Stargate Archives

Sunday, 26 July 2015

My Random Journey Through Trek #43

Mudd's Passion

The Enterprise has been tasked to the non-federation world Motherlode in the Arcadian star system to arrest Harry Mudd for his usually litany of crimes across this part of the quadrant. Harry is doing his best snake oil act by selling a "love potion" to the local minors but Kirk reveals that his "test subject" is not a beautiful woman by an alien which can morph itself into any shape. As the crowd threatens to riot Harry asks for protection and he is arrested and beamed up to the ship where the paperwork and medical required is undertaken. Harry overhears Chapel and Spock and gleams that she is infatuated with him and he offers her the crystal (love potion), just rub it on your skin and touch the intended and he will love you with all his heart and eventually she is convinced. Harry of course uses the opportunity to steal her ID card and escape from the brig and from there gain access to the shuttle bay. Chapel tries the crystal but Spock is unaffected and she tracks Harry down and shots are fired, one of the crystals break and the drug aerosolises and is pulled into the ship's ventilation system where it affects the crew.
Harry escaped with Chapel on a shuttle to a planet they are orbiting and Spock demands to rescue Chapel the woman he loves so he and Kirk beam down and have to battle rock like creatures while the crew of the ship fall in love with each other. Thankfully the effects of the drug are short lived and as the creatures close in on the landing party the four humans are in the nick of time beamed aboard safe and sound.

Funny enough Harry Mudd was the focus of discussion on a recent episode of the podcast Women At Warp so this was an episode I was much more familiar with than many I haven't seen for a few years. Harry is a favoured character in the series, his daughter was even referenced in the JJ verse so something must have been done right and I think we see the character eclipsing his deeds because quite frankly most beings pulling these stunts wouldn't survive or would end up in a penal colony.
In Mudd's Passion we have Harry trying to hoodwink mine workers (various species) by offering what we now would consider a date rape drug, it's shown to be fake on the planet which then begs the question if Motherlode was not affiliated with the Federation then what is the Enterprise doing there in the first place? Of course the immediate solution is to provoke a situation where the Harry asks to come with Kirk back to the ship where a warrant can be applied but tricky legal ground I would have thought. Let's not get into why a Constitution class starship was pretty much acting as a bounty hunter. So Harry is in the brig but Chapel is left to do the medical, again security should have been present and it was a smack in the face for Chapel's character that she let her desire for Spock affect her judgement or buy into the garbage that Harry was trying to sell. No doubt a sign of the times that the drug would only create love between a male and a female and just strong friendship between same sex people, species regardless.
Ok boys, people will talk.
So Chapel gets conned and loses her ID card which Harry alters to work for him, ok I know Harry is slippery but I never quite thought he was that smart when it came to Starfleet tech but we'll let it go (again) and eventually another shuttle gets stolen from the Enterprise, a common occurrence it seems across the generations of starships with this name. I was a little perplexed why they also came across an uncharted star system, doesn't make a lot of sense given the centuries of star searching by telescopes and deep space exploration but fair enough. The planet doesn't seem to be inhabited by Harry is convinced he can prosper until these huge creatures which look like dinosaurs made from rock arrive and look a little peckish. Spock it turned out had been affected and I suspect Leonard had fun playing a love struck Vulcan and while everyone seemed surprised by Spock it was Kirk who agreed to beam down with him to save Chapel. It was a little daft that at one point McCoy seemed unable to put two and two together and connect the love potion with Spock's sudden emotional outburst. I did like Lt. M'Ress and Scotty getting it on, they show may have had issues with same sec but interspecies not a problem at all and I wonder if the scene of Jim and Spock partially hugging was also put in just to indicate more than male friendship.
Harry is rescued of course and is sent to rehab where he can no doubt if required complicate the lives of the Enterprise crew once again.
Scotty, she does bite!
Mudd's Passion had some fun moments but has dated itself quite badly in allowing what amounts to molestation and maybe rape to be a core theme of a children's animated show but then look closely there are some positives. I suspect your enjoyment will be seated in if you can allow the more negative aspects to negate anything positive from the story. Strangely enough a similar character was used in Stargate Atlantis and he too used a drug to sway the affections of women towards him, the same criticisms of that episode apply here yet more so since SGA was written in a so called more enlightened time.
Rating 4

