kottke.org posts about Star Trek

Fire the negative photon torpedoes!Jan 30 2014

Now this is some top notch investigative journalism. In Star Trek: Voyager, a Starfleet ship is stranded on the other side of the galaxy and the estimated travel time back to Federation space is 75 years. Early on in the show, it's revealed the ship has only 38 photon torpedoes and "no way to replace them after they're gone". But they used many more than that throughout the run of the show:

This is a particularly nerdy and slow-burning example of the Bottomless Magazines trope.

Commander Riker lorem ipsumJan 03 2013

This is perfect...Riker Ipsum is lorem ipsum dummy text from Commander Riker's dialogue on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Our neural pathways have become accustomed to your sensory input patterns. Computer, belay that order. The game's not big enough unless it scares you a little. When has justice ever been as simple as a rule book? What's a knock-out like you doing in a computer-generated gin joint like this? Did you come here for something in particular or just general Riker-bashing?

(via ★interesting)

Star Trek: The Next Generation blooper reelJan 01 2013

It's 2013 and I'm hopelessly in love. With this blooper reel from season two of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

How every episode of Law and Order endedDec 13 2012

The gang at Overthinking It have analyzed the endings of all 456 episodes of Law & Order (guilty, not guilty, plea bargain, etc.).

"Implied win" refers to episodes in which you don't see a plea bargain or Guilty verdict, but it's pretty clear that's the way things are headed. For instance, if the killer's wife tearfully agrees to testify against him and then the episode ends, it's an "implied win." We don't know the outcome, but we are led to believe it's going to be some flavor of Justice. (The rare cases where the result was completely unclear went into the Other category.)

Over the entire run of the show, more than a third of all the episodes ended in Guilty verdicts, while another third ended in plea bargains. 80% of episodes ended in solid wins: either Guilty verdicts, plea bargains, or implied victories. That's not too shabby, considering that the actual NYPD has a homicide clearance rate of about 50%. (Although you have to figure Law & Order isn't meant to represent every case these detectives investigated; in 20 seasons, I don't think there was a single murder that didn't result in an arrest.)

They also looked at all of the red and yellow alerts on Star Trek:TNG.

Infinite SpockApr 17 2012

Infinite Spock

It's viewscreens all the way down. (via george takei)

Victorian Star TrekMar 05 2012

Your favorite Star Trek characters, all daguerreotyped up.

Victorian Star Trek

By the same guy, I also really like this Reservoir Dogs take:

Star Trek Reservoir Dogs

Where's the social networking on Star Trek?Feb 08 2012

Cat Valente remarks on the old-fashionedness on display in Star Trek DS9, particularly in regard to what the characters do and don't do with their free time, infinite bandwidth, extreme connectedness, and lack of scarcity.

Nobody sits around and plays Farmville. Nobody gets embroiled in a flame war concerning the portrayal of Klingons in human vids or just sits and watches vids with their feet up. Nope. The brave men and women of the future read (super old) books, talk to each other face to face, and even in their VR fantasies practice for things they will have to do in real life or, admittedly quite realistically, have space holosex. There is no WoW. There are no video games at all unless they are evil ones from Risa that will suck out your brains.

Because of this, and because of the lack of a social network, it is possible to be alone in the Star Trek world in a way which I would have to deliberately take action to achieve in my world. Even when we are alone, most of us check a number of communication vectors and leave them live--Twitter, email, text messages, Facebook, our blogs, Reddit, news feeds. We are a baby hivemind spinning our training wheels. To be alone as profoundly (to me) as Sisko, Kira, and the rest often are, I would have to make a decision to shut down all of those streams.

Star Trek: Hidden FrontierSep 29 2011

I somehow have never heard of this...Star Trek: Hidden Frontier was a fan-produced Trek series that ran for 50 episodes.

The series is set during the era of the Star Trek: The Next Generation series. Episodes revolve around the starship USS Excelsior, and its home base, Deep Space 12, which is located in the Briar Patch, a region of space introduced in the film Star Trek: Insurrection. Hidden Frontier has produced 50 episodes, and focuses on character relationships, including gay and lesbian characters and subplots.

There are many clips and episodes available on YouTube. Special bonus: William Shatner singing Iron Man.

Gene Roddenberry's original pitch for Star TrekJan 31 2011

The 16-page first draft of Gene Roddenberry's pitch for Star Trek.

STAR TREK is a "Wagon Train" concept -- built arround characters who travel to worlds "similar" to our own, and meet the action-adventure-drama which becomes our stories. Their transportation is the cruiser "S.S. Yorktown", performing a well-defined and long-range Exploration-Science-Security mission which helps create our format.

The Yorktown! And the captain was to be named Robert April.

