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29 - If you could tell Gene Roddenberry one thing, Star Trek related or not, what would it be?

Honestly, I’m going to reject this question, just because Star Trek – maybe even more so that other media franchises – isn’t purely the work of one person. Yes, Roddenberry came up with the original concept, but the strength of Star Trek has always been how easy it’s been to adapt that basic premise to cover such a variety of stories.

(And, of course, a lot of TOS’s world building was fairly obviously ad-hoc. It takes the better part of the first season for the writers to reach any sort of consensus as to who, exactly, the Enterprise works for!)

Roddenberry wasn’t the single genius behind Star Trek, and his involvement in Trek was quite often blatantly mercenary. I’ve heard the characterisation of Cochrane in First Contact was, in part, a bit of a parody of Roddenberry, and it wouldn’t surprise me if that was true.

So instead, a thank you to all the writers, actors and artists that contributed to Trek as whole in its many incarnations.
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28 - If you could change one thing about Star Trek, what would it be?

Wait, didn’t we just do this one? I distinctly remember ranting about Section 31… Have they infiltrated this meme and deleted my complaints about them? No, wait, it’s just a duplicate question.

Alright, we’ll count it as a wild-card question! I choose…

28 – What’s your favourite Star Trek ship design?

Well, as I said before, I still really like those toy ships I bought when I was a kid – the Reliant/Miranda class is a nice stripped down version of the classic Federation design, the Excelsior class is my all-time favourite Starfleet ship, with elegant sweeping lines. And my all-time favourite is the Klingon Bird of Prey.

(And, I assume, it was also a favourite of the producers, considering after being introduced in Star Trek III, it then played prominent roles in the next four movies, was the iconic Klingon ship of the TNG era, and made anachronistic appearances in Enterprise too…)

The Bird of Prey’s also my choice for ship I’d most like to own. It’s capable of handling itself in combat, but it’s also got a cloaking device and can land, so you can get out of trouble easily and make repairs. You only need a small crew, so you don’t need to find a few hundred buddies to keep the thing running. And while it’s small, it can accommodate two full-grown humpback whales, so more than enough cargo space for most people’s needs.

The downside, of course, is that the interior would probably need some remodelling – dull red lighting certainly makes a villainous statement, but it’s not something you’d really want to work with long term. It also lacks the amenities you get on ships like the Enterprise, but I assume Next Generation-era Birds of Prey at least have replicators – surely Klingons have worked out an army marches on its stomach? And, hell, you’ve got a damn starship, you can live without holodecks!

I’m also fond of the various Romulan warbird designs, that have the same predatory look as the Bird of Prey. One of the big things that disappointed me about the reboot film was that Nero’s ship was such an uninspired generic spiky thing, rather than a proper Romulan design.
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In hindsight, I’m thinking these ‘post something every day’ memes aren’t for me… anyway. Catch-up time!

25 - How has Star Trek changed you?

It’s given me the phrase ‘Shaka, when the walls fell’ as a generic response to people talking about things I’m completely unfamiliar with…

More seriously, Trek was my first real fandom. Back before the internet was 90% cat pictures, it was 90% Star Trek sites, and so without Trek, I probably wouldn’t have spent nearly as much time online.

Through the novels, it’s introduced me to several of my favourite authors – I might have found Barbara Hambly’s historical novels through Children of the Jedi, but then again, maybe not.

26 - Lots of Star Trek Parodies out there. Which do you dig?

Does Futurama’s ‘Where No Fan Has Gone Before’ count? Lots of cute references and great lines, with my favourite moments being William Shater’s spoken word redition of The Real Slim Shady, and the image of Kif at the end of the credits as the puppet from “The Carbomite Manoeuvre”. It’s a rare parody that goes to the effort of parodying TOS’s end credit pictures…

27 - What would you cross over with Star Trek?

