The purpose of this blog is to have a little fun. It is NOT to start arguments. I don't profess to be an expert on Sci-fi, nor do I aspire to become an expert. You are welcome to comment on any and all content you find here. If my opinion differs from yours, as far as I am concerned, it's all okay. I will never say that you are wrong because you disagree with me, and I expect the same from those that comment here. Also, my audience on the blog will include some young people. Please govern your language when posting comments.

Posts will hopefully be regular based on the movies I see, the television shows I watch, and the books I read as well as what ever strikes me as noteworthy.

Spoilers will appear here and are welcome.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Eleuthera (Novel by Ralph Ewig) and Some Sad News...

 Book Recommendation!  Outstanding Story!

While on my trip to Green Bay for the Christmas holiday, I finished reading Eleuthera, a novel by Ralph Ewig.  I very much enjoyed and recommend this book to anyone that enjoys Sci-Fi.  Here's a little about the story...

The story centers around two main characters, Rascor Griffin, Jump Pilot aboard the luxury star-liner Sanssouci.  The other character is Cerise Trenton, a young woman who was traumatized, involved in an accident, and suffering from a mild case of amnesia in which she is not able to completely remember the details of how she was traumatized until later in the story.

Other characters that appear during the story include Kris, the computer that runs the Sanssouci and interacts with the passengers and crew of the ship.  Alexander Trenton, father of Cerise and owner of the Sanssouci;  David Jadro, private secretary to Trenton; BlueEyes, a Reaper and protector of Griffin and Cerise; and Jyn, an android protector of Griffin and Cerise.

During the course of the story the characters are introduced one at a time telling a little of their back stories as it develops.  Griffin is not just any ordinary pilot, he is a jPilot, a man with some very special abilities.  Unlike the other pilots, his ability is to combine space-time, and thought to instantaneously propel a ship between star systems.  Apparently, Griffin only has to visualize where he wants to ship to go and it arrives at its destination.  He is also unique that he is able to do this over very long distances while other pilots need multiple jumps.

Griffin, Cerise, BlueEyes, and Jyn team up to expose some very unsavory activities that Trenton and Jadro are involved in and work to right some of the wrongs perpetrated by the Sanssouci owner.

This is Ewig's very first novel and is a masterpiece of writing.  The story is gripping and is well paced; there is very little down-time and while not immediately apparent, every element in the story is weaved into a complete picture by the end of the book.  I am hoping that it is not the end of the story, because I am looking forward to the next installment soon.  So why the title Eleuthera?  Well you're just going to have to get the book and read it for yourself.  It is available from Amazon or directly from Ewig's publisher, or it is available as an e-book in all of the popular formats for an extremely reasonable price from Smashwords.  The author requests that you buy the book and not loan it to others, and at the price ($4.00) for download, anyone can afford to honor that request.

Ralph Ewig is an engineer with SpaceX and one hell of a writer in my opinion. His Eleuthera is well worth the price and the time to read and enjoy.

On A Sad Note...
I was saddened this past Sunday when I checked my Twitter feed and saw an announcement from author Peter David that simply said "I have had a stroke."  As you may have read in earlier posts on this blog, Peter David is the author of numerous Star Trek novels as well as a plethora of other works.  Those of you who are interested in learning the details can read Kathleen's Post (Peter's wife).  Please join me in thinking good thoughts, offering prayers, or whatever you do to send good karma to a great author who has given myself and many others hours upon hours of entertaining stories.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Fringe: Season 1

It's Christmas Morning and I am in Green Bay.  Fortunately, there is WiFi at my Mother-In-Law's house and I am able to post.  I was hoping that I could while the first season of Fringe is still fresh in my mind.  Thanks to a snow day from work, I had time to finish watching before we left for the Frozen Tundra, or as I term it, the "Great White North."

As I have mentioned before, for me Fringe is like the X-Files on steroids.  It has everything that a good sci-fi show should have.  It has some hard science, some really good stories with seeming impossible things happening, and a cast of great characters.  One of the things that appeals to me the most about this show is that almost every episode is a story within itself while at the same time fitting into an overall story arc.  I like this because with shows, such as another favorite of mine, Falling Skies, if you happen to miss an episode, you loose track of the story.


I guess, as is the case with many others, my favorite character is Walter.  Obviously, Walter is a brilliant scientist who is a little off center.  Well, actually a lot off center.  I love his little obsessions and he has one in every show.  Many times it is some item of food that he is craving, and he doesn't shut-up about it until he is indulged.  I can only imagine how it must be to live with this guy because no one knows what to expect.

Walter's son Peter is also a brilliant individual and well read in many areas, but his previously undisciplined behavior was apparently leading him into trouble.  His role is to assist Walter, help come up with answers, and to interpret what Walter is ranting about that eludes everyone, including the audience.  He is also Walter's "keeper," or as peter terms it, babysitter.

Olivia is an FBI agent assigned to a division of the Bureau that investigates unexplained phenomena.  As the season progresses, we learn that she possesses certain gifts that helps her in these investigations.  She relies heavily on Walter and Peter for interpretations of what is happening.

