Tag: star trek
Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard has been a poorly-paced tale that is so busy looking backwards that I have very little confidence that the coming third season will be worth my time, even if they are reuniting the TNG-era bridge crew and promising us "Federation starships galore".1
“I just realized who the actress playing his mother reminds me of. Holly Palance.”
“Let’s just say that I hope ‘Look Up, Jean-Luc’ isn’t this plotline’s ‘Look at me, Damien, I love you! It’s All for You, Damien!'”
‘oh god, they wouldn’t’
Q: Jeez, Jean-Luc. I came here to teach you a lesson about romance. But I thought your Avoidant Behaviors about women were you just being, y’know, stuffy. Reserved.
(Vash told me she actually caught you doing the Picard Maneuver with a condom. C’mon man.)
I had no idea your mother made you a witness to her suicide!
Really messes up my plans for you and Laris loving it up and having the first Synth-Romulan hybrid baby; solving both my selfish Last of the Picards to Play With and making a point about growing by overcoming your deepest fears.
But no, you had to do your own thing. So now BorgRati is headed straight for the alternate dimension where AI is the dominant lifeform, from last season. The big portal full of robot tentacles? And I’ve seen enough hentai to know where that’s going.
- It’s crazy how often major, galaxy-threatening terrors turn out to have their roots in the histories of that one small group of Star Fleet officers, to the point where it’s starting to feel like a galaxy so small it feels like it was inspired by the works of George Lucas. ↩
- NB: That comment was posted before this week’s penultimate episode of the season, in which the first plot point mentioned turned out to be spot-on. ↩
Following the conclusion of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on television, the success of the series’ continuation in book form, known as the DS9 relaunch (about which I’ve written extensively in this space—see here for an overview and index to individual book reviews), inspired a shared continuity across almost all Trek novels being published at the time. Authors and editors worked closely to keep this continuity as tight as possible across twenty years (2001-2021) of multi-book series storytelling, in the process giving rise to a vast tapestry of interconnected stories that some fans refer to as the Trek Litverse.
That enormous Litverse, at least in its current form, is now concluding. In September, October and November we’ll see the publication of three volumes that will stand as the epic final chapter, called Star Trek: Coda, of the decades-long mega-story:
- Moments Asunder by Dayton Ward (September 28)
- The Ashes of Tomorrow by James Swallow (October 26)
- Oblivion’s Gate by David Mack (November 30)
Clearly I was about thirty years too late to start catching up2 with the Trek Litverse at this late stage in the game, but I decided that if they were just about to wind the whole thing up with a bang then it’d be a shame to miss out on the final round of fun for a bunch of characters I mostly greatly enjoyed in their original run.
Having finished the last of the Coda trilogy a couple of weeks ago, I think it’s fair to say that they wrapped up the story with WAY-more-than-one-bang. There was an awful lot of fanservice going on across three volumes of story, but given the nature of the story that was precisely what I was expecting. Not having folllowed the details of the Star Trek Litverse I was mildly taken aback at the number of familiar characters from the TV shows who turned out, several years after we last saw them in their respective TV shows, to be on hand in the vicinity of their former commanders when needed. The former Major Kira Nerys being a Vedek now, resident on Bajor, was no big surprise, but what led to Odo serving on the replacement Deep Space Nine, with Ro Laren (Ensign Ro when we last saw her in season 7 of TNG) as the DS9 station commander?3 That’s what I get for being a couple of decades behind in my reading, I guess…
The basic point being that for anyone who established some liking for the 1980s/1990s-era Star Trek universe over the years and isn’t put off by the but-this-isn’t-ever-what-we-saw-on-tv-or-the-big-screen premise,4 this trilogy is a fun ride. I’m not tempted right now to dive into two decades of Star Trek Litverse material, but I’m glad it’s there if I’m in the mood.
- What can I say? I was in the mood for something lightweight to distract me at a stressful time work-wise and otherwise. Also, I was exploring the pros and cons of an Audible subscription I’d acquired earlier last year to enjoy the first volume of the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman stories (which, for what it’s worth, worked far better than I’d imagined they would when stripped of their visual component) and was in the mood to see how well a more conventional audiobook adaptation would work for me. Star Trek seemed to fit the bill. ↩
- My mid-2021 dip into the Trek Litverse consisted of a trilogy set in the TOS era consisting of Greg Cox’s Captain to Captain, David Mack’s Best Defense and Dayton Ward and Kevin Dillmore’s Purgatory’s Key, followed by a two-parter by Kirsten Beyer set in on Voyager in the Janeway-gets-sent-back-to-the-Delta-quadrant era, Architects of Infinity and To Lose the Earth. Not, by definition, a comprehensive picture of what’s happened in the Trek Litverse over a couple of decades, but sufficiently entertaining to persuade me that my earlier inclination to look down on material that never got near a TV or movie screen as inherently less satisfying might have been too harsh. ↩
- True, the plan was that her character might end up on the DS9 TV series, but that was – forgive the expression in this context – in a different timeline. ↩
- I used to think that novelisations based to filmed material were fine – perhaps influenced by the James Blish tie-ins back in the day but I always held the original material at arms’-length, uncomfortably aware that if it wasn’t on TV then by definition it hadn’t been in the mind of the show’s writers. ↩
A few thoughts after wasting away an hour or so of my Bank Holiday morning watching The Man from Earth, a relatively low-budget tale written by one-time Star Trek writer Jerome Bixby:
An impromptu goodbye party for Professor John Oldman becomes a mysterious interrogation after the retiring scholar reveals to his colleagues he has a longer and stranger past than they can imagine.
