Thursday, February 10, 2005

Improving Star Trek Communicator

First improvement: get a helpful new Data Access columnist. Of course, there's always something entertaining in Richard Arnold's column, but not in a helpful way. In the latest one, someone asks a simple question: is Shran's captain's chair actually Janeway's captain's chair? Richard demonstrates how connected he is by quoting someone who works on the show, who says that stuff is recycled all the time, then goes on to the next question. Earth to Richard: you didn't answer the question you were asked. Is it the same chair? That's a yes or no question. I don't happen to think it's a tremendously important or interesting question, but it is the question that was asked.

But Richard really shines later in the column. Someone asks how Khan got a Starfleet insignia that appears to be movie-era instead of original TV series era in design. Richard's response? Yep, that's a big mistake. There's no way anyone could possibly rationalize that one away. Hoo-boy, what a screw-up. Awful shame, really, no possible reason exists anywhere in the known universe, and none could even be imagined, it's just a great big booboo.

Okay, the outside-the-box answer probably is that it's a blunder on someone's part. But there are two possible ways to look at Richard's answer. First, the eagerness to bash ST II for making a mistake is interesting, because the sainted Gene really hated that movie. Where did he say that, you ask? Well, Halifax, Nova Scotia, circa 1983/84, for one, when he did a lecture there, at the Dalhousie University Student Union Building, which I attended. It didn't fit Gene's evolving conception of Star Trek as conflict-free and unmilitary, and it was a movie made with little input from Gene, as Harve Bennett took over the franchise for a few years.

But more interesting is the little fact that Greg Cox just happened to get a book published called To Reign in Hell. It's a novel about Khan's years on Ceti Alpha V. And Cox proposes a pretty reasonable, inside-the-box explanation for that insignia.

I can't help but think Richard was so vociferous in denying any possible explanation specifically because he knows it was addressed in a (shudder) noncanonical source.

Which brings me to the second way to improve the mag:

Star Trek, as TV series and movie series, is over as of May, for the foreseeable future. So what is Star Trek Communicator going to be about? Is it going to rely on interviews with cast and crew retelling old stories about shows that are slipping steadily farther into the past? Will it just wallow in nostalgia?

Or will Larry Nemecek and the Star Trek Communicator crew notice that the real story now is the Pocket Star Trek books? It's nice that there's one page on upcoming books, but they routinely give more space to Richard Arnold avoiding readers' questions or the latest Decipher card game upgrade than they do to the books.

Star Trek Communicator needs to do major stories about the books. Do a big interview with the Pocket staff about their plans. Do interviews with the writers. Do a big SCE feature describing the characters, summarizing the ebooks so far, and interviewing some of the writers who've gotten their start writing Trek fiction there.

This shouldn't be hard to do. Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore already write for the magazine, after all.

Make it so, dammit.

(Now playing: Shriekback, "Lines From the Library," Care.)


At 8:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This man speaks the truth.

I think I should write Data Access. :D

--Steve Mollmann

At 4:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it's any consolation, Larry Nemecek runs a similar column in the UK Star Trek Magazine, and he takes the same attitude.

When asked why Gary Mitchell's grave for Kirk has an "R" as the middle initial, he dismissed it as a production error. A fan wrote in and said that it was explained in MJF's "My Brother's Keeper" books, and he got a total earful of BS from Nemecek over books not being canon.

-- Daniel B.

At 5:11 PM, Anonymous Steve said...

If Larry Nemecek is as bad as Richard Arnold on books, that's a shame. He's the editor of the ST Communicator, so I guess he doesn't see Arnold's attitude as a problem, even though he has to correct him in his column every few months.

The books are the future of Star Trek right now. Whoever runs the magazines really needs to acknowledge that.

At 4:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

STEVE: The books are the future of Star Trek right now. Whoever runs the magazines really needs to acknowledge that. Tell me about it. Until two months ago, the UK magazine still listed "SGZ Oblivion" as an 'upcoming title'. (And their books editor is James Swallow, who has an upcoming tale in "Distant Shores".)


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