Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Drex Files: New York World's Fair in the Trekverse

This year, this month in fact, marks the fiftieth anniversary of the 1964 New York World's Fair, a showcase of innovation and futuristic architecture, themed on the Star-Trekian ideals of "Peace Through Understanding" and showcasing "Man's Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe". Why do I mention this half century old exhibition here? Well the gleaming world presented at the Fair quickly found itself brought to life in the Star Trek future, with the futuristic designs making their way to distant worlds, starships, and other parts of future Earth. In this Drex Files in Exile, Doug Drexler guides us through the Fair's influence on him, and his predecessors, in Star Trek.

Doug Drexler, then and now.
Doug's life long love for the Fair began in his childhood, when he regularly visited:
Twice a week and for two summers, impressionable eleven year old Doug Drexler was dropped off by his Dad at the front gate of the world of tomorrow. It did not neccessitate a slingshot around the sun, nor did it call for call for Mr. Atoz and his Atavachron. The lad’s awe inspiring and futuristic destination was not some far flung decade, but then and there in 1964. It rose from the most unlikely of places… a landfill in Flushing Meadow. It was the New York World’s Fair, and it was the proverbial world of tomorrow. It would impress him to the core.

As Spock observed, time could be perceived as a river, with eddies and backwashes. Someone else was washed up onto that shore, and our paths undoubtedly crossed at the jetting waters of the iconic Unisphere, or trekked side by side along the undulating Kodak Moon Deck, or stood in line at Ford’s Magic Skyway. My fellow time traveler was Walter “Matt” Jefferies… aviator, illustrator, art director, and he would become one of the most important artistic influences in my life.

The 1964-65 New York World’s Fair was the largest international exhibition ever buit in the United States, and it was all about THE FUTURE. Never before, and never again would there be such an amazing conglomeration of optimistic, sci-fi, wet dream, futurism in one place. Matt Jefferies absorbed it all with intense fascination. And so the New York World’s Fair was the birthplace of the Star Trek design ethic. I would never be the same because of it…
Albert Whitlock Jr.'s Starbase 11 matte painting

The real world Starbase 11 at the World's Fair
Perhaps the most iconic influence of the Fair in Star Trek can be seen in the form of Starbase 11, as seen in the TOS episode Court Martial. The Starbase, depicted in Albert Whitlock Jr.'s iconic matte painting, includes the New York State Pavillion and the nearby Astro-View Towers, almost exactly duplicated on a distant alien world. Some of the few remaining structures at the original site, these have recently been declared a "National Treasure” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, paving the way for their ongoing preservation and restoration. Doug explains how these structures found there way into the Trekverse:
Long before there was Internet, there were World’s Fair’s. That’s how new ideas were introduced, and affluent American corporations opened their dream labs to the wide-eyed public. The NYWF was nicknamed “The Billion-Dollar Fair” and it’s official theme was Peace through Understanding. Robert Moses, the Fair’s chairman proclaimed that it “had something for everyone.” American industry was booming, and corporations had money to burn. Forty years later, Matt would tell Mike Okuda and I what an impression it had made on him. When he returned home to southern California, there was a message “… from a guy named Roddenberry.” The Fair’s impact on Star Trek would be considerable.
Continue after the jump to see where else in the Trekverse the Fair has found itself:

Cushions, bottle openers, and more of the latest Star Trek stuff

Feeling a lack of Star Trek in some corner of your life? Here are the latest Star Trek bits and pieces to plug those gaps:

ThinkGeek's latest TOS uniform product sees the Starfleet uniform design applied to cushions. You'll need to make sure you only place these on furniture made from the latest flame retardant materials, as the red one will attract phaser fire, lightning, and the like.


