10 Cases That Should’ve Been Featured On “Unsolved Mysteries”

This post is about Unsolved Mysteries, a 1987-2002 documentary show that profiled cases that dealt with crime, legends, lost loves and the paranormal. Hosted by Robert Stack, who reported cases in an eerie, monotone, yet warm and avuncular voice, this show was loved by Generation Y kids (myself included) all over the country for spooking us out weekday nights. The creepy electronic music helped too. This show was my introduction to cryptozoology, where I learned about Champ, Ogopogo and Bigfoot. Thanks to Amazon Prime, I’ve been able to watch the show and revisit many famous mysteries – some of which have been solved. But in the years since the show went off the air, I’ve come across many cases that were never featured on the show and I wished had been. So I’ve come up with a list of 10 cases that were never investigated by Unsolved Mysteries. Each case title will provide a link to an article or video that gives more information on the case. I will only list mysteries that happened before 2002, and I’m not taking into account the Dennis Farina series. What you are about to read is not a news broadcast.

Pay close attention. Perhaps you may be able to help solve a mystery.

10. A One Hour Special Devoted to the Famous Mysteries of Polar Exploration

Until the mid 20th Century, the North and South Poles were “the final frontier”. Underneath all that ice and snow, there are plenty of mysteries to explore. The first that comes to mind is the quest for the Northwest Passage. Why did so many expeditions fail, in particular the Expedition of Sir John Franklin? Now I know what you’re thinking: thanks to new forensic evidence and the discoveries of the shipwrecks Erebus and Terror, we’ve come close to solving the case of the missing Franklin Expedition. But in the 20th century the ships weren’t discovered yet and to this day there’s still unanswered questions: what killed Sir John Franklin so early in the expedition? What happened to Captain Francis Crozier? Why was the company contracted to provide the expedition with canned goods careless in their sealing methods that led to the downfall of the crew? Did Franklin pick the wrong route to travel in his quest for the Northwest Passage? If so, how could he – who had Arctic experience – pick such a disastrous route? Were there any survivors and did they spend the rest of their lives with the Inuit? Regardless, Franklin and his men were a big influence on Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, who, thanks to his resourcefulness and humility, founded the Northwest Passage in 1906. But in 1928, while traveling by plane on a rescue mission, Amundsen disappeared. His body and plane were never found…

9. The Disappearance of Glenn Miller

We’ve all heard of plane crashes involving rock stars but when it comes to planes and jazz legends, only one name comes to mind: Glenn Miller. A big band leader and trombone player, Miller was best known for songs like “Pennsylvania 6-5000” and “Chattanooga Choo-Choo”. Like other entertainers during World War Two, Miller traveled from base to base entertaining the troops. But on December 15, 1944 while flying in a UC-64 over the English Channel, he disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again. What happened to Glenn Miller?

8. The Kelly-Hopkinsville Encounter

In 1955 12 eyewitnesses – Elmer and Vera Sutton, Billy Ray and June Taylor, J.C. and Alene Sutton, O.P. Baker, Glennie Lankford and her 3 children – told Hopkinsville, KY police that the Sutton farmhouse in Kelly was “attacked” by unwanted visitors resembling aliens resulting in a two hour shootout. There were estimated to be about twelve to fifteen invaders. Despite intensive police investigation, no evidence of alien contact was ever verified. Were the farmhouse residents really startled by the presence of “goblins”? Was it just a case of mass hysteria and mistaken identity? Or was it all just a hoax? You be the judge.

7. The Boy In The Box

A case that still puzzles and disturbs people to this very day. On February 25, 1957 in Philadelphia, Frederick Benosis, a college student, came across a box filled with the remains of a little boy (estimated to be around 4-6 years old) covered with bruises, possibly malnourished and wrapped in a flannel blanket. What made this case even more difficult for police was that they couldn’t even figure out the identity of the little boy. And so he was christened “The Boy In the Box” and “America’s Unknown Child”. In the days following the discovery of the body, police did a thorough investigation of the crime scene, took postmortem photos of the child and distributed flyers all to no avail. The case remains open. Who was The Boy In the Box?

6. The Disappearance of Richey Edwards

Lyricist and guitarist Richey Edwards was a member of Manic Street Preachers, a Welsh alternative rock band. At 7 A.M. on February 1 1995, the day he and a friend were scheduled to fly to the U.S. for a tour, Edwards vanished from his room at the Embassy Hotel in London. He took with him his passport, wallet, car keys and some Prozac. He had also withdrawn £2,800 from his bank account. Although eyewitnesses have stepped forward claiming to have seen or encounter Edwards, he’s never been seen or heard from since. What happened to Richey Edwards? What drove him to walk away from his career? Did he commit suicide or was he murdered? Is he still alive?

5. Who Was Indrid Cold?

While the Mothman was wrecking bridges, another bizarre legend arose in West Virignia in 1966. While driving home one night, sewing machine salesman Woodrow Derenberger came across a bizarre aircraft that stopped him in his tracks. Out came a man that looked like any other man save for one defining feature: he had a big grin frozen on his face. Communicating telepathically with Derenberger, he revealed that his name was Indrid Cold and that he would meet with Derenberger again, which he did. Derenberger reported this encounter to famed investigator John Keel, who then claimed to have received phone calls from the mysterious “Grinning Man”. But weeks before Derenberger and Keel had their encounters, two boys from Elizabeth, New Jersey – James Yanchitis and Martin Munov – were walking home when they passed by a fence and saw a man just standing there with a big grin across his face. It was the creepiest experience they ever had. Curiously the Grinning Man/Indrid Cold legend remains an event of the ’60s. There’s been no reported sightings since. Was Indrid Cold an actual alien? Was he just a drunken prankster? Or was this all a case of mass hysteria and frayed nerves?

4. Dune Tunes

Unsolved Mysteries once did a segment on mysterious hums and another segment on the Gurdon Lights. Now combine those two phenomena and you get singing sand dunes. Eye (ear?) witnesses claim to hear certain musical instruments (kettle drum, zither, tambourine, foghorn or harp) emitting from sand dunes. The most reported places are the Mojave Desert, Death Valley National Park and the Kelso Dunes. What causes this musical phenomena? Is it the dunes? Is it an echo from nearby cities? Or is it just the human imagination?

3. Who Killed The Red Baron?

One thing we can say with conviction: it wasn’t Snoopy. On April 21st, 1918, German ace pilot Manfred von Richthofen, commonly known as “The Red Baron”, was shot down over Vaux-sur-Somme. He was 25 years old. Despite the roster of possible “suspects”, no one can pinpoint who fired the shot that ended the military career of the man with 80 victories under his belt.

2. The Death of Dorothy Kilgallen

Before Oprah Winfrey, there was Dorothy Kilgallen, an influential – and I mean influential – journalist who wrote play reviews in her column The Voice of Broadway. She also hosted a radio show with her husband, Breakfast With Dick and Dorothy. She was a recurring panelist on the game show What’s My Line and she covered crime cases on the side. It was her sharp journalism skills that helped acquit Dr. Sam Shepherd of the murder of his wife.

These skills would be used again in 1963 with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. After the assassination, arrest and murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, Kilgallen wrote in The New York Journal American: “The point in this historic case is that the whole truth has not been told.” In other words, Kilgallen wasn’t buying what the FBI – and the press – were reporting to the masses, so she decided to do some investigating of her own. Then in 1965 she was found dead in her New York townhouse. The coroner ruled it a suicide, then a drug overdose. But some believe it was murder. Did she know too much?

