So, let’s talk about Discovery – By Bill Allen

“A minority female lead is a groundbreaking—“
no, plenty of folks are going to cover that.

“The F/X are CLEARY, not pre-TOS Prime—“
Yeah, let’s skip that can of worms.

“The Klingons are—“
I have absolutely no idea, heard thirty theories, will hear thirty more. (Looks cool, though.)

“It’s on a Streaming service instead of—“
no, I will not argue about this…and no, I will not get off your lawn, grandpa.

“the ship looks like—“
that was done, redone, overdone, then done again during the first teaser.

So, a thousand blogs, ten thousand opinions, a hundred thousand fan theories (some of which are good, and some of which…well, folks, please have your homes tested for lead paint.) What can I say about the new Series? There are a lot of folks who are much smarter than me and very clever analyzing all the little details…and there are folks who are not as smart as me but much louder making assertions and assumptions based on no evidence, or two seconds of footage, or tinfoil hats.  How can we write about Star Trek Discovery when we haven’t seen it yet? We can talk about what we know about it: it is Star Trek.  But what does that mean?


The crew of TNG

Let’s go for a little trip down memory lane.

I never Discovered Star Trek. the birth of Star Trek came about a decade before I showed up on the scene. So, unlike a lot of fans, I don’t have a ‘moment’…Star Trek was something my family liked, so it was always on in reruns as I grew up. So, I don’t have a cool story about my first experience with Star Trek. (It wasn’t even the first non-cartoon movie I saw in cinemas…I ended up seeing “Ghostbusters”, and then “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, and then saw “Search for Spock”.) But there were plenty of firsts.

I remember being 15 minutes late for the Premiere of TNG. I was at my grandmother’s in Texas, and it was Sunday afternoon that it was slated to air (the wonders of a show jumping directly into syndication…) I had gone to church (because that is what you do when you stay at Mamaw’s) and hung around a bit to play with kids my age, let Mamaw kibbitz with the preacher, that sort of thing, and then she said, “well, let’s go home so you can watch that new Star Trek show you keep talking about.”

so, I missed the beginning. My first sighting of the New and ‘improved’ Enterprise, redesigned to be more futuristic and the like, was as it soared majestically in orbit over whatever alien planet they were visiting to see some station called ‘Farpoint’. I liked the lines of the hull and the glowing blue of the nacelles that swept so smoothly and majestically up from the hull…and found that the teeny tiny saucer on the Enterprise looked really out of proportion and stupid. “what have they done to my ship?!?” I cried, aghast…then the Enterprise flew off and reconnected with the saucer section, and suddenly, not only did the ship look MUCH better, it had a cool new feature with the detachable saucer. The lesson here: sometimes we can be hasty with our gut reactions. Not only did the first episode of TNG get better, but over the years, the series as a whole got better.

The crew of DS9 S7

I remember being less than thrilled about Deep Space Nine. This was the golden age of syndicated TV: right before all these new networks popped up and really defined themselves, you had outfits doing all sorts of great sci-fi/fantasy shows: Time Trax, Babylon 5, Kung-Fu the Legend Continues, Hercules….Star Trek deserved a spot in among all the PTEN fare. But…a Space Station instead of a Starship? But then I read the TV guide articles (Sure, internet was around back then, but not exactly commonplace) and they talked about the mysterious wormhole to the other side of the galaxy, and how O’Brien would figure out a way to make the whole space station move….so I thought, ‘ok, they fall in the wormhole, and drift around from place to place in a mobile station, far from home, more resources than a Starship, but less mobile…put the crew to the test beyond the final frontier…’ of course, the actual show played out a bit different than the concept I had in my head, and while I thought *MY* idea was cooler…DS9 ended up doing great, and gave us a fascinating Trek series. The Lesson Here: fans tell great stories….but those are not the ONLY story. Someone else—especially guys whose stories are good enough that they get PAID to tell them—are ALSO going to be good.

I remember Voyager. Back to a Starship now, but on the far side of the galaxy (I guess those network execs listened to my cool idea about how they should have done DS9…?) TNG really shook things up, gave us a DRASTIC shift away from TOS in look and feel…it was still Star Trek, but was definitely a ‘strange new world’. DS9 gave us a different kind of story altogether, again going new, with new life and new civilisations…and it laid the groundwork for building that ephemeral thing called ‘canon’.

The crew of Voyager

Voyager gave us a universe. It took the aspects that created the ‘TNG era’, cemented ‘canon’, took a deeper look at the old standards and went a little more in depth, laying the foundations that changed Star Trek from being just a franchise and bumped it up into…a Legacy? I’m not sure, but whatever Trek had become, ‘franchise’ seemed an inadequate word. It gave us our favourites, it fleshed out details, and still managed to surprise us with new discoveries…even about some of those old favourites. The lesson here: Star Trek lives. It perseveres….it keeps on sailing along the horizon, and often the journey matters even more than the destination. 

I remember Enterprise. A reimagining (a ‘reboot’ before it was even a word) going back to the beginning, reStarting everything, giving the tired old 1960s tech an upgrade and facelift, while still holding true to the core of Star Trek. It somehow managed to avoid most of the catastrophic clichés and hackneyed tropes that ruin prequels, staying fresh and imaginative, while simultaneously screwing the pooch with fanservice and getting strung along some lousy storylines because that was what fans really wanted to see. The fanbase lost interest, the show overran its costs, the franchise was fatigued….

The crew of Enterprise

for whatever reason, the show did not do well, and was cut down before its time. When it had a bad episode, it was one of the WORST episodes of any Trek in the 50-year history of the universe…but when it had a good episode, it was some of the absolute BEST Star Trek EVER. The lesson here: don’t listen to fans. Star Trek is not what it is because the fans made something of it; the Fans are what they are because Star Trek made something of THEM.

I remember Kelvin.  Go back to the beginning (the REAL beginning, not some silly prequel story), give us Kirk, Spock and the OG Masters of Sci-Fi. But don’t give us papier Mache Monsters and reused Andy Griffith Sets. We live in a new era, where technology and cinematography allow us to push the envelope visually, create a look that still captured the spirit of Trek, but wrapped it in all the new advances that we had made to make it feel like the future again. (Because, let’s face it, here at the dawn of the 21st century, much of our tech has already greatly surpassed that which TOS envisioned for the future centuries hence…) the heart of Trek is still there, the soul of Trek shines through…Star Trek will not become dated or archaic.  The lesson here: the journey is just beginning.


I remember Discovery…

For all of you who are fans, take a minute and name the five best directors/writers/producers that worked on Trek. No matter who you are, somehow, by some miracle, at least one name from your list is part of the Dream team building the new Star Trek series. The cast is made of A-list actors and B-listers who damn well ought to be A-listers.  The ship…the ships, the aliens, the imagery….they pored over the archives, selected bits and pieces from the greats of Treks VFX history….pulling from TOS, TMP, the Maroon movie era, TNG era, etc etc etc. this is Star Trek, through and through.  The stories, the characters, the actors….all the instruments are in play, and the conductor is about to begin, and a new symphony will resonate through the internet and the rest of the galaxy.

We are going to see some old favourites reborn, revitalised, improved and explored in greater depth. We are going to see new and amazing things. We are going to wax philosophical about sociological and cultural issues through allegory both internal and external and ponder some of the ‘meaning of life stuff’ along the way. We are going to get some of the ‘the world can be a better place’ commentary on contemporary humanity as it contrasts with this vision of a better future. We are going to get some godawful episodes that will leave you wondering if the writers were drunk or if they just lost a bet (if I ever become a successful novelist, I am bound by such a drunken wager to write a story about a worm that poops platinum…I know how painful a bad bet can be) and we are going to get some episodes that will be so magnificently crafted that you say “This. THIS is what Star Trek is.”  We are going to get other things that I can’t even begin to think of….and when all is said and done, we are going to get at the very least two or three Years of Discovery….and we will get another 50 years of Star Trek. (and in five or ten years, I’ll write another blog about Discovery, and be able to fill in this ‘I remember Discovery’ section with all that we have learned, and loved, and hated, about Discovery…but I look forward to watching the show, and discovering whatever it has to offer.)

