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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.

5 Comments

  1. David Faggiani
    May 23, 2016 @ 12:40 am

    Very good, and very moving. Look forward to hearing your take on 'Generations' which I actually like quite a bit (although I think it gets pretty weak when Kirk re-appears)

    You may have stated this before in other pieces, but do you have any regard for/any intention to cover any of the novels from the late TNG era?

    I didn't read all that many, but I was a big fan of 'Federation' (my favourite), 'Vendetta' and 'Q-Squared'. I also loved the 'Invasion!' four-part crossover – having got the first, TOS novel free with 'Star Trek Monthly', must have been in about 1996.

    Actually, I notice now that all my favourites (and 'Generations') involved elements of crossover/continuation with TOS. Can't imagine you'll approve of that! Chalk it up to me trying to bond with my dad, maybe….

    Oh, I also liked that DS9 one where everybody died in some kind of time jump, and Odo got to take a walk on the star-hot core of the station for some reason… 'Fallen Heroes'! (had to look that one up…)

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  2. Josh Marsfelder
    May 23, 2016 @ 9:37 am

    Thank you! This was, obviously, a very important essay for me.

    Generations is something I've had something of a turnaround on. I've found an interesting tack on it I'm anxious to get to, though it probably won't be for awhile.

    I was originally going to look at some of the most significant late TNG era novels, but since I wound up not looking at any of the other novels from earlier it's unlikely I'll make an exception for these. I am, however, going to do a lot of tie-in comics from this period that I have a lot of fond memories of and that were very influential to me.

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  3. Dustin
    May 25, 2016 @ 10:40 am

    Sorry I took a while to get to this.

    Yes. Star Trek is constantly struggling with itself. It wants to be taken seriously as late-20th Century dramatic storytelling, with all the tropes and expectations that go along with it, but it also has a vision that these expectations frequently undermine. The Next Generation was never either of these things for a sustained period of time, flitting from one producer’s vision to another, with some characters behaving unrecognizably depending on the writer handling them.

    I, too, have flitted between irreconcilable views on what Trek should be. I used to adore it for its optimistic view that maybe, one day, empathy wins out over cruelty. Then I tired of it and thought that that was all pathetic, naive and unserious, and that real drama was about undermining the values and integrity of its heroes to show that the real world doesn’t present you with problems that can be solved in 44 minutes. As a friend of mine said recently as a knock against utopian Trek, “The Federation’s values are nice if you’re smiling and laughing on the bridge at the end of each episode.”

    Instead of going on and on, I just want to thank you, Josh, for helping me recover a sense of what Trek can be, how it differs from the other stories we tell ourselves, and how much we need stories like it, especially in dark times (I didn’t let my friend know just how angry that comment made me, and what a brutal vision of the world it evinced). I’ve been going back to Star Trek much more of late, thanks largely to you, and seeing things there that I never saw before, thanks entirely to you.

    Trek peaks in cultural caché in the 1993-95 period. There’s a sense that it’s all downhill from here. Maybe you share that sense, maybe you don’t, but I’m certain that that won’t be true of what’s to come for Vaka Rangi.

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  4. Daru
    August 4, 2018 @ 8:30 am

    “Everyone and everything begins with a thought. We birth reality through ourselves when fiction is reified through art, craft and action. Eternity waits in the drop of every moment. Time begins when we say it does NOW.”

    Very beautiful writing and a piece that will last in my memory – great stuff and just fabulous words Josh – thank you. Sorry for taking so long to reach this post but really glad for your work.

    Reply

  5. Essays Chief
    January 13, 2020 @ 6:46 am

    The post is exciting. The content says that it was a big room, packed with people. At the center, a huge straight bench over which supervised members of the judiciary: A human man, who looked to be in his early on the forties and a Vulcan woman who looked young but could have been older than the ages of everybody in the house shared.

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