Tag Archive: Star Trek


Review by C.J. Bunce

It will take fans of the earlier editions of The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future, Revised and Expanded Edition less than a dozen pages of browsing to realize the enormity of the material–and the effort–required to update the previous 1999 edition for this 50th anniversary boxed, hardcover, two-volume reference published this week.  Enterprise–the series that has been virtually ignored in Star Trek reference publications, finally gets its due, as does the later seasons of Voyager, the last season of Deep Space Nine, and the films Star Trek Nemesis, Star Trek (2009), and Star Trek Into Darkness. 

An invaluable reference until the creation of the online fan-run Memory Alpha, the original three editions of the The Star Trek Encyclopedia were the only place for fans to get quick Star Trek data with the last update in 1999.  The advent of the Internet seemed to have spelled certain doom for any hope of a revised and updated edition.  Memory Alpha has more than 40,000 pages of detailed Star Trek reference data.  How could a 1,056 page two-volume edition compete?  For one, long-time fans of all or many of the Star Trek series likely appreciate the ability to pull a reference book off the shelf.  Memory Alpha’s recent updates make the website difficult to navigate and website TrekCore’s value is very much in its screen captures.  Star Trek reference works have been very sporadically released in the past 20 years, so fans are always clamoring for a new book.  The Star Trek Encyclopedia is very much an encyclopedia, and many may not remember the days of pulling a volume of an encyclopedia off the shelf and reading it through for entertainment.  This is a great set of books to do just that.  And the detailed content is what fans want.

Excluding this summer’s release Star Trek Beyond, original edition creators (and former Star Trek art department creative gurus) Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda craftily and seamlessly weaved the J.J. Abrams’s movies–called the Kelvin timeline now– into this work as explained in their foreword (only Star Trek (2009)’s villain Nero’s entry, for example, bridges both the Prime timeline and the Kelvin timeline in The Star Trek Encyclopedia).  The Star Trek Encyclopedia is also the first publication that thoroughly addresses the nuts and bolts of Star Trek Into Darkness. 


I came up with a list of my favorite items: references, characters, objects, and places that did not turn up in the past editions, to see if they all were now included.  They were, except for entries and images of certain key alien weapons, uniforms, and artifacts from the Kelvin timeline (like John Eaves’ beautifully designed Klingon weapons, Romulan disruptors and rifles, or the new Klingon uniforms and helmets).  These types of updates are present across the board for Enterprise, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager.  Artist Ian Fullwood updates Doug Drexler’s artwork quite well, adding to his work updates with the same look and feel as Drexler’s original creations.  Don’t expect past entries to be updated other than some have updated photographs–the research and preparation was clearly all about the new series and movies, also what the fans want and expect.

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The first entry in Insight Editions’ new Hidden Universe Travel Guides series will prompt you to book your next vacation early, and a bit better informed.  Dayton Ward provides his take on the Lonely Planet and similar travel guides with the target of our first Final Frontier pleasure trip–not to Risa–but to Spock’s home planet Vulcan.  Don’t worry, it’s not just shrines, volcanoes, and caves.  You’ll find Vulcan the planet is more fun than most Vulcan people you know.

This in-universe book works because of Ward’s humor and his creative choice of content, tapping his extensive Trek expertise from his decades of producing Star Trek novels.  Ward’s travel guide is loyal to the format of Earth destination books (I compared it to my travel guides to Jamaica), which to some extent requires repetition.  But Ward makes that work, too, coming up with clever examples derived from Star Trek canon that will test your knowledge of the planet, the people, and the culture.  So you’ll see for each of eight selected regions how to get around, sights and activities, shopping and entertainment, dining and nightlife, and lodging, but you’ll find a broad variety of events to keep each chapter fresh (try Spring Break at Lake Yuron, orbital skydiving at Vulcana Regar, or re-enactments of prison life at the Veklar Prison Museum), plenty of different bars and (primarily) vegetarian cuisine to choose from (I crave some plomeek soup, but no Whataburger?), including the familiar now-franchised Quark’s Bar (but don’t try to steal the menus!).


