Of course I must provide a caveat to the title, as this won’t be the final time I will be talking about the franchise ever, hardly that! What it means is that in terms of continuity, this is what I plan to be my final participation in covering, however distantly, any new activity in the Star Trek universe. Though there was a time where I thought, in the right hands, the series had virtually unlimited storytelling potential and need not go away, frankly it is played out, continually crushed under the weight of its own legacy.

            Legacy. There’s a word circling around quite a bit these days, especially in entertainment media. It’s also a buzzword many fans are using in calling for Picard season three showrunner Terry Matalas to make another spinoff series, this one likely to follow the exploits of Captain Seven, now commanding the Enterprise 1701-G (formerly the Titan-A). We’ll forget for a moment that there was already a game called Star Trek: Legacy (a shallow but not too bad experience that tied three generations of heroes into one story). Seven of Nine was one of my favorite characters in Star Trek: Voyager, indeed she was and is an inspiration in my personal life. Of course I like the idea that her character was allowed to shelve her Borg past and reclaim her identity. Of course I think it’s a great idea to see another woman potentially get to sit center seat in another Trek series. I like that she was at least mostly brought back from her abysmal treatment in Picard seasons one and two. I also tremendously appreciate that someone with creative pull over at CBS had enough decency to not leave the Enterprise-D rotting on Veridian III, to reunite her with her crew and ultimately receive a proper retirement with her sisters. It was from that place, one of closure, where I was inspired to write this piece.

            Look, it’s no secret whatsoever that I have largely detested virtually every bit of Star Trek produced under the banners of J.J. Abrams and Alex Kurtzman. I’ve written better scenes than either of them one-handed, typing into my phone’s notebook while walking along a country road in a foreign nation while trying to get away from my abusive partner. They can shove their mystery boxes into their black holes because they suck. Maybe they have other talents but producing good scripts is not one of them. Maybe in person they’re nice guys, who knows, I don’t hate them as human beings, but their work is shoddy. Also now, if you are someone who likes one of the Kelvin movies, or Discovery or Lower Decks or any other spinoff, it’s whatevs, I’m not gonna hate you for it, I’m merely going to disagree with you and direct the conversation elsewhere. Unlike the cadre of folk who love to hate new Trek because they are wearing their bigotry barely under their skin (oh you know those types, the ones who think they’re clever by dropping “woke” as an insult, obviously ignorant to its meaning, and cry foul every time they see someone not white, male, and/or straight leading their stories), I’m not interested in fostering animosity or attacking the cast and crew who did the best they could on these shows with the material they were given. The fault lies with the corporate suits, the clueless producers, and everyone else in authority who signed off on the abysmal writing and production direction that completely spat on everything the franchise had built up since the 1960s. As Angry Joe expressed so astutely during his Picard season two review, “we agree with the [progressive] message, but you [the producers of Trek] are making the message look bad!” Regardless of how you feel, one only need look to the drastic overhaul and course correction the Picard series made from seasons two to three as evidence of how far off-track the franchise had gotten, that clearly enough people among the powers-that-be noticed this and admitted through action that some serious work needed doing to win many fans back and get the show feeling at least a bit like bloody Star Trek again. Season three still suffered from too much lingering mystery box mentality, still leaned back on too much banal writing that made all of Starfleet aside from our core heroes look like morons, still relied too much on dark sets and “ooh look how actiony this is” shaky camera work, still refused to divorce itself entirely from the Abrams aesthetic, however it managed to reign everything in just enough to finally treat our legacy characters with some gorram respect. Someone in charge finally remembered that in much of spacefaring science fiction, especially Star Trek, the ships are characters too. Someone remembered how important good music is to cinematic storytelling. Someone at least remembered to pay lip service to exploring the galaxy and seeking out new life, that we may better understand our own. Someone had the decency to end their story with a sense of hope and the possibility of a better tomorrow.