Back in the ‘90s, Marvel Comics briefly had the rights to Star Trek, and, of course, promptly put out an X-Men/Trek crossover. I always thought they missed an opportunity by having the X-Men show up in the 23rd century – it was the 1990s, they should have had Khan show up in the X-Men continuity. The Eugenics Wars wouldn’t be at all out of place there…

I’ve also always felt we need a Doctor Who crossover where The Doctor and Guinan meet up.
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24 - Is there anything about Star Trek that has disappointed you?

Well, the obvious one is Trek’s consistent failure to incorporate homosexuality into the show, with its various attempts to do so ranging from ‘Well-meaning but hilariously incompetent’ (The Outcast) to ‘Exploitative’ (Ds9’s mirror-verse) to ‘Let’s pretend for our own sanity that the subtext was a horrible coincidence’ (Chimera).

In fact, it’s so obvious a choice I’m not going to bother detailing that gripe, and I’ll go with a different one: Chakotay’s ‘Indian’ background.

One would have thought by the 1990s it was no longer acceptable to make up a fictional, generic American Indian tribe rather than using a real culture? What we see of Chakotay’s traditions seem seems to be a mish-mash from different plans Indian nations with bits seemingly chosen at random from Indian cultures from all over North America. In case it wasn’t ridiculous enough, Startrek.com’s biography claims he’s Mayan – maybe his never-seen spirit animal is really a llama, so we can cover the entire western hemisphere?!

(For that matter, was it ever said where, specifically, the American Indians in TNG’s Journey’s End were supposed to come to, or did they too feel ‘Indian’ was specific enough?)

It’s obvious that the writers thought of Chakotay’s heritage as purely a bit of exotic flavour, and couldn’t be bothered with even the five minutes of effort needed to pick a specific background for him rather than a generic pan-American Indian culture made up largely of noble savage stereotypes. It’s embarrassing and pathetic that even TOS’s ‘The Paradise Syndrome’ seemed to be more aware of real American Indian cultures than Voyager was…
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Crap, been busy. Quick, catch up, catch up!

21 - Which Star Trek food would you want to try at least once?

None of the major Trek species seem to have particularly interesting cuisine, really. There’s Klingon (Real warriors eat nothing but raw meat, apparently), Vulcan (Logical apparently equals bland), Ferengi (Apparently the same live bugs eaten by the “Conspiracy” aliens… hmm…)

22 - Which Star Trek world would you want to visit at least once?

Well, no surprise, my choice is Romulus. Admittedly, that’s as much because we don’t ever see much of it on the show, but also because it seems like a nice enough place to visit, assuming you can avoid running afoul of the authorities. Vulcan is dry and hot, Andor very cold, the Klingon and Cardassian homeworlds seem perpetually overcast, and their architecture seems to lean towards totalitarian brutality anyway. Romulus seems a lot more temperate, and the cities aren’t quite as overbearing.

23 - Is there anything you'd want to change about Star Trek? Why?

Ignoring trivial changes to specific episodes, if I were to change one storyline it would be... the Section 31 storyline in DS9.

Now, one of the things DS9 did quite well was to challenge the setting assumptions that underlined TOS and TNG; the exchange between Bashir and Kira in “Emissary” about ‘the frontier’ is a great scene, and in general, DS9 did quite well at underlining some of the unstated flaws in the Federation culture that had been previously established. That’s great, that’s good stuff. Section 31 seemed to spring from the same impulse, but it…

Well, the problem was that depicting the Federation and Starfleet as vaguely, unthinkingly colonialist or imperialistic in its dealings with alien worlds is something that’s perfectly in line with what was shown before. Depicting the Federation as being secretly maintained by black-ops puppet masters who do all the dirty work needed to maintain security… was not.

Now, to be fair, “Inquisition” is a fun conspiracy theory episode. The problem is, like most conspiracy theories, Section 31 doesn’t really stand up to much analysis. How does a secret organization like that get the resourced needed to not just deal with threats but then cover up all trace of their own existence? How does Section 31 even benefit from being so utterly secretive in the first place? The Tal Shiar and the Obsidian Order might not operate openly, but they don’t try to cover up the fact that they exist in the first place.

