A Long Spoon December 18, 2014 A Long Spoon Jonathan L. Howard A Johannes Cabal story. Burnt Sugar December 10, 2014 Burnt Sugar Lish McBride Everyone knows about gingerbread houses. Father Christmas: A Wonder Tale of the North December 9, 2014 Father Christmas: A Wonder Tale of the North Charles Vess Happy Holidays from Tor.com Skin in the Game December 3, 2014 Skin in the Game Sabrina Vourvoulias Some monsters learn how to pass.
From The Blog
December 25, 2014
The Goblet of Fire, Chapters 11 and 12
Emily Asher-Perrin
December 22, 2014
What is it Like to be a Malfoy Post-Battle of Hogwarts? Rowling Reveals All on Pottermore
Stubby the Rocket
December 18, 2014
Mistborn Fans Will Get TWO New Novels Next Year!
Tor.com
December 15, 2014
Steven Erikson: On Completing Malazan
Tor.com
December 12, 2014
When My Wife Put Her Face in a Fireball for Epic Fantasy
Brian Staveley
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Thu
Aug 5 2010 12:29pm

Star Trek Re-Watch Season 2 Wrap-Up

Before we embark on the third and final season of Star Trek, we thought it would be a good time to look back and reflect on the past year of the re-watch and talk about some of the things we have to look forward to (for better or worse...) in the months to come.

[Looking back, looking forward]

Thu
Jul 15 2010 3:34pm

Star Trek Re-watch: “Assignment: Earth”

“Assignment: Earth”
Written by Art Wallace (story by Gene Roddenberry and Art Wallace)
Directed by Marc Daniels

Season 2, Episode 26
Production episode: 2x26
Original air date: March 29, 1968
Star date: 1968

Mission summary
While on a frivolous time travel mission to research Earth’s history, circa 1968, Enterprise accidentally intercepts a transporter signal from an unknown source over a thousand light years away. A well-dressed man holding a black cat beams onto their transporter pad and looks at them dramatically.

[Black cats are always a bad portent on this show.]

Thu
Jul 8 2010 4:35pm

Star Trek Re-Watch: “Bread and Circuses”

“Bread and Circuses”
Written by Gene Roddenberry & Gene L. Coon
Directed by Ralph Senensky

Season 2, Episode 25
Production episode: 2x14
Original air date: March 15, 1968
Star date: 4040.7

Mission Summary:

Enterprise finds the debris of the S.S. Beagle, a merchant ship, but no human remains. A nearby planet might have survivors, and the Enterprise intercepts a broadcast “once called video” (even though they’ve seen video before as recently as in “Patterns of Force,” but nevermind...). It’s a news program:

VOICEOVER: Today police rounded up still another group of dissidents. Authorities are as yet unable to explain these fresh outbreaks of treasonable disobedience by well-treated, well-protected, intelligent slaves. Now turning to the world of sports and bringing you the taped results of the arena games last night.

They watch a gladiator fight before the transmission cuts out. Spock identifies one of the gladiators as a flight officer aboard the Beagle.

KIRK: Slaves and gladiators. What are we seeing, a twentieth-century Rome?

[If by “Rome” you mean “transparent allegory of 1960s television,” then yes!]

Thu
Jul 1 2010 2:28pm

Star Trek Re-Watch: “The Ultimate Computer”

“The Ultimate Computer”
Written by D.C. Fontana
Story by Laurence N. Wolfe
Directed by John Meredyth Lucas

Season 2, Episode 24
Production episode: 2x24
Original air date: March 8, 1968
Star date: 4729.4

Mission summary
Enterprise receives puzzling instructions from Starfleet to report to a space station and offload all but a skeletal crew. When they arrive, Commodore Robert Wesley beams aboard and explains that the ship will be participating in war game exercises to test a new multitronic computer, the M-5, which was designed to assume control of all a starship’s systems. Kirk wonders what his role will be during this automated test, and Wesley replies, “You've got a great job, Jim. All you have to do is sit back and let the machine do the work.”

