Category Archives: Continuity

TWELVE BEST FRANCHISE NOVELS—PART ONE: A SHARK, A WORM, AND A LIZARD

20565010335_a4fd33fb4f_k-e1559271020858.jpgSo here’s the Thing… no seriously, here’s the Thing. Image is from the cover of Alan Dean Foster’s adaptation of John Carpenter’s the Thing. Don’t look at me like that.

I was contacted by Steven Shinder on Facebook and asked to participate in a one-a-day top ten favorite books challenge. While I won’t be posting every single day (work and all), I will reveal twelve of my favorite books instead of ten (basically because I couldn’t narrow it down enough). I’ve decided to post them here split over two entries and link back to Facebook. The plan is to nominate a new person each time who will then post their top books on their page. The books are posted in no particular order, they are just twelve of the best genre books I’ve read. Each has had a profound effect on me and helped shape me as a writer.

Disclaimer. The purpose of this list is to encourage readers to, well, read books they might have otherwise passed on–specifically franchise fiction. As such, no favorite literary classics will be covered. Otherwise, the entire list would be full of said classics. In no way is this meant to indicate that something like V: East Coast Crisis is a better novel than, say, Catcher in the Rye or To Kill a Mocking Bird. This list is mostly an exploration of beloved franchise fiction.

10264922_662790273757730_3643788207372427732_n-e1560062898835.jpgThe Visitors are our friends.

BOOK 3. V: EAST COAST CRISIS

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Author(s). Howard Weinstein and A.C. Crispin 

This particular review—as with many others here—is just as much about the book in question as it is about the series of novels it comes from.

Exposure. On a field trip to Philadephia in elementary school during the 1980s, one of the historic stops our teachers decided to have us visit was… a mall. It was actually more to have us catch our breaths and have some downtime after the long day of site seeingnone of which I remember. The lasting impression was that mall, and the book series I found in the little B. Dalton’s thereV.

I had been a huge fan of the Kenneth Johnson created TV series. And not only did I find one V book thereI found NINE. I called my mom from a payphone (’80s, everyone) and she reluctantly gave me permission to use the money I had been given to buy some historical souvenir to instead buy the nine books.

One of my favorite sci-fi TV series of all time, V had a human looking Nazi-like regime of aliens coming to earth in fifty massive motherships and claiming to be mankind’s friend. They offered us cures to terrible diseases and technological enhancements in exchange for the production of an environmentally safe chemical needed for their homeworld. In reality, they were rat-eating lizard people wearing fake skin who had come to steal our water and abduct humans to use as food and troops for a battle with an unseen enemy. It was an allegory for Nazi Germany and a quiet sacrifice of our ideals for the promise of a better life (something a little too relevant to today’s politics). Martial law was imposed. Scientists and their families, the only ones who could expose the Visitors, were persecuted and hunted down. Both suspected guerilla fighters and innocent civilians were rounded up and kept in concentration camps awaiting questioningquestioning that they either came back from brainwashed and converted or did not come back from at all. And with the help of a fifth column of visitors that opposed the invasion, a small resistance grew against these alien conquerors. Mike Donovan, Juliet Parrish, Ham Tyler and their alien allies Martin and Willie faced off against the lizard armies of Diana, Lydia, Steven, Charles, and the mysterious Leader.

Good sci-fi stuff.

East Coast Crisis was not the V I was expecting. Rather than a sequel, it was a companion to the original two television miniseriesV and V the Final Battle, taking place during them but showcasing the United State’s east coast struggle rather than the TV series west. Plus, Dan Rather and Isaac Asimov are characters in it, so win-win.

Many of the V novels did not star the TV series cast but instead developed different areas of the struggle to reclaim our world from these alien invaders. I was hooked, eventually hunting down the rest of the books (there were a total of sixteen).

Lesson. Expand your universe. Novels are a fertile playground to explain and enhance a franchise. Several bizarre moments and concepts introduced in the TV series by TV writers who didn’t necessarily understand sci-fi were explained and clarified by talented sci-fi prose authors within these pages. It taught me to think of other stories that take place during the events of an established movie or novel and give the “bigger picture.” My Planet of the Apes “inbetweenquels” follow this philosophy.

Conclusion. This series did an amazing job of expanding a universe and included some top name authors. I prefer Crispin’s style to Weinstein’s, and don’t recall the tale of how they came top be co-writing this book. Independently they both are prolific sci-fi authors and have written several Star Trek novels. I recommend the entire series. You can find out more about them on the long un-updated fan site here.

Show me more: A sixteen novel prose series tie-in with two fantastic TV miniseries, a season-long television series (not the best), an eighteen issue comic series from DC Comics, and a Hardcover novel direct sequel to the novelization of the original miniseries that ignores everything that came after it (huh?). Also, a reimagined reboot TV series that strayed too far from the premise.   

Available? Long out of print. Only available used on Amazon and eBay. On eBay, search for ‘V Series Novels’ or the like. A plain and simple ‘V’ will get you anything with a roman numeral five in it. Good hunting.

Nominated next for this chain letter. Kim Perrone

kapook_world-182947Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…

BOOK 2. JAWS 2

IMG_3465
Yes, this is one of the best novels I have ever read. Much better than Peter Benchley’s original. Don’t judge me. You don’t know.

“He heard the faint subway roar. He did not care. He stopped moving. He was too tired to fight his sleepiness, though the boat was only three strokes away. He would doze like a basking seal, and swim the last few feet later.

Then he was borne aloft.  He sensed his ribs, lungs, spleen, kidneys, bowels, duodendum, were being firmly squeezed together as if in some giant hydralic press.

He felt no pain at all.”

Author. Hank Searls

Exposure. My mom had a bookshelf with “grown-up” novels in my parents’ bedroom. When I was bored and she wasn’t home, I would raid those books, looking to read something I wasn’t allowed to read.  In this manner, I was exposed to the novelizations of Alien, ET, The Shining, Christine, The Amityville Horror, Poltergeist, It, and even the Flowers in the Attic series. It was in the fourth-grade that I stumbled upon mom’s copy of Jaws 2.

