An evening with the crew of the Starship Enterprise

Calgary's awesomely geeky Mayor, Naheed Nenshi

Calgary’s Comic Convention seems to be growing by leaps and bounds every year. While I’ve never been, I’d heard how Leonard Nimoy had been scooped a couple of years ago (they even managed to take him out to Vulcan — no joke). Last year’s event was the biggest, ever. This year? Well, “record-setting” isn’t the right term, really. When the Fire Marshall has to tell people to disperse, you’ve got a number of problems — good and bad — to work yourself through.

But in particular, this year was important, because they’d somehow managed to arrange for the first-ever complete reunion (and the first gathering in celebration of the 25th anniversary year) of the complete (original) cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. And for one night only, they’d all be on the same stage in an event called “Star Trek: TNG Exposed“.

Like I wasn’t going to go…

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What I think of the new Star Trek movie

Last night, I saw J.J. Abrams’ re-envisioning of Star Trek. It didn’t suck. But I’m not about to stand up and laud the praise that so many others had. I’m not convinced it deserves it (or the #71 ranking in the IMDB’s Top 250), but it’s a vast improvement over some of the shlock that Star Trek movies have been of late.  

I went in, admittedly, with higher than normal expectations (press is hard to ignore entirely, and even Wil Wheaton claimed it was awesome). So there is a certain amount of disappointment. But now that I’ve had time to ruminate on the film, the plot, the acting, etc., I’d like to think I’ve got a decent view.  

And for those of you who haven’t seen the movie: Beware! Thar be spoilers ahead!

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Where Star Trek went wrong

Many years ago, I wrote an article for the University of Waterloo’s student newspaper, The Imprint, where I laid into Star Trek: Generations (page 24) as a not-so-great adaptation of a television show to a movie. To say that I was a tad harsh is to characterise me as a tad off-beat. The fact that I referred to William Shatner as a “carpet head” is now thoroughly embarrasing (I have significantly more respect for him than I did 15 years ago).  

I considered this a bit of a coup, myself. Not the lambasting of the movie — the fact that I managed to get the article into the school’s newspaper which, at the time, had a policy of first-received, first-published. For those of you who won’t know, the University of Waterloo once held the lofty position of Geek Central. (It’s now a trendy school, apparently. I’m having trouble coming to terms with that.) There were more Trekkies per capita at that University than for 1,000 kms in any direction.  

What I didn’t realise at the time was that I’d actually missed something extremely significant about the movie, that would come back to haunt Trekkies and Trekkers alike many years later. Something so important not only to Star Trek, but to the genre as well, that there’s a serious need to retcon that movie.  

Kirk shouldn’t have died.

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Happy 40th Anniversary Star Trek

Space. The Final Frontier.

Forty years ago today, a little under six years before I was born, Star Trek took to the air for it’s original three-year run before being cancelled. It would spawn off an animated series, comic book series, toys, four spin-off television series, 10 movies, and more parodies than you could shake a tribble at.

I honestly don’t know the first time I watched Star Trek in any form, though I’m relatively sure it was TOS (The Original Series). I know I was an addict for the entire run of TNG (The Next Generation). From there, I progressed to DS9 (Deep Space 9), Voyager, and finally the too-short-lived Enterprise series. Following TNG, my addition tempered and waned, especially as many of the episodes seemed to have lacklustre writing and stints of not-so-great acting. (Yes, it can be argued that none of the series had great acting as a whole. Particularly when it comes to asking what … have you done … with … Spock’s brain?!)

“Trekkie.” The word evokes four possible responses: Laughter, ignorance, revulsion, acceptance. Some know what a trekkie is and merely laugh at the idea. There are those who have no idea what a trekkie is. There are those who do know and thoroughly object to being considered a “trekkie”, staunchly preferring “trekker”. And there are those who like the idea (and the connotations) that come with the epithet.

I was a trekkie. (Note the past-tense.) I considered those who wanted to be called “trekkers” to be far too pretentious for their own good. I was all for the campiness, the humour, the perceived silliness that comes out. I went to Star Trek conventions (two, to be exact — one in Toronto and another in Buffalo). I had the pins, knew most of the characters, all the TNG episodes, could recite most of The Wrath of Khan by heart. And I wasn’t ashamed about it, either.

Somewhere along the line — once I’d graduated university, it seems — I’d began a long, slow decline in my trekkiness. Today, I’d consider myself having turned my card back, no longer allowed to consider myself one amongst the crowd. “Reformed”, “ex”, “former” — pick a euphimism. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Star Trek in its various forms (although Voyager’s “reset button” habit still ticks me off), I just don’t devote a significant portion of my brain to it anymore. I’ve got a variety of other things to cram in there.

Like generally useless trivia. It’s part of being a know-it-all.

But you have to give Star Trek something. Despite all the wacky behaviour with fanatics, the show has done a surprising amount of good. Well, maybe “good” is subjective. It breathed life into the entire nearly-dead science fiction genre and gave rise to Star Wars, among other things. It also kindled new interest in science itself, creating several generations of scientists, physicists, explorers, and astronomers.

The creator is gone. Gene Roddenbury died when I was in university. DeForrest “Bones” Kelly followed a few years later. James “Scotty” Doohan passed into the final frontier last year. Forty years takes its toll. They may be gone, but the legacy will live on. Maybe even to the 23rd century.

Live long, and prosper.