Saturday, September 25, 2010

Book 'em, Han-o....


This particular "mash-up" video is showing up all over the place, but I liked it enough to want to share it here. I'm generally not overly amused by these sorts of things, but I was quite impressed by the thought that went into editing this, and how well the images were synchronized with the classic Hawaii 5-0 theme and that television show's original opening credits. Enjoy.

Friday, September 24, 2010

PLANET OF THE APES #21 (Marvel Comics)

Stumbled across this fantastic, fiery painting by the great Earl Norem for issue #21 of Marvel's Planet Of The Apes black and white magazine (June, 1976), and thought I should share it here, so everyone could enjoy it. Clearly based on Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes, it also nicely evokes the pulp magazine covers of the 30s and 40s, with its well-endowed female victim and her tattered clothing.

I haven't written - or posted - enough here about the Apes franchise, which is certainly some sort of oversight, especially since it was by far the highest-profile sci-fi property of the 70s... until Star Wars came along. I loved the movies, the TV series, the cartoon, the Mego figures... and even the Marvel Comics.

That reminds me... I really need to upgrade my Apes discs to Blu-Ray. I have the original DVDs, and they're not even anamorphic....

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

CLIFFHANGERS! (1979)

Anyone else (other than Dusty and I) remember Cliffhangers!, a short-lived (10 episode) attempt to revive old fashioned Saturday matinee adventure serials in prime time?

It was an ambitious 1979 production developed by veteran genre TV producer Kenneth Johnson (The Incredible Hulk, Alien Nation) for NBC.

Each weekly installment featured 15-minute chapters of three ongoing serials – Stop Susan Williams, starring Susan Anton as a sexy reporter in constant peril, The Secret Empire, an unabashed rip of Gene Autry's 1935 Western/sci-fi serial, The Phantom Empire, but without the singing and with Mark Lenard as one of the heavies, and The Curse of Dracula, featuring Michael Nouri (The Hidden) as a romanticized King of the Vampires, teaching history at a California college!

It's another show that I, as a 16-year-old kid, loved, but its unlikely to ever see a legit DVD release.... but I think I know of a source where I can get copies of the show. If I do, I'm sure I'll get around to writing more about it here one of these days.

Captain's bLog 0921.10

I have a lot of work this week, but I do hope to have a few articles for Space: 1970 posted over the next few days.

• Thanks to a generous reader, I now have all of the Man From Atlantis episodes to watch. With my recent acquisition of the complete Fantastic Journey, I now have that much more 70s sci-fi to write about!

• Speaking of Man From Atlantis, I was at a small comics convention on Sunday, and found three issues of Marvel's MFA comic in a bargain bin for a buck! Scripts by Bill Mantlo, nice stylized art by Frank Springer and Frank Robbins... I'm really looking forward to reading them.

• I also earned some extra money at the con selling some of my own books, so I decided to finally order the Genesis II, Planet Earth and Strange New World MOD discs from Warners Archive. Unfortunately, I discovered that the WB online store won't accept debit cards or Paypal, and since I won't use a credit card anymore in protest of the banks' extortionate practices (and don't even have one at the moment), it appears that I won't be getting any of the Warner Archives stuff for the foreseeable future. (I looked up the same discs on Amazon, but they were way more expensive.)

Oh well. Anyway, stay tuned.....

Friday, September 17, 2010

The SPACE: 1999 Movies

Science fiction TV is expensive to produce, and studios like to try and recoup their investments as many ways as possible, so, like Battlestar Galactica and the Planet of the Apes television series, Gerry Anderson's Space: 1999 also saw several of its episodes edited together into "feature films" for TV syndication, international theatrical exhibition and home video. There were four of these (as far as I know): Destination Moonbase Alpha, Alien Attack, Journey Through the Black Sun and Cosmic Princess.

The quality of the films varies. Two were assembled by the ITC in England and some care and thought appears to have gone into their execution. Reportedly, the other two were put together by the company's New York office, and suffer from some poor editing choices, cut-rate titles and the addition of some bad library music or mismatched musical cues from other Gerry Anderson shows like Joe 90 and UFO.

