To The Future
With the publication of my essay on Ill Wind Part 4 and my Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Reading Guide (which just went up earlier today here, in case you missed it), Vaka Rangi has officially left the TNG/DS9 period.
I said it before (in the Species essay), but this means my positionality is gone from Star Trek more or less for good. And I’ll be honest, when I was first planning Vaka Rangi in 2013, my initial plans for the project were *limited* to this 1987-1994 (and a bit after) period. I had no intention of covering the Original Series, the Animated Series, the movies, Voyager, the Dominion War or anything else. That I’ve managed to stretch the project out for this long still quite frankly amazes me. The fact of the matter is I really don’t have many more places to go with Star Trek. With Ill Wind, I’ve basically said all I wanted to say. I did what I set out to do.
I do have some stuff to say about Enterprise and I’m working on the early stages of a rough outline of an angle for the Voyager and Dominion Wars years that will lead into that (and in fact a portion of the book I’m currently editing was intended to set that up)…But it’s far from ready, and I’m far from confidant I’ve got a strong enough handle on the material and how I want to convey it such that the final product would be anything resembling coherent or erudite. Vaka Rangi from here on out would basically be an entirely different project from what it was up to today, so I need time to work out how to manage that transition in a vaguely elegant way.
Ill Wind may not be the last thing I ever write about Star Trek, but it will probably be the last for a *very* long time.
I’m deep into the planning and pre-production process of my next large-scale blog project that will succeed Vaka Rangi, and trust me, it’s every bit as overreaching and overambitious as this has been. I’m really excited to start work on this, such that it’s distracting me from day-to-day work, and I can’t wait to share it all with you. The problem is…I have to wait, and so will you, because I have to physically *go* somewhere to do fieldwork for this, and I won’t be able to do that until April 2018. So the project has to wait for at least another 11-12 months.
Permanent Saturday will continue, and so will Hyrule Haeresis (but there’s only three more entries of that left, so I’m pacing them out), and in the meantime, I still have a YouTube channel about video games, and I’m going to use this time to focus on building and nurturing that. My first two videos are on Spelunx and the Caves of Mr. Seudo by Cyan Worlds, and a commentary track on the same.…
Where No Book Launch Has Gone Before
After a maddening series of missed deadlines and technical setbacks, I am very pleased (and somewhat relieved) to announce that Vaka Rangi Volume 1 is finally available as a physical book you can actually purchase and own: My acknowledgment of Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary this month.
This volume collects the Vaka Rangi essays from 2013, which covered the first decade of Star Trek’s history from just before “The Cage” in 1964 to the end of Star Trek: The Animated Series in 1974. So inside you’ll find critical essays on every episode of both of those shows and a re-evaluation of Star Trek’s emergent fandom in the 1960s and 1970s alongside “Sensor Scans” on pop culture artefacts of the time apart from Star Trek. Speaking of, one of those Sensor Scans back in the day was of the German cult classic TV series Raumpatrouille Orion that debuted at the same time as Star Trek and had a very similar premise, but was nowhere near as well-remembered. The book version of Vaka Rangi Volume 1 includes a brand-new section on Raumpatrouille Orion, with new essays for each of that series’ episodes as well.
Apart from the new Raumpatrouille chapters, every other essay in the book has been completely revised and edited, and, in some cases, wholly rewritten from the ground up to accomodate new information I’ve gotten or my own changing perspectives. In fact, I’ve changed my tune entirely on some episodes, and cast aside some of my earlier theses and arguments. That tends to happen with three years of hindsight. With that in mind, here’s some of what you can look forward to in this volume:
- See how Star Trek began as a pop culture phenomenon for teenage girls of the 1960s counterculture. More often than not, sadly, in spite of itself, not because of it.
- See how William Shatner’s approach to acting and conception of performance art actively contributed to Star Trek’s early success.
- Ask the question: Is “Space Seed” the worst fucking thing in existence? Or are “Who Mourns for Adonais?” and “The Apple” actually worse?
- Marvel at the spectacle of one of the worst writers known to mankind.
- Learn how Raumpatrouille Orion became a better Star Trek than Star Trek, but still couldn’t manage to escape the shackles of its heritage.
- Discover the arcane and occult secrets of Star Trek‘s oft-overlooked, though obviously present (and almost certainly unintended) mysticism.
- See how Gene Roddenberry accidentally wrote a sympathetic portrayal of gender fluidity in contrast with internalized misogyny in Star Trek‘s series finale.
- Wonder what Alice has to do with a critical history of Star Trek and voyaging starships in fiction.
- Learn how D.C. Fontana and Gene Coon, took a ropy, unsustainable, self-contradictory oxymoron of a TV show and who, alongside their fans, helped transform it into something that has lasted the ages.
- Discover the real story behind the Mary Sue, and learn the origins of slash fiction.
- Flying Space Abraham Lincoln.
- Uncover a secret war that has raged since the beginning of the universe fought on a battlefield that is the entire span of history and whose combatants seek to control the flow of time itself.
Streaming Update (and a Brief Treatise on Crap Home Video Standards)
Hey Dirty Pair fans! All three of you! Guess what?
I just found out something really exciting: It turns out Nozomi Entertainment, one of the rights-holders to the English language version of the Classic Anime Series, has been putting up complete, *subtitled*versions of Dirty Pair: Affair of Nolandia, Original Dirty Pair and Dirty Pair: Flight 005 Conspiracy on its official YouTube channel all summer! You may recall that these were among the releases Manga Entertainment chose not to include in subtitled form among its own uploads of the Classic Anime Series, so it’s a really big deal to finally get these versions in free, legal streaming form.
