Tag Archives: star trek

"Star Trek: Restoration" Episode 1 — Old and new foes

Fellow role-players, here are my notes for our Star Trek telecom scenario of this past weekend:

“Space, the final frontier. Our starship’s mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life forms and new civilizations, and to boldly go where no one has gone before.”

Almost four decades after the Enterprise-E fought the Borg and Remans [see Nemesis], among others, the United Federation of Planets and other interstellar states in the Alpha Quadrant are slowly recovering from wars and ecological disasters. A refitted vessel takes a new crew on its first missions of defense, diplomacy, and exploration….

Player Characters for Gene D.’s “Star Trek: Restoration” space opera one-shot, using D20/FATE house rules, Friday, 21 March 2014:

  • “Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Kyerak” [Bruce K.]-half-Vulcan with a temper, in the U.S.S. Rotha’s command division
  • “Lt. Jarric Jameson” [Dexter V.H.]-male genetically modified human colonist (former Maquis) communications and wilderness survival expert
  • “Lt. Orzzek Kalifa” [Byron V.O.]-male Andorian (blue-skinned humanoid with white hair and antennae), assertive science officer
  • “Lt. Mari Killu” [Sara F.]-female Caitian (felinoid) security/tactical officer
  • “Lt. Boran’ Gorir” [Josh C.]-male Jem’Hadar (Dominion soldier), aggressive envoy/engineer

“Stardate 95248 (1 April 2418):” The U.S.S. RothaNCC 1993-C, a refitted Ambassador-class ship, picks up three passengers from the U.S.S. Tempest. Capt. Andelina Nobatu is ordered to take them into the Neutral Zone to be relayed to Qo’nos, the Klingon homeworld.

Alternate ambassador

The U.S.S. "Rotha" NCC 1993-C

Capt. Nobatu later convenes a meeting of her command crew, as well as supporting junior officers [the P.C.s]. The Terran human asks the science division to check for star systems and planets in case the ship needs to hide or resupply en route.

Engineers are tasked with improving efficiency, while tactical officers prepare for the inevitable engagement with ships that ignore diplomatic protocols. After reporting to their superiors, the junior officers meet in the “Starlight Lounge.”

They compare notes as Bolian bartender Mr. Vallcin brings drinks. Lt. Jarric Jameson asked Betazed communications head Lt. Artemis Borellis for permission to work with the engineers on a cloak or other countermeasures to Klingon and Romulan technology. Lt. Kyerak and security chief Pierre McDonough assigned guards to watch the guest quarters.

Lt. Orzzek Kalifa and Lt. Boran’ Gorir checked Starfleet records for solar systems between Earth and Qo’nos. The scientist and engineer identify Acamar (Theta Eridani), which had been affected during a Borg incursion, and Khitomer, site of past negotiations between the U.F.P. and the Klingon Empire.

Lt. Gorir and genetically enhanced Lt. Jameson also worked with chief engineer Lt.Cmdr. Akira Gorou to optimize the Rotha’s systems. Dr. Jones, the holographic chief medical officer, prepared sickbay, and Trill first officer Cmdr. Nasami Wahid oversaw crew readiness.

Chief McDonough assigned Lt. Mari Killu to work with other crew members to ensure that the passenger handoff goes smoothly. Lt. K’dex, the three-armed, three-legged Edosian science officer, scanned for possibly cloaked enemy craft.

The junior officers’ discussion is cut short when Chief McDonnough contacts Lt. Killu to tell her to investigate the guest cabins. Apparently, the guards aren’t responding. Cmdr. Wahid orders Lt. Kyerak to accompany her.

The Caitian and half-Vulcan find En. Thompson regaining consciousness. He tells them that the Orion, Gorn, and a hooded guest emerged from their quarters and refused to wait. En. Jonas ran after them.

Lt. Kyerak and Lt. Killu draw their Type 2 phasers and ask the ship’s computer where the aliens have gone. It responds that they are on Holodeck 3. Instead of an Orion harem or a Gorn environment, the Starfleet personnel find a room full of humming machinery.