Living in Maine during the Eighties, where the series did not air in reruns, there was no other way for me to see any Space: 1999, except for renting the VHS tapes that U.S.A Home Video released under the "Sybil Danning's Adventure Theater" label. This was intended as a companion line to their Elvira-hosted horror tapes, with the statuesque B-movie starlet wearing odd costumes and giving brief, goofy intros to the films. It was in this format that I saw Destination Moonbase Alpha (my first real exposure to second season 1999, in fact) and Alien Attack.

After the jump, I'll break down which Space: 1999 episodes were edited into which movies, and show the trailers created for each.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Coming Attractions: STARSHIP INVASIONS (1977)



I saw Starship Invasions on network television in the late 70s, and haven't seen it since. I remember Christopher Lee and Robert Vaughn and lots of New Age/Erich von Däniken/Pyramid Power/Bermuda Triangle stuff, and that it seemed to be trying to attract fans of both Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

And that it wasn't very good. Of course, that doesn't mean I wouldn't enjoy seeing it again....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My STARCRASH (1978) Blu-Ray Review

I spent all of last night delving into it's vast trove of treasures, and now I've posted my review of Shout! Factory's new Blu-Ray edition of Starcrash over at my DVD Late Show website.
You may gather that STARCRASH is one of my favorite movies, and you're right. I've always maintained that the only bad movie is one that fails to entertain, and by that criteria, STARCRASH is far from a bad movie. In fact, I find it vastly more pleasurable and rewarding than any of the STAR WARS prequels. If you're willing to give it - and its unique charms - a chance, you may enjoy it, too.
You can find the full review HERE. Enjoy.

News: SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN (1974) DVD Details

TVShowsOnDVD has the official press release and pre-ordering information for the upcoming Six Million Dollar Man: The Complete Series DVD set from Universal/Time-Life.

The muscular set - the 4th most requested unreleased show at TVShowsonDVD.com - will be housed in ultra-collectible packaging sporting an audio chip and eye-popping 3-D lenticular artwork. Across 40 DVDs, the complete series will feature all 100 digitally-preserved hour-long episodes, all of which have been remastered from the original, uncut broadcast versions. The set also contains more than 17 hours of all-new bonus material, specially created just for this collection, highlighted by new in-depth interviews with Lee Majors (Col. Steve Austin) and Richard Anderson (Oscar Goldman), among others. Also included will be the three pilot movies "The Six Million Dollar Man", "Wine, Women and War", and "Solid Gold Kidnapping"; the three reunion movies "The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman", "Bionic Showdown" (with Sandra Bullock) and "Bionic Ever After?"; and the never-before-released cross-over episodes of The Bionic Woman, all of which have also been digitally restored from the original source material.* Additionally, for the true completist, the set also contains the alternative syndicated edits of the pilot and reunion telefilms, which, when added together, makes for more than 30 unbelievable hours of bonus programming.

Check out the complete article HERE.

Once again: speaking only for myself, I hate these exclusive "complete series" sets that come out long before individual season sets (usually without all the extras) are available to consumers. Not all of us - especially these days - has TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY DOLLARS (plus shipping) available to blow all at once on a TV show, even one as long-awaited as The Six Million Dollar Man. Twenty-five or thirty at a time for a single season is a lot more feasible, especially with retailer discounts figured in.

Oh well....

Monday, September 13, 2010

DEATHSPORT (1978) DVD Review

This is the first of Shout's Corman titles that I've been disappointed in, primarily because I was hoping for a DEATHSPORT presentation that was superior to the old DVD I already owned, and I didn't get that. I'm not sure what happened there, but it is a disappointment. That said, the package overall is quite good, and the audio commentaries, in particular, are especially welcome. 

