Jun 30, 2014

The Questor Reality

Novelization by D. C. Fontana
In 1974, 13 episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man were transmitted into homes, along with a barrage of commercials promoting the show. At the time, I was discovering the science fiction stories of Isaac Asimov who had grown up reading science fiction stories about evil robots and, through his own stories featuring the "laws of robotics", he had explored the idea of robots who could not harm people. Evil robots were a popular topic in episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man. For example, in episode 4, "Day of the Robot", an evil robot tried to kill the star of the show, Steve Austin.

The Questor Tapes
The Questor Reality
     In an alternative universe, The Questor Tapes might have become a late 1970s science fiction television program about an ancient alien intervention into Earth's history. The star of The Questor Tapes (an android named Questor) was a "friendly robot" similar to the character Data in the late 1980s Star Trek: The Next Generation. I suppose that Questor ruined his own chances of staring in a 1970s television series by stating calmly and logically: "I am not programmed to kill."

Lindsay Wagner
2014 is the 40th anniversary of The Questor Tapes pilot movie. There were no fist fights, no car chases and only one person dies -in an act of self-sacrifice- at the very end. In the late 1960s, Roddenberry had failed to interest Hollywood in a similarly cerebral science fiction show called Assignment: Earth.

Hollywood go boom!
I suppose the folks in Hollywood had little trouble opting for shows like The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman over The Questor Tapes and Assignment: Earth. Mindless episodes about killer robots and bigfoot with slow motion video of Lee Majors and Lindsay Wagner were safe bets in Hollywood.

Lost in Hollywood
To me, it seems miraculous that Star Trek was on television in the 1960s. As it was, Roddenberry had to fight to defend core features of his futuristic vision against the mundane and conventional preferences of Hollywood executives. It is fun to fantasize about an alternate Reality, the Roddenberry Reality, where in 1970 there could have been a television show based on Assignment: Earth, while in our world we got dystopian drek. In 1975 we could have had a new television series called Questor, but we got The Lost Saucer. In 1978 we almost had Star Trek: Phase II, but we got Cylons.

Teri Garr (left) as Roberta Lincoln in Assignment: Earth
Collaboration. The original script by Roddenberry (1966) for what became Assignment: Earth had a fairly conventional Evil Alien theme running through it. Adam Riggio has commented that Roddenberry was "utterly terrible at writing" for Star Trek. In 1967 Art Wallace collaborated with Roddenberry to re-work the story as a potential Star Trek spinoff. As a television SciFi show, why is Assignment: Earth so much better than The Questor Tapes? How might it have been made even better; good enough to out-shine Star Trek?

Reggio has had fun imagining an alternate Reality in which Assignment: Earth became Roddenberry's best known creation while Star Trek was quickly forgotten. Riggio suggests that we, "Just imagine Lindsay Wagner (The Bionic Woman) playing Roberta", and Nimoy as Gary Seven.

Barbara of Get Smart
Riggio has also suggested Barbara Feldon as a possible Roberta, which I think is absurd. Star Trek might have gotten its start by pretending to be a "Western" set among the stars, and Roddenberry might have originally sought to launch Assignment: Earth off of the popularity of "spy shows", but it would have been a huge error to push potential fans of Assignment: Earth towards associating a fledgling science fiction show with a comedy secret agent spoof like Get Smart.

Time Travel
Does Assignment: Earth work as a television show about time travel? I have my doubts. Would anyone like the idea that the history of Earth is being kept on track by Gary Seven, an agent in a time travel war, an endless struggle against evil aliens?

Dana Wynter
Art Wallace vs Gene Coon
Somehow Art Wallace was a good fit for Assignment: Earth, able to produce a fun episode that held promise as a possible new series. In contrast, with a terminally ill Gene Coon working on The Questor Tapes, the result was rather cringe-worthy. For example, the middle part of the pilot movie with Dana Wynter seems contrived to allow Questor to explain that he has a functioning penis. It is fun for me to image that in the Ekcolir Reality, the entire course of the history of science fiction television shows could have been different, allowing both Assignment: Earth and The Questor Tapes to be produced as long-running television shows.

