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10 More of the Many Reasons Star Trek Voyager Is. The. Best.

Yes, ten more. I could go on for many more. Here’s the next ten, anyway. Enjoy!

1. The people who conceived of and made Voyager seem to have some kind of camera in my brain which tells them what I want from science fiction, and they turned it into a tv show. I want a strong leader. I want a dynamic crew I can get emotionally attached to. I want a cool looking ship. I want adventure and action. I want exploration. I want new aliens. I want new worlds. I want danger. I want drama. I want humour. I want that important human element. I want to see people at their best, sometimes at their worst. I want thrills, and yes, spills. I want realistic portrayals of friendships, relationships, dilemmas and problems. I want interesting stories. I wanted all these things. And I got them all with Voyager.

I’m detecting epic amounts of Win in this sector.

2. Its not like other Star Treks. I love it when some TNG obsessives say that like its an insult. XD “>XD “>XD “>XD “>XD “>XD “>XD “>XD XD XD XD XD. Too fucking right its not like other Treks! Halle-frkkin’-lujah, I say. That’s not a criticism of other obsessive fans by the way, after all, I’m a Voyager obsessive. Swings and roundabouts, isn’t it? Licenses that stay on the same note die. Each Trek has been different from its forebears in one way or another, Voyager strays farther from the norm than the other shows. That’s another reason I love it.

3. The audio effects. I’m talking ambient noise of ships and worlds here, and the special effects generated by aliens, alien controls, the sounds of ships. I think Voyager has the edge here over other Treks because of the sheer variety on offer. I’ve always noticed these things very keenly in shows and films I like, too me, having good quality sound effects is almost as important as having a good story. It draws me into the world. Here are a few good examples: Species 8472’s bioship and species sounds. The deep thrumming and rumbling inside the bioship. The screeches of the creatures themselves as they attack or make violent and forcible telepathic communication with Kes. The ‘flyby’ effect of the bioships, which is the industry term for when starships or some other craft are seen flying by or within close proximity to the ‘camera’s’ position. (Who is going around filming all these starships anyway? 😀 ) The sound of the massive lifeform from ‘Bliss.’ It rumbles, it gurgles, the bioelectric pulses that constantly zap Voyager and Quatai’s ship as the search for a way out are tangible, they crackle sharply. The menacing tones of the Hirogen when they speak through the breath masks incorporated into their armour. The eerie wails of one member of the Think Tank’s crew, the electronic language of another. The intense and harsh language of the alternate-dimension aliens from ‘Equinox’. And, of course, Voyager itself. The constant thrum of the ship’s engines is so omnipresent during scenes aboard the ship that it becomes white noise, more noticeable in its absence than its presence. The sound generated by the warp core in Engineering is much better than the odd tone generated by the Enterprise-D’s core. And the Red Alert klaxon…Heavens to Murgatroyd, if the Red Alert siren from the Enterprise (Kirk’s and Picard’s) isn’t one of the dumbest fucking sounds I have ever heard, then I am a bloody penguin. Its almost comical in its inappropriateness. Voyager’s Red Alert klaxon, on the other hand, is damn cool. It sounds like it could really be used in some version of humanity’s future as an alert siren. Class. It would make crewmember alert to upcoming danger, instead of making them await a clown to enter and perform some manner of jumping, juggling trick.  Insert circus music here: Do-do-doodle-do-do-doo-doo duh-duh…

4. The musical score. Scores are very much a product of their time and can age more quickly than sound effects, even special effects in some cases. However, the music on Voyager was excellent, and brilliantly composed. Themes relating to certain races or action going on on screen started to become prevalent in Season 3. These are hard to explain in words, but there are four or five action motifs which kick in at certain moments when the crew is embroiled in an action scene of one kind or another. These are not overused and consequently not employed in every episode, but you know them when you hear them. The Borg have certain music attached to them, a menacing theme with heavy notes and lots of drums and brass. The use of real-world music is also nicely done, particularly with the use of Tchaikovsky and Mahler Symphonies in ‘Counterpoint’, The Doctor’s love of opera (the opening to ‘Renaissance Man’ makes me laugh every time I see it), and Tom’s love of jazz and Rock & Roll.

And of course, the magnificent Opening Title. The best piece of Star Trek music ever, and close to being the best piece of Science Fiction music ever composed. It is equal in grandeur and beauty to the Main Title of the Star Wars movies (Return Of The Jedi has the best version of the six opening title scrolls) Voyager’s title sequence conjures feelings of majesty, exploration and intrepidity with images of breath-taking beauty, sweeping galactic vistas. There is even some sense of isolation amongst the expanse of the universe, a ship alone despite all the life and motion that surrounds them. Incredible opening sequence. The version of this music used in the show is wonderful, but there is a superior version on ‘The Star Trek Album’, available on iTunes. The front cover is a blue jumping to warp effect with yellow text for the album title. I really recommend this version of the piece, as it actually manages to improve upon an already superb piece of music.

5. Seven of Nine. This is not a criticism of Kes, I loved her character too, her innocence and child-like view of the galaxy was very refreshing, so all credit goes to her. But Seven’s arrival and nature brought an extra dynamic to Voyager that was missing from earlier seasons. Her gradual journey back to humanity from the cold and evil of the Borg was a brilliant facet of Voyager, and wonderfully realised. The relationship that developed between Janeway and Seven is one of the most realistic and well-portrayed friendships I’ve seen on Trek. The dynamic between them felt real and accurate. A mother-daughter, love-hate relationship, with the initial tension between them slowly, slowly dissolving into mutual respect and warmth as they solved differences, as each one started to understand the other. The fact that Seven came from the Borg emphasises why she is so different, a creature snatched from the grasp of the biggest threat ever to grace the Trek universe.

6. The Motley Crew. Ah, the motley crew. I like the way they’re not a bunch of goody two-shoes. They’re good and honourable people, but they have their foibles and their faults, and I like that. Janeway can be stubborn and unreasonable, Paris can be rebellious and disobedient, Seven can be confrontational and thoughtless, Tuvok can act arrogant and superior, The Doctor has projection issues (not with his emitters, necessarily) and can be pompous and self-important, Torres has a chip on her shoulder and is a serious self-doubter. This, along with their admirable qualities, of which there are many more, makes them 3-dimensional characters. I don’t need to go into their admirable qualities here, if you watch, you know. They’re brave, they’re tough, they’re smart, they’re honourable, they work as a team, they look out for each other, they can rely on each other.

Also, they’re not all Starfleet Officers, at least not originally. Now, I like Starfleet Officers, the organisation is one of the finest fictional militarys ever devised. But its nice to have some variety and spice in the crew. We have, of the ten recurring characters featured in Voyager’s run (that’s nine at a time):

  • Three Starfleet Officers, two with long and distinguished careers, one freshly graduated rookie, (Janeway, Tuvok, Kim, respectively).
  • One dishonourably discharged Starfleet Officer reinstated given a field commission of Lieutenant. (Paris).
  • Two ex-Maquis crewmembers, one who used to be in Starfleet but resigned, one who only got to the second year of Starfleet Academy before a tumultuous departure. (Chakotay, Torres respectively).
  • A holographic Chief Medical Officer, who qualifies as a Starfleet Officer. (The Doctor)
  • An ex-Borg, liberated from the Collective who subsequently becomes part of the crew. (Seven of Nine).
  • Two Delta Quadrant natives, who serve as guides and advisers to the crew, as well as cook, morale officer, ambassador, nurse, etc. (Neelix, Kes).

This is infinitely more interesting than having a ship full of people who are largely identical to each other, apart from physical appearance and gender. I’m not saying the people from Next Gen or The Original Series have no personality, take it easy, I’m not saying that at all. All I’m saying is that they are boring in contrast to Voyager’s crew. Picard even admits he’s dull in one episode, for Christ’s sake! Now, I’m not anti-Picard, he’s a good man, and a good leader…but Janeway certainly is not dull. And life with Janeway is never boring.

7. The pilot episode. The best opener in the history of Trek. First episode of TOS, ouch, and Pike is a knobhead. TNG’s ‘Encounter At Farpoint’ has aged horribly, but the plot does nicely emphasize the whole ‘we’re explorers, yay!’ mindset, which is good, but it’s quite slow in places. DS9’s ‘Emissary’ is also slow and dull, has the overwhelming problem of the irritating as hell characters, and the religious fluff all through it is tiresome and about as welcome as the plague at your front door. Which is to say, not welcome at all. Enterprise’s ‘Broken Bow’ has more promise, but its weaker than Voyager’s opener. ‘Caretaker’ is a great pilot, it has action, it has danger, it has dilemma, it has an interesting new crew and a great looking new ship, it sets up the characters and the premise of the show with deftness and panache, and it the only opener with a real sense of threat and peril to it. All in all, impressive. By the time I saw ‘Caretaker’ for the first time I had been a long time Voyager fan, probably two years or so, I remember Season 3 was being shown at the time on UK television on the BBC. A friend of mine lent me the VHS video (This was a long time ago and I haven’t seen her for some time, but Sue Tucker, if you’re ever reading this, thanks again!), so I already knew the show and its characters well by the time I saw the first episode. But it was nice to actually see the events I had heard referenced to, and I thought the pilot was great.

8. It broke the conventions I had come to associate with Star Trek over the years by actually being good. Really. Fucking. Good. Finally, a nice short point.