Watch Star Trek online for freeNov 24 2010

As it isn't an official thing, I don't quite know how this works, but you can go to Watch Trek and watch any episode of any Star Trek series from the original series to Enterprise. The quality is pretty good too.

Vulcan hoodieSep 22 2010

Veer's KERN zip-up has some competition for the nerdiest use of a zipper in fashion: the Vulcan hand sign hoodie from Threadless:

Vulcan Hoodie

William Shatner and Leonard NimoyAug 04 2010

If William Shatner did this interaction spoken-word style, well, that would be fantastic, wouldn't it? Need something to take you through the night? Let it be this video of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy discussing the theft of Nimoy's bike. By Shatner.

(Via /Film)

Kirk/Spock musical slash fictionJun 23 2010

This mashup of Star Trek with Kesha's Tik Tok just makes me really really happy.

Turns out there's a whole mess of Kirk/Spock musical slash fiction (mash fiction?) on YouTube...there's Kirk/Spock vs. Lady Gaga's Monster, Kirk/Spock vs. She Blinded Me With Science, Kirk/Spock vs. I Kissed a Boy, Kirk/Spock vs. Jerry Mungo's In the Summertime, Kirk/Spock/McCoy vs. The Beatles' Come Together, Kirk/Spock vs. You Spin Me Round and many more. (via david)

Update: And here is Kirk/Spock vs. Closer by NIN, perhaps the Citizen Kane of Kirk/Spock musical slash fiction:

(thx, mark)

NASA movie postersMar 23 2010

For a number of their recent missions, NASA has designed movie-like posters. This one was pretty clearly influenced by Star Trek:

NASA Movie Poster

Pre-order Star TrekAug 11 2009

This is going to be beautiful in 1080p: pre-order Star Trek on Blu-ray (DVD too).

Potter, Stars Trek and Wars, Matrix all the same movieJun 26 2009

You've likely seen this comparison of Harry Potter and the first Star Wars movie but that comparison has recently been expanded to include not only Potter and Star Wars but also The Matrix and Abrams' Star Trek.

Once upon a time, Luke | Kirk | Neo | Harry was living a miserable life. Feeling disconnected from his friends and family, he dreams about how his life could be different. One day, he is greeted by Obi Wan | Captain Pike | Trinity | Hagrid and told that his life is not what it seems, and that due to some circumstances surrounding his birth | birth | birth | infancy he was meant for something greater.

Update: The connecting theme is the monomyth. (via @adamlgerber)

Update: Or perhaps Potter is really Young Sherlock Holmes? (thx, stephen)

Khaaan! Agaiiin!Jun 02 2009

While discussing this morning's post about Khaaan! at the breakfast table with us, Ollie showed his growing dramatic range as an actor by reenacting the scene.

It's no chicken dance, but it's not bad.

Khaaan!Jun 02 2009

Artist Daniel Martinico took William Shatner's finest moment as an actor and stretched it out into a 15-minute video.

You'll notice the crowd gets quiet after the first few seconds. It draws you in, forces you to pay attention, even if it's just staring at the back and forth eye tics on Shatner's face for a minute at a time. "In that moment everyone responds to it," Martinico says. There's laughing at first, but then people get into the rhythm of it and study the various little muscles as they pull and twitch on Kirk's face. "It's a phenomenal range in just a few seconds."

Here's the first two minutes of the video.

It's pretty mesmerizing, even small and at poor quality. (via greg)

On rebooting Star TrekMay 28 2009

This post by Greg Hatcher contains two equally interesting parts:

1. A detailed examination of the Star Trek franchise which shows that the film by JJ Abrams is merely the latest in a long series of successful reboots.

2. A list of rules to follow to successfully reboot a franchise, whether it's Star Trek or Bond or Batman.

Don't abuse the audience goodwill. Remember, you sell the audience on your story based on certain expectations. Break that unspoken contract and you're in trouble. No one bought a ticket for Spider-Man 3 thinking they were going to get a romance with musical comedy interludes, yet that's what it felt like we got.

If you're doing a new version of a beloved old property, that means you need to figure out what it was people liked and make damn sure it's in there. That doesn't mean you have to do it the same way every time, you just have to do it. James Bond movies have been retooled a number of times, but we never lose the license to kill, the exquisite stunt work, the Bond theme music, or the cool cars and hot girls. There's about a million miles of difference between Moonraker and Casino Royale, but they're both recognizably Bond movies and they were both successful, because they met the baseline audience expectation of what a James Bond movie would give them.

(via rebecca blood)

Star Trek lens flaresMay 13 2009

Did you notice all the lens flares in Star Trek? JJ Abrams' rationale for them -- he refers to them as "another actor" in the movie -- is pretty interesting.

I love the idea that the future was so bright it couldn't be contained in the frame. The flares weren't just happening from on-camera light sources, they were happening off camera, and that was really the key to it. I want [to create] the sense that, just off camera, something spectacular is happening. There was always a sense of something, and also there is a really cool organic layer thats a quality of it.

