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Tag Archive: Star Trek Voyager


Review by C.J. Bunce

A great imagination is a rare thing.  Science fiction has always been, at its core, an avenue for writers to express the endless breadth of their imaginations.  In Bradley W. Schenck’s new novel from Tor Books, Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom: A Novel of Retropolis, Schenck creates a story within a world we’ve never seen before, a world only hinted at in early 20th century pop culture, early pulp novels, and film.  For fans of classic sci-fi and all things retro, Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom deftly handles science fiction futurism like rarely seen before.  With the same awe and amazement that readers flocked to the future worlds created by Philip K. Dick in his myriad short stories, readers will be glued to the visuals Schenck introduces here.  Painted with shiny blue enamel and chrome, his details are filled with answers to questions from yesteryear.  Answers to questions about the handling of the day-to-day, the mundane, and the ordinary, in an uncertain world of tomorrow where nothing could possibly be mundane or ordinary.  After all they have ray guns and rockets and use slide rules like we use smart phones.

We’re introduced to Retropolis, its immense size and cities inspired by an Art Deco-era mindset and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, yet a world not at all dark or dreary.  This world is new, big, and bright, as detailed, and as big as the original world audiences discovered in Tron in 1982, but far more developed than the future world we met earlier in Logan’s Run.  Closer to anything else, this is Walt Disney’s vision of Tomorrowland.  The hero is everyman, like Korben Dallas, a Plumber-Adventurer, with all the dash and dazzle of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, whose nemesis is a Bondian villain pulled right out of Moonraker, with an equally vile plan to destroy the world as we know it–or at least as our grandparents might have dreamed it.

Like Metropolis, Schenck delves into the trials of human nature at the personal level in an industrialized world, as he follows a crew of switchboard operators whose jobs appear to have been displaced by robots.  But even the robots of Retropolis are like nothing you’ve seen before.  They are several steps before Replicants, but they are People in an early climb up the ladder toward autonomy.  It’s a 1930s vision, with a 1950s shine, bogged down with 21st century problems.  But don’t think this is a political book–the plight of the humans and the robots merely give credibility and gravity to this exciting and fun reality as a small band of average Retropolitans attempt to save the world from certain doom.  And there’s more–Schenck is not only the author of the novel, but the artist supplying futuristic illustrations of his world, complete with end pages featuring a useful guide to each of the story’s main characters.  With so many books written to drive you to the happening at the end, it’s the whirlwind fun of the ride that will prompt you to slow down and enjoy every word–and not want to finish the book so quickly.  It’s great fun.  Even each chapter has a classic, grand, Saturday morning serial title.

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Relativity

CBS is creating a new pay streaming service like Amazon Prime and Netflix in 2017, called CBS All Access, which will launch with a new Star Trek series to draw in monthly subscribers.  Although the details of the new series have not yet been disclosed, this week CBS announced it selected Hannibal series creator Bryan Fuller as the showrunner and co-creator alongside executive producer Alex Kurtzman, known well for the Star Trek reboot movies.

Fans of Star Trek new and old should be happy–Kurtzman’s eye should keep the Final Frontier fresh and new, and Fuller brings his own Star Trek street cred into the mix.  Not only did he work on some impressive series including Dead Like Me and the awesome but short-lived Wonderfalls among other series, he wrote two stories for Deep Space Nine and twenty for Star Trek Voyager, the series probably most loyal to Gene Roddenberry’s original vision of the future.  The Deep Space Nine episodes aren’t the most remarkable (“Empok Nor” and “The Darkness and the Light”), but his work on Star Trek Voyager shows a breadth of ideas and ability to navigate interesting corners of the Star Trek universe.  Fuller wrote the teleplays for some of the most fun, and memorable, episodes of the series.

