Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek: The Next Generation was my introduction to the Star Trek universe. I’d fiercely fight for the remote in the afternoon to have my dose of silly aliens, so when we finally gave in and got Netflix I thought : Well, let’s watch again! Rewatching your childhood favourites is inherently fraught with danger, especially when talking about things with special effects and “future technologies”, but also when the racial and sexual politics of the 1990s are measured against 2022.

Star Trek has always been lauded for being progressive, which shows you exactly not just that progress has been made, but also that we still have a long way to go. The bridge crew starts out with a diverse set of people, yet after Tasha gets killed, we’re down to two constant female crew members, both being in caring and nurturing professions. They are amazing characters, but they are also pretty much a 1990s ideal: a professional woman, but not a threat to the men in any way. The same is true for the changing characters in each episode: Unless one of the crew wants to fuck them, there’s a 90% chance that it’s a white guy, and if they are love interests, it’s a 90% chance they’re a white woman. I think I have now arrived at the third white male important scientist with a much younger wife whose job is “wife”. I can still enjoy it, though. It’s at least a piece of media that is sincerely trying (I’m not going to comment on the allegations of the abuse on set, just the product).

Yet, there is one thing I cannot forgive. Remember when I said I watched it first in the 90s? Well, not only was there no possibility to switch to the OV, I wouldn’t have understood it either (I so envy the kids today who have a world of languages at their hands), so my version of Captain Picard is the dubbed version. Watching the OV now, I recognised three things:

  1. Captain Picard curses like hell
  2. Captain Picard is easily pissed (it’s amazing how different the tone of voice is in the dubbed vs OV)
  3. No-fucking-body in the whole universe is able to pronounce Picard, not even Picard

Woman Artists on Youtube – Movie Reviewer – Jill Bearup

I am not shure whether movie reviewer is the correct title – she is specializing in talking about stage combat, but not only that. I found her because I have recently caught up with my MCU deficit (last movie I saw before this year was Guardians of the Galaxy 2) and YouTube algorithm caught up pretty quickly on that.

The Art of Book Design: Space Cat

Ruthven Todd. Space Cat. Illustrated by Paul Galdone. Charles Scribners Sons, 1952. Photo from

Space cat is a series of 4 books written in the 1950’s by Scottish novelist Ruthven Todd about Flyball the cat and his adventures in outer space. The books are filled with charming illustrations by Paul Galdone who also designed the set of 4 covers that have made the books highly collectible and hard to find. The Book isn’t in the public domain so I can’t send you to read them, but in 2018 the set was re-issued and is available for purchase at a reasonable price. Here’s the link to Amazon, but the books can be found at most major book stores. Click through if you’d like to see the other 3 book covers – they are fun!

[Read more…]

The Art of Book Design: Olga Romanov


Olga Romanoff or The Syren of the Skies. A Sequel to “The Angel of the Revolution.” George Griffith. London: Tower Publishing Company Limited, 1894. First edition, first issue.

This book is a futuristic science fiction story told in melodramatic Victorian prose. The story was originally serialized in Pearson’s Weekly of London.


Cover photo via: Books and Art

The book is available to read at Project Gutenberg Australia

The Art of Book Design: From the Earth to the Moon

Jules Verne. From the Earth to the Moon. London, Sampson Low, Marston, Low, and Searle, 1873 — Source.

Our book today comes from the fertile imagination of Jules Verne and the cover is eerily reminiscent of the modern rocket technology that actually did take man to the moon nearly 100 years after this book was written.


via: The Public Domain Review

Journey’s End

As we all know, Opportunity was declared officially MIA a short while ago. I had planned on preparing a more sensical post as tribute, but instead, here is a short list of links on the subject:

Opportunity Rover (xkcd)

Opportunity (xkcd)

Spirit (xkcd) (I know I know but it’s a good one)

It’s Time to Say Goodbye to Our Beloved Mars Rover

NASA Declares a Beloved Mars Mission Over

Six Things to Know About NASA’s Opportunity Rover

The Mars Opportunity rover has officially ghosted Earth

Death and Opportunity

And finally, from the futuristic fiction department, A Martian Hunts for the Red Planet’s Past – And His Own


Slavic Saturday

Slavic people are today mostly seen as “white” to the point that a Polish game developer was in USA criticised for making the computer game Witcher 3 without any people of color that could be recognized as such in modern world. Similarly a few years later a Czech developer was criticised for the same thing in a game Kingdom Come: Deliverance, deliberately set in medieval Bohemia and made as historically accurate as possible.

