May 29th, 2004

krazy koati

Just where is the future

One thing I love about the Internet is the ease with which it connects us to people from alternate universes. Foregoing the political humor, I'm thinking of a Trek Today forum. The question of which Star Trek movie has aged the worst brought many responses clearly from worlds with no connection to our own. It's bizarre enough reading gripes about the ``cheesy'' special effects in The Wrath of Kahn. Where, exactly? The only thing honestly corny in it is the damage indicator panel Spock goes to after Kahn's first attack, where the lights embedded in the panel are a bit too obvious. The Genesis Effect animation looks ``primitive,'' sure, but it's meant to be a science proposal and those always look primitive. The blinky buttony lights at Regula One are pointless, but it's not like science fiction movies ever avoid the blinky buttony light displays.

It gets to be outright insane in the hatred for The Voyage Home -- which is nearly the perfect Star Trek movie, though Star Trek: The Motion Picture is the better movie -- with gripes that it's Too 80s. I've tried my best to understand how. Apparently the problems are that the embarrassment of Kirk's communicator going off mid-dinner is something nobody in these days of cell phones could ever find funny; and Save The Whales is such a 1980s philosophy. Also there's a gripe that the special effects are corny, which is wrong. The Motion Picture and The Voyage Home are the high points of Trek's attempts to make sets and special effects that are futuristic but look lived-in.

If any of the Original Trek movies have really aged it's The Motion Picture, and that more because it strives toward that 1970s chic of movies-as-experiences, trying to imitate 2001 and being similar in tone to The Black Hole and Tron in letting plot fade to the side for beauty. In the wake of Star Wars and Terminator science fiction movies became Action Flims punctuating weak morals with explosions (see Nemesis), except for the odd one out that takes forever to cover little territory (see Gattaca).

Perhaps that's another count ``against'' The Voyage Home, which does its business without anything harsher than a doorknob getting phasered. It also shares with The Motion Picture the interesting irony that none of the principal characters can get what they really want unless all of the principals do. I don't wish to stereotype but there are people who seem to feel a story's not complete if the Good Guys don't get to kill anybody. I've always looked askance at the convention that Justice and Swift Guns must coincide. Anyway, it's tempting to dive in to such a forum just to find out what life is like in those alternate universes where The Voyage Home or The Wrath of Kahn weren't good.

Trivia: A ``pi matrix'' in typesetting refers to rarely used symbols such as fractions not needed in typical jobs. They would be inserted by hand when needed. Source: Printer 1 & C, Navy Training Courses Paper 10458.

Currently Reading: European History, 1648-1789, Robert M. Rayner.