From the Archives

There is a Star Trek fan club called Starfleet. Once upon a time, a chapter in Lynchburg, Virginia spawned multiple daughter chapters in nearby cities such as Roanoke, Blacksburg, Hampton, and Bluefield. We all enjoyed pretending to be futuristic starship crew, and that all our chapters were part of a squadron of ships assigned to the most unusual missions. It didn’t take long at all for us to start writing fiction about these ships, and even un-subtly working in many references to our other sci-fi and fantasy favorites.

Over the course of six or seven years, some of this fiction turned into 100,000 words of interlinked storytelling covering multiple chapters, dozens of characters, and many alternate science-fiction universes. We were pretty shameless. But you know, looking at it two decades later… it’s not bad! We’ve all grown as authors since then, but you can tell we were on our way. I’m pretty proud of our hard work, and I think Tom, Beth, and Jerry should be too.

By an odd coincidence, this month I decided I needed to learn how to make an e-book, for… no special reason. And what better place to practice than with this material that would need clean-up, formatting, and other new skills. And here’s there result: 1993’s “The Multiverse Cycle”, in its complete form for the first time in 22 years. And due to matters of copyright, free to anyone who’d like a look.

multiverse-front The Multiverse Cycle in EPUB format for iOS, Nook, and other readers

The Multiverse Cycle in MOBI format for Kindle and other readers

Check your documentation for details on adding these books to your e-reader library. And – enjoy!

30-Day Cosplay Challenge – Day 1: Your First Cosplay

I don’t have any trouble at all remembering my first costume. I can’t tell you exactly how old I was, though I know I’d have been at least five years old. I suspect I was closer to seven or eight at the time; there was a friend of mine who lived probably three or four blocks away – a long walk when I was that age – and he was just as crazy about Star Trek as I was. He insisted that I always be Mr. Spock in our little innocent role-playing, and eventually my mom agreed to make the costume for me.

I don’t think she made the blue shirt, though I might be wrong about that – she was certainly good enough to do it. I can’t remember clearly if she put the black collar on it – I originally thought not, but upon further reflection she might have done so after all. I do remember she found exactly the right gold braid for the sleeve rank, and made sure it matched the Commander’s pattern in my treasured Starfleet Technical Manual. (I still have that, by the way, almost four decades later.) I think she hand-embroidered the department arrowhead symbol on the front – she did so again later for a Scotty shirt. I appreciate that so much now looking back!

Of course, I outgrew it soon enough. I was active enough as a child that I’d have worn it out if I hadn’t outgrown it. There aren’t any pictures that I know of, which is a darn shame. But that shirt meant so much to me, and my lifelong love for costumes and cosplay began back then. Thanks again, Mom.

February: A Con Odyssey

Just did Farpoint in Baltimore, and MystiCon in Roanoke back to back. Both cons are five hours away from my home. Pro tip: don’t do this.

Farpoint was the second stop for Luna-C, so as usual I spent most of the weekend preparing for the performance in one way or another. Of course, I simultaneously love live performing from the depths of my soul and it triggers my anxieties as only a job interview can, so it’s both relief and regret when the show is done. Regret must win, though, since I’m always eager for the next show. We premiered my “Lonely Villain” skit which I think is quite funny; and I got to play Scotty again, which has been one of my lifelong dreams.

I also premiered the My Little Pony “Twilight Sparkle” costume at Farpoint, and I must say it was a pretty big hit. I’ve known since the fandom took off that I would need an MLP costume before long, so of course I had to do it in my own special fashion.

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Back from Shore Leave!

The new car behaved itself well! Much less general wear on a car = much better gas mileage, as I made Baltimore and back on only a tank and a half. Dwight and Dawn were excellent company: among other things, I got to hear a Duran Duran album I hadn't picked up yet. Huyndais handle differently with three people and a trunk of con luggage in them than they do with one, something I'm not yet completely used to.

The Hunt Valley no-longer-Marriott is an interesting hotel. Every year I manage to get lost in their hall layout at least two or three times, and combining that with the eye-searing carpet makes me suspect that it will be a rough place when the stars are right. Also, the room was too darn humid the whole time. Clothing in my still-packed bag felt a bit damp this morning.

