Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Star Trek Online Review

Developer:Cryptic Studios
Official Site:
Release Date:February 5th, 2010 (UK)
Reviewer:Greg Alexander (Modo_Komodo)

Times are changing. As I write this, news has been announced that the all-conquering World of Warcraft has not added to its 11.5 million subscriber base since 2008 - leading to speculation that it has finally hit its impossibly high ceiling. With the king seemingly on the wane, this could be as good a time as any to release a new contender into the lucrative but incredibly risky MMO market.

Veteran MMO producers, Cryptic, are using the increasingly popular formula of combining well known cultural franchises with MMO mechanics. To date, the results have been mixed. Age of Conan ultimately failed to deliver on any of its potential following a disastrous launch. Warhammer Online started very strongly but has since suffered from population decline. Star Trek Online will be the latest attempt to find the secret ingredient for the, so far elusive, money elixir.

Star Trek Online screenshot 1 Star Trek Online screenshot 2 Star Trek Online screenshot 3 Star Trek Online screenshot 4

Star Trek itself needs no introduction. It's the TV series that popularized science fiction in the 1960's by beaming down weekly tales of bold spacemen navigating a hazy unknown; exploring exotic planets and teaching aliens how to love. It commands a vast and powerful fan base - perfect fodder for the MMO treatment then, as franchise lobbyists are more likely to hang around than less fanatical players.

The tutorial begins simply enough. You enter the game during a massive attack by the Borg - horrific, hive-minded robot zombies, one of the franchises's better known enemies, and who you find yourself facing during end game encounters. Once you have picked up the basics, you are unleashed into the universe to accomplish things more or less as you please.

The quests are standard MMO canon. Collect X number of this thing, kill Y number of that thing, rinse, repeat, level up and start again. What's different is that, as a player, you don't just tool up one character; you have to constantly improve yourself, your ship and also its crew. This is the most interesting feature of the game, as it adds further dimensions to a potentially flat and pedestrian MMO experience, and its only when a player measures their progress across all three of these elements are they able to judge how successful they are.

Having said this, the division of activity between space and ground can sometimes leave things feeling rather fragmented. As a player, you will find yourself jumping between the two often.

Star Trek Online screenshot 5 Star Trek Online screenshot 6 Star Trek Online screenshot 7 Star Trek Online screenshot 8

Playing through a quest chain, I began fighting pirates in space and then beamed down to a planet to continue my mission on foot. The idea works very well when executed like this. It actually feels like an episode of Star Trek and adds real depth to the experience. The system runs into trouble when you get teleported from your ship to a planet without warning. This, however, happens rarely and can be forgiven at this stage in the game's life.

The quality gap between the space and ground segments are of galactic proportions. On the ground, you and your squad move through seemingly the same environments constantly. Missions that take place on space stations all contain the same sterile metallic tile set. Almost every encounter that has taken place on another ship has included this operating theatre-esque environment with some of the furniture re-arranged - another common casualty amongst MMOs, where the scope of production is always so epic.

Open world planet encounters fare better with locations ranging from exotic tropical landscapes to inhospitable wastelands, the variety certainly helps the often repetitive MMO quests to feel a little different.

The ground combat itself is somewhat uninspired at present. There is no cover system to speak of yet and despite being in a squad, your team mates tend to stand about and shoot at enemies who also stand about and shoot. There is certainly potential for the ground combat system to be improved in future updates but as things stand this is the weak link in the chain.

Star Trek Online screenshot 9 Star Trek Online screenshot 10 Star Trek Online screenshot 11 Star Trek Online screenshot 12

Space encounters are where the game really shines. Each player is given command of their own ship to steer through the infinite nebula of space. Whether as part of a quest or PVP, arming your ship with the best weapons and equipment you can find, and then discharging said equipment at your enemies will take the most time out of your ship captaining days. Almost everything about this is excellent. Careful selection of ship parts is required in order to get the most from your ship, and this is not the only tactical facet to space encounters. A ship's shields must be carefully managed in order to prevent any fatal explosions. This can be done by maneuvering during fights to ensure the same part of your ship is not getting hammered. You can also use crew's special abilities such as 'emergency power to shields'.

Encounters become more interesting still during fleet actions - large battles involving a multitude of players all working in conjunction towards a shared goal. They can look like large, chaotic free-for-alls to the spectator but they actually require a lot of timing and strategy to get right. If your team's lightly armored escorts rush headlong into battle, they will very quickly get annihilated. An escort captain has to wait until the enemy's focus rests on the heavy cruisers before they pinpoint a perceived weak point and strike together.

For those interested in immersion, shouting relevant commands as you issue these orders helps. So does having a special captains hat to be worn whilst playing.

PVP in STO is handled with thought. Once players reach level 5 or so, they gain access to the Klingon race. For those unfamiliar with Star Trek, think of the hordes of Genghis Kahn but in space with lumpy heads. As a Klingon, you get the opportunity to do more or less exactly the same as if you were a player in Star Fleet. The difference is that gameplay is more focused on player versus player combat, as opposed to single player experiences.

Star Trek Online screenshot 13 Star Trek Online screenshot 14 Star Trek Online screenshot 15 Star Trek Online screenshot 16

This PVP combat is divided again between fighting members of Star Fleet and other Klingon houses. As all ships involved in PVP are player controlled, there is more scope for unpredictability. To be placed in a team alongside the U.S.S Leeroy Jenkins is hilarious and frightening.

Fighting on the ground is surprisingly rewarding following on from the slightly flat single player experience. Other players use and hide behind cover more intelligently than the game's bots allowing for a more exciting and tactical experience.

As Star Trek is not just about conflict, you are also given the job of exploring portions of uncharted space as part of Star Fleet's on-going commitment to scientific endeavors. This normally takes the form of travelling to specific 'uncharted' systems and scanning them for new planets and information. It changes the pace of frenetic space battles and rewards players with special tokens that can be traded for upgraded ship parts.

It's obvious that Cryptic Studios tried to keep the structure of the game simple but with enough depth to keep players coming back. Unfortunately, this has not been entirely successful as the multiple sets of skill points, ground and space combat all come together to create a somewhat fragmented game at times. However, when it works, the game is enjoyable, deep and should be more than enough for fans of the longstanding franchise.

All MMOs have a steeper learning curve than the average game. With time, players will acclimate to their surroundings. When things start to make more sense and the proverbial mist clears, they become much more enjoyable.


As an MMO launch, STO cannot really be faulted. On the whole, the game is tight and noticeably well polished. There has been very little to no issues of downtime and crashing - a problem that has plagued new MMOs in the past. If the game has started as it means to go on then we should get used to seeing this title around for some time.

Good stuff

  • Essential purchase for Star Trek fans
  • Very smooth launch for an MMO title
  • Players given a lot of freedom to progress as they please
  • Space battles tight and tactical

Not so good stuff

  • Jumping between space and ground combat can feel unfocussed
  • Ground combat is a little flat
  • Game UI is confusing for new players

Star Trek Online Has “Over 100,000 Subscribers”

While speaking about Cryptic Studios, the company's chief operating officer Jack Emmert revealed that its latest game, Star Trek Online, has more than 100,000 subscribers.

