Sunday 29 December 2013

Starships Collection: nuEnterprise, Klingon, and custom ship competition

A few bits of new from The Official Starships Collection, starting with a new look at the (still in development) nuTrek USS Enterprise:

The Collection's project manager, Ben Robinson, posted this image on the magazine's Facebook page, and in also doing so confirmed the nacelle caps will indeed be blue by the time the final look is sorted. He also noted that he hopes the third special issue (with another larger than usual model) will be the USS Vengeance; although this isn't 100% confirmed just yet. You can see more images of the Enterprise, in one of my previous reports.

The Facebook page also revealed some updated information in a reply to a question about Klingon ships. Apparently they have provisional placements for the D5 class as issue forty-six, the Raptor as forty-seven, and Negh'Var as fifty. These too are, at this stage, not set in stone.

In the realms of awesome, Star Trek Online have launched a competition in which you can win an Eaglemoss Starship with a custom printed name and registration. You'll be able to choose from the Constitution class refit, Galaxy class, NX class, and the Prometheus class - Interestingly, while the first three are all early issues, the Prometheus isn't even out until the middle of next year; I wonder if the winner might be able to get an early model? To win all you have to do is make a post on STO's article about the competition, by the middle of January.

Finally, Mark Rademaker has posted a new image of a ship I dream will be part of the collection some day, the USS Aventine. As if teasing that possibility, this latest rendering is pictured as if it were a model on a desk:

For a listing of all the ships in the Starships Collection, including links to all my previous previews and reviews, see my index page.

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Book bits: Section 31, Seekers, The Fall, and new German releases

The latest Star Trek books news, starting with a look ahead to some of 2014's novels:

Mock-up cover
In a recent interview with Trek Mate's Ten Forward podcast, David Mack outlined his plans for his next 24th century novel, Section 31: Disavowed:
It's really gonna be a hardcore spy-thriller-type-thing. It's essentially, Bashir, after The Fall, has to find a new modus vivendi. He's got a new life, he's not in Starfleet any more, Sarina Douglas has followed him out of Starfleet. And Disavowed is essentially about him beginning the process of infiltrating Section 31 and insinuating himself into the organisation, as part of his long term strategy, along with Sarina Douglas, to take the organisation down from within.
Mock-up cover
Before Section 31 at the end of 2014, Mack also has Second Nature, his initial volume in the new Seekers series (a spin-off from Vanguard), due in the middle of the year. He also summarised how that series is being approached:
It's designed as a much more straight-forward, light, fun, action-adventure, with a bit of humour. It's supposed to be in that sort of lighter vein of Star Trek that you had back in the 1970s anthologies of the episodes; the adaptations of the episodes by James Blish. So it's going to have that retro look and feel, in terms of the cover and the cover design, layout, and typography.

We're also writing these books to be a bit shorter, rather than ninety to a hundred thousand words, we're aiming closer to seventy to eighty thousand words. So they're going to be lighter, they're going to be faster. They're just designed to be quick fun little adventures, without all the politics, without all the darkness.
In contrast to the politics-light approach of Seekers, the current 24th century series, The Fall, is steeped in continuity and politics, as James Swallow summarised in a recent interview with Trek FM's Literary Treks:
This is a Federation trying to get back on the up-swing; dealing with the Typhon Pact, and all these other threats to its existence. It's a Federation that's completely unlike the one that we've seen in the TV shows. I think the books really reflect that; it's a Federation where the people feel embattled. There's an entire generation of people coming up in Starfleet, and they're people who've lived through the war with the Borg. Young people who are now joining Starfleet and they have different ideas about the way that Starfleet should be, and maybe they're coming at it with a more militant more aggressive stand-point - Which is not what Starfleet is about. Or is it what Starfleet is about, now? It's the dynamic tension between these two world-views; if you end up being to quick to reach for your sword, eventually that's the first thing you do in every situation, and that's not Star Trek. But it's reflecting what feels to me, a realistic evolution of that culture. Trying to find their way back to their try ideals are - This is very definitely a story about that; our characters, and in a larger sense the Federation, being confronted with two paths...
Swallow also hinted at his plans for future Star Trek books. While nothing is set in stone yet, he is looking to do a five-year-mission TOS novel, and later, another Titan novel.

