Waiting to discover more about new Trek series

Two episodes aren’t enough to determine whether one should continue to buy “Star Trek: Discovery” from CBS All Access for $5.99 per month, but there are several indicators that make watching at the least next few episodes an attractive idea.

The first two episodes show promise, but also raise serious issues for some Trek enthusiasts such as at least one major variance with Star Trek canon.

While the first episode aired on CBS’ broadcast outlets, the second is only available from CBS All Access online service. In addition to Star Trek, nearly the entire catalog of old and new CBS programming is available through the subscription service. This writer didn’t sign up for the service for the other programming, only the exclusive online availability of the new Star Trek.

Probably the first thing that viewers will notice is that they won’t see the Discovery in either of the first two episodes. The action occurs outside the spaceships and  inside the U.S.S. Shenzou and a Klingon ship. You will see a multitude of Federation and Klingon ships in battle scenes, but they are part of the ensemble in support roles for the central antagonists.

From the first,scene, it appears Klingons will play a major if not dominant role in the new series. The new series begins with a fierce speech by a Klingon chieftain trying to rally the other tribes, getting ready to deal with the humans. In his words (translated in subtitles), the most dangerous words are, “We come in peace.”

The Klingon ship is inside Federation territory.

While patrolling Federation space, the Chenzou encounters an object of unknown origin in the same vicinity. Commander Michael Burnham, a human raised by Vulcans, persuades her captain to let her take a space walk to find what the object is.

While on the surface of this object, Burnham encounters a Klingon and the result is a death. That death leads to a violent conflict between the two enemy empires.

Upon her return to Chenzou, Burnham is treated for exposure to massive levels of radiation. She, however, runs from her bed to warn the captain that the Klingons are coming and the Federation ship should attack before it is attacked, employing a strategy referred to as “The Vulcan hello.”

A conflict develops between Burnham and the captain, longtime friends on the starship, and Burnham is sent to the brig.

As the battle ensues, Burnham finds herself in deeper trouble. By the second episode, Burnham is tried and convicted and locked up.

If you haven’t seen the first two episodes, I’ve already given you several spoilers, but I will hold back on sharing other tidbits.


There are other items of note. One is the clear violation of Trek canon by the use of holograph technology. This show takes places before The Original Series and in the Trek timeline follows Star Trek Enterprise. On the timeline, the Next Generation followed the Original Series.

There was no use of holography by the Federation before the Next Generation. If one checks out the relatively new “Star Trek Encyclopedia” by Denise and Michael Okuda, there are lots of listings for various types of holographic imaging.

There are, however, no uses of that technology by the except by the Romulans in two Enterprise episodes. In “Babel One” and “United,” the Romulans used holographic projectors to create skins for ships  that would make them appear of any design. And that’s it until  Next Generation. …

The technical prowess of the new series is undeniable. Yet, many questions remain that need to be answered.

One concern about the new series is the role of Klingons. Michael Dorn, who starred as the Klingon Worf, reportedly had pitched a series idea to CBS about Klingons.

I certainly hope this series isn’t just about the conflicts with the Klingons. There is so much to explore and discover in the universe before the Original Series.

I guess we will start to discover that as we watch the future episodes.



The return of the Doctor

Who knows what the future of “Doctor Who” will be — except possibly time travelers — but the next few months could prove crucial.

After only one new episode in 2016, which was the marvelous Christmas “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” episode, the “10th series” since the SF shows were resume in 2005 could prove to be the last. At least it will be the last series for showrunner Steven Moffat and current Doctor Peter Capaldi as both have announced this will be their final series.

The new series will premiere on BBC America at 9 p.m. April 15, next Saturday.doctor-who-season-10 new companion The Doctor will be joined by new companion Bill Potts, played by Pearl Mackie.  If you’ve seen the last two Christmas specials, you’ll probably be delighted to see the character Nardole in several episodes of the new season.

The first episode of the 10th series will be immediately followed at 10:10 p.m. by “Class,” the Doctor Who spinoff that has been available to British viewers since last spring. The story focuses on five of the students and staff at Coal Hill Academy, which has frequently been part of Doctor Who episodes and where Clara was a teacher. Class Doctor WhoThe series focuses on five students and staff who asked by the Doctor to deal with alien threats in the midst of dealing with personal issues.