I was always tentative with these horror novels. I didn’t want to scare myself, so I would pop a book open to a random page, hope for a dirty scene, read a paragraph out of context, and then decide whether or not I was going to stay away from that one. I flipped through Jaws 2 and read a vignette about an embryonic male shark struggling to survive against his equally unborn but bigger sisters who were trying to eat him in their mother’s womb.

What?

It got better. I realized that I was reading the mother shark’s point of view. She was aware of the conflict in her uterus and was driven to eat to stop her unborn children from eating each other. My nine-year-old mind was blown. This one went in my backpack and made its way to school with me.

Jaws 2 is a classic example of the old adage that the book is better than the film. Thing is, the book was based on the filmbut a version of the film that didn’t make it to the screen. The Jaws 2 movie that almost was was much darker than what we got, and that’s a topic for a future essay.  But even though this novel is based on an unshot script, Searls nonetheless owns this storythe shark’s internal musings and the in utero fight for survival is all him.

I remember pouring over the book under my desk when I was supposed to be reading textbooks in class (I’m a fast reader, so I always finished before the allotted time). The descriptions were vivid, the horror was real, and it made me look at the world in a different way. I’m paraphrasing here, but instead of saying something like, “the sun was setting,” Searls would write something to the effect of, “the sun was a lazy red ball bouncing on the horizon.” I use it to teach creative descriptors in my creative coaching sessions and on my writing panels. It inspired my future writings, and at the time it opened my eyes to new ways of looking at the world.

It also probably helped me down the road towards becoming the continuity freak I am today. In Searl’s Jaws 2, the pregnant mother shark is traveling up the gulf stream as her kind is wont to do, searching for food to satisfy her developing young. She realizes she’s come to a place she’s been before, an area of ocean where two years before a large male shark had wrestled her to the bottom, had his way with her and swam off towards a nearby island. She remembers the pain of the moment, and that her unborn offspring were in fact sired by him. Angrily, she changes course, heading towards the island in search of revenge.

Damn.

A connection between the sharks and an explanation as to why another giant great white comes to Amity. Did Searls have to do that? Nope. he did anyway. On top of that, he must have realized that another Jaws film was likely to come down the road and set up a potential hook for the inevitable sequel (the hook itself I won’t ruin for you, read the bloody book). He filled in continuity gaps in a film franchise, very much like what I now work at doing with franchises like Planet of the Apes and Alien. He made me look for answers to things that didn’t need answering.

Hank Searls ruined my life, and I love it.

Lesson. Perspective in storytelling. Sometimes a cigar is a dirty smoking shark. Or something.

Conclusion. Underrated. The most influential novel I’ve ever read. Deal with it. Then read it.

Show me more. The four movies—although I only recommend the first two. This book is technically a sequel to the original JAWS novel—not the Spielberg flick, and as such contains references that might confuse some readers—such as Hooper’s affair with Ellen Brody. Searls also wrote the novelization of Jaws: The Revengewhich makes that lightyears better than that film, but still can’t save it.

Available? A thousand times, yes. It’s long out of print, but you can get previously owned copies for dirt cheap on Amazon and in plenty of used book stores. I’ve got it in hardcover and paperback. I even wound up with an unedited reviewer’s copy my ex-fiancée found at a convention (see cover below). You look, you will find.

Nominated next for this chain letter. Amy Irene

IMG_3466


 This next book is seminal, and with the new movie franchise about to begin, it’s a good time to brush up on your Herbert…

Thewaytoedenhd0108No, not that kind of Herbert. Trek nerd.

dune-messiah.jpgThe Spice must flow.

BOOK 1. DUNE

9d8126955d364d5720f3f39eca3229a9
The cover of the edition I read in 1984. It wound up looking worse than this in my backpack.

“Fear is the mindkiller. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.”

Author. Frank Herbert

Exposure. In the sixth-grade, this sci-fi nerd was given a three-book boxed set for his birthday. It wasn’t Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, or even Vit was something I hadn’t been exposed to yet. It was Herbert’s masterpiece, Dune.  I didn’t see the movie out that same year, but I dove into the books. There was something called spice (Kessel?) that opened your mind to a new world of mental abilities, warring houses, strange creatures called Navigators, rebels, an empire, and a desert planet.

Oh, and there were worms. Massive monstrous behemoth worms.

The desert winds of Arrakis swept me away as young Paul Atradies outmaneuvered death and betrayal to find his strength and purpose.

11-year-old me thought Herbert had ripped off Lucas, but later discovered George had been inspired by Frank. Later series I enjoyed that also clearly drew inspiration from Dune were Battletech and Warhammer 40K.

I had only read the first three back then and wasn’t aware there were more. On top of that, I hadn’t reread them until after the SyFy channel miniseries was released in 2000. Watching the miniseries, I found myself spouting dialogue along with the characters on the screen from a book I hadn’t picked up in 16 years.

It stayed with me.

Lesson. Philosophy.

Conclusion. Masterful. If you are a sci-fi fan and haven’t read this, son I am disappoint. Feel shame. Then pick up a copy and know bliss.

Show me more: An endless stream of sequels and prequels set int he same universefirst by Herbery himself and then by the likes of his son and Kevin J. Anderson. There are two TV miniseries, a bizarre 1980s major motion picture with Sting and Captain Picard in it, and a new movie franchise on the way.

Available? Always. Several editions over several years. Hardcover, paperback, digital, too.

Nominated next for this chain letter. Timothy Ellis

—Andrew E. C. Gaska

An author, designer, game-writer, and graphic novelist with twenty years of industry experience, Gaska is the creative force behind BLAM! Ventures and has worked as a freelance consultant to 20th Century Fox and Rockstar Games. In addition to being the Senior Development Editor for Lion Forge comics and animation, he is a contributor to both their game division and their licensing team. 

blamventures.com | Twitter: @andrewecgaska | Facebook: AndrewECGaska

All images are ©2019 their respective owners and are used for the purposes of commentary or review only unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.

CANON, INTERRUPTED: THEORIES ON KLINGON DEVOLUTION

0_0aaafwuxqa8qxtw9“Just as there are different races of humans, there are different races of Klingons, and the Klingons seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture are not the same race as the ones we saw on The Original Series.

 —Gene Roddenberry, The Great Bird of the Galaxy

“I wanted to lend a little more ferocity to their overall appearance, so I asked Rick Berman and Gene Roddenberry to let me try something different from what ‘had gone before.'”

