Tag: Star Trek

Week of Geek: VFC Fandom Countdown Part 1, Star Trek Wars or Star Wars Treks?

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Hiya Geeklings!  Hope school’s going good so far.  Just gonna leave links for our volunteer programs here and for the Teen Writer’s Club here and Unleash Your Story here.  *wink*

Anyhoo, in just over 6 weeks Vaughan Public Libraries will host it’s first fandom convention we’re calling Vaughan Fan Con, a celebration of things geeky and how all those geeky things just mesh with libraries.  *massive fangirl squeal*

I’m thinking this is a great opportunity for us to spend the next few weeks going over fandoms.  What they are, what they mean, how they’ve impacted the world, etc.

Today, let’s talk about a couple of the big ones.  These two fan groups have often been pitted against each other for nerdy superiority for the last few decades.  But me, being the incurable optimist and peacemaker, I say thee nay!  I LOVE THEM BOTH!  YOU CAN’T MAKE ME CHOOSE!

Of course, I speak of Star Trek and Star Wars.

I think few would argue that any other two Sci Fi franchises have had as much of an impact on the genre as these two have.  Both have had big screen features (click here and here), television shows (here and here), books (here and here), comics (here and here), whole conventions dedicated just to them, etc, etc.  One takes place in our own potential future, where science and reason have won the day.  The other takes place in a galaxy far, far away and uses mystical elements in a classic battle of “good” and “evil”.  I’ve written ad nauseum about both, and you can click on those links to read a little more on each one.  But what I thought I’d talk about today is how they relate to each other, because there is a long and colorful history of Trekkers and Star Wars Fans (who don’t really have a fan name, at least not that I could find; go figure) and how they interact with each other.

For the record, Star Trek came first.  The first episode of the first TV series aired September 8, 1966.  The first Star Wars movie was released May 25, 1977.  And while Trek may have preceded Wars by a full 11 years, it is still endlessly debated over which one has had the bigger influence, which one has more quality over quantity and, frankly, which one is just better.  Debates can get heated, everything is compared (like which space ships are cooler, how the science works or doesn’t in each one, how the weapons stack up, and so on; even grammar), and some fans just cannot be moved on some points.

That’s the thing that always gets me; why it seems to be a completely acceptable thing that the two are not only mutually exclusive but are also adversarial towards each other.  When talking about Trek and Wars there’s almost always a ‘vs’ in there somewhere.  There are so many articles, videos and comments that reflect as such.

Again, I say thee nay!  I would like to submit that they are, in fact, 2 sides of the same coin.  Science and mysticism.  Pure Sci Fi, and Sci Fi mixed with Fantasy.  Our own potential future, and far off planets and stars.  Logic and passion.  What we can see and measure, and what we can feel.

Plus, they have SO MANY common elements.  Vulcans like logic and aren’t big on emotions.  The Jedi teach being unemotional and that strong emotions lead to the Dark Side.  Both franchises have their brash adventurers, their robots, their heroines, their science types, their wide-eyed noobs, their elegantly tactical villains, their rage buckets, their intergalactic drama.  They even share actors sometimes.

And the most important thing; both have tremendously passionate fans, with their own in-jokes, fan art, conventions, cosplay, websites and love, and boundaries are crossed far more often than anyone wants to admit.  It’s a beautiful thing.

So, a few reading and watching suggestions: There’s a great story in Geektastic about a Star Wars fan (cosplaying as a Jedi) and a Star Trek fan (cosplaying as a Klingon) liking each other ‘that way’, even though each of their friend groups aren’t keep on the other.  It’s full Romeo and Juliet territory.  There’s also a great short story by Rainbow Rowell about a Star Wars fan lining up for The Force Awakens, hoping to have the full waiting-in-line-for-days experience that previous Star Wars fans have had and finding it’s a little different this time around.  And I got lists, because of course I do…

So what do you think Geeklings?  Is one franchise superior?  Are they both awesome?  Post away in the comments or sound off on the Write It! website.

Stay tuned for more news and for more posts on fandoms, and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: Hogwarts, UA and other favorite fictional schools

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Hiya Geeklings!  Did you miss me?  I was up to my eyebrows in fandom pandemonium this last weekend *happy sigh*  Good times.

