Thursday, January 5, 2012

Day 12 - Idic

"Up until about a hundred years ago, there was one question that burned in every Human, that made us study the stars and dream of traveling to them. Are we alone? Our generation is privileged to know the answer to that question. We are all explorers driven to know what's over the horizon, what's beyond our own shores. And yet the more I've experienced, the more I've learned that no matter how far we travel, or how fast we get there, the most profound discoveries are not necessarily beyond that next star. They're within us, woven into the threads that bind us, all of us, to each other. A final frontier begins in this hall. Let's explore it together."




Smiles. Applause. Respectful, arched eyebrows from the Vulcan delegation. Captain Archer's speech was well-received, as ambassadorial speechmaking goes, but the response was far from adequate. History bent around the moment. A million billion trillion lives were remade in its footprint. Whole empires were shattered, unmade before their foundings; and the Planet Earth smoothly leapt from its address in the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral Arm to the center of galactic events for the next millennium at least.

Perhaps the greatest tribute Archer's brief speech received was also totally unnoticed by anyone present. Two UESPA security officers, a junior lieutenant and a lieutenant commander standing guard by the door, came to stiff attention. This was not out of respect.

J"You felt it, too," said the lieutenant, looking up at the taller man next to him.

"Of course. I came as soon as I could."

J"Monitoring the humans is no longer your responsibility."

"They..." The lieutenant commander's jaw tightened for an instant. "You, and they, are the reason I've been able to attain my current assignment."

JThe shorter man regarded him cooly. "There is no debt."

"I remain interested; that is all. That man, the human leader--"

J"He speaks well."

"Perhaps. However, I believe you would be well-advised to alter your preparations for first contact."

JThe lines on the lieutenant's face deepened. "I will accelerate it, if you consider it advisable."

"Accelerate it? You misunderstand me. Deliberately? You must realize that your captain has just set human policy that will dominate their culture for at minimum eight-point-eight centuries."

J"Of course."

"Then you are developing a perverse sense of corporeal humor. You will also realize that this policy must prove destructive."

J"Mankind has determined to embrace diversity of race and culture, seeking a common policy of peace, just as we have. This is a sign of evolved intelligence."

"But too fast! We did not attempt the integration of ideology until our race was nearly finished shedding corporeal form. Observe the consequences for another local race that undertook the project far too early: the Vulcans of the Eridani cluster, with their principle of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations."

J"The Vulcans are considered one of the pre-eminent races in this galactic zone -- and not only by these primitives. Their IDIC has led individual members of the species to heights of contemplation, peace, and philosophy unmatched by any between Qo'nos and Kelva."

"And the species? To stagnation, indolence, arrogance, and war. When the IDIC is not wielded as an ideological bludgeon to assert Vulcan superiority in military and non-military conflicts, it is merely a vast hypocrisy. To the humans, as with the Vulcans, 'diversity' means nothing more than people with colored skin and a taste for exotic foods who otherwise belong to precisely the same tradition of ideological secular progressive pluralism."

The junior officer ignored the Jibe and continued.smoothly, "That is because it has never.been fully realised as a tool of diplomacy. The.Vulcan genotype merely uses IDIC as.a.tool to stave.off mutual mass destruction.

Look at.the.other side.of their ethnic consciousness - The Romulans. They are xenophobic to the extreme and yet have a perverse desire to rule over others. IDIC is not a philosophical choice for the.Vulcans, it is cultural self-defence.

The supervisor looked.surprised at this. "If this so then..."

"The humans have taken the principle from the.Vulcans and adapted it.to. a new purpose - they Excel at that!"
The junior officer ignored the Jibe and continued.smoothly, "That is because it has never.been fully realised as a tool of diplomacy. Vulcans merely use IDIC as a tool to insulate themselves from the emotions and desires that make others strive to excel. Look at the dark side of their genotype - The Romulans. They are xenophobic to the extreme and yet have a perverse desire to rule over others. No, to the Vulcans, IDIC is not a philosophical choice, it is cultural self-defence against mutual mass destruction.

The supervisor looked.surprised at this. "If this so then the humans...?"

"...have taken the principle from the Vulcans and adapted it to suit a new purpose - they Excel at that!"

"Of what interest is this to Organia? Our culture has remained hidden from the rest of the universe for countless millenea. Our only purpose here is to search for cultures that might one day be worthy of contact. Didn't we investigate one of their ships only recently? The one they were all talking about tonight, the Enterprise? Didn't you estimate that our official first contact with them should be in another five thousand years?"
This made the junior of the two Organians pause for the most miniscule part of a second for this might seem as a failure on his part. The thought was discarded almost as soon as it was created though for concepts of success and failure, fault and blame had been expunged from the Organian psyche aeons ago, it was only the slight taint of the human mind that he was possessing that made his even consider them for that single nanosecond.