Emmert revealed the figure during an interview with The Big Freaking Podcast, while talking about the game's reception when it launched last month.

Star Trek OnlineDespite the huge IP, or maybe because of it, the game didn't live up to many fans' expectations, as reflected by the number of subscribers; 100K might sound alright, but when you consider Age of Conan and Warhammer Online are barely getting by with a rumoured 300K each, STO's numbers must be a concern for Cryptic.

According to BioWare, its upcoming MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic will need at least one million subscribers per month just to break even.

Last month, Cryptic made a press release announcing that it had over one million registered accounts following the launch of STO. What a shame not many of them actually subscribed to the game.

Comics Review : Star Trek Deep Space Nine Fool's Gold Issue 4

The covers: Mr. Garak reenacts a scene from Pulp Fiction on Cover A by The Sharp Brothers. The Sharps usually have a lot of motion in their work, but this is just stagnant. Yes, it's from a major scene, but doesn't it leave you "blah"? Odo, looking a little more like himself than in previous issues, graces Cover B provided by David Messina with colors by Giovanna Niro. It continues the pattern of the previous three issues, focusing on one character in front of a white background with some appropriate red computer overlays. It's better than the A Cover, but Odo looks old. There is also an Incentive Cover, that's the same as the Cover B, just without all the writing. If you like the B, you'll like the IC. Overall grades: A is a B, B is an B+, and the IC is also a B+ Editorial question: Dear Mr. Scott Dunbier, could there be some tightening up on what these Retailer Covers are listed as? This series has them called Incentive Cover, Star Trek: The Next Generation: Ghosts lists them as Retailer Incentive Virgin Cover, and then there are the occasional Retailer Incentive Photo Covers. Can't all the retailer incentive covers just be called Retailer Covers? It's a pain in the butt for me to have to keep track off all the different titles when essentially they're all in the same category.

The story:
This is as close as any comic has come to being an episode of DS9. There's no violent shoot out, there's no last minute surprise, and there's no created science to solve the problem. What you have are characters who are true to their television counterparts. There is a bargain made with a character of questionable motivations (Garak--YES!), Quark at his best unlawfulness (close to the edge, but not enough to get in trouble), and a solution where everyone is satisfied at the outcome. And included are two wonderful epilogues: one on a viewscreen with the only other character I loved more than Garak, and the last three pages being a great "Of course!" moment. My biggest grouse about the writing of this series is that it was only four issues! I'm used to 5 coming out in most IDW Trek series. But I realize that this story doesn't need another issue: it works perfectly the way it is. Anything more would have been padding. So, big thanks to Scott & David Tipton for a great "missing episode" story of Deep Space Nine. Please come back as soon as possible! Overall grade: A

The art:
What the heck happened? I thought the art by Fabio Mantovani was passable in previous issues, but I'm dropping some grades this time around. There's been some major cleaning up in some places (Kira on Page 2 looks nothing like previous issues' Kira: it looks better and that's a plus) and some pages look completely unfinished (Page 13 through 22 look awful!). Look at Odo on Page 5, not bad, but VERY different from previous issues. Look at Odo on Page 13, and look at the perspective in panel two. What the heck is going on? How can this be the same artist? And what happened to Quark? In previous issues the Ferengi were some of the better drawn characters in the issue. Not this time. That's O'Brien? How wide and fat can he be? He looks like Charlie-27 from The Guardians of the Galaxy. I cannot believe that this issue was solely done by Mantovani, it's just too jarring. There's also some odd layout choices: look at the wasted space on Page 11 and there's only one point of view during the viewscreen conversation. I want to know what happened with this issue. If delaying the book to improve the art could have been done it should have been done. Retailers be damned. I'd rather have a well drawn book, or at least one that looked like the last three, than one that got slapped together like this. A huge disappointment considering how good the story is. Overall grade: D+

The colors:
Provided by artist Fabio Mantovani and Davide Amici capture the coloring of the show: dark browns and blues. The colors look sharper on some pages, such as the bottom of Page 2, but on others, that had opportunity for colors, it's very monotone (such as Page 5), The coloring suits the locations, I can't argue that, but last issue was a lot more vivid. Overall grade: B

The letters:
Chris Mowry closes out this series with dialogue, a groan, and some horn work (Doesn't this sum up this issue?). Perfectly fine. Overall grade: A

The final line:
Fun to read, heartbreaking to look at. Overall grade: C-

Lego Star Trek

Many children play with Legos making simple structures such as houses or cars. But some creative adults take the little colored plastic bricks to where no Lego has gone before.

One of these artists, listed simply as -2×4- on the Brickshelf website, has created a fleet of Star Trek ships, including ships from the Federation, the Romulan and Klingon Empires, the Borg and Cardassians.

Three dozen ships have been created, coming from all five television series and from the movies. There is the Enterprise-1701 as well as the 1701-D and E, and the USS Excelsior. The Klingon Empire is represented by three ships, including a Bird of Prey and the D7. Two Romulan ships have been created, one from the original series and the green D’deridex.

Takei and Husband to Gays: Be Counted

Star Trek star George Takei and his husband, Brad Altman, have geeked out for a public service announcement to encourage same-sex couples to participate in the 2010 Census.

"This is the first-time in history the census is counting marriages like ours," says Altman, wearing a tinfoil hat.

"It doesn't matter whether you have a legal marriage license or not," says Takei, dressed in his Starfleet costume. "It only matters if you consider yourself married. That’s what the census is asking for, for people to identity how they view themselves."

For detailed instructions from the duo and more advice on how to "live long and prosper," watch the video below.

Vulcan in Canada crowned Star Trek capital

Holidaymakers are being urged to 'boldy go' where they've never gone before with a visit to the Star Trek Capital of Canada.

The town of Vulcan in Alberta was granted the official title earlier this month and is now being billed as a 'logical year-round destination for science-fiction enthusiasts and Star Trek fans from across the galaxy'.

A view of the Vulcan Tourism & Trek Station in Vulcan, Canada

The Vulcan Tourism & Trek Station contains an 800 piece collection of Star Trek memorabilia.

Celebrations are planned throughout the year and festivities will include a special visit from none other than Mr Spock, aka actor Leonard Nimoy, who will beam down in the town on 23 April and unveil a bronze bust of his alter ego.

Actor Leonard Nimoy pictured as Mr Spock in the Star Trek series

Pointy ears at the ready: Actor Leonard Nimoy, who starred as Mr Spock, will be dropping into Vulcan.

Further tributes to science fiction are dotted around the town, from space murals and alien signage on walls and street corners to a Star Trek grave stone in the local cemetery.

