I Am Ken Kato

A few days ago, I wrote that My 40 Year Love Affair With Star Trek… Is Over.  The final straw, as you may remember, was CBS and Paramount issuing rather draconian Star Trek fan film guidelines, which saw several of the fan films I really like shut down and possibly fan audio series, like Henglaar, M.D. that I voice act as Ken Kato in, wound up as well.

I am still out of love with Star Trek.  I still am angry and sad about their draconian fan film guidelines, among other things.  Their approach towards the fans is as if we can be pushed around, not consulted, and we’ll continue to throw money hand over fist at Star Trek with any product (good or bad) they put out there.  And I have a choice on what I do with my money, and by not spending it with CBS or Paramount, whether by not subscribing to CBS All Access to watch the new Star Trek show in 2017 or by not snuggling up to a huge tub of popcorn and watching Star Trek Beyond in the movie theatre, I’m objecting with my wallet.

Read I Am Ken Kato

My 40 Year Love Affair With Star Trek… Is Over

Anyone who knows me knows my love for Star Trek.

As a child, I remember my parents introducing me to Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Bones, and the Enterprise, these complex characters and graceful-looking starship soaring from planet to planet.  I think some of the weekly aliens scared me, especially when they flashed them up at the end of the credits.  (Balok, anyone?)

Balok

I didn’t understand the cerebral and more thought-provoking parts of the episodes because, as a child, you usually don’t have those parts of your brain developed until you start hitting adulthood.  So it was good to watch as something fun as a kid.

It was one of my introductions to science fiction, and one I will always be grateful to my parents for introducing me to it.

Read My 40 Year Love Affair With Star Trek Is Over

My Writing Journey in 2014

Originally, I was quite an artistic person.  I think everyone who knew me up until about ten years ago could tell you I was always drawing or writing down ideas, doodling, making comics, all sorts of stuff.  My skills weren’t extraordinarily fantastic, but I enjoyed it.

Sadly, when I was young — about 8, I believe — I broke my right hand in several places, and as time has marched on, it has become harder and harder to hold anything (pens, pencils, forks) for long periods of time.  This has meant less and less drawing for me.

Still, I am a creative person, and I started making the shift to writing when, as a freshman Art Major at Northern Illinois University, I realised that I couldn’t keep up with my hand the way it was.  My writing was not exactly excellent in my mind but I have then, and continue to get, quite positive feedback about my skills all together.

In late 2013, after the earthquakes started settling down and I came to terms with the horrors that had unfolded around us (not all made by nature, I might add), I realised that 40 was approaching quickly, and I still had not really written much of anything other than this blog, a few Star Trek fan fiction pieces, and a few scripts for various (and more often than not, failed or defunct) Star Trek productions.

I decided I’d start writing a novel.

Read “My Writing Journey in 2014”

Last Night, I Saw Star Trek Into Darkness… My Thoughts

Okay, if you are a Star Trek fan, you’ll probably want to see Star Trek Into Darkness.

I organised a bunch of my friends to go last night (opening night in New Zealand), and it was a great evening.  I’d done the same thing when Star Trek (2009) came out, and last night, there wasn’t the same ecclectic group of people who dress up in their Star Trek regalia as in 2009.  (Just to note that none of our group, last time or this time, dressed up in Star Trek stuff.)

Everyone and their brother (I am sure) will be reviewing Star Trek Into Darkness, and I don’t want to spoil it for everyone, so I won’t get into the story or plot aspect except in a very general sense.  My friend John and I were talking on Facebook about if this was a “reboot” or “reimagining” of things that have taken place in the “original universe”.  My opinion is they took some familiar things from different movies and series and went a different direction with it, and therefore it isn’t really a “reboot” but more a “telling of a new adventure” with some familiar people and things in it.  It was a very interesting take, and, for the most part, I think it worked.  You have to pay attention because how things unfolded in this universe is described in a rather quick way, so if you don’t pay attention, you might miss it.