The Thomas Effect
deviantART image credits
This is Daneel with the galaxy.
Thomas Iwedon is born into the Ekcolir Reality and he quickly came to have some understanding of the fact that Earth has long been visited by aliens from a distant galaxy. Thomas became a writer of science fiction stories. I imagine that Thomas first wrote for a television show in 1959, writing for the Foundation of Reality science fiction series. Foundation of Reality was based on the revelations in the final book of Isaac Asimov's Foundation saga: Foundation Law. In Foundation Law, Asimov revealed how Daneel had worked for 20,000 years to design a modified type of human being, genetically imprinted with the Three Laws and capable of functioning to form the group mind, Galaxia. Asimov's Foundation saga ended with Galaxia repulsing aliens from another galaxy (described by Asimov as "the Huaoshy" along with their minions "the pek"), preserving our galaxy as a domain of 25,000,000 Earth-like planets populated by a unified human species safely existing under the watchful eyes of positronic robots following the Zeroth Law of Robotics.

Sut'hiro and Number One (Natalie Wood)
Foundation of Reality continued Asimov's saga with the introduction of the Kac'hin, a human variant that had been designed by the pek. The television series spanned most of the 1960s and covered the same ground as The Foundations of Eternity.

In the Ekcolir Reality, Star Trek began as a spinoff from Foundation of Reality. The transgalactic mission in Star Trek was an attempt to reach the Galactic Core and find worlds such as Hemmal and Klyz where the pek had long worked to design new human and Fruthwa variants. In this Star Trek, there was no Vulcan, but there was a Fruthwa crew member (Sut'hiro). Natalie Wood was second in command as the captain's "Number One". In the Ekcolir Reality, television technology was about 20 years ahead of what we have here in the Buld Reality, so the original Star Trek was in many ways similar to Voyager.

Future Science
Roberta Lincoln and Gary Seven
Staring Lindsay Wagner and Steve McQueen
Future Science magazine first appeared in the Foundation Reality where it was devoted to non-fiction  and frequently served as a platform for Isaac Asimov's stories about recent developments in nuclear physics, military technology and computers. In the Ekcolir Reality, Future Science published science fiction stories. Many of its stories were in the format of scripts, initially for radio and later (starting in the 1920s) for television. During the 1950s both Thomas and Gene Roddenberry had stories published in Future Science.

Thomas, Jack Vance, Roddenberry, Art Wallace and Gene Coon all wrote episodes of the long-running 1950s television series The Phaeton Effect, inspired by Robert Heinlein's 1949 story in Future Science: "Pathfinder".

Questor the pek,
usually played by
Erin Gray
In The Phaeton Effect, an underground civilization existed below the surface of Mars. That hidden culture was home to a form of artificial life representing the remnants of a Fru'wu-like species that had originated on a planet, Phaeton, a world with a dense carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere that had once existed where the asteroid belt is.

Thomas recruited Lindsay Wagner to play the role of  Roberta Lincoln in the 1970 television series, Assignment: Earth. Many of the episodes concerned environmental problems, particularly the chronic problem of rising sea level that was a serious issue in the 1970s of the Ekcolir Reality. As a spinoff of Star Trek, the star ship Voyager, having reached the black hole at the center of the Galaxy, was propelled through a time warp back to 1970s Earth. Its crew played a role in Assignment: Earth that was similar to the Buld who reach Earth in Exode.

In the Ekcolir Reality, Questor was a spinoff series from Assignment: Earth. In a bold move, the alien android Questor was played by Erin Gray in the television series. Questor's human companion was Dr. Rachel Tajneb, played by Gretchen Corbett.

In the television series, Questor was a pek, able to morph into any convenient form. Many other 70s actors and actresses appeared on the show to help depict Questor in disguise including memorable performances by Lola Falana, Angie Dickinson,  Phyllis Davis, Cheryl Ladd, John Travolta, Clint Eastwood, George Takei and Dustin Hoffman.

Related reading. More television from the Ekcolir Reality.

More covers

Jun 29, 2014

Hat Trick

floating Kirk
Three episodes of the fan-produced Star Trek (TOS) webseries called Star Trek Continues have been released. Each of these three episodes is firmly connected to the original Star Trek television program, attempting to continue the "five year mission" of the starship Enterprise under the command of Captain Kirk. I have fairly strong personal biases when it comes to Star Trek. Previously I've described my favorite episodes and there are some episodes of Star Trek that I've always found quite painful to watch.

