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What Voyage Means To Me


Carol Bugge



This is not a story, but some thoughts about what Voyage means to me, and why after all these years, that something which started out as a fascination with the sea (and an enduring crush on David Hedison) continues to have resonance.


I am a professional writer in New York City, with five novels in print; I've had many plays and musicals produced, and have written four screenplays, as well as countless poems and songs.  So you might say I've spent my life in storyland.


Lately I have been reading - no, devouring - the Voyage stories online - stories by Linda and Jane, Theresa and Teela, Winnie and Deb, and countless others.  And I keep asking myself, "Why Voyage?"  What is it about that show, about that world, that continues to inspire these fine people to sit down and add their imagination to the increasing number of stories about the men (and women) who sailed off in that sleek silver submarine, that silent, glistening repository of hopes and dreams?


After some late-night pondering, I think I may have a few answers.  For the women, some of the answers are obvious: the men.  Hubba hubba.  For me, of course, it will always be Lee Crane - it is possible David Hedison is the best-looking man who ever lived - and could there be anything more attractive to women than a man who is fearless, a leader, clearly an Alpha Male, but also sensitive and funny?  Not to mention self-sacrificing, resourceful, and resolutely loyal to crew and country?  But I can't deny the appeal of the others - the brilliant, caustic, short-tempered Admiral Nelson, whose sarcasm often hid his deep concern for his Captain and crew.  Chip - stern, taciturn, with his New England drawl; perhaps without Nelson's brilliance or Crane's quick resourcefulness, but loyal and brave to the end - in short, the ideal XO.  Adorable Sharkey, with his hangdog face, a little dim perhaps, but down to earth, brave as a lion, and always good for comic relief.  Home economics, indeed.  I can see him slaving over a pot of boiling water, bringing out a single poached egg with relief and triumph.  Quick-tempered Kowalski, so sly, always the ladies' man, Patterson with his golden retriever puppy eyes, or Riley, with his Irish looks and surfer lingo, and Sparks (oh, that hair).  And how could our intrepid crew survive without the constant, patient ministrations of the redoubtable Dr. Jamison, whose role in fan fiction has become so important?  I hope Richard Bull has read some of the stories; I think he would be pleased.  And, of course, the countless nameless - and named - crew members who sometimes doubled as villains an episode or two later.  The guest stars deserve their own tribute, so I won't spend time here on them, except to say - what a lineup!  The very sound of Alfred Ryder's voice will always strike terror into my heart, and what a great job Robert Duvall does as a creepy alien, and Carroll O'Connor - and everyone else.  The quality of acting is superb.  And when women are featured as guest stars, they are not just eye-candy - they are spies and designers and scientists - intelligent, accomplished people.


And the science fiction itself - a world in which submarines can also fly, people are turned into amphibians who swim underwater without the need for oxygen, wondrous things live undiscovered at the bottom of the ocean, and unquiet spirits roam the earth in search of long lost love.  It is a world of imagination, of terror and wonder.


Well, then, what else?  Isn't that enough?  Yes, but clearly there is something else - call it the X Factor - that has made the Seaview glide so persistently through our dreams all these many years.  The whole is, in some mysterious way, greater than the sum of its parts.  I think the answer is to be found in something that is peculiar to a certain kind of science fiction: life on the Seaview represents, in many ways, all that is best about humanity:  loyalty, courage, service, compassion, self-sacrifice.  As the anniversary of September 11th approaches, I have occasion to think about these values, because I saw them at work day after day in this poor, exhausted city I live in. 


There is a nobility in this idealized world (life on a submarine has never been that good, anymore than life aboard a spaceship ever looked like the Enterprise) - and week after week, we would tune in to find not so much the havoc wreaked by Irwin Allen's latest rubber monster, but to find out how our brave crew will overcome their own fears and limitations to triumph once again over whatever curves Nature has thrown them.  I still feel the thrill of terror I felt as a child when Captain Crane enters the reactor room to shut it down in order to save the ship, knowing it means certain death to him.  Last fall countless New York City firefighters, police, and EMS workers did the equivalent when they rushed into the burning towers, knowing they might never come back.  Their stories, and the stories of the heroes of Flight 93, will be told now, over and over, to succeeding generations.


Kenneth Burke has said that stories are equipment for living.  Well, what better equipment could we ask for, than to watch these men of the Seaview battling unimaginable challenges, all the while maintaining their compassion and concern for each other?  Sure, the monsters are silly, and the plots got even sillier later on, but we still watched, and down deep, a little voice inside us said, "If they can do it, we can." 


And so we returned to our lives - to the relentless, injurious march of time, to intrusive, controlling parents, and sulky, demanding children, and car payments, and abusive bosses, to contract disputes and leaky basements - and we knew that these were our monsters - but if the men on the Seaview could maintain their courage and humor and compassion, somehow it made everything a little easier. The allegory is clear, and needs no refinement - the self-enclosed society of a ship or a submarine is its own world, and can represent our own. If they can do it, we can, we said, and we marched on to meet our deadlines and our car payments and the demands of the people in our lives, and it all felt a little richer, a little more possible, because we had just spent an hour of our life watching 125 men stuck together inside a metal hull come through once again more or less intact - and we had seen the triumph of the finer aspects of our common human nature. 


Now, of course, we have terrorists to consider - creatures really very much closer to Seaview's dark villains  than we might care to believe;  our monsters have human faces these days.  They stare at us from FBI photographs nightly on the news - only those haunted images remain, captured in the chilling blankness of their eyes.  But still the Seaview stories inspire us, and once again, it seems somehow to us - as we watch our heroes struggle against overwhelming odds - that if they can do it, we can.






Carole Bugg's short fiction has appeared in numerous St. Martin's Press and Doubleday anthologies.


Her first novel, The Star of India, (St. Martin's, 1998), received good reviews from Kirkus, Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal, The Boston Globe, and Ellery Queen Magazine, among others; her second novel, The Haunting of Torre Abbey, received a coveted starred review in Kirkus.  Who Killed Blanche Dubois?, the first book of her original Claire Rawlings mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime, appeared in November of 1999 to glowing reviews, as did the second book in the series, Who Killed Dorian Gray? The third installment, Who Killed Mona Lisa? has been recently released.


The 1992 Winner of the Eve of St. Agnes Poetry Award, she is also the 1996 First Prize winner of the Maxim Mazumdar Playwriting Competition and the 1992 Jean Paiva Memorial Fiction award, which included an NEA grant to read her fiction and poetry at Lincoln Center.  A finalist in both the 1996 McClaren and Henrico Playwriting Competitions, she has read her work at Barnes and Noble, The Knitting Factory, Mercy College, and the Gryphon Bookstore in New York City, and has received grants from Poets and Writers, as well as the New York State Arts Council.  Her story "A Day In the Life of Comrade Lenin" received an Honorable Mention in St. Martin's Best Fantasy and Horror of 1993, and she was a winner in the 1996 Writer's Digest Competition in both the playwriting and essay categories.  Her plays and musicals have been presented in New York City at The Players Club, Manhattan Punchline, The Van Dam Street Playhouse, Love Creek, Playwrights Horizons, the Jan Hus Theatre, the Lakota Theatre, The Open Book, The Genesius Guild, First Look Reading Series, and Shotgun Productions, as well as the Alleyway Theatre in Buffalo.  She was a 1998 Fellowship Candidate at Manhattan Theatre Club, and was sponsored by The Paper Mill Playhouse for a TCG Playwriting Award.  She holds a B.A. with Honors in English and German from Duke University.  Her agent is Susan Schulman.


Any comments can be directed to Carol Bugge.


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