12.30.2015

Video: The original intro to Star Trek's 2nd pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before"


Enterprise Log: James Kirk, Commanding

We are leaving that vast cloud of stars and planets which we call our galaxy. Behind us, Earth, Mars, Venus, even our Sun, are specks of dust. The question: What is out there in the black void beyond.
I confess that I have never seen the beginning of "Where No Man Has Gone Before". I've seen almost the entire episode (look, I'm more of a TOS movie and TNG fan, okay?), so I noticed several interesting bits:

1. The Enterprise being a law enforcement/patrol ship that's sent out of the galaxy to see what's out there. I like the idea of it being repurposed for the task, rather than being built specifically for extra-galactic exploration because it gives the impression that the Federation or Earth or whoever doesn't is wary of building a brand new ship for a mission that might not pan out.

2. Spock having human ancestry rather than being half-human. I actually like that more than him being half and half because it's a better explanation for why he was never as coldly logical as other Vulcans and moments of emotion, as well as explain why he lacks human features. B'lanna from Voyager, for example, is half-human and half-Klingon and it shows as her forehead ridges aren't as prominent. With Spock, you'd think that his ears wouldn't be as pointed as a full-blooded Vulcan and his eyebrows would look more like a human's if he was only half-Vulcan.

3. The transporter being called a materializer. I thought it was dumb the first time I heard Scotty say it, but the name's growing on me. Transporter is still a better name, but materializer has the charm of sounding old school scifi.

4. The corridor set looks cool, especially with that ladder. They should have kept the ladders. That part of the set has a nice nautical feel, which fits with ship-based scifi.

(h/t File 770)

12.26.2015

Just go ahead and disregard that post about the movie theater

Because it turns out that that their website was just plain wrong. They had an ad in yesterday's paper for movies they're showing and so I finally got to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I'll do a post about that today or tomorrow and fair warning, there's going to be some rather colorful language in regards to a certain thing that happened and if you've seen the movie, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Don't spoil it in the comments for this post, though. I don't want to ruin it for anybody who hasn't seen The Force Awakens.

12.24.2015

Treklit is my crack

And I can never get enough. Right off the heels of finishing Star Trek Vanguard: Summon the Thunder, I've moved on to book three of the series, Reap the Whirlwind.

How is it so far? Not bad. 49 pages in and  I can already tell that the Klingons are going to have a bigger role than they did in the previous two books, which I have exactly zero problems with. I'm hyped to see the USS Sagittarius (the ship on the cover) as the focus of the novel because I love the Archer-class scout ships. David Mack has a casting list on his website and his choice of Sir Ben Kingsley as Captain Adelard Nassir really helps with the visualization. Speaking of David Mack and casting, there's a nice reference to Kevin Smith's movie Clerks in chapter 2, which features two ensigns from the USS Lovell who are both named after the two main actors from Clerks. I didn't catch it until one of them said Dante Hicks' famous line from the movie "I wasn't even supposed to be here today." Great movie, by the way.

Reap the Whirlwind revolves around the Jinoteur System which in Summon the Thunder, was identified as the source of a mysterious carrier wave that caused havoc with Vanguard's computer systems (as told in a short story, Early Distant Warning) and its relation to both the Meta-Genome and the mysterious Shedai. It's early, but I think this one is going to be another great read.

12.23.2015

My local movie theater has failed me so badly

I was set and ready to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the beginning of the week and well, that plan went up in smoke, not unlike Vader's skin in Revenge of the Sith. I waited until Monday in order to avoid crowds and that appears to have been a big, big mistake. Why? Because the local theater is only showing TFA in the evenings and at night this week, opting to show Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (obvious Oscar bait, if you ask me) during the day instead. You see, folks, my town doesn't have one of those big chain theaters anymore and instead has one of those small indie jobs run by people who apparently think that people want to see Jason Lee and three CGI talking chipmunks instead of a SW movie during the day.