D’naar, a green-skinned Orion trader, claims that he just wanted to demonstrate water-purification equipment he had learned about in his travels to “Hand of Giblets,” the reptilian Gorn representative of the Klingon Empire.

En. Jones appears with a rumpled uniform. Kyerak subtly uses telepathy to communicate with Mari, who also senses that something is wrong. From the bridge, Lt. Kalifa and Lt. Gorir can tell that the gear in the holodeck has overridden security controls and is drawing extra power.

The Andorian and Jem’Hadar try to tell Kyerak, but their signals are jammed. Orzzek informs Capt. Nobatu of the situation, and Boran’ grabs his short sword and heads to the holodeck.

Chief McDonnough and Lt. Jameson try to shut down the unauthorized energy drain, and they find that the ship’s shields are fluctuating in a patter, presumably to broadcast a signal. The captain orders a full stop.

In Holodeck 3, Hands of Giblets [Byron/Non-Player Character] leaps toward Lt. Killu. D’naar [Josh/N.P.C.] disintegrates En. Thompson. En. Jonas hides among the machinery. Kyerak stuns the Orion pirate, and Mari shoots at the Gorn emissary.

Lt. Gorir arrives, and he runs after En. Jones. Lt. Kalifa asks Lt. Borellis for help restoring communications. Lt. Kyerak eventually stuns Hands of Giblets, and Lt. Killu restrains the Orion and Gorn before going to aid Lt. Gorir. Other tactical and medical teams arrive and secure the perimeter.

Boran’ recognizes some of the machinery and implements the LaForge Protocol. He and Orzzek manage to shut it down, but the signal has been sent as the Rotha entered the Neutral Zone.

Mari shoots at En. Jonas, destroying a personal holo-emitter and revealing that he is in fact an Undine (formerly known as Species 8472; the medical team later finds the actual ensign, who has been killed).

The Undine hits Lt. Gorir again, and Lt. Kyerak and Lt. Killu shoot at it. Mari stuns the gray-skinned alien, and Boran’ beheads it. Kyerak berates the Jem’Hadar for giving in to his bloodlust, but Lt. Jameson notes that D’naar and Hands of Giblets are in custody and can still be questioned.

From the bridge, helmsman En. Brandon Marks reports to Capt. Nobatu that a Valdore-class Romulan warbird has just de-cloaked off the U.S.S. Rotha’s port bow….

Valdore-class warbird

The Varguille

Beruk and Geoff, we missed you this past weekend, but I hope that everyone else enjoyed this “episode!” I’m sure we’ll return to this at some point, so please post your characters to the “Vortex” site on Obsidian Portal, where I’ll also post my background notes. Let me know if you have any questions. Live long and prosper, -Gene (“Capt. Tzu Tien Lung”)

Captains courageous

Funny, I would have thought Picard…

Your results:
You are James T. Kirk (Captain)

James T. Kirk (Captain)
Will Riker
Geordi LaForge
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
Deanna Troi
Jean-Luc Picard
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
Mr. Sulu
Mr. Scott
Beverly Crusher
You are often exaggerated and over-the-top
in your speech and expressions.
You are a romantic at heart and a natural leader.

Click here to take the "Which Star Trek character am I?" quiz…

Capt. Tzu Tien Lung

One to beam up!

Creation Star Trek Boston 2013 convention report

On Saturday, 8 June 2013, I met former co-worker and fellow blogger Ken G. at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston for the Creation Star Trek show. While I've been to several genre entertainment events in the past few years, this was the first purely Trek gathering in some time.

There were relatively few vendors at the con, partly because the space opera franchise hasn't had many new installments lately, the Star Trek: Into Darkness reboot sequel notwithstanding. Most of the fans we met preferred the original continuity, from the short-lived 1960s television series through Star Trek: Nemesis and Enterprise.

