Monthly Archives: December 2015

“Visit the Zoo”

Zoo VII Cover Renna copy


Book VII in the “Visit the Zoo” 12-Book Series available on Amazon Kindle:

If you want to purchase the entire 12-Book Series in one book, just click on the cover below and you will be taken directly to Amazon Kindle for the “Visit the Zoo, 12-Book Anthology.” You will get all 12 books in one volume and save.





I saw “Star Wars The Force Awakens” this morning. I just came back from the theater and I am pounding out this review even before I take off my coat.

First of all, I promise in this review NOT to give away any plotline points. I am pledging a No-Spoiler-Alert.

All of you must know how it feels to put on a well-broken in pair of shoes or jeans that have been washed at least 25 times. The leather on your shoes conform to your feet and the cotton in the denim is soft and supple clinging to every curve of your body no matter how big or small. Well, that is what like when the Star Wars distinctive logo slide came up on the opening credits. The familiar vanishing point crawl followed with story updates and explainers and the theater crowd surrounding me roared with excitement, claps and cheers.

Good filmmakers and good storytellers get right into the flow of action with the first frame of film, especially with a sequel. And this film did not disappoint. I cannot tell you how it opens or who it opens with the first screen reveal. But I will say this, that from the moment it started to the moment it ended time seemed for me to race by or was suspended. I “fell” immediately into the screen and story no theater noise would distract  or my concentration on what I was seeing.

And that continued locked-in concentration on what was happening or my surmise as to what might happen was because of three reasons that really come down to one person. That person is Director J.J. Abrams. I believe he is equal to a Spielberg, Ridley Scott or any front line director these days. And here comes a bold statement, I even think he did a better job with this Star Wars than its originator George Lucas. J.J. did have the technology advances that Lucas did not have but I think his first job in crafting the script with Lawrence Kasdan was superb and made this film ultimately a success.

If you have both top notch Story and Direction then you have a well-crafted movie. And this movie was well crafted. And above all I think his work on the script was perfect. Nothing was wasted. No throw away lines that could have been discarded, no silly dialogue, and no pre-planned action sequences that could have been removed. And let me emphasize the point by adding that, yes, there was great CG or computer graphics and yes the action sequences were executed perfectly, not too long or short, but it was the overall movement and pace of the story within the script that made it easy and comfortable to watch this film. Nothing got in the way or slowed down the continuing heartbeat of the story in any act of this film.

Direction…if you have the script down cold, which is how J.J. Abrams got his early chops, you then proceed with perfect Camera and Cut you can have a masterful piece of work. It took 3 years to complete this first film. Disney purchased the rights for George Lucas in 2012 and moved straight ahead with production. I only hope there was second-unit photography to give us a behind the scenes look at the production process. That was done with the King Kong and the Lord of the Rings series by Director Peter Jackson and I hope this was done with the new Star Wars as well.

Camera…I saw great movement of the camera throughout with good close-ups, tracking, medium shots, and fascinating wide shots as well. But I want to make the point again that the camera movement and the CG  in the new Star Wars did not get in the way of the flow or the pace of the story.

Editing…J.J. Abrams and his team have it down cold. When you can mesh the pace of the story, the flow of the shots, and the precise beat editing into one project then you have a Mona Lisa film.

Acting, flawless performances in this film. A good measuring stick to determine whether a film had outstanding acting performances or not, it is not necessarily the acting that you see on screen to make that determination. Just as important or more important in my opinion is how an actor reacts to a line of dialogue or piece of action. Because that reaction reveals the thinking process of the actor which make a linkage to the audience who is also reacting in their minds to the piece of dialogue or action they just heard or saw in a movie. It is kinda like a simpatico relationship audience can have with characters. Does than make sense to anyone besides myself?

I guess I can truly say that this is a film that you MUST see if you are a Star Wars fan and I can only imagine there are very few countries on earth, probably where technology and electricity do not exist, that have not seen the previous Star Films.

And I can also say that there is a distinctive line between the first Star Wars films you have seen and this Star Wars. The first films were about what happened with the story in the past. This Star Wars film turns around 180 degrees and projects into the future what will happen next. There is no looking back now. The Star Wars film now will be forward-looking with echoes from past threads throughout the story.

I think I have just caught myself by realizing that I am concentrating on the story. You have to forgive me. I am a science fiction novel writer and I have written unproduced but film-studio optioned scripts, “SETI” by Columbia Pictures, in the past as well. I write stories and so it is important to me. But the story is the basic architecture element of any written work of art, even in non-fiction. Stories drew our ancestors around a campfire 10,000 years ago and the campfire still burns in our imagination when we hear a good story…a good story like my “SETI” trilogy, now expanding to a total of nine books.

There is so much I want to tell you about my reaction to the twists and turns I just saw on the screen but I can’t. Therefore, you will have to judge for yourself whether my enthusiasm for this film is warranted or not. I can tell you that you won’t be bored, you won’t be disappointed and you will be very happy you and your family saw this movie. It is great entertainment and I think a definite “bucket list” to-do item during the holiday season and beyond.

