Category: Scifi


On Saturday evening, Star Trek: Prelude to Axanar premiered outside the San Diego Comic-Con.  This fan film was founded via Kickstarter and is a prequel (of sorts) to the primary project, Star Trek: Axanar.

Prelude to Axanar

The story involves a History Channel-like show that is giving the set-up to the famed Battle of Axanar.  During the first major war the United Federation of Planets fought, they were losing.  The Klingon Empire, both threatened and unimpressed with the Federation, had decided to launch an invasion.  After more than a year of success, the Federation, reeling from continued losses, changed tact.  Aside from shake-ups in the command structure, more daring strategies were combined with an arms races with between the galactic powers.  Due to Admiral Samuel TravisKlingon’s arrogance, their gains were reversed- though they were not beaten nor dissuaded.  The film ends with the premise of forcing a battle that would end the war, one way or the other.

 

The cast for Prelude is small- only a handful of characters were relaying their stories to the historical production. However, the pedigree of these actors, especially for what is essentially a fan-film, is quite stellar. The cast includes: Tony Todd (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Candyman) as Marcus Ramirez, Kate Vernon (Battlestar Galactica, Falcon Crest) as Sonya Alexander, Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica, The Streets of San Francisco) as General Kharn, J.G. Hertzler (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Zorro) as Samuel Travis, Gary Graham (Star Trek: Enterprise, Alien Nation) Kharnreprising his role from Enterprise as Ambassador Soval & Alec Peters as Garth of Izar.  The experience of the casting shows through as well- this feels much closer to an independent film, or even a smaller studio production, than a fan film- though to be fair, the crew made a lot of this happen as well.

 

Of special notes are the special effects- vignettes of starships, both traveling and fighting, shown during the interviews to punctuate what the characters are relating.  The quality of the CGI and the overall feel of the space shots reminds Trek fans of the motion pictures, (not the new JJ Abrams one, but the Prime Timeline movies).  However, the fights felt a bit sedated- though this review believes that is due to only showing the exteriors of the fights, without inside the ship shots to show how Cygnus IIIthe crew was reacting.  It is presumed this missing element will be shown in the movie proper- but for a history show, (fictional or otherwise), it worked.

 

Other elements of the background worked as well.  The script, while fairly bare bones, portrayed each character as a distinct personality; Captain Alexander is not interchangeable with Captain Travis, nor were Kharn and Rameriz mirror images.  Further, the framing device of the history show felt mostly right- if I were to nitpick, the footage was a little too clean for material captured during a battle, even in the 22nd Century.  The music was also understated, lending to an educational feel.  Lastly, the lighting for the two interview rooms gave them a distinctly different feel, suiting the different affiliations and their settings quite well.

 

This reviewer does hope that the Axanar movie proper will address how the Federation could be beaten back so easily by the Klingons after a founding member, Earth, succeeded alone against another galactic power in the Earth-Romulan Wars.  There seem to be four possibilities: 1) the ERW exhausted Earth and the Federation spent significant resources rebuilding the Terran infrastructure, Ares Constructionleaving the Federation weakened; 2) the ERW was fought in a vastly significant way tactically, with Starfleet busy fighting the last war while the Klingons were not; 3) the Klingon Empire is simply vastly superior militarily to the Federation and the Romulan Star Empire, or 4) the ERW was a border war, and this was the first all-out interstellar war Earth and the Federation fought, whereas the Klingons fought them frequently.  Without addressing this, (especially in the context of a historical look back), it will seem odd that the Four-Year War went so badly for the Federation, after a founding member held off another Star Empire independently.

 

(One minor detail that breaks from the Prime Timeline canon is the importance of Axanar: the movie concludes with Garth’s plan, using Axanar as bait.  Part of the reason for this is the temptation of destroying the Federation’s newest ships, the Consitution-class starships, in construction over Axanar.  Most notably, the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) was shown among them- however, canonically, the Enterprise was constructed over Earth in the San Francisco Yards.  But, if tiny details like this are your main problem, that’s pretty good.  (And quite frankly, show a level of care and concern far above the recent Star Trek reboot movies.))

 

Lastly, there are some Easter Eggs included.  I will leave them for you to find, save for this one: eagle-eyed Battlestar Galactica fans, was the first Federation ship shown and destroyed- the USS Triton, NCC-1439; (the Battlestar Triton, destroyed in the Colonial Holocaust, was designated BSG-39).

 

Overall, Star Trek: Prelude to Axanar is an impressive short film.  Despite being an entirely independent project, it feels like it would easily have come out of the Paramount lot.  And even though the entire film is essentially a framing device for the Axanar movie proper, it does its jobs and whets the appetite for more.

