by Denise Felt
revised May 2012
There were a few key people that had an enormous impact on my life. My parents had both a good impact and a bad one. But as every adult knows, sooner or later you have to get past your upbringing and decide who you're going to be. (And hopefully, it's not someone just like your parents!) The other person who greatly affected my life was my grandmother. She was so wise, so serene. And I wanted what she had. It took me a lot of years and a lot of tears, but I finally stand where she once stood. And life is good.
That said, there was one other person who had a huge impact on my life. But this person wasn't real. He was a character in a TV show. UFO first came to the States in either the fall of '71 or the spring of '72. I can't remember which. Ask a film historian. And since my dad and I loved sci-fi, he let me stay up late on Saturday nights and watch it with him. It came on at 10:30 after the news, but occasionally it got bumped for something else. Whenever it was on, though, I was glued to the set. As a tween, some of the subtler points of the show got by me. For instance, I thought Foster was cool. Now as an adult, he just makes me want to gag. But I wasn't too young to understand that Lake was a ho'. All that sleeping around just disgusted me. She was intelligent, brilliant even. Why was she acting like a slut? Of course, in those days, I didn't really understand that her character was just saying what the writers gave her to say, and that they were the real ones to blame for her pathetic characterization. But I had seen Star Trek and knew that in the future, women would be treated as equals and honored for their intelligence more than for their beauty. (Yes, I was an optimist even then.)
But the main aspect of the show always was – and for me always will be – how Commander Straker handled the toughest job on the planet. He never got a break, and sometimes after I went to bed, I would replay those heart-wrenching scenes in my mind and cry for him. How noble he was, how strong, to carry on when everything was working against him! He won my young heart then, and time hasn't changed much. He's still my hero of choice. There's just something about those beautiful blue eyes and their expressive gaze. Seriously, the man didn't even need any lines. All he had to do was look at you, and you knew everything that he was feeling. (And some critics called him wooden. Fools!)
I fell in love with many things because of him. Besides him. I absolutely adore behind-the-scenes stuff from movies and shows, and that is because of Harlington-Straker Film Studios, which gave me a glimpse into the world behind the camera in episodes like Timelash and Mindbender. I can't get enough of physics, especially quantum physics, and that's because of thought-provoking episodes like Close-Up. And I fell in love with fashion, because Sylvia Anderson knew how to make those actors look good! I wanted cool clothes like that! And if I'd ever seen a man in a Nehru suit, I'd have followed him anywhere. My dad wore the leisure suits that were popular during the '70's. He had one in a light lime that he wore often. Far too often. I much preferred the fashionable world of SHADO, where the women wore daring mini-dresses, and the men looked sleek and dangerous.
Growing up, I wrote lots of stories about Straker. I never finished them, but I started at least fifty. I knew the whole plot of each and where I wanted to go with it. I could even have acted it out, if necessary. But when I would start to write them out, I couldn't get the words right. So I'd get discouraged and quit. It wasn't until I found the UFO yahoo group online in the late 1990's that I thought about all those stories again. I read all the fanfic I could get my hands on at the SHADO Library, but some of it was awful. The ones that were good, though, were very very good! And I began to think that my stories would be just as interesting in their own way. So I sat down one day and started one. "The Security Risk." No one was more shocked than I was when I actually finished it!
Well, the rest (as they say) is history. Sixty-five stories later, I'm still going strong with no end in sight. As we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the SHADO Library, I have to take a moment to discuss one other person who had a great influence on my life: Deb Rorabaugh. A wonderfully organized lover of literature like me, she began the SHADO Library way back when there were just a few UFO fanfic writers on the scene. With the exposure from her online Library and her quiet encouragement behind the scenes, the Library grew – and grew and grew! I feel so privileged to have been a part of that growth all this time and to have my "books" in her stacks. She has tirelessly supported all us diehard UFO fans for so long. It's time we told her how much that encouragement meant. Thanks, Deb! May the Library never close!
U.F.O. is the © and property of ITV Studios Global Entertainment and used for promotional purposes only.
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