Perhaps the most futuristic thing about Star Trek: The Next Generation was that way back in 1987, the show’s creators and designers predicted that the portable phones of the future would become jewelry. In the grand scheme of wearable sci-fi tech the Trek communicator badge is iconic for its simplicity, but also because it made a silly idea into something legitimately cool. But now that the communicator badge has returned—a full century early—on Star Trek: Discovery, what are diehard fans supposed to think? Did Section 31 rip-off the future?
When Star Trek: Discovery first aired in late 2017, fans of The Next Generation were all probably stoked to hear the name “Kahless,” the Klingon Jesus, who showed up as a clone of himself in the episode “Rightful Heir.” And now, in “Point of Light,” the third episode of Discovery’s second season, one small detail connects Lt. Tyler to Worf and those clone-happy monks in a very specific way. And it’s all about the name of that planet at the end of the episode.
Turns out that Captain Pike is so hot for the Prime Directive, he will literally jump on a phaser and die rather than interfere with a culture’s natural development. Except when it comes to giving out space batteries. Space batteries are fine. The point is, on some level Pike’s actions in the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery — “New Eden”—might scan as hypocritical. But, that’s not exactly Pike’s fault. Maybe General Order One, better known as the Prime Directive, is inherently hypocritical.
Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery season 2, episode 2, “New Eden.”
If the writers and producers of Star Trek: Discovery had wanted to really shock the audience, they would have kept Captain Pike out of all the trailers. Because if you’ve seen any of the preview clips for the new season — which started circulating as far back as San Diego Comic-Con in 2018 — then you already know that Discovery has a new main character: Anson Mount as Christopher Pike from the USS Enterprise. And as Captain Pike beams aboard the USS Discovery, the moodiest Trek series since DS9 is loosening up. Is it a good thing? Yes! Is this now a fundamentally different show than it was in season 1? You betcha.
The best thing about the twist-ending of Short Treks “The Escape Artist” isn’t just that it’s hilarious, or that it makes us think about Harry Mudd in a brand new way. No, the real best thing is that the new short might also subtly suggest that Harry Mudd could have a more direct link to the creation of Mr. Data in The Next Generation than anyone previously realized. It might sound like a stretch, but hear me out.
Big spoilers ahead for Short Treks’ “The Escape Artist.”
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!—both the original 1957 picture book and the 1966 cartoon version—showcase Theodor Geisel at possibly the tippy-top of his powers.
But just what are the Whos down in Whoville? Are they human? What is the Grinch? What’s the connection between these Whos and the Whos living on the speck-of-dust planet in Horton Hears a Who!? Are those Whos who Horton heard the same species of Whos of which Cyndi Lou Who (who was not more than two) is a member?
If I had a pet reindeer, or any kind of creature that resembled a fawn or Bambi-style animal, I’d name it Dickens. Come on. How adorable would it be to have a little pet deer named Dickens? Here Dickens! Come have a sugar cube! That’s a good little Dickens. What’s your favorite story? What’s that you say, “A Christmas Carol?” Well, I don’t feel like reading to you, because you’re a little deer, so let’s watch a movie or a TV special instead. Whatyda say? And then, as a gift to Dickens, I would have to compile a list of movie and TV adaptations of Charles Dickens’s awesome book—A Christmas Carol—and I’d want those adaptations to be somehow a little bit different from their source material, because deer like stuff that’s new.
What are the best non-traditional versions of A Christmas Carol? These.
The latest installment in the mini-anthology series Short Treks —“The Brightest Star”—is the first of these new stories not to take place on the starship Discovery, but, so far, it’s probably the installment that will be the most satisfying for hardcore fans. Not only do we find out how and why Mr. Saru joined Starfleet, there’s also a huge surprise cameo from a very familiar character at the very end of the episode. But the actions of that person, particularly in relation to Saru’s species, will bring up a very old Trekkie question: was the Prime Directive violated here?