 

 

If you’re looking for the TL:DR version, if you are a Star Trek fan or enjoy good science fiction, definitely give Prelude to Axanar a watch once it become available to the general public at the end of July- you won’t regret it.

 

The Kickstarter for the main project, Star Trek: Axanar, went online this weekend and is, at this moment, over 90% funded.  Given what they did for Prelude, I see the funding being reached- and the final product should be glorious…  You can check it out Kickstarter- Star Trek: Axanar.  In the meantime, while waiting for Prelude to Axanar to release, here is the preview.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star Trek- Prelude to Axanar on IMDb

 

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When we last left the Eureka cast, it was a on a high note turned sour.  The Astreaus mission to Titan is ready finalizing for its exploratory mission, goodbyes are being said, but overall, a definite sense of accomplishment and anticipation.  Of course, this means something goes wrong- after all the crew is aboard in their protective chambers, the ship launches uncontrollably with Allison Blake (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) unintentionally aboard.  And that’s where we left off…

Here there be spoilers…

 

Episode 1, Lost- We start off with the Astreaus, and find out what happened.  In fact, it is a solid, surprisingly action-packed beginning to the final season- definitely a welcome surprise- since we left of a cliffhanger and aren’t normally treated to strong action sequences. The crew crash lands- wait a minute, on Earth?- and almost four years have passed.  This comes as quite a shock to the crew, but we see it most clearly with Allison and Zane (Niall Matter), who find out their significant others, Sheriff Jack Carter, (Colin Ferguson) and Deputy Lupo (Erica Cerra), have moved on and gotten together with each other.  Further complicating matters, there has been a change in how things are run in Eureka- it’s very Stepford Wives, except instead of robot replacements, Android Deputy Andy (Kavan Smith) and his A.I. brethren control the people of Eureka using a device from the show’s history.

Aside from the changes in the town, a few things seem wrong.  One of the most prominent elements is how tightly “happy thoughts” are enforced in the town.  When Zane and Lupo have an argument outside of Café Diem, one of the Martha flying drones incapacitates Zane.  In fact, this incident leads to Carter, Allison and everyone deciding it times to take the town back.  After noting the change of Dr. Parrish’s (Wil Wheaton) personality, they know which invention needs to be used.  The ensemble cast gets a good chance to showcase individual members, without it feeling “by the numbers”. Once the Andy problem is resolved, the crew of the Astreaus begin to integrate into the freed town once more.

 

Episode 2, The Real Thing- This episode begins with the return of Beverly Barlowe (Debrah Farentino) in a lab, surrounded by the Astreaus crew.  Each crew member is hooked up, and we learn they are not four years in the future, but tied into a virtual reality simulator.  This is what was teased at when Zane was unconscious, (if you paid close attention and remembered it for a week), but does come out of left field.  We learn that all 21 members of the crew survived and are being used to develop new technologies for the Consortium.  And, we learn that the time skip inside the VR lets helps to form new memories in the crew, as well as explain any anomalies in the program.  Honestly, this reviewer found the lack of transition from Futurama Eureka to in a VR simulation a bit jarring.  A few seconds from the POV of an unconscious character in one episode, to full reveal in the intro of the next? Aside from this point, the surprises play out quite well.

Which brings us back to Eureka.  In the month that the crew and the Astreaus has been missing, Jack, Kevin (Trevor Jackson) and Henry (Joe Morton) have been working furiously trying to find the ship.  Of course, they have been looking to the stars- the mission was to Titan, after all.  Once Senator Wen (Ming-Na) officially calls off the search, Kevin resorts to his old tricks of borrowing from Eureka’s scientists to assist his search.  In fact, Henry confirms that he has designed a device that can track the Astreaus- so Jack and Carter send out a call for the parts they need.  The residents of the town respond with everything they can, just short one crucial piece.  With Andy and the returned Lupo’s help, they are able to secure it from a nearby military outpost.

In V-Eureka, the stress on the system causes an iguana experiment from the mission to become a dragon.  Fargo and Holly disagree on if it can be real, because dragons are mythical.  In fact, no one really can believe it, even after a few minor injuries and capturing said dragon.   Holly’s scratches, however, prove to be the solution to a problem with the VR matrix.

Back in the real world, the tracking device is activated.  Eureka’s best rolls out to rescue the crew, but they only find the ship and the room with the unimportant equipment from the simulation.  This gives Jack a hunch, and which he uses to find out that Eureka had a mole- one who tipped off the kidnappers.  The back and forth between Virtual Eureka and Real Eureka worked well in this episode, and served to play off each environment.  That said, the death of the character feels like it was more for shock value- one might say Whedon-esque- especially given the resources available and the benefits of keeping him/her alive.

