Saturday, August 21, 2010

Iconian Portal

Legend has it the Iconians were conquerors, who were never seen and long extinct by the 24th Century. However their dark reputations were most likely a myth and with time running out, history would never remember them as peaceful explorers.... Something dreadful happened to the Iconian home world. Stationed in the Neutral Zone, the Iconian Portal is the last vestige of a mysterious and powerful civilization which vanished over 200,000 years ago. So what happened on Iconia?

Paramount Pictures and/or CBS Studios

Iconia's Portal technology is by far the most advanced transporter ever discovered by Captain Picard and Commander Data of the USS Enterprise NCC 1701-D. However it was Jean Luc's curious friend, Donald Varley of the ill fated USS Yamato NCC-71807 who was the first Federation captain to locate Iconia in 2365. Yamato's captain risked his entire crew on a hunch which eventually blew them all to bits. He violated the Neutral Zone in-order to solve a fantastic rumor which was later checked out and verified by Picard's away team.

Contagion is an epic episode loaded with vengeful computer viruses, distress calls, cryptic alien technology, self destructions, emergency shutdowns, serious malfunctions affecting both Galaxy class starships and the Romulan warbird. Even warlike computer programmes launched from Iconia's orbit in space probes are determined to finish off their perceived enemies. Brent Spiner is fascinating to watch as Data gets snared by a real nasty computer program and suffers a meltdown!

Picard has to act fast or the Enterprise will explode into a fireball just like the Yamato. Worf, Data and Picard beam down to the source of the alien probe amidst the remains of the ruined Iconian city.

The Portal's hardware operates in stark contrast to starfleet transporters which separate life form energy patterns to the subatomic level. The subject is then transmitted by "beaming" to their new co-ordinates and re-energized into flesh and bone. The normal operating range of Starship transporters is limited within 15,000 to 40,000km but with starship deflector shields engaged you can forget about beaming up or down. Accidental deaths do occur occasionally resulting in deformed bodies etc as Commander Sonak (TMP) had the misfortune to experience. However despite this, the Federations 150 year old technology is still perfectly reliable.

However, Iconia's Portal is far superior and dangerous. Based on starfleet records there are no reports to prove that Iconia's transporter dematerializes, transmits and reassembles lifeforms. Instead the portal opens several doorways like a precise wormhole, leading to new destinations in the Galaxy, capable of transporting Iconians over 60,000 light years to planet Vandros IV in the Gamma Quadrant. That means survivors! right?

It a great legend but were Iconians demons? Their past is shrouded in mystery with their demonized home world at the center of much interstellar conflict. Their transporter technology merely enhanced Iconian Legend as "demons of air and darkness" enabling the Iconians to instantly traverse vast distances across the Galaxy without employing starships or warpdrives. In Star Trek's TNG episode "Contagion" there is evidence to suggest that Iconia was attacked during orbital bombardment by alien aggressors, who feared Iconian power. The planets inhabitants had little option but to flee to safety or die in vain as their skies slaughtered them.

Picard discovers the Iconian Control Center equipped with a blue sphere which crackles with energy once activated. A circular table stands in the middle of the room directly beneath the sphere with several control panels in ancient Iconian script. Data is able to translate the Iconian symbols by running a comparison with Dewan, Iccobar and Dinasian languages. This gave him a flawed working common root language sufficient to operate the Iconian control panels. Data makes a mistake! He used manual override to activate the Portal! A sphere emits a striking blue beam of lightening which arcs across the room activating the Portal and its gateway with real view images to other dimensions somewhere else in the Galaxy.

Once the "journey" portal is activated the blue energy beam disengages, although the sphere continues to pulsate with power located beneath the planet's surface. The doorway displays several locations in a regular sequence which gave Lieutenant Worf and an injured Data the chance to return to the safety of the USS Enterprise NCC 1701-D bridge.

Picard deduces that this is how the Iconians survived the bombardment of their world. Its the end of a legend as Picard sets the control center to self destruct preventing the alien technology from falling into enemy hands....or so he thought. With seconds to go before the explosion, the captain steps through the Portal and steps aboard the bridge of the infected, self destructing Romulan Warbird! Our heroic captain is saved by O'Brien who beams him back to the Federations 24th Century flagship.

Live Long and Prosper, Trekkers and Trekkies.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

City on the Edge of Forever

The USS Enterprise NCC 1701 detects time disturbances centred around a deserted planet. Mr Sulu is injured on the bridge and Dr McCoy saves his life with just a few drops of cordrazine. However, McCoy accidentally suffers an overdose when the Enterprise experiences another time displacement and injects a full vial of the powerful drug cordrazine into his bloodstream causing him to go beserk. Bones beams down to the planet below amidst the remains of a ruined city some 10,000 centuries old. In the grip of complete madness, he evades the enterprise crew yet again and leaps through a strange arch pulsating with power. The Guardian of Forever identifies itself to Kirk and Spock summarizing their predicament.