1. The Dyatlov Pass Incident

In 1959 nine Russian ski hikers were found dead in their tents in the northern Ural Mountains (Kholat Syakhl). Examinations of the remains found evidence of hypothermia, skull and chest fractures, missing eyes and tongue from one of the victims. During the night, the skiers, inadequately dressed for the sub-zero environment, tore out of their tents and flee into the night. What made the group abandon their camp? Was it an avalanche? An animal attack? Or something more sinister?

Honorable Mentions:

For every mystery there is someone, somewhere who knows the truth. Perhaps that someone is watching. Perhaps…it’s you.

If you have any information, call us at 1-800-876-5353 or go to unsolved.com. Or just leave your thoughts in the comments section.

 

 

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I’m Not Surprised About James Gunn Getting Fired From Marvel

In fact, I had to smirk. It was a long time coming.

But it’s disgusting how all these celebs and fans are coming to the “disgraced” director’s defense with these lame excuses. Let’s look at some of them.

1. He was only joking, he wasn’t engaging in pedophilia.

Those tweets are no joke to the victims of childhood sexual abuse. In fact Gunn’s nasty humor is an example of “pedophilia culture”, when society normalizes, enables and celebrates sexual behavior involving children or teenagers. This includes movies, TV shows, music videos and porn. It also includes fashion and beauty ads that promote the ideal female (and sometimes male) body as prepubescent. And tasteless tweets like the ones Gunn posted.

2. Disney is no better, just look at Song of the South.

Song of the South is a 1946 animated/live action film about a white little boy who seeks advise from Uncle Remus, a black sharecropper who uses stories about “Br’er Rabbit”, “Br’er Fox” and “Br’er Bear” to help the little boy with his problems. Gunn’s supporters are comparing this 72 year old film made during a time when racism was common, to some 10 year old tweets, a 40 something Gunn made. That’s a pretty big age gap and not only that, Disney has announced over and over again, that SOTS is an old shame they will keep in their vaults and never release to the public.

3. Gunn was a different person 10 years ago, he’s changed!

I can expect this kind of behavior from a school age boy, but not a man in his 40s. What grown man makes such disgusting jokes publicly? Did you make pedophilia jokes 10 years ago?

James Gunn hasn’t changed. Never did, never will.

Long before Gunn was hired to direct Guardians of the Galaxy, girl geeks unearthed a list he typed of female superheroes he’d like to bed. It isn’t pretty. (Not surprisingly, the writer of the post asked readers to write to Disney to fire Gunn from GOTG.) Of course Gunn took down the post and issued an apology. However, when GOTG was released in 2014, it appeared that Gunn didn’t learn his lesson. The same old sexism was there, as pointed out by some critics.

Lady Geek Girl and Friends:

For one thing, it literally started with a lady getting fridged. Peter’s mom dies to give him angst throughout the rest of the movie, and then Drax brings our “fridged for your manpain” death count up to three with his wife and daughter. Women are also used as props: for example, shortly after escaping from the planet where he found the orb, Peter realizes his hookup from the night before is still on board his ship. Her presence and the tired “what was your name again” repartee are there entirely to establish Peter’s playboy status. I was surprised and pleased, though, that the scene in the trailer which seemed to imply that Gamora and Peter hooked up mid-movie was not actually included in the film.

But the fact that there was a hookup scene to begin with is still bothersome.

Andrea Morgan:

Melia Kreiling portrays Bereet, a vaguely-alien humanoid whose key scene involves Quill shamelessly admitting to forgetting her existence even though they’d recently had sex. In the next scene, she speaks broken English and is servile to Quill; it struck me as an extraterrestrial variation of the Asian girlfriend trope. This was one of the few moments in the film where I actually didn’t like Pratt’s character. Unfortunately, this a-girl-in-every-spaceport sexism is leaned on for laughs throughout the film. Pratt is still playing a heterosexual white male lead, and Gunn won’t let you forget it.

 There is a female character credited only as Tortured Pink Girl (Laura Ortiz). For some reason, Benicio Del Toro plays the sadistic Collector (kind of an older, huskier Ziggy Stardust), with whom Quill seeks to do business. We see that the Collector has enslaved at least two women; both are displayed in pigtails and pink jumpers. One is forced to wash the glass cage of the other. The woman in the cage is on her knees, bound and gagged with electric ropes, a clear look of pain and fear in her eyes.

Quill and crew are less concerned with the fate of the women than with money and exposition. When the uncaged woman, Carina (Ophelia Lovibond), desperately attempts to use the power of an ancient artifact to free herself, she’s immolated instead. We’re left to assume that the other captive woman is also killed in the subsequent cataclysm.
Things didn’t get any better in the 2017 sequel. Clara Mae had this to say about the character assassination of Mantis:
Whereas in the comics Mantis is a celestial goddess, in GOTG2 she’s simply a servant to a celestial god, Ego, Peter Quill’s father. Stripped of her powers and physical strength, we are explicitly told that Mantis is only an empath, and that she travels with Ego to “help him sleep.” Just sit with that for a second: in the comics, Mantis is a young Asian woman who’s trained from birth as a skilled fighter, becomes an Avenger, and eventually transforms into a goddess. In the film, Mantis is an infantile, wide-eyed Asian woman who is introduced as the servant to an old white man who she calls master. The white man raises her and keeps her by his side so she can use her skills to put him to sleep. She’s clearly afraid of him, and it’s revealed that she’s never interacted with anyone outside of her master. This relationship has horrendous connotations, and it’s a wonder why Gunn completely rewrote Mantis’ backstory to include this. It’s the exact kind of demeaning Asian woman trope that comics Mantis herself avoided, so why is it in GOTG2?

 

Mantis exhibits all the signs of a woman who is being mistreated, but rather than save her immediately, the Guardians simply ignore it. Excited to finally meet his father, Peter is never bothered to acknowledge Mantis or her plight in any tangible way, a marked difference from the comics where Peter goes out of his way to recruit Mantis and has a positive relationship with her. As for the rest of the Guardians, they actively participate in Mantis’ abuse: not only are their insults and violence against Mantis normalized, they’re even used for comedic effect. Each of the Guardians’ actions help to enforce an idea that film Mantis has already internalized: she is worthless.

We see this a lot in Mantis’ troubling relationship with Drax, who is the only one of the Guardians who even remotely attempts to interact with Mantis, but half of those interactions involve Drax insulting Mantis’ appearance. Later, when Mantis rushes to his room in a panic to warn him about Ego’s evil plan, he automatically assumes Mantis is there for sex, to which he exaggeratedly makes retching noises about.

And then there’s the physical violence that Mantis suffers. When she meets Rocket Raccoon, Drax leads her to believe he’s his pet. When she reaches out to touch him, Raccoon snaps around and bites into her hand; she cries out, terrified, as Drax roars with laughter. Later, when Mantis reaches out to Gamora to demonstrate her empath powers, she’s immediately grabbed by the wrists and told, “Touch me, and the only thing you’re going to feel is a broken jaw.” When Gamora finally finds out the truth about Ego’s plans, she runs up to Mantis, grabs her by the throat, slams her against the wall, and tries to choke her. Gamora never apologizes for this, and we never see any follow-up to assure us that Gamora and Mantis will have any relationship beyond these moments of animosity.

