Saturday, January 5, 2013

Day 12 - Idic

Whereas other "Days" of the Twelve Trek Days of Christmas are easy to define - we have done gifts of audio dramas and fan films, etc, how can I give you IDIC? Well, remember those audio dramas do not come from me, my contribution has been to point you towards those who are giving their work away for free all the time! In the same way, although I try to be as good a person as I can, what I am doing today is pointing you to examples of IDIC in the real world.

But first, let's get back to basics: what is IDIC? As any Star Trek fan will tell you, in Star Trek canon, it is an acronym for the Vulcan philosophy of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. As the more skeptical science fiction historian will point out, it was seen by the cast of The Original Series as a marketing ploy by Gene Roddenberry to merchandise copies of the pendant used in the TV series through his Lincoln Enterprises. As with many things though, it has grown to be more over the years, Star Trek fandom took the philosophy to heart.

Trekkers Against Bullying (Fb) is a social media campaign and website that seeks to publicise incidents of bullying, their prosecution and the groundswell of feeling against it. By identifying Star Trek with the campaign, it seeks to show that there is no place for it in our fandom and that we support the fight against it personally and as a social group.

Star Trek fan productions have used the power to create their own dramas to add LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) relationships into a future Utopian Star Trek society. The fan film series, Star Trek: Hidden Frontier would have to be the highest profile however gay subplots are common in most fan productions of all media. Whether you support this way of life or not, Star Trek's IDIC philosophy suggests that you should respect people's choice of "diversity", in a way creating a middle-ground where you do not have to accept the choice as your own but by the same token do not attack it. This, in a way, defuses the confrontationist stances that come about when people have to take sides.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Day 11 - Trekzines & Virtual Seasons

Everybody likes to see their favourite media spun out over a regular series...

Trekzines, Fanzines and Newsletters
Whether you call it citizen journalism or fan publishing, Star Trek fans have always been heavily into creating magazine-style publications. 

The clubzine of the United Federation Starfleet, published on Issuu

Virtual Seasons, Prose
The virtual season has changed its meaning in recent years, but it started out as group-written, serial fan fiction... 

by Rigel Kent; [n] episodes, Enterprise era on the writer's web site.

Virtual Season, Script-based
One of the good things about being a fan producer is that you have total control over what you do, no financial backers, publishers, no one to explain your creative decisions to! I see virtual seasons as being one of the more 'dangerous' ways of telling a story... 
  • You release your fiction as a script designed to be read rather than performed - there is a subtle difference.
  • You commit to a definite release schedule that emulates the regular programming of a TV series
  • You package your release to have the look of a DVD or BluRay case and cover
  • You rely on a regular reader base to follow and comment on your work.
At the start of this year MZPtv was the major purveyor of fan-based, script-based virtual seasons but an executive decision was made to move entirely to Independent productions, leaving some authors caught mid-season. Fortunately, MZPtv were able to find homes for most of them, including...

by Kyle West; 12 episodes, Post Nemesis. TEN The Entertainment Network

Sebastian Knight, felt like he was being moulded from birth into something he didn't want to be. First it was his father, grooming him to inherit the family ship one day, and then it was Starfleet, trying to turn him into another by-the-book drone. The way Seb see's it, he's his own person, and lives by his own rules.

So when his world is turned upside down after some bad news from home, Sebastian can see exactly what is taking place: people are trying to control his life yet again. And as we'll soon learn, he never responds well to other people trying to shape his destiny. For 26 years, Sebastian Knight has avoided any kind of responsibility, and coasted through life. That's all about to change, and for Sebastian and the crew of the cargo ship Haven, things will never be the same... 

Star Trek: Final Frontier
by Mirabello, Munoz & Rossi; 2 episodes, Post Nemesis.

When is a virtual season not a virtual season? When it very nearly was a real animated series! Star Trek: Final Frontier was developed in late 2005 but was unfortunately not picked up by the networks. In 2010 they started releasing their design documents and concept art to the web for fans to see what might have been, they also released the five part pilot script. In November this year they continued the adventures with parts 1, 2, 3 & 4 of a brand new episode.

Its fifty years after the end of the second Romulan War, the Federation has turned inward, eschewing exploration and diplomacy in favor of strengthening its core systems and protecting its borders from incursion. Captain Alexander Chase of the U.S.S. Enterprise as they fight to save their ship from destruction in the far reaches of the galaxy. 


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Day 10 - Trek Modelling

Plastic scale models are generally of canon subjects but there have been a couple of instances where non-canon ships have become popular modelling subjects...

