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First, some comments from previous columns . . .

A Sci-Fi and Literary Primer for Television-Bred Sci-Fi Fans
Beginning with Mike Konczewski's comments in the 4/24/98 column

Murray Leeder: I just wanted to send along a few that no one mentioned, I don't think:

Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
The Aeneid, Virgil
The Divine Comedy, Dante (especially The Inferno)
The Prince, Machiavelli (not actually fiction)
Rendezvous with Rama (Clarke)
Animal Farm (Orwell)
Day of the Triffids (Wyndham)
The Midwich Cuckoos (Wyndham)
The Silence of the Lambs (Harris... strong parental warning
advised, of course, but worth including simply for its streamlined style
of prose)
The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (practically anything he
wrote is rewarding reading)

The following Lovecraft short stories:
The Call of the Cthulhu
The Dunwich Horror
The Whisperer in the Darkness
The Colour Out of Space

Matt Nelson: Is it too late to recommend stuff for the reading list? I wanted to throw out my own suggestions. Mine are more into the realm of fantasy, but really, isn't fantasy just another branch of sci-fi? Alien mind-readers or elfin espers? You decide! Anyway...

_Azazel_, by Isaac Asimov The story of a man who commands a tiny demon, and tries to use him to help those he knows, with disastrous results. VERY funny book, it's a collection of short stories.

The Discworld series, by Terry Pratchett A series of books dealing with Discworld, a flat planet that rides through space on the back of a giant turtle, which in turn stands on the backs of four elephants. The stories are humorous in nature and are well worth a read, especially any stories of Granny Weatherwax and her "coven" of witches, or any about the Night Watch.

_A Game Of Thrones_, George R.R. Martin. A rousing fantasy tale about the political machinations of rival houses. Long, but engrossing.

Stephen Mendenhall: We've been having some ridiculous software problems getting on the Internet. I'm not even sure whose name will be in the "from" box.[grin]

Well, since lots of other people are recommending books, I thought I would too.

In no particular order, here are some I've read, or heard of (but which I'd like to read one of these days). By the way, how many of your other correspondents have read all of the books they list?[grin] (Note from Phil: Couldn't tell ya!)

The Wheels of Commerce, and The Perspective of the World, by Fernand Braudel, a noted French historian.

Ancient Inventions, by Peter James

Beggar to King, by Walter Duckat, everyday life of different social classes in ancient times.

Life & Death of a Druid Prince, A. Ross & C. Robbins

Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, Charles H. Hapgood, 1966, Library of Congress Catalog number GA300H25. He's considered a crackpot; he thinks there was an advanced civilization during the last Ice Age. But the title is intriguing and I have a suggestion. A book like this could be introduced in the classroom, and the teacher could lead the students in learning to check the author's facts, think about the author's reasoning, analyze the conclusions, basically learning to think logically about what they're reading. And books with plenty of mistakes would be less daunting for students, an easier challenge, than books by more respected scholars. It would also introduce students to the idea that an author can be right about some things and wrong about other things. Books by Erich von Daniken could be another choice.

Once Upon a Galaxy, by Josepha Sherman, an anthology of modern fairy tales in SF settings, by noted SF authors.

The Octopus' Garden, Cindy Van Dover, wonderful title, about life under the sea.

The Warrior's Edge, J.B. Alexander,R. Groller, J. Morris20

The Wedding, by Dorothy West

The Wedding Cake in the Middle of the Road, anthology edited by Susan Stamberg and George Garrett. The editors came up with this weird image, and gave the idea to a number of authors for them to write stories about why this wedding cake is in the middle of the road.

Video Night in Kathmandu, by Pico Iyer. Travel book about how people in other countries are dealing with modern life and modern technology.

I found a book called the Encyclopedia of Traditional Epics, edited by Guida M. Jackson-Laufer, 1994. It lists and describes a lot of national epics I'd never heard of. Here are a few.

