Tag Archives: Mr. Spock

Book Review – Star Trek: Death Count by L. A. Graf

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Last week we stopped off in the Marvel Universe for a fun trip down memory lane. Today’s destination promises to be fairly exciting, even though it is a voyage forward rather than backward in time. Once again we return to the Federation of Planets for another adventure aboard the famous U.S.S. Enterprise, readers!

Aboard Sigma One, a space station a few days from the Federation/Orion border, Captain Kirk has gone out to dinner. Scotty and McCoy have whisked him off to a Scottish restaurant aboard the station in order to help him unwind. For the past three days, which were supposed to be used for shore leave by the crew, the men and women aboard the Enterprise have been pestered almost to death by four auditors from the Auditor General.

It seems the Auditor General has teams of auditors surprising starships throughout the fleet with on-site inspections. For the last three days the crew of the Enterprise has been running efficiency drills to prove they are following the regulations properly and can react to a stiuation as fast as possible, with the clipboard-wielding inspectors looking over their shoulders the whole time. In the process these four individuals have, unsurprisingly, made themselves an enormous nuisance to the crew.

This has put everyone aboard the ship on edge, meaning those who can grab shore leave are not letting it pass them by for any money. While Scotty and McCoy help Kirk relax, Chekov has convinced Sulu to help him try and beat a record set by another ship’s crew on the station’s piloting simulator. After failing the simulator’s sixth level, the door opens automatically, allowing Uhura to ask how much longer the two men plan to continue playing.

My Star Trek Scrapbook: Sulu and Chekov...BFF!

Sulu answers the question by getting out before Chekov can reactive the machine. He then leads his two best friends to a plant shop he has already visited three times so far. On the way there the three bump in to some Orion police officers in riot gear. Since they are out of uniform, the men merely push past them instead of goading the Starfleet officers into a fight. Not long after they enter the plant shop, however, an Orion policeman comes to “inspect” the premises for something/someone.

His “inspection” consists mostly of wrecking the store owner’s property. This infuriates the businessman, who attacks the alien with a broom. Chekov and Sulu intervene on the man’s behalf after he is tossed across the room, earning the latter a free gift of plants, pets, and the lily pond they need to survive and be happy. Unfortunately, Chekov’s gift is entirely different; the Orions cast his actions as assault, leading Sigma One’s security forces to throw him in the station’s brig.

Meanwhile Kirk, Scotty, and McCoy’s relaxtion proves to be premature. Like a troubadour leading his not-so-merry band, the head auditor arrives at the restaurant, fuming about being barred from the Enterprise. Kirk is sanguine until he learns that he has new orders to go to the Andorian/Orion border – with the inspectors in tow.

Tense once more, Kirk goes to speak to the commodore in charge of the station, a friend whom he helped to promote to his current position. The commodore explains that since an Andorian scientist named Muav Haslev – who was developing some kind of technology for the Andorian military – disappeared from their space, the Andorians have blamed the Orions for the incident. The Orions claim they had nothing to do with his vanishing act, but no one believes them. And even without definitive proof, the Andorians are spoiling to pick a fight with the Orions. The sector between the two is heating up and threatening to embroil the Federation in a war with Orion, which is a neutral stellar nation.

Kirk is fine with this part of the assignment; he has done this kind of thing before, and knows how to handle it. His problem is the auditors. While traveling to the Andorian/Orion border is dangerous enough for him and his crew the way things stand now, taking four civilians (one of whom is extremely annoying and has a superiority complex) into a possible war zone isn’t his idea of a smart move.

Dog Star Omnibus: Captain's Blog pt. 92: The Enterprise ...

But as he soon learns, neither assignment is negotiable. The ship that was supposed to take the auditors next and deal with the Orion/Andorian issue at the same time recently suffered a containment breach of its warp core. Though the damage could have been much worse, it is bad enough; the vessel may never be spaceworthy again. She’s barely able to limp to Sigma One with the help of tug shuttles.

This leaves Enterprise to carry out the mission – exasperating auditors and all. Once Chekov gets out of the brig and boards the Enterprise with Sulu and Uhura, the ship heads for the border….