Visitors to the town can take a self-guided Star Trek Walking Tour or visit the Vulcan Tourism & Trek Station where they can pose with life-sized cutouts of Star Trek characters on the main bridge of its 'Star Ship'.

There's also the opportunity to admire the station's 800 piece collection of Star Trek memorabilia or save the galaxy in the Vulcan Space Adventure Virtual Reality Game.

The town, which has a population of less than 2000, also boasts its very own model of a Vulcan Starship and recently gained international fame when it hosted the world premiere of the new Star Trek movie, despite not having a cinema.

Vulcan’s Tourism Coordinator Dayna Dickens said: "We are very excited about our new status as the Official Star Trek Capital of Canada, and look forward to working with CBS [the American network which broadcasts the show] to incorporate even more elements of the Star Trek universe into our community’s public spaces."

Vulcan's relationship with Star Trek dates back to the earliest days of the original series however, contrary to popular belief, it was not named after Mr Spock’s fictitious home planet.

A picture of the town of Vulcan in Canada's replica model of the  Starship Enterprise

The town boasts its very own replica model of the Starship Enterprise

The town was instead named in 1910 by a Canadian Pacific Railway surveyor who had a special interest in Roman Mythology - 56 years before the first Star Trek episode aired on television.

For more information visit

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Former Excelsior Campaign Leader Takes Over TrekUnited

TrekUnited is now in the hands of a new owner.

Russ Haslage, who several years ago led efforts to create a Star Trek series starring George Takei as captain of the USS Excelsior, has bought the domain name and rights of TrekUnited from troubled founder Tim Brazeal.

The remaining staff of TrekUnited, which has been mostly reduced to nothing more than a small group of people on a message board sharing their interest in Star Trek, had said an announcement would be made as early as today. However, Airlock Alpha has learned through public records associated with domain transfers that Haslage, head of the International Federation of Trekkers, took control of the domain name on Monday.

Haslage later confirmed the purchase to Airlock Alpha, saying an official announcement was still in the works.

"For now I can say this is a good day," Haslage said. "I am proud and honored to have TrekUnited as part of The Federation. And it's Bill Shatner's birthday. What else could a Trek fan ask for?"

The sale of TrekUnited ends what some called a dark chapter in fandom. Originally started as a Save Enterprise campaign, the site morphed into TrekUnited in 2004 in efforts to create a fifth season of "Star Trek: Enterprise," which was on the chopping block that season by UPN. However, instead of pushing for letter-writing and petitions as it had during the third season of the show, TrekUnited instead took the unusual step of asking fans to donate money toward funding a fifth season. Despite pleas from Paramount directly to Brazeal to stop collecting money as they couldn't accept it, the campaign raised more than $100,000.

Following intensive investigations by Airlock Alpha (then known as SyFy Portal), TrekWeb and the Los Angeles Times, TrekUnited started to refund money to those who made donations in 2005, although it's not clear if those donations were ever fully refunded.

Brazeal tried other projects that failed since then, including Sci-Fi Studios -- which allowed fans to donate thousands of dollars in order to earn producer credits on productions -- as well as the ballyhooed FedCon USA in 2008, which collapsed in the middle of the convention to much negative press.

Last week, Brazeal sent e-mails to members of the TrekUnited community asking for someone to try and top bids of up to $10,000 to purchase TrekUnited from him. He announced a short time later that he had found a buyer, but did not reveal who it was.

For Haslage, this is an opportunity to clean up the TrekUnited name and bring it back into the fold of real fandom. The group has had fringe status since the fundraising days, and have seemed to never fully recover from that, even after the collapse of FedCon USA, when many of Brazeal's faithful walked away.

Haslage was not successful in bringing Excelsior to series, but he has been successful in bringing Star Trek fans together, and will be challenged to do it once again with his newest asset

79 Facts About William Shatner

Update: Shatner's birthday was Monday , just wasn't able to post this till now, Happy belated birthday William Shatner!

Today is William Shatner’s 79th birthday. In his honor of Captain James T. Kirk, we’ve boldly collected 79 facts about the Star Trek legend that have never been collected before — at least not all in one place. Enjoy!

1. William Alan Shatner was born on March 22, 1931 in Montreal.

2. His father Joseph was a clothing manufacturer.

3. Shatner was raised as a Conservative Jew.

4. His paternal grandfather Wolf Schattner changed the family named after immigrating to Canada.

5. Shatner graduated from McGill University in 1952 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce.

6. He classically trained as a Shakespearean actor and performed at the Shakespearean Stratford Festival of Canada.

7. Shatner had his Broadway debut in a production of Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great which was directed by Sir Tyrone Guthrie.

8. Shatner’s first big on-screen break was a Canadian film titled, The Butler’s Night Off.

9. In 1954 Shatner played the part of Ranger Bill on the first season of the Canadian Howdy Doody Show.

10. Shatner landed his first American film role in 1958 as Alexi, the youngest brother in The Brothers Karamazov.

11. He appeared on Alfred Hitchcock Presents twice. First, in an episode entitled “The Glass Eye,” and then, a few years later in “Mother, may I go out to swim?”

12. Shatner’s best-known role pre-Star Trek was a classic episode of The Twilight Zone, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.”

13. He played the part of Captain James T. Kirk on the television series Star Trek from 1966 to 1969. The show was canceled, but became much more popular in reruns post-moon landing.

14. In a Star Trek episode entitled “Operation: Annihilate!,” Shatner played the body of Kirk’s dead brother, George.

15. He also starred as Kirk in Star Trek: The Animated Series and in the first seven Star Trek movies.

16. He portrayed Captain Kirk in film for the final time in 1994 Star Trek Generations; in 2006 he reprized his role for a DirecTV advertisement.

17. Although he claims not to remember meeting him then, Shatner first appeared on screen with Leonard Nimoy when he guest-starred in an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

18. Thanks to a deal he made with Nimoy, Shatner directed the fifth Star Trek movie, 1989’s Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. He also co-wrote it.

19. Shatner was not given a role in J.J. Abram’s 2009 film Star Trek. He then refused to see it in theaters.

19. His favorite episode of Star Trek was entitled “The Devil in the Dark.”

Trek Meets Zombies In Quirk’s Upcoming ‘Night of the Living Trekkies’

Quirk Books is adding a new zombie tale to their collection with Night of the Living Trekkies, a novel by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall which sees Trekkies at a convention meet the undead!

The publisher, which is known for its literary monster mash-ups like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, hails the book as the “strange lovechild of Galaxy Quest and Dawn of the Dead.”

When hordes of the undead come to feast upon the attendees at a Star Trek convention, a group of Trekkies fight for their lives using everything they’ve learned from old Star Trek episodes.

Quirk plans to release the new book — which is available now for pre-order — on September 1, 2010.

There’s no final artwork for the book at this time. The header here at top is part of the preliminary cover.

Read more about the book here below.

About Night of the Living Trekkies

This sci-fi/zombie/comedy/adventure follows a group of rag-tag Trekkies getting together for the fifth annual GulfCon (billed as the “largest Starfleet Convention in the western Gulf Coast region”).

