Connoisseurs

A tribute to the UFO SHADO Library and fanfic writers
©2012 by Amelia S. Rodgers with 'Ed Straker' (our nom de plumes) All Rights Reserved. Not meant to violate copyright. The Rabbit's Paw a UFO story (which can be found in the Library and Fan Fiction.net contains original characters and plot by Amelia S. Rodgers with Ed Straker.

Dedications: To My Husband to celebrate his courage and the courage he has given to me
To Ed Bishop, who sadly took his last curtain call seven years ago. We miss you, Ed George Victor Bishop.
People wishing to leave comments in memory of Mr. Bishop can go here: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?GRid=11804781&page=gr

Our beloved Ed Bishop called us connoisseurs, we fans of the series UFO. Not all that long after the series debuted, the first UFO stories written by fans appeared in The SHADO Library created by Deborah Rorabaugh, my editor. They appeared because fans wanted to add to the 26 episodes, and because they found the characters and the technology enjoyable and visionary and exciting. UFO was sometimes not the clearest and most accurate view of the future, and it never went on to achieve the success of Star Trek, but it remains a passion for its connoisseurs. Some of us in the Library are not newcomers singing our own praise and shaking our own tambourines to hide the fact that our talent consists of more sizzle than steak. We've done this since UFO started. That's real dedication. We celebrate the show.

Talk about duty, but duty performed with grace and joy.

For all these fifteen years my fellow writers have put forward visions with few limitations. We did it with a professional consideration for each other's work. We didn't need to be bound by copyright issues to protect original characters, plots and ideas because we were inspired by one another, and when we were, we gave credit where credit was due. We didn't take stories without the author's permission and mock them and spoil them under the disguise of criticism. Try the real motivation which easily can be seen if you read carefully enough, malice. We didn't pilfer other writers' creations or contributions without so much as an acknowledgement or a thank you and then talk about how lofty our writing motivations were. We didn't claim excellence in standards and then continually put out sloppy work with typos, errors in grammar and worse of all in my opinion, misspell something as basic as the characters' names. When we wrote, we were the first to say 'we're not perfect' but that was our goal. We shared courtesies that came from common sense and respect for one another.

We didn't demand that readers adore us and tell us how wonderful we were and when that didn't happen, few of us felt a need to invent sock puppets to do it that were so obviously transparent it was almost an example of camp humor. Not that it wasn't or isn't great to have a reader say a story was appreciated. What really matters when you write for the public is that you do it the best way you can, and you don't ask the fans to do your job. You don't write a handful of stories and then suddenly with no real experience at all, start telling would-be new writers how to write and what to write and what to like and read, then when they say no, close your doors and lock your e-mail comments section.

Imagine someone telling Ed Straker he couldn't think out of the box. He was an Air Force colonel, there were rules he lived his life by because he believed in them, he was a patriot, he gave his all, and even more tragically without a single acknowledgement of his sacrifice but as he gallantly said the choice was made a long time ago.

Our choice too was made a long time ago, fifteen years ago, to keep UFO alive.

However, being SHADO leader means being an innovator. If there was something to be done, he'd do it, and worry about the consequences later. Straker had a vision like most brave men and women serving in the military, that of a Earth safe and especially FREE.

That's what good UFO writing is really all about, in our opinions. Freedom.

We as writers continue to put forth the ideals and concepts in UFO. A woman can command as well, often better, than a man. She can look beautiful doing it or more importantly, she can still be feminine if she chooses, date whomever she wants without being branded for it or be scorned because she was born with intellect and good looks and makes the most of both. Skin color has no bearing on performance, nor does religion, philosophy, personal opinion, country of origin, sexual orientation, gender, race, culture, when you unite in a common goal. Many nations can come together to defeat terrorism, and bullying, and other baser threats that are unfortunately part of our human existence. People like Straker and Henderson, both alpha males that clash with the ferocity of bulldogs, can disagree all the way to the moon, pun intended. In the end, we saw they respected their individual differences. They display courtesy to one another. That shouts class. I expect nothing less from Ed Straker and his SHADO.

