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Brad Linaweaver

November 2009     Web Edition     Issue #3

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© 2018 by Brad Linaweaver

A Man for All Reasons

A Personal Tribute to

Richard Hatch

by Brad Linaweaver

“I’m not a human being but an artificial cyber-morph. My companions and I were created to defend America from dictatorship. It took time. I dreamed the meaning of America. It is a state of mind. I’d like to know what it feels like to bleed.”

— Richard Hatch as the Silicon Assassin in the series episode “Window of Opportunity”

Richard Hatch as the SILICON ASSASSIN

Reason 1: The Friendship

Remember the always unsolicited advice never to discuss politics or religion with friends? The timid suggestion is twin to another cliché: Never do business with friends. The downside is painfully obvious. Your only option is to discuss interesting topics with enemies, or possibly unsympathetic strangers.

I’ve spent my life ignoring good advice. Not all clichés are bad, however. Life is too short. Not bad. A science fiction writer might add that life is too long to heed the voices of strategic cowardice.

Every true friendship of my sixty-five years on this planet has been built on the open exchange of ideas. If there is such a thing as destiny (the title of a Battlestar Galactica novel) it was inevitable that Richard Hatch and I would meet. We started off from such different places but ended up on the same published page.

Our collaborations led to friendship; and the friendship led to more collaborations. No topic was off limits. He was some kind of left and I was some kind of right. We sometimes forgot which side we were supposed to be taking. We had no use for know-it-alls because they never answered our questions. We learned from each other.

Richard Hatch and I never gave a frak about avoiding controversy, so long as we observed one rule. Entertain first! Then you can lecture and hector and cajole and persuade all you want. The price you pay for others to listen is entertainment.

(Parenthetically, any reader who thinks “frak” is a typo has received an invitation to discover Battlestar Galactica.)

The old Hollywood moguls were disingenuous about only sending messages through Western Union. These are the guys who whipped up patriotic Propaganda Storms, but sold the customers life jackets with built in popcorn dispensers. You can learn a lot from “pure entertainment.”

Richard Lawrence Hatch was born during World War II, May 21st, 1945. That was not a good year for the Axis powers. The Third Reich had already fallen but Imperial Japan fought on until an atomic sun set on their shores. Hatch was a WW2 baby.

I was born on September 1st, 1952, a Cold War baby. It was a nervous world hoping there might be a silver lining around the next mushroom cloud. The anger of WW2 gave way to eternal fear.

In the 1980s, when I sold the alternate history novella, and later the novel, of Moon of Ice about a nuclear haunted Cold War between the USA and Nazi Europe, my father pointed out that Hitler invaded Poland on my birthday, Sept. 1st, 1939.

For those who find these slight coincidences interesting, we arrive at the first public collaboration between Richard and myself. The date was Sept. 1st, 2003 at a DRAGON CON. What officially brought us together had nothing to do with an epic quest to find the Earth, as imagined in the universe created by Glen Larson. Hatch and I were celebrating an epic quest to leave the Earth, as imagined in the universe of Gene Roddenberry.

Martina Pilcerova's poster art for SILICON ASSASSIN.

We were co-hosting Trek Trak, an auction on behalf of Star Trek fandom arranged by Eric L. Watts. Little did Richard (future star of Prelude to Axanar) or I guess how briefly orbiting Federation Headquarters foreshadowed many collaborations in the future. It would only end when my friend and colleague died of pancreatic cancer on February 7, 2017.

A year has passed. A year and handful of months. Years. Days. Hours. I’ve waited a long time to add my voice to the tributes for Richard Hatch. Except for a brief farewell here at Mondo Cult promising this memorial memoir, I couldn’t write a word. As a Senior Citizen myself now, I’ve lost too many people near and dear to me over the years. Thought my soul had hardened to the depredations of the Grim Reaper, but I was wrong. A world without Richard Hatch is simply unthinkable.

It was one thing for Richard to trust me with information about his medical condition, and then ask me not to share it. When he stopped fantasizing about possible cures his imagination took a darker turn. He wished for the disintegration of the perfect sci-fi weapon, or failing that simply walking into the unprotected rotating blades of wind machines he knew so well from movie sets. Instant oblivion.

Belonging to the secretive fraternity of friends and allies mitigated the grim news only to the extent that Richard could talk to someone. We were working on the first, and unfinished, Magellan novel, tied into a complicated multi-media universe that would belong to him. Such a large project meant a universe of delays. Suddenly I realized why it was so important that he wanted Akillian, his last great role, to be effectively immortal. Of course.

Hope dies first, but heroic dreams never die. There was a welcome flood of obits. He was not only remembered but genuinely missed. They rightly focused on his career as an actor — a star who enriched the science fiction genre. He was honored as one of the nicest guys on the convention celebrity circuit. A few diligent reporters brought up his teaching of young actors, showing how versatility arises from a lifetime of experiences.

Reason 2: The Writing

One problem. None of these writers mentioned that Richard Hatch was also a writer. Such is my testimony. I was uniquely qualified to recognize a fellow scrivener when embarking on a collaboration. As someone who co-wrote four Doom novels with Dafydd ab Hugh, the alternate history novel, Anarquía with J. Kent Hastings, and developed a novel out of the pilot script Tracy Tormé wrote for the Sliders television series, I know from these dedicated people the signs of another dedicated person. Richard deeply cared about his books. I was honored to co-write three of them.

Richard Hatch wore all the hats in the business. When he agreed to star in a web series as a favor to me, neither of us had an inkling of how much would come of it; or how many of his talented colleagues would participate. He agreed to direct the first episode.

After he died, People Magazine Online listed Silicon Assassin among his notable credits. He would have liked that.

But it all began with Battlestar Galactica. Nobody ever summed up Richard’s special relationship to that series better than Jim Frye in the memorial section of the 2017 Souvenir Program Book for the SAN DIEGO COMIC CON:

“For Richard — as it was for Apollo — BATTLESTAR was a mission. A cause. A life. Who will carry the banner now? Maybe no one. Maybe everyone. Because although Richard was perhaps our loudest cheerleader, he always reminded us that BATTLESTAR belonged to all of us — not the studios, not the TV networks. It belonged to those of us who loved it. Who love it.”

I only partly understood the special quality Richard had with the series when first entering his apartment in Studio City in 2003. That was some year. The first meeting led to the novel Paradis, in his ongoing series published by ibooks, licensed by Universal and distributed by Simon and Schuster.

This opportunity was provided by the grandfather of DRAGON CON, hence the Trek auction invitation. The one and only Edward E. Kramer opened the door for me. He’d bought a number of short stories from me for a wide range of anthologies. That led to our co-editing a major libertarian science fiction anthology for David Hartwell at Tor Books, Free Space. Ed thought I could bring more to Richard’s novels than his previous collaborators.

Would Paradis lead to more books in the series? Spoiler alert: it led to Destiny and Redemption. There would have been a fourth novel except Universal pulled the plug when BG returned as a hit cable series. Richard returned to the series as a new character, Tom Zarek. But we kept hoping he’d eventually be allowed to continue with his own books, exploring and expanding his view of Apollo. Alas, it was not to be.

With various credits dancing in my head, I walked into Richard’s apartment eager to work on what would be the fifth novel in his own series. What could I expect from Captain Apollo (promoted to Commander Apollo in the blink of a Cylon’s eye)? The previous books didn’t seem the right place to begin. There was no point in pretending I wasn’t a fan of this always working actor. His universe was even bigger than Glen Larson’s.

