Star Trek Voyager Elite Force Unreal 4 Project – By Jeff Lincoln

“On Stardate 48315.6, the U.S.S. Voyager was transported beyond our control, 70,000 light years across the galaxy to the Delta Quadrant. There, without aid from Starfleet, we began our 70-year journey home. In our numerous encounters, we came into contact with many dangerous and violent species. Having a limited crew with no chance of reinforcements, we determined that we needed a specialized team to handle the more dangerous situations. Tuvok, Voyager’s Chief of Security assembled an elite force of security personnel named the Hazard Team.”

The opening dialogue to Activision and Raven Software’s Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force video game. A game that received critical acclaim when it was initially released in 2000 on PC. The game later went to receive both an expansion pack, PlayStation 2 export, and a sequel in 2003. 17 years later, the game stands as the most successful Star Trek games created. 

Roughly two weeks ago, I was sitting in front of my PC listening to a collection of Star Trek music that I’ve saved over the years, which included the main theme to Elite Force.

Which in turn prompted me to locate my copy of Elite Force and began playing it. While the game has certainly aged in comparison to modern graphics, the gameplay itself remains some of the best. Challenging combat, with stealth mechanics, and even some minor puzzles that need to be solved. The voice acting is phenomenal in the sense that ALL  of the cast behind Star Trek Voyager was along for the ride. UNFORTUNATELY, the game suffers from two problems in today’s age. First, it’s 17 years old and some modern systems cannot run the program. Secondly, where is the re-master?

The second question is one that has been overly asked in my mind more times than I can count. So, how do you combat this question? Well, simple, I put my 4 years of Game Design Schooling to work! I have played around with the Unreal Development Kit when I was still attending college, however, even that program is considered out of date now, so I instead opted to download Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4 and have been actively working on ‘modernizing’ Elite Force, at least it’s environments. I actively use a Student version of 3ds Max and Photoshop to recreate the environments. Please keep in mind, this is a PRE-ALPHA Build. Meaning that some of the assets that I am using are subject to change, updates, or even replacement.

While I cannot claim that I am a professional by any means, I treat Star Trek as a passion and began work on the central location you spend your ‘between missions’ time in. Deck 4, Hazard Operations. Using gameplay, screenshots, and my own exploration, I recreated the hallways first, this way I can space out and design the appropriate rooms adjourning the halls. The hallways themselves took a little time to create as I had already created them twice before in practice. After that, I moved to the largest room on Deck 4, the Briefing Room this room proved to be a bit of a challenge due to its size and the lighting. However, after nearly 4 hours of work, I had the room completed. Afterwards, I realized I had an issue, I didn’t know how to get the doors to open and close during play. Thanks to a YouTube tutorial I managed to adapt the technique’s to fit Voyager’s style. And now, all of the doors work AND sound like they are supposed to.

The Locker Room was next and this room is where the majority of my time has been spent over the last week, Creating the assets in this room proved to be much more challenging because I had initially made the room too small. I had to go back and tweak the length of the hallway to accommodate this issue. Once I had completed the changes I proceeded to decorate the room and found that it had several walls that seemed devoid of any kind of life and set out to take some creative license and add a few replicators and objects to make the room feel more fleshed out. The room is not completely finished as I need to return to the coding aspect and create a series of controls that will open and close the large lockers the Hazard Team use. As well as create the individual nameplates identifying which Locker belongs to who.

At this time I’ve begun work on the Armory. Unfortunately, it is bare bones and not worthy of a screenshot but I plan on releasing several in the coming days. I have many more environments to complete, such as the Bridge, Engineering, Shuttlebay, Sickbay, and Cargo Bay 2, and that’s just for Voyager! I still have to create the interiors for a Borg Cube, The Scavenger Base (Klingon, TOS Federation hybrid), and several alien ships. It’s going to be a long journey. But a journey worth taking. As stated before, this is a passion project and unfortunately, I do not at this time know how to extract any of the old data for use in the re-master. Such as the music and speech files for use in-game and currently is an environmental reproduction.

I’ll end with that I am eager to continue work and should anyone wish, I would welcome assistance from character modellers animators, texture artists, and coders. While it is unlikely the game will receive an official update, all work will be continued free of charge and those assisting with the project will receive credit for their work.

Until then, keep an eye on Trek Fan Productions for more update blogs and my personal Facebook for periodic posts about the work being done.