[Summary: turns out John Oldman is around 14,000 years old and his survival strategy is to disappear every decade or so and start again somewhere well away from his previous life. This time, after he’s ducked out of his farewell party and is packing up his truck, a bunch of his colleagues have turned up at his cabin and he finds himself telling them more of his life story than he’d planned. Including the notion that a few hundred years after he’d spent time learning Buddhist ideas from their source,1 he’d tried to impart some of those ideas in the Middle East under a different name. That didn’t go well, to put it mildly.]
Given that this dates from 2007, it’s crying out for an update/sequel/prequel. Will his anonymity be stripped away in the next few decades as more and more state bureaucracies make it ever harder to operate without official documentation? Or is he secretly planning a move to a society that resists that particular brand of "efficiency?" Or has he seen enough attempts by humans to design a watertight system to be confident that there will always be workarounds and holes to be exploited for those who look closely at the details?
At some level there’s got to be a lot more to John Oldman’s story that didn’t come up in this one night’s conversation around his fireplace. Presumably one of his traits, not displayed directly here, is that he understands that if he’s careful he can wait out lots of aspects of how societies choose to organise themselves, provided he’s willing to adjust his expectations of certain creature comforts and status in society. One suspects that he’s been observing humans and their institutions for long enough to see most cons or deceptions or traps coming from a mile away, so he’d be a trickier one to catch than you’d think, especially if he moves across civilisations over time and chooses his societies carefully.2
I could easily imagine this being a pilot setting up seven seasons and a movie about this portion of the life of John Oldman, except that the producers might not be able to resist turning it into something more serialised and grimdark than it needs to be.3 Modern TV is so in love with the notion of season-long plot arcs and tying together all the pieces by the end that I’m not sure there’d be much of an appetite right now for a show that dipped in and out of our central character’s life over the centuries, especially where one of our central character’s primary strategies is to not live in the same place or with the same group of supporting characters for too long.
The idea would work much better as a series of short stories and novellas. A shame that Jerome Bixby died shortly after this film was made, so barring someone with lots of money being a fan and buying the rights this is probably the last we’ll see of this idea. Unless it turns out that someone in the Star Trek writers’ room is a big Bixby fan and we get a prequel to Requiem for Methuselah that somehow puts our central character in a Starfleet uniform and he then gets spun off into yet another series, or we end up with Picard season 3 having Jean-Luc get fascinated by this Professor Oldman character whose backstory doesn’t quite check out.
- Remember, he’d lived long enough and moved around the world so much that he’d had time to learn at the feet of Siddhattha Gotama. ↩
- One point that a modern take on this script would surely have to address is that it’s very handy that he can pass as a white heterosexual male with an excellent command of English. Is the fact that John Oldman moved to the United States in the 19th century a sign that he saw that he’d be well placed to do well in the American Century to come? There again, he’s lived long enough that he’s seen the world change before and he may just be less bothered than we’d think. He’d been slipping through the cracks of society for long enough not to have to worry too much about which society is top dog, just so long as there’s room in it for someone like him to live an inconspicuous life. In comfort would be best, but his idea of what that requires might not be as similar to our idea of ‘in comfort’ as we’d think. ↩
- I swear, if our putative series’ finale ended up with John Oldman finding his way into the crew of Elon Musk’s first Mars colony to escape the ever-tightening grip of the state’s bureaucracy I’d be so disappointed. ↩
Star Trek: Picard season one showrunner Michael Chabon has been sharing Some Notes On Romulans and I am eating this up with a spoon:
Traditional Romulan compounds — Romulans live in kinship units — are built at the center of a kind of hedge maze whose outer perimeter is often contrived to look like a “natural” grove of trees, as if, within, there were no houses at all. Once you reach the house itself, you ﬁnd a false “front entrance”; all Romulan houses are entered from the back. Even in big cities, modern housing megastructures have false front entrances, and are surrounded by some kind of token or symbolic maze, often a pattern in the paving stones. No visitor to a Romulan compound must ever arrive uninvited — it’s unheard of — and all visitors are asked to don a ceremonial blindfold (often of the ﬁnest materials) and are guided by their hosts into the compound, after being turned around the ritual three times. It is the height of rudeness to ask a Romulan for his address. It’s rude to ask a Romulan almost anything remotely personal. […]
I’ve not been following rumours about Star Trek: Picard season 2 so I have no idea whether this is a sign that we’re due to spend some time with the Vulcans’ cousins in season two, or simply a case of Chabon clearing out notes from season 1 so he can move on to the next project now he’s not being showrunner for the show’s second season.
Either way, this is impossible to ignore if you’re remotely interested in the continuing journeys of Admiral Jean-Luc Picard.
(For the record, it’d be good to have Picard reunite with his two Romulan "domestic staff" who we met back at the family vineyard on Earth, before he headed off-world in season one. They seemed to have stories to tell, not that they ever would, and who knows where that could lead?)