9. Recurring Extras/Crew Complement: (NB: This point is a direct copy and paste from another one of my posts, but I think I put my point across pretty nicely and had plenty good examples, and its very relevant to my point here, so I simply lifted it and put it in this post). This is very appropriate for Voyager’s situation and the closer bond between the crew. eg: Vorik, the Vulcan engineer, Joe Carey, Torres’s deputy, Samantha Wildman, the Science Officer, her daughter Naomi Wildman, (Scarlett Pomers, you are the best Child Actor EVER. Not annoying like Anakin Fucking Skywalker, not immature and whiny. Bravo, young lady), Icheb and the Borg children when they arrive. Even the named crewmen who have few lines, but are present simply for a sense of continuity in the tight-knit crew. Ayala, the other Maquis who beams onto the Bridge in ‘Caretaker’ along with Chakotay and Tuvok who becomes a senior Security Officer, Ashmore, a engineer seen in the background of many scenes, the officer assisting Kim in ‘The Killing Game’ to distract the Hirogen and who Janeway speaks to and supports in ‘Memorial’, Susan Nicolette, one of Voyager’s best engineers whom Torres’s frequently mentions and works with, Lang, a security officer who is assigned to the Bridge to shore up dwindling numbers as the crew is translocated one by one in ‘Displaced’ and is consequently seen as a Bridge Officer, presumably due to her actions in ‘Displaced’, Ensign Brooks, seen in ‘Caretaker’, ‘Displacd’, ‘Darkling’, ‘The Raven’ and ‘Year of Hell’, and and any number of unnamed but recurring extras. Its a nice touch to the show. (I’m sure we see more than one hundred and fifty over the course of the show, exceeding the crew complement, but as I’ve said, I care not a single jot for such small oversights). Cool bit of trivia, Ensign Brooks is played by Sue Henley, Kate Mulgrew’s stunt-double. I understand KM is a quite the ‘all her own stunts, just like Jackie Chan’ type, but she wouldn’t have been allowed to do everything!

10. The Delta Flyer. Hooo Nelly, any crew that builds and sleek, tough-as-nails hot-rod to fly around in is cool with me. Its like having a Ferrari in your garage. It was a shame when the first one got destroyed…but hey, its ok! They’re building a new one, hooray…which in ‘real world’ terms is blatantly just the interior set of the first Flyer with patent-pending ‘go-faster-red panels’ on the inside. Hee hee, awesome! I guess the Voyager crew got the design right first time around, and figured ‘Aw hell, let’s just rebuild the same ship again. It works and it looks funky.’ There is a whole episode called ‘Drive’ dedicated to the test-run of the new Flyer which involves them signing the craft up for an interstellar race, and any episode with a race in it is a winning recipe as far as I’m concerned! I like my sports.

11. Its the best because it just is. (I know, I said 1o not 11 points, but what the hey). As I said, Voyager is the best because it just is. End of.

Okay, part 2 done. Hope you enjoyed, whether you agree or disagree.

Voyager out.

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Star Trek Voyager and Thematic Continuity.

**WORK IN PROGRESS PEOPLE! I’m always adding to this post.**

Btw, if you’re a regular viewer of my blog (and I’m getting a fair few hits at the moment) please feel free to drop me a line. Agree, disagree, voice your own opinions, I’m always up for some healthy discussion.

(Just a note: When referring to the show, Voyager will stay in normal font. When referring to the vessel, Voyager will be in Italics).

Overall look and feel of the show:

Star Trek has an artistic and visual continuity that I find very pleasing as a viewer. This is true of all Trek, (with the exception of The Original Series due to the elapsed time, both our time-line and theirs, between the two generations). I even like the ‘Many Different Types of Forehead Aliens’ that Trek is famous for, as humanoid species are common throughout the galaxy I actually consider this a nice constant. The vessels encountered are varied in design, singularly exceptional in terms of ingenuity and variety, from series regulars such as the bioships of Species 8472 to the hunter-craft of the Hirogen, to the one-offs such as the manta-ray like vessels of the Devore Imperium or the Think Tank vessel from the episode of the same name. And they’re different colours! Starships do not just have to be silver and grey. I like the fact that Starfleet vessels are this colour as it is the best colour for ships in my opinion, but other civilisations have different colour vessels. Borg = black and green. Hirogen = brown. Romulans (not really featured in Voyager much but I include them out of courtesy to other Treks) = green. Species 8472 = yellow/orange. Its a simple device for providing continuity, but boy does it work. Of course, there are only so many colours, and sometimes this simply isn’t enough to distinguish a newly encountered race from another. Voyager will sometimes employ previously developed and used ship models and CGI models in its episodes, for example the freighter encountered in the opening teaser from ‘Warlord’, seen that ship before, and the ships from ‘Favourite Son’, but ALL Treks do this, so that’s not a problem for me). So, other looks are employed to achieve a sense of ‘new worlds, new civilisations.’ The Swarm from the episode of the same name, tens of thousands of small ships which literally ‘swarm’ ships to drain their power so they can then board them and attempt to kill the crew inside, the sheer size of the immense mothership of the Voth from ‘Distant Origin’ (sometimes size really DOES matter), the lattice from ‘Heroes and Demons’. It is seen only too briefly, but in such episodes where the threat is at first unseen and unknown, this is an intentional device. This leads nicely into my next point about continuity.

The explorers that we journey with sometimes get only glimpses of the alien presence or strange anomaly that threatens them, threatens them due to malicious intent or because of simple misunderstanding. These misunderstandings often come about because the aliens are so intrinsically different to the explorers that finding common ground and communication is initially difficult. Examples for your consumption:

  1. The aliens from ‘Catheixis.’
  2. The lattice, light-based aliens from ‘Heroes and Demons.’
  3. The alien (Or aliens, this is never established) that plague the crew with strange visions in an attempt to render them comatose from ‘Persistence Of Vision.’ With these particular aliens, not even their motives are discovered.
  4. The strange sicknesses afflicting the crew from ‘Scientific Method.’
  5. The dark matter lifeforms from ‘Good Shepherd.’

Sometimes these mysteries are solved, sometimes not. Things do not always end up with neat endings tied up in a little package in real life, so I like it when some mysteries remain unsolved.

When non-humanoid species are encountered, the design ethos is also one of staggering creativity. 8472 look amazing. The briefly seen creatures invisbible to other species eyes without the right technology from ‘Riddles’ are also unique. The big-ass space-dwelling organism from ‘Elogium’ resemble creatures seen before in Trek (Dunno what ep, if it ain’t Voyager I don’t care much anyway), but they are still a new lifeform. The lattice aliens previously mentioned from ‘Heroes and Demons’ may not be as well realised visually, but the very idea of a form of life made of light, with a form of transportation like their version of a starship that is also constructed of light is fantastic.

Alien worlds/spacestations/other locations:

The variety on offer concerning the locations where all this exploring and action occurs surpasses what is on offer from practically every other tv show and movie ever produced. Trek surpasses nearly all of them with ease. A minor quibble I do have, and this has been true of Trek since its inception, is that its environments can often be antiseptic, too clean and tidy for a large galaxy teeming with every conceivable kind of life. An extra level of detail would have been very welcome. The Starfleet vessels are clean cut and ordered, and that is entirely appropriate for military vessels, and its also a conscious design choice. However, the Romulan ‘city’ seen in an episode of Next Gen (I think it was ‘Unification’, both parts) screamed ‘SET!’ so loud it nearly made my eyes water. And the city seen in ‘Random Thoughts’ didn’t really feel like a city. This is in complete parallel to wonderfully realised locations such as the planet of Quarra from ‘Workforce’ or the city from ‘Dragon’s Teeth’. I reckon this is often down to budget restraints rather than lack of imagination, the creative department can only do so much with a weekly/monthly TV budget. And it not as if the makers of the show could simply substitute a real world location for a set, unless the location required an outdoor area, fields or mountains with no evidence of technology or buildings. This is not ER or CSI. This is sci-fi. We want alien worlds, not badly dressed human cities pretending to be alien worlds. This means they need to construct sets from scratch or rely on CGI. These budget restraints did require a little creative thinking in terms of reusing certain sets and props (I see a courtyard used more than once in Season 4, in the episode ‘Random Thoughts’, and then again in ‘Concerning Flight’. It is heavily redressed and looks totally different, and I did not notice on first viewing. I think it is a ‘reward’ of repeated viewings, you notice small details you missed first time around. I personally have no trouble filling in the extra details with my imagination, so I don’t mind the small omissions. They’re a bonus more than a necessity. These intentional design choices coupled with budget restraints both lend a certain aesthetic quality, an uncluttered, raw visual appeal. I suppose that the simplicity and even barren nature of certain sets and locations is not necessarily a bad thing, its less of a distraction from the action taking place on screen. Location scouts to a great job on Voyager, finding real world locations as substitute for alien worlds. It would be nice to go there for real of course, but alas, until warp drives become reality, the blue marble will just have to suffice. Some great real world locations that stand-in as alien worlds:

  1. The Occampan city from ‘Caretaker.’ Actually the LA Convention Centre, expertly redressed with careful camera angles to avoid LA cityscape through the large windows and the obviously earthbound entrance foyer.
  2. The Kazon encampment from ‘Caretaker’, in fact generally the whole surface of Occampa. Some great lighting and visual effects on the camera really hammer home the absolute desolation of the place, the utter lack of a drop of moisture.
  3. The lush world from ‘The 37’s.’
  4. The planet controlled by the Mokra Order from ‘Resistence.’
  5. The barren primordial world from ‘Basics, Part 1 and 2.’
  6. The storage facility from ‘Concerning Flight.’ Feels and looks like a working facility and power generator because it is a real, working factory in real life.
  7. The out of the way planetoid in ‘Equinox, Part 2’ where Voyager captures some of the Equinox crew.

Trivia Alert: The alien world nicknamed ‘Planet Hell’ by the Voyager crew from Season 2’s ‘Parituition’ is a reference to the Generic Alien Planet set re-used on all of the latter day Trek shows, due to the nickname bestowed on the set on the Paramount Lot. Planet Hell. Threat over, stand down Trivia Alert.

