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  • Mrs Chakotay 6:01 pm on January 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , science fiction,   

    The Storyteller 

    storyteller

    Summary

    Chief O’Brien, along with Dr. Bashir, visits a community on Bajor that is plagued by a dangerous weather phenomenon which can only be dealt with by the village Storyteller. The Storyteller, the Sirah, dies and nominates O’Brien in his place, provoking the apprentice  Sirah, who should have been nominated, to murderous jealousy. The day is saved when O’Brien, who has no wish to become the village Storyteller, fails to tame the beast and has to call on the apprentice who only really needed the confidence to believe he could do it.

    Meanwhile on the station, two Bajoran tribes – the Paqu and the Navot come to Sisko for mediation of their territorial dispute. The leader of the Paqu is a pretty young thing who has inherited her position and feels she must prove herself. She violently objects to Quark calling her a ‘little lady’ and throws her drink over him (kind of confirming that she is an immature girl). Sisko tries to impress on her that this land dispute is not worth going to war over, but it is really Jake and Nog’s efforts to charm and befriend her that win her over.

    littlelady

    Comments

    Ah! These early episodes are just so random. They obviously hadn’t decided what Bajor or the Bajoran people would be like at this point, so they’re trying things out to see what fits and they have made these country bumpkin Bajorans ignorant and superstitious. This episode doesn’t really fit in with the overall thrust of the DS9 mythology, and when we do occasionally re-visit Bajor, the people seem to be quite different – always spiritual but not unscientific, and when they have later disputes they seem more mature and thoughtful (although they do seem to indulge in petty squabbles and they’re quite feisty and argumentative. I have always thought of Bajorans as being based on New Yorkers).

    The great thing about this episode is the beginning of the huge, series-long, arc of O’Brien and Dr Bashir’s relationship. At this point, they are not even friends, at all. O’Brien just can’t stand Julian who seems pompous and sickeningly full-of-himself, and completely oblivious to what other people think or feel. I would venture to say that Bashir’s character development over the entire series is the most interesting of any of them. He’s obviously not a particularly likeable character at this stage, and it’s hard to imagine that he could be the genius doctor he’s supposed to be when he’s so socially challenged.

    obrienjulian

    Application

    Um, well. I’m the Storyteller, obviously, and nobody can dispute that I am the rightful Sirah (well you can, but I may not approve your comments! lol!). I think I’m also the ‘little lady’, trying desperately to prove that I’m not,  always going to ‘war’ over things that don’t matter, and taking offence where none is meant. I haven’t done that so much lately though so hopefully I really have grown out of it. I think I can sometimes be Bashir as well, not noticing other people’s feelings (I may be a wee bit self-obsessed on occasion as well…)

    The true hero of this story in my opinion is Jake, who finds humour in a ridiculous situation, brings laughter and lightness to the table and that wins the day. In real life, that would be my Sisko. It used to infuriate me because – being the furious redhead Kira character that I am – I really wanted a fight, but he would never give me one. When he’s nervous or threatened or reprimanded, he laughs. And now, instead of smacking him one, I have learned to laugh with him. 😀

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  • Mrs Chakotay 1:30 pm on January 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , science fiction, sexual politics, time travel   

    Book Review: Dragonflight 

    dragonflight

    Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey is the first novel written in the series relating to the planet of Pern, written in 1968, but I did not realise that it is quite far along in the Pern chronology.

    I chose to read it firstly because it was at the top of my fiction pile, secondly because I read a book by Anne McCaffrey years ago, Black Horses for the King, which I enjoyed, and finally because I am still in the mood for a little bit of fantasy-flavoured escapism.

    It was quite different from Pawn of Prophecy which I read last – the writing is far more complex, the language somewhat archaic in places which adds weight to its medieval feel, and the topics more adult-oriented, and the world of Pern was somehow much more solid and easier to envisage, and of course, dragons (top feature – who could resist?).

    Warning – contains Spoilers from this point on!

