The Dudette With the Clitoris, and Other Thoughts on Star Trek Beyond

I used to be a huge Star Trek fan.

The weird thing is, he did these after "The Forever War"...

The weird thing is, he did these after “The Forever War”…

I watched TOS reruns repeatedly and religiously in high school. Even watched the cartoons. Bought the James Blish episode adaptations, then the (better-written) Alan Dean Foster ones, then an endless series of mostly-forgettable tie-in novels (a few written by the likes of Joe Haldeman and Vonda McIntyre). I reread the Gerrold and Whitfield commentaries until the pages fell out of their bindings. I wrote Star Trek fanfic.The very first con I ever attended was a mid-seventies Trek con at the Royal York. I was pulling graveyard in the Eaton Center’s IT department that summer; I’d work from 10pm to 10am, stumble down to the con for the day, stumble back to work again at night. (My most vivid memory of that weekend was Harlan Ellison introducing his then-wife as the love of his life on Friday evening, then publicly excoriating her as a faithless slut on Sunday afternoon. Not quite sure what happened in between. I may have dozed.)

These, and many others.

These, and many others.

This one too. Did you know that Vulcan urine has the consistency of machine oil, and can kill plant life?

This too. Did you know that Vulcan urine has the consistency of machine oil, and can kill plant life?

I still have the original Franz Joseph blueprints of the Constitution class starship hanging around somewhere, along with the Technical Manual and the Medical Reference Manual and the Star Trek Concordance and the Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology and— I kid you not— the official Star Trek Cooking Manual (authorship attributed to Christine Chapel). I always hated the third season but I blamed NBC for that, not the Great Bird of the Galaxy. I endured The Motionless Picture, breathed a  sigh of relief at The Wrath of Khan, grimly held my nose and watched the first two seasons of Next Gen until they put Gene Roddenberry out to pasture so it could finally get good.

You thought I was kidding, didn't you?

You thought I was kidding, didn’t you?

Of course, this was all seventies-eighties era. Eventually I got tired of lugging a steamer trunk’s worth of paperbacks back and forth across the country and unloaded most of it onto Goodwill. I only made it halfway through DS9, got less than a season into Voyager before giving up on it (honestly, I wanted to throw in the towel after the pilot), and made it about as far as the easy-listening opening-credits song for Enterprise before deciding I’d had enough. I was clean and sober for years afterward, and proud of it.

Point is, I’ve earned a certain amount of ST cred. I didn’t just know episodes, I knew writers (on of my happiest moments was when Norman Spinrad raved about my work in Asimov’s). So I’d argue that my opinion, while watching these Abrams reboots coming down the pike, is not entirely uninformed.  I mostly loved the first one even though it went of the rails in the third act, even though it arbitrarily relocated a whole damn planet (Delta Vega) from the very edge of the galaxy (where it lived in TOS’s “Where No Man Has Gone Before”) to mutual orbit around Vulcan for chrissakes, a planet which has no moon (“The Man Trap”). I mostly hated Into Dumbness for far more reasons than I mentioned in passing back in 2013. Didn’t really weigh in on either of them here.

A couple of weeks behind the curve, though, we finally checked out Star Trek Beyond, our hopes stoked by its stellar rating on Rotten Tomatoes (No, I will never learn): 216 professional critics, 180 of whom applauded.  And finally having seen it for myself, I gotta ask that Ratey-One Eighty: What the fuck were you on?

Spoilage follows.

But beyond what, exactly? It can't be beyond reason; they haven't got there yet.

But beyond what, exactly? It can’t be beyond reason; they haven’t got there yet.

For starters, forget the bad science. Or at least, forgive it; Star Trek has never been the go-to franchise for rigorous verisimilitude, and that’s okay.  Forget the depiction of “nebulae”   as impenetrable fogs of cloud and rocks jammed so cheek-to-jowl that they’re forever colliding with each other. Just accept whatever weird biological mechanism grants you immortality by turning you into a horny toad (the lizard, not a sexually-aroused amphibian). Forget the fact that we shouldn’t even be using starships any more, since Into Darkness showed us Federation transporters reaching from Earth to the Klingon homeworld without straining, and communicators that did the same without any noticeable time lag.

