* Warning: some bad language [and some nice language too]
Series One of the Next Generation always gets bad press, but is it really that terrible? Let’s look back and re-review:
– 1 – Encounter at Farpoint After being refused entry to the Enterprise for lewd behaviour, First Officer Riker is ambushed and put on trial by an entity known as Q. For about two minutes. Then put in an oubliette. Meanwhile, an outpost with a population of around 200 applies to join the Federation yet is left puzzled by the stiffness of the new cast. Can they overcome the script and establish a trait?
– 2 – The Naked Now The crew encounters a ship where everyone died from capitalist realism. Data theoretically fucks Lieutenant Yar for days. Wesley licks pages of Thus Spoke Zarathustra and ascends. Picard stews, ostensibly the captain. Will we ever truly escape hierarchy?
– 3 – Code of Racism Tasha Yar is kidnapped by a planet of black aliens the writers can never be allowed to forget and forced to gymnastic someone to death. Worf and Geordi bite their respective tongues. Picard quotes Santa parts of MLK. Riker gets stuck into the extras. Crusher calls security when alien leader breathes nearby.
– 4 – The Last Outpost While pursuing a Ferengi ship the Enterprise and its crew become trapped in a piss poor episode. Can they work with the crypto-ho Ferengi to free themselves from it? Will the Ferengi stop dancing around like monkeys? One of them’s Quark, I think.
The year was 2079 and half the earth was anarcho-communist.
Aliens had been discovered six years earlier, a series of telescopes in Paraguay picking up a signal that, when deciphered by twelve year olds on the internet, simply said, ‘what go on?’
Discovered was a generous term
Contacted by was more accurate
But the Americans insisted on it, and everyone had to listen to the Americans as they had funded the telescope construction, at least fifteen percent of it, and when the second message arrived two days after the first, they used their satellites to intercept and their machines to translate and a six hour star-stunted special to present it back to the world.
The content of the second message?
‘We visit. Don’t move.’
By 2074, it was clear the aliens were at best a casual type of creature, at worst, barefaced liars, as their ships were nowhere to be seen, and the radar systems that few understood weren’t detecting any blips in the Kuiper Belt and people online were going back to The Oort Cloud Chronicles and Love Factor 6, and the politicians got bored too, realigning themselves to different struggles [the war on acrylic!], leaving the alien paraphernalia to the fringe and hoping with a great degree of confidence that taxpayers would forget about all the money they’d splurged on the Welcome to Earth/Please share your tech banners.
A year later, it was as if the aliens had never existed.
Of course, their exact nature was still debated by philosophy students, philosophy professors, philosophers for hire, anarchists, UFO enthusiasts, lunatics, people sitting next to lunatics in diners, astronomers, libertarians, exo-biologists, endo-biologists, Pluto lovers etc. but most people shrugged their shoulders [in spirit] and returned to quotidian life, thinking about food, food, food, food, food, creative pursuits, food and writing thank you letters to the scientists who’d perfected fusion.
The actual, real, genuine, couldn’t possibly be a lie truth was…the aliens were hanging out at a Lagrange point near Eris when they’d sent the signals.
And it hadn’t been intentional either.
One of their more senior observers had gotten so used to the ‘on base’ routine of their Eris habitat that, when they were told it was time to go home and spawn, they responded by fragmenting, stripping down to their core and hiding in the helium pools. That would’ve been fine, it had happened before on other bases…all they needed was enough time to program the nano-kleps, make sure the input data was sufficiently xenophobic…but this observer knew the routine and, somehow, managed to access the computer from the pools themselves.
Fortunately, they didn’t send any threats to the humans, but they did introduce themselves as a form of object-reality – an alien to their normal – and that was something difficult to walk back from.
High up in the Carpathians, on the south-western slope of a mountain dominated by snowstorms and sluggish bears, a man who called himself Jaq shoveled the remains of the previous night’s blizzard away from the hotel doors.
It was tedious work, but necessary.
At least that was what he’d been told. To him it was pointless, no vehicles coming up this way until April, no tourists in danger of slipping on the ice, but he was a disciplined man and routine could be a comforting thing.
So he dug, for forty-five minutes each day.
Digger digger digger digger digger the snow
If ya, if ya, if ya don’t want Etta to know
Depositing the last dregs of sleet on the snow at the side, he took the shovel back inside the main lobby, propped it up against one of the mauve pillars, sat down in front of his Adler 39 typewriter and started to write.
After an hour or so, he heard a noise.
It wasn’t the first time.
In fact, it was the hundred and thirty-seventh time…in two months. Which, according to his calculations, rounded out to two point one six occurrences a day. Of course, most of these noises ending up being nothing more than his kid breaking something, or his wife rehearsing her role in The Cherry Orchard…but not all.
The noise came again, from upstairs.
He took one last look at what he’d written on the page, muttered ‘bland, average’ then reclaimed the shovel and went to investigate.
According to the hotel manager, room 237 was the most auspicious spot in the entire region. VIP guests had been married in it, philosophical theories had been thought up from inside its bathtub, an indigenous Romanian tribe had fitted the pipes [before being beaten to death with other, looser pipes]…the mythology was infinite.
In the tradition of reading above my level, I got the Chinese version of The Restaurant at the end of the Universe // Douglas Adams from the library and, so far, I’m up to page two.