"Correct, we tested them with the silicone virus and they reacted in a most unique way when two of their kind were infected." He paused as if to let his companion interject but when that didn't happen, he went on.

"I was fascinated by the way that the Denobulan and Vulcan interacted with the human crew. They were neither servile nor in charge. they were treated as any other part of crew, even though they brought with them their culture's major characteristics - the Vulcan objectivity and the Denobulan compassion."

They had reached the end of the corridor to find themselves in a large lounge, now empty, whose opposite wall was a single panoramic window overlooking San Francisco harbour.

"It got me thinking how seldom we had seen that kind of acceptance amongst groups of different cultures. Klingons only allowed other races to serve them as virtual slaves, whilst the Romulans set puppet leader's up to give the member nations of their empire the illusion of freedom and the Cardassians have a complex military oligarchy."

The elder of the two Organians, the supervisor of the tem, turned to face his junior face on.

"Continue."

"I have done some preliminary research and the human government seems to be a protege of the Vulcan's. In less than a century, they have gone from virtual savagery to a civilisation that is becoming increasingly respected amongst their neighbours. Although they make a great show of their impatiende to get out into the galaxy o explore, they have taken the time to absorb some of the lessons from their Vulcan mentors, the chief amongst which is IDIC - Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations."

His superior was not impressed. "I know what it means. The Vulcans are one the most promising civilisations we have yet met and this particular ideal of tolerance is especially interesting."

"Indeed. What makes it most impressive though is the way that the humans seemed have applied the philosophy as a practical means of diplomacy and government."

"Surely the Vulcans have utilised it in a similar fashion"

The junior's voice took on an almost enthusiastic tone, "No! Although they personally espouse tolerence, as a culture they are ruled by a conservative drive to maintain the status quo and a distrust of change. It would appear that their lack of passion also means a lack of compassion and - as can be seen by their relationship with their Andorian neighbours - a lack of trust."

Just look at the worlds that make up this present Coalition of Planets. They don't just have different cultural, religious or political differences - they are quite literally alien to each other! If they can hold true to this ideal of apreciating the infinite diversity of the different civilisations that people the universe, there is no reason why it could not encompass all of them."

There was no hiding the excitement in the younger Organian's voice now.

"Think about it! Just as the different members of this current conference speak different languages, future entrants might breathe a different air, their physiology might be based on a different element (silicon-based for example), they might even have different methods of reproducing... in fact they might have an entirely different concept of reality from humanity's! They are talking about creating a federal body for the coalition. If they can create a baseline for relating to each other within the coalition, it can also be the basis for their relationship with sentients outside the Federation, such as the Klingons and Romulans?

He paused for effect, to give his tirade a chance to sink in to his fellow Organian before continuing. "My belief is that the principle of IDIC is the *only* way that such a body could hold itself together for any length of time."

For the first time, his superior nodded. "I believe you might be correct, however means that there is even more reason to hurry.. We will need to orchestrate a First Contact much earlier, perhaps as



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

IDIC - Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations! It relates to Real Life much more closely than you might think. It is not just a matter of personal choice. It applies to what could be the only philosophy that can guarentee the succesful survival of federalism in government and culture.

In Australia as in America we have three levels of government: Local, State and Federal, in a larger international arena we are a member of the United Nations so, all told we probably have four levels altogether. Each level affects our lives in different ways: our sanitation and library services by local, our health and road services by State, our criminal and property laws are (to a large extent) governed by Federal government and the basic tenets of human rights are (supposedly) enshrined in the charters of the UN

What keeps all these cogs and gears of goverment from clashing? On a cultural level what makes it so that all the ethnic and religious factions that make up our population can live with each other? Conversely what is the root cause of most of the breakdowns in relationships between peoples and communities?

Tolerance.

On the one hand understanding and acceptance and on the other hand ignorance and a desire to enforce our own ideas on others.

But there are cons - where should tolerance end? Should we tolerate slavery and female discrimination? Ritual sacrifice and canibalism? Zombies and vampires? The challenge in modern society is to define the line beyond which we cannot tolerate the behavior of others and brand it as illegal, immoral or unethical?

I have faith in the ultimate survival of the human race because I believe that if we can learn to respect the ideas and ideals of others, to walk a mile in their shoes or to see the world through their eyes then to attack others would be to attack ourselves!

Many years ago I corresponded with someone from Northern Ireland, who I knew to be Protestant because we were discussing common genealogy. He sent me a beautiful illustration from The Book of Kells and I mentioned that it was heartening to see a Northern Irishman who appreciated Catholic Celtic culture. His answer to me was, "We have more in common than we have things that keep us apart."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day 11 - Trekzines

Fanzines, and by extension Trekzines, are in danger of becoming a thing of the past.