“But what about Gamora?” you may ask. “She’s a strong female character. She’s the most dangerous woman in the universe.” Is she? Not according to Dylan Dembrow:

When they’re planning their prison break, Rocket proposes that Gamora use her body to make a trade with the male guards to aid in their escape. Later, Drax the Destroyer flat out refers to Gamora as a “green wh**e.” This makes little sense considering that Drax is a literalist, and he’s had no reason to believe Gamora has worked in this capacity in the past.

The Gamora we often get in the MCU is more bark than bite. She certainly comes across as an intimidating force thanks to Zoe Saldana’s powerful performance, but when she’s actually engaged in battle with an enemy, Gamora often ends up on the losing side.

Outside of engaging in combat, doing a bit of heavy lifting, and being able to jump really far in a pinch, Gamora powers seem diminished to nothing more than some boosted strength. What’s more, is that her strength and fighting skills haven’t been all that impressive to date, with even Peter getting the better of her during a skirmish.

So much for being one of the most dangerous women in existence.

Or Hugh Armitage:

The MCU’s Gamora has been too much defined by the men in her life, minimising her own narrative for the sake of Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and later, Thanos (Josh Brolin).

Gamora’s main narrative in the Guardians films was about Peter Quill seducing her. The film falls into all the old, well-worn clichés, reducing Gamora to a damsel in distress dying in space so that Peter can save her. How much more interesting it would have been for her to save him for a change, and it would have made more sense considering that she is manifestly tougher and more reliable than our designated hero.

Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 continues the theme, with Peter convincing her to like his music and dance with him. Maybe it’s just not her thing – leave her alone, you creep.

Yet despite these criticisms – or maybe because of them – Guardians of the Galaxy became the highest grossing film of 2014 and Volume 2 got an Oscar nomination for… something, thus proving that if you’re not not disgusted, you’re not paying attention.

Firing James Gunn from Guardians 3 will not doom the franchise. They can always rehire Nicole Perlman (who wrote the script for the 1st movie, only for it to get rewritten) to write the script. There are other qualified directors to hire (like Taika Waititi or even a woman director). Critics are so enamored of the MCU (or at least bribed to like it), they’ll give GOTG 3 a fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

While Karma continues its rampage.

 

 

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I’m a Woman and I Don’t Like The New She-Ra

If you’re a child of the ’80s, chances are you’ve seen Masters of the Universe and its spinoff show She-Ra, Princess of Power. If you were a girl, She-Ra may have been your childhood hero. If you’re unfamiliar with the premise of the show, read this. The latest project in Hollywood’s ongoing obsession with all things ’80s (read: Ready Player One), Netflix will be rebooting the beloved cartoon show for a new generation of children with all new designs for She-Ra (and Adora), Bow, Catra and Glimmer. Here they are:

She-Ra

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Catra

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Bow

Glimmer__Bow_and_Adora

and Glimmer:

 

Glimmer__Bow_and_Adora

 

So you can guess that by now fan opinion is strongly divided and we’re back to the whole Toxic Fandom™ discussion again. On Twitter I’ve been coming across these kinds of tweets from the pro New-Ra side:

(I have no clue what this guy is talking about.)

It appears the common complaint these people have is, once again, men (and it’s always men) are griping over the new She-Ra because “she’s not sexy enough”, “she’s not feminine enough”, etc. etc. and their counter arguments are – wait for it – “This She-Ra isn’t for you! She’s for a new generation of little girls! She’s more realistic! Women come in all shapes and sizes!” blah, blah, blah. They accuse these “incel” haters of never liking the original show in the first place, yet the impression I’m getting from these people is that the old She-Ra was some “porn star” that presented an unrealistic body image to little girls.

(And the old one wasn’t? It had campy characters like Madam Razz, Cowl, Lookee, Sorrowful and the inhabitants of Whispering Woods.)

Then there’s this:

“She’s a warrior, so she’s not gonna look too womanly.” Did this guy forget that Gal Gadot once served in the Israeli military? Has he ever seen the documentary Served Like a Girl on PBS?

(There was another tweet a couple of days back – naturally I can’t find it now – where a man said that there’s finally a She-Ra for girls and women. So what was the original show written for, barnyard animals?)

Then they argue that New-Ra is a teenager which is why she doesn’t have breasts. Last time I checked most teenage girls have developing breasts. In fact all women have breasts because – *deep breath* – THEY’RE WOMEN!!!

Now let’s look at ’80s She-Ra:

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Does this look like a woman with a tiny waist and heavy cleavage to you? When I watched this show as a child, I never saw anything sexual about it. She-Ra appealed to me because she was brave, wise and kind. She saw potential in everyone she met, whether it was a cowardly dragon or the nephew of Hordak. She proved that women can be strong and feminine at the same time. The show appealed to girls and boys because it embraced its masculine and feminine sides. While I like the fact that the new She-Ra is more covered up, I’ve noticed that ’80s She-Ra was more covered up than her male companions, who almost wore next to nothing!

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(OK ladies, confession time: raise your hand if He-Man was your first crush.)

My point is this: not everyone complaining about the upcoming new show is a sexist man who jerks off to pretty fictional characters. Some women aren’t impressed and I’m one of them. I don’t like the new designs because a.) the characters look ugly, b.) they’re too androgynous, and c.) it’s just another lazy reboot we don’t need.

Why can’t we just keep introducing new generations of kids to ’80s cartoons like She-Ra and create new female heroes instead? If the television industry wants to reboot/remake, why not reboot forgotten properties like Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld, Sheena: Jungle Queen, Phantom Lady, Moon Girl or that short-lived, totally awesome, Calamity Jane cartoon I adored as a 13 year old? Personally I wished Netflix and DC had teamed up to expand the DC Nation cartoon adventures of Amy Winston.

Again I repeat, if  you’re one of those people on Twitter who thinks that only men are unimpressed with this show, here’s one woman who’s not excited for the new She-Ra and doesn’t care whether the show is aimed at me or not. No boyish, animesque She-Ra will ever replace my Princess of Power.

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Watch this video, this woman is super-pissed about the new design:

One more thing: Noelle Stevenson, the creator of Netflix She-Ra wasn’t even born when the original She-Ra was on TV!

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9 Dinosaur Books to Read (That Aren’t “Jurassic Park”)

May 15th was National Dinosaur Day. It’s been said that the reason dinosaurs went extinct is because they didn’t read. But they sure make for memorable literary protagonists. So to celebrate Dinosaur Day, let’s look at nine memorable titles about our prehistoric pals.

Note: I will leave out Jurassic Park because it was probably the 1st title that popped into your head when you hear the word “dinosaur literature” and both the book and the films it inspired have been done to death (though I’d still like to wish it a happy 25th anniversary).

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The Lost World (1912)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

 

 

 

You know him best as the creator of Sherlock Holmes but Doyle also wrote this novel that popularized the concept of a “hidden world” where dinosaurs, prehistoric creatures and even early humans survived extinction and lived undetected from modern civilization for millennia.

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The Land That Time Forgot (first published in serial form in 1918, then published as a novel in 1924)

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Following in the footsteps of Doyle, Burroughs also wrote about an undiscovered world where dinosaurs were alive and well, but set the story against the backdrop of World War 1 and U boat warfare.

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Dinosaur Tales (1983)

Ray Bradbury

I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows and gorillas. When this occurs I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.