…Only to be struck by a burst of radiation that sends her instruments haywire. Sulu just barely manages to keep the starship from warping straight through Sigma One after the radiation scrambles the helm. The computer turned the Enterprise back toward the station thinking it is open space.

Returning to their normal course, the Enterprise gets under way at last, only to be intercepted a short time later by a disguised Orion destroyer. Following on its heels is an Orion police cruiser, whosse captain is intent on arresting Chekov for the incident back at the station. Upon learning the details of the confrontation on Sigma One, Kirk realizes the Orions set him up to get his security officer. After a brief word with the Orion commander, he has the Enterprise continue on to the border.

As he knows all too well, though, missions that begin this badly don’t get any smoother the longer they last. So when a transporter accident turns out to be a triple murder, Kirk isn’t really surprised, just angry and determined to find the culprit. But how can he catch a sabatour while keeping four number-crunching civilians determined to nose their way into vital systems safe and out of the way? The answer is…

An Oral History of Star Trek | pufflesandhoneyadventures

…Not for me to tell! If you want to know how Death Count ends, you will have to read it yourself. It is a good book, but unlike most L. A. Graf novels, it doesn’t include Uhura’s direct perspective of events. The three points-of-view explored in this novel belong to Sulu, Chekov, and Kirk. That is a fairly unusual choice for L.A. Graf. Normally, the writers using this pan name include Uhura’s viewpoint along with Sulu’s and Chekov’s to explore their characters, while giving fans a view of life from “below decks.” Kirk’s POV is included to show how he regards the three younger members of the “Enterprise Seven” as officers and people.

For some reason, Death Count breaks this pattern. While it is not irritating or a loss in any sense of the word, it does make one wonder. I only note it for the curious and for those L.A. Graf fans who have not managed to acquire this story yet.

Until next time, readers: “Second star to the right and straight on til morning!”

Death Count (Star Trek, #62) by L.A. Graf

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Book Review – Star Trek: Traitor Winds by L. A. Graf

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Well, we have been to the Witch World, Newfoundland, and a toy castle from England. Let’s see what is going on in the United Federation of Planets, shall we?

I gave this book as a gift to a friend, so I do not have a copy of it with me as a reference. Please forgive me if I mess up some of the details, readers. 😉 The novel, written by the ladies who use the pen name L. A. Graf – “Let’s All Get Rich And Famous!” – takes place in the interim between the end of the original series and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Kirk has become an Admiral some time before this book starts; McCoy is enjoying being a crotchety, grounded Earth doctor; Spock is away on Vulcan, and Scotty is aboard the Enterprise, which has been docked in orbit for a refit.

Meanwhile, Sulu is working as a test pilot for a new shuttle with a cloaking shield in White Sands, Arizona. The project is top secret, but he has told his best friends – Uhura and Chekov – all about it anyway. After all, if they cannot keep a secret, who can? At the same time, Uhura is teaching a communications class at Starfleet Academy and Chekov is going to the Security Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

Of the three Chekov has, as usual, gotten the short end of the stick. He wants to be a Security Officer so he can gain the experience he needs to enter the Officers’ Academy which Kirk attended. Kirk was admitted to this school at a young age because he was a special case. Chekov is special, too, of course, but the guys in charge have deemed him too immature to enter the school at this time.

This has stung his pride so badly that he has decided Security is the only place to gain maturity. Unfortunately for Chekov, one of his classmates absolutely hates him. This man’s name is Leong, and he has been in Security for quite some time. He thinks all Starfleet officers are flash and splash; that they do not have the mettle to take on real threats. Because Chekov is not as graceful or fast as he is, Leong can outmaneuver and whip him easily in practice fights. There is nothing wrong with Chekov, who has faced worse opponents in deep space and lived to tell the tale. It is simply that he cannot keep up with Leong when it comes to speed.

Chekov does not see it that way, though, probably due to a combination of the Officers’ Academy’s vitriolic rejection letter and his natural Russian pessimism. He rarely has any fun at the Security Academy, and he has almost no friends there. The only bright points in the whole mess are the occasional dinners he has with Uhura and Sulu when they leave their much nicer jobs out west to visit him on the weekends. Then they all get to sit down, reminisce, and relax at a nice diner, restaurant, or café somewhere in Annapolis.

