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Audiobook Review: Luke Skywalker Can’t Read: And Other Geeky Truths by Ryan Britt

Luke Skywalker Can't Read: And Other Geeky TruthsListening to the essays that make-up Luke Skywalker Can’t Read: And Other Geeky Truths, I feel like Ryan Britt and I would be good friends if we ever met in the real world.

Covering things from why reboots happen and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing to the sad truth that Luke Skywalker and company don’t place a high value on literacy to the admission that he grew up listening more to Star Trek soundtracks that he did the popular music of the day (boy, did that one resonate with this guy, who can tell you pretty much were most musical cues from the original series featured first but couldn’t tell you much about the popular music of my teenage years), Britt keeps things entertaining, humorous, and compelling throughout.

Pointing out how the Back to the Future is every genre of film in one trilogy and then proceeding to deconstruct the time travel paradoxes within the film, Britt had me nodding in agreement at multiple points and considering some of my favorite genres and some of their most popular entries in a new light. And his final essay finds me wanting to visit Issac Asimov’s I, Robot again to see how it differs from most of the other robots in pop culture since the mechanical creatures don’t want to rise up and exterminate us all.

And while I agree with what Britt says in most of the essays, I differ greatly with him in his analysis of modern Doctor Who (but then again, I differ from a lot of fandom in my assessment and enjoyment of the revived series, especially the esteem to which a certain Doctor is held (ahem..David Tennant…ahem)). But that’s why I say I feel like Britt and I could be friends – because you don’t want to agree with your friends on everything….

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Comic Book Friday: Star Trek: New Visions, Volume 3 by John Byrne

Star Trek: New Visions, Volume 3Another trio of Star Trek stories done in the tradition of the PhotoNovel series from my younger reading days.

As with all Trek tie-in stories, it can be hit or miss. The good news for this trio of stories is that the hit ratio is a bit better than in the previous installment.

Opening with a story in the Enterprise is pursuing a precursor to a certain modern era Trek entity that we’ll meet in “Q Who,” the collection gets off to an uneven start. Even trying to put aside my inner nitpicker and just enjoy a story in which Kirk gets to tangle with the proto-Borg, I couldn’t get over the fact that John Bryne was trying too hard to draw a connection between the Doomsday Machine and the Borg. Part of this is that Peter David did this almost two decades earlier with his novel, “Vendetta” and that (if my memory serves me right) he did it better. Again, this could be my nostalgia looking back on a book that I consumed in mere days when I was a teenager and have had a strong affection for since. Continue reading

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TV Round-Up: Star Trek: Discovery: Into the Forest I Go

dsc-109-rev-3-640x320With “Into the Forest I Go,” Discovery wraps up its first major arc of the series and gives us another one to ponder until the series head back to our screens in January.

Picking up where last week’s installment left off, the crew finds a way to not only break the Klingon’s cloaking technology but also to take out much of the Klingon leadership.  The story also serves to bring much of the character arc of Michael Burnham full circle.

In addition to the parallels of the war starting and ending on the Klingon ship of the dead, we also got to Burnham use her logic to win over her captain.  The first time it leads to her mutiny and those consequences. This time she’s able to use Vulcan logic to convince Lorca that she needs to go on the away mission since she’s the one who knows the layout of the Klingon vessel the best.

It does bring up an interesting question — why let Tyler go too?  If the logical argument is that she knows the vessel, it also seems logical that Tyler might have some issues going back to a Klingon ship after being held prisoner and tortured for seven months.  But, if we don’t get Tyler over there, we don’t get his flashbacks and we don’t get T’Rell onboard Discovery as a prisoner. It really felt like the writers had an endpoint in mind and this was the only path that could get them from point a to point b.

111313_0646bAt least Tyler and Burnham get to rescue Cornwell, who apparently was only partly dead last week. Seriously, it’s a good thing the Klingons didn’t stab her with bantleth just to make sure she was really dead.