Special Agent In Charge Philip Broyles was a character that at first gave me the creeps, but as time went on, I learned that he cares for Olivia and does many things that are outside of ethical practices for a man in his position to aid her in her work, and runs an effective interference against Sanford Harris who has a personal axe to grind with Olivia.

One character who really gives me the creeps is Nina Sharp.  She is the Chief Operating Officer of a company that seems to be at the bottom of many of the happenings on the series, Massive Dynamic, a company that into some very shady science and technological research.  The company is headed by William Bell, who apparently exists mainly in an alternate Universe and pulls all of the strings for his company with impunity.  Bell and Walter were research partners, and while Walter wound up institutionalized, Bell made good on the research and became filthy rich and learned to control phenomena that can only be imagined.

 The overall story arc, at least from my point of view, is to expose how Olivia cognitive powers that have been caused while she was a test subject of Walter and William Bell.  She was injected with a drug called Cortexiphan, that apparently turns on special abilities in the human brain.  This drug allows Olivia to perceive the alternate, or parallel Universe that she enters at the end of the season finale to meet William Bell.  It also introduces the Observers, a group of people that watch what happens and takes notes.  The one observer that appears in the first season seems to have some very weird tastes in food.  It will be interesting to see what happens with Olivia in the coming season, that I will begin watching as soon as I get home from my trip.

Well, there it is, please feel free to comment and fill in the blanks that I have missed.  All comments are welcome, as always.

I remain...



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Do Androids Dream?

I finished reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick a few days ago.  I read this book in preparation for my upcoming appearance on the Scifi Diner Rewind that we are recording in early February.  On the Rewind show, Scott, Miles and a guest choose a sci-fi film and analyze it.  I appeared on a Rewind once before and it is a lot of fun.  If you're interested in listening, you can go click HERE to listen to the Rewind of Total Recall, which incidentally is also based on a story by Philip K. K Dick.

Published in 1968, the story is set in a post apocalyptic future.  Dick chose the year 1992 for the year this book is set in.  There was a nuclear war that caused a global nuclear winter.  There are several references to the typically gray sky and the constant presence of radioactive dust falling and being blown around by the wind.  Much of the Earth's population had emigrated to other planets, but the only one mentioned in the story is Mars.  According to the author, just about everyone that has left has android servants that resemble humans in every way, except that they do not posses human empathy.  Many of these servants have escaped from their owners and are showing up on Earth.  They have no problems with killing people and are considered renegades.  The only people left on the earth are the "chickenheads" (people who are not of high-functioning mental capacity), police, and people who could not afford to emigrate.

The story focuses on primarily two characters, Rick Deckard, who is a bounty hunter that is charged with "retiring" renegade androids, and John Isidore, a "chickenhead" who aids the androids that Deckard is charged with retiring.

Bogie from Maltese Falcon

I enjoyed reading this book mostly because as I went through it, I could actually picture the characters and the setting.  To me, it seemed like an old black and white film noir setting.   I could completely believe Humphrey Bogart as Rick Deckard in this.

As a newcomer to reading Philip K Dick, I found this story well written and easy to follow.  It is quite fast paced because the story all takes place in a single day.  Well worth the time.

I haven't watched the movie Blade Runner for a while and am looking forward to seeing that soon to see how the book and the movie stack up against each other.  I will be saving my comments on the film though for the Scifi Diner show I will be on.

Podcast News...

Since I last posted, I have listened to three podcasts.  Colin and company of Trek News and Views continued their discussion of time travel in Star Trek as they covered the Voyager series.  They not only talked about voyager, but drifted into some interesting tangents and had a good time doing it.  Well worth the listen.

David and Darren posted a discussion mostly about the upcoming Into Darkness movie on their Trekcast podcast.  One thing they said that gave me pause to think about is why we like Star Trek.  They couldn't have been more accurate when they said that the main reasons are the characters and the stories.  For them, and for me for that matter, it isn't the sction.  When looking at the trailers, one can get the impression that the JJ movies are moving into the Action/Adventure genre.  I hope that's not the case.  I completely agree with the Trekcast hosts.  There has to be good characters and good stories.  Also, they recorded their impressions upon leaving the theater that showed the first nine minutes of Into Darkness that has been tacked onto the beginning of the new Hobbits film showing in IMax theaters.  in a word, David said it was "amaaaaaaazing!"

Finally, Scott and Miles posted their annual Geek Christmas List show on the Scifi Diner.  If you are having trouble figuring out what to get that special sci-fi fan on your list, just listen to this episode (#160) of the Diner for some excellent ideas.  The coolest part of this though is that I appear on this show with my top five gifts I would like to receive.

I don't know when I'll be posting again.  It seems that I have plans that will keep me out of touch for a while over the Christmas break.  I am hoping to at least see a good film and do a lot of reading.

Well, there it is...

I remain Kahless!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New Star Trek: Into Darkness Trailer...

