Briggs Moon gave me a call yesterday. In some ways, MS has made be a better friend, but the one way it didn't is that I suck at staying in touch (although I'm working on getting better). I haven't had a long talk with Briggs in five years or so. Way the hell too long. Things have changed in his life. He has a new, very sultry fiance (see picture above) who's intensely brainy as well (a geneticist). He's a dad twice over now, too. His eldest is Phoebe and his youngest is Riley.
I met Briggs a little after I met Kirk, back in junior high. We didn't really become friends until junior year of high school in Linda Melanson's debate class. Melanson sucked as an instructor. She was an amazing speech and interp coach, but somewhat lecherous and very lazy. There were whole days in that class in which we'd do nothing at all. I practically taught myself to be a debater. Briggs and I sat on the yellow couch in her room and talked about Star Trek: The Next Generation, back when the show was in its production run. "I love Star Trek," he said, eyes darting back and forth, searching for interlopers who might overhear. "Don't tell anyone, okay?"
A decade ago we were working on a sci-fi novel together. Sadly, other writers and movie-makers found their way to several elements of our original ideas for the book before we finished it. The project fell apart because my life collapsed between 1998 and 2001. I was hit by the quadruple whammy of being fucked over royally at USAID, having my first MS exacerbations, living in three different cities in three different years and coming out. I was broken every single way you could break me. In the autumn of '99, Briggs was in Chicago for a business trip. Both of us like whiskey quite a bit. I think we drank Crown Royal that night. It's Briggs' favorite. Briggs likes pistachio nuts and I like cashews. I brought both with me. And a tape recorder. We listened to sci-fi music, drank, and brainstormed the night through. I got it all on tape. Shortly after, I got optic neuritis, one of the tell-tale symptoms of MS. Optic neuritis is like looking at the world through fogged-up glasses. I couldn't read. If you want to scare a guy like me to death, take away his ability to read. I listened to Briggs and me on those tapes over and over again. It was my only escape. That night with Briggs was one of the greatest blessings in my life. I'm really glad we're back in touch.
Naturally, "blast from the past" photos are in order. This was Briggs, taken a day or two after a Stars loss to Wings, 0-3 (yes, Ozzie was in net, thank you). You'll see the stoic, serious expression that befits the moment. You'll also see that, unlike me, Briggs has had a real job over the past decade, one that pays in American dollars. But the Wings still won that game, so I can't complain.
The picture below was me as I looked roughly at the time Briggs saw me last. I think Brian McGrath took that photo just after St. Patrick's Day of 2001, the best St. Patrick's Day Party I ever threw. Briggs and Kirk were there! Either that, or Dinur took the photo in 2002. That punch-drunk, bunny-in-the-headlights look was the old Talal just before it all ended.
Most importantly, this is Briggs' model of the Eschersphere, our starship. He made it by modifying models of a Cardassian cruiser from Deep Space Nine and, of course, an imperial star destroyer from Star Wars. I was so excited when he sent these to me.
The Eschersphere was powered by a miniature black hole (MBH). Briggs developed a whole technology around what it took to contain and harness the power of an MBH. These are the joys of having an engineer as a writing partner. I was good at politics, cultures and species. He was the science guy. I was good at making vast systems of character relationships and political situations. Briggs excelled at taking a wrench to them, ripping a whole in their guts and thereby creating dynamic plot. Goddamn, we were good together. Those were the days!