[Would you like to play a game?]

Thu
Jun 24 2010 2:43pm

Star Trek Re-Watch: “The Omega Glory”

“The Omega Glory”
Written by Gene Roddenberry
Directed by Vincent McEveety

Season 2, Episode 23
Production episode: 2x25
Original air date: March 1, 1968
Star date: Unknown

Mission Summary:

As the Enterprise approaches the planet Omega IV, they notice another vessel in orbit. It appears to be a Constitution-class starship, the USS Exeter, but it won’t respond to any hails. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Lt. Galloway (start your redshirt timer...) beam over to the ship. They discover... nothing. The ship is empty. All they see are uniforms lying around, filled with some kind of white crystals.

MCCOY: These white crystals. That’s what’s left of the human body when you take the water away, which makes up ninety-six percent of our bodies. Without water, we’re all just three or four pounds of chemicals.

Uh, no one tell his high school science teacher, OK? (We’re about 70% water.) They play the final log tape, the “Surgeon’s Log.” They see a haggard and visibly suffering ship’s surgeon on the viewscreen explain that they’ve all been infected with some kind of virus. That virus will have also infected Kirk and anyone else onboard the ship. Their only hope is to beam to the surface. He then collapses dramatically.

[This sounds like it could be good, right? Crystals? Dehydration? I was a fool, too. Run now!]

Fri
Jun 11 2010 3:05pm

Star Trek Re-Watch: “By Any Other Name”

“By Any Other Name”
Story by Jerome Bixby
Teleplay by D.C. Fontana and Jerome Bixby
Directed by Marc Daniels

Season 2, Episode 21
Production episode: 2x21
Original air date: February 23, 1968
Star date: 4657.5

Mission summary

Enterprise follows a distress signal to a planet, but when Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, Lt. Shea, and Yeoman Thompson beam down to investigate the source, they can’t find any life signs or evidence of a ship, only readings on some “small metallic objects.” Soon they do pick up two life signs, and a man and a woman enter the clearing. The man demands control of Kirk’s ship and presses a button on a box affixed to his belt, freezing the members of the landing party where they stand. He introduces himself:

I am Rojan of Kelva. I am your commander from this moment on. Any efforts to resist us or to escape will be severely punished.

[No good deed goes unpunished...]

Fri
Jun 4 2010 2:41pm

Star Trek Re-Watch: “Patterns of Force”

“Patterns of Force”
Written by John Meredyth Lucas
Directed by Vincent McEveety

Season 2, Episode 21
Production episode: 2x23
Original air date: February 16, 1968
Star date: Unknown

Mission Summary

The Enterprise is on a mission to the planet Ekos, home to “primitive, warlike people in a state of anarchy” and where Starfleet Academy history instructor John Gill has been on assignment as a cultural observer. Starfleet hasn’t heard from him in six months and worries he might be dead, so Enterprise has been sent to find out what happened. As they approach the inner planet, a rocket with a nuclear warhead targets them from Ekos’ surface. Kirk is confused—the Ekosians never had space travel, and though the Zeons, a neighboring planet, did, they’re a peaceful race. Kirk and Spock decide to beam down to the planet, and the captain instructs McCoy to “prepare a subcutaneous transponder in the event we can’t use our communicators.” Good idea. Too bad they never use it again.

They beam down to the planet in some kind of farmer/peasant get-up and immediately run into a man named Isak, who looks terrified and hurt and tells them to run. Kirk and Spock obey, hiding around a corner. Isak is quickly captured by two men in Nazi uniforms, complete with swastika armbands, who call Isak a “Zeon pig” and kick him. Kirk tries to stop them but Spock warns him about the non-interference directive. The SS officers drag Isak away. Kirk and Spock quietly emerge from their hiding space just in time to catch a propaganda video about the Fuhrer: John Gill!

[Star Trek:History::Wishbone:Literature.]