Our heroes are dressed in homemade uniforms and armed with prop phasers-but soon find themselves defending their hotel and convention center against hordes of flesh-eating undead. Suddenly, all of their useless knowledge about particle physics and old Star Trek episodes has genuine real-world applications! And while hotel employees and regular civilians are dying left and right, our Trekkies summon strength and courage by emulating their favorite starship-voyaging characters.

Packed with hundreds of gags referencing Star Trek, Star Wars, comic books, and fan conventions, Night of the Living Trekkies reads like the strange lovechild of Galaxy Quest and Dawn of the Dead. Journey to the final frontier of zombie science-fiction satire!

KEVIN DAVID ANDERSON and SAM STALL are lifelong Trekkies. Mr. Anderson lives in California and Mr. Stall lives in Indianapolis.

*This is an original work of parody and is not officially sponsored by, affiliated with, or endorsed by the owners of the Star Trek® brand.

Star Trek-style force-field armour being developed by military scientists

When a threat from incoming fire is detected by the vehicle, the energy stored in the supercapacitor can be rapidly dumped onto the metal plating on the outside of the vehicle, producing a strong electromagnetic field. Photo: AP/Bruce Adams

The new type of armour will use pulses of electrical energy to repel rockets, shrapnel and other ammunition that might damage a vehicle.

Researchers at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), which is the research and development arm of the Ministry of Defence, claim it is possible to incorporate material known as supercapacitors into armour of a vehicle to turn it into a kind of giant battery.

When a threat from incoming fire is detected by the vehicle, the energy stored in the supercapacitor can be rapidly dumped onto the metal plating on the outside of the vehicle, producing a strong electromagnetic field.

Scientists behind the project claim this would produce a momentary "force field" capable of repelling the incoming rounds and projectiles.

Although it would last for only a fraction of a second, if timed correctly it could prevent rocket propelled grenades, which detonate on impact, from reaching their target. The supercapacitor could then be rapidly recharged ready for another attack.

The idea is similar to the force fields portrayed in science fiction movies which produce an invisible protective shell around a vehicle or object.

Professor Bryn James, head of Dstl's armour and protection science and technology centre, said the electric armour had the potential to dramatically decrease the weight of military vehicles and tanks.

Currently few tanks are able to carry enough armour needed to resist impacts from RPG rounds, which produce jets of molten copper capable of punching through more than foot of solid steel upon impact.

He said: "The supercapacitor material can be charged up and then discharged in one powerful event to repel incoming fire.

"You would think this would require huge amounts of energy, but we have found it can be done with surprisingly small amounts of electrical power.

"Conventional armour is just a lump of metal but an RPG round can punch through more than a foot of steel. Carrying around enough armour to protect against that is extremely heavy.

"The real advantage to the electric armour is how light it can be by comparison."

Sophisticated tracking systems will also need to be developed to work in conjunction with the new armour so that incoming threats can be identified and the electrical discharge timed correctly to repel the rocket.

It is unlikely that such a system would be used against fire from small arms as the outer skin can be made to be bullet proof.

Armour piercing rounds, RPGs and "shaped charge" roadside bombs pose a far greater threat to armoured vehicles and tanks as it is not possible to put enough armour plating on all parts of the vehicle to protect it completely.

The comparatively lightweight electric armour, however, could be used to protect the entire outer shell of a vehicle by using a thin cloth-like flexible supercapacitor material.

This can be used to form a lining beneath the armour that turns the vehicle into a giant battery pack.

An early incarnation of a different type of electric armour technology has already been trailed by Dstl.

It used several layers of metal which have electric current flowing through them.

When an RPG round penetrates the outer layer, it completes the electrical circuit creating a highly electrically charged field between the layers.

This charged field vaporises the copper jet that shoots out from the front of the RPG warhead, preventing it from penetrating the inner hull of the vehicle and keeping the soldiers inside safe.

At a test in 2002, senior British Army officers saw the chassis of a Warrior infantry carrier, which was fitted with the early electric armour, survive repeated attack by RPGs before being driven away with only minor damage.

Scientists from Dstl outlined their plans to use this technology at an MoD showcase of military technology last week.

The MoD has tasked Dstl with reducing the weight of armoured vehicles by 70 per cent over the next decade in a bid to improve speed and manoeuvrability.

Dstl has also developed an experimental armour steel that is covered in holes known as Super Bainite, which could also be used on vehicles.

Scientists found they could double the ballistic performance of the armour by introducing the holes to the steel, while halving its weight.

Professor Peter Brown, who headed the Dstl team that developed Super Bainite, said: "This is because when a bullet hits, it's always near to the edge of a hole.

"This causes the bullet to topple over, turning it from a sharp projectile to a blunt fragment which is easier to stop."

Star Trek vs X-Men Trailer

Leave it to film fans to do something cool. Below you can checkout a fan trailer for X-Men vs Star Trek. Back in the day MARVEL did a cross over comic where they pitted the Mutants against the Pointed Ears and although we will never see a movie a fan has taken it upon himself to do atrailer. Plot from the creator is as follows;

After an accidental time warp causes the Enterprise to travel to an alternate reality, the crew must somehow find a way back. If not, the universe will collapse from two conflicting realities. Aware of this, Professor Xavier and his X-Men are forced to destroy this threat before everything is wiped out. Honoring one of my favorite comic mini-series ever, this is my version of these two universes colliding.

FASHION STATEMENT Beam me up: Mayor Parker's Star Trek attire

Is it just our imagination, or did Mayor Annise Parker emit a Star Trek vibe when she traveled to Washington, D.C. this week to lobby for the restoration of NASA's Constellation program?

Her red jacket with black epaulets certainly resembles the attire worn by Dr. Beverly Crusher in Star Trek: Next Generation.

Press secretary Janice Evans groaned when we called to ask if the mayor is a Star Trek fan. She said she would get back to us, but until she does, take a look and let us know what you think.

Our mayor has never cared much for fashion, but we think she looked chic. And maybe it was a good subliminal way for herroner to send the message that space travel is important.

And you couldn't ask for a better role model. According to Wikipedia, Dr. Crusher is the chief medical officer on board the USS Enterprise-D and its successor, the USS Enterprise-E. Crusher held the rank of Commander, and was the head of Starfleet Medical during 2365.

iPhone Talk Writer: Star Trek universal translator 1.0

iPhone Talk Writer: Star Trek  universal translator 1.0

It is always nice to see where developers are taking the possibilities inherent in the iPhone, even if the execution isn't always letter perfect. Making its debut on the iPhone app store is the new tool from Eagle Inc. called Talk Writer designed to assist non-English speakers communicate with English speakers around the world.

