Tag Archives: Star Trek

Pens Over Swords: the Best Conflict Resolution in Star Trek

This month I’m participating in the Scifi Month challenge that was created by the bloggers at One More. Click on the link in that last sentence for more information or to sign up yourself. There is still time to pick a few of their prompts and join in if you’re interested.

Today’s prompt is “we come in peace.” It was inspired by #WorldHelloDay, a secular holiday that encourages everyone to resolve conflict with good communication instead of by force. As soon as I began researching this holiday, I immediately thought of Star Trek. 

I will only be including references to series in this universe that are no longer releasing new episodes, but there are mild spoilers in this post. It simply wasn’t possible to write this without them.

One of the things I’ve learned from watching various Star Trek series over the years is that a better world is possible. Conflicts can be resolved peacefully. It all starts with learning how to talk about what you want clearly and listening to what other people want, too.

Obviously, I can’t possibly cover every single moment of conflict resolution in Star Trek in this post without turning this into a full-length novel. What I’m hoping to do is highlight my picks for some of the best moments where Star Trek characters used words, whether spoken, written, or sung, to find a solution that worked best for everyone.

Beware of reading anything after this sentence that if you haven’t seen every old Star Trek episode yet and want to catch up without any hints about what is coming at all.

Avery Brooks as Captain Benjamin Sisko in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Photo is of Avery smiling while wearing Star Trek uniform.

Captain Sisko’s headshot. 

Series, Season, and Episode: Emissary from Season 1, episodes 1-2 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Although, honestly, the entire Deep Space Nine series is an amazing example of how to resolve conflict, create peace, and get along with people who may have been your enemies just a short while ago.

The Conflict: Captain Benjamin Sisko, a single father and recent widower, was dismayed by the poor condition of the space station he has just arrived to command and of the disrespectful attitudes of some of his new crew. To make matters worse, the person who assigned this posting to him was the same man he blamed for the death of his wife. In these episodes he had to decide whether to stay with Starfleet or resign and find a quiet civilian life for him and his young son.

How It Was Resolved: He had deep conversations with others who helped him acknowledge his grief and see the professional challenges lying before him in a new light. I know this is kind of a vague answer, but seeing how Captain Sisko went from despondent to hopeful was incredible. This is something everyone should experience for themselves without knowing too much in advance about how it all worked out.

Tim Russ as Tuvok in Star Trek Voyager. Photo is of him suffering from pon farr. He is grimacing and his face is covered in perspiration.

Tuvok suffering from pon farr.

Series, Season, and Episode: “Body and Soul” from season 7, espisode 7 of Star Trek: Voyager.

The Conflict: Tuvok was suffering from a chemical imbalance called pon farr that was common in among Vulcans. When the medical bay’s first attempt at treatment failed, they had to resort to other ways to help Tuvok before his condition became fatal.

How It Was Resolved: Through an opera song (and then other remedies, of course).

Doctor sings Opera to Tuvok.

 

Screenshot from Star Trek: The Original series episode "The Menagerie Part 1." The Enterprise and a planet are in the background of this shot.

Series, Season, and Episode: “The Menagerie” from season 1, episodes 11 and 12 of Star Trek: The Original Series.

The Conflict: The Enterprise received a distress signal from ship that had been lost eighteen years ago. When they arrived at the planet where that ship had crash landed, several members their crew was kidnapped by the people living there.

How It Was Resolved: A trial, among other creative solutions. This episode won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1967. I don’t want to give away any other plot twists, but I will say it was quite well done.

Brent Spiner as Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation. He is sitting at table with his fingers laced together.

Data.

Series, Season, and Episode: “The Measure of a Man” from season 1, episode 9 of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The Conflict: A cyberneticist named Commander Maddox wished to disassemble Data in order to understand how his artificial brain functions and reverse-engineer it to produce replicas of him for Star Fleet to use. Data refused to allow this. When he attempted to leave Star Fleet in order to save himself, a court case developed to determine whether androids should be given the same rights as humans.

How It Was Resolved: A trial. There are a lot of Star Trek episodes that involve trials, now that I think about it!

Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard and John de Lancie as Q

Q and Captain Picard.

Series, Season, and Episode: “Q Who” from season 2, episode 16 of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The Conflict: There was once an omnipotent entity named Q who was so tired of seeing humans take good care of themselves that he decided to fling their spaceship 7,000 lightyears away just to see what happened next. The problem was, he threw them straight into the path of an enemy who was too powerful to defeat.

How It Was Resolved: Time travel and a large second helping of mischief. What made this episode especially great in my opinion was how much groundwork it set for future conflicts in the Star Trek universe. That’s all I’ll say about that!