Epic of Kotan Utunnai, Ainu epic of a hero going to the land of Kotan Utunnai.

Mayans, Tibetans and Egyptians all had a Book of the Dead

Oghuz Turks had an epic called The Book of Dede Korkut

The first tribesmen Columbus contacted were apparently the Tainos of Hispaniola, who had a well-developed society, and an epic known as The Cave of the Jagua.

An epic originally from Catalan (Spain), was just translated into English. It's by Joarot Martorell, called Tirant Lo Blanc (The White Tyrant), about a heroic knight in the 15th century. It's readable and fun.

This one I had heard of, of course, but nobody else mentioned it.

>From Japan, The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu.20

Phil, you mentioned the writer Imanu Baraka, which sounds like a Japanese name, right? I haven't gotten around to looking for any of his books. In the nits for the episode "The Thaw" you suggested a better title from Baraka, "As Fear. As Now." I think that's the title you suggested. Sorry I haven't heard of him before; what else can you tell us about him? (Note from Phil: Actually, not much! He was just in a literatue book that I had and he had written a great poem.)

On to non-epic books, here's a great non-fiction book of epic length--

Alexander to Actium, by Paul Green, hundreds of pages on the Greeks after Alexandria, just about everything you'd want to know about the period from 322-30BC.

Digging up Jerusalem, by Kathleen Kenyon, catalog card number DS109.K He's a well-known archaeologist.

From Alexander to Cleopatra, by Michael Grant, catalog card number DE86.G86, a well-known scholar on the Greeks.

Lieutenant Nun: Memoir of a Basque Transvestite in the New World, by Catalina de Erauso. How's that for a self-explanatory title? In the 17th century, this young woman escapes from a convent, disguises herself as a man and travels across the ocean. Then she goes back to Rome and she so fascinates everybody with her stories, even the Pope is impressed and pardons her.

Pen, Ink and Evidence, by Joe Nickell, about the study of old manuscripts.

The Castle of Crossed Destinies by Italo Calvino, and he has had other sf-related stories. By some arbitrary standard decreed by English Departments, he's not in the same category with Asimov, Clarke et. al. He's "literary" like Wells, for some reason.

Orthodox Alaska Library of Congress call number E99E7, the title caught my eye. It's about the Orthodox Church in Alaska, not something we usually think about, but, Russia did own Alaska for a while.

The Green Beret Gourmet, by James Guttenberg

Spies, Black Ties and Mango Pies, a CIA cookbook, with anecdotes from various (unidentified of course) CIA families.

The Space Child's Mother Goose, by Frederick Winsor and illustrated by Marian Parry, written 40 years ago, a wonderful compilation of updated nursery rhymes. "This is the theory Jack built..."

The Spy Wore Red
The Spy Went Dancing
The Spy Wore Silk
by Aline, Countess of Romanones. She was an American, working as a model during WWII, and she wanted excitement, so she signed up with the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA, and worked for them. These 3 books are about some of her adventures, a lot more talky than James Bond flicks but more realistic. Not as many explosions, but still interesting.

Here's a list of members of the famous Algonquin Round Table

Franklin Pierce Adams
Robert Benchley
Irving Berlin
Heywood Broun
Marc Connelly
Edna Ferber
George S. Kaufman
Dorothy Parker
Harold Ross
Robert Sherwood
James Thurber
E.B. White
Alexander Woollcott

Here are four books I haven't read, or even found anywhere. These were in a newspaper trivia column, about books with weird titles.

All About Mud, 1978
How to Rob Banks Without Violence, 1972
Manhole Covers of Los Angeles, 1974
The Social History of the Alligator
The Story of a California Rabbit Drive

And a book I found at a used book store: The Catalog of Lost Books, by Tad Tuleja, "an annotated and seriously addled collection of great books that should have been written but never were." according to the cover.