Like Earth guides, you’ll learn helpful information about local culture and customs (want to try out a lirpa at a Vulcan marriage ceremony?), etiquette, warnings (how to get rid of an unwanted katra), and safety information like tourist traps, and souvenirs to avoid (buying fake Vulcan ears is tacky).  I particularly like the idea of the B’jinglan Air and Space Museum, including the displayed starship Ni’Var, now suspended in the same drydock in which it was built.  Definitely some detailed thought went into this book.

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Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.

Twenty-five years ago one of the finest episodes of television aired on your local channel carrying syndicated programming.  Arguably the best episode in the history of the Star Trek franchise, frequently found atop “best of Star Trek” lists, and among the best of all science fiction stories, it was Darmok, the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode featuring guest star Paul Winfield as the noble Tamarian Captain Dathon.  Darmok first aired September 30, 1991, the first standalone episode of the excellent fifth season, which featured memorable episodes including Ensign Ro, Unification, Cause and Effect, The Perfect Mate, I, Borg, The Next Phase, and another highly rated standalone episode that bookended the season, The Inner Light.  Written by Joe Menosky and Philip LaZebnik, and directed by Winrich Kolbe, Darmok broke new ground for Star Trek first and foremost by removing the universal translator from the equation and allowing one of the 20th (and 21st) century’s key challenges–communication between cultures–to be the focus of an episode.  Like the transporter beam and the holodeck, the translator was a story device–a crutch of sorts–that allowed writers to skip beyond basic problems and move along to more complex conflicts.  Darmok took Star Trek back to the basics.

The Federation and the Tamarians–also called the “Children of Tama”–historically failed to break the language barrier, and therefore never could open up diplomatic relations, until 2368.  The Tamarians were an intelligent and strong alien race–their ship easily overpowered the Enterprise-D.  Piglike in appearance thanks to the make-up work of Michael Westmore, they wore warrior clothing (designed by Robert Blackman) that was reptilian in design, with a vest of multi-colored grommets, and a bandolier of leather, copper, and brass that supported a sheath with a dagger that was both practical and ceremonial.  The vest featured totems, crystals wrapped in shaved metal, used for personal spiritual ceremonies.  The captain kept a log book at his belt, chronicling his journey in the strange written language of the Tamarian people.


Shaka.  When the walls fell.

The Tamarians reached out to the Federation first, resulting in Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) confronting Dathon via bridge-to-bridge visual communication in orbit of the planet El-Adrel IV.  Frustrated by the continued dissonance, Dathon beamed himself, and Picard, to the surface of the planet.  Dathon’s goal: To use the metaphor of “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra”–a Tamarian story where two warriors joined together by facing a common foe–to bring himself and Picard–and thereby both cultures–together, one way or another.  What took Picard and the viewing audience the course of the episode to learn, that one could begin to understand the Tamarians once you realized they communicated in metaphors, came too late for Dathon.  The enemy of the metaphor–the planet’s beast in the reality they faced on the surface of El-Adrel IV–attacked both him and Picard, but not before Picard understood.

Sokath. His eyes uncovered! 

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It takes a unique brand of personality to pull together the required components to make a hit television series.  It took a bit of a showman to convince Hollywood in 1965 to produce a science fiction series aimed at kids, and before Star Trek, someone had to lay the groundwork for a series taking place in another world.  That someone was the P.T. Barnum of his day, Irwin Allen.  Classic television researcher Marc Cushman has delved into his favorite show from his youth to deliver a full picture of Allen and the first season of the hit series Lost in Space in his latest work, volume one of Irwin Allen’s Lost in Space: The Authorized Biography of a Classic Sci-Fi Series.