The con itself was a lovely time. I picked up a nice Ron Weasley wand replica for the "Warehouse 9 3/4" skit and a replacement UFP patch for my Trek flight jacket. Didn't get to hit the vendor area much, which no doubt was good for my wallet; but I attended an interesting costuming panel and was a panelist on another, got many good costume photos of Kara that I must send her, and of course performed with Luna-C.

I glitched twice during my first skit, though I was assured it was unnoticeable from the audience. Phew! The other three went nice and smooth, and in fact I think the Holmes and Watson podcast skit got more laughs than ever. From a backstage perspective, the skits I wasn't in seemed to work very well, with good comic timing and plenty of laughs. I believe this was one of our strongest performances! (And we got to meet Kate Mulgrew very very briefly backstage beforehand, which I enjoyed!)

Afterwards, I got hit in the head with being 43 years old: I needed a nap. I wanted to watch the Masquerade but my body wasn't into it. We did head down to the Ten-Forward party at 11… the music mostly stank, but I finally got to put a name to Paulette Guillory-Gardner, a lovely lady with whom I've been crossing convention paths often. My Alice costume went over well, and I even got a picture or two with a White Rabbit before it was time to head back up to bed.

In the morning, we headed down for the Luna-C breakfast and wrap-up. Dana Stewart gave me exactly the Doctor Who costume idea I'd been looking for, complete with a bad pun to go with it – win-win. I grabbed a couple more click-base random starships, but I think from now on I might spend the extra couple of bucks and buy the specific ones I want from eBay. I don't like getting duplicates, when I don't have lots of folks interested in trading.

The drive home was too long, frankly. The company was still good, but I just wanted to be home. Still, made it in safe by 7:30, said my goodbyes to Dwight and Dawn, stuffed a sandwich in my mouth and was unconscious by 9:30. All in all: quite the good weekend.

Of Phasers and Sabers

My enforced vacation from work brings some good news: some personal projects have moved much farther forward in the last month. I finally repaired Thunderchild, made progress on a video project, reorganized bookshelves in the bedroom and living room, and now I’ve finished a pair of games sitting in my collection since 2004: “Star Trek: Elite Force 2” and “Star Wars: Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast”. (Yeah, I really burn through the games, huh? This is why, despite my love for a good computer game, I don’t buy them very often.)

Star Trek: Elite Force 2

“Elite Force 2” is the second game where you take on the role of leader of Voyager‘s Hazard Team, a group of highly-trained survival and combat specialists. I love this concept in Trek, as it suggests that Starfleet knows you need folks like these sometimes, without suggesting that the fleet has an entire militaristic arm waiting for warfare. Had the idea existed when I was on Pathfinder or Yeager, I’d have lobbied for this to be added to our roleplay.

Unfortunately, while the game is prettier than the previous one, and contains more play time, the writing is weak compared to the first game. “Star Trek: Voyager: Elite Force” had a script and plot superior to many televised episodes of Voyager (faint praise, eh?), but this sequel consists mainly of grinding one’s way through waves and waves of “Alien” clones. I was particularly offended by the redemption of an alien scientist who causes the gruesome deaths of thousands (including many of your crewmates and often almost you) through vain dreams of power and the affection of a girl, but eventually says he’s sorry and all is forgiven. Ever notice how, in post-DS9 Trek, the heroes are always punished for poor choices or bad luck, but the antagonists generally aren’t?

Star Wars: Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast

The Dark Forces franchise has held up a little better. While Mac users had to skip the second game in the series due to a lack of interest in a port, both “Dark Forces” and “Jedi Outcast” take the player back to the days of “A New Hope” and “Empire” far better than anything George Lucas has written in the last decade. The developers produce expert recreations of both specific locations and places hinted at by the movies, the sound effects and music cues immediately evoke the original experience, and even the short romance subplot in the more recent game is handled far better than the prequel movies do. I won’t lie – I found “Outcast” to be quite difficult, but worth my patience.

Instead of space bugs, you’ll face Stormtroopers of the Imperial Remnant left over after the death of Emperor Palpatine. A fallen Jedi has tired of the Light Side, and has allied with the Remnant to produce – well, let’s just say you’ll need to learn those lightsaber skills. Much fun.