Live Long and Prosper,

  • Blog Author: Jeff Lincoln
  • Blog Layout: James Hams
  • Blog Pictures: Google Images, Jeff Lincoln

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CH-CH-CH-CHANGES – By Bill Allen

Sometimes it seems like Star Trek just isn’t as good as it used to be…

Where did CBS/Paramount go wrong? When did they start missing the mark, and seemed to forget what Star Trek was really about?  I think it happened when they brought in a director who was never a fan of the show, who slapped on all sorts of redesigns to all the visual effects, uniforms, changed Star Trek from a show about exploration and made a movie focusing on action and combat, just ignoring canon to tell the story he wanted to tell, slapping in some garbled pseudo-science what was completely unrealistic…

I am, of course, talking about Nicholas Meyer and that abominable film called “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. “


You mean that wasn’t when Trek was ruined forever? Then it must have been that guy who came in and completely changed everything, undid the relationships that made Star Trek so great to rewrite the very personalities of the characters, completely changing the looks of the uniforms to a drab, almost monochromatic kind of spread (all those grey uniforms…what were they thinking?)  altering even the classic, iconic design of the ship itself to make it more contemporary and using the latest in special effects instead of the same old 1960s stuff that worked so well, and even completely altering the look of Klingons, and just recycled an old Trek story because they didn’t have an original idea….you know, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”…

OK, then it must have been when they changed Kirk from being a great leader to making him just an overhyped criminal, constantly breaking the rules and violating the laws, coupled with all this phony ‘science;’ that would have fit better in a fantasy movie and has no place in the kind of realistic science that trek is known for… “The Search For Spock”.

OK, I get it….those are movies, obviously, a film will take a radical departure from what a television series did. Comparing the television series to films is comparing apples to a fruit orchard. It is the SERIES that matter. And I remember the complaints the fans had for the various iterations of Trek.

So, clearly, it was “Star Trek: The Next Generation” that screwed it up. Shatner et al were still alive, dammit! You didn’t need to create some whole new show with a bunch of random nobodies. And how stupid IS Paramount? You have a British guy playing a French Captain, they put a KLINGON on the bridge, they completely screwed up the uniforms—not only did they change the style, they fouled up the colour scheme…COMMAND is the Gold tunic, you morons!—and the uniforms were SO screwed up they had to change them AGAIN, because of the cheap looking production values. They couldn’t even put it on a network….they went straight to Syndication. And whose idea was it to have a BLIND guy flying the ship? IDIOTS!

…OK, OK… a couple of seasons in and we were wrong. TNG is a worthy successor. Star Trek lives on…for now.

Here’s DS9…a show designed to kill the franchise. In order to make Star Trek different, they get rid of the ship altogether. How can you have a show about space exploration if they don’t go anywhere? It’s stupid. And the station looks NOTHING like the space stations we have seen up to now. Did you see those hideous monstrosities they use for shuttlecraft? Oh, excuse me, I mean ‘runabouts’….sure, call a shuttle on steroids designed by a crack head by a different name, that makes it ok…NOT! And there is a Trill on the crew…only; it looks NOTHING like the Trill we already saw on TNG. These writers don’t give a damn about canon, they are just slapping the Star Trek name on some crappy show about a space station…basically, it is a generic rip off of Babylon 5 disguised as Star Trek in a shameless money grab.

And now there’s a WAR? THIS IS NOT STAR TREK! Star Trek is about Peaceful exploration, not war and NOT about life on a stationary outpost. This will kill Star Trek. 

Oh, wait, let’s do a new Star Trek show, even though the one we have right now is Excellent. Stupid to run another one…why not just bring back TNG if you want two shows? What the hell is this? ‘Voyager’? The Probe from TMP was called Voyager, that’s a stupid name for a manned vessel. If you are going to have a ship, why not make it the ENTERPRISE?  Oh, look, a Vulcan officer….just ripping off TOS and trying to sell it. And half the crew is made of space pirates…what decent captain would let such scum on their ship? That Captain Janeway…. what a lame choice for a captain. She isn’t tough enough to be a captain, not like Kirk, or Picard, or Sisko after he shaved his head and took the job SERIOUSLY.

Wait, that’s how it ends? What about all the loose threads? Why can’t we see what happens next, after they get home? They were one of the best crew, made it through so much…bring back, Voyager!

OK< this show Enterprise….what a disgrace. No wonder the UPN network tanked, those guys have no clue what fans want! The first ship to be called Enterprise was the Constitution class….and if this is supposed to be a prequel at the beginning of the Federation, that should be a Daedalus class ship, not that abomination that is a rip off of the Akira and has NO PLACE in Trek’s history. These writers obviously don’t know anything about Star Trek, and don’t give a damn about canon…just throwing in crap we already know, or adding adventures that were never mentioned in other series…how could a crew have all these discoveries and it never ONCE gets mentioned by Kirk or Picard? This show will kill Star Trek.