Here is the new trailer everyone was waiting for.  Not a lot to say other than it looks great.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Real Science and Trek...

This morning on the way to work, I finished my listen to The Physics of Star Trek by Lawrence Krauss, an audiobook from Audible.  This book was published in 1995 by Harper.  This version was 6 hours and 31 minutes long and was read by Larry McKeever.

I can only imagine that it might be difficult to make something like physical science sound exciting to the layman, but the only thing I didn't care for in this book is the performance of Mr. McKeever.  While he has an excellent voice, his performance was a little too monotoned to really hold my attention for very long.  I am glad I listened to this in smaller bits.  If I had listened for too long, I might have nodded off.

Aside from the reader's performance, I liked this book a lot.  It is obvious that Dr. Krauss did his homework as far as knowing Star Trek is concerned.  as I listened, it was apparent that he not only knows Trek, but considered himself a "Treker" as he terms it.  Throughout the entire book, he makes very specific references to all of the series, except for Enterprise, and most of the movies up to First Contact.

Krauss discusses many aspects of Star Trek and explains the plausibility of each item he explores in the terms of physical science.  One such example of his discussion talks about phasers.  In the TOS episode Wink of an Eye, Kirk fires a phaser at Deela, one of the last members of a race of people becoming extinct.  Both Deela and Kirk have been "accelerated" to the point that they can move without being seen, and from their perspective, others move very slowly.  As the beam leaves the phaser, it is traveling so slowly that Deela is able to simply step out of the way before being hit..  So where is the problem?  Well, according to physics, the speed of light is a universal constant that will not change, no matter how quickly or slowly time is perceived by an individual.  So, Deela should not have been able to step out of the way from the phaser beam because the beam would be traveling at the speed of light. 

Another example is that one sees a phaser beam at all, since it is an energy weapon, not a particle weapon, a beam should not be visible, unless there is something present that would interfere with the light beam, such as smoke or dust.  Think about a laser pointer for instance.  If one is pointing it at an object, only a small point of light appears on the object, however the beam itself is invisible. There are many other such explanations why such things as warp drive, transporters, phased matter, and such are not plausible, at least as far as our understanding of the physical universe is concerned.

Listening to this book made me a little sad to think that perhaps many of the things that makes Trek what it is are not going to happen in the future.  But I like to think that perhaps they might still become possible as our understanding of physics evolves over time.  Who knows, stranger things have happened.

Dr. Krauss delves deeply into physical science in his book and it gets quite technical at times and can be difficult to understand unless one has a firm founding in physical science.  I particularly have a rough time understanding the concept of relativity and special relativity, or at least I have a tough time picturing it in my mind.  This book didn't help me understand it any better.

As I stated before, the book is not intended to shoot down or pick apart the Star Trek universe, but is rather an explanation of the reality behind the series and films.  One can tell that Krauss loves Trek and on numerous occasions gives a nod to the writers of Star Trek for getting many things right, and for their use of imagination in telling the stories.

It's a good book and I recommend it for anyone that is interested in the reality of the Trek universe.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

More Darkness...

When Star Trek, the 2009 movie was released, I learned that the cast had committed to doing at least three new movies.  Then I was very surprised, and not unhappy, to see that JJ Abrams actually re-booted the entire Trek Universe with the introduction of Nero, a disgruntled Romulan that was bent on taking revenge against Spock for not being able to save Romulus from disaster.  Almost immediately following the release of the 2009 film, speculation began on what the next film might be.  Would JJ direct?  Would the entire cast return? Who will the new villain be?

Later we learned that Benedict Cumberbatch was cast to fulfill the role as the Enterprise crew's next challenge.  There were leaks of still photos, rumors, and much speculation.  Now the Name of the character being portrayed by Cumberbatch has been revealed.  And the winner is...

John Harrison.

Spock, Harrison,and Kirk in what I presume is the brig of the Enterprise.
 That no one has heard of Harrison is of no surprise to me.  JJ seems to be quite adept at springing surprises on us.  After all, who would ever have thought that the planet Vulcan, one of the founding planets of the Federation would be destroyed, making the Vulcans an endangered species?  Remember that "OH MY GOSH" moment?

Much of what I read and listened to speculated that JJ would bring back Kahn in the new Universe for a third go-around with Kirk.  Nope.  It's not Kahn.

Than I heard that the film would be a remake of the original series episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before" featuring Cumberbatch as Gary Mitchell, Kirk's good friend who later became a threat to the Enterprise forcing Kirk to kill him.

Gary Mitchell from "Where No Man Has Gone Before"

Well, with the introduction of this new nemesis, the speculation is flying high again.  Everyone is clamoring for information and spoilers.

A few days ago, I saw this picture:

Speculation has begun flying about who this person is.  Is it Elizabeth Dehner?  Is it Carol Marcus?

Dr. Elizabeth Dehner

Dr. Carol Marcus

I'm betting that it is neither.  JJ and his writers evidently love to play mind games with the Trek community.  Frankly, I love it.  While I cannot help but wonder, I am betting that the new face is neither one, but someone new.