So, back to school.  Yay?  It is September, and along with the obligatory Pumpkin Spice shenanigans and pretty leaves, many people head back for a new school year this week.  And while school IRL can be a little… unexciting at times, there are many fictional, fantastical high schools in our favorite fandoms that many of us would genuinely look forward to going back to each September.  Here are few that come to mind…

Hogwarts: Of course this is on the list!  Harry Potter and friends spend several years over 7 books (and 8 films) in England’s seminal school for witches and wizards, learning all the spells and potions they need to take down dark lords.  Filled with ghosts, moving staircases and too many secrets to count, Hogwarts is ancient, mysterious and a true home to our heroes.

Starfleet Academy: The galaxy can be a dangerous place, what with unexplored locations, possibly hostile new species and many moral quandaries.  The men, women and everyone else who attend Starfleet Academy in San Francisco become as prepared as possible to face the final frontier head on.

UA High School: The #1 school for teens with superpowers, or ‘quirks’, to learn to become heroes.

Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters: The other #1 school for teens with superpowers, specifically mutations that grant them said powers.  Where mutants are feared, hated and persecuted, the Xavier mansion proves not only a school to launch the next generations of X-Men but a safe-haven where different, outcast kids can be themselves.

Mystic Falls High School and Sunnydale High School: If you like your high school experiences with a side dish of vampires, try these two fine institutions.

Riverdale High School:  No matter which incarnation of Archie Andrews you like, there’s no question that Riverdale High is just as much a character in the story as any of its students.

Alola Pokemon School: For a library system with it’s own Pokemon League, I would be remiss to leave this fine school off the list.

Any schools you really love to visit in your imaginations?  Post away in the comments section!

BTW, did you know VPL is hosting it’s own sci fi/comic con next month?  Just gonna leave this link here and tell you to stay tuned for more news to come! *wink*  Also gotta give a shout out to the Teen Writer’s Club!  More details will be posted right here soon but for anyone who loves to write, or wants to get into writing, it’s a spot for you.  Check out my previous post on the subject of writing and sharpen those pencils!  (Or, you know, open your laptop and launch Microsoft Office or whatever.  21st century!)

Have a great start to the school year, stay tuned for more news, and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek Holiday Edition: Out with the old (2016) in with the new (2017)

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How we all doing Geeklings?  Everybody partied out yet?  Well,  I hope not too much, ’cause New Year’s Eve is almost upon us!  One more party for the holiday season to say goodbye to 2016 and welcome 2017.

And as always, it is a time to reflect.  In my case, on pop culture related stuff, as it’s kinda my thing.  So here are some things I liked about 2016…

My rediscovery of Bob’s Burgers

Our return to the Wizarding World with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  The 50th Anniversary of Star Trek.  And Marvel finally bringing Cumberbatch into the fold with Doctor Strange, which was a heck of a lot more enjoyable to watch than Civil War (though Civil War was really good).

Some things I didn’t like about 2016…

So many celebrity deaths.  I mean, seriously, how many famous icons did we lose this year?  And just this week Carrie Fisher, George Michael AND Debbie Reynolds passed.  What the heck?

And I DID NOT like Batman v Superman.  That was one of the movies I was most excited about this past year and it was awful.  Just… awful.  Some argue Suicide Squad was worse.  I counter that that’s insane.  At least Suicide Squad TRIED to be enjoyable!  And one of the characters was so good she’s practically getting her own movie.

So yeah, 2016 was a bit of an uneven year.  Hope springs eternal, though.  Let’s look ahead to things we can get excited about in 2017

More Doctor Who & Sherlock!

More Star Wars, with episode 8 due next December.  A live action Beauty and the Beast.  More Marvel, including GOTG, Spider-Man, R-rated Logan, and TV shows Legion and Iron Fist.

DC’s going to take another run at it with Wonder Woman, Justice League & Lego Batman.  Here’s hoping with new leadership they’ll finally pull this off.

And there are new TV shows like A Series of Unfortunate Events, more Twin Peaks, an adaptation of American Gods and Star Trek Discovery.

