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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. James Mullins
    March 22, 2017 @ 11:57 am

    I’d definitely agree with you that “Balance of Terror” is best episode of TOS Trek.


  2. JFrances
    March 24, 2017 @ 9:30 am

    You know, whatever problems the execution might have had, this conceptually sounds like a far superior follow-up to Balance of Terror generally and the Romulan Commander personally than anything to come out of IDWs Romulans series, Organians and all. Actually – I don’t know if it plays out like this in context – but the idea of the Organians acting not by switching everyone’s spaceships to simmer but by contriving circumstances to bring the right people together at the right time sounds like a really excellent way to play them. A rather kinder brand of intervention than god-like pronouncements from on high, which is how they generally seem to get used whenever they turn up in other media (though it has been years since I watched Errand of Mercy so I’m no longer sure if that was how they were originally presented).

    Also speaking on a conceptual level, Deep Space Nine should always have been a place where that kind of intersecting of interesting people was front and centre to the everyday goings-on. That exists in the main cast by virtue of them not being anything like the all-Starfleet crews we’ve dealt with before, but of course DS9 is explicitly a way-station. Unlike B5 (and I know you’ve talked about this before), which is set up as a destination in itself, DS9 is about connecting different stages of people’s journeys. So it makes perfect sense that it would be the place the great-granddaughter of Jim Kirk could run into the son of the man who could have been his friend. Heh. And that it would be last stopping place for the last of the Organians too. A way-station for gods and mortals alike. I like that notion and the older I get, the more I wish they’d played that angle up far more than they did. It would have been great to see it continue to deal positively with the ‘lost luggage and lost souls’ aspects on such a setting.

    Was this issue collected in trade? I’d like to track it down and I have a better record stumbling across Star Trek collections than I do individual issues.

    Also, I’ve been wondering for a while – are you intending to cover any of the ‘expanded universe’ novels? I am genuinely unsure where they fit within the greater history of Star Trek and I really would not expect (or want!) you to struggle through the large amounts of, um, dross that came out of the official fan-fic channels. But I find myself wondering about your take on, in particular, Diane Duane’s Romulan series (which I am aware of) and her TNG Dark Mirror novel (which I have actually read).


    • Josh Marsfelder
      March 25, 2017 @ 12:59 am

      I hope I didn’t shortsell Blood & Honor too much: It’s always been one of my favourite Star Trek comics, which is why I covered it.

      Your reading of the Organians is bang-on how Ayelbourne acts in the story (Jannek himself even flags this). I also really like your interpretation of DS9, which is very similar to my own. You touched on a level of nuance in the story I utterly failed to.

      I’m unaware of a trade paperback release of this story, but it, and every other pre-IDW Star Trek comic ever published, was made available on a DVD-ROM from Gitcorp sometime around 2008-9 thereabouts when the first reboot movie came out, which is how I have it (well…I also have a near-complete print run of Malibu’s DS9 series, but that’s beside the point). I don’t know if that DVD is still available, but I highly recommend it if it is.


      • Josh Marsfelder
        March 25, 2017 @ 1:54 am

        Oh Also,

        In regard to the books,

        I haven’t decided about them yet. They weren’t a part of my personal journey with Star Trek and I haven’t been too keen on how a lot of them approached…let’s say “world-building”.

        Diane Duane for sure is going to get a mention, and sooner rather than later. Her Romulan stuff is great, though probably beyond the scope of this project.


        • JFrances
          March 25, 2017 @ 12:49 pm

          Heh. Nice to have spotted nuance from a remove! You’ve certainly sold me on this story — and I recall you (or a commenter) mentioning that DVD before . . . thank you! It’s unavailable on Amazon UK but I shall definitely have to see if I can scare up a copy.

          Thanks for clarifying about the book series. I rather suspected that might be the case. I’d say my experience with Star Trek is probably shaped more by the novels than the comics. I was really in the wrong place at the wrong time to follow the comics when I was younger, so instead it was the odd second-hand novel. For a while, I actively sought out the post-TNG and post-DS9 stuff but then everything descended into Apocalypse:Borg and I lost all interest. I found the post-DS9 novels generally to bethe best of the bunch, though, albeit in a way that, looking back, was always going to dive off a precipice at some point.

          I’m glad to hear that Duane will come up. I recall now that I have read one of the Romulan books and the bit that sticks with me is the description of the Enterprise’s recreation deck, which was a glorious bit of technicolour world-building. That seems to be the trend though all her world: she really ran with the strange new life aspects of Star Trek and took it in some lovely directions.

          I was listening to an interview from a couple of years ago ( which I found interesting for where it touched on how she approached writing Star Trek stories – namely that if she was going to write one, it had to be one that would only properly work as a Star Trek story. There’s probably a loose comparison to make to Mark Lenard’s writing here, actually — this is a story that sounds like it could only exist within the framework Star Trek as a whole provides, although in this case I suppose the conditions that result in that dependence are slightly more obvious.


          • Josh Marsfelder
            March 26, 2017 @ 1:20 am

            Most people’s Star Trek experience is shaped more by the novels than the comics I should think. Which is why I’ve chosen to focus almost exclusively on the comics and practically ignore the novels. 🙂

            I did follow some of the post-DS9 books though, as I was missing DS9 and they were getting rave reviews. I…didn’t much care for them, TBH. Practically all the books in the Pocket line I read seemed completely consumed by fanwank to the degree it seemed there was no point to them beyond that, which really hampered my enjoyment of them.

            If “Apocalypse: Borg” refers to Star Trek: Destiny, however, I have to confess I found that to be one of the more interesting efforts I saw from Pocket Books. I admired them having the chutzpah to actually kill off the Borg and force Star Trek to move beyond them, and I chuckled a bit when I saw the reboot film series actually canonized it, along with Enterprise.

          • JFrancis
            March 27, 2017 @ 10:10 pm

            (Correcting screen name spelling)

            Actually I was thinking more of the books that preceded Destiny more than the conclusion. I didn’t have the will power to stick around long enough to reach the end of that plot thread! I think that I just generally had a hard time getting on with any of the ‘and nothing will ever be the same again’ plots Pocket put out because they all seemed to be retreading the same kind of war on the Federation arcs.

            Even when they moved beyond the Borg, it seems they kept wanting to have an evil empire to define the Federation against and to drive it into battle with. Which feels like some premier grade point missing.

  3. Allyn
    March 27, 2017 @ 4:24 pm

    I reread “Blood & Honor” a few weeks ago, after the series on the TNG/DS9 crossover mini-series. I hadn’t remembered much beyond the broad strokes, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

    This is what I wrote on TrekBBS about it after reading it:

    The special written by Marc Lenard was something that I wish someone, somewhere, would have followed up on. It focuses on two characters — a Romulan ambassador, who happens to be the son of the Romulan Commander from “Balance of Terror,” who has been sent to Bajor to open diplomatic relations between the Empire and Bajor, and Ensign Jamie Samantha Kirk, a recent Academy grad assigned to DS9 who is descended from James Tiberius Kirk in some fashion. The story’s not bad (it’s typical early DS9 — a visitor, in this case Romulan Ambassador Jannek, arrives at the station, and a mystery follows in his wake that the DS9 characters have to unravel), but the dialogue is sometimes clunky and lacks subtlety. It’s the kind of thing you read now, think about where DS9 went, and go, “I really wonder what happened to those characters and what role they might have played in the unfolding galactic crisis.”


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