—Michael Westmore, The Next Generation Make Up Artist

Star Trek: Discovery offered up a different look for the Klingons than audiences had previously been exposed to, causing an uproar in some factions of the fan community. Their proclamation—Discovery isn’t canon and it doesn’t take place in the Prime Timeline (i.e. the universe that the previous Trek TV series occur in).

“Not my Trek!” is the oft-used battlecry.

Truth be told, this isn’t the first time there have been multiple types of Klingons. For 25 years the difference between the smooth-headed Klingons in the original series and The Motion Picture cranial ridged Klingons went unexplained on film and TV—with only an acknowledgment of the differences in the Deep Space Nine episode, “Trials and Tribble-ations.” The explanation was simple, its execution flawless. “We do not talk about it with outsiders!”  said Mr. Worf, Son of Mog.

star-trek-worfNot a Merry man.

So, why the change?

“Gene Roddenberry wanted to redesign the look of the Klingons. That’s the real reason for the change in appearance.”

—Rick Berman

CH-CH-CH-CHANGES. The Klingon makeup has been altered or redesigned for The Motion Picture, Star Trek III, The Next Generation, and Star Treks V and VI before Discovery. All of these show different types of Klingons than the Original Series did, and all are considered canon by Star Trek’s masters. This essay explores what it means to be prime universe Klingon over five decades of Star Trek.

klingons

NORTHERN KLINGONS vs. SOUTHERN KLINGONS. Roddenberry himself once famously joked that the ridgeless Klingons were “Southern” Klingons and the ridged ones were “Northern” Klingons. That comment alone shows how much of a non-issue he felt it was. He later stated, “the original show had simply never had the budget and makeup technology to envision the species as it should have been seen, so the apparently new Klingons were just Klingons as they were always intended to have been.”

klingon_3_variants.jpgEssentially, the advice of Mystery Science Theatre 3000:  “Just repeat to yourself it’s just a show, I should really just relax.”

majqqci

RUFFLES HAVE RIDGES… BUT THEY DON’T FALL DOWN. The ridged brows on the Klingons were inspired by the alien race called the Kreeg as they appeared in Gene’s failed pilot ‘Planet Earth.’ Just like engineers love to change things, Gene loved to recycle them.

The bald and more reptilian look of the Discovery Klingons, as well as their layered armor, comes from Robert Fletcher’s extrapolation of the Kreeg designs for Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek: Planet of the Titans. (more on that aborted Star Trek film in the link above). Indeed, it was Gene himself who suggested that the Klingon ridges wrap around their skulls as extensions of their spinal cords, just as former showrunner Bryan Fuller chose to explore on Discovery.tkumva-1Fletcher’s design vs. Discovery Klingon T’Kuvma. One of these things is much like the other.

THERE IS NOTHING IN THE DESERT, AND NOMEN NEED NOTHING. Another possible inspiration for The Motion Picture Klingons may have been the Borellian Nomen from the 1978 sci-fi television series Battlestar Galactica.  The Nomen were part of a fierce nomadic warrior tribe and came replete with bushy beards on their faces and bony ridges on their foreheads. They had customs, codes, and rituals that were integral to their aggressive culture, and physically looked to be the missing link between the Original Series Klingons and their Motion Picture compatriots.

ab1ab4bb84003e66a67c258100cde242Klingon cousins.

Battlestar alumni, actor and novelist Richard Hatch (Captain Apollo) also played Klingon Commander Karn in the Star Trek independent film project, Prelude to Axanar. Diving into the Klingon culture for the part, he often commented that he believed the Nomen and Klingons to be conceptually linked in appearance, culture, and demeanor. Whether or not it was a conscious choice made behind the scenes on Star Trek or was just a coincidence is unknown for sure. SFX wizard John Dykstra, illustrators Andrew Probert and Ralph McQuarrie, and other production crew all worked on both Trek and BSG in the 1970s, soto quote Spock—it is, “a distinct possibility.”

REFLECTIONS OF THE FASA FUSIONS. Sources such as the excellent Trek novel, The Final Reflection, by J.M. Ford, and the also excellent FASA Star Trek: The Roleplaying Game, explained the Klingon differences as the result of genetic experiments designed to help the Klingons face off against their various racial foes. There were Imperial Klingons, Human-fusion Klingons, and even a Romulan-fusion Klingon subspecies. According to these sources, such things eventually became frowned upon by the Empire, and the experiments were discontinued.

klingons

The appearance of classic Klingons Kor, Koloth, and Kang in DS9—sporting cranial ridges they never had in The Original Series—dispelled that theory, however.

dThe same three Klingons, twice. Second set of pics taken on a bad hair day.

A DIVERTING AFFLICTION. Ford and FASA’s theory was a pretty good one, and one that was accepted behind closed doors for decades.  It would be modified for the purposes of the final explanation of the Klingon change in appearance, offered during the Star Trek: Enterprise episode ‘Divergence.’ The Klingon race as we have mostly known it—let’s call them the Imperial Klingons—were the victims of a genetically mutated virus in the 2150s. The virus was accidentally created when ambitious Klingons got their hands on Human augment DNA—yes, the same stuff of Khan—and used it to try to create Super Klingons. It would have wiped out the entire Klingon Empire if not for the fast work of Dr. Phlox. Unfortunately, the cure had side effects—the familiar ridge-headed Klingons were genetically altered to look like the Klingons from The Original Series. Their cranial ridges dissolved and they became a little bit human and a lot less than Klingon. Phlox’s cure saved the race from annihilation but was an embarrassment for certain.

http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Klingon_augment_virus

As was suggested in the episode, it would be a long time until the Klingons could figure out a way to restore their Imperial appearance—and their offspring would likely be born with the same affliction. It was suggested that cranial ridge reconstruction might become a thing.

startrekenterpriseinamirrordarklyparti.0102Ridged Klingon is ridgeless. Thanks, Space Obama.

WHAT’S OLD IS NEW. Where does that leave us with the previously mentioned Discovery looking Klingons? You can take them as a visual reboot, which is pretty much what Discovery’s producers were going for, or you can sprinkle some sci-fi magic in to ease your canonical woes. Here are a few theories this humble author has hypothesized (that fit with the overall Trek universe) to maintain what some fans consider precious visual continuity.