In the course of these visits, I met his son, Paul. Met an old girlfriend, too. But he always carved out enough time for us to be alone so we could work.

That first meeting was key. Easy enough to bring up his role as Inspector Dan Robbins in The Streets of San Francisco and what it was like acting with Karl Malden. It might have been appropriate to single out his dramatic turn on The Waltons. But none of that was in my heart.

I wasted no time going to a movie he would rather forget, the 1984 cheese soufflé, Prisoners of the Lost Universe. He had to carry that movie on his broad shoulders, and deliver the best line in the script with real feeling: “Run like hell!”

Before you could say the Council of Twelve, we were on to other cinematic milestones — such as his performance as Lee-Chan, Jr., in Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen. They don’t make ‘em like that any more. For some reason Richard preferred his TV work to his films.

We broke so much ice that we had enough to make drinks. Then he brought out his Outline. Dear God. Let me tell you about Richard and his outlines. They were epic. No further proof was required about how seriously he took the novels.

Other writers were surprised when I defended Richard’s commitment to the printed word. They may have been thinking of a certain Starship Captain whose idea of collaboration on a book consisted of what might best be described as a Suggestion Box. He was reputed to occasionally read his novels.

Richard Hatch is the complete opposite, a hands-on participant. Inspired by the early, epic installments of the show that made him a star he pretty much ignored the lesser stories which lost the Sense of Wonder. He was good at constructing elaborate plots. A natural gamer, his gifts would have been fully at play in Magellan.

In the meantime, his talents as actor and writer were always honed in Glen Larson’s universe. It was obvious how to benefit his cause. I could go deeper into the characters with him. The dialogue could be enriched. Where the plots might occasionally repeat overly used elements I’d suggest side trips to stranger real estate.

His plots. My narrative flow. It was so sane that it might work. However much extra time he could steal from the grinding clockwork deadlines of ibooks, we used right up to the last second. I promised him never to turn a chunk of his beloved Master Outline into a quick first draft for no other reason than to cash a check. He wasn’t used to that. Long before working with Richard, I’d already decided Media tie-in novels should actually be novels. It was simple.

Our method did more than produce commercial product. The way we worked led to a friendship that ended too soon. We’d meet and go over each chapter. Fix this, question that. One chapter perfect, another requiring a return to the drawing board.

Most of Paradis takes place on a planet where our intrepid heroes are temporarily marooned. The next two novels would return to the space-ways. Since my first involvement with a BG novel was off the beaten track there were opportunities for experimentation. I asked if I could add a chapter with a giant monster. What’s the point of being on another planet if there isn’t a giant monster?

Richard humored me. Why not? He could always politely decline to include my gargantuan contribution if it didn’t succeed. Fully aware of the stakes, I put a lot of effort into that chapter. The result was that Richard liked it. My monster made the final cut.

We’d already had a meeting of minds on something more important. An adult approach to sex was part of the appeal of the original movie quality episodes. John Dykstra’s special effects competed with beautiful women for maximum exposure. Richard’s novels pushed the envelope. I wanted to open the envelope.

The heroes and heroines spend as much time wrestling with furious passions as with each other, never mind the Cylons. Although the series had been mocked from the beginning as insufficiently serious, the true fans knew it got the sex right. That always counts for something in science fiction.

Supremely competent people who are also brave, if not actually reckless, consider sex to be a reward. Richard had no use for the new Puritanism, the politically bereft. He laughed when I said it was OK to objectify my giant monster.

Another thing that came out of the first of our novels influenced everything to follow. I thought more detail was always good for science fiction. Here is an example of how to transform a brief piece of outline into a passage from Paradis:

They came down to the planet, arriving in groups large and small. Some came alone. Viewed from the outside, the human migration seemed chaotic. But there was order.

The dismantling of the larger ships in orbit began. Heat shields and mini-thrusters were used to get these pieces to the surface of Paradis. In some cases, space vessels were combined instead of dismantled. One engine could carry the remnants of what had once been proud vessels before they were transformed into surrealistic constructions drifting in space.

The Colonials originated on many different worlds, with diverse cultures, and they differed in their traditions for the disposition of the dead. And many died in all the yahren of their long exodus.

Not all had been given burial in space. Some had bequeathed their remains to the medical staff, a melancholy task headed up by Dr. Wilker. Some had been cremated and the ashes kept. Now these loved ones would be given burial in the earth of the new world, as the body of Cain had been laid to rest.

[© 2003 Universal Studios Publishing Rights]

Paradis did the trick. The Colonials and Galacticans survived their time on a planet that would soon be destroyed. Returning to the cold embrace of the empty void, and the searching red eyes of the Cylons, included a passage for Richard’s co-author. It was an invitation to find my Destiny.

Had the impression that this novel was not only the most popular of the three novels we did, but possibly the most popular of all the Hatch novels. There’s a good reason for this. It’s all about the bad guy, who sets the tone in the prologue:

Baltar prided himself on having faith in nothing. That was why he didn’t expect much good to come of the seemingly idyllic planet they called Paradis. Baltar was a hard man to disappoint . . . .

There was much to say in favor of dust.

[© 2004 Universal Studios Publishing Rights]

In common with every other great villain Baltar seems to have gotten his hands on the Outline of the story in which he is irredeemably stuck. Think of Satan poring over the enigmatic text of The Book of Revelation as an editor would. “God damned first draft,” the Devil would mumble over his smoking cocktail.

Richard happily informed me that no one did Baltar as well as yours truly. He expanded on this point. By no one, he included every writer on the original TV series. He said he’d never seen anyone get inside the head of the series’ human villain the way I comfortably took up residence in a malignant mind.

Maybe it was because of passages like this from Chapter Two:

Baltar prided himself on being an attentive listener, even if the droning lecture was the product of his own fevered imagination . . . .

He settled for spitting out: “One monster’s morality is a free man’s bad joke.”

“What would you know about that?” asked Lucifer, rising up from a transparent floor.

[© 2004 Universal Studios Publishing Rights]

Light hearted family entertainment.

In another scene, I portray the confusion of Imperious Leader attempting to fathom the motives of the human traitor, Baltar. The Cylons are collectivistic evil. Baltar is individualistic evil, the counterpart to Apollo’s individualistic good. Exceptional humans of either kind are a mystery to Imperious Leader (who is therefore qualified to have a career in education).

Richard and I were fans of Joseph Campbell. He naturally gravitated to the Hero with a Thousand Faces. I inclined to the Villain with a Thousand Faces. Cylons understand empires, but not Baltar’s desire for an Empire of One.

The cover art on Destiny (by Bob Larkin) captures the essence of the book — and unbeknownst to the artist, certain aspects of the collaboration. After so many stories over the years here, at last, was a true meeting of minds between Apollo and Baltar.

The mind-meld offered unexpected benefits. Given that Richard and I had somewhat different ideologies (without being humorless ideologues ourselves) the melodramatic confrontations in the story allowed us to navigate treacherous currents. In other words, friends can discuss politics and religion in a productive way.

(So long as they stay off the internet and avoid Virtue Signaling to the Storm Troopers on their side. Storm Troopers are on every side.)

When Universal relaunched, rebooted and reimagined Battlestar Galactica, Richard and I thought it possible the new writers of the show might have read his books. If so, they might have been influenced by our take on Baltar.

Before leaving Destiny behind, here’s a nice bit from Chapter 14. Baltar is in the middle of a conversation with Apollo, and says:

“To sleep without any possibility of dreams . . . that is my last hope. The long sleep. How wonderful that in making a choice to do nothing I achieve so much for my fellow man.”