My full review of the new Shout! Factory double feature DVD edition of Deathsport (starring David Carradine) and Battletruck (a/k/a Warlords of the 21st Century, 1982) has been posted on my DVD Late Show website. Check it out.

Friday, September 10, 2010

REBEL MISSION TO ORD MANTELL (1983)

Here's a cool bit of Star Wars arcana that I'd never heard of before today, an original audio adventure released on LP back in 1983 written by Brian Daley, author of the "Han Solo Adventures" novels (he also wrote the Star Wars NPR adaptations), relating an incident mentioned in passing in The Empire Strikes Back.

The voice acting is just adequate, kind of on par with those old Star Trek and Space: 1999 Power Records, but the story's pretty good. Here's a download link.

Thanks to Jason for the head's up!

Disclaimer: I didn't upload the album, and take no responsibility for it. I'm just posting the link for informational purposes.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Revisiting THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW: INTO INFINITY (1975)

A reader of this site generously sent me a copy of the Gerry Anderson production of The Day After Tomorrow: Into Infinity, an educational science fiction special that originally aired on American television in December, 1975, as an installment of the irregularly-scheduled NBC Special Treat series for kids.

I watched it tonight for the first time since I was ten. It's amazing how much of it I remembered.

The hour-long telefilm has virtually no plot. A spaceship, the Altares, possessing a revolutionary new "photon drive" that will allow it to travel at speeds approaching the speed of light, is sent on an exploratory probe to Alpha Centauri, with the choice of continuing past that point left up to the crew. The crew is composed of two families, each with a young child - Captain Harry Masters (Space: 1999's Nick Tate with a faux American accent) and his daughter Jane (Katherine Levy), and Dr. Tom Bowen (Flash Gordon's Brain Blessed, in an uncharacteristically restrained performance), who is accompanied by his wife Anna (Joanna Dunham) and his dour son, David (Martin Lev). Interestingly, both children are full members of the crew - Jane is the co-pilot and David assists his parents with their scientific duties.

The trip to Alpha Centauri is relatively uneventful, and after deploying a bunch of data-gathering satellites, the crew votes to continue on into the galaxy. Unfortunately, a malfunctioning photon drive sends them farther and faster than they ever intended, and they find themselves lost in an unknown part of the galaxy, powerless, adrift, and caught in the gravitational pull of a red giant star that's on the verge of going nova.

More of a "pink giant," actually.

Captain Masters manages to repair the engines in the nick (ha!) of time and escape the exploding star, only to soon find themselves in peril once again - caught by a voracious black hole. As the film ends, the Altares has passed through the singularity and emerged in another universe, and the crew finds themselves facing an unknown future.

Intended to dramatize Albert Einstein's relativity theory to young people in an entertaining way, Into Infinity does spend a great deal of time explaining stuff like time differentials (which is also used to justify the presence of children on the ship - although it would have been more logical for Earth to simply send childless astronauts) and doppler shifts, but Byrne's story also indulges in plenty of wonky pseudo-science and insanely improbable coincidences, too.

Produced between seasons of Space: 1999, Into Infinity was written by frequent series scribe Johnny Byrne and directed by 1999 vet Charles Crichton. The special effects were by Brian Johnson's 1999 FX team, and the music was by Year Two composer Derek Wadsworth. Every adult cast member had - or would soon - appear on 1999, and UFO's Ed Bishop provided the narration.

The Altares was a new, wonderfully designed and detailed miniature by the great Martin Bower, but the space station it launched from was a portion of the "Ark" model recycled from the episode "Mission of the Darians," while the Altares' interior appeared to be a redressing of the "Ultra Probe" set from "Dragon's Domain" with a few bits and pieces of other old 1999 sets incorporated.

"A whole new universe. Huh."

I really enjoyed watching it again, and - as I said above - it was amazing how much I remembered from my childhood. One thing that struck me this time was how "British" (despite Tate's attempt at a Yankee accent) the characters were, facing each new peril with remarkable calm and "stiff upper lip" stoicism. By the time they're caught in the clutches of the ominous black hole, they're apparently so resigned to being jerked around by the universe that they just hold hands and calmly await their fate.