You can hear both David Mack and James Swallow talking much more about their books by listening to their complete interviews, on Trek Mate and Trek FM respectively .

In other books news, German readers have several new translations on the way from Panini. Three of the recent quirkier books are all coming out in February:

Sunday 22 December 2013

Star Trek Online's latest ships

Cryptic Studios have released a new video, highlight some of the latest new starship designs now appearing in Star Trek Online. Have a watch, for new Federation, Klingon, Romulan, Breen, and Voth ships:

Some of these ships have been introduced more recently than others, continue after the jump for a closer look at the newest designs:

Friday 20 December 2013

A better look at the new Star Trek dog accessories

ThinkGeek have added several of Crowded Coops' new Star Trek dog toys and accessories to their offering, which means they've also done some typically good photography to show off their wares; giving us a much better look at them than the mock-up images that have been circulated until now.

Top prize for ingenuity goes to the communicator bag dispenser, and ingenious if rather peculiar reinterpretation of the design:

There are also plush dog toys, with the option to set your hound on either a red shirt or a Klingon. It would seem dog owners prefer dealing out death duty to Starfleet security (or are worried about provoking the Klingons), as ThinkGeek have temporarily sold out of the red shirt one already:

ThinkGeek have also made a video showing these guys in action:

Continue after the jump for a look at some of the other items in the range:

Thursday 19 December 2013

Enterprise season 4 on bluray

CBS have released the first details of Enterprise Season Four, on bluray, which is due to come out April. Here's the cover:

Here's what had to say about the extra features included:
Among the Season Four extras: new commentaries, deleted scenes, outtakes, and a variety of featurettes. The VAM highlights will be "Before Her Time: Decommissioning Enterprise," a four-part documentary comprised of cast and crew interviews, and "In Conversation: Writing Star Trek Enterprise," a 90-minute writing staff reunion that brings together Brannon Braga, Mike Sussman, Andre Bormanis, David Goodman, Chris Black, Phyllis Strong and Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens.
And here's a trailer!

Brannon Braga also tweeted a photo yesterday, of him with the other Enterprise writers at the filming of the reunion piece in this set:

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Review: Stellar Cartography

In last couple of years there has been a big resurgence in Star Trek "non-fiction", with everything from starship manuals, language, and history books, to more whimsical art, and comedic interludes. It's been over a decade though since, Star Charts, the last Star Trek maps book, so I was very excited earlier this year, when Stellar Cartography: The Starfleet Reference Library was announced. Here's what I think of it upon its arrival:

The first thing you'll notice about Stellar Cartography when you get your hands on it, after noting it's a pretty hefty volume, is that it's much more than a book. What you get is a folding box (with a nifty magnetic panel to keep it all neat when it's closed up), with the actually book held in the center (with a little ribbon behind it to make it easy to pop out from its boxed in holding place). There are two envelopes on the panels either side, each of which hold five maps printed on sheets a smidge over 60x90cm. The book is written by Larry Nemecek, with the maps illustrated by Ian Fullwood, Geoffrey Mandel, and Ali Ries.

Stellar Cartography's contents

Just the experience of open this up and unfurling all the maps is pretty fun, but also a practical way of keeping the whole set together; in contrast to the pretty pointless bookstand-thing with last year's Federation: The First 150 Years. In common with the Federation book, this set is built upon the conceit of being a hard-copy reproduction of information retrieved in-universe from Memory Alpha. The present day is shortly after the Hobus supernova in 2387, although the maps are dated up to 2386, so they don't have to take into account any fallout from the destruction of Romulus.

The book is basically a guide to each of the maps in the set. Each map is reproduced as a two page spread, often slightly differently from the sheet maps, with more or less notation, and/or cropped into a particular section. Two pages then follow discussing what each map depicts, and giving wider historical context. What this book does not do is give the same type of overview of the entire galaxy, and explanation of spacey stuff, that Star Charts did. Star Charts had a lot of information detailing things like how sectors work, what the different types of planet and star are, and more diagrams and details of specific planets and systems. This new book seems to be more about the history of local space, using the maps as a window to frame the subjects it discusses.