If you are a hardcore Star Trek fan, there are quite a few nods to various series and movies throughout Star Trek Into Darkness.  Things I can think of off the top of my head include possible Caitians, Praxis, tribbles, Section 31, Mudd, a version of the bat’leth, the Daystrom Institute (which we actually see), a possible nod to Janet Wallace (if I remember that correctly), Christine Chapel, USS Bradbury, Enterprise (NX-01), Phoenix, USS Enterprise (XCV 330), and seatbelts, just to name a few.

The sets were amazing.  We get to see other parts of the Enterprise, including the actual warp core and engine room, sickbay (including an area called medlab), and a pretty cool open atrium-like area.  We also get to see what “modern day” San Francisco and London look like somewhat, with some pretty funky set pieces at Starfleet Command and the Daystrom Institute.  San Francisco, in particular, is bustling with life: there are hovercars, airbourne vehicles, people everywhere… it seems a city teeming with life in the 23rd century.  I know my friend Glenn would love some of the sets because they feature that minimalist look with (what I feel is) awesome retro furniture.

The special effects were very amazing as well.  There are shots in the movie where you wonder, How in the hell did they do that?  One scene that stuck out in my mind is where Kirk and Spock step into a turbolift.  I don’t remember them panning away from Spock during the scene, and they go from the bridge behind them to a corridor within a few seconds.  Amazing because it seemed so fluid.  Two things (among many) J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek movies do well are visual imagery and special effects.

The acting?  I personally felt it was excellent.  There were some amazing scenes in the story.  There’s a scene between Pike and Kirk in a bar, early on in the movie, and it was extremely well-acted.  We get a feeling, through the acting alone, that these people now know one another and care about one another a great deal.  What was even better was that the actors didn’t feel like they were acting with one another; they felt like they had known each other for a very long time and were comfortable with one another.

The story itself… Well, I felt some of it was shoe-horned in.  I felt some of the characters were shoe-horned in.  McCoy, Sulu, and Chekov were sacrificed a bit to add a certain blonde scientist into the fold.  I mean, they had stuff to do, and somewhat important stuff, but I felt some of the scenes were tacked on or the writers just “gave them stuff to do”.

When you see a cameo in the movie — and when you see it, you’ll know it — you’ll see the most shoe-horned part of the entire movie, in my opinion.

There was one too many crises in my opinion.  I think one of the crises could have been taken out, and it felt like the movie tried to up the stakes one too many times.  Two of the enemies I thought should have been more threatening, weren’t really threatening until later in the piece (which, I guess makes sense).  Some of the scenes I felt were there because someone thought they would be a cool idea, so they thought of how to shoe-horn it into the plot.  Or maybe, rather, the crisis was supposed to be a part of a larger crisis or part of the story, but it felt more like it interrupted the rest of the overall scene.

On the other side of things, I think Uhura got more character development in this outing than in many of the previous episodes and movies combined.  Zoe Saldana brings a strength and compassion to Uhura that would do Nichelle Nichols proud.

Scotty gets a lot more time in this movie as well.  Yes, he’s funny, but Simon Pegg does bring a lot of warmth, heroism, and personality that makes us love Scotty in the first place.

Cumberhatch… well, the guy is an amazing actor.  I don’t think I can say more than he is one talented guy.  You can tell his character’s anguish and his pain, and then, later, his ambiguity.

Kirk and Spock definitely have developed a friendship, a close bond, and you see that develop even more in this film.  There is a really good scene between Kirk and Uhura in the turbolift, where they are talking about Spock, and that (I feel) boils things down to a very raw state.  Kirk takes a gamble to help Spock out early on in the movie… and this develops a theme of friendship and family that is woven throughout the movie.

Was it a good movie?  I think it was, overall.  Was it something I’d see again?  Yes, definitely, to get a better feel of the story itself and to make a final judgement.

Compared to other Star Trek movies, how would I rate it?  Definitely better than any of the Next Generation movies, and better than all the original movies as well except for Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country… and I think that’s saying quite a bit.  Personally, I feel it is probably around the pegging of Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country.