Five year mission to
find an ego bigger
than Shatner's
I was never a fan of the episode "Who Mourns for Adonais?" The first episode of Star Trek Continues is a sequel to "Who Mourns for Adonais" in which the crew of the Enterprise must help the god-like alien, Apollo. One entire category of Star Trek episodes that I've never enjoyed are those in which an alien thrives on some kind of "psychic energy".

In "Pilgrim of Eternity" we are asked to believe that Apollo has a special organ (his appendix?) that allows him to gain "life force" whenever humans worship him or enjoy his singing. Sadly, Apollo is addicted to being worshiped and he is reflexively enraged whenever some alpha male (like Kirk) won't bow down or shower him with praise and adoration.

Apollo brings a human back to life with his glowing hands.
Apollo, finally recognizing that he must change his ways, asks the good doctor (McCoy) to slice out his magical "god organ". Then, when Apollo uses his last bit of "life force" to save the life of a human, he discovers that he can obtain more "life force" through acts of kindness and self-sacrifice. Um, sure.

As an episode of Star Trek, "Pilgrim of Eternity" does have the look and feel of the original series. In this first episode of Star Trek Continues we get a complete morality lesson in 51 minutes, with Kirk and crew teaching the powerful alien Apollo how to not be a dick.

Slavery in Science Fiction
The slave girl Lolani in chains with her owner
I've previously blogged about slavery in science fiction stories and I have to admit that it was unavoidable for a television show made in the USA during the 1960s to go through production of dozens of episodes without including some episodes that involved topics like slavery and war. However, I reject the quaint notion that science fiction is a genre that functions to explore conventional literary themes by sprinkling in a few techno wizbang gadgets. I enjoyed Star Trek when it was doing its real SciFi mission and exploring strange new worlds.

For me as a Star Trek fan, nothing was more disappointing than an episode that ended up with the crew of the Enterprise on some silly "mirror Earth" where we were forced to re-enact some aspect of Earth history such as a gun fight out of the American wild west or a Roman-like society built around slavery.

The knife-wielding Lolani
As an episode of Star Trek, "Lolani" captures many of the most annoying features of the original television show, including a bitchy Star Fleet commander who orders the crew of the Enterprise to send the slave girl Lolani to her death. We are asked to believe that the Federation of Planets will not risk war over "one slave girl".

The end of "Lolani" makes one side of an interesting bridge into the third episode of Star Trek Continues. "Fairest Of Them All" is a sequel to the original series episode "Mirror, Mirror".

Mirror red shirt, Evil
Empire version.
In the Star Trek "mirror universe" the Enterprise crew zips through the galaxy taking available resources like dilithium crystals by force.

The "Captain's Woman" and Spock
However, Mr. Spock knows that Earth's interstellar Empire, having been built upon tyrannical domination of planets by force, will soon crumble. In "Fairest Of Them All", mirror Spock takes the Enterprise away from Kirk.

Sadly, the plot of "Fairest Of Them All" is about as far away from the mission of the Enterprise and the point of Star Trek as you can get. Rather than seek out new life and civilizations, mirror Kirk bombards a planet with photon torpedoes, happy to destroy a peaceful civilization and then send in the dilithium strip miners.

Navel operations.
When "mirror Spock" launches his revolution against the Evil Empire, he refuses to use the magical "Tantalus Field" device to eliminate Kirk. I don't think Vulvan logic guides Spock's behavior. All events must unfold so as to conform to the externally-imposed need to make sure that no matter how different the mirror universe is from our own, all the same characters reside in each universe. The stark "Good vs Evil" morality plays of the 1960s are alive and well in Star Trek Continues. There is one modification: no rumors of a censor in 2014 trying to prevent us from seeing navels.

"We all have knives!"
For some reason, "Fairest Of Them All" is only about 40 minutes long. I hope that the short run time does not mean that money, cast and crew were exhausted and this is the end for Star Trek Continues.