Seriously - I choked up.

The only character that generally displays any genuine emotion is young Jane, who has to reluctantly leave her pet dog behind at the beginning of the show (if it was me, I'd never leave my dog behind, but I'm a wuss), fears for the safety of her father when he has to repair the ship's engines, and expresses both wonder and fear at the various cosmic situations the crew finds themselves experiencing. By contrast, David might as well be a Vulcan for all the emotion he displays, and the adults maintain a suitably "professional" detachment at all times.

It's kinda like Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey... for kids.

That's a black hole, all right.

The effects work is about on a par with the team's usual work on 1999, although the black hole - probably in a nod to the program's "educational" nature - is just a, uh, black hole in space, and not nearly as visually interesting as the phenomena the same team created for the 1999 Year One episode "Black Sun." The actual journey through the hole is very colorful, however, employing techniques that would reappear in 1999's "Space Warp" episode the following year.

The depiction of the crew's passage through the black hole is a bit of a hoot, though; apparently at a loss as to how to visually represent getting sucked through a singularity, Crichton simply had his cast run around the set back and forth with their arms outstretched and shot them in slow motion, then blurred it out in post!

"You do get that we're in space, right, kid?"

Despite the mostly cold and inexpressive characters, lack of dramatic conflict, or really, even much of a narrative, Into Infinity is still entertaining. Tate and Blessed have enough natural charisma and screen presence to hold the attention, and maybe it's just my love for old school miniature effects and 70s sci-fi production design, but I really enjoy just looking at the film. The sets are convincing (if familiar), the design of the Altares is fantastic, and the passage through the black hole is appropriately psychedelic.

Overall, it's a solid little piece of 70s juvenile sci-fi, maybe not quite as "scientifically accurate" as it pretends to be, but fun.

THE HUMANOID (1979) Theatrical Posters


I admit that I've never seen The Humanoid, another Italian Star Wars knock-off from 1979, starring Richard Kiel, Barbara Bach and Corinne Clery... but I desperately want to.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Good, The Bad & The Ficus: QUARK (1977)

Back in May of 1977, I actually recall watching the pilot of Quark, the Buck Henry comedy that attempted to do for (or to) 70s sci-fi what Get Smart! had done for (or to) 60s spy-fi, Of course, I was 15, so I thought it was funny as hell. I was really happy when it was picked up the following year by NBC as a mid-season replacement series. I was less happy, of course, when it was cancelled after just 7 episodes (not counting the pilot). As (obviously) a huge fan of the genre, I embraced the series enthusiastically, and loved it unconditionally.

I hadn't seen an episode since that initial run when I discovered a year or two ago that Columbia/Sony had released the series on DVD. I ordered it, and while I still love the series, and think it's somewhat better than it's reputation, that love is no longer unconditional.

The premise was that Adam Quark, the commander of an interstellar garbage ship, desperately wanted to be a hero. He repeatedly begged his superiors for a "real" mission of importance, but his pleas were generally ignored. Despite this, he and his misfit crew still constantly stumbled into dangerous situations and adventures and triumphed against incredible odds, often saving the galaxy - yet their heroism remained unacknowledged and unrewarded.

The cast was great; Richard Benjamin's idealistic "Adam Quark," a celestial garbageman who dreams of being a galactic hero; Ficus (Richard Kelton), a humanoid plant with a Vulcan-like lack of emotions and devotion to logic, Betty 1 and Betty 2 (Trish and Cyb Barnstable) the beautiful helmswomen, one of whom is clone; Andy the neurotic robot (Bobby Porter); Palindrome (Conrad Janis), the bureaucratic roadblock to Quark's potential heroism; The Head (Alan Caillou), a big, giant - uh - head; and Gene/Jean (Tim Thomerson), a "transmute" who's both male and female... and the one character that I just can't take.

