Friday, August 21, 2015

Captain's Log: Summer Updates

Time for a brief review of Trek-related items on the web that caught my eye over the summer.

There's the new movie in production, of course, watched avidly by the general Trek fan sites like Trek Core, Trek Today and Trek Movie.  There have been a few interview comments by Simon Pegg, one of the movie's writers, in which his confidence and enthusiasm seem to vary.  Apparently there's a lot of re-writing going on, even during production?

Actually, I'd forgotten until a recent re-view of early Russell T Davis Doctor Whos that Pegg was involved in that series, as actor and as narrator on Doctor Who Confidential.  With his acting in the new Star Wars, that makes Pegg the only person I can think of who participated in these three great story universes.  Sweet!

There were also the first statements by Justin Lin, the new movie's director, indicating that he actually did grow up with Star Trek.  So deciding to direct the movie was a "very personal and emotional decision."

As for Star Trek stars, there's the new  video by William Shatner about the first years of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Chaos on the Bridge," which seems to entail a lot of anti-GR promotional hype, regardless of the video's contents.  Adam Nimoy conducted a successful Kickstarter campaign for the documentary he's making about his father Leonard Nimoy and Star Trek called For the Love of Spock.  (That's Adam and dad on the Trek set in the top photo.)

 Allegiance, the musical inspired by George Takei's experiences of his family's internment during World War II--a story he told very effectively at conventions--is scheduled to open on Broadway.  Takei also helped the Japanese American Museum of  Los Angeles acquire artifacts that illustrate and document the internments.  Now if he--or the media he feeds--could just get over his anti-Shatner schtick.

Even after suffering a mild stroke, Nichelle Nichols announced she will fly on a NASA mission--not quite into space, but close.  Publicizing his new series "Blunt Talk" Patrick Stewart said that he wished politicians would spend more time watching Star Trek: Next Generation, because Jean-Luc Picard showed that "people don't have to die to achieve a satisfactory solution to anything...I believe that we reach for the weapons far too quickly."

And they all had a lot of fun at conventions.  I'm hoping for some good YouTubes out of Las Vegas.  But then, this year it seems what happened in Vegas has stayed in Vegas.

Speaking of Doctor Who (wasn't I?), two pieces caught my eye: one that interested me because it expressed some of my misgivings about the Steven Moffat era, and about the last Sherlock series as well.  However the piece also made me want to immediately defend Moffat, especially as an amazing writer.  I guess that means I have misgivings but not as many or much as reported in that article.

The other was on the apparently hot topic of whether the next Doctor should be a woman.  Among those saying "no" is a woman author, AL Kennedy.  This Guardian piece is fascinating not only for her point of view on this element but on the Doctor in general.

Back to Trek: Slate has a podcast with Manu Saadia, author of a book entitled Trekonomics.  It links to a site with an "amusing" clips video about it.  What I've heard and read is not as impressive as the Rick Webb article I cited in a post here that I called, oddly enough, "Trekonomics." And some of what he says on the podcast about the characters is completely wrongheaded. But it's interesting that people are seriously examining Trekonomics, particularly at this historical moment, for reasons I begin to suggest in my earlier post.

Slate also republished an essay-answer to the question "Which is better, Star Wars or Star Trek?" by Jon Ferreira.  He came out in favor of Star Trek as the more substantive.  One of the factors he named was "The Soul of Star Trek."  Now I know I was the first with that one.

Billions and Billions of Earths?

Science and science fiction exist on a continuum; neither category is pure.  But taking the speculations of science seriously for a moment,  the discoveries (though that word should be taken with a grain of salt) of so many extra-solar planets, including those that seem in some sense "Earth-like" (including the latest Earth.2) has led a NASA scientist to estimate (or exclaim) that our single galaxy is host to at least "a billion Earths."

Like a lot of the extra-solar planet news, you need to go beyond the headlines.  It doesn't mean a billion Earth duplicates, even physically.  But it does evoke the "similar worlds" theory that provided so many Star Trek stories in the original series, when budgets precluded more than atmospheric coloring, old movie style props and some makeup for "alien" actors.

But in terms of actual observation, the pictures that came back from Pluto were scientifically fascinating.  Detail of Pluto and satellite Charon enabled scientists to make more detailed maps and at least tentatively name places and features.  By the time the New Horizons mission team got to Charon, they'd run out of standard mythology and were heading into the mythologies of science fiction.

So at least for the moment, Charon has craters named after Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and other Star Trek characters, as well as names from Star Wars, Doctor Who and Serenity.

1 comment:

Glen Elkins said...

Brilliant! I have always been a fan of Star Trek, mostly TNG and Voyager but mostly the technology as always fascinated me since it's based on real scientific facts. In fact we already have a bunch of the tech available now, and a lot of it in scientific theory. I wonder why this program features such "realistic" technology, is it because it's already in the pipeline and the program is easing us into it as technology grows at an ever increasing rate?

Like the replicator, the technology is not far off according to Michio Kaku -