If you’re a fan of Star Trek, what are your favourite scenes or episodes from it?

Characters I’d Never Invite to Thanksgiving Dinner

Pumpkin pie, forks, and a decorative gourd sitting on a Thanksgiving supper tableHappy Thanksgiving to all of my Canadian readers!

Last year I wrote about the characters I’d want to invite over for a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner.

Since then, I’ve gotten some hits on my site from people who are wondering which characters shouldn’t be included on a Thanksgiving dinner guest list.

Honestly, I could happily make small talk about how unpredictable the weather can be in October or why pumpkin pie is so delicious with 99.99% of the people and characters out there. There are plenty of ways to gently guide a conversation along to lighthearted topics if you don’t have much in common or know each other well.

It would take a lot for me to refuse to share such a hospitable and inclusive holiday with someone…especially if they don’t have anywhere else to go!

With that being said, even I have my limits. Here are the characters who would never be invited to my house for Thanksgiving dinner.

1. Dolores Umbridge from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. 

Why: She was a violent, cruel person who did a deceptively good job of hiding that part of her personality from authority figures and anyone else who might have stopped her.

2. The Borg from Star Trek

Why: As cool as it might be to have some body parts replaced by machines, I do not want them to assimilate me or the other guests against our will. Former members of The Borg like Seven of Nine who simply want to eat some food and discuss human culture would be welcomed in my home.

3. Heathcliff from Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights 

Why: Like Dolores, Heathcliffe was skilled at putting on the facade of being a good person while doing quietly terrible things to his victims behind the scenes. This is something I simply can’t sweep under the rug.

4. President Snow and President Coin from Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy 

Why: Does anyone actually want to spend Thanksgiving with ruthless dictators who have repeatedly sent innocent people to their deaths? If so, I’ve never met such a person.

This list was pretty short, but I felt that I’d be repeating myself if I added anyone else to it. Basically, the behaviours that would make me exclude someone on Thanksgiving are limited to things that would also be bright red flags the other 364 days of the year. The vast majority of people would never behave this way, so my list of folks who could join me for a special holiday meal will always be miles longer than the ones who will have to make other plans that day.

Which characters would you never invite over for Thanksgiving dinner?

How Science Fiction Can Keep You Out of Trouble

Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock

I’ve been thinking about Star Trek a lot lately, especiallyThe Original Series.

The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine were the parts of this universe I grew up watching. It wasn’t I was an adult that I actually sat down and checked out the series that started the Star Trek franchise back in the 1960s.

If you’ve never watched Star Trek before, I would recommend beginning with one of the newer franchises. There were times when The Original Series was quite slow for twenty-first century tastes, and other scenes in it really didn’t age well at all.

Still, I’m glad I saw all of those old episodes. It was interesting to see how this universe has evolved over time and what things have remained constant no matter if you’re watching something from it that was created a few months or fifty years ago.

There is one particular Star Trek episode that keeps popping into my mind. I’m going to try to straddle the line between explaining it’s importance in this universe without giving away spoilers to anyone who  hasn’t seen it or caught the references to it in later series.

The Cage” was originally supposed to be the pilot episode for The Original Series. (Note: that link contains your full daily allowance of spoilers. Avoid it and the rest of this post if you want to remain spoiler-free for a show that was created 50+ years ago).

Talos IV

During this adventure Captain Pike and his crew responded to a distress call on a planet called Talos IV.

Some of the planets the crew visited during the course of The Original Series were dusty, ugly places, but this wasn’t one of them.

Talos IV was a pretty, peaceful place. Captain Pike and the rest of their crew met the Talosians, the friendly humanoids of that planet who offered hospitality without any expectation of reciprocation.

If there could ever be a setting an audience could relax into, this was one of them. Everything was going well.

Captain Pike was then introduced to a pretty, young human woman who had been raised by the Talosians and who wanted him to stay there and have children with her. This was where the plot truly grew interesting, and I wish I could say more about it without giving away all of the spoilers in the entire world to people who are new to the Trekverse.

If I’d seen this story as a kid, it would have blown my mind. As it was, I sensed something was odd as soon as the Talosians began bending over backwards to make their human visitors feel welcomed.

One of the things I enjoy the most about the science fiction genre is the way it can teach its audience to look out for red flags. “The Cage” was a story filled with many different themes. One of them seemed to be about recognizing early signs that someone might not be a person you’ll want to get to know better on a professional, personal, or romantic level.

Red Flag #1: Moving Quickly

The Talosian greeting party

The Talosians barely even knew the names of any of the Enterprise crew members, yet they were already prepared to offer them anything their hearts desired.