Let’s put all that aside, and consider these questions instead:

  • Stripey-warrior-girl Jaylah is hiding from Krall’s forces in the wreck of the Franklin, which she has cleverly cloaked to avoid detection. But the Franklin was originally Krall’s ship; he was the one who crashed it on Altamid, back when he was Edison. So why doesn’t he know it’s there now, even though it’s invisible? In fact, why doesn’t the fact that his crashed starship has suddenly vanished raise all manner of red flags, draw attention to Jaylah’s hideout rather than concealing it?
  • Krall— and presumably his whole merry band of lizard-faced minions— are actually human, physically modified as a side-effect of alien life-extension tech. (At least, if his minions weren’t Franklin crew, someone please tell me where they came from; we’re told that Altimid’s original inhabitants abandoned the place centuries ago). So what’s this weird alien language they’re speaking throughout most of the movie, the one that we require subtitles to comprehend? I’m pretty sure it’s not French.
  • The last twenty minutes of the movie or so— basically, the climax— revolve around Kirk chasing a “bioweapon”— imagine that the Smoke Monster from “Lost” had its own Mini-Me— around the vast variable-gravity reaches of Starbase Yorktown. The weapon is on the verge of detonation. Kirk has to fly around and pull on a bunch of levers in a specific sequence to open a convenient airlock and suck it into space. One of the levers gets stuck. The clock ticks down. And not once does anyone say Hey, we’ve got transporters— why don’t we just lock onto the motherfucker from here and beam its squirmy black ass into space?

I mean, seriously: transporter technology and warp drive are the two most iconic  technologies of the whole 50-year-old franchise. Not using the transporter— not even mentioning it— is like putting an asteroid on a collision course with the Enterprise, then expecting us to believe that everyone on the bridge has just kinda forgotten  they can simply move out of the way. Such scenarios do not inspire you to grip your armrests and wonder how our heroes will escape this time; they inspire you to cheer for the fucking asteroid.

Two of these three quibbles are mission-critical plot elements; the story falls apart without them, yet they make no sense. And there are other issues, smaller issues, that chipped away at my increasingly desperate attempts to squeeze a bit of enjoyment out of this rotten fruit.  The lighting was incredibly dark, even in locations that should have been brightly lit; it was as if the theatre’s main projector bulb had burned out and someone was filling in with a flashlight. The sound was almost as muddy as the lighting;  at one point, Caitlin swore she heard someone make reference to “the dudette with the clitoris”, and for the life of me I couldn’t tell her what else it might have been.

Much has been made of Beyond‘s “return to basics” in terms of characterization, which seems like a fancy way of saying that Spock and McCoy get to trade jabs again like they did in the old days. That’s true; but these jabs are soft and flaccid things, never as funny or poignant as some of the sparks that flared between Kelly and Nimoy back in the sixties. “I do not blame him, Doctor.  He is probably terrified of your beads and rattles”; “They do indeed have one redeeming feature. They do not talk too much.”; “I know why you’re not afraid to die: you’re more afraid of living!”

Remember those?

Now take a moment to consider just what Star Trek Beyond has driven me to: it has driven me to praise (albeit in a relative way) the quality of the dialog in sixties-era Star Trek.

I could go on. I could complain about the absurdity of a soldier who felt abandoned by the Federation because “Starfleet is not a military organization”— despite the fact that Starfleet’s ships are armed to the teeth, and carry out military engagements with the Federation’s enemies, and are crewed by uniformed people assigned military ranks who follow a military chain-of-command. (Yup, no military organization here. Just the galaxy’s best cosplayers…)  I could remark upon the surrealism of two Starfleet captains locked in mortal combat while berating each other about their respective Captain’s logs: I read your diary! Yeah, well, I read your diary!—

Evidently, in this timeline, Starfleet captains tweet their logs for all to see. You might be forgiven for wondering if this doesn’t constitute some kind of security issue, were it not for the fact that Starfleet is not a military organization.