Apollo stood up and felt the weight of a galaxy between his shoulder blades. “We don’t have to decide everything today.”

“That’s true.” Baltar reached out and shook Apollo’s hand. He gave the simple action a greater dignity than if it had been a salute.

[© 2004 Universal Studios Publishing Rights]

The third novel was the most personal exploration of Apollo. Questions were raised in Redemption never answered because Richard’s novels ended here. We had planned a fourth novel. After all, the questions spoke to the core of Richard’s real life. The title of this novel was a goal for everywhere to pursue. He and I would carry them into his epic, but unfinished, plans for Magellan.

A lot happens in Redemption. Baltar surprises everyone with an heroic act. He sacrifices his life, if not for the other humans at least it’s against the Cylons.

Not to be outdone, Apollo is willing to give up his life, as well. Anything and everything must be attempted. The Cylon Armada has found them.

Imperious Leader’s study of humanity bears poison fruit:

The human mind was full of jagged concepts and brittle dreams in a constant state of flux. When they rubbed against each other they produced sparks that created emotions. The strongest of these were love and hate, pleasure and pain. Imperious Leader was most interested in pain because it produced both laughter and tears.

[© 2005 Universal Studios Publishing Rights]

Apollo is pushed to the limits of his endurance. He allows himself to contract a terrible disease from Sheba when attending her. No greater love than this. I had no idea when writing in this section what awaited Richard in the future. It’s difficult to read now.

In the course of the series, Apollo wore as many hats as Richard did in the course of a life as interesting as any fiction. The human leader’s bond with his fellow warriors — Starbuck and the rest — can never be broken. Apollo’s duty is to keep the faith even as he takes on more responsibilities.

In Chapter Ten, one of the most accomplished intellects in the fleet finally understands:

As they spoke, the biologist developed a new respect for his leader. Gradually, it dawned on Aardema that while Apollo had been handling the strategy and tactics of a military campaign, the same mind was thinking like a scientist in terms of the benefits and risks of what victory would provide. Now, Apollo was checking off what would stay aboard the base star and what would be transferred to the ark. Off the top of his head, the biologist thought the categories made a lot of sense. How long had Apollo been pondering the criteria by which to make such informed decisions?

[© 2005 Universal Studios Publishing Rights]

The cliffhangers have cliffhangers at the end of Redemption. Good thing a mysterious space ark shows up on the event horizon (as referenced in the just quoted paragraph). To be continued forever.

Interrupting the storyline didn’t end my association with Battlestar Galactica. My world was already expanding as Richard’s writing partner. We did panels at Media Cons. I’ll never forget the three he got me on at the San Diego Comic Con. He was back in the spotlight as Tom Zarek, going up against a younger actor playing Apollo. No way was a media tie-in novel writer going to be on an A-list panel about a major new television series. Except Richard insisted.

Didn’t want to let him down! Needed to entertain. Yeah, entertain. When it was my turn, I said that everyone in that big room should be happy about the resurrection of a classic retro science fiction series, better than ever with cutting edge talent. Everyone on the panel liked hearing that. A beat. Then I announced in a loud, clear voice: “Doctor Who.”

The audience howled its approval. Slowly I turned . . . to check out the other panelists. At least Richard was laughing. (One of the best things about those panels was meeting Bear McCreary, composer of the splendid music for the new show.)

Along with appearances at DRAGON CON and the SAN DIEGO COMIC CON, Richard invited me early on to attend an unforgettable event: GALACTICON, celebrating the 25th anniversary. Held October 24 - 26, 2003 at the Sheraton Universal in LA, it coincided with California wild fires. The risk was sufficient to delay outgoing flights from LAX. The celebrity laden event was a goldmine for the fans in attendance.

Many celebs were from the early, expensive days of Battlestar. The fires kept some of these notables (no names here) from leaving the event prematurely. The recently published Paradis was in my hot little hands, so I got as many autographs as possible.

Richard introduced me to Britt Ekland. Readers of Mondo Cult won’t be surprised that I asked her about The Wicker Man (which happened a lot) and her Amicus films (not so common). She told me the scariest film she was ever in was the Michael Caine crime film, Get Carter. We even discussed if her famous marriages were scarier than her horror films. She was my favorite celeb at that convention.

Thanks, Richard!

Doing a panel with him at the event set the tone for future appearances. We kept giving each other credit for our respective contributions to Paradis. The fans ate it up. This was also the event where I developed an eternal affection for BG fans. One pointed out the copy editing and proofreading on Paradis was terrible. He was absolutely right. But none of the fans assumed it to be our fault. Not one.

ibooks never let Richard see the galleys before publication. He didn’t keep that a secret from his fans. Some might say it’s unprofessional to share the truth with fans. Richard wasn’t that kind of pro. I took the opportunity to hope that ibooks would do better on our future books. It wouldn’t be hard.

GALACTICON was a joy. I truly earned my Commander badge.

In 2006, Ben Bella Books released So Say We All: An Unauthorized Collection of Thoughts and Opinions on Battlestar Galactica, edited by Richard Hatch.

His introduction to my contribution read: “Brad charts an even and steady course between the two Battlestars, the classic and the re-imagined version, and he does it with grace, style and his own inimitable wit. It’s obvious that Brad loves and values both the classic and re-imagined versions of Battlestar and is not afraid to say it.”

But what I valued even more was Richard himself. By this point we realized we could work together on anything. He invited me to be a writer in his Magellan universe. The miracle was that he also agreed to work on projects of mine.

Reason 3: The Acting

At this point, there is another member in our cast of players. Enter Chuck Hammill, Stage Right. A libertarian comrade of long standing, he and his father owned an apartment complex right off the 10, on the outskirts of Culver City. Charles P. Hammill, his Dad, lived in a showcase townhouse apartment that was a delight to behold.

Hatch performing in the ARTC production
of A.E. van Vogt's “Weapons Shop”.
Live on stage at DRAGON CON.

Chuck liked my science fiction and horror fiction, especially when there was a libertarian theme. He was even more fond of twists and turns in my weirdest stories. Best of all, he admired Robert Anton Wilson. When reading Quantum Psychology, he came across a chapter in which RAW wrote that my novel Moon of Ice, gave him a new Reality Tunnel. Chuck couldn’t imagine higher praise.

Chuck liked the novels I was doing with Richard, even though he wasn’t all that much of a BG fan. We talked about science fiction at the drop of a light saber. His two favorite works of fiction were Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, and A.E. van Vogt’s “The Weapon Shop.” The latter was a classic science fiction story, first published in John W. Campbell, Jr.’s Astounding, polished for anthology appearances as “The Weapons Shop,” expanded into the novel, The Weapon Shops of Isher, and ultimately leading to another novel, The Weapon Makers.

The idea of the Isher stories never changed: “The right to buy weapons is the right to be free.”

Chuck Hammill loved capitalism, computer privacy and gun rights. In common with many libertarians he was willing to promote capitalism without making any money off it. It’s complicated. (Wasn’t that the title of a Denise Richards reality show?)

Enter another libertarian comrade, J. Kent Hastings, Stage Left. In the middle of doing the novels with Richard, I also collaborated with Kent on an alternate history novel published in 2004, Anarquía. Kent and I wrote Chuck Hammill in as a character under his own name. He instructs anarchists in the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s about how they can manufacture their own weapons, thus maintaining personal freedom while fighting Nazis and Communists at the same time.

