Monday, 30 April 2012

Star Trek XII Spoilers Regarding Nimoy and Cumberbatch

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As many of you may have heard, a couple of rumors that had been going around about Star Trek XII have been confirmed.

First, Leonard Nimoy is once again coming out of retirement to play Spock Prime. This excites me greatly, as it means we may bear witness to the rebuilding of Vulcan (or rather, the progression of New Vulcan).

The second confirmation has gotten people across the internet very worked up - and not, it seems, in a positive way.

Benedict Cumberbatch will be playing Khan Noonien Singh.

benedit cumberbatch and Khan

Some of the arguments against Khan being the main villain are that as this is a new universe, they would like to see new villains. I, on the other hand, do not think that would be wise.

I am incredibly excited to see Benedict play Khan - and sooner or later, Khan will have to be released from stasis. The timeline change only goes back so far, and the Romulan miners arrived nowhere near the 1990s. This means that Khan and his league of super-humans still launched into space, placed themselves in stasis, and are yet to be found. Perhaps this discovery will happen in the coming movie. It is perfectly logical that Khan becomes a major villain.

Many things have to happen now, actually. Not only must somebody face Khan again, but somebody is also going to have to bring back whales from the past. These things logically need to happen, because the timeline wasn't changed far enough back in time for the events causing the Eugenics war and the extinction of the humpback whales to be altered.

Another concern is that Benedict Cumberbatch is a poor choice to play Khan because, well, he's white and British. I feel that with Khan's makeup and some practice, he could definitely look and at/sound the part. I mean, Hugh Laurie has a British accent, but we hear not trace of it in House.

benedict cumberbatch and khan

Of course, most of us have seen the leaked photos of Benedict as (what we now know is) Khan. These photos were not, however, of a high enough quality that one would be able to make a deduction as to resemblance.

And what if they are going to meet Khan in the past, when he is younger than when we met him in Space Seed? These things do happen.

My point is, I think it would be interesting watching the historic events we know from the past episodes and movies, and seeing how they might change in this alternate timeline. I think choosing Khan as a villain for the coming movie is a perfect (and logical) choice, and there must be somebody out there who agrees with me.

Edit: Another concern about Cumberbatch as Khan is that it is a "race failure", and that casting him ensures that an ethnic person is not cast as the part. I absolutely understand what they are saying, what it implies, and how it could be seen as a problem. My respectful opinion, however, is that a great actor for the part should not be discriminated against because he is NOT the same race, when they would do the part great justice. I was not at the casting, and so I do not know who was there/what ethnicity the actors were/how well they performed in respect to Khan.

Zar - Son of Spock and Zarabeth - Life Before the Enterprise

Zar was born in the Sarpeidon Ice Age, and was the son of Zarabeth and Spock - making him one-quarter Vulcan. Despite being one a quarter Vulcan, his appearance was distinctly Vulcanoid, with a marked resemblance to Spock. His eyes were grey, and he had dark hair. His hearing was exceptional, but although he had the Vulcan inner eyelid, his vision was barely outside human range. His blood type was different than anything the Doctor had ever seen before - a greenish-grey mix. He had spectacular muscle tone from living and hunting in the wilderness, with wide shoulders. McCoy made an observation while Zar was in the Enterprise that at a proper weight, Zar would easily mass more than Spock. Zar also had large keloid scars from an attack by a Vitha - one running along the right forearm from his wrist to his elbow, and another from the outside of his right thigh running nearly to his knee. The only noticable features that belonged to his mother were his jaw and mouth.

Zar was highly intelligent and had amazing telepathic abilities, being able to project strong emotions such as hunger or fear onto other beings. Doctor McCoy also found that when pinching a nerve on Zar's arm, they could both feel the pain. Zar also experienced premonitions, and could pick up on the feelings of those around him.

From the cover of "Yesterday's Son" - click to enlarge
Early Life on Sarpeidon
Zar lived with his mother Zarabeth until she died after falling into a crevasse when he was 19 summers old. Unable to properly bury the body, he placed it underneath an ice sheet in a cave. From that time until he was 25 summers old he lived in complete solitude. To fend off the cold when in the wilderness, he wore a face shield, hood, and furs. Underneath this he wore a leather tunic, under which his emaciation was severe (despite his muscle tone, strength, and endurance). When Zar had 15 summers, he had studied himself in a mirror that his mother had, and then he painted his face on the cave wall along with hunting pictures. After his mother's death, he would sometimes talk to to this face.

He would hunt animals for food, the only real nourishment being meat in the ice age. Because of his ability to mentally project intense feelings, he was able to stop an animal for long enough to capture and kill it.

When Zarabeth was living, Zar found that he could tell what his mother was thinking - but was told that it was not polite to do so without permission. Zarabeth also taught him to read, and would often correct his grammar - before she was exiled to Sarpeidon, she was a teacher. Zarabeth also spoke fondly of Spock to Zar, telling him that he was always loving and caring.

There will be a post about Zar's life on the Enterprise, and afterwards.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Yesterday's Son and Time for Yesterday

Y is for Yesterday!

Remember the TOS episode "All Our Yesterdays"? In this episode, Spock and Doctor McCoy get trapped in the Sarpeidon Ice Age, and Spock starts reverting to the ways of his ancestors five thousand years before he was born. He eats meat, acts aggressively towards McCoy, and falls in love with Zarabeth (an exile). Oh, and then this happens between them:

Gee, I wonder what happened next, after the camera stopped shooting? Don't worry, you'll find out if you keep reading...

There are actually two books that are a follow-up to this episode - "Yesterday's Son", and "Time for Yesterday" by A.C. Crispin. It is in these books that we meet Spock and Zarabeth's son - Zar. I won't go much into the plot, because these are two of my favorite books and I would hate to spoil anybody's experience.

I had always wondered what kind of father Spock would make (although Spock was certainly Saavik's father figure for some time - see "The Pandora Principle"), and things certainly get interesting between Spock and Zar. I recall reading about Zar at mealtime, expressing his angst by eating a meat sandwich deliberately in front of his father.