    The time travel element was a complete surprise, dragons apparently having the ability to fly ‘between’ times as well as places, although ‘between’ is never quite explained. There is no ‘magic’ in the stories of Pern, so presumably it is either a feature of the planet, or of the breeding of the dragons.

    Pern is a planet once colonised by the people of Earth, but hundreds and perhaps thousands of years later they appear to have lost their technology and descended into a medieval-style feudal system with dragons and their riders at the pinnacle of society, although even that tradition has been abandoned until it is realised, almost too late, that the oncoming Red Star threatens the planet with ‘Threads’ – living spore-like creatures of a thread-like appearance that rain down and which can devour and devastate the planet’s vegetation and burn and kill humans and animals alike – in short, their deadliest foe.

    I was fascinated by the sexual politics in the book. At the beginning, the tyrant Fax has brutalised his women, his lady Gemma dyin€g in childbirth while he laughs at her predicament, apparently a blessed relief. The heroine – Lessa – is portrayed as a rebellious, foolish girl (although she has tremendous mental power) who must be tamed to submit to her master, F’lar, who shakes her like a child when she disobeys him.

    ‘Impressed’ (telepathically connected) as they are to their dragons, Lessa’s first sexual encounter – with F’lar – is a violent one, telepathically wrought, via his dragon’s mating with hers. She did not expect or consent to it, had never been informed as to the nature of their joining, and the author admits that, apart from the dragons, it was essentially a rape. That mating affects a marriage which, again, she does not consent to but must simply live with until she does eventually fall in love with him. Sex is barely mentioned though, leaving it up to the imagination to make up the rest (the raciest scene, towards the end of the book, is a single sentence:

    “The cloth fell from her body to the floor as she responded to his kiss as ardently as if dragon-roused.”

    …and that’s it, which frustration has apparently prompted fans to write erotic fan-fiction love scenes for the characters to fill in the blanks.

    As Weyrwoman, connected to the land’s only remaining Dragon Queen, Lessa is the foremost woman in all of Pern, but has no political power, and must suffer the indignity of being ordered around and denied the autonomy of flying her dragon, something over which F’lar does eventually relent, inadvertently enabling her to attempt an audacious time flight into the distant past.

    The only other women characters in most of the book are presented as repellent and disgusting in some way – Jora the former Weyrwoman was incompetent, lazy and fat, Kylara is incorrigibly promiscuous and egocentric, Fax’s other women ugly and smelly. I have to wonder whether Anne McCaffrey disliked women in general.

    There is a turnaround though, as F’lar eventually has to concede – when Lessa brings forward a whole fighting wing of Queen Dragons and their riders who are ready to join in the battle against the Threads – that Weyrwomen in general and Lessa in particular cannot be tamed or controlled or curtailed by him or any man.

    I did enjoy it, although I found it a little bit hard to follow and difficult to get into at first. I know that Anne McCaffrey was criticised over the dragon mating scenes – apparently such rape scenes occur across several of her books – which is obviously a little disturbing, but overall it was a good mixture of science fiction and fantasy and I will probably add some more stories of Pern to my wishlist.

     
    • lillbjorne 1:36 pm on January 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Reblogged this on The Bajoran Exile and commented:

      I usually post my book reviews over on Life for Beginners, but since this is solidly science fiction, I thought I would share it here too.

      Like

  • Mrs Chakotay 12:03 am on December 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Indiana Jones, science fiction, Start Trek, steampunk, ,   

    Warehouse 13 

    warehouse13

    I thought I would post a quick note about Warehouse 13 as I just finished watching the series, and it was lots of fun and full of ‘endless wonder’.

    For anyone who hasn’t seen it, I’ll try not to give away any spoilers, but it’s a bit like a comic mash-up of X-Files and Indiana Jones. Like Grimm, it covers lots of X-File style mysteries and explains them in a lighthearted, irreverent way with mild peril and adventure along the way of course.

