Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Well, today was certainly a banner day. "World Enough, And Time," the STAR TREK NEW VOYAGES script I've just written with Michael Reaves and which I'll be directing in September, has been getting a GREAT reception, not just from NEW VOYAGES Executive Producer and star James Cawley and others on the show, but also from BATTLESTAR GALACTICA director Michael Nankin, who loved the script.

Today, I drove the script over to George Takei's lovely home and presented it to him in person -- what a thrill. We spoke for about an hour on how we're going to be making it a reality.

Also had lunch with "Max Rem," the pseudonymous genius who does the remarkable special effects for the show. Michael and I will be getting together with him again on Sunday to start planning, designing and storyboarding the numerous effects sequences.

Then next week, the actors who play McCoy, Spock, Uhura and young Chekhov will be here in Los Angeles for us to begin working with them on their performances. Two weeks after that, I'll be visiting the TREK sets up in Ticonderoga when I'm in New York state giving the keynote speech at the Sering symposium at Ithaca College.

What a great honor to be working with such incredibly talented folks. More adventures to come, and soon...


Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Just a short note to mention that Michael and I finished the “World Enough, And Time” script for STAR TREK NEW VOYAGES. Very thrilling. All my friends who are writer-producers and directors on various shows are eager to read it – guys on BLADE, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, LOST. Who knew this would be such a hot script? Michael and I did it just because WE were jazzed by it.

Shortly, I’ll be sending it off to NEW VOYAGES producers JAMES CAWLEY and DR. JOHN, who play Kirk and McCoy, respectively. Then it will be off to George Takei. I can’t wait.

Pictured above is a photo taken recently of me in a STAR TREK NEW VOYAGES tunic based on the first two pilots that were shot for STAR TREK. I’m posed with JULIE CAITLIN-BROWN, a lead on BABYLON 5 (she played N’Toth) and a guest star on some of the later TREK series.

I finished off the day today being on-camera host of a video internet piece for my friend documentarian PATRICK FRANCIS, about various eateries around L.A. that have been virtually unchanged since the 1930s and 1940s – Musso and Frank’s, the Apple Pan and Farmer’s Market.

Today, we shot at Musso and Frank’s on Hollywood Boulevard, a famous Hollywood writers hangout, whose clientele included Dashielle Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Hemingway, even Charles Bukowski. I first became aware of the place while researching my book THE TWILIGHT ZONE COMPANION – it turns out in the late Fifties and early Sixties, ZONE scribes Charles Beaumont, George Clayton Johnson and Richard Matheson hung out there. Even Serling would drop by, on occasion.

All in all, an exciting and fruitful day, with many more adventures to come...


Saturday, March 11, 2006


A few days ago, Elaine and I had the enormous pleasure of touring Miles Kreuger’s astonishing Institute of the American Musical.

We had wanted to do this for many years, ever since we first met Miles at one of Leonard Maltin’s famed Loew’s Whipple screenings of obscure films from the Thirties (held exclusively for world renowned experts in film and TV). Miles is the leading expert in the American musical – both stage shows and movies – and his 17-room manse is devoted exclusively to his phenomenal archive of everything from sheet music, playbills, recordings (every stage show recording from the 19th and 20th Centuries), rare films of Broadway performances, you name it.

Miles gave us a personal tour, and Elaine and I were simply awestruck. Miles grew up in the right place at the right time, as the myriad photographs signed personally to him from the likes of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Rogers and Hammerstein and Rouben Mamoulian readily attest. Every corner of the Institute held a marvel!

And Miles himself is a walking encyclopedia, hugely charming, delightful and droll, full of astonishing anecdotes that are literally a personal history of the American musical. I mean, how many people can begin a story, “I was having dinner with W.C. Handy one night…”

Late in the tour, Miles showed us his favorite treasure – the original portrait done of him by the legendary caricaturist Al Hirschfeld (pictured below). For those of you unaware of this great artist, Hirschfeld was a fixture of the Broadway stage for most of the 20th Century (he lived almost to 100) and you had NOT arrived until Hirschfeld had done your portrait.

In the photo above, you see us posing at the end of the tour with Miles, raconteur extraordinaire, before the original oil portrait of stage and early film star Jeanne Eagels, and the portrait of Miles as a young man. Between these is a very rare photo of British stage sensation Ellen Terry (Shaw’s leading lady) in the role of Lady Macbeth.

All in all, it was a landmark day, one to remember forever – and we didn’t even see the second floor! (That will be for next time.)


Saturday, March 04, 2006


Just got emailed the following, from the New York Times...