If this new Star Trek series continues then maybe we can even get an episode that shows us a strange new world and an interesting new alien, or is Star Trek for ever lost in the Derivative Zone?

To (mis)quote Lieutenant Riley and Gene Roddenberry,
"Female crew members should wear their hair
loosely and artfully draped over their boobs."
Final Word. It could have been much worse. Star Trek Continues has given us three watchable episodes in a row (a hat trick!) that respect the style of the original Star Trek. I hope we get at least one more episode with some interesting new substance. For her Ghandi-like determination to accomplish social change combined with formidable knife-fighting and dramatic assassination skills, Lolani gets a nomination for a 2014 SIHA award, retread alien species division.
Search for Interesting Hollywood Aliens
An earlier 2014 SIHA award nomination.
The 2014 SIHA Award.

2017: 5 more episodes of Star Trek Continues

Jun 21, 2014

The 1941 Baseball Mystery

image source
As mentioned in an earlier blog post, I've been exploring fun ways to imagine how Grean the Kac'hin might show up in the popular media of 1930s of a previous Reality. My original thought was that since some very early use of live television was for broadcasting baseball games, why not say that Grean was captured on  T.V. while she was hunting down Fengtol, a positronic robot? Those early television broadcasts were not seen by many people, so I want to help "spread the word" about Grean's "baseball intervention" with a pulp magazine cover image.

The image to the right is the only 1930s Baseball Stories cover art that I've been able to find. I was originally imagining that Grean might chase Fengtol into a baseball stadium, with the robot hoping that Grean would not continue pursuit in such a busy public place.

More recently, I've been exploring ways that Hierion Tubes might be used to shuttle people (and robots!) between the Hierion Domain and the world that we inhabit.

Rather than have Fengtol go running onto the playing field of a stadium, she might simply materialize in such a public place, stepping out from the Hierion Domain, with Grean following behind. Grean is indifferent to the prospect of being seen capturing Fengtol because it is part of Grean's plan to use time travel to initiate a Reality Change.

the Summer 1941 Baseball Stories cover
I like the scene depicted in the Summer 1941 Baseball Stories cover art (see the image to the right on this page). I guess this poor player who lost his cap is in a "rundown". Picture a player in the middle of a ball game who suddenly finds himself caught up in a struggle between Fengtol and Grean who "magically appear for a few seconds on the field. Grean zaps Fengtol with her ray gun then, as quickly as they came, the two "ladies" pop back into the Hierion Domain and disappear from our world.

Sadly, in 1941 there is no video tape. Several tens of thousands of baseball fans saw Fengtol and Grean on the playing field for a few seconds, but what did they actually see? A few months later an article was published in Future Science magazine suggesting that time travelers from the future briefly appeared.

image source
So far I have made a first draft of a an imaginary Future Science magazine cover showing what television viewers would have seen in 1941 when Fengtol was trying to evade capture by Grean.

I've been using model Tori Calderwood to represent Grean in some imaginary pulp magazine cover images. For this baseball scene I used the image of Tori shown to the left. This photograph was taken by Cathleen Tarawhiti.

image source
As a representation of Fengtol's face I used a photograph of Katrina Chadwick that was taken by Cathleen Tarawhiti. See the image to the right.

I was tempted to use DAZ Studio to render the body poses that I wanted to use for Grean and Fengtol, but then I spent some time searching through the stock photography at deviantART and found two images that are satisfactory for a first draft of the scene I'm trying to create.

image source
I used an image from Sakky at deviantART to depict Grean jumping into Reality from the Hierion Domain. See this pose, shown to the left on this page. This photograph was taken by Jade Macalla.

image source
In order to depict Fengtol running away from Grean, I used an image called Ember8 from Jessica's faestock gallery at deviantART (image to the right).

For the background of the baseball stadium I used an image from Wikimedia commons.

Version 1.0
I'd like to give both Grean and Fengtol slightly more alien facial appearances. Also, I want to do some more work on Grean's clothing and maybe alter the appearance of her "ray gun".
First draft of the November 1941 cover of Future Science
This image, above, is an animated GIF. See the SWF.
Future Science Animated
I recently made my first swf file. The image to the left is an animated gif. The gif format is fine for small and simple animations, but the 256 color depth leads to annoying pixilation with large color gradients. I've long wanted to try swf animations as an alternative to gif.