Barge of the Dead Sto-vo-kor

Just take a look at the landmark time travel episode “Relativity,” possibly the best episode featuring Seven of Nine.  Temporal incursions, temporal psychosis, and temporal anomalies abound, with a cool timeship helmed by Captain Braxton, and even the on-screen death of Seven herself.  Fuller explored death and the afterlife in the episode “Mortal Coil,” a story where Neelix dies and is revived, yet all he expected in the afterlife does not occur, forcing him to reflect on his place in the universe.  Fuller explored the subject again in “Barge of the Dead,” this time letting B’Elanna Torres explore her own afterlife in Sto-vo-kor–the Klingon afterlife.  Here Fuller showed a side of the Klingons in a way we hadn’t seen since the Vulcan spiritual universe was explored in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. 

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Little Green Army Men PC 2015

Plenty of fun was in store for everyone attending Planet Comicon 2015 this weekend.  With the Big 12 Championship basketball tourney between the Iowa State Cyclones and the Kansas Jayhawks, downtown Kansas City was booming Saturday.  At the third annual Planet Comicon at the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall, actors, writers, artists, cosplayers, vendors, and tens of thousands of fans of everything from comic books to toys and from Doctor Who to Walking Dead continued the convention tradition of sharing their common interests in a positive and exciting environment.

Elizabeth C. Bunce and your humble editor from borg.com were back again meeting up with creators and friends from past years (this year as Daniel Craig’s Jake Lonergan from Cowboys and Aliens and Kate Beckinsale’s Anna Valerius from Van Helsing).  Check out the great little green toy army men cosplayers at the show above.

Kent McCord PC 2015

Kent McCord, known best for his role on the classic TV series Adam-12, shared some great stories about working with Martin Milner, Jack Webb, Harry Morgan, and Stephen J. Cannell.  What better than to spend the day chatting with someone who has starred in shows like Dragnet and Unsub?

Pileggi PC 2015

We also had a great time with Mitch Pileggi, co-star of one of the all-time best genre TV series, The X-Files.  He talked about the possible renewal of his role of Director Skinner on a rebooted X-Files series and working with Judith Light on TNT’s reboot of Dallas as Harris Ryland.

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Westley The Princess Bride Cary Elwes

Oliver Queen, Supergirl, Firestorm, Captain Jack Harkness, Amy Pond, and Princess Buttercup’s Westley all set to appear

For more than a decade Planet Comicon has been one of the Midwest’s biggest comic book and pop culture conventions and that was no less so in 2014 when it became the largest attended event in the history of the Kansas City Convention Center.  Last year’s show featured William Shatner and the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and this year Planet Comicon is bringing in some of today’s biggest names from TV and movies featuring fan-favorite superheroes.

Stephen Amell Oliver Queen

The star of the CW’s Arrow, Stephen Amell will be attending the event along with cousin Robbie, who starred in Tomorrow People and is the new Firestorm on the CW’s The Flash.  Genre mega-star John Barrowman, Doctor Who and Torchwood’s Captain Jack Harkness, will also headline the Con this year.  Barrowman played Arrow’s key villain from seasons 1 and 2, the Dark Archer.

Amy Pond

Most famous for playing the Doctor Who companion Amelia Pond opposite Matt Smith, Karen Gillan will make a rare convention appearance this year in Kansas City.  Gillan starred most recently in 2014’s blockbuster hit Guardians of the Galaxy as Nebula. Also appearing from Guardians of the Galaxy is Michael Rooker, who played the blue-faced mentor to Star-Lord, Yondu, along with Sean Gunn, who was the physical on-set actor as Rocket.

Guardians Michael Rooker

Rooker appeared on The Walking Dead, and also appearing from that series will be Scott Wilson, known to fans for his role as Hershel Greene.  Wilson has starred in plenty of TV shows and movies, including The X-Files, CSI, The Last Samurai, The Twilight Zone, and the adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Radio Free Albemuth.

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Star Wars A New Dawn cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

How did the Empire power all those Star Destroyers anyway?