For that matter, the idea that Federation citizens are so fragile they need to be shielded from the dirty work being done in their name… well, that’s getting dangerously close to the “Hard men making the hard choices that weak-willed liberals won’t” trope so beloved by reactionaries. Never mind that it doesn’t hold up even as part of the setting as established. From “The Enterprise Incident” to “Chain of Command”, Kirk and Picard never shied away from covert operations against the Federation’s enemies. For Section 31 to work, it needs to pretend that it’s even vaguely plausible that these unelected, secretive men in black are the sole force working to protect the Federation – never mind that the very next episode demonstrated that regular Starfleet officers are just as capable of making those hard choices in the name of security – and dealt with the dilemma in a far more interesting and realistic fashion than secret agents in black leather uniforms.

What’s worse about Section 31 is that it infects the rest of the series. Now, it seems, every other novel can’t go five minutes without cutting away to the secret puppet-masters, making sure our hero’s foolish sentimentality and morality won’t doom the galaxy. A prime example; the TNG ‘A Time To…” series, which concludes with Section 31 secretly assassinating the Federation president and his staff, the implication being that that was the only way to prevent a galactic war, and, fundamentally, the only real option. Because when you think of TNG, that’s the sort of scenario that immediately comes to mind, right?

Section 31 didn’t need to exist. We’ve seen plenty of corrupt admirals and mad captains in the show; “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges” would have worked fine with Admiral Ross alone as the agent behind the scheme, while the Changeling virus storyline in the final arc… well, honestly, that was a mess that seemed to have been thrown in at the last minute, and might as well have been excised entirely. The concept of Section 31 is fundamentally at odds with the rest of Star Trek, and rather than challenging its premises, all it does is ignore them in favour of a third-rate conspiracy thriller.
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20 - Of the minor characters (one shots, not the recurring ones) who's your favourite?

I was going to say K'ehleyr, but she’s in two episodes and referenced a lot, so I’m not sure if she counts as a ‘one shot’. So, as awesome as K'ehleyr is, I'm going to limit myself to characters who were only in a single episode*…

I’m going to have to go for Commander Toreth from TNG’s ‘Face of the Enemy’. What I think’s great about her is that the episode would have worked fine if she’d been a generic Romulan villain; Troi undercover on an enemy ship would have provided more than enough material, and I’m sure it would have been a decent show. But Toreth isn’t a villain, she’s quite sympathetic, certainly more so than Troi’s Romulan dissident ally, who proves utterly callous in advancing his plot.

It adds a wonderful ambiguity to the episode, that Troi may just be playing the part of an officer of the Tal Shiar, but she’s forced by her circumstances to use the same tactics as the Romulan secret police and to oppose a commander who, were it not for her patriotic loyalty to Romulus, one could easily imagine as part of the Federation Starfleet.

It’s a shame Toreth’s never appeared anywhere else; the Star Trek novels, which seem unable to create new characters when there’s an obscure extra from canon they could use instead, don’t seem to have ever used her, and I can’t say I’ve ever seen any fanfic featuring her either. I’d love to see a story where she runs into Troi again and recognises her sometime after the Dominion war…
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19 - How did the Star Trek reboot affect you?

Well, I appreciated a Trek movie that seemed to have actually had some effort put into it; it was certainly a relief from the last couple of TNG movies. One has to give it credit too for somehow pulling of the feat of being a prequel, a sequel and a reboot of the franchise while still remaining at least largely coherent.

And, of course, it brought a lot of new people into Trek fandom, and it’s been fun seeing people watching the various series for the first time. (And their reactions on learning that Pon Farr is canon, not just a wacky fanfic trope…)

On the other hand, as I said at the time, I wasn’t exactly a fan of the film itself. If nothing else, reboot!Kirk is one of the least likeable protagonists I’ve seen in a long time, and his role in the film seems to exist entirely due to writer’s fiat. Not to mention that the writing managed the seemingly impossible by being scientifically ludicrous even by the already low standards set by previous Star Trek.

