Posted in: Reviews, Star Trek

Book Review- Star Trek: Picard The Last Best Hope

Last Best Hope cover
The cover to the Star Trek: Picard novel “The Last Best Hope”

Note: This article that I wrote originally appeared at www.SeventhFleet.org

Book Review- Star Trek: Picard The Last Best Hope

Title: Star Trek: Picard The Last Best Hope

Author: Una McCormack

Page count: 336

Breakdown: Fifteen chapters in three parts.

Year Published: 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3944-5 (Hardcover)

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3945-2 (ebook)

The Last Best Hope is the first novel based on the CBS All Access (now Paramount+) series “Star Trek: Picard”.  I recently had a chance to purchase this book for my Amazon Kindle to add to my reading list.  Being the first book in the series, I knew that I just had to know the show and not any previous books (I’m doing a lot of catch up on my Star Trek reading right now) so I was eager to open this book up and explore.

                This book starts out with Starfleet Command approaching Captain Picard with the task of assisting the Romulan Star Empire after the discovery of the supernova that will destroy countless inhabited planets.  The newly promoted Admiral Picard is immediately moved into a role of coordinating the relocation efforts that the Federation extends to the Romulans.  He first meets Lt. Commander Raffi Musiker who briefs the Admiralty on the supernova that we first learned about in the 2009 Star Trek movie. 

                There is a lot of discussion about how the Federation would handle such an evacuation.  The resources needed, the ships built, and the manpower required.  What projects would be placed on hold just to accomplish such a goal.  There is a lot of insight into what happens with refugees.  Especially when the government like the Romulan Star Empire is built upon keeping secrets.

                Author Una McCormack introduces us to several of the characters we will get to know in the Star Trek: Picard television series.  The above-mentioned Raffi Musiker and her time as Picard’s Executive Officer on the USS Verity.  We get an insight into the effects the mission has on her family life.  Doctor Bruce Maddox mentors a student known as Agnes Jurati.  This mentoring develops into a relationship, especially when Dr. Maddox is forced to abandon his life’s work to develop a form of artificial ship builders known as the Synths.  One of he Romulan planets that is evacuated by the Verity contains Zani and the band of warrior nuns known as the Qowat Milat.  Here Picard meets a very young boy named Elnor.  While not seen in the series, Geordi La Forge features prominently in this novel as he heads up the shipbuilding efforts at the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards building the Wallenberg Class transport.  We also get a chance to meet future Fleet Admiral Kirsten Clancy at Federation Headquarters.

                There is also a rich band of characters that are introduced for this novel.  Estella Mackenzie works at Utopia Planitia alongside La Forge and comes up with the idea of creating androids to help with construction.  With the supernova being a unique event, Doctor Amal Safadi at Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy conducts several studies.  He tries to get a hold of his Romulan counterpart, the scientist Doctor Nokim Vritet who first discovered the disaster that had befallen his people.  On the USS Verity are two interesting individuals such as Lt. Koli Jocan, a Bajoran who is very familiar with relocation due to the history of her people and provided one of the most inspirational moments within the book.  The other is the Romulan “cultural liaison officer” Lt. Tajuth sent to make sure that Picard considers Romulan interest while within their territory.  Tajuth provides quite a bit of insight into the Romulan culture.  One of the more interesting characters is Olivia Quest.  A politician who is a representative from the agricultural colony near the Romulan border called Estelen.   She provides a lot of insight into how the smaller worlds within the Federation feel about the sudden influx of Romulan refugees into the area. 

                With this book set before the Romulan star exploded I was wondering if we were going to see or hear from two individuals.  The first one, Spock, did not disappoint me.  I was also wondering if we were going to hear anything about Nero and his crew.  They did not make an appearance, but this may have been due to (at the time) the rights to characters from the 2009 movie.

                The writing style and detail provided by the author delved very deeply into the characters and various sub-plots.  The short chapters made for quick reading.  Unfortunately, my reading schedule only allowed for short reads each day.  Most of these I did not want to put my reading tablet down.  I found myself spending extra time reading “just a few more pages”.  The writing was that engaging in the story and characters. 

                This was also the curse of the book.  The main characters seen in the show had their stories wrapped up by the end of the book in a very good story.  I’m not certain if there was a limit on the number of pages, but it seemed like the very well written characters introduced into the book were quickly wrapped up in a few pages.  This disappointed me a little.  With how well these characters had been written, I was hoping to find out more about what happened with them at the end of the book.  Perhaps this could be an opportunity to see some of these characters again in future novels.

                If you enjoyed watching the first season of Star Trek: Picard and would like to know how some of the characters developed before the television series, I would highly recommend The Last Best Hope.

Posted in: Horror Hosts, Humor, MST3K, Quotes, Reviews, Star Trek

MST3K: The Movie 25th Anniversary

On April 19, 1996, Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie was released into theaters riffing on the sci-fi classic “This Island Earth“. Unfortunately, it was only twenty six theaters on the opening weekend. I remember wanting to watch this movie the moment I heard the news about this special show. I don’t recall when it finally came to Utah, but I was there when it made it’s Beehive State premier at a Salt Lake City art theater. MST3K: The Movie was shown at The Tower Theater on 9th and 9th. It may have been one of the many cult midnight movies that this theater was known for showing. I went with a group of friends who were all excited to see the movie. In typical MST3K fashion, we riffed the movie in the theater. The one I remember the most was at the start when Michael Nelson was in the hamster wheel. While he was jogging, we all started singing the theme from Rocky. Da-da-daadaa Da Da da…. Gonna Fly NOW!!!!! We were constantly quoting lines from this movie at various opportunities. One of the more unique ones is when the crew sings “normal view. Normal View. Normal View! NORMAL VIEW!!!”. We were playing the Star Trek: Customizable Card Game where one of the cards was titled Mortal Q. You can guess what we sang.

mortal q. Mortal Q. Mortal Q! MORTAL Q!!!!