Whilst I understand all the arguments for the importance of diversity in representation, I think all these critiques were misguided, because they were targeted at the wrong target – they criticised products of one culture from the perspective of another culture with entirely different roots.

Slavs are indeed white when you look at the color of their skin, and by Gob do we have an awful lot of white supremacists and neo-nazis today. However a white nationalist or even a neo-nazi Slav makes about as much sense as white nationalist or neo-nazi (or Trump loving) Jew.  After all, Jews have white skin too. And after all, how many Jew-hating Arabs and Arab-hating Jews know that both Jews and Arabs are in fact semitic tribes? I would venture a guess that many do not, or they do but don’t care. People are perfectly capable of being misguided, misinformed, bigoted and downright willfully ignorant and hold contradictory ideas in one head, so there is that.

Historically Slavs migrated in the Europe from east and north, displacing come celtic and germanic populations. As a result they lived mostly in the woodlands and mountains of north, central and East Europe and they were comparatively poor. They had no written language that we know of, so very little is in fact known about their culture or religion. Some knowledge can be derived from linguistics, some from written reports by neighbouring nations, some from archeology, but Slavs established themselves in Europe during the dark ages and knowledge is therefore scarce.

However it is sometimes alleged that their own name for themselves – Slovan (originating from the word sloviť=to speak) might have been the origin of the word sclavus (Lat), and later on Sklave (Ger) and  slave (En) . Because these poor people were popular sources of cheap slave labor for neighbouring Germanic and Italic tribes through the early history of Europe way over to the Ottoman Empire in Middle East later on.

And even apart from slavery, a lot of the time right from Ancient Rome and the Middle Ages until very recently most Slavic nations were second-class citizens in countries led by people of other nationalities. Only Russians have managed to be oppressors and not oppressed in this period, and ironically they mostly oppressed and sometimes even tried to exterminate other Slavs. Both Czechs and Poles did not have any independency right until the end of WW1, after which they had few short decades to get the taste of self-determination before being swept into the bloody cauldron of WW2.

Under the Third Reich the Slavs were seen as barely people. They were not targeted for outright extermination like Jews and Roma, but the intent was to put them back into their proper place – slavery (that is why I think that a neo-nazi Slav is an ignoramus and a completely daft person – if nazis got their way, he would think scrubbing floors with his own toothbrush is a posh job).

After the WW2 all slavic nations ended up being wrapped behind the Iron Curtain under the not-so subtle hegemony of USSR. This time at least it was not overtly attempted to obliterate local cultures and languages (not here anyway). But whilst the Russian rule did try and manage to instill some sense of Pan-Slavic belonging, they also managed to instill some anti russian sentiments along the way (in Poland on top of the hundreds of years long grudge Poles held against Russians from the time of the Russian Empire). And the sense of always being second class, not being allowed anything truly ours, pervaded.

In this sense, sprouting of some nationalism after the fall of the Iron Curtain was perhaps inevitable, what with the nations trying to finally re-assert themselves for good. I do think white nationalists are going about the business the wrong way, proclaiming your superiority over others is not the right thing to do and it is also demonstrably false. But I also think that Polish game developers who make a PC game packed with people who bear the typical facial features of contemporary Poles, with architecture and ornaments of medieval Slavic kingdoms and based on Slavic mythology, or Czech game developers making a game set in a very distinct and specific area of medieval Kingdom of Bohemia with focus on historical accuracy are doing nothing wrong and are indeed going about it the right way. And even though these works of art have managed to succeed on an international stage, their creators were in no way obliged to fall in step with USA culture and reflect USA racial make-up.

Those who criticised these two games for a lack of representation of POC have failed to realize that they were essentially trying to bully others into giving their own culture away and let the USA to appropriate said culture the way USA likes it. In fact, they should take these games as an opportunity to learn that “white people” are not a monolith and that outside of USA there is a lot more that defines your ancestry and your culture than the color of your skin. This way said critics were – probably unwittingly – perpetuating the USA collonialism ad absurdum, by requiring everyone everywhere to reflect contemporary social ills of USA.

We do not need nor want to do that, thank you very much. We have our own social ills to deal with.


I often get a book based on cover art. That’s not all of course, but if the art attracts me immediately, there’s a good chance it will go home with me. I’ve often found that writers who really care about the cover art portraying the essence of their art tend to be good ones. I haven’t read anything else by Jeff Vandermeer. After the cover art, I was intrigued by the premise. I haven’t gotten to this one yet, still on The Emperor of All Maladies.

“Once upon a time there was a piece of biotech that grew and grew until it had its own apartment”: an odd, atmospheric, and decidedly dark fable for our time.


