Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sci-Fi turned upside down

It has been nearly seven years since the last Star Trek: Enterprise episode aired and the last Star Wars movie came out in theatres. In the intervening years I feel like I have fallen into some Sci-Fi fan bizarro world. Star Trek has now been rebooted as a movie franchise and what was the most popular Science Fiction movie franchise has been changed into a TV series. If you hear an earth-shattering ka-boom, no worries, it's just my brain.

Star Wars and Star Trek both have immersive MMO video games. Star Trek Online, which has just become free to play, and Star Wars: The Old Republic, which I had the privilege to beta test, look like equally fun games. In fact I'm probably going to download Star Trek Online and see what it's like to be a federation officer for a while.  Star Wars: The Old Republic (SW:TOR for short) just came out and while I am chomping at the bit to play it again, money isn't falling out of my nether regions, so wait I will have to.

I'm not so sure I like this flipped over world. I am a huge, huge fan of both Star Wars and Star Trek, I have owned (or currently own) lots of memorabilia from both franchises and have even gone so far as to be a member of the official fan clubs of both. Ok, you caught me. I really wanted to be, I made it to a few meetings of a local Star Trek "ship" and I filled out the Star Wars Official Fan paperwork, but fifteen dollars (or whatever, I don't really remember) is a hell of a lot of money to an eight year old. Probably wouldn't have accepted it anyway, my handwriting was awful.

Star Wars episodes IV through VI were my movies. I memorized the lines, pretended to be Princess Leia or Han Solo and recreated the movies with my brother. Put all together I could easily spend a day watching them all and still have time to try and get my hair into cinnamon buns. I had toys, books, records (did I mention I was old) and tried to convince my Mom to let me wear the costumes. I loved them. I think Star Wars is imprinted on my brain in some fashion as my Mom totally admits that she would pop the Beta tape in (see, old) and try to get a few minutes peace while my brother and I sat entranced by the sweeping music and glittery starscapes. To this day I honestly believe that massive buns are awesome and holding a blaster makes you the coolest fucking person ever. The best thing about them was that they were movies. I didn't have to wait until next week to find out if Luke was going to blow up the Death Star and there weren't any dramatic pauses in the action to show me a toothpaste commercial. It was self contained. The story started, swept you up, carried you along and then deposited you in a (mostly) triumphant place and then the credits rolled.

Star Trek was a stranger beast. At first there was Captain Kirk and his first officer Spock, traveling around the galaxy with their Star Ship full of scientists and engineers saving people and keeping the federation safe from Klingons and Romulans bent on conquest. I wanted to be as smart as these people. I would talk over theoretical science with my Dad and talk about the different technologies and how possible it was I would ever see a replicator or a warp engine in my lifetime. It didn't really end it went on and on. I wanted to live there, I wanted to be a federation officer, brilliant and noble, making life better for all good people no matter their shape or size. But, it didn't end, at least not quickly and a Star Trek marathon could take all weekend. You had to prepare for them. I would set up a sleeping bag in the living room, prop myself up on a pile of pillows and set up the air popper next to the TV. I would fall asleep to the sounds of the engine and Mr. Spock soothingly talking about a life form and wake up to the sounds of phaser fire. Then Star Trek: The Next Generation came about and it was like it could never end. I wasn't so sure about the show at first, but the uniforms and the ship (oh, that beautiful space ship, I used to have so many models of it) convinced me to keep watching and I fell in love. It really helped that there were kids on board and that one of them was a genius and I totally imagined that I could be just like him.

Star Wars was a thrill ride, the technology completely secondary and the same story could be told in any technological time. Star Trek needed the technology, you could tell the stories but they wouldn't make as much sense or be as exciting set in the middle ages. Now Star Trek is the thrill ride and Star Wars is the continuing story. I just don't know what to think.

The worst part of all of this? The absolute most terrible thing? I don't have cable so I can't watch the new Star Wars show to make any decisions about it and waiting for a new Star Trek movie to come out is killing me slowly. The answer? Star Trek marathon through the week and saving up to go see Star Wars 3D. It'll be just like old times.

A Big Fat Nerd

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