One thing I have come to believe about JJ Abrams and Bad Robot is that just when you think you have things all figured out, you get a curve thrown at you.  It makes it fun and interesting.  The only thing that one can predict when it comes to JJ is his unpredictability.

We'll all find out what is going on in May when the new film is released.

Well, there it is...


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's The End Of The World As We Know It, and I Feel Fine...

For the past few years, I have heard that the world will come to an end on December 21st.  Yes that's this coming December 21st.  Mostly I have heard this on the Coast to Coast AM show.  Well, scientists seem to disagree, and NASA has released a video explaining why.  They had originally planned to release this video on December 22nd, but posted it today...

For tose who cannot watch this video from here, click HERE to go to NASA's YouTube channel to see it.

What do you think?  Are the scientists wrong?  We'll just have to wait and see...

I don't know about you, but my money is on the scientists.

Monday, December 10, 2012

New in Books, at least for me...


On Sunday night, while watching the Packers win over the Lions, I caught a trailer for a new Sci-Fi movie that is coming out in April starring Tom Cruise.  This will be, at least as far as I know, Cruise's second stab at Sci-Fi, with the first one (War of the Worlds) not coming in as a huge success. Here's the trailer...

I am thinking that this actually looks like it might have some promise.  I really enjoy post-apocalyptic stories, and this is one of those.

At the same time, I was on Twitter, trading puns with Larry Nemecek, also known as Dr. Star Trek.  If it has to do with Trek, Larry knows it.  He's also very quick with a pun and was very hard to keep up with.  Great wit.  Larry appears on many podcasts from time to time and is always fun to listen to.

I was also surprised to gain a new follower on Twitter, a gentleman named Ralph Ewig. He is on the real science scene and serves as a Mission Operations Engineer at SpaceX.  Yes the SpaceX that has flown two resupply missions to the ISS.

The SpaceX Dragon Vehicle Captured By The Arm Of The International Space Station

 I also learned that he is an author of Sci-Fi stories that are available through One Hand Publishing.  As far as I can tell, One Hand Publishing works for independent authors to help them get their works out to the public.  I purchased three works by Ewig, two short stories and one novel that I am looking forward to reading as soon as time permits.  I will, of course report back here when I do.  I paid less than $6 for Ewig's stories for my Kindle.  The two short stories are Choice and Freedom, and the novel is titled Eluthera.  Below is the trailer that goes with the novel...

There is also apparently another book in the works, perhaps a sequel to Elutheria called Sadaka.

Podcast News...

Scott and Miles posted a new edition of the SciFi Diner Podcast episode #158.  This is an interview only episode that is also about an author; Mr. Nicholas Eftimiades.  He is currently an American Government Official living in London.  His book, Edward of Planet Earth is a philosophical satire in the same vein as the works of Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker's Guide series.  This sounds like an interesting book and I am hoping to read it sometime in the near future.

 Colin at the Trek News and Views podcast has also posted whit I consider to be the most useful show to date.  He and his guests talk for over an hour about Star Trek literature.  So when there's no series on television, and it is three years between films, what else is there to do if you can't get enough Trek, well you read.  This show is a quite comprehensive guide to what literature is available in novels, as well as comic books.  There are some ideas presented on what to go after, and what to avoid as well.  If you don't listen to any other edition of this podcast, and you are into Trek literature, this is the show to listen to.  Colin and his guests are quite well versed in this area.

I am currently setting aside the Star Trek: New Frontier series for a bit while I am reading a story by Philip K. Dick called Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep in preparation for my upcoming appearance on a future Scifi Rewind show dealing with the film Bladerunner.  The film is "loosely" based on the book.

A short entry I know, but this is information that seemed important.

Well, there it is...


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Into the New Frontier...

I have signed up on Twitter.  You can just click on the link for Twitter on the right side of the page to see my tweets.  I will also be tweeting announcements about new posts on this blog as well as my other blog that outlines what is planned to take place in my classroom.  Please follow me on Twitter so you aren't checking the blogs for nothing.

One of the first tweets I received was from Larry Nemecek, aka Dr. Star Trek which was a re-tweet of something that made me laugh  Perhaps you have seen this before, but it was completely new for me and so I am going to paste it below...

I almost choked when I saw this while taking a sip of coffee.

The SciFi Diner has posted another interview with Nicholas Eftimiades, American Government Official, author, and educator.  I haven't had a chance to listen to this yet, but will be doing so within the next few days.

I am currently still watching Voyager.  I just started the 5th season today.  Voyager really hit its stride in this season and produced some very good episodes.  One of my favorites from this season is "Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy".  It is one of the episodes that features Robert Picardo's brilliant performances as "The Doctor".  The entire episode is great with a lot of humor woven into a story in which The Doctor saves the ship from being attacked by aliens.  The best part of this episode is before the opening credits.  The Doctor is daydreaming that he is giving a recital for the crew.  While singing Le Donna e Mobile from Verdi's opera Rigoletto, Tuvok begins experiencing the Pon Far, the onset of his Vulcan mating drive which takes place once every seven years.  The Doctor deals with Tuvok's condition during the recital by improvising new lyrics to Verdi's classic.  Here's the video from YouTube:

This video has excellent resolution and looks great in full screen mode.

