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Keith R.A. DeCandido

Fiction and Excerpts [4]
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Fiction and Excerpts [4]

Giant Gas Cloud of Death — Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Memento Mori”

The Gorn were introduced in the original series’ “Arena,” and while they’ve been seen briefly here and there since then—in the animated series’ “The Time Trap,” Lower Decks’ “Veritas” (GORN WEDDING!) and “An Embarrassment of Dooplers,” and Enterprise’s “In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II”—there’s been very little done with them of any depth (outside the tie-in fiction, anyhow).

Using the Gorn on Strange New Worlds was always going to be fraught because the implication in “Arena” was that this was first contact with the Gorn. Yet part of La’an’s backstory on SNW is that she was the sole survivor of a Gorn attack. We get the details of that this week in a thrill-ride of an episode that is one of the best space-battle episodes of Trek you’re ever likely to see.

[You just turned a compass into a radar.]

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: First Season Overview

Star Trek: Enterprise First Season
Original air dates: September 2001 – May 2002
Executive Producers: Rick Berman, Brannon Braga

Captain’s log. Ninety years after first contact with the Vulcans, Earth has united under a single government and is ready to explore space more thoroughly beyond a few colonies here and there. Under the strict (some think too strict) guidance of the Vulcans, they do so.

[It’s been a long road getting from there to here…]

Series: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

Secrets and Lies — Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Ghosts of Illyria”

Back in 1989, D.C. Fontana—who was the story editor for most of the original series’ first two seasons, the show-runner for the animated series, the uncredited co-creator of TNG, and who wrote for all those shows as well as one DS9 episode, many of which were excellent and influential episodes—wrote a Trek novel called Vulcan’s Glory. It took place prior to “The Cage” (and retroactively, shortly after the Short TrekQ & A“), and chronicled Spock’s first mission on the Enterprise.

It also established that Number One was a genetically engineered human from the colony of Illyria, a backstory that was used in several other works of tie-in fiction (notably 2010’s The Children of Kings by David Stern and 2016’s Legacies trilogy by David Mack, Greg Cox, and Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore).

Said backstory has now been incorporated into the onscreen canon, with an interesting twist…

[I welcome that conversation.]

Sophomore Slump — Star Trek: Picard Second Season Overview

After show-running the first season of Star Trek: Picard, Michael Chabon buggered off to work on the TV version of his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay rather than continue to run the day-to-day of Picard (though he still gets an executive producer credit, which comes with a nice paycheck; nice work if you can get it).

He was replaced by Terry Matalas. While he’s probably best known as the co-creator and co-show-runner of the TV version of 12 Monkeys, it’s worth noting that he got his start as a production assistant on Voyager and Enterprise. And the first thing Matalas did was trash most of what Chabon did, and put his stamp on it (bringing back 1990s Trek characters and doing time travel)…

[Look up…]

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Shockwave”

“Shockwave”
Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Season 1, Episode 26
Production episode 026
Original air date: May 22, 2002
Date: unknown

Captain’s star log. Enterprise is en route to a Paraagan mining colony. They’re a matriarchal society, which prompts some tiresome, “wow, women in charge, that’s crazy” commentary from Archer and especially Tucker. The mines spit out tetrazine, so the landing protocols for the shuttlepod are very specific to avoid the plasma exhaust igniting the atmosphere.

[This has gotta be the first time a Vulcan has ever attempted to cheer up a human.]

Series: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

“We’ve got a planet to save before breakfast” — Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Children of the Comet”

Nichelle Nichols famously was planning to quit the role of Lieutenant Uhura after the first season of the original Star Trek in order to take a role in a Broadway show. At an NAACP dinner, she was introduced to a big fan of the show, who turned out to be Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said Star Trek was the only show he and his wife let their kids stay up late to watch. Dr. King convinced Nichols to stay in the role because it was so important to see a person of color working an ordinary, prominent job, not because she was black, but because she was a person.

And yet despite that importance, because of the realities of being a supporting character in a 1960s TV show, we learned more about the character of Uhura before the opening credits of this week’s Strange New Worlds than we did in all of the character’s prior fifty-six-year screen history…

[You want to learn alien languages, go where the aliens are.]

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Two Days and Two Nights”

“Two Days and Two Nights”
Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga and Chris Black
Directed by Michael Dorn
Season 1, Episode 25
Production episode 025
Original air date: May 15, 2002
Date: February 18, 2152

Captain’s star log. After being sidetracked twice, Enterprise finally gets to Risa! And there was much rejoicing! Yay!

The crew draws lots to see who gets to go on 48-hour shore leave and who is stuck on board. In addition, Phlox chooses to take this opportunity to hibernate for two days, leaving Cutler in charge of sickbay.

[“Before I left Earth, I learned thirty-eight languages, and now all I do is push a button and the computer does all the work!” “Isn’t that what it’s for?”]

Series: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

“Welcome back and welcome aboard” — Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: “Strange New Worlds”

From the moment Anson Mount first appeared on the screen in “Brother,” Discovery’s second-season premiere, the notion of a Captain Pike-focused Star Trek show started to take root in the nerdosphere, and those roots grew stronger and stronger with Rebecca Romijn showing up as Number One in “An Obol for Charon,” and then Ethan Peck for the back half of the season as Spock.