Fri
May 28 2010 12:12pm

The 40th Anniversary of Apollo 13

Commander James A. Lovell, Command Module pilot John L. Swigert, and Lunar Module pilot Fred W. Haise. Photo courtesy NASA.

On April 11, 1970, an exploding oxygen tank nearly claimed the lives of Apollo 13 astronauts James Lovell, John Swigert, and Fred Haise. The explosion crippled the Service Module and the Command Module did not have enough power to support them for the entire trip home, so the astronauts used the Lunar Module as a lifeboat for their trip back to Earth. They were aided by Houston’s Mission Control team and the Mission Evaluation Room (MER) team, who worked around the clock to find ways to keep those men alive and get them home.

[More on Apollo 13, including links to some great resources for space nerds like me.]

Thu
May 27 2010 12:42pm

How To Make A Tribble

In lieu of a Re-Watch post today, I present you with a guide for how to make your own non-copyright-infringing version of a tribble.

The Basics:

The tribble is essentially a furry softball. It is made using two figure-8-shaped pieces of cloth, sewn together perpendicularly. It is the simplest way to sew a ball—unlike the much more complicated hacky-sack method, it only requires two pieces of cloth.

This does not require a sewing machine or really much sewing skill at all. Anyone can try it!

[Illustrated instructions below the fold!]

Thu
May 20 2010 1:20pm

Star Trek Re-Watch: “Return to Tomorrow”

“Return to Tomorrow”
Written by John Kingsbridge
Directed by Ralph Senensky

Season 2, Episode 19
Production episode: 2x22
Original air date: February 9, 1968
Star date: 4768.3

Mission summary

Enterprise is drawn to an unexplored star system by a strange distress signal...or is it? The signal doesn’t seem to exist, yet it’s affecting Uhura’s channels—but there’s definitely something, maybe, trying to get their attention and... Oh look! There’s a planet up ahead. It’s a formerly-Class M planet now with a dead atmosphere, and completely lifeless. Or is it? A voice speaks to the crew using only the power of his mind; he identifies himself as Sargon, and directs them to kindly park their ship in orbit. Kirk’s understandably hesitant since the planet’s dead and all, but Sargon’s invitation is ominous, if not compelling: “And I am as dead as my planet. Does that frighten you, James Kirk? For if it does, if you let what is left of me perish, then all of you, my children, all of mankind must perish, too.”

[Well, since he asked so nicely...]

Thu
May 13 2010 5:28pm

Star Trek Re-Watch: “A Private Little War”

“A Private Little War”
Teleplay by Gene Roddenberry
Story by Jud Crucis
Directed by Marc Daniels

Season 2, Episode 19
Production episode: 2x16
Original air date: February 2, 1968
Star date: 4211.4

Mission Summary

Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are conducting a scientific survey on the planet Neural, home to peaceful, pre-industrial natives. Kirk lived with them thirteen years ago on his first planetary survey, and describes the planet and its people as a veritable Garden of Eden (aside from the “ape-like carnivores” that are mentioned off-hand). As McCoy and the others collect interesting plant life, they see a group of dark-haired natives approaching on a nearby outcrop—but these men have flintlock rifles, not bows and arrows. That’s not right! They’re setting up an ambush for a group of white-haired natives (with bows and arrows), one of whom Kirk recognizes as his friend Tyree. Kirk draws his phaser but Spock reminds him that the Prime Directive forbids them from displaying such technology, so he throws a rock at the aggressors, successfully revealing his own position. Whoopsie.

They chase the three men, and Spock is shot by one of them, bleeding green blood. McCoy is able to signal to the Enterprise and Kirk orders Scotty to beam them out of there. Just as they arrive, Uhura tells the captain that a Klingon vessel has entered orbit around the planet. They can remain out of sight, but it might mean eventually breaking orbit around Neural. Spock is led away to Sickbay, and McCoy doesn’t know if he’ll make it.

[40-year-old spoilers: he’ll eventually make it. Also, a trigger warning for rape-related content and discussion.]

