be, your fan.

Monday, April 15, 2013

M is for Merlin

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...
...of Merlin.

I can't recall ever reading or watching a depiction of Merlin that didn't fascinate or entertain me on some level. This wizard has surfaced in tales and shows I'd never have expected.  Even Stargate!

Everything about him is rooted in mystery. The source of his allegiances. The nature of his beliefs. His origins.  He's been rumored to be ageless, an alien, aging backwards, and the list goes ever on.  And no one seems to agree on how much power he really possessed.

I have to stop and wonder how much of a role the legend of Merlin played in J. R. R. Tolkien's mind when he created Gandalf.

But whether wizard, magician or merely a mysterious mortal, Merlin is one reason why I love science fiction and fantasy.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Surfing

Flogging the Quill

Why Do We Keep Making Ebooks Like Paper Books?

Feeling Rejected? Join the {Prestigious} Crowd

Style, Fear and the Bias Against Creativity

Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize at Black Balloon Publishing

The Other Face of Rejection

The 9 Ingredients of Character Development

LTUE: First person POV

How can story writers and book authors hook their readers?

Very fascinating and a little spooky: Where No Search Engine Has Gone Before

Progress on my Magic Muse writing workbench application is coming along rather nicely thus far.  I'm still dealing primarily with interface design, trying to determine what features to implement and how they best function.

I'm sure the appearance will change as development continues, but here is a screenshot of how some of the windows look now.

Click image for larger size display

Saturday, April 13, 2013

L is for Lightsabers

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...

...of lightsabers.

On rare occasions, a person pulls something from their imagination that fires the imagination of others. George Lucas did exactly that when he created the ultimate weapon for the ultimate warrior.

Science fiction is replete with pulses and beams of light flying across the screen--or page.  Armories 'R Us sells ray guns, blasters, lasers and phasers at deep discounts from their oversized cargo holds every time they dock at a space station.

But lightsabers?  They're the perfect weapon. Reach back in time and grab a hilt from the surest of swords.  Pull from the future a most lethal blade of glowing force to add to it.  Combine that with some cool sound effects and let the dance begin. 

That meter's worth of light attached to a hilt lets your flair for swordplay flare.  It's what the Jedi do.

Lightsabers are definitely a reason I love science fiction and fantasy.

For the civilized warrior

Friday, April 12, 2013

K is for Kirk

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...

...of Kirk, Captain James Tiberius--the only man to ever win the no-win scenario. (And in two different timelines!)

Back in the 1960s, sci-fi wasn't exactly mainstream.  Gene Roddenberry pitched the concept of Star Trek to NBC as a wagon train through the stars.  The "western" setting even surfaced in an episode or two.

William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk
But everyone knows Captain James T. Kirk. He's bested everyone from Harry Mudd to the Klingons and done so in more places and in more time periods than almost anyone.

He was a worthy competitor at chess, but poker was his game.  And he bluffed the best of them.

Roddenberry, through Kirk and his crew, opened the door for science fiction to go mainstream.  Yet another reason I love science fiction and fantasy.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for Robert Jordan

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...

...of Robert Jordan.

I'm indebted to James Oliver Rigney, Jr. (aka Robert Jordan) because he inspired me to write fantasy.

Robert Jordan
The man was a creative genius. Oftentimes accused of being verbose, not to mention writing huge books comprising a huge series, he possessed a priceless talent.  He had a way of grouping and arranging twenty-six little letters that fired my imagination. Paint a picture with words? Jordan was a master at it.

One would be hard-pressed to find another world so fully rounded, so intricately detailed and yet so incredibly fascinating as the world he created for Wheel of Time.

I still recall the day I read of his passing. I was eating lunch at my desk at work and literally gasped.  A titan had fallen.  And he is sorely missed.

Robert Jordan, with the entertaining characters and immense world he brought to life, is high on my list for why I love science fiction and fantasy.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for Immortals

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...

...of Immortals.

Whether they're Greek gods or Scottish clansmen, immortals spark intrigue. Immortals come in the form of vampires, angels and even resurrected mummies like Imhotep. They sail the seas like Davy Jones or provide guidance like Lorien from Babylon 5.

Immortals fascinate us. We're captivated by their legends and quirks: Merlin living his life backwards, Kronos the Titan god of time swallowing his children to avert a prophecy's fulfillment, and Q continually playing with the space-time continuum--and the crew of the Enterprise.

