Skip directly to content

Bjo Trimble and the Good Ship Enterprise

on Wed, 10/29/2014 - 00:00

Gene Roddenberry was a genius. Not only did he create one of the most enduring franchises in the history of science fiction, he was smart enough to both court and invite fans of sci-fi to be part of the original 1960s Star Trek television show from the outset. Various science fiction writers, for instance, were approached to craft scripts for Star Trek, and the very first episode did not make its premier on NBC but at a special screening during the 1966 World Science Fiction Convention in Cleveland. Science fiction fandom was strong in the United States by the mid-1960s, having been born from the pulp magazines of the 1930s and 40s, offering an instantaneous audience to a sci-fi television drama that was both intellectual and respectful of its roots.

Many of the initial fans of Star Trek were thus already members of science fiction fandom, including Bjo Trimble. The California native was an “actifan” in the community, having joined the world of sci-fi in 1952 and later organizing a “Worldcon Futuristic Fashion Show” in 1958 as well as the first Worldcon Art Show at the 1960 Pittcon in Pittsburgh. 1966 again saw Trimble taking the lead in a Worldcon fashion show, but when she arrived in Cleveland before the outset of the convention, she was met with unexpected news—the convention committee had promised the executive producer of some new television show that he could feature actual costumes from the series as part of the event. Bjo Trimble was not pleased with the agreement, but after meeting Gene Roddenberry in person to discuss the matter, she consented. She did not know it at the time, but the next fifteen years of her life would be indelible tied to Roddenberry and Star Trek as she became one of the most important and influential fans of the original series.

Puzzled Pint: From Portland to Pittsburgh

on Mon, 10/27/2014 - 00:00

Puzzles come in all shapes and sizes. There are crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles and mathematical puzzles. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson—better known as Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland—popularized the “logic puzzle” in the late Nineteenth Century, introducing deductive reasoning into the mix. Over the decades since, puzzles have expanded into mechanical creations like Rubik’s Cube, number-placement puzzles like Sudoku and even metapuzzles that involve the solving of numerous puzzles to arrive at one correct answer. Everyone enjoys a good puzzle, especially since there are so many different types of puzzles from which to choose.

Matt Cleinman also enjoys a good puzzle, but not just as recreation but as a social activity as well. While living in Portland, Oregon, he was an early participant in DASH, a team-oriented, national puzzle hunt that takes place in multiple cities across the United States—thus its acronym moniker that stands for “Different Area, Same Hunt.” It was after the second DASH that Cleinman and some of his fellow puzzle-mates brainstormed a different form of DASH called Puzzled Pint. “There was a feeling that participation in Portland could be higher, that many people would be interested if they only knew that puzzles existed,” Cleinman remembers. “Five of us came together to create a low-key, non-competitive puzzle event to introduce people to this world. We figured that a bar-based event is about as casual as it gets.”

The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes

on Wed, 10/22/2014 - 00:00

“It’s an interest of mine, how people react when they see an alien landscape,” explains poet/writer Mykol Ranglen. “All sorts of preconceptions and assumptions arise, and yet, for once, they’re facing something new, different… other.”

Ranglen is the main protagonist of author Albert Wendland’s novel The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes (Dog Star Books, 2014), a science fiction mystery centered on the search for a piece of ancient alien technology. Such “Clips”—short for Carrier-Locked Integrated Program—have been found in the past and paved the way for mankind’s ventures into the far-reaches of the universe. The Clips were hidden throughout the galaxy by the Airafane, an extinct race that fought a losing war against the Moyocks, who likewise no longer exist. The technology of the Clips are thus not just a legacy handed down by the Airafane but a means for future races to protect themselves against the likes of the Moyocks, and are worth a fortune to anyone who finds one.

Mykol Ranglen found the third Clip, although only a few people are aware of that fact, as well as the fourth—an even more guarded secret. Because of his ability to find these alien blueprints, the fiancé of Ranglen’s ex-girlfriend attempts to enlist his aid in the search for a fifth Clip. Henry Ciat and Mileen Oltrepi discovered a clue as to its location by accident and have set out, along with three others who were with them at the time, to find the Clip in question. Ranglen declines to assist them, but when Henry is later murdered and the whereabouts of Mileen unknown, he is dragged into the mystery nonetheless. Not only does Mykol Ranglen have to contend with the three remaining treasurer hunters but the law enforcement agents investigating Henry Ciat’s death, officials from multiple governments and a notorious mobster who is not above killing another human being simply to make a point.