Going to have to compare to Star Wars here, as I am also a massive fan of that saga. I usually see little point in comparing these two wildly different sagas, but this is one area where I feel I can stand the two up against each other. One area I feel Star Wars has an advantage over Star Trek is the lived-in, more gritty feel to the locations seen. The nature of the Star Wars Galaxy is different to Star Trek’s, the galaxy is ‘older’ for lack of a better word and more interconnected, exploration is not the name of the game anymore, seventy or eighty percent of it is mapped and connected to the overall civilisation. The Trek Galaxy is set in our galaxy, the Milky Way, levels of technology vary greatly from species to species, some parts are interconnected and work together (ie, the Federation) whilst other sectors of space are very much a no-man’s land with everyone fighting for themselves (ie: the sectors Voyager and her crew initially find themselves in). These worlds may be new to us the viewers and to the crews of the ships of exploration we follow, but they are not new to their inhabitants. Some are as old and advanced as Earth, some less so, some more so. Just that extra level of detail to an already detail-rich galaxy would have been very welcome.

Here’s some examples where a massive level of detail is achieved:

  1. The station at the beginning of the Nekrit Expanse. Feels very old and dangerous, a floating Mos Eisley, if you will.
  2. The ex-Borg settlement seen in ‘Unity.’ Detailed interior set, some great exterior special effects shots, and the compound overlooking a rocky vista lend that important sense of ‘place’ and believability.
  3. The Occupied France town from ‘The Killing Game.’
  4. The Varro Generational Ship. Sharp contrast between the dirty, well-used engineering sections and the clean, calm living areas. Amazing what a bit of smoke and good lighting can achieve.
  5. The decimated city from Dragon’s Teeth. Wow. A picture of a society post-apocalypse. The images of the end of a civilisation in the teaser before the opening credits. The view from above as Voyager comes in to land, and as they fly amongst the skyscrapers. Huge, crumbling ruins, girders and columns reaching up to the rusty, radiation-scarred sky, appearing like a skeleton’s ribcage. That’s awesome. A very well realised location. The set for the underground chambers that hold the Vaadwaur are also excellent, and really look like they’ve been there for 900 years. Having Voyager landed amongst the ruins creates scale, makes the city look city sized, which is another nice bit of attention to detail.
  6. The Irish town from ‘Fair Haven’/’Spirit Folk.’
  7. The Hospital Ship from ‘Critical Care’. Again, exterior shots lend so much to the sense of place and of a society struggling in terms of resources and materiel. More clever use of different levels of light and the colour of surrounding scenery to emphasise the differences in the clinical and cold class system in effect on the world.
  8. Quarra, the world from Workforce. Sweeping shots of the megalopolis, the tram system and the river, implying a huge city in themselves, the detailed power station, the scale of the inside of the facility, the shots of Janeway and Jaffen, Chakotay and Torres in the streets of the city, interior scenes in Janeway and Jaffen’s apartments, exterior shots of apartment buildings, the shots of Voyager and other ships in orbit, passing spacestations and defence platforms and seeing the planetary shield at work, all lend to a sense of civilisation, as it it were a real, working, living and breathing world.
A megapolis on the planet of Quarra and the river that runs through it.

A megalopolis on the planet of Quarra and the river that runs through it.

Trivia Alert: In the original concept for ‘Workforce’, the production team had the idea of a caste system on this particular world where the labour shortage came about because the upper classes did not work, leaving the manual labour to the lower classes. If you look closely at the city in the opening shot of the two-parter, the city on one side of the river to the left of the screen where the tram comes from is all majestic buildings and sweeping views, whereas on the other side of the river, where the tram stops, are all the power facilities, factories, workers accommodation, etc. However, due to an already packed show, this subplot was dropped to focus on other more important elements. Still, neat idea, and the first shot was left unchanged as an homage to this concept. Threat over, stand down Trivia Alert.

The USS Voyager:

Naturally, the USS Voyager NCC 74656 deserves a big mention in any talk of thematic continuity. The very strength and dependability of the ship is of critical importance to the crew aboard her. Their situation warrants a closer bond to the ship. I don’t care what anyone says, the link between this crew and their vessel is more profound than the connection between any other ships and crews that have come previously. Voyager is their home, they rely on the vessel for their very existence, the air they breathe, the heat and pressure they require in the vacuum, protection from the space outside. When I say they rely on her, I don’t just mean for her weapons and shields. They need her. The bond is particularly evident between the captain and her ship, true of many captains but again Voyager’s situation invites an extra level to the bond. She often addresses Voyager like a person, like another member of her crew, and treats her with the same care and respect she gives the rest of her crew. (Well, when circumstances are not forcing her to fly the ship between two collapsing neutron stars, absorb some punishment from enemy weapons during a battle, or riding a wavefront in front of a detonating wormhole. 😀 But hell, THAT is exciting and what Star Trek is all about! Its a starship, its supposed to get beaten about somewhat in adventures whenever the opportunity presents itself.)

Voyager’s overall appearance lends itself to more of a military, working starship ethic than the Enterprise D’s DFS (that’s a furniture shop, if you don’t know) feel to it. The D’s Bridge looks like somebody’s lounge, not a working, active starship. Voyager’s corridors are metallic silver, grey and black. The Bridge has more consoles, more positions for Bridge Officers to crew, it has a raised Command Deck in front of Conn, it has railings to separate areas and for crew support during rough rides, the lights dim slightly when at Red Alert to encourage and aid focus, the consoles seem brighter. Engineering feels like a real, working engine room, and warp core is more ‘realistic’. As realistic as made up technology can be, anyway. The visible PTCs (Power Transfer Conduits) underneath the decking are a great addition. To anyone not in the know, these are the long, blue-lit panels underneath the deck in the centre of the Main Level of Engineering. The blue is generated by the antimatter they use as a power source. The Shuttlebay and Cargo Bays appear to be actual, functioning areas, there is even a ‘Warning: Variable Gravity Area’ alert on the floor in yellow letters in the former, a great bit of attention to detail. The colours are more sensible, grey, silver, proper colours, not a light cream that looks really out of place on a starship. The ship has colour themes which are in-arguably silver, grey, and blue. Silver and grey for the titanium and duranium which makes up most of her primary hull, and the blue is generated by the many power sources aboard: the warp core, the bioneural gel-packs, the deflector dish, the nacelles. So, in terms of themes, Voyager is a very pleasant and excellently detailed constant.

Trivia Alert: A minor qualm many fans had with the show was Voyager’s often undamaged appearance. The ship would suffer damage in the course of an episode, sometimes minor, sometimes major, but more often than not the next episode would resume with an undamaged, clean ship flying along. The writers and producers wanted to show long-term damage on Voyager, not enough to effect everyday running of the ship so much, but simply to maintain hull damage from previous exploits that they may not have had time to repair. The from-on-high people at Paramount panicked at this idea, without merit I feel, thinking that this would turn fans off the show, believing a clean ship at the start of each episode was what people wanted. Hmm. But I digress. In context of the lore, exterior damage on the ship does weaken the entire structure of the vessel, so exterior damage would have been top priority for repair once the danger had passed or been defeated. This does explain why battle or other types of damage would disappear between episodes. It would have been dealt with. They have facilities aboard Voyager for the recycle and replacement of materials and reusing it to repair interior and exterior damage. A neat way of explaining the quick repair is this: appearances. Janeway would be aware that a vessel displaying damage from previous encounters may attract the attention of other aggressive sorts, something she would seek to avoid for her people’s safety. Threat over, stand down Trivia Alert.

This is a section lifted and modified slightly from another of my posts, but its relevant here as well so, here you go: Some people say ‘Oh, but they don’t have Starbases to go to, so whats the deal-?’ So…they don’t have to stop every few damn episodes at Starbases, hmm? GOOD! Who wants to see an episode where they sit in a Starbase and wait for repair or upgrades? That’s not exciting or interesting! They utilise alien ports on occasion, the Markonian Station and the station before the Nekrit Expanse spring to mind, the first would certainly be large enough to house port services and dedicated reapir facilities, and the crew are offered aid and assistance with repair from alien species that they help along the way, but I only need this to be implied. I don’t need to see it, and Voyager does not waste episodes on such unnecessary details. And why is the Enterprise always on its way from one Starbase or another? Seems that ship can’t spend more than five minutes alone without experiencing some kind of fault or needing a refit. AGAIN. Lucky for us there’s another crew out there having adventures, not sitting in stations twiddling their thumbs.

Continuity in terms of alien races:

The Primary Unicomplex, home of the Borg.

The Primary Unicomplex, home of the Borg.