Three years after that debut, two years after it was announced, Strange New Worlds has finally debuted, to absurdly high expectations.

I’m pleased to say that those expectations are met. This show is wonderful.

[Hi—sorry to interrupt…]

“Must it always have galactic import?” — Star Trek: Picard’s “Farewell”

There are parts of the Picard season-two finale that I adored. There are parts where I cheered loudly. There are parts where I wanted to throw my shoe at the screen. There are parts where I was just staring at the TV wondering WTF I just watched. And there are parts where I just yelled, “Oh, come on, really?????”

So very much like the rest of the season, really…

[My fate is not yours to decide.]

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Desert Crossing”

“Desert Crossing”
Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga & André Bormanis
Directed by David Straiton
Season 1, Episode 24
Production episode 024
Original air date: May 8, 2002
Date: February 12, 2152

Captain’s star log. Archer’s packing for Risa is interrupted by a distress call. They rescue the ship in distress—a one-person craft piloted by a Torothon named Zobral. Zobral is extremely grateful for the repair work Tucker and his crew do, and offers Archer and Tucker a celebratory meal on Torotha. Archer is reluctant to delay their arrival on Risa, but Zobral makes it clear that he’d be really offended if Archer refused.

[I wouldn’t be a very good host if I allowed you to be killed…]

Series: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

The Semblance of a Point — Star Trek: Picard’s “Hide and Seek”

We finally get the end of the story that was started in “Monsters” when Tallinn ENTERED PICARD’S BRAIN! Indeed, we get more revelations and things happening in this, the nineteenth overall episode of Star Trek: Picard than in the previous eighteen combined. The biggest is what we learn about Jean-Luc Picard, but there’s also some other big deals—and all without Q even showing up.

[Your proposal is absurd—but not entirely unintriguing.]

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Fallen Hero”

“Fallen Hero”
Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga and Chris Black and Alan Cross
Directed by Patrick Norris
Season 1, Episode 23
Production episode 023
Original air date: May 8, 2002
Date: February 9, 2152

Captain’s star log. T’Pol is discussing the fact that the efficiency rating of the ship has dropped. Archer allows as how that’s to be expected after ten months in space, and T’Pol suggests a planet nine days away called Risa as an excellent place for shore leave. Archer sets a course there.

That trip is sidelined by a call from Forrest: there’s a Vulcan ambassador named V’Lar who is being recalled from Mazar. Enterprise is closer to Mazar than any Vulcan ship, and apparently time is of the essence, so Archer diverts.

[“Well, this may come as a shock to you, Jon, but the Vulcans aren’t talking.” “Imagine that…”]

Series: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

Emptiness and Fear—Star Trek: Picard‘s “Mercy”

There was a theory flying around over the last week that Jay Karnes’s FBI agent who arrested Picard and Guinan at the end of “Monsters” was, in fact, another Q. Me, I was holding out hope that he might be connected in some way to one of Trek‘s previous time-travel adventures—the descendent of, say, one of the people at Area 51 in DS9‘s “Little Green Men” or on the base Kirk and Sulu infiltrated in the original series’ “Tomorrow is Yesterday” or on the aircraft carrier Enterprise in The Voyage Home or something like that. There was also the possibility that Karnes was once again playing Ducane, the thirty-first-century time agent he played on Voyager‘s “Relativity.”

While that particular plot thread does have a reference to a Trek episode that took place in the twentieth century, it wasn’t the one I was expecting.

[Enveloped in the warm glow of meaning.]

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Vox Sola”

“Vox Sola”
Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga and Fred Dekker
Directed by Roxann Dawson
Season 1, Episode 22
Production episode 022
Original air date: May 1, 2002
Date: unknown

Captain’s star log. Enterprise’s first contact with the Kreetassans goes very poorly. Sato is having trouble with their language, and she thinks they said they eat like they mate, which confuses the crew. The Kreetassans leave in a huff. As the umbilical separates their ship from Enterprise, a lifeform makes its way onto Enterprise undetected.

[I imagine in a situation like this they’d cancel the movie?]

Series: Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

“It’s not my job to be interesting” — Star Trek: Picard’s “Monsters”

Many folks on the Interwebs have been speculating that the whole thing in this season of Picard with the Borg Queen inside Jurati’s head is a riff on what the 2000s version of Battlestar Galactica did with Baltar sharing his mind with Six and conversing with an image of her that only he could see. Part of their evidence is that Jurati is a blonde wearing a red dress, just like Six. My general response to that has been, “Jimmy Stewart and his bunny rabbit would like to have a word,” as BSG was hardly the first use of such a trope. It wasn’t even the first science fiction show to use it, as Farscape got there with Crichton and Scorpius three-and-a-half years before BSG’s debut.

But then this week they go and cast James Callis (Baltar on BSG) as a guest star. So who the hell knows?

[I’m from Chile, I just work in outer space.]

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