This article’s title is a bit flippant, I think, in that it is a gross simplification of life’s current state. However, I felt that I needed to say such a thing because, well, unintentionally, I realized I had strung together a consecutive run of posts that made my life and condition out to be depressing, somewhat nihilistic, and bleak. True, there have been days where I have felt dismal, and there was a spot where I hit as far down to rock bottom as ever with regard to morale. Yet, the truth is that on any given day in between the posts I’ve made this year (which I admit have been too few), life has been at least okay. That’s really the prevailing theme, things have been rather mediocre, with enormous amounts of room to improve yet with a staggering depth to which they have not fallen. It’s hard to feel thankful when stuck somewhere in the shallow pool of “average,” “okay,” or “mediocre,” but to paraphrase Jayne Cobb, it’s not nothing, and that’s something.

I have also been more critical than praising in the few media reviews I’ve done, I realize, as well as anything that counts as social commentary. It’s not with the intention of being a negative bitch, as when I criticize it’s with the intention of protecting something from moving to a dangerous extreme (as with my writings pertaining to the LGBT community), or to challenge a particular piece of art or culture to do better (as in the case of Star Trek as helmed by CBS failing to meet the quality standards of what came before it). However, as with what I mentioned in the first paragraph, I noticed that my trend in commentary has leaned negative (or at least favored the harsher side of constructive criticism). Such things are necessary and have their place but I don’t want that to be the prevailing theme here.

That brings me to what After Terra itself is even about, which is first and foremost my love of science fiction. I wanted to distill everything I loved and thought was critically effective about works such as Star Trek, Firefly, Farscape, Battlestar Galactica, Cowboy Bebop, and Mass Effect, alongside a certain in-universe awareness about the curious human relationship with storytelling. As well, in the original edition of Year 200, it was intended to be an almost silly at times love letter to all things science fiction, while introducing a cast of characters that was largely immature, that was forced to confront something far more refined and aged than they could even comprehend. Among other things, I failed to properly sell that notion, which is one of the many things I set about correcting in the novel’s Illuminated Edition. I wanted to convey an idea along the lines of, “well, okay, what if a ragtag bunch of people who were living in a time capsule of 21st century culture but in space, essentially immature social media Gen Xers in spaceships and stations, were thrown into a space opera adventure?” It’s a way of asking, how would a sampling of the current/up and coming generation handle an epic quest? Do they wilt under the pressure or do they mature and evolve in the face of something far bigger than the lives they thought were important?

That’s a question I find worth asking of myself as my life sits at a weird crossroad.

In the spirit of the aforementioned, I will be going back soon to reviewing more things I love, as well as endeavoring to make my voice more nuanced in how I utilize it.

Until then.

FIN

 

I suppose this is the most appropriate of all places in the world to announce that I have finished the first draft of my fifth novel, and the fourth novel in the After Terra series: Return of the Gods.

The project started officially on March 21, 2017. My, how many twists and turns and misfires my life has endured since then. I survived many changes, including several relocations and a disastrous excuse for a marriage that thankfully never legally existed. And thus, so did my novel, and might have come out the better for it, albeit at my own expense.

Return of the Gods is the largest project I’ve ever created and possibly ever will. Even in its current state, its size eats up the previous two After Terra novels and the short story collection, and is close to Dune in its word count. It is nearly twice the size in words of everything I ever published on uncommongeek.com.

So, you can imagine (hopefully) why this project has consumed so much of my writing time and creative power. There came a point where, when given time and opportunity to write, Return of the Gods was all I could think of. Now that it is done, yes, there is editing, rewriting, formatting, and other fun stuff to take care of, but the most difficult part of the task is done. The foundation is laid.

I have also been busy behind the scenes exporting the majority of posts I made for The Uncommon Geek for republishing here on afterterra.com. Although I don’t know all of the details to the letter, but it has been indicated to me that uncommongeek.com may not be accessible as we know it in the relatively near future. Besides, the posts I saved were mostly in bad need of rewrites anyway. So, this is another reason why posting here has been quiet.

Now that my head is clear from writing an epic, there will again be regular activity on this site, and lots of exciting publishing news about my work is coming your way in 2020. This is shaping up to be my most prolific year yet.

Until then.

FIN

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.

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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.

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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.

FIN

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. 

If you have not already had a looksee at my first novel, you can get a free digital copy of it this weekend on Kindle. This is to help celebrate the launch of my story collection, Beginnings, this coming Tuesday. You’ve probably seen me talk about it and I will be talking about it more in the future to be sure.

Check it out at the link below. It’s a great time to stay indoors out of the heat, read a book, and take in the beginning of a new sci-fi saga.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01E1PP8ME

 

FIN