The lesson here?

who cares? Star Trek IS BACK! LET’S PARTY!!!!!!


  • Blog Author: Bill Allen.
  • Pics and Blog Layout: James Hams.
  • Pics: CBS / Google pictures.

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Asexuality in Star Trek by Emma Filtness

Hello, my name is Emma and I am a member of Starfleet and the Tactical Officer on the USS Merlin (Region 20). I have identified as Grey-Asexual for roughly a year and as a keen sci-fi fan, I was curious to look into the spectrum of asexuality in the expanded universe. Today I am happy to produce my results.

What is Asexuality?

According to Urban Dictionary, the term asexual is described as “a person who is not interested in or does not desire sexual activity, either within or outside of a relationship. asexuality is not the same as celibacy, which is the willful decision to not act on sexual feelings. asexuals, while not physically sexual-type folks, are none the less quite capable of loving, affectionate, romantic ties to others.” As a spectrum, asexuality is, much like space, yet to be fully explored.

Asexuality in Star Trek

During my research, I was able to find a few different scenarios featuring blatant asexuality as a theme. Throughout these story arcs, there is a recurring driving force which is that sexuality is considered to be a building block of the human psyche. Any species, alien or otherwise, that are currently not sexually active wish to embrace sexuality in order to further discover what it is to become human. The species that I will be using as examples are The Vaalians from The Original Series episode The Apple, Jn’aii or more specifically Soren from the Next Generation episode The Outcast and Data also from Next Gen.

The Vaalians

The Vaalians are discovered by Kirk and the landing party after being attacked by the indigenous flora. The Vaalians do not procreate as it is forbidden and are replaced as needed by the Vaal, who is the driving force behind their community. According to a blog by Women at Warp, which also explores asexuality, “The episode links the Vaalians’ lack of sexuality to the other elements of their society that causes them to stagnate… When the people express concern about how they will survive [after Kirk & co destroy the Vaal who has been operating a sophisticated computer system which is damaging the Enterprise.] Kirk reassures them that they will now be able to lead ‘normal lives’… ‘You’ll learn something about men and women – the way they’re supposed to be.” On a positive note though Spock stands up for the Vaalians by saying that simply because their culture is different to the crew’s expectations does not make it invalid. The episode links the species’ naivety and lack of understanding to the biblical story of Adam and Eve, with the Enterprise away team as the Apple of Knowledge (hence the episode name) and the controlling Vaal as God. I think this is a ‘fascinating’ though relatively insulting look into an asexual society, though the time period must be taken into consideration here as any sexuality other than straight was highly frowned upon. As a result, the fact that there is even a mention of another sexual culture was a step forward.

The J’naii and Soren

The J’naii are introduced to us in the Next Generation episode The Outcast which lies out as follows. The Enterprise is contacted by the genderless J’naii who require assistance finding a missing shuttle which has disappeared into null space. In order to track down the shuttle, Soren, a skilled pilot and Riker are sent out as a search party. However, the craft is damaged and Soren is injured. During her treatment by Dr Crusher, Soren is interested in learning more about the female identity as it turns out that Soren is interested in Riker and wants to pursue a romantic relationship with him. This presents a massive problem as the J’aii forbid any expression of gender or sexuality in any form as they believe that it is primitive and is thus a perversion. “Those… who view themselves as possessing gender are ridiculed, outcast and forced to undergo ‘psychotic therapy’” which is designed to forcefully re-educate the individual in order to bring them back into line. The point of the episode was to highlight LGBT rights and homophobia in line with Gene Roddenberry’s legacy who wished to include more LGBT characters in the show. Which in addition to The Apple shows that despite arguments that Star Trek is only science fiction and therefore not necessarily accessible, it is one of the only shows willing to express the many variations of the human psyche.

Data

In the last of today’s explorations, Data is arguably the most mainstream asexual character in modern culture. As an Android, “Data is not human, though he desperately wants to be.” In order to become more human, he engages in sexual intercourse with Tasha Yar which is a continuation of my larger point. In a blog post from 2009, the author, Elizabeth, herself an asexual, theorises that in the Star Trek universe, “sexuality… is contingent on having emotions… This implies that sexual attraction is itself an emotion… it could be that the emotion Data as experiencing was purely his desire to be human, channelled through a sexual circuit.” Data is in many ways a very good example of an asexual and the wider reactions to this, in that many asexuals face harassment stating that lacking sexuality is in a way inhuman, much like Kirk and McCoy’s reaction to the Vaalian’s lack of sexual activity or leanings.

Conclusion

Summing up, it is clear to me that within the Star Trek mythology, asexuality is treated as a somewhat alien trait, lacking emotion and deeper knowledge which is a cornerstone of humanity. However, I am not attacking the franchise, in fact, I celebrate that Gene Roddenberry was forward-thinking and daring enough to encourage other cultures, ideologies, gender and sexual identities when it is still relatively frowned upon in society. This legacy has continued in the Star Trek pathos, introducing Sulu played by John Cho as gay in the new film ‘Star Trek Beyond’. I hope to see this legacy grow in future series and films and potentially include another asexual character.

Thank you for reading!  


Bibliography


  • Author: Emma Filtness
  • Pictures provided by: Emma Filtness
  • Blog layout, Some Pictures and links: James Hams

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Episode Review: Star Trek: DS9 “DUET” by Tracy Gallagher


“DUET” is a Quintessential DS9 issue-oriented episode that is very riveting and brilliantly characterised with some very good performances.

The Plot does mainly centres around a Cardassian named “Marritza” who does happen to arrive at the station as a passenger on a passing ship. Kira does promptly arrests him for a being a war criminal and throw him in a cell on the station. You see, he has a medical condition that he could only have acquired at a Bajoran Labor Camp named Gallitep during the occupation of Bajor by Cardassia. This labour camp was also the site of horrific Bajoran treatment at the hands of Cardassian atrocities.

As Major Kira and the Bajoran are concerned any Cardassian at Gallitep is guilty as charge. But a number of clues that don’t add up at all- Kira begins a search for the truth behind at Gallitep during the occupation of Bajor. The resulting dialogue between Major Kira and the Cardassian pulls no punches in either content or on delivery too. The evidence does indicate that “Maritza” is really Gul Darheel, the man who did actually really ran Gallitep and made it him a mission to terrorise ”Bajoran scum.” Suddenly Kira does finds herself face to face with one of the most hates Cardassian, Bajor has ever known.

Nana Visitor does deliver one of the powerhouses, emotional performance in entries seven-run of DS9. Even better is Harris Yulin”s turn as Darheel, whose absolute tour de force display of acting being menacing, downright evil Cardassian frightening to live, with such lines as “ What you called a genocide, I call a day’s work”! Odo”s subsequent investigations of the Cardassian”s identity brings Dukat most hates Cardassian in the entries seven-run of DS9 into the plot with a great deal of sensibility.

It does turn that Darheel is really “Marritza” posing as the Cardassian Criminal (who has been dead for years) trying to martyr himself so the Cardassian Government will be forced to acknowledge its guilt for everything it did to the Bajoran people during occupation of Bajor – a very moving display of self-sacrifice for the sake of progress on all ends.  “DUET” is all substance, completely, engrossing in its conveyance, and it also features a very sad and tragic ending.

I think. “DUET” is one of the good episodes of season one of DS9. I rated it four half stars often. It’s one of the best moments in the entire season one of DS9.



