The Fiend of the Week was [livejournal.com profile] telophase! She sent me these two rather bad novels of human-Klingon interaction. In both, there is at least a potentially interesting story concerning original characters intercut with a story about the Enterprise crew in which the author clearly has no interest whatsoever.

In Pawns and Symbols, the marginally better of the two, biracial botanist Jean Czerny is captured by Klingons who want her new strain of grain. Captain Kang gives her a dagger so she can demonstrate her knife-throwing skills and skewer one of his officers— no, I don’t understand this either, except that it demonstrates that she is spunky— then tries to starve her into submission so she’ll reveal the grain formula.

She ends up on the Klingon homeworld and married to Kang. (By then he’s stopped torturing her and this is as consensual as is possible under the circumstances.) He has another wife, but Klingons are polygamous so this is cool. There is a supremely unfunny comic subplot involving Cyrano Jones. Kirk and crew capture a Romulan woman whom Chekhov gets a crush on. In the end there’s a completely predictable surprise twist. Readable but not good.

In Dwellers in the Crucible, various people called Warrantors of Peace have nuclear codes implanted in their hearts so that in order to launch a nuclear war, their planets’ leaders would have to personally cut out their hearts. Cleante, an Egyptian woman who gets all sorts of often exoticized descriptions of her astounding beauty (the worst, by which I mean most vomitous rather than most exoticized, is when Kirk sees her frolicking with butterflies and thinks how she’s the most beautiful flower in the garden), befriends one of the Warrantors, a Vulcan woman named T’Shael. They are very, very, very, very close. And become even closer when they and some other Warrantors are kidnapped by Klingons. Femmeslashy hurt/comfort ensues. T’Shael goes into pon farr and almost dies; disappointingly, this is resolved by sedating her rather than by Cleante having sex with her.

T’Shael almost dies to save Cleante; Cleante agrees to be raped by the Klingon Kalon to save from the same fate. Cleante then decides that Kalon is kind of a nice, sexy guy except for the rape, torture, and death threats. EW. They are rescued by the Enterprise, and Kirk and Spock assist their recovery by counseling them on Vulcan-human love. I am totally serious.

This would be right up my alley if it wasn’t so terribly written and if it wasn’t for the creepy rapist-loving, which also comes across as obligatory heterosexuality. I could have done without the information that Klingons have three testicles and vestigial scaling (hopefully not on the testicles.) There, now you all share my need for brain-bleach.

Dwellers in the Crucible (Star Trek, No 25)

Pawns and Symbols (Star Trek, No 26)
The Fiend of the Week was [livejournal.com profile] telophase! She sent me these two rather bad novels of human-Klingon interaction. In both, there is at least a potentially interesting story concerning original characters intercut with a story about the Enterprise crew in which the author clearly has no interest whatsoever.

In Pawns and Symbols, the marginally better of the two, biracial botanist Jean Czerny is captured by Klingons who want her new strain of grain. Captain Kang gives her a dagger so she can demonstrate her knife-throwing skills and skewer one of his officers— no, I don’t understand this either, except that it demonstrates that she is spunky— then tries to starve her into submission so she’ll reveal the grain formula.

She ends up on the Klingon homeworld and married to Kang. (By then he’s stopped torturing her and this is as consensual as is possible under the circumstances.) He has another wife, but Klingons are polygamous so this is cool. There is a supremely unfunny comic subplot involving Cyrano Jones. Kirk and crew capture a Romulan woman whom Chekhov gets a crush on. In the end there’s a completely predictable surprise twist. Readable but not good.