    Warehouse 13 is a secret government installation (think Area 51, but this is South Dakota) where dangerous supernatural artifacts are safely stored out of harm’s way. Operatives are drawn from other agencies to find and retrieve these objects or, as Artie calls it: ‘snag, tag and bag’ them and bring them back to the Warehouse for safekeeping.

    The artifacts themselves range from a native American invisibility cloak to Alice in Wonderland’s mirror, to H G Wells’ time machine to the wings of Daedalus – basically, any famous myth or story that you know probably has an artifact at the core of the story, and they are all in the warehouse (except where lost or stolen, or carelessly left in museums!).

    The mythology of Warehouse 13 develops over the seasons,and we learn that the Warehouses go back to the time of Alexander the Great and the Warehouse has moved countries 12 times to the site of the foremost civilisation in every era, including Warehouse 12 in Victorian London.

    In addition to the artifacts, the Warehouse has its own has its own technology. During its tenure in London, lots of wondrous technology was conceived by agents of the Warehouse, including the Tesla gun, a weapon which stuns without causing serious harm, the Farnsworth communicator – a very steampunk video phone, and a steampunk keyboard of unspecified origin. All lots of fun.

    warehousetech

    The other thing that is lots of fun about Warehouse 13 is the cast. I hadn’t known any of the main cast other than Artie who was a Star Trek Next Generation character (Saul Rubinek who plays Kivas Fajo – a collector of rare objects who kidnaps Data to add to his collection) but there are many other semi-regular characters that I knew very, very well including, from Star Trek: Kate Mulgrew (Kathryn Janeway), Jeri Ryan, (Seven of Nine), Brent Spiner (Data), Rene Auberjonois (Odo), Faran Tahir (the original captain in the 2009 Star Trek film), as well as the lovely Lindsay Wagner (The Bionic Woman).

    I will say, without spoilers, that I *loved* the character of H G Wells who became a regular member of the cast after she is revived from a steampunk form of hibernation called bronzing.

    The interaction between the various characters is lots of fun, and there are constant references to Star Trek and other science fiction, so it’s really a total geek-out to watch, and the team grows season upon season until there are two main teams in addition to the base crew as well as all the regularly re-appearing cast members.

    I don’t know why the show was cancelled, some of the stories towards the end were a bit weak and the final season seemed to end abruptly after just five episodes, and it seems a shame as it was really good while it lasted. The final episode was alright, but it featured each agent’s ‘defining moment’ which were adventures we had never seen before, which I thought was a bit rubbish and sad. But it’s definitely worth watching for a bit of light entertainment and I’m glad we found it. Enjoy it if you see it!

    LLAP.

     
  • Mrs Chakotay 6:56 pm on December 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , John Carter, science fiction,   

    John Carter or Under the Moons of Mars 

    john carter

    Netflix has been suggesting we watch John Carter for a while now, so we finally gave in and checked it out as I have seen it has been mentioned a lot since Star Wars 7 and it’s easy to see why.

    Disney films are so variable, you never really know what to expect with them. Apparently, the film – released on the 100th anniversary of the appearance of the main character, did rather badly at the box office, but considering the amount spent making it, it would have had to sell an unprecedented amount just to have made even. Well it isn’t awful at all in fact – there were lots of things I liked about it, and probably the thing that put us off watching it earlier more than anything was the lame name, and the fact that the leads seemed to be relatively unknown.

    John Carter, a Victorian era American soldier from Virginia is transported to the planet Mars, (which the natives call Barsoom) which is populated by two races of people – the green Martians (Tharks) and the red Martians (Therns), the latter of a similar appearance to humans, but since John Carter is from earth, he finds he has supernatural ability to jump great distances on Mars.

    "JOHN CARTER"..Sarkoja (Polly Walker)..©2011 Disney. JOHN CARTER™ ERB, Inc.

    The Tharks were very nicely conceived – tall green humanoid aliens with 4 arms and tusks.

