« Killing Time in the Off-Season | Main | In Praise of Girlfriends »

February 01, 2010

To Boldly Go

by Hank Phillippi Ryan

How brave are you?

But wait--before we see today's main feature and plumb the depths of your fears and courage, we bring you some special messages:

FIRST: Hurray for Sarah! The adorable movie, "Lying to Be Perfect" based on Sarah's The Cinderella Pact premiered on Lifetime TV Saturday night...and it was charming.  If you haven't read TCP,  you're in for a treat. If you haven't seen LTBP, check your On Demand listings.

AND THEN: It's time for DRIVE TIME! As you've no doubt noticed from the relentless countdown counter on the upper left of your screen, today''s the release day for DRIVE TIME,Drive Time FINAL 300med the newest book in my mystery series featuring the smart and savvy TV reporter Charlotte McNally. It has a wonderful blurb from our dear Robert B Parker on the cover...

And Library Journal gave it a starred review! Here's just part of the rave:  "Buckle up and prepare for a wild ride!...Placing Ryan in the same league  as Lisa Scottoline...her latest book catapults the reader into the fast lane and doesn't relent until the story careens to a halt. New readers will speed to get her earlier books, and diehard fans will hope for another installment."

And interestingly, ripped from the headlines, it's all about the dangers of recalled cars.

(And hey, order a signed copy of DRIVE TIME from Mystery Lovers Bookshop and mention TLC--and get a wonderful black canvas tote bag and free shipping! Today only for the tote bag--usually you have to buy three books to get it!) 

We now return you to our regular programming.

How brave are you?

It was back in oh, 1980. I was a not-quite-cub but not-quite-experienced TV reporter in Atlanta. If you want to picture it, I had long long dark brown hair, my shoulder pads could rival Dick Butkus, and my eyebrows were straight out of Brooke Shields. You remember.

With all the fearlessness and ambition and confidence of someone at the beginning, I hoped, of a career, I was planning to move to the networks, take over from Barbara Walters, and cut a swath through journalism, breaking stories and catching bad guys and uncovering the truth. 

But how to break out from the pack of other wannabes? Space-shuttle-challenger

And then I saw the ad in Columbia Journalism Review. NASA was looking for applicants to become the first journalist in space. One lucky reporter would be chosen to ride the then-brand-newish space shuttle, and report first hand on their experiences.

Bingo. I saw my career path rising like  the shuttle itself. My insightful  and thoughtful and technically brilliant reporting, I figured, would transform me from medium fish in a medium pond to big fish in the biggest of ponds. I plotted the whole thing out, rubbing my hands in anticipation. I was perfect for this assignment. I was young. A woman, and I figured, they had to choose a woman. This was going to fly.

I sent in my request for the application, and could hardly wait. Space-shuttle-launching

When the thick brown envelope arrived in my mailbox, I ripped it open. Inside was a multi-colored multi-copied stack of paperwork, as elaborate as a college application. Full of forms and questions and medical stuff, if I remember correctly, and lots of blanks to fill in. Piece of cake, I thought. I'm young, healthy and brave. Bring it on.

And then, I saw the biggie. There was an essay question. Tell us, it requested, in five hundred words, exactly why you want to be the first journalist in space.

Drat. I hate essay questions. Just let me go, I thought. You won't regret it. But after a moment of petulance, I knew  that if I wanted to blast off, I'd have to write that essay.

I decided to make the best of it. Maybe there was a point to it, anyway. Maybe it would be a good thing, emotionally and intellectually, if I really did explore why I wanted to be the first JIS. I mean, "desire for fame" probably wasn't a very compelling reason. And probably was not going to charm the judges.

So I sat at the kitchen table, as I remember, contemplating my future. Imagining being the first journalist in space. I'd go through all that training, cool. I'd bond with the other astronauts. Cool. I'd suit up in one of those protective outfits, great. I'd climb into the space shuttle, wave at the camera, and blast off into space.

Pause. Pause.

Pause. Pause.

Not a chance, I decided. Not a chance in the world. When I actually had to imagine fifty billion pounds of thrust (or whatever) blasting me into the unknown on a little space shuttle thing with vast nothingness around me and, basically, no back-up plan if something went wrong, all the wind went out of my sails. 

