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Star Trek: The Lost Era – Serpents Among the Ruins by David R. George III (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. This is actually supplementary to the first season of the Next Generation, specifically the episode The Neutral Zone.

The first year of Star Trek: The Next Generation was a little rocky when it came to continuity. Skipping roughly a century on from the adventures of James T. Kirk, there were times when it seemed like the writers weren’t entirely sure what had happened during that gap. Early on, for example, it was suggested that the Klingons had joined the Federation, a decision reversed by the show’s third season. Even within the first year of the show, it seemed like the writers hadn’t quite cemented the wider Star Trek universe. In Angel One, we discover that the Romulans are threatening war, only to hear in The Neutral Zone that they’ve actually been absent from galactic affairs for quite some time.

Serpents Among the Ruins is an attempt to explain that absence established in 1988, and contextualise it against the eighteen years of Romulan stories that would follow from the early appearances in Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country through to the end of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and beyond.

st-serpentsamongtheruins

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Star Trek: The Next Generation (DC) Annual #3 – The Broken Moon (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. This is actually supplementary to the first season of the Next Generation, specifically the episode Conspiracy.

If you were to construct a list of the most niggling unresolved plot threads in the history of the Star Trek franchise, “what was up with those things from Conspiracy?” would likely rank up there alongside “so, did Bajor ever join the Federation?” Funnily enough, author S.D. Perry would tie those two dangling plot points up in her Deep Space Nine relaunch book, Unity.

However, several other writers have tried to figure out what exactly was going on with those mind-controlling parasites who appeared at the end of the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and were never heard from again. According to Ronald D. Moore on Inside the Writers’ Room on the third Next Generation blu ray box set, various writers for the show tried to revisit the idea, but Roddenberry hated that episode so much nothing was ever developed.

The Broken Moon, the third annual for DC’s Next Generation comic book series, offers its own take on the mind-controlling parasites. While writer Michael Jan Friedman wisely avoids revealing too much about these creatures, the story suffers because it never figures out anything interesting to do with them.

It always bugged me...

It always bugged me…

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – The Lives of Dax: Sins of the Mother (Audrid) by S.D. Perry (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. This is actually supplementary to the first season of the Next Generation, specifically the episode Conspiracy.

The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine relaunch was the first truly successful attempt to continue a Star Trek television show past its final episode. Of course, there had been novels written before taking place after the finalés of the various shows, but the Deep Space Nine relaunch was the first conscious attempt to directly build upon the events of the series and structure the novels as something of an “eighth season” to the show. If I get through the seven years of Deep Space Nine, I am seriously considering covering the novels.

What’s interesting is that the novels didn’t quite come to be in an instant and decisive sort of way. There was a hazy grey period where books were published after What You Leave Behind, but not necessarily structured as part of that “eighth season.” Two of those books, The Lives of Dax and A Stitch in Time were retroactively welcomed into the relaunch. Indeed, this short story from S.D. Perry proves to pretty essential to the relaunch as a whole.

Like Deep Space Nine itself, the novels picked up and developed on particular themes and plot threads. The entrance of Bajor into the Federation is the most obvious, a plot point set up in Emissary and never completely resolved in the show. However, one particular plot thread seems to have emerged from out of nowhere, stretching back to an aborted arc from the very season of the second generation of Star Trek television shows. The relaunch built heavily on Conspiracy.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Peak Performance (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.

Peak Performance is a functional episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It doesn’t really stand out all that much, and it feels quite a bit average. Still, that’s not to dismiss Peak Performance. After all, this past season has seen The Next Generation advance considerably. During the first season, an episode like Home Soil or The Big Goodbye was a welcome relief. At this stage in the show, episodes like Peak Performance and Contagion are the average.

Of course, the third season would see the show’s quality improve even more dramatically, but we’re still just a little bit away from that. So we’re left with Peak Performance, a fairly standard piece of Star Trek that feels just a little bit too formulaic and a little bit too cliché. While it’s not among the strongest of the season, there are definitely worse sins.

Game on...

Game on…

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Emissary (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.

The Emissary is one of the stronger episodes from the tail end of Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s second season. An interesting meditation on heritage and race, as well as an insightful character piece for Worf, The Emissary is an interesting exploration of Worf’s relationship to his culture – and how his experience is far from universal. It’s the sort of story that The Next Generation should have been producing on a more consistent basis, but it’s better late than never.

Bonded by blood...

