Following the cowardly attack by the Evil Time-Lord on Capt. Buddy’s starship, the USS Delicious, our brave captain escaped by the fur of his teeth and courageously landed his trusty vessel on a mysterious planet in an uncharted star system.
Now our beloved captain must navigate the myriad hidden dangers of a dark, alien jungle as he leads his crew to locate the raw materials they’ll need to repair the USS Delicious and obtain enough reactor fuel to lift the ship into orbit once again.
But not everything is as it seems, and unseen eyes watch our hero from the murky shadows of the alien flora.
To make matters worse, the crew must ration their yums as their supplies of turkey dwindle.
Despite the considerable challenges they face, Capt. Buddy’s loyal cats endeavor to keep their spirits high as they navigate this virgin world bereft of feline scent-marking and tree-clawing. In a rousing speech, Capt. Buddy reminds his cats that all they need to do is spray a few trees and bury some poops to make this alien planet feel like home.
In Chapter 2: Earth Predator In An Alien Jungle, readers will accompany Buddy on a perilous journey that pits cats — Earth’s mightiest creatures — against the unknown horrors of this nameless, mysterious planet.
Will Capt. Buddy save his crew? Will they survive the perils of an unknown world? Will the USS Delicious reach the stars again so Capt. Buddy can replenish his supply of turkey and confront the Evil Time-Lord?
Read Chapter 2 of Buddy In Space: Earth Predator In An Alien Jungle, on newsstands May 1953 for only 5 cents! This title has been approved by the Comics Code Authority!
When I was a kid, my best friend’s dad had a trove of science fiction on VHS tapes, running the gamut from 1950s flying saucer classics to 80s fare like The Last Starfighter, Flight of the Navigator and Explorers, a little-known Disney film that quietly came and went from theaters in 1985.
The Joe Dante-directed movie attained cult status in subsequent years via home video, and it’s easy to see why: Explorers is the stuff kids’ dreams are made of.
The movie follows three boys who dream of a bizarre symbol — a symbol that, when entered into a computer, spawns self-writing code that generates a floating sphere.
The sphere is an an airtight, transparent, inertia-less magnetic bubble. The boys soon realize they can make the sphere move and manipulate its size. More importantly, they can ride in it.
Naturally, they build their own space ship out of junk parts — an old Tilt-A-Whirl ride, a garbage can, a TV screen and washing machine doors for windows — and use the magnetic bubble as its invisible shell.
After their first flight — in which they lose control of their new ship, crash through the snack bar at a drive-in theater and draw the attention of police — the kids refine their invention, discovering a way to reach outer space.
Explorers is Ethan Hawke’s first movie. He plays Ben, the dreamer of the trio, the kid who lays on his roof at night and gazes at the stars, wondering what’s out there.
The late River Phoenix also made his film debut with Explorers and plays Wulfgang, the proud nerd and young scientist who uses his computer to control the ship-in-a-bubble.
And former child actor Jason Presson plays Darren, the kid who comes from a rough existence with an alcoholic dad, and befriends Ben and Wulfgang when he defends them from bullies at school. (This being the 80s, the bullies are very blond, very stupid and very cruel.)
So where does the cat come in? By showing the three kids the potential of their invention, of course.
Wulfgang and the boys first conjure their magnetic sphere into existence in using a computer in Wulfgang’s basement lab, and marvel at it as it hangs in the air, impenetrable and seemingly immobile.
That’s when Wulfgang’s orange tabby does what cats do and flops down on the keyboard, sending random spatial coordinates to the sphere which then zig-zags throughout the basement. As the sphere tears holes in old junk, punctures a window and comes to rest a few feet away, the boys realize it can not only move, it can be guided.
Every boy dreams of exploring space at some point, and Explorers is that dream realized through a child’s eyes. Three kids from the suburbs build a ship that can reach outer space, offering answers to the tantalizing questions about what’s out there.
We’re not the only ones with fond memories of the movie. A Hollywood script-writing duo which includes the director of True Detective has been working on an updated version that would play out as a live-action TV series. Here’s to hoping if their project gets the greenlight, the cat stays in.
One of the most anticipated new characters in Star Trek: Discovery’s third season made her debut this week, continuing a proud tradition of felines in the Federation.
Grudge the Cat is a Maine Coon and the beloved pet of new character Booker Cleveland, played by David Ajala. (Ajala should be familiar to science fiction fans of his roles as Captain Roy Eris from Nightflyers and Drifter from Kill Command.)
Ajala’s Booker plants a kiss on Grudge’s head as the floofy feline hangs out on the bridge of his starship. Later, when a mercenary courier tries forcing Booker to reveal the location of priceless cargo and Booker refuses, the mercenary threatens Grudge.
