The Imaginary Realms of
Gilbert M. Stack



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Today in History: The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project

Posted by Gilbert Stack on July 15, 2018 at 7:55 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (July 15) in 1975, the Space Race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union (begun in 1957) ended with the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project—a symbolic act of détente in which the Soviets launched Soyuz 19 and the U.S. launched an unnumbered surplus Apollo capsule. The two ships would dock together in orbit. The joint scientific mission included an artificially created eclipse of the sun when Apollo maneuvered to block the sun so that Soyuz could photograph the sun’s corona. This was the last Apollo mission. It would be six years before the U.S. returned to orbit with the Space Shuttle Program.

What Makes a Character Memorable?

Posted by Gilbert Stack on July 15, 2018 at 7:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Here's a blast from the past. Back in 2012, author James M. Jackson wrote a blog post on what makes a character memorable and he used my short story, Pandora's Fort, (published in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine) as his example. You can read the blog here:" target="_blank">…/07/what-character.html

Today in History: Bastille Day!

Posted by Gilbert Stack on July 14, 2018 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (July 14) in 1789, a mob of Parisians, frightened that the king would bring in the army against the National Assembly, stormed a medieval fortress known as the Bastille to get control of the arsenal of muskets there and free political prisoners. (There were only seven prisoners in the Bastille at the time and none were held for “political” crimes.) This was a turning point in the French Revolution changing the political equation by putting serious arms in the hands of the population of Paris and pushing the Revolution further toward radical change. Today it is a celebration of the unity of France which sports the oldest regular military parade in Europe. To all of our French friends and readers, Happy Bastille Day!

Today in History: The Draft Week Riots

Posted by Gilbert Stack on July 13, 2018 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (July 13) in 1863, riots called “Draft Week” began in New York City in protest of legislation to draft men to serve in the Union Army. The riots lasted four days and Abraham Lincoln had to bring troops in from Gettysburg to restore order to the city. The riots turned especially ugly when mostly Irish rioters turned their anger on blacks living in NYC, in protest of having to fight a war over slavery.

Today in History: A Mass Kidnapping in Bisbee

Posted by Gilbert Stack on July 12, 2018 at 7:40 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (July 12) in 1917 the company Phelps Dodge conspired with the sheriff of Bisbee, Arizona, to illegally arrest 1300 striking miners, put them on cattle cars without food or water and then transport them more than 200 miles across a desert to New Mexico where they released them and warned them not to come back. Phelps Dodge pretended that this was patriotism to help the U.S. in its war effort.

Today in History: The Duel

Posted by Gilbert Stack on July 11, 2018 at 5:20 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (July 11) in 1804, U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Hamilton and Burr had long hated each other and Burr blamed his loss in the New York Governor’s electoral race on Hamilton. Both men had been in duels before. Hamilton apparently shot first (possibly over Burr’s head) and hit a tree. Burr shot Hamilton in the lower abdomen. He died the next day. The scandal of the duel (which was illegal) destroyed Burr’s career.

Today in History: The Scopes Monkey Trial

Posted by Gilbert Stack on July 10, 2018 at 4:55 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (July 10) in 1925 the Scopes Monkey Trial began in Dayton, Tennessee. John Scopes was accused of teaching evolution in his science class. William Jennings Bryan argued for the prosecution against Clarence Darrow for the defense. Technically the prosecution won the case, but the highlight of the trial was when Darrow convinced Bryan to take the stand as an expert on the bible. It was a turning point in popular opinion toward evolution. The movie version, Inherit the Wind, is worth seeing.

Today in History: The Battle of Monogahela

Posted by Gilbert Stack on July 9, 2018 at 4:55 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (July 9) in 1755 General Edward Braddock led his troops to a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Monongahela ending his effort to take Fort Duquesne (modern day Pittsburgh) from the French. The French attempted to ambush Braddock’s superior force as he crossed the Monongahela River but they arrived late and ran into Braddock’s advanced guard much to the shock of both forces. The resulting battle lasted for hours with Braddock constantly trying to form his men up for traditional European battles while the French and their Native American allies sniped at him from behind trees. Eventually Braddock was killed and his forces collapsed. George Washington was credited with rallying a rearguard action that permitted most of Braddock’s surviving forces to escape.

Today in History: The "Crash" at Roswell, New Mexico

Posted by Gilbert Stack on July 8, 2018 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (July Eight) in 1948, reports circulated that a UFO had crashed outside of Roswell, New Mexico. The U.S. military reported that the UFO was actually a weather balloon and, because in the 1940s people generally believed their government, interest waned. But all of that changed in the 1970s after the trauma of the Vietnam War and the Watergate Scandal. Confidence in the government’s truthfulness dipped and a growing number of people began to question the initial account of a weather balloon as a possible cover up of a genuine encounter with life from another planet. Theories continue to abound. I read quite a bit about this in my youth and one of the points that authors always made was that, contrary to the government’s official accounts, there have been many leaks regarding UFOs, it’s just that the government is very good at destroying the credibility of the leakers. That idea that the government uses its might to tarnish the reputation of people revealing its secrets comes up repeatedly in science fiction and urban fantasy—everything from Capricorn 1 to Monster Hunters International. You can decide for yourself if you think it does such things in the real world in regard to UFOs.

Today in History: The X,Y,Z Affair

Posted by Gilbert Stack on July 7, 2018 at 8:10 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (July 7) in 1798, the U.S. formally withdrew from its Treaty of Alliance with France as a result of the X, Y, Z Affair. This “affair” was the insistence of the French Minister Talleyrand that the Americans pay him a personal bribe and give him loans before he would open negotiations with them to end the hostilities France began when the Americans decided that their war debt was owed to the King of France, not its current revolutionary government. (These bribes were common place in Europe.) The Americans refused to pay the bribes and so negotiations did not begin. When news of the bribe demands became public in America it caused a firestorm of public outrage directed toward France, leading to the end of the alliance and the beginning of the two year Quasi War in which the French and U.S. navies attacked each other’s shipping in the Caribbean. When the U.S. navy proved to be unexpectedly capable, Talleyrand reopened negotiations (no bribes on either side) and the hostilities were eventually ended.