And, in general, I find the reboot-verse fails to offer anything particularly new. By putting all the characters in their familiar places, regardless of whether it made any real sense, it means the reboot universe feels far too familiar. Alright, Vulcan’s destroyed – how often was Vulcan’s existence really relevant on the show? Amok Time and Journey to Babel aren’t going to happen anymore, but that’s about it.

So, all in all, while I’m glad the reboot film managed to get Star Trek out of the pit it had dug itself into during the 2000s, I don’t really have that much interest in the reboot as a setting, and as a film, I count it, at best, as solidly in the middle, alongside The Search for Spock and Generations*, not as a standout in any way.

* Yeah, I kinda like Generations. Sue me.
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18 - If you could be any species in the Star Trek universe, what would you be?

Well, if we’re going by society, obviously the Federation’s the one to pick, with actual species being largely irrelevant; Romulus or Bajor seem like nice placed to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there, and I shouldn’t have to explain why you wouldn’t want to live in Klingon or Cardassian society…

Purely on a species level, and ruling out god-like entities like Q or the Organians – well, the Vulcans have all sorts of nifty powers, which seem fun, but since the Romulans don’t seem to have them, I’m assuming a lot of that comes from the mental discipline required by their culture, and that doesn’t appeal to me. Klingons have redundant organs, which always comes in handy, and based on Ds9’s ‘Blood Oath’, remain hale and hearty well into their second century of life, so that’s nice.

But if I’m picking a species based on biological abilities, then Changeling’s the obvious option. Shapeshifting, long lived if not outright immortal, theoretically capable of unaided space travel – what’s not to like? Plus the ability to order around Jem’hadar, or at least, to get them to leave you alone – not useful that often, but the sort of thing you’ll really wish you had when you need it…
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17 - Have you read any of the books? If so, which ones?

Well, as I said on an earlier question, I actually started reading the novels before I’d watched much of the actual show. The best ones – or at least the most interesting ones – are the early TOS novels, written before most of the canon had been set in stone, and, more importantly, during a period where Paramount really didn’t seem to be paying attention to what wacky stuff was being published.

Once TNG started coming out, the novels become a lot blander due to increasing publisher oversight and a refusal to allow anything that might even potentially contradict something in the show. More recent novels seemed to be breaking free of that straightjacket a bit, but unfortunately then took a wrong turn into increasingly convoluted internal continuity, endless crossovers and galaxy-threatening disasters, and utterly senselessly killing off major characters…

Worth picking up are Diane Duane’s novels; her Romulan series gets a lot of attention, and justifiably so, but my favourites books by her are actually her TNG novels. ‘Dark Mirror’ is great fun, featuring, among other things, an excerpt from the mirror-verse version of The Merchant of Venice (‘The quality of mercy must be earned…’), and presents a far more interesting take on the mirror universe than Ds9’s interpretation. ‘Intellivore’ is a wonderfully creepy horror story; both her TNG novels really emphasis the emptiness and hostility of space.

Barbara Hambly’s two TOS novels introduced me to one of my all-time favourite authors. ‘Ishmael’ is, of all things, a crossover with a short-lived western/comedy ‘Here Come the Brides’; the entire novel seems to exist purely due to Mark Lenard appearing in both shows. It features cameos from everyone from Han Solo to the Doctor (two different incarnations) to Paladin from ‘Have Gun, Will Travel’. In other words, it’s pure crack-fic; but Hambly writes it in a way that it’s entirely possible to miss the swarms of references to other series, and to let it work as an extremely well-written time travel story.

Her other Trek novel, ‘Ghost-Walker’ isn’t – to my knowledge – based on anything else, but it is an excellent story in its own right, with a well-developed alien culture at its heart and an extremely tense atmosphere. Interestingly, at one point Hambly has Kirk survive a telepathic attack by storing his consciousness in the Enterprise’s main computer – shades of Callista?

L.A. Graf’s novels are also some of my favourites, for giving more of the spotlight to Chekov, Sulu and Uhura. Their Ds9 novel ‘Time’s Enemy’ is also extremely good; the highlight of the ‘Invasion’ crossover series, despite – or perhaps because – it all but ignores the original premise of the series…

Ds9 also has the excellent “A Stitch in Time”, essentially Garak’s autobiography, written, appropriately enough, by Andrew Robinson. The Ds9 reboot novels that picked up from the end of the series were also fairly strong, at least for the first few until sudden changes in editors led to the schedule being increasingly erratic…
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16 - Are you involved with Star Trek fandom?