The animated gif shown to the left has only 7 images. My first swf was made from a Macintosh .mov video file, so it has much smoother transitions between the 7 different images that I started with. I still don't know how to instruct a web browser on how to control how large an swf is displayed on the screen.
more imaginary magazine covers

Jun 19, 2014

The Fru'wu

A Fru'wu "individual" swimming through the very
dense atmosphere that they prefer.
This image is a reconstruction of the Fru'wu
appearance based on only a brief glimpse
and a semi-coherent verbal description
delivered seconds before the observer's death.
I've been developing my thinking about the Fru'wu and the role that they play in the Exode Trilogy for about two years. I think of the Fru'wu as an "alien species" but they are not a type of naturally evolved biological organism.

There is actually very limited contact between humans and the Fru'wu, so the only individual of the Fru'wu species that I have named is Fru'manu. "Fru'manu" is just a code designation, much like "agent 007". It is not clear to what extent the Fru'wu have a concept of "individuals" since they are all coupled together by a heavily used type of technology-assisted telepathic communication.

I named the Fru'wu home world Reahand and it would have been a world located too far from its nearest star to have liquid oceans except for its thick atmosphere with a powerful greenhouse effect.

Example of an imagined appearance for the Fruthwa.
Ivory's imagination was guided by rumors suggesting that
some Fruthwa survive, either on an Archive World
in the galactic core or in the Hierion Domain.
The Fru'wu are an artificial life form that can trace its origin back to a biological species that evolved on the planet Clutence (a common alternative spelling among the Pla is Clustence). The Fruthwa became addicted to fossil fuels, just as we Earthlings are. Clutence, went through global warming, but never had any polar ice caps. Eventually the planet became uninhabitable due to atmospheric changes. Due to its high gravity, Clutence had a thick atmosphere to begin with. Some have speculated that the Fruthwa were humanoids with near-human appearance, but their natural morphology is not currently known to Earthlings. The reason for thinking that the Fruthwa might have closely resembled we Earthlings is not due to a common genetic origin, but rather, due to the fact that another alien species (known to us only by the name "Huaoshy") spent several million years performing selective breeding and directed evolution on both the Fruthwa and we humans, possibly shaping both species so as to have similar appearance to the original biological form of the Huaoshy.

Stitched Drake; elements of this were used for the
imagined Fru'wu image at the top of this page
Through extensive use of fossil fuels, the Fruthwa civilization triggered runaway global warming on their home world, making it uninhabitable (the surviving Fruthwa lived in artificial underground enclosures). This was about 50,000 years ago. The Fru'wu are a "nanobionic" artificial life form that was crafted after the Fruthwa could no longer breath the atmosphere of Clutence. The remnants of the Fruthwa developed "generation starships" and created several partially-artificial life forms ("daughter species" such as the Fru'wu) suited for the worlds that they colonized such as the planet Reahand. Eventually, the small but growing  "Interstellar Empire" of the Fruthwa suffered another technological catastrophe (possible related to their use of nanotechnology) causing the Fruthwa remnants on Clutence to go extinct while the Fru'wu persisted for several thousand years on Reahand. Eventually the Fru'wu repeated the errors of the Fruthwa and the civilization on Reahand was destroyed. Some of the Fru'wu had long since been transplanted to the world Clu'ten'iun, a world of the galactic core region.

detail from Overnight Procedure
Fru'manu, the one Fru'wu individual who is ever "on stage" during the course of the Exode Trilogy, is from the planet Clu'ten'iun. The Fru'wu are half biological and half artificial; a symbiotic hybrid construct of biological cells and nanite components. Although not complete shapeshifters, the Fru'wu can easily alter their surface features and it is doubtful that humans have ever seen their unaltered form. The Fru'wu try to adopt pseudo-mammalian appearance for their heads when they know that they will be seen by humans. Clu'ten'iun has a very dense and acidic atmosphere that would degrade human hair. It is likely that the Fru'wu residents of Clu'ten'ium make use of a semi-synthetic exoskeleton that protects them from the harsh environment of that world. Overnight Procedure (2014) by Jon-Laurence at deviantART suggests the type of artificial life form that the Fru'wu might be, with a biological core that is humanoid, encased in a synthetic protective exoskeleton that allows survival on a harsh planet like Clu'ten'iun.