Some walk among us unnoticed like Connor MacLeod while others like Tom Bombadil are larger than life.  We marvel at their diverse beginnings.  We read or watch, with satisfaction or dismay, their final undoing.

It matters not from where the immortals hail: the highlands, the continuum or childhood storybooks. They're all reasons I love science fiction and fantasy.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H is for Harry Potter

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...

...of Harry Potter.

I'm of the opinion that Harry Potter is perhaps the greatest story of our generation.  It's not that it's deep or profound or groundbreaking.  The prose isn't Shakespeare.  It's just a captivating story and great entertainment.

What makes it great in my mind is its impact.  Thanks to the Harry Potter series, thousands--perhaps millions--of children became readers for the first time.  The tale ignited a love of books in a generation attuned primarily to television and Xboxes.  A mindset fixated on fast food and instant gratification experienced the pleasure of kicking back with a good set of books.

Yes, we all love Harry and Hermione and Ron. We appreciate Dumbledore's wisdom and the allure of phoenixes and time turners and invisibility cloaks. The magic of Hogwarts entices us with its magical settings and spellbinding wonders.

I grew up with a spider who spun words in her web and a lion who saved a child. My Harry, Ron and Hermione were Charlotte, Aslan and Bilbo.  They were my imaginary friends.  They made me want to read.

I love science fiction and fantasy because of Harry Potter and his friends.

Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for Goodkind and Gandalf

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...

...of Gandalf. No wait, it's for Terry Goodkind.  But I love Gandalf!  But Goodkind is so awesomely great! arg!

Terry Goodkind
G would have been so much easier if Goodkind had created Gandalf, but alas, I must save Gandalf's creator for later in the series.  I suppose Gandalf and Goodkind will have to share my G post today.

I'll start with author Terry Goodkind because, well, he's real. And he gave us the Sword of Truth series, from which two seasons of Legend of the Seeker came.  Richard (Cypher) Rahl, Kahlan Amnell and Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander all came from his imagination.  And for that, I thank him.

For the other G... Well, Gandalf is the very definition of wizard.  He's mysterious, powerful, seemingly ageless, wise and handy to have around when you need to cross a bridge.  He's known by many names, but I call him Balrog Slayer.

Wizard's First Rule? If you're gonna dance with a balrog, make it a dance to remember.  

Goodkind and Gandalf, both wizards in their own right, are two reasons why I love science fiction and fantasy.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

F is for Firefly

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...

...of Firefly.

I almost went with the Force from Star Wars here, but chose Firefly instead. Firefly took science fiction in a direction it doesn't often go: a wild wild west frontier-esque direction.

The cast of characters were distinctly unique, interesting and ever-so-entertaining. They were a band of misfits scraping out a living by taking one shady job after the next.  A little smuggling here.  A heist there.  Scavenging and calling it salvaging.  And they did so all from the comfort of an antiquated ship always on the verge of falling apart.

Murphy wrote his famous law after watching this show.  The show lasted a single season and was wrapped up in Serenity, one of my favorite movies.

Firefly, with its fresh take and distinctive flavor is one reason I love science fiction and fantasy.

Friday, April 5, 2013

E is for Eragon

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...
...of Eragon, the first book in the Inheritance Cycle.

I suppose that in truth, this post is as much about Christopher Paolini as it is about Eragon itself.

Christopher Paolini is, to me, an inspiration.  He was born less than a year before I married Myra.  And before my children were out of school, Eragon had been self-published.

It didn't remain self-published for long, of course.  Alfred A. Knopf picked it up in 2003 and Paolini--at nineteen--became a New York Times bestselling author.  And then there was the movie made from it as well.

The story tells of a farmboy named Eragon and the bond he shared with the dragon, Saphira. It's a tale of wonder and discovery, of coming of age, and of personal growth.

Eragon--and his creator--is one reason why I love science fiction and fantasy.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

D is for Dragons

I Love Sci-Fi/Fantasy Because...

...of DRAGONS!

More than distant landscapes and legendary relics...
More than medieval battles and wicked wizards...
More than castles, moats, armor and shields...
More than even magic itself, I love dragons!

I love them, be they good dragons or bad.  Sly, wiley or wise; ancients and hatchlings alike, I love them all.  I love their cunning, their power, their mystery and majesty.

Dragons are what I love most about science fiction and fantasy.

And dragons bearing gifts, I treasure above all!