Not sure why I’m doing this, I have some of the Sherlock Holmes kids series in Cantonese to get through, but for some reason they’re not sticking, so here I am, pushing the rock up Mt Sci-fi.
Previously, I attempted So long and thanks for all the fish in Portuguese, and it’s already clear that, language-wise, I’m about to start having the same problems.
Problem 1 – idioms
This is also an issue I have with the kids books in Cantonese…they use a lot of idioms, some easy to guess, others impossible. Like in English, if a character says they’re a bit under the weather, you probably won’t know what it means unless you’re fluent. Same problem here, only worse, as Cantonese idioms are more localised and non-existent in western culture.
An example, the four characters highlighted in green below:
The best way I’ve found to get through it, is to skip them. Skip the whole sentence and aim for an understanding of the paragraph as a whole. If the idiom turns out to be foundational then go back and look it up.
Problem 2 – logic
In my experience, when you’re a non-native speaker of a language…anything up to high intermediate, possibly higher…you have to rely on logic and context to understand what people are saying.
After watching episodes of DS9 and Voyager and TNG every night for 276 days straight, I’ve had some revelations that I never really thought about when I was a younger viewer.
1] Chief O Brien is a bit of a prick
2] The continuation of the Bajoran religion makes no sense
3] there’s a lot of xenophobia floating about
The last one is especially prevalent in DS9 and, considering the background of the series, fairly understandable.
Bajor is fresh out of a 50 year occupation by the Cardassians, the Ferengi are capital fundamentalists [and perverts] and the chief of security can change shape. For most of the first few seasons, both the Bajorans and O Brien are hostile to the Cardassians and I have no problem with this in terms of scripting as it’s completely realistic.
It’s not very Trekkian, in terms of concept at least, but it makes sense.
Actually, in the case of O Brien, it’s less justifiable as he’s fought many alien species, but seems to have a special disgust towards the Cardassians. Of course, getting kidnapped, tortured and put on trial for made up bullshit in Season 2 probably didn’t help, but it’s not just the Cardassians, he’s also rude and aggressive with Quark too.
It’s true, Quark is a sleaze most of the time, and treats his workers like slaves, but other times he’s just coming up to the Chief to ask how he’s doing, or making a comment about something happening in the bar, like when the Klingons arrive on the station at the beginning of season 4 and he mentions the low ambient noise level in the bar…O Brien snaps at him, as he always does, and Quark is forced to just stand there and take it. In all honesty, Quark usually takes these things quite well, almost like he expects it. And when O Brien walks in, he must expect it every time. Oh look, it’s the guy who has the emotional control of a four year old…can’t wait to chat with him. Even giving him his holosuite program, something he should be happy about, is a dangerous business.
Why people think O Brien is an everyman character, I have no idea. He’s just a big sulk half the time…poor Keiko…
INT: COCKPIT OF A SHIP THAT LOOKS STRANGELY SIMILAR TO THE ONE FROM ‘SPACEFALL’, NO SIGN OF MAIN CAST.
The pilot or navigator fills in what he thinks is an insurance form while waiting for the cockpit door to open and the camerawoman to walk in.
‘Pre-existing conditions? Assumption of risk? Foam allergies?’
He reads it again, confused. Then reads the title of the form and looks even more confused.
‘Was this handwritten?’ he asks the lighting guy.
The lighting guy shrugs.
Terry Nation emerges from behind a nearby console and grabs the form out of the pilot’s hand.
‘Hey, I’m not done yet…’
‘But you gave it to me…’
The director shouts at Terry Nation to get out of the shot, so he ducks behind the console.
The scene keeps rolling, the door opens, the pilot turns to the camerawoman, supresses the urge to say ‘know how to turn that on luv?’ and instead says, ‘I’m glad you’re here, I could use the company.’ Continue reading →
Warning: this post contains lazy historical comparisons
I haven’t read any of the Trek books so I could be way off on this, but looking at the map of the Alpha Quadrant, it seems that both the Klingon Empire and the Romulan Star Empire are spread a little thin.
I know the Romulans semi-collapsed after their star went nova and, according to memory alpha, became the Romulan Free State, so I’ll leave them out and focus on the Klingons.
Here’s what I know [from DS9 and memory alpha and even Enterprise…correct me in the comments if I’m wrong cos there’s a good chance I am]:
The Klingon Empire wasn’t always obsessed with swinging batl’ths [sic] at alien planets, they became more militaristic as they expanded out into space. Actually, I don’t know when exactly the balance shifted, I’m just going off of the conversation between Archer and his lawyer in ‘Judgment’ [same actor who played Martok], where Archer is told that Klingons used to appreciate science and art and medicine more, but the military flashed their platform boots and altered the direction of their culture. From that point on, all the kids wanted to die before they were 25 [preferably in battle, but brawling with their mates also worked] and play suicidal drinking games in between.
After the transition into a conquering force, they used a mixed strategy to expand and build their empire. Colonies were set up on empty M class planets/moons, alien planets were conquered by force and subjugated, other alien worlds were annexed [not sure if they needed to fight these worlds, just offering them economic advantages and giving them freedom to rule themselves could’ve been enough], and…I think that’s it, three types of conquering.
The most direct form was seen or referenced in the original Trek episodes, as well as the Season 4 war with Cardassia in DS9, where the Klingons would blitzkrieg the alien world, execute all government officials, install a Klingon governor to put down any further resistance and then start exporting Klingon TV serials from Q’onos. Continue reading →