I expect nothing less from the Library which I am proud to be a part of. We all are the ones who made it all begin. My husband took a story 'Alien' http://www.shadolibrary.org/library/amelia/alien.htm I'd written in 1985 and sent it in to the Library without my knowing. I'd always dreamed of having my work read on a wide scale. I realized that dream in college, and then in the Library. Dreaming is what leads to creativity. My dream came true.

I'm proud to still pursue my visions without having to limit myself to personal standards coming from writers, fans and readers who often hide ego as motivation, not dedication and certainly not respect for other writers in the field of fiction. If my individual visions of what Straker and Alec etc. etc. are what leaves me open to vilification and cowardly attacks and dirty tricks behind the scenes so be it. Karma. Enough said.

As I point out, the dream of Ed Straker was to free Earth from the intentions of aliens who held little to no consideration for their victims' well being, they simply were out for their own survival alone, not caring about the destruction they left in their wake. In this goal he sacrificed everything without any obsessive need for people to praise him. Straker in his single mindedness was often maligned, but as Ed Bishop himself said Straker had his heart in the right place. Alec Freeman wasn't any yes man, and perhaps that was one of the reasons Straker treasured his companionship, his professionalism and his humanity and his warmth and people smarts and even his roving eye for a pretty girl. If Straker did an 'epic fail' in Freeman's eyes, Alec hit him with it, threatened to resign, game over. Straker knew it. He needed Alec. If the script Computer Affair hadn't had that part deleted, we would have heard Straker say it. But those who admired Straker and had the ability to look past the facade, already knew it.

How could that not capture our imaginations, especially those who appreciated Alec from the beginning, along with the technology and action and threat to Earth he was a part of. I'm willing to guess that all UFO fans, no matter their age or level of interest have pictured themselves flying the aircraft, firing the Molly's, monitoring SID, and by all means, being the man or woman who could save Earth, and perhaps capture not only the aliens but Ed Straker's heart. At a time in my childhood when I was being mentally and physically abused by my family (leaving me with a diagnosis of PTSS among other conditions) I watched UFO.

I looked to that enigmatic Commander bent over his desk working for some solace, his fingers characteristically on the bridge of his nose to cope with a headache brought on by the tremendous stress of his job. Often I watched him thoughtfully toying with his glass sphere, or sometimes he stood with his arms wrapped around himself perhaps to feel his own touch, some human contact when he denied himself that simple human necessity (we now know how important touch is in studies on therapeutic touch as a healing method) in favor of putting aside personal needs and psychological pain for the sake of responsibility and duty. He was called, he answered the call. I was fragile, suicidal, needed to be hospitalized many times, wanting to die. I needed a person I could trust, albeit an imaginary one. A hero when I most needed one in my life and he was a damn good looking one, too. Yeah I noticed. Sqwee! (Few wouldn't want to be a fan girl/boy/woman/man when a hero looks and behaves like Straker. )

I eagerly had written for many of the Star Trek fanzines and had many friends from that practice. Then I found UFO and infiltrated it and its many fanzines too, sometimes contributing, sometimes my own head buried in fanzines eagerly reading other authors (Hi Bernice! My love to the rats.)doing articles and cartoons for the Interceptor fanzine and newsletter Communique (which I suggested to Jim as a newsletter name) I drew and wrote for Jim Main's club then I eventually found Marc Martin and the SHADO Library too. As a matter of fact I founded the first e-mail group for UFO writers and the Library with Deborah's blessing calling it The Write Mice and I founded and moderated a group for Ed Bishop, and it still is going on, a fact which I am proud of. Through that club and my resources I knew more about Mr. Bishop than the average fan. The more I discovered about his private life, the more I liked him, and Straker. As an older, still scarred adult continuing therapy, I have no plans to turn in my resignation as UFO writer yet. There are perils that accompany the job title. As I said, I have had my story plots spoiled under the joke explanation/excuse of criticism. Let's look at that closer.

