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Hugh Likes Fiction: Revenant – Star Trek Deep Space Nine

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Revenant: Star Trek Deep Space Nine
Written by Alex White
Audiobook read by Robert Petkoff
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio

The Skinny: A thrilling and thought-provoking stand-alone story set in the middle of a sci-fi classic.
Revenant by Alex White is an excellent reintroduction to the world of Star Trek Deep Space Nine.  Set midway through the series, it follows one crewmember, Jadzia Dax, as she delves into a mystery concerning her own past. Dax is actually, technically speaking, two people in one. The humanoid Trill Jadzia and Dax, a long-lived symbiotic creature that is surgically implanted. The symbionts are implanted in the best and brightest of Trill society and can remember their hosts’ lives with such clarity that they are effectively a gestalt, granting their hosts lifetimes of experience. But when an old friend of both herself and Dax’s previous host comes to her with a problem, Dax becomes trapped in a conspiracy that stretches through lifetimes, and the highest echelons of their society.
 White does an excellent job of telling a fascinating science-fiction mystery that delicately balances introducing the story to new readers and giving sly nods to long-time fans. This is no mean feat for a series that has been off the air for over two decades. They pull the trick off by not merely presenting the characters who flit in and out of the story but establishing the characters from Dax’s point of view. As in their excellent Salvagers series, White balances character development and world-building to fill out their universes with style and panache. From the gaming tables of an alien casino to the tunnels beneath a sinister hospital, these don’t feel like a TV soundstage, but a living, breathing universe. As someone who fell off of Star Trek midway through the series, I felt like I got just enough of the characters to be reminded of who they were, and managed to catch a few of the winks directed to long-time fans.
 I listened to this book in audio, and narrator Robert Petkoff does a good job. The performance is not over-produced and doesn’t distract from the story. It was an exciting, fast-paced read as Jadzia and her allies delve into Dax’s past and uncover an imaginative sci-fi conspiracy.
 If you are completely uninvested in the series, this book probably won’t be what changes your mind. But as a former fan who hasn’t seen the series in decades, Revenant lit a nostalgic fire in my heart. You can find it wherever books and audiobooks are sold.

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Podcast: CCRC13: Star Trek TNG S7E19

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Hugh, Opopinax and Jurd are back in the Chronotheater watching Star Trek: The Next Generation.  The Enterprise becomes a B-horror movie, and it’s all Barclay’s fault.

Click HERE to listen along.

Star Trek: The Next Generation is available on Netflix Streaming in the US and Canada.  This podcast was originally posted on October 26, 2016 at Skinner.FM.

Thanks for listening to this podcast.  If you enjoyed it please share it, or leave a review on iTunes.  You can also support Hugh on Patreon for more podcasts and writing.

Podcast: CCRC12: Star Trek TNG S4E13

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Join Hugh, Opopinax and JRD for a viewing of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Devils Due.”  Because sometimes you have to sue the space devil.

Click HERE to listen.

Star Trek TNG is available in Netflix Streaming in both the US and Canada.

Thanks for listening.  If you enjoyed this podcast, please share it, or leave a review in iTunes.  You can also support Hugh on Patreon for more audio and writing.  This podcast originally appeared at Skinner.FM on October 17, 2016.

Boldly Going Nowhere (Spoilers, also Language.)

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So yeah, Star Trek into Darkness.

Spoilers ahead, Kids!

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And we’re back.

There’s a lot to like in the new “Star Trek” film.  The acting is top-notch.  The visual effects are outstanding, and the set pieces and dialog all have the same clever, pop-corn selling flair they had in the last movie.  But they all add up to a film that is less than the sum of its parts.

Let me put it to you this way:  if you hired a Philharmonic Orchestra to make a Ramones tribute album, and recorded it in high-definition surround sound, it would sound better.  The music would be clearer.  The musicians would have more craft.  But it would miss the point entirely.  “Star Trek Into Darkness” is the Boston Pops playing “I Want to be Sedated.”

Most of the films problems lie with the overall plot structure of the film, which sets up conflict and complete forgets about them rather than using it to further any character growth.  Case in point:  The opening scene of the movie is the crew engaging in a dangerous heist to stop a volcano from blowing up a planet.  Which is maybe a thing that could happen, I guess.  For reasons that aren’t really well explained The Enterprise is submerged in the planet’s oceans rather than in orbit.  Something bad happens, and Kirk is forced to choose between saving Spock’s life, and breaking the Prime Directive.  If you aren’t a big Star Trek fan, the Prime Directive is the rule that says you don’t fuck with a developing culture.  Cut to being back on Earth, and we see Kirk being woken by his alarm after a night with a full on PAIR of ACTUAL CAT-GIRLS!  He’s excited, because he assumes that he did SUCH A GOOD JOB, that Star Fleet is going to give him a big promotion.  It turns out he lied about breaking the Prime Directive, and he’s being fired and sent back to the academy.  Now, all this would be reasonable, and a good set up if the movie were in any way, shape or form about Kirk growing up and learning to lead rather than just kicking the shit out of your problems.

But this is about where Space-terrorist Benedict Cumberbatch shows up, and Kirk is called back up to help deal with one guy on the other side of the planet, because there are twelve people in Starfleet, apparently.  Inside of ten minutes, Kirk’s mentor is dead, he’s got a burning thirst for revenge, and he’s back in the captain’s chair having learned nothing.  The Prime Directive, or the fact that Kirk RUINED A CIVILIZATION is not discussed for the rest of the film.

This is a mistake that is repeated throughout the movie.  A problem is brought up, not really confronted, and forgotten about to make room for another contrived reference and action sequence.  And while the action sequences are all pretty good, nostalgia is not nearly so good at holding a movie together as a logical plot structure.  The fixation on references is so blatant, it has nostalgia for the 2009 Star Trek movie!  There is literally a scene in which two characters are talking in a bar, and one of them says ‘Remember that awesome bar fight from the last movie?’

Most of the references are to Khan, of course.  If you haven’t already heard, Cumberbatch is really Khan.  This has the affect of not only being problematic from the standpoint of, well, racism, but completely derailing the movie.  The last glimmer of hope that J. J. Abrams is making a serious film that questions Starfleet’s role as a military force in a Utopian society is swallowed up by Wrath of Khan II:  Lens Flare Remix.

The movie goes so far as to do the tragic death of Spock from the original movie, but in THIS TIMELINE, it’s KIRK that dies!  Cue dramatic sound effect here.  And of course, since it is Kirk fixing the warp core, the solution to the problem is for him to, wait for it, kick the living shit out of it.  That’s right.  Kirk beats up the warp core until it comes back online.  And then he dies, sending Spock into a screaming rage where he runs Khan down and beats him up on a flying car or something.  That’s right.  This wasn’t a movie about Kirk learning to step back and lead.  It’s a movie about SPOCK LEARNING TO KICK THE SHIT OUT OF STUFF!

The lights dim, the orchestra prepares, and the first strands of “Blitzkrieg Bop” drift over the audience.