Film & Television Opinion

Mythos in Star Trek Discovery 1.14: The War Without, the War Within

This blogpost is focused on looking at how The War Without, The War Within, the fourteenth episode of Star Trek: Discovery fits into the events and themes of the previously established universe. I’ve written similar blogposts looking at each previous episode (you can read the first here, and a full list under the Star Trek Discovery tag).

Surgical Alterations in Star Trek

It had been confirmed four episodes earlier that Tyler is really Voq, surgically and mentally altered to appear Human, but in this episode the viewer gets more of an insight into the process than had previously been the case. Tyler tells Saru that the process cracked his bones open, reduced the size of his heart and shaved down the tips of his fingers. He reveals that the Klingons refer to the process as a “species reassignment protocol”, which grounds the process in the language of real world sex reassignment surgery. In a previous recap I mentioned Arne Darvin, who in an episode of TOS replaces a Federation diplomat’s assistant. A 2007 comic depicted Darvin’s quite graphic transformation, which overlaps with what Tyler describes.

Star Trek Blood Will Tell

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Egotism, Film & Television Opinion

IWSG: The Power of Scifi

This is an entry for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group, a way for writers to discuss their writing anxieties. It cross-posts on each others’ blogs on the first Wednesday of each month.

In my writing I wander a lot around different genres, but the one that I’m most strongly attached to (as you might suspect from my blog’s name) is science fiction. The thing I’ve always loved about the genre is the scale and sense of escapism. Classic science fiction has always dealt with really big ideas – Isaac Asimov’s Foundation saga is about the collapse of a corrupt empire and the people trying to replace the chaos with something better. Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001 is about how Humanity will cope with contact from alien races who are beyond our comprehension. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is about the creation of a new form of life, and the moral responsibilities involved. Great science fiction takes what could be dry academic discussions and breathes life into them, making them real.

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Analysis

Mythos in Star Trek Discovery 1.13: What’s Past is Prologue

This blogpost is focused on looking at how What’s Past is Prologue, the sixth episode of Star Trek: Discovery fits into the events and themes of the previously established universe. I’ve written similar blogposts looking at each previous episode (you can read the first here, and a full list under the Star Trek Discovery tag).

Climate Change

The Terran Empire’s toxic approach to the mycelial network is essentially a fossil fuel metaphor. Whereas the Prime Universe crew are conscientious about doing as little damage as possible, the Charon’s mycelial power core poisons the wider mycelial network while drawing power from it. Saru to be shocked by the Terran Empire’s short-sightedness, given that the process means that eventually, in Stamets’ words, “life as we know it will cease to exist”.

This recklessness works as a parallel to the real-world use of fossil fuels. Despite its hippyish idealism, the Star Trek franchise hasn’t touched on climate change and environmentalism as often as might be expected. The most notable exception is the TNG episode Force of Nature – built on the premise that warp engines damage areas of space which have excessive warp travel, an issue which isn’t revisited on-screen. (I’ve read that the reason Voyager’s warp nacelles physically rise before the ship goes to warp is to counter this effect, though I’m not sure whether this is canonical.) The climax of What’s Past Is Prologue implies that this analogy won’t be immediately revisited, but it’s a storytelling device that DIS could reuse in future.

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Analysis

Mythos in Star Trek Discovery 1.10 Despite Yourself

This blogpost is focused on looking at how Lethe, the sixth episode of Star Trek: Discovery fits into the events and themes of the previously established universe. I’ve written similar blogposts looking at each previous episode (you can read the first here, and a full list under the Star Trek Discovery tag).

The Pseudoscience of Star Trek’s Parallel Universes

The TNG episode Parallels has Worf travelling through parallel universes .On his way back to the Enterprise from a holiday, Worf’s shuttle passes through a “quantum fissure“, which causes a “quantum flux” in Worf’s cellular RNA. As a result throughout the episode when Worf is close to Geordi La Forge, a “quantum field pulse” that Geordi’s visor sends out, interacting with Worf’s altered state, pushes him into the body of himself in a slightly different parallel universe. During this process Data confirms Worf’s account by noting that his ‘quantum signature’ is different to the rest of the crew – a line repeated in Despite Yourself.

These shifts are very subtle at first. The first Worf notices being that Picard shows up unexpectedly at a party. These differences become more divergent from the main timeline, until Worf ends up in a timeline where Captain Riker commands the Enterprise, Worf is his first officer, and Wesley Crusher is a member of the senior crew.