I am continuing to watch Fringe as well.  Still enjoying it as I am about a third of the way through the first season.

I was listening to Victor Hugo's Les Miserables on audiobook, but it is very detailed, and would take over 70 hours to get through, so I have abandoned it for the time being.  I might decide to see if I can find an abridged version of it that gets to the point faster.  The unabridged version is way too detailed to get through.  Perhaps it is because of the times we live in.  When Hugo penned his masterpiece in 1862, life was much slower then and I could imagine someone sitting and reading this by the fire or by candlelight.  It is unfortunate that those times are gone and that we have become so busy that we cannot find time to be entertained by a good book.

 So, I have begun listening to a work on non-fiction called The Physics of Star Trek by Dr. Lawrence M. Krauss of Arizona State University.  So far, this is a very interesting book as Dr. Krauss picks apart the why's and how's of many scientific aspects of Trek.  More on this later when I finish my listen.

This morning, I awoke early and decided to take advantage of the quiet in the house by finishing reading Peter David's New Frontier Trek novel, After the Fall.  This is the 15th novel in the series.  There are 18 total books in this series at this point.  This series is unique because David creates a whole new universe for Star Trek to play in with new characters, but he also includes characters that any a Trekkie would recognize.

I am not going to go into a story synopsis at this time because my memory cannot handle recapping all of the books I have read so far.  Suffice it to say that this is a great series of books and well worth reading.  Here is the cover art of the volumes in the New Frontier series in order:

There are 18 novels as I stated before.  The first four novels were published separately and then later they were combined into a single volume.

One of the things that make great sci-fi is to have a good story.  The New Frontier series is full of good stories, and each book could stand alone to tell a story, but even more than that, the best of this series are the characters.  The author has created some great characters and has also brought in some characters that we who are familiar with Trek will know.  Remember Commander Shelby from the TNG two-part episode "Best of Both Worlds"?  Shelby takes a very important part in this series.  Also Dr. Selar, another TNG character that we only see once but her name is mentioned numerous times in TNG is an integral character.

Here is a rundown of some of the characters that appear in this series...

Captain Makenzie Calhoun: Commander of the USS Excalibur.  He was a very young warlord on his home planet, Xenex.  Discovered by Jean-Luc Picard, and at whose urging was pursuaded to attend Starfleet Academy.   Mac worked hard at his studies, and managed to get into some trouble at the academy.  His solution to the Kobiaski Maru test at the academy was to destroy the ship becasue in his mind, the Romulans had already killed everyone on the Kobiashi and were just using it to lure a Starfleet vessel into an ambush.  He knows how to think on his feet and always comes out on top of a situation.  He is not opposed to bending, or even breaking the rules to accomplish his mission.  He has a sword that his most prized possession from his youth.  It was used to kill his father on Xenex, and when he came into possession of it, he used it to avenge his father's slaying.

Elizabeth Shelby: A by-the-book officer who expected to be in command of the Excalibur, but instead was assigned to be Mac's first officer.  She and Mac were involved during their Academy days.  She learned to be more flexible in her thinking and was given her own command of the USS Trident.  As an extension of their relationship, she and Mac got married.  Later Shelby was promoted to Admiral.

Burgoyne 172: A Hermat, both male and female.  Outgoing and amusing character who has many interesting qualities.  S/he is the Chief Engineer of the Excalibur.

Dr. Selar: Vulcan and Chief Medical Officer of the Excalibur.  Marries Burgoyne 172.  It is a volatile relationship because she is very Vulcan, and Burgy is very emotional.

Robin Lefler: Just as we remember her from her two appearances on TNG.  She really grows up in the series and gains a lot of self-confidence.

Mark McHenry: Brilliant navigator of the Excalibur.

Zac Kebron: Security Chief of the Excalibur.  He is from a race of people called the Brikar, a people whose biochemistry is based on silicon instead of carbon.  He is often described as being a "moving mountain" with a bad atitude.  Once he makes up his mind to something, there is very little that can move him off course.  Great character.

Soleta: Half Vulcan, half Romulan but chose to follow her Vulcan heritage.  Always in an internal struggle between her two halves, much as Spock.  She manages to hide her Romulan heritage because if it is discovered, she'll probably be kicked out of Starfleet.  When she is finally found out, she resigns from Starfleet and goes to work for the Romulans.

Morgan: Mother of Robin Lefler.  She is very old, due to being a sort of immortal, however, she finally lost her corporeal existence and became the computer on the Excalibur.  She uses her life experience to be a very effective member of the Excalibur crew.