When Chuck found out I was a friend of Lydia van Vogt, widow of Science Fiction Grandmaster Alfred Elton van Vogt, the wheels in his head started turning so fast they could provide power to a radio station. Radio? Audio? That reminds me of something .

Chuck liked adaptations of Robert A. Heinlein stories as audio dramas recorded by ARTC, the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company. He was especially fond of “The Man Who Traveled in Elephants,” which I adapted for a production starring Harlan Ellison and introduced by Ray Bradbury which was performed live at DRAGON CON; and later recorded in studio. My old pal William Alan Ritch, produced and directed.

Chuck wondered if he could co-produce “The Weapons Shop” with ARTC. I’d persuade Lydia to let me write the script, then persuade Bill Ritch to produce and direct — and finally persuade Richard Hatch to be the celebrity star. There was a lot of persuading going on. The truth is the idea was so good it sold itself. So that’s how Richard and I embarked on a brand new science fiction project. In 2005, Lydia van Vogt, Chuck Hammill and I stood on stage at DRAGON CON in Atlanta, GA, introducing the project and thanking Ed Kramer as well. Lydia received an award and gave a gracious speech. Richard had a great time working with the ARTC cast. He always had fun at DRAGON CON.

Writing the script was something of a challenge. I wanted to retain the power of the classic tale while modernizing it just enough for current audiences. It was a tight rope act. No way would I turn in a sloppy, careless sketch.

Back in LA, when mentioning Richard’s satisfaction about “The Weapons Shop,” I heard the wheels in Chuck’s head spinning so fast as to suggest a perpetual motion machine. For many years Chuck had wanted to see a character in film or TV or the web whom he dubbed The Silicon Assassin. He’d come up with a good initial idea. He wanted me to write it, as a first step. Oh yeah, and make a film or web series.

Lydia van Vogt, accepting her award at DRAGON CON

Since I’m as superstitious as the next writer, sometimes the idea of destiny (with or without a book accessory) is not entirely frivolous. Free will will prevail in the end. Hopefully. There were signs and portents in my past I couldn’t ignore.

My first professional science fiction story sale was, “The Competitor,” in the July, 1980 Fantastic. The late, great Jerry Pournelle liked it enough that he was going to reprint it in an anthology which unfortunately didn’t come off. The title of the book would have been Silicon Brains.

Nearly two decades later in 1999, the legendary Jack Williamson personally invited me to blurb his new novel, The Silicon Dagger. As I said, portents and signs. After years in low budget Hollywood, I’d also made a close study of silicone. It was meant to be!!!

Chuck imagined freedom fighters who are artificial beings in cyberspace who travel through the Internet. They can pop out of everything from laptops to cell phones, taking three dimensional physical form in our world. They were invented by a mad scientist (sane scientist?) to destroy dictatorship. As a nod to Atlas Shrugged, I wanted to call the scientist Professor Rand.

Such was the core of the idea. All I had to do was come up with other characters, storylines, dialogue, action and the inevitable kitchen sink.

Chuck would put up the money if I could persuade Richard Hatch to be the star. There’s that word again. (Wasn’t there a TV series called The Persuaders?)

Although he suffered from several medical problems, Chuck and I always found time to discuss the basic idea of the project. The Silicon Assassin entities could appear as anything they chose. However, with personalities and a modicum of free will, they’d establish recurring identities. They wouldn’t really need ray guns because they could project energy from any part of their “bodies.” They chose to have ray guns simply because Chuck and I liked ray guns.

(I’m certain Chuck would have loved the line I gave Richard in “The Medusa Meeting” episode. The Silicon Assassin mocks his enemies when he says, “You fools bring guns to a ray gun fight!”)

At this point, we must address the topic of science fiction. Once on a panel with the physicist and author Gregory Benford, it wasn’t surprising to hear him say that he wrote hard science fiction. He knew his science. Then the microphone was passed to me.

“I write easy science fiction.”

Benford and the audience enjoyed the honesty of my admission. A typical writer of commercial sci-fi should always be in touch with people who know some stuff. So it came to pass that J. Kent Hastings (Mondo Cult’s own Doc Technical) helped me with a line of essential dialogue Richard Hatch would never forget.

This is what Richard said about it in an article in Mondo Cult 3. The first episode was in the can (more or less). Quoting from the pilot episode script, our hero explains what he is:

“I am the Silicon Assassin . . . We are self-aware clouds made up of microscopic computerized foglets able to configure sensors and manipulate matter using a network of smart dust particles.”

Richard had choice words of his own. “Those were the most challenging lines I’ve ever had to read in my life. The writer must hate me. (laughs) He’s getting back at me for years of collaboration.”.

Chuck Hammill at the Ackermansion

I needed Kent’s invaluable assistance to pull off that kind of revenge. As for his special credit on every episode as Agorist Advisor, people sometimes ask, “What the hell does that mean?” Allow me to quote the Daleks from the Doctor Who parody, “The Curse of Fatal Death.”

“We will explain later.”

Meanwhile, in the world where Chuck Hammill died in December of 2006, he left a will. There was a bequest regarding Silicon Assassin that blew my mind right through the Twilight Zone into the Outer Limits.

Allow me to explain it here as I explained it to Richard at the time. Chuck created a situation where I had X number of years to create, write, hire, fire and do whatever else necessary to make Silicon Assassin a real show. If I failed, the money would go to a charity. I wasn’t about to let that happen. What would Ayn Rand say?

After his son died, Charles became as motivated as I was to proceed on the project. Once Richard Hatch agreed to take the starring role there was no turning back.

Chuck was an unusual person, even for a libertarian. Here came the part that fascinated Richard, while leaving my mind adrift in a place unreachable by LSD. Chuck arranged the bequest so that the Attorney General’s Office of California would see to it that I completed the project, to some extent or other, if monies earmarked for the production were not to go elsewhere. But that wasn’t the interesting part.

The state government of California was going to be the keeper of the tablets, so to speak. The government would therefore make sure I did an anti-government science fiction epic about overthrowing the government!!!!

Richard and I appreciated the novelty of the situation. Fortunately, we had a good sport in the Attorney General’s Office. Always helped to have someone of Richard’s stature involved.

Richard Hatch was perfect for the title character of the Silicon Assassin. He is the guiding light for the other cyber-morphs. He combined the strength and bearing of a leading man with the unpredictability and quirks of an intuitive character actor. His agreement to be in the show was the necessary first step.

Paula LaBaredas was the next performer to commit as one of the Silicon Assassin female characters. She’d be the perky one, the aptly named Bubbleblonde Girl. Now I had two.

Vicki Marie Taylor was next to commit as Lady Twilight, the sarcastic brunette. Richard had two female characters as series regulars. Now I had three.

The fourth performer to come on board was another actress, someone I’d known for a very long time. Brinke Stevens would be ideal for the villain of the piece. President Medusa was a paradoxical figure, combining the worst of left and right in one very tightly wrapped package. Now I had four.

The most controversial decision I made at the start was to go for radically different styles between the episodes. Chuck was a Discordian. He would have liked it. It was probably not the best choice for building an audience.

L-R: Paula LaBaredas, Vicki Marie Taylor, Richard Hatch, Brad Linaweaver and Brinke Stevens

The choice did have a practical side. The bequest provided quite a number of years to achieve the goal. I’d be bringing in a host of talented people to take time out of their professional schedules; to do these shows on the side, as it were. The long schedule allowed by the will made it easier to find windows of opportunity. The truth is it took about half a decade to set up everything, and then the production of segments was spread out over the last two years.

