Not New Things In The News!

1. Charles Stross discovers that the writers of Star Trek: The Next Generation didn’t even pretend to themselves that the science of the show was good. I feel his pain, I guess. I just feel it somewhat remotely, as it was obvious from the YAGLA plot of the initial episode that ST:TNG wasn’t going to be Star Trek: The Show That Puts the Science into Space Opera.

My problem with ST:TNG is that many of the plots are boring because the utopian background diminishes the opportunity for conflict. The Borg episodes tend to be pretty good, but then all those damn holodeck episodes (“It was all just a dream!”) brought the average way down again.

2. Science proves that Edward III was not written by Shakespeare, at least not by Shakespeare alone. I sort of determined this myself by reading the play last winter and muttering, “This can’t be Shakespeare.” In fact, I can’t see why anyone ever thought that it was by Shakespeare: there seems to be no internal or external evidence to support the assertion.

But the funny thing to me, in the article linked above, was the line: “the possibility that Shakespeare didn’t spend his entire career as a lonely, independent author should rock traditional academics.” The person who wrote this isn’t really hip to the last century or so of Shakespeare scholarship, but she thinks she is. Academia is a little like sf/f, in that the people who know least about it are the most sure that have its number. This is the sound of me saying “arrrgh.”

About JE

James Enge is the author of the World-Fantasy-Award-nominated novel Blood of Ambrose (Pyr, April 2009). His latest book is The Wide World's End. His short fiction has appeared in Swords and Dark Magic (Harper Collins, 2010), Black Gate, the Stabby-Award-winning anthology Blackguards and elsewhere.
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12 Responses to Not New Things In The News!

  1. madwriter says:

    Shakespeare was a party animal! Or close to the 16th century equivalent, anyhow.

  2. scbutler says:

    I’ve said before, if I ever get reincarnated in the ST:TNG universe, I want to be a Ferengi. Everyone else was a stiff.

  3. davidcapeguy says:

    I got turned off by ST:TNG early on when I heard its early defenders at a con bragging how they had teams of writers doing the show, rather than solo writers. I and others in the panel audience tried pointing out: “Ahem! Harlan Ellison, Richard Matheson, Theodore Sturgeon, Jerome Bixby, etc.!” They had no idea who we were talking about.

    And one aspect of reality-ignorance that drives me crazy on ALL Star Treks, and many other SF series: The ship has been attacked, and deck three is gloriously aflame. Damage Control calls the captain to tell him about it, and to ask him what to do. His advice? “Put out the fire!” Wow. Talk ‘about leadership! And they do this with every breakdown on the ship. Just once, I want the doctor to call the bridge, tell the captain, “I’ve got injured people bleeding all over sickbay!” Captain: “Uh…treat them?”

    I used to watch ST:TNG somewhat regularly, but the actors (save for Picard and Data) were so bad, the writing so poor, the stories so preachy, that I just couldn’t ever truly get into it. And reruns I’ve seen lately make the show seem even worse. I think it’s aging really badly. The two dozen or so high-quality episodes of original Trek, on the other hand, hold up really well.

    The Borg weren’t bad, but my feeling on the holodeck is, that the third or fourth time a pinball machine tries to take over the ship, even tolerant Captain Picard will take a page from Captain Kirk’s notebook, and blast the thing.

    • JE says:

      I love collaborations when they work, and I guess TV work is inherently collaborative. But the concept “scripts written by committee” does sort of sum up ST:TNG‘s problems. (“Here’s where Bosco’s new-yeoman-onboard-has-strong-feelings-and-must-deal-with-them plot fits together with Binky’s external-threat-from-the-space-beast plot!” “That was last week’s script. This week’s script has a time anomaly that threatens the very fabric of reality.” “Oh. Well, this is where Bosco’s new-yeoman-on-board….”)

  4. burger_eater says:

    I’m willing to be a really boring dude if it means living in the ST:TNG utopia. All those war-like alien races would suck, but replicator food, gift economies and magic wand medicine? Sign me up.

    People often complain about dystopian futures as sf settings, but utopian ones have their own problems, like clothes without pockets. That, apparently, is the price of Utopia: impractical uniforms.

    • JE says:

      I see your point. I don’t think I’d want to live in any setting I’d want to place a story in, or vice versa. But I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t fit into Roddenberry’s utopia, having unregenerate longings for meat and religion.

  5. saladinahmed says:

    ST: TNG was enjoyable enough TV cheese, esp. by the low standards of the late 80s/early 90s, but the sociology of “We don’t have money or imperialism anymore, but, um, for some reason everyone has still decided to get bossed around by a quasi-French dude on a ship with a vaguely 20th c. military hierarchy” was, not to put too fine a point on it, dumb.

    But the last sentence of this post, sir, was my favorite LJ line of the past little while — spot on!

    • JE says:

      “for some reason everyone has still decided to get bossed around by a quasi-French dude on a ship with a vaguely 20th c. military hierarchy” was, not to put too fine a point on it, dumb.”

      I’m very tired of uniforms in space. That’s one of the reasons I liked Firefly.

      “But the last sentence of this post, sir, was my favorite LJ line of the past little while — spot on!”

      Thanks! (This is the sound of me not saying “arrgh.”)

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