But oh, it gets even dumber. The theater closes down on Christmas Eve and doesn't reopen until like Jan. 6th or 16th, at which point it's only showing actual-honest-to-god operas for who knows how long. Apparently that's an actual business plan? Not show movies and divert all those customers to the theater in one of the nearby cities? Seems legit.

It's a problem because I don't drive and while my town isn't the crime capital of America, walking home at night is not something I'd like to do. Despite this pain in the rear, I'll finally get to see The Force Awakens this Friday.

12.19.2015

Finished: Star Trek Vanguard: Summon the Thunder [SPOILERS]

It was pretty good. It had a bit more action in it than I remember Harbinger having, which wasn't a slouch itself. Quinn and Pennington weren't as annoying as they were in the first book, mostly because the latter didn't spend the entire book whining about his dead girlfriend. That's not to say that Harbinger was in any way an inferior book. David Mack had the difficult task of setting the stage, establishing characters, etc. for the rest of the series (with help from Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore, no doubt) while staging within a certain page length, so it stands to reason that he couldn't add as much action and space battles as Ward and Dilmore did in Summon the Thunder.

12.15.2015

Some thoughts on that star galleon post

I was thinking about that post this morning and realized that there's a small flaw in the scenario for wargamers: the treasure. While the loot would be a good reward for treasure hunters in a role-playing scenario, it probably wouldn't be in wargaming. It would be a drop in the bucket for all but the most impoverished of star nations. Of course, there are simple fixes for this:

1. Hybridize it. Start out with a wargame with the players trying to secure the wreck so that they can send a boarding party over to begin exploring, which would be the RPG side of the game. This would either work as a solo game or you could have the losing players control whatever nasty things are inside the galleon.

2. Add another objective. This is pretty simple and I can't believe that I didn't think of it when I was writing that post. Tell all the players that the star galleon's has an intact datacore that contains the potential locations of other wrecked galleons and long lost storage depots. However, the datacore has to be physically collected and returned to your ship in order for the information to be retrieved. Any damage it takes while being removed and transported will cause loss of data and some of the locations of the other wrecks and depots. It's very old, so any excessive jostling or banging around will cause damage. In other words, whoever is carrying the thing has to move slower than they normally would.

Another thought I had is the type of ships that would battle it out in a wargame. I would bar any large ships like carriers, dreadnoughts, battleships, etc. because it just wouldn't make any sense to scramble the big guns for a single wreck. Instead, I would allow only smaller ships like destroyers and frigates. Maybe some cruisers, but only a very small number. Fighters would be okay, I suppose, unless they require a carrier, then no. The idea would be that each star nation would like to get their hands on the content of the star galleon, but they're not going to send in an entire battle fleet for it.

12.14.2015

Inspiration: Wreck of the old star galleon

I saw an article the other day on NPR about the discovery of the wreck of a galleon from the legendary Spanish treasure fleet and my initial reaction was "wow, this would be good inspiration for a fantasy RPG" and indeed it would be. Buuuuuuut then I started to think about it tonight and realized that hey, this would work for scifi too. Here's the scenario I've come up with:
An ancient star galleon from a fallen space empire has been discovered in some remote reach of space. All that's known about the galleon is that it was once part of the aforementioned empire's treasure fleet, hauling fortune from its far-flung reaches and sometimes high technology. The contents and defenses of the galleon are unknown, but the potential for incredible riches and technology make its exploration well worth any dangers.
This could work for a wargame setting as well. In that situation, you'd have several star navies rushing ships to secure the galleon and its contents. Its worth noting that the technology in both scenarios are still very advanced even though the empire that created it has long since expired. Speaking of which, while that empire has gone the way of so many real world analogues, the star nation that spawned it still does, which adds another element to the scenarios: They themselves would love, love, love to get their hands on their former riches and technology in order to restore themselves to their former glory.

Thoughts?

The trailer for Star Trek: Beyond is...well, it's a...uh...it's something



I was going to write something snarky here, but I can't. I just can't. If that trailer is any indication, Star Trek: Beyond is going to be a hot pile of shit like Into Darkness. Can't say that I'm surprised. After all, Justin Lin is the same guy who directed four of the Fast & Furious movies and that trailer shows that he went at Beyond just like one of those movies. I make no secret about my dislike of the reboot and this only increases those feelings. This isn't Star Trek, plain and simple. This is Paramount trying to squeeze as much money out of the franchise as they can by reducing Trek to nothing more than an action movie franchise.