Another staple of recent Star Trek tie-in stuff is things shaped like the USS Enterprise. A few years ago the USS Enterprise bottle opener was released with a silvery finish, and now it's back in three new versions. You can now get the Enterprise in either white, black, or gold, each of which comes in a box to match the colour. I think the white one looks especially effective for the Enterprise:


Continue after the jump for lots more stuff, including puzzles, screen wipes, and busts:

Video game updates: Latest from Online, Timelines, and Infinity Wars

Here's some video game news. First up, Star Trek Online's latest round of updates includes a new Undine (aka Species 8472) lock-box, which introduces the usual assortment of new ships and equipment to players of the game. There are two Undine ships, the Nicor class bio-warship, and the Dromias class bio-cruiser.


Those ships come with special abilities: The Nicor class can summon other 8472 ships to create a lower-power version of the planet destroying weapon, while the Dromias can open a portal to Fluidic Space, flooding an area of normal space with liqudiy stuff that upsets other ships.

The equipment available via the lock box also includes Undine armour and weapons for characters, so everyone can dress up like a Species 8472:


You can find out more about the Undine lock-box on the STO website. The Undine focus is because Species 8472 are coming back into the spotlight in Online as the major adversary in the latest update, Season 9: A New Accord. This video introduces the new Undine Story arc, you'll find more details on STO's website:



Meanwhile another online Star Trek game is just starting to become a reality. Jon Radoff, CEO of Disruptor Beam, recently talked to Polygon about Star Trek Timelines, and gave this summary of what they hope to achieve with the game:
We've created this amazing galaxy generator which will populate what I think will be this big galaxy filled with content so there's always new things to explore and discover," Radoff said. "... and as you explore you run into conflicts, but the conflicts more often than not are not necessarily resolved by a phaser or with violence. It's going to be a big part of this game, leveraging the story elements, the crafting elements, a new tactical mission system that we're developing that will have the option to fight, yes, but also science will play a role, diplomacy, other kinds of non-violent problem resolution will be part of it because that's really what Star Trek is about.

It's something that historically Star Trek licenses have struggled with. People are consistently a little bit disappointed with a lot of Star Trek games, because most just become another combat simulator, with ship-to-ship combat or running around planets firing phasers at everything. That's not what we want to do.
Finally, another online game has just got a touch of Star Trek. Infinity Wars, an animated online card game, has just had a set of TNG cards added to the game. StarTrek.com have previewed the fun animations, which look like this (continues after the jump):


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Comic covers

Got some new comic covers to enjoy. First up, Amazon have added listing for two new omnibuses on the way from IDW. There's a particularly snazzy new cover (I think probably by Michael Stribling, but that's unconfirmed) for their second Gold Key Archives book, which collects together remastered versions of issues seven to twelve of the classic TOS comic series. This book is expected in October:

Boldly going... where it all started! Presenting the first comic book adventures of the U.S.S. Enterprise and her crew! Fully remastered with new colors, Volume 2 collects the Gold Key issues #7-12, including stories such as "The Voodoo Planet," "The Legacy of Lazarus," "The Brain Shocker," and more.

Due in September is the eighth omnibus of the nuTrek ongoing series. This will be a bigger book than previous omnibuses in the series, containing six issues (rather than four) comprising three two-part stories: Parallel Lives, I, Enterprise, and Lost Apollo. The next story after these is the six-parter, The Q Gambit, so I guess they wanted to make sure these were all sorted before releasing that whole story as Volume Nine. The cover reuses Joe Corroney's artwork for issue thrity-three, part one of Lost Apollo.

The new Five Year Mission of the Enterprise continues as Captain Jane Tiberius Kirk and her crew encounter a never-before-seen enemy in deep space! That's right... Jane Kirk. Plus, the crew of the Enterprise have never faced a threat like the one they face now: their own ship!