  • Blog Words: Tracy Gallagher
  • Blog Layout and Pictures: James Hams

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Turning about Turnabout Intruder – By Jennifer Cavill


Turnabout Intruder is apparently, an almost universally hated episode. Ratings were poor, Shatner’s acting is mocked as being campy, it is bashed as being sexist and reactionary – “a knee-jerk response to the increasingly radical women’s movements of the late 1960s” – all in all, a poor final episode to a brilliant and progressive show.  Well, so they say – needless to say, I disagree.

It is indeed true that the ratings were poor, but I hardly think that it’s fair to use its ratings as an indication of its quality.  The episode was aired some two months after the previous episode, and in a timeslot that Star Trek had never been aired in.  I think it is fair to say it didn’t stand a chance of nearing the ratings of the earlier episodes.  Turnabout Intruder also doesn’t have any markers of being a ‘finale’ episode; it was never written to be one, in fact, Shatner was set to direct the next episode.  Turnabout Intruder is a quintessential ‘mid-season’ Star Trek episode, a strong character driven, self-contained story and in my opinion a significant commentary which resonates as strongly today as in the sixties.

Or it would do (or would have done) if people weren’t so resolved to misrepresent and pan it.

For those that need a quick refresher, Turnabout Intruder is the episode where on responding to a distress call on Camus II the landing party (including Kirk, Spock, and McCoy) find that all but two of the archaeological expedition have been killed by exposure to celebrium.  The two surviving members of the dig are Janice Lester and Doctor Arthur Coleman.  It is revealed that Janice Lester and Kirk were involved romantically and that their romance ended rather bitterly.  It also becomes clear that Lester and Coleman contrived to kill the other researchers in order to set a trap for the Enterprise and specifically Kirk – Lester wants to use a body-swapping device to steal Kirk’s body and take command of the Enterprise.  After successfully using the device, she reveals that she has studied protocol and she believes she knows Kirk well enough to mimic him and eventually become him.  However, as we expect, this is proved false and over the course of the episode, her performance breaks down, until the truth is revealed.  Kirk is working against her from within her body and plays no small part in thwarting her coop, although it’s debatable whether even without his influence whether Lester could have succeeded in her plan.  As part of Kirk’s attempts there is the memorable mind meld scene with Spock, where he confirms (at least to himself) that Kirk’s mind is in Janice Lester’s body, however before they can act Spock and Kirk are caught and Lester (as Kirk) announces a court martial of Spock citing mutiny.

The court martial is farcical and results in Lester (as Kirk) becoming hysterical and increasingly illogical, making it clear to observers that ‘Kirk’ is not currently competent / in his right mind.  Scott and McCoy voice their concerns during the court martial’s recess, but their comments are overheard and they are charged with mutiny.  Lester then orders the death penalty and has Spock, Scott, McCoy, and Kirk imprisoned, scheduling a group execution in the hangar deck with interment to take place on Benecia.  Sulu and Chekov refuse by removing their hands from the starship’s controls.  At this point a short reversal in the transfer occurs, Kirk and Lester sense it.  Lester reports this to Coleman who tells her that the only way to stop is would be to kill Lester’s original body.  Lester asks Coleman to do it, Coleman refuses, but Lester reminds him that he must since he has been complicit in so many murders.  Lester is given a phaser and Coleman prepares a hypospray and they proceed to the cell where Kirk and the others are being kept.

Lester orders Kirk out of the cell under the pretence of moving him to another location to prevent conspiracy, but before she can kill him, the transference reverses permanently.  Realising she has failed, Lester breaks down and Coleman escorts her away to look after her in sickbay.

A more in-depth summary can be found here.

What does Turnabout Intruder Imply about Gender and Fluidity?

One of the more interesting observations about Turnabout Intruder is the difference in Kirk and Lester’s approach to being in their new bodies.  I personally find it particularly fascinating that Lester is less ‘fluid’ than Kirk is.

Let me elaborate.  When Lester assumes Kirk’s body she brings with her a great many preconceptions about how ‘a man’ should act, and more importantly how Kirk acts.  Lester as Kirk is always off key, always overcompensating.  Instead of a performance or simulation of Kirk, Lester produces a caricature coloured by her perceptions of him, her memories and her resentment.  Kirk as Lester, on the other hand, is beautifully fluid, easily slipping between his masculine self (his ‘true self’ if you’ll excuse the clumsy term) and his own persona as Janice Lester.  The important part of this is that Kirk when acting ‘as Lester’ does not become this caricature of a woman but sheds any pretence and calms himself to fool nurse Chapel.  This implies (at least to me) that this ‘man’s man’, a ladies man, a man who is charming and exudes masculinity lets all that drop away to take on the female persona- and he sees no shame in that.  Kirk respects women, he certainly appreciates the female body, but perhaps one would think he would be concerned with a weaker body?  One that would never give him the strength that he’s used to?  Kirk realises that it doesn’t actually matter.   Why should it matter?  Kirk lives in a reality where the human male is not the strongest.  His first officer and best friend are Vulcan which is not only three times stronger than his male body but can also survive the greater heat and greater trauma.  With friends like these, suddenly the difference between their bodies isn’t so different.

Of course, Kirk wants his body back.  He has been drugged, assaulted, and by definition raped.  In taking his body without consent, Lester has committed a particularly heinous act against Kirk’s person, what’s worse is she believes she has a right to do so.  She believes that the perceived wrongs committed against her justify and mitigates her actions against Kirk.  Can you imagine knowing somebody is in your body?  Who can touch and look at your body without your consent?  Further, move your mouth and use your power – in this case, a captain’s – to put the people you care for in danger, to sentence your friends to death?

I believe that the themes in Turnabout Intruder are very forward thinking. It’s not often even now that a male character is emasculated by a female, certainly not physically, and certainly not in the 1960s – but that is what has happened here.  Of course, if we move into talking about the actors, about the show itself, they have been bold enough to have their main character (Kirk) be less than masculine.  I think it was more of a risk than say, the antics in Plato’s Stepchildren.  This is especially prevalent in the scene where Lester (as Kirk) tries to convince Coleman to kill for her, which I think was particularly risque for 1969!

Many people have criticised Shatner’s acting in this episode and praised Sandra Smith’s acting, however, I think this is a little unfair.  Sandra Smith was indeed excellent in the episode, but she had the advantage of being directed to act like Shatner did Kirk (probably even schooled by Shatner) but also of playing someone, for the most part, sane.  Additionally, Smith could play ‘Kirk as Lester’ as essentially a new character, we don’t know Lester, the characters don’t know Lester so any portrayal would be correct.  Shatner, on the other hand, had the task of playing an off-color version of a character he had been playing for three seasons, while also acting the part of someone utterly unhinged.  Shatner couldn’t play Lester exactly as he would have done Kirk, Kirk is special and his special qualities go beyond his sex.

Lester isn’t unsuitable because she’s a woman, she’s unsuitable because she’s unstable.

Lester is in control, and she may well have succeeded in her plans if she wasn’t so mentally unstable.  Lester’s instability is commented on by Doctor McCoy and he uses his authority as the chief medical officer to order a medical examination based on ‘emotional instability and erratic mental attitudes since returning from that planet’.  Commenters have cried ‘sexism’ at this, why is a woman ‘hysterical’, what a cliche!  Why is Starfleet sexist and not allowing a woman to be captain of the Enterprise (as Lester implies during the court martial)?  I think, perhaps many people are looking at this from the wrong angle.

