A few Wednesdays ago now, I went to the Lyric Opera House with family and friends to see Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan on the big screen. I had last seen it thus-presented back in 1982, when it was released. I believe it was the first movie I ever returned to the theater to see more than once, because it was just that good. (For a lot of people, that movie was Star Wars. Not for me. I was a Trek kid.) The screening of the film was followed by a Q&A with William Shatner, MC’d by my friend Bob Greenberger. (Who may someday forget that he was on stage with Bill Shatner for an hour, but not any day soon.)
Shatner’s presence was a good thing, because the audio on the film was terrible. Kinda disappointing in a hall where people go to hear live musical performances.
In the Guardian’s central area, the images Saavik and McCoy had observed faded now, obscured by swirling mists. She and the Doctor stood, numbed by what they had seen. He probably did not fully understand as she did what it all meant. He had not had the dream. For the moment, he was spared the pain of knowing how things must be. Knowledge was not always a blessing.
The voice boomed, “Saavik.”
“Yes,” she responded coolly.
“Now you have seen what must be. Are you willing to do what must be done? I cannot force you, but I believe you know some of the consequences should you refuse.”
I cannot force you. True enough, she supposed, but certainly it had seen to it that she would not refuse. What kind of creature would? A low, unprincipled one might, one that placed the lives of a select few above the lives of a universe. Saavik might have—long ago. Continue reading
The central living area Sarek escorted Terry to was not what he would have expected of Vulcan living. Onboard ship, Vulcans tended to be rather spartan in their decor. This room, in fact. the whole house, showed a human touch—specifically a feminine one. Obviously, Amanda had had a hand in the decorating.
Once inside the central room, however, Terry didn’t find himself noticing walls or floors or other things inanimate. Around him were anxious faces, most of them with a touch of sympathy in their expression. Captain Scott, Dr. McCoy and Commander Uhura sat casually on the large couch in front of him. In nearby chairs, facing one another, were his commander, Hikaru Sulu, and a man he assumed to be Pavel Chekov.
Sulu smiled at him in greeting, as did Uhura and McCoy. Could they see how nervous he was? Were they offering him a vote of confidence? Perhaps they wanted to remind him that they were old friends and teachers as well as criminals he’d been sent to arrest. He remembered.
Gene Roddenberry, aka the Great Bird of the Galaxy, creator of Star Trek, developed a script early on in the production of Trek—so early that it was a contender for the show’s famed second pilot episode—called “The Omega Glory.” The premise was that there was a planet of two primitive, but apparently immortal, tribes of people called the Yangs and the Kohms. They had a hereditary feud. The Kohms presented as basically civilized, the Yangs were mute and apparently savage.
They were mute, that is, until Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, imprisoned with two Yangs, mentioned that they needed to somehow attain their freedom.
“Freedom?” said the big, male, mute, shocking the two Starfleet officers. “Freedom?” And, as above, he told the outworlders that they were not to use the sacred word.
Janury 11th, 2018
Dear Daddy —
Let me tell you about Christmas. Our first Christmas without you. The first Christmas the world has had without you since 1921. And, in 1921, Christmas would have been celebrated—at least in Pensacola, North Carolina, without streaming music, without CD players or vinyl record players, even without a radio. Your Daddy owned the first radio back in those hills, and neighbors came to visit in the evening just to listen to it. But that was years later.
Christmas would have been celebrated without electric lights on the tree or the house, without telephones so that out-of-town loved ones could call. Your Grandpa and Grandma Rathbone would have had to come through the woods or around the bend in the road to visit the log cabin where you were born. (Although I think your Grandma essentially lived with you anyway. She delivered you.) Your Grandfather Jake Wilson was five years dead, and his wife had married for a third time.
USS Phoenix Log, Stardate: 8223.4
Lieutenant Aer’La commanding in the absence of First Officer Hadley.
Phoenix has been called out of maintenance in spacedock and ordered to follow the path of the USS Enterprise, stolen by a band of Starfleet renegades led by Admiral James Kirk and including former Phoenix commander Sulu, to the Genesis planet in the Mutara sector.