I could also go on at lesser length about the good things the movie served up. The FX were great, when you could see ’em.  Nice to see a Universal Translator that needs to be programmed now and then, and which actually voices-over audible alien dialog instead of magically reshaping the speaker’s sounds and mouth movements into English. I liked the almost-sorta invocation of nearest-neighbor algos to explain the schooling behavior of the alien swarm, even if they used a hokey made-up name and hand-waved the exploit. The acting was fine; the cast, for the most part, both honor and improve upon the legacy they’ve inherited. And—

Well, to be honest, that’s pretty much it. Not great Star Trek. Not a great movie.

And you know what really doesn’t make much sense? I’ll still probably go see the next one when it comes out.

Maybe I shouldn’t have tossed all those paperbacks after all.

 

 

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Wednesday August 10 2016at 12:08 pm , filed under ink on art . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

32 Responses to “The Dudette With the Clitoris, and Other Thoughts on Star Trek Beyond

  1. I see the whole thing as another example that we would need a proper “Blindsight” movie sooner than later.

  2. Pretty much sums up my gripes in the bullets plus what is it about? I saw an endless cycle of we need/no we don’t/yes we do/no we…bastard soldiers.

    This was the first film in years I was prepared to enjoy {apart from Deadpool, for which a Watta review is absent}. I left kinda disappointed.

    My first con was just a Q&A event with Roddenberry, Doohan, and maybe Koenig {or was he a no-show?} also in the mid-70s. Highlight was the blooper reel where, during a “Oh, no. The ship is rocking” sequence, Kelley was groping and humping Roddenberry’s wife which he noted half-humorously/half-sad. There was a lot of running into Enterprise doors that failed to open and slick hallways where various actors and extras busted their asses.

    Oh, the days of political incorrectness….

  3. Okay PW, I got bored with your rant about a paragraph after the bullet points. Did you notice the Giant Green Hand Nebula during the credits? It really wrapped up Chekov’s earlier dialog And probably tied back to a television episode, you tell me.
    Critics gave up the ability to lose themselves at a movie. Don’t bother attempting to join their grey-faced ranks.
    I’m just glad the movie industry hasn’t been reduced to making films on a Netflix budget. I’m also proud of Star Trek’s nod to our local tourist attraction, the Yorktown Mall. Neat to see what becomes of it in the future.

  4. I’ve long since realised that the really cool Star Trek inside my head doesn’t correspond all that well with the Star Trek found on DVD and paper in the real world, so I’m prepared to accept “not completely shit” as the best to hope for when seeing new Trek.
    Beyond comfortably exceeded that low bar for me. It’s not without serious flaws, but the actors are good, the broad outline of the story okay and I left the cinema happy.

  5. I haven’t seen the movie. I might watch it when it’s available through the Internet in decent qualities, but I don’t really have high hopes.

    I also used to be a big fan (and I think you missed out on DS9, it had a rocky start but got to be the best of them). I even attempted to write a script or two for their “open submission” policy (of course I was a kid so I never completed any and conceptually they were largely not very good… I vaguely recall one having alien spaceships that themselves looked like spiders, though had what I still sort of think was a pretty kickass timetravel-based idea by the time DS9 came along). Voyager was bad but occasionally entertaining, Enterprise took another step down by not even being entertaining half as much.

    And the reboot? Has just been awful, aside from casting (Chris Pine aside, who makes me want to punch Kirk in the face, whereas Shatner tempered that punchableness with at least the vibe that he had better qualities backing him up). I thought the first was as bad as the sequel with ridiculous plot logic at every turn. People always said fans were just annoyed because the reboot changed things… no, I was happy it changed things, I think the altered timeline idea was the only thing it did well, and in fact I kind of wanted them to change more things… I hated it because it was irredeemably stupid at every turn.