In Dwellers in the Crucible, various people called Warrantors of Peace have nuclear codes implanted in their hearts so that in order to launch a nuclear war, their planets’ leaders would have to personally cut out their hearts. Cleante, an Egyptian woman who gets all sorts of often exoticized descriptions of her astounding beauty (the worst, by which I mean most vomitous rather than most exoticized, is when Kirk sees her frolicking with butterflies and thinks how she’s the most beautiful flower in the garden), befriends one of the Warrantors, a Vulcan woman named T’Shael. They are very, very, very, very close. And become even closer when they and some other Warrantors are kidnapped by Klingons. Femmeslashy hurt/comfort ensues. T’Shael goes into pon farr and almost dies; disappointingly, this is resolved by sedating her rather than by Cleante having sex with her.

T’Shael almost dies to save Cleante; Cleante agrees to be raped by the Klingon Kalon to save from the same fate. Cleante then decides that Kalon is kind of a nice, sexy guy except for the rape, torture, and death threats. EW. They are rescued by the Enterprise, and Kirk and Spock assist their recovery by counseling them on Vulcan-human love. I am totally serious.

This would be right up my alley if it wasn’t so terribly written and if it wasn’t for the creepy rapist-loving, which also comes across as obligatory heterosexuality. I could have done without the information that Klingons have three testicles and vestigial scaling (hopefully not on the testicles.) There, now you all share my need for brain-bleach.

Dwellers in the Crucible (Star Trek, No 25)

Pawns and Symbols (Star Trek, No 26)
I did not receive any of the Harlequin titles, which I note all actually exist. Nor did I receive The Very Virile Viking or The Vampire Queen’s Servant, which also exist. I already own Clan of Death: Ninja, and have it reviewed somewhere under the tag genre: ninja.

Sadly, I am unaware of the existence of Knives Chau plushies. Cthulu plushies exist, and I waaaant one.

In-To-Me-See does not exist. Thank God. It was a fictional book on Sex and the City.

Nobody has ever sent me a head or a fetus (yet), though [livejournal.com profile] oyceter emailed me an article about a found fetus in a jar.

[livejournal.com profile] tool_of_satan sent me Spock, Messiah! It is even worse than it sounds: sexist, Islamophobic, profoundly stupid, abominably written, boring when not offensive, and did I mention sexist? The original cover is hilarious, though, with a strangely-proportioned Spock looking paranoid, insane, and constipated.

The Federation has the bright and totally ethically unobjectionable idea of infiltrating an uncontacted planet by hooking up the landing party’s brains to the brains of unknowing locals (via a long-distance telepathic thingummy), so that the landing party will react in-character as their local telepathic doppelgangers. THAT couldn’t possibly go wrong!

A repressed female ensign deliberately takes a nymphomaniac persona to see what it’s like, but her repressed crush on Spock manifests and so she hooks him up to a mentally deficient and insane local religious fanatic with a high sex drive so he’ll want to fuck her.

The possessed ensign “ruts like a bitch in heat” with Spock. Spock goes insane and takes over everything. This would be much more fun if we cold see Leonard Nimoy playing a different character, but since we can’t, it’s pretty dull. There’s more rutting and attempted rutting, and it’s STILL dull.

I did not expect this book to be as bad as its title indicates. Amazingly, it is.

Thanks Dan!

View on Amazon (with less hilarious cover): SPOCK, MESSIAH! (Star Trek)
I did not receive any of the Harlequin titles, which I note all actually exist. Nor did I receive The Very Virile Viking or The Vampire Queen’s Servant, which also exist. I already own Clan of Death: Ninja, and have it reviewed somewhere under the tag genre: ninja.

Sadly, I am unaware of the existence of Knives Chau plushies. Cthulu plushies exist, and I waaaant one.

In-To-Me-See does not exist. Thank God. It was a fictional book on Sex and the City.

Nobody has ever sent me a head or a fetus (yet), though [livejournal.com profile] oyceter emailed me an article about a found fetus in a jar.

[livejournal.com profile] tool_of_satan sent me Spock, Messiah! It is even worse than it sounds: sexist, Islamophobic, profoundly stupid, abominably written, boring when not offensive, and did I mention sexist? The original cover is hilarious, though, with a strangely-proportioned Spock looking paranoid, insane, and constipated.