Destiny Nexus by Ceri London

Destiny Nexus (Shimmer In The Dark, #2)Destiny Nexus by Ceri London
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Destiny Nexus is the second novel in the Shimmer in the Dark series and continues the story of Major Niall Kearey and the Astereans on Earth, events which almost spun out of control in the first novel flare up once again as the paranoia and vested interests from across the globe strive to deal with a man who could remake the world. What many fail to realise or simply can not grasp is that Niall is a man of integrity and honour who values family and friendship and when his word is given he will honour it. The military and politicians who lack these traits see only a threat to mankind and by extension their own power and influence so moves are made to secure his cooperation but a threat is on the horizon from an age old entity which the Astereans and many species in the universe have fallen foul to and now it is searching for the being that could defy it and he is on Earth.
Destiny Nexus was a great read, fast paced and lots going on and while it would be so easy for a story which weaves in time manipulation to get lost in itself Ceri kept everything in check and gave us action, suspense, drama and a few shocking moments that had me bemoaning that fact that demands on my time kept me from reading just one more chapter right there and then.

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Sunday, 19 July 2015

Blood And Fire

Blood and FireBlood and Fire by David Gerrold
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Star Wolf under the command of Captain Parsons has been assigned the mission of investigating a distress beacon sent out by the research vessel Norway and it seems that ship was involved in highly classified work. Commander Korie once again denied command of the Star Wolf has been enjoying himself working with the new Captain and the ship has maintained it's hard fought for efficiency and camaraderie. However the secrets the Norway holds will test the limits of the Star Wolf and her crew and questions will be asked and the answers could turn the tide of the war with the Morethans either way.
Blood and Fire is the final novel in the trilogy and continues the story of the Star Wolf and Commander Korie, there are no deep space combat missions in this story but the crew are faced with their most dangerous foe and they have to protect not only their bodies but their souls as well. This was a very satisfying conclusion to the three book series by David Gerrold although I won't deny I do want to know what happened next but that itch may never get scratched so for now I'm delighted I've been able to enjoy the adventures of the Star Wolf.

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My Random Journey Through Trek #42

The Void

Seven of Nine is cooking up a storm in the mess hall and preparing dinner for Janeway, Chakotay, Paris and B'elanna when the ship is roughly shaken after encountering a localised gravity anomaly which turns into some sort of funnel which pulls the ship into a huge void. Voyager is attacked by a ship which is then driven off by another which in turn attacks Voyager and beams cargo and equipment off of her. A third ship approaches and hails Voyager, a General Valen offers information to Janeway about the reality of the void and offers some help but the captain is unwilling to turn pirate and attack other ships for resources. Voyager is able to determine when the next "funnel" will be created and she tries to escape but lacks the power and she is thrown back into the Void now with even less energy.
Janeway decides to track down her stolen supplies and finds the vessel responsible, it is dead in space but the warp core casing can be processed as an energy source so the beam it onboard and find a being hiding inside, he is very hungry and seems to have no verbal language. They track down the ship responsible for the destruction of the pirate ship and find that it's General Valen and when talking proves pointless they attack and retrieve some of their food and tech but leave behind the goods that were not theirs. At this point both Tuvok and Chakotay question the sense of not taking what they need given that they could be dead in space in a week or so but Janeway will not let her ship kill and pirate for resources. However she proposes the idea of a mutual alliance based on sharing resources and protecting ships the enter the void with the goal of solving the problems in escape the void. Overtime she recruits ships but eventually the commitment of not killing to solve problems leads to a confrontation which comes to a head with Voyager along with her allies attempt to escape. Thanks to the positive approach of the Doctor, Seven and Janeway the allied ships escape and are free to return to their own worlds.
The Void certainly has echoes of an animated original series adventure called The Time Trap and proposes that ships and crews working together have a greater chance of escaping their fate than if they attempt to kill each other for resources and in both episodes that proves true.
It was amusing to see Seven cooking and doing a great job, better than Neelix himself which he is quite happy to admit but again you wonder with how big space is the ship always seem to run into those unexpected anomalies and after the carnage we get the classic "reverse shield polarity" which for a seventh season episode is not on:) The Void is good idea, a bubble of space/time which draws objects in but of course we know Voyager is going to get out which takes a lot of the suspense out of the episode. I was a little disappointed that once again the sensors both ship and transporter were unable to detect the alien being but at least they did address that even if I didn't accept a word of it. I was also quite surprised both Chakotay and Tuvok were advocating piracy to allow the ship and crew to survive, I'm sorry but from those two I didn't buy the scenario at all, infact again after so many years we know none of the regular or recurring characters are murderers so there was no question Janeway and her mutual cooperation and support idea was right for them and the situation.
It was hilarious that Seven was looking for blood when her "spanner" went missing but countered by her gift of food to the alien they brought on board, not quite sure how his race evolved in the Void or that when his species were together they only talked via the beeps and boops the Doctor created, a nice scene but didn't make a lot of sense.
Oh we got a montage and Voyager got more advanced replicators, shame they are nearly home but overall not a bad episode of Star Trek and some of the cinematography was very nice indeed.
Rating 7