I don’t think Beyond will be Battlefield: Earth bad, but it’ll definitely trek beyond Final Frontier.

12.01.2015

Oh, pretty ship

Credit: Peter Elson.
Stolen shamelessly from the blog of BARKING ALIEN. I am without shame, people! In any case, I swiped it because it's an awfully cool looking starship for the most part. The knock against I have against it is that antenna/mast. It's just odd and is that a gun mounted at the top? You just know some asshole gunner on an enemy ship is going to aim for that thing just to be a jerk. All the other gunners are aiming for the main body of that ship and there's Johnny Jackass trying to shot the antennas off. What a jerk, am I right?

11.12.2015

My thoughts on the new Star Trek series

Meh.

Shit, I wrote thoughts, didn't I? Fuck, now I have to write more.

Anyways, "meh" sums it up pretty well. For those who haven't heard, CBS recently announced a new Trek series and any other day of the week I would be one happy boy, but unfortunately, I'm not. You see, the new show isn't going to be on TV (aside from the first ep) but on their website behind a paywall. Yeah, CBS is trying to get a piece of that web streaming pie by creating a subscription based service and apparently they think sticking a new Trek in there is just going to bring all the boys to the yard (ask your kids or Google). Now, a subscription only costs six bucks but that's six dollars more than I'm willing to pay just for one show and to be honest, that's really all you're going to get out of the deal. You do get access to entire runs of all their other TV shows, but the thing is, you can just as easily watch their most popular ones for free. I mean NCIS (both original and LA), Mike and Molly, The Big Bang Theory, Criminal Minds, like three of the CSIs, and other shows are all in syndication and air daily on other networks, so there's no incentive to drop any money for their service.

I will admit that I'm curious about the new Trek series. Which continuity, the characters, premise, the ship, etc., but my curiosity isn't enough to pay to see it even if I could and fortunately I can't, because I have no way of buying shit on the interwebs. :P

10.30.2015

9.16.2015

Jennifer Lien (Kes from Star Trek: Voyager) arrested for allegedly exposing herself to minors

2015 is a weird, weird year. Via Variety:
“Star Trek: Voyager” actress Jennifer Lien was arrested and has been in custody for two weeks after allegedly exposing herself in front of several children, Roane County police confirm.

Lien has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure in an incident that happened on Aug. 31 in Harriman, Tenn.

A neighbor of Lien’s made a complaint to police after Lien began a tirade due to a crying child, and during her tirade, exposed her breasts and buttocks. The neighbor stated that she had three children in the yard while this was happening.
I checked her Wikipedia article and this isn't her first run in with the police, with arrests in 2012 and this past April. I'm glad that this wasn't one of those gross sex crimes that celebrities have been getting caught up in the past few years. Don't get me wrong, anyone exposing themselves to children is gross as frak, but at least it wasn't anything exceedingly gross. It's pretty clear that Jennifer Lien is in bad need of help and hopefully whatever sentencing gets or plea deal she takes (I doubt any prosecutor is going to push for a trial) includes some mental health treatment.

8.11.2015

So guess who scored all twelve James Blish Trek AND The New Voyages paperbacks?

 So I went to the local Goodwill yesterday to see if they had any good pants for sale (I have an aversion towards spending ten dollars on a single pair, lol) and after finding two, went over to the books.

And I was coming up dry until I saw these babies sitting there. At a dollar a piece, they were a steal!

It wasn't until after I got home and looked them up on Wikipedia that I discovered that I had gotten my grubby hands on the entire series.
It gets better though, because I also snagged copies of both Star Trek: The New Voyages anthologies!

The New Voyages is interesting because not only were all the stories written by fanfic writers, but all but one story is preceded by an introduction from a TOS castmember! Imagine submitting a story for this anthology, then finding out that Leonard Nimoy or Nichelle Nichols is penning an intro it.

