Star Trek: Federation

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Star Trek: Federation logoI was just recently introduced to a concept for a Star Trek TV series, conceived of about ten years ago to pitch to Paramount/CBS.  It has re-entered the news recently since Star Trek is rapidly coming up on its 50th anniversary, and so many people would like to see a new Trek TV series on the air when the date hits.

Alas, this idea was never actually pitched to Paramount/CBS, as JJ Abrams came along and made his new movie, which did well enough that Paramount put aside the idea of creating a new TV show for the foreseeable future.  Recent rumors, largely circulated by Latino Review, that this series idea was actually in development, apparently have no basis in fact.

And it’s a shame, because Star Trek: Federation, while maybe not being a perfectly fleshed out proposal, nonetheless has some great ideas for a new Trek series. Continue reading

Nichelle Nichols: An icon and inspiration

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On this International Women’s Day, I was presented with a picture of this famous woman and asked what she meant to me.

Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols, sitting in the Captain’s chair of the starship Enterprise.

This was an easy one. Continue reading

Onuissance

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223Two days ago, I wrote about the Consequences of our actions, and how they are often more important than the initial actions themselves.  Yesterday, I wrote about what makes humans Special, their ability to learn so much about our world and apply that knowledge to super-humanize ourselves.

Which means now it’s time to apply those lessons into Responsibility… or Onus. Continue reading

Leonard Nimoy was Spock

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spock eyebrowsLeonard Nimoy, the actor who portrayed the character of Mr. Spock on Star Trek TV shows and movies for much of his acting career, died this week at 83.

More than any other character of the franchise, Spock was iconic of Star Trek, a character recognized worldwide and cherished within the Trek community.  No doubt volumes will be spoken about Mr. Nimoy, and the great acting talent that shaped and formed the concept of Vulcans for the generations.  I’d just like to contribute this:

The character of Spock was much more than his emotionally-suppressed countenance: He was the voice of reason in trying and emotional times. He provided wise counsel and offered a shoulder to lean on.

And if you ever watched closely… you also discovered that Spock was clumsy as hell.  Nimoy could barely run, apparently.  His fighting skills were not very impressive.  But through his talent (and clever scene setups), you probably never noticed.

And his eyebrows.  They weren’t just mobile; given that in many scenes, Nimoy was restricted in his expressions and movements, he made those eyebrows positively manic in compensation.  And today, it’s pretty much impossible for anyone in America to cock an eyebrow and not conjure up images of Mr. Spock to everyone around them.

Leonard NimoyBut most importantly, Mr. Spock was the outsider trying to be a part of a team, and in the process becoming a trusted and needed member of a family.  He was emblematic of Gene Roddenberry’s vision of disparate peoples coming together, defeating prejudice and distrust of the stranger, and working together in harmony.

The combination of Roddenberry’s imagination and Leonard Nimoy’s talents gave us one of America’s most enduring characters, one which will live on in legend and hold its iconic status for generations.

Leonard Nimoy—and Mr. Spock—will both be missed.

Khan, failed savior: A better alternate history

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KhanMust be all these hours snow-bound in front of my computer… maybe the sub-zero cold is starting to freeze some (some?) of my brain cells… but it occurred to me the other day that Khan Noonian Singh must have been railroaded.  (And so were we.)

Follow:

Star Trek’s Federation history includes, among many other things, the fact that Earth had a World War III, and later, a Eugenics War, the combination of which tore Terran countries and societies apart.  It was from this series of disasters that Earth’s leaders finally started working together on a platform of mutual trust and cooperation, rebuilding the first truly global society.  This society eventually came to provide a universal living wage, food and housing for all, worldwide access to medicine, education and opportunities to do what they wanted beyond basic subsistence.

We also know, from the Star Trek Original Series episode “Space Seed,” that Khan and his followers were part of a group of genetically-engineered superior humans who tried, in Khan’s own words, to “give the world order.”  He and his people were soundly defeated in the Eugenics Wars and forced to flee Earth to escape prosecution.

But I now believe there’s more to the story than that… and a hint as to how Star Trek Into Daftness could have actually become a great movie. Continue reading

What would get us to Star Trek’s utopia?

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London in Star Trek's futureNilofer Merchant, in a TED guest post from 2014, described his belief that the technological world of Star Trek has largely overtaken us (obviously, we’re not visiting other planets yet)… and the best news of all, that we should expect to reach the social world of Trek within 30 years.  And how could we not want to achieve Gene Roddenberry’s dream of a utopian Earth and bright, bright future?

