Time was Star Trek books were very different from what fans have known for the past 37 years. The novels were not carefully reviewed by Paramount licensing for accuracy and continuity. They were not written by people who were Star Trek fans and knew every episode by heart. They were science fiction novels by professional science fiction authors who had no previous tie to the series, and the stories they produced bore little resemblance to the TV show whose title graced the books’ covers.
In April, 1976, when Jean Lorrah first published Night of the Twin Moons, there had been only a single original Star Trek novel published. It was Spock Must Die! By James Blish, the veteran SF author who had thus far novelized 71 episodes of the original series, making Trek the first TV series in history to have (almost) all of its episodes turned into prose stories. (Blish never novelized the Kirk-era parts of “The Menagerie,” although he did novelize the original pilot episode, “The Cage.”)
These two images are from the latest issue of DC Comics’s Doomsday Clock. They especially resonated with me for a couple of reasons. In the first, three bullies have accosted a young girl, the daughter of an immigrant puppeteer in New York City (or is it Gotham City?). The girl, Erika, is walking with one of her father’s marionettes when the bullies approach and confiscate her toy.
The lead bully insults Erika’s father and asks what kind of grown man plays with toys. In the second panel, the same bully concludes that the puppeteer must be a child molester. This is common thinking amongst the ill-bred and under-educated: if someone is different in some way—any way—they probably molest little kids.
Seeing “Wrath of Khan” again, and remembering the feelings it kindled in me, made me realize what a comedown I was in store for as a fan. These young characters whom I cheered in this film would not survive the next one. My old friends would not be allowed to grow as real people do. I could not help reflecting how sad it was for Sulu, Uhura, Chekov, Saavik and David that we would never see adventures in which they were the heroes. (I’m talking about in the course of televised and movie Trek, here. I’m aware that they all have had their moments in licensed fiction. I wrote some of those moments!)
What I wanted, what I expected, in 1982 was to see Star Trek both live and grow. To see Kirk continue to age, and teach me how to age, while finding purpose in his life. To see Saavik and David become mature adults. To see Sulu, Chekov and Uhura promoted, instead of stuck in jobs fit for junior officers. I wanted to see more.
Star Trek – The Next Generation was not that. It was set 78 years later so that its creators could rule out the need to have to address what happened to the original characters. It was something called “Star Trek,” but it was not a continuation of the original crew’s adventures. It was a reboot, and it was a reboot so hog-tied by what came before that, despite its amazing popularity, it never knew what the hell it really was as a show. Continue reading
“David and Saavik – Shooting Stars – Part 2” will not be seen tonight, so that we may bring you the following special FIAWOL presentation.
Drawing a line in the sand is popular right now. We like to know who’s like us and who isn’t. Who can be trusted and who can’t. Who’s in our tribe, and who’s an evil outsider who needs to be kicked to the curb. So we draw a line in the sand and ask those like us to stand on our side of it. We go on Facebook and say, “If you don’t agree with me that drinking Green Kool-Aid is a hate crime, you are what is wrong with the world, unfriend me now, you are dead to me. Oh, and thanks for electing Trump.”
Silly, right? Well here’s my line in the sand: If you approve of James Gunn losing his job because he made jokes on Twitter years ago, then you are what’s wrong with the world, I don’t trust you, and you are clearly not of my tribe.
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.
Terrible episode, right? If you’re of a generation of fan that doesn’t recognize any Star Trek quote other than, “Khaaaaaaaannnnnn!!!”, I’ll explain.
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.
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.
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.
“If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s intolerance.”
Back during the glory days of the Moral Majority—the one led by Jerry Falwell, not the current crop of holier-than-thou leftists—my friends and I used to make that joke a lot. I guess it was our way of reminding ourselves that, liberal though we were at the time, there was such a thing as reverse intolerance.
It’s a powerful sentiment, and one that I think would benefit a lot of people in today’s world to think about—science fiction fans especially.
I don’t like gatekeepers. By definition, a gatekeeper is someone who stands at a point of entry or exit and intercepts anyone trying to use that entrance or exit. In some cases, they just slow down traffic, in others, they tell people that they’re not allowed through the door.
I don’t like TSA, even though we’re guilted into believing we should. I don’t like receipt checkers at stores, who expect you to queue up in a line, afteryou’ve paid for your purchases, but before you’re allowed to leave the store. I don’t like locks on doors. They’re a nuisance. I don’t like big, burly men (or women) with lists at the doors of parties.
“Nobody likesthese things,” you might deflect, “but we have to have them! Without locks on doors, and people at the door, people would trespass, people would steal, people would take up illegal residence in other peoples’ homes and offices.”
I disagree with pretty much everything in that statement.