Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

The Final Frontier

Thursday, August 27th, 2015


For someone whose idea of a vacation is the clean, crisp scent of pine trees, squirrels scampering, deer delicately nibbling leaves, and gentle ocean breezes, Las Vegas wasn’t on my 1000 Places to Vacation list.

But when I discovered my East Coast son was attending a conference there and our friends Denise and Mike Okuda would be speaking at a Star Trek Convention at the same time, a trip to Las Vegas was in the cards.

(Did you know the pun is the lowest form of humor?)

I’d never watched Star Trek other than to read a book in the same room with Star Trek: Voyager on for my son, so to say I was a fish-out-of-water at this convention is an understatement.

(*clichés are predictable and unimaginative.  Avoid them like the plague.)

Although I thought I had nothing in common with Star Trek fans, I discovered their friendliness, passion, and joy contagious!!  Fans of all ages dressed in creative costumes and willingly posed for pictures.  Their energy turned the event into one big party! !!

(*Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!!!)

Getting into the spirit of things, and trying to belong, I saw a tall man in costume which looked vaguely familiar.  “Chewbacca?” I asked my son.


“Mom, that’s Star WARS,” he said.

It’s good to ask questions, I reminded myself.

The Star Trek culture has been so beloved and ingrained within our culture the Smithsonian is opening an exhibit on Star Trek in July 2016, the show’s 50th anniversary.  Mike and Denise Okuda’s new book, encyclo_book

will be released at the same time.  Mike Okuda, Scenic Arts Supervisor, was nominated for Emmy Awards in Outstanding Special Visual Effects.  His wife, Denise, a scenic artist and computer/ video supervisor, is the co-author of this two-volume edition.

“We were bombarded with questions from NASA,” said Mike at the convention.  “We tried to be so far ahead of current technology –at least visually.”

In a turn of events as strange as green aliens on earth, Star Trek not only became an icon for fans, but for NASA scientists who contacted them for ideas.

You don’t have to attend a Star trek Convention to boldly go where no man has gone before to create your own science fiction or fantasy world.

Writing Prompts:

  1. Create your own world.  How far can your imagination go?  Describe the inhabitants, government, environment, character goals.   Let these ideas simmer for a while, building upon them as you take walks, daydream, and sleep.
  2. Begin crafting your own story, using your new world’s parameters.
  3. Experiment with different genres.   Poetry, graphics, music, short story.
  4. Writing rules.  Know them before you break them.

(*A nod to William Safire’s list of writing rules from the New York Times.)





Mistaken Identity

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

The other day I took Zoie for a walk and noticed “my” red-tailed hawk flying low over our house.  Looking for lunch? 

We came inside and heard a CA-THUNK. 

“What was that?” asked my husband. 

We both looked out of the living room windows which over-look the oak trees, the open space, and our deck.  Nothing that we could see had been disturbed. 

“Probably the neighbors,” I said.  So many people around us are either retired or work at home, there is lots of noise and activity around us these days. 

It was time for Zoie to go on the downstairs deck for her good sniffs.  I joined her and glanced down at the small sliver of land we have before it drops off into a sharp hill below.   That’s where Bob perched his beloved plastic $3.99 pink flamingoes. (Sigh) Why?  Partly because he likes them, and mostly to jokingly annoy me.  It sort of matches the fuzzy dice he has hanging from the mirror in his truck.  (Sigh #2)  He USED to have them in his El Camino.  (Sigh #3)  But that’s another story . . .

It was then I noticed that one of the pink flamingoes was lying at the bottom of our hill, leaning against our fence.  Its legs were still standing firmly in the ground at the top of the hill.  Without the fence to stop it, the body of the plastic bird would be in the creek by now.  (Darn that fence . . .)

On its wings were deep gashes . . .    Holes punctured the head. 

I gazed upward and saw the hawk.  “Sorry,” I sent telepathically to him.  “Wish you would have succeeded in carrying it off.  Hope you have better luck with your lunch on your next try.”

Writing Prompts:

1. The dive-bombing hawk at the plastic pink flamingo must have been very disappointed to discover his case of mistaken identity.  When have you ever had a case of mistaken identity?  Ever think someone or something was different from reality?  Write a personal narrative about this happening. 

2.  Write a short story about a mistaken identity.  It could be a comedy, a tragedy, a mystery, a romance or even a science fiction piece. 

3.  Create a poem with that theme.  Remember a poem is not just prose set up into poetry format.  Take out all the unimportant words and replace them with images and concrete words that show and don’t tell. 

4.  Write a newspaper article about a case of mistaken identity in journalistic form. 

How do all of these types of writing differ?  Which one is the easiest for you?  The most difficult?

Join me in a trip to Mars!

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Please check out the Jet Propulsion Laboratory site for the Mars Mission at

Writing exercise: Now write about your trip, of course!

Is there science fiction in your life?

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Happy Birthday Eleanor Cameron! (1912-1996) A native of Canada, she spent most of her life in California. This children’s author is best known for The Mushroom Planet novels. Since 1992, has presented the Eleanor Cameron Award for Excellence in Children’s Science Fiction.

Checking out their awards, I find Whales on Stilts by M.T. Anderson won in 2005. If you haven’t read it, it’s a hoot! If you are an adult, don’t be intimidated by a young adult book. It’s hysterical, and really, you can handle it . . .

Writing Exercise 1: Ever have a science fiction-type experience in your own life? See a strange being/light or have a bizarre happening? Write a paragraph or two explaining that event.
2. After reading some good science fiction to inspire you, try your own story or poem in this genre.