Although “Class” has received positive reviews in the U.K., the eight episodes have performed poorly in the ratings there, possibly due to poor promotion by the BBC.

As for the upcoming season of Doctor Who, it is set to have 12 episodes running weekly through July 1 plus a Christmas special.

Titles for 10 of the first 12 episodes include  “The Pilot,” “Smile,” “Thin Ice,” “Knock Knock,” “Oxygen,” “Extremis,” “The Pyramid at the End of the World,” “The Lie of the Land,” “The Empress of Mars,” and “The Eaters of Light.”

The big question, of course, is if and when Doctor Who will return after this series and, if so, who will be the next Doctor.

InConJunction 2017 guests announced

The author guest of honor at the 2017 InConJunction gathering will be Mercedes Lackey, author of Heralds of Valdemaar and Mage Wars series.

Mercedes Lackey
Mercedes Lackey

Artist guest of honor will be Larry Dixon, Marc Gunn will be the music guest, Shonna Bedford (Lyte of Echo 51) will be the media guest, Kim Richey will be science guest of honor, and Mogchelle will be the cosplay guest of honor.  Author Keith DeCandido

Keith DeCandido
Keith DeCandido

will be the toastmaster.

The 2017 InConJunction Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention theme will be “On a Wing and a Song.”

The 37th annual event will be June 30-July 2 at the Marriott East Hotel, Indianapolis. For more information, go to www.inconjunction.org.

InConJunction event set during Starbase Indy

Here’s a special treat for you this weekend if you’re attending Starbase Indy in the Wyndham Hotel: InConJunction members will be the hosts of A Game of Books in-room party at 9 p.m. Saturday in Room 255 of the hotel. Have fun and learn about what’s being planned for 2017 InConJunction.

Masterson’s Trek involvement leads to social action

Chase Masterson will be one of the guests at Starbase Indy this weekend in part because this is the 50th anniversary of Star Trek and one of her characters eventually became the first lady of the Ferengi Alliance. She also will be bringing her social consciousness.

Masterson’s career has been about more than Star Trek including being the current star of a Big Finish, Doctor Who-related audio series, a jazz singing career and her Pop Culture Hero Coalition, which is working to end bullying. She’s also an author, a producer and has sung on USO tours for the Navy and the Marine Corps. She is a former Indiana resident.


According to IMDB, Masterson appeared as Leeta in 17 episodes of “Star Trek: Deep Space 9,” which ran for seven seasons. The new ”Star Trek Encyclopedia” describes that character as beginning as a Bajoran dabo (game of chance) girl in a bar on Deep Space 9 before eventually becoming the first lady of the Ferengi Alliance.

In addition to Masterson, actors who’ve been involved with Star Trek the Original Series, Star Trek Voyager and Star Trek Enterprise are scheduled to be among the guests at the three-day event, which begins Friday.

Masterson has been described as one of “the hot leading ladies” in 2008 by a film magazine, one of the world’s “50 sexiest women” by Femme Fatales magazine, the “Number 1 Favorite Science Fiction Actress on Television” in a TV Guide online poll, one of the “Top 50 People to Watch in Hollywood” by Sci-Fi Universe Magazine and the “Best Feature Film Producer” by the LA Femme Film Festival.

Masterson says the descriptions don’t bother her.

“I just see those things as a tool to do the work I want to do on-screen or off,” she said in an interview. “The word sexy is a pretty meaningless word.

“What’s really important is what’s on the inside and the heart of the work we do in the short time we’re on this planet. If people say those things and it helps me get another great project off the ground for charity or entertainment, that’s fine with me.”

Masterson founded the Pop Culture Hero Coalition “to take a stand against bullying, racism, misogyny, LGBT bullying, cyber bullying and other forms of hate using pop culture in film and television,” she said. “We make parallels between on-screen heroes and heroes in real life.

“Our motto is, ‘We love super heroes, why not be one.’ We are currently creating an incredible curriculum for schools and we also work in common cause and communities.”chase-masterson-3

Masterson said she’s seen so much oppression and wanted to do something about using the tremendous power of popular culture fandom.