“Silicon Assassin: Problem Child,” the first script, was in some ways the most difficult to do. Charles generously made his townhouse apartment available. He also agreed to play the role of the father of Professor Rand, who created the Silicon Assassin and company. Chuck actually appears in the first episode as a portrait painted by L. J. Dopp, who also made the ray guns for the series.

The problem with “Problem Child” is that it’s very talky, an attempt at being the most comic episode (which is not the best way to begin), has the most limited space in which to work, along with inadequate rehearsal time and a shooting schedule that was too tight. There was only one thing to do.

I asked Richard Hatch if he’d direct it.

Instead of blasting me with one of Dopp’s ray guns, he agreed. Amazing! Given the circumstances he acquitted himself admirably. Edward L. Plumb (who would direct a later episode) handled the production chores. His young daughter Victoria Plumb, played Deadly Tween the craziest of the Silicon Assassin characters.

We got away with stuff on the first episode that would have caused problems in a more serious segment. We did some silly bits. When science fiction author John DeChancie shows up at the front door, selling copies of Mondo Cult 2, he is promptly disintegrated by Deadly Tween. It’s a nice special effect, but her motives are pure nuts and the Silicon Assassin must dispose of her.

Painting by L.J. Dopp

Highlights include Paula dancing for Charles, Vicki making sarcastic comments about that, the girls getting frisky with each other, Richard leading the girls in a dance, speeches and drinks at the bar.

Even Martina Pilcerova’s poster art for Silicon Assassin makes a cameo appearance at the bar!

It’s sort of a party tape. I was present off camera the entire time in case cast members felt like stringing me up. To the extent it sort of works, all credit is due to Richard who is very much an actor’s director. He also achieves fluid camera movements inside the limited space, although he had a second bite at the apple with pick-up shots. More on that later.

The Attorney General’s Office might have been satisfied with just this, and a bit of creative accounting on my part. It had taken years to get this far. But I was now obsessed. I’d spend every penny in the bequest, and then dip into my own money if necessary. I’d work right up to the deadline month in 2013. I’d only made a dent in the resources so far. Now it was time to spend.

Richard took me aside. Was my number up? He only wanted to know what sort of script I had in mind for the next one, and please not to ask him for more directorial chores. He hinted (without telegraphing it) that maybe I should do a serious script for the next one. Maybe it’s a cliché to say it, but relief flooded his face when I said I’d already started a dramatic one and lined up a professional director. A serious shoot put him in a good humor.

“Silicon Assassin: The Wall” was the opposite of the first one in every way. Christopher Douglas-Olen Ray would direct. He’d be working with Gerald Webb on these shows. They made quite a team, and would go on to do the horror film, A House is Not a Home, on which I’d be an executive producer. A lot of good stuff would be coming over that wall.

With a number of well made films for Asylum already under Chris’ belt, the prospect of a dramatic second episode encouraged Richard. Basically, Apollo liked the script. He found it to be tight and economical.

Richard and Brad with Martina Pilcerova's completed poster.

Richard was a silent presence in this one. The Silicon Assassin enters a very dark situation. He told me later how much he enjoyed this one. He complimented the acting of the husband, José Rosete and the wife, Lilian Bowden. This is the first episode with intense violence. I wanted a sense of desperation and frustration. There is a surprise ending for any viewer seeing this as the first encounter with Silicon Assassin.

In the aftermath of the limited world war that brought President Medusa to power, the scenery is always unexpected. Here we see that part of the greater Los Angeles area is a wasteland. Yet other areas are not destroyed, although still suffering from radiation and god knows what else. Many different stories can be told.

Richard preferred the grimmer approach. I believe my best writing in the series is in this episode. The final episodes were more fun, mixing serious and satirical material. Richard enjoyed them. But this is the one when I felt the bleak reality of the imaginary world.

Next up was Ed Plumb, ready to direct. He took the episode he directed just as seriously as Chris took his. “Silicon Assassin: Dead Reckoning” was another radical departure as the series continued to benefit from different styles. Maybe not an ideal situation anywhere but a web series, but this was the place to experiment.

With an affinity for combining horror with contemporary crime, and RED camera in hand, the Plumb line was to make this episode look really good in a unique way. Something different from the other episodes was in the writing. All the other scripts were solo. When the credits on “Dead Reckoning” list Ed for additional dialogue, that’s no exaggeration. The reason this needed to be collaborative was that Ed could bring certain materials to the table where writing had to respond to opportunities instead of initiating them. Admittedly, this never would have worked without the Diversity Plan. But even if another genre was colliding with Chuck’s original expectations, it worked.

Although President Medusa is still off camera, her baleful influence hovers over this story. She has a team of human female assassins who can do a lot of damage, and spill a lot of blood in a rain of bullets. Marlene Mc'Cohen works alone as a memorable presence. She proves a hot human can carry out a lot of hits. She is excellent and seems unstoppable until she’s stopped.

Ed’s older daughter Elizabeth is in this one. She has no better chance of survival than Victoria did in “Problem Child.” Between the two of us, we bumped off both his gorgeous girls.

There are double and triple crosses. The cast includes Tim Thomerson and Robert Woods. Everyone is betraying everyone. One survivor is a human agent of the Silicon Assassin, who is only a super hologram from a projector at the deadly meeting. (Everyone seemed to like my line about a Mexican standoff with no decent Tequila.)

The holographic projector foreshadows President Medusa using the same thing in “The Medusa Meeting.” No matter how different the stories, it was essential to tie them together. Really helps when watching the episodes in order.

However, there is something important about this episode that isn’t really about the episode. The 45 second trailer Ed did of “Silicon Assassin: Dead Reckoning” soon had a life of its own. It went viral at DRAGON CON. Ed created a spectacle of girls and guns, guns and girls, girls and guns. Plus! Knives, ammo and lipstick. Then, right at the end, flashing on the screen: Richard, Paula, Vicki. There they are. Something is going to happen. The music promises excitement.

L-R: Vicki Marie Taylor as Lady Twilight
and Paula LaBaredas as Bubble BlondeGirl

The trailer looks like the launch of a high end cable television series.

Meanwhile, Christopher Douglas-Olen Ray not only did a trailer of “Silicon Assassin: The Wall” — but when he made the last episode of the series, the “Window of Opportunity” episode, he provided a trailer for that as well. The Ray trailers are in the style of feature films from Asylum.

Ed’s trailer is for a cable series???

Chris’ trailers are for movies???

How was I so fortunate to receive bonuses like this? Richard was delighted there was a friendly rivalry going on. He said I was finally a producer.

The most expensive special effect of the series appears at the climax of the “Dead Reckoning” episode. Looks as impressive as anything in a superhero movie. Girls with guns don’t stand a chance against righteous Richard, vengeful Vicki and punishing Paula. The ray guns leave a slight blood mist behind before it, too, disappears.

Nothing is sweeter than unexpected production values in modestly financed entertainment.

More often the thing was not to leave simple opportunities unexploited. While Ed was directing, Andrea Gaspar conducted awesome interviews for the Plumb Road Show. This was an opportunity to put the core Silicon Assassin troupe in front of the camera, starting with Richard Hatch. It would also provide another segment for the series.

During this eventful week, Charles P. Hammill graciously opened his home again for Richard to do pickup shots, and redo entire bits from “Problem Child.” Maximum opportunity strikes again! Richard liked Charles a lot. He enjoyed the story of how the elder Hammill’s business led to him meeting Alfred Hitchcock on the set of The Wrong Man.

A thought invaded my brain, as if a Cylon might be testing nefarious technologies. The way I was putting the project together, Brinke Stevens wouldn’t appear until the second half of Silicon Assassin. That was too long to wait.

