Stardate 0012.11: Null and Void -

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Stardate 0012.11: Null and Void

Plus: Trek News, Trek Tech, Trek Comics

By Michelle Erica Green     December 11, 2000

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

The official site at has kept busy with production updates and interviews, revealing some new information about future Star Trek: Voyager episodes 'The Void' and 'Workforce'the latter a spring sweeps month two-parter like the recent 'Flesh and Blood.' 'The Void,' in which Voyager gets stuck in a starless anomaly where ships cannibalize one another, stars Jonathan Del Arco, best known to Trek fans as Hugh from The Next Generation's 'I, Borg' and 'Descent.' He will play Fantome, a mute alien who hears aural tones rather than words. Robin Sachs, who played villain Sarris in Galaxy Quest and Ethan Rayne on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, will appear in the episode as well. Veteran Mike Vejar is directing the episode, which the official site promises will bring back many Delta Quadrant species we've seen before.

February sweeps episode 'Workforce, Part One' follows the adventures of Captain Janeway and other Voyager crewmembers when they find themselves forced to toil in an alien city, yet reported that the episode will feature scenes in astrometrics and the Delta Flyer. The most promising rumor about this episode comes from writer Bryan Fuller, who answered a fan question on about whether Janeway would ever have a decent love affair by promising, 'Captain Janeway will have a romance with a real, live, flesh and blood he-man come February sweeps. Stay tuned.' OK, we're waiting...

The prospect of writing the final season of the show has been 'a daunting task,' admitted Fuller, because he wants to give the audience and each character 'the stories and moments that they deserve' without doing something redundant from the previous three series. Fuller cited The Twilight Zone as a major inspiration for him. 'I get very excited by the notion of reality being something tangible that can be manipulated, bent or spindled; that it isn't necessarily subject to the confines of secular science.' But he also said he gets story ideas from newspaper articles or films that make him wonder what a Star Trek character would do in a similar situation.

Fuller thought it likely Q would return, thus seeming to confirm rumors already posted on TrekWeb. He did not expect to see an alternate universe Voyager story, which he regretted, since he worked last season on a story that would have explored the crews of several alternate Voyagers. 'There was a Klingon crew with a 'Mistress Jan'toch'Captain Janeway in Klingon make-upthat was native to a universe where the Klingon Empire conquered the Federation two hundred years ago, a holographic crew that was essentially the Doctor to the infinite power, and several others.' When the real crew became aware of the fates of these alternate Voyagers, they discovered that an enraged Chakotay from a universe in which the Maquis controlled Voyager wanted to destroy every incarnation of the Starfleet vessel.

Concerning his relationships with the actors, Fuller said he had had several conversations with Roxann Dawson about Torres' background. He also admitted that Kate Mulgrew 'was quite vocal about her dissatisfaction with Janeway sleeping with a hologram.' It comes as no surprise to learn Robert Picardo strives forand achievesmore influence than any of the other performers. Fuller noted the writing staff does its best to consider the actors' input 'because they play an integral role in the creative process,' but sometimes they cannot incorporate their suggestions.

Trek News: Perfect Ten

Romulans! That's the word from Executive Producer Rick Berman, who is starting to stir up interest in the upcoming tenth Star Trek film. The Dark Horizons Website reported that when Berman appeared on Los Angeles UPN affiliate KCOP 13, he stated that Romulans play a major role in the film. He also said that screenwriter John Logan has created a villain who will rival Khan from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Berman said he hoped the film would be ready for release in 2002, though Lolita Fatjo, formerly script coordinator on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Voyager, told a convention audience in England that they doubted filming would commence before the anticipated actors' and writers' strikes next spring. In a quote from TrekToday, Fatjo also stated her belief that star and director Jonathan Frakes would helm the upcoming film.

Berman said that Brent Spiner had signed on for the film, though Spiner told the Indianapolis Star recently that he wasn't yet under contract. Both the producer and actor did confirm that Spiner has been involved in writing the story. Spiner has given broad hints that he does not intend to play Data again after this movie, but Berman said there were no plans to kill off the character, though he mentioned big changes in the works for Data.

