Star Trek: Playful, Exciting, Character-driven

spaceball-12947135322_30ab2b2c4fStar Trek has come a long way and just when you thought there were no surprises left, they show up.  I’ll admit, the last few Star Trek movies left me cold.  Nemesis bombed because the writer tried to copy too much from ST2 but without any of the heart.  Insurrection was a trite story line.  Abrams’ Star Trek reinvigorizes the franchise by giving us both old and new–it completely satisfies this Trekkie.

If you go, you will get a thrill ride, and you will also be reintroduced slowly to characters you thought you knew. Yes, everyone looks young and the sets look like Apple designed them, but that’s what it means to restart the series.  You will get your money’s worth from this movie.  Most people know these characters even if they aren’t fans–but they are reintroduced to us here in great detail.  And there’s lots in here for fans of the show–little touches that show that the writers know the whole series.

I’ll try to keep out all of the surprises.  But you already know that there is time travel involved, and it shows up at the very beginning.  And because of that, events are altered.  “Our destinies are not what they would have been,” says a young Spock.  This is okay.  Star Trek has thrived on the “might have been” storylines.  The Mirror Universe got a lot of play in nearly every incarnation of Star Trek; Tom Riker was a might-have-been Will Riker; Voyager had the two part episode “Year of Hell” and the Finale which changed and altered timelines.  Even ST: First Contact imagined a Borg-filled Earth.  So, it’s nothing illegal–it just gives the writers room to wiggle.  They got to play a little with the histories–legally –because a villain altered the timeline.

But that’s the premise.  The cool part of the movie is not what they changed, but what stayed the same.  We get to see some fine actors inhabit these characters and manage to put a bit of the former actor’s style into it.  You watch Chris Pine–slowly he becomes a bit of William Shatner; Quinto is a fantastic Spock.  I swear I can hear Kelley in this new McCoy!  Uhura shows her inner Nichols in a turbo-lift.  Sulu, Chekhov and Scotty all have their moments of channeling as well.  But the writers also let the actors play—play with these histories and parts.

The plot allows each character to be introduced separately. This is a brilliant maneuver.  instead of just dumping them all on the stage at once, we get to know each character in their context.  We meet Kirk and Spock as children, Uhura in a bar, McCoy on a shuttlecraft, Scotty in a Starfleet Outpost, Sulu as a pilot and in a fight, and Chekhov in a funny homage to ST4.

I wish Wolverine would have been this good.  This had just as much action as Wolvie, but ST had a unified plot, and well-developed characters we thought we knew completely.  In the same way Wolvie failed–by being a prequel with no surprises at all–Abrams managed to give us a bit of parallelism in the lives of these characters and the ones we already know.  And there are so many great and interesting surprises–what ifs–that are allowed to play out.

This is what revision should be.  The series was great, but Myth can revise a story and get to its essence, even if the details have somewhat changed.  I can accept both Roddenberry’s original and Abrams’ version–because this isn’t an arbitrary version.  It fits in with the timeline because Nero changed the timeline.  I’m cool with that.  Just as I’m cool with Janeway’s original arrival back on Earth, and “Yesterday’s Enterprise” (a fan favorite).

And J.J. Abrams, a big high-five to you and the writers from a long-time fan!  When I was seven, I took my photo with the wax figure of Mr. Spock, my dad on the other side of Spock.  I don’t have a costume–but I was once Spock at Halloween.  I don’t know Klingon, nor do I collect the series, or any of the paraphenalia, but I loved the stories, and I recognize Star Trek as American Mythos.  You’ve done a great job at bringing that to the surface.  Well done.  Do a sequel.

New Online Market: Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Hey, here’s a new online, professional fantasy market. Here’s how they describe themselves and what they’re publishing in their own words:

Beneath Ceaseless Skies is a new online magazine dedicated to publishing the best in “literary adventure fantasy.”

We love traditional adventure fantasy, including classics from the 1930s pulp era and the new wave of fantasy from the 1970s post-Tolkien boom. But we also love how the recent influence of literary writing on fantasy short fiction has expanded and advanced the genre, allowing writers the freedom to use literary devices such as tight points-of-view, round characters, unreliable narrators, discontinuous narratives, and many others. This sophisticated level of craft has made fantasy short fiction more powerful than ever before.

We want stories that combine the best of both these styles—adventure fantasy plots in vivid secondary worlds, but written with a literary flair. Beneath Ceaseless Skies will feature exciting stories set in awe-inspiring places that are told with all the skill and impact of modern literary-influenced fantasy.

That’s what we mean by “literary adventure fantasy.” It could also be called “modern traditional fantasy” or “literary swords and sorcery.” There are many current short fiction markets that specialize in literary-style fantasy, and a hardy few that still publish adventure fantasy, but there is no magazine focusing on stories that combine both. Until now.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies will publish two stories per issue, with a new issue every two weeks. We will also maintain an online forum to update submitting writers and to encourage reader discussion of all things fantasy. We will use modern internet technology to target readers of fantasy short fiction as well as fans of traditional-style fantasy.

Okay, I know I’m not supposed to judge a book by its cover [art] but this is some nifty cover art by Mats Minnhagen [his website]. Here are the submissions guidelines. Good luck!

http://beneath-ceaseless-skies.com/page.php?p=submissions