I was staying earthbound. No question. I folded up that application, tucked it back into the envelope, and tucked the  envelope away somewhere. Traveling in my head was as close as I got to space travel.

Reality had trumped ambiton. And I wasn't as brave as I'd imagined.

The journalist in space program was halted, of course, after the tragic ending of the teacher in space program. And I remember, with some irony, that I was sent to New Hampshire to cover the Christa McAuliffe story.  And that was a powerful lesson for me about true bravery.Space-travel

So I'm wondering. Space travel.  Just one question: Would you go? 



TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference To Boldly Go:


I would go into space in a hot second. I wouldn't even stop to say goodbye to anyone, if it came to that. Plenty of time to apologize to them AFTER I returned from the final frontier.

Congratulations, Hank on your new novel debut. It looks like a great read and timely also.
I never thought about space travel before but there are a number of simulated space travel experiences now as well as preparation courses to travel into space.
I questioned my bravery but remembered that I had been in a two man glider over the Santa Barbara area in California. The pilot allowed me to try the controls and the scenery was beautiful.
An anniversary balloon ride entailed champagne and strawberries after which I was willing to go up in an ultralight vehicle but I declined after the slight buzz from the champagne deterred me.
We have so many more opportunities today compared to dreaming to Frank Sinatra's song FLY ME TO THE MOON. And let's not forget The Honeymooners tv's Jackie Gleason's character Ralph Kramden's threatening outburst "To the moon Alice! To the moon!"
So would I go into space...maybe. If I could be guaranteed to be returned safely to my little corner of the world I say YES. And if they are serving champagne, why not?

I have a fear of heights and a fear of open spaces and would constantly remind myself that I was sitting in a gi-normous pile of of explosives and metal that was built by the lowest bidders. I'd go in a heartbeat.

Hell, no! Being in a small enclosed space is not my idea of a good time.

I forgot to say congrats on your new book, Hank! I can't wait to read it.

I'd be on board before anyone could blink. When I was a child I had all the models of the rockets, the capsules, and the astronauts. Sometimes I'll watch the NASA Channel for hours, especially when there's a shuttle mission going on.

In a heartbeat. An eye blink. A New York Second....

Hey, everybody, THIS IS THE WEEK to buy DRIVE TIME! Help Hank hit the lists!

And thank you, Marie, for putting this song in my head today! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szih3b2DwOo

OH, now I'm singing, too! And thanks, Nancy...I'm so excited about Drive Time! (You all know the books are stand-alones, right? So you don't have to read the firet one first...)

ANd Marie, part of the deal is--there's no guarantee.

As for rest of you--wow. You're brave. And I hope you get to go someday.

NASA calls up and says, "We've chosen you to go into space." We don't care that you've got a few health issues, are at the top of BMI scale and are over 50."

Me: "Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Buckle me in next to Doc, Peach and William! Of course, my mother was pregnant with me in the summer of 1962 when Alan Sheppard started the NASA space program. I literally grew up with NASA. I remember the night of July 19, 1969 and being on a camping trip and being told to look at the moon. It would be forever different tomorrow night. I still have my pilot's license, point me at the shuttle simulator.

I love "This American Life" on NPR, This story begins with an interview with an astronaut http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?sched=1235.

Am I the only one who finds a reporter/author scared of an essay question funny?

RIP Challenger, January 28, 1986.

Cannot WAIT to read Drive Time!!

Nancy is right, gang - buy Hank's book today - the first week's sales are really important, and if you buy from Mystery Lovers (the link is in the blog) they report to the NYT, etc. Plus we love them.

Space? No. Why? One word: bathrooms.

Can't wait to get my hands on DRIVE TIME.

And count me as a resounding "No!" for space travel. While I grew up fascinated with all the moon shots, I don't do heights or enclosed spaces well (I thought I was going to pass out the ONE time I went up in the Arch with my kids).

Space songs? You want Space Songs?


Nothing more needs to be said....