The Federation has the bright and totally ethically unobjectionable idea of infiltrating an uncontacted planet by hooking up the landing party’s brains to the brains of unknowing locals (via a long-distance telepathic thingummy), so that the landing party will react in-character as their local telepathic doppelgangers. THAT couldn’t possibly go wrong!

A repressed female ensign deliberately takes a nymphomaniac persona to see what it’s like, but her repressed crush on Spock manifests and so she hooks him up to a mentally deficient and insane local religious fanatic with a high sex drive so he’ll want to fuck her.

The possessed ensign “ruts like a bitch in heat” with Spock. Spock goes insane and takes over everything. This would be much more fun if we cold see Leonard Nimoy playing a different character, but since we can’t, it’s pretty dull. There’s more rutting and attempted rutting, and it’s STILL dull.

I did not expect this book to be as bad as its title indicates. Amazingly, it is.

Thanks Dan!

View on Amazon (with less hilarious cover): SPOCK, MESSIAH! (Star Trek)
CBS.com is streaming the entire thing!

Important note: I have not watched this recently. This is based on memory. I plan to re-watch soon, though, and see how it holds up.

The series is dated and often slow, but has a great deal of charm. Plus, it spawned the entire genre of slash. If you watch it, you’ll see why. There’s a great buddy dynamic between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. The supporting cast is very likable, though there are few of the sort of supporting character-centric episodes you get in more recent shows.

William Shatner looks good with his shirt off, and I enjoy his unique placement of pauses and emphases, though possibly not in the way that was intended. Leonard Nimoy’s performance can be appreciated in a non-ironic way.

There is very little continuity, so watching episodes out of order and skipping episodes is fine. If you value your sanity, you will skip the supremely anvillicious message episodes. There are probably about ten of them, unfortunately. My nominees for the most awful are the one with the Nazi aliens, the one where Kirk gets bitten by a poisonous gorilla-lizard and recreates the arms race, and the one where everyone is half white and half blackface. “Are you blind, Kirk? Can’t you see that I’m white on the left side, and he’s white on the right side?!”

Can’t Miss:

The Naked Time. They all lose their inhibitions and Sulu strides sweaty and shirtless through the halls, brandishing a fencing foil.

Amok Time. Canon fuck or die. Canon. Spock must return to Vulcan to mate. He loses control of his emotions, throws a bowl of soup at Nurse Chapel, and he and Kirk sweatily writhe around on each other. Witness the birth of slash!

Mirror, Mirror. There’s an alternate evil Enterprise where Spock has a goatee and is even sexier than usual.

The Trouble With Tribbles. A comedy episode in which furballs breed like rabbits. Very cute.

The City on the Edge of Forever. Oh, the poignance of time travel! Harlan Ellison wrote, then engaged in a massive lawsuit over this, if I recall correctly.

The one with Spock’s parents. ETA: Journey to Babel.


Worthwhile:

All the episodes with Romulans are pretty good.

Arena; The Gamesters of Triskelion. Aliens make them gladiate with giant can-openers; Kirk takes off his shirt. Actually, there may be a third one with that plot.

Devil in the Dark. They’re all menaced by a giant underground rug. I like the story.

Charlie X. Slow but I always enjoy stories with psychic evil kids.

The Enemy Within. A transporter accident splits Kirk into good but weak, and strong but domineering Kirks. Probably not supposed to be hilarious.

Shore Leave. Theodore Sturgeon transcribes an acid trip in the form of a teleplay.

This Side of Paradise. Spock gets high.

Anything whose plot synopsis does not involve aliens whose society is a) bigoted, b) controlled by a computer, c) resembles any Earth culture including but not limited to Nazis, generic Native Americans, Greek Gods, and the Old West OR has an anti-war or other social message discernable from the one-line summary OR has a blatantly sexist premise is probably worth watching once.