Does the entire canon of the Muppets fall into the genre of science fiction? When you consider the various alternate universes the Muppets seem to inhabit, the answer might be yes. If meta-fiction is the handmaiden of science fiction, then there are certainly some SF sensibilities pervading our favorite gang of witty and colorful creatures. Throughout the years, this sensibility has been somewhat acknowledged by the Muppet-verse via specific crossovers from science fiction celebrities. Here are six instances of science fiction icons with the Muppets!
The original Highlander told us that in the end “there can be only one” but the phenomenon of reboots has proven this maxim universally untrue. While many fans bemoan reboots as a death of originality, one has to admit sometimes a reboot can be fantastic. On the whole Battlestar Galactica was a breath of fresh space air and the 2009 Star Trek a kick in the space pants. Reboots prove there can be several versions of a beloved fantastic universe, so why not hope for the best? In this installment of Reboots of the Future, heads will roll and lightening will strike when Highlander returns to TV screens.
Fans of serious science fiction might debate about the various merits of Star Trek versus Star Wars—but there’s another big space franchise that nearly everyone agrees is just as awesome as it is smart. The 2003-2009 SyFy Channel version of Battlestar Galactica is not only a beloved contemporary genre series but also considered by many to be the best sci-fi show of all time. Aficionados know this is a minor miracle simply because the critically acclaimed reboot show was based on a 1978 show with a dubious legacy and mixed reputation among fans of the genre.
But what do you really know about the making of both this modern sci-fi classic and its cheesy progenitor? If the answer is not frakking very much, then pop culture historians and long-time science fiction journalists Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman are here to help!
Behind-the-scenes books on beloved TV shows or films have a tendency to suddenly turn innocent geeky fun into raunchy tales of sex, drugs and rock and roll. The late Carrie Fisher’s last memoir of Star Wars, The Princess Diarist, dropped the bombshell about the sexual affair she had with Harrison Ford in 1976. And if you read the oral history of Star Trek, The Fifty Year Mission, then you would know there was a lot of crazy shit that went on behind the scenes on literally every version of that franchise.
Ed Gross and Mark A. Altman, the authors of The Fifty Year Mission, have turned their excellent journalistic sensibilities to the real story behind Battlestar Galactica. And guess what? Turns out most of the people who worked with each other on Galactica liked each other a lot. In fact, if there’s one huge takeaway So Say We All, it’s that the struggles of both versions of Battlestar Galactica mirrored the premises of both series. The actors and writers faced more adversity from without than within and were constantly in danger of being shut down by tyrannical forces hell-bent on their destruction.
On Saturday, at the 2018 Las Vegas Star Trek Convention, Sir Patrick Stewart revealed that he will star in a new Star Trek series centered on the life of Captain Picard, set 20 years after the events of Star Trek Nemesis. For Trek aficionados, this series represents the first time since 2002’s Nemesis that a new Trek will actually move forward in time, which itself is a cause for celebration.
Supposedly, the sunny universe of Star Trek is all about exploring outer space, meeting interesting alien cultures, and coming up with peaceful, contemplative solutions to important problems, usually while sitting in a comfortable chair. But, if you only look at the very best episodes of Star Trek, it’s very clear the franchise isn’t about strange new worlds, but instead, exploring screwed up terrible ones. Stand-out episodes of all versions of Trek tend to create trippy scenarios that would make the weirdest Black Mirror episode blush. In other words, the best episodes of Star Trek are almost always exceptions to the supposed rule that Trek is a hopeful vision of the future full of people holding hands and loving each other even if they are a space hedgehog named Neelix.
“For a brief time I was here, and for a brief time, I mattered.”
Harlan Ellison, author, screenwriter, and grand master of science fiction and fantasy, has passed on June 28th, 2018 at the age of 84. Via legal representative and photographer Christine Valada:
Susan Ellison has asked me to announce the passing of writer Harlan Ellison, in his sleep, earlier today. “For a brief time I was here, and for a brief time, I mattered.”—HE, 1934-2018. Arrangements for a celebration of his life are pending.
— Christine Valada (@mcvalada) June 28, 2018
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