Finally StarTrek.com have posted the two covers for July's second issue in Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever, The Original Teleplay. The standard cover will be one of Juan Ortiz's retro designs, while Paul Shipper will be providing the subscriber variant cover:

The adventure sends Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and Yeoman Rand back to the Enterprise following their first encounter with the Guardians of Forever, only to find a darker, more vicious crew of renegades awaiting them. Can they return the timestream to its proper state? And will they even survive long enough to try?
For more information and links to my previous coverage on all the current Star Trek comics, hit the "comics" button on my schedule page.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Latest Starships Collection details

A few bits of news from The Official Starships Collection: Starting with the latest previews from StarTrek.com, who have posted new images and descriptions of the models and magazines coming as issues twenty and twenty-one, the Klingon Vor'cha class, and the USS Enterprise-E:

The die-cast model is carefully based on the original studio model, and carries the original TNG paint scheme rather than the more colorful version that was used when the ship appeared on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The accompanying magazine looks at how Rick Sternbach redesigned the classic Klingon battle cruiser for the 1990s and explores the writing staff’s plan to reinvent the Klingons as a cross between Viking and Samurai warriors.


Every time this Enterprise appeared there were subtle differences and the die-cast model is based on the CG version of the ship that was created for Star Trek: Insurrection. The accompanying magazine takes a look at John Eaves’ original design concepts and the complicated history of the physical and CG models that were used onscreen.

The Collection's website has also been updated recently, with a new images revealing the Vor'cha cover:


StarTrek.com also recently announced the next country The Collection will be launching in will be Japan, where it's set to start in May. The series will be distributed by Deagostini, and like the test run in Japan last year will feature more extravagant packaging than the rest of the world, with each magazine and modelling coming in a large box (see my previous report for a look at how those work).

The Japanese website is a different design to all the others, but offers the same basic subscription package with the same extra bits for subscribers. The Japanese site pictures a completely different design Borg Cube to that has been released to UK subscribers, or pictured on any of the other international sites, who knows if Japan will actually get a different model.


Finally, The Collection's Facebook page recently posted a survey for UK readers. They want to know how much interest there would be in a couple of extra product ranges they are thinking about creating. Specifically they have floated the idea of doing more dedication plaque replicas (following the Enterprise-D one offered to subscribers), suggesting doing the Enterprises, Voyager, Defiant, and Prometheus. The other idea floated is some sort of special edition of the Star Trek Haynes Manuals, which were written by The Collection's project manager, Ben Robinson. They don't specify what form this specialness will take; I guess we'll find out if the survey gets a positive response.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Book bits: Ships of the Line 2, and pop-ups!

It's an all "non-fiction" books news today. Starting with exciting news that there's a second Ships of the Line book on the way! StarTrek.com have announced a new hardcover book will collect just about all the images from the Ships of the Line calendar series, including al those previously published in the first Ships of the Line book back in 2006, plus an additional seventy-five images from calendars since then. Doug Drexler and Margaret Clark will be returning to edit, with text commentary from Michael Okuda.

The newly expanded book is due out in October, which I think makes it very likely this is the recent mysterious Untitled Star Trek book which has appeared in listings.

If pages and pages of pretty starships in plain old 2D just aren't exciting enough for you, then you'll be pleased to know the new Star Trek Pop-Ups book will be following in November. The book will be written by Star Trek regulars Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann, with pop-up art by Courtney Watson McCarthy. Amazon have now released a cover for this one, which features the TOS movie-era Enterprise. But fear not, the book is set to feature pop-ups from across the franchise, including Borg, Klingons, and Captain Proton!


A closer look at Hallmark's 2014 Star Trek Keepsake ornaments

Hallmark have released their 2014 "Dreambook", their catalogue of Keepsake Christmas tree ornaments. Following the same format of the past few years, there are three Star Trek decorations this year: A starship, with light effects, which this year is the USS Vengeance. A figurine in the Star Trek Legends series, with Mr Sulu joining the crew this time. And a TOS diorama with sound effects, which this time depicts Spock and the Horta from The Devil in the Dark. Here's the Star Trek page from the Dreambook:


Hallmark have also, already, put up the product pages for each ornament on their website. The Vengeance and Sulu pages include new big images of both. The Horta scene doesn't yet have a new photo, instead using the old concept art, but you can hear the soundclip the ornament will play if you visit the page. Here are the images of the other two; doesn't the Vengeance look amazing!