I bought it second-hand for $1.99 and I think that was about the right price. The original price was $7.95, which would have been too much. It's a little bit funny. It gives about a page each to a lot of different, weird books dating from ancient times to the present day. The last one is a spoof of New Age books, Ayuh Speaks, by Jimmie Ray Coles, a New Orleans barfly.

During the 80's 3 volumes of The Book of Lists were published, remember those? Some of the categories dealt with books, including imaginary books, banned books, and so on. One is the 15 most boring classics, according to the readers of the bulletin of the Columbia University Press. Moby Dick is on the list, of course, at number two. George Eliot is the only one on the list twice, for Silas Marner and The Mill on the Floss.

There's the Books that Changed the World, including Das Kapital, which is also on the list of boring books.

Robert Ripley of "Believe it or Not" offered 5 books he'd take to a deserted island: the Bible, The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, Outline of History by HG Wells and his own Believe it or Not. Presumably he already knows all about survival on a deserted island? He doesn't need a book on communicating with any natives in the area?[grin]

There's a list of 10 memorable books that never existed. The first on the list is a Sherlock Holmes exploit mentioned by Watson but never written; The Curious Experience of the Patterson Family on the Island of Uffa. It doesn't say where it's mentioned, and I wonder if anybody's bothered writing the novel?

Hansard's Guide to Refreshing Sleep; Charles Dickens covered up some woodwork in his home, with the spines of imaginary books, and this was one of them.

Mad Trist, by Sir Launcelot Canning, an imaginary book mentioned to set the atmosphere in "The Fall of the House of Usher".

There's Charles M. Schulz's 10 greatest cartoon characters, and a whole bunch of other lists as well.

Stephen Mendenhall: Hi, this is Stephen again. I need to make an immediate correction to the list of books I sent. Now, I'm pretty sure my descriptions of all the other books were right. But ONCE UPON A GALAXY edited by Josepha Sherman was a little different from what I said. Could you please replace that paragraph? No, I haven't read it yet, but I'd like to; but I happened to see a copy in a bookstore and browsed it a bit...

Once Upon a Galaxy, edited by Josepha Sherman, is an anthology of folk tales and myths which have themes and ideas familiar to modern-day sf fans of sf literature, movies and tv shows. She includes a story from Jason and the Argonauts, and also many less familiar stories.

Phil: OKAY! Let's see if we can pull together a list. Now . . . without listing everything that's come in, I'll never be able to make everybody happy but here's a good starting place for those who would like to read stories that are part of the true foundation of science fiction. (And, of course, you should read the literary stuff just to discover how real writers write! ;-)

Again, let me stress that this list is only a STARTING point. And, I will admit that I have not read everything here--most of it but not all! So I can't vouche for all the content.


In the Literature Category:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens,
Alice in Wonderland, Carroll
The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis:
Complete Tales and Poems, Edgar Allan Poe
The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
Gulliver's Travels, Swift
Hamlet, William Shakespeare
The Iliad and the Oddessy, Homer
Ivanhoe, Scott
The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling
Les Miserables, Hugo
Macbeth, Shakespeare
Moby Dick, Herman Melville
Notre Dame de Paris, Hugo [The Hunchback]
The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
Sherlock Holmes Canon, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas
The Turn of the Screw, Henry James
War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

In the Science Fiction Category:

1984, GeorgeOrwell
A Canticle For Leibowitz, Walter M Miller
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
Dune Triology, Frank Herbert
Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
I, Robot, Isaac Asimov
The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Triology, Douglas Adams
The Illustrated Man, Ray Bradbury
Lord of the Ring Triology and The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury
The Mote in God's Eye, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Neuromancer by William Gibson.
Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength, C.S. Lewis
Playgrounds of the Mind, Larry Niven
Rendezvous With Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
Ringworld, Larry Niven
The Stars My Destination , Alfred Bester
Starship Troopers Robert Heinlein
The Time Machine, H. G. Wells
The Time Patrol, Poul Anderson
War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells

Also, if you're looking to get a wide variety of sci-fi short stories in good all-around collections try any of these:

The Hugo Winners, Vol I-IV, Isaac Asimov, ed.
A Treasury of Great Science Fiction, Anthony Boucher, ed.

