Stardate 0009.11: Flesh and Blood Holograms, Paper Ships - Mania.com



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Stardate 0009.11: Flesh and Blood Holograms, Paper Ships

Plus: Trek Books, Trek People

By Michelle Erica Green     September 11, 2000

Warning: Spoilers Ensue!

Though many people expected Voyager's November sweeps telefilm to presage or possibly show the vessel's homecoming, the producers have decided instead to return to an adversary and a dilemma from several seasons past. Startrek.com, the official Trek Website, has posted an official synopsis and production information for the upcoming two-part installment 'Flesh and Blood,' which is expected to air in a single night like 'The Killing Game.'

Also like that successful sweeps episode, 'Flesh and Blood' concerns the Hirogen--the race of violent, predatory hunters who sought to use Voyager's holographic technology to create new prey for themselves. At the end of 'The Killing Game,' Janeway agreed to give the aliens an optronic data core--the basis of Federation holo-emitters--so that they could create new adversaries rather than assaulting sentient species. Some people had Prime Directive issues with the captain's decision, since she had no idea when she shared the technology how the more violent species would ultimately use it. Apparently their fears were justified. In 'Flesh and Blood,' Voyager receives a distress call from a Hirogen training facility, where the crew discovers slaughtered Hirogen and sentient, rebellious holograms.

Voyager has touched before on the issue of holographic rights, superficially in the haunted house thriller 'Revulsion,' more deeply in various episodes about the holographic Doctor like 'Latent Image' and 'Life Line.' But despite some gains made by the Doctor in forcing the captain to acknowledge his autonomy, she recently reprogrammed her holographic boyfriend and considered shutting down Fair Haven when its residents became self-aware. It's arguable that the dilemma of defining human autonomy has been the principal theme of Voyager--the conflict between Seven of Nine's mechanical Borg side and her emotional human heritage, the Doctor's growth from cranky program to passionate individual.

Star Trek: The Next Generation tackled some of the same issues. In the Moriarty episodes, Picard permitted a sentient hologram who had threatened his crew to continue existing in a specially-designed program created by Reginald Barclay, who would later become one of the programmers of Voyager's Doctor. In 'Emergence,' an alien life-form used the holodeck to develop its sense of self. In 'The Measure of a Man,' Picard fought for the android Data's right to self-determination, while in 'The Offspring' he fought for Data's right to create a child. In 'The Quality of Life,' Data risked the ship to save a group of sentient machines.

Given the pivotal role of the Doctor on the show and the parallels with Seven of Nine's status as a now-mechanized human, it makes a lot of sense for Voyager to tackle the issue of constructed people in a major episode. It would make a lot of sense for the issue to play a role in whether or not Voyager gets home. 'Revulsion' was a problematic episode; although the isomorph Dejaren made some valid points about the cruelty of holographic slavery, his mental instability made it difficult to take his complaints seriously.

In that vein, the Doctor primarily mocked away Dejaran's complaints, rather than becoming disturbed and considering the extent to which Voyager's crew fails to acknowledge and support his autonomy. Although Kes had encouraged him to assert himself more while she was on the ship, the issue of the Doctor's status received little serious attention until 'Latent Image,' when Janeway permitted some of the Doctor's memories to be wiped out to save his program, and later in 'Virtuoso,' when the captain argued that her chief medical officer was just a piece of machinery without autonomous rights until he pleaded friendship.

The Voyager crew gave the Hirogen holographic technology after the events of 'Revulsion'; they knew not only that holograms could suffer physical abuse, but that as a hunting race, the Hirogen were likely to create holograms specifically to slaughter. Of course, they couldn't have known that the Hirogen holograms would become sentient, but they didn't expect that of their Doctor either. In 'Flesh and Blood,' the holograms declare themselves an independent species that demands freedom from 'organic' slavery, and they seek to liberate one of their own kind by seizing the Doctor. As the events unfold, the Doctor must weigh his loyalty to the crew that taught him to be human versus fellow holograms whose plight is partly his crew's responsibility.

'Flesh and Blood, Part One' was written by Jack Monaco, Bryan Fuller and Raf Green, with a teleplay by Fuller (who wrote 'Spirit Folk,' last season's episode about sentient holograms). If the holographic race survives the show, Voyager will have made a significant impact on the Delta Quadrant, since as far as we know from 'Living Witness,' Starfleet holograms are near-immortal and retain their emotional and intellectual connections over millennia. They may be made of ephemeral particles, but sentient holograms could be this show's legacy.

Trek Books: Star Trek Paper Universe

Sixth-century Japan meets 24th-century Starfleet in this marvelous trade paperback, which offers step-by-step instructions for creating folded paper starships. Modern origami purists may be distressed that some of the designs require more than one sheet of paper, but Star Trek purists will be delighted with the results. Author Andrew Pang, a member of the British and Chinese Origami Societies, has now given us a way to create cheap replicas of sixteen ships and space stations, meaning that you can now ring your desk with Enterprises or suspend a fleet of Borg cubes over your bed for a lot less than the Hallmark Christmas ornaments.

Some constructions, like the Klingon battle cruiser, look breathtakingly like the original series models. Others, like Voyager, look a little boxier. But no Trek fan will have any trouble recognizing them, and with a few strokes from a magic marker you can add serial numbers and lights if you wish. That, too, may not pass muster with origami purists, but it sure is fun.

Star Trek: Paper Universe features an introduction that gives a brief history of the art form and explains the basic folds, plus the symbols used throughout the book. The drawings are clear, the explanations concise and often witty (reading about how to squash bases and create rabbit's ears on enemy vessels can be quite amusing). In addition to the traditional water bomb and bird bases, Pang has created two new ones he calls 'starbases,' which recur on many of the Federation-model ships. Young adults will have little trouble following the instructions in this book, and anyone with patience can probably construct all the models illustrated.