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Crisis of Consciousness

Crisis of ConsciousnessCrisis of Consciousness by Dave Galanter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A routine diplomatic mission to usher the Maabas into the Federation runs into some difficulties when an alien ship arrives in system and demands the removal of the Maabas from the planet. The Maabas were refugees after their homeworld was attacked and then settled on this planet and now it seems the race who evolved on this world have returned to reclaim it. Kirk offers to mediate a discussion between the two races and it turns out that the Kenisians are of Vulcanoid stock and have embraced the concept of absorbing the souls/katras of their descendents into their own minds. This makes reading the alien race very difficult but it's obvious to Kirk and Spock that the Kenisian presence in the system is not for the simple reason they state and it also raises the interesting point as to why the Maabas were so eager to join the Federation.
In Crisis of Consciousness Dave has given us a very entertaining original series adventure which has a very interesting premise as the Kenisians crew all contain the minds of their ancestors and the Commander of the ship has hundreds in her mind which makes their motives always in doubt since it would be almost impossible to gain consensus. It certainly perplexes Kirk but Spock is intrigued as it mirrors a practice his people are known under certain circumstances to practice but when discussions break down and action taken it is upto Spock to analysis and act in a way that will do the least amount of harm while attempting to save a good portion of the quadrant from destruction.
An excellent Star Trek novel, well written with an interesting plot with a few twists to maintain the mystery and to keep everything on track with Spock being the more central character and I do have to say I did like one element of the epilogue as it pertained to movie canon.

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Saturday, 11 July 2015

Savage Trade

Savage TradeSavage Trade by Tony Daniel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Enterprise is sent to investigation the loss of communications with the science outpost Zeta Gibraltar at the outskirts of the Alpha Quadrant in a region of space known as the Vara Nebula a huge spawning ground for new stars and totally unexplored by Federation vessels. Upon arrival the outpost is found to be deserted yet there is something not quite right apart from the blood and an alien body part, some quarters are furnished with what amounts to antique items totally out of place but the chase is on as the Enterprise follows an ion trail deep into the nebula.
So that's the basic premise of this story by Tony Daniel, a mystery at the edge of explored space and maybe the rise of a threat to the security of the Federation and who or what had such lavious furnished quarters on what was advertised as a simple science outpost? Of course the novel is well fleshed out with a Vulcan official who serves under Sarek and represents the Federation because as per usual Starfleet hasn't quite been honest with what Kirk and the Enterprise have to deal with and she is written well and her ties to Spock also add a lot of depth to the story. The protagonists and antagonists are maybe the weak parts of the novel but while I can't say they really got me excited at least the protagonists were developed throughout the story and I do have to say I enjoyed the twist in the story near the end.
Overall a solid original series novel, not quite as good for me as Tony's last TOS novel "The Devil's Bargain" but enjoyable in it's own right and it's never really a bad idea to mine the original televised series for characters and races to expand upon.

