Posts Tagged ‘Star Trek’

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Vulcans get their “Trek”, sort of

May 2, 2009

startrekCBC is reporting that Paramount is bringing 300 residents of Vulcan to Calgary for an advanced screening of the new Star Trek movie. Residents of Vulcan, Alberta, that is.

The small town southeast of Calgary has capitalized for years on having the same name as the homeworld of Spock. For several months residents had been lobbying the studio to stage the world premier of the much-anticipated prequel in their town. Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy, even added his voice to their cause. Paramount wound-up choosing the Sydney Opera House in Australia instead.

As a gesture of goodwill, the studio will be holding a special screening of the movie in Calgary for some of Vulcan’s residents on May 6th – two days before the North American premier. Actor Bruce Greenwood, who plays Captain Christopher Pike in the film, will also be on hand for the event.

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Top 5 worst moments from the “Star Trek” films

April 30, 2009

Star Trek 2009With the new Star Trek reboot just around the corner, I thought it was fair to take an unflinching look at where the franchise has gone before in film – especially the moments that were so bad the audience couldn’t help but flinch.

5) The 5-8 minutes of excessive trippy cloud special effects and gratuitous reaction shots as the Enterprise creeps toward V’Ger in Star Trek I: The Motion Picture
Okay, it’s a weird alien cloud, you’re amazed, we get it. 1-2 minutes would have done it. This was a lame-duck copy of what Kubrick did with Dave Bowman’s journey at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

4) “Don’t mince words, Bones, tell me what you really think.” Jim Kirk in his condo in The Wrath of Khan
Perhaps The Shat’s most foppish and needy delivery of a line of dialogue. Ever. Pity it was there to mar an otherwise incredible film.

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New “Farscape” comic hitting the shelves

April 29, 2009

FarscapeHot off the presses for release on April 29th is a new Farscape comic mini-series: D’Argo’s Lament. Set in Season 3 between the episodes “Revenging Angel” and “Fractures”, the four-part story focuses on the sword-wielding alien’s efforts to prevent interplanetary war. It also co-stars the troublemaker Jool, who eventually has a relationship with D’Argo (you’ll also remember Jool really did not get on with Chiana, who became D’Argo’s love interest by the end of the series).

D’Argo’s Lament is co-written by Rockne S. O’Bannon and Keith DeCandido. O’Bannon served as executive consultant for the Farscape sereies. Others may know him for his writing on Doctor Who, Andromeda, Buffy, Alien Nation (the movie), as well as 15 Star Trek novels. Keith DeCandido’s credits include books in the Buffy, Star Trek and Supernatural franchises and the film Done the Impossible: The Fans’ Tale of “Firefly” and “Serenity”. The comic is available in two covers by Michael DiPascale and Will Sliney.

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Top 5 SF characters who could be Prime Minister of Canada

March 4, 2009

Recently a fan wrote to William Shatner, informing the actor he’d started a petition to get him appointed Governor General (who is, as the Queen’s representative in Canada, the acting head of state). The Shat responded that he didn’t want the ceremonial position (not entirely ceremonial, given the weighty decision Michaelle Jean had to make about the fate of Parliament earlier this winter), joking that he aspired to be Prime Minister.

Given that there are a lot of citizens of the Great White North out there who would like our country to have someone, anyone else, new in charge in Ottawa, we put our tongues firmly in our cheeks and came up with this list of the Top 5 SF Characters (irrespective of their national/planetary citizenship or their lack of MP’s to form a ruling party in the House of Commons) Who Could Be Prime Minister of Canada:

5) The Shrike from Hyperion
Canada’s been deficit-free and paying down the national debt for years, but as the world lurches into recession, Stephen Harper and his cronies have put us back into the red. We need a leader in Parliament who can slash the deficit, gut the debt, and take a stab at restoring voter confidence. Slashing, gutting and stabbing are what the Shrike does best. It’s probably also capable of showing more emotion than the current Tory PM.

4) R2D2 from Star Wars
He’s the little guy who rolls through the halls of power with confidence. He’s got good ideas. He thinks fast on his feet, er, rollers…whatever. And he’s well-liked. It would seem that Artoo would be the perfect candidate to lead any political party to victory. Sadly though, much like former Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, he’s incapable of speaking English and thus wouldn’t have a chance in hell of winning over the majority of voters, much less making himself understood.

3) The Cyberdyne Systems 800 Series from The Terminator franchise
With one of these cyborgs as PM, we’d save millions in annual security costs – this would be a leader who would definitely not hesitate to throw a punch Chretien-style if some joker got too close, and woe betide the fool who might think about throwing a pie at him at a public event. A T-800 would doubtless be a tough negotiator in international treaty talks. And it too would probably be more capable of showing human emotion than Harper.

2) Spock from Star Trek
Cool under pressure, an experienced diplomat and probably able to secure the all-important Alberta vote through his Vulcan constituency office.

