New York City, 1953. The golden age of television, when most programs were broadcast live. Young Kurt Jastrow, a full-time TV writer and occasional actor, is about to have a close encounter of the apocalyptic kind.
Kurt’s most beloved character (and alter ego) is Uncle Wonder, an eccentric tinkerer whose pyrotechnically spectacular science experiments delight children across the nation. Uncle Wonder also has a more distant following: the inhabitants of Planet Qualimosa. When a pair of his extraterrestrial fans arrives to present him with an award, Kurt is naturally pleaseduntil it develops that, come next Sunday morning, these same aliens intend to perpetrate a massacre.
Will Kurt and his colleagues manage to convince the Qualimosans that Earth is essentially a secular and rationalist world? Or will the two million devotees of NBC’s most popular religious program suffer unthinkable consequences for their TV-viewing tastes? Stay tuned for The Madonna and the Starship!
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Excerpt from Chapter One of The Madonna and the Starship
1: Uncle Wonder Builds a Jet Engine
X minus ten seconds and counting! Nine, eight, seven! Step lively, cosmic cadets! Six, five, four! Time to scramble aboard the space schooner TRITON! Good job, cadets, you made it! Three, two, one ... BLAST OFF with BROCK BARTON AND HIS ROCKET RANGERS! Brought to you by Kellogg’s Sugar Corn Pops, with the sweetenin’ already on it, and by Nestlé’s Ovaltine, the hot chocolaty breakfast drink school teachers recommend! And now, stalwart star sailors, let’s race on up to the bridge, where Brock and his crew are about to receive an assignment from Galaxy Central: a mission that will hurl them pell-mell into the dreaded Coils of Terror,” chapter one of this week’s exciting adventure, THE COBRA KING OF GANYMEDE!