Lester is unstable, not because she’s a woman but because she is mentally ill.  She is sick, she is unwell and this is abundantly clear by her actions and her ability to justify her terrible actions (like, for example sanctioning the killing of the other researchers).  What is also made clear is that she has been unwell for some time.  Kirk comments during an exchange with Janice Lester that had they stayed together, they would have ‘killed each other’ and that because she couldn’t share his life as a Starship captain that she ‘punished and tortured’ him because of it.  This wasn’t a healthy relationship, and a sane person doesn’t ‘punish and torture’ the person they supposedly love for something that they possibly couldn’t control.  The relationship seems to have been toxic, destructive, and since we know that Kirk is a relatively balanced character, the destructive force appears to have been Lester.

I can hear the objections from here.  But Lester said ‘Your world of starship captains doesn’t admit women’!  Lester said that Starfleet wouldn’t have let Kirk captain the ship in a woman’s body!  Lester said this, Lester said that.

Lester is mentally ill.

We can’t take what she is saying as fact.  Lester is compromised, Lester has done terrible things and made terrible justifications.  Lester is using these comments as a crux, as a foundation for her hatred and resentment.  Kirk did not cause these problems, but she unfairly blames him.  If she was on the receiving end of any unfairness it did not cause this instability, it was inherent in her.  I don’t believe she is evil, but I believe her actions were.

Lester’s is described as having been in ‘hysterics’ and people have taken this as sexism.  It’s a description of an emotional condition which has been associated with women since its Greek roots.  The fact is Kirk doesn’t become hysterical, it isn’t part of his character.  The fact Lester becomes hysterical is unrelated to being a woman.  We see plenty of hysterical men throughout the series, but do we feminize them because of it? No.  So why are we only attributing it as feminizing and sexist when a woman has that trait?


Are we focusing on the wrong issue?  Is Turnabout Intruder a mental health episode rather than a sexism episode?

We all know that our understanding of mental health and mental illness has come along in leaps and bounds in the last couple of decades.  Do you remember ten years ago?  Fifteen?  Twenty?  Do you remember the public’s understanding of depression?  Suicide?  Psychosis?  Bipolar disorder?  Anorexia? Bulimia? John and Jane Everyday knew very little, mental illness was dirty.  We didn’t talk about it, and when it was approached it was often misunderstood and misrepresented.  Now, if you’re young (like me) imagine, or if you’re older remember, what the understanding of mental health was in 1969.  Only in the sixties had we realized that mental illness could be affected by chemical imbalances in the brain.  Imagine or remember the institutions, the invasive ‘therapies’ (electric shock, physical pain etc.), mentally ill people treated like animals and used for unpaid labor.  It’s pretty scary stuff, there’s a reason we still fear the old asylums, even if we didn’t live in that time.

My main point is, mental illness wasn’t talked about.  Only within the last few years, people are starting to talk about it more openly, how incredible is it that Star Trek in 1969 is talking about it openly.  Not in the guise of some flamboyant villain who has taken over an asylum and believes himself king but in the confines of the mind of a very ill woman.  There’s nothing glamorous or humorous about this episode, it is sad, scary and dark.

Finally…

If you’ve stayed with me this long thank you.  I’m going to end with a concession.

I understand that you might think I’m thinking too hard about things, reading a little too much between the lines.  I admit that could be true.  Some people could point to Roddenberry’s misogynistic comments or Freiberger’s throwaway lines and say because of their attitudes, this episode couldn’t have any other reading than a sexist one.  But if I may, I’d like to add that sometimes the power or message of a piece of literature can often be greater than the author’s original intention.

Roddenberry believed in this story if you’ve read his TMP novel you’ll notice he can handle detail and his record indicates that he is no enemy of controversy.

I truly love this episode and I do believe that a sexist reading is not the correct one. I might be in a minority but perhaps, if you watch the episode again keeping this essay in mind, perhaps you will also be able to turnabout Turnabout Intruder.



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LGBT in Star Trek: We Are Ready and We Have *Been* Ready – By Jason Fritz

Star Trek is one of the most enduring cultural phenomena to come out of the United States in the 20th Century, and certainly the most enduring science fiction franchise to ever do so. Premiering with the original series in 1966, viewers have swept away to strange new worlds and new civilisations as well as new cultural and technological ideas. While lagging behind the 1963 debut of the British series Doctor Who, it preceded the 1977 release of Star Wars by more than a decade and pushed the limits of television standards in the sixties. In 1979, the cast was reassembled for a motion picture continuation, followed by five more instalments with that cast of characters, four more television series and another seven motion pictures with varying casts and characters.

For over fifty years, Star Trek has introduced us to changes in the way we view gender and racial equality as a society, explored the implications of becoming involved in the internal affairs of others (a thinly veiled criticism of American adventurism overseas to stem the spread of communism during the Cold War), and employed the use of alien races and cultures as metaphors to examine aspects of our own condition. Star Trek was among the first to feature an interracial kiss on television, and among the first to feature roles of significant professional authority for women and minorities.

Despite all that, throughout its long history of promoting social change in America, one glaring omission from Star Trek lore has been the lack of any significant non-heterosexual characters. While the subject has been touched on in passing, most notably in Next Generation’s “The Host” in 1991 and Deep Space Nine’s “Rejoined” in 1995, both of which used the alien Trill’s trait of changing host bodies (and therefore genders) over time to explore the issue, the main characters in both stories remained firmly heterosexual thereafter, their orientation never to be explored or even questioned again. Next Generation also touched on the subject more metaphorically in the 1992 episode “The Outcast” through another alien race, the androgynous J’naii as represented by Melinda Culea’s character Soren, who in this case enjoyed a brief romance with Will Riker. The episode kept Riker’s orientation firmly heterosexual, however, while the conflict safely revolved around Soren’s self-identification as a female in a society that rejected gender identification altogether.

More recently, sharp-eyed viewers of the 2016 feature Star Trek Beyond might have caught a brief glimpse of Hikaru Sulu (played by John Cho) enjoying shore leave with his unnamed husband and daughter, but in fifty years of existence, that is the extent of the entire Star Trek franchise’s efforts to depict any significant character as anything other than heterosexual. That is literally it.

Last August, as the casting process for the upcoming series Star Trek: Discovery went into high gear, executive producer Bryan Fuller announced that the new show will feature the franchise’s first openly gay character, which we now know will be played by Anthony Rapp. In a landscape where the first gay character on television was introduced in 1972 and Billy Crystal played the first openly gay regular television series cast member in 1977, where Saturday Night Live featured its first openly gay cast member in 1985, where Friends depicted the first lesbian wedding on television in 1996 and Ellen DeGeneres came out on her own show in 1997, where Buffy the Vampire Slayer and ER ousted longtime regular characters as gay in 2000 and 2002, and where Will & Grace and Queer as Folk have both enjoyed long and successful runs, this hardly seems to be breaking new ground. In fact, one could argue that simply featuring an openly gay character is old and tired ground. Still, sceptics of the depiction of a gay regular character have loudly asked: “Is Star Trek ready?”


Ready for what???

For a franchise that purports to “boldly go where no one has gone before”, Star Trek is remarkably behind the curve on this issue. Instead of asking if the franchise is ready, critics should be asking where the franchise has been all this time. The opportunity to create controversy, which I would argue is no bad thing, was decades ago. Carol and Susan already got married, Willow and Tara already kissed, and Will and Jack have already made every risqué gay reference that prime time television will allow, plus a few others that managed to sneak by. Captain Jack Harkness, who became the first omnisexual character on television in 2005, should have premiered on Star Trek, not Doctor Who. Now is not the time to question whether Star Trek should be inclusive; now is the time to play catch up.