1) Zaphod Beeblebrox from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
He’s the only actual politician on this list, his unpredictability would make for consistently entertaining (if also embarassing) news coverage and punditry, and, while it’s said that most politicians are two-faced, the captain of the Heart of Gold has the advantage of actually having two faces.

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Top 5 worst jobs in SF

February 25, 2009

Say what you will about your abusive boss or your boring, dehumanizing mcjob, there are some gigs in SF that make yours look like a walk in the park.

5) Pizza Delivery Driver – in Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
Sure there are no speed limits on the highways of this world, but there are no lonely, attractive women answering the door and asking for a 12-inch sausage, rather you have to negotiate the border regulations of independant nation-state neighbourhoods, and if you get to the door late, it’s not just a matter of losing a tip or having to eat the cost of the pie.  If you break the “we’re never late” guarantee here, your boss, who just happens to be a mafia kingpin, will, to borrow a line from Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs, “send out for you.”

4) Janitor, Alien Sector – aboard Babylon 5
When your day-in, day-out job consists of scrubbing methane toilets or cleaning up after carrion-eating Pakmara when they’re suffering from stomach bugs, then a step out of one of the station’s airlocks starts to look pretty good.

3) Any Food Service Job with the Kzin – from The Man-Kzin Wars series by Larry Niven
It’s one thing to have a job waiting tables where you get treated like a piece of meat by the customers or your employer, it’s quite another to be a slave to the Kzin and assigned to food service. When the rat-cat gets a hankering, you ARE meat.

2) Technician 3rd Class aboard the Jupiter Mining Company ship Red Dwarf – from Red Dwarf
It’s not having to clean out the chicken soup dispensers every day that’s the problem, it’s working under Rimmer.

1) Red Shirt – classic Star Trek
Every horrible death and indignity imaginable. ‘Nuff said.
Honourable Mentions:

  • Acid Canal Dredger/Atmospheric Processor Lungpipe Scraper on Heaven’s Gate colony – from Hyperion by Dan Simmons – with a job like this, it doesn’t matter if you’ve had a stroke in cryo-sleep and only have a vocabulary of a dozen swear words; those curses pretty much sum it up.
  • Imperial Star Destroyer Bridge Officer – from Star Wars (original trilogy) – have your will in order for this gig; you may be able to come out on top in a fight with the Rebels, but if you’re playing taxi for Vader you won’t withstand the power of a Dark Side temper tantrum.
  • Imperial Star Destroyer Bridge Crewman – because having to work under the guy in the previous note who’s dealing with that kind of on-the-job tension would be no picnic either.

What do you think are the worst jobs in SF?
Your nominations:

  • Blade Runner operative/Voight-Kampff test administrator
  • Imperial AT-ST driver assigned to Endor’s green moon
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The top 10 doctors of SF

February 19, 2009

Not too long ago my family doctor announced that he’ll be retiring soon. After my initial twin reactions of “Good for him; he’s earned it” and “oh crap, now I’ve gotta find a new doctor!” (most docs with practices in this neck of the woods aren’t taking new patients – many people have to put up with the impersonal service at walk-in clinics), I got to thinking about physicians in general, and the roles they’ve had in SF. So harrysaxon and I put our heads together and came up with this list of our favourite doctors of the genre(s) in books, TV and film.

10) Tachyon – Wildcards, edited by George RR Martin
-nominated by bloginhood
Sure he had a hand in creating the wildcard virus that dealt humanity a bad hand, but this purple-eyed alien sawbones made it up to the people of his new home by setting up the Jokertown Clinic to help ease the suffering of those who survived the bug but were left with freakish disfigurements.

9) Martha Jones – Doctor Who
-nominated by bloginhood
Smart, tough, adaptable, easy on the eyes, and most importantly, able to recognize that pining after The Doctor won’t do her any good. Others may have theirs, but Martha’s my favourite among the Companions.

8 ) Tyler Dupree – Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson
-nominated by bloginhood
The world-changing events in Wilson’s brilliant novel are seen through the eyes of Dupree, but it’s not his exploits with a scalpel that are important. His bedside manner with an old friend proves to be more valuable in a story about relationships set against a backdrop where unseen forces of immense power have the Earth seemingly on the brink of disaster.

7) Clemens – Alien 3
-nominated by bloginhood
It’s pretty impressive when a supporting character is so compelling that he outshines Ripley in an Alien movie. Whether he’s trying to figure out what Sigourney Weaver’s character is hiding during an autopsy on Newt, standing up to the prison warden, or telling the story of how he lost is license and was sent to do time on a maximum security prison, Charles Dance’s performance is so absorbing that they pretty much had to kill him off so we’d pay more attention to the castaway who brought the big mean bug – that and because pretty much everybody becomes Alien chow by the end of the flick.