 The USS Titan is known in canon as the command which Riker and Troi are going to after their marriage at the start of Star Trek Nemesis. Simon & Schuster's Pocket Books has released a series of licensed novels named after this new command and commissioned a competition to design the new vessel which was won by Sean Tourangeau. You can see various graphics of Sean's design in his gallery and - when it is in stock! - you can order a copy.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Day 09 - Trek Gaming

So you think of youself as a gamer? Well here for your entertainment is the fifth Twelve Trek Days of Christmas "Compendium of Fan-Made Games"! For more games, organised along much the same lines, see the previous compendiums from 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011.


There are very few fictional sports unique to Star Trek, The only three I can pin down are the phaser firing range and...

Martial arts

The fictional martial arts that are listed on Memory Alpha are Anbo-jitsu, The Vulcan Nerve Pinch, Tsunkatse and ...

Tabletop games

Wikipedia defines these as, "any game where the elements of play are confined to a small area and which require little physical exertion, usually simply placing, picking up and moving game pieces."
  • Dexterity/coordination games
  • Board games -
    • Card games
    • Dice games
    • Domino and tile games - kal-toh has been mentioned as a desirable mini-game for STO.
    • Casino games -
      • Dabo was introduced as a STO minigame in season two and I know of a certain fan who, for their legendary party had a functioning Dabo table!
    • Pencil and paper games -

    • Guessing games

    Computer games

    Strangely enough, there seem to have been virtually no computer-based games in the 24th century! The only one that comes close is "The Game", the addictive holographic game from TNG.
    • Computer Games, Text-based 
    • Computer Games, 2D Games 
    • Computer Games, 3D Games
    • The Mods
      • This is when fans mod (modify) an existing, commercial game. In contrast to other parts of the entertainment industry, game manufacturers, the owners of the license from Paramount, not only allow but encourage their fans to mod their products - STO in particular has been pro-active in this respect right from the start. There are far too many Mods for me to list here, I've simply picked one Mod from each gaming engine to feature here.
        • For Doom: 
        • For Escape Velocity Nova: 
        • For Elite Force II: 
        • For ST Bridge Commander: 
        • For ST Starfleet Command: 
        • For Crysis 2: The team from ST Enterprise - Temporal Cold War are still going strong on their mod ST: Enterprise - MACO - latest update: Aug. 26: Engineering screenshots and a new member to the team!

    Role-playing games

    If you prefer your gaming to be face to face and your fate decided by your game-master and the roll of a many-sided dice then the older games are still being played.
    • Last Unicorn Games or LUG (1998-2000)
      • If you own an old copy of one of the Last Unicorn Games RPGs it's not a dead end, Memory ICON's Fan Produced netbooks available for free download are still a massive resource.
    • Decipher or CODA (2002-2007)
      • After Decipher stopped making their high quality RPG manuals in 2007, a number of fans started adding their own material to the mix. Similarly, Patrick Goodman is still working on Beyond The Final Frontier where you'll find archived CODA gaming material covering every series.
    • Amarillo Design Bureau is still commercially, very active with their Prime Directive RPG extension of the long-running Star Fleet Battles wargaming series for the GURPs and D20 systems, two strong and popular gaming systems.
    • With the release of the D20 Modern RPG rules, a number of gamers have tested the boundaries on this new frontier! 


    To me the term "simulation" is very close to roleplaying (which in fact are sometimes called 'sims') but the Wiki article specifically mentions war games and this would seem to fit the strategy games best.
    • UFP Starfleet Academy is a Facebook Play-By-Post [?] slightly non-canon simulation of the year 2375 (the 2nd year of the Dominion War) at the San Fran Cisco campus of Starfleet Academy.
    • Star Trek: Asteroid Base is an RPG-X SRP (Serial Role Play) at The Last Outpost, a small RPG community who use a modification of Raven Software game, Star Trek: Voyager Elite Force to create Star Trek scenarios.
    • Edgeworth: Raspberry Crystal has produced a "virtual hike" of this Inworldz, fan made, Star Trek role playing sim.

    Tuesday, January 1, 2013

    Day 08 - Fan Films

    The start of a new year has brought new promise of releases, filming and new series but it has also brought with it the possibility that the fan film community might be saturating their pool of potential supporters. Audience expectations are rising of acting, story and production levels and, whilst many young and Trek alumni professionals have given their support freely, there are some things that can only be obtained by loan, donation or purchase. Sets, costume and props have always been a visible investment, but there are dozens of less visible costs that need to be addressed: cameras, lighting, computer memory, transportation and storage...

    Only time will tell! As things stand, 2013 looks to be a bumper year for Star Trek fan films and on behalf of Star Trek fans everywhere I wish all fan production groups a happy, prosperous and creative New Year.