The first season of “Falling Skies” introduced us to the world six months after an alien invasion.  Skitters roam the land with Mech (robots) and Beamers (airships), slaughtering adults while capturing and harnessing children.  90% of humanity has been wiped out, with all major governments and cities devastated or destroyed.  Surviving Americans had organized into groups of fighters and civilians based on their location- the focus of “Falling Skies” is the 2d Massachusetts Regiment.  (You can read more about the <a href=>first season here</a>.)  The finale had the second in command, Tom Mason, played by Noah Wyle (“ER”, “Pirates of Silicon Valley”), walking onto an alien ship with a Slender, the alien overseers, after a successful attack on the Boston mothership.

Season two begins three months later, with the 2d Mass leading a Skitter and Mech unit into an ambush.  During the skirmish, Tom reappears only to be accidentally shot by Ben, (Connor Jessup (“The Saddle Club”, “King”)), his formerly harnessed son.  The first episode, “Worlds Apart”, is divided between Tom’s flashbacks in surgery and the group preparing to leave their temporary shelter which is in danger of being overrun.  The second premiere episode, “Shall We Gather at the River”, has a wounded and possibly compromised Tom coming to grips with the changes in the survivors, especially his three sons, as the 2d Mass tries to escape across the last bridge across the Housatonic River.  We conclude with a successful retreat as Red-Eye, a Skitter who has been prominent in both episodes, observing them move out.

The first season felt leaden, with interpersonal morass and without any of the action one would expect of a science fiction military drama.  Season two changes this with a heavy dose of action, more natural dialogue and an enhancement of the special effects.  The invaders feel like a threat, both individually and as a whole.  The 2d Mass looks more ragged and on edge, having lost their home base and taken has been casualties.  We see new members of the group and hear about the Battle of Fitchburg, which was a pyrrhic victory at best.  The group has also been much more aggressive, attacking and setting frequent ambushes- despite having lost their Applied Phlebotinum.  All of this leads to a much crisper drama with characters you vest in and a show you want to watch.

A significant slice of the show’s improvement can be attributed to the new blood, much of it having a Battlestar Galactica pedigree.  Remi Aubuchon, (“Caprica”, “24”) took over as showrunner for the season.  The writing duo of Bradley Thompson and David Weddle, (“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, “Battlestar Galactica”), also joined the show, penning the second episode.  A great example of their snappier writing in the movement across the bridge long shot, which introduced Crazy Lee, played by Luciana Carro (“The L Word”, “Battlestar Galactica”).  The first season veterans stepped up as well- David Weddle stated, “You can thank (Steven) Spielberg (“Saving Private Ryan”, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”) for the special effects.  He said, ‘I want them better- especially the aliens.’”  The thanks would be well deserved as the Skitters look more realistic, the Mech more formidable, the Slenders much more menacing, and the series overall feels significantly grittier- all of which are welcome changes.

If the first two episodes are representative of what is in store with season two, “Falling Skies” will be a great addition to the science fiction canon.  Both episodes grew the characters while delivering impressive action- a delightful blend I am looking forward to seeing more of.

 

TL;DR?

The Season two opener of Falling Skies has a much stronger punch than season one combined…

President Obama with a Lightsaber Ah, President Obama- while it might have been a bit of a slip, (and letting on that you are indeed a uniter, not a divider- being both a Star Trek and Star Wars fan, apparently), I say, let’s run with this!

I’m calling on the (official) authors in both series to kick slide it into a book a some point.  But, as different things- I’m not saying go all fanon and bring Vulcans into Star Wars, or Midichlorians into Star Trek- I’m saying something ala…

 

* The Vulcan mind meld has always been a secretive, guarded skill and event; the je’Dai mind meld doubly so, as not only does it have the “normal” risks of the mind meld, (such as brain damage or Pa’nar Syndrome), but adds in concerns about fusing the minds into one host and leaving the other comatose, as well as being able to affect other sensitive minds in a certain range.  However, it is much stronger, able to overcome trained or telepathically powerful minds of greater strength than a normal mind meld ever could

* The Jedi Mindmeld (Force Mindmeld) is a form of mental merging and telepathy, typically between a Jedi/Sith and a normal sentient, in which the J/S is able to join their minds to share all the experiences between the two sentients.  Comes with great risk, but the rewards (or needs) can overpower worry about the danger.  Not a darkside skill per se, but moreso practiced by them when normal Force Telepathy doesn’t work- or to enhance pleasure between two sentients.

 

Spock rocking the Jedi Garb

 

 

 

Let’s be about it…

Listen to Our Song!

Listen to Our Song!

 

In Macross 7, before breaking out into a set, Fire Bomber lead singer Basara Nekki screams to the ecstatic crowd: “Ore no Uta Kike!“. In Macross Frontier, the intergalactic songstress, Sheryl Nome pays homage to Basara Nekki by screaming “Atashi no Uta Kike!” before singing. So what’s the difference?