Now, I need only finish “No One Lives Forever” and “Tron 2.0”. Probably won’t be soon, because I do have several more interesting things on my plate than shooter games…

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Umm… it stands for “Nuclear Command Cruiser”. Yeah.

Back when I did a lot of Trek roleplay with the Starfleet crowd, we established space fighter squadrons on our ships, and decided eventually that we needed flight jackets. So we all bought dark-colored jackets in various materials and put Trek emblems on them in configurations that looked more-or-less authentic. Mine’s always been black denim, though it’s gone through different versions as the jackets each wore out. This one has a Next Gen combadge, a USS Yeager patch on one shoulder, a UFP emblem on the other, and a “Team Banzai” graphic on the back. (Why not mix my fictions?)

I’ve worn it a lot, in weather suitable for a light jacket and in practically any social situation that doesn’t require formal wear. I wore it to my Decipher interview, figuring it might help get me a job at a game company that made Star Trek cards. (Seemed to work…) Wearing it always felt like a bit of passive geek defiance: a declaration that yes, I was weird, but not unapproachably so.

Well, I wore it around during the unseasonably warm weekend, and if I needed further evidence that I live in a different world than I did in 1982, I got it. Twice, random strangers highly complimented my ‘flight’ jacket, both times following up with a brief conversation about the latest movie. I’m just not used to this. Eyerolls and smart remarks were once par for the course, but “wasn’t Uhura hot?” is a comment I’m not used to from the gentleman at the auto shop.

Whatever we old-schoolers might have to say about the recent film, it looks like interest in the franchise is back. Combine this with Obama’s public use of the Vulcan hand salute, and I’d say that the 21st century’s brought a different world for Trek geeks. I approve.

Arrgh, we are warriors, arrgh, so there, arrgh, I mean it, arrgh

So, here’s a trailer for the Star Trek MMO coming early next year (y’know, if there aren’t any delays, which never happen to MMO releases anyway, right?) Windows-only at this point, so we Mac folks will have to either dual-boot or forget it and just keep giving our money to Blizzard, who’s been happy to take it for years.

I know that lots of the audience for multiplayer online games want to be the badass characters, so we get the Klingon trailer first. But as usual since TNG, the Klingon narrator sounds less like a proud warrior and more like someone compensating for erectile dysfunction. “Hi. My name’s K’Bob, and I’ve had this terrible inferiority complex since the Dominion War…”

Interesting, by the way, that in a setting placed decades after “Voyager”, the Federation’s still using Constitution-class ships (ones that look like Shatner-Kirk’s Enterprise). When your ship design’s still in use 200 years after the first launch, I’d say you’ve earned your contractor fees.

Jargon and Gender

Serious question – I’m interested in your honest opinions.

We’re on the bridge of the Enterprise, in starship combat. Worf is injured, and collapses to the ground. Captain Picard orders, “Counselor Troi! Man the weapons console!”

Question:

Any chance to get aboard the Enterprise

Since my friend Celia has never seen Wrath of Khan, and we were looking to relax after a couple hours of Super Mario Galaxy and Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine, I retrieved the DVD and we loaded it up.

Odd, showing this movie to someone who had almost no context at all for it. We explained that Kirk was an intergalactic hero once who’d been pushed into a desk job, and this was his old ship and officers. I had to reconfirm that yes, those are Montalban’s real pecs, and explain why no fan was surprised that Kirk had a son he’d never met. Shatner’s rug was sadly obvious on the very large TV, too.

But still, the movie’s just as strong as it was twenty-seven years ago. Starr cried again during the funeral (a quite appropriate response), but this time did so for Scotty’s nephew as well. She explained that the “word is given” dialogue was quite realistic, and she’d seen it many times at her work: people who are dying, and know it, frequently ask for permission to do so. They need to know that it’s okay for them to pass away.

My bias is confirmed: TWoK remains a stronger film than The Voyage Home or First Contact, though it’s in fine company with those two. The reboot movie, though I enjoyed it very much and will see it again, doesn’t come close.

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