Search Results for: star man

James Van Hise

James_Van_HiseJames Van Hise is a well-known journalist specializing in film, television, and comic history. A long-time fan turned media historian, Van Hise’s credentials as both writer and editor are extensive. He was the editor of the pivotal comix zine Rocket Blast Comic Collector (1974-8) and the pioneering Enterprise Incidents: The Magazine for Star Trek Fans (1976-85). In the comic field he has written stories for Dread of Night, Green Hornet, Ray Bradbury Comics, and Real Ghostbusters, among others. As a journalist Van Hise has authored books on Batman, Dune, Conan, Star Wars, The Lone Ranger, Dick Tracy, Stephen King, and Star Trek.



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Jerome Bixby

Jerome BixbyDrexel Jerome “Jerry” Lewis Bixby (11 January 192328 April 1998; age 75), on rare occasions referred to as Jerry Bixby, but usually as Jerome Bixby, was an American science fiction writer. He wrote the four Star Trek: The Original Series episodes “Mirror, Mirror“, “By Any Other Name“, “Day of the Dove“, and “Requiem for Methuselah“. The first of these garnered him a 1968 Hugo Award nomination in the category “Best Dramatic Presentation”, which he shared with the director of the episode, Marc Daniels.

Apart from his Star Trek work, Bixby is most famous for the short story “It’s a Good Life“, which was adapted into a memorable episode of The Twilight Zone. The episode starred Bill Mumy as the boy, and featured Don Keefer. He also wrote the original story for the 1966 science fiction classic Fantastic Voyage (featuring a music score by Leonard Rosenman), that earned him his one year earlier Hugo Award nomination in the same category.

Jerome Bixby’s last great work, a screenplay The Man from Earth, was conceived in the early 1960s and was completed on his death bed in April of 1998. Much like the Star Trek episode “Requiem for Methuselah”, The Man From Earth deals with the subject of immortality. In 2007, Jerome Bixby’s Man From Earth (alternate title) was turned into an independent motion picture executive produced by his son Emerson Bixby, directed by Richard Schenkman and starring David Lee Smith, William Katt, Richard Riehle, Tony Todd, Annika Peterson, Alexis Thorpe, Ellen Crawford and John Billingsley.

The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “The Emperor’s New Cloak“, the first episode after his death to return to the mirror universe he created, was dedicated to Bixby’s memory.

(Bio courtesy of Memory Alpha)


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Darryle Purcell

Purcell mugshotI grew up reading Agent G-8, Doc Savage and so many others. That was many years ago, and I still enjoy good, clean adventure novels where justice wins and the good defeat well-defined villains.

As a long-time cartoonist, newspaper editor and public information specialist, I drew on my expertise to write a pulp adventure novel, “Mystery at Movie Ranch,” which should appeal to young readers as well as B-movie fans, early-aviation, western and historical-cinema enthusiasts and those who miss the late Stuart Kaminsky.

During the 1970s, I worked in television animation, educational publishing and began a long-term career in editorial cartooning.

As far as television animation goes, I was hired by Filmation Associates to work on the animated Star Trek series. But on my first day I was given storyboards for The Brady Kids to design into scenes and backgrounds. I then got stuck on that show, My Favorite Martians and Mission Magic for the rest of the season.

I illustrated several young reader books including Calling Earth by Charles Land, and The Grossest Book of World Records, Volume 2. From 1976 until 1979, I illustrated and art directed educational comic books, teaching aids and young reader books for Educational Insights in California.

I began editorial cartooning for the Los Angeles Free Press in 1972 and, later, spent 23 years in daily newspapers in California and Arizona as a full-time political cartoonist, artist and, for 12 years until 2005, managing editor of the Mohave Valley Daily News. That year I became public information director for Mohave County, Arizona. I retired in January, 2013. During my daily newspaper years, I won many awards from statewide professional organizations in editorial writing, column writing, political cartooning and Freedom of Information honors.

In writing the novel Mystery at Movie Ranch and its short story sequel Mystery of the Murdered Badman, I reached into my own experiences in news and PR as well as the military, in which I served in Vietnam as an infantry paratrooper. Over the years, I have dealt with and written a lot about honorable, funny and/or crooked politicians and officials. That has helped in the creation of some of the characters in this book. The writing style reaches back to the pulp publishing adventures, Whitman and Big Little Books of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. Hopefully, this serial-style adventure will be enjoyed for those who are thrilled by Indiana Jones and/or Buck Jones and find Stuart Kaminky’s Toby Peters novels just darn good fun.