Leymaygn and Vozgrow.
We have a few reports on the experiences of the two humans who are known to have interacted with Fru'manu. As far as we know, those interactions have all involved telecommunications links. The images that Fru'manu has shared with Leymaygn and Vozgrow seem to show an artificially-generated face, apparently constructed during each teleconference according to the whims of Fru'manu. Having used Fru'wu medical nanites for thousands of years, Vozgrow might be taking on some physical features of the Fru'wu.

One role of the Fru'wu in the Exode Trilogy is that they illustrate for humans the type of unpleasant future that our species could have. Pla'mak initially suspects that the problems experienced by the Fru'wu are due to the Huaoshy meddling in the development of their civilization. For hundreds of years Pla'kao and Pla'mak willingly accept technological tools and other help from the Fru'wu and they try to help the budding civilization on Earth sneak around the restrictions imposed on humans by the Huoashy. Only slowly does Pla'kau come to realize that by "helping" the humans on Earth develop a technologically advanced civilization, the Pla might be inadvertently sending Earth towards destruction, pushing Earth towards global warming and catastrophic changes to the oceans. Are the Fru'wu valuable friends of we Earthlings or a dangerously bad influence?

The Book of Fru
- a short history of past contacts between humans and the Fru'wu
- the Klyz teleportation hub is a Fru'wu base of operations
- the Fru'wu interventionist faction that became involved with the Nereids
- the theory that the name "Huaoshy" was passed from the Fru'wu to the Pla
- on why the Fru'wu want to contact the Nereids in Exode
- a short glossary entry about the Fru'wu for Exode
- some commentary on the technological disasters suffered by the Fru'wu
- what the Fru'wu have planned for Parthney and his mission to Earth
- an example of the contact that Parthney has with the Fru'wu while he is on Earth
- some history of past interactions between the Fru'wu and Trysta (A.K.A. Noÿs)

....other aliens.......
If you are interested in alien biology then also see:
- an Asterothrope female
- Sedronite genetics

- some Preland physiology

Jun 14, 2014

Other Futures

see the image credits for the elements of these photomanipulated composites
In my previous blog post six covers for the imaginary pulp science fiction magazine Future Science were unveiled. Here, I describe the remaining six covers for the year 2014.

I'm making modified versions of cover illustrations for some Astounding magazine issues that have passed into the public domain. In order to explore the idea that Grean the Kac'hin visited Earth in the 1930s, I'm inserting images of models who are playing the role of Grean. These models were photographed by Cathleen Tarawhiti and made available at deviantART under a Creative Commons license.

image source
For the February 2014 cover of Future Science, I started with the May 1931 issue of Astounding Stories.

In order to insert Grean into the scene, I used a photograph of model Tori Calderwood. As usual, I modified Tori's appearance slightly to create a hint of the alien.

see the original cover art
The original cover art by Hans Wessolowski was inspired by a scene in the story "Dark Moon". Part of the description of the alien "spider" from the story: "It stood upright on great hairy legs. The eyes shot forward on protruding antennae....Those jaws could crush a man to pulp."

The imaginary story title "Trapped in Preland" is a pulpish twisting of a concept from the Exode Trilogy. In my story Exode, the Prelands are a variation on the human form, crafted and designed by the pek. There is no place called "Preland". However, with poor Grean trapped in the web of this alien "spider", we can imagine her in some alien territory of prehistoric nightmares...a Preland.

image source
For the December 2014 issue of Future Science, I used the November 1931 cover from "Astounding Stories" and an image of model Emma McDonald (see this collection of Emma deviations). The original cover art by Wessolowski was apparently inspired by the story "Hawk Carse", "he of the spitting ray-gun and the phenomenal draw".

In the 1930s, every plot twist involved the appropriate type of "ray", including "a gravital ray, with strong magnetic properties". In the Exode Trilogy, my favorite plot device is the ultra-small zeptite.

see the original cover art
Grean has a swarm of endosymbiotic zeptites in her body that, among other things, allows her to change her facial features and the colors of her skin and hair. I modified the "skeleton" of the original cover to make a pixilated version. Grean's right hand was altered to make it look like she might be in the process of disintegrating into zeptite components.