You know, I wish they would bring back ‘Enterprise’…

…yeah, I remember those comments. Fans REALLY dislike change, and they are sure to let you know it. And now, here we have a new Star Trek series. One that is building on what has come before, but still giving us new and interesting stories and ideas. A diverse cast talent from across the spectrum, updated F/X and stories that fit the spirit of Trek, while still having appeal to a more contemporary crowd.

Despite all the changes and new shows that come out over the decades, it seems there is one thing about Star Trek that doesn’t change: the fans.

Maybe it was time they DID change.

  • Blog Author: Bill Allen
  • Blog Layout: James Hams

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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, A Film Review By Douglas Nary, Jr

Star Trek has always had a reputation for tackling head-on issues that we all face that other entertainment franchises offer an escape from. I have my own pet theory as to why the second Star Trek feature film has withstood the test of time so well that it is still the benchmark by which all of the other films in the series are compared…

In true head-on Trek fashion, it helps us deal with the one reality that even Hollywood cannot offer us an escape from the fact that we are all getting older and will eventually die.

So far, 2015 has been a terrible year for Star Trek’s artists who have brought us such joy. We have lost Leonard Nimoy, Harve Bennett, Grace Lee Whitney, Maurice Hurley, and James Horner. Three of the names I’ve just mentioned were directly involved in the creation of this film and helped make it the classic that it is, and my intention for this review is to remember them one by one.

We begin with the man who began this particular adventure and organised the team that would make the magic happen. That man was Harve Bennett.

Bennett was brought on board by Paramount after critics had undeservedly underrated Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the studio reacted by “promoting” Roddenberry to an Executive Consultant position that would essentially get him out of the way of the second film’s development. One can understand Roddenberry’s resentment. After all, Star Trek was his kid, and after being divorced by the kid’s “mom”, Paramount, “step-dad” Bennett was brought in and was now being praised for bringing up the kid even better than its “real father” did. (Reconciliation would occur 5 years later, however, when Paramount approached Roddenberry to develop a new Star Trek show as series creator. The result would be Star Trek: The Next Generation, another beloved incarnation of the franchise. But that’s another story for another review.)

Bennett, however, was more than deserving of the praise he would eventually receive over this film. He and co-writer Jack B. Sowards would come up with several ideas that would make their way into the film, such as Kirk’s son, the return of Khan, the character of Saavik, and the Omega Device (later renamed Genesis). After no less than five attempts to come up with a satisfactory story for the film, however, Bennett was beginning to despair that he would not be able to come up with a good story himself nor find anyone who could. Being a humble man, Bennett searched high and low for someone who could bring his and Sowards’s ideas into a cohesive narrative. He caught a break when a friend of his recommended a man by the name of Nicholas Meyer.

Bennett became excited. He had seen and loved The Seven Per Cent Solution (for which Meyer had written the screenplay based on his own novel) and was quick to recruit the young and talented author/director. Bennett did exactly what a good leader should do; he hired the very best people possible and let them do great work. Meyer not only got all of Bennett and Sowards’s ideas woven into a great narrative (borrowing heavily from Moby Dick, Paradise Lost, and A Tale of Two Cities), but he did so in only twelve days and without any modifications to his contract that would get him a much-deserved writing credit.

Meyer was only the beginning of assembling the great team that would assemble this great film. In addition to all of the other Star Trek regular actors, Bennett would undergo a couple of major coups in the casting process. The first was the magnificent Ricardo Montalban to reprise what Bennett thought was the greatest villain in the original series. The second… our beloved Vulcan actor Leonard Nimoy, who after a falling out with Paramount and Roddenberry (over a Heineken billboard of all things), was frankly not interested in doing anything more with Star Trek. Bennett was able to entice him into coming back with something almost irresistible to Nimoy…a spectacular death for Spock.

Believing that the Star Trek franchise was running out of steam after the critical reaction to the first film, Nimoy responded to Bennett’s respect for him and thought that ending his tenure as this iconic character, and Star Trek in general, with a blaze of glory, was the way to go.

He agreed to appear in the film and gave it his all. Nimoy’s performance as Spock in this film provided William Shatner’s Kirk with the rock of calm and serenity that the latter character so desperately needed in this film and for which fans fondly remember the character for.