Five stories, one poem and illustrations by Steranko, Moebius and William Stout, make up this unique collection of every dino story penned by the master himself. These include “The Fog Horn”, “A Sound of Thunder” and “Besides a Dinosaur, Whatta Ya Wanna Be When You Grow Up?” Despite being published by Barnes and Noble Books, I found this hidden treasure at Half Price Books.

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The Dinotopia Series (1992-2007)

James Gurney

When I was in elementary school, Dinotopia mania was at its peak, thanks to all the merchandise many of my male classmates were taking with them to school (like folders and backpacks). Why I didn’t beg my mother for some Dinotopia swag is beyond me. Maybe because I hadn’t read the book. In fact I didn’t read the series until I was in college(!) and I fell madly in love with James Gurney’s lush, Pre-Raphaelite influenced artwork. I even used one of the procession scenes as a wallpaper for my office computer when I worked as a school attendance clerk and received a lot of complements from passing co-workers. Part travelogue and part adventure story, Dinotopia tells the story of scientist Arthur Denison as he and his son wash upon a mysterious island where dinosaurs and humans live in peaceful interdependence.

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Dinosaur Fantastic (1993)

Edited by Mike Resnick and Martin H. Greenberg

From Goodreads: Mike Resnick and Martin H. Greenberg have called upon such gifted writers as Robert Sheckley, Pat Cadigan, Frank M. Robinson, Judith Tarr, Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon, Bill Fawcett, Katherine Kerr, David Gerrold, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch to create these twenty-five stories of the most terrifying and fascinating creatures to ever inhabit the Earth: the dinosaurs. From their native Jurassic landscape to your own backyard, from their ancient mastery of the planet to modern-day curiosities trapped in an age not their own, from the earth-shaking tyrannosaur to the sky-soaring pterodactyl, here are unforgettable tales-some poignant, some humorous, some offering answers to the greatest puzzle of prehistory. But all are certain to capture the hearts and imaginations of dinosaur lovers of all ages.

I can’t tell you what stories are in the anthology but I hope to read it someday.

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Anonymous Rex (2000)

Eric Garcia)

Dinosaurs disguised as (human) detectives to determine whodunnit. A notable entry in the “hard boiled sci-fi” subgenre.

Xenozoic Tales a.k.a. Cadillacs and Dinosaurs (1987-1994)

Mark Schultz

I remember seeing CBS promos for this show (Cadillacs and Dinosaurs) in the early ’90s (“IN YOUR EYE!!!”) but I didn’t know it was based on a comic (Xenozoic Tales) until now. This video below explains how the cartoon and the comic differ (and why the show failed miserably):

While TV Tropes gives more info on the comic/franchise. Another title I look forward to reading someday.

Age of Reptiles (1993-2015)

Ricardo Delgado

One day I googled “Ricardo Delgado” and I got some muscled guy in a thong. Oops. With all of that bodybuilding and posing, I don’t think he has the time to draw dino comics. So if you ever run into him don’t ask him to sign your copy of Age of Reptiles, a series published by Dark Horse about the everyday struggles of various dinosaurs throughout the – you guessed it – Age of Reptiles. There’s been four titles published so far: Tribal Warfare, The Hunt, The Journey and Ancient Egyptians. The most notable aspect of the series is that there’s no words or sounds. The stories rely on the pictures alone.

Oh and this is the Ricardo Delgardo who created the series.

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Dinosaurs vs Aliens (2012)

Grant Morrison

Did you know that during the Mesozoic Era an alien invasion was thwarted by intelligent dinosaurs? YOU DIDN’T KNOW THAT?!?! IF DINOSAURS HADN’T INTERVENED WE WOULDN’T BE HERE!!! THIS IS WHY DINOSAURS DESERVE OUR RESPECT!!!! That’s why to this very day we honor dinosaurs with…Dinosaur Day!

Happy (Belated) Dinosaur Day.

 

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5 “Alien” Crossovers That Need to Happen

Back in 1989, Dark Horse Comics published a story that had the antagonists of Alien meet the titular antagonists of Predator. From then on, the beasts battled bloodily in 36 more titles. Bet you didn’t know, that some of those crossovers included meetings with other characters like Batman (Batman/Aliens), Superman (Superman and Batman Versus Aliens and Predator Superman/Aliens), The Terminator (Aliens Versus Predator Versus The Terminator), Judge Dredd (Predators vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens) and Green Lantern (Green Lantern Versus Aliens). It doesn’t seem like there’ll be anymore crossovers in the near future (though the Predator was “lucky” enough to make an appearance in an Archie comic) which sucks because there’s so many juicy stories just waiting to burst out of the minds of writers involving the xenomorphs we all know and fear. So in honor of Alien Day, let’s look at some possible storylines for future Alien comics.

Alien vs. Jurassic Park

A Nightmare 65 Million Years In the Making. 

Back in 2012 there was a comic called Dinosaurs vs Aliens which depicted an extraterrestrial invasion in the Cretaceous Period (no affliation with Jurassic Park or the Alien franchise). Guess who won? So it only makes sense to have xenomorphs facing off (and bursting out of) against one of Earth’s most alien creatures. Are xenomorphs and velociraptors that different? It takes a lot of stealth to stay one step ahead of both species – who hunt in groups and answer to a matriarch. Or picture coming face to face with a xenomorph T. rex. Uh-oh.

Taking place after the events of Jurassic Park, the corporation that bribed Dennis Nedry still wants to cash in on John Hammond’s idea of a dinosaur park. They send in a team of wranglers, scientists and an agent to investigate Isla Nublar and possibly secure the island for themselves. During the investigation they come across a nest of suspicious looking eggs and the corpse of a T. rex with a gaping hole in its side…Will life find a way out of this one?

Star Wars/Aliens

Somewhere, in space, screaming could be happening right now.

I can picture this one written by Joe Schreiber thanks to his SW novels Death Troopers, Red Harvest and Darth Maul: Lockdown. However, I would prefer the story to take place during the Old Republic era because the thought of sith (before the Rule of Two) fighting xenomorphs – who are impervious to the Force – sounds dark, scary and exciting. Also it’s a good excuse to give Star Wars back into the hands (hooves?) of Dark Horse – for awhile.

Archie vs. Alien

There are some places in Riverdale you don’t go alone.

Look, Archie has to meet the Predator’s greatest rival sooner or later: somehow some xenomorph eggs end up in the school’s science lab. When a curious Dilton Doily or Moose Mason investigates he gets attacked by a face hugger, then during lunch students watch in horror as a chestburster eats its way out of Moose or Dilton and runs off. Because no one knows where it went all of Riverdale High is on lockdown until animal control finds the creature. By the time 6th period rolls around, more than half the faculty and a majority of the student body are dead. Is Archie, Jughead, Reggie, Betty and Veronica among the victims?

Aliens/War of the Worlds

They’re Already Here.

This version is the 2005 film directed by Steven Spielberg. Say whatever you want about the movie, you can’t deny that it captured the horror and suspense of Wells’ immortal novel. What happens when one of the “Martians” harvesting human victims accidentally pick up some xeno eggs and takes them aboard its tripod?

Jonah Hex vs. Aliens

Who says xenos can’t show up in the past and who better to come face to face with in the Old West than DC’s greatest gunslinger Jonah Hex? How will a man with less developed technology stand against these formidable “demons” in the desert wilderness? Can you imagine scenes where Hex has to hide out in a cave only to find one hanging above him? Or a panel where he sees some rock paintings bearing an eerie resemblance to the xenos? We may even get a glimpse of a xenomorph horse or, even better, a xenomorph alligator!