Any writer in any genre will appreciate how juvenile and unprofessional such an attack is. Not to mention that it completely insults UFO fanfic fans who hate reading spoilers. Have I ever attacked writers I disagreed with when I felt they held unbalanced opinions of Straker? Oh my God yes, Ed Bishop defended Straker, why wouldn't I. He jokingly called Straker 'that old fart', but he clearly loved his character, hoped he could play him again (sigh )and out of the public's eye, objected to Billington's joke that Straker was gay. (I know this through a solid source who spoke on a regular basis to Bishop and got it from Bishop himself it isn't gossip. It's a fact Bishop hated it. I mention it here to show that Straker was still important to Mr. Bishop. ) In my case, when there was no other alternative, no professional solution, and the people aren't open minded enough to agree to disagree then I use my and more recently my husband's gift of humor which you can see in my more recent stories. We work as a team now.

In other words, we use the strongest and deadliest weapon in the arsenal. Writing.

I have seen the question asked, why do I write UFO?

In a real sense, I am not a UFO writer.

I started writing when I was about nine, ten, completed high school equivalency to attend college (due to not being able to finish grade school for reasons of being abused in the school I attended), then majored in Creative Writing and English and my minor was in University Studies and Psychology. I took several college level courses in Fiction Writing (sometimes the same course more than once which one college professor regularly teased me about. ) and also a correspondence course from Writer's Digest School, got all that under my belt. I had the late Edward Wellen as my teacher for that Digest course. I seem to have a lot of Edwards in my life, I mentioned my husband co-writes with me often, his real name is Ed. I met him through a group therapy session he was taking part in. He developed an interest in seeing me in his growing practice. (I liked him so much that eventually I took him home, can I keep him?) Sadly his last name is not necessarily Straker nor is mine Rodgers. That's the beauty of a nom de plume. Later I joined the Air Force Reserve, studying to be a medic at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield California. When that didn't work out for me due to my mental illness restricting my abilities, I left, got my honorable discharge and went on to the next period of my life, taking with me my knowledge and interests in the fields of medicine, psychology, and of course UFO fiction writing.

Then why do I say I am not a UFO writer?

Because first, I am a writer.

The basics is where it all begins for us. Like a strict college professor told me, (he made Straker look as timid as Ford ) you first learn the basics, and the rules, and the techniques. Then you throw all those the hell out, and write! But you keep trying to improve. Resting on your ego (however cushy I freely admit mine is ) and your laurels doesn't make a good writer. Improving, and improving, and improving! That does work.

I live and love to write UFO stories, I'm working on a crossover right now with my husband featuring our interpretation of a rather unusual but well established character, we hope to be finishing The Glacier Code soon, and have some other plot bunnies angrily demanding attention. These aren't sweet, cute plot bunnies. These are Monty Python 'run away run away' bunnies with pointy teeth, mind you.

Our illnesses, psychological or/and physical, make the time and concentration necessary for writing as well as the actual editing and typing very difficult sometimes, and delay our projects, but my husband and I go on when we can. How could we not? That's what connoisseurs do. That's what the original fans have done for years. We've kept the UFO stories going. We keep that light in the Library burning. Despite the efforts of complete amateurs to close our doors, or make a mockery of what we stand for, we go on. How could we not, and still claim we love UFO? How could we not, and say we admire Ed Straker, who will never die.

Connoisseurs. That's what beloved Ed Bishop, who will never be replaced, called us. I consider it a honor and so do all my fellow writers featured in our Library, old and new of that I'm fairly sure. How I miss Mr. Bishop. Every time I write the word Straker, I feel the loss.