Most commercial ventures have a natural desire to increase profits as much as possible. If the owners have good business sense, that usually means taking steps to offend as few paying customers as humanly possible because even the people who are wrong still have green money. Some media properties have an advantage in that regard because of not reaching the phenomenal success that Star Trek has, and not have become such a cultural touchstone. The gayness of Will & Grace was part of the concept before it was ever greenlit for a pilot, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer was lucky enough to air on the fledgeling WB, where network scrutiny had not yet reached the point where it would later doom Joss Whedon’s Firefly. ER was able to introduce the story as a major conflict with a character who wasn’t fully revealed as gay until her sixth year on the show, and even then, she was depicted as facing the threat (or reality) of extreme homophobia and discrimination at every turn.

None of those advantages is available to Star Trek. The future depicted in our weekly programs and movies is one where discrimination and bigotry are dead, where racism and homophobia are but footnotes in history, and where all people are treated equally regardless of heritage, skin colour, or sexual orientation. Star Trek has no choice but to depict an openly gay character as unremarkable in his or her gayness. By the time of Star Trek: Discovery, if everything we’ve learned about Gene Roddenberry’s future is accurate, being gay should simply be an accepted part of society, no more or less remarkable than my heterosexuality.

All that leaves critics in a bind. There can be no easing into this. There can be no slow introduction, no period of getting to know the character before revealing that he or she is gay, no comfort zone. For those who have felt safe in the womb of a Star Trek that addresses gayness only in easily dismissed metaphor, briefly touched upon one week and then blessedly gone the next, the idea of an openly gay character suddenly standing next to Captain Kirk week after week can be a scary one. There can be no pretending that the future is not gay, that marriage will only ever involve a man and a woman, perhaps while one of them wears comfortingly silly forehead prosthetics or painted on spots. They must face the stark reality that gay men and gay women are attracted to and date other gay men and gay women week after week, and that they are not going anywhere no matter how much some people might wish the episode would just be over.

Some people won’t like that; it’s practically inevitable. Some longtime fans will refuse to accept it. They’ll complain loudly about how the new series is destroying their childhood; they’ll lament the state of excessive tolerance in our society and how it will end the world as we know it; they’ll mock the gay lieutenant mercilessly and portray him as so disliked that the producers should give him an abrupt “Wesley Crusher” exit; and they’ll threaten to withhold their dollars and CBS All Access subscriptions until their intolerance of tolerance is tolerated and appeased.

Some fans will argue that we shouldn’t risk creating a schism in the Star Trek community, that we shouldn’t risk conflict between the people who are willing to accept a gay character and the people who aren’t. I submit that the schism already exists—it’s just hiding safely in the shadows right now, safely nurtured and protected by the absence of any significant portrayals of gay characters in the Star Trek mythos to date. That situation shouldn’t be preserved. It should be dragged out into the light and exposed. It should be questioned, it should be examined, and it should ultimately be discarded. Nothing is accomplished by hiding it in the name of offending as few people as humanly possible. That may be the commercial way, but that is not the Star Trek way. That’s not what our fathers taught us. That’s not what Gene taught us. And that’s not the way we should move forward.

I am the last person in the world to tell anyone “If you don’t like it, get out.” Those words are not worthy of Gene’s vision, either. They’re not worthy of our fifty years of history and tradition. They’re not worthy of us. Instead, I would encourage everyone to stay—stay and watch, even if you don’t like it. Stay and take the journey. Stay and get used to it.

Because gay people aren’t going anywhere. And neither are we.


  • Blog Words: Jason Fritz
  • Blog Layout and Pictures: James Hams

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LGBT in Star Trek: We are not ready – Bill Allen

“Foreword: As we draw closer to the release of Star Trek Discovery (DSC) there has been a lot of assumption as to what the new show is going to bring to the franchise, one thing we know for a fact it is going to bring is Star Trek’s first openly gay character.

Throughout its 50-year history, Star Trek has brought us TV’s first mixed race kiss along this was in itself controversial for its time, even though Star Trek has had an infinitesimal fling exploring same sex relationships it has never embraced it. One thing I wanted to explore was how we as Star Trek fans feel about this unexplored country, so I advertised on Facebook for you the fans to write a series of guest blogs about this topic.

One of the first people to answer the call was Bill Allen, below you can read his take on how he feels about the inclusion of this controversial Trek character.”

By James Hams 


LGBT in Star Trek: We are not ready.

When you look at the 50 plus years of history of Star Trek, one thing becomes clear: any statement that begins with ‘Star Trek is not about’ is false. Star Trek is about EVERYTHING. It is an action/adventure show, hard sci-fi and science fantasy combined an allegorical examination of contemporary humanity, a philosophical examination of humanity’s purpose, a dream, an aspiration, a hope, a promise…Star Trek is everything.

For Star Trek, there are no real limits to what can be done, or how it can be done. So, it might seem counterintuitive to hear me say that an LGBTQ character in Trek is not something that should be done.  And yet, here I am, saying that the new Star Trek Series “Discovery” has announced that they will have an openly gay character, and I am telling you it is a bad idea.

It’s not because Star Trek and the values it represents are antithetical to the LGBTQ community; LGBTQ is just one more facet of ‘IDIC’.

It’s not because homosexuality is ‘evil’ or ‘perverse’ or whatever another pejorative adjective one would want to assign to it; morality is subjective, and often irrational, emotional, and rather silly, so passing judgment on someone else’s life is foolish and pointless. ‘Evil’ knows no orientation preference, and ‘good’ is within anyone, no matter which way the door swings.

It’s not because sexuality has no place in Star Trek; I submit to you James ‘seduce the hostile alien’ Kirk, William ‘chicks dig the beard’ Riker, Mr. ‘Fully Functional’ Data….and let’s not forget T’pol, 7 of 9, Dax, Troi and those lovely Orion Dancers.

It’s not because the writers are going to screw it up…though this one does worry me some. The Producers have assembled a team of writers that include folks who are not only some of the best and brightest from Trek’s own history, but just phenomenally talented writers related to Star Trek and non-Star Trek stories alike, these guys are good, some of the best. But even the best writers will have a hard time hitting the right balance when they start tackling some of the trickier issues society faces today.

The true problem lays with the viewing audience…The fans and potential fans.

The problem with any Ideology, even one as seemingly noble and ideological as ‘Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations’, is that those who believe in that philosophy can believe HARD, and idealism becomes a fanatic. And we live in a world where ideological conflicts are a constant source of hate, and divisiveness, and antagonism.

There are two kinds of fans that are going to create all sorts of problems for this show because of an openly gay character. First, you have the bigots, the homophobes, the religious fundamentalists, the folks who despise, fear, dislike, and oppose homosexuality and homosexual people.   (I think it’s fairly obvious why THEY are going to be part of the problem.)

the second kind of fan that is going to be a problem will be the fans that hate bigotry, that fight against oppressive and discriminatory people, that fight for equality for ALL, and are offended by Homophobic people. The people who read the previous paragraph and said ‘screw those bigots…Star Trek isn’t for them, they don’t deserve to be fans if they can’t be more liberal.’

Star Trek is not a show for bigots.Star Trek is not a show for people to push their narrow-minded superstitious and backwards religious views onto others.

Star Trek is not for people who are intolerant.

Now, take a minute to go back and re-read the first paragraph of this blog….are the three statements I just wrote true, or false?

It happens far too often in all sorts of forums: fans argue. They squabble, they bicker, they debate, and they fight. They fight over which captain was the best, they argue over whether Janeway made the right call in killing Tuvix, they nitpick any little detail in the ‘bad’ Trek and criticise anyone who nitpicks the ‘good’ Trek.  It makes sense; anything we feel strongly about is something we will argue passionately for or against. The problem is that there is so much negativity.

I’ve seen it far too often, and I’m sure you have too: in an online forum or discussion, someone has said things like ‘if you don’t agree with____, you don’t belong in this group,’ or ‘your moral and ideological position contradicts the true meaning of Star Trek’ and ‘you aren’t a real fan if you don’t like____’. The message of ‘you do not belong here/get out’ is often followed by ‘you missed the lesson Star Trek teaches us about a better point of view. And the people who say such things don’t even realise how horrible and destructive their statements are….if you exclude and exile the bigots, if you really believe they need to stay away from your Star Trek because they don’t think the right way, then how the hell are they supposed to learn the lessons Star Trek is trying to teach them?