    The Princess of the red martians, Dejah Thoris, wears a costume conspicuously reminiscent of Slave Leia (although the Disney version is far more modest than her comic book counterparts), and although she is a princess, like Leia, she is to be married off to the leader of the enemy to broker peace and so, unwilling, she escapes to the Thark encampment disguised as a soldier.

    dejah

    The gladiatorial scene also definitely echoes the second (?) Star Wars prequel.

    john carter colosseum

    Although the John Carter film was made in 2012, and the look of the film is clearly influenced by Star Wars in its various manifestations, let’s not forget that the book pre-dated the Star Wars saga by more than 50 years. In fact it has been suggested that the John Carter series was at least partly the inspiration for Star Wars in the first place.

    Perhaps I wasn’t paying attention, or maybe it was all the interruptions with my son complaining all the way through about CGI, but I found it very hard to follow.

    [It seems more fantasy than science fiction firstly due to John Carter’s ‘Conan the Barbarian’ look, and the fact that it is set on a fictionalised version of Mars (you have to suspend a lot of disbelief since we know it’s not M-class and there’s no atmosphere, none of which is explained!) The science fiction elements include an artifact which teleports Carter to Mars by unspecified means, and the Therns use flying ‘Helium’ ship technology.]

    The film didn’t make me truly love it, but it was ok. I might like to watch it again to see if I can make more sense of it second time round, and I do hope that they do eventually go ahead and complete the trilogy it was originally intended to be.

    What the film did do for me though is to make me want to read the book, which has the far superior title of “Under the Moons of Mars” (I’m sure it would have done much better at the box office with that title).

    I really liked the fact that Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author, is one of the characters in the film as well, and in fact at the end of the film John Carter tells him, amongst other things, to “write a book”. Good advice!

    LLAP.

     
  • Mrs Chakotay 4:04 pm on December 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: dystopia, Ewan McGregor, , Scarlet Johanssen, science fiction, utopia   

    The Island 

    The-island

    The Island is a false utopian/ dystopian science fiction film from 2005 starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johannsen who discover through a series of events and the main character, Lincoln Two Echo’s innate and insatiable curiosity that they are living not in a compound safe from the contamination of the outside world but rather they are ‘products’ – clones of rich and/ or desperately ill people on the outside who want or need organ donors (fresh ‘skin’ is mentioned as well as livers and kidneys) or surrogate mothers of babies for infertile (or unwilling) couples.

    Of course none of the donors/ surrogates are willing participants, but are being deceived by means of a lottery whereby ‘winners’ are supposed to be transported to ‘The Island’, the last paradise where there is no contamination, and they are fed false memories and ideas designed to stop them questioning any of their environment or any of the lies. Lincoln’s ‘curiosity’ was supposed to have been genetically engineered out of them, but the ‘Echo’ generation seems to have developed it spontaneously anyway.

    The whole business is operating in contravention of the Eugenics Laws of 2015, which I thought was neat as we were watching at the end of 2015. If the people on the outside had any idea of what was going on, they would have no part in it, and their multi-billion dollar enterprise would be ruined.

    I won’t give away what happens in case you haven’t seen it.

    It wasn’t particularly well received, nor critically acclaimed – it did better here in the UK and internationally than in the US, and it’s supposed to be quite derivative of other films (there are echoes of The Matrix amongst others). But I enjoyed it (again) it’s quite a gentle film – not too much horrific violence, only suggestions of it, and although there’s a sex scene it’s not graphic at all, so it’s reasonably ok as a family film, at least for sci-fi families with older children! (It has a 12 certificate.)

    I was surprised to discover that it’s a Michael Bay film (yes, the man responsible for such atrocities as Transformers), and yes there is a lot of action and a few mild explosions, but it seemed really rather restrained for him.

    4 out of 5 stars I think, I’d knock a star off for mild cheesiness and unlikely survival after a Michael Bay explosion!

    Enjoy!

     
  • Mrs Chakotay 5:44 pm on December 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Force Awakens, JJ Abrams, no spoilers, , science fiction   

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens 

    starwars7

    I do like Star Wars, love it actually. We one visited a Commune in Devon, teetering on the edge of joining them, but one of the things that put us off was not so much that they had no TV, but that some of the residents had lived there since the mid 70s and had never seen Star Wars! It was a lot like Cassandra’s Paradise again.

    Anyhow, back to the new film. I had no expectations, Disney / J J Abrams didn’t fill me with enthusiasm. I expected it might be rubbish, and I kind of cultivated that expectation to avoid disappointment.

    But actually, it wasn’t rubbish, it was pretty good. The characters were good. I really liked Rey and Finn. The scenes were good. I’d really like to watch again just to get another view of… Well, no spoilers.

    But let me just say, on the subject of no spoilers, that there is *no way* that Han and Leia could have produced the character supposed to be their son…

    …And two of my kids went home CRYING. Thanks a bunch, J J.

    But, as every good Trekkie knows, George Lucas is the devil.

     
  • Mrs Chakotay 9:49 pm on December 11, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , science fiction, , ,   

    Booting Up… 

    Woah, that’s weird. Skype just popped up and I have no idea how to use it. I’m really quite out of practice and behind the times with technological developments.

    I’ve been a little bit… isolated for the last 5 years. I might as well have been in outer space. And while I was offline, my DS9-based blog ‘The Bajoran Exile’ on Open Diary was deleted along with the whole platform. Sad days.

    But thankfully I found a remnant of it on the marvel that is the Wayback Machine (internet archive), and so hope to revive it somewhat and perhaps improve upon it.

    The original blog was written always in character, as Kira Nerys as I once identified with her very strongly. That season of my life has passed and so I probably won’t be writing with the same voice so much anymore. But hopefully you will recognise my voice as a Trek lover.

    I’m not sure I would say that Star Trek is my first love, but I was certainly a ‘Cradle Trekkie’. So much so that I believed quite firmly that my father played Spock in the original series. (There was a resemblance)

    I was quite tickled when my own children told me recently that they had believed when they were young that I played Captain Janeway in Voyager. I can’t claim much of a resemblance, other than reddish hair.

    Star Trek and science fiction / fantasy more broadly remain my escapism of choice, and I confess that I tend to see the world through the lens of Star Trek to a large extent. I think I might have gone a little bit mad without it.

    So, if you are anywhere on the spectrum of being a Trekkie/ Trekker – from mildly amused to seriously fanatic, I would love to connect with you.

    LLAP.

    lcarsani

     
  • Mrs Chakotay 4:27 am on March 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , science fiction, ,   

    Why am I Hiding? 

    I dreamed a dream in which I was hiding, running, moving backstage through dark corners, behind curtains, around stairwells, navigating through a maze of books and belongings.

    I was in a school. I didn’t know to begin with what I was hiding from, until I became aware that I was being pursued.

    I was being pursued by a man in a light brown coat and scarf. He was of indeterminate age and features. He reminded me somehow of Mulder from the X-files. Something about his manner frightened me.

    I turned around to see that he had been waylaid by a young girl. She might have been about twelve. She had light red hair in bunches. Her uniform was navy blue. She was talking to him about art and literature. They seemed engrossed in conversation. I wondered if he was really pursuing me at all? Perhaps I had imagined it.

    But then she turned away from him and he was waylaid once again by a group of children who all wanted his attention.

    The girl came toward me and moaned, “I am looking for the writer” and I answered and said, “You had his attention already. Why did you come to me?”

    And then I looked at the man, and I knew that he was me.

    I woke up. It was nearly 4am. I was a little bit dazed and confused, and wondered what it meant, when I realised the little girl was me too.

    I’ll ponder the symbolism in the morning. In the meantime, I just thought I would share it as I quite liked it. My best stories come to me straight out of my dreams. 🙂

     
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