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Edmond Hamilton

edhamiltonEdmond Hamilton (1904-1977) has been hailed as one of the three pioneers of the space opera. Indeed, of the three writers credited with creating this beloved science fiction subgenre, Hamilton, Edward E. Smith, Ph. D., and Jack Williamson, Hamilton’s first space opera, “The Comet Doom”, beat both his colleagues into print, by almost a year, in the case of Smith’s unprecedented universe-spanning epic, “The Skylark of Space”, and by almost three years in the case of Williamson’s “The Cosmic Express”. Since Smith had begun his book around 1919, clearly neither he nor Hamilton influenced the other, while Williamson has tipped his hat to the inspiration of both. So, in the final analysis, sole credit must be given to Edmond Hamilton and E. E. Smith as the progenitors of the space opera as so many know and love it today.

But Edmond Hamilton’s contributions to science fiction and to popular culture don’t end with the creation of space opera. They begin there. As science fiction matured, Hamilton’s colorful adventure sagas matured, and he produced a series of poignant, poetic space operas that helped extend the form and widen its possibilities. Among them were “Battle for the Stars”, “The City at World’s End”, “The Star of Life”, and “The Haunted Stars”.

At the same time, one of Hamilton’s magazine editors, Mort Weisinger had been picked to helm the DC comics line, including its new hits, Superman and Batman. Soon Weisinger had tapped several top sf pulp writers, including Hamilton, to become full-time scripters for the company’s comic books. Hamilton had been picked because he was the creator of Captain Future, a pulp magazine rival to Doc Savage, a character who survived today, in much altered form as the hero of an animated series. As a result of Weisiner’s act, Hamilton became a trailblazing pioneer in a new medium, creating characters like Adam Strange, whose science fictional adventures appeared in the comic “Mystery in Space”, and superhero teams like the Legion of Superheroes, whose euphonious comic book has been hailed for its strong, feminist slant (not surprising considering he was married to tomboy and tough-guy novelist Leigh Brackett). And it was Hamilton who was responsible for scripting the first-ever Superman-Batman team-up.

But it is as a writer of novels of colorful, poetic interstellar adventure that Hamilton is most fondly remembered.


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Don Wilcox

Don Wilcox was the best known pen name of U.S. writer Cleo Eldon Wilcox (1905-2000), who taught creative writing at Northwestern University. Most of his work, sometimes as Cleo Eldon (once), Miles Shelton or Max Overton (twice), was for Ray Palmer’s Amazing Stories and Fantastic Adventures, where he published his first story, “The Pit of Death”, in July 1939. A good and pioneering generation-starship tale, “The Voyage that Lasted 600 Years” (October 1940 Amazing), soon followed. At one time he was Palmer’s most prolific and popular contributor, averaging over 40,000 words a month of published stories.

Wilcox used the house name Alexander Blade at least once, and also published a novelette, “Confessions of a Mechanical Man” (May 1947 Amazing), as Buzz-Bolt Atomcracker. The Ebbtide Jones stories beginning with “Whirlpool in Space” (November 1939 Amazing) – the rest appearing in Fantastic Adventures from January 1940 to June 1942 – were published as by Miles Shelton; Jones is a junk dealer who often comes across odd and unusual inventions such as an atom constrictor that converts things into two dimensions to save space.

His given name and academic background are apparently the subject of ongoing conversation: according to Clute and Nicholl’s The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (and Knox’s own claim in sf circles) the author’s given name was Cleo Eldon Knox, and according to Tuck’s Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Wilcox did post-graduate work in journalism and drama. According to his daughter, however, neither of these facts are correct. She adds that Wilcox spent many years in Chicago when he did teach at Northwestern, and also spent some years in N.Y. He had attended University of Kansas where he studied Sociology, not journalism or drama.

According to Fancyclopedia, Wilcox taught English, creative writing, history, and sociology in several junior and senior high schools, at the Chicago campus of Northwestern University, and at The University of Kansas — and later he edited newspapers. In 1932 he and his wife began writing plays for high school classes, and he began writing feature articles for the Kansas City Star. He was also a painter, but early in his career gave up painting in order to have more time to write. Wilcox also wrote scripts for television programs, including Captain Video. In explaining his science fiction writing, he told genre historian Mike Ashley that he seldom read other science fiction authors, but got his ideas for stories from museums, planetariums, ancient histories, and sociology textbooks.

Almost forgotten today, at one time Don Wilcox was a mainstay of the Ziff-Davis science fiction magazines and very popular with readers of both Amazing and Fantastic Adventures. He was said to write science fantasy rather than science fiction, but he had many readers who thought of themselves as science fiction fans. One of these fans was future science fiction writer and editor Terry Carr. “Give Us More Wilcox, Please!” begged Carr in a letter to Fantastic Adventures in the early 1950s.

