Eruditorum Press

We stared into the untempered schism and all we saw was this dodgy CSO effect

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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.

14 Comments

  1. them0vieblog.com
    May 14, 2014 @ 3:11 am

    Great work so far. Really looking forward to what lies ahead.

    While I'm looking forward to pretty much all of it (secret projects!), I suspect that Volume 5 will be particularly interesting, as it's the point where Star Trek begins to slide out of the mainstream and into cult status again. And you have this wonderful dichotomy of the audience getting smaller so that it becomes an echo chamber where empassioned fans tend to either LOVE (Dominion War) or HATE (Voyager) to a degree that becomes almost deafening. The audience gets smaller and the reaction gets more extreme, as the franchise sort of spiral downwards and inwards, approaching vanishing point. Very looking forward to your take on it.

    Congratulations on a year up and running. I suspect that this will be the big year for it.

    Cheers,
    Darren

    Reply

  2. Glenn
    May 14, 2014 @ 6:19 am

    Congratulations! After today's post on The Wrath of Khan I'm definitely looking forward to your views on the other movies. Your blog has been something of a corrective for mainstream attitudes I hadn't significantly rethought, especially the canonization of Gene Roddenberry. (I mainlined Star Trek as a child throughout the 1990's (until Voyager drove me off–I'm in the HATE camp Darren mentioned above), and so absorbed a lot of fandom views before developing much of a critical faculty.)

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  3. Jack Graham
    May 14, 2014 @ 7:17 am

    Congratulations Josh. It's been a great year of posts. Fascinating, clever, entertaining, educational and inventive. I'm hooked. Roll on the rest of it.

    Reply

  4. Jacob Nanfito
    May 14, 2014 @ 11:43 am

    Congrats! I've been following this blog religiously from the start — can't believe it's already been a year. I, too, am a child of the TNG era and for most of my life I strongly considered myself a TNG fan, rather than a Trek fan. However, thanks to Netflix I've made my way through the entirety of TOS, TAS, DS9, and VOY over the last 3 years (most of which I'd seen nothing of before) and am now an out and proud Trekkie. I even really enjoyed Voyager (make of that what you will). This project has been a great companion over the last year, and has really given me cause to reconsider Star Trek and the cultural conception of it. Your writing has also been a great inspiration to me and I hope to one day write with as much wit, insight, cleverness, and conviction. I see you don't want to work on this for the rest of your life, but I hope we at least get a 5 year mission. 🙂

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  5. Josh Marsfelder
    May 14, 2014 @ 4:41 pm

    Thanks very much for the comments and well-wishes, everyone. It's always heartening to hear my work has meant something to people. It's important for me to finally have a podium to work out all my weird thoughts on Star Trek, and that this seems to actually resonate with so many people makes it all the better.

    Reply

  6. gatchamandave
    May 15, 2014 @ 1:12 am

    Congratulations.

    And thanks – on your recommendation I bought myself the Raumpatrouille Orion box set, despite having about asuch ( Ja !!!) German abilities ( Nein !!!") as certain gene spliced laboratory mice I could mention, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I look forward to owning your books when they come out.

    I didn't realise Into Darkness had bombed though. Not that I'm surprised – remaking the previous film then welding in bits of an earlier, much loved, entry in the series, was a recipe for audience indifference generation.

    I agree with your decision to try to cover the upcoming stuff thematically in lumps too. This project should be a pleasure, not a chore after all.

    So, are you going to touch on the DC comics series by Mike W Barr, Tom Sutton et al ? I'd understand if not – probably tricky to assemble a full set these days I'd think, but there are some interesting precursors to the future, not least one of THEM !!! in the crew.

    Keep up the fantastic work, Josh.

    Best wishes
    Dave Moran

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  7. Josh Marsfelder
    May 15, 2014 @ 7:51 am

    Absolutely: I already covered "The Final Voyage" between Star Trek: Year Four and Star Trek Phase II and "The Wormhole Connection" is tomorrow's post. I might elabourate more on the first volume of the DC TOS series when I revise this series of posts for the book version: Volume 2 is running pretty thin compared to the other VR books at the moment.

    You may have noticed, comics are a big part of this project as they're a major aspect of my history with Star Trek. They were pretty much my only expanded universe works aside from the stories I made up in my head, so they're quite precious to me and will play a much larger role in Volumes 3 and 4.

    (That's also why I've tended to shy away from the spin-off novels here, aside from the fact there are other bloggers who can do them far better than me. Though certainly the Pocket Books line is going to be worthy of several mentions eventually.)

    And, in case anyone's interested, there's a great CD put out by GitCorp that collects scans of every single Star Trek comic book from the pre-IDW days: That's everything from 1967 to like 2003 or so, including quite a few absolute classics that we need to cover, all for under 20 USD. There's a link in the Amazon store if that sounds interesting. I know it's been a tremendous help to me and I at least highly recommend it.