Continue after the jump for an overview of each map in the collection:

Trekish ways to consume liquids, from Vandor

Entertainment Earth have added listings for several new items in Vandor's range of Star Trek of stuff. The new items are mostly drink related: There are sets of shot glasses and coasters, both featuring schematics of the TOS USS Enterprise and Romulan Bird of Prey:

There's also a new travel mug, also featuring Enterprise schematics:

Entertainment Earth also list some luggage tags; while they don't have an image for those yet, their description states they will also feature the Enterprise. They expect all these items to arrive in April.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

The Khitomer Conflict, Part 4 preview

Out this week is the twenty-eighth issue of IDW's nuTrek ongoing comic series, which is the fourth and final part of The Khitomer Conflict story arc. IDW have released a seven-page preview of the Klingon, Romulan, and Section 31 packed issue, which you can read below.

It starts with a flashback, you'll find the present day continuing after the jump:

Review: The Official Starships Collection #7 - K't'inga class

Out at the start of January in the US, and already in wild in the UK, is the seventh issue of The Official Starships Collection, their second Klingon ship, the K't'inga class battle cruiser. Here's what I made of it:

Eaglemoss' early promo image
My very first impression of this issue's model was surprise; as after a few months of seeing Eaglemoss' preview images I was expecting something a bit more colourful. It turns out between taking those preview photos and going into production, Eaglemoss decided to switch from a paint job based on the look from The Undiscovered Country and the CGI model, to the more flat-grey finish of the K't'inga's original appearance in The Motion Picture. I admit at first I was a bit disappointed by this decision, as the more colourful look just has a bit more going on, but the grey version we've ended up with has grown on me. After reviewing the K't'inga's appearances it seems they have more or less equal screen-time, with the The Motion Picture footage being reused in several episodes before they got round to creating new footage with the later more colourful finish.

The model we have is not quite as monotone as it first appears; the apparent flat grey paint job is in fact carefully highlighted, with all the panelling on the wing and head sections picked out in a slightly darker grey. This highlighting isn't everywhere, the front face of the wing section, the nacelles, and the raised section on top of the ship, are are all flat grey. I guess they prioritised the areas that needed the extra detail, with the nacelles featuring lots of modelled details already. The head seems to come out best here, with starburst-like patterns in the mold carefully picked out by the darker paint applications. There's also a nice deep hole for the torpedo launcher in the head, so it looks dark, ready to light-up and fire.

Most of the wing section of this model is metal, with the inner section on the underside a plastic piece set in. The edge around that part is reasonably obvious if you scrutinise it, but the other joins with plastic parts (the nacelles, neck, head, and the block on top) are all pretty seamless and well colour matched. The neck being so spindly, I feel inclined to handle it especially carefully, so not to snap it; although I'm probably being over-cautious, it's reasonably sturdy for something so thin.


Aside from the dark grey panel highlights there are a smattering of other details picked out. The grill on top of the ship is painted dark red, there is a small patch of darker grey/black on the underside of the neck, and a band around the head, and a golden dome on the underside of the ship. This dome is shown to be more detailed on images of the both the physical and CGI model in the magazine, with clear photos of the physical model showing the Klingon logo painted over it - This hasn't been translated to the model however. Likewise the logos on the top of the wings seen on the physical model don't appear here.

Like some of the other ships in the series, the impulse engines are made from a clear plastic, so they have a slight glow effect when they catch the light right. Despite this being based on The Motion Picture appearance, I am disappointed the nacelles don't also have transparent elements, to give them a glow effect too, matching many of the K't'inga's later appearances.

The stand on this model is one of the towards-the-back ones, which tend to feel less obtrusive around the ship, but have sometimes also been a little less secure. The way this stand holds the K't'inga is quite loose, but also very stable, it sits in comfortably, but doesn't seem as prone to slipping off at the slightest knock, like a couple of the other ships.

If you take the entire D7/K't'inga class family, there are quite a lot of previous models out there. But narrow it down to specifically the K't'inga and you suddenly find your options limited. As far as pre-painted models go I can only find two comparable releases, the small Konami model, and Hallmark's Christmas tree decoration. Both are quite impressively detailed models, in both molded and painted details. So if you're looking to pick out the best version, I think it's going to be down to your particular feel for how the details have been dealt with. The Eaglemoss version seems to have the edge in terms of consistency of finishes and quality materials, but I think Hallmark's model probably has a slightly more impressive paint job. Both of these other K't'ingas feature the Klingon logos on the wings missing from this new version.