The software records the target sentence and then translates any word you select in the sentence into your native language, presumably allowing those with a basic grasp of English to connect the dots when presented with words that are not common or relatively easy to understand. You can download the app for just 600 yen ($6.60) here:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Comics Review : Star Trek Movie Adaptation Issue 2

The covers: As with last issue, a tight close-up on the Regular cover of a dominant character from the issue, young Spock this time. The great team of David Messina & Giovanna Niro continue to deliver the goods as Spock's test questions are reflected in his face to perfection. The Retailer Incentive Photo cover is that famous trailer shot of Kirk on his bike looking at the construction of the Enterprise in the Riverside Shipyard. It, too, is a good cover but could they not give away the last page of the comic? Yeah, we've all seen the movie and know what's coming but I would've rather had a cockeyed cover with Spock rejecting entrance into the Vulcan Science Academy. It's a nitpick, but--HEY!--No spoilers! Overall grade: Both covers A

The story: Spock's education (with teasing), Kirk crashing the car, Spock gives his sweetest "Live long and prosper", Kirk meets Uhura, Cupcake, many fists, and Pike. That's a summary "Based on the Screenplay by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman. Adaptation by Mike Johnson & Tim Jones." What's new? A nice exchange between Sarek and Amanda, with a great exit line by her! A good exchange between young Jimmy Kirk and his brother, including justification for the stealing/wrecking of his dad's car. These two pages also justify young Jim's path until he meets up with Pike. It's a solid story, following the film, with a few extras. Overall grade: A

The art: It's so damn good! David Messina continues to impress. There are panels that look straight out of the movie, but there are also several of Messina's own composition (Pages 5 & 6 and 14 & 15 come to mind). Messina can really layout a page. For example, sometimes in a fight scene it's difficult to tell where characters are in relation to their settings (any Frank Miller Marvel comic has the characters battling well, but against a white background). Not Messina. Look at Page 16, with its detailed backgrounds and layout, I know exactly where everyone is. It's so nice to see this, and it's so appreciated. Also always appreciated are the striking likenesses to the actors: Pine, Quinto, and Saldana are sterling. However, Bruce Greenwood doesn't look at all like himself until a heart stopping close-up on Page 20. Nit, nit, nit. It's still a winning issue. Overall grade: A

The inks: Gaetano Carlucci is a good match with Messina. It finally dawned on me what her work reminds me of: Kevin Maguire's work on Justice League of America. Yet, she doesn't make this book not look like Messina. Could she be the new Terry Austin? A jaw-dropping inker whose work always brought out the best in anything he inked? I'd love to see more to compare! Overall grade: A+

The colors: The flawless record of Giovanna Niro continues. I'd move to Iowa if the sky was that bright. I'm almost nervous about how white and bright she'll make the light (excuse the unintentional rhyme) on the bridge of the Enterprise. Will it be as overdone as J.J. did? Sorry, it annoyed me. I'm anxious to see! Overall grade: A

The letters: Neil "go-to" Uyetake takes over the lettering chores this issue. Dialogue aplenty, coupled with computer speak, punches, sirens, car acceleration, crashes, broken glass, and Trek's loudest whistle. Overall grade: A

The final line: Short and sweet: A worthy addition to any Trek collection. Overall grade: A

Obama's 'Star Trek': From Mr. Spock to Capt. Kirk

It was once very popular to compare Barack Obama to Mr. Spock from "Star Trek."

Leonard Nimoy, who played the dispassionate first mate of the starship Enterprise, thrilled Obama supporters during the 2008 primaries by recounting how the then-candidate greeted him with a split-fingered Vulcan salute.

The Obama as Spock conceit grew like tribbles after Nimoy's endorsement.

Dissing George W. Bush for governing with his gut, Obama fans said America was ready for the cool logic of their candidate.

Plus, it was pop culture proof that Obama was not part of the old guard. What did John McCain know about "Star Trek" anyway? The show premiered the year he checked into the Hanoi Hilton and was in syndication by the time McCain got out five years later.

For Obama's age group -- straddling generations X and Y -- "Star Trek" is a very big deal. Liberals especially love the show's United Nations-style approach to galactic governance and the idea of a shipload of multicultural do-gooders out on the final frontier.

And the fact that politics and journalism attract so many nerds adds to the cultural potency of the science-fiction franchise.

It would be strange to see New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd and Salon's Jeff Greenwald writing pieces about "Hondo" or "That Girl" or any of the rest of 1967's prime-time lineup, but both wrote about Obama's Spock-like nature.

The 11th "Star Trek" movie came out in May 2009 just as Obama was descending at warp speed from beloved symbol of hope to just another politician.

"Star Trek" was such a common part of the president's identity that Obama brought it up himself in an interview that month with Newsweek's Jon Meacham. Obama talked about the show and how he grew up loving it and its "pop philosophy for a 10-year-old to absorb." He even flashed Meacham another Vulcan salute.

In December, the Associated Press unleashed a 1,110-word story by science writer Seth Borenstein about Obama's Spockish qualities.

But by then, what had begun as a way to praise Obama's rational nature and towering intellect had become an explanation for why the president was struggling.

Obama was making mistakes, it was said, because he was a cool technocrat. The American people weren't following him because the president was detached at a time when the electorate was angry.

Month after frustrating month of watching Obama's domestic agenda stall and his foreign policy morph into a third Bush term led liberals to conclude that Obama needed to be more passionate.

A billion pixels and an ocean of ink were devoted to the proposition that what Obama really needed to do was let it rip -- show his passion, stick it to the Republicans and connect viscerally with the American people.

The president's supporters had grown tired of their model of cool logic. They wanted the anti-Spock. They wanted Capt. Kirk -- the impetuous leader who ignores the probabilities because he trusts his gut and has enormous self-confidence.

Obligingly, Obama has been doing his best James T. Kirk imitation since the beginning of the year.

Obama has set his presidency on ramming speed and diverted all the energy from the shields and the photon torpedoes to passing Obamacare.

The president has ditched rationality in favor of pure passion by trying to pass health care legislation that is unpopular, seven months late and deemed seriously flawed even by its most ardent supporters.

Spock might have called for a logical compromise with the GOP, but not Obama. The president and his team are whooping like a Klingon war party at the prospect of the battle to come.

His argument to the dozens of anxious House Democrats whom he wants to boldly go where no Blue Dog has gone before is classic Kirk. The president acknowledges that the battle he is precipitating will be destructive to Democrats, but that it will also weaken Republicans.

After the debris clears, Obama says, the Democrats will have survived and be in better position for the battles to come.

Capt. Obama wants to turn the ship into the blast, not away from it.

But unless you're the protagonist in a television show, arguing that a plan is so crazy it has to work is not usually convincing.

And for the more than four-dozen House Democrats who face possible defeat this fall, this is a reality show, not science fiction.

Star Trek, Inglourious Basterds and Harry Potter Coming to the PSN

Sony Computer Entertainment of America has announced deals with some of the biggest film studios in Hollywood, aimed at delivering their movies in High Definition format on the PlayStation Network.