I mentioned this briefly earlier in relation to the differing colours schemes used for the various vessels of the Trek universe, but I only touched upon it lightly. Of the many, many alien species seen in Voyager, the Borg and the Hirogen are particularly well realised. Borg vessels never lose their inherent sense of foreboding doom and menace, the green lighting effects and flashing strobe lights alone used to fuck me up when I was 15/16. I’m not talking ‘Alien’ levels of fear here, (the movie) but they used to make me feel very uneasy. Narrow corridors in a honeycomb-like maze of passageways and tunnels, large bulkheads which seem to encroach on the characters and therefore the viewers, and the staring, calculating evil of the drones makes for great enemies. And you can’t say anything but a capital-letter Constant when it comes to their vessels. You’ve got your cubes, your spheres, your probes (rectangles) and diamonds. Any geometric shape seems game for the Collective. I was really impressed by the Unicomplex first seen in ‘Dark Frontier’. It is located in Borg space, and it the ‘home’ of the Borg, where much of their fleet is stationed when not on assimilation or other assignments. If you’re thinking ‘what other assignments, come on! Its assimilation or nothing!’ I refer you to ‘The Omega Directive’, which reveals more about the Borg’s relentless search for perfection. What’s the point of all the assimilation, all the destruction and death they perpetrate if not to use the spoils for their own gain? Also, see ‘Unimatrix Zero’. There, their quest for total control and a desire for unity is explored in more depth, from the Borg’s point of view instead of from the perspective of outside observers. I went on a tangent there, returning to my point now. The Unicomplex is magnificent in scale and brilliantly realised. It feels like a mass of interconnected Borg ships, seemingly growing into each other and consequently outwards as well. Trams moving in-between the various components emphasize the sheer scale of the place. Tuvok states: ‘I’m reading thousands of integrated structures. Trillions of lifeforms. All Borg.’ Um, damn. That be a whole shitload of Borg. Seeing the Delta Flyer flying through the immense structures makes it even more apparent how huge it really is. It also appears in ‘Unimatrix Zero Parts 1 and 2.’

A Transwarp Hub, one of six throughout the galaxy. (Voyager locates four of them).

A Transwarp Hub, one of six throughout the galaxy. (Voyager locates four of them).

The Transwarp Hub seen in ‘Endgame’ is a very different location, but shares the design ethic of the Collective. Dark grey, green lighting, square, angular structures, a very ‘no bullshit’ design. But the idea of placing the Hub on top of a neutron star (Holy Moley!) is a fantastic one. It would provide all the power the Borg would ever need to maintain the immensely powerful Hub, and the Collective had perhaps found a way to prolong the stars life), and makes for a magnificent location for the viewers.  The Hub may not share the scale of the Unicomplex, it only covers about an eighth of the surface of the neutron star, perhaps less, (these stars are not actually that large, having collapsed in on themselves, but they are big enough and dense almost beyond comprehension), but size is not as important as the actual sight of this facility, sat atop a star as if it was the most natural thing in the universe. No other race so far encountered in the Star Trek universe would be able to comprehend such an undertaking, let alone actually build such a place. their facilities would be crushed, destroyed by the colossal forces at work on the stars surface and by its massive gravitational pull. Continuity in the overall look and feel of the Borg is excellently maintained throughout Voyager’s run. They have a very real menace and evil-ness (not a word, but I like it) missing from their first appearances. Anyone who says ‘Oh, they’re not as dangerous, they were more powerful earlier on, boo hoo’ can’t handle the fact that Voyager doesn’t puss out against them, fights them, fights them effectively and actually TAKES THE FUCKERS ON. Stick it to ’em baby!

As for the Hirogen, everything on their ships seems super-sized owing to their physical size, any Voyager crewmembers who find themselves aboard Hirogen hunting vessels seem smaller than usual, more vulnerable than we usually see them. See ‘Hunters’, ‘Prey’, ‘Flesh and Blood’ for great examples of this. Again, low lighting is instinctively menacing to humans, creatures who live largely by daylight. Bones on the walls and in nets and fucking massive guns and bladed weapons mounted everywhere are also ominous signs… I also like the spherical central control system used to manipulate the vessel, unlike anything else I have seen before and a nice touch. Everything about them screams threat and danger, from their imposing size and powerful voices to their attitude towards other races, which can be summed up as: Everything Else Is Prey. Kill Everything Else And Proceed To Mount Them On Your Wall. It does rather generate an attitude of ‘Okay, dangerous. Avoid.’ However I personally am pleased that Voyager fails to avoid them on several occasions then succeeds in fighting them off, notably ‘The Killing Game, Parts I and II’ because it makes for one of my favourite episodes. Hirogen and Nazis are a winning combination for nasty bad guys in my book.

One type of Hirogen hunting vessel.

One type of Hirogen hunting vessel.

Ahhhh! Hirogen Nazis! I hate Hirogan Nazis...

Ahhhh! Hirogen Nazis! I hate Hirogen Nazis...

Trivia Alert: The reason the two main Alphas in ‘The Killing Game’ where not as imposing physically as all the other Hirogen encountered was down to simple real-world factors: they needed good actors, not just hulking great fellows, and this warranted more normal-sized chaps to portray them. No offence to hulking great fellows, but I imagine acting ability is limited there, unless it involves nothing but shouting and growling, like the two Hirogen from ‘Hunters’. Threat over, stand down Trivia Alert.

An Alpha (right) and Beta Hirogen with two Prey, Tuvok and Seven of Nine.

An Alpha (right) and Beta Hirogen with two Prey, Tuvok and Seven of Nine.

Voyager’s nature, both the show and the ship, of constantly being in transit and never staying in one place for very long doesn’t always invite alien races to be regular occurrences. Notable exceptions are:

  1. Kazon: Vast tracts of space being fought over between rival Sects invites multiple appearances.
  2. Vidiians. Powerful species weakened by the Phage, always on the lookout for unwilling organ donors and therefore cover a lot of space in their searches.
  3. Borg Collective. Ultra-powerful, all-seeing hive mind with territory that encompasses thousands of light years and who have the ability to travel around the universe at will are going to be an ever-present threat.
  4. The Hirogen. Nomadic species whose hunts span approximately half the galaxy. We’re going to be seeing them more than once, let’s put it that way.

Themes: (This section is NOT done yet).

There is a GOAL. There are objectives, a reason behind their actions. Goals are as follows:

  • Explore strange new worlds, seek out new life, etc, you know the drill people.
  • Get home.
  • Survive.
  • (Later in show). Battle and defeat the Borg Collective by any means possible.

(Not necessarily in order of importance).

Now, I need goals in my shows and movies. Any quality saga has objectives, things for its heroes to strive for. Voyager’s I explained above. Star Wars = Defeat the Empire. Alien = Stop aliens, prevent them from reaching Earth. Exploring is a worthy goal and more than enough to maintain my interest in itself. But Voyager has an extra element to it with their odyssey of crossing the galaxy…I’ll say that again to drive it home…THE GALAXY, to return home, exploring, struggling, fighting, surviving and derring-do all the way. That is quite simply the most brilliant premise of any show or movie, ever. There is a underlying theme behind Voyager’s entire run, based on an old but favoured phrase from human history. The journey becomes more about the road than the destination. The transformation of Voyager herself from a vessel and method of transportation to a home is gradual and subtle but suddenly very apparent when you realise its happened. The birth of Naomi Wildman. The affection members of the crew, most noticeably Janeway and Paris, show for Voyager. Seeing the crew reluctant to leave Voyager when a chance of getting home seems possible in ‘Hope and Fear’. Seeing Paris and Torres plan for their child and set up home together aboard. The bittersweet actual moment of getting home, happiness and relief mixed with sadness, even some regret that their momentous odyssey is over.

Okay, so we’ve seen vessels lost in space before (deep breath, and LOST IN SPAAAAACE!) the original Battlestar Galactica tv series, etc. So, its not an entirely original premise. But neither is the premise for the other shows. TOS, okay, fairly different to anything that had come before it. TNG: A rehash of the Original, but this is not inherently a bad thing. DS9, similar theme but on a spacestation instead of a starship, and it had a coloured lead, which is great. (If you’ve read this far you know I despise DS9, but respect the choice of an African American lead. Bravo, Star Trek). VOY, again on a vessel, but on the other side of the galaxy in unknown and dangerous space, and the first Trek to feature a female lead. So, aside from lead characters, Trek’s underlying concepts might not be the most original, but its the way they are constructed, delivered and enhanced upon that makes them so good, and so ripe for other fantastic stories tospring up as a result of solid foundations.

The strain and rigours of isolation and loneliness are explored thoroughly in the show. Pining for home and family is acute, and often revealed in dialogue. Good examples: ‘Eye Of The Needle’, ‘The 37’s’, ‘Persistence Of Vision’, ‘Hunters’, ‘Night’, ‘Pathfinder.’ These are episodes were the loneliness of pining is obvious and really hammered home, but there are subtle references to these feelings throughout which become noticeably less frequent as the years pass. A good way of expressing this loneliness, after all, they are surrounded by good friends they can rely on, is this: They don’t feel lonely, but they do feel alone. There is an important difference between the two words.

Other themes that didn’t really fit in anywhere else:

Wow, what a weird title for a section. Anyway, moving along. Now, I mentioned ‘Alien’ earlier, and this is kind of relevant to my next point. Season 3’s ‘Macrocosm’ is a fun episode, and people generally remember it as an action ep, which is more akin to ‘Aliens’ than ‘Alien’. But I always vividly remember being impressed at how well a real, tangible feeling of menace was created when Janeway and Neelix return to an eerily quiet, seemingly abandoned Voyager. The ep starts with a light-hearted exchange between the captain and Neelix on a shuttle as they make their way back to Voyager after an Away Mission, but the tone abruptly changes when they find the ship adrift and mostly offline.The corridors are empty, they find evidence of the crew having to suddenly flee from an unknown force, they catch glimpses of something stalking the corridors, they discover damaged systems and more evidence of some kind of unwanted and unfriendly alien presence on the ship, and then they are attacked in the turbolift by an unseen entity which literally punches its way through the door. (That actually is quite a jump moment the first time you see it, complete with shocked reactions from Janeway and Neelix and an appropriate music stinger). There are a great few scenes where it is just Janeway alone against the aliens as Neelix is abducted, and we see her trying to get the ship back online whilst simultaneously trying to find out what the hell is going on. It changes from tension to action about halfway through, and the shift is appropriate as Janeway and The Doctor figure out a way to combat the alien invaders, so as a whole the episode pans out well and everything ties in really nicely at the end.

Voyager out.

The Ups/Downs of Star Trek Voyager.