In modern culture they are seen as a throwback to the sixties, the cultural revolution, the "Hippie Era", and in many ways that was their hey-day. They have been around much longer than that, though. Frederic Wertham in his scholarly 1973 study, "The World of fanzines", cites "The Comet" from 1930 as the first fanzine although Wikipedia traces their roots to amateur press associations that go back to the 19th century. Wertham describes them as "uncommercial, nonprofessional, small-circulation magazines which their editors produce, publish and distribute. They deal primarily with fantasy literature and art. The fact that they are not commercially oriented, may come out irregularly, and are privately distributed differentiates them from the professional newsstand magazines. Their writers and readers belong chiefly to the under-thirty group." If you're interested in reading transcriptions and scans of those early fanzines an entertaining evening can be had in wandering through the virtual bookshelves of Fanac.

Perhaps the most well-known fanzine was ERB-dom which started as a mimeographed fanzine created by Al Guillory, Jr. and "Caz", Camille Cazedessus Jr., in May 1960 and ending it's run with issue 89 in 1976. Caz returned to fanzine publishing in 1988 with The Fantasy Collector which he renamed Pulpdom in 1997 and is still going strong today, retaining the flavour of the original ERB-dom articles but gathering its material from the wider genre of pulp fiction in general.

 J.M. Verba's "Boldly Writing" gives us a pretty exhaustive picture of the early history of Star Trek fan activity between 1967 & 1987 - and that it was a fertile time for Trek fanzines can be seen from the fact that she has a five page list of 'zines that are referenced in the book! Another important resource is "Star Trek Lives" by Jacqueline Lichtenberg who, with her writing partner Jean Lorrah, was an early luminary of the Trek fan world who has gone on to champion the use of action / adventure stories to test the boundaries between science fiction and romance.
Star Trek fanzines started off in much the same vein as others, with news, letters of comment, articles of critique, commentary and review, but eventually it started to settle into a specific vein. The growth of fan fiction as a legitimate form of fan expression created a massive number of readers and writers of fan-written fiction. The law of supply and demand soon proved to the Trek fan community that fanzines, their own fan publications, were an elegant and sought after means of a fan-author "getting published" and Trekzines became defacto anthologies of Star Trek fanfic.

Fast forward to the start of the digital age and we find that fanzines suffered from the same problems that the printing and publishing industry was to later face. A quarterly fanzine had no way of competing with TV & radio news and their modern competitor the internet for the immediacy of its news and comment. Communication between fans was much easier and faster on mailing lists & forums (Facebook, Twitter...) and if a fan wanted to comment and get it seen, it was much easier and immediate to have a blog or website of their own. Even fan fiction authors found that they could be more certain of feedback and comments if they posted their fiction on the fan websites, message boards & forums where their fellow fans 'lived' on the web. APAs have all but died out. They had always struggled to acquire and distribute contributions between isolated members a task that blogs, internet forums and mailing lists now did effortlessly.

Fanzines started to become a protected species with a certain amount of literary recognition. There has been a Hugo award for fanzines since 1955 but, even though Star Trek fandom has played a significant part in the history of fanzines, the award listings and records are pretty much devoid of mention of any Star Trek fanzines. Because of copyright problems and a generally low opinion of fan fiction which we can blame on the poor quality of its lower end contributors, Trekzines never shared in the recognition that Indie amateur fiction received.

Part of the problem too was the growing identification of Star Trek fan fiction with adult fiction. Certainly Star Trek has always had an emphasis on character centric storylines and over the years a large subgenre of Trekzines came to focus on love and lust in the Star Trek universe. Indeed, one of the ways that Star Trek fanzines broke new ground was with the invention of the term slash, from "Kirk-slash-Spock" (K/S), the idea of Kirk and Spock being lovers.

This, of course, did nothing to win them acceptance and recognition with mainstream fandom.

That's not to say that "Gen" Trekzines did not exist, as can be seen from the listing on Zelda Scott's excellent TOS website, nor that intelligent commentary was absent as can be seen by the examples on Laura J. Sweeney's 2008 treatise. Probably the largest, strongest and most diverse production of Gen Trekzines came from Orion Press whose driving force, Randy Landers, has been providing a service to Trek fan fiction since 1979!

My initial contention that Trekzines are in danger of going the way of the Dodo depends on whether you define them by their content or their media.

The hard-copy stapled, spiral or perfect bound amateur magazine is still available as back copies from specialist websites but I only know of one that is still producing, Asidozine's Legends which is looking for contributions for their eighth issue. If there are any, I would assume that they would be released at the Media West Con which comes to Lansing, Michigan every year, the next being May 25. Of course there are always the established sites such as Agent With Style, but new material? Randy Landers has moved on to a fan film, Project Potemkin as his chosen form of fan creativity and if there are any Gen 'zines that are in production I haven't found them. If any readers know of any, feel free to add their contact details here as a comment.