(Edited from Wilcox’s entries at The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Fancyclopedia and Author Wars. Click for more details.)


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Edgar Rice Burroughs

burroughsThe life of Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950) was marked by numerous false starts and failures—at the time he started writing, aged 36, he was a pencil-sharpener salesman—but it would seem that the impulse to create psychically charged Science-Fantasy environments was deep-set and powerful, for he began with a great rush of energy, and within two years had initiated three of his four most important series.

The first of his published works, A Princess of Mars, opens the long Barsoom sequence of novels set on Mars (AKA Barsoom), and established that planet as a venue for several dream-like Planetary Romance sagas in which sf and fantasy protocols mix indiscriminately. The standard of storytelling and invention is high in the Barsoom books, Chessmen and Swords being particularly fine. While it is debatable that Burroughs’ work is classifiable as sf per se, it is clear that his immense popularity has nothing to do with conventional sf virtues, for it depends on storylines and venues as malleable as dreams, exotic and dangerous and unending.

The Tarzan saga is just as much sf (or non-sf) as the Barsoom series. Though clearly influenced by H Rider Haggard, Burroughs did not imitate one of that writer’s prime virtues: his sense of reality. Tarzan’s Africa must accepted as being no more governed by the reality principle than Barsoom. Tarzan of the Apes, the story of an English aristocrat’s son raised in the jungle by “great apes” (of a nonexistent species) as a kind of feral child, was immensely popular from the beginning, and Burroughs continued producing sequels to the end of his career. In most of them Tarzan has unashamedly fantastic adventures, some of which—discovering lost cities and live Dinosaurs, being reduced to 18 in (46 cm) in height, visiting the Earth’s core—evoke the adventure tropes of pulp sf. Tarzan is a remarkable creation, and possibly the best-known fictional character of the century. Part of Tarzan’s fame is due to the many Tarzan film adaptations, particularly those of the 1930s starring Johnny Weissmuller; almost none of these are very faithful to the books.

Burroughs’s third major series, the Pellucidar novels based on the Hollow-Earth theory of John Cleves Symmes, introduces perhaps the best of Burroughs’s locales—a world without time where dinosaurs and beast-men roam circularly forever—and is a perfect setting for bloodthirsty romantic adventure. The first of the series was filmed as At the Earth’s Core (1976).

A fourth series, created much later in Burroughs’s career, concerns the exploits of spaceman Carson Napier on Venus. They are of particular sf interest because they are his only tales with an interstellar setting.

Of Burroughs’s non-series tales, perhaps the finest is The Land that Time Forgot, set in the lost world of Caspak near the South Pole, and cunningly presenting in literal form—for animals here metamorphose through evolutionary stages—the dictum that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. The book was loosely adapted into two films, The Land that Time Forgot (1975) and The People that Time Forgot (1977). Also of interest is The Moon Maid, which describes a civilization in the hollow interior of the Moon and a future invasion of the Earth.

Among Burroughs’s other books, those which can be claimed as sf include: The Eternal Lover, a prehistoric adventure involving Time Travel; The Monster Men, a reworking of the Frankenstein theme; The Cave Girl, another prehistoric romance; Jungle Girl, about a lost civilization in Cambodia; and Beyond Thirty, a story set in the twenty-second century after the collapse of European civilization.

Because Burroughs’ lack of realistic referents frees his stories from time, because their efficient narrative style helps to compensate for their prudery and racism, and because Burroughs had a genius for highly-energized literalizations of dream-worlds, they have endured. Tarzan is a figure with the iconic density of Sherlock Holmes or Dracula. Burroughs has probably had more imitators than any other sf writer. There have been no “official” continuations of his series, however, with the exception of Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966) by Fritz Leiber and Tarzan, King of the Apes (1983) by Joan D Vinge, the latter being more accurately described as a rewriting. Serious sf writers who owe a debt to Burroughs include Leigh Brackett, Ray Bradbury, Michael Moorcock (as Edward P Bradbury) and, above all, Philip José Farmer, whose Lord Grandrith and Ancient Opar novels are among the most enjoyable of latter-day Burroughs-inflected romances. Burroughs was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2003.

(Edited from Burroughs’ entry at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Click the link for the original, comprehensive article.)


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Octavio Ramos, Jr.

octavio ramos jrOctavio Ramos Jr. is a lifelong fan of all things horror. In his teens, he began to write reviews of horror movies. Since college, he has been writing fiction in the horror genre, as well as reviews and commentary on every facet of horror for magazines such as Video Vista, The Zone, and Horrorshow.