There are a few strange details, such as Spock being unable to reveal that Zar is his son because of his age. When Spock goes back through the Guardian of Forever to find Zar, he expected to find a baby. Instead he finds a 25 year old man. I find it strange that a man as old as Spock would not be able to have a 25 year old son, seeing as Vulcans live about twice as long as humans, and Spock looks to be quite old enough in the illustrations on the covers. In fact, he looks to be close to the same age as Sarek was in Journey to Babel, and Spock was certainly older than 25 in that episode.

Despite some oddities, however, these are absolutely amazing books. I would highly recommend finding them in any way you can, and reading them at least ten times each.

Yesterday's Son (from the back cover):

The Romulans attack the planet Gateway, where Federation scientists are studying the Guardian of Forever - the mysterious portal to the past. The Enterprise must protect the Guardian - or destroy it. But Spock has already used the portal to journey to the past. On the planet Sarpeidon, 5000 years ago, Spock knew a beautiful, primitive woman. Now he has gone to meet his son!

Time for Yesterday (from the back cover):

Time in the galaxy has stopped running in its normal course. That can mean only one thing - the Guardian of Forever is malfunctioning. To save the universe, Starfleet Command reunites three of its most legendary figures - Admiral James T. Kirk, Spock of Vulcan, and Dr. Leonard McCoy - and sends them on a desperate mission to contact the Guardian, a journey that ultimately takes them 5,000 years into the past. They must find Spock's son Zar once again - and bring him back to their time to telepathically communicate with the Guardian.

But Zar is enmeshed in troubles of his own, and soon Kirk, Spock, and McCoy find themselves in a desperate struggle to save both their world - and his!

Friday, 27 April 2012

Xon and the Star Trek That Never Was

X is for Xon!

Today I have been making my way through File Magazines' "The Star Trek That Never Was" from 1985. It holds an interesting collection of planned episodes and characters from what was going to Star Trek: Phase II, with Xon (a young full Vulcan) replacing Spock, and with Decker and Ilia on board.

I got this book on a dusty old shelf behind strange romance novels!
I have always been fascinated by Xon, from what I have been able to find out about him - I wish I could have seen his character in action.

Xon is quite young, only 22 - extremely young for a Vulcan - and is a genius, personally selected by the Vulcan Academy of Science as their representative on the Enterprise. Xon realizes that part of the reason why Spock did so well was his ability to better comprehend the crew's emotions due to his human half. Because of this, he tries to copy human emotions (without actually experiencing them) so that he can better understand humanity. Xon is also a much stronger telepath than Spock, and is able to easily link with Ilia.

Full profile... I wish it had happened.
The image used for the above profile is not that of Xon, but of Sonak in The Motion Picture. Xon was to be played by David Gautreaux:

The first episode draft, "In Thy Image", was eventually adapted into the Motion Picture and involves Ilia being used as a probe and V'Ger (spelled Vejur in the article), Xon, and Decker. There are many differences - Ilia and Decker resume duty aboard the enterprise, and Xon is Science officer throughout. Kirk beams down to earth with the probe and it is amazed at the beauty of it. But through Ilia "Vejur" begins to like Kirk, and when the time comes to destroy earth it decides that the biological units have a reason to live, and that it cannot learn from them.

Ilia materializes naked in Kirk's shower...
Not the most unique story.
The pictures that accompany the episode's overview don't have much to do with "In Thy Image" specifically - the first is from the Motion Picture with Ilia, and the second is Kirk with Nomad (it is suggested that the episode would have been too similar to "The Changeling").

Still, I would have loved to see Xon in action!

William Shatner - Personality Presents the Original Crew #1 1991

W is for William Shatner!

Once there was a girl, trying not to trip over her Vulcan robes as she was shuffling around in paper and books on a convention table. I don't know why she was searching so eagerly - she had not money left. But there it was: Personality Presents the Original Crew - the illustrated biography magazine. Upon glancing over at the magazines, her molecules dissipated and the entire convention room was attacked by Canadian demon-beavers. The only way for her mother to restore the balance was for her to buy the girl the magazines, which were 12 dollars for William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.

That was a close one.

This magazine's art and lettering was done by Aldrin "Buzz" Aw, and was written by Stephen Spire III. The entire magazine in a biography of William Shatner in comic form. I scanned a few of the best pages. Click image to enlarge.

The magazine starts as such:
"On Thrursday, September 8th 1966 at exactly 8:30P.M. the world was changed forever."
Captain Kirk, Spock, and Dr. McCoy have become modern myths. Heroes in a future that shows hope and promise. This is the story of a man who gave the orders. The big boss, the top man... William Shatner. Captain of the Starship Enterprise."
"Yet, can you picture anybody else playing the part? 
Of course he wasn't born a full fledged Starship Commender. He had to work hard to get that post. Although, a thought comes to mind, let's imagine he was born as Kirk.
Doctor: Nurse! Come here quick! I can't believe my ears!
Nurse: What is it Doctor?
Doctor: Listen to this.
Fetus Shatner: Beam me up, Scotty!"

The "fan" shown in this magazine is a short boy, presumably a child, with a Spock hair cut, fake pointed ears, a Star Trek uniform, and glasses. This fan is shown writing letters for the campaign to save Star Trek, watching the show/movies, and standing around looking inquisitively at a picture of William Shatner.

The magazine is written in a very fun way, and goes through most of William Shatner's life up until that point (1991). It goes over his relationship with his father (how he wanted William to take over his clothing business and felt that acting was foolish, leading to William making his own way in poverty) and about how his father dies during the filming of "Devil in the Dark".

There is even an entire page dedicated to the fluctuations in his weight during the filming of Star Trek (TOS).

Fun facts from the magazine:
In college he worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Company on radio.
He started his television career on a live show called Playhouse 90.
One of the Twilight Zone episodes he appeared in was called "Project Vulcan".
His first major Motion Picture debut was in the 1957 adaptation of "The Brothers Karamazov", followed by "Judgement in Nuremburg"  and "The Intruder" (also known as "Shame" and "I Hate Your Guts").
He also played a murderous mental patient in "Impulse", and starred in an epic B-movie called "Kingdom of the Spiders".
Paramount was only ready to make a Star Trek movie after the success of Star Wars.

The one thing that troubles me are the spelling errors, of which there are a lot of. Despite these errors, however (do they even bother anybody else?), this magazine is one of my favorites and is a very fun read - especially with the superbly done illustrations. One the back cover is very detailed, realistic painting of Patrick Stewart, and there are other TNG portraits scattered inside as well.

PS. That girl from the beginning was me.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Vibrant Oxymoron - T'Laina Revealed

V is for Vibrant Oxymoron!

Ever since I started this blog, I have refrained from posting any pictures of my face. I had a lot of reasons - privacy, mystery... but I got over that quickly. I decided today that I would give my readers (whom I appreciate greatly) a little treat, so I went outside with my camera and took some quick pictures.

I look so impressed all of the time.

That was sarcasm.

Last time I posted a picture of with my hair on here, it was turquoise in the front and blonde in the back. It has grown out a bit since then, and I decided to dye the rest of my hair (which is naturally dark brown). In case anyone is curious, I used Atomic Turquoise Manic Panic.

I recently got braces, which feels strange sometimes. I find that I don't even know how to hold my mouth anymore.

Fun fact: I wear a lot of plaid. My closet looks like a lumberjack ate his/her clothes and vomited on the floor.

I also have an anatomical skull model whom I named Gregory after Dr. Gregory House. I bought it to work one day, but they told me that I couldn't have it at the checkout.

I just really enjoy biology. (See? I have interests other than Star Trek and Doctor Who!)

So there you have it. The face behind the blog.

Fan fact #2: these pictures are unedited, except for the watermark, and taken with a Fujifilm FinePix S3400.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Uniforms for Star Trek: The Motion Picture - From the Files of Starfleet Command Headquarters

U is for Uniforms!

Within the Marvel comic "Spock... the Barbarian!" from 1981 is a few pages on Starfleet uniforms as seen in The Motion Picture. The coloring is a little off from what we see in the Motion Picture, but the information still applies.

First we get a look at the Class-A uniforms, along with the gold insignia styles and their ranks. The Class-A uniforms are only worn when VIPs (ambassadors, admirals, etc.) are on board, or at ceremonial functions such as funerals, special dinners, or weddings. During the motion picture we see Kirk in both the Admiral's (or Flag Officer's) and the Captain's Class-A uniform, as he was an admiral at the very beginning of the movie until he took over as Captain.

This page also informs us on the "Commodore" rank - "An honorary title; usually the senior Captain in an organization - a captain who performs the duties of an admiral."

As far as Class-A uniforms go, this page states that the command level officers (Kirk, Spock, Decker, Scotty, etc.) wear grey (although it usually looks blue),  whereas the lower-level officers and crew (Uhura, Chekov, Sulu, etc.) wear beige. For whatever reason, Spock wears his Class-A uniform with a black collar.

And by the way, those are life support monitor belt buckles on the front of their uniforms (referred to in this guide as a bio-scan belt buckle).

The Class-B uniforms are more casual, with either long or short sleeves, and are worn daily around the ship. There are three uniform colors, shown below, and shoulder tabs and insignia showing department and rank. A white shirt and grey pants are worn by command level officers, and  the lower officers wear beige. Enlisted personnel wear light and dark brown. The insignia worn on the breast match the tabs in color.

Grey: Operations division: Security
Yellow/Gold: Operations division: Communications and Command division: Helm and Navigation
Green: Sciences division: Medical
Orange: Sciences division: Research and technical
Red: Operations division: Engineering and maintenance
White: Command.

Rank is indicated by stripes, except for the yellow squares worn on the tabs of Chiefs.

The medical Class-A uniforms are very much like the others, but with a v-cut collar. Dr. McCoy, being a command level officer, wears grey, while Dr. Chapel wears beige.

The medical work uniforms are white, but without a bio-scan belt buckle. These uniforms are worn only in sickbay and in surgery. The medical worksuits for lower ranking officers are also white, but have the bio-scan buckle. Both the medical work uniform and the medical worksuit have a caduceus instead of the insignia, but the work uniforms have shoulder tabs that indicate rank.

For informal occasions outside of sickbay, Both McCoy and Chapel wear white pants, with either a white tunic (McCoy) or a beige tunic (Chapel) over top.

The general leisure uniforms (wraparound tunics) are generally worn while off duty. Like the other uniforms, these come in grey, beige, and brown depending on rank.

The duty jackets/excursion jacket worn by the landing parties were manila, with colored strips around the upper arm indicating rank. There is a "blooper" in the Motion Picture where at one point, Spock and McCoy's rank strips are reversed. The duty jackets have two large pockets on either side. There is also an alternate duty jacket for colder conditions, with fur cuffs and a hood.

The work suit uniform is worn by engineering, technicians, and maintenance personnel on the job, and sometimes under a duty jacket. Kirk and Spock wear these uniforms as well in grey. These suits also come in white, brown, and beige - and green on planetary stations. Also known as a jumpsuit, some of these suits had large pockets on the thighs.

The engineering anti-radiation suits are worn "in and around warp engines and matter/antimatter power chambers" and come in white or brown.

The shoes worn by the Enterprise crew are attached to their trousers.

Some security personnel (starship and base) wore full body armor with a helmet, which was dark with white details. These pages also fail to go over the protective suit worn by certain (minor) members of the crew, the thruster suit, the civilian tunic (also seen only on minor/background characters), pressure suits, and the petty officer insignia (which is a gold triangle).

T'Puhku's 4000 Word Character Analysis of Sarek.

I do not consider very many people "friends" - but when I do, I care about them deeply. Two of my friends, unfortunately, live in other countries - one of which is across the ocean.

One of my friends is T'Puhku, who shares my fascination with the Vulcan language and culture. I send her boxes of Star Trek memorabilia when I can, and we send each other messages in Vulcan. In fact, we started a tumblr blog dedicated to the Vulcan language where we post lessons, translations, and a phrase of the day. You may visit it here: Gen-lis Vuhlkansu - Gol’nev heh Zhit-Ballar

In particular, she shares my fascination with Sarek - in fact, her obsession with him may have surpassed mine. On her tumblr, "Benjisidrine and Frozen Glass", she posted this wonderfully in depth (exactly) 4000 Word Character Analysis of Sarek and kindly permitted me to share it here:

Although he is not a prominent or regular member of the Star Trek cast, the character of Ambassador Sarek is one that seems uncharacteristically popular among fans of the series. After Sarek’s first appearance in the thirty-ninth episode of The Original Series, Journey to Babel, a lot of the interest came from his obvious connection to Spock – the fans’ all-time favourite – as his father, but it did not take the fans very long to realise that in Sarek, they had been given a second Vulcan, a full one this time, whose character depths and complexities very nearly equal those of his son.

Sarek was born in 2164 (or 2165, according to on Vulcan. His father was Skon, son of Solkar. His mother is never mentioned, although some non-canonical sources like to use T’Pau, who can be seen in The Original Series episode Amok Time. Sarek was very possibly born in or near the metropolis Shi’Kahr, where he raised his son Spock (and his other son Sybok, if you consider Sybok canon) and continued to live until his death on an estate named D’H’riset. Semi-canonical works have used S’chn T’gai as a first name for both Sarek and Spock. The original script of Journey to Babel states that before going into politics, Sarek was an astrophysicist. This information was not included in the actual episode – which did, however, indicate that Sarek possesses a significant amount of computer-technological knowledge. Either way, his diplomatic expertise allowed him to climb the hierarchical ladder of politics rather quickly, and he became the Vulcan Ambassador extraordinaire to Earth and the Federation. According to his third wife, Perrin, Sarek “owes the Federation a lifetime of service”, and he had soon established his reputation as one of the most significant politicians of his time.

First Officer William Riker of the USS Enterprise-D once says, “I remember studying his career in school.” Sarek’s most distinguished political achievements that are considered canonical, many of which led to him being immortalised in numerous Starfleet history records, include the admission of Coridan into the Federation, his involvement in the Klingon Treaty of Alliance and the Khitomer Accords, as well as the treaties of Alpha Cygnus IX and Legara IV. The latter took the incredible effort of 93 years and was finalised less than two years before Sarek’s death with the help of Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Enterprise-D.

It was on this mission in 2366 that Sarek was diagnosed with Bendii Syndrome, a debilitating, slowly progressing and untreatable lethal condition that only affects Vulcan males over the age of two hundred Terran years. The effects of the disease have been compared to those of Alzheimer’s in humans. The major component of Bendii Syndrome is, however, not primarily dementia, but rather the loss of the emotional control that is a quintessential part of any Vulcan’s culture and pride, making the condition far more frightening and painful than many others. Furthermore, the disease affects neurochemical pathways, leading to gradual deterioration of the brain. The later symptoms therefore include loss of memory, confusion and dementia as well as loss of more delicate motor functions. The latter leads to one of the most touching and heart-breaking scenes of The Next Generation, in the episode Unification I, where Captain Picard helps Sarek put his fingers in the right position for a ta’al (Vulcan salute), only days before his death.

The Next Generation has done a great deal to unveil Sarek’s personality in several ways. In the aptly titled episode Sarek in season three especially, we learn a lot about the man’s personal pride and the feeling of great dignity that his majestic appearance already suggests. To summarise one could say that Sarek is “a very Vulcan Vulcan” in the same way his second wife Amanda Grayson has been called “a very human human”.

Sarek, like most Vulcans, believes in logic and rationality as the source of peace and progress. Often, the Terrans of Star Trek, such as Dr Leonard McCoy, can be found accusing their neighbours of being cold and ‘heartless’. Sarek, however, never appears deliberately mean, unlikeable or arrogant. On the contrary; the way he delivers his logic, while always calm and quiet, has a certain quality of warmth to it, and sometimes there is almost a naiveté of some kind that seems to sincerely ask “Because what else would I do?”, as in for instance the last scene of Journey to Babel.

It is, of course, hard to describe the character of someone who never really shows any emotion in depth. For a Vulcan, however, Sarek seems to be more susceptible to emotions than would be considered average. Whether that is natural or rather a result of having two human wives, working with humans at the Terran embassy and in the Federation and also dealing with his constantly ostracised son Spock is another question. At least in The Original Series, however, it is clear that Sarek is at peace with himself and whatever emotions he may have. In many Star Trek novels that are generally considered fanon, such as The Pandora Principle by Carolyn Clowes, Sarek’s utter conviction that peace can and has to be achieved no matter the case and that any violence has to be avoided at all costs is mentioned and praised as a quality that makes him such a valuable Federation ambassador.

Another attribute worth mentioning is Sarek’s ‘darkness’. In Diane Duane’s novel Spock’s World, his entering a room aboard the USS Enterprise is described with the words “Darkness walked in: Sarek, in his usual diplomatic dress” (Spock’s World, p. 89). This thought-provoking word choice can be interpreted many different ways. Sarek obviously is not someone who takes things lightly. Like most Vulcans, he is very serious about his job and responsibilities and work in general – however, most of the situations depicted in Star Trek are rather dangerous and often consist of life-threatening adventures and risks, so a certain amount of professionalism is usually present in and expected from all the characters. One could also say that “darkness” relates only to Sarek’s appearance, which, as has already been mentioned, does in fact have a very dark, solemnly majestic and dignified quality.

Both Spock’s World and A. C. Crispin’s novel Sarek also tend to show his character with a tinge of very dry, sarcastic humour. This, fortunately, is never overplayed and never seems out-of-character. Diane Duane wrote, for example:
“Father”, Spock said. “Are you and Mother well?”  
The dry voice, far away, got an ironic tone to it. “I had not thought you gone so far into human behaviour, my son, as to begin indulging in ‘small talk’ with me.” (Spock’s World, p. 10)
In fact, Journey to Babel may have started the notion by the following conversation between Sarek and the Tellarite Ambassador Gav who is later murdered:
GAV: Vulcan, I would speak to you! 
SAREK (suppressed sigh, rather sarcastic tone): It does seem unavoidable.
Sarek’s hard-working serenity, sincere logic and this dry edge combine to give an extremely charming individual. It is canonically established that Sarek had at least three partners and was married to at least two of them. His first wife or bond mate was the Vulcan princess T’Rea, with whom he had his first, semi-canonical son Sybok. But Sarek was not content with his Vulcan wife for reasons unknown to us. Many fan fictions like The Vulcan’s Wife by Aphrodite420 have suggested that after constantly being around humans while working on Earth, Sarek became rather accustomed to them and found himself actually missing their warmth und unpredictable emotionalism.

Understanding human behaviour has always been a difficult task for the Vulcans, and their struggles have been a focal point of many Star Trek episodes and even entire series, for example with Spock The Original Series or T’Pol in the newer ‘prequel’ Enterprise. Sarek is one of the few Vulcans that seem to have more or less mastered this task. He accepts and even enjoys new cultures and philosophies, especially the Terran ones, making him a well-liked colleague among his fellow politicians. Unlike many other members of advanced societies, he never judges humans and seems to instead tolerate and respect them. In Sarek, he beams aboard the USS Enterprise-D with a small but welcoming smile on his face, a contraction of facial muscles that Spock would have never allowed himself. Sarek, on the other hand, uses it as a diplomatic tool, not to manipulate, but to signalise open-mindedness and goodwill.

A lot of Sarek’s understanding of human behaviour is undoubtedly the doing of his second wife Amanda Grayson, an Earthwoman from Canada, later usually known as ‘The Lady Amanda’. The relationship between Sarek and Amanda is an interesting and unusual one. There are hundreds of stories illustrating how the two of them met and fell in love, but none of them have ever been approved by Gene Roddenberry. Sarek himself humorously answers his son’s question why he married Amanda with “At the time, it seemed like the logical thing to do”, drawing an affectionate smile from her. In the movie Star Trek from 2009 – usually referred to as the Reboot – Spock asks the same question, and years later, after Amanda’s untimely death during the destruction of Vulcan in the alternate timeline, Sarek simply says, “I married her because I loved her.”

Either way, it is obvious that an inter-species marriage requires a tremendous amount of sacrifice and devotion from both partners. Amanda had to give up her home to move to Vulcan and then endure the constant patronising of her neighbours there. Sarek also is very likely to have encountered a lot of dismay regarding his bonding with a being as ‘unworthy’ as a human – even the children of Shi’Kahr openly call him a traitor.

In addition to that, it is more or less established that Amanda went through several miscarriages due to incompatible gene combinations before Spock was created with assistance from the Vulcan Science Academy or, in proper Vulcan, Shi’Oren t’Ek’tallar T’Khasi. Such experiences are usually said to either destroy marriages or make them stronger, and for Sarek and Amanda, it was definitely the latter case. In Journey to Babel the two appear almost inseparable without ever seeming ‘clingy’ or disrespectful of each other. Sarek answers Amanda’s humorous inquiries calmly and rationally, but still seems amused by them. He explains everything with the sweetest patience, without ever appearing patronising or even condescending. In one of the most famous (and only) dialogues between them in Journey to Babel, Sarek tries to explain his actions rationally for quite a while, finishing with:
SAREK: …Do you understand? 
AMANDA (affectionately): Not really, but it doesn’t matter. I love you anyway. I know. It isn’t logical.
Amanda herself also shows a great understanding and acceptance of her husband, as can be seen in the following lines:
I know that you love me, she thought, gazing up at him. But I will not embarrass you by telling you so… (Sarek, p. 113)
And although Sarek logically knew that he was going to outlive Amanda by up to one hundred years, his pain after her death, even decades later, is truly heart-breaking. The grief of her loss is probably the most prominent emotion that manifests itself in The Next Generation, when Sarek, after being diagnosed with Bendii Syndrome, decides to mind-meld with Captain Picard in order to gain the emotional stability needed to finish his treaty with the Legarans, leading Picard to experience all of Sarek’s repressed emotions. Picard is in his quarters, accompanied by Dr Beverly Crusher for support. After the mind-meld, the human captain is close to a nervous breakdown, crying and screaming as Sarek’s grief and regret roll over him.

Because although he always has an air of serenity and contentment around him, Sarek has accumulated a devastating number of such regrets throughout his life. Most of them regard the relationship with his son Spock, which will be analysed later in this essay, as well as the fact that his Vulcan identity and upbringing have made it impossible for him to ever show his wives and son the love and devotion he felt for them. The following is a transcript of Sarek‘s soliloquy that is delivered though Captain Picard:
SAREK (through PICARD): No! It is wrong. It is wrong! A lifetime of discipline washed away, and in its place… bedlam. Bedlam! I am so old… there is nothing left but dry bones… and dead friends. Tired, oh so tired. …No! This weakness disgusts me! I hate it! Where is my logic? I am betrayed by… desires. I want to feel. I want to feel everything. …But I am a Vulcan. I must feel nothing. (Starts crying) Give me back my control… Perrin. Amanda. I wanted to give you so much more. I wanted to show you such… tenderness. But that is not our way. Spock. Amanda, did you know? Perrin, can you know how much I love you? (Sobbing) I do love you! 
PICARD (as himself again): It is quite difficult. The anguish of the man, the despair pouring out of him, all those feelings. The regrets. (Sobbing) I can’t stop them…
Sarek’s relationship with his third and last wife Perrin, another human, is different from the one with Amanda. In many ways it appears more serene and less ‘youthful’, although it is not clear whether that is based on age or simply on the metaphorical ‘chemistry’ between the two personalities. Although their relationship lacks the sweet, flirtatious qualities of Sarek’s marriage with Amanda, it is in no way short of the love and devotion we have seen before. In the end of Sarek, when the couple takes their leave of Picard, the Captain and Perrin exchange the following words:
PERRIN: Thank you, Captain. 
PICARD: …He loves you very much. 
PERRIN: I know. I have always known.
After all this praise of Sarek’s character, it has to be said that he was never intended to be perfect, and his greatest flaw has always been his son Spock. The relationship of father and son has always been exceptionally strained, and it raises an important question: How come Sarek, the personification of tolerance, who was married to and worked among humans for most of his life, never seemed to accept his son’s human half, never seemed to acknowledge the ostracised child’s difficulties? Why was he never satisfied, no matter how hard Spock tried to please him? Sarek himself stated that it was his and Amanda’s dream to create a child as a symbol of their people’s unification and equality. In the 2009 Reboot, Sarek tells his son, “You will always be a child of two worlds. I am grateful for this. And for you.” So why does it never show?

There are people who do not consider The Animated Series canon. However, most people agree that a certain episode entitled Yesteryear is indeed canon, especially since it was written by Dorothy C. Fontana, who also created the script for Journey to Babel. Yesteryear features Spock having to go back into his own past to save his seven-year-old self from being killed by a Vulcan le-matya during his kahs-wan (a ritual that involves young children proving themselves by surviving out in the desert of Vulcan’s Forge without any assistance for ten days). Pretending to be a distant cousin of the family, Selek, Spock spends some time in his parents’ house, and we get a chance to observe their early family dynamics.

In the episode, Amanda says that Sarek does not understand his son very well, and much later, in The Search For Spock, Sarek himself admits to the High Priestess T’Lar, “My logic is uncertain where my son is concerned.” Even though that may not be intended to carry a negative connotation, other conversations between father and son like this one in Yesteryear are actually quite shocking:
SAREK: I do not expect you to fail. 
SPOCK: What if I do, Father? 
SAREK: There is no need to ask that question. You will not disappoint me. Not if your heart and spirit are truly Vulcan.
We already knew that Sarek was a stern, no-nonsense leader, but such uncompromising, relentless coldness is entirely untypical of him. He obviously has extremely high expectations of his son, and he does not accept any human notions in him. In a deleted scene of the Reboot, he tells Amanda that “his humanity is the very source of his ostracism”. Spock’s well-known personality, his attempts at complete flawlessness and perfection and his inherent difficulty with the processing of emotions is undoubtedly the product of this harsh upbringing. After Sarek’s death in Unification I, Captain Picard tells Commander Data:

“Father and son - both proud, both stubborn, more alike than either of them were prepared to admit. A lifetime spent building emotional barriers; they are very difficult to break down. And now the time has come and it’s too late… it’s a difficult moment. It’s a lonely one. It’s a moment that Spock is about to face.”

Their strained relationship reaches its peak when Spock decides to join Starfleet instead of fulfilling his father’s expectations of him going to study at the Vulcan Science Academy. Sarek himself is not particularly fond of Starfleet as he disapproves of their use of violence, even if it is only hypothetical – the fact that the Fleet’s ships carry weaponry is enough of a reason for the pacifist Vulcan. As every fan of Star Trek probably knows, since it is the type of information that tends to be displayed and included everywhere, Sarek and Spock did not talk “as father and son” for eighteen years after Spock’s decision. During most of Journey to Babel, they tend to pointedly ignore each other’s presence, and if they do interact, there is no trace of affection behind their words, only cold, professional logic.

The conflict that makes Journey to Babel such a fantastic episode is one of Spock’s loyalties. Spock is the only one who can save his father’s life by giving him a blood transfusion, but on the other hand, Spock needs to replace the wounded Captain on the bridge because the Enterprise is under attack from an alien vessel. While he does not want his father to die, he knows it would be logical to stay on the bridge during the time of danger. As he puts it, “Can you imagine what my father would say if I were to agree, if I were to give up command of this vessel, jeopardise hundreds of lives, risk interplanetary war, all for the life of one person?” Obviously, Spock is trying so hard to please his father by acting rationally and in true Vulcan fashion that he is prepared to accept his father’s very death in exchange.

In the end, of course, Sarek gets the transfusion, and there is a definite feeling of family reconciliation in the air. For a few years, father and son redevelop respect for each other, and in the end of The Voyage Home we see the following dialogue:
SPOCK: Father? 
SAREK: I am returning to Vulcan within the hour. I would like to take my leave of you. 
SPOCK: It was most kind of you to make this effort. 
SAREK: It was not an effort. You are my son. Besides, I am most impressed with your performance in this crisis. 
SPOCK: Most kind. 
SAREK: As I recall, I opposed your enlistment in Starfleet. It is possible that my judgment was incorrect. Your associates are people of good character. 
SPOCK: They are my friends. 
SAREK: Yes, yes of course. Do you have a message for your mother? 
SPOCK: Yes. Tell her… I feel fine. Live long and prosper, Father. 
SAREK: Live long and prosper, my son.
The state of peace, however, did not last long. After leaving resigning from his post as science officer aboard the USS Enterprise, Spock finally follows his father’s footsteps and becomes an ambassador to the Federation as well. It is assumed that the two attended several diplomatic missions together. However, they soon split again over the Cardassian issue of the mid-2350’s, when they began publically contradicting and objecting each other. As Perrin puts it: “They had argued for years. That was family. But when the debates over the Cardassian war began, he attacked Sarek’s position publicly. He showed no loyalty to his father.” While Sarek pointed out errors in Spock’s logic and accused him of endangering the Federation by ignoring historic precedents, Spock argued that Sarek’s logic is too inflexible and conservative, clashing with the reality of changing times. In Unification II, Spock explains to Captain Picard: “I always had a different vision than my father. The ability to see beyond pure logic. He considered it weak.”

More importantly, Sarek strongly disapproved of Spock’s intention of reuniting the Vulcan people with the Romulans and his friendship with the Romulan senator Pardek, who also supported reunification. Sarek was correct in his presumption, since Pardek, “after spending decades building a reputation as an advocate for peace and supporting Vulcan-Romulan reunification, lured Spock to Romulus for false reunification talks; secretly, he had launched a Romulan invasion fleet to Vulcan.” ( Pardek)  - even though Sarek was already dead during these events.

These incidents, again, led to father and son almost refusing to acknowledge each other’s existence. Only much later, after Sarek realised that he would have no more than a year left to live, he expressed his wish for reconciliation. As Perrin told Captain Picard in Unification I: “He wants to see his son. He wants to heal any rift that may still remain. Now it may be too late.”

And it was too late, indeed. While his father was on his deathbed, Spock was involved in his campaign of reunification on Romulus, and for unknown reasons, he never came home, even though he was informed about Sarek’s illness. They had never chosen to mind-meld, so Sarek never had the chance to personally tell his son that despite all their conflicts, he always felt love and an exceptional pride for him and that secretly, he “admired him, the proud core of him that would not yield.”

Picard fulfils Sarek’s last wish and allows Spock to touch the memory of his father’s mind – which the Captain gathered during Sarek – by mind-melding with him. When Picard finds Spock on Romulus, the have the following conversation:
PICARD: He is a great man. 
SPOCK: He was a great representative of the Vulcan people and of the Federation. 
PICARD: I was with him before coming here. He expressed his pride in you. His love. 
SPOCK: Emotional disarray was a symptom of the illness from which he suffered. 
PICARD: No, those feelings came from his heart, Spock.
The episode Unification II ends with Spock initiating the mind meld. Before the screen goes dark, we see him silently crying for his loss and regret as he finally sees his father’s true feelings – it is one of the most mournful and touching scenes of the entire franchise.

In conclusion, it is probably clear now that Sarek is one of the most complicated and multi-facetted characters of the Star Trek universe. Not every bit of information regarding him has been analysed in this essay, but hopefully, the main points have given the reader an outline of his personality and an invitation to consider him and his implications independently. Not everyone views Sarek as one of the ‘good guys’. While he was an advocate of peace, acceptance and equality, many fans feel that his failure to administer these philosophies during the upbringing of his son make it impossible to see him as the proud and loving father he was – to the Federation in a metaphorical sense, and finally for Spock as well. Either way, taking sides in this discussion seems redundant at this point. Let it just be said that with Sarek, Gene Roddenberry gave us one of his deepest, darkest and most complex characters, and I am grateful for his creation.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Tablet Fun - Star Trek Practice Doodles

T is for Tablets!

The other day, I finally got a tablet - Wacom Bamboo Capture. I had wanted to get one for quite a while, but never got around to it. When I first started using it, I could get anything right - I could barely draw a line across the screen.

It helps if you don't use it sideways.

Once I lined it up under my keyboard (I don't know why I didn't before), things got better. I started practicing immediately the next day by drawing a picture of Sarek:

It doesn't look very much like him, aside from the uniform - the face is crazy because of my lack of coordination - but it was a beginning, and not bad for a first attempt. The next day I drew a picture of Captain Picard in Kirk's fatshirt:

That drawing turned out much better, as I was finally getting to a point where I knew what I was doing. The lines actually went, for the most part, where I wanted them to go.

Today, I drew a quick picture of Captain Benjamin Sisko, one of my favorite captains:

As you can probably see, I am getting quite a bit better at digital art. Not great, mind you, but better than I was before. With a year or so of daily practice, I am sure that I will get to the point where what is in my mind can be adequately transferred onto the screen.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Sensorites and the Sense Sphere

S is for Sensorites and the Sense Sphere!

The Sensorites are a humanoid race residing within the Sense Sphere.

Sense Sphere
The Sense Sphere is located in the same star system as the Ood Sphere, which explains the similarities between the Sensorites and the Ood. Because their planet has two suns, the Sensorites have never experienced a natural darkness/night time. The planet has numerous caves, and is very rich in molybdenum - it is because of the Sense Sphere's abundance of molybdenum that thousands of the Sensorites were wiped out in the 28th century.

In the 1964 serial "The Sensorites", we learned that the Sense Sphere was visited by two groups from Earth desperate to mine the planet for molybdenum. The first group attempted to leave the planet for reinforcements, but crashed in their haste. This crash polluted the Sense Sphere with a disease that continued to wipe out thousands of Sensorites.

The second group (arriving years later) was, because of the first incident with humans, kept prisoner in their ship in orbit around the planet. This was so that the Sensorites and their planet would not be damaged and exploited further.

The Doctor eventually achieved peace between the Sensorites and the Humans, and it turned out that the disease was caused by the insane survivors of the first group's crash deliberately poisoning the Sensorites with atropine/nightshade.

If you are interested in reading about the serial in detail, allow me to direct you HERE.

The Sensorites
The Sensorites have long, bulbous heads, flat faces, and large black eyes. The white/grey hair around their mouths usually extends up to the ear, and is swept upwards. Because of the lack of nighttime and darkness on the Sense Sphere, the Sensorites fear the dark as they are unable to see in anything darker than dim light. They are also very sensitive to noises, and telepathic. They are able to control and telepathically interfere with the mental status of other humans (and perhaps other humanoids in general). The Sensorites varied very little between each other in appearance, sometimes experiencing difficulty recognizing those of their own race.

Early Sensorite History
In the Doctor Who Annual 1966 (The Monsters from Earth) we learn that in their early history, the Sensorites worshipped the Zilgans who lived in the darkness of the caves. The Zilgans were spider-like creatures, larger than the average grown man. The Sensorites would feed the Zilgans their criminals as punishment. At this time in their history they did not wear clothing as they did in the serial.

The first picture was scanned from the amazing hardcover book "The Doctor Who Illustrated A-Z" by Lesley Standring, 1985. Click the image to view it in epic proportions.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Romulan - the species I would sometimes like to be.

R is for Romulan!

Three alien species that I would, if I had the choice, have been born as are Vulcan, Mintakan, and Romulan. Notice a pattern?

About a week or so ago, I began drawing a picture in ink of what I might look like as a Romulan:

I find Romulan (and Mintakan) forehead ridges to be quite aesthetically pleasing.

More art: Bitter Ambiguity.


Q is for... Q!

The Q are often known as an "omnipotent" and immortal species with a great deal of control over space, matter, and time. The Q have been known to travel through time, create alternate timelines, move asteroid belts and stars, change universal states of nature, and teleport with great ease. They have also been able to transfer their powers to other life forms, and have their powers removed by a higher authority in the Q Continuum.

There are, however, concerns about the Q's omnipotence. In the Voyager episode "Death Wish", Q (who later named himself Quinn) informs the crew that the Q are not, in fact, omnipotent:
"You mustn't think of us as omnipotent, no matter what The Continuum would like you to believe. You and your ship seem incredibly powerful to lifeforms without your technological expertise! It's no different with us; we may appear omnipotent to you, but believe me, we're not!"
The Q later known as Quinn - Deathwish
It is in this episode that we are also made aware that the Q had been influencing human history since (at least) the time of Isaac Newton, and that the Q can be made mortal and die/be executed (backing up Quinn's claim that the Q are not entirely omnipotent).

There are also concerns about the initial state of the Q - is has been suggested (both by Q) that they had evolved over countless centuries into the "ultimate form of evolution", and that they had always been as they were, without a beginning.

Q judges - Q2
Being immortal and seemingly omnipotent, the Q soon fell into a sort of stagnation. Having seen, done, and said all that there was, they found no reason to speak to one another or to venture outside of the Continuum. To correct this stagnant state, the Q known as Quinn committed suicide in an attempt to create unpredictable social consequences that would force the Q to interact. Unfortunately, his suicide brought on a civil war within the continuum between the traditional Q and the "Freedom Faction", political idealists led by Q (John De Lancie). These two factions created weapons that could affect even the immortal Q, which resulted in serious damage being done to subspace to such a degree that the Q outside of the Continuum lost their immortality and powers, and many stars were going supernova.

Mating Q - Q and the Grey
The civil war is ended when Q (John De Lancie) mates with a female Q (by touching fingers) and produces a child, something that has not been done in the continuum for over ten millennia. Of course, we know that this child grows to be quite the troublemaker.

Quite accidentally, I have only included pictures from Voyager (the Q appeared in three VOY episodes), and  most of the information gathered for this post is from Voyager as well - this is merely because the Q race was explored more deeply in this series. Q first appeared in the TNG pilot, "Encounter at Farpoint", and the Q appeared many times later - in 8 TNG episodes, and one DS9 episode.

Fun fact: I had always thought that Trelane (TOS The Squire of Gothos) might be a Q - a fact backed up by a book I recently read - Q-squared by Peter David.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Primitive Vulcans - A History

P is for Primitive Vulcans!

The first Vulcans appeared much like the paleolithic humans of Earth. They were slowly learning to use tools, and without formal speech. When these primitive Vulcans inhabited the planet, most of the it flowed with water and was covered with lush vegetation. The area surrounding Mount Seleya was one of the exceptions, much like we know of it today.

These primitive Vulcans were generally peaceful, communicating telepathically and living off of the abundant supply of food and water given to them by the planet. They did not understand why the nourishment was there, about death, or why urges would come upon them every so many years that sent them to act strangely upon one another (perhaps what we now know as the Pon Farr). These Vulcans could go without food and water for at least a week, although they very rarely needed to do so.

I once drew a picture of how I imagined these primitive Vulcans, but with some modern touches - less hair, attention payed to aesthetics, etc. I posted it before, but I am going to show it here as well: 

As I mentioned, there was no formal speech for a very long time - there were no names. They seemed to believe in a higher power referred to later as "the Other". They were without worries, as "the Other" always knew what was best for them.

Eventually there would be one who desired exploration rather than mere "being" - it is said that this Vulcan often walked farther than any other , eventually realizing that by hollowing out a gourd-like plant and dipping it in the water, one could drink more easily as well as store water for later. Because of this discovery, a Vulcan would be able to travel father, and for longer. It is said that he walked until the water and vegetation were gone, after which he pressed on to the monstrous sight of what would later be called Mount Seleya.

It is also said that it is in the desert leading to Mount Seleya that the concept of language was discovered - a gift from the Underlier (also known as the A'kweth, and sometimes as the Tcha'besheh). This gift was passed on by telepathically or physically presenting an image or item, and uttering a sound/series of sounds which would become it's name. The Vulcan was named the Vulcan equivalent of "the Wanderer", and was called upon to come up with names - soon, song was also be invented.

This was shortly before an intense solar flare from 40 Eri A transformed the planet into what we know today - burning the forests and boiling seventy percent of the oceans until all that was left of the ocean beds were scorched sand and mud, and all in no more than a day. Most of the living creatures on the planet died, and only the toughest Vulcans survived.

Note: Information taken from "Spock's World" by Diane Duane.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Omnibus Volume 1 - Star Trek Comics - Issues 4-18

O is for Omnibus!

It can be difficult to find individual comics that are in good condition, especially when it comes to Star Trek comics. Luckily, IDW publishing released omnibuses, in volumes. Volume one, which I own, contains the Marvel Comics issues 4 to 18 - all in one book.

Buying this book is considerably easier than tracking down an buying the individual comics, but has one very serious drawback: the print quality. Throughout this post I will be showing scanned panels from issues 10 and 18 - first from the original comic, and then from the omnibus (click images to enlarge):

As you may see, the artwork is often blurred, and details tend to go missing all together. This may be caused by the resizing of the pages for the book. The colors are brighter, but not always better.

Here Spock and Kirk are turned into pirates on a ship:

The contrast is increased greatly, and the color is more saturated. In some panels, it is not such a distraction:

And in other panels, I find it too distracting to even continue reading:

For this reason, I tend to use my omnibus for reference - I turn to the original issues when I want to read , as art quality and aesthetics are very important to me when it comes to comics.

Below, you may see how certain details and lines disappear completely, altering the entire "essence" of the art:

Often, there is a speckling effect when it comes to blocks of black color:

Once more example (just because I really enjoy these panels) with all of the quality problems I mentioned in one: Over-saturated colors, blurring, white speckling, and disappearing details:

Very distracting, is it not? And not only that, but I feel that publishing something of this quality is degrading to the original artists - vandalism. I really wish they would have worked these issues out before publication.

However - I would like to point out that despite these problems, owning the omnibus is great for reference, and better than nothing if one cannot find the separate issues. The story is still there, and just as amazing.