All in all, not a bad haul for $14.

The Blish Trek covers are from Memory Alpha. The New Voyages covers are from here and here.

6.20.2015

Star Trek: Vanguard: Summon the Thunder so far (spoilers)

I can't even remember when I put that picture in the "Currently Reading" tab on the sidebar and in that time I've probably read several other books. I have a habit of doing this: I'll start reading a book, get a ways into it before dropping it and reading something else. I'll come back around to it sooner rather than later and this was the case with Summon the Thunder, the second book in the Star Trek: Vanguard. I can't stress enough that I didn't stop reading the book because it was bad or uninteresting or anything. Summon the Thunder really is a very good Trek novel that I'd recommend easily.

Currently, I'm on page 274 out of 420 pages total, although the last few pages are an "About the Authors" section and the usual ads that appear at the back of Trek novels. So what have I experienced so far? Hit the jump to find out and heed the spoiler warning in the post's title.

5.24.2015

John Scalzi signs $3.4 million deal with Tor for thirteen books over the next decade

Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn. According to the article, we're getting a Lock In sequel (YES) and we're bound to get some more entries in the Old Man's War series (DOUBLE YES).

5.17.2015

Childhood's End and (finally) The Expanse get airdates

And in the case of The Expanse, it's about time! The bad news is that we've got quite a while longer to wait before either series graces the small screen - December. It's more than a bit odd that The Expanse is being set so late in the year, especially given that they released the trailer back in January. On the plus side, they're already writing the second season.

h/t The Wertzone.

5.13.2015

The Ares from Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars

Artist: Don Dixon (via MangalaWiki)
So I'm reading Red Mars because I'm grooving for some hard-scifi at the moment and I thought the Ares, the U.S. and Russian built spacecraft that carries the first colonists to Mars was worth a post. I'm fascinated by the construction of the ship:
The ship was constructed in Earth orbit by assembling empty external fuel tanks from American and Russian space shuttles, which would also serve as landing ships, thus cutting costs compared to constructing a ship entirely out of dedicated parts. This and the repetitive nature of this construction method allowed the Ares to be completed in less than two years.
An immense ship for early 21st century standards, its primary living space was composed of eight hexagons, and each hexagon composed of six connected hollow cylinders, which previously were the fuel tanks. These eight toruses, ranging from Torus A to H, were speared down the middle by a central hub shaft. At the aft end of the shaft were the fuel tanks and main propulsion system. The front end led to a section with a bubble window, which permitted views of the stars and a partial view of the ship behind.
As a whole, the ship slowly rotated around the axis of the central shaft, providing about .38 of Earth's gravity (or Martian gravity) to the toruses.
The entire ship's living space equated to about the living area of a large city hotel. Each torus was filled with different systems: dining halls, living quarters, a farm, and even a strolling garden.
Using the external fuel tanks from space shuttles to build a ship? In real life, the tanks were disposable, jettisoned by the shuttle and left the burn up as it fell back to Earth, so the idea of repurposing them to build a ship is interesting, clever, and brilliant. Unfortunately, this option is no longer available to us since the Russians have no shuttles (except never used Buron) and NASA retired all of theirs. Still, maybe the design of the Ares could still be used if the United States and/or the rest of the world ever got off its asses and decided to go to Mars and colonize it.

4.14.2015

Yeoman Leslie Thompson holds a rather unfortunate place in Trek history

 That place? As the only female redshirt to be killed during the entire run of The Original Series. Thompson was killed in the episode "By Any Other Name" when the Kelvan Hanar turns her and another redshirt into "dehydrated porous cuboctahedron solids", which look suspiciously like sponges filled with dust or something.

Then the leader of the Kelvans, Rojan, crushes her sponge form and that's the end of Yeoman Thompson. I'm surprised that no other redshirt women were killed off in TOS. Then again, I don't think a lot of women were killed on that show. Probably didn't sit well with studio execs and censors.

Pictures via Memory Alpha.

