Tag Archives: Canon

“I Loved Star Trek: The Original Series, Where Can I Get More Episodes?”

I’ve wondered the same thing, hypothetical question-asker! Fortunately you’re in luck, because the original Star Trek is a cultural artifact of huge importance. Anything that big gets revisited over and over again, and I’ll read, watch, or listen to anything that makes an effort. There’s a huge variety to suit any taste, but for this post I have one major recommendation and I challenge you all to guess what it is by the end.

In the realm of “real” stuff, as canon as Trek gets, you can always watch Star Trek: The Next Generation and revisit old plotlines and characters. You’ve got the original cast movies, which are in some ways “the same” but almost different versions of the same characters. You’ve got Star Trek: The Animated Series, which used original actors for voices and was better than it sounds. And there’s the series of reboot movies, particularly Star Trek Beyond which most closely approximates something like the original.

Star Trek Beyond promo

Jaylah, Kirk, and Spock in Star Trek Beyond

Novels are a great option too, and there are roughly a gigglety-jillion. If you’re looking for something really specific, to revisit a guest character or something like that, you may only find one or two but you’ll probably find something. I’ve mentioned some wacky ones here but there are plenty closer to the original series in tone — some off the top of my head are The Eugenics Wars by Greg Cox, Timetrap by David Dvorkin, Invasion: First Strike by Diane Carey, and Tears of the Singers by Melinda Snodgrass. Plus it’s not exactly, er, normal, but you’re missing out if you don’t read William Shatner’s Shatnerverse books.

Shatnerverse covers

A step further and you’ve got fanfic or other fanworks. Quality varies from bizarre paragraph-long vignettes about Spock as a dentist to multi-novel sagas with better characterization than some episodes from season 3, but as with the published novels, there’s something for everyone. Whatever you’ve wondered about, someone’s written it (with of course the glaring exception of the one thing I really want to read, a take-off on “Balance of Terror” where it turns out Spock really is a Romulan spy. Rec me if you know of one). I won’t do much reccing because it very much depends on what events you want to see, but there are episode addenda, episode retellings, episode followups, new episodes, a detailed episode-by-episode analysis of why Kirk/Spock was a real thing, anything you want.

But let’s take a step back toward the novels and talk about comics. Even fans who like fanfic sometimes think they won’t like comics because they’re associated with being confusing or difficult to access, and I get that, but I promise it’s not as confusing as superhero comics. With the resurgence of interest after the reboot movies, it’s easier than ever to get collected editions of comic series, so you don’t have to figure out issue numbering, just think of them the same as novel series. You can get stories about Khan and aliens and whatever, just like the novels. You can also get reprints of the original Gold Key comics from the 60s and 70s, which are hilarious, or the newer Star Trek: Ongoing series that retold original-series plots using reboot-movie characters. But most importantly, you can get Star Trek: New Visions by John Byrne. It’s a comic series that uses collages of original episode stills to create new episodes.

 

It sounds silly — and kinda looks silly at first glance — but hear me out! John Byrne isn’t just some guy, he’s been a major comic author and artist since the 70s, and clearly knows his Star Trek. The New Visions series ran for two years and four volumes, with each (long) issue as a new episode of original Trek. It captures the rhythm of an original Trek episode, the style, the story functions of each character. (And while it’s a bit limited as far as diversity based on original images, he also pastes together a few new characters and does a much better job including women than Star Trek: Ongoing. Much better).

It doesn’t have the same variety of tones — original Trek could be serious, fun, goofy, self-important, intense, but these mostly fall into a “weighty” category, a feeling of pondering the mysteries of the universe. The “Where No Man Has Gone Before” sort of tone. I don’t mind that, it’s as authentic as anything. Most plots revisit original episodes, extending concepts to see how they might play out, but always in character. Some plots are new, but in the same spirit, the same general classifications of episodes and the same concerns. Even the sciencey sci-fi bits don’t make sense in the same way that original episodes didn’t make sense! Once you get used to the slight choppiness of the images, it’s really truly like watching new episodes of Star Trek. I’ve even seen each episode enough times to recognize the pictures, but I still forgot they were reused most of the time.

I honestly never expected New Visions to be good, but it’s great. It may be more like the original series than anything else I’ve seen. But I’m always looking for more recommendations, so feel free to leave them in the comments!

Technological Advancement and Star Wars

Lately we’ve been reading a lot of Jeffrey Brown’s Darth Vader books with the Geek Toddler. She loves them, and they’re great. We’ll probably talk more about them at some point. But there’s one page in particular that made me just stop and think.

Haha, common parent statement, right? And in this case it’s also totally true.

We get to see plenty of big space ship battles in Star Wars Episodes I-III. Lots of different ship types. Which, we know from seeing things like the Rebel Fleet in the later movies, sure, there are lots of different ship types in the Star Wars universe.

However, like the Death Star, the Star Destroyer is a product of the Empire. A product of an authoritarian war machine that only really exists for maybe 20-30 years? Wait, there’s a timeline, hold on…

Okay, so 23 years is how long the Empire is around? And 19 years between episodes III and IV (and Rogue One). In that time they develop and build Star Destroyers and a Death Star. Wow! Both the R&D and the actual manufacture there is impressive, even with the full might of an intergalactic state behind it.

As seen in Rogue One, so major coercion was needed, and I liked the point that was made about how they would develop the weapon sooner or later – just sooner with the help of a genius. That’s still a really tight window, and even if some of that development started before the Senate fell (might have I don’t know), that’s still a whole lot.