If, however, you think of a Trekzine as an amateur periodical of fiction, commentary, art and poetry there is no reason why they cannot make the leap to the digital world!

TrekUnited Publishing is experimenting with a way of keeping the grand tradition of Trekzines alive with it's fan fiction series, Personal Logs! Our first edition (right) released in July 2011 on the Issuu publishing platform, was well received both by readers and writers of fan fiction and this encouraged us to follow it up with another edition, released in March 2012

You can get all the details of what is in it on the TrekUnited Publishing website, for now I would like to point out what makes them different from both digital anthologies and paper fanzines.
[To Be Continued]




Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Day 10 - Trek Modelling

It has been a very quiet year in Star Trek paper modelling, so rather than go through old listings, I thought I would put together a listing of websites where Star trek paper models can be found. Note that all the links are to the website's home page and that I start off the description with the subdirectory to look in for the trek models.


Billy’s World
Billy (missouri1981)
A mixture of his own work and Marc Robitaille's (Marc's Star Trek en papier site is down), from a Klingon D7 to the USS Daedalus

Blog do Péricles
Pericles (Gomidelfilho)
(Downloads – Descargas) In Portuguese, beautiful & varied subjects from Romulan Caracel Class to the Klingon D-4...

Clever PaperModel
Clever Santoro Lopes
(Star Trek) In Portuguese but with clear graphic instructions beautifully produced ships from the NX-01 & 02 to the Nova Class

CNC Design Studio
Chippy Chua
(Goods) Voyager and NCC 1701

Homespun Magixx
Steven Marshall
(Downloads / SciFi & Hakos) TMP Travelpod, Full-size Klingon Disruptor pistol...

Jay's Box of Sci-Fi CardToys
Jay
(Card Trek) From the Archer-class scoutship designed by Masao Okazaki for the Star Trek: Vanguard book series to the Multi-Vector Assault ship, USS Prometheus...

PaperStarships
Forum Community
(Star Trek) Mostly mirror's of models from existing sites from designer's such as Diego Cortes, Gomidefilho, Paragon & Jan Rükr...

Paragon Papermodels
James Gemperline
(Star Trek) Everything from fanversions of what the reboot Enterprise should have looked like to Doug Drexler's USS Enterprise NX-01 Season Five Refit

The Lower Hudson Valley E-Gift Shop
Jon Leslie
(Models For Download / Science Fictions) Bridge models of the Enterprise 1701-D,E s well as the original...

Ulrich Prahn's Star Trek Cardboard Models
Ulrich Prahn / Oliver Götz
Shuttles El-Baz & Magellan, SS Botany Bay...

Zealot Hobby Forum
Forum Community
(Downloads / Hakos & Movies, TV shows and Games / Star Trek, membership req'd) Dozens of models ranging from the obscure (Galor/Keldon class) & whimsical (BCC Magnatize) to the classic (Space Station K-7) & modern (JJ Trek's Enterprise)

NOTES:
  • Domatine, who previously had a Surak class, has a new website that does not show this model.
  • Marc Robitaille's Star Trek en papier site is down although some of his designs can still be found on the old Billy’s World website
  • CNC Design Studio is the new home for Chippy Chua's Repap Models

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The Twelve Turtle Days of Christmas

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 09 - Trek Gaming

With the revival of the Star Trek movie franchise, there has been a corresponding revival of Star Trek gaming as well! Today, for the fourth year, we give you our annual Twelve Trek Days of Christmas "Compendium of Fan-Made Games"!

It's of no use for me to re-invent the wheel - especially when I spent a lot of time in the wheel's development - so I will be using the same framework from previous years - 2007, 2008 and 2009 - so that the interested fan refer to them to check out previously created fan-made games, what I will be focussing on here will be new games or updates of older ones.

The Trek gaming world has been pretty much dominated by the Star Trek: Online - STO - "soap opera". Rumoured, developed, closed-down, bought-out, released, bought-out again and, most recently, to be made available to the general public on a free-to-play basic level. There can be no doubt that STO is cutting edge and that the creative team behind it is as responsive as it can be to community feedback which, in itself has been creative (see below). I think this could be a great move for them, it would certainly remove the last major argument from Trek fans as to why don't they play it. For my part, if my local fan club puts together a ship, I'll give it a go, just for the social side of the gaming - it might give me a chance to scout out the possibilities of Role-playing and machinima in STO.

Most heartening of all for me has been the release of new Star Trek board games! I'll be giving them a quick mention in their respective sections below, but this is one type of gaming that I actively want to pursue, again with my afore-mentioned local fan club! It is the social aspect of the gaming, playing as part of a group activity, that appeals to me in this case: just having fun with friends

Isn't that games are supposed to be all about?