            That, my friends, is where I want to leave Star Trek and where I believe firmly that it ought to stay. Despite all of the attempts at revitalization, the franchise has been spinning its own wheels since Enterprise, utterly unable to escape the weight of its own history or the sheer number of conflicting ideas meddling in the same pie. Trek has always had a problem with internal consistency from jump and that will only ever keep getting worse. Virtually every kind of Trek story has been done and done to death. It never helps that the people running it can’t seem to make even one season of a new show without having to fall back on recycling legacy characters such as Kirk and Spock, and no offense to the actors who are hired, but anyone brought in to play an old character will always feel like parody to me. It’s disrespectful. Of course CBS, like all corpos, is a money hungry machine and will never leave Trek to rest. Capitalism is, after all and among so many other things, the death knell of artistic integrity. If there is profit to be made, good storytelling and a positive message must be sacrificed to the gods of capital. I don’t like it but I’m not naive. Thus, this is where my course is changed to a new direction. In my heart I will always love Star Trek (pre-CBS, mostly), but it’s time to move on. I posit that, like the Enterprise-D, let it rest while it still has some dignity, to be enjoyed by future generations while giving those same children room to tell their stories. Maybe I’m a teensy biased there, since yeah After Terra would be among those stories, but there are hundreds, thousands, millions more stories waiting in the wings, from an endlessly diverse group of human experiences. Or to sum it up another way, using Picard’s final episode as an analogy, instead of diluting an existing legacy further (Enterprise-G? Come on, even back in First Contact the Enterprise naming convention was becoming a gag) why not let the Titan get her own history to build and flourish, nurtured by the children who inherited what the heroes of the twenty-fourth century fought to save. Literally and metaphorically, that would of course mean letting go, regardless of how many dollars were at stake.

            For me, it’s time to let go.

            Computer, end program.

Also known as The Great Gaming Pumpkin!

As I recently moved and am, shall we say, on a tightrope budget, I am unable to have home internet as of this writing. Thus unfortunately I am unable to be scanned in to update my progress on Xbox Live, and this makes any Xbox of mine newer than the 360 almost useless. However, this prompted me to pursue a series of goals that coalesced into one: completing as many of my 360 games as possible, freeing up a nice stack of titles to sell (since some of these games I only see myself enjoying one run through, due to limited replay value); celebrating Halloween and the general creepy season of early Autumn properly for a change; and challenging myself to be creatively active with my gaming updates, in lieu of having any kind of automatic tracker.

That was a highly elaborate way of saying that I am going to be actively blogging again. Sometimes the motivation to write or to do any given creative project can come from unexpected sources. If not having a particular utility at home gets me back on the regular writing stick, hey, I’ll go with it! Thus begins the Great Gaming Pumpkin, and we shall see how many of these Xbox 360 horror or Halloween-themed games I can add to my completion log.

The first noteworthy update in this challenge is my progress toward one hundred percent completion in Dead Space, a fantastic and brilliant science fiction horror game published, by all companies, Electronic Arts, back in 2008. (I’ll be doing a full review of it soon!)Yesterday I finished enough of my new game plus run in Dead Space to earn the Maxed Out achievement, which was a relief as it was the last thing I needed to get out of the way before going on my Impossible difficulty run.

Where horror begins.

Forgive my more guerilla-style photography here, as I had to take a picture of my television in lieu of being able to use a proper screen capture.

As of this morning I made it to mission four on Impossible. I was a little nervous going into this run, for one thing because Dead Space is a legitimately spooky game, even on successive playthroughs. I still feel unnerved after each necromorph encounter. I’m also going for the One Gun achievement at the same time (this means completing the entire game using only the default weapon, the plasma cutter), which has not been as unfair as I expected, indeed, I like how it pushes more of the survival horror aspect into the gameplay, forcing you to make more strategic use of the store. It also makes every missed shot that much more painful, knowing that if you burn through your plasma reserve there is no other weapon to switch to! I had one particularly tense moment where I was down to a single shot in reserve, after narrowly surviving a tentacle encounter. Yes, that is what she said, because I said it, but it was still a vivid experience.

Overall this has not been too bad (I say that now but will probably curse that statement when I get to the bosses), not nearly as painful as my highest difficulty runs on games I finished earlier this year like, say, Stranglehold. I also regret not having invested in the Dead Space franchise sooner; I tried it back in 2008, liked it, but was so ensconced with Halo 3Mass Effect, and Gears of War that it ended up on my perpetual backburner. Better late than never though, and what a great game to be playing and finishing in October. 

More updates on my adventures and more to come soon!

Ahoy there!

In a follow up to a recent post, I am pleased to reveal more details about my next novel in progress.

Its codename is Blackout, and is the character driven, science fiction action thriller I alluded to before. A few more crumbs for you: it will be written in first person, and will feature a female protagonist. This will be my first novel to have both of those things. All of my prior works were written in third person, and previous novels have either had male protagonists or male/female lead splits.