I’ve always found it interesting that this is a Spock that is more comfortable in his own skin than ever before, having acknowledged and finally accepted his human half in the previous film. Kirk’s character is going through the opposite dynamic of the previous film. In both cases, he is going through a mid-life crisis that only assuming command of the Enterprise again can resolve. However, where in the first film he pushes himself into the center seat at the expense of her rightful captain and then has to learn to let go and take responsibility, in this film he starts out as trying to let go and move on from starship command and his friends, Spock and McCoy, are both pushing him back into the center seat. Spock, now being the rightful captain in question, takes advantage of a possible crisis to evoke regulations and give Kirk no choice but to accept his first and best destiny.

The adventure that follows is exactly the swift, quick kick in the seat of the pants that so many of us who face mid-life crisis need. Khan, representing what we can easily become if we let those feelings of life passing us by getting to us- an embittered old man- tries to take out his frustrations on Kirk…in an extremely deadly way. Along the way, we see the son that Kirk never got to raise, Kirk screaming “KHAAANN!!” in a rage, and then finally expressing even deeper feelings when his voice isn’t much higher than a whisper.

“There’s a man out there I haven’t seen in fifteen years, who’s trying to kill me. You’ve shown me a son that would be happy to help him. My son. My life that could have been…but wasn’t. What am I feeling? Old…worn out.”

Kirk may be feeling old, but this moment in the film never gets old for me, because it speaks to us and reflects how we often feel… at any age.

The battle that follows is, of course, riveting and exciting, but more to the point is the way it ends, with Spock showing us his own solution to the “no-win” scenario, a metaphor for something we all feel as we face life. We learn that earlier in his life, Kirk got around the “no-win” scenario by cheating, or rather changing the conditions of the scenario. This time, he is not being given that option. Spock sacrifices himself for the ship and all of his friends and in doing so gives Kirk what he needs: the opportunity to change and grow further and actually ponder the meaning of his own words, “How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life.” Kirk’s arc closes out with the words, “I feel young”; indicating that growth is exactly what he intends to do with the second half of his life.

After experiencing and acting out these strong character dynamics, Nimoy was starting to have second thoughts about leaving the franchise. Here was a film that offered the character banter that he was craving to play again but never expected that he would. And the film’s themes of death and rebirth had shown that this wasn’t the end of Star Trek at all. In fact…this was shaping up to be a new beginning.

So, Bennett made the wise decision to leave the door open for Spock’s possible return. In doing so, he ensured that the franchise’s future would indeed be a bright one. But where would all of this great drama and action be without the right musical score?

The right music can make all of the difference in how well a film plays with the audience. There was no denying that Jerry Goldsmith’s score for the first film was appropriately epic. Even that film’s harshest critics will admit that TMP at least had that (along with a great visual atmosphere) going for it. But with Goldsmith not available (or not affordable, given the minuscule budget of this film), who could possibly replace this vital component?

Director Meyer found the answer in a young composer named James Horner, who was working his way up from B-movie fare such as Battle Beyond the Stars. Although Horner’s new main title theme would take some getting used to at first, the score for the film was suitably triumphant when our heroes were in a good place and creepy and doom threatening when they were in a not-so-good place. Horner’s main title theme for the film, however, would withstand the test of time and become one of the most beloved in the franchise, and his work would only get better in the next film.

With all of these wonderful artists and team-players now gone (along with half of the film’s cast), the theme of how we face death being at least as important as how we face life becomes even more poignant than ever, even for those of us who were children when this film was released in 1982. Our favourite artists may be growing old and leaving us one by one, but that only means that we must step up to the plate and continue living for the sake of their memory and our future. Look at the generation of kids growing up around us, and realise that life will continue long after we are gone, and we must give them something to remember as Bennett, Nimoy, Horner, and all of their colleagues had given us. 

On a scale of one to ten, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is undeniably a 10! It’s more than just a submarine-inspired riveting space adventure; it’s a story that will continue to resonate with us all through life.

  • Guest Author: Douglas Nary, Jr. is a freelance copywriter and author. His most recent works have included a recently completed short film script entitled “The Cage of Freedom” and the upcoming novel Supralight, for which a script version has also been completed.
  • Blog Layout: James Hams
  • Pictures: and Google Images.
  • YouTube embeds link to video sources. 

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture – A Fan Film Review by Douglas Nary, Jr.