0bc1c52be585e668-2048x1024Ceiling Klingon is judging you.

HYPOTHESIS No. 1: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE NEANDER-KLINGON. After the Imperial Klingons were altered by the virus to assume a human-like appearance, they were seen as less than Klingon. At this point, what was previously considered a lesser offshoot of their race—the Proto-Klingons, as seen in Discovery—begins to gain power. Considered the Klingon equivalent of Neanderthals, the Proto Klingons had previously been occupying comparatively menial roles in the Empire—such as mining or maintaining outposts on harsh worlds in the Klingon sector equivalent of Siberia.

The reason for my use of the term Proto-Klingon: Visually, Discovery Klingons fit as a missing link between the Prehistoric Klingon creature seen in the TNG episode ‘Genesis’ and The Imperial Klingons we have come to know.

worf-genesisPrehistoric, Proto, Imperiala Study in Klingon. Evolution’s a fickle bitch, am I right?

The irony in this scenario is that the Proto-Klingons are now more Klingon then their previous lords—the Imperial Klingons that had been altered by the human augment virus. This offshoot rises in dominance because their genes were in fact pure. Disgusted by the fact that a human virus (nevermind that the Klingons had tried to use it on themselves and almost killed their entire race with it) had changed the purity of the Klingon line, the Proto-Klingon battle cry of “Remain Klingon” became their rallying point.

Screen Shot 2019-01-21 at 3.16.02 PM.pngMAKE AMERICAN GREAT AGAI—er, I mean, REMAIN KLINGON!

HYPOTHESIS No. 2: GENETIC MANIPULATION RUN AMOK. The time again is post Enterprise. Not knowing when to quit, Klingon scientists begin developing a retrovirus to restore Klingons to their once glorious appearance. It doesn’t exactly work correctly, however, and the Klingon race who are treated are accidentally reverted to a proto-Klingon appearance. The Empire goes into seclusion for almost 100 years because of this. Still, being proto-Klingon is better than being a Klingon altered with human DNA. Because of propaganda, Klingons like T’Kuvma see the virus as the Federation’s attempt to make the Klingons more like them. Hence, an alternate explanation for the rallying cry, “Reman Klingon!”   

klingon-stidI like this armor. Someone is going to be pissed I used a Kelvin Klingon here. Just you see.

HYPOTHESIS No. 3: DIVERSITY IN KLINGON. The simplest one. The Klingon Empire stretches over at least hundreds of worlds over a vast amount of space. There could very easily be species of Klingon we haven’t seen yet. We have never seen all 24 houses. As Gene suggested at one point, it’s possible that variant species of Klingons are spread across the Empire. In fact, rumors abound that future issues of Star Trek magazine might confirm as much.

bing-klingon-translator (1)Smiles, everyone. Revenge is a dish best served cold, and today is a good day to die.

WHICH WAY DID THEY GO, GEORGIOU? So, why no Proto-Klingons in the other Trek series? After the Proto-Klingons—whether the result of Hypothesis 1, 2, or 3—cause the war with the Federation and lose abysmally, they fall into disgrace. The altered augment Klingons reclaim control of the Empire. But where do the Protos go?

The Klingon Empire is not beyond genocide.

39868995094_503afedf40_bProto-Klingons, say hello to our little friend…

DARWIN WAS RIGHT. The Imperial Klingons could have decided that this subspecies was dangerous, and wiped them out by the time of Star Trek: The Motion Picture—the same time the means were discovered to undo the damage created by the augment virus and restore Imperial Klingons to their rightful appearance.

battle_of_the_binary_stars_fleets.jpgBattle of the Binary Stars. The Feds face an armada of atypical Klingon proto-crewed ships.

This would also explain the discontinuation of the ship designs the Klingons use in Discovery and the return to Imperial design lineages. The amazing Trek resource site, Ex Astris Scientia, has compiled a size chart of the Proto-Klingons’ ship designs. You can see that chart on that site. As for some insight into the difference in design philosophies…

dis-klingon-chartA tale of two Birds of Prey: gothic vs. classic—Proto-Klingon vs. Imperial. Who will win?  

AN EMPIRE TORN. Something else that will likely come up in complaints is the fact that L’Rell is in charge of the Klingon Empire. In the Season One Finale of Discovery, L’Rell holds the fate of Q’onoS in her hands—-literally. She forces the Empire to call off the war, and she assumes leadership. What’s wrong with that?

Fans will point out that “Women may not serve on the council,” was stated by Gowron in the TNG episode, “Redemption Part 1.” What if L’Rell is the reason for that? She forced the empire to listen to her, and the male council may not have been too happy about that. 

azetburWomen cannot serve on Coun—-oh wait…

In Star Trek VI, Azetbur was chancellor for a brief time after her father’s death, but, as was suggested in the Star Trek VI novelization by J.M. Dillard, that was likely a set up by the council who wished to have an easy patsy.  

(Dillard even went so far as to include Klingon cultural touches from TNG that STVI forgot about—as soon as Kirk and company are escorted away from the recently deceased Chancellor Gorkon, Chang and the other warriors present perform the Klingon death ritual, warning the dead that a Klingon warrior is about to arrive.  Originating on The Next Generation, the same ritual has been shown on DS9 and in Discovery. Incidentally, fans arguing that Klingons discard the bodies of their dead and do not prepare them for interment should check out Spock’s mention of a Klingon mummification glyph in Star Trek IV. It’s pretty clear in Discovery that more progressive Klingon factions see the body as nothing but a shell, but religious groups such as T’Kuvma’s follow older traditions and revere the bodies of the dead. When L’Rell finds that Kor has been piling Klingon corpses in the rubbish, she is horrified.)

dsc-klingons 2

klingon_death_ritualThese two acts? Same difference.

CONSULT THE FORTUNE COOKIES. As Season 2 of Discovery develops, it appears that L’Rell and the other Klingons will be undergoing yet another transformation—this one bringing them more in line with the Imperial species—and implying Hypothesis 2 as an answer (a shame, really, as I am partial to Hypothesis 1). It has been said that the Klingons in Season 1 had shaved their heads for war, although why the leaders of all shown houses heads were bald before the war started leaves me scratching their heads about that one.