Avoid:

Anything whose plot synopsis involves aliens whose society is a) bigoted, b) controlled by a computer, c) resembles any Earth cultures including but not limited to Nazis, generic Native Americans, Greek Gods, and the Old West.

Anything in which you can discern an anti-war or other social message or blatant sexism from its one-line summary.

Catspaw. The show ran out of money, so aliens capture Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, transport them to a room draped in black cloth, and taunt them in voice-over for an hour. Every bit as boring as it sounds.

Elaan of Troyius. Even more sexist than usual.

Spock’s Brain. Aliens steal Spock’s brain. Also the writers’.

The Way to Eden. There are space hippies in this.
CBS.com is streaming the entire thing!

Important note: I have not watched this recently. This is based on memory. I plan to re-watch soon, though, and see how it holds up.

The series is dated and often slow, but has a great deal of charm. Plus, it spawned the entire genre of slash. If you watch it, you’ll see why. There’s a great buddy dynamic between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. The supporting cast is very likable, though there are few of the sort of supporting character-centric episodes you get in more recent shows.

William Shatner looks good with his shirt off, and I enjoy his unique placement of pauses and emphases, though possibly not in the way that was intended. Leonard Nimoy’s performance can be appreciated in a non-ironic way.

There is very little continuity, so watching episodes out of order and skipping episodes is fine. If you value your sanity, you will skip the supremely anvillicious message episodes. There are probably about ten of them, unfortunately. My nominees for the most awful are the one with the Nazi aliens, the one where Kirk gets bitten by a poisonous gorilla-lizard and recreates the arms race, and the one where everyone is half white and half blackface. “Are you blind, Kirk? Can’t you see that I’m white on the left side, and he’s white on the right side?!”

Can’t Miss:

The Naked Time. They all lose their inhibitions and Sulu strides sweaty and shirtless through the halls, brandishing a fencing foil.

Amok Time. Canon fuck or die. Canon. Spock must return to Vulcan to mate. He loses control of his emotions, throws a bowl of soup at Nurse Chapel, and he and Kirk sweatily writhe around on each other. Witness the birth of slash!

Mirror, Mirror. There’s an alternate evil Enterprise where Spock has a goatee and is even sexier than usual.

The Trouble With Tribbles. A comedy episode in which furballs breed like rabbits. Very cute.

The City on the Edge of Forever. Oh, the poignance of time travel! Harlan Ellison wrote, then engaged in a massive lawsuit over this, if I recall correctly.

The one with Spock’s parents. ETA: Journey to Babel.


Worthwhile:

All the episodes with Romulans are pretty good.

Arena; The Gamesters of Triskelion. Aliens make them gladiate with giant can-openers; Kirk takes off his shirt. Actually, there may be a third one with that plot.

Devil in the Dark. They’re all menaced by a giant underground rug. I like the story.

Charlie X. Slow but I always enjoy stories with psychic evil kids.

The Enemy Within. A transporter accident splits Kirk into good but weak, and strong but domineering Kirks. Probably not supposed to be hilarious.

Shore Leave. Theodore Sturgeon transcribes an acid trip in the form of a teleplay.

This Side of Paradise. Spock gets high.

Anything whose plot synopsis does not involve aliens whose society is a) bigoted, b) controlled by a computer, c) resembles any Earth culture including but not limited to Nazis, generic Native Americans, Greek Gods, and the Old West OR has an anti-war or other social message discernable from the one-line summary OR has a blatantly sexist premise is probably worth watching once.

Avoid:

Anything whose plot synopsis involves aliens whose society is a) bigoted, b) controlled by a computer, c) resembles any Earth cultures including but not limited to Nazis, generic Native Americans, Greek Gods, and the Old West.

Anything in which you can discern an anti-war or other social message or blatant sexism from its one-line summary.

Catspaw. The show ran out of money, so aliens capture Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, transport them to a room draped in black cloth, and taunt them in voice-over for an hour. Every bit as boring as it sounds.