But Star Wars lore goes a whole lot further back than that. For one thing, there’s the whole Old Republic, a long time ago even from the standpoint of the films. I imagine there are books and other media in this era, but mainly there have been video games – so the most time-intensive and immersive form of media.

And there’s so much about the society of Star Wars that seems the same between the Old Republic and the movies. The droids, the crime, the relevant races, the Jedi…

I have always been a bit amused by this lack of change, but had not fully thought about how, once the Empire began, there was a massive surge in new technology. Even the Clones seemed like something that had been researched for a long while before finally coming together just in time to have some Clone Wars.

I suppose that the Old Republic is also missing from that canon timeline, sadly. So maybe this isn’t really a problem from a canon standpoint. But it’s sad to set history like that aside as well. What do you think?

Three Types of Stories

There is already a breakdown of plots into three types of conflicts – man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. self. The “man” there is used super loosely. However, I want to argue today for a different breakdown of story types.

  1. That which was.
  2. That which is.
  3. That which could be.

I’ve spent a lot of blog posts exploring and defending and fighting for the genres I love, for science fictionfantasysuperheroes, and Romantic Literature. For the types of stories that fall in the “that which could be” category. And that’s the place where I have the most to say – so let’s get back to that.

The first two are more obvious. Stories about the past, historical and such, are the stories about that which was. Although, many that I can think of that seem like this category were written as stories about that which is – about the current world at the time, which is now our past. And the best of these seem to become the canon of books that are read in schools, the “classics.” Those books which were about the current life and times, now our past. As a way to try to learn history in a “fun” way.

I’m not a huge fan of the classics.

So maybe that means the most obvious are the stories about that which is – about life around us. After all, the number one writing advice is “write what you know.” That gets you the vast majority of books in this vein. And yes, tons of these are fiction, and it’s made up – but the goal is to create life-like, realistic, “real” characters. To mimic that which is. To give insight into how we see things.

And the stories that are really written about how things were… well, maybe these blur in with ones about that which could be. Maybe a good example is The Da Vinci Code – sure, it’s set in the present, but it’s also a treasure hunt digging up (fictional) hidden facts about the past. So it’s really about this secret history.

A lot of fantasy could be considered a combination of stories about that which was and that which could be. That which could have been… Steam Punk even moreso fits in this, as could alternate history. They’re stories about a different world, but also constrained in a society like our past.

But when it comes to that which could be, well, the sky is the limit.

So we still tend to see realistic characters. Plenty of things we know. But then, to fit this type of story, we see things we don’t know. Things from the imagination. Not just a fictional version of what could be a real person in our world today – but a person who would be a real person in their fictional world, if it were real.

And sometimes, it’s just that that world is different from ours. Maybe the people really are a lot like we are today. Maybe this is to show us something about how we are – maybe it’s the writer writing what they know. Or maybe it’s the interpersonal relationships: maybe they’re just like what we’re used to. Reminds me of a point made on the PBS Idea Channel: Do we spot and process fictional interpersonal relationships the same way as real or realistic ones?

I would say, for all of these things… maybe the answer should be that they should be different from what we’re used to.

If a story is about what could be, then maybe it doesn’t need to resemble our world now. Maybe instead of putting in realistic racial problems, we could show a world without them, a world that’s solved them. I say this during a week when people have started calling for a boycott of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on racist grounds. I reply both that it’s fiction, and that it’s important that it’s imagining who could be a hero – instead of falling back on known formulae.

I feel like there’s always a level of backlash when some diversity makes its way into these stories set in the world that could be. But why? The point and purpose is to be different from the world we’re in. Maybe to be a little better. To do things we couldn’t do now.

Representation matters a TON in stories about what could be – because if the best we can imagine for a world that could be anything is a world exactly like where we are now – then that’s a different kind of story.

What do you think? Can stories be considered one of these three, or some combination of several? And what do you think about representation in these stories? Let us know in the comments below!

Batman: The Long Halloween Review

I recently finished reading Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. I was excited to read this, as Jeph Loeb is one of the main names in superhero television, working on shows like Heroes, Smallville, and Agents of SHIELD. I also heard this comic compared to The Dark Knight, so that piqued my interest.

The Long HalloweenThe Long Halloween was published over the course of a little over a year from 1996-1997, and follows the monthly, holiday-based serial killings of Gotham City mobsters. It gets Batman into his detective role, with a case that is incredibly hard to crack.

I don’t think I have too much to say about this comic, but I’ll try. More than anything, like other comics LitFlix I have read (comics with a film based on them), it is and it isn’t The Dark Knight. So many of the ideas are there, but at the same time, it is a different story. More than anything, they share one major thread: the origin story of Two Face. So read on for my review of this comic series, spoilers in tow!

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There are HOW MANY Red Rangers? Comparing US and Japanese TV Continuity

35 Years of the Red Ranger

35 Years of the Red Ranger

Expatriate guest writer, it’s morphin’ time!

Living in Japan for the past two years, I’ve been struck by a curious difference in the way this country and my native United States approach ongoing continuity in televised speculative fiction. Shows here are constantly refreshed with new storylines and new characters that (we’re led to believe) US audiences would never stand for. Why? I have no idea, but bear with my while I lay out the basic differences and offer a few theories as to the forces at work. Continue reading