L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.
Warriors in the Vale of Entuthon-Benython (The Last War in Albion Part 6: Captain Clyde and Scotland) I Happened To Be Wearing This Old Thing (The Runaway Bride)
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August 23, 2013 @ 5:41 am
August 23, 2013 @ 5:51 am
Outstanding. Just… outstanding.
August 23, 2013 @ 8:31 am
August 23, 2013 @ 9:04 am
They were absolutely no Tribble at all.
August 23, 2013 @ 9:38 pm
A lovely, thoughtful, affectionate, multi-layered interpolation.
August 25, 2013 @ 7:50 am
Sorry for the later response: I've been busyXAFK a lot this weekend.
I wanted to thank you all for both the kind words and traffic spikes. This was a very special and important piece for me to write, and I'm beyond heartened it's been received so well so far.
August 28, 2013 @ 11:05 pm
Massive apologies for not commenting on any of your essays for a goodly while. I think it is such a shame that the commenter numbers are small for such a high quality journey. I have been very busy this summer running outdoors projects for children and running live interactive storytelling sessions.
I have just read The Memory of Past Tribbles and utterly adored it! A very sensitive and lovingly written piece of work – well done sir! I have a feeling that scripts such as this gem are only the beginning though… having just read it it led me to dwell on the interactive narrative device that is the Holodeck. Genius to set your story there – after having visualised the characters vividly I do not think that I will be able to help myself look for Dax and Sisko in the backgrounds when I watch the episode again.
I have just currently engaged with a very exciting project called RIDERS (Research in Interactive Drama Environments, Role-play and Storytelling) at Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh. They are aiming to build a network community of interactive and digital story telling experts in the UK and abroad. I have just attended a 2 day symposium and workshop on LARP (Live Action Role Playing) – run by a group specialising in the Nordic LARP style which is immersive in style and character driven, rather than concentrating on 'winning', XP points and fighting. They also utilise many meta techniques to deepen narratives – one especially is called the Black Box. In this, any character can communicate with another (or go solo) to step out of the Game to share a scene held in a room separated from the Game-World. Once in the Black Box the scene can be a flashback / forwards, a dream, a vision, communication with God – or whatever you can imagine. You then go back in-Game with the new experience as Player, but trying not to use it as the Character.
Basically after reading your script I can really see that the Holodeck is comparable to the Black Box scene device. Interestingly, the group is aiming to run a Digital Interactive Storytelling workshop, and the point in your tale where the program is saved onto a portable media device made me think of the last bit of the workshop blurb below:
"The future of interactive narrative remains an exciting challenge yet there is still no definitive best recipe for this format, explored within academia, and experimented within new media development teams. It is a zeitgeist; infiltrating all storytelling platforms from gaming to cinema to education but what do we really mean when we say interactive storytelling?
Professor Ruth Aylett, Dr Sandy Louchart of Heriot Watt University will demystify the theory behind the concept a bit further. Join them for their talk, followed by some hands on learning using a dedicated tool to help create your very own interactive digital narrative. At the close of day, you get a free pen drive to take away with you documenting your IS tale and authoring software, so there really is no end to how often you can create new interactive stories for yourself."
August 29, 2013 @ 3:29 pm
No need to apologise-It sounds like you've had a fun and productive summer! Thanks so much for the lovely, eloquent comment (and the endorsement): It means a lot to hear my writing can be such a creative spark for people, especially a piece like this one.
I'm quite interested in the ideas expressed in the RIDERS project, as one of my other major areas of expertise is the way performative and generative storytelling manifests within video games in particular: I've done some writing to this effect on my blog Forest of Illusions, linked to the right, and I hope to do a larger-scale project along these lines someday. This interpretation of the Black Box in particular reminds me a little of some of the narrative and rhetorical devices employed by game developers like Michael Kirkbride (formerly, but still kinda sorta) of Bethesda Softworks.
While these themes might not as central to Vaka Rangi, certainly the Holodeck is in many ways the logical extrapolation of them, and I'll have to explore the ramifications of this a lot more once we reach Star Trek: The Next Generation and we get not just the Holodeck, but widely distributed and accessible Star Trek video games and my own personal connection to the characters from that period and conception of role playing.
August 30, 2013 @ 7:48 am
Hey Josh – cheers for the message! Exciting to hear your your comments back, especially regarding eloquence. I have dipped into the Forest of Illusions a bit and enjoyed it. I think the RIDERS project is right up your street. They are looking to create a community of interactive digital storytelling experts in the UK and abroad, so it could be a cool thing for you to hook up with. Their website is:
I will go check out the game developer you suggest above as since attending this week's symposium I have a massive desire to engage in more research, now that my psyche has been fully grabbed by the performative and generative storytelling within many media streams. Love the sound of where you are thinking of going when you explore the Holodeck, Star Trek video games. Seems there will be potentially a big link to roleplaying with the Holodeck as the big link for me when I posted above was to do with the idea of immersive roleplay, especially within Nordic LARP.
September 1, 2013 @ 9:11 am
Thanks for the link! I'll definitely check it out.
Kirkbride is a big one, but there are other really fascinating developers I'd suggest doing some research on as well. I plan to talk about a lot of them in my future project, if you're interested in following along with that (if you know me from social media, I hash out rough drafts and ideas a lot over there).
I'd also strongly suggest you check out some of the links I've posted on Forest of Illusions: A lot of those people are breaking new ground in critical analysis of video games, and you'd probably like what they have to say as well.
September 3, 2013 @ 1:38 pm
Cheers for the info – sounds great! Your future project sounds interesting, would be into following that but don't know you via social media (yet!) Yes, have seen your Forest of Illusions and that is definitely a good read that I want to dive into as it is right up my street I believe.
Nice one, cheers Josh
September 4, 2014 @ 1:22 pm
Has "The Trouble with Tribbles" post been removed?
September 5, 2014 @ 7:22 am
Uh, has it? Maybe Dropbox is having issues. I'll check on it and post another comment when I work out what's up.
December 30, 2014 @ 3:08 pm
This is a truly wonderful piece. The Original Series will always be my favorite incarnation of Trek, and this just about brought tears to my old Trekker eyes. Actually, let me say this: I've been reading your Original Series posts for a while now, and I believe that, as a whole, they constitute the finest critical writing about the show that I've come across in my decades of reading. Even when I disagree with you, I find the essays enlightening and interesting.
February 11, 2015 @ 10:10 pm
Er, obviously the post is still there. You have to click the picture.
Timely response is timely.
February 11, 2015 @ 10:20 pm
Well, now I feel shitty taking so long to get back to you. Somehow I missed your comments back in December.
But…thanks. I mean really, thanks so much: This is some of the kindest praise I've ever gotten for this blog and I'm honestly a bit overwhelmed. All I set out to do was bring a new voice to Star Trek discourse, and I'm always flattered and taken aback when people respond so well to what I've written. This piece was a ton of fun for me to write: Some of the most fun I've ever had with this blog to date, in fact. I'm really glad it resonated with you.
I hope you liked what I came up with for the rest of the Original Series, as well as the other iterations of this story, like the Animated Series, Star Trek Year Four and Star Trek Phase II. And I know you're probably not checking this post anymore and it's likely not as much of your thing, but I hope you'll check out and enjoy my (as of this writing) continuing coverage of Dirty Pair and Star Trek: The Next Generation. And I'll be returning to the world of Deep Space 9 soon enough, for what it's worth!