I just watched Star Trek: Discovery episode 3, Context is for Kings, the other day, and the show is taking on the shape I assume it will have going forward. We now move to Discovery itself and Michael starts to interact with the rest of the crew, including some of her former crewmates from her previous ship. I like a lot of things about this episode, and about what I assume the show is going to be.
The design of the Discovery is, to a 3D nerd and spaceship designer like me, one of the most interesting things about the show. It is a very unusual delta shape, based on a sketch by Ralph McQuarrie. As the Daily Dot says:
The Discovery features a more angular shape than the traditional Enterprise: a triangular hull with small warp nacelles on either side, plus the usual saucer section at the front.
Pfontaine2 tells us:
The design everyone is referring to as Ralph McQuarrie’s really belongs to Ken Adam.
Apparently McQuarrie was hired to work on Planet Of The Titans as a concept artist and production illustrator. McQuarrie’s Enterprise illustrations are based on production designer Ken Adam’s Enterprise design sketches. These sketches were supplied to Ralph McQuarrie who did some color renderings.
Aside from the new spaceship, the episode has a lot of other things going for it, too. Right out of the gate, Michael Burnham’s prison shuttle is picked up by the mysterious USS Discovery. Once aboard, she is billeted with a talkative roommate, Tilly, who gives her info dumps about her new ship. But there is a lot more going on than the roommate tells her about. For example, we see black badges on the chest of some of the crew of the Discovery, though the significance of this passed me by. Luckily I have the Internet to educate me. The black badges hint at some kind of involvement from Section 31.
Section 31 is a kind of secret police organization, but not an actual branch of government. Little of Section 31’s history has been revealed on-screen but its goals and methods have been described as “deeply questionable”. Its methods include brainwashing, torture, assassinations and, as revealed in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s final season, genocide. This involved the creation, by Section 31, of a virus designed to kill a single species, the Founders.
I’m interested to see where this Section 31 idea is going, but there is plenty more to love beside that. For example, the Discovery is described as a science vessel, but the scientists have been press-ganged into the military against their will. This is something I’ve never seen before in Star Trek, especially not on the ship that will be the centre of the action.
The new captain is a sinister character, Captain Gabriel Lorca is vague about why the Discovery picked up Burnham’s shuttle, what he wants from her, and how long she can expect to be on board. He also keeps secrets from his crew and likes munching fortune cookies. He gives Burnham a fortune cookie when he offers her a place on Discovery, because he’s the most on-the-nose captain in Star Fleet.
Even after she saves the day, everyone is still afraid of our volatile and unpredictable heroin, except the captain with his undefined plans for her. Sonequa Martin-Green is charming but brooding presence as Michael, the famous Starfleet mutineer, and the crew’s fear of her is very believable. Sonequa Martin-Green sells it, whether it is martial arts, pain and regret, tight-lipped hostility, or kick-ass science skills. She’s special, we are left in no doubt about that.
This show also continues subverting the technobabble of Star Trek with a bit more of an infusion of magic and the uncanny. The science of the new invention they are working on this week, for example, is described as a mix or energy and organics, a web that unites the galaxy. I like this more mystical feeling and I’m looking forward to more of it.
I am enjoying this show imensely so far, and I’m not the only one. Vulture says:
There is no feeling greater than Star Trek anxiety, followed quickly by Star Trek relief, and that is the feeling I was privileged to experience during this week’s episode… Tonight’s soft relaunch offers up the Star Trek cum Mean Girls cum The Thing homage my hungry little heart never even knew it had always longed for. I do not know what your patience is for the old trope wherein a shinily overeager, wide-eyed naif befriends a brooding and complicated non-talker. Mine is boundless. “I’ve never met a female named Michael before,” Tilly says to Burnham, whose face makes it clear how much she’d rather be in prison right now… Tilly tries to assign Burnham a more “approachable” nickname. Burnham declines the honor. I cackle.
It really is a lot of fun, with some respectable jump scares thrown in, and lovers of sci-fi should seek it out.
Galaxy Dog (Dark Galaxy)
The fist sci-fi book I ever wrote, and still the one that sells the best, is Galaxy Dog. It is the first book in the Dark Galaxy series and it is a story of adventure, spaceships, and rebellion across a galactic empire. A small group of friends, one woman, one man, and one robot incite a revolt and take on the might of the Tarazet Deep Space Navy. They find an immensely powerful alien spaceship so, even though the rebellion is extremely outnumbered, they still stand a chance. Galaxy Dog combines the action of military sci-fi with the heart of space opera. There are robots, aliens, space battles, and all the good things that make sci-fi so enjoyable. Galaxy Dog is available from Amazon right now, so just click the Amazon link and download a copy.