Science Fiction for the Ages

Following is a list of favorites, with commentary, by the writer of the Book Review's new science fiction column. Titles are listed in alphbetical order:

A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959)
All you need to know about my youth is that I was taught this subversive exegesis of man's religious impulse, wrapped within a story about a post-nuclear future, in the 7th grade, the same year I was studying for my bar mitzvah.

Cat's Cradle (1963)
The perfect, Platonic balance of science and fiction, one that still finds room for merciless satire and a moral that resonates to the present day: that self-destruction is mankind's one true calling.

A Clockwork Orange (1962)
A lovely little tale of behavioral modification therapy and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, so punk-rock that Burgess spent the rest of his life denying that the book had inspired the punk-rock movment.

The Crying of Lot 49 (1965)
Due to space limitations, I can't offer my complete explanation of why this is a science-fiction book, so for the sake of efficiency let me simply say to anyone who disagrees with my classification of it as such: You're wrong.

Gun, With Occasional Music: A Novel (1994)
I think this Lethem kid could be a big deal if he'd just give up his highfalutin literary ambitions and embrace his inner sci-fi geek. Hope it all works out for him.

Looking for Jake (2005)
I don't pretend to be completely versed in Miéville's work, but what I've read of it so far I find utterly fascinating. At age 33, he is already a master of gothic storytelling.

The Man in the High Castle (1962)
My personal favorite from Dick's paranoid catalog, an unnerving alternate history of victorious Nazis and the I Ching that seems to be reading you at the same time you're reading it.

R is for Rocket (1962)
Most readers' introduction to Bradbury usually comes via "The Illustrated Man," but this was the book that taught me all I needed to know about sci-fi. Such as: don't go back in time and step on a butterfly.

The Twilight Zone Companion (1982)
The book that showed me it's possible to take a critical stance on a work of science fiction and love it at the same time. Also, I memorized all of its plot synopses so I could pretend that I've seen every episode of the show.

Watchmen (1987)
Want to start a fistfight in a hurry? Walk up to any salesperson at Forbidden Planet and tell them this extraordinary graphic novel about psychologically wounded superheroes in a hopelessly modern world was just another comic book.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


I just heard on the news that famed writer Octavia Butler died after a fall outside her Seattle home. She was only 58.

I first met Octavia when we were both starting out, back in 1975. She and I had enrolled in a UCLA writing class taught by science fiction legend Theodore Sturgeon. As a UCLA undergrad, I was forbidden from taking Extension classes, but I wasn't going to let that stop me from learning from Sturgeon, one of my favorite authors and a STAR TREK writer, to boot.

Michael Reaves was a T.A. in the class, and that's where I first met him, too (ironic that we're now co-writing the new STAR TREK script). He and Octavia -- who Michael knew as Estelle, her given name -- had attended the Clarion Writers Workshop in 1973, and I had just graduated from Clarion '75, where I'd sold my first short story.

My first impression of Octavia was how tall she was, and how dignified. She was very quiet and self-contained, observant and intelligent, and she spoke with a surprisingly low contralto voice. She was distinctive to a degree that once you met her, you didn't forget her.

At the time, none of us knew which of us would make it as writers. Ted Sturgeon was very encouraging to everyone, gentle and funny and wise. But our futures were unknowns.

One day, Octavia brought a chapter from a novel she was working on, which she read aloud. It was dense and packed with science fictional terminology relating to the alien culture she had created, and I found it impossible to tell out of context whether it worked or not. So, by the end of the class, I had no idea of Octavia's skills or prospects.

But then, several years later, her novel KINDRED came out. The tale of a modern black woman who finds herself back in slave days, I found it wonderfully written, sensitively observed, powerful. I knew then that Octavia was a major new writer, and that she would have a flourishing career.

As the years passed, we'd run into each other every now and then. I was always thrilled to hear of her latest triumphs, and I was gratified to see (and hear from her editor Betsy Mitchell) that her books were being packaged and promoted as mainstream fiction, not SF. Octavia also mentioned that she had taken a Dale Carnegie speaking course, so that she could overcome her fear of speaking to crowds. She remained charming, funny, sweet, very human and real.

We last spoke at this past year's BookExpo, where the above photo was taken. It was good to catch up, to reflect with gratitude how we'd both made it, both accomplished our ambitions on our own terms, written works that had moved people and had lasted.

We spoke of getting together soon, and I'd have liked that very much.

It's tragic that she's gone, what a waste. But the gift of every writer's life is the knowledge that our work -- what we thought and what we felt, the best of us -- lasts beyond us to enrich others, and to share.

It's not enough, given the fragility of life and its transience... but it's something.