    I might check out the new series Discovery (which is apparently going to be set 10 years before TOS in the original timeline) but I don’t have high hopes, I don’t have much enthusiasm or feel any hype building and I think… I’m just over Star Trek. I’m not over the tropes of space opera, or the vibe Trek tries to emulate. I’d love to settle in for an optimistic SF series full of aliens and galactic travel. I just don’t want something that’s been chewed and regurgitated to death.

    Give me a Culture TV series or movie and I’ll get excited.

    Or, from the other end of the optimism schedule, anything you might write into a movie (I mean, I do keep picturing Blindsight as a movie in my head whenever I reread it these days)

  6. Beyond the obvious plot holes, the thing that bothered me the most was how useless the bioweapon is. I mean, it does completely disintegrate a person, which I guess could be useful to take someone out without leaving evidence, but it is a horrible superweapon.
    In the climax, when Kirk is trying to prevent it from entering the air circulation system, it just sits there not doing anything, even though its been turned on. World War 1 level chemical weapons would have been more useful than it. I might be misremembering, but Kirk is racing against the air system, not some time delay function on the device, though honestly it should have one considering you need to physically turn a switch on it to turn it on, and without a sealed room you’d be toast too.
    Honestly, if I were to make up an explanation, I’d say the aliens used it along with the rooms with the specially designed door as prisoner executions in some sort of Holocaust like scenario, and it’s launch into space was purely symbolic after that was stopped. Everyone else was just really dumb tat day and assumed it was a weapon.

  7. To address the transporters, ‘Beyond’ deliberately chose to ignore ‘Into Darkness’ with all its “magic blood and interstellar beaming” for better or for worse (for better, I think).

    http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2015/12/15/star-trek-beyond-will-politely-ignore-into-darkness

  8. Meh. I only ever liked The Next Generation, and the Kirk character is annoying in any incarnation. Although TOS did have surprisingly deep and intelligent plots from time to time, especially for a show that ran in the same TV era as Bonanza and The Brady Bunch.

    If I’m In the mood for space opera with aliens who look like humans with weird stuff growing out of their faces, I’ll pick Star Wars over Star Trek any day of the week.

    Peter D:
    Give me a Culture TV series or movie and I’ll get excited.

    Good call. A Culture TV series would be doable, and could be made in a way that appeals both to fans and the broader audience. Blindsight sounds even better, but would require crazy effort to pull off properly. Maybe if HBO picks up the rights?

  9. “Forget the fact that we shouldn’t even be using starships any more, since Into Darkness showed us Federation transporters reaching from Earth to the Klingon homeworld without straining, and communicators that did the same without any noticeable time lag.”

    I thought the Best Thing about Star Trek Beyond is that it didn’t make a single reference to that abysmally awful ST: Into Darkness.

    We can all agree to pretend it never happened.

    All that said, my only expectations when seeing any star trek movie is to be stimulated like an amoeba. I’m not out to think, I’m out to be entertained when I watch Kirk duke it out with the inevitable updated-Gorn. Zero-G this time, instead of at the bottom of a quarry. Quite imaginative!

    This fit the bill quite nicely.

    If you know of any Intelligent Sci-Fi movies that are in theatres right now or are in the works, I’d love to hear about them so I can convince my friends to go.

    Hopefully when Blindsight and Echopraxia make it to some type of screen.

  10. Blindsight sounds even better, but would require crazy effort to pull off properly. Maybe if HBO picks up the rights?

    With the way Mr. Robot is turning out, I think USA would be able to do it justice. Realistically it would get picked up by Syfy, which means it would be somewhere on the spectrum between “passable” and “utter shit”.

    as for full-length movies, I think either the guy who made Ex Machina or the guy who made Alien(is he still alive even?) could do it. The guy who made Ex Machina is probably crazy enough to do it too.

  11. Fatman:

    Maybe if HBO picks up the rights?

    With the way Mr. Robot is developing, I think USA could do it justice. Realistically Syfy would pick it up, which would mean it would fall somewhere between “passable” and “utter shit” depending on how much they change it.