The latest dinner includes McCoy and Dr. Piper, the physician for the Enterprise before Kirk took command. The dinner is merrier than ever, and Chekov gets an offer from Dr. Piper he cannot refuse. Dr. Piper is working on finding a way to treat injuries caused by Klingon disruptors. The problem is, no one at Johns Hopkins University knows how to fire the one disruptor they have. Starfleet officers who have faced Klingons in combat are not exactly lining up at the door to shoot it, either.

Knowing how bad a disruptor injury can be, Chekov jumps at the chance to help. It is only later that Piper confides in Chekov the real reason he wanted to hire the ensign: he thinks a traitor in Starfleet is trying to steal the disruptor. Afraid to trust anyone at the University, since those attached to the project might be compromised, he hired Chekov because he served under Kirk aboard the Enterprise. If Kirk trusts him, that’s good enough for Piper.

Unfortunately, as Chekov learns too late, Piper is right about those attached to the disruptor project being compromised. Unable to get to Dr. Piper in time to save him and, robbed of the recordings proving what actually happened, Chekov ends up on the run from the authorities after he is accused of killing Dr. Piper. Though Uhura and Sulu know this is not true, Starfleet’s top helmsman soon has other things to worry about. The plans for his stealth shuttle have been copied and stolen, and the Navajo engineer helping him to test the shuttle has gone missing.

The engineer is blamed for the theft, naturally, but Sulu finds this hard to believe. His faith in his friend is rewarded when he is testing the shuttle some days later. During the test flight Sulu finds a message from the engineer embedded in the shuttle’s systems. Through the message, the engineer warns him that someone in Starfleet has turned traitor and stolen the plans in such a way that either the engineer or Sulu would take the blame. To take the heat off of Sulu, the engineer ran off and hid in a place only the Navajo can find.

He left the message because he wants Sulu to know someone is out to get him. And Sulu has a feeling he is not the only target. The theft of the plans, the disappearance of the disruptor, and now Chekov’s supposed murder of Dr. Piper have happened too close together to be coincidence. They were both senior officers aboard the Enterprise, so whoever the traitor is, Sulu can only assume that he is trying to black Admiral Kirk’s name by framing him and Chekov for treason.

Star Trek: Traitor Winds is a good standalone Trek novel. It rotates through the POVs of Uhura, Sulu, Chekov, and Kirk. Spock is the only member of the Enterprise Seven absent from the story, while Christine Chapel and Janet Rand get guest appearances. As a high stakes race to the finish, Traitor Winds is one of the best. Engage that warp drive of yours, readers, and search this novel out. It is worth the read!

Book Review – Star Trek: The Covenant of the Crown

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Any Star Trek fan worth his salt will be able to tell you about the episode The Trouble with Tribbles. Tribbles, overgrown living puff balls, are soft, furry, harmless creatures that breed faster than rabbits. One of the things which make this episode so interesting is that it was written by a fan of the original series. That fan’s name is David Gerrold. And he wrote and sold The Trouble with Tribbles to Gene Roddenberry and the rest when he was twenty-three years old.

But Howard Weinstein did one better. He wrote a short, fan fiction story for his high school science fiction magazine called “The Pirates of Orion.” Later, in 1973, when Star Trek was made into an animated television series, Weinstein rewrote the story and sold it to the series creators. It became the first episode for the second season of the animated Star Trek series, retaining its title. Why is this important?

Howard Weinstein sold the story to the studio when he was nineteen and in college. That’s why it is important; he was the youngest writer for Star Trek ever, a position he may still hold. I cannot say for sure that he does, but it seems reasonable to assume this. At least, of the original fan base, he is the youngest writer they ever had, fan or otherwise.

Anyway, his love of Star Trek gave him the desire to become a science fiction writer. “The Pirates of Orion” was his first major success. The Covenant of the Crown, a novel set in the Star Trek universe, was his second.

In this story, McCoy is hiding in his room, curled up on his bed. Why?

It’s his birthday. And he is feeling old.

Captain Kirk is trying to talk him out of the room, and he finally convinces McCoy to get up and move by saying he wants the doctor to bait Spock while the Captain plays chess with him. They head down to the rec room on deck seven, Kirk opens the door….

