A Tremor in the Force - Part 4 of 5


Great screencap of Shatner/Kirk from the original Star Trek

What is Captain Kirk doing in a series on Star Wars?  Well, I personally don’t mind a Shatner cameo anywhere, but it actually has a lot to do with my journey to the ______ side.  (Fill in the blank based on your prequel proclivity.)



Patrick Stewart (Picard) plays a flute in an alternate life in the classic TNG Episode Inner Light

My Star-Wars-is-a-banquet-come-as-you-please change of heart actually reveals my own hypocrisy. It’s called (and this term I hereby coin) Warp Speed Hypocrisy.

I love Star Trek. I LOVE Star Trek. Every rerun brings me home to my happy place.  From it’s pinnacles of City on the Edge of Forever, Wrath of Khan, and Inner Light, to its less-than-critically-acclaimed “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” which scene I personally love.  (And a “double dumb-you-know-what” on whoever doesn’t like the whales!)


Campfire scene from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

I’ve been disappointed many times, but less-than-awesome Trek never made me angry like the Star Wars prequels did. And I don’t see much polarization in general Trek fandom. Red-faced redshirts don’t seem to be cursing the new movies or a series they don’t prefer. It’s because trekkies and trekkers already see Trek as a banquet.

So why did/do I hold Star Wars to masterpiece standards?  I’ll try to unravel this with my brilliant summation in the upcoming final post!

At the massive Salt Lake Comic Con of 2013, I led a panel discussion in huge, packed room. The topic? The Abrams-ization of Star Trek and Star Wars. What resulted was a spirited debate on old Trek vs. new Trek and classic Star Wars vs. the prequels vs. the specter of the upcoming Abrams films. And there I crossed lightsabers with Bryan Young. (Author James Wymore was also there.  He loves ANYTHING with spaceships!) At that time, I was stunned, shocked even, at Bryan’s defense of and even love for the prequels.  I also asked the audience what their favorite Star Wars movie was.  The originals won out by a show of hands, but many people voted for the prequels, with a special emphasis on Revenge of the Sith.

Our last distinguished guest is a bonafide expert on Star Wars and Star Wars culture.

Bryan Young is a writer and a journalist. He has a regular column on StarWars.Com and is the editor-in-chief of the nerd news and review site Big Shiny Robot! He’s published three novels, with a fourth scheduled for release later this year.

Are there some sort of basic “categories” or “types” of Star Wars fans”?  If so, what are they?

I think there are really two types of fans. The vocal minority who only love the classic trilogy before 1997 and everyone else. And that’s really it. Beyond that you’ll get people who specialize in different things, but there’s a unifying factor: everyone who calls themselves a Star Wars fan loves Star Wars, so even if we have varying degrees of love for different aspects of the universe, we all have some things we can agree on.

Why do you think there is friction between fans who dislike the prequels and fans who like them?  How are the upcoming J.J. Abrams films entering into the debate?


Me and a groovily awesome Star Wars fan at Dragon*Con one year.

I think the friction comes from an attitude of entitlement on the vocal few who dislike the prequels. They fail to realize that there are far more people who love them than don’t and I would count myself among those who do love them. The friction comes from a place of disrespect, really. I can respect you if you don’t like the prequels, but in my experience there are very few fans who dislike the prequels that will offer that same respect to someone who does.

It’s unfortunate that there isn’t more love for the prequels since they really are such beautiful films that add to the tapestry of Star Wars mythology in very stunning ways. But there’s only a narrow generational band of fans that have that anti-prequel bias and twenty years from now it won’t be an issue and I can’t wait for that day to come.

As far as JJ Abrams films entering into the debate, I’m not sure there’s much of a debate. The prequels ARE. And so too will these new movies be. We can accept them as part of the buffet of Star Wars or not, but you don’t stick your fingers in the mashed potatoes at the buffet table because you didn’t like them. My hope for these movies is that they do much of what Star Wars: Rebels has done, stitch together the fans of the classic trilogy and the prequel trilogy and give us the best of everything Star Wars has to offer.

What is Star Wars “canon” and how has it changed over the years?

Star Wars canon is something that to me has always centered around the films and what George Lucas says goes, and that’s something that continues to this day. There have been many pieces to the expanded universe, whether that’s novels, games, or what have you, but at the end of the day, what is in the movies (and now the cartoons) IS. And everything else is just an interesting story that may or may not be “true.”

What is/are the Star Wars “Legends”?


Another pic I snapped at Dragon*Con. How’s this for Expanded Universe… Star Wars Bagpipe Brigade!

“Legends” is what they decided to make the Expanded Universe. For many, the stories in that expanded universe WERE the canon, but the Legends designation clearly delineates them from the official canon. And now, everything taken in tandem, shows, books, movies, comics, will be part of THE canon.

So you’ll start to see books with the “Legends” banner, and those are interesting stories, often well told, that occur in a version of the “Star Wars” universe, though not concurrent with the one we’ll be seeing unfold in future movies.

How do “Legends” and the “Expanded Universe” affect Star Wars fandom?  How do they affect your viewing of the movies?

Well, they affect the fandom in ways that are sometimes polarizing, because there are some who think that future installments should be slaves to the books and the previous definitions of canon and others (like myself) who believe that the new Legends designation will free the filmmakers up to tell the best Star Wars stories possible.

