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The feminist Star Trek that almost was

Center of Gravitas: Boldly Going Where We Have Been Before

When Gene Roddenberry first filmed a pilot for the show, he did have a revolutionary idea for 1967: The second in command of the Enterprise would be a woman (known only as “Number One”). This first version of the show had Captain Christopher Pike commanding the famed ship along with the "logical" Number One as First Officer. That first episode showed Number One making life and death decisions and playing with really big guns. Alas, the network executives didn’t like the notion that an uppity woman would take over command of the ship whenever Captain Pike was in peril (They were even less pleased that Roddenberry was having an affair with Majel Barett, the actor who played “Number One”).

Thus, after a complete rewrite, Roddenberry’s ambitions for women on the show had been significantly altered. Kirk appeared as Captain and women were demoted to “more traditional roles,” such as yeomen or nurses. Instead of taking over command and making decisions for the crew, women on-board the Enterprise took the Captain’s messages and made him coffee. Majel Barett, no longer First Officer, assumed a role as Nurse Chapel who spent her days mooning over Spock and handing out aspirin.

May 13, 2009

There is no canon in Star Trek

(postmodernbarney.com) -- There Is No Star Trek Canon (Part II)

John Gorenfeld looks at the calls for strict adherence to the Trek canon, and then laughs and laughs and laughs.

The punchline is that Trek had the loosest of canons until TNG rolled around and even then it was fairly loose until all of the TNG spinoffs got their fingers on it.

Science Fiction is always written about the time in which it was written. Post-JFK original series was bright-eyed exploration and morality tales and American exceptionalism. But a Trek written by Roddenberry in the mid-1970s? What would that feature? Howabout swingers and orgies aplenty?

Then, in 1979, the first Trek movie arrived, and so did a novel of the film, written by Roddenberry. Strikingly, the book ignored everything that had ever happened in the show.

Roddenberry’s novel of TMP begins with the conceit of a foreword by Admiral James T. Kirk. (Excerpted here.) We’re not past the first paragraph before Kirk is explaining how he was named for his mother’s “first love instructor,” also named James. (Damn it, Abrams, how could you have betrayed Roddenberry’s vision by leaving this out of the Kelvin sequence?) It’s the first of several references to the 23rd century’s daring new heterosexual swinger mores. Not your father’s Star Trek, indeed!

Next Kirk tells us about a Federation divided between the “New Humans,” who are “willing to submerge their own identities into the groups to which they belong” –uh, in other words, everyone is joining ’70s cults–and the last of the “primitives,” like himself, who still indulge ancient Earthling customs, such as taking the last name of your father, in this case George Kirk, the guy with a soft spot for the dude who taught his wife some new things.

I’ll spare you a review of Chapter 1’s discussion of the “Mind Control Riots,” which forced the Federation to become very hush-hush about installing cyborg equipment in Captain Kirk’s head, and just focus on Roddenberry’s explicit declaration, in the foreword, that the TV show–from the perspective of the Star Trek universe–is not what really happened…

May 11, 2009

What if . . . other authors had written the Star Trek film?

(postmodernbarney.com) -- It Could Have Been Worse

More at the link:

J.K. Rowling’s Star Trek

“Captain Kirk, Starfleet Command finds your actions irresponsible, dangerous, and in violation of the Prime Directive. But since you’re so special, here’s a present.”

P.G. Wodehouse’s Star Trek

“This business with Spock and the Ponn Farr, you know. Bally rummy. I was trotting down the deck with Leonard “Bones” McCoy, and everything seemed to be all boomps-a-daisy. As I may have mentioned once or twice before in these memoirs of mine, whenever Spock was around, young Nurse Christine “Biffy” Chapel had a bit of a birds-tweeting around her head expression, but for Spock there was not even a touch of the old hey-nonny-nonny and a hot-cha-cha.”

May 10, 2009

The Vasquez Rocks

Vasquez Rocks - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

You may recognize these from Star Trek, Star Trek (the new movie), Buffy, Angel, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey and about 9,000,000 other films and tv programs.

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park is a 905 acre northern Los Angeles County, California USA park acquired by LA County government in the 1970s. It is in the Agua Dulce vicinity between the Antelope Valley and the Santa Clarita Valley just north of Los Angeles and seen easily by motorists driving the Antelope Valley Freeway. Vasquez Rocks have been used innumerable times in motion pictures, various television series and in moving and still photography advertisements, and continue to be used in them today.

The rock formations are part of the San Andreas Fault. In 1873 and 1874 Tiburcio Vásquez - one of California's most notorious bandits - used these rocks to elude capture by law enforcement. His name has since been associated with this geologic feature.

Reviewing the science of the new Star Trek film

BA Review: Star Trek | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine

You'll have to click through on this. I can't post anything here without including massive spoilers.