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Friday, May 17, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness

Pic by Eva Rinaldi

Wednesday night I went with friends to my local cinema, the Classic, to see Star Trek:Into Darkness. The photo is not from the Classic. It's from the Australian premiere of the film, with, left to right, Karl Urban( who would have thought "Eomer" from LOTR would make such a fabulous Dr McCoy?), Zachary Quinto, director J.J Abrams and Chris Pine. We got the director AND Kirk, Spock and McCoy! I placed this photo, which I think appropriate, instead of a movie poster because the pic, by a lady called Eva Rinaldi, is on Wikimedia Commons, with permission granted to use as long as you attribute, while the film company would make all sorts of fuss. And it's a nice photo - my, they are tall boys! Or J.J Abrams is very short, though he makes up for height in talent.

I can't say much about the movie without spoilers and I won't assume everybody has seen it already, so I will say only that I thoroughly enjoyed it, both for the action and for the cheeky references to other things. The cheekiness started at the beginning, with a sequence on "Nibiru", the supposed Doomsday planet that was going to wipe out Earth last year. There was a scene which made reference to another Trek movie, in reverse, and a villain we have seen before, though in the interim he has developed a British accent, as has another character whom we saw as distinctly American last time. And a lot of action. The main actors have grown into their roles and settled in comfortably and if we can no longer have Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley, their younger versions are doing a very good job of convincing us. There were times when I could close my eyes and almost see the original Spock and McCoy and if Chris Pine's voice isn't quite Shatner's his mannerisms are.

Just go and see it.

So, why am I talking about a movie and a TV show not remotely connected with books, on my book blog? 

When I was growing up, I was developing a love of science fiction, as was my older sister. It was her shelves I raided for my spec fic, although I had already come to it through Verne and Wells. I was looking for visual spec fic as well, because I love my SF/F any way I can get it. The only thing on at the time I was watching was Lost In Space. Since growing up, I have discovered that to be classic sixties pop culture and a hoot. And it featured some of the people I would later see/hear in Star Trek, such as Stanley Adams(Cyrano Jones in Trek) and composer Alexander Courage, not to mention a certain Johnny Williams( yes, THAT John Williams!). And irritating little "Will Robinson" would eventually appear as a lovely alien in the wonderful, intelligent series Babylon 5. 

But at the time, I could only see the silliness of the story lines and longed for real SF. And one night, I got it. I saw a TV show with characters I could care about and stories that made sense to me(and when they didn't I could have fun arguing with friends about them). And best of all, it had real SF writers - classic ones such as Jerome Bixby, Theodore Sturgeon, Norman Spinrad, a story pinched from Fredric Brown, Harlan Ellison(whose script was, admittedly, rewritten completely and didn't he complain about it for years, but didn't refuse his Hugo award for it ;-D). Heck, Larry Niven wrote an animated episode! And there were new writers such as David Gerrold, who has since gone on to fame, fortune and Hugo short listings. With the spinoffs, they stopped hiring SF writers, for reasons David Gerrold told a couple of us in an interview some years ago, for a publication that never happened for reasons beyond our control. If I ever find my transcription of it I will ask him again and perhaps finally publish it here. 

Anyway, I became a fan. I love lots of things about the spinoffs but it was the original that won my heart and still is. 

It was Trek that helped me learn to write short stories - back then, my only writing was a bunch of woeful novels that I will never, ever try to sell. I wrote about 150 fan stories, some of it other universes, but mostly Trek. One of the sub universes I created for my fan fiction, with a friend, appears briefly in Wolfborn, my first novel. It was a planet called New Wales, populated with descendants of Arthur's people, plus some terrestrial animals now extinct on Earth, such as the Shetland unicorn, which tended to turn up and embarrass young men with its affectionate greetings. If you've read the novel, you will remember a scene in which the hero, Etienne, meets his friend Armand in the Otherworld, along with his hill pony Dapple, who is actually a unicorn, but her horn only shows up in this world. This is terribly embarrassing to Armand, who has been bragging about his skills with girls.  Dapple the unicorn was a tribute to a unicorn called Maggie, who embarrassed Pavel Chekov in one of my fan stories.

One of these days I will do a novel set on New Wales - I had planned one years ago, when Patricia Kennealy Morrison beat me to it with her series set on a New Wales-like world with similar origins. But it has been years. And her novels weren't funny. Mine will be.

The thing is, Star Trek has helped me as a writer and a reader, so I don't apologise for mentioning it here. If you haven't seen the original series, it's easily available on DVD. Watch it! 


Anonymous said...

Can you recommend any thriving fan fiction sites? For both reading and writing?

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hi Fingers! Until a few years ago, I would have recommended a web site run by my friend Jackie Marshall and another fan, which chose carefully what they published. They have been closed for some time, alas! These days, you often have to sift through all of it till you find something you like. But the biggest site for fan fiction of all kinds is It is HUGE! You can choose from virtually any universe, literary and media, even games and comics. I imagine you can upload your own. You don't say what your preference is, but if you've found this post by the title, you're probably a Trek fan and for reading classic tales written in the golden age of Trek fiction I highly recommend, which republishes stories done long before the Internet, in fanzines you won't find any more. It's done with permission from the appropriate people - there are even two of my stories there! ;) Do email and let me know how you go.

Sue Bursztynski said...

PS Just looked at the web site and there are competitions and opportunities to write fiction set in the original Trek universe. Hope this helps!