“It’s really a phenomenon,” she said. “I want to harness that energy for doing good, that’s what the stories are about.”

Masterson’s charitable work also has involved the United Nations, hospice organizations, and the World Health Organization.

The philosophy Masterson espouses is reflected in her feelings about Star Trek.

“I think that Star Trek has a really, really neat message,” she said. “The whole infinite diversity in infinite combinations is something that’s very attractive to all of us. And it’s something that I wish the world would grasp onto as beautifully as the Star Trek fans have. …chase-masterson-2

”The fans are mostly lovely, truly some of the loveliest people I’ve met. Occasionally there have been ones that crossed the line, but I never let that stop me from being genuine with everyone I meet. …I think Star Trek attracts really lovely people because of what Star Trek’s message is, the message of the show. “

Unfortunately, she said, with this year’s election, there have been many negative actions, contrary to that spirit.

“White supremacy is once again rearing its ugly head and growing in both numbers and in the press,” Masterson said. “There has been a rise in hate crimes to African-Americans and Muslims and the LGBTQ communities and other people since the election by those who feel empowered by (president-elect Donald) Trump. …

“I think they’ve been empowered by his hate speech. …. We have to come to our senses as a country and see that this is not what America was born to be. We were born to be a place of diversity and inclusivity.”

The lack of empathy that not just white supremacists, but everyday people employ in everyday racism and in everyday bias is “disgusting and it’s unChristian, it’s unJesus like, and it’s really embarrassing that our country is being seen this way,” Masterson said.

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s future tenant of infinite diversity in infinite combinations is the way the world is supposed to be.

In some ways, Masterson’s Deep Space 9 character reflected her passion about issues related to racism, misogyny and bullying. Her character married a person, Rom, from another world and that led to her becoming the first lady of the Ferengi Federation. Max Grodenchik, a previous guest at Starbase Indy, played Rom.

“He was really so truly lovely as Rom and made me fall in love with him, he was so gentle and sensitive,” Masterson said. “I just appreciated all of that in him as an actor and as a character. …

“I had such a great time working with this extremely talented cast, but the memories that are the ones I cherish the most are ones that happened off-screen. Many times, I’ve had someone who served in the military, particularly oversees, come up to say how much the show meant to them while they were in the service and for those in the Gulf War it was a little piece of home and it reminded them of what they were striving for, which was peace.”

Deep Space Nine has been underrated, she said.

“I don’t think Deep Space 9 gets the respect it deserves,” Masterson said. “It was the Number 1 syndicated show in the world when we went off the air and yet it is seen as the little, runt brother of Star Trek.

“It was difficult for us, not having been the mainstream show that Next Generation was, frankly we feel the stories and characters deserved. A lot of people feel Deep Space 9 was their favorite over any of the other Star Trek.

Chase Masterson’s acting career also led her into “Vienna,” a Doctor Who spinoff. audio series. She had previously worked on audio projects with former Doctors Tom Baker and Sylvester McCoy.

Vienna is going into Season 4. Vienna is “an intergalactic mercenary assassin with a heart of gold who always lands on the side of good,” Masterson said. “If I’m hired by a bad guy I will turn that around on him and make it his own undoing.”chase-masterson-vienna

For more information about Masterson, go to www.chasemasterson.com. For more information about Starbase Indy, go to www.starbaseindy.com.

Interviews with more Starbase Indy guests coming soon

We’ve recently conducted interviews with Chase Masterson and Garrett Wang, two of the scheduled guests at Starbase Indy.

Among Masterson’s many credits, she appeared in multiple episodes of Star Trek Deep Space Nine as Leeta.

Wang was a regular in all seven seasons of Voyager and now coordinates the Trek Track at Dragon Con.

Starbase Indy guest stunt star discusses thrills, falls

When one sees a current picture of Sandy Gimpel, it’s hard to believe she was once one of the scariest creatures in science fiction history.

A fourth degree black belt holder who has been a karate instructor,

Sandy Gimpel is fourth degree black belt holder.
Sandy Gimpel is fourth degree black belt holder.