Sports

There are very few fictional sports unique to Star Trek, The only three I can pin down are Hoverball, the phaser firing range and...
  • Parrises Squares has finally been revealed in detail! Well in fan fiction anyway!...
    • ...Tiberius has written a plausible article on Ad Astra, originally meant as an appendix to one of his stories, that finally pins down the specifics of the game.
    • The game is regularly brought up as a possible mini-game for Star Trek: Online

Martial arts

The fictional martial arts that are listed on Memory Alpha, the ones that spring to mind readily are Anbo-jitsu, The Vulcan Nerve Pinch, Tsunkatse and ...
  • Mok'bara. An Italian demonstration
  • Bat'leths, as a LARP (Live Action Role Play) game weapon continues unabated whilst some martial artists practise with the Bat'leth.

Tabletop games

Wikipedia defines these as, "any game where the elements of play are confined to a small area and which require little physical exertion, usually simply placing, picking up and moving game pieces."
  • Dexterity/coordination games
  • Board games -
    • Tri-Dimensional Chess still has a strong following...
    • KlinZha, the traditional Klingon board game ...
      • The Facebook page has the most movement.
      • I wonder if anyone has thought of making an iPhone or Android app of this?
    • Card games
  • Dice games
  • Domino and tile games - kal-toh has been mentioned as a desirable mini-game for STO.
  • Pencil and paper games -
  • Guessing games

Computer games

Strangely enough, there seem to have been virtually no computer-based games in the 24th century! The only one that comes close is "The Game", the addictive holographic game from TNG.
  • Computer Games, Text-based 
  • Computer Games, 2D Games 
  • Computer Games, 3D Games 
  • The Mods
    • This is when fans mod (modify) an existing, commercial game. In contrast to other parts of the entertainment industry, game manufacturers, the owners of the license from Paramount, not only allow but encourage their fans to mod their products - STO in particular has been pro-active in this respect right from the start. There are far too many Mods for me to list here, I've simply picked one Mod from each gaming engine to feature here.
      • For Doom: Doomwadstation is a total conversion of Doom 2
      • For Escape Velocity Nova: Starfleet Adventures has changed their website
      • For Elite Force II: [Under Construction]
      • For ST Bridge Commander: BC Supermod 3
      • For ST Starfleet Command: [Under Construction]
      • For Crysis 2: The team from ST Enterprise - Temporal Cold War are working on a new mod ST: Enterprise - MACO - Dec. 10: New alien weapons!

Role-playing games

If you prefer your gaming to be face to face and your fate decided by your game-master and the roll of a many-sided dice then the older games are still being played.
  • Last Unicorn Games or LUG (1998-2000)
    • If you own an old copy of one of the Last Unicorn Games RPGs it's not a dead end, Memory ICON has a number of Fan Produced netbooks available for free download. Checkout the other game resources whilst you're there.
  • Decipher or CODA (2002-2007)
    • After Decipher stopped making their high quality RPG manuals in 2007, a number of fans started adding their own material to the mix. Patrick Goodman's Beyond The Final Frontier has archived CODA gaming material covering every series, right up to Star Trek: Enterprise.
  • One company that is still in the market is Amarillo, with their Prime Directive RPG extension of the long-running Star Fleet Battles wargaming series for the GURPs and D20 systems, two strong and popular gaming systems.


  • With the release of the D20 Modern RPG rules, a number of gamers have tested the boundaries on this new frontier! Check out the messages, links and files on the Star Trek for the D20 System Yahoo Group .

Simulation

To me the term "simulation" is very close to roleplaying (which in fact are sometimes called 'sims') but the Wiki article specifically mentions war games and this would seem to fit the strategy games best.



The Twelve Days After Christmas


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Day 08 - Trek Comics

[UNDER CONSTRUCTION]


K

The Twelve Gays of Christmas

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day 07 - Fan Animation

Fan Animation has made amazing advances over the past year as more individuals find that this is a project that they can don on a personal level that can approach the complexity of the larger live action fan film groups. You can have a cast of thousands, the most surreal sets imaginable and interact with creatures who would be impossible to recreate for live filming either by makeup and prosthetics or by animatronics and special effects.

Once again, this is a summary, a work-in-progress - I know there are some major productions that I have missed out - of the animations that have released episodes during 2011. As with the fan film listing, I have used the resources of BarbReader's comprehensive reference, Star Trek: Reviewed. I can't praise her work too highly, she works hard to deliver an invaluable service to fans all over the world.

