Guest Post by Tony Healey
The Sci-Fi Adventure Novel ‘The Stars My Redemption’ is released June 1st in the Kindle Store.
I grew up on Sci-Fi. When I was a kid I’d wake ever sunday morning to catch a Star Trek re-run on Channel 4. I loved the classic episodes. You know, the episodes like ‘City At The Edge Of Tomorrow’ and ‘Amok Time’ that everybody talks about. But I also liked the lesser, cheaper episodes from the shows third season.
‘All Our Yesterdays’ where Spock falls in love with Zarabeth. ‘Return of the Archons’ where Kirk literally talks the ruling computer of the planet to death. ‘The Savage Curtain’ where an alien life form calls forth figures from history to do battle. Kirk finds himself fighting alongside his hero Abraham Lincoln and Spock comes face to face with the saviour of his race, Surak.
All brilliant episodes, in my view. I watched The Next Generation, too, but it could never beat the fun and entertainment of The Original Series for me. There’s something about that triangle of Kirk, Spock and Bones that just plain works. Emotion, Logic and Heroism.
After Star Trek I used to watch Land Of The Giants, which was great. And Blake’s 7. For anyone who hasn’t ever caught an episode of Blake’s 7, it’s required viewing. Sure, it’s campy BBC Sci-Fi, but that’s what’s great about it.
If you like the old episodes of Dr. Who (I can’t even watch the modern ones - shock! horror!) then I guarantee you will like Blake’s 7. It follows an escaped prisoner, Blake, and the crew he puts together to stand against the evil Federation. It had a talking ship and everything. Watch it.
I didn’t really get into Star Wars until the Special Editions. I was born in 1985, so I missed the original go-round of the series by about 10 years. The Special Editions were my education in the force, and over the summer of 1997 I went to the cinema to see all three. I loved them. When they released the VHS box set in gold and black for Christmas that year, you can probably guess what was on my list, right at the top.
I still have that box set. I don’t even have a VHS player anymore. I just can’t throw it away. Even now that I’ve got them on DVD and Blu-Ray, I can’t part with those old tapes. I very nearly wore The Empire Strikes Back out I think, and it still remains as my favourite episode to this day.
After Star Wars I discovered 2001: A Space Odyssey and even at the age of thirteen or fourteen my mind was just blown. I then went on to read the novels by clarke, 2001, 2010, 2061 and 3001. That then lead to me reading most of Clarke’s stuff. The Songs of Distant Earth, Childhood’s End, The Fountains of Paradise, The Deep Range, The Ghost of the Grand Banks, etc etc. I read anything by Clarke that I could get my greedy little mitts on. It’s weird how things have a kind of domino effect.
I went from Space Odysseys to vast intergalactic empires in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series. I also read most of his robot stuff. I learned that Asimov and Clarke were best of friends. I also learned that Clarke had been a friend of C.S.Lewis, whose Chronicles of Narnia I devoured as a kid. So I went and read his Perelandra Trilogy beginning with Out Of The Silent Planet (the same copy I have on my shelf today).
I read the Thrawn Star Wars books by Timothy Zahn, which led to me reading his Conquerors books. Then I read the Star Wars Jedi Apprentice books by Kevin J Anderson. Hmm. Good, but not great.
At some point I picked up Star Trek: Ashes of Eden by William Shatner and thought it was just brilliant (naive, I know). After reading several of the Shats books I gave up on Star Trek in print. That is until years later when I stumbled across the Star Trek: Crucible series by David R. George. If you only ever read one Star Trek novel, just read the first Crucible novel. It spans literally all of Star Trek, and has a tragic love story to boot.
Now before I ramble on too much, I’ll tell you where this is going.
My nan died in December 1999, and during that Christmas the BBC were showing a whole day of films. There was the original Battlestar Galactica movie, The Final Countdown with Kirk Douglas (a time travel escapade involving a modern aircraft carrier going back to the day of the Pearl Harbour attacks), and Star Trek The Wrath Of Khan. This wasn’t the first time I’d seen TWOK, though. When I was about 7, I had a black and white TV in my room. This was about 1992. It had four channels, and you had to turn a small red dial with a screwdriver to tune it in. One night my Dad shouted up the stairs for me to change the channel, a Star Trek film was on. I turned over, got into bed with the lights off and started watching. By the time the end credits were rolling, I was a wreck. My brother died several years before, and I was just starting to understand it and make sense of it all. I’d been watching the re-runs of Star Trek, so I was more than familiar with Kirk and Spock. But seeing Kirk bid farewell to his friend like that... it opened something up inside of me that had never really healed back. I know it sounds silly, but the film really has affected me in such a big way. I laid in bed that night, crying my eyes out. I felt real grief, and it was for my brother because I realised that I had witnessed the death of a brother on the screen. I was starting to understand how Kirk felt.
So those years later, following nan’s death, I went through the same process. I was taping it onto VHS (remember when you could do that? Before tivo?) and I would end up watching that tape many, many times. TWOK helped me in not only understanding what had happened, but in moving on from it.
“He’s not dead, so long as we remember him,” Bones says in the film.
The film is famous for being the Trek film that really works. I mean REALLY works, on all levels. But to me there is a personal connection. It doesn’t matter how many times I watch it, I truly feel the loss of Spock. The gravity of him passing on, and the void that is left without him there. As Spock says in The Undiscovered Country “Nature abhors a vacuum.” He’s right. It really does. When people pass on you feel as though there is nothing in the world that will ever fill that hole. But eventually something moves in to claim that void. And somehow, over time, you are made whole again. Just one of nature’s wonders, I guess.
I think I can honestly say that Star Trek has had the biggest impact on me, in terms of how I approach Sci-Fi. In The Stars My Redemption, I’ve drawn heavily on elements from many things. You could say that the technology present in the novel is more akin to what you’d find in Star Wars. That’s true. I didn’t want the reader to get bogged down in understanding how everything works. It just does, and that should be good enough. The story has a pulpy feel, and that too is intentional. I wanted it to be sharp and snappy, and writing it in the tradition of pulp (or my idea of it anyway) fit the bill perfectly.
The Stars My Redemption is the story of an amoral man - the most wanted man in the galaxy in fact - offered the chance at redemption. So there is gore, there is a lot of swearing. There’s sex. But... there’s a heart. And that heart, the emotions that I’ve tapped into in writing certain scenes of The Stars My Redemption all stem back to that experience watching The Wrath of Khan. It’s how it connects to me.
I think that if it connect with me, brings a tear to my eye, then maybe it will bring a tear to yours.
PART 3 will be appearing 05/27 at joshuaunruh.com