Hey, guys! The Laire is proud to welcome Michael J. Foy, science fiction author. Michael has gladly volunteered to take over the bridge and tell you about his own personal time machine. I could use one! So before you gather your lightsabers for the new Star Wars movie this weekend, sit back, relax, and let Michael take you on a journey to the past, present, and future. I can't promise if any ghosts are involved. See you next week.
Take it away, Michael!
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A few years ago I saw a movie called Hollywoodland. It was the story of the actor George Reeves who played Superman in the television show in the 50s. The story presented the mystery of his death in 1959. Was it suicide, homicide or accidental? The question remains to this day but the movie presented some well envisioned theories.
I was too young to have seen Superman in the fifties but I enjoyed watching the re-runs in the sixties. Engulfed in nostalgia I purchased the first season on DVDs. It occurred that I wasn’t so much interested in seeing the show again as I was in recapturing the wonder I felt at seeing the man of steel on TV for the first time. And guess what, it worked. All of a sudden I was a boy again marveling at the exploits of one of my favorite heroes.
In upstate New York in the mid-sixties, while visiting my aunt and uncle, I played outside with some neighborhood kids. I think it was one of my female cousins who came out to say that Superman was on TV. It was like someone yelled STAT to a doctor in the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital. I let go of the radio flyer I was hauling up an incline and made a mad dash into the house. I believe someone sustained a minor injury from the runaway wagon.
In the mid-eighties I looked forward to the miracle of owning a device that could play any movie I rented or bought on the television. It was called a Video Cassette Recorder or VCR. Truly, civilization had taken a giant leap forward. Now I could relive all the video experiences I wanted. There were several movies that fleshed out my initial library including one called Forbidden Planet. From 1956 it was unlike most Science Fiction films of that era since it made one think. For that reason among others it is still one of my favorites. Like Superman it transported me back. This time I was in my late teens in the seventies when I watched it from a prone position as was my custom from the floor of my parents’ living room. Again, I experienced the awe I felt when seeing this story for the first time.
Perhaps the most powerful time displacement experience I’ve had was with an episode of the original Star Trek that involved a previous Captain of arguably the most famous starship of all time. His name was Christopher Pike and he had a very worthy adventure before Kirk was even thought of as commander of the Enterprise.
Pike was captured by a race of aliens known as the Talosians. Using their innate ability to create illusion they tricked Pike and his landing party into believing they were rescuing an imaginary set of castaways. Luring Pike to the entrance of their underground complex they knocked him out, took him below and deposited him on a bed in a cell that was part of an underground zoo. He woke with a start and flung off a thin metallic fabric blanket. Cave-like walls surrounded him on two sides, while a large, rectangular stone wall made up the back of the cell. Turning around to the front, he looked out onto a corridor whose floor lay about eighteen inches below the level of the chamber he occupied.
Pike stood and felt a transparent barrier that prevented him from leaving the cell. With a quick flair of anger, he hurled himself against the obstruction. It resisted as if it were made of tautly stretched rubber. Only then did he observe that he was just one of many zoo specimens.
Watching this strange scene I was again transported to the first time I’d watched it. Seeing it again brought back memories of the experiment that Pike had to endure at the hands of the Talosians. This is still so powerfully etched in my memory that for therapy I wrote it into the beginning of Ghosts of Forgotten Empires, Volume II. But I indulged in some creative license to have a little fun with it too. ;-)
In summary, I hit upon a method for conjuring up prior memories and feelings. I could be nine, or nineteen or thirteen but by utilizing selective viewing I can inhabit a younger self to relive mystery, fear, triumph or whatever. Roger Ebert once said that movies are an empathy machine. Perhaps, but by selecting past viewing experiences, movies can also help one re-explore earlier states of their own being. Couldn’t that also be described as a personal time machine?
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Michael J. Foy was born to Irish immigrants in upstate New York and lived in London for a year on two different occasions as a child. He graduated Northeastern University in 1979 with an engineering degree. In 1993 he changed careers to become a recruiter servicing the publishing industry. In essence, his literary career has spanned two other careers but has always been his first love.
In 1991 he sold an option for his first novel, False Gods, as a screenplay to Timothy Bogart the nephew of Peter Guber, Producer of Batman. Michael has since published Future Perfect, a Science Fiction novel and local bestseller, and The Kennedy Effect which weaves the story of JFK with parallel reality themes.
He was also an early pioneer in publishing short stories over the internet including the Solar Winds of Change, The Adventure of the Moonstone and A Land to Call Our Own. He lives in Massachusetts where he enjoys kayaking, bicycling and exploring a wide array of literary subjects.