And don't miss the short stories: Flowers for Algernon (Daniel Keyes) and Enemy Mine (Barry B. Longyear)!

Bullies on the Playground and the End of the Nitpicker's Guides
Beginning with Phil Farrand's comments at the end of the 5/15/98 column

Scott McClenny: Just read about what happened with Dell,megabummer.:(

Dave Craig: First off, I'd just like to say that I'm sorry that Dell discontinued the guides. I thought that they were much better than some of the other Trek books currently on the market, and I was really looking forward to seeing the Star Wars guide.

As for automating the site.... have you thought about using message boards?

Phil: Yes, but if my name is going to be attached to it I have to have a way to insure that the content stays oncourse and fit for reading! ;-)

Clay: I know you know programming more than I do because you did it for a living, but I know a program that uses SQL to run so, I mean I am kinda familiar with how it "thinks". I might be able to help you with it if you need it. The question the subject line refers to is this: You did mean "cold fusion" as a joke didn't you? If not, is this some kind of new programming language?

Phil: Cold Fusion is a new web-development tool and has gain some acceptance in the creation of commercial sites on the Internet.

Michael "Somehow a lawyer" Gurwitz: As you know, I am as dismayed as the next nitter over Paramount's heavyhanded treatment of your guides. However, for the sake of several writers (including a high school student) who complained in the 5/30 "Ask the Chief" column, it should be noted that your First Amendment rights have not been violated. The First Amendment only prevents *State* i.e. governmental, censoring of speech. Paramount is a private entity, and is seeking to enforce its private rights against you; this is not unconstitutional, contrary to some writers' assertions.

That said, you might still prevail in the courtroom, should you seek to challenge Paramount. Furthermore, while Paramount may not be guilty of violating your constitutional rights, it is guilty of acting like a schoolyard bully and deserves to be spanked.

Phil: True! But just to make sure there aren't any misunderstandings about this, Paramount has done *NOTHING* to me specifically. I've been told by what I consider to be a reputable source that the legals at Paramount believe the Nitpicker's Guides are protected critique and analysis. In other words, I've been told that Paramount's lawyers believe what I do is legal. Now, obviously, I don't have that from a published source but the fact that I was not contacted during the "web clean-up" phase of Paramount's efforts to impose "control" over their copyrights indicates to me that what I've been told is probably true.

Paramount's involvement in my situation has only be tangential. I got the impression from my former editor that the fact that Paramount has been very agressive in going after other properties that they consider copyright infringements lead to Dell's decision to discontinue the Guides. So . . . let's be clear about the fact that the end of the Guides has not come about because of lawsuits in any direct manner. It came about because of the fear of what *might* happen.

Joshua Truax: Time for me to finally get in my two cents' worth on the whole [sorry] affair with Dell and their lawyers. I'm so [hopping] mad about it that I have to censor all the vile language I feel like using out of my own e-mail!

It goes without saying that this is a [low-down dirty] shame. I remember getting the first NextGen guide as a Christmas present a few years back. It forever changed the way I watched Star Trek. Until then I was able to spot certain curiosities when they came up in TNG and early DS9, but after reading the Guide nitpicking was transformed from an idle pastime into a sport. I've since bought all the other Guides except the X-Files Guide (I've never really gotten into that series; even so, I do plan to see "Fight the Future" this summer just to see what it's like on the silver screen), and also given them as Christmas presents myself!

Oh well; at least we still have your Website.

After reading what you are considering doing with the Website, I have to ask if you might also consider a column devoted to the James Bond 007 movies -- unless, of course, you'd rather try to do a 007 Guide with another publisher. (Yeah, right...)