Enter Jeff Szalay, descending to Center Stage. He was already at some of these locations, doing publicity stills, some of which accompany this article. He was someone else comfortable wearing different hats in Hollywood.

If Brinke could show up at the Hammill apartment the day Richard was shooting again on “Problem Child,” then equipment would be there. Jeff could do a brief bit with her, a teaser for when she would dominate the final episodes. The extra advantage was that Chuck’s father could meet Brinke, as he had met Richard.

That’s what happened, except that Richard was delayed in traffic getting from the Ed shoot to his own shoot, with skeleton crew and equipment in tow. Brinke was on time. Instead of leaving when everything was running late, she spent the time visiting with Charles. I’ll always be grateful to her for that. Charles thought she was wonderful. None of us knew that he had very little time left, and would soon be joining his son.

Brinke Stevens as President Medusa

Richard and the Babes were back, making “Problem Child” better. Enough time had passed that Richard made better choices. The final result was worth going through some of it again.

Jeff did a nice spot with Brinke. She’d designed her own outfit, as Paula did with hers. Vicki wore a black catsuit. Richard wore his own clothes, but the black leather jacket made it work. One of the nicest touches from Brinke was the beret.

President Medusa looked into Jeff’s camera and intoned, “I am President Medusa. Obey me!” It worked beautifully.

The next time we saw the dictator was when Chris Ray made “The Medusa Meeting.” This was one of the episodes where I couldn’t show up, but Kent was there.

When Vicki was unavailable to play Lady Twilight in this episode, phone calls ensued. As Lenin once asked: “What is to be done?”

Science fiction solved the problem. I told Chris and his First AD, Dan Golden that no one in the Silicon Trio was human. They could appear as anyone or anything. No new character was required. Another actress could be Lady Twilight. All the original dialogue for her could remain. A few new lines were necessary.

Paula would take one look at the new girl, and make a comment about her new look. It would be no different than two women discussing a change of attire, or a new hat. I gave the lines to Kent over the phone, so he could pass them along.

As for the change in casting, Chris Ray and Dan Golden were for Erica Duke. Me, too! As one of the executive producers on Fred Olen Ray’s Supershark, I’d been impressed with her talent and appeal in that successful monster movie. Fred was a long time pal and father of Chris. I knew Dan Golden, too. The independent film scene can be very incestuous. That’s why it works.

Paula delivers one of my favorite lines in the episode. When a hooker named Hooker (Deb Vancelette) is complaining about the villains, she backs off a bit because she doesn’t want to do character assassination. Paula responds with a motto that should be used for The Silicon Assassin Academy:

“We don’t believe in that kind of assassination, either.”

Laughed when I wrote it, and laughed when she said it.

Brinke dominates “The Medusa Meeting.” She supervises torture, indulges in homicide, lectures all over the place and smokes. She is unhinged by the hero, as villains are wont to do. Richard Hatch is coming to get you, President Medusa.

I gave her a speech, including lines that Kent likes best of the whole series. All anyone needs to know about Agorist Advisors (explaining later) is they don’t like any taxes. In contrast, Medusa likes any taxes.

Here’s what she says to a roomful of faceless functionaries, practicing her next public speech: “Some of you may think an 80% income tax is too high. But the Good Book teaches us it’s possible to survive on a tithe of 10%. If God can live on 10%, then so can you. I’m raising your taxes to 90%. Remember that we are a family. Think of me as a real mother!”

While the villain is trapped inside the stuffy corridors of power, the hero is enjoying the great outdoors. Clear blue sky. Dead bad guys. A good day. After taking out the trash, the Silicon Assassin shares the following wisdom with allies:

L-R: Vicki Marie Taylor, Paula LaBaredas, Charles P. Hammill, Victoria Plumb and Richard Hatch

“The most difficult task of any freedom fighter is not to hate everybody on the other side. You humans can do something I can’t. You can change another human’s mind . . . or you can kill him!”

Richard Hatch always knew when to smile on camera.


Two shows remained.

The music video.

The final episode.

I met Wendy Jacobson through Jessie Lilley. A gifted singer, songwriter and guitar player, the Fabulous Miss Wendy was making a mark. Her first album was produced by Gerald V. Casale of DEVO. She wrote and performed an exciting theme song. “Not human,” she sings. The Silicon Assassin must agree.

Richard Hatch and The Fabulous Miss Wendy (Jacobson)

Wendy had her own director, Marie Ilene. They found a spacious location in which to rock and roll. Ceilings can never be too high. Flats must always be movable. Everyone must react to the music.

Richard was in every episode of Silicon Assassin. I didn’t want to miss showing up for this one. When Richard was having fun everyone else joined in.

Paula was there. Vicki was back. It was like a High School reunion. You gotta have a grand band. Marie Ilene planned the structure of the shoot, then pulled all of us onto the dance floor. Even I got into the act, and can be seen doing a high five with Richard near the end.

Now we had a real party tape.

See the blinding light, the light that blinds? It’s the last episode at the end of tunnel. Richard and I wanted a lot to happen. It was time for Chris Ray to pull out all the stops. The more I worked on the script, the more ideas crowded in. Every time episodes were shown at conventions, fans would tell me about the mistakes. They were often correct. Now I could fix everything!

It was my last window of opportunity.

Director Christopher Douglas-Olen Ray pulls out all the stops.

Here’s one example. In some episodes the ray guns disintegrate the targets. In other episodes the victims simply drop over dead. Disintegration is expensive. Some shows needed to spend money elsewhere. The script has Kevin Yarborough simply explain there are different destructive rays doing different things. Some disintegrate. Some only shut down the nervous system to kill the victim. No continuity problems in good sci-fi!

But what was I going to do about Lady Twilight, now that there were two of them? Not a problem. No reason she couldn’t split herself down the middle. Now the original Lady Twilight, Vicki, can deal with the second Lady Twilight, Erica. Or as I put it to Chris, we have a girl fight.

During the shoot, Richard choreographed an excellent fight with Hank Walts who plays Dornburg. In the script, Dornburg is a genetically designed super-warrior who can cause our heroes real difficulty. I made him mute. Chris thought it would be better if Hank had some dialogue. It made sense.

Of all the shoots I attended, this was the one where I was the most useful. Right there on the set I wrote Hank some lines. As for the truly realistic fight between Richard and Hank (with in-close martial arts moves), none of that was in the script. Everyone wanted something more exciting. The fight coordinator on the set didn’t get what Richard wanted, so Chris let Richard do it. This kind of thing is the best part of the independent film scene. Improvisation is a gift.

I had to write more lines on the spot when the excellent actor who played Medusa’s Vice President in the previous episode, Darrin Cooper, was only available for a few hours indoors. He wouldn’t be able to do enough scenes on set, not to mention missing later location filming outdoors. Another excellent actor, Kevin Yarborough, would be the new Vice President available after Cooper departed. Well, I was the writer on set, right? And it was obvious there was quick, even abrupt, turnover in the Medusa administration.

What would she do? She’d blow away Vice President Hamilton and replace him with Vice President Burr. I wrote changes quickly, thus proving I had another skill than only writing checks. My script wasn’t locked on a show called “Window of Opportunity.”

But the script was followed faithfully when there was nothing unexpected. That’s how it was with the scene where I wrote myself into the story as one of the villains, just so I could be murdered on camera.