William! Thank you so much for Fireball xL5! I havent thought about that for years..and now I'm singing along. Fantastic. How hilarious is that video?

I'm off to look for Ground Control to Major Tom--what's that really called?

Alan P--ah, the anniversary. Wonder if that's why it was in my subconscious. Thank you so much..

Peach--really? You rock, I must say.

It think it's the blast off that's worrisome...I can't even imagine. Or sort of--I can.

January 28 is my mother's birthday so it is easier to remember. I was picking up chocolate covered strawberries for her when I heard the news. Through the quirks of the Jewish calendar, this year the anniversary of my father dying was also January 28. Thursday was not my best day. But it is better now.

Oh, man, William, that was funny. Some weird race of people with big heads and no tweezers in that show!

Hank, can't wait to read Drive Time, especially since I just finished reading the others leading up to it. Very "time"ly, eh? Good luck with the launch!

A month after I graduated from high school in 1969, two important things happened in my life: my dad passed away unexpectedly at age 39, and there was a moon launch. My best friend, who knew how devastated I was by my dad's death, organized us into a camping trip at the big state park about a half hour away from where we lived. Her brother loaded us and our gear into the family wagon and deposited us at a campsite. We pitched the tent ourselves, and proceeded to have the time of our lives, including welcoming male visitors. She a boyfriend who rode a motorcycle, and he kept bringing an assortment of buddies, for me, supposedly. So I was doing a lot of dodging the tent, if you know what I mean.

The best part of the trip, though, was renting a canoe and rowing across the lake (which I still can't believe we did, since it's more than a mile across) to the lodge, where we and maybe 50 guests peered at a tiny black and white TV broadcasting the moon landing. It was awesome.

But would I go to the moon? Not on your life. My feet will stay permanently attached to Terra Firma, thank you very much, for as long as they're allowed to be. Like Judy, I have a terror of heights, although I do love to fly. And like Kathy, I prefer privacy to whatever arrangements are on the shuttle. No thank you. Now Space Camp, that I would do. Two of my daughters have been there and they loved it.

By the way, did anyone see the Numb3rs episodes where the Peter MacNicols character was planning to go up in space?

God forgive me, but I still have all the Popular Library .60 cent reprints of:


CAPTAIN FUTURE, The Galaxy's Enemy of Evil!!!!!!!


William, I LOVE those covers, especially that all the women in scanty costumes, while all the men are wearing spacesuits. Damn wimps. LOL

My favorite is The Star of Dread. And the beach outfit. Clearly, those were all drawn by men.

First of all, congrats on "Drive Time", and how totally cool on the Parker quote on the cover. I'm pressing "submit" on my MLB order as we speak.

As far as going to space, you go right ahead. I'll hold the fort until you get back. Among other reasons, I'm right there with Kathy when it comes to bathrooms. Um, well, that didn't come out right, but you know what I mean. ;)

William, those Captain Future covers are so great.
I was wondering if the lady on The Lost World of Time was being rescued or being prepared to be sent out into outer space.
Nancy, thanks for the Frank Sinatra link..I love him.

I agree, Marie, the covers are hilarious. ANd the more you look at them, the funnnier they are. HOw did they skoosh that whole woman into the "space ship"?

William, what year are those from?

ANd oh, thanks, Laura. You bring tears to my eyes. xox

Gee, you THINK men drew those covers?? (laughing)

Captain Future reprints were sixty cents, Bantam reprints of Doc Savage were a whole seventy-five cents. Back in the day, they were everywhere; newsstands, bookstores, Woolworth's/Woolco, racks and racks of paperback books, from CF and Doc to The Man from UNCLE to James Bond to the Rat Patrol to.... ah, well. I bet you can guess where I spent my "Wonder Years".

Hank, the series ran from 1940 to 1951, parallel and along side Doc Savage. Cripes, I was such a Sci-Fi Techno Wonk when I was a kid.

Ummmmmm..... 'was'????

Blast Off to Adventure!

Holly, that's hilarious! I love Monty Python, but I must admit I never saw that clip.

Seriously...It's very--intimidating, isn't it, when you think of it? Space?