But don’t feel that this is it for Star Wars, because it isn’t. Disney will produce one Star Wars film per year until the year 2020. So, there is a lot more to come. Go see the first one, please.

Now, finally, a personal note about why I am so happy to praise this film and welcome the coming Star Wars films in the future. As a two decade long employee of ABC-TV in Hollywood, ABC now owned by The Walt Disney Company, my retirement income from Disney depends on the continuing financial success of that company. I have often thought that as long as there is a Disneyland and Disney World here in the U.S. and select countries around the world, my retirement pension should be safe. But now, after seeing “Star Wars The Force Awakens” I am positive  it will be safe. It cost Disney 4 billion dollars to purchase the rights for Star Wars from George Lucas. Early estimates on just the film on box office are 1.5-2 billion dollars. I would not be surprised if that number was even higher for the film box office in the U.S., around the world, and download and DVD rights. And that is not to mention what the merchandising could rake in. So, I would also not be surprised if Disney does get back that $4 billion purchase rights money just with this first film. From then on for Disney it will be gravy. I think I heard it cost $200 million to make the film. That will probably be made back by this weekend.

Thank you George Lucas, The Walt Disney Company and J.J. Abrams for an excellent movie experience. I absolutely loved it. Now, if I can just generate the same excitement for my SETI Trilogy I will be even more excited. Stay tuned, folks, more to come from this channel.

P.S. After a while, after you have seen this film, will someone please remind me to finish the following thought and question: Do you remember the 1962 film “Taras Bulba” starring Yul Brynner, Tony Curtis, and Christine Kaufmann?

Frederick Fichman


Complete 12-Book Visit the Zoo Series Now in One Anthology Book


Visit the Zoo, vol. I


Chapter 1

Red Ruffed Lemur

Chapter 2

Dalmatian Pelican

Visayan Warty Pig

Chapter 3



Chapter 4

Let’s Ride the Zoo Train

Let’s Ride the Boat

African Crested Porcupine


Chapter 5

Black-Tailed Prairie Dog

Golden Eagle

Chapter 6



Visit the Zoo, vol. II



Chapter 1



Chapter 2

Thomson’s Gazelle

Spider Monkey

Chapter 3

            Gift Shop

Cliff Chipmunk

Chapter 4

Harris Antelope Squirrel

Red-Handed Tamarin

Chapter 5

Colorado River Toad

Pancake Tortoise

Chapter 6

Slender-Tailed Meerkat



Visit the Zoo, vol. III



Chapter 1

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

Goliath Bird-Eating Spider

Chapter 2



Chapter 3

Spotted Hyena

Andean Bear

Chapter 4

Snack Bar

White Tiger


Chapter 5

Red Knee Tarantula

Red Neck Ostrich


Visit the Zoo, vol. IV



Chapter 1

Black Leopard

White Alligator

Chapter 2



Chapter 3

Maned Wolf

Tiger Rat Snake

Chapter 4

East African Crowned Crane

Patas Monkey

Chapter 5

Grey Kangaroo

Water Monitor


Visit the Zoo, vol. V



Chapter 1

Arabian & Scimitar Oryx

Adax Antelope

Chapter 2

Stars & Stripes or White Spotted Puffer

Green Moray EEL


Chapter 3

Ringtail Lemur


Chapter 4

Australian Black Swan

Defassa Waterbuck

The Petting Zoo


Visit the Zoo, vol VI



Chapter 1

Monarch Butterfly

Cotton-Top Tamarin

Chapter 2

American Alligator


Chapter 3

Kirk’s Dik Dik


Chapter 4

Linnaeus Sloth


Chapter 5

Grery’s Zebra

Hamadryas Baboon


Visit the Zoo, vol VII



Chapter 1

Desert Bighorn Ram

Desert Bighorn Ewe


Chapter 2

Great White Pelican

Mexican Wolf

Chapter 3


Great Tree Python



Chapter 4

White’s Tree Frog

Yellow-Back Duiker

Chapter 5

Komodo Dragon

Malayan Tiger


Visit the Zoo, vol. VIII



Chapter 1


Ornate Monitor

Chapter 2

Lesser Kudu


Chapter 3

Pygmy Hippopotamus

Secretary Bird

Chapter 4



Chapter 5

Fennec Fox

Giant Panda


Visit the Zoo, vol. IX



Chapter 1

Siberian Reindeer


Chapter 2


South Gerenuk

Chapter 3


Zoo Photo Montage

Neotropical Rattlesnake

Chapter 4

Freshwater Ray

Forest Buffalo

Chapter 5

European White Stork

Lion-Tailed Macaque



Visit the Zoo, vol. X



Chapter 1

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill


Chapter 2

Prevost’s squirrel

California Condor

Chapter 3

Polar Bear

Great Egret

Chapter 4

Red River Hog

Soemmerring’s Gazelle

Chapter 4

Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat

Blue and Gold Macaw


Visit the Zoo, vol. XI



Chapter 1

Black Bear

Lowland Anoa

Chapter 2

American Kestrel

Indian Peafowl

Chapter 3

Nile Monitor

Nile Crocodile

Chapter 4

Red Kangaroo


Chapter 5


Bactrian Camel


Visit the Zoo, vol. XII



Chapter 1

Allen’s Swamp Monkey

White-Tailed Deer



Chapter 2


Great Blue Heron

Chapter 3

Giant Hairy Scorpion

Giant Elan

Chapter 4

African Serval


Chapter 5


Western Lowland Gorilla

A Final Look Back

Montage of Zoo Animals




Author Logo w-url 1-3-15

I am really frozen with indecision. I really don’t know what to do and maybe you can help me. 