Okay, this will take the format of one ‘up’ point and then one ‘down’ point. I was inspired to do this by the Hero/Zero Up/Down formats found in PC Zone and PC Gamer magazines (UK editions, of course), so credit given where credit is due. These are just little niggling issues that I have with the show, like I’ve said before, its awesome but its not perfect, and its a nice way of showing that, despite my extreme partisan love for Voyager, I recognise that it has faults.

(I’m sure I’ll come up with more Ups/Downs, they will be added in due time).

UP:

New plots/storylines: The Brain in the Jar they keep at Paramount certainly does the job in coming up with fresh ideas.

DOWN:

Yup, some storylines are recycled. Some hostile spatial anomalies seem familiar, and a few of the storylines are rehashes of previous episodes. Though not always in a bad way, Season 6’s ‘Good Shepherd’ is far superior to ‘Lower Decks’. I have seen both, and Voyager’s is a much better story. And, like normal, they actually SHOW the action instead of pussing out at the end with TNG’s ‘oh btw, your friend got killed on the mission, god forbid we should actually show something exciting and perhaps even graphic on this show.’ That’s a cop-out.

WINZORZ:

The Hirogen. Damn, some of the most menacing aliens ever seen in Trek. I like the culture, the visual look of the aliens, the ‘prey’ doctrine that dicates much of their actions and ethics (or lack thereof). Oh, and not forgetting the big-ass guns they wield.

FAILDOGS:

Under-used after ‘The Killing Game.’ A cracking sci-fi yarn, and the Voyager crew did defeat them in the end, but I still think the Hirogen would have attacked the ship again, despite the losses they suffered during this battle. They are nomadic and have massive territories, we see them again in Season 7’s ‘Flesh and Blood’, a welcome return and another fine two-parter. Voyager has crossed thousands of light years between these two episodes, largely thanks to the events of ‘Timeless’ and ‘Dark Frontier’, but the Hirogen could have conceivably reached the outskirts of the Alpha Quadrant in their endless search for prey. Still, we had them for a whole half of a season where they featured very heavily, and a guest appearance from a Hirogen in the mindless but fun ‘Tsukatse’, so its not all down.

HERO:

Janeway.

ZERO:

The Overseers, aka the Hierarchy aliens. Those guys are almost as annoying as Ferengi. Almost.

WIRED:

Recurring extras, appropriate for Voyager’s situation and the closer bond between the crew. eg: Vorik, the Vulcan engineer, Joe Carey, Torres’s deputy, Samantha Wildman, the Science Officer, her daughter Naomi Wildman, (Scarlett Pomers, you are the best Child Actor EVER. Not annoying like Anakin Fucking Skywalker, not immature and whiny. Bravo, young lady), Icheb and the Borg children when they arrive. Even the named crewmen who have few lines, but are present simply for a sense of continuity in the tight-knit crew. Ayala, the other Maquis who beams onto the Bridge in ‘Caretaker’ along with Chakotay and Tuvok who becomes a senior Security Officer, Ashmore, a engineer seen in the background of many scenes, the officer assisting Kim in ‘The Killing Game’ to distract the Hirogen and who Janeway speaks to and supports in ‘Memorial’, Susan Nicolette, one of Voyager’s best engineers whom Torres’s frequently mentions and works with, Lang, a security officer who is assigned to the Bridge to shore up dwindling numbers as the crew is translocated one by one in ‘Displaced’ and is consequently seen as a Bridge Officer, presumably due to her actions in ‘Displaced’, Ensign Brooks, seen in ‘Caretaker’, ‘Displacd’, ‘Darkling’, ‘The Raven’ and ‘Year of Hell’, and and any number of unnamed but recurring extras. A nice touch to the show. (I’m sure we see more than one hundred and fifty over the course of the show, exceeding the crew complement, but as I’ve said, I care not a single jot for such small oversights). Cool bit of trivia, Ensign Brooks is played by Sue Henley, Kate Mulgrew’s stunt-double. I understand KM is a quite the ‘all her own stunts, just like Jackie Chan’ type, but she wouldn’t have been allowed to do everything!

TIRED:

The fluctuating crew complement. How many is it? Starting with 155 at the end of ‘Caretaker’, by the time of Season 5’s in ‘Dark Frontier’ the complement is listed as 143. Casualties totalling 12. Now, they lost people to the Vidiians, the Kazon, one unlucky soul in a shuttle crash (uh oh, shuttles!) the disconnected Borg from ‘Unity’, the aliens from Scientific Method (Svirani, I think they’re called, though they are never named on-screen), the Kyrians (One of the alien species from ‘Living Witness’, they are worthy of mention because they senselessly gun down and kill three of the engineering staff. One was perhaps revived later, or perhaps not), the destructive nebula from ‘One’, and, of course, to the Hirogen’s guns and blades. 12 seems slightly too low, it should be more like twenty or so. Its a small niggle, and Voyager is the hero ship so the writers have prerogative, but it vexes me. They acquire additional crew over the years, (Neelix, Kes, Seven, Borg children, Equinox survivors), but they would suffer casualties which they wouldn’t be able to replace in the dangerous space they journey through.

UP:

Fully fleshed out, intriguing and layered characters in the form of Kathryn Janeway, The Doctor, Seven of Nine, Tom Paris, B’Elanna Torres, Kes. (Tuvok is an odd ‘in the middle’ character here. He is both explored, then neglected. Odd.) The sub-plots and interpersonal relationships between the characters is deep, and great to watch as they develop and change over the years.

DOWN:

Underused characters, with potential and flavour of their own which is not fully realised in the form of Chakotay, Harry Kim, Neelix. Often Chakotay’s relevance overall is measured by his importance to Janeway, and their relationship, dependence on each other and friendship is an integral part of the show. Now, this is an important facet to his character, but he is still underused in other regards. He shines in the episodes that are dedicated to him, such as ‘Nemesis’ and ‘Natural Law’, and when he is left in charge in Scorpion, Part 2 when Janeway is badly wounded and put out of action for a few days, he proves he is up to the task. His actions (see the episode for details) I personally disagree with, 8472 were the greater threat, not the Borg, (I know, wow. They must be a hell of a threat to usurp the Borg’s crown) but he chooses his path and sticks with it. Much like Harry Kim, whose overall worth is measured by his friendship with Paris and their interactions.

PWNERS:

Seven Of Nine.

PWNED:

The first silver catsuit. That looked uncomfortable for the woman. Sure, part of her appeal is sex appeal for boys of a certain age with the dicks, but she’s a great character too. The later outfits were much better. They got her out of the borg get-up to quickly. That was a mistake by TPTB. (The Powers That Be, the from-on-high producers who were worried that she’d be in the Borg get-up for too long. Sigh).

STIMULANT:

Same amount of technobabble jargon jargon crap bunch of bull crap as all the other shows.

DEPRESSANT:

Same amount of technobabble as the other shows. Grrrrrr. I understand the majority of it, I am interested as to what it means, so I find out and retain the information, but I don’t need it to be in the show. Other sci-fi manages just fine without it. I understand it is part of Trek, but tone it down a little, please.

EPICS:

Good episodes. About ninety percent of them. Mmm…maybe eighty five.

LESS-EPICS:

Not so good episodes. When Voyager strayed from what it did best, it would falter and stumble like a moth looking for a light. But by god, when it got it right, its the best sci-fi/drama/adventure in the universe. In the first season, it started off with a jog, built up to a run in the second, stumbled for a bit and nearly tripped, found its feet in the first half of the third and worked up into a fast sprint, and from there it was a strong sprint all the way to the finale.

As with anything of real class, quality sometimes runs headfirst into shoddiness, and the two have a nasty argument with lots of pushing and shoving, with quality ultimately prevailing due to artistic creativity. Without the Downs, how would we recognise the Ups?

Voyager out.

Star Trek Voyager: Fixing the Mistakes of previous Star Trek series, one episode at a time.

Lessons one to eight to follow. Sit up at the back, you will learn something.

Number One: We shall have a charismatic captain who is more interesting than a cardboard cut-out of herself. Result:

VOY: That one huge damn affirmative. She practically bleeds charisma, and has enough personality and back-story to keep anyone happy.

TOS: Okay, I’ll give Kirk this, he does have style. Annoying style sometimes, but style none the less.

TNG: That’s a negative. Wake me when its over, people.

DS9: Hell NO. One more brooding, self-pitying moment I’m going to foam at the mouth.

Number Two: Actually do something about the problems that assail you that doesn’t involve sitting around a large table forever until you just wish everyone was dead? (Thank you Onion News for that quip). Result:

VOY: Affirmative, we shall have meetings in the Briefing Room when we have sufficient time during a crisis, (got to get the full money’s worth out of the nice set, after all) but otherwise we shall have impromptu but thoroughly informative meetings on the Bridge, or on the planet/spacestation/whatever location of the trouble that we’re having.

TOS: That’s a negative, we will sit in Kirk’s quarters and yammer about the illogicalness of it all until the bloody cows come home.

TNG: Sweet Zombie Jesus, do these people ever have any adventures at all? (I know they have some, I’m just emphasising my point. That Briefing Table must feel like its the centre of their universe).

DS9; Hell no, we shall yabber and play with a stupid baseball whilst we talk, and talk, and talk. And then start unnecessary fights and get a lot of people needlessly killed.

Number Three: Shall we pander to and pussy-foot around bullying enemy species who push their luck with our patience, or not? Result:

VOY: No, we shall fucking NOT do that. We will show them the standard Starfleet tolerance and patience, but only until they push one time to many and then look the hell out. Light the blue touch paper and STAND WELL BACK.

TOS: Woah, I didn’t say to beat the tar out of some Andorian because he looked at you cross-eyed, down boy!