43550480_475758626279197_2719868874753857383_nBecoming more Imperial every day. Viva L’Rellvolution!

THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING. In science fiction, almost anything can have a workaround. All it takes is a little bit of imagination.

screen shot 2018-02-12 at 1.24.20 amAll images are ©2019 CBS Paramount or NBC Universal and are used for the purposes of commentary or review only unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.

I’ll leave you with a closer look at the lovely Prehistoric Klingon as seen on TNG as well as some more pertinent Klingon quotes and information from both Discovery’s production team and those who worked on Treks of old:

genesis-worf-monster

“If you look at the Klingons, there is something fairly gothic and art deco about them,” Rodis pointed out. “If you notice, they never wear simple, undecorated costumes; it’s all kind of metallic and leather, with piping and stuff [….] Also, even though the Klingons aren’t green, they are definitely not blue. They lean more toward gray/green.”

—Nilo Rodis, Star Trek III Art Director

“The empire is very big. They don’t all grow up on Kronos. They don’t all live on the same planets and certainly, those different planets would have different environments. So how would the cultures have evolved differently? …we tried to come up with cultural axioms for each house so each looks different and they bear a cultural patina like our cultures do here on Earth.”

https://trekmovie.com/2017/08/03/stlv17-designers-explain-why-star-trek-discovery-klingons-are-bald-and-more/

“What can you say to reassure us that we’re not losing the Klingons we know and love?” a furtive audience member asked during the Q&A portion. Mitchell assured the crowd that the recent publicity still image released was of one Klingon, from one house. “We will see all 24 houses and the leaders among them,” he revealed. The houses will be explored, and the physical and ideological differences between them. L’Rell is part of two houses, Chieffo explained, and the conflicts arising therein, as well as how she is viewed by the Federation versus her own people, will be explored in depth.”

http://www.treknews.net/2017/08/03/star-trek-discovery-cast-klingon-houses-stlv/

From Memory Alpha:

Fred Phillips expected that the fans would wonder about how the Klingons could possibly have head ridges newly added to their faces, he and Roddenberry came up with the explanation of there being a variety of Klingon races, even before the release of The Motion Picture. Despite this, the transformation continued to be regarded as a mystery for decades to come. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 145, pp. 71-72)

Roddenberry also stipulated that the Klingons would preemptively attack any foreign entity discovered within Klingon space, such as they do to V’Ger in The Motion Picture. (audio commentary, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (The Director’s Edition))

Richard Snell was relieved that, in Star Trek VI, Nicholas Meyer gave him leeway to design the Klingons as slightly more diverse and grotesque than they had been in previous films. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 22, No. 5, p. 33)

k't'inga_class_studio_model

The once and future Klingon D-7. Just sayin’.

—Andrew E. C. Gaska

An author, designer, game-writer, and graphic novelist with twenty years of industry experience, Gaska has worked as a freelance consultant to 20th Century Fox and Rockstar Games. In addition to being the Senior Development Editor for Lion Forge comics and animation, he is a contributor to both their Quillion gaming department and their licensing team

blamventures.com | Twitter: @andrewecgaska | Facebook: AndrewECGaska

 

 

DEATH OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

After seven years of development, my second Planet of the Apes novel has finally been released:

deathoftheplanetofheapesNew adventures revealing secrets stemming from Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

FROM THE BACK COVER

In Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Col. George Taylor (played by Charlton Heston) disappears into the Forbidden Zone, only to return in the film’s climactic scene. For forty-eight years, the question has remainedwhat happened to Taylor?

Finally, the truth is revealed. Beneath the irradiated wasteland, the astronaut faces the deadly wonders of a gleaming city and its inhuman citizenry. On the surface, the gorillasled by General Ursuslaunch an all-out assault to exterminate the savage animals known as humans.

And out in the desert, the chimpanzee scientist Milo strives to reconstruct the spacecraft that brought the humans from the past. Events spiral at a breakneck pace, with the fate of a world at stake.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND PUBLISHER

Andrew E.C. Gaska is the Senior Development Editor at Lion Forge Comics and Animation. He is a freelance franchise consultant to FOX on ALIEN and Predator and founder of the guerrilla integrated media studio BLAM! Ventures. His authored works include Critical Millennium, Space:1999, Buck Rogers, and Planet of the Apes.

Titan Publishing Group is an independently-owned British publishing company, established in 1981. It is based at offices in London’s Bankside area. The books division has two main areas of publishing: film and television tie-ins and cinema reference books; and graphic novels and comics references and art titles.

20th Century Fox Consumer Products licenses and markets properties worldwide on behalf of 20th Century Fox Film, 20th Century Fox Television and FX Networks, as well as third-party lines. The division is aligned with 20th Century Fox Television, the flagship studio leading the industry in supplying award-winning and blockbuster primetime television programming and entertainment content and 20th Century Fox Film, one of the world’s largest producers and distributors of motion pictures throughout the world.

 

ANDREW GASKA JOINS LION FORGE AS SENIOR DEVELOPMENT EDITOR

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FROM THE PRESS RELEASE:

ST. LOUIS, MO—Lion Forge continues to expand in original content development for both publishing and entertainment with the announcement that franchise continuity and development veteran Andrew E.C. Gaska has joined the Pride as senior development editor.

“Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of contributing to and creating several series bibles for projects in development at Lion Forge,” says Andrew E.C. Gaska. “In the process, I’ve enjoyed a great synergy with the company, and we decided it was time to take our relationship to the next level.”

“Andrew’s work with Carl Reed and our Labs team has earned him respect throughout the organization, and we are thrilled he will be joining us full time as we step up our development efforts,” says Lion Forge founder and CEO, David Steward II. “With his extensive background in caring for some of the most beloved franchises in science fiction, there is no one more qualified to lead the efforts in creating and developing our own properties to ready them for audiences around the world.”