The new, Disney era of Star Wars story continuity begins today with the release of the novel Star Wars: A New Dawn.  Fans of the Star Wars tie-in novels shouldn’t be disappointed with this new story and completely new characters living in that galaxy, far, far away between the events of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.  Its primary draw for those fans willing to give the new Star Wars a chance is the introduction of a trained Jedi named Kanan Jarrus and a mysterious Twi’lek named Hera.  But its best success is in author John Jackson Miller’s world building (or galaxy building)–one with more lead female characters than male.

In the galaxy that George Lucas built, the rarest creature to be found was a woman, whether a human, a rebel, an Imperial, or an alien.  Miller does not skip a beat to redefine Star Wars from chapter one.  We meet a black female captain of a Star Destroyer named Captain Rae Sloane, a character who could be on her way to be the next Mara Jade.  She’s young but smart, and exactly the kind of leader a government led by Emperor Palpatine would need to conquer so many systems.  Unlike even the original trilogy, including its often bumbling stormtroopers and officers that fail to follow their Dark Lord’s orders, the personnel building the Empire in A New Dawn don’t make the same mistakes.

Sloane works for a typical Star Wars villain, Count Demetrius Vidian, a cyborg like Darth Vader and General Grievous, which would lend us all to believe a defining piece of Star Wars is a dark cloaked bad guy who has already been blown apart a few times.  The word survivor does fit Vidian.  He is a decisive imperialist, precise, unyielding and villainous–everything you want from your Star Wars bad guy.

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Spock with tricorder

It’s a question die-hard Star Trek fans ask themselves:  If you could own one favorite Star Trek prop, what would it be?  This weekend a Star Trek Facebook page asked thousands of followers to comment on one question:  If you could have any autographed Trek prop, what would it be and who would you have sign it?  With nearly 2,000 respondents we thought it was a good opportunity to use these responses from across Star Trek fandom to see if we can glean what Star Trek fans think are the most iconic props of the franchise.  It’s not all that scientific, since the page posting the question was a general Star Trek page, and many fans may only follow the individual pages from any of the Star Trek series.  The image shown in the post was of an original series phaser–did that skew fans to select that prop?  Are there more original series fans in the mix who follow this page?  We don’t know.  But the results are still interesting and who better than a random group of Trek fans to share what they see as the top Holy Grail of Trek props?

The question is ongoing, with hundreds more responses entered after we stopped tracking answers–around 1,860.  Many responses were attempts at humor–many claiming Shatner’s toupee as their response (how do you autograph a toupee anyway?).  Others were rude or sexist or otherwise the typical worthless responses you find across social media on any given day.

Worf bat'leth from Firstborn

Also, nobody addressed a key topic–why do people think it’s a good thing to autograph a screen-used prop?  The truth is that collectors of screen-used props will refuse to purchase a prop if it has been defaced in any way, especially by an autograph (screen wear and tear excepted).  Recent auctions of an original series gold tunic worn by William Shatner sold for a fraction of what a similar one sold for that was not so marked.  The autograph literally cost the consigner thousands of dollars.  One rare command Starfleet uniform worn by Robert Picardo on Star Trek Voyager was once highly sought after by collectors, and has remained unsellable for years because of a scrawling signature across the front.  The bottom line: Collectors prefer a prop or costume to look just as it did the last time it was shown on the screen.  Actors would be well-advised to refuse to autograph screen-used props at least without first telling fans they may be ruining their chances to re-sell the prop down the road.  Whether or not you think you might keep a prop forever, do yourself a favor and don’t limit your future options.

Putting the “should they/shouldn’t they” question aside, the great response showed fans love their favorite Trek and thousands would want a piece of TV or film history signed by their favorite actor.  So what did we learn?

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Seven of Nine Daily Deal Entertainment Earth

From the Diamond Select Femme Fatales series of collector statues, which includes key women characters from a broad stretch of genre properties such as Atom Eve from the Invincible series, Brian Pulido’s Lady Death, Image Comics’ Darkchylde, and David Mack’s Kabuki, Entertainment Earth is featuring a nice sculpt of Star Trek Voyager’s Seven of Nine today.