The year was 1979. I was 5 years old, my parents had gotten divorced in June and I had just started Kindergarten feeling lost and confused among all these other strange kids. I still had my bi-weekly weekend visits with my dad to look forward to, however, and in December of that year, with Christmas on the horizon, he and I would have a special day together; one that would be forever etched into my psyche in a sweet way.

Since my baby brother was sick that day, it was just my dad and I. And we were going into town (from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, where Dad was stationed and we were living at the time) to go to the movies. The film that he was so excited to take me to see: Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Now, during the trip, I wasn’t so much excited about what movie we were going to see as much as I was having one-on-one time with my dad. Star Trek at that point didn’t hold a candle to Star Wars in my mind; it was just one of those old shows that my dad liked (along with Lost In Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and Land of the Giants). But it did have spaceships in it and my 5-year-old mind was all over anything with spaceships, plus we were going to Farrell’s for ice cream sundaes after the show, so I had plenty to look forward to.

As the theatre darkened and we moved through the trailers of I-Don’t-Even-Remember upcoming films and moved on to the feature, I instantly recognised the silhouettes of three Klingon ships. I had seen Klingon ships before, but not like this. These Klingon ships were so BIG on the screen, and so real, you could almost touch them. Except you didn’t want to. These were, after all, the bad guys, and both the Klingons and their fate by this mysterious ‘cloud’ filled me with morbid fascination.

Then came the familiar faces. The first was Spock, albeit with long hair, on Vulcan, then Kirk, looking heroic as he stepped off of an immaculately sleek shuttle in an immaculately sleek San Francisco. Then we saw Scotty, looking much as he did on Jason of Star Command, as he took Kirk on what was to be a tour of the newly designed EnterpriseAnd then, we saw the Enterprise. Thus my affinity for Star Trek began, not from the familiar faces of the show that my dad liked, although they were nice to see on the big screen, from that ship in its intricate drydock. She was sleek, she was functional, she was majestic…she was beautiful, and wherever she voyaged, I wanted to be aboard her.

Forget the film’s slow pace. Forget the familiar plot similarities to “The Changeling” (which I had not yet even seen, so my young mind wasn’t even aware of them until years later.) I was completely hooked on the sensory experience. Being on board the Enterprise– whatever the familiar faces of the crew were doing or talking about- was like a Disneyland of functionality and engineering that became my first true appreciation of art. And the morbid fascination with this threat that crew was exploring, while my 5-year-old brain couldn’t really comprehend the plot, I felt like my dad was letting me in on a new level of understanding somehow (though I wouldn’t be able to articulate it to myself until years later), and finally, that last beautiful sweeping shot as we looked ‘up’ to the very big and beautiful Enterprise engage her warp drive to her next voyage.

Needless to say, I had beautiful visions of space technology dancing in my head as we ate our ice cream sundaes at Farrell’s in the same shopping centre that the theatre was at (if I recall correctly). Over the next few visits with Dad, both my brother and I would have car trips listening to Jerry Goldsmith’s wonderfully epic soundtrack, enjoy seeing the model kits that my dad built of the Enterprise, Klingon ship, and Vulcan shuttle which all had these neat looking rainbow effect stickers for the engine and weapon components, and Dad had even augmented the Enterprise kit’s saucer lights with additional lights in the saucer, engineering hull, and the ‘neck’ in between. He also had a picture book (The TMP Photostory. Essentially still pictures of the film with captions that read like a comic book) that he eventually gave me. We even saw the film two additional times at the local drive –in theatre. Our formal education on the original series also began. We shared Star Trek (as well as Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and sci-fi in general) with our dad the same way other fathers would share sports with their sons.

A fan had been born that day. My ONLY complaint about the film was the lack of ship-to-ship combat action. I really wanted to see the new Enterprise up against one of those new Klingon ships, but I held out faith that we would get some action in a second movie. (And sure enough, we did.)

But enough self-indulgence. Now that you know how I became a Star Trek fan, let’s dive into the first of this series of reviews, where I will analyze and try to figure out why our favorite films are so great, why our not-so-favorite films aren’t, and why people have such a difference of opinion on such things. We begin with that first Star Trek feature.

Star Trek had been around for 13 years at the time of the first film’s release, so a lot of people already had some pre-conceived notions about what a Star Trek movie should be like. Fans craving a new Star Trek adventure in any form went to see it in droves, but they were divided over the film, some considering it a huge disappointment while others thought it was simply epic. (We Nary boys were definitely in the latter category.) Mainstream moviegoers, who were expecting something along the lines of Star Wars instead got something along the lines of 2001: A Space Odyssey and were simply bored with it.