“In this newly created position, I’m responsible for the creation and development of new intellectual properties at Lion Forge. I will not only be writing for these projects but also guiding the creative process through to completion,” says Andrew E.C. Gaska. “Tackling animation and comics from an author’s perspective and with an artist’s approach, I’ll be working closely with the creative teams and studios involved to ensure that both our vision and theirs are not lost in the translation.” That is not all Gaska will be doing at Lion Forge. “Because of my longtime experience working directly with licensors, I am also now part of Lion Forge’s Licensing team,” he says. “Our goal is to bring both new and legacy franchise projects to life under our banner. Additionally, I’ll be working with [Lion Forge director of education outreach and collections] Jill Gerber to bring historical and educational projects to life as graphic novels. This is an exciting time at Lion Forge and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.”

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Andrew E.C. Gaska is founder/creative director of the guerrilla integrated media studio BLAM! Ventures and has worked as a freelance franchise consultant to 20th Century Fox for the past three years, writing series reference bibles, maintaining continuity, streamlining in-universe canon, and creating detailed timelines for the legacy franchises of Alien, Predator, and Planet of the Apes. Andrew was a production assistant and colorist for Vanguard Productions, where he restored valuable comic and genre artworks for archival reproduction. He was also a sequential storytelling instructor at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and he served as a visual consultant to Rockstar Games for seventeen years on the Grand Theft Auto series, Red Dead Revolver, and all other releases.

Lion Forge Labs is a creative services group that specializes in storytelling using comics, animation, and gaming. A sister company to Lion Forge Comics, Labs partners with clients to develop branded content, communications, and educational programs, in which the central story delivers their audiences both key facts and an emotional connection in a fun, highly memorable way.

BUCK ROGERS NOVELLA 2 TEASER

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Life finds a way—to get in the way. As a novelist, sometimes projects get delayed. Sometimes it’s for good reasons, other times it’s not. As Book 2 from my first Buck Rogers trilogy has been delayed again until the end of the summer, I thought it prudent to share the teaser with an anxious audience.  These three novellas take place between the first and second season of the 1979-1981 television series and mark the transition between the vastly different format of each season.

Please enjoy a taste of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Draconian Fire Book 2—”Who Mourns for Theopolis?”.

—Andrew E.C. Gaska

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Pulse cannons flared and disappeared in the inky abyss.
_________Seconds later, there was searing light.
_________The long-range blasts had found their mark—the earth starship Aniello. Balls of fire erupted along her peppered metal body.  Her blemished skin ruptured and exploding atmosphere dashed to the stars.
_________The void blared violence.
_________Defiant, the Aniello wailed.
_________Her hull blistered and boiled under the onslaught. Milium burst and vented both men and ambuquad into space. Still, she would not die alone. Her assailants zigged about the starry battlefield, zagging to and fro. The pale green coppery starfighters were fast—too fast to get a lock on. And the Aniello wasn’t their only prey. Double pontooned Thunder fighters also blossomed in fiery death spasms under the aliens’ assault.
_________Inside, things were no better.
_________Cast in crimson hues, the starship’s bridge was in chaos. Alarms blared and klaxons burned. Aniello’s steadfast captain sat at attention in the command chair, helpless as the battle unraveled before him.  Bridge displays birthed sparks and unconscious crew slumped over their consoles. As medical teams pulled the wounded from their stations, the other craft in his caravan blinked off of his tactical screen one by one.
_________The Aniello would be the last.
_________Reserve batteries destroyed and power conduits crippled, there was no way to bring pulsars back online, raise the shields, or do much of anything. Holding thrusters were at his command, but they would do very little under these circumstances. Listing forward, the Aniello began to shudder.
_________The battle was lost.
_________The ship’s captain depressed a button on his command pad. He rose. Pulling at the sides of his indigo tunic, he straightened his military uniform and brushed any debris from his shoulders. Finding himself presentable, Commodore Efram Asimov squared his shoulders, set his jaw, and prepared himself to deliver one final order to his crew. Two decades earlier, he had made a similar decision. He had been but a young lieutenant, in command of his first squadron of light cruisers. An unfortunate accident had forced his hand then. It was an order he had hoped he would never have to give again.
_________Yet here he was.
_________The channel was open, all he had to do was speak the words.
_________Those words. For the second time in his life. He hoped it was the last.
_________“Now hear this,” he began. “All crew make way to the lifeboats.”
_________Efram drew a deep breath.
_________“Abandon ship.”

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From the back cover:

The year is 1987, and NASA launches the last of America’s deep space probes. In a freak mishap, Ranger 3 and its pilot, Captain William ‘Buck’ Rogers, are blown out of their trajectory into an orbit which freezes his life support systems, and returns Buck Rogers to Earth, 500 years later…

The next chapter of the first original Buck Rogers in the 25th Century® adventure in over three decades! Set in the continuity of the original series, Draconian Fire Part 2: ‘Who Mourns for Theopolis?’ is the second of three novellas that fill in the gap between the first and second seasons of the 1979 disco sci-fi TV show Buck Rogers in the 25th Century®. Join Buck, Wilma, Twiki, Princess Ardala and Commander Kane as they face a threat that will either unite the known systems or instigate all-out war.

 Part of the BLAM! Noir’s Dime Novella line, the three-part Draconian Fire saga sets the stage for BLAM! Ventures’ Buck Rogers in the 25th Century® Season 3! 
BLAM! Noir™ and Retrograde™ release of a Dime Novella™ presentation.

A BLAM! Ventures™ Production. Buck Rogers and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century® © and ® 1979-1981 and 2017 Dille Family Trust and are used under license. Published by BLAM! Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Book 1 is available now, and Book 2 and Book 3 are available for pre-order on Amazon.

Nondisclosure of Family Matters: The Siblings of Spock and the Spouses of Sarek

Continuing a series of essays about Star Trek in honor of Discovery’s return this month.

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One of the fanboy outcries about Star Trek Discovery relates to series lead Michael Burnham being the hitherto unmentioned sibling of Spock.

“We have never heard of Spock having a human adopted sister before!” goes the cry. “This violates canonThere is no precedent for this!”

An outrage, for certain.

Just like in the second pilot of The Original Series, when it was revealed that Spock had a female ancestor of human descent. But a few episodes later, we found out it wasn’t an ancestor, it was his mother! There, he and Scotty spoke of Spock’s parents in the past tense.

SPOCK: “I regret not having learned more about this Balok. In some manner, he was reminiscent of my father.”