Houston-born Spiner, who is 51, told the Star that he is getting too old for the role. Asked whether he would consider reprising the popular Data on another Trek series, he said, 'Enough is enough.' He refused to give away the plot of what is likely to be his last Trek film, saying, 'That's like opening Christmas gifts before Thanksgiving. Besides, you'll probably be able to read the entire story line on the Internet in the next few weeks anyway.' But Spiner does believe there should be another Trek series, given Voyager's success on UPN.

At the British convention, Fatjo claimed that casting for Series V would begin later this month. She also said it is very likely that the next show will be set before the original Star Trek series, which corroborates statements made recently by several Voyager actors and by former Trek writer Ron Moore. But when asked about the likelihood of a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine film, however, former pre-production coordinator Fatjo said she believed it would not happen, ever.

Still, Deep Space Nine is not dead. The Star Trek Books Database at has put up a page about the new Pocket Books series launching next spring. In several interviews compiled over many months, editor Marco Palmieri discusses the development of the series following the televised finale, and drops hints about characters and species we can expect to see in the six new novels coming out in the new year. Original series characters like Andorians will return, as well as some species mentioned yet never before seen on DS9. The new information can be accessed by clicking here.

Trek Tech: The Future Is Now

Forget Playstation 2. In the past few weeks, two companies have announced the development of prototype technologies that very much resemble holodecks and phasers. Although it will be awhile before you can get either one as a gift for your favorite Trekker, since they're slated for military and police work respectively, you can read about the new equipment on the Web.

KCOP 13, the Los Angeles UPN affiliate, reported a few weeks ago that a Southern California institute has invented a virtual reality system for training soldiers. The station characterized the new technology as 'version .0001 of the holodeck,' and said that one of its principal designers is Herman Zimmerman, who helped create the holodeck concept for Star Trek: The Next Generation when he worked as the show's production designer.

Commissioned by the U.S. Army, the Experience Learning System creates a digital sight-and sound environment to simulate war-torn Bosnia, enabling soldiers to confront crises there such as unexpected shooting and angry mobs. 'Looking at a map is one thing; looking at still pictures is another. But being able to walk down a street in Kosovothat's a really different kind of experience, and we can do that right now,' said Zimmerman, who also worked on Deep Space Nine and several of the Trek films.

'It's going to take a long time to get from here to a holodeck,' said Richard Lindheim, a former Paramount executive who is now Executive Director of the Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) in Marina del Rey. 'But it's a beginning.' Lindheim described the characters in the Bosnia simulation as 'artificial intelligent virtual humans' who respond to the soldiers using the equipment. The company plans eventually to add weather conditions and smells to the environment to make it more realistic.

Most importantly, Lindheim expects that in the future, a similar system will be available for consumer uses like education and entertainment. 'You could be interacting with Klingons, only it's going to be your adventure, and you're going to be able to have that experience on your own.' Click here for more information on the soon-to-be-holodeck.

Hot on the heels of this technological breakthrough, a San Diego developer of police weapons has announced a device that sounds like a cross between phaser and a lightsaber from Star Wars. HSV Technologies recently demonstrated a prototype weapon that shoots laser beams to immobilize people and animals from a distance. 'The Phaser-like device uses two beams of UV radiation to ionize paths in the air along which electrical current is conducted to and from the target,' explains HSV's Website. 'In effect, the beams create wires through the atmosphere wherever they are pointed.'

Known alternately as an 'Anti-Personnel Beam Weapon' or a 'Non-Lethal Tetanizing Beam Weapon,' the device releases two ultraviolet laser beams with a wavelength of 193 to 248 nanometers. The effect of these beams is to paralyze the skeletal muscles of people more than a mile away, quite literally stopping criminals in their tracks without the use of lethal force.

'The current within these beams is a close replication of the neuro-electric impulses that control skeletal muscles,' announces HSV. 'It is imperceptible to the target person because it differs from his own neural impulses only in that its repetition rate is sufficiently rapid to tetanize muscle tissue.' Tetanization, the site continues, means the stimulation of muscle fibers at a frequency that merges their individual contractions into a single sustained contraction.