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Sunday, 5 July 2015

My Random Journey Through Trek #41

The Survivor
The Animated Series

Long range scans find a damaged spacecraft near the Romulan Neutral Zone, the craft is brought on board and it's one occupant is identified as Carter Winston a well known shipping tycoon and philanthropist who went missing five years ago. Spock orders a full medical and security check which McCoy thinks is a little over the top but Kirk agrees since it is the regulations. McCoy finds some irregularities with the scans of Carter but clears him and he is reunited with his fiancee from five years ago one Lieutenant Anne Nored. Carter is fairly cold towards her saying his is not the same man he once was and encourages her to forget him and move on with her life, she is upset as you would expect. Carter then goes to meet the Captain and changes form into a tentacled creature which envelops Kirk and copies Kirk perfectly, while the Captain is unconcious on the floor of his cabin the copy aka Carter goes to the bridge and orders the Enterprise into the Neutral Zone towards a colony which requires aid.
When Kirk awakes he is surprised to find the ship in the Neutral Zone and orders it to reverse course and as the security tapes show Kirk giving the orders they go to see McCoy who at that very time has also been copied by Carter but Spock catches onto the ruse and Kirk finds Carter who is in another guise. The alien is identified as a Vendorian a species of shape changes who are known to be untrustworthy to such an extent their planet is quarantined yet here is one who confesses to having known Carter Winston, Romulans choose this time to intercept the Enterprise and demand its surrender. The Romulan commander and Kirk banter back and forth but eventually shots are fired alas Carter has sabotaged the deflector system but now knowing he has put "his" fiancee in danger he arranges his molecular structure to create a deflector screen and the Enterprise fights off the two Romulan cruisers.

Kirk is impressed that the Vendorian chose to protect the fiancee of Carter and by extension the ship and he explains that having known Carter for so long (after he crashed on their world) he had absorbed the emotional aspect of the human and could not help but aid the them. Anne is moved by the emotion and is not adverse to address both their relationship then, now and in the future.

The Survivor was actually quite a fun episode albeit plenty of flaws in the plot but you don't watch the animated series for concise writing or animation come to think of it:)
The alarm bells should have been ringing when Carters ID showed him in the same clothes he is wearing now and after being missing for five years not sure why his licenses etc would still be current. They also went a little overboard on his philanthropy, I don't quite accept the Federation require third party private aid in rescuing or resupplying Federation worlds which are in distress but they want to make sure we all know Carter was a good guy. It was a little strange that McCoy was fan boying quite a bit upto the point of being against running standard tests and then not prioritising issues with the results but plot and all that. It was cool to see Carter turn into a tentacled type creature before taking the guise of another, nice little effect and you really don't need to know the technobable explanation of why his species is capable of this. The biggest issue was the Federation and maybe other societies had quarantined an entire world because the natives were shape shifters who couldn't be trusted, wow racist much. Mind you surprised the Klingons or Romulans didn't wipe the species out if they were that much of a threat but I suppose as a resource the Vendorians do come in handy.
I was appalled that Spock and Sulu never really baulked at Kirks order to enter the Neutral Zone but loved the security recordings of bridge activity complete with edited for effect close ups :)
Maybe the alien siding with the Enterprise thanks to the emotional component of Carter was a little trite but I think it worked quite well and I think we all love a redemption story and how IDIC that Anne is not repulsed by this version of Carter.

Overall The Survivor was fun and I did enjoy watching the episode although over a page of notes for a 24 minute episode made it look worse than it was, little plot issues and character quirks but we can ignore them, can't we?
Rating 7