SCOTTY: “Then may heaven have helped your mother.”

SPOCK: “Quite the contrary. She considered herself a very fortunate Earth woman.

Or in 1967, when Spock’s parents, Sarek and Amanda, were shown alive and wellimplying that rather than having passed away happily married, she NO LONGER considered herself very fortunate to be married to Sarek. Also, young Spock had a pet when growing up that his mother equated to a teddy bearalthough Spock did clarify (thanks, Jim Espo):

SPOCK: “On Vulcan the ‘teddy bears’ are alive, and they have six-inch fangs.”

SaavikAnd in 1973, when we found out that Spock’s father Sarek had a cousin named Selek that was actually a time-traveling Spock! And Spock’s living teddy bear? It was actually more of a man-bear-pig… with one six-inch fang and one three-inch half job one.

Or in 1981, when we found out that Spock, Sarek, and Amanda had raised and sponsored a half Vulcan half Romulan orphan girl named Saavik from the Original Series times to the Wrath of Khan (It might not be in the final film, but Saavik’s backstory was in the script, scenes explaining it were shot but cut for pacing, and it was all detailed in the novelization)!

And in 1989 when we found out Spock had a half-brother from Sarek’s previous marriage!

.KIRK: “He’s your ‘brother’ brother? You made that up.”

SPOCK: “I did not.” slide_297725_2455138_free

KIRK: “You did, too. Sybok couldn’t possibly be your brother because I happen to know for a fact that you don’t have a brother.”

SPOCK: “Technically, you are correct. I do not have a brother. I have a half-brother.”

What? Sarek was married before Amanda? To a Vulcan Princess, no less! The outrage! Nevermind that he is married to another human woman named Perrin 100 years later, this is about the 23rd Century, not the 24th.

What did Spock say when he was asked why he never divulged any of this before?

SPOCK: “I was not disposed to discuss matters of a personal nature. For that, I am sorry.”

KIRK: “He’s sorry. See? He’s sorry. That makes everything all right.”

I mean, those things were all established previously in the pilot episode of the Original Series, right?

Oh, wait…

…I guess the Sareks just like to take in strays.

Spock is sorry.

Andrew E.C. Gaska

Spocks-ever-growing-familMissing from this family pic—Baby Saavik. Put some pants on, Kid-Spockyou are embarrassing your creepy-faced stepbrother and ‘not sure if want’-faced adopted sister. Also, your teddy man bear pig is high again.

Parody image created by Jonathan Lane at fanfilmfactor.com

STAR TREK DISCO: TO CANON OR NOT TO CANON? 

The first in a series of essays about Star Trek in honor of Discovery’s return this month.
23844778_1898570000157549_3335419285486940238_nAn open letter to Trek fans about STAR TREK DISCOVERY and its alleged violation of continuity.

Dear Star Trek enthusiasts,

To canon or not to canon? That is the question plaguing the fandom of Star Trek, specifically about Discovery.

On one hand, continuity is what binds a fictional universe together. We are more invested in a show whose legacy we already understand. Violating the rules of that universe is like violating the laws of physics—something Scotty specifically said couldn’t be done, right before a commercial break. Then he went and did it.

On the other, should good story stand still for canon? Should a show that is created now but takes place before a show that was crafted in the 60s have outdated special effects, or look as cutting edge for today’s audiences as that original show did back then for theirs?

Is Star Trek about reminiscing over TV shows past, or showing us our own future?

Excellent fiction can be crafted out of existing canon. It’s what people like Greg CoxDavid Mack and myself do all the time. I personally have been hired by movie studios to keep track of a franchise’s canon—and have made a career of fixing canonical faux pas in my published fiction.

And change for change sake is just as bad as dead storytelling. But change is also necessary for growth to take place.

The thing is, Trek is a strange animal. It has actually contradicted itself in-universe a billion times already. When discussing things that happened in the past, TOS went and violated itself over and over. It took three seasons to decide what to call things.

What planet is Spock from, Vulcan or Vulcanis?

The Vulcan Mind Meld or the Vulcan Mind Fusion?

Did one of Spock’s ancestors marry a human female, or was that his father who did so? Human great great great grandmother or human mother?

Does the Enterprise have warp drive or hyperdrive?

Is it impulse or ‘space normal speed?’ Or would that be thrusters only?

Can we go to warp inside a solar system, or is that some kind of risk? (None of the Treks’ could keep that one straight, even within their own series).

Is the government the UFP or the UESPA? United Federation of Planets or United Earth Space Probe Agency?

Is the Enterprise Starship Class or Constitution class? Is her refit also Consitution or is she Enterprise Class?

If the Enterprise is 20 years old as Morrow said in Star Trek III specifically stated as 15 years after the Enterprise came home from Kirk’s historic 5-year mission (15+5=20… seems legit), how was she captained by Pike 12 years before that? And Robert April before him? Those are things that were established before Star Trek III, during The Original Series and the Animated Series. Wouldn’t all that make her 40?

What’s up with the Klingons’ lobster heads? How about their blood?

Aside from the look of the Klingons changing from TOS To TMP, they have no honor in the films—just look at Kruge and Klaa. Their honor wasn’t developed until TNG. Then their blood was suddenly Pepto Bismol for Star Trek VI while being red for everything before and most after (except for the blood dripping off of Worf’s broken spine, which was dark purple. When Worf and other 24th Century Klingons get cut, it’s always red).

If the Klingon’s don’t take prisoners as per Kirk in Star Trek II, why does Kruge take prisoners in Star Trek III? Or Chang in Star Trek VI? Or Lursa and B’etor in The Next Generation and Generations? 

T’Pol says Klingon ships don’t have escape pods, but then there they are in Enterprise and Deep Space Nine.

Just how big is that Bird of Prey? It changes constantly for dramatic effect in Star Trek III, then starts Star Trek IV at 50m, only to balloon up to 200m when hovering over the whaling boat at the end (again for dramatic effect).

Why is the Bird of Prey’s bridge so different in Star Trek IV than in Star Trek III? It is the same ship, originally under the command of Kruge and commandeered by Admiral Kirk. It wasn’t refitted for Federation use because all the control panels were still in Klingon—and the old bridge looked more Starfleet anyway.