Not to mention the return of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and a TV series based on one of my favorite podcasts.  EEEK!

So yes, new year, new anticipation.  Sunrise sunset.  What do you guys think?  Anything from 2016 you really liked or really did not?  What are you hoping will rock your world in 2017?

I’m going to leave you with something that I keep hearing about online.  Have you heard of this show?  It’s been making waves on the fandom circuit, and though I haven’t seen it yet, the opening song is awesome!  Who knows?  Though my relationship to anime has been lukewarm in the past, this show might be my first new fandom of almost-2017.  So let’s ring in the new year with this ridiculously inspiring tune and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: 50 Years of Star Trek

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Hiya Geeklings!

What’s new?  How’s the first week back to school?  As thrilling as you imagined?  More ‘meh’?

OK, how was your weekend?  Good finale for the summer?

As I mentioned in my last post, my weekend was spent elbowing my way (gently) through crowds of people taking in the sights and sounds of Fan Expo.  It gets crazier every year, and it can be intense and frustrating at times, but it’s always worth it.  It’s always a blast, and I’m always sad when it’s over.  I saw Stan Lee, George Takei, cast members from American Horror Story Freak Show, a panel on corsetry, the world premier of the first episode of Son of Zorn (not even attendees at Comic Con got to see the whole episode.  Take that San Diego!), a group of voice actors reading the Ghostbusters script (and I got to chat with the Ontario Ghostbusters), Charlie Cox and Elden Henson of Daredevil and, the piece de resistance, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill on stage together.  EEEP!  Batman the Animated Series anyone?

There was a big celebration happening at the Expo this year that I want to talk about a bit today.  All the way back in 1966, on September 8th, a little TV show debuted.  Though it didn’t make the biggest splash when it first aired it has since gone on to spawn 6 additional TV series, 13 feature films, too many conventions to list, endless supplies of fanfiction, fanart and cosplay, books, music, parodies and an entire fandom that has helped shape how we view and treat fandoms today.

Of course, I speak of Star Trek.

Yep, what creator Gene Roddenberry once described as “Wagon Train to the stars” when he first pitched the idea to CBS, is celebrating 50 years.  Can you believe it?  Considering how fast Pop Culture can move at times, 50 years of being a near constant presence on screens big and small and other formats is a real accomplishment.  And as I’ve written about before, the influence Star Trek has had in science and culture has been immeasurable.

Now, I’ve written about Trek a lot.  And there are plenty of great articles out there about it’s impact.  So today I thought I’d share some of my favorite things about Trek and provide links to our catalog so you can see them too.  Share the love!

The Original Series: Does it look dated by today’s standards?  Yup.  Did it have some nonsensical plots?  Yuh huh.  Does it still hold it’s place as a sci fi classic?  Over and over again.  The original series introduced us to the 23rd century and the United Federation of Planets.  It gave us such classic episodes as “The City on the Edge of Forever”, “Space Seed”, “Arena”, “The Enemy Within”, “Mirror Mirror”, “The Balance of Terror” and many others.  Though it only lasted 3 seasons it has never been forgotten and it’s legacy lives on.

Spock:  I’ve mentioned my adoration of Spock before.  My opinion still stands.  Watch episodes like “Amok Time” and “Journey to Babel” to see more.

Tribbles: They’re small, furry little balls that purr and have no distinguishing features at all… except that they reproduce like crazy.  First introduced in the original series episode “The Trouble with Tribbles”, these hairy guys cause mayhem and hilarity.  Kirk was not amused.

The Next Generation: Set about 100 years after the original series, The Next Generation introduced a lot of new elements and characters and some amazing storylines.  And it cast a honest-to-goodness Royal Shakespeare Company actor to play it’s captain (we love you Patrick Stewart!).  Watch “Measure of a Man”, “Chain of Command”, “Deja Q” and “Tapestry”, among others.  But perhaps the best episodes lead into my next favorite…

The Borg: First seen in the episode “Q Who”, the Borg are an alien race with mechanical features and a hive mind.  And simply put, they’re terrifying.  They are emotionless drones with one objective; they don’t simply want to conquer, they want to assimilate.  They want to take you, erase everything about you that makes you you, and turn you into one of them.  No thoughts or will of your own, just… a Borg.  Though the Borg would make a significant impact in many Trek moments, the Next Gen episodes “The Best of Both Worlds Part 1 and 2” are the ones that stay with me and many fans the most, and the cliffhanger of the first episode still gives me a knot in my stomach.  I’ll post the clip here but it’s even better in context.