On a dark room.

Thrusting McCoy into the room, Kirk watches the lights turn on and the crewmen pop up from behind the tables and chairs, shouting, “Surprise! Happy Birthday, McCoy!”

With this mission successfully completed, Kirk stands off to the side with Scotty to watch the festivities. Then he and his Chief Engineer feel the Enterprise kick into a higher gear. They make for the comm. as Spock calls Kirk to the bridge.

Star Fleet Command has called the Enterprise to Starbase 22 for a secret mission. Eighteen years ago, the planet Shad was thrust into a civil war due to Klingon meddling. Why? Shad is home to an ore known as Tridenite, a clean, efficient source of energy. The planet supplies twenty other planets with this vital ore. Half those planets are Federation, the other half are neutral. And they are all right next door to the Klingon Empire.

If Shad falls to the Klingons, they can take the entire sector because they will have control of the Tridenite.

Eighteen years ago, Lieutenant Commander James T. Kirk convinced Shad’s King, Stevvin, to escape Shad to protect his wife and daughter. It was supposed to be an exile of a few months, but it turned into an exile of eighteen years, during which time the queen died.

But the king and his daughter are alive. And with the Loyalist forces on the brink of winning the war – and falling apart as they try to divide the spoils before they even win – it seems it is time for the king to go home.

And he wants to; he really wants to go home. And Kirk wants to take him and his daughter home, to make up at least a little for leaving them stranded on an exile planet for eighteen years.

There is just one problem. The king’s daughter has a diabetic-like condition. She needs shots of a special serum, or she will die in a matter of hours. She is not physically as strong as she could be as a result. And the king himself, Stevvin, is dying.

Bonus points, McCoy and the king’s daughter start doing the Romance Two-Step. And if that did not complicate matters, throw in a few Klingon agents and a traitor in the King’s entourage, and you have a story filled with intrigue, romance, and danger. A little humor is added as Chekov tries to lose ten pounds he gained invisibly.

The Covenant of the Crown is a very good Star Trek story. With forewords by Howard Weinstein and David Gerrold, it also offers a window into what Star Trek fandom used to look like.

If you can, readers, find yourselves a copy of The Covenant of the Crown. If you do not like it, I am sorry to hear that. But I think it is a fantastic, fun story. It is at least worth one reading.

Live long and prosper!

Book Review: Star Trek: The Great Starship Race by Diane Carey

The Great Starship Race

Well, I did not begin posting about Star Trek fiction as soon as I had hoped.  But better late than never, right?

Today’s focus is Star Trek: The Great Starship Race by Diane Carey.  If you were to type the title of the book into the search engine of my blog, you would come up with several quotes from the novel posted here.  Not nearly so many as you would get if you typed in The Cherokee Trail, but you would get a good number nonetheless.

The Great Starship Race takes place in the Original Star Trek series timeline.  It focuses primarily on Kirk and his point of view, with occasional shifts to McCoy’s perspective.

But The Great Starship Race actually begins from the viewpoint of Valdus, a Subcenturion on the Romulan ship Scorah.  The Scorah and its supporting Swarm are out patrolling a sector of Romulan space when they stumble across an old spaceship with barely any warp capabilities.  Picking up the ship, they find five aliens aboard, aliens sent on a mission of exploration from their homeworld in the hopes of finding other life in the galaxy.

The aliens are friendly.  They fall all over the Romulans, they are so happy to learn they are not the only intelligent beings in the galaxy.  But when the Romulan commander tries to get them to reveal their planet’s location, things fall apart.  Somehow, someway, the nervous fright of the five aliens aboard the ship drives all the Romulans into murderous rages.  They kill each other and destroy the Scorah

All of them die except for one:  Valdus.  He is the only one to escape the conflagration, the only one to come back to sanity.  He is therefore the only one to realize how dangerous these aliens are to the Romulan people.

Fast-forward eighty-six years.  The Federation ship U.S.S. Hood, under the command of Captain Kenneth Dodge, made contact twelve years earlier with the people of Gullrey.  Now, twelve years later, the Rey are about to be accepted into the Federation.  And they are so happy about it that they are throwing a party, which will hopefully become an annual event:  the first Great Starship Race.