Finding out Mr. Bishop shared my own political leanings was just icing on the cake. I have a check that belonged to him, and an autographed photo which I cherish. Around the time of his death, I had been in touch with someone in the film business who had worked with Ed more than once from my previous work in Ed Bishop Fans. The person was very sad to hear of Ed's passing and we got to know one another so they gave me a truly rare pair of DVD's featuring Ed's private work for them, and some photographs. Nothing could lessen my grief at losing Ed Victor George Bishop, but it helped to heal me a little. I had to survive. Writing has always been part of my will to survive.

Survival. Life. Living. Writing. Even when it hurts psychologically and physically. My husband also lives with chronic illness with chronic pain the way I do. It makes life hard. But then we have Straker for a role model. Failure and weakness and constant excuses are not options. You give all, and after that, you give more. I can't say I have achieved Straker's level of courage and idealism, but I try to.

Life. Living. Writing. You need to do it with style and vigor and chocolate. (Okay maybe the chocolate isn't essential but it helps with the hours of editing.) I revealed part of my background because a lot of people and writers in any genre are 'outsiders' who find life hard, many suffer with mental illness like me or have to dull with cowardly bullies or consider themselves loners. I identify with them. Often, I write to them in stories. An example is my chubby, overly perky and smart as a whip Peter in The Rabbit's Paw. http://www.shadolibrary.org/library/amelia/paw.html Straker brings out Peter's inner confidence and in the process, Straker finds he himself grows in strength himself. He learns he has to survive, but he need not suffer in the process. (Yes, a Paw sequel is coming, Cindy would break my arms if I didn't marry her off to Peter. My husband had been planning a story and he suggested we merge the two plots, and I'm excited about that prospect because his idea is something of a psychological suspense story a la Kellerman. And my husband was once mentioned at a reading by Jonathan Kellerman my beta attended because of a prank my husband played on my beta. (Yes that was a famous name you heard being dropped. My husband's clumsy like that) A plot about a Rabbit mixed with a threat to Straker? Yup. See why I love writing?

Survive. Live. Ed Straker would. Ed Bishop, a courageous and humanitarian individual, and a great father, did all the way to a premature end and lived the way he wanted, without being cautious. (He also once said if he hadn't chosen acting he'd choose writing, so you can imagine how much he appreciated Straker ) I was devastated by his death enough that I didn't stop until I found out the real cause of what he'd suffered from, and my dear friends at ISOSHADO Paolo and Teresa were gracious enough even in their own grief, to approach Ed's widow and daughters for me, and I will always be grateful that they freely revealed to me and the fans at my suggestion what Ed Bishop was battling for years. I can't thank them enough. I can't thank Ed's widow and children enough. It took tremendous trust. If you're reading this, thank you from the heart. I was so close to Ed Bishop because of my work in EBF, that when he died, for me a beloved family member died. I carried the grief a long time. I learned from that experience. I suffered from it too when I trusted people I shouldn't have but you learn, you live, you survive. Writers survive too, they take pain and turn it into literary brilliance in plots and character.

So this is my tribute to all my fellow writing connoisseurs , those who first had the intention to keep UFO and Straker and his colleagues alive in new adventures and continue on. This is also my tribute to those who have left me feedback and this is my tribute to all my readers, even those who haven't liked all or part of my stories. It takes time to read stories, so I appreciate it. My husband pointed something out. In light of the current situation, some of the identities of those who left me positive feedback is a bit, ah how shall I put it, ironic? He also said if even one person gets enjoyment from a story I write, then I succeeded. I was read. I've tried to show you not an old, standard black and white image of Ed Straker, but by throwing away the 'rules' I've given you a kaleidoscope vision of my favorite character, my long time hero Ed Straker, a chance to look through and perhaps see visions and colors of your own when you peer through that crystal lens and get swallowed up by the light of invention yourselves. Read the stories in the Library. Go to every aisle, every book, every author, not just me or a chosen few . Don't place limitations on yourself. Read. Dream. Imagine. Write.

Write?