In any case, best of luck with your new career, and thank you for all the fun we nitpickers have had over the past five years -- and all the fun still to come...

Jeff Winkle: I read the notice about your writing career being stopped. I think it really stinks. Paramount has become the modern equivalent of the Ferengi. I think if Gene were alive today and still had control, things like the nitpickers guide wouldn't be in any danger. I met someone at a convention who had worked under him during TNG, and he said that if watching the show influenced people to be creative and write about the characters or the show, then he supported it (to a point-smut not allowed). Of course, on that same note, if Gene was still calling the shots, then some of the nits would have never happened.

Your books gave fans a unique and interesting perspective to look at the shows from. Even the worst episodes suddenly became bearable (I can now sit through ST 5 without shuddering). But Paramount has made it clear that they are in control, and that anything that deviates from their ideals should be shut down--heaven forbid someone writes a book that points out their mistakes.

Oh well, I hope the Ferengi don't decide that the web-site is blasphemy and order you to shut down. United We Continue To Nitpick (d--n the Ferengi disrupters and full impulse ahead)!!!

Michael Marks: I was very sorry to hear about the end of the Guides. It's too bad; I was so looking forward to the Star Wars Guide. I do want to thank you for the other Guides, the newsletters, and the website. I have very much enjoyed reading them over the years and will miss them.

Ronan Sean Mitchell: Sorry I didn't get a chance to mail earlier, I had exams! Like everyone else, I think it's terrible about what happened - you put so much effort into making us think, laugh or ever just brighten our day a bit. To have that taken away by someone is more than unfair, it's nauseating :)

Instead of sympathising in the conventional sense, I wanted to send this on - it's a poem by Walt Whitman , try reading "Lawyer" insetad of "Astronomer"! I hope you get something from it...

Hang in there, and it there's any way the guild members can help out just let us know! You've got a good fan base and i'm sure that we can have some effect on the powers that be!

Above all, thanks for taking the time to give us the site and the guides, they can never take away the smile the always out on my, and everyone else's face! Hang in there Phil.


WHEN I heard the learn'd astronomer, When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me, When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them, When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room, How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick, Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself, In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time, Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars."

Phil: Great poem! Thanks again for all the kind words. They are appreciated. We're still waiting to hear word from Del Ray on a possible authorized version of the Star Wars Nitpicker's Guide. It's a long shot but, hey, you never know!

The True Date of the Eugenics War
Beginning with Scott Neugroschl's comments in the 5/30/98 column

John Latchem: Just to set things straight, Ron Moore admitted he was wrong. He was thinking of Khan's line about "200 Years Ago I was a Prince," when he wrote the line, and forgot to compensate for the change in time between DS9 and ST2. Of course ST2 and "Space Seed" are off by 100 years already. So 1996 is still the date of the Eugenics Wars.

Phil: Unless, of course, we go by the strict maxim that "nitpickers don't deal in reality." (Snicker, snicker.) Then our response would be . . . "Who's Ron Moore?" ;-)

"New" Footage for Classic Trek
Beginning with Donald Carlson's comments in the 5/30/98 column

Dave Craig: In regards to Classic Trek and Sci-Fi, the Sci-Fi channel has purchased the rights to all the classic episodes. As a special treat for fans, the network will be airing all episodes UNCUT as they originally appeared on network TV (They will be shown in 70 minute blocks to get in the normal allotment of commercials). Along the way, Nimoy will give the viewers little tidbits of information and nostalgia on each of the episodes. I believe each episode will be shown uncut twice, with Shatner providing his own perspective the second time the episode is aired.

Therefore, to answer the question, the "never before seen footage" is actually footage cut for syndication, and not new scenes or dialogue that put a different spin on the events of the episode, or try to fix nits :)

Phil: Thanks as well to John Latchem, Todd Felton, Aaron Nadler, John Bibb, Patrick Sweeney, Ryan Whitney and Shane Tourtellotte for sending this information along as well.