Generosity is a wonderful virtue, but there should be healthy limits to it. If someone has just met you and is already offering you the world, there may be something less wholesome going on with them behind the scenes.

Red Flag #2: Not Taking No for an Answer

I can’t go into a lot of detail about this without wandering into spoiler land, but let’s just say that the Talosians offer wasn’t one that was supposed to be refused.

People who run roughshod over small boundaries generally don’t respect the more important ones, either.

Red Flag #3: Deals That Seem too Good to be True

If someone seems too good to be true, there could very well be strings attached to it that haven’t been mentioned yet. By all means get more information, but don’t make any agreements or assumptions until you have all of the details hammered out and they make sense.

I can’t tell you how many times these lessons have given me early warnings about specific situations or interpersonal interactions. It’s one thing to read about red flags in a book, but it’s quite another to see them played out in a story while being asked to come to your own conclusions about how one might apply them to real life.

What life lessons have you learned from science fiction (or your favourite genre in general)? Do you also find that fiction can keep you out of trouble?

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I’d Like to Switch Places With

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

My list this week is going to include several characters from TV shows. All of these shows have had books or graphic novels written about them, though, so they still fit the criteria for Top Ten Tuesday.

1. Biff from Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal.

I love the offbeat humour of Monty Python and Douglas Adams. Christopher Moore was an author I discovered when I went hunting for other examples of tongue-in-cheek storytelling, and his irreverent character Biff was the perfect fit for what I was looking for. It would be pretty amusing to see the world through Biff’s eyes for a day.

2. Buffy from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Long Way Home and other graphic novels

Buffy wasn’t the first female superhero I ever watched or read about, but she has remained one of my favourite ones over the years. Unlike a lot of other superheroes, she had tight-knit relationships with her family, biological and chosen. I also loved the fact that she regularly dealt with problems that couldn’t be solved by super strength or fast healing. I’d sure be interested in finding out what it would be like to have those kinds of powers.

3. The Thirteenth Doctor Who

It wasn’t until I saw Jodie Whittaker’s take on the Doctor that I finally became a fan of this show. I love the creativity and practicality of the Thirteenth Doctor. Without giving away spoilers for those of you who haven’t seen her beginning yet, I was impressed with how good she was at getting herself out of a tough situation when she lost her sonic screwdriver. Her choice of companions has been top-notch so far, too, and I’d love to go on an adventure with them.

There is a graphic novel scheduled to be released about Doctor Who in May. I’m quite curious to read it.

4. Watson from the original Sherlock Holmes series

While Sherlock was a brilliant detective, I always found Watson more relatable because of his high emotional intelligence. He had impeccable manners and a desire to genuinely get to know others that I think would make him a very interesting person to switch places with.

Though this image is subject to copyright, its use is covered by the U.S. fair use laws because the image is used as the primary means of visual identification of the article topic.

5. Michael Burnham from Star Trek: Discovery novel.

Drastic Measures is the name of the first Star Trek novel about this show. Let’s see what I can tell you about Michael without giving away spoilers to anyone who hasn’t started Discovery yet. She’s an intelligent, hard-working woman who is excellent at reading and responding to other people’s emotions. I also love the fact that she is so quick to stick up for the underdog.

Also, who wouldn’t want to visit the Star Trek universe? That would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

6. Jayne Cobb from the Firefly graphic novels

Firefly was another TV show that I was pretty sad to see end, but luckily it was given new life in the graphic novel format. This story followed a group of rag-tag space travellers as they visited various planets and tried to find enough paying customers to make their space flights at least somewhat profitable. Jayne was the mercenary of the group, but as we got to know him we discovered parts of his personality that you’d never expect to find in someone as tough and aggressive as he generally was.

I loved discovering the hidden parts of his life and think it would be quite interesting to see what else might be quietly going on with him.

7. The mysterious old woman from the traditional fairy tale, The Child Who Came from an Egg.

I’m guessing that a lot of you haven’t heard of this legend, so I included a link to a site where you can read it for free in the line above. The most interesting to me about the mysterious old woman is that we know nothing about her, including her name. She has powers that she uses for good, but where she came from and how she acquired those powers is a mystery. I’d love to be her long enough to figure out the answers to those questions.

(Someday I hope we’ll have a Top Ten Tuesday prompt that I can use to talk about nothing but fairy tales. I love this topic and will talk all of your ears off about it if Jana ever gives me the opportunity to do so. Ha!)

8. Yorick Brown from Y: The Last Man

The premise of Y: The Last Man is simple. After a worldwide plague kills off all of the men in the world except for a guy named Yorick, he must travel halfway across the world to make amends with his ex-girlfriend.