Ramos works as a technical writer-editor at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the home of the world’s first atomic weapon. He has published several books (such as Cerro Grande: Canyons of Fire, Spirit of Community and Raising Cane: Introductory Techniques), a short story collection (Smoke Signals), and a chapbook (“Folio of Edicts”).

In addition, he has more than 200 publications in magazines including Sounds of Death Magazine, Pit Magazine, Whispers from the Shattered Forum, Glyph, Fighting Chance, Weird Times, Double Danger Tales, Sepulchre, Bizarre Bazaar, Starfleet Mysteries, The Silver Web, Black Lotus, Best of the Midwest, Project Mars, Showcase, The Police Marksman, and Sheriff Times.

He lives in White Rock with his wife, Christine, and their two children.


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Stanley Mullen

Stanley Mullen (1911-1974), born in Colorado Springs, was a U.S. artist, museum curator and pulp writer who wrote over thirty sf and fantasy stories. He studied writing at the University of Colorado at Boulder and drawing, painting and lithography at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center where he was accepted as a professional member in 1937, and went on to work as assistant curator of the Colorado State Historical Museum during the 1940s.

Mullen wrote over 200 stories and articles in a variety of fields. His sf and fantasy stories began with “A Dero Named Clarence” for The Gorgon in 1947. Many of his stories were Space Opera, often in Planet Stories, until about 1959. His three books, from small presses, are Kinsmen of the Dragon (1951), which pits the hero against a secret society whose magical science has roots in a parallel world which, being under the sea, is accessible by submarine; Sphinx Child (1948 chap), a fantasy short story; and Moonfoam and Sorceries (coll 1948). Mullen’s story “Space to Swing a Cat” was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1959.

He became involved with the small press publisher New Collector’s Group before starting his own small press publisher, Gorgon Press, in 1948.

(Edited from Mullen’s entries on Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction where you will find further information.)


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L. Frank Baum

Baum_1911L(yman) Frank Baum (1856-1919) was an American journalist and writer whose best-known book is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). Baum’s stories about the imaginary Land of Oz belong to the classics of fantasy literature.

Baum was born in New York, the son of an oil magnate and a women’s rights activist, and the brother of seven siblings. He was raised on a large estate just north of Syracuse which, although it was large, did not have running water. Until the age of twelve, Baum was privately tutored at home.

Before publishing his first novel, Baum spent two years in the late 1860s at Peekskill Military Academy, whose rigid discipline he loathed. In 1873 Baum became a reporter on the New York World. Two years later he founded the New Era weekly in Pennsylvania. He was a poultry farmer with B.W. Baum and Son, and edited Poultry Record and wrote columns for New York Farmer and Dairyman. Baum’s father owned a string of theatres and Baum left journalism to earn his living as an actor. In New York he acted as George Brooks with May Roberts and the Sterling Comedy in plays which he had written. He owned an opera house in 1882-83, and toured with his own repertory company. In 1882 he married Maud Gage; they had four sons.

Baum made his debut as a novelist with Mother Goose in Prose (1897), based on stories told to his own children. Its last chapter introduced the farm-girl Dorothy. Over the next 19 years Baum produced 62 books, most of them for children. Father Goose: His Book (1899) quickly became a best-seller.

Baum’s next work was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Illustrated and decorated by W.W. Denslow, the book was published at Baum’s own expense and sold 90,000 copies in the first two years. Upon his success, Baum moved to California, where he produced sequels for the rest of his life. Despite its popular success, the Oz series was long shunned by librarians and neglected by scholars of children’s literature. In his introduction to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, he describes the story as ushering in a new (and significantly less horrifying) era of children’s fiction:

“Yet the old-time fairy tale, having served for generations, may now be classed as ‘historical’ in the children’s library; for the time has come for a series of newer ‘wonder tales’ in which the stereotyped genie, dwarf, and fairy are eliminated, together with all the horrible and blood-curling incident devised by their authors to point a fearsome moral to each tale. Modern education includes morality; therefore the modern child seeks only entertainment in its wonder-tales and gladly dispenses with all disagreeable incident.”

Under the pen name “Edith Van Dyne” he published 24 books for girls, and as “Floyd Akers” he wrote six books for boys. “Schuyler Staunton” was reserved for the novels The Fate of the Clown (1905) and Daughter of Destiny (1906).

The first of the Oz books was made into a musical in 1901, but Baum was determined to see his stories also on the screen. Since the first Oz book was published, the tale has been filmed many times. The Patchwork Girl of Oz was made in 1914, and Baum himself participated in the project. In 1914-15 Baum was the founding director of Oz Film Manufacturing Company (later Dramatic Features Company), a well-equipped seven-acre studio on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles. The venture failed, and produced only two more Oz stories, His Majesty the Scarecrow of Oz, and The Magic of Cloak of Oz.