As for how they affect me, I’m a fan of the films first and the rest of the stories second, so as long as they serve to heighten my understanding and enjoyment of the films and the overall tapestry of Star Wars myth, then I am very happy and well served.

Revisiting Star Trek: Voyager


May 23, 1994 – a cheer erupted from a house packed with nerdy (and not-so-nerdy) high schoolers as the Riker-commanded three-nacelled Enterprise unapologetically demolished a Klingon bird of prey.  Star Trek: The Next Generation was about to end.  What was next?


Shortly after, my brother secured a bootleg copy of the Star Trek: Generations movie script, and as TNG went to the big screen, I knew the heady days weren’t over. On November 19th, 1994, (shamefully missing the premiere by 1 day) I shivered with glee as I sat down next to my patient girlfriend and watched Kirk and Picard save the galaxy together.

Obviously, Kes was originally part of the crew, and Seven came in in season 4.

Obviously, Kes was originally part of the crew, and Seven came in in season 4.

Only two months later, something called Star Trek: Voyager came along.

A female captain? What’s this? A funky new ship design? Not even a homage to Alexander Courage in the intro music? And most shocking, no “Space the final frontier…” intro monologue?

But I of course enthusiastically gave it a chance. The pilot episode “Caretaker” was impressive—classic themes with a slick new set of visuals and a gutsy “lost in space” main storyline, far less worrisome than TNG’s cosmic jellyfish premiere. (Though, upon mature reflection, I have come to really like “Encounter at Farpoint.” It gave us Q, and some very interesting sci-fi concepts and aliens.)

(As a side note, I had given up on Deep Space Nine some time earlier. Trek was about exploration, and being stuck on a space station just didn’t do it for me. I have heard many times from high-brow Trekkies that it is the most literary/deep/gusty/dramatic/etc. of all the series, but I couldn’t get into it. Maybe there will be a “Revisiting Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” blog entry some day.)

Back to Voyager.

College, missionary work, poverty, dating, and cleaning toilets to buy ramen and cereal were worthy/necessary distractions from Voyager—but the fact was the series just didn’t grab me. Every time I was on the Enterprise—Constitution, Galaxy, and Sovereign, I felt at home.  As a young man, not even Seven of Nine could keep me aboard the fancy Intrepid-class bio-circuited flying machine in the delta quadrant.

For me, what was missing was that magical something in the relationships of Kirk’s and Picard’s crews.



I diss no one here… I know many felt that even more with Voyager and DS9. But it didn’t click for me.







Years passed and I found myself searching for some sci-fi company in lonely moments. I tried a variety, but my heart longed for the steady pulse of a warp engine.

So, over the last few months, I have been watching tons of Voyager.  And, well, I was amazed. I didn’t find the ten-forward camaraderie I had longed for, but I did find some fabulous science fiction.

Beyond visionary things like tricorders and communicators, I don’t think Star Trek in general gets the sci-fi props it deserves—and that is especially true of Voyager.  Episode after episode—well-acted and produced with many notably great moments—seized upon very cool sci-fi concepts.  As a writer and a producer with an actress wife, I feel like I can appreciate the achievement of producing and performing in an incredible 172 episodes of such an ambitious show.  This is touched on by Shatner’s great documentary The Captains.

But what struck me was the science fiction.

(It of course suffers from some of the normal Trek pitfalls—a touch of the dogmatically “progressive” moral agenda, silly applications of the universal translator, and “aliens” that are more human than my neighbor.  (I do actually believe that the universe is populated by many humanoid-ish species, but I don’t think they’d understand my jokes!)  With a few very cool exceptions, Voyager could probably have used a little more weirdness in the dilithium.)

Species 8472

Species 8472

However, Voyager really delivers some great sci-fi.  Here are few examples:

A parasite disguised itself as a memory, with the ability to be contagious. (Flashback – Season 3 Epsiode 2)

A think-tank-for-hire made up of unusual, powerful aliens.. (Think Tank – Season 5 Episode 19)

Space-born telepathic pitcher-plants. (Bliss – Season 5 Episode 14)



A spacecraft that becomes jealously involved with its pilot, and has its own agenda. (Alice – Season 6 Episode 5)

A planet where time passes millions of times faster on the surface. (Blink of an Eye season 6, ep 12)

The exploration of “photonic” lifeforms, especially, The Doctor. (lots of episdes)






Pushing the limits of already-established coolness—like the 29th-century borg. (“One” – Season 4 Episode 25)



The temporal prime directive. (Many episodes.)

A crewperson becoming the “muse” of an alien poet. (“Muse” – Season 6 Episode 22)

A time fracture where different parts of the ship are in different time zones. (“Shattered” – Season 7 Episode 11)

A wide variety of FTL travel.  (Many episodes.)

And it was fun to have characters with “unusual” skills—like cooking.  (Neelix in many episodes.)

And much more…


I had a fun, funny, and hopefully slightly mind-expanding chat with my oldest kids after watching one of the original Kirk episodes just the other night—discussing the spiritual aspects of some of the sci-fi ideas.  But in so many shows today, the “sci-fi” is just marketable window dressing.  Voyager was surprising, refreshing, and deliberately thought-provoking.  In a few years, and after carefully curating for kid-friendly episodes as I do with other Trek, I’m sure I’ll introduce it to my cadets.

During my revisit, I found myself staying up late many times, and enjoying not only the sci-fi, but the characters who wove it into a story.

Thank you to all the folks who made Voyager happen.

In conclusion, Star Trek: Voyager boldly went.