Tag Archives: star trek

Star Trek is just a silly Science Fiction show

That’s what some people say. It’s just people in tight, uncomfortable, brightly coloured shirts, running around on a space ship. It doesn’t mean anything.

Those people, are very wrong indeed.

Netflix in the UK have just dropped a metric tonne of new Star Trek content  by adding every Star Trek episode ever, from every incarnation. Also, Netflix (outside the USA and Canada) have done a deal so that the new Star Trek show, Star Trek Discovery, will be shown on Netflix in 180 countries shortly after it airs on CBS in the USA.

I’ve been tempted many times over the years to buy the Next Generation DVDs and the rest, but the price has always been a bit steep. Now I’m getting my daily dose of Star Trek and I don’t have to find storage space for some more DVD box sets.

So, back to my original statement. For some people, mostly those who have never actually watched the show, and only know a little about it, they think it’s just another TV show. In some respects they’re right. It is a show that is designed to entertain. However, its creator, Gene Roddenberry, always wanted the show to do more. The original series with Kirk and Spock broke new ground several times, including the first on screen kiss between a white man and a black woman on American network television. You might say so what in 2016, but this was unheard of. And this was in 1968. That’s just five years after the Civil Rights march in Washington which led to Martin Luthor King’s famous speech. The show was also about so much more than that. It was about intolerance, hatred, racism, sexism, and so many other things, all wrapped up in a brightly coloured science fiction TV show.

Looking at it from another perspective, there are countless scientists, engineers and indeed astronauts that were inspired by the show. They went on to explore the universe, down to its smallest components and also into outer space. They believed in the underlying principle of Star Trek, where human beings are at peace with each other and their goal is to better themselves and explore the universe. A planet Earth where there was no more war or famine, disease was all but eradicated and we were united as a species.

Coincidentally, just as I was writing this post, SciFiNow asked fans to explain why they love Star Trek. I’ve added in my response below and one other from Ms Krystal which sums it up very well.

The shows are also full of unbelievable technology, which at the time seemed ridiculous. Some of this technology has become a reality. We don’t have transporters, but how about a system that plays music on demand. Something that is voice controlled that can store music digitally on a computer file and recall it instantly. This was on Star Trek: The Next Generation decades before iTunes and digital music.

How about a small, hand-held communication device that allows you to speak to someone very far away? This was the Star Trek communicator device, that goes back to the 1960s.

How about a very small, body mounted camera, that could beam its signal back to someone else, so they could see what you were doing, without being there in person. Much like today’s body cameras worn by front line police officers, or head mounted cameras for the armed forces. This was seen in Stak Trek: The Next Generation, where Geordie beams what his visor is showing back to the bridge so they can see what he can see on a mission.

How about data pads? Tiny computers that sit on a desk? These became tablets and laptop computers. I’ve barely scratched the surface but I’m sure you get the idea.

Star Trek means a lot to some people because it’s just an entertaining show. It means so much to others because it drives them to be better, to go further, to do more, to strive for the impossible. For others it inspires them to create and for others, to turn their gaze towards the heavens and the majesty of outer space. Underneath all of it, the show rests on the core principle that human beings are united and right now, with so much chaos and despair in the world, a little bit of hope is very welcome.

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A Black Time

I was going to do a post about writing, about juggling different parts of being a writer and having a day job, but then three pretty big things happened in the last few weeks.

First, Leonard Nimoy died at the age of 83. I’m sure I don’t have to explain who he was to anyone. I was going to try and write something about how important he is  and was. I was going to try and write about how important Star Trek and the principles set out in the universe created by Gene Roddenberry are to me, but I’ve not been able to find the right words. In the end, Scott, my CBO podcast co-host and I, decided to talk about why we loved Trek, why it means so much to us and the impact the various shows had on us both growing up. I’m editing the podcast at the moment and it will be out on Sunday. We wanted to celebrate all of the awesome things about Star Trek and we highlighted some of our favourite moments, as well as how we were first introduced to Trek and what we think will happen to it in the future.

The second big thing that happened this week was a lot more personal. A friend passed away. It wasn’t expected, he wasn’t old and it has hit me like a real gut punch. I was dazed for a few days and felt very listless and just not with it. A few days later and I’m back in the real world, no longer out of phase with everyone else, but that will all change again I’m sure with the upcoming funeral next week.

The third thing that happened was this week Terry Pratchett died aged after a meagre 66 years. That’s not a good run at all. Given how long people are living these days, that’s nothing. I’m not the biggest fan of Pratchett’s work, but I am close to a number of people who are enormous fans of his. They own every single book and have met him a number of times. I’ve read a few of his books over the years and despite them not being my favourites I admired him enormously. He also essentially had his own genre of fiction in bookshops. You could write a satirical and amusing fantasy novel, but if you then tried to submit I doubt many publishers would take it on. In fact I doubt any would. That was his.