If you are not a bigot, then you are the one who learned nothing from Star Trek, because you already knew the answer.  Even then, though, Star Trek has a lesson for you, if you are willing to learn it. That lesson is the core of what ‘IDIC’ represents. The lesson is so incredibly simple and obvious; some people are incapable of seeing it.

The lesson is this: Star Trek is for EVERYONE.

Star Trek is made for Bigots.

Star Trek is made for the Atheist.

Star Trek is made for the Religious.

Star Trek is made for the sinner AND the saint.

Star Trek shows us a better future, a future free of bigotry, poverty, conflict, etc., and then finds ways—subtle ways, not the crude and imbecilic ‘GTFO’ of internet crusaders—to examine the flaws of contemporary humanity in a way that gets the lesson home without demeaning or belittling the person you are trying to teach. It instead WELCOMES them, takes them in, and shows them a better world that they have every right to be a part of. But too many fans would rather cast them out and attack the bigot, part of their righteous crusade to make the world a better place…the end justifies the means, and to hell with ending bigotry, just attack the bigots.

 TOS gave us ‘Let that be your last battlefield’ an episode where black/white faces and white/black faces fought each other over an incredibly silly thing like skin colour. Gee, I wonder who would find such an allegorical lesson something they should consider. TNG gave us “The Host”, where Dr Crusher falls in love with a man, a Trill…and when the Trill changes hosts, the man is now a woman, still the same person, still the same feelings for Dr Crusher…but she no longer feels the same way. DS9 gave us several more episodes about the Trill, showing, through this alien’s life, that who a person is and how they love is not bound to one gender configuration, that there are more important aspects.  With Seven Series, 13 movies, and hundreds of books, comics, etc. etc. etc., there are many more examples. Star Trek has spent five decades trying to appeal to as many people as possible, from all sorts of cultural and ideological viewpoints, and it is something more than just a franchise….it’s an opportunity to reshape the world and bring us all together.

all these examples are the ones the anti-bigots point to as being the philosophy Trek represents…but the subtext of their statements is not ‘this is how we all should be’; it is more ‘I am right and my ideology is superior!’  So, they have those human flaws of hate and petty struggles to establish dominance or whatever primate instinct they are doing, and they completely miss the point.

Star Trek Discovery provides yet another opportunity for the writers to play in that sandbox, to show us through metaphor our own flaws and foibles, a chance to make the world better by reaching out to the intolerant and the misinformed and hopefully get them thinking about being a part of something bigger and better than themselves…..but the fans will just use it to attack people they don’t like, wrecking an opportunity to turn an enemy into a friend, because they value victory more than peace. The fans are going to selfishly ruin Discovery’s attempts to enlighten the human race.  They don’t see that the homophobe and the gay man have an opportunity to come together and get to like each other because both love Star Trek; they only see an opportunity to insult and degrade a human being who isn’t as liberal or enlightened as themselves, and they don’t even realise they are just causing the resentment and hate to fester and grow within the bigot, making things worse for the world instead of better.

I really hope the writers for Discovery deliver a brilliant show, and I think they will…but I’m also fairly certain that when they do give us something amazing, the fans will screw it up.

The simple fact is as fans we are not ready for an openly gay character in Star Trek…but we do need one it is long overdue.


  • Foreword: James Hams
  • Blog By: Bill Allen

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Intercultural Communication Through Time – By Moriah Baca

This weekend my husband and I watched the film Arrival, it was right up our alley as Star Trek fans.

Communication was the focus of this film, the difficulties that we would face meeting aliens without being able to even talk to each other. Deanna Troi brings up this difficulty in The Next Generation:

Deanna: Actually, the fact that any alien race communicates with another is quite remarkable…We are stranded on a planet, we have no language in common, but I want to teach you mine. The disparity, what did I just say?

Picard: Cup…glass

Deanna: Are you sure? I may have meant liquid, clear, brown, hot. We conceptualise the universe in quite the same way.

Picard: Point taken

Deanna: In your talks, you must be extremely accurate

This idea of how we conceptualise the universe is one of the most significant aspects of how Dr Louis Banks is able to communicate with the aliens in Arrival. The reason Dr Banks has such a hard time communicating with the aliens is that they perceive time differently. Sisko in Deep Space 9 tries to explain time to an alien in the first episode of the series:

Sisko: It can be argued that a human is ultimately the sum of his experiences.

Alien: Experiences? What is this?

Sisko: Memories. Events from my past, like this one.

Alien: The Past?

Sisko: Things that happened before now…You have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about.

Alien: What comes before now is no different than what is now, or what is to come. It is one’s existence.

Sisko: Then, for you, there is no linear time.

Alien: Linear time. What is this?

Sisko: My species lives at one point in time. And once we move beyond that point, it becomes the past. The future, all that is still to come, does not exist yet for us.

Alien: Does not exist yet?

Sisko: That is the nature of linear existence. And if you examine it more closely, you will see that you do not need to fear me. In a linear existence, we can’t go back to the past to get something we left behind, so it’s lost.

Alien: It is inconceivable that any species could exist in such a manner. You are deceiving us.

Sisko: No, this is the truth. This day, this park, it was almost fifteen years ago. Far in the past, It was a day that was very important to me, a day that shaped every day that followed. That is the essence of a linear existence. Each day affects the next.



Star Trek dealt with this issue of linear time differently than Arrival. In Star Trek, the alien is taught to understand linear time in order to deal with humans. In Arrival, the heptapods teach Dr Banks non-linear time in order for humans to be able to deal with them.

Both ways the idea of non-linear time is so foreign to us and difficult to represent therefore it makes sense that Star Trek had to opt out for a more simple depiction, however, Arrival takes advantage of their budget to depict non-linear time in an amazing way. Both these stories are hiding their point in plain sight. The issue of language between cultures even between humans there can be a difference in the conceptualization of the universe caused by culture making communication very difficult. Again, we see the way Star Trek brings cultural issues to our attention in a roundabout way.


Blog Author: Moriah Baca

Pictures:

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Making Deluxe KLINGON Gauntlets from Foam – By Shawn Hussell

Tools/Supplies:

  • -Utility Knife
  • -Pins
  • -Heat gun
  • -marker
  • -contact cement
  • -foam ¼ thick (use whatever thickness you want this is just what I used)
  • -blueprints from KAG.org, print them out 
  • A step by step guide in pictures is in the gallery below


Directions: the printer-Print

-Print out blueprints and cut them out them out

-Ok, we are just going to stop here for a bit. I got extremely lucky and on my first print, they were a perfect size. Not everyone is going to be this lucky, I suggest one of two things:

A) Print out a size you feel might be close, follow the instructions but just for one gauntlet instead of two and then use this to resize (if need) the next set of blueprints.

B) Short on foam and don’t want to make one you likely won’t use? Well just print two side pieces and make the first gauntlet out of paper, foam is stretchy so you want the wrist hole small enough your fist barely fits. Because my gauntlets have a little stretch, I can get my hand in.  

if the material had no give in it then my gauntlets would be too small!

-That last point covers “how these things should fit,” they’re big, to begin with so why make them bigger than needed.

-Got your blueprints, they’ve been cut out.

Lay them down on the foam and pin them down, to keep them from shifting. Use your marker and trace the blueprints out twice, then flip the side piece and trace it two more times. I strongly recommend labelling them, the top of the side-panel blueprint is the right side. In my photos, I labelled right as 2, left as 1 and centre as

C. -Cut out the foam pieces on the inside of the line. Now heat form them, use my finished photo for referenced of pre-shaping, this will help (a lot) when glueing them to be close to their final shape.