Richard warned me not to overact. He knew me well. I’d often overdo the melodrama when reading emotional scenes out loud from our Battlestar novels. I told him not to worry. I’d written the scene very carefully, fully aware of my ham tendencies. Besides, I was keeping the faith with Chris, who also knew me. When the time came, the director took enough takes to wear me out to the point where my acting was believable. Richard agreed it worked when he saw the final result.

Edward L. Plumb, Richard Hatch, Brad Linaweaver and J. Kent Hastings. Ray guns by L.J. Dopp.

The story begins with a poker game. The most important character is played by Fred Olen Ray. We go back a long way, to early Florida days. We worked together on his theoretical first film, The Brain Leeches (now available incredibly on Blu-ray, along with The Alien Dead). Chris was in that film as a baby wearing sunglasses. As he grew up, Chris wore monster suits in real movies made by his father. Now the son was following in Dad’s directorial footsteps.

Fred hadn’t appeared in front of his son’s cameras yet. What an opportunity for Silicon Assassin. It was destiny.

I made myself the worst villain in the scene. For one thing, he lacks my natural modesty. True, I gave him the name of Brad because I couldn’t think of a better one. The character is incredibly annoying. Who says I can’t act? This Brad guy keeps going on about how he will be the world’s first trillionaire. Although originally the primary financier of President Medusa, he doesn’t realize that money is not as important as it used to be.

The character played by Fred is with another faction. When the would-be trillionaire brings up metaphors, that does it. Suddenly Fred is pointing a classic (and really large) handgun at the object of his ire. “Shut up, Brad,” says Fred, right before pulling the trigger.


My character has made his last investment, but Fred isn’t done. He shoots Ed Plumb, also in the poker game. Basically, he takes out one of the other directors in the series. The fourth guy survives, another film director in real life, James C. Watson. He’s renowned for creative use of blood in horror films.

Like father, like son. Director Fred Olen Ray also wields a large gun.

Speaking of blood, I decided to sacrifice an Armani suit of mine as part of a blood gag. Think of all the times in low budget movies where a supposedly important baddie dies. If the clothes are nice, no gore. If the death is messy, the clothes tend to be shabby. One way to make Silicon Assassin look more expensive required little sacrifices, now and then.

Tubes were placed strategically on my person. However, the simulated blood wasn’t spurting properly after I slumped over, dead from Fred. What was to be done?

To the rescue came Valerie Garcia. She blew air into a rubber tube which pumped the stage blood all over my jacket and shirt. Later, when I told her it was the most original blow-job I ever received, she laughed and agreed it was something different.

(For younger readers, this is what we old timers called free speech, not that long ago.)

Money didn’t prevent a terrible fate for an innocent Armani suit. One other scene brings home the change in money ruining this future society.

Back when Chuck was having his medical issues, and complaining about hospital bureaucrats, I suggested the Silicon Assassin could do something about that. One of the best scenes of the entire series is an emergency in the Emergency Room.

The Terrific Trio struts their stuff. Richard seemed to be enjoying himself more than usual in the final episode. Paula and Vicki play off each other better in “Window of Opportunity” than anywhere else, in my opinion.

A member of Medusa’s inner circle has run out of luck. In a notable performance, Steve Hawks projects equal portions of frustration and pain. His MedCard has been canceled, but he still has plenty of cash money.

Jacqui Holland is so officious as the receiving nurse — so indifferent to the suffering of another human — that her performance makes us forget how sexy she is. She’s plenty sexy! But I wrote the part to encapsulate our fears of inhospitable hospitals.

When she informs Hawks that money is no longer legal tender (!!!) the poor rich man can’t believe it. He waves around his dough in a last attempt to save himself. She says, “Sir, I do not appreciate you throwing your money at me.”

Quite a number of cast and crew wondered if this was my commentary on Obamacare. It sure as hell was. Everyone can sympathize with the dying words of the Hawks character: “I should have gone to see my Herbalist.”

Incidentally, his name is Mr. Dagon. The last name of my character is Mr. Yog. Written into this episode is Kent as Mr. Sothoth. The Lovecraft touches suggest that governments may not always have the best interest of the people at heart.

Since Kent’s opinion on taxes is the same as Chuck Hammill’s, it was fun giving him this line: “Taxes are always a good idea.” That’s what we call acting down South. More fun is that Mr. Sothoth is one of the few bad guys surviving the onslaught of justice.

But enough of empty corridors echoing to the screams of the tormented, the lost souls so desperate for a sip of water they pray for a session of water-boarding. Let’s take a field trip to the great outdoors.

Thanks to the Van Nuys Elks Lodge, Chris Ray opened up the look of the show to where the sky was literally the limit: Rebels and Medusa soldiers do a violent war game, pretty much in the background. Heroes and villains eat up the scenery and each other, in the foreground.

Through the magic of special effects, and more sci-fi hocus pocus, Richard got a new outfit. The snazzy duds went along with a new phrase for his companions: “bad ass bitches!”

As mentioned before, two Lady Twilights meant double the trouble. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Paula repeats a line from the first episode. “I like being told what to do.” Funny(ish) the first time, it was of greater concern when she might set off the equivalent of an H-Bomb explosion.

All this was prelude, of course. The time had come for the confrontation between good and evil. Dialogue I wrote for Richard and Brinke worked for them — so they sold it to the audience with everything they had, as if it were the climax of a major motion picture.

Chris outdid himself by staging the denouement on a sizable suspension bridge over a gorge. This series had the most amazing luck.

When Richard asks Brinke what she expects for her future, she answers, “I’m cautiously pessimistic.” When he demands to know why she killed so many people, President Medusa is unapologetic: “It was regrettable but necessary.”

The tragedy is that a study of Power Elite rationalizations makes these kind of attitudes seem less like fiction.

The Hero must stand for something better than power for power’s sake. Not even the madness of war can dilute his better purposes. Richard Hatch is splendid as he says everything that needs to be said to the murderous dictator.

“I wanted to be human. You are human, but you don’t seem to like it very much.”

Brinke and Richard were so connected in this scene. It meant a lot for me to be present.

President Medusa is honest in her own diabolical way. She doesn’t expect a trial. Her trial is that she was identified. But before the Silicon Assassin fulfills his mission, she dies by her own hand. Or does she? A nice special effect turns her into mist. Every fan of horror films knows what that means. The villain can return.

But not without the hero. Richard and I discussed the possibility of a sequel, but only after other projects were well underway. His death put an end to that. There is no Silicon Assassin without Richard Hatch.

The last scene of the series actually haunted my dreams. We needed closure beyond the defeat of one villain, no matter how insidious. One line of dialogue was required.

Vicki, the original Lady Twilight, had a sadness about her. She of the dark hair would ask the dark question

“Are we free yet?”


Reason 4: The Rest

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that mass media isn’t exhausting to make. Takes a lot out of everyone.

After work comes play. After good work comes rewards. And awards.

Richard Hatch was in Australia when “Window of Opportunity” won the Australian Webstream Award for Best International Series. He accepted on behalf of the episode which won acclaim for the entire series.

Back in the States, “Dead Reckoning” won six Awards. Pictures of two of the awards appear in the Gallery at the end of this article. “Dead Reckoning” received the honor of being part of a midnight showing at the Chinese Theatre Hollywood, as part of HollyShorts, during their 9th Annual Film Festival. It was also the first episode of Silicon Assassin to have over 100,000 views.

Clips from “Problem Child” even appeared in a feature film starring Kevin Sorbo. The director, J. Neil Schulman, devised a scene where his teenage hero goes into a movie theatre in an Underground Libertarian Super-Mall. The movie on the screen shows moments from the segment Richard directed himself.