What do all these TV series have in common?  Lassie, Bonanza, Zorro, The Danny Thomas Show, The Twilight Zone, Leave it to Beaver, The Sound of Music, Psycho, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents/Hour?  An assemblage of hundreds of TV people in front and behind the camera came together to make an unlikely idea into a success.  At nearly 700 pages, Cushman’s book leaves no rock left unturned, interconnecting a Who’s Who of Hollywood.  He investigates oddball directors like Irwin Allen, who built up his office desk so visitors would be left to look up to him and had his own “yes man” who would repeat conversations to him as he discussed business with people, and Sobey Martin, viewed by the cast as a bad director who would fall asleep during filming, yet he was the only one who seemed to be able to get an episode filmed on time.  The production never seemed to get an episode filmed with the allotted budget.


Just as Cushman revealed in his similarly-formatted, award-winning three volume chronicle of Star Trek (These are the Voyages, reviewed previously here at borg.com) that Lucille Ball was the mastermind producer behind Star Trek, here we see the influence of movie and TV stars Groucho Marx and Red Buttons on Irwin Allen as he pushed forward to create the first season of Lost in Space.   Where the coming new sci-fi series Star Trek would be a “Wagon Train to the stars,” Allen was orchestrating a “Swiss Family Robinson in space” an idea that would encounter its own breed of intellectual property legal issues along the way.

Cushman pulls archival interviews from the late series star Guy Williams (one of the top TV stars in the 1960s as he came off his successful run as Zorro and would portray astronaut John Robinson), everyone’s favorite TV mom June Lockhart (as pioneer female astronaut Maureen Robinson), Western and true crime TV star Mark Goddard (as scientist Don West), new starlet Marta Kristen (as John and Maureen’s eldest daughter Judy Robinson), Angela Cartwright fresh off her breakout role with Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music (as Penny Robinson), young Billy Mumy, the versatile child guest star of The Twilight Zone, The Munsters, I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, The Fugitive, and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (as Will Robinson), Bob May (as the guy in the Robot), and the last-minute addition, character actor Jonathan Harris (as the quirky villain Mr. Smith).

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star-trek-waypoint-1-cover    st-waypoint2-subscriptioncover

Tomorrow IDW Publishing is beginning a new bi-monthly anthology series, Star Trek Waypoint.  And we have a preview for borg.com readers from Issue #1 below.  The series is billed as a 50th anniversary look across all the Star Trek incarnations, and it features a host of writers we haven’t seen before in IDW comics.  Issue #1 includes a Star Trek: The Next Generation story featuring Geordi and Data and an Original Series story featuring Uhura.  Fans of the Star Trek Countdown prequel series should take note:  Although the anthology stories aren’t specifically pegged in the canon timeline, writer Donny Cates and artist Mack Chater’s story “Puzzles” feels like a continuation of the Star Trek 2009 prequel story, after Spock and Nero return to the past and create what we now know as the “Kelvin timeline.”

Star Trek Countdown (reviewed here back in 2011) was one of the comic medium’s most fascinating stories so far, revealing Captain Picard working again with Data, with new Starfleet uniforms and an engrossing future.  Similar uniforms appear in “Puzzles.”  It’s an exciting starting point for fans who want to see Star Trek continue to move into the future beyond past TV series.  The second story in Star Trek Waypoint features Uhura, and has the look and feel of authentic, classic Star Trek episodes.  Sandra Lanz serves dual roles on that story, titled “Daylily,” as both writer and artist.


In November Issue #2 will feature two more Original Series stories.  Look for a preview here in two months.  You can look forward to fan favorite Star Trek novelists Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore creating an homage to the classic Gold Key Star Trek comics (remember the great photo covers?), featuring Kirk and Spock on an uncharted planet.  Artwork will be provided by Star Trek comic book artist Gordon Purcell.  The second story is a “red shirt” story, written by author Sam Maggs with art by Star Trek and Doctor Who artist Rachael Stott.

Check out this great preview to Issue #1, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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You can usually expect that the Smithsonian Institution productions will deliver quality programming, and its latest is no exception.  The two-hour documentary Building Star Trek chronicles fifty years of Star Trek from its inception to the artifacts of the series that remain decades later, and from the idea of a 23rd century future and beyond to futuristic technologies being made reality today.

