Fast Forward: Contemporary Science Fiction began in late 1980s.  It was created as a monthly public access television series by long-time northern Virginia science fiction fans Kathi Overton and John Pomeranz.  For the first couple of years, John hosted the show while Kathi produced and handled the technical details.  The program was produced at the Arlington Community Television studio, with an all-volunteer cast and crew.  This was back during the dark ages of analog video production, and early episodes were recorded on 3/4″ videotape, using tube cameras.

For the first several episodes, John interviewed two authors per show, for a full half-hour.  John and Kathi soon realized they would have to repeat authors too frequently if they continued this way, so they changed the format to a single, shorter interview and added news and reviews to fill out the time. Eventually, well-known Washington, DC area fan, artist and writer Joe Mayhew began providing book reviews.

In 1991, John and Kathi moved out of the Washington, DC region, and handed the reins of Fast Forward over to a couple of friends from Washington area fandom – Tom Schaad and Mike Zipser.  Tom and Mike shared both the hosting and producing duties, and used their personal connections to attract many internationally known authors and artists to appear on the show.

When Kathi and John moved back to northern Virginia in the mid-1990s, Kathi was quickly sucked back in to work on the program.  John was able to resist – mostly – and only shows up occasionally, as a “special reports” host.  Since he ends up doing a lot of the Fast Forward In Memoriam segments, he is sometimes referred to as the Fast Forward “Angel of Death.”

Photo of Joe Mayhew, by Evan Phillips

Joe Mayhew. Photo by Evan Phillips

In the late 1990s, the Arlington Community TV studio facility moved and upgraded its equipment, which helped the show’s look improve.  Then, Joe Mayhew, whose health had been failing, passed away in 2000.  This was a terrible blow to the production team, but soon the ever capable Colleen Cahill stepped in and began doing book reviews.  Marianne Petrino also became the show’s Anime reviewer.

As video technology evolved, the program transitioned to digital editing and recording.  A Fast Forward website was created, and videos of many of the recent interviews were added, enabling science fiction fans around the world to view them.

During this time period the production team did some multi-camera shoots on location at various science fiction conventions, and experimented with some video blogging, as well. Episodes were made available on PegMedia (an online distribution platform for public access programs) which allowed public access organizations around the US to download the show free of charge and show it on their channel.

FFCrew_Stephenson

FF crew with Neal Stephenson

In 2013, Fast Forward finally transitioned to high-definition (HD) video – though most of its distribution outlets are still showing standard def.  The show is still produced at the Arlington, VA public access studio – now officially known as Arlington Independent Media. Access stations can now download complete (standard definition) episodes, free of charge, from PegMedia. Interviews can be watched in their entirety, in HD, on the Fast Forward Youtube channel.  You will also find links to interviews and other videos here on the Fast Forward website. For all that’s changed over the years the show is still a volunteer “labor of love” and the goals are the same – to help you discover new science fiction and get to know the people who create it, and find new insight into science fiction you already know. Enjoy!