TNG: That’s largely a negative, but it is an affirmative with the Romulans: the skipper is way to nice to the frikking Romulans. Grow a pair man! Tell them to fuck off!

DS9: Okay, I said not to pussy foot around them, I didn’t say to go off in a stupid hissy fit every time somebody hurts your feelings. Sheesh.

Number Four: We shall look after our crew and not let them be senselessly killed by Alien Species A, B, C, etc, or by hostile anomaly/lifeform 1, 2, 3, etc. Result:

VOY: Damn, the woman’s like a lioness protecting her cubs. Do. Not. Mess. Sure, we shall have casualties, this is a dangerous profession after all, but not pointless and avoidable ones.

TOS: Holey moley man, try and have at least ten percent of your crew left alive by the end of the five year mission! (Insert commercial voice here) : Trouble with spear-wielding natives? Are booby traps and weird dangerous phenomenon getting you down? Then send in a Red Shirt and all your problems will be solved! Or leave Spock in command on a mission on a shuttle and let him leave two crewmen alone to be slaughtered by the gigantic natives! You’ll be rid of those pesky aliens in no time! (End commerical voice).

TNG: Um, we shall look after our senior staff, and Federation scientists in distress yet again, and nobody else. Oh, and for the record, that crewman in First Contact that Picard shoots? The guy lying in the corridor during the scene on Deck Six? Janeway totally WOULD HAVE SAVED HIM. Nanoprobes in his blood or no nanoprobes. So there.

DS9: Don’t look after yourselves, then it’ll be over and you can finally rest.

Number Five: We shall have a nice mix of action episodes, cerebral episodes, romance episodes, and the occasional comedy episode thrown in for old times sake? Result:

VOY: That’s affirmative. We shall have a close to perfect mix of these, though an extra bit of quiet introspection at the end of a few more episodes wouldn’t hurt, to consider all that has happened, to lead nicely into the next episode and answer all questions. (ie: The 37’s, Deadlock, Resolutions, Real Life, Scorpion, Restrospect, Equinox, Dragon’s Teeth, Flesh and Blood. Good scenes at the end, rounded them off nicely. Whereas: Learning Curve, Cold Fire, The Killing Game, Night, Barge of the Dead. I had a few questions at the end of them. The Killing Game in particular. Fantastic ep, but a few loose ends…)

TOS: Um, largely affirmative.

TNG: Woah, too much boring ‘not a lot action going on’ here. This is sci-fi, not daytime tv.

DS9: Sigh. Does anyone think about the consequences of their actions in this show, or shall we just use our brains to think of more ways to complain about stuff? Way to much whizz-bang-pop-killamajig going on here. Oh, and for the record, having two characters constantly saying they hurt each other during sex does not qualify as romance. It qualifies as irritating, lazy character development.

Number Six: We shall fully explore all of our characters. Result:

VOY: An unusual negative. One or two are neglected when it became apparent that others where more interesting and open to development. They are all explored, but some not nearly enough. Its safe to say Janeway, the Doctor, Seven, Paris and Torres have the most time spent on them.

TOS: Negative. Only if your name is Kirk, Spock or McCoy.

TNG: ULTRA-NEGATIVE, unless your name is Picard or Data. ‘And next up, the Picard and Data Show! To jointly go where no bald guy and android has been before…’ Hmm. William T. Riker? Who the hell-? Geordi LaForge? Who the hell’s he? I always kinda liked old Geordi. Half the engineer Torres is, but a decent guy nonetheless.

DS9: That’s a negative! We shall resort to having two underdeveloped characters from TNG to fill out the crew! And the rest (save Kira, she’s alright) shall be too annoying to need developing!

Wow, minus points all round there. This should have been addressed, methinks. Have less characters! Five or six, with three additional guest starring roles. Recurring roles. Like that Cardassian feeb from DS9. I may dislike it intensely, but that was a good idea. But all the shows had casts that were just slightly too large. Ah well, ensemble shows always have this problem. Nobody’s perfect. Thank god. I like the flaws personally. Gives it more character, more flavour. Moving on.

Number Seven: We shall explore interesting and fresh locations and meet interesting new aliens and lifeforms on a regular basis, as befitting a show about EXPLORING and the future of humanity amongst the stars. Result:

VOY: That’s another massive AFFIRMATIVE. I was going to list all the species and lifeforms and new worlds Voyager encounters in its odyssey, both the ones seen and the ones referenced but not actually seen in episodes, but when I started to compile a list…just take my word for it, there is a shit-load, and eight-five percent of them are interesting and cool to watch and learn about. The other fifteen percent we either see too briefly, or come under the ‘referenced but not seen’ tag. Quite a lot of Borg, but I love the Borg and love the way Voyager takes them on, so that’s great for me!

TOS: That’s kind of an affirmative, but there are issues here with poor make-up and sets. Again, budget constraints more than laziness, which is a saving grace I suppose.

TNG: Too much Federation colonists and same-old same-old aliens here. Neutral Zone patrol? Again? really? I know its an issue, but there are other Starfleet vessels out there up for some adventuring. Now, I like Federation citizens, but I don’t need to see them all the time. I know they’re there. Can we please do some more exploring?

DS9: They hardly fucking go anywhere! What’s to explore? The Entertainment Boulevard with those goddamn gameboards? Bajor? Seen it already! An occasional foray through the wormhole is not enough! This is a show about exploration! It is your trade people! SO DO SOME.

Number eight: We shall have a cool looking ship for our intrepid crew to gallivant around in. Result:

VOY: That’s affirmative. The USS Voyager. Look at them lines. What a beauty. She’s like the  Ferrari of the starship world, only with phasers and a warp core. I’m sure there’s plenty of cup holders to boot.

TOS: Hmm. Its kind of…angular. Great ship, but the lines aren’t quite as pleasing to the eye as they could be.

TNG: Nope, negative, nadda. Its about as aerodynamic as a bowling ball. And, and I know ‘aerodynamic’ is the incorrect word here, but I don’t care. ‘Subspace/warp field’ isn’t half as amusing a put-down. I don’t care how powerful it is, it looks weird. If someone put a model of the D on a desk it would fall forwards with an ungainly jolt and a sound ‘clunk.’ Improvement is made with the E, but it looks like its been stretched to far on a rack. However, its sleeker, so that salvages a few points.

DS9: Wow, surprise, yet another resounding negative. The station is a weird looking creature at the best of times, though I find the round docking ring makes sense, (I prefer Starfleet Starbases, much better looking) and the Defiant, nippy as the little bugger is, looks like a dinner plate with three bits of wood stuck onto the sides. Never a good look.

Side Note: I do not fail to include Enterprise here as a subtle insult to the series, but I don’t know enough about that particular saga to give it adequate analysis. From what I’ve seen, it strives to be a bit different to all the other shows/movies, and that was probably its downfall with the hardcore, old-school and fucking boring fans which give other Trekkers a bad name sometimes. It seemed pretty good to me, different yet relying on the good old Trek stalwarts as well. I may personally fiercely like one show, and not so much the others, but I won’t deny enjoyment of the other four series to other fans. I like to voice my opinions, I’m not going to go to a blog of someone who likes TNG or DS9 and rag on their show for being shit. I might make fun of them, but never at a personal level. I have my opinion, they have theirs. Freedom of speech, I love it. Once I know more about ENT, I might include it here.

Side Note 2: The hypocrisy of anyone who says Voyager has more technobabble than previous Trek’s beggars belief. What the fuck-? Are we watching the same shows? In TOS Scotty spouts technocrap out of every darn orafice, TNG is like one long god damn science lesson, although somehow managing to make the fascinating subject seem dry. DS9 is less guilty of this trend, but its still present and correct. Voyager has the technobabble that is present in all Trek. No more, no less. As it should be.

Voyager out. For now.

Star Trek: All about the layers…..

I read somewhere recently that Star Trek, apparently, has no meaning beyond what the most basic level of what you see happening on screen. I would just like to clarify that that is the stupidest fucking thing I have ever heard. The criticism was levelled mainly at Voyager and Deep Space Nine. The latter being criticised for too much religious fluff with no actual meaning behind it, concentrating on being the black sheep of the family so much it forgot to include any subtext. The former was criticised for a lack of provoking subtext, and a lack of extended story arcs, stretching for say 5 or 6 episodes.

Now, I can only speak on behalf of Voyager here, if you’ve read other entries of mine you know I don’t like DS9. If you haven’t here is my opinion for  clarification: DS9 is fucking rubbish. Moving on.

I’m not going to list every episode here, I’ve picked three or four good examples from each season, but the examples I will give are more than enough to demonstrate my point that Star Trek DOES have significant levels of meaning, subtext and is master story-telling at its finest. For the record I include all Trek in that sweeping statement, even the shows that I don’t like.

Okay, here we go. Several good examples from each season:

Season 1:

Phage: The dangers of the chaos super-viruses and diseases could so easily wreak upon a society, and a respectful nod to the bravery of organ donors. (Willing organ donors I mean, an important distinction). Also the first chance for Janeway to demonstrate her protective nature, which runs something along the lines of ‘attack me and my crew, you won’t live long enough to regret it.’

Projections: One of the first of a couple episodes where the Doctor has his sense of reality, and therefore the very meaning of his and all existence, thrown into question. What is REALITY? How do you define such a thing? Many people have their favourite Voyager eps, but this one is an often overlooked gem.

State of Flux: Loyalty and betrayal. Simple, effective.

Learning Curve: How two disparate groups can learn to coexist in harmony despite the huge differences between them on paper.

Season 2:

Manoeuvres: A lesson in not shouldering a task that is not yours alone to shoulder, lest you get the people your trying to protect in trouble regardless.