Among the competitors are four Starfleet ships – including Captain James T. Kirk’s U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701.

Captain Kirk is looking forward to the race on several levels.  Races are part of sailing history, so as a historian he is naturally happy to be participating in a race, the way that the sailing captains of the past once did.  On another level, he is looking forward to showing off his ship – his “favorite girl.”  And how can participating in a race not be fun?

He finds the answer to that question soon enough, when they are on their way to Starbase 16.  The starting line of the race, Starbase 16 sends a frantic call to the Enterprise about a Romulan heavy cruiser which has crossed the Neutral Zone.  It is headed for the base and transmitting interstellar truce.

What, you ask, is the Romulans’ reason for violating the Neutral Zone between Federation and Romulan space?  Oh, nothing really important – they just want to join the race.

If it were not such a dangerous situation, Kirk would laugh about it.  But a Romulan heavy cruiser in Federation space, whatever their proclaimed reason for entering, is no laughing matter.  He finds it even less funny when he meets the commander of the Red Talon:  Valdus.

And Valdus is none too happy when he sees Kirk.  Loathing using view screens for first meetings, Valdus sees something in Kirk’s eyes that disturbs him.  He knows Kirk is not a man who will give up, and that could be a problem.

As for Kirk, he can tell by looking at Valdus that the Romulan is not here to just run a race.  He knew that before he saw him, but seeing him convinces Kirk that there is something else to Valdus’ desire to join the contest, some dangerous ulterior motive.  And it has something to do with the Rey, whose planet is the finish line of the competition…

That is all I am telling you, readers.  The Great Starship Race is a really good piece of Star Trek fiction.  I think that it was one of the first Star Trek novels which I read.  The entire Enterprise Seven is present and accounted for, though Chekov gets short shrift in the dialogue and action departments.  Still, he is there.  That is what counts.

I do not know if Diane Carey wrote any more Star Trek fiction.  I think she did.  Either way, The Great Starship Race is a Star Trek story which I highly recommend to you.  So warp on over to the nearest library and see if they have a copy!  If they do not, then you should request it.  This is a story that ought to be on at least one set of library shelves!

Later,

The Mithril Guardian

Into Darkness

Kirk and Spock

Heigh-ho, DiNozzo!

Yes, I am finally going back to Star Trek Into Darkness!

I found it a very enjoyable movie.  It strikes me as more ‘Trekian’ than the previous J. J. Abrams’ Star Trek film.  I think this is because of the details added to this movie, which I listed way back in my post ‘The Little Things.’  Then there are all the little character touches added to the “Enterprise Seven” – but we’ll get to those another time.

Have you ever seen that picture – you know, the one of a snake eating its own tail?  Yeah, that one.

Do you know what it symbolizes?  I believe it shows the folly of evil.  Evil is like a snake eating its own tail; it is self-defeating.  How long can the snake survive when it is consuming itself?  Not very long, I would think.

During Into Darkness, Kirk and Spock are thrust into the depths of loss and extreme pain.  Kirk sees the man he has come to respect as a father, Admiral Christopher Pike, murdered.  We all know that Kirk is no stranger to death, but this is the first time (that the audience sees) when he has watched someone close to him die.  And it tears him up.

Spock also gets thrown down this well.  He mind melds with Pike as the old captain dies, experiencing again the emotions he felt as he watched his home world Vulcan annihilated (seen in the previous movie) – emotions he is desperately trying to avoid ever feeling again.

As he later learns when Kirk ‘dies,’ he may as well quit breathing.  Emotions do not have an off switch; they only rule a person who does not make them subservient to reason.

In the case of Star Trek’s ‘dynamic duo,’ both Kirk and Spock come to the brink of the abyss of evil.  At this threshold, they have a choice: fall or fly.  What I mean by this is that they have a choice between good and evil.  Will they give in (fall) to their “anger,” and their “fear,” (thank you, Master Yoda) and hatred?  Or will they let these emotions go and rise (fly) above them?

The two come very close to falling.  Kirk first single-mindedly hunts down Khan to get vengeance for Pike’s murder, only to learn that he has endangered his whole crew when Admiral Marcus arrives to “tie up loose ends.”  Kirk’s desire for revenge then appears to transform into a death wish, which is finally overcome when he chooses to sacrifice himself to save the Enterprise – and San Francisco. 