I remember getting excited when the movie was finally released on DVD. I called my bother (another MST3K fanatic) and let him know it was out since I didn’t know the stores had it at the time. After purchasing, watched this movie over and over again. I had only wished that the original MST3K: The Movie DVD had the original film as one of the extras. It wasn’t until Svengoolie had shown This Island Earth on The MeTV Network several years ago that I had a chance to watch the uncut version of the film. Svengoolie even mentioned the MST3K movie as one of the first introductions to this movie that a lot of people had experienced. There was 30 minutes cut from the original film for the MST3K. Because of how many times I’ve watched this movie, I’ve had some RPG homebrew ideas for the Metalutians. When I get the examples done, the Metalutians will be one of the demo aliens that I’ll be creating.

In honor of the 25th Anniversary today, I found the DVD I had watched a million times and put it into the DVD player. I took some notes while watching for this blog. I loved how the opening scene (after the Rocky run) was an escape attempt and explanation of why Mike and the bots are on the SoL. This gave movie viewers who hadn’t seen any MST3K episodes a quick guide into the setup of the show. I’ve always thought that the “bow down” scene was a little disturbing. Yea we want to show that Dr. Forrester is EEEEVVVVIIILLLL (and a bit of a dickweed) but that always seemed to bother me for some reason. The only reason I can think of is that he was never that nasty on the TV episodes. Yea he was evil, but not “kneel before Zod” evil. I wonder how many people watching the movie now will get the “John Sununu goes for a haircut” joke? I liked how they used the film breaking to give Mike and the Bots a chance to do a skit. Just breaking for a skit like they do in episodes may have confused audience members not familiar with the show. I don’t know why I never noticed that the switch activating the manipulator arms is marked “Manos” (as in Hands of Fate). Good job on that one. The names of the “invisible pilots” are Claude Rains (who played the invisible man) and Harvey the Rabbit (another invisible character). Another item that was different in the movie compared to the TV shows is the crew riffed the end credits to the movie. And I also counted, there were eight Star Trek references in the film.

Some of the lines that stood out in the film.

“Service engine soon” I wonder what that’s all about?

Science and Industry! See big men sticking screw drivers into things – turning them – AND ADJUSTING THEM!

Well believe me, Mike, I calculated the odds of this succeeding versus the odds I was doing something incredibly stupid… and I went ahead anyway.

Now place your hands above the rail [hands suddenly attach to the rail] … they’re magnetized. And if your hands were metal, that would mean something.

Increase the Flash Gordon noise and put more science stuff around!

Are you in Europe? Do you need an adapter?

Offer void in Utah.

It was great to watch this movie again. If you are a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, they are currently running a Kickstarter to make more episodes. You can support them at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mst3k/makemoremst3k

Posted in: Reviews, Sports

The best laid plans…

Evey February I would sit down with a large number of snacks and appetizers and watch some expensive commercials interrupted by a sporting event. There would be a commercials that would be funny, others would tug at the heartstrings. And finally there would be a series of commercials that would air and everyone at the party would look at each other and whisper “Did they really spend money on a commercial like that?”

So while we were not getting together with friends for a super bowl party, I was thinking that I could write up a blog post on what commercials made me laugh and what commercials I’d be talking with co-workers about the next day.

Errrr…. What was that saying about the best laid plans?

I watched the commercials. And there were a few things of note. But the commercials just were not as good this year. It use to be that this was… well the super bowl of commercials. Corporations would spend millions of dollars producing top of the line ads. You would see these adds for weeks to come just because they were trying to get a return on the investment. We would laugh about them as we talked around the water cooler.

The commercial with the baby adoption was a good at tugging the heartstrings. I also really enjoyed Bruce Springsteen and the Jeep commercial about America (a message that was sorely needed). The M&Ms commercial was funny. Will Ferrel tried with his electric cars commercial, I just don’t find him that funny. I liked the Wayne’s World shop local commercial, I just don’t feel the urge to use an overpriced delivery service. The Paramount+ commercials were also good, but I had already seen them since they had been released online prior. When I was talking with a lot of people who had been interested in the commercials in the past and their response was “Meh, I’ll just watch it on YouTube.” I think we are missing the opportunity to do something all together at the same time.

I notice that the commercials just didn’t hold as much water this year. I didn’t really have a vested interest in either of the teams. I don’t really have any loyalty to an NFL team since there isn’t one located in Utah. As I was watching the last half of the blowout game, I was hoping that the Chiefs would come back and make the game interesting. Then it hit me. When the game is dull (looking at you Patriots and Rams from a few years ago) the commercials end up dull as well. Probably because when the game is bad, my attention starts to wander.

Now I understand that we’ve just gotten over a bad year. But I really feel that the advertisers missed the mark by not delivering more comedic advertising. Give us a reason to smile and make things fun around here. That would have made your product placement much more memorable. Now is the time to get started for next year.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention. I was originally watching the game on a Comcast/Xfinity provided channel. It was playing English during the pre-game. But for some reason it switched over to SAP (Spanish) when the game started. No matter where I looked on the Xfinity remote there was no option to hit SAP to see if it would go back to broadcasting in English. So I turned on my CBS All Access (soon to be named Paramount+) and watched the game that way. The sports on the streaming service had no problems what so ever. I was pretty impressed.