Thursday, 17 April 2014

Q drops in on nuTrek, and other comics news

July is looking like it's going to be pretty exciting for Star Trek comics. io9 have announced issue thirty-five of the nuTrek ongoing series will be the first in a six part story featuring Q! io9 spoke to the series' writer, Mike Johnson, about The Q Gambit, who revealed a few details about the story, including what it is that draws Q to the new timeline:
At first: curiosity. A beloved Trek character from the original timeline makes a cameo appearance at the beginning of the story (issue #35) and tries to convince Q to leave the new timeline alone. But Q can't resist a new sandbox to play in and cool new toys to play with: toys like Kirk, Spock and the rest of the Enterprise crew. Ultimately we'll learn that there is something unique to the new timeline that affects Q directly, although he would rather the humans not know what it is.

Johnson also revealed that this will take place at the leading edge of Q's personal timeline, so all the Q adventures we already known from the prime-timeline have already occured from his point of view. Johnson also talked a little about Q's take on nuKirk and Spock:
Q is intrigued by Kirk's refusal to accept no-win scenarios. It drives him a little crazy, actually. Spock is more of a puzzle for Q given that he is only half-human. For Kirk and Spock, Q presents a challenge on an order of magnitude beyond what they've encountered in their still-young careers. Nero and Khan were dangerous, but neither had control over space and time the way Q does.
UPDATE: StarTrek.com have now posted about this too, and their summary seems to suggest even more crossover in this series:
...the mischievous Q sends James T. Kirk on a quest that will witness the Enterprise joining forces with familiar faces from Trek lore, beginning with the crew of a very familiar space station.
So there's only really one "very familiar space station" in Star Trek, Deep Space 9 (sorry Vanguard). With six issues to play with, could we be seeing Q take the nuTrek crew into crossovers with each of the other Trek series? (I've no inside information, just speculating.)

StarTrek.com also confirm the new-to-Trek artist credited on the cover is Tony Shasteen, who's previous credits include Batman and Vampire Diaries comics.

Also recently announced for July is the first ever all prime-series crossover comic, Flesh and Stone, which IDW have now posted a slightly longer description of in their press release:
Star Trek Special: Flesh and Stone, written by longtimeStar Trek scribes Scott and David Tipton, takes place at a Starfleet medical conference, which is crashed by a deadly metamorphic virus. The EMH and Doctors Beverly Crusher, Julian Bashir and Katherine Pulaski (with some help from Leonard McCoy and Phlox) join forces in a race against time to find a cure - only to discover that the answers lie in another place and time! The clock is ticking and only the medical officers of Starfleet can save the day.
And as if that's not enough excitement for one month, July will also see the release of issue two in John Byrne's New Visions photo-comic series. Byrne recently posted a few panels from that issue on his forums:
One of the little things I've started doing -- part of the whole "characters appearing even tho they don't have dialog -- is spotting various guest stars into the backgrounds. People who played a character on one episode, and then were gone. For instance, in the second issue is a short backup that has a three panel appearance by Marla Magivers. It takes place before the Khan story, so I figured she'd be wandering around somewhere!


Chris Ryall also recently posted a preview from one of the photo-comics on his blog. This page has a different sort a guest star, with Gabriel Rodriguez, the artist of IDW's Lock and Key series, appearing:


Back on Byrne's forums, Byrne also gave some details on the eventual omnibus edition of the New Visions comics: The first omnibus will contain three of the double-length issues, including the first photo-comic, which was released as a stand-alone annual. That issue is also set for a reprint to coincide with the publication of issue one of the ongoing series, and will have a rebranded cover, putting under the New Visions banner.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Drex Files: NX-01, Enterprise class