The most famous film version from 1939 was directed by Victor Fleming, starring the sixteen-year-old Judy Garland. It received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture and was selected to the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress. However, all reviews were not positive. Russell Maloney wrote in the New Yorker (August 19, 1939): “I say it’s a stinkeroo. The vulgarity of which I was conscious all through the film is difficult to analyze. Part of it was the raw, eye-straining Technicolor, applied with a complete lack of restraint.” In general the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz was not well received; it achieved its present status after TV showings in the 1950s.

The film can be interpreted in many ways; a search for happiness at the end of the Yellow Brick Road, Oz represents Hollywood, to which teenage girls dream of running, in hopes of breaking into movies. Dorothy’s journey can be seen as a young girl’s last childhood experience, and when she chooses to return home to Kansas, she has matured into a young woman, or has abandoned her childhood world of imagination. Baum wanted the children to see that the traditional American values of integrity, self-reliance, candor, and courage would make them succeed despite obstacles. Noteworthy, his stories carry a pacifist plea for tolerance between people. Henry Littlefield argued in his article ‘The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism’ (American Quarterly, 1964) that Baum’s work was a political allegory. At its center were the Western farmer-activists who wanted the government to produce more money so that they could pay off their debts more easily. (see The Historian’s Wizard of Oz: Reading L. Frank Baum’s Classic as a Political and Monetary Allegory, ed. by Ranjit S. Dighe, 2002) Thus the Yellow Brick Road was the gold standard, the Scarecrow was the farmer, the wicked Witch of the East was Wall Street and Big Banks, etc.

Some of Baum’s books for adults, including The Last Egyptian (1908), dealt with other counties and places. He gathered material for works aimed at teenagers during his motoring tours across the country and travels in Europe and Egypt. Born with a congenitally weak heart, Baum was ill through much of his life. He died on May 6, 1919, in Hollywood, where he had moved to a house he called Ozcot.

The Oz series did not stop. Ruth Plumly Thompson was commissioned by Baum’s publisher to write 21 titles. Other writers include Baum’s great-grand son Roger Baum. The Laughing Dragon of Oz (1934) was composed by Frank Joslyn Baum, the author’s son, but he did not have a legal right to publish the book. Salman Rushdie’s The Wizard of Oz (1992) deals with the classic film adaptation against the background of universal symbols and myths.

(Edited from Baum’s entry at Books and Writers. Click the link for the full article.)


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Joe Vadalma

JoeVadalma-and-grim-reaper_cxropped I’ve loved science fiction and fantasy from the time I learned to read.

I was born and raised in a working class neighborhood in Chicago. I think my love of reading stems from my parents and grandparents, who were all avid readers. As a child, one of my favorite things was hanging out at the library or browsing in flea markets for books I could afford. One day my parents took me to see a most wondrous movie, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It made me a believer. From that time on, I read every Oz book I could get my hands on. I also loved comic books, especially the ones in the SF genre, Planet Comics, Superman, Captain Marvel, etc. I also liked mathematics and science, especially astronomy.

When I was twelve or so, I discovered the pulp magazines. They had garish covers and were printed on blotting paper, but the insides were marvelous. Even the letter columns were interesting. In these magazines, and the slicks and paperbacks, that followed a few years later, I learned to love such writers as Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Robert Silverberg and so many others. About that time I decided I wanted to write in the genre, but never got started until many years later.

I was drafted into the army at the end of the Korean War and was sent to Germany, where I worked as a microwave repairman. Also, I married a girl who went to the same high school as I did, but who I met at a party after I graduated. We’ve been married over fifty years now. We have four wonderful girls, ten grandchildren (most whom are adults now) and one spunky five-year-old great-granddaughter.

For most of my working life, I was a technical writer for a major computer firm. I learned many things there about computers, writing, people and corporations. I lived the Dilbert cartoon. Because of my work, my wife and I moved to a small town in upstate New York where the manufacturing plant was located. We still live there, although the company closed the plant.

In 1993, I retired. That’s when my fiction writing career started. Several short stories of mine have been published in e-zines, and I’ve sold a series of dark fantasy novels called The Morgaine Chronicles to Futures Past Editions. Futures Past has also published a collection of my short stories, The Sands of Time, two SF novels, Star Tower and The Bagod, a dark fantasy called The Laws of Magic and many, many more. My website, The Fantastic World of Papa Joe, contains SF, fantasy and horror stories, serials, my blog and art.


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