We went to lunch at Café Jaffa, from where we could watch people gathering for Boston's Pride Parade, for which Star Trek: the Next Generation alumna Denise Crosby (Lt. Tasha Yar) was the marshal. I may have been in a Deep Space Nine/First Contact uniform, but I felt underdressed amid the colorful costumes.

Back at the con, Ken and I sat in on writer Morgan Gendel's panel on the Next Generation episode "The Inner Light," which I appreciated more after learning how the show won a Hugo Award. As I've noted before, The Next Generation is still my favorite TV Trek because of its professional but idealistic crew that became a surrogate family. "The Inner Light" was a good example of the strength of allegorical and episodic storytelling, compared with today's arc-dominated dramas.

We also attended the costume contest, where numerous Trekkies or Trekkers showed off their creativity in representing various series. I cheered the cosplayer dressed as an Andorian, but I have to admit that the fan dressed as Capt. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott was a ringer for the late James Doohan.

After that, Michael Dorn and Suzie Plakson regaled the audience with stories from their time playing ill-fated Klingon lovers Worf and K'Ehleyr. They also politely but firmly declined to return to those roles, saying that too much time has passed.

We hung out for a short time during the auction, and then enjoyed seeing George Takei, a.k.a. Capt. Hikaru Sulu. He responded to a question about his favorite movie featuring the original series cast with Star Trek VI: the Undiscovered Country, in which Sulu got to be in the opening and closing scenes as captain of the Excelsior. Takei also noted that John Cho did a fine job in J.J. Abrams' recent films.

In addition, Takei acknowledged that he has help with his popular Facebook posts, which cover sci-fi, humor, and politics. As an Asian-American and a speculative fiction fan, I appreciate Takei's activism and roles. Trek continues to have a fan base that's wonderfully diverse in terms of age, gender, and ethnicity, and I hope that the movies can become more heroic and restore the franchise's popularity.

Brent Spiner and Gates McFadden then took the stage to talk about their time as android Data and Dr. Beverly Crusher on Star Trek: the Next Generation and various theatrical roles. I had seen most of the actors at this con before, but never so many in person together.

Ken and I grabbed dinner at Tossed in the Shops at Prudential Center. Back at the con, we had photo ops with Mr. Takei and LeVar Burton, a.k.a. Geordi LaForge. I didn't get autographs this time around, but the photo ops were personalized souvenirs.

With Geordi LaForge

Ken, LeVar, and Gene

I was glad that we were able to get tickets to the headline event of the con, a reunion of much of the Next Generation cast, with William Shatner serving as moderator! Apparently, Patrick Stewart (Capt. Jean-Luc Picard), Jonathan Frakes (Capt. Will T. Riker), and Wil Wheaton (En. Wesley Crusher) weren't available, but I'd seen two out of the three before anyway.

Shatner may have a big ego, but he has aged surprisingly gracefully and has been a good interviewer. His charisma and sense of humor helped the unruly crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701D and E in conversation. Everyone made fun of Sir Patrick's initial pretensions as a Shakespearean actor.

Crosby, McFadden, and Marina Sirtis (Counselor Deanna Troi) talked about their struggles with sexism in the first season of the show in 1987. Despite creator Gene Roddenberry's humanism, The Next Generation had a less-than-auspicious start, leading to McFadden and Crosby's departures. McFadden eventually returned, and Crosby made some memorable cameos.

Snarky Spiner and deep-voiced Dorn demonstrated how they and Frakes would joke around with their costars on the set, leading to several frustrated directors. With prompting from Shatner and Sirtis, who vied for control, earnest Burton and Dorn recounted how the "Code of Honor" episode was terribly racist, but they stuck with the show, which gradually improved. All of the actors said they liked fond spoof Galaxy Quest.

Ken returned to the convention the next day to get more autographs. Also in attendance were Nichelle Nichols, the original Lt. Nyota Uhura, and Deep Space Nine's Rene Auberjonois (Odo) and Nana Visitor (Maj. Kira Nerys). The only living members of the core casts of the original series and Next Gen whom I haven't yet met are Leonard "I'm not Spock" Nimoy and Wheaton.