You want to write UFO stories? I have a lot of experience in that. Bad and good. <g> What is my husband's (and my )advice to you?

WRITE. Write freely. Write what you love. Write for YOU. There's hundreds of writing books out there that tell you this and that, written by experts. There's people out there that say don't do this and don't do that, and we know everything leave yourselves in our hands. Those that don't know, learn. Those that really know, teach without limitations. Those who insist they know it all..beware of them! Run like HELL. Take what you think works for YOU, then like my husband puts it, RUN LIKE HELL! Because you need to find YOUR writing style, not someone else's idea of what works and what doesn't. Be Peter in my story! Find confidence. FIGHT! And when you bravely put your first story out there to be reviewed (in ANY genre besides UFO because the process is scary as hell and the same for most writers, you take a risk putting your story out there to be judged and often it is taken apart along with your heart and it HURTS, pull your mouth into a straight line like the Commander, dust off your virtual cream Nehru, pat your Roman silver-blond/blonde hairstyle into place, and write again. Write with passion. Write with determination. Write. WRITE. Because I as a UFO writer will read your child, and I will know what it took out of you to put it out there because I have been hurt many times and I keep writing too. You're NOT alone.

Our Ed Straker is brave, determined, beautiful, sentimental, troubled, broken, isolated, tragic, fated, flawed, enigmatic, funny, sensitive, bloody-minded, stupid at times and he seems alone, too.

But even he has a soul like Alec Freeman to lean on when the going gets tough. Churchill is someone my husband admires greatly.

Winston Churchill said "When you're going through hell, KEEP GOING!"

And so we will. Victory lies ahead if you keep going. The Hitlers and Bin Laden's of this world found that out. The hard way.

I will continue to write UFO stories and I write them freely and certainly unfettered by chains of concepts of an extremely small number of people who popped out of nowhere and decided for us readers and writers without consulting us what it takes to write a good UFO story, and certainly, like Straker defies Henderson, I don't plan to drink the kool-aid just so I can be accepted and many share that opinion with me. That kind of acceptance I don't need. It took me courage to get to where I am after the lifetime of abuse from many sources in my many years of life. I'm prone to wounds. Sometimes, like Ford says, it gets difficult.

But I always come back to UFO, and Straker. Without Ed Bishop and the other cast and crew and visionaries who sadly have passed on, there would be no UFO, so no stories. I don't think Mr. Bishop, who was open about freedom of dissent when he pursued his off-stage passions in his late son's wake, would approve of being narrow minded and insistent on pushing one point of view in any creative endeavor. I know deep down in my gut nor would Straker. We honor UFO with our new stories, but we honor those who have passed on, too. Our writing celebrates them all. I speak to all the writers and readers of UFO fanfic in the hallowed SHADO Library, where UFO fiction was born on this 15th anniversary of the year the elaborate iron gates opened. Go on writing and reading keeping UFO (and Ed Bishop as Straker alive for those of us who genuinely cared for him ) alive not out of duty necessarily or even a need to be admired by zillions but from love of the show, its cast, (especially again because it bears repeating all those we have sadly lost over the years especially Ed Bishop and George Sewell, my long time personal favorites). Thank you. You readers all helped make my dream of my work being read come true. A special personal thanks to the Librarian on this anniversary date, this Library card holder thanks you. (I keep my Library card next to my Aegis Security Card and Raphael's Magic Paw crystal in my wallet)

You've kept the doors open for us for a long time despite having to deal with all sorts of trials and tribulations and alien attacks (launch Skydiver! Launch Interceptors! And get me Colonel Freeman! And a Starbucks espresso!)and you write and think outside the box too. Bravo. The Man of Steel and the Man with a Steel will. We both know, there are people and behaviors even Straker and Superman united couldn't handle.

I should amend that to read Straker would just have Colonel Freeman handle it. And when Straker is in any sense maligned and abused and insulted by the personal threat of 'aliens' and Alec hears about it, Goddess help them. But even she has limitations.


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