At the moment, not so much, no. It’s been great that the ’09 movie sparked a real growth in the fandom, and it has been fun seeing new people getting into Trek for the first time – but the reboot-verse doesn’t hold that much interest for me, and there’s not much of an active fandom for the older series… and what is there is divided between various series.

I did used to play a lot of online Trek-based roleplays, but that was a while back, and I haven’t done anything like that in a while.
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So, hey, I made it almost two weeks before forgetting about this, which is more than I expected…

14 - What's your favourite Star Trek quote?

A fair number of my favourites I’ve already mentioned for ‘favourite dramatic moment’ or ‘favourite humorous moment’, so I’ll skip those. From what’s left…

Well, if we’re talking memorable quotes, Garak has more than his fair share them, but my favourite has always been his interpretation of the boy who cried wolf – "That you should never tell the same lie twice..."

For ‘most uninitentionally hilarious quote’, there’s Dr. Crusher in “Sub Rosa”: “There’s no such thing as a ghost; you’re some sort of anaphasic lifeform!”. Ah, of course! Glad to see there was a reasonable explanation there!

15 - How did you get into Star Trek?

Well, I’ve covered previously the first episodes and series I watched – but my first real exposure to Star Trek was… Micro Machines.

See, back in the early ‘90s, Micro Machines managed to get the licence to both Star Wars and Star Trek, and made a bunch of toy spaceships from each franchise. I found the designs fascinating when I first saw them, and managed to cajole my mum into buying me a set of each – for Star Wars, the Empire Strikes Back pack with a snowspeeder, a TIE fighter and an AT-AT, and for Star Trek, the movies pack, with the Reliant, the Excelsior, and a Klingon Bird of Prey.

I ended up with most of the toys before I actually started watching either franchise; I’ve still got most of them, even if the TIE fighter’s solar panels and the Reliant’s warp engines are now stuck on with blue-tack…

Anyway, one of the things that fascinated me on seeing the toys was just how many different spaceships there were, and the back of the packaging listed them as all coming from different episodes and movies. Then there was Playmate’s line of Next Generation action figures, obviously created with the collector market in mind, that was obsessively complete, with separate action figures covering such key characters like ‘Riker disguised as a Malcorian’, ‘La Forge transformed into a Tarchennen III alien’ and ‘Data undercover as a Romulan’.

(I still regret that I never bought any of the K'ehleyr figures that every toy store seemed to have dozens of…)

The idea of this fictional world with so much stuff in it, so many different elements, was something I hadn’t encountered before – at least, not on that sort of scale.
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13 - What's your favourite dramatic moment?

Any number of options here; Picard’s speeches in “The Measure of a Man” and “The Drumhead” are strong contenders, as is the previously mentioned scene in “Darmok” where Picard tells the dying alien captain the story of Gilgamesh. Then there’s various cliff-hanger endings; the end of “Best of Both Worlds, Part One” being an obvious choice.

But in the end, if I’m picking just one, I have to go for the classic: Spock’s death in The Wrath of Khan.
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12 - What's your favourite funny moment?

‘Ode to Spot’ is a strong contender, but if I had to pick one, it would be the ‘explanation’ of differences between TOS and TNG Klingons in “Trials and Tribble-ations”. Actually, pretty much all of that episode, now that I think about it.

It is a long story. We do not discuss it with outsiders.

(I’ve been told Enterprise actually did provide an explanation, which to me is proof enough that I made the right decision to stop watching that series…)
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11 - What's your least favourite species?

A few options here. The Ferengi, who were responsible for some of the most cringe-worthy episodes of Star Trek, and who never really managed to develop beyond being one-dimensional caricatures – at times seeming to actually regress. Deep Space Nine’s handling of them barely improved things, as just as it seemed the Ferengi could be developed into something more than a laughing stock, there’d get something like ‘Ferengi Love Songs’ or ‘Profit and Lace’.