I am also pleased to announce that I will be returning to Youtube with a new channel and will have a bevy of new content for my other social media presences to coincide with this, starting next month. I realize that in the past on this very blog I have made content promises that I underdelivered on. The truth is that the biggest problem about me sharing myself with the world was my identity crisis. I have always been embarrassed about my appearance and my voice, and this created an endless cycle of anxiety and apprehension about putting myself out there beyond saying “oh look here’s some books I wrote.” Now that I am my authentic self and am comfortable in my own skin for the first time in my adult life, and also now that I am on the cusp of having some good, legitimate recording equipment, I will be putting myself out there in equal measure to my creative work.

More to come soon!


Oh hey.

Lots of movies and video games these days are being remastered and rereleased; the games industry is especially notorious for dusting off and rereleasing older titles because lack of creativity and originality and risk. I figure why not jump off that bridge too, eh?

I jest. Mostly.

The truth of the matter is that I released my first book too early. I pulled a CD Projekt Red move before that was even a thing, though to be fair at the time that was more like a Bethesda maneuver. I have talked about this in previous blog posts, but to reiterate, back in 2016 I was in a position where I didn’t expect to see many more days in my life, and I was obsessed with at least leaving something behind, a legacy. I was desperate to make my then-girlfriend and my family proud. I had something to prove to myself, which I then externalized to an unhealthy extent.

That’s a fanciful way of saying that I freaking rushed my first novel out the door too fast. Year 200’s basic foundation was solid and of course I fell in love with my characters, but I did not spend enough time on polishing the work, and especially I did not dedicate enough time to ensuring the work reflected my true creative voice. This is why I often mention that the sequel, In the Baron’s Shadow, is where I found my author voice. In that work, I had shaken off the overly enthusiastic and excessively quippy narrative tone I had previously adopted for blogging, and moved away from relying on the cliches and similes that are all too often used as crutches for beginning writers.

So then, I may be playfully calling this a remaster, but in reality this is an almost complete rewrite. The plot and character dialogue will not be altered, because I don’t believe in altering published canon (see the term, “Lucasing”), however the entire structure that the story, characters, and their interactions live upon is being rebuilt from the ground up. In addition, with this second crack at the story, I am going to be able to add back in elements that I cut from the original draft because at the time I felt I lacked the skill to implement them without killing the narrative flow.

For an idea of how this will look, here is the first paragraph of the book.


“Out in the fringe of the Solar System, two hundred years beyond Terra’s death, there was an aberration: a silent, star-lit field pierced in an ungraceful manner by a metallic human construction. The overworked, underpowered shuttle sputtered across the expanse, struggling to stay on course toward the blue orb in the distance. The passengers’ fragile hope of making it to their destination alive was wounded by a collision between the shuttle and a hunk of debris.”

And now, rewritten:

“It was quiet in this pocket of the Outer Solar System. That was, until an aberrant perturbation caused a relative ruckus. It was an overworked Type-E passenger shuttle, freshly caught by Neptune’s gravity. There was nothing in the vacuum to transmit the creaking inside its bulkheads, nor the crackling of sparks coming from its overloaded circuitry, but it made up for it with a wobbling, visual commotion and plenty of fresh interference to filter out in comms traffic.”

It is a short sample to pick up on this to be sure, but I’ve done away with the attempts to be overly cute in my narration, and have dialed back on the character descriptions and perspective-distancing titles that, to be frank, I ripped from games such as Borderlands. The final product will be a story that will at last be able to stand by its younger sisters, In the Baron’s Shadow and Lunacy.

More details to come on this and my other two aforementioned writing projects in 2021.


If you have followed me up until now, even in a haphazard fashion, you know that the After Terra series is my flagship as far as creative works, and that the fourth full length novel in said series, Return of the Gods, was due to release last year. It could have been made available last year. The book is done. I mean, of course there is still a lot of editing and finessing I am going to perform on the work, but it is already of a higher quality in its current state than anything I have published before, so I could have hit the button. But, I wanna do things right this time. Unlike Cyberpunk 2077Return of the Gods will be released when it is truly ready, and when I have successfully rebuilt and reestablished myself as a creative entity, after having made the decision to commit to transitioning gender. Yeesh, what an ask of myself, eh? I tend to make that last bit sound like a smaller deal than it really is.

So while Return of the Gods is cooling its heels in my creative space, I do have two new writing projects lined up for 2021. One was technically started for last year’s NaNoWriMo, but I was unable to make as much progress as I normally do in Novembers. Said project is a memoir. That’s right, I’m writing about me. Maybe it will end up being more of an autobiography, not sure yet, but that’s a thing.

