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In November 1999, I was blogging about books, camomile tea and Skylon 4, the death of Star Trek, and the “active user paradox”

In November 1999, I was blogging about John’s Book Pages (by a CS grad student who had recently read Gene Wolfe and Anthony Bourdain, among many others) What camomile tea has in common with the attack squadron over Skylon 4 (rec.humor newsgroup reference to a disastrous “tandem story” assignment) “Nimoy is, to say the least, amused by the notion that ‘Star Trek’ is on its death bed.” The paradox of…

In praise of the sci-fi corridor

Corridors in science-fiction movies. I love them. I wasted too much of my childhood and youth imitating and developing the superb production sketches of Ron Cobb, Syd Mead, Ralph McQuarrie and many others. I walked round Elstree studios collecting precious vacuum-formed sections of cloud-city corridor from The Empire Strikes Back, some months after principal photography stopped. I had reams of sci-fi corridors worked out. Corridors make science-fiction believable, because they’re so utilitarian by…

The Measure of a Man (ST:TNG Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 9)

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. Data’s autonomy is at stake in a taut, character-driven courtroom drama that resists pandering — no distracting fist-fights or space battles. This episode not only succeeds as a stand-alone meditation on the human condition, it meshes narratively with events from past shows and offers affordances for future story arcs at a time when most TV was purely episodic. “The Measure of a Man,” by…

A Matter of Honor (ST:TNG Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 8)

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. Riker accepts a temporary assignment as first officer of a Klingon vessel. “A Matter of Honor” offers a thoughtful, enjoyable dramatization of differences between Federation and Klingon culture, and a good B-plot in which Wesley helps a visiting officer adapt to routine operations on the Enterprise. It’s a nice touch to have Riker using his fists, his culinary tastes, and his sense of humor to…

Unnatural Selection (ST:TNG Rewatch Season 2, Episode 7)

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation after a 20-year break. Tension mounts between Captain Picard and Dr. Pulaski as the Enterprise encounters a rapid-aging disease. I rather liked how Picard, who just last week quoted part of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, is in his ready room reading a book when Troi reminds him he wanted to see her. When he closes the book, he uses his finger as a bookmark —…

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The Schizoid Man (TNG Rewatch: Season 2, Episode 6)

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation after a 20-year break. In his final hours, an arrogant, crotchety cybernetics genius takes a liking to Data. After the genius dies, Data starts acting arrogant and crotchety. Hmm. This early in the run of TNG, we’ve already seen the trope of a brilliant, older professional man supported and in some sense idolized by a female companion in Too Short a Season, We’ll Always…