Erika DeBenedictis' Trek Parodies
Animations utilising media ranging from paper cutouts to The Sims from the fertile mind of a young teen
2The Muddle with Moles - Aug 09 2011

FemTrekz
Original Series storyline with an all-female crew, in conjunction with Star Trekz Empire, animated using Xtranormal State Plus
1Landing Party Decorum - Jul 12 2011

Mariner
Animation set in the ST: Online universe
1Shakedown - May 28 2011

Star Track: The Animated Adventures
Matt Lamson Animations presents a series of cartoons based upon Golden Media Studios comedy series, Star Track

Star Trek Aurora
Groundbreaking 3D animation by Tim Vining featuring a small merchant starship during the Original Series period, run by a young woman with a horrifying past
5Star Trek Aurora, Part 5 - Nov 10 2011

Star Trek Reunion
Star Trek: Online machinima
1The Gathering Storm - Jul 01 2011

Star Trek: Recovery
Go!Animate characters used in a more serious production
6Cromwell's Shame - Nov 27 2011

Star Trek: Red Squad
Spectacular animation of space battles form a backdrop for intrigue in a post Nemesis universe
3The Charge - Apr 20 2011

Star Trekz Empire
Original series Klingon storyline, in conjunction with Fem Trekz, animated using Xtranormal State Plus
1Empire Screen Test - Sep 20 2011

Starmada
Epic, three-season parody series of animations made using Go!Animate
Starmada Finale Part I - Dec 21 2011

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Day 06 - Adult Trek

Adult Trek is not for the faint of heart. Many writers ask themselves - what happens when the doors close, and the lights turn off? After all, most ships are loaded with young, single people, often in prime physical condition. If you think all they do is go to second base, ah, my friend, you are seriously mistaken.

Ratings

While fan fiction, graphic novels and print publications are not covered by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), their guidelines on ratings do make some sense in this area. Per the MPAA, the NC-17 means the following: "NC-17 — No One 17 and Under Admitted. An NC-17 rated motion picture is one that, in the view of the Rating Board, most parents would consider patently too adult for their children 17 and under. No children will be admitted. NC-17 does not mean "obscene" or "pornographic" in the common or legal meaning of those words, and should not be construed as a negative judgment in any sense. The rating simply signals that the content is appropriate only for an adult audience. An NC-17 rating can be based on violence, sex, aberrational behavior, drug abuse or any other element that most parents would consider too strong and therefore off-limits for viewing by their children."

Hence it's not just sex, violence and/or salty language that can bump a rating up to the max. For most people, though, those three things are exactly what causes them to think of one rating over another.

Complicating matters is the fact that some sites use MPAA-style ratings, whereas others use gaming or television-type ratings. In general, MA and NC-17 are as far as you can go, with M and R being the next step down. One more step down is usually T and PG-13; then come K+ and PG. Finally, the rating for family-type viewing and reading is K or G. I use both ratings systems interchangeably in this article and, for fan fiction, I use whichever rating the writer has provided for his or her work. Keep in mind that writers are not necessarily perfect arbiters of their own ratings. However, I feel that all of the listed writers act in good faith to properly rate their works. But the usual caveats apply, and always proceed cautiously, particularly if viewing or reading while at work.

Character Situations

Beyond ratings, there are also the questions of character situations. We are used to seeing some highly intellectual themes in Star Trek. Racism was covered as far back as TOS. The ENT series showed a class of persons stigmatized by a disease they had contracted - that show's response to the HIV epidemic. DS9 covered, among other things, the horrors of war.

For what we tend to think of as Adult Trek, the themes are usually far more personal. Characters' sexualities are questioned and explored. Relationships are forged, or broken. Characters may deal with the death of a beloved, or perhaps an affair or a divorce. Written well, these scenarios can offer rich chances for exploration. Written poorly, they can be cringeworthy - but that is the case with all ratings levels. And then, of course, there's also PWP (Porn Without Plot).

But when sex or violence (or both) propel the stories, when they help the reader get to know the characters better, or amp up the tension - or even the comedy - or when they make sense in a greater context, these scenarios work as well as any other. Gratuitous sex and violence are one thing, but that is not what is being celebrated here. Let's look at adult themes in Trek, and their place in both canon and fanon universes.

Consider the possibilities.

Canon

As far back as TOS, Plato's Stepchildren covered a most uncomfortable scenario, as the captain and first officer are forced to perform for their captors. Included in the performance are kisses with the two main women in the show - Lieutenant Uhura and Nurse Chapel. Complicating matters are the nurse's unrequited love for Spock and the difference in races between Captain Kirk and Miss Uhura. The episode is remembered as being the first interracial kiss on network television. But what if the episode was made today? Would it stop just at kissing? Should it? Is that more or less powerful than going further? What happens if the partners are switched, and the pairings become same-sex? Fan fiction writers can explore this, if they wish.

In TNG, The Outcast was presented as an exploration of an androgynous society, allegedly devoid of sexuality. When Riker meets Soren, they hit it off - and it's rather convenient when Soren reveals femininity. But a classic question for fan fiction writers is - what if Soren had turned out to be male? In the end, Soren is forced to renounce her feelings and desires, and is allegedly "cured" of such messiness. Is Soren happy? Probably not, but she sure is safe and predictable.