Overall this is a really good model of the K't'inga class, it's well detailed, and has a nice consistent finish. I don't mind that they opted for the Motion Picture colours, but the model doesn't seem to have the wow factor of some of the other models in the series. I think a couple more details; the Klingon logos, and some transparent parts in the nacelles, would have really finished it off nicely.

Continue after the jump for more photos, and a look at this issue's magazine:

No Time Like the Past cover have released the cover for next years TOS/Voyager crossover novel, No Time Like Past, by Greg Cox. It will be marketed as a TOS novel, but also features a strapline, "An epic crossover tale!". Here's the simple but exciting composition:

And if you missed it before, here's the blurb:
STARDATE 6122.5. A diplomatic mission to the planet Yusub erupts in violence when ruthless Orion raiders attempt to disrupt the crucial negotiations by force. Caught in the midst of a tense and dangerous situation, Captain James T. Kirk of the U.S.S Enterprise finds an unexpected ally in the form of an enigmatic stranger who calls herself “Annika Seven.”

STARDATE 53786.1. Seven of Nine is taking part in an archae­ological expedition on an obscure planetoid in the Delta Quadrant when a disastrous turn of events puts Voyager’s away team in jeopardy -- and transports Seven across time and space to Yusub, where she comes face-to-face with one of Starfleet’s greatest legends.

STARDATE 6122.5. Kirk knows better than most the danger that even a single castaway from the future can pose to the timeline, so he and Seven embark on a hazardous quest to return her to her own era. But there are others who crave the knowledge Seven possesses, and they will stop at noth­ing to obtain it -- even if this means seizing control of the Enterprise!
No Time Like the Past is the March book next year, so it should start appearing late in February.

Monday 16 December 2013

Christmas kitsch from the Trekverse

I don't know about the rest of the world, but excessively festive jumpers seem to be all the rage in England at the moment. It seems Freeze have cottoned on to this trend with their latest design, a Star Trek Christmas jumper:

That's just the tip of the tinsel-swathed iceberg when it comes to Christmas in the Trekverse this year though, continue after a jump for a look at the rest of this year's festive fare:

Saturday 14 December 2013

IDW's March releases

IDW have released their solicitations for March, which include three Star Trek titles: The first part of I, Enterprise, a new story in the nuTrek ongoing series, and confirmation of two omnibus books.

Star Trek (ongoing) #31: I, Enterprise, Part 1
Written by Mike Johnson, with art by Erfan Fajar. Cover by Gerry Gastonny, or subscription variant photo-cover.
Part 1 of an epic all-new 2-part adventure set within the continuity of the blockbuster STAR TREK films! Captain Kirk and the crew have never faced a threat like the one they face now: their own ship! Don't miss the first chapter of "I, Enterprise", overseen by STAR TREK writer-producer Roberto Orci!

Star Trek: Gold Key Archives, Volume 1
Written by Arnold Drake and George Kashdan, with art by Nevio Zaccara, Alberto Giolitti, and Giovanni Ticci. Cover by Michael Stribling.
Presenting the first comic book adventures of the U.S.S. Enterprise and her crew! Fully re-mastered and with a new throwback cover, Star Trek Gold Key Archives, Vol. 1 collects issues #1–6.

Star Trek, Volume 7
Written by Mike Johnson, with art and cover by Erfan Fajar.
War breaks out across the stars as the Klingon and Romulan Empires fight for supremacy, with the Enterprise caught in the middle! Don't miss this epic all-new story set after the events of the blockbuster movie STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, overseen by STAR TREK writer/producer Roberto Orci!

While both solicited for release in March, Amazon are currently listing both of these omnibus books for publication in April. Amazon have also recently added a listing for the omnibus book of the Khan series, which they are expecting in May.

Latest Starships Collection previews

Entertainment Earth have added several new listings for issues of The Official Starships Collection, including these new images of the USS Dauntless (issue seventeen), and the Bajoran light-ship (issue eighteen):

They have also added a listing for the second "special issue" the nuUSS Enterprise, photos of which were revealed earlier this week. According to Entertainment Earth this will be released in April next year. If that follows the usual release pattern of the US being a couple of months behind the UK, then we should see the nuEnterprise in the UK in February.