Thu
May 6 2010 4:39pm

Star Trek Re-Watch: “The Immunity Syndrome”

“The Immunity Syndrome”
Written by Robert Sabaroff
Directed by Joseph Pevney

Season 2, Episode 18
Production episode: 2x19
Original air date: January 19, 1968
Star date: 4307.1


Mission summary

The Enterprise crew is looking forward to some overdue R&R at Starbase Sex Six, but there’s no rest for the weary: they receive garbled orders from the starbase concerning another Starfleet vessel, Intrepid. They aren’t sure what’s up, but Spock suddenly looks stricken with pain. When he recovers, he informs them that Intrepid was destroyed and its all-Vulcan crew of over 400 is dead. Dr. McCoy ushers him off to Sickbay, but it turns out the Vulcan science officer might be on to something; Starbase Six confirms that they’ve lost contact with system Gamma 7A and Intrepid, which was sent to investigate. Starfleet orders Enterprise in to mount a rescue. Kirk protests because he was supposed to be on vacation, but they change course for Gamma 7A. Chekov tells them that long-range sensors indicate that the entire system is dead, along with billions of inhabitants.

[Haven’t they learned yet that Spock is always right?]

Fri
Apr 30 2010 12:19pm

Tor.com Tribble Contest Winners!

Eugene and I are pleased to announce the winners of Tor.com’s Tribble Contests.

[Drum roll, please:]

Thu
Apr 29 2010 5:53pm

Star Trek Re-Watch: “A Piece of the Action”

“A Piece of the Action”
Written by David P. Harmon
Teleplay by David P. Harmon and Gene L. Coon
Directed by James Komack

Season 2, Episode 17
Production episode: 2x20
Original air date: January 12, 1968
Star date: Unknown

Mission summary

Enterprise is in orbit around Sigma Iotia II, a remote, pre-warp planet that was “contaminated” over a hundred years ago by a visit from the USS Horizon, a Federation ship. The Horizon was lost shortly after leaving the system and its conventional radio signal only recently reached Starfleet. Because the Horizon arrived before the Prime Directive, Starfleet is concerned about the progress of the local culture, which was just becoming an industrial society when Horizon visited. Kirk has been sent to investigate what, if anything, has gone wrong. (Spoilers: both what and anything have gone wrong.)

Uhura makes contact with the apparent leader Bela Okmyx, who calls himself “Boss,” and instructs Kirk to beam down for his “welcoming committee.” Sounds like fun! Kirk takes Dr. McCoy and Spock with him, and they beam in the middle of an intersection on an urban street. Okmyx’s men greet him—with tommy guns.

Sigma Iotia II is some kind of warped version of Chicago in the 1920s, controlled by “bosses” who demand a percentage from the locals and in turn “take care of them.” Everyone has a weapon—men, women, drivers—and Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are quickly disarmed by Kalo, a lackey. Within moments a drive-by shooting kills some of the lackeys, and Kalo explains that it was Krako, Okmyx’s chief rival. He won’t say anything else and leads the crew to see Boss Okmyx. The Boss is in a gorgeous old-fashioned study, complete with wood desk, pool table, bathtub gin, and a blank-looking attractive young assistant. Propped on a music stand is a book titled Chicago Mobs of the Twenties, which Spock notes was published in 1992. The obvious source of the contamination! This highly imitative culture latched onto this book as a model upon which to build their society, a twisted blueprint.

[Come on, babe, why don’t we paint the town?]

Thu
Apr 22 2010 1:38pm

Star Trek Re-Watch: “The Gamesters of Triskelion”

“The Gamesters of Triskelion”
Written by Margaret Armen
Directed by Gene Nelson

Season 2, Episode 16
Production episode: 2x17
Original air date: January 5, 1968
Star date: 3211.7

Mission summary

Enterprise is assigned to check on the automatic communications and astrogation stations on an uninhabited planet, Gamma II. Kirk, Uhura, and Chekov are all set to beam down when they abruptly disappear from the transporter pad without the usual shining and whining beam effect. Scotty’s a miracle worker, but even he isn’t good enough to work the transporter without touching the controls—he has no idea what happened, or where they are. Spock is dubious.