Then there were the occasional bizarre moments where we were apparently meant to take seriously Quark’s criticism of Federation society compared to Ferengi, criticisms that require one to completely ignore the Ferengi’s institutionalised misogyny, or the fact that every single Ferengi episode was built around the concept of ‘The Ferengi seek to exploit and cheat everyone they ever encounter’…

On the other hand, there were the occasional enjoyable Ferengi episodes, I do at least like the look of the species, and I like the concept of there being a major merchant power in the Trek universe, even if the execution fell flat.

There’s the Kazon, who somehow managed to be recurring villains for two years without ever doing anything of interest whatsoever. But they weren’t so much bad as tedious, and if they hadn’t been around, presumably there’d have just been a string of interchangeable belligerent aliens instead. Their main problem is they feel like some sort of no-name brand Klingons.

No, I think if I had to pick one species that I utterly despite, it’s the Prophets and the Pah-Wraiths. The Ferengi and the Kazon were in some bad episodes, but that was all. Skip every Ferengi episode of TNG and DS9, and you’re not missing much. Jump ahead to Voyager’s season three, and you’ll never need to worry about the Kazon. The Prophets, though, became more and more the focus of Ds9’s plots, and ended up impossible to ignore, even as they became less and less interesting.

The Prophets in Emissary are, at least, a neat concept. The execution needs some work – they’re worried about Sisko ‘destroying’ them even though they’re meant to have no concept of linear time – but they’re a very interesting idea. Used sparingly, they were fine. Then… then they started being used more and more, until they ended up the focus of entire ongoing plotlines, even as they became less and less interesting.

The Prophets as the mysterious wormhole aliens who may-or-may-not be the Bajoran gods is fine, but at some point it was apparenty decided they were the Prophets, elements of ultimate good, and their enemies, the Pah-Wraiths were, by extension, implacably evil. None of this was ever actually shown, and the Prophets actual behaviour is, at best, morally dubious.

(Selenak’s written a wonderful drabble emphasising just how dodgy the whole Sarah Sisko situation is…)

So we’ve got a war between good and evil where we’re just meant to accept those labels, pretty much on the ‘good’ side’s say-so. Bad enough on its own, but then major characters, important, multi-faceted characters get dragged into this mess. Dukat and Kai Winn ally with the Pah-Wraiths and end up one dimensionally evil, Sisko unquestioningly follows the Prophet’s orders because… I don’t know, because a plot involving a magic book and demonic rituals isn’t the place to have actual character motivations, I guess.

Then there’s the effects the Prophet’s existence had on Bajoran storylines. Ds9 was a bit more accepting of religion than the other series… but then, that’s easy to do when the gods are showing up every few episodes and getting involved in mortal affairs. Of course, actual religions don’t have that advantage, so any storylines dealing with Bajoran faith ended up a lot weaker than they could have been.

And that’s why I despite the Prophets. Not just because they led to bad storylines, but because they poison other character’s storylines as well. The Ferengi, at least, only ruin their own episodes.

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10 - What's your favourite species?

For once, an easy one to answer. As I’ve said before, my favourite species is the Romulans.

To begin with, they have the best ship designs. (Well, alright, maybe not the best, but since the Klingon Bird-of-Prey in Star Trek III was originally meant to be a stolen Romulan ship, I’m going to count it as Romulan by proxy.)

I’ve been playing Star Trek Online a lot recently, and one thing I like is what they’ve done with the Romulans – it’s almost enough for me to start accepting the events of Nemesis and Trek ’09 as canon again. Basically, the game’s set a few decades after the destruction of Romulus, and the Star Empire has all but collapsed. The military and the Tal Shiar are locked in a battle for supremacy, the surviving Reman forces are trying to establish their own independence, colonies along the old neutral zone are petitioning the Federation for membership. It’s an interesting situation for storytelling (even if the game often squanders it), and it focuses on one element that separates the Romulans from the other major races in Trek.