3.31.2015

My Star Wars novel collection

Because I'm bored.
  • The Han Solo Trilogy: The Paradise Snare - A.C. Crispin
  • The Lando Calrissian Adventures - L. Neil Smith
  • Death Star - Michael Reeves and Steve Perry
  • The Exploits of Han Solo: Han Solo At Stars End, Han Solo's Revenge, Han Solo and the Lost Legacy - Brian Daley
  • Shadows of the Empire - Steve Perry
  • Tales from Jabba's Palace - Various authors, edited by Kevin J. Anderson
  • The Truce at Bakura - Kathy Tyers
  • X-Wing series (Rogue Squadron - Starfighters of Adumar) - Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston.
  • The Courtship of Princess Leia - Dave Wolverton
  • Thrawn Trilogy: Heir to the Empire and Dark Force Rising - Timothy Zahn
  • Dark Apprentice - Kevin J. Anderson
  • I, Jedi - Michael A. Stackpole
  • The Crystal Star - Vonda N. McIntyre
  • The Black Fleet Crisis: Before the Storm, Shield of Lies, and Tyrant's Nest - Michael P. Kube-McDowell
  • The New Rebellion - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • The Corellian Trilogy: Ambush at Corellia, Assault at Selonia, and Showdown at Centerpoint - Roger Macbride Allen
It's very incomplete, but I honestly don't think I'm going to expand it much further, except to buy The Last Command, Mercy Kill, and The Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy.

Next time, my Star Trek collection.

3.27.2015

Well so much for that rumor about a new Star Trek series in the works

I was just reading an article on The Nerdist about a rumor that CBS might be developing the first new Trek TV show in over a decade and I was really hyped for it...right until I got to the end and saw that the info came from Latino Review.

Here's the thing: Latino Review isn't even remotely a reliable source. They're one of those clickbait websites that manufactures rumors in order to get pageviews. Comicbookmovie.com is much the same way.

The article did remind me about how much I pine for a new Trek show. Ten years is way too damn long. Preferably, I'd like one set in the original timeline. If the J. J. Abrams movies hadn't happened, then I'd have been keen on a TOS TV reboot. Since that won't work now, I'd also be keen on a show based in the TOS era, but focused on a different crew and ship.

3.25.2015

You know what would be freaking awesome? A picture of either Obi-Wan Kenobi or Luke Skywalker fighting a dragon!

I had that pop into my head just now and holy crap, what badassery that would be! Had I the money, not only would I commission someone to draw it, but I'd also have it airbrushed on the side of a van. The one I have now has "Free Candy" spray painted on the side and while I have no idea who this Candy person is and why they need to be freed, I keep getting weird looks from the neighbors, so I should probably cover it up.*



*That was a joke, obviously. I don't own a van, just a broken down YT-3000 freighter. She's a bit old, but she can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.

2.24.2015

Leonard Nimoy hospitalized with severe chest pains

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.

He also has COPD, so double FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.

I didn't get into Star Trek through The Original Series like a lot of Trekkies; TNG was my gateway drug, but I LOVE the movies with the TOS cast way more than the TNG ones. I think The Motion Picture is under-appreciated and still get hit hard when Spock dies in The Wrath of Khan. His acting in The Voyage Home is one of the best things about that movie. Really, Leonard Nimoy defined what a Vulcan is and set the standard that pretty much every actor who has ever donned the pointy ears has to try and emulate to some degree.

This really just drives home hard the reality that the original cast is growing older and that their time on this Earth is coming to a close a lot sooner than anybody wants. I'm hoping against hope that this isn't anything super serious and he makes a speedy recovery, but man, it is going to be a cold harsh day when we finally lose Leonard Nimoy.

2.01.2015

Man, Syfy is really going full bore on the science fiction

I've already mentioned that they're doing adaptions of 12 Monkeys, The Expanse, and more, but now they're going even further by adding two more series: an adaption of Robert Charles Wilson's novel, Spin, and a show called Krypton. You can guess what the latter is about.

