The Away Mission Blog

  • Spotlight on Kevin Sorbo

    In the mid 1990s, two television series, "Hercules:  The Legendary Journeys" and "Xena: Warrior Princess", which were  filmed in New Zealand and syndicated by Universal Studios,  became a national ratings success and a world wide phenomena.  A blend of action adventure, drama and comedy, both series had a wide range of fans from children to adults.  At that time, the internet was starting to become popular, and many tech savvy fans of both series created message boards and web sites dedicated to the shows and other fans wrote articles for fanzines and had viewing parties.

    On July 10, 1997, I experienced a once in a lifetime event at Universal Studios, Florida.  I, among many thousands of fans attended the opening of a new attraction entitled "Hercules and Xena:  Wizards of the Screen".   In attendance were the half-god and Warrior Princess themselves - Kevin Sorbo and Lucy Lawless.   Throughout the day, Kevin Sorbo was out and about enjoying the attractions in between his appearances for the studio, always smiling and waving at the crowds of people when he walked past.  During  "The Terminator 2 Ride", I thought I heard his voice and looked back to find him sitting directly behind me.  Later that day, I was able to attend an outdoor press conference, where Kevin Sorbo and Lucy Lawless spoke about the opening of the attraction and their respective television series.

    Kevin Sorbo at Universal Studios Florida, July 1997 Kevin Sorbo at Universal Studios Florida, July 1997

    A few months later, Universal Studios announced that Kevin Sorbo suffered an aneurysm in his shoulder, which kept him from filming "Hercules" for a while.  During that time, the studio wrote around his character and had several guest stars fill in.  Kevin Sorbo then made a triumph return to the series, which lasted five seasons.  It was not made public until many years later that not only did Kevin Sorbo have an aneurysm in his shoulder, but he also suffered a series a of strokes as a result, which nearly cost him his life at the age of 37.  In 2011, Kevin Sorbo wrote about his health ordeal and how he overcame it in his autobiography, "True Strength:  My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal and How Nearly Dying Saved My Life."

    Kevin Sorbo as Captain Dylan Hunt on "Andromeda"

    A year after "Hercules" finished its run, Kevin Sorbo returned to television as Captain Dylan Hunt on "Andromeda", which was a series that was based on a concept by the late Gene Roddenberry that his wife, Majel Barrett Roddenberry helped to produce.  "Andromeda" had a successful five year run both in syndication and later on the Sci-Fi Channel.  Since then, Kevin Sorbo has acted in over forty films from comedies like "Meet the Spartans" to heart-felt dramas like "Soul Surfer".  In 2011, he has even guest starred as himself in Felicia Day's web series, "The Guild", as a guest at a Game Convention.  He is currently filming a series of fantasy movies entitled "Mythica".

    Off screen, Kevin Sorbo  created a charity organization, "A World Fit For Kids", which encourages children to be active, eat healthy, and to graduate from high school.  He is also an avid golfer and has organized an annual golf tournament to benefit his charity.  He has also been a keynote speaker at the National Stroke Association.

    Kevin Sorbo will be a guest for the upcoming "Away Mission" in Tampa, from April 11 -13, 2014.

  • Star Trek technology is here today

    “Tea, earl grey, hot.” How many times have we heard Captain Picard place his order with the Enterprise’s food synthesizer, or for that matter Captain Kirk? But like many of fictional devices portrayed in Star Trek, the food synthesizer is poised to become reality. Enter the 3-D printer, now capable of printing you a meal. Taking the lead in this new technology is Natural Machines, based in Barcelona, Spain. The 3D printing kitchen appliance can be used for printing different types of ingredients, such as chocolate and pasta.

    Speaking of the Enterprise and Space, NASA in cooperation with a Texas based company, is working on the design of a 3D food printer for deep space missions. NASA's Advanced Food Technology program is interested in developing methods that will provide food to meet safety, acceptability, variety, and nutritional stability requirements for long exploration missions, while using the least amount of spacecraft resources and crew time. Closer to LEO (Low Earth Orbit) NASA is also funding research to place a 3D pizza printer for the International Space Station. Continue reading

  • Haters Gotta Hate...but on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Really?


    What is up with that? From the beginning, something about S.H.I.E.L.D. has rubbed pop critics the wrong way. Even before I had the series DVR'd, I heard the murmurs:

    "UK scientists Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) barely even qualify as characters." Source: The HitFix

    "Are there any compelling characters? This is the big one, and may ultimately be irreparable without ditching the bulk of the cast and starting over." Source: The HitFix

    "The series was constructed with the relatively low ambition of Not Being Terrible... And the SHIELD pilot overachieved like crazy." Source: PopWatch/Entertainment Weekly

    "SHIELD is…well, mulch. It’s a show about characters who go everywhere and seem to have limitless resources, but their actual purpose isn’t particularly defined." Source: PopWatch/Entertainment Weekly

    I'll be the first to agree with the naysayers that SHIELD is not in the same league with, say, "The Walking Dead" or "Game of Thrones". Be that as it may, I find it stylish and adventuresome. It's fun and nicely flavored with a clearly intended touch of camp and good-natured self-awareness. SHIELD brings to the small(er) screens in our living rooms the same wink-and-nudge action as the theatre blockbusters.