Of course, if Grean can be reduced to her zeptite components, then the purple skeletal zeptite collection can surely be in the process of assembling into human form. The forming humanoid face on the skeleton is rather freaky...already giving poor Grean the evil eye.

The bearded guy in the lower right seems to be using radio telegraphy equipment from 1910 to force the zeptite transition upon Grean.

image source
For the October 2014 issue of Future Science, I used the October 1931 Astounding Stories cover art and another image of Emma McDonald.

The original Astounding Stories cover art by Hans Wessolowski was inspired by a story called "The Red Hell of Jupiter".

see the original cover art
In "The Red Hell of Jupiter", the Planetary Exploration Forces (PEF) confront the "pipe-like men" who reside in a fabulous city located in Jupiter's red spot. These alien beings are 12 feet tall and have large heads: "Set directly on the pipe-like body, as a pumpkin might be balanced on a pole, was a perfectly round cranium in which were glassy, staring eyes..."

In "The Red Hell of Jupiter", the PEF hero meets a humanoid slave girl from a moon of Jupiter.  In my modified cover, Grean is inserted into the scene in place of the slave girl; she hangs there behind the pipes that snake from the Red Sedron storage tank. The PEF hero, who looks like he is shining a flashlight on one of the "pipe-like men", is actually wielding a disintegrator ray in "The Red Hell of Jupiter". Since the imaginary pulp magazine Future Science is designed for family-friendly entertainment, I actually rebuilt a disintegated arm for the poor "pipe-like man" at the back of the scene.

image source
For the July 2014 cover of Future Science, I made use of the July 1931 issue of Astounding Stories. I again used model Tori Calderwood to represent my Exode Trilogy character, Grean the Kac'hin. The original cover art by Hans Wessolowski was inspired by a scene in the story "The Doom from Planet 4" by Jack Williamson.

see the original cover art
"Planet 4" is Mars and the naked character in the cover art is a shipwrecked sailor who swims to an island where a scientist has been developing advanced technology like the robot in the lower right corner of the illustration.

Grean, resting on a glass platform, gazes down upon the confrontation between the man and the machine. In the Exode Trilogy, a major plot device and example of "future science" are the submicroscopic femtobots made from hierions. Since Grean is a Kac'hin from the distant planet Luk'ru, I can imagine her as being significantly larger than the Earthling.

image source
For the March 2014 issue of Future Science, I used the cover art from the March 1930 issue of "Astounding Stories". To depict Grean in the scene, I used a photograph of Tori Calderwood.

see the original cover art
The original cover art by Hans Wessolowski was inspired by a scene in the story "Brigands of the Moon". In that story from 1930, the spaceship Planetara goes to the Moon in search of radium.

image source
The high observation
deck of the Planetara
For my alteration of the scene, I completely changed the scale of the spaceship, making it just large enough to hold Grean. In the original story by Ray Cummings, the spaceship is much larger. When Grean comes to Earth she is trying to make use of time travel technology to alter the course of events on Earth. Here, Grean is in a state of suspended animation, as good as dead, and being sent to Observer Base on the Moon. Can Grean use time travel to save her own life?

image  source
For the April 2014 cover of Future Science, I started with the July 1930 Astounding Stories issue. To represent Grean, I used another Tori Calderwood image.

The original cover art for the July 1930 Astounding issue was inspired by "Earth, the Marauder". On the cover is a globe, showing Earth of the future, with no oceans....the water having been "disintegrated".

see the original cover art
In that future Earth, as imagined by Arthur J. Burks, the people lived long lives lasting many centuries. Earth was covered by a single city, eight miles deep.

In the Exode Trilogy, Earth faces a different problem: global warming and rising sea levels. The globe depicted on the cover is an interesting element in "Earth, the Marauder". Burks imagined that it functioned as a sophisticated communications device. When focused upon with a magnifier, each of the billions of inhabitants of Earth could be individually seen and heard.

In the Exode Trilogy, Grean must engage in time travel, using technology made possible by sedrons, to save Earth from catastrophic sea level rise.