And a recent dinner party at our house almost wound up with a food fight (sigh) as people started arguing..and all I had asked was--Life on other plantets. Yes or no?

They knew I meant "planets." Sigh.

Life on other planets? Absolutely. Going by the sheer numbers, there's got to be something out there. It may not be "Life" as we know it, but there has to be something. They could be extremely primitive, or incredibly advanced, but there's got to be something out there.

Face it, if we're the Best There Is, well.... There's a problem somewhere. In moments of cynicism, I've wondered if the fact "They" have not made contact yet is because they're laughing so hard they cannot hit the Launch Button....

Some scientists believe that aliens existed here on earth. The theory is that they concluded that their work was done here and left the earth. Now, we are left with cleaning up their mess and the former inhabitants are waiting to see how we can fix it.
Cynical? Maybe.

Heading off to aqua-aerobics, where we have decided the gravity is like being on the moon -- so yes! I'd go. I think the moon would be ideal for retirement communities. . .

I'm with Kathy Sweeney, only my one word on going into space:

Congrats on the new book. And congrats to Sarah, too. I watched the WORLD PREMIERE (!) of Lying To Be Perfect, and really enjoyed it. Very nice casting, I thought.

I would go into space. I think. It's easy to say I would do it, knowing it will never be in my range of options. Not sure that is a display of bravery, though. The true bravery is in the minds of those who believed it could be done, and worked so hard to make it happen. I envy the folks with minds like that. To those who actually go into space-they need faith in the minds that say it is possible.

If you want to get a tiny taste of going into space, wait until NASA releases the IMAX documentary made by the astronauts themselves when the mission to repair the Hubble was done. One of the trailers shown before I saw AVATAR was on this mission. I sat with my mouth open, absolutely stunned, watching the astronauts work on Hubble from the heart of space. I felt like I was THERE. If reality is even close to what I felt, tears stinging my eyes while sitting in my seat in an IMAX theater, SIGN ME UP NOW! (And go see that documentary the instant it hits the theaters!!)

The first book I ever checked out of the library on my own was "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel." I built Revell plastic models of the Jupiter C and Atlas rockets. I read the Classics Illustrated Comic of Space Travel with Werner Von Braun's space station until it fell apart.

Let's see, zero gravity, constant sunshine, beautiful views, and most things that can go wrong will kill you instantly. What's not to like?

Hell yes, sign me up!

Congrats on your new book Hank, I will acquire one ASAP.

And LTBP was great, two thumbs up from this household.

This might be a leap here, but then that's never stopped me, but I wonder what the first person felt when he went into CYBERSPACE?
Going boldly into the unknown without a delete button would have taken a giant amount of courage.
Meanwhile, back to my vacuum cleaner that looks like a futuristic space capsule.

MArie, that's a good question! It's kind of like making the first phone call. Still, going into cyberspace is not going to explode you into a billion pieces.

Al, you have a great attitude! True, the basd stuff doesn't last long. Except for, like, Apollo 13. And thanks..xo

Or remember in The Incredible Shrinking Man, when he got so small he was part of the universe?

Didn't see if anyone else posted this, but I love the ending of Space Cowboys with Frankie singing.


Would I go into space? I would love to, but there is just that little thing I have about small, confined spaces. I don't wear hats, tutleneck sweaters, and I don't think I could ride in a tin can. But I would love to look out the little windows and see :

Space. The final frontier.

Put me on the Enterprise (the Star Trek:TNG version) and I'll be there.

Can't wait to get my copy of Drive Time. Really enjoyed the series so far.

Space Cowboy! That's the song I was trying to think of! (I'll play it as soon as my producer leaves the room...

(Thanks for the kind words, PAM!!)


Oh, Hank, I would so love to go into space but I can't even go on rides at Disneyland -- Pirates of the Caribbean scares me. Star Tours sends me into shock. It's not the knowledge of the literal danger. It's my tummy. Or my inner ear. Whatever body part it is that doesn't like to go fast, upside down, or around in circles. Just call me the NASA dropout.

But Drive Time? YAY!!!!! And that Robert B. Parker quote? Divinely inspired.

I would go into space so fast it'd make your head spin. If you told me I'd die within an hour of setting foot on Mars, I'd still go.

