Tag Archive: Star Trek

If Kirk was a Republican

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There’s a certain element of Star Trek that really appeals to conservatives. Usually it manifests in a weird fetishization of the show’s military aspects, like the non-canon but ubiquitous Starfleet Marines, but fans who are too respectable to associate with the fandoms can try arguing that the whole show had a conservative message.

I assumed that was the direction Ted Cruz would go when the New York Times asked him if he preferred Captain Kirk or Captain Picard. Instead,  he actually had some fairly thoughtful reasoning:

Let me do a little psychoanalysis. If you look at ‘‘Star Trek: The Next Generation,’’ it basically split James T. Kirk into two people. Picard was Kirk’s rational side, and William Riker was his passionate side. I prefer a complete captain. To be effective, you need both heart and mind.

He’s still wrong, but not as wrong as I’d expected.

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Star Trek was already too Star Trek-y

Because I am very clued in, I learned that the Internet was freaking out over Simon Pegg having called genre fiction infantile after he’d already posted a reaction to the Internet’s reaction.

As to his main point, I think he’s half right. Major film studios have absolutely taken to using genre fiction as a way to deliver spectacle rather than deep or challenging narratives, but that’s hardly a problem unique to fantasy or science fiction. The Fast & Furious franchise or The Expendables both blockbuster ticket farms too, and I wouldn’t argue they have a greater enduring cultural value than The Avengers.

What’s most concerning about the comments is the context: Pegg happens to be co-writing the next Star Trek film, a role he took on after the studio booted the movie’s original director after some unspecified creative differences. In his interview, Pegg said the original script was “a little bit too Star Trek-y.”

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Star Trek’s Khan Problem

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I maintain that if the producers of Star Trek Into Darkness truly wanted to recycle an adversary from the original series, they should have gone with the Doomsday Machine. Not only would the thing have been VFX gold, but it would have helped them avoid what’s become one of the most common traps in the franchise.

Most of the Star Trek movies that came after Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan tried to replicate its success. It’s not hard to see why, since TWOK is arguably the best movie in the franchise. (The Undiscovered Country is my personal favorite, but whichever.) What’s frustrating is that none of the people who’ve tried to replicate it over the years have demonstrated a clear understanding of why it was so good in the first place.

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Star Wars must unlearn what it has learned

It probably says something revealing about me that I learned about the new Star Wars trilogy while reading an economics blog. For instance, that I gave up on the franchise around the start of the Yuuzhan Vong storyline. And I think that has a lot to do with why I’m finding myself pretty unenthused about the prospect of more movies.

Like just about everyone, I didn’t much like the prequels. But unlike just about everyone, I thought The Phantom Menace was the best of them, largely because it was slightly more interested in developing its own actual story rather than scene-setting the events of the original trilogy. Episode VII presumably will not be a prequel, but given the state of the franchise, its story could be in even more trouble.

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Our solar system is huge

In 1990, Voyager 1 used its camera for the last time and took a panoramic photo of the solar system, including that famous photo of the Earth as a tiny, pale blue dot caught in a sunbeam. (Or, technically, a lens flare.) At the time, the probe was about six billion kilometers away, or 40 times the distance between the Earth and the sun.

Now, after covering another 12 billion kilometers, it may have become the first human-made object to leave the solar system in early September. And despite moving faster (on average) than any other object we’ve ever built, it took 35 years to get that far.

I was born almost four years after Voyager 1’s flyby of Saturn, when its primary mission ended, so I spent my childhood assuming it was long gone already. The fact that it’s still racking up milestones well into my adulthood is a pretty good example of how hard it is to comprehend the scale of the universe we live in.

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Space Grit

Stargate Universe.

Charlie Jane Anders has an excellent article on io9 about what happened to all the gritty space opera that I spent most of the last decade being wary of.

I’m generally suspicious of articles that try to paint the 2000s as some sort of pinnacle of science fiction on television, as it struck me as the decade when sci-fi shows tried to stop being science fiction. But I was as happy as anyone when I saw shows that paid serious attention to physics and using space to tell complex human stories, so an article about the Unfulfilled Promise of the period works for me.

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I think about Star Trek a lot.

So I’ll be sitting in on a few panels for this year’s Norwescon, starting with two tonight — one on the future of Star Trek, and one on the present of Doctor Who. Given the likely odds I’ll become completely tongue tied when I have to actually talk in front of people, I figured I’d outline my thoughts here for you.

First off, here’s my assessment of Star Trek after the jump. Short version: I’m cautiously optimistic.

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