For a listing of all the ships in the Starships Collection, including links to all my previous previews and reviews, see my index page

Friday 13 December 2013

Lots of new novel blurbs

Simon and Schuster have updated several of their listings for forthcoming Star Trek novels, with shiny new blurbs. So without further ado, in publication order:

June's book will be David R. George III's new The Lost Era novel, featuring the Enterprise-B, One Constant Star:
An original novel set in “The Lost Era” time period between Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation!

When Captain Demora Sulu leads the crew of U.S.S. Enterprise-B on a mission near Tzenkethi space, they explore Rejarris II, a planet they cannot explain. A strange structure on the surface could hold answers, but when a landing party transports down to study it, chaos erupts. After communication fails with one officer and another is horribly injured, Captain Sulu deems the planet too dangerous to continue exploring. She decides to leave Rejarris II, but not until she can retrieve her lost crew member. But when contact is ultimately severed with the captain, a Tzenkethi force subsequently appears. Could they be behind the mysteries on the planet, or the disappearances of the Enterprise officers? Regardless, will Sulu's crew be able stand up to them long enough to find and retrieve their captain and the other missing personnel?

Once, John Harriman commanded Enterprise-B with Demora Sulu by his side as his first officer. Eight years after stepping down as a starship captain—in the wake of the Tomed Incident—Harriman now serves as an admiral based out of Helaspont Station, on the edge of the Tzenkethi Coalition. When he receives a mysterious message from Rejarris II, he realizes that he might hold the key to finding his former crewmate. In choosing to help recover Demora Sulu, though, he could risk losing everything he holds dear. What price is Harriman willing to pay to attempt to rescue his longtime friend?

July's book is Light Fantastic, Jeffrey Lang's Data-centric follow up to David Mack's Cold Equations trilogy, itself built upon Lang's own Immortal Coil:
Returning to the story begun in the novel Immortal Coil and continuing in the bestselling Cold Equations trilogy, this is the next fascinating chapter in the artificial life of one of Star Trek’s most enduring characters.

He was perhaps the ultimate human achievement: a sentient artificial life-form—self-aware, self-determining, possessing a mind and body far surpassing that of his makers, and imbued with the potential to evolve beyond the scope of his programming. And then Data was destroyed. Four years later, Data’s creator, Noonien Soong, sacrificed his life and resurrected his android son, who in turn revived the positronic brain of his own artificial daughter, Lal. Having resigned his commission, the former Starfleet officer now works to make his way on an alien world, while also coming to grips with the very human notion of wanting versus having a child. But complicating Data’s new life is an unexpected nemesis from years ago on the U.S.S. Enterprise—the holographic master criminal Professor James Moriarty. Long believed to be imprisoned in a memory solid, Moriarty has created a siphon into the "real" world as a being of light and thought. Moriarity wants the solid form that he was once told he could never have, and seeks to manipulate Data into finding another android body for him to permanently inhabit...even if it means evicting the current owner, and even if that is Data himself.

Coming in August is the start of the Vanguard follow-up series, Seekers. There are blurbs for both of the first two books in the series, which form a two-part story. However, Dayton Ward has tweeted me to note that these blurbs are the copy originally written for the retailer catalogues, and may or may not be the actual final back-cover text.

Teaser cover, not final
The first book is David Mack's Second Nature:
A new mission: The late twenty-third century—Starfleet’s golden age of exploration. Desperate to stay one step ahead of its rivals, the Federation sends two starships, the scout Sagittarius and the cruiser Endeavour, to plumb the secrets of the vast region known as the Taurus Reach.

A doomed race: Drawn by mysterious energy readings to a lush green world, the crew of the Sagittarius find the Tomol: a species whose members all commit ritual suicide just as they reach the cusp of adulthood.

An old foe: The crew of the Sagittarius wants to save the Tomol from their cycle of self-destruction, but first they’ll need to save themselves—from the most nefarious Klingon starship commander in history.

Seekers then continues in September with Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore's Point of Divergence:
The second novel set in The Original Series/Vanguard universe…

The Taurus Reach. Once the conquered realm of a powerful alien species, this region remains largely shrouded in mystery even as it brims with potential for exploration and colonization. The Federation has sent in two of its finest starships on a quest to uncover the secrets it may yet hold...