And dammit, I'm a huge Thomerson fan, but the writers used the Gene/Jean character to make such sexist (and homophobic) jokes, that I just want to hunt them down and beat them aside the head with a brick. Neither the character, nor the lame jokes that revolve around him, are funny at all, and it drags down the show.

Aside from that, though... well, I think it's a pretty decent satire, and it got better and funnier as it went along. In fact, I think the last three or four episodes are quite strong, and if the show had been granted a full season, I believe it would be better remembered today. The Barnstable twins were certainly nice to look at, and the show had a solid comedic trio in Benjamin, Janis and Kelton - whose character of "Vegeton" Ficus Pandarota, was a brilliant spoof of Star Trek's beloved Spock.

The special effects were admittedly pretty rudimentary, but were certainly passable for a parody, and I did get a kick out of seeing all those Don Post Studios alien masks from the back of Famous Monsters magazine on the extras that swarmed the Perma One space station set.

If you've never seen it, or remember it only from your childhood, I'd suggest giving the DVD a rental from Netflix. Maybe you have to be a kid - or watch it with a kid's eyes - to appreciate it, but I think it's great fun.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Coming Attractions: THE WAR IN SPACE (1977)


This is sort of a re-post, as I noticed that the video embedded with my original review of The War In Space DVD was now inactive. Unfortunately, this version of the trailer is not subtitled in English....

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dinky Toys: UFO and SPACE: 1999

I never had any of these, although I vaguely remember having or seeing catalogs for them. I suspect that they were a lot more common in the UK than the US.

Great ads, though!

Friday, September 3, 2010

STARCRASH (1978) Advance DVD Review

Nah, I don't have it yet (I wish!), but George Reis has a detailed review up of the Shout! Factory 2-disc DVD edition of Starcrash, which will be in stores on September 14, on his great DVD Drive-In site.

Of course, once it comes out, I'll share my review of the Blu-Ray edition here.

Pre-Order: Starcrash (Roger Corman Cult Classics) [Blu-ray]

or the DVD version: Starcrash (Roger Corman Cult Classics)

News: MAD MAX (1979) on Blu-Ray in October

One of the most influential of 70s sci-fi films, George Miller's high-octane Mad Max, is making the jump to HD. I did not see Max in theaters, but I do distinctly remember seeing the late-nite TV spots for the U.S. drive-in circuit release of movie, which gave it a distinct, Death Race 2000 vibe.

Here's the press release and details. The disc is already available for pre-order at Amazon.
MGM/Fox Home Entertainment has announced that the Sci-fi classic MAD MAX will be released, on Blu-ray, on October 5th. MSRP is $24.99 (Canada: $25.99).

Considered one of the best films of 1979, MAD MAX garnered three Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards for editing, sound and musical score. The film was also nominated by the AFI for Best Film, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Hugh Keays-Byrne).

In the ravaged near future, a savage motorcycle gang rules the road. Terrorizing innocent civilians while tearing up the streets, the ruthless gang laughs in the face of a police force hell-bent on stopping them. But they underestimate one officer: Max Rockatansky (Gibson). And when the bikers brutalize Max's best friend and family, they send him into a mad frenzy that leaves him seeking revenge, which is the only thing left in the world for Max to live for.


Extras:
DISC ONE (Blu-ray):
Filmmaker Commentary by Jon Dowding, David Eggby, Chris Murray & Tim Ridge
Documentary: “Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon”
New-To-The-U.S. Original Australian Language Track
Two theatrical trailers
TV Spots

DISC TWO (DVD):
New Digitally Remastered Transfer
"Mel Gibson: The Birth Of A Star" Documentary
"Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon" Documentary
New-To-The-U.S. Original Australian Language Track
Theatrical Trailers"Road Rants" Trivia & Fun Fact Track
Photo Gallery
Pre-Order: Mad Max (W/Dvd) (Ws) [Blu-ray]

Stella Star Tends Bar



All right, this Dr. Pepper commercial (in both 60 second and 30 second variants) is from the 80s, not the 70s, and, technically, beyond the purview of this blog. But then, I made the rules, so I guess I can break them.