The Smithsonian used two museum exhibits to bookend its overview of Star Trek for the 50th anniversary, one on each coast.  At the Smithsonian’s own National Air and Space Museum (NASM) in Washington, DC, the museum recounts the recent restoration of the original filming model of the Enterprise, which has been on display there since 1974, but not as a featured display.  On the West Coast the EMP Museum in Seattle created a display of props and costumes as well.

Interspersed with snippets from the progress of each museum’s projects are interviews with insiders like reboot actor and writer Simon Pegg, actor Karl Urban, original series star Nichelle Nichols, original series writer DC Fontana, and Trek fans.  With each artifact featured in the exhibits, a short segment is given to an original creator, like the designer of the original shuttle Galileo, and a modern-day scientist working on the implementation of concepts introduced or emphasized in Star Trek, like phasers, tricorders, transporters, the universal translator, and warp drive.


The Star Trek display running currently at the EMP Museum in Seattle.

The documentary doesn’t take itself too seriously, using campy graphics that reflect the humor of the original series–an acknowledged critical component of the show’s success.

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Creating a television series that makes it to a second season is a difficult thing to do.  It’s difficult today and was just as tough in 1966 when Gene Roddenberry created a full-color science fiction show in prime time about a “Wagon Train to the stars”–a Western in space–a Star Trek.  The unlikely series survived into not only its second season but also a third.  An untapped audience–a group of loyal fans kept the dream alive, and the stories would continue in an animated series in the early 1970s.  With the success of Star Wars, Star Trek made its way to the big screen by the end of the decade and the rest of the story, as they say, is history.

The future predicted in 1966 to “explore strange, new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations,” isn’t here yet, despite the dates of yesterday’s future arriving and going by.  But that hasn’t stopped generations of fans from being inspired to pursue everything from medicine and law to astronomy and design.  To make this world better and build a greater tomorrow.  Star Trek may not have arrived yet, but the utopian future is something many of us look forward to and strive for.


Or has it arrived?  Our iPads and smart phones, Bluetooths and medical scanners were all inspired by creative types behind Star Trek, like Wah Chang and Rick Sternbach.  If society as a whole hasn’t changed, the technology that drives it certainly is making headway every day.


Here, September 8, 2016, fifty years after the airing of the first episode of Star Trek on NBC, the world is far different, yet it still continues the struggle for equality and fairness, the same desires Roddenberry’s original stories reflected as the world crept up to the cataclysmic summer of 1968.  The same elements are summed up in the Vulcan acronym IDIC–infinite diversity in infinite combinations–the core of Vulcan philosophy celebrating all the differences in life.  In short, that is what Star Trek is all about.

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Star Trek Trivial Pursuit ad banner

Next Thursday, September 8, 2016, Star Trek turns 50.  As you gear up for your own Star Trek parties, you still have time to pick up what we think is one of the best anniversary releases this year–and it’s been a big marketing year for Star Trek.  Classic Trivial Pursuit meets up with your favorite sci-fi franchise in Trivial Pursuit: The Star Trek 50th Anniversary Edition.

We’ve been playing this one over the course of the summer.  CBS Studios, Paramount and Hasbro have done a fine job putting together a game that any Trek fan will enjoy.  Housed in a model of everyone’s favorite shuttlecraft, you can leave this on the shelf and have a pick-up game anytime.

Trivial Pursuit is, of course, all about the questions and the questions in this edition are loyal to all Star Trek television series and movies–except the J.J. Abrams universe, the newly-designated “Kelvin timeline” films.  For some reason the gamers chose to include questions from Star Trek’s original series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Star Trek Voyager, and Enterprise and the first ten Star Trek movies, but no alternate timeline questions.  Perhaps they didn’t want to confuse players with possible contradictory answers from these separate story paths?  No matter, if you like one flavor of Star Trek you probably like more than one series.  Ultimately, the more players you have, the more you can spread out the knowledge and share in the fun.