Elaan of Troyius. Even more sexist than usual.

Spock’s Brain. Aliens steal Spock’s brain. Also the writers’.

The Way to Eden. There are space hippies in this.
I notice that many people have gotten curious about the original series after seeing the movie. There are also some quite good novels, many by writers known for original sf/fantasy. Here's a brief, non-comprehensive guide:

The Spirit of Wonder

Diane Duane did the best job of capturing the joy I felt when watching the series. You want to serve on her Enterprise – and her Enterprise probably has a place for you. Her crew is full of aliens, and her stories are all about the longing to breathe in the air of a strange new world.

Spock’s World intersperses a mission to Vulcan with a series of heartbreaking vignettes from Vulcan’s history; the alternation of the intense emotional content of the historical chapters with the more contained emotions of legal trial in the main story works beautifully. Spock's World (Star Trek)

In The Wounded Sky, the main character is a female giant transparent spider physicist, and the story is about the ultimate in exploring strange new worlds, a journey both inward and outward. Poignant and beautiful. The Wounded Sky

Enterprise: The First Adventure, by Vonda N. McIntyre. An epic of alien contact, featuring nice roles for all the main characters (even Janice Rand, who is mentored by Uhura), plus backstage comedy via an interstellar circus (!) and a very angsty and interesting original Vulcan character. Her new crew realistically fails to mesh, then gradually bonds; her aliens and descriptions of zero-g are lovely. Star Trek Enterprise The First Adventure

John M. Ford, as always a category unto himself

The Final Reflection
might as well be an original sf novel, as most of the characters are Klingons – and much more sophisticated and interesting Klingons than actually appeared on the show. A beautifully written and powerful story about power, politics, identity, and the costs and rewards of the choices we make. I can’t be more specific because I have no idea what was going on for a great deal of the story (let me know if you do!), but that’s true of most of Ford’s novels. The Final Reflection (Star Trek, No 16)

How Much For Just The Planet? A musical comedy. No, really. No, really. And it’s actually funny! It’s kind of a parody, but a very fond one. Kirk and the rest end up on a planet in which everyone acts like they’re in some old movie. Uhura lands in a film noir, and Kirk in a chorus line. There are hilarious film strips and an attack milkshake. Oh, just read it. How Much for Just the Planet? (Star Trek, No 36)

What if the Series Hadn't Been Totally Sexist?

My Enemy, My Ally,
by Diane Duane. A Romulan woman commander develops a prickly friendship with Kirk when they’re forced to adventure together for reasons of political intrigue. Lots of convincing detail about Romulan culture. My Enemy, My Ally There are sequels that aren't quite as good.

The Entropy Effect, by Vonda N. McIntyre. Time travel, Angsty!Fencing!Sulu, cool alien characters, several cool original female characters, and a rather slashy Kirk/Spock relationship: what’s not to love? The Entropy Effect (Star Trek)

Uhura’s Song, by Janet Kagan. This is another one that’s almost an original sf novel. When a plague hits, the cure involves going on a quest with a bunch of catlike aliens on their home world. There’s an original female character whom a lot of people call a Mary Sue, but all I can say is that I only wish Mary Sue was usually portrayed as Buckaroo Banzai, Trickster Archetype. Sweet and fun. Uhura's Song (Star Trek No 21)

Crossroad, by Barbara Hambly. A remarkably dark and often darkly funny story involving Lovecraftian horrors in spaaaaace. Christine Chapel is a major character, and her (non) relationship with Spock is developed convincingly and poignantly. Crossroad (Star Trek, Book 71)

Not My First Choice, But Worthwhile

Star Trek, Log One,
by Alan Dean Foster. Based on the animated series, this is nothing really special but nicely written.

The other novels by Barbara Hambly and Diane Duane are worth reading if you enjoy the series, as are Jean Lorrah’s. I note that Laurence Yep, Peter David, Joe Haldeman and Greg Bear all wrote novels for the original series; I don’t remember them, but they should be at least decent. I vaguely remember enjoying A. C. Crispin’s books.