The offer is available only in the United States at the moment but Sony is saying that movies through the PSN will soon be offered in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain. All the content can be bought outright or rented for a limited time.

Initial offerings include: Night at the Museum - Battle of the Smithsonian, Jennifer's Body from 20th Century Fox, with Fantastic Mr. Fox coming on March 23; Up, G-Force and Earth from Walt Disney Pictures; Star Trek, Paranormal Activity and Zoolander from Paramount; This Is It, 2012, District 9 and Zombieland from Sony itself; Inglourious Basterds, Couples Retreat and Public Enemies from Universal; The Hangover, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and The Wizard of Oz from Warner Bros.

Peter Dille, who is the senior vice president of Marketing and PlayStation Network at Sony Computer Entertainment of America stated, “Securing high definition content from these studios is another significant milestone further validating PlayStation Network as a complete entertainment network in the home. PlayStation Network is the first and only service to deliver high definition home entertainment from all six major studios, directly to consumers for download. PlayStation Network continues to offer the most comprehensive catalogue of HD movies to PlayStation Network members that realize the wide-ranging entertainment power of the PS3 system.”

It's not clear how this announcement will impact Sony's relationship with Netflix, which has recently unveiled that it is bringing its streaming service to the PlayStation 3. The move is a good one for Sony as it has managed to attract some more customers to its platform, customers who might not be initially interested in videogaming but willing to give the console a chance for its movie offerings.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Star Trek's first Oscar: Make-up win is the sci-fi franchise's first Academy Award in any category

Making Romulans look animal-like and Vulcans look logical were some of the things Star Trek Oscar winners in Hair and Make-up said helped bring home the gold. That, and all those tattoos.

"The mythology of Star Trek was that the Romulans and the Vulcans sort of began as the same race, and the Romulans followed their more animal tendency and the Vulcans followed their more logical tendency," said one of the winners, Joel Harlow, in the backstage media room.

"So in designing those prosthetics, we want to make a Romulan stand out as more animal. We adjusted their brows, the bone on their nose, and the ridge of their brows. This particular band of Romulans were tattooed to sort of single themselves out from all the other Romulans."

The trio—Barney Burman, Mindy Hall, and Harlow—said that as make-up artists they try to make people believable. "Whether it's strength or beauty or some kind of extreme prosthetic make-up, we make them as realistic to the eye as we possibly can," said Burman. "[Star Trek Director] J.J. Abrams wanted to create a world and a universe where everybody can live and breathe as though that's a real place and I think we achieved it."

The original Star Trek began as a television series in the 1960s. Several additional TV series spun off it, as well as feature films. All things Star Trek created a huge fan base that continues. A reporter pointed out that Sunday's Academy Award win in the make-up category was a first for any Star Trek connection.

"I think we have a whole new generation of fans and that was one of our goals," answered Hall. "We wanted our Star Trek to appeal to the current fan as well as a new generation, a younger generation. Kind of a younger, hipper Star Trek, if you will. [The Oscar] is fantastic for the whole franchise."

And it doesn't hurt to be Chris Pine, either.

Hall says Star Trek actor Pine (in the role of James T. Kirk) and the cast collaborated with make-up. "Chris Pine is amazing. He's not only a wonderful actor, he's a wonderful human being. Our entire cast surrendered themselves to us completely... but Chris Pine is amazing. I mean, I was all over him."

Prior to the Awards ceremony, I interviewed Academy Governor in the Make-up and Hair category, Leonard Engelman, at the Shorts reception held on March 2. He is the first governor of this branch, formed three years ago.

"A make-up artist is a storyteller," he says. "They help the actor form the look and emotion of the character. They help the actor realize the character."

Engelman did the make-up on William Hurt in the film The Accidental Tourist. He said Hurt's character (Macon Leary) was to appear withdrawn—the character had lost a child. "I did age make-up on him, shaved his hairline to be receding and to look very distraught. Through much of the film, Hurt would look in the mirror and say 'the character is just about here.' So make-up visually helped Hurt be in character."

Make-up can often cover-up flaws with actors on set. "In every picture, sometimes it takes three months to shoot, some actors have colds, runny noses, a bruise somewhere. A make-up artist takes care of the continuity of the film," Engleman says.

Engleman was Cher's make-up artist in her movie Suspect. Engleman said Cher's character had a jail argument with Liam Neeson's character. The script called for Cher to be hit in her right eye by left-handed Neeson. It was a story-point in the movie that Cher's right eye be bruised. "Several times during shooting, Cher got too close to the cell door. She hit the cell door and cut her eye. She was brought to the hospital and had stitches and a cut on her left eye. The next week, I had to cover her left swollen eye. The audience couldn't even tell."

Engleman said up and coming make-up artists can attend cinema make-up schools and work in fields such as industrial, theater, bridal, or graduations to build a portfolio. He also teaches at a LA make-up school. All movie make-up artists belong to the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Union. He said there is one in Minneapolis.

Engleman visited Minnesota for a presentation in cinema make-up and skin care at the Mall of America. "That place is huge! I mean, we've got big malls here [in California] but you could spend a few days just seeing all the stores [at the MOA]," he says.

Above: Best Makeup winners Joel Harlow, Mindy Hall and Barney Burman backstage during the 82nd Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, CA on Sunday. Photo by Todd Wawrychuk, © A.M.P.A.S.

Above and below: some of the prosthetics used in the film Star Trek during the Make-Up Symposium and Reception held in Beverly Hills March 6. Photo by Barb Teed.

Hollywood Star Trek Legend Spotted At Gillingham

Beam me up... Priestfield??

Star Trek legend Sir Patrick Stewart, a.k.a Captain Jean-Luc Picard, swapped his seat on the Starship Enterprise for a seat in the KM Medway Stand at the krbs Priestfield Stadium to watch his beloved Huddersfield Town.

The pensioner is a life long Terriers fan was named president of thier youth academy last week, but had to come down to Kent to see Gillingham 'klingon' to all three points.

The Hollywood A lister was seen walking through the town and in the supporters' pub, the Livingstone Arms in Gillingham Road.

He may be able to fly through space and meeting aliens, but he cannot prevent his team conceding against the Pride of Kent.

Unfortunately for him, they lost 2-0, which hampers Huddersfield's promotion hopes but boosts Gillingham's chances of League One survival.

Leonard Spock Nimoy says Oscar snub of Star Trek' is illogicalOne of the most beloved aliens in the pop-culture universe will touch down in Seattle th

One of the most beloved aliens in the pop-culture universe will touch down in Seattle this weekend.

As "Star Trek's" Spock, Leonard Nimoy has been changing perceptions for decades, making it cool to be different. The 79-year-old guest stars Saturday and Sunday at Emerald City ComiCon, a comic-book and pop-culture convention that attracts thousands of fans every year.

Recently, he talked to The Seattle Times, taking silly Spock questions in stride.

Q: How do you feel about passing the torch of Spock to Zachary Quinto, who plays a young version of the character in the 2009 remake of "Star Trek"?

