2014 Writers and Illustrators of the Future Awards

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Hanging out on the red carpet – is it weird to see Geek Outlaw out of uniform?

First let’s address the giant oliphant in the room. Yes, this is called the L. Ron Hubbard Writers and Illustrators of the Future Awards. Yes, this made me very nervous when I first got the invitation to cover it. If you are unaware, L. Ron Hubbard was the founder of the Church of Scientology, a church that has seen its share of controversy. Then again, I’m half Catholic (in theory, not in practice), so who am I to talk about religious controversy? I was quick to ask if the Awards had anything to do with the Church and was given a quick, but polite response that L. Ron Hubbard was also a prolific science fiction writer and the Awards had nothing to do with Scientology. I did a little research and it seemed that they do try and keep the two quite separate. After talking it over with my NerdBFF, Geek Outlaw, our curiosity got the better of us and we decided to go and see what it was all about for ourselves. I will say that there was no indication that it was a Scientology event aside from that it was an L. Ron Hubbard love fest. A large portrait of him hung from the stage the entire time except during the music and dance performances, there was a rather lengthy video montage honoring him, and his name was mentioned every few minutes, at minimum.

Hanging out before the awards

Hanging out before the awards

Now, that being said, if there is one thing that I took away from the Writers and Illustrators of the Future Awards, it’s that it was a very positive experience and a very big deal for the winners. They were obviously well taken care of by Author Services and enormously grateful for the week of classes and activities that were organized for them, including workshops with talented and established authors and artists, trips to museums, etc. They also receive cash prizes that are much higher than other contests, are given opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise have, and many of them go on to become highly successful authors and illustrators in their own right. Regardless of whether or not there is any religious affiliation, I think that there is a place for this competition.

Some of the winners

Some of the winners on the red carpet

For me personally, the highlight of the evening was having the opportunity to chat with the winners and presenters on the red carpet beforehand. The winners were nervous and excited, the presenters approachable and proud of the honorees. Geek Outlaw and I had the pleasure of interviewing the evening’s keynote speaker Astronaut Leland Melvin:

Astronaut Leland Melvin

Astronaut Leland Melvin

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BL9_7szTMLE] – June Scobee Rodgers, widow of Challenger Astronaut Dick Scobee:

June Scobee Rogers

June Scobee Rodgers

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FDJwC1h5UA] – Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Orson Scott Card, author of the Ender’s Game series of sci-fi novels:

Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOJqORDz3Lg] – Robert J. Sawyer, author of Flash Forward:

Robert J. Sawyer

Robert J. Sawyer

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRST4raF_SQ] – And Kevin J. Anderson, author of Dune and X-Files fiction:

Kevin J. Anderson

Kevin J. Anderson

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFlrp3tRRGU] – The winners were announced alternating between the writers and the illustrators who created the original artwork for that particular story. The winners were from every conceivable walk of life. From high school teachers to high school students, computer scientists to real estate agents, Veterinarians to former military. And from every corner of the planet including South Korea, Jamaica, Canada, Finland, East Siberia, England, Portugal, Germany, Australia and, of course, all over the United States. Some of the awards were interspersed with circus performers, Indian dancers, BMX cyclists and musical performers. DSC01960 (Large) The grand prize is the Golden Pen Award and the Golden Brush Award. These two gentlemen received $5000 and had previously delivered two of the most emotional speeches of the night. Both were enormously grateful and humbled by the fact that they had won. Golden Pen Award: Memories Bleed Beneath the Mask by Randy Henderson DSC02029 (Large) Golden Brush Award: Trevor Smith DSC02024 (Large) The evening wrapped up with a reception and a chance to have our copies of the Anthology signed by all of the winners. I tried to get as many signatures as I could but the crowds because ridiculous and I reluctantly gave up since I had to drive back to San Diego that night. There and back in one day was a doozy, let me tell you! We did get a chance to hang out with writer Tim Powers for a bit before we left. His 1988 novel On Stranger Tides was optioned for Disney’s fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film. DSC02034 (Large) All in all it was a delightful evening and anything that helps writers get their foot in the door is a good thing.

Attack of the Top 10 Sci-Fi Mustache’s

Hot Nerd Girl Mustache

There comes a time in every man’s life when he has to decide whether or not he wants to sport some facial hair.  Trends have come and gone but one style remains a classic.

The mustache.

Some men prefer a classic lady tickler, others are more creatively inclined.  The 80’s sparked what I like to call the “pornstache.”  Heck, all four of my male parental units have maintained a crumb catcher at some point.

dad's with visors picture frameIn honor of great mustachioed men, here is my list of the Top 10 ‘staches of Sci-Fi:

10. Guy Fleegman – Galaxy Quest

galaxy-quest-guy-fleegman-1

"Who looks like a tool? I look like a tool. ALL RIGHT!"

We’ll start with the spoof, shall we?  Poor Guy, he had a bit part in his favorite sci-fi show and therefore became convinced he was doomed to die a redshirts death after he follows the crew aboard the Thermian’s NSEA Protector in an attempt to defeat the evil alien warlord Sarris.  Instead, he helps save the day and becomes Security Chief “Roc” Ingersoll.  See what a mustache will do for you kids?  It’s like MAGIC.

9. ZedZardoz

zardoz & borat

There are no coincidences.....

Sporting a red monokini and a fu manchu, Sean Connery tests the waters of science fiction with a confusing plotline and a trusty revolver.  Supposedly Zed is the perfect man, the result of eugenics experiments (he could pass for Khan’s brother, yah?) created to save mankind.  His inspiration?  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  No shit.  Don’t get it yet?  The God is named Zardoz as in WiZARD of OZ.  Yup, pretty much.  The best part about Zardoz is what he teaches: “The gun is good. The penis is evil. The penis shoots seeds, and makes new life to poison the Earth with a plague of men, as once it was, but the gun shoots death, and purifies the Earth of the filth of brutals. Go forth . . . and kill!” Seriously, you can’t make this shit up.