The lovely Caroline Munro - Starcrash's own Stella Star - portrays the barmaid of this alien-packed intergalactic ginmill, which is clearly a homage to the Star Wars cantina scene.... and I thought it was too cool not to post it here. A lot of production value there for a soft drink commercial, but it was the Eighties, after all.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Captain's bLog: 0902.10

A few bits of site news/thoughts:

• In July and August, Space: 1970's traffic doubled the previous monthly average and continues to rise. Wow.

• I've expanded the "Starblogs" blogroll over in the sidebar to include as many of the blogs that link to Space: 1970 as I've been able to find through my referrer logs. If you have a blog or site that has a permanent link to here, let me know, and I'll add it to the list. If you want to be on the list, well... add a link, and then let me know.

I'll be honest - I don't personally follow every blog on the list - since many (or most) of them are RPG blogs and I don't game anymore, I don't really have time to keep up with all of them - but the ones I have visited are pretty damned cool, and I both appreciate their support of Space: 1970 and recommend at least checking them out.

• Speaking of "appreciating the support," the Space: 1970 Facebook page is now up to about 150 "likes." Surprisingly, many of them are people I do not know.

• Much to my surprise and gratitude, a couple of folks have actually made PayPal donations (which I'm using to buy some DVDs for this site), and today I got an e-mail from a reader offering to send me copies of several movies that I've been looking for. Which brings me to this:

When I started this site, I had no idea that it would be so popular, nor that I would be posting to it as often as I have. As a consequence, not only am I burning through subjects considerably faster than I anticipated, my appetite for this 70s sci-fi stuff has actually increased.

To that end, I'm looking for DVD-Rs or good-quality VHS copies of Man From Atlantis, The Invisible Man (with David McCallum), Cliffhangers, Starship Invasions, Prisoners of the Lost Universe, Warlords of Atlantis, The Last Dinosaur, Damnation Alley, The Questor Tapes, and the three or four Logan's Run episodes I'm missing. Please don't send me links to online gray market dealers or overseas editions of these titles - but if anyone has these shows on disc or tape, maybe we can work out a trade. I will not trade for copies of DVDs that are commercially available, though - for those items I'll just have to keep saving pennies (although I would accept gifts, wink wink, nudge nudge).

• That's it for this round-up. Got to get back to work, including a couple long posts with screencaps for this blog.....

Tripping The (Star)Light Fantastic

Let's face it: thanks to Meco Monardo, and his popular dance arrangements of John Williams' epic Star Wars themes, the science fiction of the late Seventies will always go hand-in-hand with disco music.

While that's a bitter pill for a lot of fans to swallow (I know one second-generation Star Wars fan who flat-out refused to acknowledge the existence of the Meco record), the fact is, I don't mind. I like disco, always have. And while I wouldn't want a steady musical diet of its thumping, mechanical bass line, neither do I object to the stuff in small doses. It's cheerful, and fun, and helps me remember my childhood.

I received the original Meco Star Wars And Other Galactic Funk LP as a birthday gift back in the day (still love that cover art!), and also picked up The Empire Strikes Back 45 RPM single a few years later. I vaguely recall having a couple of other disco "sci-fi" compilations on record and cassette over the years, too.

One I didn't own then was Geoff Love's Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Other Galactic Disco Themes. However, I recently stumbled upon a download of the album, and I can't seem to stop listening to it.

Aside from the CE3K theme, it also features a very catchy arrangement of the Logan's Run TV show theme, a couple of Star Wars themes, Blake's 7 (I really need to see some of those some day), The Omega Man (!) and couple of originals. Love and his orchestra recorded lots of TV and movie theme compilations, and many of them are quite good, but this one is my current favorite.

If you're interested, you can download it here.

Oh, and yeah - that is a Darth Vader disco ball.