    For the silver screen, I think you’d have to get that guy who made Ex Machina. In fact, I think Petey should email him or something, he’s probably crazy enough to do it.

    See, Blindsight or maybe the Rifters books would transition well from book to screen. Easily even. I don’t think Echopraxia would, there’s so much that is left as an exercise for the reader that a video couldn’t hope to convey.

  12. Ouch. Point 3 in particular…well, 1 and 3, really…are spot on and pretty problematic. I am a bit ashamed I didn’t note either of those.

  13. Anonymous,

    popefucker,

    I goofed ;_;

  14. Anonymous: or the guy who made Alien(is he still alive even?)

    Didn’t even think about him – great idea. Blindsight after Prometheus and The Martian? Sounds about right.

  15. I picked up the Transporter gaffe while watching the film, but points #1 & 2 are well made.

    There’s really nobody at the wheel with the reboot films. Abrams was supposed to be the new face of the franchise, but bailed out after Star Wars offered him more money. Now, it’s just a bunch of people running around and copy/pasting successful bits from other ST films to make a third.

    Needless to say, I’m pretty sure that the 4th “Kelvin Timeline” Star Trek movie will be its last. Both Chris Pine and Zachary Qunito have explicitly stated that they wish to move on.

    Regarding Star Trek:Discovery – I’m reaally on the fence with this one. I fucking hate prequels (you can that Enterprise for that) and I worry that Fuller is going to turn this series into a farce. We’ll just have to wait and see.

  16. Different reality, different rationality.

    The survival of Star Trek depends on its entertainment value. If Kirk started choosing our kind of rationality over entertainment, it would be irrational, self-destructive behavior, endangering the whole universe, and Spock would have to lock him up in a padded cell. Such minor mutations, as you describe them, don’t matter, as long as the environment (the fans) doesn’t punish them too hard.

    The fans are a major force of Nature in Star Trek world. All ships fly with the same side up, because the fans like it that way. That planet-strong artificial gravity beam doesn’t keep pulling rubbish on their roofs, because the fans don’t care. Aliens attack, and do their best to lose, because their survival depends on it. Everybody’s struck with blindness towards this aspect of their physics, because Kirk talking to the audience would make the whole thing go kaboom.

    Right now, I’m fooling around with the idea, that reality is just the strongest fantasy. The top predator, making the others hide in our heads, and devouring them, if they dare to come out. If that’s true, Star Trek universe could be developed into a strong, self-sustaining world on its own. You could just go there, and give them your books. What would they say?

    Everything in the world is subject to evolutionary rules. It all boils down to patterns, fighting for survival. And, it could be possible to challenge laws of physics, by communicating with a higher being – an author, a fan club (religions may claim, that big asshole in the sky, that created this heap of shit, is God, but it’s more likely, that anus belongs to the ass of some cosmic donkey). My advice to my creator: I’ve been a bore long enough, write me some fun. Here’s a carrot.

    (Today, I’m explaining science fiction to one of the best science fiction authors I know. Yesterday, while turning a prince into a frog, I stumbled upon Satan again. The week before, I got obsessed with telling scientists to take their heads out of their butts, and actually look at the world they’re studying, on blog comments they’ll never read. And, I’ve just worked out, why unicorns don’t commit suicide after mating. Insanity can be such a never-ending joyride. It’s the “never-ending” part that sucks.)

  17. Vithren,

    No.
    It would only ruin it.
    How you think everything that Blindsight contains would fit in even 3 hours?
    A series?
    Maybe.
    Something Peter writes specifically for the big screen, maybe in the Blindopraxia universe or featuring some of the characters in earlier times?
    I’m there.

  18. Deseret: Highlight was the blooper reel where, during a “Oh, no. The ship is rocking” sequence, Kelley was groping and humping Roddenberry’s wife which he noted half-humorously/half-sad. There was a lot of running into Enterprise doors that failed to open and slick hallways where various actors and extras busted their asses.