    December saw the release of Five Late News, the first Australian-made Star Trek fan film, the first season finale of Eternal Night, the Star Trek multimedia fan series from of Matt Miller, whose website,, celebrates ten years online this year. Trek fans will recognise 21st century canon characters and situations bleed into a plotline that is a topical as... todays news! Whilst you are on his website, check out the audio drama shorts that Matt has done over the past year that build up a back-story for Eternal Night set in Star Trek's 25th century as his protagonist, Evie Cunningham, enters her fourth, and final, year at Starfleet Academy.

    Star Trek: Axanar, the brain child of Alec Peters, recently announced that BattleStar Gallactica star Richard Hatch will play the main Klingon antagonist in this new series, telling the back-story behind Garth of Izor, slated to be produced and released over the next two years.

    Star Trek Continues Fb have made great strides in twelve months with three vignettes released, Turnabout Intruder, which segues from the last aired canon episode, You've Got the Conn and Happy Birthday, Scotty.  Shooting of the first full episode, which stars Vic Mignona as Captain Kirk, is reported to be in January.

    Star Trek: Intrepid Fb have put back their latest release, The Stone Unturned, until early in the new year and are still working on their vignette, Nemo Me Impune Lacessit.

    Star Trek: Phase II Fb - as one would expect! - have been very active in 2012 ...

    • Released The Child on Apr 5, originally written by Jon Povill for Gene Roddenberry's Phase II series
    • Released the nine minute short Going Boldly with their new Kirk, Brian Goss.
    • Probably their next release will be Kitumba which has been delayed by some final edits.
    • They've been working steadily on their upcoming episode, Bread and Savagery, and have released a sneak peek
    • They have The Protracted Man and Mind-Sifter in production and Troublesome Minds in pre-preoduction.
    • Phase II members have been cross-fertilising with other productions such as Star Trek: Axanar

    Star Trek: Phoenix Fb, who have not released anything since their first, very impressive episode in 2010, Cloak & Dagger Part I, continue to try to gather backing to continue.

    Star Trek: Renegades Fb is another new series from the makers of Star Trek; Of Gods And Men, have passed their goal on Kickstarter. This is another professional level fan film with some big names slated to appear!

    Star Trek: The Romulan Wars uploaded their latest episode, The Wounded, to YouTube in February

    Star Trek: Secret Voyage Fb This professional quality fan film might have closed its doors! According to a Facebook post on Dec 16th, exec. producer Craig Sheeler cited competition for funding between the rather large number of fan film projects around at the moment for an inability to complete the second episode that was 80% in the can! I would like to add my voice to their supporters in the fan film community who are urging them to consider alternatives that could allow them to continue in a different format or media: vignettes, graphic novels or audio dramas spring to mind.

    Starship Ajax Fb is still working on the mammoth task of building their bridge set - you can help on FundRazr - costuming and rehearsing.

    Starship Farragut Fb released their latest episode, The Price of Anything, in December and are set for more quality production to come, Conspiracy of Innocence written by Bobby Nash, crossovers with Star Trek Continues and the involvement of Jack Marshall.


    Monday, December 31, 2012

    Day 07 - Trek Comics & Art

    Did you know that you can copyright a colour? Copyright and trademark (Intellectual Property or IP) law is making itself felt in every aspect of our lives! It's not all going the way of the big businesses as Josh Wattles' pointed out in his panel at ComicCon. Artists, for example, have always had a tradition of freedom as regards to including a range of characters in their portfolios to show their artistic versatility. What's more, artists reserve a fair use or implied license to their original "work-for-hire" arrangements which, because their employers did not defend themselves against it, might be cause for estoppel in court.

    My point is that even in a creative field like the graphic arts, that prides itself in its freedom of expression, Star Trek fan producers have to tread carefully. After saying that though, common sense usually prevails. Without sounding too much like a Paramount groupie, we are incredibly lucky to be working with the creation of  a corporate entity that has learned to profit from its fan interaction.

    Comics and Graphic Novels
    Over the past year, my major work has been as the head of TrekUnited Publishing - I think of myself as a fan publisher, just as others think of themselves as fan film-makers or fan artists. It has been fascinating for me, since it has entailed evaluating the professional publishing industry - where it has come from and where it is going - and tailoring our own work to take this into account. We have been lucky enough to have two very talented fans offer us their work to distribute - .

    Nova Trek by M.D. Bruffy

    Tales From The Fleet by P.D. Smith

    Of course these are not the only graphic novels or comics out there, they come in all manner of shapes and sizes, with different methods of production and graphic style, some aimed at the general fandom and others at the adult reader. Here are a few that I know of (for older works, check out my 2007 article)...