Enterprise NX-01, rendered by Rob Bonchune.
For the second instalment of the Drex Files in Exile I thought it fitting to have a good look at what is perhaps Doug Drexler's most significant contribution to the world of Star Trek, his great starship design, the NX-01. This file gives us a good look at the final NX-01 model, built by Pierre Drolet, with Doug guiding us through some of the details via orthographic views produced by Eden FX. So here's Doug on the NX-01:
I had a field day detailing out the NX, and every nook and cranny is accounted for. Pierre Drolet did an incredible job implementing them in this high rez build.
I added details that I hoped would allow for cool ideas later on, if and when the opportunities presented themselves. But I had to be cautious about obvious details to the ship that were not approved, because they could get me into trouble. Yes, The chain of command was heavy on Enterprise. Herman Zimmerman, our stalwart production designer was once balled out because I labeled a nacelle as a nacelle on a framed blueprint in the drydock observation room. He was told that it wasn’t a nacelle until the front office said it was. So I tucked gear behind doors and hatches, and then wrote up notes “suggesting” the vessels potential.

The dedication plaque refers to the class as NX (This was a request from on high), but according to naval tradition, the first ship of a new contract is what the class is named, so Enterprise class. My main mission was to inject as much of the original Enterprise into this ship as I possibly could, and I made sure that the basic dynamic between the saucer and the nacelles was the same. To a person with a sharp eye, the NX-01 is loaded with TOS Easter eggs

This is an unusual render of the Enterprise in that there is a lot of ambient light. It really shows off the panel detailing. Like Andy’s “D”, every panel was designed and fitted painstakingly to the function and form of the ship. All sections have their own distinct personality and are not simply cloned and repeated. It was designed by someone who full well knows how close you guys like to look, because I’m one of you. Something you probably never heard before, is that the nacelle struts were originally much finer, like the TOS ship. Dan Curry thought that they didn’t look like they could support the nacelles, and that it looked silly. All due respect to Dan, but that is one of the things I loved about the TOS ship. It suggested a technology beyond our own. On the original show, the nacelles defied gravity. I was sorry when the TMP shp heavied them up. Don’t get me wrong, it still looks great. Just not what I wanted for the NX. Ok… look at the struts, notice that there  is a tapered fairing on the leading edge. Those were the original struts, well…  a  little heavier than that. A third more. But everything behind that was add on. I emphasized that front fairing so that in some light conditions it would be all you would see, and feel more like my beloved TOS Enterprise.
Continue after the jump for many more views of the NX-01, and more of Doug's notes on the design:

Flesh and Stone, medical crossover on the way from IDW

There's something special on the way from IDW in July, a new one-shot crossover comic, featuring all the regular doctors from all five Star Trek TV series! Here's how StarTrek.com describe the forthcoming adventure, Flesh and Stone:
When a lethal metamorphic virus strikes a Starfleet medical conference, Doctors Beverly Crusher, Julian Bashir Katherine Pulaski and the EMH join forces -- with assists from Dr. Leonard McCoy and Dr. Phlox -- to save the day.

This crossover is happening with the support Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, who are promoting their competition to encourage the development of a real-world tricorder-like device. As XPRIZE's Rob Hollander, told StarTrek.com:
While XPRIZE is currently catalyzing a future where a Tricorder-like device is a common household item, we are thrilled to have inspired this parallel Star Trek story centered around the use of the Tricorder, further blurring the line between science fiction and reality.
The story will be written by IDW regulars Scott and David Tipton, with art by the Sharp Brothers, who also produced the cover. Scott Tipton commented on the comic:
There aren’t very many ‘firsts’ left in the world of Star Trek, so when IDW and XPRIZE came to us with the opportunity to team up all six of Trek’s doctors for the first time, how could we say no? The tricky part is how to get them together, since some of them are separated by about two hundred years. How does it happen? You’ll just have to wait and see…
That's not the only first here. If I'm not forgetting something, it's not just doctors; this will be the first comic to feature all five TV series, and indeed the first to feature Enterprise characters for (presumably) more than a single panel!