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Star Trek: Myriad Universes – Echoes and Refractions: Brave New World by Chris Roberson (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

Quite a few of the Myriad Universe stories feel like “for want of a nail” stories. Changing one little detail of Star Trek history and the entire universe comes apart at the seams. In the Echoes and Refractions collection alone, The Chimes at Midnight offers a nightmare glimpse of a universe where Spock died in childhood, while A Gutted World explores what might have happened if the Cardassians had never left Bajor. Neither alternate universe represented a sustainable alternative to the Star Trek we know and love. The subtitles might as well have been “… and then things got worse.”

With the final story in the collection, Chris Roberson takes another tack. Brave New World isn’t a story about how removing one vital thread of the Star Trek tapestry causes the whole thing to unravel. Instead, it’s something quite a bit bolder. It’s a genuine alternate universe, one boldly different – not inherently better or worse, but just an example how things might have unfolded if just one little thing had been different.

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Star Trek: Myriad Universes – Echoes and Refractions: A Gutted World by Keith R. A. DeCandido (Review)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is twenty years old this year. To celebrate, I’m taking a look at the first and second seasons. Check back daily for the latest review or retrospective.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

“What if” stories are inherently fascinating. Naturally, they are predicated on investment in the original story, but it’s always fascinating to imagine the branching possibilities, the ripples in the stream. Sometimes, these are used to explore the grand philosophical questions of Star Trek in a new light; to imagine how, were you to change one variable in a complex formula, the answer might be radically different.

However, Keith R. A. DeCandido’s A Gutted World feels different. It is a massive story, spanning a huge amount of time and space, drawing in a massive ensemble cast and gently probing the politics of five or six different Star Trek culture, as DeCandido explores what might have happened if the Cardassians never withdrew from Bajor, if Terok Nor never became Deep Space Nine.

To put it more succinctly, if the show never happened, but its central storyline still did.

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Superman: The Animated Series – Brave New Metropolis

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. I’ll be looking at movies and episodes and even some of the related comic books. Since I looked at Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths earlier, I thought it might be worth a look at what a world run by a well-intentioned Superman might look like.

The interesting thing about Superman is that, as a character, he’s very frequently defined by what he isn’t – or what he shouldn’t be. It’s very hard to codify what Superman is, but easy to agree on what he shouldn’t be (for example, the suggestion that Superman should be light and fuzzy is more likely to spark an argument than the observation that he shouldn’t be dark; or the suggestion that he should be a “sci-fi” hero is bound to more controversial than the suggestion that he shouldn’t be a street-level vigilante). Stories like Mark Millar’s superb Red Son define the character by what he isn’t (a proactive political figure) – while interpretations seeking to define the character in more positive terms are frequently divisive (for example, the space hero of James Robinson’s New Krypton or the “down with the people” “wandering the earth” traveler in Grounded). Brave New Metropolis follows a similar structure, in defining Superman by what he isn’t or shouldn’t be: he shouldn’t be a ruler or people.  

Lex Luthor is bald because he got sick of people holding him like that...

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