So, what happened that caused this? Well, in 1979, we were on the brink of the space shuttle era. It was to be the first (of many we hoped) reusable space vehicles, and the first such vehicle, named Enterprise, had been successfully test flown on free flight within the atmosphere that tested her guidance and landing systems. I truly believe that these flights and their promise for the future, as much as anything else, led to an escalation of America’s appetite for science fiction. Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out around the same time as Star Wars, Close Encounters, Superman: The Movie and Alien. Also on the small screen, we were being treated to things like Battlestar Galactica, Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk, Buck Rogers, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Bionic Woman. No doubt about it, it was a great time to be a science fiction fan.

While I will concede that the film’s slow pace and cerebral plot may have contributed to its relatively lacklustre performance with critics of the time, when one considers the above conditions, it was actually a quite logical (no pun intended) and perfectly reasonable mistake to make.

Clearly, producer Gene Roddenberry felt that audiences were ready for a more cerebral type of Star Trek adventure that would engage the audience’s minds and get them thinking rather than go with a shoot ‘em up type of scenario. The success of Close Encounters no doubt convinced both him and Paramount that a science fiction adventure need not involve space battles to be successful. They also had every reason to believe that the Star Trek name and characters and their popularity would carry any adventure to success both critically and commercially.

So why didn’t it?

Was it the lack of ship-to-ship combat action? No. I have already admitted that this was my only personal complaint about the film…but I was five and had a child’s taste for excitement and I still loved the film. Also, there are plenty of other Star Trek adventures made before and since that do not involve space battles and were loved by fans.

Was it the plot similarities to past Star Trek episodes? Perhaps. There are similarities to plots from previous Star Trek episodes. “The Changeling” is the most obvious, with the two stories involving machines in search of their “creator”, which turns out to be human. There are also elements of “The Doomsday Machine”, also featuring a mammoth machine threatening to swallow the Enterprise and a character named Decker; and “The Immunity Syndrome”, in which the Enterprise penetrated an outer “cloud” layer to get to the threat facing them.

However, Star Trek borrowing plot elements from other sources or even from itself is hardly unique to this film. The next film in the series, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, borrows heavily from both Moby Dick and A Tale of Two Cities along with other well-known sources and no one complained. So I don’t think recycled plot elements is the problem here. Every plot comes from somewhere, you just have to do variations on the theme not seen before, and The Motion Picture did so spectacularly.

Was it the “odd numbered curse”? In my frank opinion, the so-called “odd numbered curse” on Star Trek films is balderdash! Both this film and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock are not only two of my favourite Star Trek films; they rank among my favourite films of all time. And last I checked, “1” and “3” are both odd numbers. They may not have been as popular with critics as Treks II & IV, but they were just as successful at the box office, which to me means that they were just as popular with fans of the time. Plus, one must consider the box office numbers for the Star Trek films made since 1998. Films number 9 and 11 have outperformed their even numbered counterparts (10 & 12) in terms of both box office and fan reaction. Heck, if anything we’ve been living with an EVEN numbered curse for the last 17 years!

When one looks at how this film has aged gracefully over the last 36 years since its release, how it has grown in esteem with the release of new cuts (one in 1983, and a spectacular Director’s Edition in 2001 that fixed almost all of the second act’s problems), it’s quite clear that Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a film that has withstood the test of time quite well. My theory on why it did not perform as well as it should have…it was simply ahead of its time. It just needed that time to get the recognition it deserved. Lack of plot and characterization? Poppycock! Both Kirk and Spock go through significant character arcs that I for one have been able to identify with at different points of my life. Spock’s especially. As he goes from believing his human half to be a weakness and responsible for his pain to embracing it and finding new strength, we too find strength in embracing new ways of thinking that we have previously been rejecting. This, in turn, can lead to a better understanding of others and even of the universe and our place in it.

In this series, I will rate films on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being at the top. On that scale, I rate Star Trek: The Motion Picture a 9, its slow pace being the ONLY thing keeping it from a 10. I could not have asked for a better introduction to the Star Trek universe, and I predict that our ever-increasing understanding of the universe may prompt future Trek writers to look to this introspective adventure as an example of what to aspire to.

  • Blog Author: Douglas Nary, Jr
  • Blog Layout and Pictures: James Hams
  • Pictures: CBS/Paramount, Google Images. 


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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 analysing 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, the 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 fan service and getting strung along some lousy storylines because that was what fans really wanted to see. The fan base 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 god awful 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.


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.


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!  


  • 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.


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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