Meld: Ooh, a sticky one involving a motiveless murder on the ship, Tuvok’s inability to comprehend such an act, and some nasty repercussions resulting from an ill-advised mind-meld. Trial and punishment sort of stuff, is eye for an eye justice or more murder.

Death Wish: Suicide, assissted suicide and the right of the state to prevent someone who wishes their life to end from ending it in the manner they please. A contentious issues, very well handled in the form of a courtroom drama.

The Thaw: About fear and its many forms, and how to conquer it. Um, that’s kind of an obvious one. 🙂

Season 3:

Sacred Ground: A religious experience makes a fervent agnostic doubt her lifelong distrust of religion. A Science vs. Faith episode, with both coming out, surprisingly, smelling if not of roses then certainly pretty good.

Fair Trade: A valid lesson in not lying to your friends, even with the best intentions or when driven by a fear of their reactions to whatever secret you keep. The message and subtext of this one is this: The truth will out, and usually for the better.

Darkling: Light side of the personality battles the dark side. Both sides make us what we are, but if the dark and the suppressed suddenly comes to the surface, bad things are going to swiftly follow. (Forgive the Star Wars references, but I love that too.)

Real Life: Dealing with the problems in life, not pushing them under the carpet or ignoring them in the hope they will go away.  A nice little moment from Paris explaining family dynamics (and family explosives) to the Doctor.

Season 4:

The Gift: First real contest between humanity and the Borg nature, as Janeway tries to get the newly liberated Borg drone, Seven of Nine, to see the value of her own life as an individual, that she deserves that life and must seize the chance to have it once again.

Scientific Method: When you’re the lab rats, testing on animals suddenly becomes unacceptable, morally corrupt, and worse, sometimes fatal. (Note, in the Trek universe, the Federation does not test on animals. But our society, the viewers society, still does.)

Waking Moments: Whose to say the dream world is not as real to some as the waking world? If you are in their domain, how could you tell you were dreaming, and what could you do about it once you knew? Another of Trek’s (always very well done) ‘nature of existence/reality’ episodes. All the shows have quite a few of these, and I like all of them.

Prey: Is a form of murder, sacrificing a being who wants to live, acceptable when other lives are at stake? Do you give up the life of an innocent, no matter how dangerous they may seem, to save your own lives? At the very least to save yourself a lot of trouble and the threat of destruction? Couple big questions in this ep, and yes, the aforementioned alien does end up dead.

Retrospect: Your own bias and inclination to protect your friends and family can blinker you or even figuratively blind you, leading you to come to completely the wrong conlcusion about someone or something. A lesson in thinking before you point the finger of blame. Once done, there is no going back. Even if you’re wrong. And the consequences can be unpleasant.

Hope and Fear: Read the title please. Obvious yes, self-explanatory, yes. But the interplay and opposition between the hopes and the fears is expertly done, with a great scene between Janeway and Seven in Astrometrics.

Season 5:

Night: Shows how destructive depression can be even to the strongest of individuals. Also a good ep for demonstrating one of the reasons Janeway is the most accessible of the captains. It is she who catches the worst of the depression in this ep, due to the circumstances of the plot. For all her strength and skill, she’s just a woman, just a human being. She’s not a deity or a demigod, she’s fallible, she’s not perfect, and therefore more human than a freak of nature with no quirks or issues whatsoever. But I digress. I simply like my characters to have some rough edges. The episode also deals with ways to cope with such attacks of depression, and how one can come through the other side to begin afresh. All you need is your friends and family to rally around you.

Extreme Risk: A realistic portrayal of the way self-harm is often used as a kind of escape mechanism from real world pain. I had a friend who used to do this for real, and it is an excellent portrayal of the emotional pain and anger that triggers such bouts of self-harming, and how the best way to deal with the source of your pain is to meet it head on. If you need a gentle push or a hard shove in the right direction, so be it. Also a lesson for friends in how to spot the signs of such dangerous destructive intent, ie: Janeway spotting the warning signs, Paris trying to break through to Torres, Chakotay making her face her demons.

Counterpoint: This is about exactly that, counterpoints, contradictions. Trust and distrust. Moments of tender vulnerability followed by bravado and posturing. And a hefty amount of sexual tension thrown in for good measure. 😉

Dark Frontier: Okay, this one is an action, all guns blazing, exploits and adventure ep. However, there is a well crafted subplot which essentially amounts to being a battle for Seven of Nine’s soul which comes to a head in the lair of the Borg Queen. Naturally, where else? Who will she choose, Janeway or the Borg Queen. There is never any real doubt in the viewers mind, but her turmoil is palpable. Seven’s sudden self-doubt and indecision leave her the moment Janeway bursts into the Queen’s lair. One more single moment of hesitation, then Seven makes her choice, Janeway, and never looks back.

Season 6:

Equinox: How passion can quickly become dangerous fanaticism if one is not guarded against it, and how a righteous cause can quickly become a one-way ticket to nothing but destruction. Acts you would not previously have considered suddenly seem acceptable, warranted, even necessary. Also notable for the end scene, the symbolic rehanging of Voyager’s dedication plaque mirroring Janeway stepping back from the brink after seeing what was happening to her. That scene is about as subtle as a smack in the face, but hey, Star Trek isn’t exactly always about the subtle. It can be in your face, straight to the point, no bullshit. Its simply a question of whether that message is delivered as tedious sermonising, or some elegant words and simple yet powerful imagery.

Barge of the Dead: Yay! Nature of existence combined with the eternal ‘is there an afterlife’ debate! In one episode! Hot diggidy daffodils, that’s a tall order, but its done with flair. The ‘afterlife’ question is not really fully explained, were they delusions? Was Torres really seeing her mother? Or was it all some near-death experience? I think the ambiguous ending was intent rather than an oversight. The episode ends abruptly, but the nature of such questions practically demands that the ending be left open to debate.

Alice: The danger of unhealthy obsession graphically portrayed. Portrayed in the form of a sentient, crazed and possibly homicidal ship.

Riddles: Teaches a very important lesson of learning to have patience, tolerance and care for those with a mental illness, no matter how they may try your patience, no matter how debilitating the illness may be.

Season 7:

Repentance: Does repenting a sin make it go away? Does suddenly feeling intense and genuine guilt for a crime you have committed make it less the wrong? Do you deserve a second chance? Is an apology to the victim’s family enough?

Workforce: Is ignorance really bliss? If your memory was wiped and you were placed in a simpler, easier, safer existence, would you be happier, or much less than the person you used to be? If someone tried to ‘rescue’ you from this new existence, would you go without a moments hesitation…or would you stop and think?

Author, Author: Examining the rights of minority groups. Do they have any? Do they deserve them, and if so, how and why?

Friendship One: Demonstrates the dangers of giving a society technology it is not yet mature enough or evolved enough to use safely.

Side note: And, if I’m not mistaken, Voyager never claimed to have connected story arcs. I mean main plots here, not the many interweaving sub-plots that Trek contains. This is not ER for fucks sake, this is a space adventure. New worlds, new locations, new aliens, new action, not one story idea stretched so thin it becomes transparent. Overarching story arcs stretching entire seasons or more work well, Voyager’s battles with the Borg Collective, the Enterprise’s troubles with the Romulans, and of course Voyager’s overall quest to get home, they work, they’re enjoyable.

Voyager out.

A Review of the new Star Trek film. Its the Enterprise crew Jim, but not as we know them.

First of all, I loved it. I thought it took everything that was great about The Original Series, stripped away all the crap and the cheesiness and the awful acting, and made something fresh, original, and different.

Its the Enterprise crew Jim, but not as we know them.

*****OMG SPOILERZ. DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU.*****

What I liked:

First of all, I was impressed beyond belief with the storyline. This is alternate reality Trek, a different version of the Trek galaxy. Parallel universes existing alonside each other because of changing events and different decisions, both ongoing and real (as real as fiction can ever get anyway, you know what I mean), but never touching or influencing each other. Like turning right at a junction or turning left, and the different path taken because of that one decision. It’ll shut up the purists who moan, (Insert whiny voice here) ‘But the ship’s nacelles are a different shape, the Bridge looks different, the uniforms and guns are different, Kirk’s father lived to a ripe old age, whah whah whah.’ (End whiny voice). WHO CARES?! The writers needed a way to establish this alternate reality Trek from the well-established storyline, timeline and canon of already established Trek. Destroying Vulcan and having Spock and Uhura in a relationship was an inspired way of doing this, and I am mightily impressed with the foresight and the vision of this idea. It is canon, but it is new canon, set apart from the already existing storylines and timelines. Its explains any discontinuities and allows the writers to go in a totally new idea with any future films without disrupting the future timeline of The Next Genereation era of crews. Genius. I am one impressed and surprised watcher.

Kirk: I liked the guy. I’m a fan of Shatner, but no fan of Kirk’s. I like him in the films, but I think he’s a dickhead in the TV show. Chris Pine did a great job. He has all the swagger and cockiness of the old Kirk whilst bringing his own personality to the role. Now, I admire a healthy amount of arrogance and cocky grins from my captains. Janeway is my favourite captain, and she has an air of arrogance around her on occasion, shoots more than a couple cocksure grins at her crew or her enemies throughout Voyager’s seasons, she has confidence in her own abilities, and those of her crew and ship. As this confidence is founded on real, genuine capability and a true skill at what she does, I admire this quality in her. Its better than having capable but intrinsically dull person such as Picard in the chair or a straight-up fool in the form of Sisko. Its when confidence is unjustified it pisses me off. Pine’s Kirk exhibits this confidence through most of the movie. The two characters KNOW that they are VERY GOOD at their jobs. And it shows.