In DS9, the Rejoined episode explores what it means for Dax to be moving from symbiont to symbiont, and sometimes shifting from male to female. This episode is also remembered as the first one with a female-on-female kiss, which shocked some fans (while encouraging others). For fan fiction writers, the scene can, of course, go a lot farther than that, and probably does.

In VOY, the Threshold episode runs in any number of directions (it is considered a somewhat problematic episode), but the upshot of it is that the captain and one of her crew members have had children together. Circumstances were certainly out of the ordinary. Fan fiction can fill in some of the gaps, perhaps not so much in terms of the mating act itself, but in terms of what should have probably been a great deal of fallout.

In ENT, the Unexpected episode goes where, perhaps, no one ever throught Trek would go - to male pregnancy. A simple game involving immersing one's hands in a box of what look like pebbles results in a pregnancy for, of all people, Commander Tucker. The episode is played for some humor, but it also touches upon the idea of love 'em and leave 'em - something that Kirk did quite a bit of. It should also make the typical fan fiction writer wonder just what kinds of games the Xyrillians really do like to play.

The Specifics

Star Trek fan ficcers pretty much invented slash, which is when two male characters (both, or one, or neither, can be canon) are linked romantically, and often graphically sexually. The original slash pairing in Star Trek is Kirk/Spock. The counterpart is femme slash (also spelled as femslash), which is female on female pairing. The Janeway/Seven of Nine pairing is typical.

Adult Trek is not just slash, of course. It also takes the shape of graphic novels, often with nudity or partial nudity, or fictions where little or at least less is left to the readers' imaginations. For fiction which opens the door to the bedroom, what does the reader find? There is the standard, of course, within marriage and committed relationships. Surely no one thinks that Miles and Keiko produced Molly via test tube!

Then there are committed couples who aren't married, such as T'Pol and Trip, or Will Riker and Deanna Troi before their wedding during Nemesis. Still other scenarios involve more mismatched couples, such as Worf and Deanna or Worf and Jadzia, or Quark and Grilka. Dr. Bashir ends up treating the latter two couples after nights of passion - these cannot just be a few chaste kisses, and it should make some curious viewers wonder about the mechanics of it all.

In DS9, as previously noted, there is a bit of femme slash. In ENT, there is a bit of bi-curious behavior (Rajiin) and alien-curious behavior (Cogenitor). And do the parts always fit? Are they always compatible? Not according to The Undiscovered Country, where Kirk fights an alien on Rura Penthe who keeps his genitalia in a fairly unexpected location.

Fan-Created Stories

ENT

Enterprise is well represented in fan fiction writers' imaginings, possibly because the show had a confirmed sexual relationship and an unfulfilled promise of a gay character (the show's writers ultimately decided to not make Malcolm Reed gay). It may also be because it's the most recent show, and was shown in an era of and near such fare as The Sopranos, NYPD Blue and The L Word. Audiences have come to expect more on television.

Written as a response to the Delphic Expanse's 2011 Valentine's Day Playlist Challenge, Persistence of Touch is a missing-moment story set in Season Four during Trip's brief "escape" to Columbia. Trip learns that he cannot run away from his feelings for T'Pol no matter how far he goes – thanks to the as yet undiscovered bond asserting itself and pulling him into the white space. One night, Trip and T'Pol repeat their favorite mistake – but is it real? Winner of five Delphic Expanse Awards, including Best Story and Best Het Sex Scene. Rated NC-17.

Aquarius's She Wore White. Wedding nights are supposed to be bliss, but they come with their own special anxieties. Set post- "These Are the Voyages", Archer and T'Pol marry and face their first night together as husband and wife. It's not their first time around the block, but making it official brings a degree of change. Archer contemplates true love and absent friends in reflection of this life-changing event. Received Honorable Mention for Best Archer/T'Pol Story Under 2000 words at the 2011 Delphic Expanse Awards. Rated MA for graphic heterosexual situations.

A mini-sequel to Mistress Euclid's ground-breaking "Equilateral", in which the events of "E2" have unfolded differently: the Enterprise is lost in time, and the crew has colonized a Minshara class planet while trying to maintain good relations with their galactic neighbors. Jon, Trip, and T'Pol have formed a stable, loving polyfidelic relationship. POV takes place in the distant future of this universe. T'Pol relives the joy of love and the pain of loss as she finds a datapad containing a long-forgotten "home movie" made by her husbands. Rated NC-17 for graphic sexual situations, including a threesome.

A Kiss at Midnight by Honeybee. It's New Year's Eve on the Enterprise, and Trip and T'Pol use the occasion to "out" themselves as a couple. Anxious about the expected public display of affection at midnight, T'Pol sets a most logical scheme into motion to ensure that she and her date get some alone time well before then. Everything goes well until Captain Archer unwittingly foils her plan, and T'Pol finds herself with a dilemma: to kiss or not to kiss? Rated NC-17 for graphic sexual situations.