-Consult your contact cement instructions, and follow the printer and two different images, the fit probably isn’t going to be perfect I and two different images, the fit probably isn’t going to be perfect I believe this was the cause of a lot of my problems. If you’ve never worked with contact cement, you might want practice glueing a couple of the left-over scraps together to get a feel for it.

Press the seams together carefully and start from the bottom working your way up. When you get to the wrist part you may have difficulties, try moving to the top and working back down, I found that helped me. You might have to hold the seams together briefly ensure a proper hold. If your lines aren’t perfect, well practice makes perfect!  If you look closely at mine they aren’t either, I’m opting to make new ones in the future rather than fix these. You can fill any gap with plaster or wood fill, I haven’t found something I like using yet, so I don’t have any recommendations. Qapla’!!

You now have gauntlets, go forth my fellow warrior and never again fear for your wrists or forearms; for they will forever be wrapped in foam!

Notes: I would recommend you look up videos on making foam costumes just to get a feel for this, I like Evil Ted, his first few videos are very insightful. I never made it to the tubing part knowing I’ll be replacing these. I plan on finding a very flexy tube or glue thinner foam around a small rope to make the tubing. That’ll come down to what you find.


  • Blog Author: Shawn Hussell
  • Layout: James Hams

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“I BORG” By Deanta Saeran


The show continued to address real world issues in The Next Generation. One example of this is the episode “I, Borg” in which the Enterprise crew comes to the aid of a dying Borg drone who is the sole survivor of a crash. Captain Picard is preparing to aid the survivor, as is his duty until he hears that it is a Borg. Then he promptly changes his tune, electing to leave the helpless drone to die.

This can be taken as a very exaggerated example of racism in general and racial profiling or assume something about a person based solely on their race. Despite his claim later in the episode, Picard is not entirely over his traumatic encounter with the Borg, and it shows in his reaction. As Riker, via his communicator, identifies the survivor’s species, the camera zooms in on Picard as his face hardens and viewers can almost feel the icy cold radiating off of him as he and Crusher argue over what to do with the drone. Picard maintains this coldness for most of the episode. He changes it toward the end and I will get to that a little later.

Dr Crusher is on the drone’s side from the start, being the complete opposite of the captain and completely ignoring the drone’s race. This is probably easier for her to do, as saving lives is her job and she viewed him as a survivor in need of emergency medical care who just happened to be a Borg.

As the story progresses and the drone awakes, we see a third character’s attitude toward the situation. Initially, engineer Geordi LaForge is prejudiced against the Borg, but not to the same extent as the captain.

 As time goes on, however, LaForge quickly changes his tune after talking to the drone who calls himself Third of Five. Geordi seems in awe as he finds his expectations being proven wrong as Third of Five exhibits a growing curiosity about Geordi and Beverly, even as he explains what the life of a Borg drone is like. Beverly and Geordi quickly bond with Third of Five, a bond that strengthened when Third of Five asked them for a name and Geordi called him Hugh, a name of German origin which means “Bright in Mind and Spirit” ( What Does The Name Hugh Mean? ).

The name seems to fit, as Hugh seems more and more eager to learn about the world outside the Collective. However, Captain Picard refuses to see this as he insists on calling Hugh “it” and spitting out the words with narrowed eyes when he does, his voice sharp and knifelike when compared to starry-eyed, soft-spoken Hugh. By now, it is obvious to the audience that Hugh is not a threat, and this further emphasises Picard’s blatant refusal to give up his prejudice as he comes up with a sinister plan to use Hugh as an unwilling instrument of genocide.

Geordi, soon after hearing the plan, returns to Picard after speaking with Beverly and Hugh (the latter being completely unaware of the captain’s plans for the entire episode). He tells Picard he is having second thoughts, to which Picard responds with more racial prejudice. He again refuses to see Hugh as a person and compares him to lab animals used in 21st-century science labs, citing instances of scientists becoming attached to the animals, which became a problem when the animal could possibly be killed in an experiment. He advises Geordi to “detach himself” to which Geordi responds with a disappointed look and whispered “Aye sir.” Examples of such genocidal intents are alarmingly numerous in the real world, but Hitler and the Holocaust immediately come to mind.

There is one character who COULD (doesn’t mean SHOULD) be considered justified in making such genocidal plans. Guinan the El-Aurian bartender, whose world was destroyed by the Borg and her people decimated. Yet she seems indifferent to Hugh’s presence aboard the Enterprise until Geordi visits Ten Forward after Picard tells him to detach himself from Hugh. There he tells Guinan about his change of heart and his experience with Hugh, urging her to see for herself and talk to him. Guinan scoffs and tells him she would have nothing to say to the Borg.

Frustrated by the injustice he is seeing, Geordi storms out, but not before telling Guinan “Then just listen. That IS what you do best, isn’t it.”

Captain Picard later gathers his army and explains his plan for the genocide of the Borg, which Beverly tries to oppose, but she is the only one actively doing so. She tries to persuade the captain that the genocide is wrong, no matter what species it is. He brushes her off with scare tactics and exaggerated depictions of what will happen if they do not destroy the Borg now (never mind that there’s been very few problems with the Federation and the Borg since “Q Who”)



The Captain even seems to take a small bit of pleasure in the idea of killing billions of people when he agrees with Beverly’s claim that his proposed plan sounds like a disease, adding “If all goes well, a terminal one.”

Now comes the second change of heart in the story. Guinan has taken Geordi’s advice and now stands at Hugh’s cell, watching as the small drone just stands in the back of his cage. Thus begins the breakdown of her prejudice, at least toward Hugh. She’s surprised when he doesn’t tell her she will be assimilated and only says “Resistance is futile.” after Guinan says it first. She tells Hugh the story of her people’s fate at the hands of the Borg and is shocked almost speechless when Hugh not only understands that she is lonely but tells her he too is lonely. She was only able to stare at him in subtle awe as the racial barrier between them collapsed.

Guinan then confronts Picard, who lashes out at her for using Hugh’s name and calling him a person, dehumanising him entirely when he yells “It’s not a person, dammit, it’s a Borg!”, a stab to the heart of those viewers on Hugh’s side. Guinan maintains her composure advising Picard to confront Hugh and see if his attitude is justified, as she thought hers was. She warns Picard that if he doesn’t, he may find the decision to use Hugh as a weapon much harder to live with.

Now comes the change in Picard’s attitude that I mentioned earlier. We see him in his ready room, steeling himself and setting his face before he signals he is ready and Worf beams into the room with Hugh, who is out of his cage for the first time but has the same look and demeanour he had when Guinan first saw him. After telling Worf to leave, the captain tries everything he can to get Hugh to do something that aligns with Picard’s assumptions about him, even taking on his role as Locutus again. His plan backfires when he states that Geordi will be assimilated or die, triggering Hugh’s rebellious outburst in defence of Geordi. Picard’s last hope is shattered when Hugh abandons the typical Borg use of “we” and establishes himself as an individual stating that “I will not assist you.” with Geordi’s bogus assimilation. Picard is left in complete shock as all that he thought about the survivor is proven wrong, even stating “…you are Borg!” to which the drone answers “No. I am Hugh.”