    I think I might have seen that one myself. Did it end with some guy shoveling coal into the impulse engines?

    john: Did you notice the Giant Green Hand Nebula during the credits? It really wrapped up Chekov’s earlier dialog And probably tied back to a television episode, you tell me.

    Yeah, “Who Mourns for Adonis”, 2nd Season. If you thought my rant was boring, be thankful you didn’t see Apollo’s.

    Peter D: I might check out the new series Discovery (which is apparently going to be set 10 years before TOS in the original timeline) but I don’t have high hopes

    Me neither. A ten year window to shoehorn stories into, none of which can really alter the Federation in any significant way because we already know how the big picture is going to turn out. Plus they’re cursed with classic retro-tech. Plus the new ship design does not fill me with joy.

    I’ll watch it, though. Grimly, I shall give it a chance.

    Peter D: Give me a Culture TV series or movie and I’ll get excited.

    Banks once said that he deliberately wrote the culture stories on such an epic scale that they would not be filmable. If one of the giants of the genre had such a failure of imagination, what hope do the rest of us have?

    Mike G.: To address the transporters, ‘Beyond’ deliberately chose to ignore ‘Into Darkness’ with all its “magic blood and interstellar beaming” for better or for worse (for better, I think).

    Actually, this is the first evidence I’ve seen that anyone involved with the franchise even realized there was a problem.

    I guess that makes me feel a little better. Even if “let’s pretend it never happened” is not what one would call a narratively satisfying solution.

    Greggles: Hopefully when Blindsight and Echopraxia make it to some type of screen.

    Yeah, well, don’t get your hopes up. There’s been sporadic interest (apparently a couple of active enquiries even now), but so far they’ve never even got close to the option stage, much less actual production.

    I’d actually think that Starfish would be more accessible to a mass audience. Whatever happened to that big tank they filmed “The Abyss” in?

    Anonymous: With the way Mr. Robot is turning out, I think USA would be able to do it justice.

    There’s a thought…

    As for full-length movies, I think either the guy who made Ex Machina or the guy who made Alien(is he still alive even?) could do it.

    No. No he couldn’t.

    There was time I would have sacrificed both step-pones for the chance to have Ridley Scott work with my material. Then I saw “Prometheus”.

  19. @PW

    Shoveling coal…can’t remember. Did remember it might have been 1978. There was a veiled reference from Rodeenberry about the Enterprise *not* looking beat up/dirty, a basic disagreement with Lucas re The Millenium Falcon, so was post Star Wars.

    On a slightly different topic, am told Millenials are enjoying watching old action pictures on DVD with the commentaries on, which we apparently rarely did. First, some of the ones where Arnold is talking about his films consist almost entirely of him describing what is happening on screen, sometimes spoilers for what is about to happen. “This is the scene with the motorcycle and the truck. It ends with a big explosion. Here it comes. Boom!”

    The other is Armageddon and Ben Affleck’s commentary, which I think might be more up your alley. “Here’s where I realized the story was about NASA teaching oil riggers to be astronauts. I turned to Michael {Bay} and asked, ‘Wouldn’t it make more sense to have oil riggers teaching astronauts to be oil riggers.’ Bay said, ‘Shut the fuck up, Ben.'”

    And that’s how films are made.

  20. For me ST: Beyond fell over in the last 15 minutes or so. Up till then I’d quite enjoyed it. Maybe I have low expectations.

    I think there’s general agreement among Star Trek fans and even the less enthusiastic watchers that ST: Into Darkness did not happen. Just as there are only 3 classic Star Wars films and 1 Matrix film. No interstellar transporters, no FTL communicators, no immortality.

    For me the two best things were the character interaction and the Yorktown. The cast actually spent time talking to each other rather than being caught up in a non-stop action sequence. Maybe it didn’t reach the heights of the best TOS episodes, but then again it was better than the worst. Shame that Idris Elba was wasted under all that makeup though.

    The Yorktown was fabulous. Despite the “two dimensional thinking” line in Wrath of Khan, it seems nobody involved in making the Star Trek films has been capable of more until now. Not only did it show what could be done with artificial gravity, but it also showed what could be done with force fields for the outer hull instead of sheet metal.