Not much really, they all mean the same thing, an impolite and informal way of saying to somebody: “Listen to My Song.” The difference is in the use of the gendered form of the pronoun “My.”

“Ore” is a masculine version of the pronoun “My” used by males; “Atashi” is a shortened version of “watashi” used by females.

So is it Ok to use either version? Not really, because although they are both correct and mean the same thing, if you are a guy and use the “atashi” version you might be mistaken for an “okama”, which means “gay” in Japanese. Subsequently, if you are female and use the “ore” version, you might be teased for being a lesbian.

When we last left the Eureka cast, it was a on a high note turned sour.  The Astreaus mission to Titan is ready finalizing for its exploratory mission, goodbyes are being said, but overall, a definite sense of accomplishment and anticipation.  Of course, this means something goes wrong- after all the crew is aboard in their protective chambers, the ship launches uncontrollably with Allison Blake (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) unintentionally aboard.  And that’s where we left off…

Here there be spoilers…

Episode 1, Lost- We start off with the Astreaus, and find out what happened.  In fact, it is a solid, surprisingly action-packed beginning to the final season- definitely a welcome surprise- since we left of a cliffhanger and aren’t normally treated to strong action sequences. The crew crash lands- wait a minute, on Earth?- and almost four years have passed.  This comes as quite a shock to the crew, but we see it most clearly with Allison and Zane (Niall Matter), who find out their significant others, Sheriff Jack Carter, (Colin Ferguson) and Deputy Lupo (Erica Cerra), have moved on and gotten together with each other.  Further complicating matters, there has been a change in how things are run in Eureka- it’s very Stepford Wives, except instead of robot replacements, Android Deputy Andy (Kavan Smith) and his A.I. brethren control the people of Eureka using a device from the show’s history.

Aside from the changes in the town, a few things seem wrong.  One of the most prominent elements is how tightly “happy thoughts” are enforced in the town.  When Zane and Lupo have an argument outside of Café Diem, one of the Martha flying drones incapacitates Zane.  In fact, this incident leads to Carter, Allison and everyone deciding it times to take the town back.  After noting the change of Dr. Parrish’s (Wil Wheaton) personality, they know which invention needs to be used.  The ensemble cast gets a good chance to showcase individual members, without it feeling “by the numbers”. Once the Andy problem is resolved, the crew of the Astreaus begin to integrate into the freed town once more.

Image

Episode 2, The Real Thing- This episode begins with the return of Beverly Barlowe (Debrah Farentino) in a lab, surrounded by the Astreaus crew.  Each crew member is hooked up, and we learn they are not four years in the future, but tied into a virtual reality simulator.  This is what was teased at when Zane was unconscious, (if you paid close attention and remembered it for a week), but does come out of left field.  We learn that all 21 members of the crew survived and are being used to develop new technologies for the Consortium.  And, we learn that the time skip inside the VR lets helps to form new memories in the crew, as well as explain any anomalies in the program.  Honestly, this reviewer found the lack of transition from Futurama Eureka to in a VR simulation a bit jarring.  A few seconds from the POV of an unconscious character in one episode, to full reveal in the intro of the next? Aside from this point, the surprises play out quite well.

Which brings us back to Eureka.  In the month that the crew and the Astreaus has been missing, Jack, Kevin (Trevor Jackson) and Henry (Joe Morton) have been working furiously trying to find the ship.  Of course, they have been looking to the stars- the mission was to Titan, after all.  Once Senator Wen (Ming-Na) officially calls off the search, Kevin resorts to his old tricks of borrowing from Eureka’s scientists to assist his search.  In fact, Henry confirms that he has designed a device that can track the Astreaus- so Jack and Carter send out a call for the parts they need.  The residents of the town respond with everything they can, just short one crucial piece.  With Andy and the returned Lupo’s help, they are able to secure it from a nearby military outpost.

In V-Eureka, the stress on the system causes an iguana experiment from the mission to become a dragon.  Fargo and Holly disagree on if it can be real, because dragons are mythical.  In fact, no one really can believe it, even after a few minor injuries and capturing said dragon.   Holly’s scratches, however, prove to be the solution to a problem with the VR matrix.

Back in the real world, the tracking device is activated.  Eureka’s best rolls out to rescue the crew, but they only find the ship and the room with the unimportant equipment from the simulation.  This gives Jack a hunch, and which he uses to find out that Eureka had a mole- one who tipped off the kidnappers.  The back and forth between Virtual Eureka and Real Eureka worked well in this episode, and served to play off each environment.  That said, the death of the character feels like it was more for shock value- one might say Whedon-esque- especially given the resources available and the benefits of keeping him/her alive.