Disclaimer: These links aren't mine, I didn't upload the albums, and take no responsibility for 'em. I'm just posting the links for informational purposes.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

STAR BLAZERS (1979)


Back in 1979, when I was in my Freshman year of High School, I would impatiently ride the bus home every weekday (that I didn't have detention), and rush to my bedroom, where I'd turn on a little portable television with a seven or eight-inch black & white screen, and fiddle with the antenna hoping to somehow snag the elusive broadcast signal from Bangor's WVII: Channel 7, so I could watch the latest episode of the seminal anime series, Star Blazers. Our rooftop aerial could never receive the signal, but sometimes, when atmospheric conditions were just right, that little portable could... although never very well.

The Americanized version of the Japanese serial Space Cruiser Yamato, was my first exposure to anime, and I was completely engrossed in its characters and epic storylines - whether it was the Star Force's quest for far Iskandar and the Cosmo DNA or the battle against the Comet Empire. I was well and truly hooked, and on the days when I couldn't get it to come in, I was despondent.

Later, when I was at art school in the early 80s, I was exposed to stuff like Voltron and Battle of the Planets, and while I kinda dug the big robot guy, neither appealed to me like Star Blazers.

Anyway, I just rented the first volume of the first season Star Blazers DVDs from Netflix, and watched the first five episodes straight through. The animation's not quite as good as I remembered, and the dialogue is far more goofy than I recalled, but... I think I'm hooked again. It doesn't hurt finally being able to see them on a properly-sized TV screen, and in color, to boot...!

The Han Solo Adventures (1979)

I've recently re-read author Brian Daley's "Han Solo Adventures" novels, originally published in 1979, and have started on A.C. Crsipin's "Han Solo Trilogy," published almost 20 years later.

Daley's novels are set in the Star Wars universe just two years before the events of Star Wars (1977 - I refuse to call it "A New Hope"). The trilogy follows the smuggling days of Han Solo and Chewbacca as they ply their trade in an area of the Empire known as the Corporate Sector, accompanied by a droid named Bollux. The books were released April, June and August 1979 respectively. They also were published as an omnibus edition in 1992.

When these came out, licensed Star Wars continuations were still a rarity outside of the Marvel comic book, and it was almost as big a deal as Alan Dean Foster's Splinter Of the Mind's Eye. I bought all three books as soon as I could - the first in paperback and the other two in hardcover through the Science fiction Book Club - and read and re-read them dozens of times. Han Solo was pretty much my favorite character in the movie - still is - and although I wasn't a big fan of Bollux (or his companion Blue Max), and didn't quite grasp the concept of the "Corporate Sector," I was just thrilled to have new Solo adventures to read.

In Han Solo At Star's End, our favorite Corellian smuggler has to break Chewbacca and some other allies out of the Corporate Sector Authority's covert prison facility, the titular "Star's End." In Han Solo's Revenge, Han and Chewie break up a slavery operation, and in Han Solo And The Lost Legacy, they go off in search of a legendary lost treasure ship, Queen of Ranroon.

These books were a big part of my adolescence, so I was pleased (and surprised) to discover from Wikipedia that events of these books have been incorporated into the official timeline of the Star Wars universe by "being contextualized in interludes in Rebel Dawn, the final book of Ann C. Crispin's Han Solo Trilogy."

Which is a book I haven't yet read, although I expect to shortly. I did buy a copy of Crispin's first Han Solo novel, The Paradise Snare, back when it first came out in '98, but never got around to reading it until about a week or so ago, when I finished re-reading the Daley trilogy. I actually rather enjoyed it - The Paradise Snare is a chronicle of Solo's early years up until he enrolls in the Imperial Academy - and ordered the other two books through an online dealer who had used copies for a penny apiece. I expect them to show up any day now.

After that, I'll probably try and get my hands on the "The Adventures of Lando Calrissian" novels by L. Neil Smith, which were published way back in the early 80s. I've always been curious about Lando's adventures as master of the Millennium Falcon... although I doubt they'll be as much fun as THIS.