8. Admiral Adama Battlestar Galactica

Edward James Olmos Battlestar MustacheNormally Bill would be higher up in the list of anything and everything but since he only rocked his mustache when Laura Roslin wasn’t there to see it (aka about 3 episodes), he’s back at #8.  While his people were slowly migrating to New Caprica and his kid was busy getting fat in the face (but not really anywhere else which was really weird), Bill decided that the best way to alleviate his boredom would be to grow a mustache.  If my mission in life were suddenly gone, I’d be tempted to grow one too.  As soon as life got back to it’s scary, running from the toasters, normal self, the mustache came off and everyone (and I mean everyone) went back to the look they were sporting a year prior.  I think it was their little way of saying “Fuck you New Caprica, we never liked you anyway.”

7. Lt. Hiram CoffeyThe Abyss

CoffeyWhy do the movies always make Navy SEALS look like jackasses?  I’ve known a few Navy SEALS in my life (including one that was smaller than me and, no joke, sported a mustache) and let me tell you, you have to be a smart and focused son of a bitch to make it in their ranks.  Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox now.  Lt. Coffey is a Hollywood Navy SEAL trigger-happy jackass who dies trying to kill something (NTI’s) that he doesn’t understand with a warhead despite the fact that everyone around him is telling him to calm the fuck down.  His one redeeming quality?  A kick ass ‘stache.

6. Prince Barin Flash Gordon & Neville SinclairThe Rocketeer

licence-to-kill-mustache

Totally not photoshopped....

Hot damn Timothy Dalton, you really love your fanny duster, don’t you?  Timmy gets a double mention for these two beauties.

dalton_barinI’ll start with Flash Gordon.  I’m not gonna lie, I heart me some Queen and they did most of the soundtrack for this 1980’s film starring former Marine and Playgirl centerfold Sam J. Jones as a football player who gets rocket propelled into space and has to deal with alien drama in order to save Earth.  Like typical boys, Flash and Prince Barin have to fight each other before they realize that they can get more done if they team up.  Boys are so dumb sometimes.  They git-r-done and Timmy is made King.  Yay!

sinclairIn The Rocketeer Timmy switches sides and plays the bad guy.  Neville Sinclair is a dashing actor who just happens to be a Nazi spy.  Sporting a much more stylish mustache than his fuehrer, Neville meets his end after escaping a burning Zeppelin on a stolen rocket, and then crashing into the last four letters of the Hollywoodland sign (you always wondered what happened to those last four letters, didn’t you?)  The source of his demise?  Chewing gum, of course.  Take THAT you Nazi bastard!

5. Wikus District 9

wikus from district 9

"Excuse me, but do I have something in my eye?"

With a name like Sharlto Copley, you don’t even need a mustache to be cool.  But it can’t hurt.  Poor Wikus van de Merwe.  All he wants to do is impress his Father-in-Law.  Instead he gets alien jib sprayed in his face and loses that glorious mustache as he slowly mutates into a prawn.  At least he learns how to make flowers out of scrap metal.  Always looking on the bright side Wikus, it’s what I like about you.  That and your weird South African accent that isn’t quite British and isn’t quite Australian.

4. Wellington YuehDune

Yuah (Dean Stockwell) from DuneDean Stockwell is a personal favorite of mine having starred in Dune, Quantum Leap, and Battlestar Galactica.  For Dune he whipped out his trusty magic marker and drew on a rockin’ mustache.  Just for good measure, he threw in a spiffy red dot right smack in the middle of his forehead.  Yueh is a Suk doctor who has been trained to obey some kind of crazy futuristic Hippocratic Oath.  That is, until his wife gets kidnapped and he throws all of that right out the window, betraying and ultimately destroying his patron.  He sort of redeems himself in the end but it’s too little too late.

3. Shepherd BookFirefly

Shepard Book (Ron Glass) from FireflySome people have issues with Book’s hair while it’s in its natural, gloriously poufy state.  However, I’ve yet to hear one complaint about his mustache.  Why?  Because it’s awesome and even River can’t deny that fact.  I have no idea if the tea strainer is required by his religious order or not but I’m pretty sure it could help even the most hardened prostitute find religion.  Don’t believe me?  Watch “Heart of Gold” and ignore the fact that a madman with a battery-operated ray gun is coming after them.  Told you so.

2. Lando Calrissian Star Wars

Lando-CalrissianOk, so totally bizarro, but every time I think of Lando Calrissian I think of the song “Rico Suave.”  Seriously. What. The. Fuck.  I know it’s not rational and yet it happens every time.  I think I need electroshock therapy or something.  I’m just going to point to this definition of suave over at Urban Dictionary and be done with it.  Anyhooters…back to Lando aka friend/traitor/friend to Han Solo.  Don’t judge his actions until you’ve got Darth Vader all up in your shiznit.  For all we know, Boba Fett threatened to shave off his epic mustache.  That, my friends, would have been a tragic facial hair FAIL.

1. Montgomery Scott – Star Trek

Scotty nice mustache!

Scotty may not have grown out his nose neighbor until later than life but he still gets the top spot on my list.  Why, you ask?  Because it’s my God damn list.  And because, above all else, I heart Star Trek and because Jimmy Doohan was arguably the most talented actor in the entire cast.  He was the source of many voices, many characterizations, and was even the original inventor of both the Vulcan and Klingon languages.  He’s also the only person on this list whose ashes have been shot into space…actually I think he’s the only one who has died…but whatever, the point is, he has earned his spot at #1.  And he rules.

Scotty mean mustache! GRRRRRR!!!!!