Shane Tourtellotte: Star Trek will run Monday through Friday at 7:30 pm Eastern time. You may now commence a typically human emotional outburst. (Joy if you get the Sci-Fi Channel; frustration if you don't.)

Lisa Shock: In response to Donald Carlson, I saw Leonard Nimoy at a convention on May 30,1998. He mentioned that the SciFi Channel was going to air all of the original episodes, with all previously cut footage reastored. Leonard and Bill Shatner will do introductory bits about each episode. Leonard commented that he did his homework for this, and watched every episode - something he had never done before. He apologized for "Spock's Brain" and said he hoped he would never have to watch it again!

Losing the Second Season of Voyager
Beginning with Howard Durdle's comments in the 5/30/98 column

Phil: In answering Howard Durdle's question last week, I made a typo! I wrote, "The files does exist any more." It should have been: "The files don't exist any more." Sorry about that!

Simple Questions and Guild Excommunication
Beginning with Scott Neugroschl's comments in the 5/30/98 column

John Latchem: And I think WIVRON needs promotion to official term, hehe. . .if you ever update the glossary again. I know I'm not the only one using it.

Phil: I shall consider it!

Murray Leeder: That's interesting how only one person has been kicked out of the Guild. Have any people left by choice?

Phil: Well . . . I certainly have the normal horde of people who've sent one letter and were never heard from again! Since I don't charge dues and you only have to send a nit to get in, I have plenty of "inactive" members. (Honesty if I was getting mail from 7000+ people every month, I could never dig out. Now if I could only get all of them to send me a dollar a month . . . . hmmmm ;-)

But as for someone who specifically asked to be remove from the rolls? Seems like there's been one or two. I do recall a guy from DC who wrote me a fairly irate letter just after NextGenII came out. He was upset that he hadn't received credit for a nit in "All Good Things . . ." He was certain that he had seen the finale episode of NextGen before everyone else and had written immediately. In addition, he believed that I had used his nit because the language of the nit in the book was similar to the language that he had used in his letter.

I trotted over to my files, made copies of twenty four letters that contained that particular nit, wrote him a nice note and explained that I understood what it was like to hope for something and not see it come to pass. Then, I put everything in an envelop and mailed it to him. He wrote back a few days later and apologized--quickly rescinding his request to "un-nitpicker-ed"

Brash Reflections on the 1998 Blockbuster Summer Movies
Beginning with Meg Gillespie's comments in the 5/30/98 column

Matt Nelson: 1) Will you be doing the X-Files movie? It's starting to look pretty dang good... 2) Would you like to take nits for Godzilla? I went and saw it, and while I enjoyed the film, there *were* some serious WHIRL and DIETS moments in it... Cheesy but fun movie, though! Very intense towards the end! And manages to keep that "sympathietic monster" feel the old ones had.

Phil: We WILL be doing the X-phile movie. Don't think Godzilla is going to make it though. I'm just swamped right now.

Kirk Picking a Nit From His Tongue
Beginning with Allan Fix's comments in the 5/30/98 column

Phil: Evidently . . . no one else knew of this scene either! ;-)

The Death of Boone in the Season Finale of Earth: Final Conflict
Beginning with Shirley Kolb's comments in the 5/30/98 column

Scott McClenny: Concerning the season finale of Earth:Final Conflict(to be accurate the full title happens to be Gene Roddenberry's Earth:Final Conflict)was it really Boone that got killed off? You see in the episode there was this alien who had the ability to take over and turn himself into ANYBODY.He did it to Sandoval toward the end anyway the alien kinda disappears at the end,but that isn't to say that he couldn't have taken over Boone at the end(ya know how tricky writers can be when they want to be). Actually I don't think they'd kill off Boone considering that Kevin Kilner is the STAR of the show and it all revolves around Boone.I mean I read in Starlog that he gave up a career in movies to do the series and I don't think that he'd want to quit after only the first season,especially since it was one of the TWO biggest new Sci-Fi shows on tv this year(the other being Nightman). What I'm trying to get at is Boone is the pivotal character in E:FC and well they COULD do the show without him it wouldn't have the same impact,especially since like Mulder he has this desire to get to the truth(especially after his wife was killed in the pilot). Well that is just my take on it.