“The center of the galaxy can’t be reached,” says Kirk during Star Trek V. “No ship has ever gone into the Great BarrierNo probe has ever returned.” Then they proceed to go there.  But didn’t the Enterprise go there already during The Animated Series?

Vulcan has no moon? What’s that in the sky during Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek: The Animated Series, buddy? And what the hell is Tuvok talking about in VOY when he says he was born on “the Vulcanis lunar colony?”

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Wait— Spock has a brother? You made that up.

Some people think Spock was the first Vulcan in Starfleet, something never actually stated on screen but was part of the background material for the original series—but the USS Intrepid—a Star Fleet vessel during TOS—has a crew of 400 of them. 400 Vulcans joined up and graduated after Spock during the dozen or so years before that TOS episode, and they crammed all the Vulcans in Star Fleet into one ship? And obviously at least one of them made Captain before Spock? For that matter, what’s T’Pol’s deal, then?

There are dozens more TOS VIOLATING TOS, as well as the other series violating TOS, examples.

Yes, TNG and DS9 seem to have a different timeline than TOS, and VOY and ENT also seem to have their own shared timeline. And all these violate themselves as well.

So Data was Soong’s only android. Wait—there was a prototype, Lore. Got it! Wait… there was a prototype of the prototype named B4? Ok, but their skin couldn’t be made to look or feel alive enough, that’s why they look the way they do. Remember they are machines who will never age—always set apart from living beings. Wait—Data can adjust the pigmentation of his skin and eyes to look Romulan? Data is getting fat and wrinkly… didn’t we know? Soong put in a program to mimic the effects of age. But what about when Data is 3000 years old? What will he look like then? Why burden the bot with thousands of years of decrepitude? Soong made an android of his girlfriend that had proper skin and eyes and ages as well and could pass for human? I thought he only made Data? I mean, Data and Lore and B-4? Well, Data has a sort of milky white blood circulating through his system. Prick him and he will leak. Troi shot him with an arrow and he didn’t leak? And he was shot with bullets in First Contact and didn’t leak? Does he leak?

Why does Data’s coveted and one-of-a-kind emotion chip look different in different episodes/movies? Why is he so special, anyhow? There were plenty of human-like androids in TOS, and they weren’t pasty white with yellow eyes.

For that matter, what the hell kind of cat is Spot, anyhow? What sex? Spot seems to be a nexus of realities, forever shifting.

If during Generations, Kirk was presumed dead when he was lost in the Nexus in front of Scotty before the engineer went into suspended animation in the transporter buffer, why does Scott think Kirk came to his rescue when the engineer is revived during TNG?

How did Seven’s family go hunting for the Borg with Federation funding if the Federation didn’t know who the Borg were until Picard and crew met them? Or was it when Archer and crew met them during ENT, 200 years prior? Wait, why didn’t Picard know about the Borg?

How did the Borg go from Daft Punk to the Walking Dead? ) What’s wrong with his face?

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What’s up with the Romulans’ foreheads?

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Why do the Trill in TNG have knobby heads and no spots when Dax has spots and a normal head? Dax violates canon!

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Why do the Tellarites no longer look like Porky Pig—oh my god the TOS one has no eyes.

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What of the Andorians ever-shifting shade of blue or grey or green, and changing foreheads, hairline, antenna—both their location and appearance? Since when do the antenna move?

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Again, there are at least dozens more. Is all this the result of the Temporal Cold War in Star Trek: Enterprise? Was said timeline-altering conflict created to cover these faux pas in the first place?

How do you resolve it?

Well, you have some fine authors craft tie-in materials that make it all make sense for those who care. A lot of this stuff has been covered over the years just like that. And that just what is being done in the Discovery novels right now.

Why are they using 3D hologram communications on Discovery instead of just using the view screen? Turns out the messages contained so much data they were using too much bandwidth, clogging subspace channels and tying up communications. They went back to viewscreens until DS9 times when it was finally perfected, and even then only used sparingly.

How is it they have holographic simulations you can walk around in (and play anti-Klingon laser tag with) in if the Holodeck isn’t created until TNG? Well, there was a precursor to the holodeck as early as the animated series—a holographic rec room. In Discovery the holographic training simulator’s projections weren’t solid and weren’t perfect. By TNG the holodeck makes these things indistinguishable from reality—another perfection of technology over a century.

Ship-to-ship, site-to-site, and intra-ship beaming? Didn’t they say it was risky in TOS? Well, obviously they learned that during Discovery season 1. They mention in the premiere of season two that pad-to-pad or pad-to-site transport is much safer.

Why are Discovery’s uniforms different than those worn by the crew of the Enterprise during the episode “The Cage,” which takes place in the same relative time period? Star Fleet was trying out new uniforms on the flagship fleet of Constitution class cruisers during this time (I assume it’s because they were leaning towards a time of peaceful exploration and the Klingon War caught them off guard. This delayed full implementation of the classic uniforms until years later).

If you care, buy Star Trek novels and comics. Buy them for all your favorite franchises. You keep reading them, we will keep writing them, and if we are doing our job right, you will get your answers.

If you don’t care, just sit back and enjoy Star Trek on TV and film. Our fandom is lucky enough to have both options.

Other things, such as the spore drive, will straighten themselves out before the series is over. And the Klingons… well, we went 25 years without an official explanation of their change in appearance—don’t expect an explanation for this one for another 25.

Star Trek looks forward to our future, even when telling stories in its fictional past. It gives us just a dash of what we know from before to provide us with a comfort zone. It doesn’t stagnate in nostalgia—that is the purview of the pretenders to the throne (the Orville, anyone? But that’s an open letter for another time).

Just remember that in Trek, continuity is fluid. It’s like that in any franchise that develops over decades. Has to be.

Star Trek: Discovery is in fact no more or less guilty than the Treks that precede it. The minor stuff is always shifting. The story is the key, and the legacy is enduring. Star Trek can survive a little change.

It’s called evolution.

Yours,
Andrew E.C. Gaska

Revised and updated Stardate 0120.19

Tellarite_screen_test,_The_Deadly_Years (2)Evolution: Something this TOS Tellarite is having a lot of trouble with. Oh, dear…