Run Fast, Run Far

All the novels by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath are unreadable, though the “Phoenix” ones do have Kirk naked (and tortured) for most of the book. Avoid, even if that’s a selling point.

The Tears of the Singers, by Melinda Snodgrass. Oh God. Uhura meets a tousle-haired, temperamental asshole of a hot genius musician with a heart condition that will kill him if he gets excited. A planet of baby seal aliens are being clubbed to death by Klingons for the jewels they weep at the moment of death, only their song is holding the universe together. Kirk drafts the musician because he’s the only one who can translate the song, and he dies operatically in Uhura’s arms after saving the world. A baby seal alien spontaneously sheds a single perfect tear of woe, which Uhura makes into a necklace. The Tears of the Singers (Star Trek, No 19)

Did anyone read Spock, Messiah? Was it as dire as it sounds? SPOCK, MESSIAH! (Star Trek)
I notice that many people have gotten curious about the original series after seeing the movie. There are also some quite good novels, many by writers known for original sf/fantasy. Here's a brief, non-comprehensive guide:

The Spirit of Wonder

Diane Duane did the best job of capturing the joy I felt when watching the series. You want to serve on her Enterprise – and her Enterprise probably has a place for you. Her crew is full of aliens, and her stories are all about the longing to breathe in the air of a strange new world.

Spock’s World intersperses a mission to Vulcan with a series of heartbreaking vignettes from Vulcan’s history; the alternation of the intense emotional content of the historical chapters with the more contained emotions of legal trial in the main story works beautifully. Spock's World (Star Trek)

In The Wounded Sky, the main character is a female giant transparent spider physicist, and the story is about the ultimate in exploring strange new worlds, a journey both inward and outward. Poignant and beautiful. The Wounded Sky

Enterprise: The First Adventure, by Vonda N. McIntyre. An epic of alien contact, featuring nice roles for all the main characters (even Janice Rand, who is mentored by Uhura), plus backstage comedy via an interstellar circus (!) and a very angsty and interesting original Vulcan character. Her new crew realistically fails to mesh, then gradually bonds; her aliens and descriptions of zero-g are lovely. Star Trek Enterprise The First Adventure

John M. Ford, as always a category unto himself

The Final Reflection
might as well be an original sf novel, as most of the characters are Klingons – and much more sophisticated and interesting Klingons than actually appeared on the show. A beautifully written and powerful story about power, politics, identity, and the costs and rewards of the choices we make. I can’t be more specific because I have no idea what was going on for a great deal of the story (let me know if you do!), but that’s true of most of Ford’s novels. The Final Reflection (Star Trek, No 16)

How Much For Just The Planet? A musical comedy. No, really. No, really. And it’s actually funny! It’s kind of a parody, but a very fond one. Kirk and the rest end up on a planet in which everyone acts like they’re in some old movie. Uhura lands in a film noir, and Kirk in a chorus line. There are hilarious film strips and an attack milkshake. Oh, just read it. How Much for Just the Planet? (Star Trek, No 36)

What if the Series Hadn't Been Totally Sexist?

My Enemy, My Ally,
by Diane Duane. A Romulan woman commander develops a prickly friendship with Kirk when they’re forced to adventure together for reasons of political intrigue. Lots of convincing detail about Romulan culture. My Enemy, My Ally There are sequels that aren't quite as good.