Gul DukatDeep Space Nine was a little hit or miss with me.  It had some great characters and some amazing episodes but it also kind of meandered by the end.  My favorite character to come out of it though was one of the villains (natch).  Gul Dukat was a Cardassian military officer and politician (BTW, “Gul” is not a name but a title, a military rank for a commander).  Dukat is one of those morally ambiguous characters I always gravitate towards.  Pulled in several directions by his culture, the expectations thrust upon him, his own history and failures and his own ambitions, he had an arc throughout the series that led to some interesting places.  I can’t tell you more without giving stuff away, but the last episode aired 17 years ago and I still remember him.

Kathryn Janeway: The first female starship captain to headline her own series, Captain Kathryn Janeway of Voyager was as hardcore as they come.  With as much gravitas as any of her male counterparts, she had the task of trying to bring her crew home after they get stuck in a part of the galaxy that had never been explored by the Federation and would literally take YEARS to get back to earth from.  She kept them all together, faced down several villains (including the Borg) and proved herself a true leader.  And she loves coffee, just like me!

The Reboot: There’s been a lot of debate about this.  How good the last three movies have been.  Whether it’s ‘really’ Star Trek.  But I like this new updated version.  Though I left the theater after watching 2009’s Star Trek a little dumbfounded at the whole ‘alternate timeline’ thing, I have to admit that once I got over that and saw what they were trying to do, I was liking what I was seeing.  The reboots are well cast, stylish, action packed and cool.  They managed to get Benedict Cumberbatch in one as a villain, which makes Ali happy.  I have not had a chance to see Beyond yet (*gasp!*) but the critics are digging it.  And yes, I think this IS still Star Trek, so nuts to you guys who say otherwise.

So there’s a short list.  Believe me, there’s much more!

But if I can get a little personal for a minute, let me say one more thing.  I’ve said many times that I’m a 2nd Generation Trekker.  That’s because my mom was the one who got us all into it.  She watched the original series when she was younger and then watched TNG when my brothers and I were younger.  So that is my very favorite part of Star Trek.  The fact that it connects me to my mom and to my family.

So do you think that just because a franchise is 50 that it’ll be slowing down?  No way!  There’s a new series coming next year, Star Trek: Discovery.

What will the new series bring?  We know a little so far, but they’re keeping most details under lock and key.  Time will tell.

So Trek yourself before you wreck yourself, geeklings.  There’s so much more we have to sign out so grab a TV series, a movie, a book or whatever and celebrate 50 years of a sci fi icon.

Live long and prosper, and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: Star Trek’s first LGBTQ character (and of course, there’s controversy)

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Wassup geeklings?

So, I may have mentioned this before.  A few times.  But I LOVE Star Trek.

And no, it’s not just because Cumberbatch was in the last movie (though that would be reason enough).  Again, I’ve mentioned before that I’m a 2nd generation Trekker (I talk a lot).  My mom grew up watching the original series, and then when my brothers and I were growing up she watched Star Trek: The Next Generation, so we were exposed to the world of Trek from a young age.  It’s one of the reasons I’ve become such a Sci Fi nerd in my adulthood.

And it’s a big year for Trek.  2016 marks it’s 50th anniversary!  And they have a lot to celebrate.  6 TV series (original, an animated series that is so 70s it makes your head spin, next gen, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise) with another one coming in 2017.  12 feature films, with the latest one coming to theaters next week.

And a huge history of fandom and hardcore Trekkers.  More on that in future articles.

I think everyone can agree that one of the most endearing qualities of Trek is the fact that it shows us a possible future where not only have humans set aside their differences over stupid stuff like race, creed, religion, class, land of origin and whatnot, but have also learned to live peacefully on a safe planet and work cooperatively not only with each other but with other beings from other worlds.  Hence Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets.