The convention might have been pricey, but I enjoyed it more than Into Darkness and was pleased to learn that Creation plans on holding it again next year. In the meantime, live long and prosper!

Star Trek: Into Darkness review

On Saturday, 18 May 2013, Janice and I went with houseguest Byron V.O. to the Apple Cinema/Entertainment Cinemas Fresh Pond in Cambridge, Mass., There, we met Beruk A., Bruce K., Rich C.G., Rich's friend Darryl, and Thomas K.Y. & Kai-Yin H. for Star Trek: Into Darkness. We all enjoyed the sequel to the reboot of the long-running space opera franchise.

Into Darkness wallpaper

J.J. Abrams' latest space opera prequel/sequel

Story: The movie opens with the starship Enterprise saving the inhabitants of the planet Nibiru from a volcano that's about to erupt. This violates Starfleet's Prime Directive, which requires noninterference with societies that have yet to develop Warp (faster-than-light) capability.

Adm. Christopher Pike tells Capt. James T. Kirk that he's relieved of duty, but terrorist attacks on Earth call the intrepid crew of the Enterprise back into action (the trailers have mostly focused on these, in an echo of 9/11 and even the recent Boston Marathon bombings). Kirk, his first officer Mr. Spock, Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, and friends must overcome physical and personal challenges to save the United Federation of Planets from an internal threat.

Director J.J. Abrams and company created a parallel universe in 2009's Star Trek to be more accessible to a generation of moviegoers not familiar with the 1960s television show and its numerous spinoffs. However, viewers who are "Trekkies" or "Trekkers" and know the rich history of Gene Roddenberry's fictional universe will recognize many elements of Into Darkness, including Klingons, Tribbles, and references to characters such as Harry Mudd and Christine Chapel.

I had worried, based on early reviews, that Abrams and Paramount had "gone back to the well" once too often by rehashing familiar plot points, but the acting, pacing, and twists mostly made up for this, and the ending of the movie — don't worry, I'll avoid "spoilers" here, but be aware that the links in this review lead to some — leaves the fictional future wide open for more adventures.

Acting: I have fond memories of watching reruns of the original Star Trek TV series back in college, and the actors who first took on those roles have become pop culture icons. Still, I think that the returning cast of the new version has been well-chosen, from Chris Pine as the cocky but good-natured Kirk, Zach Quinto as the (mostly) logical Vulcan Spock, and Karl Urban as the irascible Dr. McCoy. They continue to be worthy successors to William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and the late De Forrest Kelley, respectively.

Just as in the original series and the first half-dozen Trek films, the supporting cast is smart and fun. Zoe Saldana is back as strong-willed communications officer (and Spock's girlfriend) Lt. Nyota Uhura, comedian Simon Pegg is a hoot as engineer Lt.Cmdr. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott, and Anton Yelchin is Russian wunderkind Ensign Pavel Chekov.

Helmsman Lt. Hikaru Sulu, as played by John Cho, doesn't quite ooze charisma the way George Takei does, but he does get a key scene in the captain's chair. Bruce Greenwood is back as Adm. Pike, lending gravitas and fatherly guidance to impetuous Kirk and repressed Spock.

The latest additions to this iteration of Star Trek are just as good. The comely Alice Eve plays science officer Carol Wallace, and RoboCop and Buckaroo Banzai's Peter Weller is Adm. Alexander Marcus, who tasks the Enterprise with taking on mysterious torpedoes. There's also a cameo that actually helps the story along.

As expected, Benedict Cumberbatch (the lead of the BBC/PBS Sherlock and Smaug and the Necromancer in Peter Jackson's Hobbit adaptations) is formidable as John Harrison, the terrorist scientist of this movie. He's both strong and clever as a foil to both Kirk and Spock and is a better villain than Romulan miner Nero in its predecessor flick.