The Entropy Effect, by Vonda N. McIntyre. Time travel, Angsty!Fencing!Sulu, cool alien characters, several cool original female characters, and a rather slashy Kirk/Spock relationship: what’s not to love? The Entropy Effect (Star Trek)

Uhura’s Song, by Janet Kagan. This is another one that’s almost an original sf novel. When a plague hits, the cure involves going on a quest with a bunch of catlike aliens on their home world. There’s an original female character whom a lot of people call a Mary Sue, but all I can say is that I only wish Mary Sue was usually portrayed as Buckaroo Banzai, Trickster Archetype. Sweet and fun. Uhura's Song (Star Trek No 21)

Crossroad, by Barbara Hambly. A remarkably dark and often darkly funny story involving Lovecraftian horrors in spaaaaace. Christine Chapel is a major character, and her (non) relationship with Spock is developed convincingly and poignantly. Crossroad (Star Trek, Book 71)

Not My First Choice, But Worthwhile

Star Trek, Log One,
by Alan Dean Foster. Based on the animated series, this is nothing really special but nicely written.

The other novels by Barbara Hambly and Diane Duane are worth reading if you enjoy the series, as are Jean Lorrah’s. I note that Laurence Yep, Peter David, Joe Haldeman and Greg Bear all wrote novels for the original series; I don’t remember them, but they should be at least decent. I vaguely remember enjoying A. C. Crispin’s books.

Run Fast, Run Far

All the novels by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath are unreadable, though the “Phoenix” ones do have Kirk naked (and tortured) for most of the book. Avoid, even if that’s a selling point.

The Tears of the Singers, by Melinda Snodgrass. Oh God. Uhura meets a tousle-haired, temperamental asshole of a hot genius musician with a heart condition that will kill him if he gets excited. A planet of baby seal aliens are being clubbed to death by Klingons for the jewels they weep at the moment of death, only their song is holding the universe together. Kirk drafts the musician because he’s the only one who can translate the song, and he dies operatically in Uhura’s arms after saving the world. A baby seal alien spontaneously sheds a single perfect tear of woe, which Uhura makes into a necklace. The Tears of the Singers (Star Trek, No 19)

Did anyone read Spock, Messiah? Was it as dire as it sounds? SPOCK, MESSIAH! (Star Trek)
rachelmanija: (Default)
( May. 16th, 2009 12:00 pm)
I'm an Old-Skool Trek fan, one of the ones for whom shirtless, sweaty Sulu with a fencing foil was a pivotal moment in my sexual development.

I mostly adored the new movie, and would see it again with great pleasure. Spock was awesome: interestingly different from Nimoy's character, but still convincingly Spock. The movie's main pairing was Spock/Uhura, which I would have never thought of in a million years but which was sweet and hot and mature and awesome. Actually, for me the movie was all about Spock, Spock/Uhura, and Uhura, and all else was gravy.

But I was sad at its demonstration of exactly how far movies haven't come in terms of equality since the original Trek. The original series was progressive for its time in many ways: it had American primetime TV's first interracial kiss (though aliens made them do it), it had Sulu and Uhura on the bridge, and it had a sympathetic Russian character when Russia was America's top enemy.

And, of course, in many ways it wasn't progressive at all: women were love interests, moms, or telephone operators, didn't get to kick ass unless they were evil, and were all stuck in miniskirts. The attempts to deal directly with racism and other social issues were well-meant but also awful and anvillicious.

The new movie preserved virtually all the ways in which the original was sexist and blinkered, and additionally failed to be progressive for our time.

Much as I loved Uhura and her relationship with Spock, every single significant female character in the entire movie was either a mom or a love interest. Women still don't get to command or kick ass. And they're all still stuck in the ridiculous miniskirt uniforms, and mostly looked vastly uncomfortable in them. Every woman on the bridge seemed to be telepathically projecting, "Please God don't let the camera see up my skirt."

The point of Chekhov in the original was not that he had a funny accent. It was that he was a proud citizen of a country that, at time of airing, was America's # 1 enemy. The modern USA equivalent of Chekhov would not be Chekhov, but a crew member from Iraq or Afghanistan.

Gay, bi, lesbian, and/or transsexual crew members would also be progressive for our time. Of course there were none.

I'm sure the writers and director justified all this as being faithful to the original. In fact, it's selectively faithful. Without getting too spoilery, there are textually justified departures from the original, plus more that are there without being explained.

