Author and playwright Gary Morgenstein is back for the seventh-inning stretch – his acclaimed first novel in “The Dark Depths” trilogy, A Mound Over Hell, introduced us to the bleak world at the end of the 21st century, after a war against an extremist Islamic regime resulted in the defeat of the western world, clawing itself out from the ruins under the auspices of The Family, the de-facto government of what was the United States, where pretty much everything enjoyable is illegal, and baseball struggles to remain relevant. The devastating events at the end of the story appear to renew the interest in baseball – and the patriotism it invokes.
Now in his second installment, A Fastball for Freedom, we are taken to a wider view of the status of the world. Former baseball historian Puppy Nedick is on the run after he and his friends are branded as traitors, and he escapes with his ex-wife Annette to what is now the Caliphate of England to try and prevent another devastating war but are taken prisoner. The British people, referred to as Crusaders, seems accepting of their subservience to the Grand Mufti, but are looking to latch on to something, anything, to cheer about again, while the Grand Mufti and the Imams are convinced by military leader Colonel Ali Basa to use Puppy to demonstrate the dominance of their regime over the Crusaders. And baseball might fit within both Puppy’s and Basa’s agendas.
Meanwhile Zelda Jones escapes and finds herself, with newborn Diego Jr. in tow, in and around Boston, even at one point in the shadow of the new construction of Fenway Park.
The Family, reeling from the death of Grandma and under the control of former Fist Cousin and now Grandpa Albert, has pushed forward with the rebuilding of baseball stadiums and bringing back baseball, mostly under the direction of Third Cousin Elias Kenuda. Elias is also working to adopt his orphan ward Clary – but behind Clary are dark secrets that could rip the Family apart.
Morgenstein continues his vivid worldbuilding established in the first novel. Throughout the story we get more ideas of what life is like under the Family, the encouragement to find love, commit to your work, etc. – with failure likely resulting in being sent to a Disappointment Village. Even with the presence of a government, there are still areas of anarchy. And we start to see more about the robots – how they think of themselves, their role in society, and how the Facebots – the previously banned robots who most resemble and are almost indistinguishable from humans – may figure into the future of the story.
Interestingly, baseball takes mostly a back seat until later in the story. We get a glimpse of the nearly complete new Fenway Park and the remnants of Red Sox Nation, and how the Family is working to rebuild the stadiums, but the game itself comes later. Baseball still represents the hope of the American people, and the spark that might ignite all of Europe.
Instead, we are seeing the bigger picture and its push forward in the ultimate story, avoiding the “middle of the trilogy” problem of just being a bridge between the beginning and end.
And throughout, there is a constant fear about what might become of our protagonists, existing in a world where you can be executed at any time simply because you are who you are. And it feels like that could happen at any time.
It also forms a precautionary tale, like a good post-apocalyptic tale should…we see a world where extremism in either direction can present as a dominant power, even when it is not necessarily the majority view of those it supposedly represents.
A Fastball for Freedom comes out this Thursday, March 25th, from BHC Press. Interested in Gary Morgenstein’s other works? Tomorrow his eight-episode scripted series Joyland, co-created and co-written with Russell Friedman, will debut on YouTube, set in the tumultuous 1960s when former New York Knicks player Marty Dent brings a basketball team to Brooklyn as part of the new American Basketball Association to help bolster the city. And later this year his latest play will premiere, A Black and White Cookie, a humorous look at racial harmony when a gruff African American man is forced to close his East Village business of 30 years and retire to Florida when he is hit with a rent increase but is instead convinced to fight his landlord by a 1960s eccentric Jewish radical. He is also the author of the stage dramas Saving Stan, A Tomato Can’t Grow in the Bronx, and the off-Broadway sci-fi rock musical The Anthem.
Hey all…still alive and kicking around here…obviously I haven’t posted anything in a while as many other things have taken on priority lately, but we are edging closer to our 20th anniversary! So I figured I post something original, about something I never clearly understood.
In the 2014 mini-series Ascension, originally on Syfy but now available on Peacock, we are introduced to the residents and crew of the multi-generational Orion-Class starship U.S.S. Ascension, halfway through a 100-year journey to colonize another planet.
In the show we are shown a U.S. flag, but it isn’t the normal flag. This one had the normal 13 red and white stripes, but in the blue field there were only 33 stars, arranged in a slightly odd way. They were mostly in the same pattern of rows (alternating 6 and 5 stars per row), but some stars were missing, but there was a slight irregularity in the positions of the stars as well. Here is a screen capture of the appearance of the flag in a black-and-white video shown on the ship – the extra dots in the field were from the starfield in the background of the shot:
What did it mean? The U.S.S. Ascension was launched in 1963, so there would have been 50 states at the time. Did some states secede? Fail? Merge? Destroyed in a war? And they updated the flag in transmissions to the ship? My usually expert Google-fu failed me in finding an answer with just some speculation on Reddit. But I wanted an answer, and I knew where to get it – from the source.