A: I enjoyed it thoroughly. I thought that it had a wonderful script, a great cast, wonderful people. Zachary Quinto, I think was a wonderful actor. ... I was very flattered with how the character was written, with great dignity and strength and purpose and intelligence. I'm very pleased that the character is in good hands.

Q: Do you think "Star Trek" was robbed at Oscars?

A: It's sad that "Star Trek" has been so unrecognized over so many years. I was delighted that at least it won a makeup award. ... I think that I'm correct in saying that that's the first Academy Award that "Star Trek" has ever won. ... There've been some wonderful achievements in technology, in special effects, photography and story ... but "Avatar" was an enormous accomplishment as a motion picture and still it did not win best director or best film.

Q: How do you feel about being typecast as the super-rational Spock?

A: I've always thought of myself as a character actor. I never saw myself as a leading man, or romantic lead kind of guy. ... On the other hand, there are certain types of roles people would expect I would be able to manage and I take that as a good thing. ... Ever since "Star Trek" went on the air, I haven't had any problems finding work, so for me, typecasting was a good thing. I found a niche for myself as an actor.

Q: What is your personal balance between logic and emotion?

A: (laughs for a while) That's just funny. (more raucous laughing) I've worked on that balance all the time. (more laughing)

John Cho Talks Star Trek 2Have you seen a script yet for "Star Trek 2" or do you know when that may start shooting? John Cho: No and no. I know that

Have you seen a script yet for "Star Trek 2" or do you know when that may start shooting?

John Cho: No and no. I know that we're making one but that's kind of all I know at this point. It seems like that cast is particularly busy. There are some desk calendars that need to get arranged before we can start shooting?

Are you excited for the chance to return to that character and the "Star Trek" franchise?

John Cho: I'm totally excited. You know what it is? I'm excited about getting back together with friends and working on something that we all like. We hang out socially but it's a real special feeling to get together with friends and labor on something, do you know what I'm saying? So I'm excited about it.

But no official start date yet?

John Cho: No, but I know it's happening next year.

Will Shatner Creates Sci-Fi Social Network Site MyOuterSpaceWilliam Shatner has been a pitch man for a host of companies, including Ho

William Shatner has been a pitch man for a host of companies, including However, he is best known, of course, for his contributions to the science fiction genre for his time spent playing Captain James T. Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise on the original Star Trek.

Now the captain is setting his sights on new horizons... and a new site. Mr. Shatner has unveiled, a social network and job hunting site with a creative/sci-fi flavor.

He describes the new site, writing: is a Sci Fi Social Network for those with a passion for the arts. Whether you are a fan of Sci Fi, Horror or Fantasy or seeking a career in the Science fiction industry has much to offer. Register on the planet that host your talent, fill out a profile and connect with others in your field. Submit your resume for a Starship project that needs your talents. Whether you are an actor, writer, animator or gamer has a home for you. Creative Talent, be sure to register on the planet that hosts your specialty, and you may be selected by a Captain to join his/her Starship Crew. Visitors won't be able to participate on a Starship Project unless they become a citizen of a United Planet. I will be monitoring all Starship projects, and reviewing each Captain's Log, where progress will be recorded each step of the way. The Captains will seek out new talent on the various Planets to build a winning team. There are six Starships ready to crew-up and develop a dynamic entertainment production, so register now, participate and keep your eyes to the stars, William Shatner

The site features six "planets" each for a different kind of professionals. For example, there's a planet for designers and animators called Anteros and another for writers and directors called Creatia. Site members can also jump aboard one of six "starships" creative collaborations that Mr. Shatner appears to be guiding. The ship designs and planets were created with the help of John Eaves, a famous Star Trek props and ships designer.

Videos on the site provide more details. The registration page is here.

A quick scan of the site finds it still in its early stages with most members just having 1 or 2 registered friends and no profile pictures. Despite the cool ship designs and a relatively well laid out page, the site does come off as a bit amateurish. For example, if you search Google, the page description for the site currently reads: "Joomla! - the dynamic portal engine and content management system."

Nonetheless, it might be fun to give the site a try. After all, when has Captain Kirk steered us wrong?

Author Dayton Ward on Upcoming Star Trek Novels and J.J. Abrams Star Trek Movie Q: Who is Dayton Ward: What can you tell us about you, your interests

Q: Who is Dayton Ward: What can you tell us about you, your interests and hobbies? What does your family think about your job - and about "Star Trek"?

A: I'm only a part-time freelance writer. Most of the time, I work in information technology as a business analyst. For many years prior to taking on my current job, I was a software developer, both for the U.S. military as well as the private sector.

My wife is a Star Trek fan, though she's not as passionate about it as I am. She used to have the biggest crush on Leonard Nimoy, but now thinks Chris Pine is rather cute. My daughters aren't yet old enough to really decide if they're fans, but my oldest daughter does like to watch Star Trek from time to time with her daddy.

Q: When did you start writing and for how long are you working as professional author?

A: I started writing as a fan of Star Trek back in the early 1990s. I entered the first Star Trek: Strange New Worlds writing contest in 1997 and sold a short story to Pocket Books. I sold stories during the next two annual contests, before Pocket Books editor John Ordover contracted me in 1999 to write a full-length Star Trek novel. I've been writing professionally since that first story, and have been kept fairly-well employed by Pocket Books since then.

Q: You have written many "Star Trek" books: Is there a book you like the most. And if you would have the chance: Would you rewrite some of your books?

A: You can't ask a parent to choose between her children! My favorite of the television series is still the original Star Trek, and my favorite novel series to write is Star Trek: Vanguard. I still love the whole 23rd century look and feel for my Trek. I don't know that I'd want to necessarily rewrite anything I've already done; I'll live with them, warts and all. That said, one of my dream projects is to go back and write a novel-length version of my third short story for Strange New Worlds, "The Aliens Are Coming!" I actually have an outline for that, with a whole cast of additional characters as well as a plot which unfolds over more than twenty years to get to the point where the original story takes place.

Q: With adventures in "S.C.E." and "Mirror Universe" you also wrote short stories. Is there a different to bigger novels? And what do you like more?

A: I like switching between the formats. Some stories are more fun to tell as a short story or novella, because you can just get right into the thick of things. Sometimes, you have an idea that just works better as a shorter-length tale.

Q:This year your second "Vanguard" novel "Open Secrets" was published in Germany. What do you think about it? And is there something you want to say to your German fans?

A: I love the entire Vanguard series, and David Mack is quite simply one of the most talented writers working today, so working alongside him to develop the ongoing Vanguard storyline is just too much fun. As for my German fans: you can't see me right now, but I'm waving to all of you and thanking you very much for your continued support of the series and my work!

Q: How came you in touch with "Vanguard" and what fascinates you on that series? Do you have a favorite character in "Vanguard"?