At last, Picard and the others have accepted as a friend someone who comes from a race they consider an enemy, even offering him a chance to stay with his new friends and giving Hugh the choice. Sadly, it doesn’t always end this well in reality. Mexicans as a whole have been called criminals due to the actions of less than half of their population, which makes being a part of the community difficult for individuals, who can find themselves limited in where they can go in the community. They can feel trapped there, much like Hugh was trapped in a cage. Which is unfortunate, because the majority of them are just as appalled by the crimes of some of their own people as those who make the “Mexicans are criminals” claims. In middle and high schools, children of Middle Eastern descent are often teased and called terrorists simply because of their race. Like Hugh, they are often considered less than human, or not worthy of being called a person. The worst part is that there is often no Guinan to intervene on behalf of these children. Then there are all the cases of racial profiling. Police targeting a person as a suspect for a crime simply because they are black. While these black people aren’t being condemned to death as Hugh was, the injustice is still the same.

In short, the moral of this episode is acceptance, tolerance, and the ages old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. Picard learned this through his encounter with Hugh and even encourages Hugh to become the leader of the liberated Borg in a later episode.

This story of acceptance was especially relatable to me, being an asexual woman who is both visually impaired and high functioning autistic. When I look around and see discrimination, even on the individual level, around me, it is quite saddening. But “I, Borg”, like the rest of Star Trek, presents an optimistic outlook on humanity’s future. It’s a story of what I hope we someday achieve in real life. No, we may never be faced with something like the Borg, but there are already many “Hughs” in the world today, living outside people’s assumptions and seeking acceptance from those around them. Hopefully, they will receive it, and those prejudiced assumptions will one day be permanently assimilated into the Collective of Outdated and Obsolete Ideas.


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“MY JOURNEY FROM FAN TO FAN FILM ACTOR” By Martin Bennett

Recently Trefanproductions asked fans from various different online Star Trek Fan groups if they would be interested in producing blogs of their own to go on our newly minted website.

Martin was one of the first to show interest and here is his blog, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.


Thanks for giving me the chance to add something to your site and for the fandom.

One of my earliest memories was of Kirk’s Enterprise in orbit around a green planet. I cannot remember anything past that (the episode name, what was going on…) because I was three in 1980. TOS was in reruns and fans were between movies but my imagination was captivated and has been ever since.

In the late 80’s ST: TNG premiered and my interest in all things Trek spiked once again. Throughout Jr.high and high school, I was known as “that Star Trek geek. Outside of a few close friends, Star Trek wasn’t seen as such a cultural icon as it is now by teens and growing up in Texas conversations tended to gravitate toward football while I just wanted to know more about the specs of the Defiant, more about Worf’s family and so on.

I dreamed of graduating high school, moving to California, and hanging out on the Paramount lot until I got a part on DS9. Needless to say, hat dream never panned out, but in 1991 I found out about the fan club Starfleet which brought about a version of my dream. I joined Starfleet and found a chapter not too far from me. The U.S.S. Joshua based in Irving Texas.

I went to a meeting and immediately felt like part of a bigger family. Shortly after joining I found out the group was performing a play at an upcoming summer convention. Because of my height, I was cast as Worf. I was a bit concerned because I did not have a Next Gen uniform and because I am much lighter skinned than the character but I was quickly introduced to makeup.

Galaxy Fair 91 would have us perform “The Silence of the Romulans” live both days of the weekend event. The Joshua had a table set up at the convention to promote the play and get new members which were all cool…then I found out our table was right next to Majel Barret Roddenberry’s table, and that she’d be in the audience for our play. Talk about stage fright spiking but the show went on and she (along with everyone else) enjoyed it. We had some fans film the live play but this was way before YouTube so distribution was on VHS tapes, as far as I know, based on my searches sadly it’s not online anywhere.

That play fed my desire to be a Trek actor for a long time. It was sometime around 2007-08 that I found there were fan films online. I was immediately hooked. Some had great effects but so-so acting, for some the reverse was true. Some hit it out of the park on all fronts and some were not so great but the one thing they all had was heart. Everyone on my phone screen, while the videos played, was there because they love Star Trek. The passion came through even in the least of the productions. It was amazing to see Kirk and crew once again travelling the galaxy, getting to finish some of the tales that had been on hiatus for 40+ years.

I followed some of these productions online through their different media channels. I found the group Promenade and became friends with Vance Major. I found out he was involved in some fan productions and that there were recreations of some of the TOS sets in Oklahoma City (about a 3-hour drive from where I live) I was amazed.

Here was a chance to one day possibly tour the sets because it was much closer to home than the other sets in the USA. I followed online the events of the productions being filmed there. In 2015 (before all the guidelines), they were doing a fundraiser for the studio to help build new sets and defray the cost of filming. One of the perks was to be a background non-speaking character in an upcoming production.

My eyes lit up and I practically begged my wife to let me donate. She knew this was a life long dream of mine and she said yes. I was hoping for a part on Valiant because I had seen their episode and thought that Michael King and Vance Major nailed it, creating an awesome story. Vance messaged me and said my background role would be in Melbourne, a new fan production of his and his friend Jeremy Minard’s creation. I was excited beyond words. Just being able to stand on the bridge in uniform in a film…my inner Trek geek went into overdrive.


“I was so excited every public piece of information every picture that Vance or Jeremy shared to promote Melbourne I shared. I was an unofficial extra source of promotion for their production.”


In July of 2016, I got a message from Vance asking me for a picture. I thought it was weird but I sent him one, he immediately messaged me back asking for my phone number. Again, I thought it was odd but I figured it had something to do with my background role in Melbourne.

He called me and let me know he appreciated how much I was helping promote Melbourne. I was honoured that he would reach out like that… then came the shock of my life. He told me he had been talking to Ray Tesi, who was creating his own fan film Republic. Because of the guidelines, the person who was originally to play the doctor on Republic had to back out and if I was interested, the part could be mine. I was so shocked and amazed; if I had not already been sitting, I am sure I would have fallen right over from excitement.

My nerves went into overdrive and I was shaking from excitement. I told him I’d have to check with my wife to make sure we could afford to make the commitment to film but I was 95% sure she’d be OK with it. The few hours of me, waiting for her to go on lunch break at her job so I could ask her was agony. Lol, I was still shaking and talking a mile a minute when she was on break and called me to tell me she would help me make my dream come true. I messaged Vance back after her break ended and let him know that he found the Republic’s CMO. I am not sure how much sleep I got that night from all the excitement. A few days later, I got to talk to Ray more about the role and character and the waves of excitement and nervousness came back but he’s so calming, I could hear the excitement in his voice that his vision of Gene Roddenberry’s future was coming together.

My character has a small crossover with Melbourne due to his daughter being assigned to that ship so I had to come up during their filming in September to get my part in. I arrived at the studio, excited but nervous because my dream is coming true but I had never met any of these folks in person. I walked in the door, signed in, and was asked whom I was playing. I said I am Dr.Todd and almost immediately, Reshelle Warren comes running up to me, jumping into my arms and excitedly squealing “Daddy” completely in character. I was surprised because I wasn’t thinking in character yet because everyone else has already been on set, I was the newest member but I was greeted like I’d been there the whole time. It was already feeling like a family and I was the out of town cousin that had been missed.

In October (3 days ago as I am writing this), I made the trip back to OKC, this time for promotional pictures and to film the teaser for Republic. The nerves came back some because I was meeting this cast for the first time but I also felt calm. I had been there before, on set, I had seen the long hours that go into making a film; I had seen the amazing work behind the scenes by people like Scott Johnson. This time the excitement came back but it was also with a big sense of calm. I got to meet more folks who worked in other fan films like Jim van Dolteren (from The Federation Files) as the captain of the Republic.

My journey from a fan, to fan film extra, to fan film actor, has been a long one. I am proud to work with such talented folks both in front of and behind the camera. My only hope is that my love for Trek can show through and that I honour all the past, present, and future fans and dedicated people who bring this amazing universe to life. Always follow your dreams; they could lead you to places you never imagined you would go.


  • The author of Blog: Martin Bennett.  Photos provided by Martin Bennett
  • Photos provided by Martin Bennett
  • Layout: James Hams

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