6) The Doctor – Star Trek: Voyager
-nominated by harrysaxon
During the long years of Voyager’s trek across the Delta Quadrant, this holographic healer did pretty much everything you can think of, from coming up with radical cures for strange alien diseases to taking a prototype ship into combat to writing a novel. Ultimately, he picked up the mantle from Next Generation’s Data of the Tin Man looking for a heart in his quest to be recognized as a sentient entity with equal rights among the crew.

5) Doc Cottle – Battlestar Galactica
-nominated by both
Sure we don’t see much of him, but when we do, every second counts and all other characters fade into the background. His crusty badgering of his patients is possibly more ferocious than Cylon bullets and is always entertaining.

4) Simon Tam – Firefly
-nominated by bloginhood
Most of the attention is focussed on his troubled little sister, but this fugitive physician is an integral part of Serenity’s crew, and springing River from the lab, he’s played an important part in exposing the government’s Miranda virus experiments and their consequences to the ‘Verse.

3) Abraham Van Helsing – Dracula, by Bram Stoker
-nominated by both
Doctor and ass-kicking vampire hunter. Without his fearlessness and expertise, Harker, Mina and the rest of their gang would have been lost and Dracula would have been gulping his way through London like a drunk in a wine cellar. Anthony Hopkins’ take on the character in Coppola’s cinematic take on the story was great. We shall not speak of Jackman’s Van Helsing flick.

2) Steven Franklin – Babylon 5
-nominated by bloginhood
Franklin’s expertise in med-lab have made him one of the finest doctors in the Earth Alliance (and possibly the Interstellar Alliance), add spy and revolutionary and you’ve got a pretty impressive resume. But what ranks B5’s chief of medical staff so high on the list is how well-written his character is. Sure, it took a season or two to find his pace, but we see eventually saw different aspects to his personality beyond that of the earnest doctor, and his is a personality that changes over the course of the series in believable ways. For someone who was so fiery in many early episodes, it was interesting to see him leave the station quietly, humbly and alone at the end when he took the new job on Earth.

1) Leonard “Bones” McCoy – Star Trek
-nominated by bloginhood
Come on! Who else could top a list like this? Bones is probably the best-known among his profession in SF, if only for his often-lampooned insistance that he’s a doctor, not a – (insert the profession/trade/craft/general labour category of your choice).

Honourable Mentions:

  • Julian Bashir – Star Trek: Deep Space 9
  • Beverley Crusher – Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Ash – Alien (okay, he was the ship’s science officer, but he doubled as medic when he wasn’t scheming about how to kill the crew)
  • Victor Frankenstein (we weren’t sure whether it was more appropriate to classify him as a natural scientist using medical/surgical techniques to assemble his creation)
  • Henry Jekyll (again, another uncertain one – doctor or chemist?)

Your Nominations:

  • Janet Fraiser – Stargate: SG-1
  • Dana Scully – X-Files
  • 2-1B – the Star Wars franchise
  • FX series – the Star Wars franchise
  • Moira MacTaggart – X-Men
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Which SF classics need to be remade?

February 11, 2009

This news about the “Day of the Triffids” remake has got me thinking about the issue of remakes in general. There seems to be a lot of the everything-old-is-new-again bug going around. Recently, Hollywood inflicted a cinematic shitfest of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” against audiences. Not too long ago “Journey to the Center of the Earth” was redone (in 3D), and before that, “I am Legend”, and, of course, “Lord of the Rings” commanded the box office at the beginning of the decade, and the list goes on. Meanwhile, a re-imagined “Star Trek” is about to hit the screens, a new take on “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” is in development, the Harry Potter series continues, there’s talk of something based on “Rendezvous with Rama”, and so on and so forth – and that’s not even including the recent rash of inspired-by’s/related-to’s cropping up, like Straczynski’s follow-up to “Forbidden Planet” or the prequel to “The Thing”.

Putting aside the question of whether Hollywood ought to be doing remakes or adaptations in the first place rather than something original, or whether it’s capable of doing a remake without screwing it up (sometimes, like in the case of BSG or Jackson’s “King Kong” it does work out), I got to wondering which SF classics (from movies, TV or books) need to be remade or adapted for the screen?

The first that comes to mind is HG Wells’ “The Time Machine”. More than just a great adventure story, it raises questions about the consequences of social/labour class divisions as well as sexual politics. The novel has been adapted several times, with George Pal’s 1960 version being the best, in my opinion. But I think it’s time for a newer version, using the best of modern photo-real special effects – the kind of remake that the 2002 version should have been, that wasn’t because Simon Wells and his gang messed up the story.

I think it’s also time for Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles” to get another adaptation. The 1980 mini-series was okay, but again, with modern visual effects I think an updated version would look so much better. To do it justice though, they’d have to tackle it again as a TV mini-series or, even better, a full season production.

So what classic SF book, movie or TV series do you think needs a remake?