The parallels continue with Burnham battling a Klingon and possibly ending the war. Or at least turning the tide so Starfleet can win and get back to the mission of exploring the unknown and the final frontier. At least that’s what Lorca promises Stamets. But how much of that is Lorca having the heart of an explorer and how much of that was Lorca pushing Stamet’s buttons to get him to agree to the 133 spore drive jumps remains to be seen.

I have to admit I did find there to be some inconsistencies in how Starfleet interacts with Lorca and their expectations. So, Lorca is ordered back to a starbase (in front of the entire bridge crew, mind you) and he then decides to drag his feet, using only warp drive and not the spore drive.  I guess this is the equivalent of taking the long way home from school when you’ve got a bad report card. You’re just postponing the inevitable.  Or in Lorca’s case, finding another way to avoid being taken out of the big chair.

dsc-109-rev-4-640x320Given what we’ve seen about Lorca, I can’t help but think the early dropping of hints about being able to explore parallel universes and then the shot of his hands dancing across the keypad as they were ready to rev up the Spore drive one last time mean that Lorca didn’t necessarily mean he was using the easiest route home. Instead, he’s buying more time — even if that time may have a great cost to Stamet. Again, I think part of Stamet’s reaction in the final spore drive jump was about where Lorca sent them and not as much about him burning out. Perhaps Lorca drove him too hard, asked him to do too much. Or could there be something else waiting out here for them?

Those are questions we’ll have to wait until January to answer.

Once again, the show goes out of its way to earn its TV-MA rating. We got the first f-bomb dropped a few weeks ago and then this time around we get our first, explicit love-scene, complete with Klingon nudity. I’ve got to commend Mary Chieffo for that scene because I can only imagine how long it took to get full body painted and give us some Klingon nudity. I do find it interesting that she’s on board the ship now and teasing Tyler that he will have answers soon. The flashbacks to her torture of him seem to hint that there’s more in play here than just the torture she forced him to endure. I can’t help but wonder if he’s going to play some type of role in T’Rell bargaining to get back to the ship that she deserted V’Latak on a few episodes ago.

111313_0087bMeanwhile, it feels like the crew has finally gelled a bit. Maybe it’s that the crew all had one task — shutting down the Klingon cloak. But the moment when Lorca tells everyone he’s about to disobey a direct order was interesting. Part of me wondered if Saru wouldn’t somehow object to this. And you can’t help but wonder if this will help heal the rift between Burnham and Saru a bit. Saru has violated Starfleet orders here and he had a very good motivation to do so. Could he also begin to see that Burnham had good intentions in the mutiny against Georgiou, even if the results didn’t quite come out the way Burnham hoped or expected?

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, develops from this in the final six episodes of the year.

I also can’t help but think that Cornwell might try and assume command of the ship based on her reservations about Lorca. And that she may try to figure out how to get them back home again.

I also ask myself just how hurt Stamets is and can he help them all get home again.  I have a feeling based on the preview, that’s too simple a way out for the crew.

So much to ponder until we pick the story back up in January….

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TV Round-Up: Star Trek: Discovery: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

Ep8-6-11-3-17After taking a week off for some wacky time-travel fun, Star Trek: Discovery gets back to the business of the war with “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum.”

CBS Digital originally intended for this episode to serve as the mid-season finale.  And while it does end of a cliffhanger, I’m glad they’ve decided not to just leave us hanging on these developments for the next couple of months.  Don’t get me wrong — it’s strong, solid episode but I think I would have been annoyed if this was where we left things until January.  Continue reading

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Star Trek: Discovery: Choose Your Pain

MV5BMGI3MmY1NWMtY2IxOC00MWEzLTg4OTMtNGE1ZGM3YmRmZTVlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzQ0MDUyMzg@._V1_With “Choose Your Pain,” Discovery begins to dig a little deeper into its characters and some interesting questions surrounding the exploration of the final frontier.