This is the Lady From Planet X, signing off. Happy Alien Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Reasons Why There Should Be A Xena Animated Series

Lucy Lawless recently said that she wants a Xena reboot because “it’s a wasted franchise.” Despite being off the air for 17 years, fans are still clamoring for a chance to see Xena and Gabrielle riding on the small screen once again. Others aren’t sure if lightning can strike twice. But fear not Xenites! I have a suggestion. The answer to all our problems lies here:

Image result for hercules and xena the battle for mount olympus

No. I’m not saying you have to watch this film on a loop to get your Xena fix. I’m suggesting this: reboot Xena as a (hand drawn, thank you very much) cartoon show. What? You think that’s silly? Well that’s why I have a blog and you don’t. Here’s why there should be a Xena animated series.

1. It worked for other franchises.

Star Trek has an animated series. Star Wars has five animated series to date. They won awards and are embraced by fans as much as their live-action counterparts. With good scripts and talented artists, a successful Xena animated series is possible.

2. It allows for more creative freedom.

What if Xena and Gabrielle weren’t kept in suspended animation for 25 years? What if Eve didn’t grow up to become Livia because her mother was around? What if Xena met historical figures like Alexander the Great, Hannibal or Zenobia? What if Xena and Gabrielle got lost at sea and ended up finding the New World long before the rest of Europe did? What if the events of A Friend In Need never happened? You see, this series doesn’t have to be in the same timeline as the live-action series. You can do whatever you want and still stick to the “time of ancient gods, warlords and kings” but you can have the occasional modern episode a la “The Xena Scrolls” or “Deja Vu All Over Again”. Hercules, Iolaus, Joxer, Autolycus, Salmoneus, Ephiny and Cyrene can still make appearances along with new characters (since Kevin T. Smith died tragically in 2002, it’s debatable whether they should cast a new actor to voice Ares or retire the character). And speaking of appearances…

3. No physical demands on the actors.

Lucy Lawless is 50. Renee O’Connor is 47. Ted Raimi is 52. Kevin Sorbo is 59 and Michael Hurst is 60. Hudson Leick is 48. I don’t think these actors want to risk hurting themselves doing physical work the show demanded – even with stunt doubles. At the same time, I can’t picture any one else but the aforementioned actors playing their iconic roles, but they can voice the characters they made famous (and it would be fun to see other voice actors guest star on the show. Just imagine Ashley Eckstein or James Arnold Taylor making a guest appearance!). After all if 66 year old Mark Hamill can lend his voice to TESB Luke (and make it work), then Lucy Lawless can do the same.

 4. It can tone down the darker aspects of the show.

Now I don’t mean turning it into a saccharine kiddy show, but there are certain aspects of the show I wouldn’t be comfortable showing to little girls (“The Ides of March” anyone?). And I want to introduce little girls to Xena and see them embrace her the way they embrace Wonder Woman. But they have shows like DC Superhero Girls to introduce them to kinder and gentler versions of DC’s greatest female characters. There can still be action and adventure in the vein of, say, Justice League Unlimited or Batman: The Brave and the Bold, but without blood or scary moments. Again, with the right kind of writers, it’s possible to make a kid-friendly show that adults will love.

Well those are the only reasons I can think of. Any ideas you can add? Let me know in the comments.

 

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Filed under fantasy, female characters, feminism, television, tv superheros, Xena Warrior Princess

Adventures in Star Trek Fiction – Part 1

Star Wars publishing is known as the Expanded Universe/Legends. What do you call all the copious novels and anthologies that tie into the Star Trek TV franchise? Memory Beta? Voyages of the Imagination? Continuing Missions? I think that last one has a good ring to it…

Anyway, with all the mixed reactions to Star Trek Discovery, I think it’s time to look back on some good Trek stories that continued the missions of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Again, if your upset that your favorite books aren’t listed here, I apologize and you can always direct me to your site/twitter/whatever to show me your favorite tie-in novels.

Engage.

Note: with some exceptions, summaries are taken from the reference book Voyages of the Imagination: The Star Trek Fiction Companion by Jeff Ayers.

The Tears of the Singers (1984)

Melinda Snodgrass

The inhabitants of the planet Taygeta are seal-like creatures known for their beautiful song. In addition, they produce a jewel-like tear when they die. Hunters are commonplace and the killing needs to stop. A spatial rift near the planet has the Enterprise investigating along with the Klingons. Captain Kirk has recruited a famous musician to attempt communication with the creatures and Uhura falls in love with him. Can Kirk’s shipmates get along with the Klingons, stop the slaughter of the animals, and seal up the rift?

I love this book because it’s an Uhura-centric story revolving around her gift for music. When she uses that gift to help her crewmates, it makes for a memorable story. It also has a sympathetic female Klingon who befriends her and I like Klingons.

Uhura’s Song (1985)

Janet Kagan

On the planet Eeiauo, a decimating plague ravages its population of catlike beings. Uhura had visited the planet years before and befriended one of the inhabitants. The songs the two of them shared actually hold a secret that the Eeiauoans are willing to die upholding. When the plague crosses over to humans and Dr. McCoy becomes infected, the Enterprise crew must solve the mystery of the songs and cure the plague before everyone succumbs.

Interesting how one Uhura novel comes out a year after another, revolving around music once again. And it has two species of alien cats!

Federation (1994)

Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens

While Kirk and his crew struggle to free scientist Zefram Cochrane from captors, ninety-nine years in the future Jean-Luc Picard must rescue a mysterious individual who holds the key to the Federation’s ultimate survival.

A novel that intertwines the crew of The Original Series and The Next Generation into one epic story as they race to protect a fleeing scientist from an obsessed despot. The 1st Trek book I ever read – before I ever saw any of the shows. Good thing it was a really good book that kept me interested in the franchise. The two Enterprises even encounter each other at one point. *Sniff*. So beautiful.

The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh (2001 & 2002)

Greg Cox

In the twentieth century, an international cabal of scientists launches the Chrysalis Project, the development of an artificially enhanced breed of humans, while Gary Seven, an undercover operative for an advanced alien species struggles to neutralize the threat while watching the children of Chrysalis, including the brilliant Khan Noonien Singh, grow to adulthood.

Q-In-Law (1991)

Peter David

The Enterprise is chosen to host a wedding between two rival civilizations. One of the delegates attending the wedding happens to be Deanna’s mother, much to the chagrin of everyone else. When she meets Q and everyone warns her about him, that only attracts her to him more. Can Q, the most annoying being in the galaxy, find true love with the most annoying woman in the galaxy?

After reading this book, you’ll wish there were a TNG episode where the two meet. Or at least a production of Alien Voices

Spartacus (1992)

T.L. Mancour

Helping a damaged ship brings pain and grief to the crew of the Enterprise-D. The inhabitants of the Freedom call themselves Vemlans and they are fleeing a war-torn home, looking for a new place to live. A foggy picture gets even more blurry when an entire fleet from the planet arrives and claims that the Freedom crew are nothing more than escaped slaves. Picard must use all his cunning to fiddle with the Prime Directive if the Enterprise is to survive.

A good novel that delves into the ongoing question: what measure is a human. I won’t tell you what species the crew of the Freedom are.