“She is a Queen!” Booker says indignantly, clearly more upset at the threat to his cat than to his own personal safety.
Grudge is played by Leeu, a male Maine Coon who was chosen after the producers put out a call for a large domestic cat.
The floofy tabby follows in the paw steps of Spot, Commander Data’s beloved orange tabby on Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as the show’s most prominent species of felid aliens, the Caitians.
Now we just need to get Buddy his own guest spot on Star Trek — preferably as the captain of his own ship.
In what I hope will become a semi-regular feature, we’ll recommend a book or short story prominently featuring cats, then follow it up with a discussion post.
The Game of Rat and Dragon is a good pick to start us off easy: Humans turn to cats to help them overcome a cosmic threat in this classic science fiction tale. It’s a short story and the entire text is available online from Project Gutenberg.
Casual readers shouldn’t have any trouble following along even if they’re not familiar with the SF genre.
Click here to read The Game of Rat and Dragon by Cordwainer Smith, one of the most imaginative and influential SF scribes of the 1950s.
The story was originally published in Galaxy Science Fiction in October of 1955 and has been featured in countless SF collections and digest in the decades since.
We’ll follow up with a discussion post in a week or so. Happy reading!
They’ve been mousers on interstellar starships, companions on long-haul freighters and — like Speaker to Animals, the Kzin from Larry Niven’s classic science fiction novel Ringworld — warriors of galactic repute leading dangerous expeditions to alien worlds.
Star Trek is no different.
Mention the topic of cats to any Trekkie and the first thing that probably comes to mind is Spot, the orange tabby cat who belonged to Commander Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Spot was a mainstay on the Enterprise-D, earning the respect of the Klingon Commander Worf and serving as Data’s muse for a hilarious poem in the cat’s honor, “Ode to Spot.”
One of the highlights of Star Trek: The Next Generation is watching the gruff Klingon learn that, unlike dogs, cats don’t give a damn about commands.
But cats play a much bigger role in the wider Star Trek universe than even many Trekkies realize.
As fans of Star Trek know, the Federation is an alliance of peaceful worlds and races committed to exploration of the galaxy, friendship with new species and non-interference with developing civilizations.
What many may not realize, however, is just how many species are involved in the Federation. Some, like the Bajorans, Andorians and Betazoids, are seen pretty frequently in Trek shows and movies, but others have made only a few on-screen appearances.
Among the latter are the Caitians, described in Memory Alpha (the wiki of canon for Star trek) as “a warp-capable species resembling felines.”
Their home planet is known as Cait to other races, and Ferasa to the Caitians themselves, and is located within the Lynx constellation. They made their first live-action appearance in 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home:
Because of its origins as a network television show, budget has always been a major factor in the way aliens are depicted in Star Trek.
The show’s writers have come up with an elaborate back story for why so many alien species are humanoid, closely representing humankind, but the minor differences of most species — the ridged foreheads of Klingons and elfin ears of Vulcans — are for the most part remnants from the days when production crews had little money or time to create elaborate props and effects.
It’s also the reason why the Klingons, for example, were radically redesigned in the 2009 Star Trek reboot, with its lavish budget and SFX.
With a species like the Caitians, however, you either go all-in or not-at-all. That’s why the species has made only three appearances in Trek films to date, and why most of their exploits have been reserved for Trek novels and comics.
But the internet loves cats, and Star Trek Online, the massively multiplayer online game set in the Trek universe, saw enormous positive feedback when it added Caitians as a playable species back in 2011.
Here’s my very own Caitian starfleet captain from the game:
According to Star Trek lore, the Caitians share distant ancestry with the Kzin, the aforementioned war-like race of feline aliens from Niven’s Ringworld books.
That’s because Niven himself had a run as a writer for Trek comic books in the 1980s, and wrote his own creation into the wider Star Trek universe.
Just like cats have a range of personalities, and breeds have their own unique characteristics — the gentle giant Maine Coons, the talkative Siamese — the felines of Star Trek have different lineages and dispositions.
While the Caitians are peaceful and staunch allies of humans and the Federation, the Kzinti are a bunch of war-loving lunatics who find great joy in blowing things up.
Maybe, just maybe, a handful of you non-Trekkies have made it this far. Maybe your love of cats kept you interested in this story, and you’re thinking to yourself, “I wonder what Star Trek is all about…”
In the spirit of the Federation, I leave you this parting gift. During these dark days of quarantine, should you browse Netflix and find yourself tempted by Star Trek: The Next Generation, here’s a guide to the entire cast that imagines each of them as cats. And not just any cats: Each kitty resembles its Enterprise crew counterpart.
Live long, my friends, and prosper!
(Star Trek Cats by artist Jenny Parks. Check out more at her site!)
Chronicling the adventures of Buddy the Cat and his various criminal enterprises.