Spock: Wow. I was impressed with this guy above everyone else. Its like watching the old spock with a different face. He even looks a lot like a younger Leonord Nimoy. The ears, make-up and eyebrows help, but he did a stellar job mimicking the old Spock’s body movements and voice intonations, whilst at the same time distinguishing himself from the original character.

Scotty: I love Simon Pegg, and he was very good here. He’s a funny guy in real life, and something of a comical presence in the movie. Not comical in the sense of ‘to be mocked’, but instead ‘to create humour and have some great laugh-out-loud lines.’ Nice one Pegg, keep making movies lad. And he’s British. Winner! My only complaint is this: He wasn’t in the movie for long enough! He was introduced way too late for my liking. Still, I guess a director can’t introduce all the characters of an ensemble cast at once with only two hours to work with, and hopefully there’s more movies coming!

McCoy: Karl Urban, I am a convert. I didn’t think he would pull this off at all, but by god, Urban was excellent as Bones. The accent was spot on, as was the galaxy-weariness and the cynical but still caring nature of McCoy. Sir, I tip my hat to you. Bravo, Mr. Urban. He’s a big fella, and you may have noticed that the good and sadly late DeForest Kelly was not the most-well built fellow, but Urban slipped into Bones’ blue uniform like he belonged in there.

Uhura: This lady was a cool customer, and brought something extra to the role. She fleshed it out more, which I liked. The bond between her and Spock felt real and caring, the scene between them in the turbolift was wonderful and well done, and she was introduced in the bar scene as a woman who could handle herself. Hope to see more of her in future movies , though. There’s a lot of potenital there.

Nero was a great bad guy, not insane or a megalomaniac, just enraged and cold. He had an air of real menance about him, and he, his crew and his very imprssive and unique looking ship brought a very real danger to the film.

The ships and weapons had a real sense of raw power behind them. There was a kinetic feel, no doubt helped by the volume and vibrations in the cinema. When the ships jumped to warp, it was like a gun going off, a real sense of speed and motion was created. This is present and correct in the TV shows, but it is different.

The in-jokes. Spock’s eyebrow, Chekov’s speech impediment, Scotty’s ‘I’m givng her all she’s got!’, many many more I can’t quite recall. (I’ll update this upon watching the movie again!) And the Red Shirt! Very well done. The second I saw the guy in the red spacesuit during the space drop scene, I thought: ‘He’s a dead man.’ Now, I have moral objections with the whole Red Shirt thing from old Trek, but this guy was a victim of his own undoing, and, I admit, I found it a nice reference. The people sat behind me and my Dad in the cinema confimred that it was just the right amont of knowing references, I overheard what they were saying as we watched the credits roll, as the woman, a non fan, said to the man, a fan:

Woman: Are you a long time Star Trek fan then?

MAn: Yes, for years now.

Woman: Where there alot of in-jokes?

Man: Yeah, all the way through the film.

Woman: I guessed I missed them because I’m not a fan.

Man: They’re there for the longtime fans like me, but there weren’t too many of them.

Woman: I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. I wouldn’t know unless you pointed them out to me.

So, just the right amount. Nice.

Also: The soundtrack was fantastic. I’ve bought it from Play.com, should be here soon. ANd they got a Mind Meld into the movie. That’s always a good thing!

What I didn’t like:

Kirk get his ass kicked a few too many times for my liking. I know its a dangerous job, but its not good to see the main character getting being beaten down on once every thirty minutes. Come on, he’s a tough guy, he knows how to fight.

Kirk gets promoted at the end. To Captain. Um, excuse me? The guys barely out of the Academy, and you guys are putting him in command of the flagship? Sure, he had proved himself, but that does not make him a fit leader at this point of his life. He’s earned the right to sit on the Bridge, certainly. NOT to sit in that chair. No way, sorry. Still, the film needs to show CAPTAIN Kirk I guess, for all the audiences out there, I understand that. But…come on. No military worth their salt would put a twenty-three year old, still fresh out of the Academy and only once tested so far in a command position of that magnitude. Would you put Wesley friggin’ Crusher in command? Thought not. Well, when he’s not busy saving the crew of the USS Idiot-Enterprise-D from another calamity already, anyway. Sweet Zombie Jesus, I’d take my chances with the aliens. 😉

I’ll finish later, got to go out for a bit.

Voyager out.

Other stuff you should check out if you like Sci-Fi.

If you already know of this stuff, then by all means ignore and keep watching/reading/playing. Alternatives to Star Trek/Star Wars, and all have their own merits.

Dan Simmons four-book Hyperion series: Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion and The Rise of Enymion. So much happens I can’t summarise it, but its a great read, adventure and thought-provoking ideas. He creates a very coherent sci-fi universe which is entirely of his own making, and its a fantastic series.

Starcraft. Legendary game from 1997, and the first game of the trilogy of sequels is coming out soon, so now is great time to catch up on the storyline from the original game and the expansion pack. Its an RTS, (you don’t know what that means, I’m tempted to say ‘go look it up’, but I’ll won’t: It stands for Real Time Strategy. If you don’t like RTS, steer clear, but you’re missing out. The story of the game and the expansion pack (sort of a sequel) is cracking. One of the three playable races, the Zerg, smell of Borg to me, but they’re purely organic and different in colour palatte, feel, and history, so thats good. Not terribly original, but still great. The plot in itself is original, and has twists and turns. The other two playable races are the Terrans, (humans), and the Protoss are mega-powerful spritual aliens. Good game.

Dead Space: Survival third-person shooter. Jesus fucking Christ. The scariest game I have ever played. I can’t reveal to much about the plot without ruining it, but a deep space mining ship gets infected by ‘something’ after cracking open a planet. An alien artifact had been found on the surface, and everything goes to scary-as-fuck-hell after the planet crack. You play Issac Clarke, an engineer, not a space marine hard man, who ends up stranded on the vessel, called Ishimura, after he and his crew are sent to answer a distress call. Needless to say, the ship is blood-splattered and starting to malfunction, with very few human survivors, but plenty of new ‘inhabitants’ roaming the corridors menacingly. There are layers and layers of story to the game, you really have to pay attention to get the full enjoyment. Looks great, sounds great, plays great. Play it. Prepare to be terrified, freaked out, and scared out of your skin, and not necessarily in that order. Have a pair of new underwaer on stand-by. You want a taster, check out a level on YouTube. You want entertaining dialogue at the same time which slighty defuses the terror, watch Zaranyzerak’s walkthrough, as he and his partner play through the game and be scared, all for your viewing pleasure. Search ‘Zaranyzerak.’ Also check out the movie tie-in, Downfall, or the Animated Comic Parts 0-6, on EA’s YouTube channel. WARNING: NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. Here’s a creepy hint to freak you out: Dismember the dead bodies in the ship. It’ll make things just a little easier for you, if that’s the right word to use. I think not.

Mass Effect: Whoooooooo, Bioware game! The Masters of RPG! That means Role Playing Game, if you don’t know. And if you don’t, holy damn, by a gaming PC and join the fun! Again, hard to summarise without spoiling the plot, which is maddening, even if done by accident. You’re a human commander in a version of Earth’f future, an officer in the Alliance Fleet, and you get to go on adventures around a rich and exciting galaxy in a sleek ship with a band of fellow adventurers whom you meet along the way. (Yes, very Star Trek/Star Wars, and wonderful for it). You play Commander Sheperd, and you get to choose your character’s gender, first name, appearance, and, ultimately, their destiny. I recommend a female character, the female voice actor is far superior to the male one, she lends an authority, believibility, compassion and heart to Sheperd, and even an imperiousness to the character. The original point of this adventuring and exploring is to prove humanity, in this fiction a relative newcomer to the galactic scene, to the other more established alien races, whom at the early stages of the game do not really trust humanity after some earlier conflicts. But your overall mission changes after a few missions and becomes about so much more with the danger of a massive and encroaching threat which endangers the galaxy. Space epic at its best, and you don’t just sit back and watch! You decide what happens, and the story is not linear. Excellent, check it out. Mass Effect 2 is on the way, so now would be a good time to play if you haven’t. I’m on another playthrough of the game, and its as good as I remember.

Red Dwarf: British cult comedy hit. A Scouser space bum, a mechaniod originally conceived to clean toilets, a neurotic, cowardly holographic recreation of a dead man and a creature that evolved from a cat, cast about space together in the future after a million years in stasis, trying to find Earth, then trying to find their ship after they park it badly and loose it (the titular Red Dwarf), then finding it and trying to find Earth again., and getting into trouble all the way Its one of the funniest British comedies ever made, the writing is brilliant, the characters are unique, its ideas are fresh and different (usually, if anything is copied its usually for purposes of intentional parody), and its acted very well. I recommend Series 4, 5 and 6 the highest, but all of it is excellent.

Akira: Well-known anime film from Japan, made in the eighties, all about trascending to another level of existence and how this strains the relationship between the two main characters. Set after a nuclear war, sometime in the future. Well animated, well realised.

Any book by Iain M. Banks. Seriously. Read them. They’re brilliant.

One for the kids (and big kids): Galaxy Rangers. You can find it on YouTube. Its like the wild west, but in the future, with starships and lasers. A fond favourite from my childhood, and a rolicking ride. Rock ’em, sock ’em space cowboys! Goose is the best character, for the record.

Oh, just to mention the big names in sci-fi, and if you do like gaming, Star Trek Voyager Elite Force is the best Star Trek game made so far, and a fantastic game in itself. Graphically its aged quite a lot, it was released in 1999 after all, but the gameplay is brilliant and solid, and the story is pure Star Trek, and a real adventure. You get to fight alongside members of the crew at one point against the galaxy-threatening danger, which is awesome.

Voyager out.