Nightshade (1992)

Laurell K. Hamilton

Captain Picard, Worf and Deanna are negotiating for peace. The two factions are living on a dying planet. The Enterprise is sent away on another mission. The three of them are left alone to resolve the dispute. A murder occurs and Picard is accused of the crime. Now he resides in prison. Worf and Troi must discover the identity of the true killer. In the process, Worf learns to be a diplomat.

I don’t remember much of the plot but what stood out the most was seeing Troi and Worf’s working relationship evolve from slight mistrust to the beginnings of friendship as they work to solve the mystery.

Here There Be Dragons (1993)

John Peel

Investigating massive stellar phenomena, the crew rescues a man claiming to be a Federation Special Agent. He also has a strange story. Inside the cloud where nothing should be able to survive, hides an entire planet. With some advanced technology, the ship arrives to find a world of knights and serfs from Earth’s Middle Ages. While investigating, some of the crew are taken as slaves. Unknown to them all, the “gate” that got the ship there safely is starting to close…

Dragons and The Enterprise. What more could you want?

Death In Winter (2005)

Michael Jan Friedman

While Captain Picard supervises the retrofit and repair of the Enterprise after Shinzon’s attack, he also contemplates the departure of his friends, including Beverly, who is now the head of Starfleet Medical again. Beverly receives orders to conduct a clandestine mission to the planet Kevratas to help stop a plague with similarities to a disease she tackled years ago. Unfortunately, the Romulans control the populace and don’t want help. With Beverly captured and possibly dead, Picard realizes his true feelings for her and leads a covert mission of his own to not only stop the plague but rescue his true love.

This book is a must-read for all the fans who want the Crusher/Picard relationship to finally, finally get resolved.

The Captain’s Table: Where Sea Meets Sky (1998)

Jerry Oltion

Captain Pike tells the aliens at his table of an assignment to the Aronnia System. Upon arrival, the crew of the Enterprise finds giant whale-like creatures in space called Titans. Pike must make a horrific decision, since the creatures are vital to the survival of one culture, but are destroying another.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Captain Pike because of Jeffrey Hunter’s short, tragic life. It’s one of the biggest “if only’s” of sci-fi history. Despite only appearing in two episodes (if you count the two-parter “The Cage” as one episode), that character has lived on in lots of written works chronicling the early days of the Enterprise. Plus, SPACE WHALES! THAT EAT HYDROGEN! AND LAY EGGS! AND DROP THEM LIKE BOMBS!

Guises of the Mind (1993)

Rebecca Neason

The Enterprise receives an invitation to the coronation of the ruler of Capulon IV. In addition, the planet will sign a charter joining the Federation at the ceremony. Shuttling the religious order of Little Mothers to the event, one of the members, Mother Veronica, has telepathic powers she can’t control and begs for Troi’s help. On the planet, the future king’s evil twin brother kidnaps him and locks him in a dungeon. Can Picard bring the rightful heir to the throne?

Star Trek depicted a future where people (of Earth at least) were freed from the influence of religion. And we were all the better for it. This book on the other hand, deftly balances the positive aspects of religion without straying outside the boundaries of Roddenberry’s wishes. And still manages to be entertaining.

Grounded (1993)

David Bischoff

The rescue of a scientists in a remote station proves to be the end of the Enterprise. Infected with a mysterious substance on the surface of the ship, the stuff begins to gradually disintegrate the hull. Forced to evacuate, Picard’s crew must watch in horror as Starfleet orders the Enterprise’s destruction to prevent the infection of other vessels. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the situation obviously warrants a bold plan for Picard to defy Starfleet and save his beloved ship.

This novel makes us realize that the Enterprise is more than just a starship, it’s home to the people that work on it.

Strange New Worlds I (1998)

Edited by Dean Wesley Smith, John J. Ordover and Paula M. Block

For 10 years Pocket Books held a contest where nonprofessional writers could submit stories that furthered the adventures of the characters of Star Trek (which at the time consisted of TOS, TNG, DS9 and VOY). The grand prize was a published piece in the Strange New Worlds anthology and a bonus advance of $1,000.00.

It appears I owe fan fiction an apology. I’ve always thought it to be way below authorized fiction. But after reading this anthology of published fan fiction, I will have to change my tune. These are some stellar stories. The ones I enjoyed reading are “A Private Anecdote”, “The Last Tribble”, “The Lights In the Sky”, “Reflections”, “The First”, “See Spot Run”, “Together Again, for the First Time” and “The Man Who Sold the Sky”.

Enterprise Logs (2000)

Edited by Carol Greenburg

Six centuries, ten captains. One proud tradition…

This anthology focuses on the many captains that led the adventures of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Of course they include Captains Kirk and Picard but they also feature stories about Captains April, Pike, Decker, Spock, Harriman and Garrett. Surprisingly the anthology also features two stories about captains of Earth-bound Enterprise (sea) ships. One during the American Revolution, the other during World War 2. Contributing to the anthology are talents like the late A.C. Crispin, Diane Duane, Greg Cox, Diane Carey and Michael Jan Friedman. My favorite stories are: “Though Hell Should Bar the Way”, “Conflicting Natures”, “The Avenger”, “Just Another Little Training Cruise” and “The Captain and the King”.

Strike Zone (1989)

Peter David

The Kreel have stumbled onto a planet with a storage facility full of extremely powerful weapons that could easily destroy the Enterprise-D. They begin using the weapons on the Klingons and now Picard has been asked to facilitate the dispute. Having both races on board the Enterprise calls for tact, something the Klingons and the Kreel are severly lacking.

The Klingons have mortal enemies? How interesting.

The Starship Trap (1993)

Mel Gilden

The Klingons attack the Enterprise in response to Federation assaults on Klingon vessels. Escaping with a promise of discovering the truth, Kirk and crew head to a secret rendezvous with a respected scientist. At the meeting with Federation personnel, the truth reveals itself. It seems that the Klingons are not the only race to have ships vanish, and it’s up to the Enterprise to uncover the truth.

The scientist in this story has shades of Captain Nemo.

Strange New Worlds IV (2001)

Edited by Dean Wesley Smith, John J. Ordover and Paula M. Block

Highlights include “A Little More Action”, “Prodigal Father”, “Missed”, “Tears for Eternity”, “First Star I See Tonight”, “Scotty’s Song”, “Flight 19” and “Prodigal Son”.

A Rock and a Hard Place (1990)

Peter David

The terraforming project on the planet Paradise has taken a turn for the worse. Commander Riker receives a temporary transfer to investigate this program. The person in charge of the project happens to be a childhood friend. Riker’s replacement on the Enterprise-D is Commander Stone, a man with a troubled past whose questionable methods have plagued his every posting.

I included this title here because the book has one of the most interesting – and frustrating – characters. Commander Stone is the guy that makes you say: “what’s his problem?” It keeps you guessing what his motives is until the end of the book: is he a villain who wants to destroy our heroes or is he a jaded anti-hero gone mad?

War Drums (1992)

John Vornholt

A small colony struggles to survive on the planet Selva. On their new home, a band of renegade Klingons fights for survival in the woods beyond the encampment. With aggression escalating between the two parties, the Enterprise arrives to render assistance and negotiate peace. Where did the Klingons come from and why did the colonists not notify Starfleet Command sooner regarding their situation? Prejudice and treachery intensifies.

As you can see I love any TNG story involving Klingons. I find them to be so fascinating because they’re so contradictory. Yet the more you find out about the feral Klingons in this story, the more you’ll pity them.