Si Cwan: A prince of the Royal Family of the Thallonian Empire.  Serves as an un-official ambassador aboard the Excalibur, and later works to resurrect his empire.

There are a number of other characters that appear and dominate for different segments of the story arc.  Suffice it to say that this Series is an outstanding one that every Trek fan should take a look at.  Peter David is an outstanding story teller and I very much appreciate is work.  This series is available for the Kindle.

Well, there it is.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Resistance is Futile, Or Is It?

This Just in...
 A teaser/trailer for Star Trek: Into Darkness has been posted.
Check it out below...

According to the official Paramount Star Trek: Into Darkness web page, the official trailer will be released on December 17th! 

Podcast News

On my way home from work, I listened to another fine episode of the Scifi Diner Podcast.  My friends, Scott and Miles said some very nice things about me right at the beginning of the show while plugging this blog.  Thanks gentlemen, it is very much appreciated.  Today's show was Episode #157.  They also talked about Fringe which is coming up on its 5th (and final) mid-season break.  Miles read the Star Trek: Into Darkness synopsis and also talked about a project that is in the making over at Renegade Studios, the makers of Star Trek: Of Gods and Men.  They are working on a new project that has a great cast, and is being directed by Tim Russ (Tuvok from Voyager).  This week's installment of the Diner features an interview with Musetta Vander who has played a number of roles in various sci-fi shows.  

Scott and Miles do a great job with their interviews because they always seem to put their guests at ease and show them as real people.  You can listen to the show directly from their web site or subscribe.  Just visit their page for information.  By the way, the cat's out of the bag since Scott and Miles let out in the episode that I would be a guest on a future Scifi Rewind show.  We'll be dissecting Bladerunner!  We'll be recording in late January, and I am really looking forward to it.

Earlier this week,  finished listening to my friends from the Trek News and Views podcast.  Colin and his guests from all over the world took a close look at the Star Trek film, First Contact.  This is Colin and crew's first re-visitation of a Star Trek movie and well worth a listen.

So in light of that, I thought I would do a little review of my own.  This is all strictly from memory, so if I don't get every detail correct, please be forgiving...

Assimilate This...

Film ReleaseYear: 1996
Written By: Rick Berman, Branon Braga, and Ronald D. Moore
Directed By: Jonathan Frakes
Score By: Jerry and Joel Goldsmith
Starring the cast from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Alfre Woodward, and James Cromwell

Following the opening credits, Captain Jean-Luc Picard awakes from a nightmare that appears to be a memory of his assimilation by the Borg.  Shortly after, the Enterprise receives a message that there is a Borg cube attacking Sector 001, where Earth and the home of the United Federation of Planets.  Much to the dismay of the Enterprise crew, they are ordered to stay where they are and continue charting gaseous anomalies while a pitched battle is being fought against the Borg near Earth.  While monitoring the battle over subspace communications, the Enterprise crew learn that it is not going well for Star Fleet and decided to disobey direct orders and join the fight with their new and more powerful Sovereign class Enterprise.

Sovereign Class Enterprise and USS Defiant
 Upon joining the battle, the scene cuts to the bridge of the USS Defiant under the command of Worf, formerly a crew member of the Enterprise.  Seeing that the battle is not going to be won, Worf decides that he may have a chance to do some fatal damage to the Borg vessel by ramming his ship into the cube.  The Enterprise arrives, cutting off the badly damaged Defiant and joins the fray and at the same time rescues Worf and his crew.  The Borg, through benefit of having assimilated Picard, knows a great deal about Star Fleet, but Picard also knows quite a bit about them too.  Picard takes command of the fleet and orders them to fire everything they have at a single point on the Borg cube which results in the complete destruction of the attacking vessel.  However, before exploding, the cube ejects a much smaller spherical vessel that heads straight for Earth.

Borg Cube with Enterprise D to show scale and Borg Sphere headed to Earth
As the sphere heads toward Earth, it opens and enters a temporal vortex.  The Enterprise follows the sphere and as it enters the vortex, the scene on the view screen is of the North American continent after it has been assimilated by the Borg in the present.  Once through the vortex, the Enterprise crew learns that they have been taken back in time to just days before the first warp flight by Zephram Cochrane.  Picard realizes that the Borg have time traveled to Earth of the past to assimilate the human race before that first warp flight thus eliminating the Federation before it can be formed.  The The Borg begin to fire weapons at the place where First Contact is to be made in an attempt to destroy Cochran's warp ship, the Phoenix, then is destroyed by the Enterprise.  Unbeknown to the Enterprise crew, several Borg drones beam off of the sphere and into the engineering section of the Enterprise and begin assimilating the ship and crew.

Meanwhile, Picard leads an away team down to check out the condition of the Phoenix, locate survivors, and help anyone that may have been injured in the Borg attack.  The away Picard is informed by the ship concerning conditions aboard.  Environmental controls seem to be malfunctioning on several decks, and Picard realizes that the ship is being altered to match the environment on a Borg cube.  Picard and Data return to the ship and leave Riker, Troi, and LaForge behind to make sure that the Phoenix flies as scheduled.  Picard also takes Cochrane's assistant, Lily with him to receive medical attention.