Richard and I were old hands at the convention scene by now. DRAGON CON was special because that’s how we came together in the first place. Pat Henry, a friendly Imperious Leader, arranged for me to have the Hospitality Suite at the top of the Marriott Marquis to celebrate my 60th birthday at the 2012 convention. It quickly became the Richard and Brad Show — including showings of Silicon Assassin segments up to that point. The suite was incredible, with a pool table competing with the big screen TV. A full bar was mandatory.

The following year, DRAGON CON 2013 was one of the venues where we announced the completion of the project, with more segments in hand. Vicki and her daughter were my guests. Most appropriate because Richard introduced me to the future Lady Twilight at DRAGON CON! One of the celebrities who gave a shoutout to Silicon Assassin was Traci Lords.

Loyal readers of Mondo Cult will remember my interview feature with Traci in MC2 is from interviews I did with her at DRAGON CON.

The nice part of all this attention at cons, big and small, was the wide range of people who liked Silicon Assassin. Richard attracted fans who could pick nits (and nuts and bolts) but were never vindictive. This is not the norm.

My favorite of these friendly critics never tired of noting one particular (albeit minor) inconsistency. Some of the time, Richard correctly pronounced the word, “silicon.” At other times, however, he’d slip and say, “silicone.” The fans wanted to know if I intended to fix the problem one day in post-production looping.

“What problem?” I’d always respond. If receiving a blank look, I’d follow up with, “Have you actually seen what’s on the screen.” I wasn’t sarcastic, but only helpful.

During these adventures, my only sense of security was the confidence I held for the one person I trusted to host the YouTube channel. Thank you Jessie, for all you’ve done with (and for) me over these many years. You are the den mother of Silicon Assassin, as you are the Queen Empress of Mondo Cult. I write a little for Mondo, and maintain the LLC for the web series.

Every year, I hear more words of encouragement. Someone I’ve known in Atlanta fandom for many years, Jennifer McCain, recently shared this in an email about Silicon Assassin and similar efforts.

Hatch and Charles P. Hammill on the set in Hammill's townhouse.
Note Martina Pilcerova's poster art for SILICON ASSASSIN makes a cameo appearance at the bar!

“Hatch knew the future of TV was heading towards fewer cable subscribers and more people watching Roku and Apple TV, paying only for channels they watch.”

True enough, but Richard understood why I made this particular series available for free. Originally, it was the cards dealt. Now I stick with the free publicity aspect to honor two lost friends. If Richard had lived, I would have been part of the model Jennifer describes for other projects.

The thrill is in finishing stuff. I’ll be thrilled when I finish this article. Not all that long after losing Chuck, another of my buddies, screenwriter Steve Tymon, and I spent an afternoon with Richard in his trailer on the set of Walter Koenig’s film, Inalienable. One of the topics was how many projects never reach completion. Richard didn’t have to worry about it on a Koenig film. Must be the old Star Trek discipline.

The Inalienable day stuck in my head as I continued revving myself up, month after month, with the wild hope something would come of Silicon Assassin. I recalled the day years later when Richard and I gathered up some of the gang, and we traipsed off to the Magic Castle in 2013, the year of their 50th anniversary. We were in the mood for a celebration. I’d turned in the finished discs of the epic, first to the Attorney General’s Office, and second to the lawyers for the Hammill estate.

In the time remaining for collaborations, it was an honor every time he expressed satisfaction that I’d finished the web series. I will always regret that I couldn’t do more to help him finish his most ambitious enterprise, Magellan.

He was working with many people on that, but I was the writer he wanted for co-writing the novels, the same as we’d done on Battlestar Galactica.

He was developing a multi-media DVD comic version of the Great War of Magellan, along with a CD Rom game. He filmed an elaborate trailer he showed at conventions. The massive book he gave me for the Role Playing Game (which he developed with Jonathan Bjork) was 410 pages long. I joked it was as long as one of his outlines. Then he gave me the outline.

Brad and Richard at Rocket Video in Hollywood, CA - PHOTO: Jessie Lilley

We finished one-third of the first Magellan novel. I have enough outline and notes to finish the one book, but have no idea who owns what may be conflicting rights. The commercial possibilities for the entire project are probably a lost cause. So, until and unless someone contacts me about the situation, this unfinished novel is adrift in IP limbo.

I enjoyed working on The Great War of Magellan, the same as everything else with him. At conventions, we promoted the Trinity: Battlestar, Magellan and Silicon Assassin. Holy or unholy, who can say?

The last convention I did with him was MEGACON in Florida. Instead of participating as a writer, I got an Exhibitor Badge. Hanging out at the Battlestar tables was the right choice. I spent quality time with delightful Anne Lockhart, and did hard time with slightly disarming Dirk Benedict. Just kidding . . . about Dirk. Starbuck is beyond criticism, you betcha!

Now that I think about it, my favorite memory with Richard was also in Florida, several years earlier. He visited me in the lakefront house inherited from my parents. Naturally, I moved out of LA and returned to my ancestral seat.

When someone visits an ancestral seat, it is only polite to offer a chair. The best chair in the house was directly in front of one of those giant TV screens that make the 21st Century bearable. Charming neighbors, Mike and Sue, had come over to visit with my famous guest. Mark Stanfill, another Florida friend, dating back to college days in the early 1970s, was also in attendance. He once owned his own comic book store, All American Boy, and Apollo was visiting.

Mark was also a zombie in The Brain Leeches. Everything was coming together. Karma. Kismet. Destiny.

There was only so much time before Richard Hatch must return to his Hotel. There’s always a convention somewhere. Everyone thought we should watch something starring Richard. I didn’t hesitate.

Prisoners of the Lost Universe.

The End


L-R: Brad, Elayna Little and Richard Hatch at DRAGON CON. Elayna is written into to novel DESTINY, as a nurse..

L-R: Edward L. Plumb and Brad Linaweaver agree the L.J. Dopp painting is weirdly appropriate..

LEFT: Brad and J. Kent Hastings proudly display the L.J. Dopp portrait of their dear friend Chuck Hammill.
RIGHT: The Dopp portrait in all its glory.

Some guys get all the luck..

See what I mean? L-R: Vicki Marie Taylor, Brad and Paula Labaredas (credited in SILICON ASSASSIN as Paula LaBaredas).

LEFT: Brad, on his dock, reading his friend's "completely unauthorized" book.
RIGHT: The slightly disarming Dirk Benedict.

Richard Hatch directing the first episode of SILICON ASSASSIN, "Problem Child"..

Science fiction author John DeChancie shows up at the front door, selling copies of Mondo Cult 2.
From the first episode of SILICON ASSASSIN, "Problem Child".

The perks..

The Poster..

Richard Hatch (in spiffy new Final Episode duds) takes care of business with the Two Lady Twilights and BubbleBlonde Girl. .

Two of the many awards..

Screen writer Steve Tymon blasts Richard Hatch with one of the Dopp ray guns.

Brinke Stevens (President Medusa) wields the biggest gun of all.

L-R: Ania Dyba wielding HER big gun in “Dead Reckoning.” (Girls and guns and guns and girls, you see what we mean...)
and Erica Duke and Kevin Yarborough take a break to smile for the birdie.

Brad and Richard celebrate the conclusion of SILICON ASSASSIN at The Magic Castle in Hollywood..

© 2018 by Brad Linaweaver

For Mondo Girl's (Vicki Marie Taylor aka Corina Taylor) thoughts on working
with Richard Hatch on Silicon Assassin, click on the picture!