In particular compare the style and silver and copper accents in the Borg Alcove in the sculpt to the actual screen-used alcove below. Continue reading

Red Sonja by Doran

This Wednesday Dynamite Comics will take on a reboot of the fierce and beautiful she-devil with a sword, Red Sonja.  We’ve previewed Issue #1 and were happy with the result–full of swordplay and the mythic dialect you’d expect from the heroine originally found in the pages of Conan the Barbarian.  The big news is that the new series is written by Gail Simone.  Known for many comic book series, but particularly her gutsy Batgirl and Wonder Woman, Simone’s fans will find her Red Sonja a worthy new addition to the pantheon of strong women characters in comics.  With some nice classic Conan-style artwork by Walter Geovani, Dynamite will no doubt have a winner with this new series.

Red Sonja by Scott

Simone’s Red Sonja story has bits and pieces of archetype characters and settings.  In Issue #1 keep an eye out for a new take on Akira Kurasawa’s classic save the village story.  She also includes enough backstory to allow new readers easy accessibility to the character and her medieval high fantasy world.

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Hive cover art - IDW Publishing

If you haven’t read the four-issue limited series Star Trek: The Next GenerationHive,” tomorrow IDW Publishing releases a trade edition at comic book stores everywhere.  “Hive” reads every bit like the next television episode of Star Trek featuring The Borg–the fearsome race of half machines/half organic lifeforms that assimilate species across the galaxy.  With the best of their stories found in the Next Generation two-parter “The Best of Both Worlds” and the Jonathan Frakes-directed big screen blockbuster Star Trek: First Contact, long-time series writer Brannon Braga returns to tell his untold epic story of Locutus, Seven of Nine, and the return of Data, with scripts by Travis Fickett and Terry Matalas.  Below we are previewing the trade edition courtesy of IDW Publishing.

After the events in Star Trek: Nemesis, Will Riker now captains the Titan. Lieutenant Commander Data is dead, sacrificing himself to save Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-E.  “Hive” occurs after Star Trek: Nemesis and explains events that led to the absence of Seven of Nine in the Star Trek Voyager finale, “Endgame.”

StarTrek-TheNextGeneration-Hive-02-CvrA

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No doubt Oscar Pistorius’s unprecedented entry and run in the Olympics this weekend will go down as a highlight of these games.  The first person to bridge the Summer Olympics and the Paralympics, clad in neither bionic nor cyborg prosthetics but walking “blades” certified to give no advantage to him against other runners, South African runner Pistorius gave a competitive go of it in his 440 meter semi-final track event.  Truly he’s an inspiration to everyone, disabled or not.

So in honor of the closest person we’ve found to a real-life borg Olympian, we are presenting this list of the ten most interesting sci-fi or fantasy sports we’d like to see in a future Olympics.  In whittling down this list we have eliminated motor sports or the like, so no pod racing or light cycle races (but we’ll make an exception for broomsticks).  We also found far too many gladiator events in classic sci-fi, going back to the original Star Trek’s “Gamesters of Triskelion” and “Bread and Circuses” battles to Star Trek Voyager’s Seven of Nine vs. The Rock arena combat called Tsunkatse, to the combat in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, which continues on this year in genre shows like Bo’s battle to the death in Lost Girl.  So we’ll skip those for this round.  Most of our games reflect a possible evolution of today’s games and come from sci-fi TV or movies, but we just had to throw some fantasy events into the mix for good measure.  So here goes:

Updating who knows what Olympic sportsParrises squares (Star Trek: The Next Generation).  A future J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot movie sequel really could do some good by showing us an actual Parrises squares match.  The often celebrated Star Trek universe game has been played by everyone from Tasha Yar to the EMH’s daughter on Voyager (who sadly, dies from a Parisses squares injury).  But all we have seen are the uniforms.  This barely makes our cut because we simply haven’t seen the game in action yet, yet the possibilities from what we’ve heard from Star Trek characters is enough to make it to the list.

