Back to the Future — Star Trek: Picard’s “Remembrance”

The opening of Picard’s premiere episode is pure fan service: we’ve got the Enterprise-D flying through space just like it was on The Next Generation, we’ve got Data back in his old uniform, we’ve got Ten-Forward, we’ve got a poker game (a running gag that got its start in the episode “The Measure of a Man,” far from the last callback to that episode we’ll see in this first hour), and we’ve got Bing Crosby singing “Blue Sky,” which Data sang at the Riker-Troi wedding in Star Trek: Nemesis.

It’s all a dream, of course. But the fan service doesn’t end there….

[I don’t want the game to end….]

Five SF Works Involving Epic Space Journeys

Some readers may be familiar with the mission of the Down Under Fan Fund; for those who are not, allow me to quote from the official site:

DUFF, the Down Under Fan Fund, was created by John Foyster in 1970 as a means of increasing the face-to-face communication between science fiction fans in Australia and New Zealand, and North America. It was based on an earlier fan fund called TAFF which did the same for fans in Europe and North America. Other fan funds have spun off from these two, all in the name of promoting a better understanding of worldwide fandom.

As it happens, this year I am one of four candidates for DUFF. More details can be found via previous DUFF winner Paul Weimer’s tweet.

Of course, the tradition of sending people very far away for various laudable reasons is an old one. Unsurprisingly, this is reflected through the lens of science fiction. Various SF protagonists have been sent quite astonishing distances; sometimes they are even permitted to return home. Here are five examples.

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Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Caretaker”

“Caretaker”
Written by Rick Berman & Michael Piller & Jeri Taylor
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Season 1, Episode 1
Production episode 101
Original air date: January 16, 1995
Stardate: 48315.6

Captain’s log. A crawl explains the existence of the Maquis, who are rebels against a Federation-Cardassian treaty that ceded disputed territories to each side regardless of who was living there. Gul Evek is chasing a Maquis ship into the Badlands. Maquis engineer B’Elanna Torres takes the weapons offline to add impulse power so Chakotay, the cell’s leader, can get into the Badlands. Tuvok of Vulcan thinks this is a bad idea, but goes along.

Evek follows them into the Badlands, to Chakotay’s surprise, and is damaged. Chakotay avoids a plasma storm, but then is hit by a tetryon beam of unknown origin.

[“We were warned about the Ferengi at the Academy.” “Warned about Ferengi, were you?” “That’s right.” “Slurs, about my people, at Starfleet Academy!” “What I meant was…” “Here I am, trying to be a cordial host!”]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

The Citadel of the Autarch, Part 1: A Festival of Stories

Welcome back to the Gene Wolfe Reread. It’s been a while since we last followed in the footsteps of Severian, who began his life as an apprentice in Matachin Tower and in a short span of time became a torturer, an outcast, a journeyman, a healer, an actor, a lictor, a lover, a father, and, the last time we saw him, someone ready to become a volunteer in the war against the Ascians.

As you may recall, my role in this reread is not exactly the one of a scholar, even though I am also one (as well as a fiction writer and a Gene Wolfe fan, naturally), but of a perplexed reader. When I called my first article of this series “The Reader in the Mist,” I did so to describe what I was feeling then—as a kind of a novice, being just initiated into the mysteries of Wolfe’s fiction.

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Series: Rereading Gene Wolfe

Exploring the People of Middle-earth: Gandalf, Kindler of Hearts

In this biweekly series, we’re exploring the evolution of both major and minor figures in Tolkien’s legendarium, tracing the transformations of these characters through drafts and early manuscripts through to the finished work. This week’s installment, by special request, takes a look at some of the more obscure aspects of the beloved and mysterious wizard Gandalf.

Gandalf is, without a doubt, one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s most iconic characters. The wizard’s good-hearted, grumpy, mysterious persona has influenced more than a few modern wizards (we won’t name names), and few who have encountered him, whether in Middle-earth or in our primary world, leave the experience unchanged. While he doesn’t seem to be a common favorite among younger readers (check out Luke Shelton’s work on readers’ experiences with The Lord of the Rings for more info), Gandalf tends to make an impact on adults, who find themselves drawn to his dry wit, his gruff kindness, and his commitment to doing what needs to be done and saying what needs to be said regardless of consequences. And in the wake of Ian McKellan’s masterful portrayal of the old wizard in Peter Jackson’s adaptations…well, suffice it to say that Gandalf has quite a legacy.

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On the Origins of Modern Biology and the Fantastic: Part 16 — William Gibson and the Human Genome Project

Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts… A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding… —William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)

Neuromancer is William S. Burroughs meets Blade Runner, a noir thriller where a found family of high tech low-lifes navigate a job full of twists, turns, and double-crosses, through the real to the unreal and back again. Its vision of cyberspace as a neon-drenched nightmare city in a world of crime syndicates and multinational corporations inspired the makers of the internet. Burroughs understood that in a world where information is power and national boundaries are meaningless, everyone is empowered and everyone is helpless, and created a mirror of the dystopian anxieties of the 1980s. It is the book that gave the brief but revolutionary subgenre of cyberpunk its legs.

[Read more]

Oathbringer Reread: Chapter One Hundred and Twelve, One Hundred and Thirteen, and Venli Interlude

Hey, y’all! Welcome back to the Avalanche! We’re moving fast this week, with three (short) chapters, finishing off Part Four and starting the last set of Interludes! Just in case you missed the note last week, this is the big day—the Battle of Thaylen Field will commence later on this same day.

[Now? I wasn’t prepared! I didn’t know!]

Series: Oathbringer Reread

A Language With Too Many “Awwww” Sounds: Vina Jie-Min Prasad’s “Black Flowers Blossom”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Vina Jie-Min Prasad’s “Black Flowers Blossom,” first published in the November/December 2019 issue of Uncanny. Spoilers ahead, but go read it yourself first (not at work, we suggest).

[“I do not offer myself freely to just anyone, even if they did save my life from an Outer Creature.”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

Guinan’s Coming Back! Patrick Stewart Goes On The View To Invite Whoopi Goldberg Into Picard Season 2

The answer was an immediate YES.

In the run-up to Jean-Luc Picard’s return to television, Patrick Stewart has been making the publicity rounds on entertainment shows, weekly magazines, and the like. Wednesday morning found him on long-running daytime talk show The View where, as it turned out, he had a VERY specific mission: Invite Whoopi Goldberg into Picard season 2 to reprise her role as Guinan.

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