[Reset the workplace safety sign—“Days Since Last Transporter Accident: 0”]

Fri
Apr 16 2010 2:30pm

Tribbles Week: The Next Tribble-ation Contest

Now that Tribbles Week has come to an end, we know what you’re all thinking: I want one! Well we are more than happy to oblige, and give you not one, but two chances at a tribble of your very own, handmade by me. This is one of two contests; the other is here.

One thing you may have noticed this week is that while the original series, the animated series, and Deep Space Nine all had tribble-themed episodes, Star Trek: The Next Generation never did. Eugene and I think that’s a damn shame, and we want to rectify that situation—with your help, of course.

Your Task:

Leave a comment on this post in which you tell us what you think a TNG tribble episode would have been like. Describe (briefly!) the basic plot, and be sure to give it a title! You will be judged on your originality, creativity, and understanding of both TNG and the Treks that came before it. Also, sheer awesomeness.

You have until Monday, April 26th at 12pm EST to enter.

[Prizes and more information below the fold!]

Fri
Apr 16 2010 2:30pm

Tribbles Week: Tribbles and Altos Contest

Now that Tribbles Week has come to an end, we know what you’re all thinking: I want one! Well we are more than happy to oblige, and give you not one, but two chances at a tribble of your very own, handmade by me. This is one of two contests; the other is here.

The Deep Space Nine episode “Trials and Tribble-ations” revealed several things about Klingon history: one, that something happened between Kirk’s time and the then-present to permanently alter the appearance of Klingons; and two, that Mr. Scott beaming over those tribbles at the end of “The Trouble With Tribbles” irrevocably changed Klingon history.

In Worf’s words: “[Tribbles] were once considered mortal enemies of the Klingon Empire. [...] They were an ecological menace, a plague to be wiped out. [...] Hundreds of warriors were sent to track them down throughout the galaxy. An armada obliterated the tribbles’ homeworld. By the end of the 23rd century they had been eradicated.”

To which Odo responds sarcastically: “Another glorious chapter of Klingon history. Tell me, do they still sing songs of The Great Tribble Hunt?”

Your Task:

Leave a comment on this post with your Klingon song about The Great Tribble Hunt.  The Klingons were mighty fond of operas, but you aren’t restricted to that medium (though attempts are encouraged...I think). Musical accompaniment and video or audio of you actually singing it are welcome and encouraged. You will be judged on your originality, creativity, and understanding of Klingon culture. Also, sheer awesomeness.

You have until Monday, April 26th at 12pm EST to enter.

[Prizes and more information below the fold!]

Thu
Apr 15 2010 2:30pm

Tribbles Week: Re-watching Futurama’s “The Problem With Popplers”

The Re-Watch has come upon “The Trouble with Tribbles,” easily the most celebrated episode of the entire original series (if not the whole franchise). It would be wrong—nay, criminal—if we did not properly do our own tribute. As such, we are taking the opportunity to devote this week to everyone’s favorite furry little breeding factory, the Tribble.

Each day this week features a tribble-related re-watch, culminating tomorrow with a chance to win a tribble of your very own (along with a few other goodies). The first installment was Monday, with the original “The Trouble with Tribbles;” the second was Tuesday, with “More Tribbles, More Troubles;” and the third was yesterday, with “Trials and Tribble-ations.”


“The Problem With Popplers”
Written by Patric M. Verrone
Story by Darin Henry
Directed by Chris Sauve & Gregg Vanzo

Season 2, Episode 15
Production episode: 2x15
Original air date: May 7, 2000
Star date: 3001 (exact date unknown)
Opening subtitle: “For External Use Only”

Delivery Assignment:

The Planet Express crew has just left the homeworld of the Moochers, where Fry was swindled out of his cash and his pants (all in all not the worst day he’s had). The Moochers also pilfered the ship’s pantry, and the only food left is baking soda and capers. Starving, they see a planet on the horizon:

FRY: Maybe that planet over there has a drive-thru. A Burger Jerk or a Fishy Joe’s or a Chizzler or something.
BENDER: Ah, don’t get your hopes up. We’re a billion miles from nowhere.
LEELA: Yeah. It’s probably only got a Howard Johnson’s.

