Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Captain's Log: Next Trek, Next Doctor, Next in Space

Star Trek writers for the next JJA feature, Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman, say they are currently in a research phase. Besides researching past Star Trek stories, I hope they are researching in a couple of others areas that were important in developing many of those past stories.

The first area is science. The original Roddenberry team did a lot of research in science and technology, as well as in science fiction, as they developed Star Trek. There got to be less of that over the years, but Star Trek still did keep developing stories that used new theories and ideas. But other science fiction authors have since gone where Star Trek has not gone before.

Partly perhaps because of visual effects limitations, even in the past Star Trek has missed some interesting possibilities. For example, George Zebrowski wrote extensively about creating space colonies inside asteroids in his late 70s classic, Macrolife. That's something Star Trek hasn't depicted, but it's probably easier to do now.

The second area is related to the first: our contemporary dilemmas that Star Trek explored in stories about the future, including those prompted by technology or scientific possibilities. For example, the most perplexing and threatening crisis we face as a planet is the Climate Crisis. What can Star Trek say about this? For example, how did it figure in the Star Trek version of the 21st to 23rd centuries?

These areas don't preclude emotion but may provide different emotional ground. Not every important emotion is only about personal relationships. Compassion, "biophilia," the dedication to prevent or correct injustice and to consider "the seventh generation to come" are also powerful motives for behaviors with epic consequences.

Rather than do variations on old stories--especially those that were told pretty well the first time--maybe some research is in order with the aim of doing for today what those Star Trek stories did for their times.

Meanwhile, in Doctor Who news, the guest star list for the remaining David Tennant television stories continues to grow. We know that Billie Piper (Rose) and Catherine Tate (Donna) will appear. Now it's out that John Simms will reprise his role as The Master. Can't say I'm crazy about the idea. It's both too weird and too predictable. Let's hope the basic idea is worth it that brings all these folks together who according to past eps are either dead or lost to the Doctor forever.

Timothy Dalton is also involved somehow, and I'd be surprised if Patrick Stewart isn't in there somewhere as well (though nothing's been said about that. It just makes sense to me.) One person I thought we'd see is Alex Kingston as the Doctor's mysterious "wife" (from last season's "Silence in the Library.") She may in fact be in it, but she is almost certainly in an early episode with the next Doctor, Matt Smith. In which she may appear to be the Doctor's mysterious "mother."

Meanwhile, the BBC site is promoting the activities of producer Julie Gardner, writer and showrunner Russell T. Davis and star David Tennant in Hollywood--while denying that they are all there preparing to make a Doctor Who movie. Sounds like science fiction to me. As well as a huge disappointment if it doesn't happen.

As for the new Doctor, Matt Smith and his teenage companion Karen Gillan, they've started filming. Smith's Doctor costume has been unveiled, and just about universally panned. Though I myself haven't worn a bow tie since grade school, I have had an identical tweed jacket in the closet for the last decade or so.

As for the real world, two notable recent rationales for the usefulness of space exploration came from Michael Winship at Salon and fictionist Kim Stanley Robinson in the Washington Post. Interestingly, both argue for it on the basis of what it will do for Planet Earth--KSR's specifically targets the Climate Crisis.

Now after I post this I'm going to pop outside in the probably vain attempt to see if I can catch a falling star during the Perseid meteor shower. I do this every year and have seldom been successful in seeing more than a few (never those promised "one a second" in any shower), even back in Pennsylvania where clear summer skies were much more likely than here on the far northern California coast. (Although, with music in my ear and a brandy in my hand, I had a pretty good time anyway.) There's moonlight to contend with this year as well. But for those of you in better locations, with more patience and better luck, tonight is supposed to be the best night, but tomorrow could be even better.


Hailing said...

Hi There.

I am interested in a link exchange with your website. I run a Star Trek Gaming Website and Podcast called Hailing Frequency.

The site is located at or

Please contact me via e-mail zach[at] if you are interested.


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Past Expiry said...

Speaking of Star Trek, here's a cartoon about Spock and Twitter…
Past Expiry Cartoon *LINK*

vern said...

i am huge fan of star trek tv show and i loved your article and i am sure that you are also a big fan of this show i hope star trek team read your views and make it even more better. thanks

Anonymous said...

Did you know that John de Lancie, who played "Q", is in a new Christmas Special. He is playing Santa Clause. Here is the link to a small clip.