Trek trivia

That goes for players of all ages.  Some questions are very easy, but others may trip up even the savviest Trek fan, especially if you’re not an expert in all of the Trek incarnations.  Or if you don’t shout out the series or film the question is referencing, as designated on the edge of each card.  The variety on each card is random enough that you might have an easy question followed by a tough question, as was common with the classic Trivial Pursuit game.  Questions are both in-universe, like “What article of interstellar law were Kirk and McCoy arrested under by General Chang?” and real-world, like “Who was the only actor to be in both Star Trek pilot episodes?”

So what all do you get?

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50 Years 50 Artists book Star Trek

Review by C.J. Bunce

Last year CBS Consumer Products reached out to fifty artists of varying backgrounds and media across ten countries and commissioned works for an art exhibition commemorating the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek series.  The result was featured at Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts gallery in San Diego’s gaslight district during San Diego Comic-Con this year, followed by a stint in Las Vegas for the annual Star Trek convention.  It then heads to the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto from mid-August to early September before heading to the England for the Destination Star Trek Europe convention in October and continuing its worldwide tour through August 2017.

Next week Titan Books is releasing an oversized coffee table edition to accompany the exhibition, featuring all fifty artists and their Star Trek contribution.  Similar in design to the successful Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz, reviewed here at borg.com, Star Trek: 50 Artists/50 Years, is a colorful, beautifully illustrated guide for the Star Trek fan that appreciates artists interpreting the franchise.  The hardcover exhibition catalog showcases some artists known for their Star Trek work and others who have never dabbled in the Trek universe before.   Media used in these interpretations include paper, sculpture, metal, ceramics, and textiles, some hand-created and others via computer.  The book includes a foreword by Star Trek film director Nicholas Meyer, and interviews with the artists.

Paul Shipper The Cage Star Trek 50 Years 50 Artists

Paul Shipper’s “Star Trek Inception: The Cage”

Not surprisingly, the work of successful comic book cover artists Joe Corroney and J.K. Woodward is featured, Corroney with two vibrant retro style posters, and Woodward with a painting showing key Klingons throughout all the Star Trek series and films.  A photograph incorporating the Vulcan salute by Leonard Nimoy was also included in the show.  As with any non-juried exhibition, a few works don’t quite seem to stir the senses as the others, but those that do are of high-quality and well-conceived.  Comic book artist and animator Dusty Abell’s poster thoughtfully includes an element of each of the 79 original episodes if the original series.  It would be no surprise to find Viennese children’s illustrator Amir Abou-Roumié’s whimsical look at Star Trek characters in a future San Francisco, titled “Homestead,” at the Met.  Disney, Hasbro, and DreamWorks freelance artist Sue Beatrice’s metal sculpture “On the Edge of Forever” is an exquisitely detailed timepiece featuring the starship Enterprise. 

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Star Trek blu-rays 50th anniversary box set

If you don’t already own Star Trek’s original series, animated series and movie series, a new boxed set coming next month may be the thing for you.  As part of its 50th anniversary celebration of the original series, CBS and Paramount are partnering to release a high-end compilation of Blu-ray editions of some of the franchise’s best productions.

Every movie featuring the original Enterprise crew of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Walter Koenig, except Star Trek Generations–Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country–can be yours on Blu-ray.  The original series is also included, and the director’s cut of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan released earlier this year.

ST disc 30 collection

For those who already have invested in the above content on Blu-ray, the additional material in the new boxed set that may draw you in is a first-time release of Star Trek: The Animated Series in high-definition on Blu-ray, as well as a multi-part documentary: Star Trek: The Journey to the Silver Screen—New 50th Anniversary.  CBS/Paramount promises two hours of features with new content, covering The New Frontier: Resurrecting Star Trek, Maiden Voyage: Making Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Genesis Effect: Engineering The Wrath of Khan, The Dream is Alive: The Continuing Mission, and End of an Era: Charting the Undiscovered Country.

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