Along with this, I am working on new science fiction story. At this time all I am going to tease is that it will be written in first person, and one of the cinematic themes that will color the narrative and setting of the story is a future-transposed United States versus Soviet Union sort of vibe. Think of some Cold War, Space Race ideas played out over a cyberpunk space western and you might be on track to where I’m going with that. More to be revealed in the future.


A revisit of a review, that was in itself a revisit of a retried pilot. Got it? Good.

Here we go, the second pilot, and the first episode featuring Captain Kirk. This episode has in many aspects aged worse than most of the series, but it serves as an interesting look at how many changes the show went through in its infancy. Of course, why this was aired nearly a quarter of the way through the first season and not used as the first episode as intended, I have no idea. I guess NBC was using the same kind of logic back then that Fox employed with Firefly in more recent times; that is, none at all.

If you watched other episodes before this one, it can seem a bit jarring. The Enterprise bridge, effectively unchanged since the filming of the original pilot, “The Cage,” looks drab, lacking in the more familiar color and character of later episodes. The uniforms here are muted yellows and blues without any red shirts to speak of. All of the women are wearing pants. Star Trek lore was barely even established at this point, as here we have Earth Base mentioned in place of Starfleet Command, and mistakes such as James T. Kirk’s name being misused late in the episode as James R. Kirk. The lack of establishment in this episode makes it feel more akin to something like The Twilight Zone, as opposed to the Star Trek that we know and love.

In a rare thing for Trek, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” deals with the capacity for humans to possess extra sensory perception, something that the characters here treat as a normal, if uncommon, reality. The interest in ESP happens when the Enterprise encounters a treacherous energy barrier at the galaxy’s edge while investigating the loss of an old starship, the Valiant. No surprise that of course the ship and crew are put into extreme peril.


U.S.S. Enterprise encounters the galactic barrier

This move cripples the Enterprise’s warp engines, and has a profound effect on two crew members who already possessed a small level of ESP.

(Now before you all get too nitpicky—you know who you are—and ask how Enterprise, much less Valiant, could make it to the galaxy’s edge in a relatively short time with warp drive, remember not to think too two-dimensionally. One could reach the “edge” of the galaxy just as well by traveling “up” or “down” relative to the galactic center.)

Gary Mitchell, Kirk’s longtime friend, is the most drastically affected by the energy barrier. At first his new powers seem fairly innocent; he can read fast, retain information with perfect clarity, and perform minor feats of telekinesis. But it doesn’t take long for Mitchell’s growing  powers to affect his judgment, and he soon begins to view the Enterprise crew, even his friend Kirk, as a nuisance, an obstacle in the way of his development into a more advanced kind of human being. Kirk delays as long as he can to help his friend, but when it is clear that Mitchell won’t stand down, Kirk is forced to make the decision to maroon him on the only planet that the Enterprise can reach, Delta Vega. Mitchell erases any doubts about whether he can be spared when he ends up killing an Enterprise crew member while the ship is being repaired.


Delta Vega

This leads to a confrontation between the two former friends, as Mitchell’s powers grow to nearly be on par with the Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation (worth wondering is whether Mitchell’s powers are the potential threat the Q saw in humanity when they tested Riker later on). Kirk is able to win out in the end after pleading with Dr. Elizabeth Dehner, the other crewmember augmented with the advanced ESP, to one more time look at the situation from a human perspective. At the cost of her own life, she helps the Captain defeat his former friend.

This highlights one of the more interesting morals of the episode: no matter how much a human evolves, do they ever lose their dark side? Can a human ever be rid of their base instincts? Kirk points out that for all of his power, Mitchell is not advanced enough of a life form to handle it responsibly. What we are left with at the end of this episode, is the idea that even with all of our advancements, humans still have a long way to go before we can ever be higher beings. This is deep for a low budget second pilot from the 60s.

While it will never be the strongest episode in the Star Trek franchise, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” does take some interesting chances and makes you think. It also serves as a great opening vehicle for Kirk, showing us his agonizing conflict between loyalty to his friend and his duty to ship, crew, and humanity.


Disclaimer: Star Trek is a CBS/Paramount copyright. All images in this review posting are courtesy of http://www.startrek.comhttp://www.trekcore.comhttp://www.imdb.com, and http://www.wikipedia.org. Images are used for informational purposes only, and no copyright infringement on CBS or Paramount Studios is intended.

Originally posted on The Uncommon Geek. Edited for a better reading experience versus what I created back in 2013.