After a career in intelligence, I decided I wanted to build eco-systems for space colonies and maintain them. Unfortunately, an orthopedic disaster ended that dream.

So now I write of other places and scientific dreams...

And p.s. -- being a January 28 birthday girl, I will never forget the Challenger.

Weird story about the Challenger disaster: The principal at our kids' elementary school was a science teacher when the contest was announced, and she entered to be considered as the first teacher in space, and was shortlisted in the last tier. Then she found out she was pregnant and had to drop out before they made the final choice.

She was the finest principal in our district, and the kids at our school have excelled over the years. There's a reason for everything, I'm convinced.

In a heart beat. I can't remember a time I didn't dream about going to space. There's that scene in Independence Day when the Will Smith character who has been applying to NASA over and over and is in the alien ship and leaves Earth's atmosphere for the first time and just yells for the sheer joy -- I cry at that scene every time. (I'm such a softy)

I will never go to the espace even if they pay me. I have a horrible motion sickness and it's a big problem: I live in France where the roads are VERY curvy. Each time I have to swallow pills to be able to survive in the car. I can imagine the quantity of pills I would need in the space, the drug store will be empty then. No, thank you, I'll better stay home.

Congratulations for the book, Hank.

Me? go into space? NO!!!!!

Karen, that is ..unsettling. Wonder what she thinks about it..Remind me to do a blog some day about the Bay Bridge, okay?

Oh, Gayle--I remember that! And I agree. From my nice safe seat in the theater.

Off to a booksigning...back later!

An acquaintance is manager of propulsion systems development for Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip2 project. By your bootstraps to beyond the atmosphere, from SCALED Composites up at Mojave Airport.

It's all nearer - in time - than we think.

I dawned on me that I might point out the one thing that would keep me from going into space: The chance to see live dinosaurs. In my book, dinosaurs trump just about everything else. When they do finally open a Jurassic Park, I am SO there.

Paulina, hope you are still checking in -- ginger is THE BEST for motion sickness: candied ginger, or powdered in capsules from the health food store -- It's like a little miracle for the stomach! (and no drowsy side-effects ;-)

Mary, that;s so interesting! I didn;t know that.

Doc--you lost me. We get to choose, dinos or space?

Ginger is pretty good for the throat and sinuses, too. I'm drinking some Ginger Snappish Tea from Bigelow right now . . .
And Jamaican Ginger Beer is my go-to beverage when I'm sick. I always have some in the fridge.

On both my visits to Mt. Haleakela, with all those winding switch-backs, I gave ginger to a sick fellow passenger who then felt much better.

The only way I'd go into space is when I can take the space elevator up to the luxury liner, when space travel is a done deal, with no more risk than taking a cruise.

Even though I've been an SF fan since I was a kid. Because I'm slightly claustrophobic, have a phobia about throwing up, and seem to be missing the "explorer" gene. I seem to be perfectly happy living vicariously. :-)

I strongly suspect that I got your "explorer gene", Avis, thereby doubling my love of adventure:) That would explain a lot about both of us:)

Mary, thank you very very much. I'll check. Can the kids take it too? My little daughter takes after me - horrible.

Ginger is perfectly safe. In fact, my first "rescue" on Mt. H. was a little girl (Chinese, so I was surprised her parents didn't know about ginger ;-)

Me, in space? As romantic a notion as it seems , to be bathed in the beauty of space and safe in the sparkling interior of a high-tech home, Nah. Not going to happen.
I thought of going to Bosnia or similar location a dozen years ago when I was freshly emerging from med school and feeling the impulse to flex my brave muscles and serve humanity . . . but between the fact that I didn't have two nickels to rub together and my mom had a stroke, my courage turned instead to business cards and making my practice work.
Addendum to Mary's comments on ginger: if you are pregnant, use it judiciously and only on recommendation of your qualified herbalist (too much or in wrong constitution might not be as safe for mom and babe); if you have gall bladder disease, know that ginger may cause flare-ups. Other than that, go for it!! Great stuff.

The comments to this entry are closed.

The Breast Cancer Site