Putting his work with Alzheimer’s to one side and focusing purely on the creative, he was an incredibly sharp, witty and a very funny man. I believe he had a very strong moral code and this came through in every book. To an outsider at first glance his books were nothing more than wildly fantastic stories set on a flat world. But if anyone took even five minutes and scratched the surface they would see the many layers in each story. Over the years he developed a huge following of millions around the world because of who he was and his ability as a storyteller. I admired him for his wit, his creativity, his warmth, inclusiveness and sense of humour. Several people close to me have met him several times over the years and on each occasion he was friendly, funny and just a generally lovely man.

On one occasion I met David Gemmell at a talk and book signing before he passed away. I can’t remember where the story came from now, whether it was him telling the crowd or something Stan Nicholls recalled at a convention, but several years ago David and Terry were abroad somewhere (I think it was in Europe – maybe Vienna) on a book tour. Terry thought it was would be fun for them to get to their next appearance (a radio show interview), by themselves and what followed was an adventure that meant they arrived 50 minutes late to what should have been an hour’s interview on the radio. Despite my sketchy remembrance of the details the story by itself speaks to me of a man who enjoyed himself and enjoyed life.

They were remarkable men, doing remarkable things and both of them will be greatly missed.

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Star Trek Online

For many years I bought games consoles, stretching right back to the Master System from Sega, before the Megadrive, and happily spent countless hours racing through levels as Sonic and many other characters. I’ve not kept up and am a lapsed console gamer, having pretty much switched to PC for the last ten years or so. I’ve played a few games here and there on other people’s consoles, but once the Playstation 2 was on the wane and PS3 was on the horizon I pretty much hung up my gamepad for good. I still occasionally dip into the Wii for a bit of fun, but that’s about it. It was PC for me, mostly because I always had one of those in the house anyway.

For a long time I’ve been playing RPGs and MMOs, or MMORPGs, to give them their full acronym. It started with Everquest, killing lots of rats, and it progressed to World of Warcraft until about four years ago. I’ve played it a little bit in the last few years, but the level of addiction for the game has definitely waned. I’ve tried other MMOs since, such as Star Wars, which was quite a lot of fun, but once you’ve got to the top level it became a grind for the next level of armour or weapons and I’m not interested in that kind of thing. Playing the game up to that point was great, racing around with a lightsaber, being a Jedi and trying to walk the line between being good and not embracing the Dark Side, while secretly having a close personal relationship with my apprentice. Ahem.

A couple of years ago I heard about Star Trek Online and was very excited. I’m a huge Trek fan. The Next Gen is my Star Trek. Picard and Riker are my Captain and Number One. Unfortunately a trusted friend started playing STO  when it came out in 2010 and said it wasn’t very good at the time. It was disappointing, but I was also trying to have less distractions and spend more time writing. So, right or wrong, it was a good excuse not to get the game and find out for myself.

A few weeks ago I saw an advert online for a new expansion for STO which included extra content featuring the actors from Voyager lending their voices to their old characters. I was intrigued and so downloaded the free version of STO. Much to my delight I found the game was huge amounts of fun.

Nostalgia-wise and getting me in the head space of the game, there is so much there to enjoy. From walking around Star Fleet headquarters in San Francisco and looking up at the famous bridge, to walking the corridors of my own starship, to meeting characters from The Original Series, to the sound effects and voice overs from actors, including Leonard Nimoy for Pete’s sake. Leonard Nimoy! There is a lot of stuff packed in to create the right atmosphere and help you soak into the Trek universe.

The game itself has a lot of the usual features of an MMO, linear stories, PVP, PVE, but there is also a fairly complex crafting system. Well, technically there are two, one for gathering materials and making stuff. The second is connected to sending out your crew on missions to earn you skill points, but also specialisms in different areas such as diplomacy, or exploration, which in turn unlocks new missions and areas.

I’ve only been playing it for a couple of weeks so I’m still finding new stuff all the time, stumbling around a bit, but I’m gradually getting used to all of the controls. But I’d rather it was complex and it all made sense, than the game was too easy and the bar was set too low, which sounds like the way WoW has been going for years in my opinion. With STO you can just do all of the basics, carry out missions, get better kit and so on, but there’s a lot more going on.

The new content also looks really intriguing and bringing back some favourite actors and their characters from the Voyager universe into the game sounds great to me. There are some restrictions with playing the free version compared to those who pay a fee, but I don’t feel as if it’s had an impact on my gaming experience. I know where the boundaries lie and if I want to buy stuff with micro-transactions I can, but so far have not felt it was necessary. I can see myself getting many months of fun out of this before I even get anywhere near the higher level stuff, at which point the brand new expansion (which you have to pay for) may have come down in price and at that point I might be so invested I want to keep going and buy it.

MMOs have changed dramatically in the last ten years or so. At the start all of them had monthly fees and it’s only more recently that some have moved away from that model and still been able to keep going and develop new content.

Given that it is still a couple of years until the next Trek film, and there hasn’t been a Trek TV series since Enterprise, STO is a great way for a Star Trek fan to get their fix of phasers, blood wine and pointy eared Vulcans.

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