Speaking of which, they pick on Marvel for wrecking New York City every few months.  J. J. Abrams has now attempted to destroy San Francisco twice, and I haven’t heard anyone complain.

It is after Kirk’s ‘death’ that Spock reaches his precipice.  Since Vulcan’s destruction, Spock has decided that he wants to feel nothing before he dies.  Vulcans, as every Star Trek writer enjoys reminding the audience, feel far more deeply, passionately, and keenly than humans do.

And boy does Spock live up to that aspect of the Star Trek legend in this film!  If you thought you saw the penultimate Vulcan temper flare when Kirk baited Spock in the previous movie, that was nothing compared to the fury that Spock exhibits when Kirk ‘dies.’  

Giving in to his rage, pain, and the fear of being without his best friend for the next fifty of his two hundred years (the average lifespan of a member of the Vulcan race), Spock pursues Khan through the streets and airways of San Francisco.  Even Spock’s vaunted Vulcan strength does not give him the upper hand against the genetically engineered Khan.  Only when Uhura arrives and begins firing on Khan is Spock able to pin him.  At which point he begins beating the villain with a piece of the freighter the three are riding on.

I suppose Spock might have eventually killed Khan.  But when Uhura manages to get it into Spock’s rage-benumbed mind that Khan can save Kirk, Spock pauses.  The viewer can see by the expression on Spock’s face that he is very tempted to simply finish Khan on the spot.  Even dead, his blood might have saved Kirk.

But Spock does not kill Khan.  He rises above the brink of evil.  He takes the handle from the freighter and knocks Khan out in one smooth blow.  Very cute move; I hope he did it hard.

Subsequently, Kirk is revived to become a stronger, less cocky (maybe…), starship captain.  He has seen evil again, not just outside of him but inside as well.  And he has defeated that blackness every human has in their heart.  He hasn’t permanently wiped it out, but Kirk has withstood this siege and won.

Spock similarly stands stronger than he did at the beginning of the film.  Having come to understand that emotions are without an on/off switch, he accepts the position they hold in his being and moves on with his friends.

This triumph is in stark contrast to the movie’s two antagonists.  I will begin with Admiral Marcus.  When Marcus arrives to destroy the Enterprise (commanding a ship named – surprise, surprise – Vengeance), we learn that he has been preparing Starfleet for war underneath the public’s and the politicians’ noses.

Marcus has distorted Starfleet’s mission; instead of seeing the Fleet as a force for peaceful exploration, and defense if the explorers’ way of life is threatened, he sees it as a war machine.  Very typical of the military/industrial complex Hollywood enjoys harping about.

That aspect aside, Marcus has ‘fallen’ Into Darkness.  He is planning, the Enterprise crew and the audience learn, to start a war with the Klingons.  His excuse for doing this?  War is coming anyway.  The Klingons are preparing for it; so should Starfleet. 

To make certain the Federation has the upper hand in this coming, glorious battle, Marcus has awoken the twentieth century menace Khan Noonien Singh.  And, much like the sorcerer who summons a demon to devour his enemies for him in old fairy tales, Marcus himself is destroyed when Khan turns on him.

For his part, Khan has also ‘fallen’ Into Darkness.  But he has been sailing that black sea far longer than Marcus.  A genetically enhanced human who wrought havoc on earth during the Eugenics’ Wars (in Star Trek history, this took place in the 1990’s); Khan and his remaining seventy-two crewmembers look down on all non-enhanced people as inferiors.

In a way, this was what always made Khan so pitiable.  Khan was a brilliant man who could have done great things but instead let his pride run amok, as it does here.  You know what they say about pride going before a fall.  Through Into Darkness, Khan gives viewers a good idea of what it is like when someone bows down before the all-consuming fire of pride.  And in the three hundred and some years since he fell to his knees before it, Khan has lost all of the humanity he ever had, demonstrated when he brutally breaks Carol Marcus’ leg and then kills her father – right before her eyes.

Now, I know I have sounded extremely (cough) dark here, so I will try to end this on a happier note.  I think that the best way to do this is to make a small mention of the ending for the film.