Bonded by blood…

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Star Trek – The Wounded Sky by Diane Duane (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. This is actually supplementary to the first season of the Next Generation, specifically the episode Where No One Has Gone Before.

Diane Duane remains one of the most influential Star Trek tie-in writers ever to work on the franchise. She has been involved in publishing tie-in books pretty consistently since the early days of the publishing line. The Wounded Sky, her first tie-in novel, was lucky number thirteen in the “Pocket TOS” range, published in 1983. Her most recent tie-in novel, The Empty Chair, was published in 2006. As well as a distinguished career outside of Star Trek, she has written novels and comics for the franchise. She even has a television credit, for her work on the teleplay for Where No One Has Gone Before.

There’s a reason that Duane’s contributions to Star Trek fiction are held in such a high regard, and those reasons are quite clear on reading The Wounded Sky. It’s a beautiful and thoughtful piece of prose set within the Star Trek universe, one more concerned with continuing and advancing the spirit of exploration established in the television show than meddling in continuity minutiae or offering generic adventures starring James Tiberius Kirk.

It’s a whole-hearted recommendation for any fan of the original series.

tos-thewoundedsky

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Up the Long Ladder (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.

It’s been a while since Star Trek: The Next Generation has been openly offensive. So, just in case you’d forgotten that this was the same production staff that gave us “Riker beams down to a planet of beautiful women and screws their heads on straight” or “Troi’s womb is occupied by an alien intelligence, isn’t that cute?”, the writing staff have conspired to remind us that just because prejudice doesn’t exist in the 24th century (tell that to the Ferengi!) doesn’t mean that it can’t exist inside a late twentieth century writing room.

Begosh and begorrah! The space Oirish are coming!

"Wait, we're actually filming this?"

“Wait, we’re actually filming this?”

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Samaritan Snare (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.

To describe Samaritan Snare as a step down from Q Who? feels like an understatement. Q Who? was Star Trek: The Next Generation realising that it needed to improve its game if it ever wanted to measure up to its predecessor, interrogating some aspects of the series that had been taken for granted, calling the crew out on their arrogance and offering an opponent that could really push the Enterprise crew for all that they are worth.

It was really the logical culmination of themes running through the second season, themes that seem to faintly echo into Samaritan Snare, another story about the arrogance and ego of the Enterprise crew. Unfortunately, while it does seem to acknowledge many of the same weaknesses and flaws that Q Who? hit upon, it can’t help but seem a little disappointing. Here, the Enterprise are not thrown against an impossible-to-defeat adversary. Instead, their arrogance turns them into interstellar marks.

His heart just isn't in it...

His heart just isn’t in it…

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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds VI – The Beginning (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.

The Borg are, quite possibly, the most significant addition to the Star Trek mythos since the Klingons. They are one of the few modern pieces of Star Trek lore that will be instantly recognisable to a broader audience. They have featured, in some way, in all four of the Star Trek spin-off series. They are constantly rumoured and suggested as a viable antagonist for the rebooted film series. The Borg are a pretty big deal.

And yet, like so many pop culture villains, they seem less threatening the more we know about them. One of the more frequent complaints about the use of the Borg in Star Trek: Voyager was that it made the aliens more familiar, more understandable, more relatable. Continuing to build off the premise of the Borg Queen in Star Trek: First Contact, the Borg became an alien species that Janeway would reason and negotiate with, in stark contrast to Q’s characterisation of the collective in Q Who?

Although Star Trek: Enterprise did manage to turn the Borg’s fascination with mankind into a causal loop, televised Star Trek never managed to produce an origin story for those cybernetic monsters. Ever ready to fill in a perceived blank in the canon, the expanded Star Trek universe has actually proposed a number of origins for the Borg.

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Icarus Factor (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.

The Icarus Factor is a character-driven story. At least, it wants to be a character-driven story. The problem is that Star Trek: The Next Generation hasn’t reached the point where it can really do character-driven storytelling with a measure of consistence. (The fact that Picard confronting his future failures in Time Squared worked was more down to Patrick Stewart than the episode’s script.)

The Icarus Factor is a story focusing on Riker as a character, and it suffers from the fact that Riker hasn’t really been well-defined to date. We’re repeatedly told that he’s ambitious and career-driven, but most his on-screen characterisation has fluctuated between reckless, jerkish and horny. So The Icarus Factor tries to compensate by giving Riker the most generic back story possible for a lead male character on a television show.

This is the story of Riker’s daddy issues.

Somehow, this image just sums up Riker as a character...

Somehow, this image just sums up Riker as a character…

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