Strange New Worlds V (2002)

Edited by Dean Wesley Smith with John J. Ordover and Paula M. Block

I enjoyed “Disappearance on 21st Street”, “The Trouble With Borg Tribbles”, “Legal Action”, “The Peacemakers”, “Efflorescence”, “Kristin’s Conundrum”, “The Monkey Puzzle Box” and “The Farewell Gift”.

So there you have it, the first 20 Star Trek books worth reading. Let’s see if I can make it to the next 20. Or more.

 

 

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Women Against “The Last Jedi”

J.J. Abrams is the latest Lucasfilm employee to assume that fan backlash against The Last Jedi all boils down to good old-fashioned misogyny. This is pretty rich considering that the most successful movie of 2017 was Wonder Woman.

Three years ago I posted a list of negative fan responses to The Force Awakens. It’s my most viewed post to date. Someone suggested I do a follow up with The Last Jedi but I was at a loss for ideas.

Until now.

While on Twitter I came across a tweet (that’s been deleted) with the hashtag #WomenAgainstTheLastJedi. The woman who tweeted wanted to let everyone know that she was a woman who didn’t like TLJ. I loved it so much that whenever I came across a tweet of a woman’s (or girl’s) negative review of TLJ, I decided to retweet with that hashtag. Then I realized that it would be more productive to take every tweet, video or article I find and present them all on one blog post, updating as I find more evidence that women Star Warriors do not like The Last JediSome of them are feminists, some not so much, but all agree that this movie betrayed everything that made Star Wars special.

Enjoy:

Here are two articles that question the “feminism” of The Force Awakens:

“Rey From Star Wars is Overpowered and it’s Terrible for Feminism”

“Dear Lawrence Kasdan, So, You Say You Love Han Solo” (sadly this one has since been deleted, so here’s some excerpts). Update: the eternally lovely Rebel Je’Daii provided another link to the archived article (YAY!).

Here’s a little something courtesy of Tumblr:

“‘Feminism’ in The Last Jedi (Or In Other Words, How Racism Has Been Cloaked in a Way to Appeal to the ‘Woke’ Millennial Demographic)”

Stormy Daniels had this to say about Rian Johnson and his “masterpiece”.

Fix yourself some snacks, sit back and watch these lengthy videos:

This lovely lady below has other videos critiquing The Last Jedi. View them all.

Here’s a little girl who gives an in-depth look into what went wrong: 

This insightful woman suggests that – gasp! – Star Wars was feminist before Disney came along.

A woman who grew up with The Original Trilogy gives her two cents:

You tell ’em, Anna!

Here’s three more videos:

A response to an asinine pro-Solo article from Dork Side of the Force (who are rrreeeaallyyy living up their name more and more).

And now for some tweets!

So as you can see the people at Disney/Lucasfilm (and the media) are WRONG and for them to hide behind the female sex as an excuse for their lousy films is cowardly and insulting to women, particularly female fans. If you are a woman reading this and you possess any tweets, videos, Facebook posts, Tumblr posts, or blog articles that slam The Last Jedi (or any of the other Disney Wars films) feel free to let me know in the comments and I will add your work to the list. Every voice counts.

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Filed under feminism, Star Wars

A Reply To “For the Sake of Fandom, Sanity and Star Wars”

On Monday, Coffee With Kenobi published a an article written by Lisa Dullard titled “For the Sake of Fandom, Sanity and Star Wars.” It is yet another plea for civility and kindness in the fandom post- Lucas. On Twitter, it has 18 retweets and 39 likes.

Yes, I agree civility is very important. Rest assured I would never berate, bully or hurt another fan’s feelings for liking The Force Awakens, Rogue One or The Last Jedi (heck, I helped a grandmother look for Rey and Phasma toys at Toys R US once). I do not blame the actors working on those films for the awfulness of those films. They were just doing their jobs.

But this article made me angry in so many ways I had to write this post immediately in response.Here’s what Ms. Dullard says in the first paragraph:

What I don’t understand is the constant drumbeat of negativity in fandom. It’s been there to some extent for a number of years, bubbling away. Most recently it’s become unglued, in my observation.

Rrrriiiiiggghhhttt.

From 1999 to 2015 I couldn’t pick up a magazine, be it Entertainment Weekly or Starlog, and not see some SW article bashing Lucas and the Prequels. I couldn’t look at any internet video or article referencing SW without the usual swipe at the Prequels (and to a lesser extent, the Special Editions). To this day the fake media continues the lie that all Star Warriors hate the Prequels. Even when Christopher Lee passed away, an obituary on RogerEbert.com had to call the prequels “dire” despite the fact that Lee admitted himself that he enjoyed working on them. And let’s not forget (as much as we want to) that horrendous “documentary” The People Vs. George Lucas.

I can’t believe that a certain subset of the Star Wars community – particularly those who run sites and podcasts – are now stepping up to the plate to defend some fans’ right to enjoy the current crop of Disney-made Star Wars films. But for nearly 21 years these same people were nowhere to be found when Star Warriors like me had to put up continuously with SE hate, prequel hate, EU hate, even Clone Wars hate from “unglued” fans who dared, DARED to equate the ’90s/’00s era of SW to rape. Where was the call for civility then?

Where were you when I needed you?

That’s why I find people’s recent attitudes so distressing. The attacks, not only on the films and the creatives behind them, but also on fellow fans who might feel differently, are just wrong.

Really? Were you distressed about Simon Pegg’s long running attitude about George Lucas and the PT (F.Y.I. Full of Sith came to his defense at one time)? Did you cringe when Wil Wheaton took an opportunity to publicly trash the PT at the premier of Rogue One? Did you see this man’s tweet?

And is it really the TLJ haters who are the bullies here? Look at how the media is smearing anyone who hated their precious Disney movie:

3 Ways Crybaby Star Wars Fans Are Trying To Ruin The Last Jedi For Everyone Else

Let’s Face It, You Hate The Last Jedi Because You Hate Women

Other’s are writing silly little “think pieces” analyzing TLJ hate because they just can’t wrap their minds around the fact that audiences disagree with critics:

The Backlash Against Star Wars: The Last Jedi Explained

Just How Seriously Should We Take This Star Wars: The Last Jedi Backlash?

Remember, these are the same people who sided with OT purists and never called them crybabies, bigots or losers.

And these “attacks” on the new films aren’t just a matter of taste, they’re a matter of principle. This trilogy has to be the most cynical trilogy in all of Star Wars history. It’s telling audiences – particularly children – that everything your heroes achieved in the first trilogy was a waste of time. The people you looked up to – Han, Luke and Leia – are failures that have to be killed off for a new generation of characters whose only personality traits are their skin color and sex. First The Force Awakens turns Han into a deadbeat dad – only to kill him off. Then The Last Jedi turns Luke into a snarky, apathetic coward – only to kill him off. A far cry from the men of Eps 4-6 who were willing to sacrifice their lives for the ones they loved. What lessons are these films teaching our kids?

What lesson will the upcoming Han Solo movie teach our children?

Now with Solo: A Star Wars Story, it’s all about how Alden Ehrenreich doesn’t look like Harrison Ford. How dare he! Seriously? He’s not meant to be Harrison, he’s meant to be Han Solo. As great as he was in the role, Harrison isn’t really Han, and he’d be the first to tell you that. Why not give Alden the room and support to put his stamp on the character? After all, he is playing a version of Han Harrison never did. It’s okay if it’s different.