At the end, Kirk gives the eulogy at a funeral; I believe it is Admiral Pike’s.  His words do not mean very much (until he recites the familiar lines from ‘Space, the final frontier…’).  What does mean a great deal, however, are the images that accompany his speech.

The day of the funeral is overcast, justly somber as the Federation mourns its dead and those who died to pride (Admiral Marcus).  Meanwhile, other members of Starfleet are shown putting a re-iced Khan and his remaining crew in deep storage, away from even the misty grey of a sad day.

In a way, Khan and his people are also being buried.  Oh, they are alive in their stasis pods, their bodies still function.  They are not physically dead.  But if the other seventy-two are anything at all like Khan, they are dead spiritually.  So although they are technically imprisoned in dreamless sleep, in effect they are being entombed the same way that any actual dead men would be.

Meanwhile, Kirk and his crew still walk, talk, and feel; they are very alive despite the pain they have all experienced in this ordeal.  And they get to go on living.  They get to go on the famous, five year deep-space mission.  They get to walk among the stars.  That’s more than Khan will get to do for a long, long time.  All because he gave in where others resisted.

Maybe that was not a particularly chipper ending to this note, but it is the best I’ve got at the moment.  I will try to do better next time. 

See you around, Tony!

Later,

Mithril

The Little Things

Vengeance

Hi, DiNozzo!

There’s my Klondike bar! Mm-mm!

That was it? Don’t they carry bigger bars in the squad room vending machines?

Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo, if I find out that you’ve been short-changing me, I am going to make your next week a royal pain!!…. You HAVE!!

I knew it! I KNEW it! You HAVE been buying the smaller bars!

Oh, no, you aren’t getting away that easily! I’ve had something special in mind for you for the past few weeks. Now I get to give it to you.

But while I’m plotting my vengeance, we’ll turn to the topic at hand. What do I mean by the little things? I mean all the cute little touches that J.J. Abrams managed to cram into Star Trek Into Darkness, the sequel to his first Star Trek revamp.

One of the big things (unfortunately I had to have this pointed out to me) is that everyone at Starfleet Academy is going around ‘covered’ in this film.

Come on, DiNozzo! You work for NCIS and somehow forget what covered means?!?

Oh, any excuse. Yes, I do mean that everyone in the film, when they aren’t on the ship, is wearing a hat. In Navy terms, they are ‘covered.’ It’s a very nice touch that adds authenticity to the movie, like a scene in the first Star Trek film. When the U.S.S. Kelvin is adrift after the Narada’s first bombardment the captain and George Kirk head to the shuttle bay as the captain prepares to meet with Nero. On their way they pass a woman in a blue officer’s uniform. She stops heading down the stairs, turns to attention, and stays that way until the captain has passed.

It was a very nice touch, but not quite as good as the sequel with everyone wearing a hat.

On another note, Into Darkness sees Chekov assigned to Engineering. He gets told to “Put on a red shirt.” Our favorite navigator swallows nervously at the idea of the responsibility Kirk has just handed him. Meanwhile, the audience swallows anxiously at the idea of him wearing a red shirt. After all, most of the casualties in the original Star Trek series were guys wearing red shirts!! Fortunately, Chekov survives the experience.

This notable trait of Star Trek is reversed sometime later in the film. Kirk’s old sparring partner, ‘Cupcake,’ and his companion are told to exchange their red shirts for trader uniforms. This may be the reason they survive the film. I wonder if they’ll live through the third one?

I’m not making any bets with you, you cheapskate!! You’d probably run off with all the money. Besides, betting on Hollywood is harder than betting on the weather – at least it is when you’re dealing with good movies and their sequels.

One of the other details I noticed was that the trouble on Starfleet’s doorstep began in London. How appropriate – the actor who plays Into Darkness’ villain is Benedict Cumberbatch.

Not only is the man British, he happens to be playing England’s best loved detective, Sherlock Holmes, in a BBC series titled Sherlock. He also plays Smaug and the Necromancer in The Hobbit films alongside his Sherlock co-star and fellow Englishman Martin Freeman, a.k.a. Bilbo Baggins (Watson in the BBC series).