Trek tends to treat species and citizenship as interchangeable. All Klingons are citizens of the Klingon Empire, all Ferengi answer to Ferengi law, if Bajor joined the Federation, presumably all Bajorans would gain Federation citizenship. The Romulans, though, are different. They’re an offshoot of the Vulcans, and the Romulan identity is one created by choice, not a genetic one.

(There’s an interesting idea in, of all things, one of William Shatner’s Trek novels, that the Reman identity also isn’t genetic, that it’s more of a caste status. The human Shinzon is as much Reman as the Reman natives.)

I always thought it a shame Ds9 didn’t do much with the Romulan alliance; I always felt they were a better fit for allies of the Federation than the Klingons – on the other hand, that’s what’s interesting about them, that they’ve rejected their Vulcan heritage, and have no interest in ever returning to their ancestral home – except, perhaps, on their own terms.
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9 - What's your favourite episode?

Ooh, tough one. I’m going to exclude two-part episodes to keep things fair, so that puts Best of Both Worlds, Scorpion, and Year of Hell out of the running. That really doesn’t narrow things down much, so my answer’s going to be less ‘my single favourite episode’ and more ‘a random array of episodes that came to mind while trying to answer this’…

In no particular order:

- Darmok. Sure, it makes very little sense once you actually think about it – if the Tamarians speak entirely in metaphors, how do they tell their legends in the first place? But the concept’s great, doing an entire episode about trying to communicate with an alien is a wonderfully Trek idea, and I love the scene where Picard tells the dying alien captain the story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu.

- Balance of Terror. It’s a submarine film… in space! Complete with the first appearance of my favourite aliens, the Romulans, and the first appearance of Mark Lenard in Trek. The f irst Romulan Commander is one of the few TOS antagonists that really comes across as an equal to Kirk and the Enterprise crew.

- The House of Quark. The Ferengi episodes were always hit or miss, but this one works, mainly because it gives us Gowron and the Klingon High Council as straight men to Quark – and vice versa. We don’t really see different aliens interact with each other much in Trek without any humans around, and this episode really takes advantage of the opportunity. It’s nice to see someone finally stand up to the Klingons and not play by their bullying when it comes to ‘honour’.

- Tapestry. A lot of good Q episodes, but this one’s really a cut above the rest, being focused on Picard and his character rather than just what wacky things Q is doing.

- Unity. One of the most interesting Borg episodes Trek has done, it’s almost an origin story for the Collective, offering an explanation for how and why people might find the hive mind appealing. The Borg elsewhere are pure villains, but here we get a focus on the potential benefits of a collective consciousness. Nicely, the episode ends with the new ‘cooperative’s motivations kept ambigious.
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8 - Your favorite actor/actress?

Hmm, another tough one. I’m leaning towards Shatner, largely for his wonderful role in Boston Legal, but Patrick Stewart is a strong contender too.

And, unfortunately, both of them have appeared alongside the Muppets, so that doesn’t work as a tie-breaker either…

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7 - Your favorite non-canon pairing?

You know, it’s funny, but I can’t ever really get into TOS or TNG romance-themed fanfic. It just seems… wrong in some way. Not sure whether that’s something about the nature of the shows, or just that they were the series I watched growing up, but I really have no interest in anything but gen fic for those two series.

(It might just be that both those series had finished airing when I first watched them, so their characters and relationships feel more set in stone than the series I saw while they were still running.)

Anyway, I’ve got no problem with non-canon relationship Voyager or Ds9 fics, and so this one’s easy: Captain Janeway and Seven of Nine. Not just my favourite Trek pairing, but probably my favourite pairing for anything.

There’s a lot of reasons why I like the pairing. They’re both awesome characters who have a lot of screen time together, so there’s plenty of subtext there to build on. I mean, alright, we’re not quite up to Kirk/Spock levels of ‘will not let death separate them’, but taking Voyager back into Borg space to rescue Seven’s getting close. Even ignoring things like that, Janeway’s obviously determined right from the start with Seven, with trying to make sure Seven will turn her back on the only life she’s ever known to remain on Voyager. It’s very easy to see that interest – dare I say obsession? – as part of a romantic infatuation.