It was truly the most bizarre order she had ever been given: pull the ship out of dock in the middle of maintenance work and reassemble what crew she could to track down and arrest six of the most celebrated officers in the fleet—the former command crew of the Enterprise. Two thirds of the crew had been available, and, despite their grumbling, the repair crews had had the ship ready to go in six hours.
Aer’La had looked at Admiral Morrow as though he were mad when he had called her, a simple lieutenant just off of border patrol, into his office and put her in charge of the most delicate mission the fleet could ever dream of undertaking—the arrest of a band of heroes for mutiny. No diplomatic undertaking could ever be so sensitive as this. Starfleet would not be popular when it hauled Jim Kirk in for court martial. Why her? And why Phoenix?
Few fans of science fiction do not remember the moment in Star Wars when Luke Skywalker enters the cantina at Mos Eisley, accompanied by C3PO and R2D2 and is told “We don’t serve their kind.” Luke is confused, and the barman explains that ‘droids are not wanted in his establishment. So the ‘droids glumly go to wait outside while Luke and Obi Wan meet Han Solo.
Nothing else happens related to this incident. The hateful behavior of the barman is not addressed. We’re left to assume, I suppose, that someone is always at the bottom rung of the social ladder, and such people are always discriminated against. In the Star Wars universe, those disenfranchised people are ‘droids. The moment stands that hate is a fact of life.
January 3rd, 2018
Dear Daddy —
This is the third day of my first year without you. I want to tell you all about Christmas—not that you had time for such things—and all that’s been happening otherwise. But, before I do that, I had to tell you—
I get it!
All those late, endless nights that we spent working, when I was yawning, my eyes were closing, and it was usually cold—because we were usually working outside—I never understood what it was that drove you to work so hard. We worked on cars, we worked on the house, we worked on building shelves to hold the stuff that you kept bringing into the house, we went and picked up the stuff and brought it into the house. And, might I remind you, the stuff included B-52 gun-sights, half-ton antenna mounts, giant darkroom enlargers and 12-foot long gas lasers. Oh, and missiles. Five missiles, At least their noses. Those, at least, you wired up and used for your actual, paying work.
But I never understood how it was that you kept going until all hours. You never seemed tired. You actually seemed cheerful, for a change. Cheerful, that is, until something didn’t go the way you wanted it to. But you were especially cheerful when the rest of us told you that we were tired, bored, cold, and just wanted to stop.
Pavel Chekov was seated at a table in the back of the lounge, looking quite haggard, when Scotty came in. In front of him was a huge stack of tapes. He exhaled heavily, ran a hand through his hair, and inserted one of them into the viewer.
After stopping to order a glass of scotch from the selector, Scotty went to join him. “Whot are ye up to here, lad?”
Pavel looked up with a frown. “I em going through the log tapes—or helf of them, if you believe thet—for Uhura. The executive reports hev to be ready tomorrow, and she’s supposed to review all the logs. She got me to do these,” he explained, his frown growing more pronounced.
Scotty swallowed a sip of his drink and laughed. “When I was second officer, Spock took care of all thot.”
Popping another tape into the viewer, Chekov said, “I suppose thet’s vhy you wanted me to hev the job?”
As with all of my blog series, the FIAWOL blogs are written weeks in advance. But I was a day late posting this week because the online science fiction world was exploding with news about Chris Hardwick and Chloe Dykstra. I have thoughts about that news, and about the #MeToo movement at large. So I took a day out and tried to write about them. This was the second time in recent months I’ve tried to do so. And, just as with my first attempt, I wrote about 2500 words, re-wrote a second draft… and then decided I wasn’t ready to share my very personal thoughts on the subject with the world. Maybe I’m a coward, and maybe I have good reason to be. You see, my morality doesn’t work like most peoples’.
Which is a good segue for this piece that wasready for publication yesterday…
This was Robert A. Heinlein’s final book, moodily (and prophetically) titled with a quote from Tennyson’s “Ulysses” about old age and death. But this book is not at all about old age or death, it’s about life, about living it wisely and passionately, about defying death, and about maintaining youth.