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  8. James
    May 16, 2014 @ 5:54 am

    I learned about your project from Phil Sandifer's great blog and read it as much as I could. I've caught up to the journey and look forward to much, much more!

    The main thing I appreciate about your project is that you're looking at Star Trek with a critical eye and you're not afraid to say so. I grew up with Star Trek— one of the first movie memories I have is about STII, and I will leave that comment there. I remember watching TOS on my local channel, KAME in Reno and on the Cable Superstation KXTL from Sacramento channel, TWICE a week before we got a VCR, and then I'd watch it, The Outer Limits, and The Twilight Zone once a day. I followed the movies and TNG and followed until the end of Voyager, which totally turned me off to Star Trek and got me interested in Doctor Who….

    I didn't realize how BAD and reprehensible some of TOS was. I only started to when the Sci–Fi Channel showed the uncut episodes and I saw them again with a new eye. WOW. Awful in SO many ways. It would do that many Star Trek fans review TOS and the movies with a critical eye since there's so much there to see and wonder about.

    Still, Star Trek is what got me into both reading and watching science fiction, as I’d suspect many people of my age and younger. I have much to thank it for and I have a very soft spot in my heart for it, despite it all. I look forward to the continuing journey across the stars and I hope I can start really commenting more since TNG is when I really started watching Star Trek.

    Thank you for this and cheers and slack!

    Reply

  9. Josh Marsfelder
    May 16, 2014 @ 8:52 am

    Thanks for stopping by and saying so!

    I think there's a veneer about TOS that makes it far too often appear to be beyond reproach. So much of it is so iconic and the aesthetics of the show have been so influential and ubiquitous the material reality of the actual TV series that ran from 1964-1969 has been effaced. Part of my goal for the TOS section was to bring that back.

    Star Trek is what got me interested in science fiction and speculative fiction as well. As a matter of fact, it in many ways remains unique: There's no other genre work that approaches the impact and stature Star Trek has in my mind. I appreciate Doctor Who, but I wouldn't call myself a serious fan (more on that later), you already know Star Wars does nothing for me and while Close Encounters of the Third Kind is probably one of my favourite movies, it's for very different and personal reasons. There are a few other works I'm going to be talking about in the next two or three volumes that are exceptions, but, by in large Star Trek is sort of it for me.

    Star Trek Voyager seems to be the breaking point for a lot of people, which I find interesting, as it in many ways runs contrary to my memories of the show when it was on the air. There's two different narratives I've observed in regards to that show, and that's naturally going to be a theme we'll have to address later on.

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  10. Pen Name Pending
    May 18, 2014 @ 11:00 am

    Congrats! I'm very much looking forward to what you have to say about TNG, since it's really the only Trek series I've seen extensively. Trek has never been a big part of my life, but I was always curious about its cultural impact and your points nicely contrast with the fan lore I've heard, and since I'm not all that invested with it personally, I don't mind the criticism and find it very interesting. I'd never seen TOS and frankly I'm not sure I need to catch up with it after reading this…but I also know next to nothing about Voyager and DS9, so I can't wait to read that too. Also when the first book comes out, I know a Trekker who I will recommend it to!

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  11. Josh Marsfelder
    May 18, 2014 @ 3:48 pm

    Thank you!

    I'm glad to here you say that, because I think your experience is a common one. That actually reassures me my take on the TNG era does indeed have some historical merit and it isn't just me: I do see it as the commercial and aesthetic peak of the franchise in a sense.

    If you like TNG, you might like the first two seasons of DS9 too, as IMO they're very much the same sort of thing, in a good way-They build on TNG's core themes and take them to the next level. Just stay the hell away from the rest of the series.

    But, all shall be covered in time!

    Reply

  12. Daru
    June 19, 2014 @ 7:02 pm

    Late congrats but well done Josh! I am loving taking the journey with you and completely hooked on seeing where you go with this. I am here for the duration. I guess for me I would say that Doctor Who, Star Wars and Star Trek have been there equally for me, each with things to adore and each with things to laugh at. Great work – keep it up!

    Reply

  13. Josh Marsfelder
    June 20, 2014 @ 5:21 pm

    Thanks for the well-wishes! Glad to hear you're sticking around, I always enjoy hearing from you!

    Star Trek, Star Wars and Doctor Who, huh? Well, we've got two of those squared away already. Guess it's time to go three-for-three 😉

    Reply

  14. Daru
    June 20, 2014 @ 8:42 pm

    Cheers Josh and well done again! Glad you like my contributions. Look forwards to what's coming… 😉 And synchromysticism, love it.

    Reply

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