The TV show never received an English dub because it was localized on the cheap and only very recently, so this doesn’t apply to the Manga Entertainment releases of those episodes, but this is, to my knowledge at least, the first time folks who prefer to stream their visual media over the Internet have had to watch these later Classic Series Dirty Pair anime productions with the original Japanese language track and English subtitles. I’ve updated the video embeds on all my posts about those episodes and movies to these new uploads, and I do very much hope you’ll consider taking this opportunity to give them a second look. I mean my work is surely rubbish and will make me cringe with embarrassment over a year later, but Dirty Pair itself still holds up!
If you were turned off checking out the OVA Series and movies because of the unavailability of a proper subtitled version through steaming services, I hope you’ll go back and watch them now that there is one. And even if you were kind enough to follow along with my coverage of Original Dirty Pair and the film series, I hope you’ll still think about giving them one more go-around now that you have the chance to see the original actors’ performances. I’m not sure if this applies to the versions that are available on Hulu as well, so I’ve left that disclaimer on The Ultimate Dirty Pair Episode Guide Master Post, but I can now conclusively say for certain the YouTube versions are subtitled ones.
So what are you waiting for? The very best English language versions of some of the greatest sci-fi or anime ever made is now just out there waiting to be seen in all its glory! You can find a playlist of the OVA Series here and one for the movies here. And if you’re for some reason still interested in hearing me go on about Dirty Pair after all that, you can always catch up with my more recent ruminations on the Lovely Angels at this humble side blog of mine. It’s sadly been dormant for the past few months because of stupid life reasons (though I thankfully managed to update in time for the 30th Anniversary of the TV series on July 15), but I’m hoping to get back into it in the near future.…
The Ultimate Dirty Pair Episode Guide Master Post
Yesterday’s post on Flight 005 Conspiracy is Vaka Rangi’s final word on Dirty Pair. Some of you are no doubt rejoicing at this news. For the rest of you, since I’ve now finished the entirety of the Classic Anime Series I’ve whipped up something special: It’s called The Ultimate Dirty Pair Episode Guide Master Post.
Perhaps my writing has inspired you to take a trip through Dirty Pair yourself, but are unsure where to start. If that’s the case, then this is for you. If you’re new to Dirty Pair and are looking for a reading guide to get you started, this list should have everything you need: It’s a complete, enumerated, categorized breakdown of every single story of note from the original novels and Classic Anime series (that are also in English) I’ve curated to be as definitive an experience as I can provide. I’ve also provided links to where you can watch the show online, buy the books and DVDs as well as my own posts on each story I’ve highlighted. Think of it as a Greatest Hits compilation and an introductory course in one.
You can find the list here, and once this post goes live it will also be a permanent fixture of Vaka Rangi itself, accessible at anytime at the top of the sidebar under “Pages”.…
Traversing the Heavens’ Expanse
The name Vaka Rangi comes from the common language of the Polynesian islands and the area making up the larger geopolitical region known as “Oceania”. Although each region in the Polynesian triangle has its own variations on it, it is commonly believed all of these dialects can be traced back to a common language, which would account for the striking similarities to be found in all of them.
The Ancient Polynesians and their ancestors were simply put the greatest mariners the world has ever seen and the term vaka (meaning canoe, or canoe hull, in several languages) displays the centrality of the concept to their culture. Spurred on primarily by limited resources and the need to manage sustainable populations, the Ancient Polynesians used voyaging canoes to settle remote and previously unpopulated islands throughout the Pacific Ocean, and many scholars claim they further managed to reach any shore that touched the Pacific and Southern Oceans. The Ancient Polynesians were explorers, navigators, poets, mystics and philosophers, not conquerors or empire-builders: For them, each vaka was not merely a watercraft or a means to an end, but a microcosm of Polynesian society and an island unto itself symbolizing the interconnectedness of the village, the sea, the Earth and the Heavens.
Rangi is thought to be derived from the hypothesized proto-Polynesian word “*laŋi”, meaning the sky, or the heavens. The variant “rangi” is found in several Polynesian languages, most notably that of the Maori and Rapa Nui. In Polynesian Reconstruction, a vaka is often given a secondary name to distinguish itself and its people, thus a “Vaka Rangi” would be “A Canoe for the Stars”.
Today, traditional Polynesian navigation is undergoing a renaissance, bolstered by, among other things, the rediscovery of ancient oral history and techniques on the outlying island of Taumako and a renewed sense of cultural pride in places such as Hawai’i and Samoa. Fleets of vaka once again roam the Pacific, this time to share their message of solidarity with the natural world. It is this spiritual exploration of the universe’s interconnectedness that has been a guiding inspiration for my life and provided the impetus for this project, which I hope will help translate these concepts for those who, like me, grew up during Western post-industrialism. I felt the best way to explore this was to call upon another major interest of mine: Experimental comparative media studies.
What This Project Is
Vaka Rangi is the account of a spiritual journey. Vaka Rangi is a personal memoir. Vaka Rangi is an unauthorized post-structuralist critical history of Star Trek. Vaka Rangi is many things at once.
Fundamentally, this project an attempt at a critical history of utopian futurism in televised science fiction, particularly science fiction involving voyaging starships, from a specific perspective and using the Star Trek franchise as a “guiding text”. I chose Star Trek for a number of reasons, most notably for its substantial cultural capital in Western regions and my personal connection to it. I coined the term “Soda Pop Art” in another blog project of mine to refer to a product of commercialized pop culture that attains enough significance and ubiquity to become a kind of shared Western mythology.…