Someone clever took some footage from the old series and added a bunch of lens flaring to make it look like the new film.

The result is supposed to be funny but I thought it also somewhat validated Abrams' remarks above. (via snarkmarket & waxy)

Henry Jenkins and Snarkmarket also address my biggest problem with the movie, that the cadet-to-captain thing happened way too quickly to Kirk and his crew. Jenkins' contention is that the new movie treats the Enterprise as a start-up company; Tim adds this gem of a line:

But it's not academia; it's the NBA. You give these kids the ball.

So, which NBA player is Kirk supposed to be? While not an exact comparison, I'm going to say that Kirk is Tony Parker to Spock's Tim Duncan. And Scotty = Manu Ginobli?

rating: 4.0 stars

Star TrekMay 11 2009

[Note: spoilers.] Bones did it for me. As soon as he sat down next to Kirk on the shuttle, I was hooked. Loved Star Trek, wanted to go again as soon we got out.

J.J. Abrams did something kinda crazy with the film though. He took the entire Star Trek canon and tossed it out the window. Because of the whole time travel thing, the events that occurred in The Original Series, The Next Generation, Voyager, DS9, and the previous 10 movies will not happen. Which means that in terms of sequels to this film, the slate is pretty much clean for Abrams or whomever he passes it off to.

Well. Almost. Events in this alternate timeline unfold differently but the same. Even though the USS Kelvin was destroyed with Kirk's father aboard, Kirk and the rest of the gang somehow all still end up on the Enterprise. But the destruction of an entire planet and 6 billion people should have a somewhat larger effect going forward.

Also worth noting is how the time travel in Trek compares with that on Lost, a show Abrams co-created and currently executive produces. On Lost (so far), the universe is deterministic: no matter who travels when, not much changes. Time travel can affect little details here and there, but the big events unfold the same way each time and every character remembers events unfolding in the same way, no matter when they are on the timeline. Star Trek's universe is not that way; characters before time travel events remember events unfolding differently. According to the older Spock, the Romulan ship going back in time changed things. Kirk knew his dad, Vulcan wasn't sucked into a black hole, etc.

On the excellent Bad Astronomy blog, Phil Plait doesn't cover the time travel aspect of the film but reviews the rest of the science in the film.

And yeah, we do hear ships whoosh as they go to warp and all that, but that's what we expect to hear, having evolved in an atmosphere which whooshes when things fly past us. I'd prefer that we hear nothing, but I accept that as a filmmaker's prerogative to make the audience comfortable.

But I'll add that for years I have complained about sounds in space, saying that done correctly, making things silent can add drama. That sentiment was proven here; the sudden silence as we leave the ship and fly into space with the doomed crewmember is really eerie and unsettling.

In the NY Times, David Hajdu tackles time travel of a different kind, arguing that the original Star Trek was not about science or the future; it was a nostalgic lens through which to view pop culture.

"Star Trek" was an early manifestation of our contemporary absorption with the pop culture of the past. The show's creator, Gene Roddenberry, was a gifted hack writer for TV Westerns like "Have Gun, Will Travel" and cop shows like "Highway Patrol," and "Star Trek," though set in a nominally stylized future, was essentially a Western cop show. In fact, Roddenberry pitched the series to NBC as "Wagon Train" to the stars; and, as Captain Kirk noted in his log, the ship would venture out on "patrol," cruising the galaxy like a city beat.

The food of Star TrekMay 08 2009

In celebration of Star Trek opening today, Adam Kuban goes long on a piece about food in Star Trek movies and TV shows.

Science fiction often holds a mirror up to contemporary culture, critiquing its practices, politics, and mores. So, too, with Romulan ale. Because of the United Federation of Planets' standoff with the Romulan Empire, the drink is illegal within the Federation -- much like Cuban cigars are in the U.S. But like the captains of industry of today, captains of starships indulge in this vice.

Oddly, my only complaint is that (somehow) his piece isn't long enough. Adam, you didn't even get in to "Tea. Earl Grey. Hot." (thx, alaina)

Twittering Star Trek folksJan 22 2009

Geordi La Forge, Data, and Wesley Crusher are all on Twitter. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR, WORF?

Trailer for J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movieNov 17 2008

You might have seen the grainy cockeyed bootleg trailer over the weekend but now the real deal is up on Apple's site in various HD-grade qualities: the second trailer for J.J. Abrams' new Star Trek movie. From Wikipedia:

It is the eleventh Star Trek film and features the main characters of the original Star Trek series, who are portrayed by a new cast. It follows James T. Kirk enrolling at Starfleet Academy, his first meeting with Spock, and their battles with Romulans from the future, who are interfering with history.