Speaking of Into Darkness’ villain, he’s called Khan. Early on in the film he goes by a different name, but eventually he drops it. When he tells Kirk, Spock, and McCoy his history he mentions that Admiral Marcus (the secondary villain in the feature) found his ship adrift in space and woke him, holding the rest of his crew hostage to force him to cooperate.

In the original series, Khan’s ship was named the S. S. Botany Bay. The name was that of a penal colony near Botany Bay, Australia, in the 1800’s and should have been a warning sign to Kirk, who was an historian.

Another noticeable homage to the series was McCoy’s experiment on a dead Tribble. Anyone who has ever seen the original Star Trek episode “The Trouble with Tribbles” recognized that this overgrown plush puff would be important later on. The Tribbles have enjoyed fame in Trekdom since their introduction, producing a sequel adventure in the animated show of Star Trek that aired after the live-action series was canceled. The episode was so popular they even had the crew of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine revisit the episode. You ought to watch that one, it’s amazing.

Then there’s this line of Spock’s early on in the movie, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” This weighty Vulcan maxim first saw the light of day in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. In that same movie, Spock went the extra mile to make sure the Enterprise was saved, despite the protests of Scotty and McCoy.

This leads up to the most serious detail added to Into Darkness. Spock’s death scene is revisited in the film, but with a twist. Into Darkness sees the role reversed, with Kirk the one who ‘sacrifices’ himself to save the Enterprise.

My one quibble with this scene is Spock’s shout of rage when Kirk ‘dies.’ Quinto must have had to redo this part several times. His voice sounds very hoarse and thin when he shouts, “KHAN!” (A further twist on Star Trek II.)

Whew, that’s it; we’re done with the serious stuff. After Kirk comes back – you didn’t really think that they would let him stay dead, did you, Tony? – McCoy tells him not to get a fat head. “You were only mostly dead,” he adds.

The Dread Pirate Roberts sails again!! If this isn’t a nod to The Princess Bride, then I don’t know what is!!

Hey, no comments from the peanut gallery! (Thief.)

Also mentioned in the film is Nurse Christine Chapel. Carol Marcus mentions her in one scene when speaking with Kirk, saying that, “She’s a nurse now. She’s very happy.” Kirk, apparently, had a fling with her between the films and has totally forgotten the woman.

In truth, I can’t blame him. Nurse Chapel was one of the drippiest characters to ever walk onto the original Start Trek’s platform. In the series she had a crush on Spock that was never reciprocated. It led to a lot of embarrassing, unnecessary scenes in several episodes. That’s not to say that I have anything against Majel Barrett, the actress who played Chapel. She’s a good actress. She just got stuck with a lousy part and had to make the best of it.

Another touch that harkens back to the original series is the regularity with which Sulu is handed the con (command of the ship).

Well, your brain blipped into Neverland when I talked about the characters being covered. How could I be sure it wouldn’t happen again? So I’m going to spell out all navy references to you, just to be sure you understand!

The fact is that Sulu gets to command the Enterprise several times in the film as Kirk and Spock run around saving Starfleet. In the original series and movies, this led to him becoming the proud captain of his own ship, the ‘newfangled’ (Scotty’s polite opinion) Excelsior.

Sulu also gets a little extra characterization when he eyes his new navigator. Sulu was known in the series as a dashing flirt and could be found looking Uhura over a few times. This came to a head in the episode Mirror, Mirror, but not in a way either the original Sulu or the original Uhura would have wanted.

The last and greatest touch to the film is the oft mentioned “five year mission.” Early in the show Kirk expects to be handed this fantastic five year deep space exploration mission, only to have Spock’s honesty keelhaul the idea.

At the end of the movie, though, Kirk gets his wish. Starfleet commissions the Enterprise for her iconic five year mission. And if ever a ship was prancing like a thoroughbred at the starting gate, it would be Kirk’s Enterprise. The ship, by all accounts, left dry dock itching to warp into the unknown.

Now she’s going and there’s no holding her back. Which means MORE movies!!

Bring ‘em on!

Well, time for me to leave. And begin my evil plans.

Beg all you want, DiNozzo!! There is no escaping my wrath. You are so going to regret cheating me of my rightful Klondike payments.

Mwaha-ha-ha!

Later,

Mithril