I tweeted the creators of the show, Adrian Alex Cruz and Philip Levens, and got a reply from Cruz almost immediately. “The design is meant to embody both the star constellation that is their destination and the original 33 families selected for the journey. #stuffwenevergottoexplore…It’s a Colonial Flag, essentially.”
So there you have it…thanks to Adrian Alex Cruz for putting my mind at ease. Time to find a new mystery to solve…
Just thought I’d give an update, since I haven’t posted any articles in a while…I decided to take some time off from this site as it was taking up a lot of time just trying to keep up with the news lately, and I’ve been super busy with many other things that I just couldn’t concentrate on it the way I’d like. We also had a big family vacation this summer.
To be honest, the site has been running on fumes for a while. Any sort of revenue has slowly dwindled away to a fraction of what other relatively static sites I have generate (which still doesn’t cover the cost of the server), and and while Amazon’s associate program made doing this worthwhile in the early years, changes in policies made it much more time consuming than what the dwindling revenue was worth. I have to pay for a kid in college now and another one in a few years, and this isn’t paying for lunch.
Not to mention that since Syfy’s abandonment of the always-fun digital press tours several years ago and due to my being on the opposite side of the country from Hollywood itself, there have been no real opportunities to get face to face with the talent in front of and behind the scenes beyond local conventions – and even then, I’ve been doing it as a fan and not as a press person (although, if you need an interviewer or moderator in New England, I’m here…)
All this has led to overall interest fatigue, and thinking about the future. I had hopes to make it to the 20 year anniversary of the site next year.
So, where do we stand? I think at this point updates to the site will be sporadic at best. I’m not actually going anywhere, but you are more likely to see me commenting over on Twitter (@scifistorm), especially doing things like teasing Eddie McClintock…and I’ll certainly have some updates from Walt Disney World’s Galaxy’s Edge – but not until next Spring.
For those of you who might have been tagging along for these 19 years, THANK YOU.
The Orville star and creator Seth MacFarlane dropped a bomb at San Diego Comic Con – the show will move off of Fox onto the Hulu streaming network for season 3.
In a statement MacFarlane said, “The Orville has been a labor of love for me, and there are two companies which have supported that vision in a big way: 20th Century Fox Television, where I’ve had a deal since the start of my career, and Fox Broadcasting Company, now Fox Entertainment, which has been my broadcast home for over 20 years. My friends at the network understood what I was trying to do with this series, and they’ve done a spectacular job of marketing, launching and programming it for these past two seasons. But as the show has evolved and become more ambitious production-wise, I determined that I would not be able to deliver episodes until 2020, which would be challenging for the network. So we began to discuss how best to support the third season in a way that worked for the show. It’s exactly this kind of willingness to accommodate a show’s creative needs that’s made me want to stick around for so long. I am hugely indebted to Charlie Collier and Fox Entertainment for their generosity and look forward to developing future projects there. And to my new friends at Hulu, I look forward to our new partnership exploring the galaxy together.”
So it appears that was just a move due to the production schedule not fitting with a broadcast schedule well, so the streaming service became a better option.
Yes, my dear Earpers…it’s finally happening! Season 4 has finally gotten the green light! The show was originally renewed by SYFY and Space for the US and Canada market, but production was delayed due to apparent financial issues at IDW Entertainment without an international distributor – but now they have one.
IDW Entertainment, SEVEN24 Films, Space and SYFY announced today that Wynonna Earp, the award-winning series based on the IDW comic created by Beau Smith, has been greenlit to start production for its fourth season. With production slated to begin later this year, Season 4 is expected to debut in Summer 2020 on SYFY in the US and Space in Canada. Additionally, IDW Entertainment announced that Cineflix Studios has come aboard to co-produce with Cineflix Rights handling international sales for all four seasons of the series.
Winner of the 2018 People’s Choice Award for Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show, Wynonna Earp follows the life of the great, great granddaughter (Melanie Scrofano, Bad Blood) of famous lawman Wyatt Earp. The action-packed supernatural sci-fi series stars Scrofano, Tim Rozon (Schitt’s Creek), Dominique Provost-Chalkley (Avengers: Age of Ultron) and Katherine Barrell (Working Moms).
