Grim_Noir Explores Strange, New Worlds of the Star Trek Universe

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You may have seen every episode of every Star Trek TV series, multiple times. You may be able to quote every line of dialogue from every Star Trek film (even, *SHUDDER*, The Final Frontier and Insurrection). You may have won Star Trek trivia contests and attended cons. But your Trek-Fu is still weak.

No. You’re wrong. I don’t care that you know all the board games, Gold Key comics and Chinese knockoff toys. You are still wrong. Sit, calm down and let me explain:

Like any large corporation, Star Trek has just gotten too big for any one person to wrap their hands around all of it. Even the professionals, who get paid to be Master Trekkers, occasionally mess it up. (I, myself, rage-quit Enterprise twice [the second time, permanently], due to the incongruities it created in the prior established mythology.)

This past week, the original Star Trek series (a.k.a. “T.O.S.”) celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of its television debut. I absolutely agree this was a major cultural milestone that changed the world in many, many beneficial ways. I would just like to point out a few of the lesser-known corners of the Star Trek universe that even a casual viewer might be interested in knowing about…

John Byrne’s Star Trek: New Visions Photo-Comics

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Title: Star Trek: New Visions Photo-Comics

Writer/Photomanipulation/Lettering: John Byrne

Published by IDW Publishing

Before home video was even a gleam in the eye of the first VCR, the ’70s had a crude on-Demand system called the “Photo-Novel.” It was a book that took photographs of key scenes from a film or TV show and added comic-book-style dialogue bubbles to recreate the entire script.

Comic creator and cranky icon John Byrne still remembers those days and follows up his Star Trek: Leonard McCoy-Frontier Doctor comic book series with Star Trek: New Visions. Using today’s technology Byrne creates entirely new photo-novel episodes of the original Star Trek by manipulating cells from the 1960’s series. Occasionally, these stories can get convoluted in the mechanism of using previously filmed images to tell fresh stories, but it is fun to think, “What if….” This Wednesday, a special one-shot issue, Swarm, is due out.

Vic Mignogna’s Star Trek Continues Web-Series

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Voice/Actor Vic Mignogna and his fellow Funimation players have painstakingly recreated most of the major sets from the original Enterprise and all of the Starfleet uniforms in a large barn in Georgia. With true old-school “hey-kids-let’s-put-on-a-show” spirit, they have sat down and mapped out what Year Four of the five-year mission would have looked like, if Star Trek hadn’t been cancelled in its third season. While the movies have cleverly travelled into an alternate timeline, the … Continues scripts perfectly capture the mood and vitality of Gene Roddenberry’s initial concept.

Mignogna makes a fine Kirk and Todd Haberkorn is terrific as Spock. Because they are buddies in real life, they successfully capture the interplay between the Captain and his Science Officer. Joining them for the continuing ride are former Mythbuster Grant Imahara as Sulu and James Doohan’s son, Chris, stepping into Scotty’s UFP boots. Michael Dorn and Marina Sirtis have both played computer voices for the web-series and Farscape‘s Gigi Edgley guest-starred in the most recent episode.

Episodes of Star Trek Continues can be found on both their website and on their YouTube channel. Best of all, as a not-for-profit company, they can never charge for their content: It is the only way they can use the Star Trek images, designs and costumes. However, I’m sure any donations (through Kickstarter and IndyGoGo) would be gratefully accepted.

Filmation’s Star Trek: The Animated Series

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As many Trekkies already know, in 1973, most of the original cast and writers returned for Filmation’s Star Trek: The Animated Series. “Animated” was a polite term: The animation was herky-jerk (even for the times) and Filmation was notorious for looping sequences whenever possible. While considered non-canon, Walter Koenig got to write a script for it, the first holo-deck appeared on it, AND the first mention of the “T” standing for “Tiberius” occurred on this cartoon. Best of all, you can catch up on all of this show for dirt cheap.

What many fans DON’T know is that life-long fanboy Curt Danhauser has created new episodes of Star Trek: The Animated Series. Similar to Byrne’s Star Trek: New Visions, Danhauser’s recreation uses recycled footage to craft its stories. Danhauser does every male voice and his sound reproduction equipment is borderline terrible, but he is a dyed-in-the-wool Trekkie and the plots ring true.

Peter David’s Star Trek: The New Frontier Novel Series

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In 1996, writer extraordinaire Peter David (X-Factor, Runaways, Supergirl, and Spider-Man 2099) was called into the offices of Simon and Schuster. After thirty years of TV shows, movies and paperback books, their Star Trek general editor, John Ordover, was beginning to have trouble maintaining continuity for the franchise. He wanted David’s help to create a stand-alone book series that would not be dependant on any other Trek continuity, except its own. What Peter David gave them was beyond any Trekkies’ dreams.

Like all good Star Trek tales, David’s Star Trek: New Frontier makes a commentary on the social events of the time: It begins with the collapse of the Thallonian Empire into a five-way civil war, paralleling the (then current) fall of the Soviet Union. Mackenzie Calhoun is a Crockett-and-Tubbs-like deep undercover operative for the Federation. His pre-Academy background is filled with the blood of a Xenexian uprising and he firmly believes his own personal code trumps the Prime Directive. Only his strong respect for Picard (who recruited Mackenzie) keeps him with Starfleet. Starfleet brings him in from the cold and promotes him to Captain of the Excalibur. As a non-Terran commander with a childhood in a neighboring quadrant, he is the only officer that all warring parties will allow into the Empire to offer humanitarian aid to all sides.

Star Trek: New Frontier‘s crew is loaded with oddballs, some new and some very familiar: Firstly, Mac is saddled with the prior Captain’s X-O, Elizabeth Shelby. (Yes, THAT Elizabeth Shelby.) Add in a Vulcan doctor who has been suppressing an incomplete Pon Farr, an almost clairvoyant ship’s helmsman, a Brikar Security Chief and a poly-gendered Chief Engineer, and you’re ready for one hell of a ride.

Artemis Cooperative Computer Game

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Once you are addicted to the world of communicators and transporter beams, soon cosplay won’t be enough, and you start to look at all of the various Star Trek videogames.

Ironically, the most immersive Star Trek videogame experience is the one that isn’t actually licensed or even an official part of the franchise. Artemis: Spaceship Bridge Simulator doesn’t use images, stories, backgrounds, characters or starships from Star Trek, yet it is the most faithful reproduction of what it is like to be a bridge officer on a Federation starship of any size or class. Six players, each on their own separate laptop, must assume a station of the spaceship’s bridge (Science, Communications, Weapons, Engineering, Helm, or Captain) in order to defend a sector of space against the game’s A.I., who is playing an invading armada. The players win or lose working together as a team; no superstars, no griefers.

The Next Fifty Years…

When Gene Roddenberry was circulating the script for his new sci-fi show in 1964, his “elevator pitch” was, “Wagon Train in space.” Well, the western Wagon Trail lasted 5 years on TV and is a blip on the cultural landscape, while Star Trek remains a juggernaut. In May of 2017, CBS will launch a brand new show, Star Trek: Discovery. I may disagree with their choice to only show Discovery exclusively on their new web service, but I have no doubt the show will ultimately be successful. Other science fiction shows allow us to confront who we are as a people, Star Trek has always allowed us to dream of who we could be.

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grim_noir_3_t* GRIM_NOIR is convinced that the internet is a figment of his imagination. Please comment below and/or follow @Grim_Noir on Twitter or Friend on Good Reads or Facebook to end his self-delusions.

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