Everyone is so willing, without hesitation, to embrace Donald Glover — who will be amazing as Lando, no doubt about it — but Alden is met with seemingly nothing but skepticism. I know, were I in Alden’s shoes, I’d be feeling a bit deflated right about now. I’m sure he busted his posterior to get his performance just right, and this should be an exciting time for him. Instead, fans gripe about how he looks or sounds and how he isn’t good enough. Is that really how we want to be?

Gee, I haven’t embraced Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. Why have Lando in this movie when he still hasn’t shown up in Eps. 7-9? What happened to him after the Battle of Endor? I don’t think I want to know because they’ll just get Darth Aardvark to kill him off anyway.

Harrison Ford originated the role of Han Solo. He’s who we think of when we picture Han Solo. When we’re reading any printed SW story about Han Solo we read his lines in Harrison’s voice. If Burt Reynolds had been cast as Han, we’d feel the same way. It’s OK to cast different actors to play James Bond, Superman or Philip Marlowe because those characters began in literature. But guess what, there’s a physical requirement for those characters too. No one will accept a black James Bond (not even Idris Elba), an ugly Superman (*cough* Nicholas Cage *cough*) or a female Philip Marlowe because that’s not how the authors wrote them. 

But Star Wars didn’t start off as a book. It’s a visual medium.

George Lucas cast Harrison Ford because he read the script with a mix of mercenary swagger and world weariness. Sure, I could picture someone else voicing Han in a radio program or an animated featureBut that’s because Han is drawn/ designed to resemble…Harrison Ford! The actors voicing the character mimic Ford’s voice.

Now you may be wondering how I can accept Ewan McGregor as young Obi-Wan or Sean Patrick Flanery as young Indiana Jones but not Alden Ehrenreich as young Han Solo? Because there’s a bigger age gap between the first two characters. The Phantom Menace takes place 32 years before A New Hope. There’s a 28 year gap between The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and Raiders of the Lost Ark. But Solo: A Star Wars Story looks like another lead up to A New Hope. There isn’t enough of an age gap. Harrison Ford was 33 when he was cast in ANH, Alden Ehrenreich is 28. That’s only 5 years apart. Not very convincing.

Another thing to keep in mind as we head toward Solo: Reserve judgment. We’ve seen around two minutes of footage and a few photos. That’s a far cry from seeing the finished product. Give Ron Howard, the cast, and crew a chance to deliver on their promise of a fun, exciting movie experience!

Well I saw the Super Bowl trailer and frankly, it looks like another forgettable Disney Star Wars project like the last three. Ron Howard’s last film (Heart of the Sea) was a massive flop. And why waste money on a film about Han’s early adventures when you could honor A.C. Crispin’s memory and pick up a copy (or copies) of The Han Solo Trilogy?

Anyway, I don’t know if anyone will read this, but if you did, I hope you’ll get comfort in knowing that it’s OK to publicly criticize The Last Jedi and Solo. I hope you’ll get comfort in knowing that it’s OK to pretend the Disney buyout never happened. The one bright spot in all this is that the days of prequel-bashing are coming to an end as more and more fans realize that Star Wars isn’t Star Wars without George Lucas.

For the sake of our fandom and our sanity, let’s uphold the Star Wars that truly matters.

May the Force Be With You.

 

 

 

 

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Great Whale Moments In SF History

Today is World Whale Day! As we use this day to think about how we can help out and appreciate our cetacean friends, I will take this opportunity to list all the whales that swam into our hearts via science fiction. So pour a glass of water, get out your copy of Songs of the Humpback Whale, and have a whale of a time perusing this list.

Image result for the godwhale

Rorqual Maru, The Godwhale (1974)

Somewhat of a sequel to T.J. Bass’ Half Past Human, this novel is one of the earliest examples of “biopunk” a subgenre related to cyberpunk and steampunk but with biotechnology. Rorqual Maru (is that a cool name or what?) is the titular Godwhale, a cyborg/blue whale hybrid that helps the novel’s protagonist in his search for answers.

Image result for leviathan scott westerfeld

The Leviathan, The Leviathan Trilogy (2009)

What if Britain & it’s allies used genetically modified animals to fight World War 1? Scott Westerfeld answers that question with the Leviathan, a giant airship made (literally) of a whale that can fly through the air (airwhale) thanks to a combination of animal genetics (because Darwin was able to crack the DNA code a century ahead of schedule). Whether you think this is ethical or not is up for debate.

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Orca, Batman

Introduced in Batman Issue #579 (2000)

Experiments with killer whale tissue turns marine biologist Dr. Grace Balin into Orca, one of Batman’s lesser known antagonists. More info on her here and here.

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Orka, Marvel Comics

First introduced in Prince Namor, The Sub-Mariner #23 (1970). With the help of his psionic amplifier belt, fallen Atlantean soldier Orka has the powers of a killer whale and uses those powers to fight various heroes in the Marvel universe (so why is he blue?) Read more about him here and here.

The Whaladon, Star Wars: The Jedi Prince Series (1992-1993)

First introduced in The Glove of Darth Vader, Whaladons are a species of intelligent creatures in the Star Wars galaxy that our heroes fight to protect from poaching. Detractors of the kids-centered books will summarize the series as “The Rebel Alliance Saves the Whales”. But hey, they can’t be worse than Aftermath, right?

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(The one under Kenix Kil’s foot is a Herglic.)

Herglic, Star Wars Legends

These sentient, bipedal, water-based aliens are native to the planet Giju and have appeared in various SW comics and role playing games throughout the years. They made their first appearance in Dark Force Rising, the 2nd book in Timothy Zahn’s beloved Thrawn Trilogy. Because of their large size, it’s difficult for them to enter buildings and ships causing much embarrassment. Nevertheless they are peaceful, easygoing creatures. You can read more about them here.

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Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

For all of Star Trek’s optimism, it seems illogical (no pun intended) that in the 23rd century humpback whales would be an extinct species. But they are and that’s bad for the crew of the Enterprise when they discover that a deadly probe is orbiting Earth. Spock comes to the conclusion that the “call” the probe sends matches the “songs” of humpback whales and will continue to wreak havoc until its call is answered. So the only solution is to go back in time to the 20th Century, capture some humpback whales, bring them forward in time to the 23rd Century and use them to respond to the probe’s signal. Not an easy task.

Didn’t they have a copy of Songs of the Humpback Whale on the Enterprise?

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Star Trek: Where Sea Meets Sky (1998)

Written by Jerry Oltion and part of The Captain’s Table Series. This is Captain Christopher Pike’s story. He and his crew encounter airwhales known as “titans” who, in Oltion’s words: “scooped hydrogen from the atmospheres of gas giants for food and laid their eggs on terrestrial planets.” Unfortunately this causes a lot of collateral damage to the inhabitants of the terrestrial planets so of course it’s up to the Enterprise to find a solution.

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Aiwha, Star Wars: Episode 2 – Attack of the Clones

Non-sentient cetacean creatures native to Kamino and Naboo, they can launch into the air from the sea. Their names are taken from the word “airwhale”. They were designed by Terryl Whitlatch though an early concept was made by Ralph McQuarrie for The Empire Strikes Back. You can learn more about them on Wookiepedia.

And now to conclude this list, here’s some pictures of space whales:

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And an air whale:

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