Star Trek Revisited

This past week, I started a rewatch of Star Trek: The Next Generation with my youngest daughter. The fact that this rewatch coincides with the show’s thirtieth anniversary and this weekend’s premier of Star Trek: Discovery is mostly coincidental. I suspect the part that isn’t coincidence has to do with all the ads I’ve been seeing for Star Trek: Discovery. They’ve certainly put Star Trek on my mind.

When Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted, I was in my senior year at University. I remembered being glued to the television on Saturday afternoon when each new episode aired on syndicated television. Back in those days, I was so much a fan of the original series that I could quote lines verbatim. I typically could identify the episode within the first minute. In the early days, I didn’t feel The Next Generation was quite as good as the best episodes of the original series, but it was never as bad as the worst episodes, either. Most importantly, it felt like Star Trek.

It would probably come as a surprise to friends who knew me in those days that Star Trek: The Next Generation was the last Star Trek series I watched in its entirety. I have seen and enjoyed episodes of Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise, but as I began my astronomy and writing careers, television became less of a priority in my life and I just didn’t make time to follow those series.

One of the things I really like in Star Trek: The Next Generation is the way characters will do everything they can to find a mutually agreeable solution before resorting to violence. In many ways, this approach helped to shape Ramon and Fatemeh in my steampunk novels. Of course, Star Trek gave a lot of lip service to the “prime directive”—the policy of not interfering with cultures more primitive than them. In many ways, my alien traveler character Legion explores the bad, and even some good, that might happen from violating such a directive. Legion sparks off global conflict, but he also opens people’s minds, allowing them to see the benefits of technology and to see other peoples’ perspectives.

One aspect of Star Trek: The Next Generation that particularly struck me this time around was the idea of a “post-atomic horror” in the middle of the twenty-first century. When I first watched the series in the post-Reagan years of the 1980s, that seemed extremely pessimistic. As the years went by, I had reason to hope that the idea would disappear just as much as the original series’ Eugenics Wars of the 1990s did. It’s been very disheartening to see the specter of nuclear conflict raise its ugly head again in the last few months. I sincerely hope that world leaders can find a path to negotiate rather than let this science fictional prediction come to pass.

Before I wrap things up, I’ll turn briefly to Star Trek: Discovery. To be honest, I haven’t decided whether I’m going to watch, at least initially. A lot of what I’ve seen looks good and it looks like a show I would enjoy. I’m particularly encouraged to see that Michelle Yeoh, one of my favorite actresses, is part of the series. The big question for me is whether I want to sign up for CBS All Access to watch. The cost itself isn’t a big problem. More to the point for me is how little I watch television these days. For me, I’d be signing into the network to watch just one show. I may wait for a few episodes to come available, then try the “one-week free” option and then see how I like the show.

Before I go, I did want to share a couple of nice appearances this week at The Curious Adventures of Messrs Smith and Skarry Blog. I was interviewed about multicultural steampunk:

Also, my novel The Brazen Shark received a very nice review, which you can read at:

I’ll leave you with the Vulcan wish, “Live Long and Prosper” and its reply, “Peace and Long Life.”

10 comments on “Star Trek Revisited

  1. therailbaron says:

    Three cheers for Trek and Michelle Yeoh! I am awaiting Discovery, hut yeah the All Access is a bummer.

    • Yeah, for me, it’s about keeping track of a new automatic payment for a streaming service — and one I might not use that much — or conversely might get tempted to use way too much if I had it! Anyway, yeah, I’ll see some (if not all) of the episodes at some point. My work schedule kind of keeps me from seeing the premier on the first day as it happens anyway.

  2. Jack T. says:

    Hooray for Star Trek! BOOOOO to CBS for dreaming up yet another way to harvest more of our money. They can kiss mine. A year or so down the road, they’ll realize there’s still another way to get even more money: DVD and similar sales. It’s first run until you’ve seen it.

    Read well, and view better!
    ~ Jack

  3. I watched all of Next Generation because my gaming group wouldn’t turn the TV off until it was over…

  4. CBS can kiss my ass. I ain’t signing up and think they’re going to regret the strategy of pay extra TV.

    • I definitely see your point of view. That said, it occurred to me that the cable companies hooked most people on “pay extra TV” by charging people for cable (and the privilege of watching commercials on paid cable) then adding internet to the package, etc. etc. It’s why I dropped cable way back in 2001 or so and haven’t looked back. It just never seems to stop.

      • Jack T says:

        Good morning, David. This is more than just a point of view; it’s a fundamental screwjob on the consumers who they count on to be too lazy or stupid to work it out. When you buy a cable service, all they are selling you is ACCESS to a couple of hundred channels that you can’t pull out of the air with an antenna. That’s their product for which you pay them. They then provide you shows that include commercial advertising each show has sold to sponsors. That’s how the shows make their money. Some COMMERCIAL-FREE premium content is usually offered that the consumer pays for, replacing the corporate sponsors if he so chooses. What CBS is doing here is selling airtime to the sponsors, then turning around and selling the resulting shows WHICH THEY HAVE ALREADY BEEN PAID FOR. It’s a great business model for them; who wouldn’t want to get paid twice for the same product? Horrible for us consumers, though, who already have quite enough drains on our limited resources, thank you!

        It’s good to see that your readership, at least, resides well above the level of intelligence it takes to be hoodwinked by this sort of corporate shell game. I shall have to spend a good deal more of my reading time here!

      • I would argue that the “service” cable companies provided in selling you access to content that was already paid for by commercial is also akin to what happens when you put a bull in with a cow, especially when it was already exorbitantly priced back in 2001 — and that was for the laughable service known as “basic cable” that had no “premium channels” whatsoever. I couldn’t afford premium channels back then and not even sure I could now on my income as a telescope operator and writer.

        My point is that the American consumer has been allowing themselves to be charged more and more over time, while the companies that provide content have been selling more and more ads. I’m not really surprised that CBS All Access is doing what they’re doing. To me, it seems like a natural progression in the game of big media companies finding ways for increasing amounts of revenue to flow to them.

        I’ll note, there’s a reason I provided a link to Crunchyroll in today’s post (the one that appears after this one). They’re a media company that’s doing it right. They give you content with commercials for free. If you don’t want commercials you can go “Premium” for a very reasonable monthly fee — about half the price of CBS All Access’s “commercial free” rate.

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