That’s not the voice of god, that’s just a ring modulator

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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.


  1. Adam Riggio
    July 6, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

    I feel bad that no one has commented on this, because this was cruising for a bruising from fans of traditional Star Trek.

    Which is a shame, because I pretty much agree with you about this whole episode. The idea that Kirk and most of the human crew would admire Khan is ridiculous, but a lot of people still remember Franco and Pinochet and Stalin positively. So just as the distance of history can let us sometimes get a more clear view of past atrocities, that same distance can also blind us to some terrible things.

    Some random thoughts:

    – The conflict of Kirk and Khan in this episode isn't a moral conflict, but a turf war. Kirk (and likely most of the human Enterprise crew with their rose-tinted glasses) has no trouble letting Khan settle an uncolonized world to build his new dictatorship. The only problem Kirk has is when Khan wants his ship to lead his new empire. Space Seed's conflicts are about territorial pissings.

    – Khan's ethnicity is clear throughout his portrayal here, in Wrath of Khan, and in his portrayal by Cumberbatch. He's obviously Shiftystani.

    – No Star Trek writer knew how to write for women until probably around DS9 (ie. just as you'd write a fully developed male character with a complex history, personality, and individual backstory, except her name is Kira).


  2. Iain Coleman
    July 6, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

    As far as Wrath of Khan is concerned, come on. It's Moby Dick in space, with Shatner as the whale. What's not to love?


  3. Josh Marsfelder
    July 6, 2013 @ 5:00 pm

    Well, Khan, for one. And the fact it retroactively makes people think "Space Seed" was a good idea. And then there's the issue of Nicholas Meyer, but I'm keeping mum on him for now.


  4. Josh Marsfelder
    July 6, 2013 @ 5:10 pm

    "No Star Trek writer knew how to write for women until probably around DS9…"

    I thought Counselor Troi and Doctor Crusher turned out pretty well. It took Micheal Piller to make them work, naturally, but the redemption job he pulls on TNG is the stuff of legends. And of course, he's the same guy primarily responsible for making DS9 as good as it was.

    Tasha Yar had a ton of potential and is one of the most unique and special characters in all of Star Trek IMO, but Gene Roddenberry and Maurice Hurley screwed the pooch on her so hard it can be tough to see sometimes. Also, don't forget Ro Laren and Guinan.

    "(ie. just as you'd write a fully developed male character with a complex history, personality, and individual backstory, except her name is Kira)."

    Or Jadzia.


  5. BerserkRL
    July 9, 2013 @ 8:12 pm

    he (it's always a he)

    Except when it's Elizabeth I.


  6. BerserkRL
    July 9, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

    One thing that "Space Seed," Wrath of Khan, and Star Trek: Into Darkness have in common is that we keep being told that all of Khan's people are genetic uebermenschen, but Khan is the only one we ever see do anything interesting.

    If the other people on Khan's ship in Wrath of Khan were really hyper-intelligent, super-strong, ultra-ambitious uebermenschen, they'd say to each other: "Khan's obsession with Kirk is counter-productive. Let's relieve him of command and get the hell out of Federation space." Not "yours is the superior intellect, and I am happy to die pointlessly as cannon fodder in your personal grudge match."


  7. Josh Marsfelder
    July 10, 2013 @ 6:58 am

    Maybe that's another reason he didn't like the Überfraus and why we never see them again after that first scene where they're revived.


  8. Josh Marsfelder
    July 10, 2013 @ 7:00 am

    A very interesting argument could be made about women in positions of absolute power (or even just aspiring to it) internalizing specific aspects of patriarchy and male supremacist thought. Queens are already treated as "exceptions" to many things.


  9. BerserkRL
    July 11, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

    Though not everyone was willing to play along.


  10. Robert Ciccotosto
    May 21, 2014 @ 8:03 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.


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