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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.

6 Comments

  1. FlexFantastic
    March 14, 2014 @ 7:12 am

    Good stuff (and, hey, I'm back in the comments!), I think your lament about putting Trek into war games is one reason why (imho, anyways) there just haven't been a lot of great games featuring Star Trek. Because doing war games or other basically violent exercises is a fairly standard, fun way to construct a game (and, as you say, is typically so unreal that one can withstand the frission with philosophical concerns) and other models are rarer and harder to do successfully (although not impossibly, obviously).

    I think the compute game Birth of the Federation works as a model of how you could try to do this a bit better. Not a perfect game, but I went through playthroughs as the Federation without ever having to initiate armed conflict.

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  2. Daru
    March 18, 2014 @ 10:24 pm

    I didn't really know where you were going to go with this, but I have a pretty hard time with Trek turned into a military empire. when you say:
    "I can deal with perpetual war and conflict in my war games if it's lighthearted and cartoony enough"

    It makes me think of why I have such a problem with things like Warhammer 50,000, where there is deep and profound immersive world building, all designed to legitimise the idea of eternal war. And it's not fun – eek! Fun to me is important. I had a look at Cole's website and is looks utterly the opposite of fun.

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  3. Josh Marsfelder
    March 19, 2014 @ 4:15 pm

    Basically I'm just trying to look at one aspect of Star Trek that highlights how weird it is as a mass-market Soda Pop Art franchise: It frequently both is and is not marginal at the same time.

    At the same time, I'm laying out my preliminary arguments against Star Trek being written as militaristic war epics about the machinations of sprawling galactic empires, while at the same time trying to preserve a problematization of the Federation. Which is going to be a pretty big theme coming up in the not-too-distant future.

    And yes. Amarillo Design Bureau is where fun goes to die. It is the parasite universe that drains fun from other universes and negates its existence.

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  4. Daru
    March 19, 2014 @ 9:57 pm

    Oh I just want to add that I am totally on board with you. When I say above that I had a hard time above, I mean that it is also something I find very problematic in Star Trek at times as it gets in the way of story. Great that you are going to explore that as a theme, and I look forward to all the other weird corners of mass-marketing that you may look at too.

    When I went onto Cole's website I felt the joy of my soul being sucked into their Black Hole. The Cadet Training Manual that I skim read, sought to fill my head with data, I had to pull myself away before all possibility of imagination was negated.

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  5. Rick Moore
    January 16, 2018 @ 4:17 pm

    Star Trek has often shown signs of having a powerful, militaristic government. Yeah, they talk a lot of BS liberal nonsense, but so does the American Empire and it’s the most powerful and heavily armed state in human history.

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  6. Rick Moore
    January 16, 2018 @ 4:19 pm

    And there’s nothing utopian about pacifism. I’m an outright anarchist, but this suicide cult Janism is risible.

    Reply

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