Lily, The Phoenix, and Cochrane

Riker and the others find Cochrane, who is a bit overwhelmed at the hero-worship that is being heaped upon him by the Enterprise crew.

On the Enterprise, Picard orders to crew to resist the Borg in any way they can.  Data is captured by the Borg.  Many, including Lily see the futility of resisting the Borg and urge Picard to just self-destruct the Enterprise and have done with it.  Picard is not willing to do this vowing that he will fight them to the last.  In the meantime, Data is being tempted to join the Borg by the Queen.  The Queen has real skin grafted onto Data's frame and explains that he would be made to be far superior to humans were he to join with the Borg.

Data with grafted skin and the Borg Queen
Picard finally realizes that his only course of action is to destroy the Enterprise to preserve history and sets the self-destruct.  He orders the rest of the crew to the surface, but remains behind to rescue Data and heads for the engineering section.  Later, Data disables the self destruct, the Phoenix launches, and the Borg Queen tells Data to fire torpedoes at the Phoenix before it goes to warp to show his loyalty.  Data purposely misses the Phoenix and joins Picard in killing the Borg Queen.

As it was supposed to happen, the Vulcans, who are passing near the solar system, see the Phoenix traveling at warp.  They land in Cochrane's encampment and make First Contact with a Vulcan salute, a handshake, and a loud party.  After the Enterprise crew witness the historic occasion, they use the Borg technology to open a temporal vortex back to their time and depart.

 In my opinion, this is the best of the Next Generation movies.  Under the direction of Jonathan Frakes, it has the "feel" of the Next Generation series, with all of the camaraderie that we have all come to know.  The acting is top notch with very convincing performances pit in by Cromwell and Woodward.  As always, the regular Trek cast does their usual great job.  All around a great film.

Being One with the Borg...

The Borg is a collective made up of many species operating with a hive mentality.  In other words, they are like ants or bees; their one purpose is to serve the collective.  They do not procreate as we mere humanoids do, but they maintain and increase their numbers by assimilating other species that they encounter, often resulting in the complete extinction of many species.  This assimilation process is accomplished when a Borg Drone injects a victim with nano-probes; microscopic machines that remake the victim with technology added to the biological components already in place.  When the process is complete, the individual no longer exists, but is replaced with another drone that requires no training to perform their duties, requires no sustenance, and can survive in some very hostile environments, including the vacuum of space without the need for extra equipment.

The Borg are first encountered in the TNG episode entitled "Q-Who."  When the Q entity visits the Enterprise in this episode, Q tries to get Picard to turn the ship around and head back home telling him that there are wonders in the universe that humanity is not ready for.  Picard boasts that as far as he is concerned, humanity is ready for anything, so Q sends the Enterprise presumably into the Delta Quadrant of the galaxy where they encounter a Borg Cube.   A Borg Drone beams aboard the Enterprise and begins to assess the capabilities of the technology available, to see if there is anything useful.  Then they begin to dismantle the enterprise, but before any irreparable damage is done, Q returns the Enterprise to the Alpha Quadrant.

In later episodes, the Borg enter the Alpha Quadrant and there is a battle staged between them and Starfleet at Wolf 359, in which numerous ships are destroyed and many member-species of the Federation are assimilated.  So the Borg are aware of everything they need to know, and therein lies the reason for the attack in the past to assimilate the Earth before a federation can be formed.

Borg Drone and Picard as Locutis

"This Far, No Farther... 
They Will Pay For What They've Done..."
  So it comes down to Captain Picard, having been assimilated as Locutis, a sort of super-drone who was to aid the Borg in the assimilation of the Federation.  Is his motivation for fighting the Borg in the film to try to make sure that First Contact with the Vulcans takes place as history shows, or is Picard seeking vengance for what the Borg did to him?  This is the theme that I think is being explored in First Contact.  Lily accuses Picard of being obsessed with defeating the Borg, in much the same way that Ahab was obsessed with killing the whale in Moby Dick.  Ahab's obsession was unrelenting, there wasn't anything that he wouldn't do to avenge himself upon the Moby Dick for the loss of his leg.  It led to his death, and the loss of his ship and crew, save one who lived to tell the tale.  Picard was headed down this same path, but his sense of logic saved him and instead of losing his perspective of what was the big picture; preserving history, he let go of the notion of vengeance for what the Borg did to him.  Picards wisdom, with the help of Lily, allowed him to fulfill both objectives in defeating the Borg and preserving history.

Obsession is a recurring theme in history, and usually winds up being the undoing of many characters who are guided by it.  Obsession blinds one to logic, experience, and common sense and the consequences are often fatal.  If there is a lesson to be learned from First Contact, this may very well be it.

Thanks for reading...
Please comment...


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

This Just In...