Updating taekwondo and judoBat’leth and Mok’bara (Star Trek: The Next Generation).  In the episode “Parallels,” Worf returns to the Enterprise from a bat’leth tournament. Part of the plot revolves around whether he scored first or ninth place in the games.  He even has a nice trophy to show for it:

Mok’bara was Worf’s version of taekwondo, an elegant art of movement for the Klingon set.  Both of these are future martial arts we’d like to see added to the Olympic slate.

Updating fencingLightsaber dueling (Star Wars).  Ben Kenobi showed Luke he could practice his saber work without anyone getting hurt.  You can even perfect your skills with a floating spherical sparring partner.  Fencing uses foils, sabers or epees. Maybe lightsabers can be set to “stun”?  I can’t think of a more elegant sport for a civilized age.

Updating fencing, judo and taekwondoAnbo-jyutsu (Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek Voyager).  We’ve only seen this played by Will Riker and his dad and B’Elanna Torres and Kes, but that was all we needed.  Cool uniforms and football-type padded gear, these guys really play hard.

Updating basketballPyramid/Triad (Battlestar Galactica), and Serenity basketball (Firefly).  Less elegant than martial art competitions, street sports like Pyramid/Triad and “Serenity basketball” (played in the episode “Bushwhacked”) allow everyone to get into the act with little upfront cost to play.  Even when the end of the world just happened, you can assemble a pick-up game of Pyramid, even on board a starship like the Galactica.

Serenity basketball seems to have less clear rules, but we’re sure it can factor in to a future Olympic event.

Updating hockeyRollerball (Rollerball).  The game itself really sold the movie.  Maybe we were cheering for James Caan because we still saw him as Brian Piccolo playing alongside Gail Sayers in Brian’s Song.  Nah… he’s just cool in everything.  What an intense action sport Rollerball would be in real life, and so much fun to watch in-person.  (And yes, we allowed this sport on our list even though they use motorcycles).

Updating triathlon, skiing and shootingJames Bond skiing (The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, The World is Not Enough, with nods to Arnie in True Lies).  Good luck making it down the black diamond while someone is trying to throw you off balance.  We’d substitute blanks for bullets so our athletes can come back for more.  We saw a bit of this in an old Chevy Chase Saturday Night Live skit with the Olympics and Claudine Longet.  Not a lot of Olympic sports add the element of surprise like this “sport” could.

Updating discusIdentity discs (Tron, Tron: Legacy, and Tron: Uprising). Think discus but a bit more precarious, and we don’t even need a disc battle-to-the-death like in all the Tron live action and animated shows.  Just something that puts the thrower off balance as he’s trying to make a great throw, with the addition of a boomerang feature in the discus and two athletes throwing the blindingly lighted discuses at each other–so there’s some dodging required.

Updating rugby and soccerJump Ball (Starship Troopers).  You can’t beat a sport where men and women play along side each other on equal footing.  And Johnny Rico and his pals looked like they were having so much fun, too.  Part indoor football, and full contact, with cool gear–all that makes this one a game everyone would want to play and watch.

Updating rugby, polo, and basketballQuidditch (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, etc).  Beyond the flying, Quidditch offers multiple goals and ways to win, and that puts this toward the top of our list of exciting otherworldly sporting events.  On the one hand it’s another form of “air hockey” (or “basketball on broomsticks with six hoops” as Harry calls it) where you have to get the ball in the goal, but with the addition of the trickier seeker’s job, viewers can choose which part of the game to watch—assuming someone can film all the details and project it on a nice jumbotron.  And like Jump Ball, boys and girls play together on the same team.  With neat equipment like the quaffle and bludgers and the zippy little golden snitch, who wouldn’t get excited about this kind of match?

So that’s it.  Cheers to Oscar Pistorius.  We hope he comes back for the next Olympics.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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