For my own fiction, I offer a transuniversal romance in Reversal. On our side of things, Chef's assistant begins having erotic dreams while, in the mirror, Empress Hoshi finds an intriguing way to keep her male senior staff members in line. Rated R for sexual situations and some violence.

In Intolerance, a small medical school sends a class of doctors to the NX-01 for a resident rotation - and that means women. A competition is set up, and whoever gets the girl first wins. But the winner gets more than he bargained for, both in and out of the bedroom. How much can you tolerate? Rated R for sexual situations and unconventional sexual play, including mild BDSM.

TOS

Taking place in the TOS era (although not employing canon characters), PD Smith's 30 Minutes is a graphic novel about a female Federation captain who ends up running from a terrorist bombing with an Orion woman. There's a bit of femme slash in it. The drawings are superb; the artist has quite an eye for not only the female form, but also for fashion. No rating is listed; I would suggest PG-13.

His Species 571 story is another beautiful graphic novel. Again, the captain is female, and she has to deal with an attack on children. The adult themes include not only the violence but also her having to come to terms with her own daughter, who she is apart from. No rating is listed; I would suggest PG.

In Orion's Angels, bluesman offers an adventure for Merrick Dylan, a young officer under Christopher Pike's command. What happens when he meets the beautiful Dr. Veronica West - and a trio of wily Orion slave women? Rated M.

TNG

There is a dearth of TNG-era slash fiction that isn't simply PWP.

One fan fiction writer is doing terrific work covering the Picard dynamic from several angles - both gay and straight. And adult themes need not simply be bedroom antics. His stories are told in lots of ways - the characters aren't always horizontal and, in some stories, aren't at all.

MrPicard explores Jean-Luc's feelings in Lonely. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown! Jean-Luc Picard turns on a holodeck program and meets a very similar captain from the Enterprise's past. Rated T.

He then covers the Picard/Q conflict in It Happened for a Reason. This is a serious conversation between Picard and Q about Jean-Luc's abduction by the Borg. Q discloses that he actually witnessed it but was powerless to prevent it from happening. Rated K+.

Feel presents a dilemma for Deanna Troi - she can feel everyone's feelings, right? So what happens when she feels a certain crew member performing a very private act? And what happens when she gets addicted to that passion? Rated M.

Private Emotions is MrPicard's fully-realized story of an alternate universe progressive love affair between the captain and his XO. In the canon TNG episode "Parallels", a number of alternate universes are presented - this is the one where Data has blue eyes and Ogawa is the CMO - and the Federation is apparently in conflict with the Cardassians. Not only is the Picard/Riker relationship explored, Data/LaForge, Picard/Jack Crusher, Riker/Erik Pressman, Picard/Q, Picard/Troi are also shown, although its main focus is on Picard/Riker and it is the Picard/Riker love story which gives the story its shape and focus. Rated MA for slash and graphic heterosexual situations.

But there's also plenty of room for some very graphic work. Candice Green's work with character Candela Green leaves little to the imagination. Her Star Trek Crusader: The Deception offers a TNG-era story with plenty of extremely graphic sex. Her drawings are very good and she renders characters and scenery well - this is truly visually stunning work. There is no rating listed but I easily put it at NC-17; there's full frontal nudity and full arousal for every gender imaginable.

Her Star Trek Crusader: Of Friends or Foes also offers plenty of graphic action. Her renderings of a multi-racial, multi-species crew - in more than name only - are beautifully realized. Again, there is no rating listed but this one is NC-17, and again has full frontal nudity and full arousal shown for any gender you can think of (and possibly a few that are new to you).

DS9

It isn't just bedroom behaviors that make for an M rating. Sometimes it's about the violence. In The Hephaestic Oath, Nerys Ghemor cringingly presents a battlefield triage and treatment moment worthy of Saving Private Ryan. Rated M.

Isadorabelle's Lost: Revisited shows the death of Jadzia Dax in an alternate universe. Rated MA for violence.

For Enterprise1981, Through a Glass Darkly continues the Deep Space 9 Mirror Universe story line. Bashir gets a visit from a shadowy agent with even more shadowy cohorts. Rated M.

VOY

Adult themes don't have to be so somber all the time! Sometimes, a little humor is in order.

Odon writes humorous slash. The Killer Dame is based on "Allo Allo". Rated M for femme slash.

Another of his stories is Attack of the 50-Ft. Half-Klingon, a terrific parody (guess the plot!). Rated M.

Conclusion

The upshot of it all is, in a universe (or a few universes) of IDIC, diversity and combinations can be thought of in the context of mature themes. There is so much out there!

Exploration should not be confined to just the stars. Sometimes it comes from what's in a lover's eyes. And for all of us, it can also come from within.





Happy fantasies to all, and to all a good night!