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I’d like to thank “Creature Double Feature,” Elvira, Half-Price Books, Sun Coast Video, WDC and…

January 12, 2010

I originally intended to do something very in-depth to explain why I chose science fiction as my main genre, but I thought it would be so boring it would put readers to sleep.

I know because I just found myself face down on my desk and my keyboard covered in drool.

So, I am opting for a shortened version.

I got my introduction to science fiction from WLVI Channel 56 in Boston, Massachusetts.  As a kid in the late 70’s, I was glued to the TV set on Saturday afternoons from 1-3, watching “Creature Double Feature.”  The Emmy-winning program showcased some of the best and many of the worst science fiction and horror films ever made — Beast from 20,000 Fathoms; Them!; Tarantula; Giant Gila Monster; The Creature from the Black Lagoon; Kingdom of the Spiders; Legend of Hell House; Maneater of Hydra; It Conquered the World; The Blob; Plan 9 From Outer Space; Rodan; The Mysterians; Frankenstein Conquers the World; Reptilicus; Angry Red Planet; Journey to the Seventh Planet; Planet of Blood; Queen of Outer Space; Attack of the Giant Leeches; Earth Vs. The Spider; Attack of the Killer Shrews; The Thing from Another World; Attack of the Puppet People; The Abominable Dr. Phibes; Fall of the House of Usher; The Terror; Frankenstein; Frankenstein AD 1970; The X from Outer Space; Gamera; The Mummy’s Hand…

The cheesefest was endless.

Of course, my personal favorite (and the one that still rankles my mother who had to endure two hours of mindless nonsense each Saturday) was just about anything with Godzilla.

Anyway, I got this idea that I could write my own stories involving monsters and so I set pen to paper.  Later, as I got older and looked at CDF more to pick out lame special effects and hokey acting, I wrote to see if I could come up with better plots than what I was watching.

I am always eternally grateful to WLVI and “Creature Double Feature” because it started my love affair with writing.  To make my writing even better, I progressed into journalism by writing for my high school newspapers, first with the Medford (Mass.) Mustang and then with the Euless (Texas) Trinity Palantir after moving to the Lone Star state in 1982.

Next up was college at Prairie View A&M University where I found Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.  For anyone who has ever seen Cassandra Peterson in her alter ego, you know she can create a rise and an intense desire…to watch crummy grade Z sci-fi flicks on “Midnite Madness.”

Anyway, to continue.  I got my commission and served as an engineer officer aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19), flagship of the US 7th Fleet, in Yokosuka, Japan.  I still wrote, but, oddly enough, found few Japanese willing to indulge my love of Godzilla.

When I returned home from the Navy, I rediscovered my love of science fiction with Sun Coast Video.  The now-defunct retailer was a pillar of most of the malls in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.  I raided their science fiction racks for more than 400 videos, all priced under $10.

I then began searching for science fiction books and got hooked on Half-Price Books where tomes were bought from customers and then sold at discount prices.  I started looking for the book versions of some of my movie faves.

I can see this is getting long-winded, so I’ll wrap up.  The last group I’d like to thank for my love of science fiction is Writing.com.  WDC gave me an active outlet to showcase my writing when traditional publishing houses were taking fewer and fewer new writers.  Through WDC, I found online “e-zine” publishers like Writer’s Bump, Spectacular Speculation, Far Side of Midnight, Lulu.com and Leucrota Press, among others.

As for why I write science fiction, I like to be creative.  Some say I live in a dream world most of the time anyway.  I can take modern society and advance it into the future to see what life might be like.  I can think of new inventions and technology.  I can answer questions like:

Why haven’t we done this?

Why did Sci-Fi Channel change to “Sy fy”?

Who’s this C.J. Ellisson? (sorry, couldn’t resist)

And, finally, we can ask the biggest questions of all:

“What if…?” and “Can we?” and “Should we?”

I can speculate on things like this all day, but I think it’s bedtime for me and time for the readers to go to work.

Just remember this, my friends.  I don’t always write fiction, but when I do, I write science fiction.

Now, if that isn’t cheesy, I haven’t learned anything from “Creature Double Feature.”

13 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2010 8:34 am

    Greg,

    I can see where your background gives you plenty of material to rethink and recycle. Keep it going.

    Glad you explained that the movie titles were horror movies. A lot of them sounded like they could have been about high school. 😉

    Isn’t it amazing how many of us beyond a certain age (Never mind!) were influenced by what our parents considered trash? Horror films, TV, comic books. We were pretty lucky to live in a time before anyone thought to protect us, weren’t we?

    Steve

    • January 12, 2010 9:38 am

      Ah, those were the good old days. But, everyone has their little weaknesses. My mom would roll her eyes at the mention of Godzilla, but she has just about every Steven Seagal movie ever made.

  2. January 12, 2010 9:13 am

    I stopped by this post because I saw “Elvira” in the title (I so remember those days of the Mistress of the Dark!) and now I really, really want to know why SciFi changed to SyFy!