“We are absolutely thrilled that we get to make more Wynonna Earp, and are grateful to our networks and partners for working hard to ensure we can,” said Emily Andras, Showrunner and Executive Producer. “This is an enormous testament to our passionate and fierce fans, the Earpers, who remind us every day how to fight like hell for the things you love with wit, ferocity and kindness.”
Known for having one of the most active social media communities – from arranging fan conventions around the world to raising money for LGBTQ charities – Wynonna Earp has been praised for its “fierce and committed performances”*, and has received and been nominated for numerous awards including Canadian Screen Awards, GLAAD Media Awards, Directors Guild of Canada, Writers Guild of Canada and Alberta Film & Television Awards.
SEVEN24’s Jordy Randall and Tom Cox, in addition to Cineflix’s Peter Emerson and Brett Burlock, serve as Executive Producers along with Todd Berger and Rick Jacobs.
Just got work that actor Paul Darrow, best known for the role of Kerr Avon in BBC sci-fi series Blake’s 7, passed away after a short illness.
The actor made many appearances on British TV over 5 decades, including most recently a recurring role on Law & Order: UK, as well as many stage appearances, but the role he is most associated with is the computer expert and thief who became the reluctant rebel in Roj Blake’s resistance against the oppressive Federation. He was always looking to score some quick money, but would always do the right thing in the end.
Darrow was always a big proponent of the show and worked hard to try and bring the show back, going as far as to purchasing the rights to the show back in 2003 from the estate of creator Terry Nation. While any sort of reboot remains in the depths of Development Hell, the loss of such a champion of the show is certainly a blow, but perhaps might finally provide the impetus to get a new version off the ground.
Warning…as Tom Holland says at the beginning, there is a major spoiler if you haven’t yet watched Avengers: Endgame, so go watch that first…but the irony of Tom Holland warning of spoilers…
It is with great sadness that we learned a few minutes ago that actor Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the Star Wars saga, passed away in April 30th at home in Texas surrounded by his family.
His family released a statement on Facebook and Twitter:
The family of Peter Mayhew, with deep love and sadness, regrets to share the news that Peter has passed away. He left us the evening of April 30, 2019 with his family by his side in his North Texas home.
Peter was the man behind the mask of Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy, episode 3 of the prequels, and the New Trilogy. He fought his way back from being wheelchair-bound to stand tall and portray Chewbacca once more in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He also consulted on The Last Jedi in an attempt to teach his successor. He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame of the films from his knock kneed running, firing his bowcaster from the hip, his bright blue eyes, down to each subtle movement of his head and mouth. But, to him, the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film.
The relationships that began then grew into the friends and family that he would love for decades to come. As the films released and became more well-known he had his eyes opened to the possibilities of what he could achieve with his role in the Star Wars universe. For more than 30 years Peter traveled all over the world spending time with his fans and friends. Peter developed lifelong friendships with the other cast members and his fans while on the convention circuit touching the lives of millions. As he realized over the years the impact he could have, he became heavily involved with the 501st legion, Wounded Warriors, Make-a-Wish, and other non-profit organizations.
To this end, he established the Peter Mayhew Foundation, supporting everything from individuals and families in crisis situations to food and supplies for children of Venezuela during their recent road to freedom. He not only provided funds but became personally involved with each individual, family and cause he supported.
As he grew older he continued to “soldier on” as he put it and was completely in his element around his fans and supporters. He grew great strength from the energy of his family, friends and the fans he knew and loved.
He is survived by his wife Angie and three children. His kindness, generosity and care will live on in the Peter Mayhew Foundation with Angie taking the helm as his voice.
There will be a memorial service for friends and family held on June 29th and in early December in Los Angeles there will be a memorial for fans set up with his family in attendance, personal effects, and collection at EmpireConLA.
For additional information, information on the memorials or to offer condolences email ryan@ReelAppearances.com
Rather than gifts and flowers the family asks that you consider donating to the foundation so that they can continue his efforts to help the community. You can donate at http://petermayhewfoundation.org/make-a-donation.php
I met Peter briefly back in 2014, and he was as always gracious and thankful for the fans. He had just a couple weeks ago met up with fans at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago.
Suffering from physical issues owing to his immense frame – he needed knee replacements but had to wait until they built a machine large enough to create the parts large enough – he was often wheelchair bound but managed to stand tall again for scenes in The Force Awakens, but worked as a consultant on The Last Jedi to help train his replacement.
May the Force be with you, Peter…always.
I was laughing…but I’m afraid of what happened to him as soon as Tyrion left…
Here it is…and oh, so many questions…is that Kylo Ren’s fighter? And who is the new Skywalker? But…LANDO!