The coincidences of the Mirror Universe often seem incredibly unlikely – same people, children of the same parents, serving on the same ship…even though the fundamental philosophy of their society is different. But using Worf’s example justifies this. In a multiverse of infinite possibilities, he travels first to those universes most like his own, getting further and further away, but never too different. (He is always serving on the Enterprise, never anywhere else.)

Perhaps the Mirror Universe has a few big differences in it’s ‘quantum signature’ but is otherwise similar to our own, which makes it easier to access than some others. If you think of it in terms of magic rather than hard science, it works. I doubt that any of this has anything to do with the real theoretical science behind parallel universes, by Hugh Everett and others. It’s probably best to think of this level of ‘science’ in the same manner as magic – what matters is that it serves the story and is internally consistent.

(Incidentally, Burnham refers to the ‘mirror Discovery’ which I think is the first textual mention of the term ‘mirror’ in relation to the mirror universe.) There’s certainly no mention of the term in Mirror, Mirror – the TOS episode which introduced this timeline.

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Comedy

Toby Young’s Eugenics Speech

Toby Young has been mired in controversy this year, with the latest revelation being that he attended the London Conference on Intelligence, where several pseudoscientific arguments on the superiority of white and male genetics have been made over recent years.

I’ve decided to discover a memo written while constructing a speech delivered to the LCI. It might be real for all you know.

Lynne,

I’m sending you a draft copy of the speech I’m going to give to the secret eugenics conference, just to check on the scientific accuracy of my speech. [I’ll see what I can do. Though I’m not keen on the phrase ‘secret eugenics conference’.]

Welcome ladies and gentleman. And welcome also to the not so gentle men, such as the the guy in the third row with the swastika tattoo on his forehead. (Wait a moment for people to turn around.) I’m joking of course, there are no members of the working class here.

I’m here to talk to you today about eugenics, an area of science that has a negative reputation as the result of some misapplications in the 1930s and 40s. Because of these…unfortunate uses of eugenics – the whole genocide thing – many people reject the idea entirely out of hand. I personally have been no-platformed by Teach First, who deleted my blog on eugenics. [That’s not what no-platforming means. I’ve been rejected by many journals, you don’t have a right to be paid for your words in whatever publication you want.]

This conference has a long legacy of brave speakers, willing to challenge taboos. One of my predecessors at this podium, Emil Kirkegaard, argued that paedophiles should be allowed to rape sleeping children provided that they’re unaware of what’s done to them. Many of the ideas expressed at this conference and those like it will be considered controversial to mainstream ivory tower elites. But the development of new ideas requires debate. Without an in-depth discussion, can we really say for certain that it’s wrong for a paedophile to rape a sleeping child?

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FootballOpinion

Legacy Issues – How Hartlepool United Made it to the Brink

News emerging over recent weeks have revealed that Hartlepool United have some major financial issues to overcome in the next few weeks. Ian King of TwoHundredPercent.net has a good summary of Hartlepool United’s situation. As a fan I’ve a few more things to add.

First of all, a bit of recent history. Going back years Pools were owned by IOR, an Aberdeen-based oil company who subsidised the club’s finances. The spending was never anywhere near as much as al Fayed at Fulham or Whelan at Wigan, who were in the lower leagues around the same time, but enough to help compete with Cardiff, Sheffield Wednesday, Bristol City etc.

IOR’s motives seemed to use Pools as corporate entertainment (showcasing their business skill in the process) and as a tax write-off (Pools made losses of around £1m a season under their leadership despite going up and down divisions, which seems too steady to be coincedental.) The impression grew over time that IOR had gotten bored of Pools, and were happy for us to tread water. There was disaffection with them long before they sold the club.

A deal was initially struck for the club to be sold to Stephen Murrall and Peter Harris (known as The Monkey Hangers 2014 – a business set up for the purpose of buying the club). Gate money was transferred into their accounts during the transitional period before the formal takeover, which led to the deal collapsing. In financial terms this is classed as ‘self-dealing’, and was one of the reasons that they were later jailed.

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Review

Review – Bright

Dealing with racism through the metaphor of supernatural beings in a world very similar to our own, Bright is superficially similar to the vastly superior Alien Nation. Will Smith plays the mildly racist cop Daryl Ward, with Joel Edgerton as his stoic Orc partner Nick Jakoby. In a world full of fantastical creatures but little magic, the discovery of a magic wand sets off a chaotic night with Ward and Jakoby protecting the wand from the various groups intent on wielding its’ power. There’s also some stuff about a prophecy, but if you’ve ever seen that trope in action Bright won’t surprise you.

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