    The overall team chemistry between the characters, from Phil Coulson to Fitz and Simmons, works great. And, unlike some critics, I like a series that takes its time developing characters. Series developers that have no faith in viewers' attention spans fall into a particular Pet Peeve category of mine, anyway.

    I also disagree with critics about the special effects. They're among the best you'll find on the made-for-tv shows. Right on par, in my opinion, with the likes of "Game of Thrones" and far above what is offered to us by "Once Upon a Time" or "Grimm". And, hey, I like those shows, too!

    In acting, effects and plotting quality, it's equal to Next Generation (which I thoroughly enjoyed). Oh My Dog, how I hear you gasping out there! Yes. I said it and I'm sticking to it.

    SHIELD is obviously intended to be fun and flighty, an adventuresome romp. So relax, haters! Give that hyper-vigilance a rest. Grab a favorite beverage, kick back and enjoy the easy ride. You just might find yourself watching with a small, Agent Coulson-esque smile on your lips.

  • Syfy's "Helix" Is Contagious

    Ronald D. Moore, well known for his work as a writer and producer on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Executive Producer of Battlestar Galactica has created a new series which premiered on the Syfy channel on  Friday, January 10th entitled Helix.  The series stars Billy Campbell, (The Rocketeer, The 4400), who plays Dr. Alan Farragut, a scientist from the CDC who is asked to travel to Arctic Biosystems to investigate, what is first believed to be a retro viral outbreak at their private research facility.  Continue reading

  • Book Review: Devil's Bargain by Tony Daniel

    Over the holidays, in between shopping and spending time with family, I took the opportunity to read "Star Trek:  Devil's Bargain" by award winning author Tony Daniel.  The novel was released in 2013 and is based on the continuing voyages of the original series.  The story is a follow-up to  "The Devil in the Dark", which was the 26th episode of Season One.  In the episode, Kirk and Spock travel to the mining colony on Janus VI to investigate the mysterious deaths of  fifty miners by a mysterious creature.   Continue reading

  • A Shatner-Mental Journey

    A very long time ago, a little girl sat on a blanket in front of a television in her one bedroom house and was transported to worlds of wonder and discovery every afternoon.  A valiant crew dressed in gold, red and blue traveled in an amazing space craft called the U.S.S. Enterprise, which was led by a very handsome and decisive leader named James T. Kirk.  Little did she realize at the time, but that man, played by actor William Shatner, would be a part of of the rest of her life. Continue reading

  • My Choice of True Science Shows for Sci-Fi Lovers and Why

    So. What kind of science fiction lover are you? Are you an avid old-schooler, content to climb the core branches of the sci-fi family tree: Hard SF, Soft SF, SF/Fantasy? Or do you like clambering along the newer limbs: Apocalyptic, Bio Punk, Superhero, Steampunk, Space Opera?

    No shame in being one or the other, or a combo of several fan bases. I'm a bit of a mix, myself. I grew up in the era of Asimov and Clarke. But I also adore the deep, mythological themes that are mined via Star Trek and Star Wars or the dystopia of The Handmaid's Tale, The Hunger Games, Divergent or The Walking Dead.

    Continue reading

  • Star Trek: Re-Animated

    Every time I read a rumor on the internet about a new "Star Trek" television series in the works, I get all excited.  Since the untimely demise of "Star Trek:  Enterprise" in 2005, the fans have been waiting for another series to fill the void.  "Star Trek" has  been an innovative and thought provoking franchise throughout the years and its episodes have portrayed the human condition in such a way that no other television series ever has or probably ever will.  The overall meaning of "Star Trek"  is hope, hope for humankind and hope for our future, which is lacking so much on television today.    Continue reading

  • Holiday Shopping For The Sci-Fi Fan

    It is that time of year again. Everyone is gearing up to start their holiday shopping.  Songs of the Season are thrust upon our ears whenever we enter a store and every commercial seems to be about buying  jewelry or electronics for our loved ones.  However, most of us cannot run out and get the latest $500.00 piece of tech or a diamond ring.  I am one of many women out there who could care less if my husband went to Jared.  If he is going to remember to buy me anything for Christmas, he knows it should be sci-fi related.  In fact, one of the best gifts he ever got me was a cardboard box he decorated himself filled with a myriad of sci-fi collectibles.  I loved it so much I still have the box!

    Not everyone wants to something from Jared. Not everyone wants something from Jared.

    Continue reading

  • Won-Over Fan Grrl: or Why I'm Not Worried about Star Trek 3's Directorial Leadership

    JJ Abrams and the cast of Star Trek: Into Darkness JJ Abrams and the cast of Star Trek: Into Darkness

    I admit. Back in 2007, I had my doubts when I heard that the iconic Star Trek fable had been entrusted to a director who -by his own admission- was never a fan. I was disappointed and skeptical.

    Not that I didn't love J.J. Abrams' work, both as director and savvy producer. I was a stone cold follower of "Lost." I got a kick out of  "Mission Impossible III" and "MI: Ghost Protocol." Heck, I even loved the critically maligned "Cloverfield." And if you haven't seen the 2008 vid of Abram's TED talk...well, you really, really should. It's a great one.

    Nor was my reaction colored by Abrams' original preference for the "Star Wars" saga. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the two great "Stars" of modern mythology co-exist peacefully and have countless cross-over fans; I, included in the horde.   Continue reading

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