Script: The dialogue is fast, witty, and filled with catchphrases from the '60s series. I suspect that casual viewers or those who aren't science fiction fans won't find the banter as entertaining as we did, but this is a sequel that doesn't talk down to its viewers. There is some dodgy physics, such as a "cold fusion" bomb, odd rates of acceleration and descent, and sound in space, but Trek is part of a long tradition of science in service to character-based stories rather than a lesson in realism.

While I'd prefer that a Star Trek film occasionally focus on exploration and diplomacy rather than military space opera, at least the script mentioned those concerns.

Direction: Abrams keeps up a brisk pace and gets emotive performances from the cast of Star Trek: Into Darkness. I might disagree with his addiction to lens flares and the choreography of a few fight scenes, but Abrams has injected vitality into the franchise, and I hope that Disney's recently acquired Star Wars universe is in good hands.

Visual effects: Other than the science quibbles above, Into Darkness is spectacular, as its crew faces off against hovering aircraft, hostile Klingon vessels, and a monstrous Dreadnaught-class starship. I liked seeing more of Earth in the 23rd century, and the sleek interior of the Enterprise seems larger than any of the other renditions of the famous starship, including the NCC 1701-E of First Contact onward.

Soundtrack: The classical score, while still not as memorable as that of earlier movies, continues the themes from the '09 Trek. My favorite part is closing credits of Into Darkness, with its peppy recap of the music from the 1960s show, despite the movie's grim title and premise.

Ratings: At an early dinner at Bertucci's, the consensus was about an 8 out of 10, with Rich being the most critical at a 7 and Bruce being most generous with a 10. I'd give Star Trek: Into Darkness, which is rated PG-13 for violence and unnecessary language, 8.5, a B+/A-, or four out of five stars.

As usual, there are mixed to negative reviews out there, but I'd recommend that potential fans keep their expectations in check and go in with an open mind. We were pleasantly surprised to find that Into Darkness, for all its modernizations and minor inconsistencies, still felt like classic Trek. I'd like to see Star Trek return to television, where it can focus more on idealistic social commentary rather than villain-driven fisticuffs.

Of the trailers we saw, I'm still most interested in Neil Blomkamp's dystopian Elysium and least interested in Jerry Bruckheimer's campy Lone Ranger. Man of Steel is the next big summer movie I'm looking forward to. In the meantime, live long and prosper!

Star Trek, Star Wars share skipper

One of the biggest items of genre entertainment news last week was the revelation that J.J. Abrams will direct Star Wars Episode VII, sometime soon after he finishes work on Star Trek: Into Darkness. It is surprising that one person will be helming the latest iterations of the two most popular and profitable space opera franchises.

Space opera franchises meet

Universes collide!

 As I've noted elsewhere, Abrams does know how to handle ensemble casts and lots of action. On the other hand, I hope that his idiosyncrasies — such as lens flares and certain plot twists seen in Lost and the recently departed Fringe — don't detract from what makes Star Trek and Star Wars great, each in its own way.  

Any incarnation of Star Trek ought to have a future that we should strive for and want to live in, following Gene Roddenberry's idealistic vision. The best Trek depicts diplomacy, scientific exploration, and social commentary, not just a Starfleet captain fighting the existential threat of the week (or movie, even if I enjoyed Abrams' reboot).

For Star Wars, I expect big battles between good and evil, the hero's journey, and exotic but lived-in settings. Lucas tried to make the mythic relatable through the Skywalker clan. In contrast to Trek's "for the good of all mankind," Star Wars examines the heroic and villainous potential in each person. (The animated Clone Wars has been very good lately, while Trek has yet to return to television. Both have good comic book tie-ins.)

Fortunately, there's room in both galaxies for lots of stories and interpretations, and both show the value of friendship, altruism, and wonder. There's a lot of speculation and unrealistic expectations online, but I'm cautiously optimistic. May the Force be with Abrams, and may we all live long and prosper!