From Seven’s point of view – well, she does turn her back on the Borg, and most of her interaction with humanity is through Janeway. There’s obviously something about Captain Janeway that makes her want to reject the Collective and the Borg Queen, and to remain with Voyager.

Plus, you know, I’ve always had a slight mentor/protégé kink.

As for Chakotay/Seven – when I’m not completely ignoring its existence, I choose to believe they were both (consciously or subconsciously) trying to make Janeway jealous…
4thofeleven: (Default)
6 - Your favorite canon pairing?

Well, couple of options here. I’m pretty fond of Odo and Kira as a couple, even if the actual execution sometimes left me a little cold. B'elanna and Paris was a pairing I ended up enjoying a lot more than I thought I would at first. Sarek and Amanda’s always been a favourite of mine, but that’s really more from the novels than the series itself – I still haven’t seen Journey to Babel. Reboot Spock and Uhura was a nice surprise, though it’s not really developed enough in the film for me to count it as a favourite…

If I had to pick one canon pairing to be my favourite, though, I’m going to have to go for… Worf and Troi.

I mean, this one has to get points just for somehow managing to work despite sounding like the result of a random crack-fic generator and most of the relationship taking place in alternate timelines, parallel universes, or telepathic hallucinations.

One of the things about Worf is that, as a Klingon raised in the Federation, he’s obsessed with proving himself as the perfect Klingon. He pretty much sabotaged his relationship with K'Ehleyr by refusing to accept any deviation from his own image of perfect Klingon behaviour. Having him paired up with Troi – and actually admitting he has feelings for someone so un-Klingon – implied that he was starting to move beyond needing to constantly prove himself as truly Klingon and to relax slightly, to become the person he wants to be rather than the person he thinks Klingon society wants him to be.

(And, of course, based on what we see of Klingon culture and society, the ultra-honourable warrior ideal Worf tries to live up to doesn’t reflect reality in the slightest. Worf pretty much refuses to notice or acknowledge that the Empire is full of petty backstabbing bastards and always has been…)

From Deanna’s point of view, pairing her up with Worf emphasises that she does have a fair amount of strength of character and will herself, and can keep up with someone as stubborn as Worf. It was also nice to see her finally begin to make a decision regarding her relationship with Riker; the way that neither of them were willing to either renew or abandon their relationship, but just let it drag out for years on end, didn’t reflect well on either of them.

(I do actually like Riker and Troi together – but I also like them as people who’ve managed to move on past each other without losing each other as friends.)

The most appealing aspect of the relationship between Worf and Troi, though, is imagining how Lwaxana would have reacted when she heard about it…
4thofeleven: (Default)
5 - What was the first episode/movie you watched?

You grow up reading science fiction, and it’s impossible not to be aware that there’s this thing called Star Trek. On the other hand, the sheer scale of the series can be a little intimidating, even back when there were only three series and six movies.

As I said yesterday, I finally took the plunge and rented some TNG episodes the video library had. I chose I, Borg because the picture of Hugh on the cover looked cool. In hindsight, it was probably one of the worst episodes to pick as an introduction to the series…

After being utterly confused by that episode, it was a while before I took the plunge again, this time renting Star Trek VI, which was a lot more entertaining to my ten year old self, though there was a lot of it I completely failed to understand. I remember being utterly convinced for some reason that the Klingons were from Venus, and thought the bit where the Starfleet officers are wearing spacesuits to assassinate Gorkon on his flagship that they were some sort of malfunctioning robots…

After that, I borrowed all the Star Trek novels I could find in the local library, and found them a lot easier to follow – or at least, I thought I could follow them, though in hindsight I’m willing to bet my interpretation of Diane Duane’s novels having never actually seen any Romulan episodes was probably… creative at best.

And then TOS reruns started airing regularly on TV, and I finally got a chance to see a version of Star Trek that wasn’t leaving me utterly lost in references to things I hadn’t seen.


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David Newgreen

August 2017

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