Superb: a protagonist and a tale sure to please fans of smart, literate fantasy and science fiction.

You can read the full Kirkus Review here.

The Cultural Force of Science Fiction.

“L’an 2000” (“The year 2000,” 1901), print on cardboard; a collection of uncut sheets for confectionery cards showing life imagined in the future (photo by the author for Hyperallergic). Click for full size.

LONDON — The 1982 film Blade Runner imagined 2019 Los Angeles as a dystopia of noirish neon and replicants, robots sent to do hard labor on off-world colonies. It’s a future in which engineered beings are so close to humans as to make the characters question the very nature of life. We’re now just a couple of years from this movie’s timeline, and although our robots are still far from mirroring humanity, our science fiction continues to envision giant leaps in technology that are often rooted in contemporary concerns of where our innovations are taking us.

Patrick Gyger, curator of Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction at the Barbican Centre, told Hyperallergic that, for him, science fiction “allows creators to look beyond the horizon of knowledge and play with concepts and situations.” The exhibition is a sprawling examination of the genre of science fiction going back to the 19th century, with over 800 works. These include film memorabilia, vintage books, original art, and even a kinetic sculpture in a lower-level space by Conrad Shawcross. “In Light of The Machine” has a huge, robotic arm twisting within a henge-like circle of perforated walls, so visitors can only glimpse its strange dance at first, before moving to the center and seeing that it holds one bright light at the end of its body.


The exhibition shows, but does not dwell on, who has been left out of a history mostly shaped by white men (there are rare exceptions on view, like the “Astro Black” video installation by Soda_Jerk that muses on Sun Ra’s theories of Afrofuturism). It would be worthwhile to spend more time on figures who broke through these barriers, such as author Octavia Butler. As discussed on a recent podcast from Imaginary Worlds, her black characters were sometimes portrayed as white on her book covers to make them more appealing to science fiction readers. The exhibition could also have a deeper context for why certain veins of science fiction are prominent in particular eras, and perhaps question why we don’t have a lot of science fiction narratives on current crises like climate change. For instance, the much smaller 2016 exhibition Fantastic Worlds: Science and Fiction 1780–1910 from the Smithsonian Libraries compared milestones like Mary Shelley’s 1818 Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus with physician Luigi Galvani’s “animal electricity” experiments on animating dead frog legs, and highlighted how Jules Verne channeled the doomed Franklin expedition in his 1864 book The Adventures of Captain Hatteras.

Nevertheless, having an exhibition like Into the Unknown at a mainstream space like the Barbican is significant, showing the art world appreciates science fiction beyond kitsch. And science fiction continues to be one of our important portals for thinking about the ramifications of our technological choices, and where they might take us.

You can read and see much, much more at Hyperallergic. Fascinating!

Star Trek: Discovery.

Courtesy of CBS.

Courtesy of CBS.

I should come out from under my rock more often, I had no idea that yet another Trek was in the works. It really is the show that won’t die, and it seems like diversity might actually make some inroads this time around. We’ve finally come a long way from the days of Spock’s ears being airbrushed out. Took long enough.

As casting rumors are confirmed, Star Trek: Discovery is boasting one of the most diverse casts in the franchise’s history—and we’re not just talking about the aliens.

The latest news is that out actor Maulik Pancholy will play Dr. Nambue, the chief medical officer. There’s no news whether the character will be gay, but no worries: Discovery will feature an original gay character for the series, Lt. Stamets, who will be played by Anthony Rapp.

That’s just the beginning for Discovery’s crew. We already know that the lead character will be played by The Walking Dead’s Sonequa Martin-Green, who is only the second woman to lead a Star Trek series (after Voyager) and the first woman of color. Another ship in the series will be captained by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s Michelle Yeoh.


Rumors are still circling about a premiere date for Discovery, but CBS speculates sometime this year—possibly the summer.

Via Out.

I thought I might have to watch a Star Wars flick…


I thought I might have to actually watch a Star Wars flick, because Alan Tudyk. Unfortunately, he just has a voice part in this rehash, so I’ll be able to spare myself. (Not that he won’t do a brilliant job, I know he will.)

Apparently, people are going to continue to be drowned in Star Wars flicks for the next, fuck, who knows, it looks like decades more. I haven’t seen a Star Wars movie since standing in line at the Cinedome in SoCal back in 1970something. I think I saw three of them, I don’t remember. I gave up on the appearance of the teddy bear beings, there’s only so much eye-rolling I’m willing to pay for. For all the fans though, Raw Story has a good run down on what’s happening with the next however many movies it is coming out.

Star Wars goes Rogue – but will this risky move backfire?