The Tomol are a primitive civilization occupying a lone island on a remote world. Their culture is an enigma, centered on every member’s commitment to a painful, fiery self-sacrifice upon reaching maturity. But one of their clan has shunned this obligation, triggering a transformation into a new, powerful life form. Answering the distress call of the U.S.S. Sagittarius—which has crashed on the planet following a fierce battle with the Klingons—Captain Atish Khatami and the crew of the Starship Endeavour must now attempt a rescue mission…even as they are locked in battle with the evolving, increasingly malevolent Tomol who, if allowed to escape their home world, pose an imminent threat to the entire galaxy!

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Anovos' new Enterprise jacket

Anovos, who usually busy themselves making high-end replica uniforms, have got a bit creative with their latest piece, the Star Trek: Enterprise Archer Flight Jacket. Based on the Enterprise uniforms, it also draws inspiration specifically from the flashback episode, First Flight; with several mission patches, and a lining in the same yellow fabric as the flight-suits in that episode.

Anovos were advised on the design by Mike and Denise Okuda, and Doug Drexler, and have been providing a bit a commentary on how they came up with it via posts on their Facebook page:
Watching the episode it occurred to us that every pilot has a flight jacket… what would a Starfleet uniform flight jacket look like? So we designed one just to answer that question. Based on USAF and NASA uniform guidelines for their flight jackets, we designed our jacket to complement Robert Blackman’s original Starfleet uniform designs for STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE.
Our jacket is the same color of dark blue used in the first two seasons of ENTERPRISE, and we ensured that the inside liner of the jacket would be the same “rescue” yellow gold color as the flight suits worn in the episode “First Flight”.

We also tried to make the jacket feel as “real” as we could. We felt that if we made it, the jacket should tell a story about Jonathan Archer. With that in mind, we remembered that a pilot’s flight jacket is a living breathing thing that changes with their career. Assignments change, missions change, and a flight jacket should be a reflection of that, and so moved the Starfleet Command patch from the left arm (where it was in “First Flight”) to the right and we added an ENTERPRISE assignment patch. Jonathan Archer would have kept his jacket current and after assuming command of the ENTERPRISE NX-01 he would have added his ship’s mission patch. All of these details and more were designed to help make this jacket feel like something that could have come directly from the set of ENTERPRISE.

Anovos have been taking pre-orders via a tiered system, that had early pre-orders getting a very generous price. Unfortunately if you'd like one, the first two tiers have already sold out, so it's now down to the final group of pre-orders at a slightly reduced price from the full standard retail price.

Lots more tribbles from Qmx

Earlier this year QMx released a tribble into the world; but of course, where there is one tribble, there are always more. So it should come as no surprise that Qmx are now having to deal with their subsequent tribble over-population by send them out in batches - Qmx's new "mama tribble" includes one big tribble, and ten little baby tribbles.

Here's Qmx's description of the family:
Five-inch Mama has extra-long, gray fur with a slight sheen. She carries 10 little ones that also sport long fur in a variety of colors: brown, dark gray and white. Each Mama comes in a special container that features Nursery Tips and is designed to keep it safe and out of reach of pesky Klingons.
If I'm taking the term "carries" right, I think that means the baby tribbles can actually be put inside the mama, so you can re-create your own tribble birthing and infestation, as one tribble suddenly turns into eleven.

QMx are currently only taking sign-ups to get on a pre-order waiting list, but I'd expect this will come some time in the coming months.

Polar Lights' new USS Reliant model kit

Round 2 Models' blog, Collector Model, has posted some preview images of the prototype for their forthcoming Polar Lights USS Reliant model kit. The 1:1000 scale Miranda class kit is a wholly new model currently being developed by Round 2, and at the moment is still having the kinks ironed out; quite literally, the saucer of the prototype is a bit wavy at the moment.

Mega Hobby have also posted box art for this new release, which they expect to come in June:

Once it's released the Reliant will join a growing collection of Polar Lights and AMT kits at the same scale: The NX-01 (recently reissued with extra parts for the refit design), 1701 (which was also recently re-released, coupled with an SS Botany Bay kit), 1701-A, 1701-B, Klingon D7, and Romulan D7.

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