Icebreaker Speech entitled “To The Stars!”
Mr./Madam Toastmaster, Fellow Toastmasters, and Guests:
A frozen ice planet…sentient…who, when her communications were being ignored by Intergalactic oppressors, decided to flex her muscles by wreaking a little havoc on the planet’s surface… she caused masses of frozen bodies of water to thaw early… and the suddenly sundering ice caused enough JOLT to attract attention! That “icebreaker” forced a recalcitrant group into a little more ENLIGHTENED communication!
That scene was from a novel by Anne McCaffrey, one of my most beloved Science Fiction authors. Science Fiction, Fantasy and its creators have touched my life in many ways and I’d like to share with you some of the highlights of my adventures as an SF fan.
In third grade, I signed a petition to keep “Star Trek” on the air; I was 8 years old and it was the mid-60’s. Truthfully, then, much of my interest in the show centered on whether I had a cruch on Capt. Kirk or Mr. Spock that week – nevertheless, it was my first foray into protest PR and preventing injustices: NBC had threatened to cancel the show and we were fighting to keep it on the air: and we DID!
In High School I continued to be a Star Trek fan, exploring frontiers of imagination thru SF and Fantasy; reading everyone I could get my hands on from Asimov to Zelazny.I even started a group in HS called the Speculative Fiction Society. I remember being bored in class, (it was probably math), and having whimsical conversations with my co-founder, Linda, about whether we preferred Kurt Vonnegut in the morning with cornflakes and peaches, or Harlan Ellison, dry, on toast! We’d go around quoting our favorite scenes from Star Trek: there’s one episode where Dr. Daystrom comes aboard the Enterprise to install an experimental new computer. This new technology was attempting to integrate human memories, albeit on brain cells, into the existing computer. BTW, they called those memory cells “engrams” in that episode! In a witty repartee between Dr. McCoy and Spock, Spock one-ups McCoy, telling him that
it would be interesting to implant McCoy’s engrams into the computer, because “the resulting torrential flood of illogic would be fascinating”!
In college, I actually got kissed by Ben Bova, well known SF Author and former editor of Analog pulp magazine. Would you like to hear how that sent me “To the Stars”?
Involved once again in my college’s Speculative Fiction Society, we had invited Ben Bova to come speak to students of Binghamton University (in upstate NY). He arrived in the afternoon, regaling our small group with anecdotes, charming myself and another young woman sufficiently that we wound up honoring him by writing some teasingly affectionate verses parodying his adventures and we sang it to him, to the tune of “Camelot”. I wish I remembered the whole song, but I do recall one part of the chorus: (sings) “but at Analog, Analog, the editor’s a lush!”…After his lecture, I asked him to autograph one of his books, which I had already in my collection. He graciously did so. It read: “Dear Debbie, Keep Reaching for the Stars, Kisses, Ben”. I thanked him and he said: “Well! Don’t I get one?” So I leaned in and he kissed me, right on the lips! I soared. I practically teleported out of the lecture hall to the corridor outside; promptly bought his new book “Millenium” (which he was there to promote)… beamed back into the lecture hall, ran up to him and asked, all starry-eyed: “May I have another autograph, and another kiss?”… He signed that one: “To the Sex Maniac! Love, Ben”
Well! That kept me reading (and fantasizing)… about… Science Fiction for awhile longer!
Then came 1979. I had just finished college. A chapter in the adventure of my life was closing, but on the cusp of that change, another adventure began. It’s rather ironic, that the one Science Fiction author, who would change my entire life, I had somehow not encountered during any of those early years as a fan.
But it was reading L. Ron Hubbard, and his book “Dianetics” that changed the course of my life more surely than any inter-stellar travel ever could have! Reading Dianetics sparked an adventure unrivaled by any Science Fiction author’s myriad creations. Thirty years later I am still adventuring! Mr. Hubbard, and his works, in Dianetics and Scientology, has given me back the ability to be the author of MY dreams, and the Captain of MY future! With his tools, we’ll be able to take any sentient being, be it personal or planetary, free it from its fetters, and leave it thriving with life!
So thank you Mr. Hubbard, for your boundless energy, imagination, wisdom and love. When we bring your legacy “To the Stars” it will be the greatest adventure of all!
posted by Deborah Shapiro