While being held prisoner by the Klingons, Lorca is called out by Harcourt Fenton Mudd (better known as Harry in a call back to the original series) over Starfleet’s perceived arrogance at heading out into the final frontier and expecting the rest of the universe to be fine with it.  Mudd argues that Starfleet failed to take into account how parties that weren’t Starfleet officers might react to this – from the humans who already had business in space to the various alien races that humanity would encounter during its exploration of the final frontier.  In some ways, Mudd’s argument echoes the concerns the Vulcan’s had about turning humanity lose into the stars without some kind of guidance or training wheels that we saw repeatedly on Enterprise.  And, on some level, Mudd has some valid points, whether it’s the fact that Lorca destroyed his own ship or that Starfleet has started a war with the Klingons that is having a huge impact on the rest of the galaxy.  It certainly has had an impact on Mudd himself, though a lot of what let Mudd to that cell is his own doing. Continue reading

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Top Ten Tuesday: Underrated Tie-In Novels

TOPTENTUESDAY

Over the years, I’ve read more than my fair share of tie-in novels.  And while I can’t recommend a steady diet of them, I think that good tie-in novel can be a great way to clear the reading pallet if you’ve just finished something heavy, dark, emotional or intense.  Or they can be great bubble gum for the mind, whether reading or hearing them on audiobook (I re-read a lot of classic Doctor Who adaptations while running or working out.  Great distraction without being too distracting).

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish) asks us to look at underrated books in a particular genre.  So, here are my top ten underrated tie-in novels. Continue reading

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Joss Whedon becomes more like Gene Roddenberry

josswhedon.jpgEver since “discovering” Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the mid-90’s (in season two, before it was cool to like it), I’ve had an admiration for Joss Whedon.  He’s a creative guy who wrote and directed some of the most memorable episodes of television of that era.

He’s since gone on to shepherd some of the best-loved loved TV shows and movies of the last two decades.  Much of his output has been about female empowerment and creating strong roles for women, up to and including Whedon seeming to earn the label of a feminist.

All of that seems to be crashing around Whedon with his ex-wife, Kai Cole, publishing an op-ed piece that says Whedon is “hypocrite” and that he had multiple affairs during the course of their marriage.

Reading Cole’s piece and then seeing Whedon’s response (it feels like a non-denial denial in addition to closing down a website devoted to his fandom), I can’t help but feel like Whedon has become Gene Roddenberry for a new generation.  For those of you who don’t live and breathe Star Trek, I’ll try to keep this short.

Roddenberry created Star Trek and founded his view of humanity’s future on some wonderful ideals.  As Ken Wray, co-host of the superlative Mission Log, recently put it, Roddenberry’s vision was that not only do we make it to the future, but we get past many of the issues that face our society today. Or as Trek put it, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination.

And while Roddenberry had a great vision for the future, he was still a human being with weaknesses.  One was that Roddenberry had a weakness when it came to women.  The guy put his then-mistress, later-wife Majel Barret into the pilot and then crafted a recurring role for her on the original series as Nurse Chapel.

And it feels like Whedon has almost followed a similar path.  The letter by his ex-wife says that Whedon had multiple affairs over the course of their marriage and

Despite understanding, on some level, that what he was doing was wrong, he never conceded the hypocrisy of being out in the world preaching feminist ideals, while at the same time, taking away my right to make choices for my life and my body based on the truth. He deceived me for 15 years, so he could have everything he wanted. I believed, everyone believed, that he was one of the good guys, committed to fighting for women’s rights, committed to our marriage, and to the women he worked with. But I now see how he used his relationship with me as a shield, both during and after our marriage, so no one would question his relationships with other women or scrutinize his writing as anything other than feminist.

And while I’m disappointed that both Whedon and Roddenberry didn’t live up the ideals or the image they portrayed themselves to be in pop culture, this doesn’t mean I’m not going to let Shortcake view their creative output (when appropriate for her.  I don’t think she’ll get a lot out of Buffy right now!)

Both men created women who are smart, funny, empowered and aren’t defined by their relationship to men.  As the father of a little girl, I’m grateful to them for creating pop culture heroines that my daughter can look up to and emulate.

I also think it could be a valuable tool to teach her about the difference between the public and private persona that people can have.

I still respect the output of both men.  And I understand the public persona they created, even if they were flawed and failed to live up the lofty expectations they and their fans created for them.

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