They land on a jungle-like “Type M” planet, which “should at least have Roddenberries.” They don’t see any of those but they do see a pit full of what looks like battered and fried shrimp! What luck! Leela uses her electronic armband to determine that they’re not poisonous, and tries one.

[It’s delicious!]

Wed
Apr 14 2010 2:30pm

Tribbles Week: Re-watching Deep Space Nine’s “Trials and Tribble-ations”

The Re-Watch has come upon “The Trouble with Tribbles,” easily the most celebrated episode of the entire original series (if not the whole franchise). It would be wrong—nay, criminal—if we did not properly do our own tribute. As such, we are taking the opportunity to devote this week to everyone’s favorite furry little breeding factory, the Tribble.

Each day this week features a tribble-related re-watch, culminating on Friday with a chance to win a tribble of your very own (along with a few other goodies). The first installment was Monday, with the original “The Trouble with Tribbles,” followed by yesterday with “More Tribbles, More Troubles.”


“Trials and Tribble-ations”
Story By Ira Steven Behr, Hans Beimler, & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Teleplay By Ronald D. Moore & René Echevarria
Directed by Jonathan West

Season 5, Episode 6
Production episode: 5x06
Original air date: November 4, 1996
Star date: 3614.9

Mission Summary:

Dulmur and Lucsly from Temporal Investigations have arrived (on time...) on Deep Space 9, wishing to see Captain Sisko. They are dour, humorless g-men, and not ones for chit-chat. They ask him point blank, “Why did you take the Defiant back in time?”

Sisko explains that it was an accident, and Dulmur and Lucsly are thankful, at least, that he doesn’t try and claim a predestination paradox. “We hate those,” Lucsly says.

LUCSLY: So, what happened?
SISKO: This may take some time.
DULMUR: Is that a joke?
SISKO: No.
LUCSLY: Good.
DULMUR: We hate those too.

Sisko begins his story...

The Cardassian government contacted Sisko to say they wanted to return one of the Orbs of the Prophets, alien devices considered sacred to the Bajoran people. Most of the ones that crop up tend to be fakes, but, and they didn’t know it at the time, the one they picked up happened to be the Orb of Time.

[Or possibly the Orb of Tribute.]

Tue
Apr 13 2010 2:30pm

Tribbles Week: Re-watching Star Trek: The Animated Series “More Tribbles, More Troubles”

The Re-Watch has come upon “The Trouble with Tribbles,” easily the most celebrated episode of the entire original series (if not the whole franchise). It would be wrong—nay, criminal—if we did not properly do our own tribute. As such, we are taking the opportunity to devote this week to everyone’s favorite furry little breeding factory, the Tribble.

Each day this week features a tribble-related re-watch, culminating on Friday with a chance to win a tribble of your very own (along with a few other goodies). The first installment was yesterday, with the original “The Trouble with Tribbles.”


“More Tribbles, More Troubles”
Written by David Gerrold
Directed by Hal Sutherland

Season 1, Episode 5
Production episode: 22001
Original air date: October 6, 1972
Star date: 5392.4


Mission summary

Enterprise is escorting two robot ships loaded with quintotriticale to Sherman’s Planet when they happen across a Klingon battle cruiser attacking a one-man scout ship, in Federation space. While Kirk orders the Klingons to stand down, Scotty attempts to beam the pilot aboard before his ship is destroyed; fortunately the Klingons are terrible shots, which buys him some time. The scout ship is finally destroyed, but the explosion makes it difficult to integrate the transporter signal.

[How can anyone work under these conditions?]