New Star Trek: Into Darkness Poster And What J.J. Gets Right

Late last night, my friends at Subspace Communique posted a picture of a poster for the new Star Trek: Into Darkness movie due for release on May 17, 2013.  Note the shape of the delta shield in the ruined bullding.  For more, go to the link above and read Captain Pyke's post.

You can also check out the official Paramount website for Star Trek: Into Darkness.

Live long and Prosper.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Dirty Laundry...


I was a Sci-Fi day here at the House of Kahless with lots of activity.

The day started pretty early this morning.  We had started decorating the house for Christmas last Saturday, but after all the Thanksgiving revelry and Black Friday activity (by Mrs Kahless, not me though), we ran out of decorative enthusiasm pretty quickly.  So we did finally finish today and I thought I would share what makes Christmas decorating fun for me.  I have a small collection of Star Trek, Star Wars and other Hallmark collectibles and I thought I would post a few pictures here for you...

These are all hanging on the tree.  This year's featured collectible was the one in the bottom right corner of Dr. McCoy.  It's funny that when it is time to take down the tree, the Death Star and the Star Destroyer are so small that I probably will not be able to find them.
The Shuttle Craft in the upper left corner is the first ornament I got.  That one and the Enterprise-D at the bottom both have to be plugged into a string of lights.  If they ever quit making the miniature incandescent lights, I'll be in trouble putting these up.

So, the Kahless household is ready for Christmas.

It was also "Star Trek and Laundry Day."  It is just what it sounds like.  While I do the laundry, there are episodes of Star Trek on the TV.  I am currently going through Voyager.  

Intrepid Class USS Voyager
 It always seems that when I listen to others talk, there isn't a lot of love for Voyager.  That's too bad because I really like that series.  I even like Chakotay.  Yes, I saw the YouTube video where he talks about how stupid he thinks all Trekkies are, but so what, he did his job on the series and that's what really counts.  I especially like the Native American spirituality that permeates the character in the first couple of seasons, and was very sad when they got away from that aspect of his character.

Robert Beltran as Chakotay
 One episode that I have always really liked is the season five episode, Counterpoint.  For me, it is one of the best of Voyager.  While passing through a region of the Delta Quadrant being controlled by a race of people known as the Devore, the Voyager crew finds itself being compelled to stop at irregular intervals so the ship can be inspected for any passangers or crew with telepathic abilities.  So a team of inspectors led by Kashyk goes through the ship scanning for telepaths.  As we know, Tuvok, as a Vulcan, is a telepath, and we learn a little later in the show that Voyager is indeed transporting a group of telepathic refugees out of Devore space. Kashyk's crew never finds any telepaths to arrest because they are being hidden in the transporter's buffer during the inspections.

Kashyk is played by Mark Harelyk who also appeared in Jurasic Park III, and Big Band Theory.
 When the Dvorans leave Voyager, the telepaths are beamed out of the transporter and Voyager continues on its way.

 Not long after an inspection, Kashyk arrives at Voyager in a shuttle and explains to Captain Janeway that he is tired of being a bully and wants to start a new life by joining the Voyager crew and helping them get through Devore space with a minimum of hassle.  He further tells Janeway that he knows all about the telepaths that are on board and that he is also aware of her plan to get the refugees to a wormhole in a nebula to help them escape, but Kashyk also tells her that there will be an ambush when they reach the wormhole resulting in the capture of the tlelpaths and internment for Voyager's crew.  Janeway cautiously takes Kashyk in and listens to his advice.  She also seemingly falls in love with him.

Kashyk thinks he has gained Janeway's confidence, but to the contrairy, while he thinks he is playing her for a fool, it is actually he who is getting a game ran on him.  Anyway, the refugees escape, Kashyk figures out that he is the one who is the fool, and cannot take any action against Voyager because then he would have to admit to his superiors that he let the refugees get away.

I like this episode because Kashyk comes across as very convincing, and all the while it seems that he is going to actually pull the wool over Janeway's eyes.  Great plot twist there.  I also like the music that accompanies the inspections.  Kashyk has the computer play the second movement of Mahler's First Symphony to help keep the crew calm while his minions scan for telepaths. (By the way, Memory Alpha lists that what is played is Tschaikowski's Fourth Symphony.  If you are familiar with music, you would know that one could NEVER mistake Tschaikowski for Mahler for many reasons I will not go into here.)

I streamed two episodes of Fringe from Amazon last night and am still liking this show.  The Sci-Fi quote for this week is something I have been laughing about all day.  I haven't quite figured out what the story arc is in this series, but I did catch a few clues as Peter has been accepted as an official consultant and can now enter the Federal Building without an escort.  It took getting some nasty electrodes shoved up his nose and a realization that there is more going on in the world than meets the eye.

At some point tomorrow, when the house is quiet, I will be recording comments for the SciFi Diner Conversations show, which I think will be #71 and also for the Christmas show.  Scott has called for listeners to send in their top five geek Christmas wish list.  I think I came up with a pretty good one.  If you want to know what I have chosen, you'll have to tune in to the Diner to find out.

Well, there it is...