On to the questions . . .

Briony Coote: Why don't you include some nit-picking on the animated Star Trek? I know most fans prefer to ignore it, but whether you like it or not it IS part of the history of Star Trek and how our heroes managed to finish their "five year mission" after the network axed the show after only 3 years.

Phil: When I was compiling the Classic Guide, Jeanne Cavelos and I had several discussions about the animated series. We decided not to include it since the new crop of official reference books from Pocket did not. (Chronology and Encyclopedia)

John Isakson: [Concerning Apollo 13,] A couple of different times in the movie characters refer to the leftmost seat in the command module as the pilot's seat. However, the movie has Jim Lovell (mission commander) in the leftmost seat during liftoff, and Jack Swigert (command module pilot) in the middle seat. Was this a boo-boo or did it really happen this way? If it really happened this way, was this normal to have the mission commander in the pilot seat for launch? Or did they simply not trust the last-second replacement rookie astronaut, Jack Swigert, in the pilot seat for launch?

Phil: Don't know! Anybody? (If nothing else, I'll write Robert Pearlman on this one! ;-)

Murray Leeder: I've been wondering what people's favorite sorts of nits are. My personal favorite are the kinds which are short, a line or two... but the entire episode (or film) hinges around it being an error. An example - "Why would Kristen be hanging around in a vampire bar when she's avoiding the vampires?" What about the rest of you?

Phil: I'm partial to all of them! But, if I had to pick the ones that make me laugh the most, I've have to say that the nits that are really "outtakes" but somehow were included in the end product are the funniest to me!

Joe Buss: When does the Voyager Guide come out. Is it in the works?

Phil: You might want to read end of the 5/15/98 column!

Mark Schieber: Here's another thing I've always wondered about: What constitutes a Klingon "House", and who decides what it's called? Here's what we know:

1) Up until the events of "Way of The Warrior", both Worf and Kurn were of the House of Mogh. Now, it's possible that since Worf didn't live on Qo'nos, and Kurn grew up as part of a different family, that's the reason they call it the House of Mogh, as opposed to the House of Worf. As he wasn't the oldest son, Kurn COULDN'T establish his own house--if not part of the House of Mogh, he would have had to be of the House of Worf.

2) Duras, however, was of the House of Duras, and not the House of Whatever his father's name was (I know it was mentioned in one TNG episode but I don't have time to look it up), as were Lursa and B'Etor, even after Duras died. But Duras had a son, and his son didn't name the house after himself after Duras died, so there goes my "Oldest Male" Theory.

3) Quark was of the House of Quark, until he got divorced, at which time it became the House of Grilka (although I never understood why HE wasn't able to kick HER out of the House, since they were married and Klingon culture seems to always favor the male). As the widow of her house, Grilka COULD name the house after herself.

So the rules are

1) A house is named after the Eldest Living Male, except
a) when the eldest male is off-planet,
b) when the eldest male is illegitimate,
c) when the High Council issues an exception and allows the Widow to head a House.


There are no rules and it's all up in the air.

Why, though, in a society that values heritage and ancestry and all that, is there so much confusion? Why don't the Klingons keep the same names for generations instead of changing the names every generation? In Earth terms, it seems it would be much more prestigious to belong to the House of Thomas Jefferson, or Martin Luther King, or even Phil Donahue (OK maybe that's stretching it) than, say, the House of John Finkelstein?

Phil: Personally, I'd like to be a member of the House of John the Shrubber! ("It's a sad day when knights say, 'Nee!' to old women.")

Have a great weekend, everybody!

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Copyright 1998 by Phil Farrand. All rights reserved.