HSV (click here to go to its Website) claims its beam weapon 'has a far longer potential range than its nearest competitor, the wire-based Taser .' The company has conducted tests at UC San Diego, and is also working on an engine-disabling beam for use against automobile ignitions. Unfortunately, the smallest laser currently available for the beam technology is 'the size of a carry-on suitcase,' but HSV believes a hand-held version will become available following 'modest advances in laser technology.'

Trek Comics: Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Gorn Crisis

Wildstorm's first hardcover Trek comic finally answers a question that has plagued many Next Generation fans, namely: Where were Picard and the Enterprise-E while Sisko and his allies were frantically fighting the Dominion War? Popular Star Wars novelists Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta have come up with the perfect diversion: the Gorn! These clever, silver-eyed reptiles have been too long absent from the annals of the Federation. Like the Horta, who probably could have melted the Founders in a matter of hours, the xenophobic lizards would make potent allies for Starfleet.

The Gorn Crisis begins with Picard studying tapes of his predecessor's encounter with the alien leader from 'Arena' (naturally, Kirk has his shirt ripped). The Enterprise-E hopes to recruit Gorn assistance against the Dominion. Unfortunately, their timing couldn't be worse. The Gorn have just suffered an insurrection led by the Black Crest, an aggressive warrior caste who believe Kirk's defeat of their leader at Cestus III marks the beginning of the decline of Gorn civilization. When Picard beams down to the Gorn council chambers, only to find the leaders slaughtered, Black Crest leader Slessshh takes the away team hostage. Data must decide whether to rely on diplomacy or force to contend with the new Gorn regime.

Riker cannot assume command of the Enterprise because he has accompanied Klingon Commander Qyrll to Elkauron II. The cruiser Gar'tukh is escorting scientists from the Starfleet Corps of Engineers to bring new satellite defenses online. When the Black Crest's General Khaaarr launches Gorn assaults against Federation outposts on Cestus III and Elkauron II, the Enterprise's first officer must convince a group of rebellious Klingons to support the disgraced Qyrll as they take the battle from the surface of the planet into space.

The paintings by Igor Kordey are exceptional, offering lots of background detail and subtlety of shading very unusual for Trek comics. Readers will get a strong sense of Gorn architecture, fashion and decorative armor. It's a little disappointing that the culture seems so similar in some ways to the Klingons, incorporating a lot of red-and-black coloring, plus weapons that look like pain-sticks and mek'leths, but I suppose that makes a certain amount of sense for a warrior culture. More frustrating is the fact that all the Gorn look alike, so readers have to pay careful attention to clothing and ornamentation to figure out which Gorn is which.

The painting style of The Gorn Crisis is a bit more impressionistic than traditional comic book sketch art, so some of the Trek regulars aren't immediately recognizable, particularly Beverly Crusher, who seems to be in perpetual blurred soft-focus. Riker, however, looks wonderful, taut and sculpted as he engages in near-naked bat'leth practice with a sweaty Klingon. Most improved from their original rubber-suit appearance are the Gorn, whose physiology is explained in a concluding dossier showing the differences among human, dinosaur and Gorn skeletons.

Picard looks superb as well, conveying authority and strength even though the Gorn tower over him. We see some interesting differences between Kirk and his successor in terms of style. Picard never uses false displays of bravado and doesn't try to hide his personal weakness, but focuses on the obvious schism in the Gorn culture as the principal sign of weakness in his enemy.

This is a violent story with graphic mayhem, including blood leaking from wounds and pouring from the mouth of a dead Gorn. During a climactic scene aboard the Gar'tukh, it's also a little hard to tell what's going on because everything is tinted red. Fans of battles will appreciate that there is hand combat, a struggle with energy weapons and a giant space battle, but it does get pretty gory. On the other hand, the restored Cestus III looks a bit like Mos Eisley, a colorful, lively spaceport surrounded by desert, and the Gorn council chamber is replete with intriguing symbols. One longs to know more about this long-neglected culture after reading The Gorn Crisis.


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