But though the original series was groundbreaking for including so many different types of people on it’s bridge, and other subsequent Trek series have continued that trend, there’s one part of humanity that’s been noticeably absent.  We’ve never had an official LGBTQ main character on the show.

Sure, some of the series episodes have alluded to it (see episodes “Turnabout Intruder”, “The Offspring”, “The Outcast”, “Rejoined”, a DS9 episode that featured Trek’s first same sex romantic kiss, and Stigma”), and apparently creator Gene Roddenberry did want to include LGBTQ characters in The Next Generation, but was met with resistance from studio execs.  But there’s never been a reoccurring main character who happens to be LGBTQ.  In one of the most inclusive fandom universes out there, that hardly seems right.

But, Star Trek Beyond is aiming to correct that.  Actor John Cho, who plays Lt. Hikaru Sulu in the rebooted Star Trek movies, said in an interview recently that there will be a brief glance into Sulu’s personal life, and it will be revealed that he has a daughter with a same sex partner.  And let me tell you guys, as a life-long Trekker, THAT IS HUGE!  FINALLY, one of the main guys, a character who’s been with the franchise since day one, will just happen to be LGBTQ.  HAPPY DAY!

Except… not for everyone.  And to the shock of fans everywhere, one of the most outspoken people against this news didn’t come from the darkest corners of the internet where all the people filled with hate live and can’t wait for an excuse to complain vehemently about something like this.

No, it came from the inside.

Actor George Takei, who originated the role of Sulu in the original Trek series and who famously came out in 2005, has been a fixture in Trek, in LGBTQ activism, and in so many other things ever since.  Plus, he’s an awesome presence on the internet, and if you haven’t checked out his Facebook page, go now!

And George Takei says it’s ‘really unfortunate’ that Sulu is now gay.  WHAT?!

Granted, his complaints are not unreasonable.  He feels that Gene Roddenberry’s original vision of Sulu was always to have him be heterosexual, and to change that is going against the world he created.  Takei also feels that it’s great to have an LGBTQ character in Trek, but would’ve liked to see an original character instead of an established one.

Fair enough, but actor Simon Pegg, nerd king extraordinaire, portrayer of Scotty in the rebooted films and co-writer of Beyond had a response to that that I thought was quite elegant.  Pegg starts out saying, in regard to Takei; “He’s right, it is unfortunate, it’s unfortunate that the screen version of the most inclusive, tolerant universe in science fiction hasn’t featured an LGBT character until now. We could have introduced a new gay character, but he or she would have been primarily defined by their sexuality, seen as the ‘gay character’, rather than simply for who they are, and isn’t that tokenism?”

He also pointed out that Roddenberry probably would’ve had an LGBTQ character if he’d been able to, and that how they want to portray it in Beyond is just as an afterthought, that it just wouldn’t be a big deal, because it shouldn’t be.

My favorite thing he said was this; “Our Trek is an alternate timeline with alternate details.  Whatever magic ingredient determines our sexuality was different for Sulu in our timeline. I like this idea because it suggests that in a hypothetical multiverse, across an infinite matrix of alternate realities, we are all LGBT somewhere.”  I like that idea a lot.  (Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock in the rebooted films and is himself LGBTQ, also had this to say).

And to really prove he’s got the nerd chops everyone talks about, Pegg put this up on his blog to settle the argument once and for all with the one thing that shuts geeks down faster than Warp 9; Canon.  And he threw quantum physics in there for good measure.  Beautiful!

As for me, I’m excited.  And I was fine with the decision.  I don’t think the series has EVER shown Sulu with a girlfriend or wife.  The movie Star Trek Generations introduced Sulu’s daughter, Demora, but never mentioned who the other parent was.  I think this fits, and I’m excited that the most inclusive of fandoms has become even more so.  Still, it’s a shame that even in Trek, someone can’t come out without controversy.

What do you guys think?  Did the guys behind Beyond make the right call?  Should this much artistic licence be taken with established characters? (Fanfic writers, I’m looking at you!)  You guys going to go see Beyond?  Post away.

Stay tuned for more musings on Trek as it’s 50th anniversary continues.  And until next time, End of Line.