As a person of limited origami knowledge and less-than-stellar eye-hand coordination, I removed the ten colored sheets of paper thoughtfully included by Pocket Books with trepidation, then decided to start by folding colored newspaper, which is just as thin and considerably larger. I first attempted the Borg cube, which looked relatively simple. Other than some difficulty inflating the ship, causing my family to look at me funny when I explained that I was blowing up a Borg vessel, it worked quite well.

Then I got braver and tried the Ferengi Marauder. Other than some moderate trouble squashing open the corners while trying to fold the sides in, and wing cannons that looked a little ratty, that one worked pretty well, too. After that I tried the pesky Defiant. That one was hard--my paper kept bunching up and I couldn't get the sides symmetrical, but it's not one of the more recognizable ships, anyway. My Enterprise-A looked a lot more convincing, though I needed glue to make my saucer section stay attached. I've never been as fond of the Enterprise-D, but that was a fun model to make, using only a single square of paper.

The Type 6 shuttlecraft looked great as well, though again I had trouble inflating mine. The two Klingon ships most closely resemble the models from the show. The only time I quit in the middle was working on Deep Space Nine, which should only be attempted by professionals--and even they should use large squares of paper and keep plenty of glue on hand. I'm tempted to try to make a DS9 big enough to dock Voyager and a Cardassian warship, but it would be a lot easier to make an entire Borg convoy. Playmates probably isn't going to like Pocket Books much after this volume gets out. It might put the expensive plastic toy line out of business.

I still have pop-out cardboard ship models from my youth--one a set I ordered off a Cheerios box, and one set from Random House's decades-old $2.95 Star Trek Action Toy Book. Those were a little simpler to build, but could only be used once, and they couldn't be customized (unless, I suppose, one used the stickers in the Star Trek: The Motion Picture Peel-Off Graphics Book, but I'm not even sure the glue on those still sticks). Star Trek: Paper Universe provides blueprints you can use again and again, with slight modifications to keep up with the new ships from future films and series. It's a delightful tribute to origami and to Trek tradition. This book can be enjoyed for years to come, as a novelty for some and a craft volume for others.

Trek People: The Next Generation

Patrick Stewart and former Star Trek producer Wendy Neuss got married the last week in August at the Bel Air Hotel in Los Angeles, with a ceremony at the outdoor swan pond followed by a reception attended by many TNG regular cast members. According to Startrek.com, Brent Spiner was Stewart's best man, with Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, LeVar Burton and Gates McFadden in attendance.

Stewart and Neuss, an alumna of the University of Pennsylvania, met during the run of Star Trek: The Next Generation, where she worked as a post-production supervisor and later a co-producer on the show. The couple collaborated on the Hallmark production of A Christmas Carol, in which Stewart starred and Neuss co-executive produced for TNT, and they currently run the production company Flying Freehold Productions, of which Neuss is president.

They won't be doing much work this fall, however. Startrek.com reports that the couple is honeymooning in an undisclosed location until October. TrekToday cited a Space.com report that the former RSC actor had earlier expressed an interest in getting married in a Shakespearean ceremony 'with period costumes and love sonnets.' Space.com added that the bride wished to have a traditional wedding, and the actual event was 'tasteful and subdued.'

TrekToday also cited a report from a Sunday Herald interview stating that the actor would probably play the title role in Boss Lear, a version of Shakespeare's King Lear set in Texas in the 1870s. Gregory Peck had intended to play the role, but became unavailable for the project. Stewart's own Flying Freehold Productions and TNT, which co-produced Stewart's A Christmas Carol, will again collaborate, with the film airing on the Turner network.

Contrary to rumors, the actor will not appear in the next James Bond film, nor in the upcoming Harry Potter movie. Instead he would like to play a major theater role in Britain in order to re-establish his theatrical roots there. Despite the disdain Stewart expressed for U.S. politics in George magazine earlier this year, the actor said that he supports Al Gore's bid for the presidency. That makes two starship captains (Kate Mulgrew being the other) on record as Gore supporters.

Stewart also told Cinescape that until the script for the tenth Star Trek film is completed and approved by the studio, he won't know the status of that project. Meanwhile, at the Canadian National Science Fiction Expo, Jonathan Frakes said he was looking forward to the next movie and believed it would be better than the last one. Frakes rushed to Toronto the day after Stewart's wedding and joked, 'In the last 10 days he's become a grandfather, turned 60 and gotten married. It's been an eventful week for Mr. Stewart.' He also mocked his own pre-TNG career, but sounded pleased with his role as the 'official spokesman for the paranormal.'

Marina Sirtis also had a busy week surrounding Stewart's wedding. She filmed the Voyager episode 'Inside Man' on location at Leo Carrillo State Beach near Los Angeles. According to startrek.com, Deanna Troi is vacationing on a beach when Reg Barclay drops in to ask for her help.

Sirtis told SFX that she was pleased and surprised at all the attention her presence on Voyager has gotten. 'I thought my fans would be quite pleased to see me back in that space suit, but it was on the news!' she exclaimed. Though she initially refused an offer to appear on Voyager in an early holographic episode, she was delighted to appear in 'Pathfinder' and 'Life Line.' The actress was uncertain whether she would appear again during Voyager's final season, but executive producer Ken Biller has indicated that he believes she and Barclay may both return once more. Given her experience with Data, maybe she'll help Voyager sort out the dilemmas of its mechanically constructed people.

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