Yet, there’s one thing that Nilofer neglects to mention, and it only happens to be the one absolutely non-negotiable thing that we on Earth must accomplish, or we won’t see Roddenberry’s utopia in 30 years, 300 years or 3,000 years.

In short, we need universal guaranteed minimal living conditions. Continue reading

Science (fiction) doesn’t have to be believable?

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sci fi movie postersI recently encountered a Facebook post by an author of a science fiction novel based around the idea of global cooling.  He had discovered a website of climate theorists, the Space and Science Research Center, whose opinions roughly matched those of his book, and was proud to point out the connection.

Unfortunately, the SSRC is an avowed anti-warming group, whose theories are not backed by actual scientific data:

“The Space and Science Research Center (SSRC) is (apparently) a for-profit company located in Orlando, FL. They appear to have an anti-global warming agenda, though their arguments have yet to be examined in detail. They present an appearance of scientific grounding, but they do not seem to have any peer-reviewed papers on their theories.” (From Issuepedia)

I politely pointed this out, and added that “although it’s nice to take your SF from the headlines, one should caution whose headlines are being read…”

However, my point was essentially ignored by other posters, including the author, all of whom expressed little or no concern about whether the science in the story was actually correct.  One such poster lauded the author, and added:

“I suspect your book will be much better fiction than anything peddled by the SSRC. Science does not have to be believable, as long as your characters are.”

When I read that, a small part of me died inside. Continue reading

Six Ways Franchises Go Terminal

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I just want to go on record as loving this Observation Deck article about Six Ways Franchises Go Terminal.  My favorite reason is #2, not only for itself but for the franchise they chose to illustrate the point:

2. The Creators Have No Frickin’ Clue What The Franchise Is About

967536594816583461And the example they chose: None other than Star Trek, and the J.J. Abrams-inspired clusterf**k of movies that totally manage to miss the point of the franchise and Gene Roddenberry’s vision (because all Abrams really wanted to do was make a Star Wars movie). I have especially warm feelings for this bit, about Star Trek Into Darkness‘ use of the character Khan:

The story makes no sense, and serves no purpose other than to reboot Khan and make him into a Dark Knight Joker-style übervillain, which he never was on the original series or in Wrath of Khan. (The thing about Montalban’s Khan is that despite his supposed genetic superiority he’s actually kind of a histrionic, swaggering dumbass, and not a cool Hannibal Lecter type.)

Nail head, meet hammer.  Much more goodness in the article… go and see.

An old show format for a modern SF TV show

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Search TV series logoIn an earlier post or two, I’ve said that it’s time to move on from the Star Trek franchise and create a new SF TV franchise.  Why?  Because Star Trek was a show built around the concerns and issues of the latter half of the twentieth century; it is now time for a show that examines the issues of the nascent twenty-first century.

We’ve had a few SF shows come and go since then, and most of their formats have been pretty familiar (some of which because they were reboots).  But I was recently reminded of a show format that hasn’t been used in science fiction television for literally forty years: That of the TV series Search.  Maybe this particular format is due for a comeback. Continue reading

What deep concepts could Star Trek ponder next?

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Lokain and Bele

Emblematic of the issues Star Trek liked to delve in was the episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,” about two members of the same race that hated each other because of their “obvious differences.”

There was an interesting question in IO9’s Postal Apocalypse mailbox this week, which “Postman” Rob Brickman decided to acknowledge as a great question… then pass on answering:

While many issues have been raised about how poorly Star Trek has tackled issues like gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity—and I certainly hope that we eventually get to see Federation citizens pursuing gay relationships and trans* individuals with no one batting an eye—it’s inspired me to wonder about how Star Trek could get out ahead of modern civil rights to tackle something our progressive civil rights movements have not reached yet. We’ve seen this in limited fashion with AI like Data and the EMH, where we explore what it is that constitutes an individual with equal rights and privileges, but I’m wondering about what might come after that. Hive-minds? The transfer of biological consciousness to a synthetic medium?

What’s the next, next generation of science fictiony rights issues that Star Trek could tackle when it someday returns to the small screen? What shape could egalitarianism take on in the 25th century?

I think the takeaway on that is that future fictional postmen in apocalyptic America couldn’t care less about Star Trek.  Clearly they realize how dated and obsolete the franchise is by then.  Nevertheless, I thought it was a great question, too, and would love to take a crack at a response. Continue reading