    And then it all fell apart at the end. Revealing that Krall was ex Starfleet was just stupid. The film would have worked just as well if not better if he’d captured the Starfleet captain instead. Or, as a podcast pointed out, if he’s ex Starfleet, wouldn’t a more Trek ending have been for him to regain his humanity and sacrifice himself to destroy the weapon?

    And not using the transporters – yeah, even someone like me who believes in going with the flow of the film was thinking about that. It especially grated because earlier in the film they’d made a point of showing a transport booth being used. Couldn’t they have come up with some technobabble explanation that transporters didn’t work because of the funky 3D gravity twists?

    As for the next Star Trek film, apparently it’s being written by the same team who were pulled off and replaced on this one. Doesn’t inspire confidence.

  21. Hugh: As for the next Star Trek film, apparently it’s being written by the same team who were pulled off and replaced on this one. Doesn’t inspire confidence.

    Maybe it does. Didn’t I read somewhere that the original writers were pulled off because they had written something that was “too Star-Trek-like”, and the studio wanted something with wider demographic appeal?

  22. Peter Watts,

    Did some Internet digging, which of course would never lead us astray :-)

    The original writers for Star Trek: Beyond were Roberto Orci who was responsible for Star Trek: Into Darkness and a bunch of Hawaii Five-0 episodes; and a couple of people with zero previous screen writing credits according to IMDB.

    But you’re right, Simon Pegg said he deliberately tried to make it less Trek like at the request of the studio. Still, he did better than Into Darkness.

    Another suggestion from the podcast was that maybe Star Trek just works better as a TV series?

    I’ve mentioned The Incomparable podcast twice now. I think it’s an interesting review, analysis, critique and worth listening to:

    https://www.theincomparable.com/theincomparable/311/

  23. There were two reels. This is one of them and does end with the coal shoveling:

    http://youtu.be/thoQ_XLOUyc

  24. Peter Watts,

    Peter Watts:

    Yeah, well, don’t get your hopes up. There’s been sporadic interest (apparently a couple of active enquiries even now), but so far they’ve never even got close to the option stage, much less actual production.

    I’d actually think that Starfish would be more accessible to a mass audience. Whatever happened to that big tank they filmed “The Abyss” in?

    There was time I would have sacrificed both step-pones for the chance to have Ridley Scott work with my material.Then I saw “Prometheus”.

    Nice to have to have the enquiries! I think weaving the flashbacks for Ror… er, Siri into and out of the main story arc could become wildly clunky if done poorly even if Lost managed to pull it off to good effect for the first couple of seasons. I could see how it would devolve to a bunch of people arguing High Concepts across a table from each other and would be a difficult script.

    I’m definitely thinking Teenage Me would go for a serialized version of Starfish starring a suitably Manic-Pixie-Dreamgirl-Gone-Bad for Lennie Clarke. With all the production problems solve by The Abyss it could even by done on a budget. Scyfy? Space?

    OmniBlindoPraxia would have to be Netflix or HBO or whatever.

    I’m sure you know this already but I gotta say that if that jackass Damon Lindelof comes knocking run screaming and loudly start disassociating yourself from the project.

  25. Peter Watts: There’s been sporadic interest (apparently a couple of active enquiries even now), but so far they’ve never even got close to the option stage, much less actual production.

    I’d actually think that Starfish would be more accessible to a mass audience. Whatever happened to that big tank they filmed “The Abyss” in?

    Does this mean there’s an actual script? Or scripts?

  26. I watched this y’day and agree with both your critique but also the general tone here – it has a lot of plot issues, but was still good enough, just about. I call this reboot ‘Star Trek for people who don’t like Star Trek’; civilians and kids who are too young for really any version of the show find it easy to consume. But man, when I was a kid, sure, I loved the action and space wars, but there was also stuff that made you think (‘Forever’ and yes, the one about the black-white, white-black people – why not?). You just don’t get that with these films, they’re just shoot ’em ups.

