But the episode is sold on some excellent quick-and-dirty character development by scripter Joe Menosky. We see several sets of two people—the shaman and the guy making sacrifices, the protector and his erstwhile mentor, the two guys at the telescope, and the two astronauts—who create instant, lasting impressions. These are people we come to care about, even though they’re all dead within seconds of our encountering them.
My first convention since the apocalypse started was a resounding success. It was really wonderful to be back at Bard’s Tower with Alexi Vandenberg and a whole mess of my fellow word-slingers. We had Melinda Snodgrass, Peter David, Dan Wells, J.B. Garner, Brian Anderson, Megan Mackie, Rick Heinz, T. Allen Diaz, Marion G. Harmon, and Christopher Ruocchio, as well as actor Carlos Ferro. Oh yeah, and me. Plus we had able and excellent assistance from Morgan and James (who very kindly drove Alexi to Mobile to retrieve the mis-shipped banner tower, yes really) and the magnificent ToniAnn (who was an able assistant to all the authors, dashing about with iPads and checking on things and fetching and carrying and all kinds of stuff, all while cosplaying delightfully as Daria, Wednesday Addams, and Velma).
There were a lot of great moments, from one reader coming up and asking me to sign his well-read copy of Star Trek: Articles of the Federation, which he cited as one of the best Trek novels ever written in his opinion, to the little kid who wants to grow up to be a writer and who really enjoyed talking Trek and writing with an actual professional in the field to all the people who bought entire sets of all six Precinct books to the five people who enthusiastically picked up my special advance copies of Systema Paradoxa: All-the-Way House.
It was so good to actually interact with humans who aren’t small rectangles on my computer monitor. I did it entirely masked while I was in the convention center, as Florida’s lax standards means I have no way of knowing who’s vaccinated and who’s just being a jerk. I know everyone working the Tower was fully vaxxed (Alexi made that a requirement, bless him), but I had no clue about the other folks at the con, and while it’s extremely unlikely that my Pfizer-emboldened self will get enough of a viral load to catch it and transmit it to someone else, it’s still possible, and I’d rather not risk it.
Pensacon is an excellent convention, full of good people who are enthusiastic about their nerdity. We had a ton of people come by the Tower, we had packed houses for all our panels — I only did one, on the endurance of Star Trek with myself, Peter, Melinda, and Tony Isabella — and a fantastic time was had by all.
Now if they could just not blast the entire charity auction over the vendor room PA….. (Seriously, I was ready to hit myself over the head with a ballpeen hammer after fifteen minutes of that, and it lasted for 90….)
The setting is just revolting, indulging in all kinds of tired stereotypes, most of which have their root in racist assumptions made about Irish immigrants in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries here in the United States: drunken, lazy, philandering, etc. (Plus, of course, they were Catholics, coming to a country dominated by Protestants, an issue faced by Italians who immigrated to the U.S. as well.)
From brand-spanking-new very-small-press publisher Whysper Wude (run by Keith R.A. DeCandido and Wrenn Simms) comes The Four ???? of the Apocalypse. An anthology of biblical proportions, this is more than two dozen alternate takes on the apocalyptic quartet of yore.
The Four Lunch Ladies of the Apocalypse! The Four Lawyers of the Apocalypse! The Four PTA Moms of the Apocalypse! The Four Cats of the Apocalypse! And a whole bunch more!
Those two elements combine to make this an excellent Star Trek episode, because it sets Voyager in a place it rarely goes: within the history and setting of the greater Trek universe. This is only the third time Voyager has made contemporary contact with the Alpha Quadrant (caveat necessary thanks to “Eye of the Needle”), and of the other two, one happened off camera (the EMH’s report to Starfleet in “Message in a Bottle”) and the other was one-way: letters from home (“Hunters”) and an encrypted message from Admiral Hayes (“Hope and Fear”). This is real contact that, unlike the others, has the promise of more.
For 2021, KRAD COVID readings is covering the only short fiction I didn’t read in 2020: my novellas for the Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers series, a monthly series of eBooks that ran from 2000-2007. I’ll have a new reading every #TrekTuesday.
This week, we continue Here There Be Monsters (or, as it’s titled in German, Achtung! Monster! which is a much better title!!!!!!!!), an epilogue to the Gateways crossover event, as the S.C.E. team starts rounding up the monsters on Maeglin, but discover that there is far more to them than meets the eye…….
I’ll be part of the panel the first night, alongside the anthology’s co-editor Robert Greenberger, as well as David Boop, Jennifer Brozek, Steven Paul Leiva, Yvonne Navarro, and Weston Ochse.
The other nights will include the other co-editor Jean Rabe, as well as Rigel Ailur, Derek Tyler Attico, Greg Cox, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Nancy Holder, Jonathan Maberry, Will McDermott, Scott Pearson, Ben H. Rome, Aaron Rosenberg, Stephen D. Sullivan, Robert Vardeman, and Tim Waggoner.
Between that, and the fact that I’m back to training and teaching in the dojo, I needed a better mask. Conveniently, Wrenn and I were given as birthday presents RZ Masks by the generous and awesome ToniAnn and Kyle. These masks are heavy duty, can be used either for germ protection or simple dust protection, have fancy-shmancy carbon filters that last for about two days of continuous use, are adjustable, sit comfortably without moving on your face, AND DON’T FOG UP MY GLASSES!!!!!!!
That last part is the biggie for me, with the penultimate part particularly important, too. Both in the dojo and at conventions, I’m going to be indoors with lots of other people at various (and unknown) stages of vaccination, from not at all to fully and every stage in between, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll all be masked and that those who are masked will wear them properly. All being vaccinated does is keep me from getting a bad case of COVID-19, it’s not full immunization, so I’m going to need a good mask for a good while, and I’m so grateful to have this one.
Especially since it’s red, which is my favorite color. And yes, it makes me look vaguely Deadpool-ish, but I’m okay with that…..
Anyhow, I’ve spent the last few days doing more work for the tie-in project I can’t talk about yet, and I will be spending the next few days getting a bit ahead on the Voyager Rewatch so I can do Pensacon with a clear conscience, and also getting a new Kickstarter going that I’ve been meaning to get going for the better part of a year. (Sigh.)
Totally forgot to post this when it went up on the Tube of You, but at the virtual Farpoint in February, David Mack, Derek Tyler Attico, and I had a discussion about how and why Star Trek has endured for more than five decades, and is still thriving today, what with the five TV shows currently in production. Check it out…