So, if you are a Star Trek fan, or even have a passing interest in it, I would recommend seeing this movie.  I’d love to hear what you thought about the movie in my comments section (please make sure spoilers are marked).  Enjoy!

The Hunt for a Lost Story

Many years ago, I had a great idea for a Star Trek fan fiction series.

It was never meant to be anything huge.  I think I only planned about 6 stories in total (if that), and even fleshed out the first story quite a bit.  This was way back in the day of GeoCities, where my Star Trek: The Cantabrian Expeditions (and later Star Trek: The Prospect Chronicles) was originally hosted.

I learned a lot about HTML and Web design over the years, starting with GeoCities back in 1996.  It’s amazing to think that, 17 years ago, I was living in America and had never been overseas and didn’t even know what HTML was, let alone able to code anything in it.  And here we are, 17 years later, and I have created several Web sites, including my work ones.

Sorry.  I’m digressing again.

So, I came up with this premise, nothing too flash, around 1998 or 1999 I think.  It was called Star Trek: The Guardian Project.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Star Trek, I’m sure this is going to get a little crazy for you, but I’ll try to explain the premise as simply as possible, highlighting the original story first.

Way back in 1967, during the original Star Trek‘s run, there was an episode called “The City on the Edge of Forever“.  Essentially, the Enterprise encounters a planet emanating a large amount of time distortions.  Dr. McCoy injects himself with a drug that makes him go a bit wacko, and he beams down to the planet.  Captain Kirk, Spock, Scotty, Uhura, and two random redshirts beam down to follow him.  McCoy ends up jumping through a sentient time portal known as the Guardian of Forever, altering Earth’s history.  There’s no more Enterprise in orbit.  It’s up to the away team to set time right again.

(Still following this?)

Actually, I don’t need to tell any more of the story than that.  Basically, the Guardian of Forever is a time portal that someone can use to alter history.  (If you want to read more, visit the Star Trek Wiki article above about the episode or watch it.)  Obviously, when you have a time portal that can alter history, you have a pretty powerful weapon.

My idea was, in Star Trek: The Guardian Project, that one too many problems came from alien races, hostile and friendly, trying to use the Guardian of Forever for their own means that a team was assembled to exclusively protect it.  The Guardian Project dealt with that team and some of their adventures in not only protecting the Guardian but also correcting large errors in the time-line.

(<geekrant>Changes in the time-line, in my version of fan fiction, emits a signal, detectable by various pieces of specialized equipment.  The size of these changes are measured on the Manheim-Hudec scale, much like an earthquake’s magnitude is measured by the moment magnitude scale.</geekrant>)

There were a few Starfleet officers involved, but I also mixed in a few civilians and people with honorary ranks to make the story a bit more interesting.  One was a mercenary, “the best criminal in the galaxy”, while another was a historian specializing in period costumes and could sew up a mean disguise relatively quickly.  (A handy skill to have if you were jumping through time.)

Yet another digression.  Sorry.

For some reason, I’ve felt compelled to find the original Web site and the information on it and retrieve it for my fan fiction wiki.  I’m not quite sure why.  I have tried previously to find it — I believed I had a copy on one of my old Zip or Orb discs — but with the drivers expired, there was really no way to access the discs until recently.

I found some of the old discs, but the ones I can access via Orb drive are lost somewhere or don’t have the data I need.  The Zip drive works via a serial port which I also don’t have (until Noel pointed out an old work computer here at home has one).  So… I’m hoping one of my discs does have that information on it.

Other than that… I can only find four pages of the original scribbles of an idea in an old notebook.  If I could remember the GeoCities address, I might have a chance at finding it archived.  But a Google search finds nothing.

What this whole story means is that we are now so reliant on digital media and software to preserve things for all time that it is so easy to lose those things with a shift in digital storage techniques or file types.  Even one company going under or shifting its focus can bring things crashing to their knees (so to speak).

So… the hunt for a lost story continues.  Here’s hoping that somewhere in cyberspace, or on one of my old discs, I can find that information.