A: David Mack co-created the Vanguard series with Marco Palmieri, who at the time was an editor for Pocket's various Star Trek lines. David wrote a rather large and very detailed "writer's guide" for the series, and also wrote the first book. The writer's guide laid out in very broad terms the main plotlines that would guide the series, including the use of characters and other little plot points that Kevin and I had introduced in some of our other Star Trek stories. Based on that, Marco asked Kevin and me if we wanted to write the second book of the series, which became Summon the Thunder. Along the way, Kevin and I also wrote a novella for the Star Trek: S.C.E. (later renamed Star Trek: Corps of Engineers) series, Distant Early Warning, which acts as something of a prequel to the entire Vanguard storyline. Once we were finished with Thunder, Marco decided that Kevin and I would alternate writing duties on the series with David, and so far that's how things have gone.

One of the things I love most about writing for Vanguard is that we're able to play within the defined 23rd century Star Trek setting (again, my favorite), while at the same time doing things that we likely wouldn't be able to get away with using the established or "canon" characters, ships, and so on.

As for a favorite character, do I have to pick just one? I've enjoyed writing for Commodore Diego Reyes, and with Open Secrets in particular, I got to set up some things for his character which (hopefully) pay forward in the stories still to come. I feel the same way about Ambassador Jetanien.

Q: How can we imagine the work on "Vanguard"? In which way such story lines and books are developed with David Mack and Kevin Dilmore? Isn't it difficult?

A: The three of us have spent and continue to spend a great deal of time communicating via e-Mail about the Vanguard series. We work together to develop the various plot lines or arcs for specific characters. The only "difficulties" we run into are when we try to best each other in what sometimes becomes a lighthearted competition of sorts. David blew up a starship in the first book, so Kevin and I blew up a planet in the second book. David destroyed a planet in the third book, but then made a whole solar system disappear, too. We changed pace beginning with the fourth book, a shift in tone that carried over to the fifth book to a large degree. Expect future installments to introduce even more radical alterations to what laughingly passes for the "status quo" in the Vanguard series.

Q: Actually sometimes the "Star Trek" novels are often full of action and politic topics. The primary trek mission "to boldly go where no man has gone before" is often lost (except of "Titan"). What do you think about that and would you like to change this way of trek?

A: Well, it's worth noting that "to boldly go...." was the mission of various starships named Enterprise. One of the advantages of having different series taking place in various time frames or set in new locales with their own sets of characters is that you're not bound to tell one general type of story. Vanguard-to use one example-despite its high action and political quotient, is also a story about exploration. Instead of heading out into the vast unknown, its storyline is focused on discovering the secrets of this one particular ancient civilization and the power it once held over a sizable chunk of space that's now bordering Federation territory. The Star Trek framework is large enough and imbued with sufficient diversity that just about any sort of story can be told, be it action-adventure, political thriller, pure science and exploration, and so on.

Q: What do you think about the new "Star Trek" movie and the alternative time line? The film is very rough: Do you maybe see some flair of "Vanguard" in it?

A: I quite enjoyed the new film. It has its flaws, sure, but I thought it was tremendous fun, and injected some much-needed energy into the franchise. As for any resemblance in tone or presentation it might have to Vanguard, that doesn't bother me one bit. I'd love the chance to write stories using this version of the characters. I'm particularly intrigued by the idea of writing a Captain Pike story using Bruce Greenwood's take on the character.

Q: What novels are you actually planning? Maybe something about Vanguard's future? Do you want to write non trek books?

A: As I answer these questions, I'm in the midst of finishing up Paths of Disharmony, a Next Generation novel which will close out the four-book Star Trek: Typhon Pact miniseries scheduled for later this year. It's also a follow-up to Bill Leisner's TNG book from last year, Losing the Peace, which itself is a continuation of events spinning out of David Mack's game-changing Star Trek: Destiny trilogy from early last year. Next up: David, Kevin, and I are already in the early stages of developing the outlines for what will be the next books in the Vanguard series. I can't offer any details or even teasing hints at this time, but stay tuned!

Q: You are almost through. Here is our typical TrekZone Network question: Where do you see mankind in 100 years?

A: I'd hope at least some of us are sitting in our living rooms on the permanent lunar or even Martian colony, complaining about the poor satellite reception while trying to watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defend their title for the one hundredth consecutive year as they play Super Bowl CXLIV.

Oh, and world peace and goodwill among all humans would be nice, too.

Watch an Amazing Behind the Scenes Documentary on Star Trek: The Motion PictureHere's a treat for all Trekkies and wobbly newsreel fans: a ten minute

Here's a treat for all Trekkies and wobbly newsreel fans: a ten minute featurette from the olden days (1979) about the making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, a film that now seems sadly fossilised in the wake of last year's slick and sexy 'reboot' (sorry for that word).

This is a great little documentary that whizzes us through a world of BIG filmmaking where everyone looks very old, with much fun to be had seeing mustachioed men attend to Leonard Nimoy's shoes, alien masks that look like a joke, and a cake that says 'Happy Birthday, Bob'.

The unknown narrator is full of important stats (Eleven sound stages! Twenty one simultaneous sets! One William Shatner!) and is especially loving when describing the model for the Starship Enterprise, as if he's going to ask 'her' out for dinner when the film has ended.

Around the six minute mark you'll find the longest and weirdest scene, in which lead actress Persis Khambatta gently sobs as her head is shaved, the Hollywood orchestra churn away in the background and Gene Roddenberry arrives to present her with a razor. All very odd, as if an experimental Polish film from the 60s has landed in the middle of an ancient sci-fi lovefest.

Still, in these days of evil pixels dominating our cinematic expectations, it's amazing to see the extraordinary amount of physical effort that went into making films of this scale back then, and to learn that Zarnites breathe florine gas and must wear breathing apparatus in earth environments...

Watch the Star Trek: The Motion Picture 1979 featurette below...

The tiniest Star Trek Enterprise

Sure, it looks like it took on a fleet of Klingon Battle Cruisers all by itself and suffered some severe dents, but what you are looking at is the smallest Enterprise ever. It measures just 8.8 micrometers in length (1 micrometer = 1000th of a millimeter) and was created by Takayuki Hoshino and Shinji Matsui using a 30 kV Ga+ focused-ion-beam CVD.

It was created for the The 47th International Conference on Electron, Ion and Photon Beam Technology and Nanofabrication Bizarre/Beautiful Micrograph Contest back in 2003.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

SR Pick [Video]: How Star Trek Should Have Ended

Star Trek How It Should Have Ended

How It Should Have Ended is back with another terrific episode, adding to the growing list of titles they’ve re-imagined with “improved” endings – or at least endings with a bit more humor.

The most recent addition tackles JJ Abrams’ recent Star Trek reboot.

It goes without saying that, even though the video features a different ending, some portions of the clip may be spoilerific for anyone who has yet to watch the film. Really though, how could you possibly have managed to avoid seeing Star Trek for this long?

Boldly go check out the video to see how Star Trek should have ended: