Tag Archives: Enterprise

Literary References in “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan”

WrathOfKhan

I recently attended a convention, and while I was there I happened upon a copy of the script to “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.” The book also includes nice glossy photos from the film. Since this is by far my favorite of all the Star Trek movies, I could not pass up buying the script and closely reading the text that I had so often seen played out on the screen.

There are three main literary texts that figure prominently in “Wrath of Khan,” and those are pointed out to the viewer early in the film.

ANGLE – CHEKOV’S POV

Lethal-looking old swords on one wall, a bookshelf; CAMERA PANS by 20th Century volumes; MOBY DICK, KING LEAR, THE HOLY BIBLE – and a seat belt dangling with the name on it – BOTANY BAY.

(p. 18)

The references to the Bible are very clear in the text. Project Genesis is the creation of life out of nothing and implies that humans have attained god-like powers. There is also a sense that this is somehow connected to the proverbial fall. In fact, the Genesis cave is described as Edenic.

A huge cavern. Kirk is actually standing in the middle of it. Space extends vastly above and below his point of view. Like Eden, lush growth everywhere, waterfalls, and a cobalt blue sky high, high above where a round orb glows sending light and warmth downward. There is a path from where Kirk stands down to the lower level where Bones, and the others are waiting and calling to him. Mist and haze waft gently across the cavern.

(p. 80)

In the film, Kirk exhibits characteristics of King Lear. He is aged; his emotions cloud his judgment; and he struggles to figure out his relationship with his now adult child. This is most poignantly expressed in a dialog between Kirk and Carol Marcus, Kirk’s former lover and the mother of his son.

CAROL: Actually, he’s a lot like you in many ways. Please. Tell me what you’re feeling.

KIRK: There’s a man out there I haven’t seen in fifteen years who’s trying to kill me. You show me a son that’d be happy to help him. My son. My life that could have been and wasn’t. And what am I feeling? Old – worn out.

(p. 79)

Of the three books that are most referenced in the film, Moby Dick is the primary. Khan is the embodiment of Ahab, obsessed with enacting his vengeance upon Kirk and the Enterprise, which symbolize the great white whale. Additionally, Khan’s helmsman, Joachim, symbolizes Starbuck, a voice of reason contrasted against Khan’s insatiable need for revenge.

KHAN: Helmsman?

JOACHIM: Sir, may I speak? We’re all with you, sir, but consider this. We are free, we have a ship and the means to go where we will. We have escaped permanent exile on Ceti Alpha Five. You have proved your superior intellect and defeated the plans of Admiral Kirk. You do not need to defeat him again.

KHAN: He tasks me! He tasks me! And I shall have him. I’ll chase him round the moons of Nibia and round the Antares maelstrom and round perdition’s flames before I give him up.

(p. 41)

There is a scene in the nebula where the Enterprise and the Reliant are engaged in battle, and the Enterprise is depicted as rising like a great whale, strengthening the connection to Melville’s novel.

Reliant motionless in the f.g. amid occasional flashes. Now, behind Reliant and from below, like a great whale rising from the depths, Enterprise rises vertically, slowly passing the unsuspecting enemy. When Enterprise is above, behind and quite close:

(p. 94)

Finally, as Khan is in the throes of death, he quotes Moby Dick as he takes one last stab at his adversary.

KHAN: No . . . You can’t get away . . . From hell’s heart I stab at thee . . .
(amid the pain)
For hate’s sake . . . I spit my last breath at thee!

(p. 102)

This film proves an important point: It is not special effects and lavish CGI that make a great film, it’s the writing and the storytelling. “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan” is a masterpiece in storytelling and that’s why it still holds up today. I suspect I will be pulling my DVD copy off the shelf in the very near future and watching the film yet again.

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“Star Trek: The Ashes of Eden” by William Shatner

StarTrekAshesOfEden

Several months ago, I stopped at a yard sale to look for books and records. Among the various items I discovered a couple of Star Trek novels, one of which was written by William Shanter. A Star Trek novel written by Kirk himself? In hardcover? For one dollar? I couldn’t pass it up. Well, I finally got around to reading it and it was everything I expected: sci-fi adventure, some philosophical ideas to mull over, enough cheesiness to make it endearing, and a healthy portion of Shatner’s ego. In fact, there were several places where other characters wondered what Kirk would do in the situation, which made me chuckle and think “WWKD.” Anyway, combined together, all these things made for a fun, entertaining read, which was what I was in the mood for.

The general theme of this book is how we as humans deal with getting old and our quest for youth. It’s a universal concept, that we seek immortality through fame and that we try to keep ourselves feeling young; but there is always a cost. Early in the book, Kirk reflects on his fame and the issues associated with it.

But then his recognition had moved beyond the Fleet. Civilians began approaching him, asking the same questions, seeking more details. Always details. After the incident with V’Ger, the floodgates had opened. All Earth claimed to know him. Most of the other worlds too.

Now Kirk couldn’t go anywhere without detecting the unsettling flash of recognition in strangers’ eyes. All the more intense because, unlike the sudden recognition awarded a new sports star or politician, people had come to recognize him over decades of his career.

(p. 39)

I see this as very autobiographical. Shatner certainly gained fame as Kirk, but he had plenty of other roles which added to his fame and recognition, such as T. J Hooker and his role as Denny Crane in Boston Legal.

As Kirk struggles to find his place in life as a person who is no longer young, he turns to his memories. There is a great passage about how memories mark your journey through life. By following the path of your memories, you begin to see patterns which enable you to make a reasonable guess at where the path is leading you.

Memories were the markers of the journey through life. It was necessary to know where you had come from. Only then could you know where you were going.

(p. 72)

At one point in the book, Kirk considers a question that resonated with me: “When was it ever right to give up doing what you lived to do?” (p. 126) I have asked myself this question many times throughout my life, particularly in regard to playing music and writing. These are things I love. They are a part of who I am. Would I be more successful if I gave them up and focused all my energy on the pursuit of material gain? Yes, but at what cost? I would be sacrificing a part of who I am. I could never do that and continue living a happy life.

One of my favorite quotes from this book appears in the later part.

… we’re not responsible for the world we’re born into. Only for the world we leave when we die. So we have to accept what’s gone before us in the past, and work to change the only thing we can—the future.

(p. 268)

This is so very true. I make a conscious effort to think about the future whenever I am acting or making a decision. Everything I do, every choice I make, directly affects the future in ways that I may never know. My actions may not have a recognizable impact on the world today, but I know that what I do now will impact the world that my children’s children will inherit.

So I want to close this post with one last quote that ties in with a little nerdy Star Trek trivia.

Then Kirk gave an order he had never given before.
“Beam me up, Scotty.”

(p. 282)

If you’re a Trekkie, you know that Kirk never actually said “Beam me up, Scotty” in any of the Star Trek episodes. I found it funny that Shatner pointed that out in the book.

So, this is not great literature, but it is a fun and easy read, and if you are a Star Trek fan, you’ll definitely get a kick out of it.

Live long and prosper.

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Star Trek/Doctor Who Assimilation2 – Issue #8

StarTrekDrWho_AssimIss8I just finished reading issue #8, the last in the series. Not surprising, the finale was also a setup for another series.

For me, there was nothing in this last issue that was mind-bending. It didn’t suck, it was just kind of OK. That left me feeling ever so slightly disappointed. I think it is because the first half of the series was very strong, but the later half was not as interesting. I felt like the writers and artists wanted to do more, and likely could have, but that they were limited by having to squeeze everything into eight issues. My guess is that was what the publisher offered them.

So the big question is: Would I read a follow-up series? Yes, I think I would. While there were some things that were just OK, overall, I enjoyed it and I think that if given additional issues to flesh out the story a little more that it could become something awesome. I guess we will have to wait and see.

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Star Trek/Doctor Who Assimilation2 – Issue #7

StarTrekDrWho_AssimIss7_VarWhen I picked up this issue, the folks at the comic book store told me it was a variant cover. Since I don’t consider myself a comic collector, all that meant to me was it was more expensive than the other issues I had picked up, but since I was buying a small stack of comics they gave it to me for half price, which was nice. Anyway, the image displayed here is the variant cover.

I found this issue to be much better than the previous one. The dialog is much more fluid and the story moves along well. There are also shifts in the color schemes associated with the different locations that the characters were in, and that worked very well for me.

There is a great quote on page 3. The Doctor and his companions are aboard the Borg cube and commenting on the Borg’s apparent calm and disinterest in them. The Doctor states: “That calm comes at the price of their free will. The collective suppresses the individual identities of the drones.” I couldn’t help thinking about the tendency of people to sacrifice their freedom to be included in a group, whether it is a religious group, a political party, or a social group. I think it is something that most humans desire, to belong to something bigger than their individual selves. But giving up who you are for acceptance into a group is a dangerous path and one that I have consciously avoided throughout most of my life.

The issue ends with the Doctor and his companions, along with the Enterprise away team, aboard the cybermen’s vessel. The stage is set for the final confrontation. The next issue is the series’ conclusion. I will be posting soon.

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Star Trek/Doctor Who Assimilation2 – Issue #6

StarTrekDrWho_AssimIss6I just read through issue number 6 in the series and I have to say it was my least favorite so far. That said, it serves the purpose of driving the story forward.

In this installment, the Doctor and the crew of the enterprise meet with the Borg emissaries to discuss plans for defeating the Cybermen. The writing was a little cliched, especially where Riker gets angry that the Borg emissary Conduit was once a person that Riker knew. It just seemed forced somehow, whereas the earlier installments were much more fluid. Still, the events in this issue are necessary to move the plot forward, so I can overlook some minor flaws.

The one thing that I did find interesting about this issue was the explanation of how the Cybermen overcame the Borg. Essentially, it was a cyber attack on the Borg’s internal network. The Cybermen hacked the Borg’s network and were then able to destroy them. I see the same threat to countries now that we have come to rely upon computers and networks to run our society. A successful cyber attack would be devastating to an advanced society’s infrastructure.

Even though this issue was not as interesting as the previous ones, I am still enjoying the series as a whole. Look for my review of issue #7 soon.

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Star Trek/Doctor Who Assimilation2 – Issue #5

StarTrekDrWho_AssimIss5The other day I noticed that a local comic store, Comic Envy, relocated to a bigger store. So yesterday I decided to go in there and inquire about when the X-Files comic is coming out (it will be in June, by the way). Of course, once I was in there, I HAD to buy some comics. My purchase included issues 5 through 8 of the Star Trek/Doctor Who series.

I read the first four as part of a volume that I picked up at a comic expo (click here to read my review on that volume). The basic story line is that the Cybermen joined forces with the Borg, but then turned on the Borg in an attempt to assimilate them. Volume 1 leaves off with the Doctor trying to convince Picard to help the Borg defeat the Cybermen.

In issue #5, Picard is adamant about not wanting to assist the Borg, which is understandable. Despite all the logical arguments, he refuses to help, wishing only that the Borg is destroyed. It is not until the Doctor takes the captain on a trip into the future aboard the TARDIS that Picard finally realizes what is at stake.

There is a great line at the end of the issue as the Doctor is still trying to convince Picard. The Doctor states: “We should help our enemies because it’s what makes us better than them.” (p. 22) I totally related to that line. For so many years, I held on to resentments for wrongs inflicted upon me by those I deemed my enemies. It wasn’t until I forgave them and began to wish only the best for them that I was able to move on and find contentment. The ability to help those who have hurt you is a true spiritual value.

The last thing I would like to say about this comic is that I think the artwork is great. The colors are vivid and the characters very life-like. I am looking forward to reading the next three issues. My thoughts on those will be posted soon.

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Star Trek/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 Vol. 1

I recently attended the Asheville Comic Expo with my youngest daughter, appropriately dressed in my Captain Kirk costume. While roaming around, I came across a booth that had a plethora of sci-fi items. It was there that I found the Star Trek/Doctor Who graphic novel. I had heard about this and figured I needed to grab a copy. It seems I was not the only one who felt this way, since three other copies were sold in the time I was at the table.

The basic premise of the novel is that the Doctor arrives on the holodeck of the Enterprise in the TARDIS. As the Next Gen crew and the Doctor try to figure out why this happened, it is discovered that the Borg has joined forces with the Cybermen. The Doctor and the crew of the Enterprise begin planning how to face this new and formidable alliance.

I really loved the illustrations in this book. The artwork is very good, even though the characters seemed a little stiff in several panels, but overall, very good. The facial details make up for the occasional stiffness. There is also one part where there is a flashback to the Original Series that features Kirk and company. What works exceptionally well here is that not only do the characters change, but the style of the artwork changes. The panels actually take on a more basic style that is in keeping with the imagery associated with the Original Series. There is even an appearance from the Tom Baker incarnation of the Doctor, which was a nice touch.

In classic graphic novel style, the book leaves you hanging with the promise of “To Be Continued.” I’m actually OK with that, because now I have something to look forward to. I’ll have to keep an eye out for when the next installment is released. It’s possible that I may now end up as one of those guys who troll the comic book stores. I guess I’d better start saving for a trip to Comic-Con.

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