If you read my bio on my website,, you will see that I am an author. I have 29 fiction and non-fiction books now up on Amazon Kindle. But at this precise moment, after finishing a number of small projects, I am ready to complete or start another novel. The problem: I don’t know which of four promising stories to write first. If I describe them all to you and if you check out sample chapters on my Wattpad page at, maybe you can help me come to a decision.

SETI IV COVER Final Renna copy

The first manuscript that I’ve started is book IV in my SETI science fiction series. I have written 3 books so far and even print published my first book SETI I. It was printed by the ROC imprint for Penguin in the U.S. and in London for the U.K. on the Headline Publishing company. With the fourth incarnation in my telling of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence the storyline is taking off in a completely new direction. I know where it is all going all the way through to book IX.

Lewis and Clark CoverRenna3-6-2014 copy

The second manuscript that I think I am even more desperate to start is fantasy-fiction novel entitled, “The Feather.” The log line for this story is that during the Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1804–1806, the Corps of Discovery is joined by two new members at Fort Mandan in present day North Dakota. These young members stay with the expedition and experience the difficulties of that country-changing journey all the way to Fort Clatsop on the Oregon Coast near present day Astoria.

MEGA Cover NEW 2-25 copy

The third manuscript is a story that I started years ago and actually have about one-third of that tale completed. The manuscript is called “Megaptera” and it is about a pod of sentient humpback whales living on an extraterrestrial planet almost five light years from planet Earth. It is, of course, a science fiction novel. A 23rd century expedition to that planet from Earth encounters these communicative creatures and finds a world dominated by an advanced animal kingdom…an animal kingdom without Great Apes or Man.

VTZ Novel Cover copy

Finally, I’ve been noodling around a story as a fiction spinoff to my non-fiction 12-book series, “Visit the Zoo.” My 12 “Visit the Zoo” books describe over 120 animals with hundreds of pictures taken by the author, me, and has accompanying fascinating descriptions of those zoo animals. Many of those animals are on the endangered species list.

I wish there was more than 24 hours in the day and I had infinite energy to work on all four of these books at the same time. But you and I know that is impossible and unwise. So, this is where you come in. I would like your opinion. I would like to know what you think I should concentrate my efforts on in these coming months. What is your favorite story of these four that I have concocted and which manuscript should I pursue to completion.

Author Logo w-url 1-3-15

Let me know by either contracting me at my email address at or go to my website,, and use the contact form by hitting the tab for that form located on my home page. You can tell me what you want me to do by simply writing in the book title. Of course, any extended comments would also be appreciated.


Thanks for your help.



Clammr and 12/3/2015


Passing along a few updates.

First of all, from the logo above you might surmise that I am announcing something about the audio clip site, Clammr. You would be correct in that surmise. For those of you who don’t know what Clammr is all about let me try to explain it this way. Clammr is to the spoken word in 18 seconds per audio clip as Twitter is to the written word at 140 characters per tweet. I just started to upload Clammrs, as they are called, this last weekend. Not much you can say or explain in 18 seconds but I thought I would push some of my books as well as stack my page with quotes from Mark Twain. Mark Twain that great American author has a name and his works that are instantly recognizable worldwide. What is amazing about Samuel Clemens, or Mark Twain, is how much he wrote in his lifetime as a newspaper man and as a writer of fiction and non-fiction. His books continue to sell to this day. It is estimated that since the first publishing of Tom Sawyer in 1876, 15 billion copies have been sold in all forms.

So many idiomatic phrases we use today derive from the pen of Mark Twain. He had a way of twisting a sentence with humor and wisdom where so much could be said with so few words. He is an idol of mine. I have read his words throughout my life time and continue to learn from his writing style.

Using the Clammr platform I am delivering some pearls of wisdom from that brilliant man. I posted 20 quotes so far and will continue to do so in the future. All of the 18 second quotes are read by me, recorded at my home studio.

So please give it a listen and tell me what you think.

My Clammr page can be found at:

If you wish to give me your comments you can use the contact form on my author website at:

One more personal item. I have a birthday coming in several days on December 3rd. Happy Birthday to me. Some people love birthdays and the excitement attendant. Some people could care less. I can only say I feel a sense of accomplishment that I am continuing to live my life in peace and happiness, working daily on the writing craft I love. Please, no presents, no cards. Good wishes will be accepted and appreciated.

Take care loyal readers.

Frederick Fichman