"Your vessel, your beginning. All that you knew is gone." Dr McCoy has gone back through time and changed their history! Their world no longer exhists! Uhura reports dead communicator contact with the ship. Fortunately, Mr Spock's tricorder was recording the Guardian's past timeline events, right at the point, McCoy dived through the portal giving them a chance to rectify the damage done. I love how Spock manufactures a computer from his tricorder that shows how history will unfold if the focal point in time, Edith Keeler, lives.

City on the Edge of Forever" had inclusions from Gene Coon and Steve Carbastos, major changes from Dorothy Fontana and a final rewrite from Gene Roddenberry, won the 1968 Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation in a shortlist that was entirely composed of star trek episodes. Harlan Ellison's story won a Writers Guild of America (WGA) award for Outstanding Dramatic Episode Teleplay in 1967-68.

Image owner/Creator: Paramount Pictures and/or CBS Studios.

My friend is obviously Chinese. I see you've noticed the ears, they're actually easy to er explain" Kirk looks to Spock with a lost look on his face.

"Perhaps the unfortunate accident I had as a child." prompts Mr Spock.

"The unfortunate accident he had as a child, he caught his head in a mechanical rice picker."

This is a great moment when Kirk and Spock face a 1930's policeman who isn't convinced with the captain's rice picker bluff. Now I wonder why?

Live long and prosper, trekkers.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Star Trek

During the reign of U.S. President Gerald Ford, Star Trek fans sent in a flood of letters to protest against NASA's original plans to name their space shuttle "Constitution". Isn't that fascinating? Trekkers weren't simply going to roll over and let NASA get away with this little stunt. It was their ship too! Remember the "Doomsday Device"? Captain Kirk is in the hot seat but at least he had a ship to tackle the planet killer! But what exactly was NASA doing?

Playing with Trek's Final Frontier sent trekkies flying off the deep end, who reacted with phasers set to kill. The year was 1976 and NASA officials were stumped by all the fan mail pouring in but the message was clear. The needs of the many outweighs the needs of NASA. Officials cleverly employed vulcan logic to counteract the trekkie storm now flooding in engulfing their people. NASA released news about a space shuttle soon to be named after a world war II carrier called Enterprise in honor of the Starship USS Enterprise NCC 1701 from the Original Series which brought a ceasefire. Star Trek fans were delighted. It was their wishes expressed during the write in campaign which "won the war" and designated the shuttle "Enterprise" of course!.

Gene Roddenberry is the creator of Star Trek. During Sept 1966, Roddenberry showed the pilot "where no man" at the Sci-fi convention in Cleveland. The audience loved the pilot and gave a standing ovation. Star Trek made its debut on Thursday, Sept., 8th 1966 at 8.30pm. Gene made a lot of people happy with Star Trek's special brand of humanism despite its concept portraying a future where explorers and scientists from peaceful Earth of the Future roaming the galaxy in a starship, meeting beautiful women, fighting ugly monsters and asserting Western values had already been broadcast on television before.

Gene campaigned and shared his vision of Star Trek's philosophy with the fans, writers, actors and families granting him the opportunity to "mind meld" with sci-fi communities. Star Trek's future is a place where man has ceased squabbling, where the Earth has been transformed into a garden, where androids are ten times stronger and smarter than us and strive to be human. It's an optimistic future, an Utopian one, and its not to much of a stretch to imagine that people like watching Star Trek, because at some level we'd like to live in a place like that.

"Star Trek speaks to some basic human needs that there is a tomorrow. It's not all going to be over with a big flash and a bomb. The human race is improving, we have things to be proud of as humans. No astronauts, ancient astronauts did not build the pyramids, human beings did, because we are clever and work hard and Star Trek is about those things" -Gene Roddenberry.

"It's the Human condition to improve and to improve" - Gene Roddenberry.
Thanks to Genes and Majel's hard work, the committee, the Science Fiction writers, The Fans, Film Crew, Production Staff, The Actors, Paramount/Viacom/CBS and everyone who works on the lot. Star Trek wouldn't be what it is today.

The Enterprise was a true feat of technological engineering. Gene consulted experts and the ship was designed and blueprinted down to the last detail. The spaceship layout was exact. NASA examined Gene's plans to gleam ideas on spaceship design. They even took a look at the orange bed sheets in Dr Mc Coy's Sickbay.

The ship was completely real for Gene. So too was the Star Trek universe, the phasers, the communicators, the transporters, the shuttlecraft, the chain of command, The Prime Directive which Kirk effectively ignored when necessary. Star Trek is beamed into peoples homes and has become part of every trekkers, normal daily life.

Long Live Star Trek, Trekkies and Trekkers.

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