Tag Archives: Star Trek

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 list as detailed as possible, so you won’t be seeing vague entries like “science fiction” here.

Instead, I’ll be drilling down to specific topics that I’d be excited to read about with little regard given to which genre they might pop up in.

1.  LGBT+ Historical Novels, Especially Mysteries.

I’m fascinated by how people in the LGBT+ community lived during eras when they had to keep such important parts of themselves hidden away. This is still something that happens with LGBT+ people in many countries and cultures today, of course. Seeing how this has changed or is changing in some parts of the world gives me hope that someday it will improve everywhere.

Watching LGBT+ characters attempt to solve a mystery while also holding tightly onto their own secrets also makes this sort of storyline even more nerve-wracking than it might otherwise be. I want some parts of the plot to be revealed while hoping that other portions are only shared with people who will treat the main character kindly.

Example: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. (I’m currently read this book, so please don’t share spoilers for it!)

2. Colonizing Mars (and Other Planets).

To put it mildly, humans made a lot of terrible mistakes when they invaded other countries and continents. While there isn’t any life on Mars* that could be destroyed if or when humans begin living there, there are still plenty of ways for that social experiment to have devastating consequences for everyone who participates in it.

Just think of how many people died due to accidents, violence, disease, and malnutrition when Europeans first began living in Australia, the Americas, and other parts of the world. I hope I’m wrong about this, but I expect the death rate for the first few waves of people who move to Mars to be quite high as our species figures out how to survive on a planet that doesn’t even have a breathable atmosphere for us.

*to the best of our current scientific knowledge.

Example: The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson.

3. Diverse or Unlikely Heroes. 

I love it when writers create protagonists who don’t fit the audience’s expectations of what a hero should look like. There have been so many examples of young, straight, white men saving the world in various fictional universes that I’m always happy to see people from other demographic groups get an equal chance to fight bad guys, too.

Example: Buffy Summers from the 90’s TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

4. How Medical and Scientific Advancements Happened

This is by far the broadest category on this list, but I’m intrigued by how scientists and doctors solved any number of problems in the past that are either unknown in westernized cultures today or no longer exist anywhere in the world. The nice thing about reading about medical and scientific advancements is that the author generally spends most of their time talking about how that invention, cure, or breakthrough happened and how it changed society as a whole.

It’s been my experience that these sorts of books don’t spend much time at all discussing the graphic details of, say, a specific disease or injury. A portion of the first chapter might talk about the typical results for people before the invention of a certain drug or treatment, but generally everything else will be about how the researchers figured out a solution to the problem. I’ll endure a  brief discussion of surgery or gore early on if I’m otherwise interested in the topic and the author soon moves on to how that issue affected society as a whole and how the treatment or solution was eventually found.

Example: Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle by Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg.

5. How Social Justice Movements Actually Change the World.

It wasn’t until I became an adult that I learned that Martin Luther King, Jr. was widely hated by the mainstream culture before his assassination. He was seen by many white Americans as someone who was pushing for too much change too soon. This wasn’t something that was covered in any of my lessons about him in school, although after reading his wife’s memoir about their life together I wish it had been.

Sometimes the people who originally fought for a more just world aren’t around to see how all of those long years of hard work will begin to pay off.

Changing laws and public opinion on an issue takes time. It’s not generally something that will happen overnight, but it can happen. This is a topic I’ve been thinking a lot about over the past year or so, and it’s making me want to read more about what previous generations did to fix the things they saw that were wrong with their societies.

Example: My Life, My Love, My Legacy by Coretta Scott King.

6. Foster Care and Foster-Adoption.

For the past three generations, various relatives of mine have fostered and adopted children. Honestly, this would be my #1 choice for becoming a parent if I had the desire to raise children. There is an urgent need for foster parents here in North America, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the same could be said of many other parts of the world as well.

Having so many extended family members who were foster children makes my ears perk up every time a fiction or non-fiction book is written about this topic.

Example: Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter.

7. Rabbits Enjoying Adventures. 

Anyone who has known me longer than ten minutes will have some inkling of how much I love rabbits.

Anytime they show up as a main or secondary character in a story, I’m immediately interested in finding out what will happen to them.

There aren’t a lot of authors out there who write about rabbits going on quests, so I jump into every example of this niche I can find.

Example: Watership Down by Richard Adams.

8. Hopeful Visions of the Future.

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m thirsty for stories that have a hopeful outlook on what is in store for humanity a few decades or centuries from now. The news is so full of fear and apprehension these days that I look for happier perspectives on what life will be like for future generations wherever I can find them.

Example: All of the Star Trek series.

9. Vengeful Ghosts Who Had a Point.

Many different types of ghost stories appeal to me, but the ones I enjoy the most are about folks who had excellent reasons for being so angry and restless in the afterlife.

There’s something emotionally satisfying about figuring out their backstories and seeing if the protagonists will finally be able to help them find the peace they were denied when they were still alive.

I’m also fascinated by how the actions of a small group of people can continue to negatively affect their descendants and/or community for generations to come. This regularly happens in non-paranormal ways in real life, and there often aren’t any easy answers for how to end those cycles once they begin.

Exploring this topic in a ghost story is a wonderful way to neutrally ask questions about justice, reconciliation, and what the current generation should be morally obligated to do to fix the mistakes of people who lived and died long ago.

Example: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill.

10. The Daily Lives of Prehistoric People.

I sure wouldn’t want to be part of a hunter-gatherer tribe in real life, but I love reading about characters who lived in that kind of society.

There is something fascinating to me about all of the different skills one would need to survive when you need to make, hunt, or gather everything you and your family need to survive.  I’m also drawn to the idea of living in such a tight-knit culture. It’s not something I’d want to do all day every day, but I do see the benefits of forging such strong bonds with others. Having so many adults working together must have made everything from raising children to looking after a sick or injured relative easier than it is in more individualistic cultures.

If there are Neanderthals or other now-extinct human (or human-like) species in the storyline, I’ll be even more interested since there are so many things that a skeleton, stone tool, or cave painting can’t tell you about what a group was actually like.

Example: The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron.

What topics are you always eager to read about?

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