I’m fascinated by the thought of living in a world full of women, and I thought this series did a good job of showing how society might adapt to that sort of massive change.

9. Lyra Belacqua from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy.

Lyra was such an inquisitive girl. There’s no doubt in my mind that temporarily being her would bring a lot of adventure my way.

10. Michonne from Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead graphic novels

Survivor is the first word I think of when I think of Michonne. She lived in an incredibly dangerous world, and yet she figured out ways to survive even the most dangerous situations without losing her humanity or will to survive. Without giving away spoilers, this is something that became pretty rare in this universe by the time I stopped reading the graphic novels.

I know that Rick Grimes is technically the main character of this story, but I’ve always felt like that honour should have been given to Michonne instead. She’s more than earned it.

What characters would you all like to switch places with?

Science Fiction and Fantasy Shows I’m Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers! I hope you all have a table full of delicious things to eat and plenty of kindred spirits to share this meal with. Today’s post will be something short and sweet.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how happy I am to see the science fiction and fantasy genres doing so well, especially on the small screen. There have been times when these genres haven’t gotten as much attention from mainstream audiences as they’re currently receiving. I’m so glad to see the audiences for them growing.

Today I’m going to be talking about why I am thankful for certain science fiction and fantasy shows that I’ve been watching this year. I’d love to see your lists, too.

The picture on the left reminded me of how I feel when I read these genres. The right storyteller can paint such a vivid picture of the world they’re imagining that I forget it’s fiction.

It somehow feels more like exploring a new planet, timeline, or era then reading about a character having those adventures. Even speaking as an author myself who knows the tricks of the trade, this is a magical process every single time it happens.

The Orville

I love the cheerful, uplifting, and hopeful themes on this program about a group of space adventurers. While they aren’t set in the same universe, it reminds me of Star Trek in the very best way possible. Given certain things that have happened in the world over the last few years, we need this optimism now more than ever.

The Good Place

Death and the afterlife definitely aren’t the first things I think of when I’m in the mood for a comedy, but somehow the writers of this show have figured out a way to make serious and controversial topics fodder for jokes. I especially love the fact that the non-humans characters on this show have found so many ways to surprise the audience and defy almost everyone’s expectations of what happens to someone after they die.

The Handmaid’s Tale

I’ve blogged a lot about this series here already, but I can’t help but to include it in this week’s list. Everyone involved in the serialization of this story has done a very good job so far of translating something that was written in and about the 1980s to the social climate of 2018. When I watch season three next year, I think I’ll follow up each episode with something lighthearted since the subject matter of the first two seasons could get pretty dark at times.

Still, it’s something I hope will continue to air for years to come. There is a lot of ground to cover yet with the characters in this world.

Star Trek: Discovery

How could I possibly leave this show off of the list? I was so excited a few years ago when I first heard that the Star Trek franchise was finally come back to television. While the first season didn’t meet all of my expectations, I was intrigued by the differences between the culture of this ship and, say, how a similar episode would have been written if Captain Picard or Captain Sisko had been in charge instead.

It’s going to be so interesting to see where the writers go from here. I’m grateful to have another opportunity to explore this universe, and I’m hoping that the second season will be fantastic.

What science fiction and fantasy shows are you thankful for?

10 Things I Love to Read About

On Monday I blogged about the 10 Things I Won’t Read About. It was surprising to see how many of the people who read my posts have similar aversions to those topics. Today I’m talking about 10 things that would make me keen to pick up and read a book. I tried to make this… Read More

18 Science Fiction and Fantasy Shows I Can’t Wait to See in 2018-2019

Last year I blogged about the fourteen science fiction and fantasy series I was looking forward to watching during the 2017-2018 season. Wow, that was a lot of shows! Somehow I managed to continue watching almost all of them, though. Today I’m talking about the shows I’m currently watching or will be watching during the… Read More

Saturday Seven: Library Books I’m Reading

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Based on my mother’s deep love of books, I’m guessing I was a baby the first time she took me to the library. At any rate, I have no memory of life before I knew what a library was or why they’re so special. They always… Read More

14 Science Fiction and Fantasy Shows I Can’t Wait to Watch This Season

When I originally started working on this post, I was planning to say that I don’t watch very much television. As you’re about to discover from this list, though, I was wrong about that. There are far more SFF shows that I enjoy than I originally thought! Click on the titles of each shows to… Read More

5 Reasons Why You Should Read Science Fiction and Fantasy

This past weekend I tried to remember the first science fiction or fantasy book I ever read. After a lot of deliberation, I believe that traditional fairy tales were what originally drew me into this genre. Some of my earliest memories about books in general involve borrowing fairy tale collections from my local library. After… Read More