The original series had more female crew members. The movie chose not to include Yeoman Rand or Christine Chapel, let alone Number One. (Since Rand's actual job duties were unclear, at least to me, on the original series, they could have put her in security. Her shirt would still be red!)

The characters aren't identical to the originals. Chekhov looks nothing like Original!Chekhov. Kirk has a very different background. Spock is a different take on Spock. Spock and Uhura weren't romantically involved in the original. Romulans in this movie don't look at all like Original!Romulans. Basically, the filmmakers decided to change the things that they thought would be fun and cool to change, and decided to keep the (mostly sexist) elements that they thought would be fun and cool to keep.

Anyway, like I said, I did enjoy the movie very much. I critique because I love: because I want to imagine myself part of that world. What always bothered me as a kid watching reruns of the original was that a girl like me would have no place on the Enterprise. Forty years later, I still wouldn't.
rachelmanija: (Default)
( May. 16th, 2009 12:00 pm)
I'm an Old-Skool Trek fan, one of the ones for whom shirtless, sweaty Sulu with a fencing foil was a pivotal moment in my sexual development.

I mostly adored the new movie, and would see it again with great pleasure. Spock was awesome: interestingly different from Nimoy's character, but still convincingly Spock. The movie's main pairing was Spock/Uhura, which I would have never thought of in a million years but which was sweet and hot and mature and awesome. Actually, for me the movie was all about Spock, Spock/Uhura, and Uhura, and all else was gravy.

But I was sad at its demonstration of exactly how far movies haven't come in terms of equality since the original Trek. The original series was progressive for its time in many ways: it had American primetime TV's first interracial kiss (though aliens made them do it), it had Sulu and Uhura on the bridge, and it had a sympathetic Russian character when Russia was America's top enemy.

And, of course, in many ways it wasn't progressive at all: women were love interests, moms, or telephone operators, didn't get to kick ass unless they were evil, and were all stuck in miniskirts. The attempts to deal directly with racism and other social issues were well-meant but also awful and anvillicious.

The new movie preserved virtually all the ways in which the original was sexist and blinkered, and additionally failed to be progressive for our time.

Much as I loved Uhura and her relationship with Spock, every single significant female character in the entire movie was either a mom or a love interest. Women still don't get to command or kick ass. And they're all still stuck in the ridiculous miniskirt uniforms, and mostly looked vastly uncomfortable in them. Every woman on the bridge seemed to be telepathically projecting, "Please God don't let the camera see up my skirt."

The point of Chekhov in the original was not that he had a funny accent. It was that he was a proud citizen of a country that, at time of airing, was America's # 1 enemy. The modern USA equivalent of Chekhov would not be Chekhov, but a crew member from Iraq or Afghanistan.

Gay, bi, lesbian, and/or transsexual crew members would also be progressive for our time. Of course there were none.

I'm sure the writers and director justified all this as being faithful to the original. In fact, it's selectively faithful. Without getting too spoilery, there are textually justified departures from the original, plus more that are there without being explained.

The original series had more female crew members. The movie chose not to include Yeoman Rand or Christine Chapel, let alone Number One. (Since Rand's actual job duties were unclear, at least to me, on the original series, they could have put her in security. Her shirt would still be red!)

The characters aren't identical to the originals. Chekhov looks nothing like Original!Chekhov. Kirk has a very different background. Spock is a different take on Spock. Spock and Uhura weren't romantically involved in the original. Romulans in this movie don't look at all like Original!Romulans. Basically, the filmmakers decided to change the things that they thought would be fun and cool to change, and decided to keep the (mostly sexist) elements that they thought would be fun and cool to keep.

Anyway, like I said, I did enjoy the movie very much. I critique because I love: because I want to imagine myself part of that world. What always bothered me as a kid watching reruns of the original was that a girl like me would have no place on the Enterprise. Forty years later, I still wouldn't.
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