  27. It’s too bad you only got halfway through DS9. I definitely have a biased perspective since I started it about halfway through (and having attempted a few times to watch from the beginning, I won’t claim it doesn’t start rough), but I think it’s my favourite Star Trek series because it quite deliberately confronts the optimism of the Roddenberry conception of Star Trek with the moral greyness of actual interpersonal and interspecies relations. Perhaps better yet (and in stark contrast to Voyager) the episodes actually acknowledge previous episodes and the narrative follows sequentially rather than resetting to the status quo at the end of every episode or two-parter. (Of course it isn’t nearly as serialized as many contemporary shows are, at least not until the final stretch, but that’s a product of the time.)

    It’s not surprising to me at all that Ronald D. Moore went on to make BSG some time afterwards, which feels very much like a DS9 writer’s rebuke of Voyager’s failure to even remotely live up to its premise.

    If you’re willing to give at least one episode a shot, my hazy memories strongly recommend “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges” (available on our Canadian Netflix at https://www.netflix.com/watch/70205973?trackId=13752289 ) as an example of DS9 at its best, using the dense setting of Star Trek to frame a personal yet at the same time expansive story about idealism. But in general, the show starts picking up significantly once the Dominion asserts itself; an existential threat acting as an inverse mirror of the Federation goes a long way towards elevating things, it turns out.

  28. @Peter Watts: […] mission-critical plot elements; the story falls apart without them, yet they make no sense […]

    I thought you’d given up on commenting on the US presidential election? If you think that’s a tale told by an idiot, wait until about February 2017. Oy gevalt.

    Back to film: I’d agree with the folks suggesting that Starfish would translate quite well to film, a bit more easily than Maelstrom… the second novel would probably be a lot more in the vein of what Hollywoo likes to do and what they’re good at, in terms of blowing stuff up. Getting the finer points is something I think they’d miss, headcheeses and their peevishness is something they wouldn’t get anymore than they got Marvin the Paranoid Android from “Hitchhiker”. Starfish, in my humble opinion, could work very well as drama with an existentialist bent.

    Thanks for the wave-off on the latest “Star Trek”; I may wait for it to hit Netflix streaming. Meanwhile, I think I may have to go re-watch the last few seasons of DS9 on the advice of your readership.

  29. It is absolutely criminal that you can’t give us more details on that Harlan Ellison story. Every sci-fi author has their Harlan story!

  30. I agreed to go see this with someone, and it was somehow worse than I anticipated, even with my misgivings and your warnings. Almost nothing at any level of granularity makes any sense or is in any way consistent with the known Trek universe. At least the last two had some moments of genuine fun or thrill in them. This was just dull and insulting.

    In addition to the examples you identify:

    – That multi-million resident, pressurized-bubble-in-space space station alone is orders of magnitude more ambitious and advanced than anything ever previously attributed to the Federation in any generation or iteration, right? It’s like a proto-Culture installation.
    – How is an ultra-modern, multi-million person space city consistent with them being on the far reaches of the “frontier”? It’s basically Space Vancouver.
    – The prior aliens left behind not only their immortality tech, but also literally hundreds of thousands of advanced, nearly-indestructible swarming optionally-autonomous mining drones? A literally army’s worth. Why in the interstellar fuck would they have done that?

    And on and on and on.

    I don’t need all of my sci-fi to be hard and grounded in real tech; there’s plenty of room for space fantasy and adventure that is not about pressure seals and heat diffusion in vacuum. But I need all of my fiction, regardless of genre or setting, to at least be somewhat internally consistent and coherent within its own universe. This is not.

    Blergh.

  31. Ridley’s son, Luke Scott, is apparently getting some lukewarm to positive reviews for Morgan, his new scifi film that opens tomorrow. Next film is supposed to be zombie flick inspired by the Donner Party story.

  32. Off-topic: Gene ID’d that allows scramblers and vamp—, I mean tardigrades, to survive freezing, boiling, radiation; may aid humans in future.