I'm not a proponent of the idea that any Trek is good Trek so I really want to hate this movie but it looks kind of awesome. At least f'ing McG didn't direct.

Trek cosplayJul 11 2008

Photos of Star Trek fans (and other sci-fi enthusiasts) dressed up as their favorite characters in their otherwise non-Trek homes.

Cutaway drawings of the interiors of variousApr 14 2008

Cutaway drawings of the interiors of various Star Trek starship bridges. (via ffffound)

Star Trek statistics: just how likely areApr 10 2008

Star Trek statistics: just how likely are you to die if you beam down to the planet's surface wearing a red shirt?

You don't know about the Red Shirt Phenomenon? Well, as any die-hard Trekkie knows, if you are wearing a red shirt and beam to the planet with Captain Kirk, you're gonna die. That's the common thinking, but I decided to put this to the test. After all, I hadn't seen any definitive proof; it's just what people said.

An appreciation of Star Trek II: TheOct 22 2007

An appreciation of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and William Shatner.

This Kirk is a melancholy man who feels older than he looks. "Gallavanting around the galaxy is a game for the young, Doctor," he tells McCoy. His voice and gait confirm that his best days are behind him. En route to the Enterprise to conduct a training mission, he can hardly contain his disdain for his new job. "I hate inspections," he tells his helmsman. He steps aboard his old starship a shadow of his warrior self, a sad figurehead trapped in a small world of his own making. Redemption is coming, but it will cost him.

A blog of bad drawings of StarJun 14 2007

A blog of bad drawings of Star Trek's Mr. Spock. Khaaan! (thx, david)

Video of the last 10 seconds of everyMay 17 2007

Video of the last 10 seconds of every season 1 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Chart of the geek hierarchy. For example,Feb 28 2007

Chart of the geek hierarchy. For example, Trekkies who get married in Klingon garb are geekier than Trekkies who speak Klingon who are in turn geekier than normal Trekkies.

Clay Davis: Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeit. This is right upOct 17 2006

Clay Davis: Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeit. This is right up there with Khaaan! (thx, david)

Captain Picard's blog. With guestbloggers Seven ofMay 31 2006

Captain Picard's blog. With guestbloggers Seven of Nine, Will Riker, Worf, and Data.

Speaking prettyNov 19 2005

When you only know a few words of a language, it's easy to get confused when speaking. Somehow the phrase "tod mon pla" is one of the few Thai phrases that has stuck fast in my head, so much so that I'm afraid I'll get flustered when somebody greets me with "sa-wat dee kha" that I will answer with "tod mon pla":

Them: "Hello!"
Me: "Fish cakes."

Thai also sounds a bit like Klingon to me; it's all the short one-syllable letter combinations strung together. Any day now, instead of "khawp khun khrap" (which means "thank you"), I'm going to reply with qapla' (roughly pronounced "kah-pla", it's the Klingon word for "success" or "good luck"[1]).

Meanwhile, my fast and loose eating on the streets of Bangkok has finally caught up with me as I've been spending a little more time in the bathroom than usual for the past day. I flew too close to the sun on bags of soda, my friends. It's not bad, but I think I'll lay off getting ice from places on the street.

[1] qapla' is the only Klingon word that I know, gleaned from hours of watching ST:TNG on TV in high school and college. I'm a big dork, but not the kind that's anything approaching fluent in Klingon.

Star Trek's Sulu, George Takei, comes out.Oct 28 2005

Star Trek's Sulu, George Takei, comes out. First Swoopes and now this...the self esteem of young, gay, basketball-playing Trekkies must be skyrocketing. (I keed, but seriously, pro sports and sci-fi geeks could benefit from more confident & successful gay role models for young people who're feeling less than confident with their sexuality.)

Klingon fairy tales, including "The Hare FoolishlyAug 22 2005

Klingon fairy tales, including "The Hare Foolishly Lowers His Guard and Is Devastated by the Tortoise, Whose Prowess in Battle Attracts Many Desirable Mates" and "Mary Had a Little Lamb. It Was Delicious". These are best when you think of them as spoken by Worf from ST:TNG.

When I saw these Star Trek businessAug 12 2005

When I saw these Star Trek business cards the other day, I knew that Star Wars ones had to exist. Novelty business cards must have been a popular thing back in the day. Anyone up for making Matrix and LOTR cards?

Odd set of Star Trek business cards. (via torrez)Aug 11 2005

Odd set of Star Trek business cards. (via torrez)

James Doohan, who played Scotty on StarJul 20 2005

James Doohan, who played Scotty on Star Trek, passed away today aged 85.

Slashdot interview with Wil WheatonJul 01 2005

Slashdot interview with Wil Wheaton.

Leonard Nimoy's photography of heavy womenJun 20 2005

Leonard Nimoy's photography of heavy women.

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