Future Science
Trysta and Ekcolir
I'm in the process of sketching out the structure of Trysta and Ekcolir, the first book in the Exode Trilogy. The events of Trysta and Ekcolir are largely confined to the Reality that preceded the world as we know it. Understanding how information from that Reality reaches us has been a major challenge for me.

I've been having fun with the idea that some science fiction stories that were written in the Ekcolir Reality found their way into our Reality. I first imagined that Thomas would be the vector for transporting science fiction from the Ekcolir Reality to the Buld Reality. I originally imagined that he would simply carry his memories over into our Reality, but what if there were actual physical artifacts such as books or magazines that Thomas was able to bring into our Reality?

And why stop there? Before the Ekcolir Reality was the Foundation Reality. In the Foundation Reality Grean was engaged in a struggle against the positronic robots of Earth and she was not able to indulge in the luxury of acting delicately so as to not allow herself to be noticed by Earthlings. But how might Earthlings explain to themselves the appearance of Grean the Kac'hin among them?

alien beings, tentacles
and giant bugs
With that question was born the whimsical pulp science fiction magazine Future Science. It is tricky to illustrate Grean's struggle against positronic robots since both Grean and the robots have no difficulty taking on human form and passing themselves of as Earthlings. However, for the pulpish covers of Future Science we can imagine Grean in dramatic confrontations with visually distinctive alien creatures and strange monsters.

The three Future Science covers to the right include classic pulp science fiction monsters that are tormenting poor Grean, the damsel in distress. I suppose someone has done a statistical analysis to determine if more Sci Fi damsels in distress from the 1930s were tormented by tentacles or by insect-like aliens.

green slime
In the Exode Trilogy, Grean is well equipped to deal with the dangers that she must confront. She has at her disposal the mighty technology of the Huaoshy, so it is hard for me to imagine her getting into the dire situations depicted here. However, with Grean in these pulpish positions of weakness, I did contemplate making these covers even worse!

For the cover, I did not want Grean actually getting slimed.

Grean in the tank
For the scene with the "Red Sedrons", I did not want to put Grean into the Houdini pose inside the tank.

But here it is (image to the left) with a more horror-tinged approach to the scene. This version of the scene also removes a tentacle-like arm from the alien, the arm having been blasted off by the disintegrator ray gun, leaving the alien's appendage draped over the rim of the tank.

Worse still, the alien on the far right in the scene is really getting his face disintegrated by our hero's disintegrator beam.

This version is more pulpish, but the editor for Future Science rejected the gore.

spidy claw
Similarly, to heighten the sense of horror for the February cover I could have had the giant spider-like creature in physical contact with poor Grean.

Size Matters
One of the major Sci Fi "tricks" used in the Exode Trilogy is to imagine that ancient aliens like the Huaoshy have advanced technology that goes far beyond the possibilities of miniaturization that are to be expected for nanotechnology. 

Grean the giant
There were three of the Future Science covers for which Grean got to live large. If the pek are artificial life forms composed of zeptite components, we can ask: just how small of a bodily form might the pek be able to adopt? None of these three scenes (in the image to the left) would be impossible to account for by saying that Grean has a normal human body size and the depicted "little people" are artificial life forms that might be confronted by Grean during her adventures in the Hierion Domain.

Giant artificial life forms
Of course, if the pek can adopt small bodily forms, then they should have no problem going the other way. For the two Future Science covers shown to the right, we can imagine that Grean is visiting Archive Worlds in the Hierion Domain where she will feel small because of the grand scale of the artificial life forms that reside there.

The Final Four
The top 4 covers
There are the four Future Science covers that I like the best. One of the strategies that I used in constructing these covers was to give Grean a slightly non-human appearance. Grean is Kac'hin, and imagine that the facial features of unmodified Kac'hin are outside of the bounds of the normal appearance of Earthlings.

The easiest modification for me to make to a model is to enlarge the eyes. Sometimes I can play with the color of the eyes and give a pulp Sci Fi eye glow to Grean. I did not want to make the appearance of Grean in these Future Science covers too freaky.

Next cover image: first draft of a retro Future Science cover that depicts Grean's confrontation with R. Fengtol.

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