    • January 12, 2010 9:41 am

      I think SyFy changed because they don’t know who they are anymore. Everyone else was doing original movies and programs so they tried. But, all that low-budget CGI junk is claptrap. Who’d have thunk it? Roger Corman’s no-budget special effects look better than the CGI monsters.

      I think SyFy needs to bring back Elvira’s Midnite Madness, along with “Creature Double Feature” and “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

      Thanks for stopping by and reading.

  3. January 12, 2010 9:48 am

    Once again, Greg, you made me laugh out loud. Is sci-fi this funny? If so, you may have a convert. 😉

    • January 12, 2010 10:14 am

      Alas, sci-fi can be unintentionally funny. Just watch “Robot Monster” where the alien is a guy in a gorilla suit with a diving helmet on his head who communicates via a bubble-making machine.

      That’s why I watch a lot of that schlock. It can brighten up any day.

      Thanks for the comments.

  4. January 12, 2010 10:41 am

    Great post Greg! It’s interesting to think about the stuff we watched growing up and how it plays into what we love as adults. Until you mentioned CDF and Elvira I had forgotten those moments in my teenage years or the secret one I’m guilty of – Kung Fu Theater.

    My whole family used rip me apart with the badly dubbed voices or subtitled martial arts films, which conveniently came on after Abbott and Costello over the weekends on channel 11 WPIX in the NY metro area. They were so bad and I didn’t care – I loved the fight scenes.

    Ahh… good times…

    • January 12, 2010 3:43 pm

      OH NO, girl, you didn’t just mention Kung Fu Theater!!! I remember my dad turning it on weekends and the room would clear. What a recipe for a headache.

    • January 12, 2010 4:26 pm

      Yeah, I loved how the punches and kicks all sounded like car doors being slammed. My older brother got into doing martial arts because of those flicks. Me, I figured there had to be a better way of fighting that didn’t involve a Power 90 workout for 30 minutes. Plus, I still haven’t seen my older bro perfect the moves that allow you to leap 50 feet at a time and jump straight up five stories.

      But, the dubbing is priceless, especially when they put in dialogue that they think sounds black.

      I think the line I loved best from a kung-fu movie was from one I can’t remember the title to:
      Two Chinese guys face off and one of them says: “You yellow bastard!”

      I’m thinking, hmm, I don’t believe a Chinese guy would use the slur “yellow.”

      My favorite martial arts films? “Enter the Dragon” and “Supercop.” Honorable mention to anything with Michelle Yeoh in it.

      Worst films? “American Ninja,” “Gymkata” and “Black Terminator.”

      Trivia: Did you know a naive young naval officer named Gregory Marshall Smith was a bad guy who did his own stunts in a Hong Kong kung-fu flick?

      True, but the performance was cut short by his commanding officer who read him the riot act and by the fact that the production company went bankrupt. I have no idea where the film is or what the title was, but I know it never got released because of a protracted court fight with creditors, a much too common occurrence within the Hong Kong film industry.

      Also, I was Tony, the Speed Channel photographer in the two-part “Team Cherokee” storyline on “Walker, Texas Ranger.”

      I’ve done work as an extra on films, but, for some reason, have not yet been picked for any science fiction or horror movies. I think the producers are scared that I’ll recognize it for the crap it really is.

      • January 12, 2010 6:30 pm

        “You Yellow Bastard!” Ahh… yes, that does ring a bell. I watched so many dubbed martial arts films that my family started talking funny with their lips moving in off times to their words to tease me incessantly.

        To this day my love of Asian men and martial arts carries on… Explains a lot in my book, eh? Joking! But the second one – now that one has a hot female ninja chick in it. And sadly, no, I’m not kidding 😉

  5. January 12, 2010 3:40 pm

    I’ve seem quite a few of the movies you’ve listed. Especially loved making fun of Attack of the Killer Shrews with my dad. They sure were creative back then with the monsters. Gotta love it!! We had Son of Svengoolie in Chicago. Think he’s still on the air. To bad he can’t move to SyFy.

    What really struck me as the most interesting statement you made was on traditional publishing houses taking fewer and fewer new writers. This would be a good subject for us to blog about. They certainly can be our worst enemies, not only as writers but readers as well. With all the new websites for writers to post their prose, you’d think more of the big publishers would be on the look out for new talent. At least a few like HarperCollins with their Authonomy website seem to be making an effort. Blah, blah, blah.

    Anyways, Greg, great post! Love getting more insight into my fellow Wicked Writers.

    • January 12, 2010 4:31 pm

      It was nice to see the Authonomy site linked to HarperCollins. But, beware of Amazon & Barnes & Nobles’ creation “CreateSpace.” You can sell your product on Amazon but the quality is poor. For instance, you send in the manuscript in an 8×11 format. They’ll put it into a 6×9 book without changing anything. Thus, you’ll have headers in the middle of the pages, huge gaps where one chapter originally ended and another began, etc.

      Oh and please, oh please, do not even consider Publish America.

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