I read Spin back in the summer of 2011, during my fantasy reading binge (it and a few other scifi novels got sucked in there) and I really enjoyed it. Couldn't get into the sequel, Vortex, but that happens. Here's the blurb for the novel:
One night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives.

The effect is worldwide. The sun is now a featureless disk—a heat source, rather than an astronomical object. The moon is gone, but tides remain. Not only have the world's artificial satellites fallen out of orbit, their recovered remains are pitted and aged, as though they'd been in space far longer than their known lifespans. As Tyler, Jason, and Diane grow up, a space probe reveals a bizarre truth: The barrier is artificial, generated by huge alien artifacts. Time is passing faster outside the barrier than inside—more than a hundred million years per year on Earth. At this rate, the death throes of the sun are only about forty years in our future.

Jason, now a promising young scientist, devotes his life to working against this slow-moving apocalypse. Diane throws herself into hedonism, marrying a sinister cult leader who's forged a new religion out of the fears of the masses.

Earth sends terraforming machines to Mars to let the onrush of time do its work, turning the planet green. Next they send humans…and immediately get back an emissary with thousands of years of stories to tell about the settling of Mars. Then Earth's probes reveal that an identical barrier has appeared around Mars. Jason, desperate, seeds near space with self-replicating machines that will scatter copies of themselves outward from the sun—and report back on what they find.

Life on Earth is about to get much, much stranger.
Spin seems more suited for television than a movie. The latter would just condense the plot too much and cut character development or other important things for the sake of running time. I can't wait to watch this once production gets underway.

Krypton is equally, if not more interesting. As you can guess by the name, it's Superman-related, but is a prequel focused on the planet before it exploded and Earth ended up with a Man of Steel, with Kal-El's grandfather as the main character. On one hand, I'm jived for this, since Kryptonian society has always been depicted as being highly advanced and I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of tech the writers will conjure up. On the other hand, there's another prequel series based on an equally popular DC Comics character already on TV and that one didn't particularly connect to me. Of course, that's because Gotham felt too Batman-centric, even though it was supposed to be about Jim Gordon and Gotham City before the Dark Knight. Hopefully, the folks behind Krypton won't try and shoehorn Superman or his entire rogue's gallery into the show.

Overall, it's nice to see Syfy return to its roots and move away from it's previous trend of shitty paranormal crap shows. I think all these shows will go a long, long way towards reconciling with scifi fans.

Tip of the hat to Aidan Moher's A Dribble of Ink for posting about these two shows first.

1.28.2015

The Vaadwaur from Star Trek: Voyager look like Cardassians

(via Memory Beta)
The Vaadwaur's first and only appearance in VOY episode "Dragon's Teeth", where the crew of  Voyager stumbles across a bunch of them in hibernation while hiding out on their ruined homeworld. Voyager managed to stumble across a new form of faster-than-light travel called Underspace that allows the ship to travel two hundred light years in the span of five minutes. Unfortunately, the alien ship that helps them exist the Underspace are a bit...snippy about unauthorized use of their corridors and when Janeway refuses to let them board the ship and erase all related info from the computers, they attack and Voyager hides out on an irradiated planet with a thoroughly devastated city. Then they find all these Vaadwaur in stasis pods and naturally, they wake them up. To make a long story short, the Vaadwaur play themselves as victims of a war nine hundred years ago, but thanks to Neelix, the truth is uncovered: the Vaadwaur were an aggressive race akin to the Klingons, who used the Underspace corridors to build an empire. Their empire and most of their race were destroyed by their enemies, who then seized control of the Underspace. At the end of the episode, fifty-three Vaadwaur fighters escaped, but they were never used in the series again.

I was farting around Memory Beta, like I usually do, when I saw a picture of a Vaadwaur. It's been well over a decade since I've seen Dragon's Teeth, so I forgot what they look like and then it hit me that they look like Cardassians.

(via Memory Alpha)
I think it's the necks.

1.12.2015

Goddamn, I haven't posted in a long time

Since November 16th, yikes! I haven't been doing much blogging lately, for some reason. I do have stuff in mind, I just have to get motivated to post it.

How have you been?

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