Gimpel is an actress, stunt person and stand-in. She will be one of the guests Thanksgiving weekend at Starbase Indy at Wyndham Indianapolis West.

Gimpel appeared in the first Star Trek pilot and then, more famously, was the salt creature in the first episode of Star Trek that NBC broadcast 50 years ago.

This year’s Starbase Indy will have a representative of each Star Trek television series, including Gimpel. It will be her first trip to Starbase Indy, she said.

In “The Man Trap,” the first aired episode of the of the original series, Gimpel is the M-113 creature, more commonly referred to as the “salt vampire.” The creature could change its shape to appear as anybody, but in its natural form was the “salt vampire, which Gimpel suited up to play.

In an interview, Gimpel said her involvement with Star Trek began because she “was a dancer and got a call from central casting to go on an audition for the show to work in costume because I could move well and got the job.”

Gimpel’s first Star Trek part was as a Talosian in “The Cage,” creator Gene Roddenberry’s first Star Trek pilot. NBC rejected it, but “The Cage” was later incorporated into the first-season, two-episode “Menagerie.”
It has been 50 years since the first episodes aired and after three seasons it was canceled despite efforts by its fans. But Star Trek wasn’t due to just fade away.

“I had no idea that Star Trek would become so great,” she said. “We just work, go in and do our job and go home, never thinking ‘OMG I just worked on an amazing show.’”

Despite going where no one had gone before, she didn’t appear at her first Star Trek-related convention until this year.

“Actually, the 50th anniversary convention in Las Vegas last August was the first one I have ever been at as a guest or visitor,” Gimpel said.

According to IMDB.com, Gimpel has 115 stunt performer/coordinator credits and 34 credits as an actress in what is still a very active career. It is one role, however, that fans want to know about.

The M113 creature also known as the "salt vampire"
The M113 creature also known as the “salt vampire”

“Most of the questions are about the salt vampire costume and was it hot or heavy to wear,” she said. “The fans are incredible, so nice and amazing to talk with. They are so interested in what I do for a living and very gracious.”

At Starbase Indy, she will be signing pictures for fans and taking pictures with fans. She’s also scheduled to participate on several panels where she’ll talk about the salt vampire and the Talosian characters.

Recently, Gimpel has appeared in an “Agent Carter” episode and has a stunt involvement in the soon-to-be-released “Why Him” film, which stars Zoey Duetch, Bryan Cranston and James Franco. She’s also working on a Disney television show and other TV shows.

In some fans’ minds, “Star Trek” and “Lost in Space” were competing science fiction shows, but she appeared in “Lost in Space” first. And that’s where her stunt acting career began.

“I went on an audition to stand in for Bill Mumy on ‘Lost in Space’ and because of my dance background, they asked if I would like to do the stunts for him, if I would go to the gym and train with stunt coordinator Paul Stater three days week.

“Of course, I said yes and did the show for 2-1/2 years and have never stopped doing stunts since.”

Stunt working can be quite hazardous, but she hasn’t suffered major injuries, she said.

“I have been very blessed not to have major injuries, only a couple of broken ribs and ACL replaced on my knee,” she said. “Cuts and bruises don’t count.”

Asked if she prefers acting or stunt work, she said she loves doing stunts, but has been “very blessed lately to be able to do the stunt acting role along with the stunt.”

Sandy Gimpel
Sandy Gimpel

In addition to “Star Trek” and “Lost in Space,” Gimpel has been involved as an actress or stunt performer in a long list of shows including “Airplane,” the original “Battlestar Galactica,” “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers,” “The Truman Show,” “My Name is Earl,” “The Bionic Woman,” “Criminal Minds,” “Reno 911,” “CSI” and “Six Feet Under.” This year’s Starbase Indy will have a representative of each Star Trek television series, including Gimpel.

“I think the Girl Scout fights in Airplane may top them all as an acting and stunt role,” she said. “I can’t forget the live event for the BAFTA (British Academy Film and Television Arts) Awards with Sasha Baron Cohen and him pushing me off the stage in a wheel chair in front of every big actor in the business and no one knew it was no one knew it was not real.”

For more information about Starbase Indy, go to http://www.starbaseindy.com


Halloween film fest ideas