    Two high quality, adults only series created by Candice Greene from DAZ / Poser.
    Four new strips at the start of 2012 in this long-running comic strip.
    Ensign Two: The Wrath of Sue
    Kevin Bolk is a popular Chibi style artist at conventions and on deviantART who made quite a stir with Clare Moseley in the Trek fan art community with his Ensign Sue must Die parody, released on the author's gallery on dA and now available as a mail-order hard copy. Well, she's back ...and she's brought friends!
    Toilet humour on deviantART. 1, 2, 3.
    A JJverse look at what happened to the USS Kelvin from Winona Kirk's viewpoint.
    These are what I think of when as Star Trek Online comics storylines told using screen captures from the sumptuous game environment!
    Great off-the-cuff sketching and a silly storyline - pretty good actually!

    Book Covers
    Our philosophy at TrekUnited Publishing has been to try to emulate the professional publishers as much as is practicable and the book covers we have used are a major part of that. What makes a good book cover? I am always finding something new about book cover design on Joel Friedlander's blog, The Book Designer, which I rate as my number one resource on the subject. As a catalogue of Star Trek book covers, I prefer to use Arnold E. van Beverhoudt, Jr's Sandcastle V.I. gallery of scans of the covers in his possession.
    A series of five faux book covers created by Arcas in the style of the Bantam books of the late 60's.

    Check out Richard Merk's photomanipulated book covers for his Star trek fan fiction book series.

    A series of book covers designed by Chrisis1033 for the fan fiction series by Rigel Kent..

    Fan Art
    You''ll have noticed a large percentage of works from deviantART? This is an online community of artists that ranges children to top end professionals! Some pour scorn on it because of the vast number of immature works you will see there but for me it represents a more realistic cross-section of the creative spectrum than believing that only the uber-talented are worthy of calling themselves artists.

    Even those top earning professionals will admit, if they are honest, that they started out with similar simplistic works. The difference is only a matter of degree. Training, experience and education come into it of course, as does determination, dedication and passion. 

    It's a strange thing, but I don't think I can ever recall hearing a respected professional speak harshly to an up-and-coming amateur. They are far more likely to be supportive and encouraging. Speaking of Indie artists, one of the pleasures of fan production is when professionals pitch in to help and, just as with musicians, artists can be just as free with their talent - Todd Grosser and Sean Tourangeau spring to mind.

    Four retro-styled movie posters depiting the Original Series episodes The Trouble with Tribbles, Amok Time, City On The Edge of Tomorrow and A Piece of the Action

    Star Trek Animated by Dusty-abell
    A fun take on an animated TOS and Pike era crew.

    Star Trek Triad Triptych by Joanna-Estep
    Three impressive graphic pieces that together make a bold statement

    Sunday, December 30, 2012

    Day 06 - Adult Fan Fiction

    Another year, and there's more Adult Trek out there! Fan fiction writers have been busy, and the ratings have been, most assuredly, T and up. And there has been some truly stellar work created. Let's explore it together, shall we?


    The guidelines of FictionRatings are helpful. Their ratings are divided into:
    • K: "Content suitable for most ages."
    • K+: "Some content may not be suitable for young children."
    • T: "Contains content not suitable for children."
    • M: "Contains content suitable for mature teens and older." and
    • MA: "Contains explicit content for mature adults only."
    Hence it's not just sex, violence and/or salty language that can bump a rating up to the max. For most people, though, those three things are exactly what causes them to think of one rating over another. Complicating matters is the fact that some sites incorrectly use MPAA-style ratings, whereas others follow FictionRatings. In general, MA is as far as you can go, with M being the next step down. One more step down is usually T ; then comes K+. Finally, the rating for family-type viewing and reading is K. I use the FictionRatings system in this article and go by whichever rating the writer has provided for his or her work. Keep in mind that writers are not necessarily perfect arbiters of their own ratings. However, I feel that all of the listed writers act in good faith to properly rate their works. But the usual caveats apply, and always proceed cautiously, particularly if viewing or reading while at work.

    A Word or Two about Gratuitousness

    I steered clear of PWP (Porn Without Plot, sometimes called Plot, What Plot? particularly when referring to gratuitous violence rather than sexual situations). The works here may have characters removing their clothing (or someone else's), they may fire phasers or disruptors or wield daggers, and they may use language not intended for mixed company. But none of the characters in the works I reviewed did so without a purpose. This is not just a splatterfest of killing for the sake of piling up a body count. And it is not the Trek equivalent of the pizza delivery guy just showing up and suddenly finding himself in the midst of an impromptu orgy. Harsh words are sometimes said by these characters, or harsh deeds are performed. Bodies move together in rather adult ways. I doubt most people would find many of these stories appropriate for young children. And that is all to the point of Adult Trek. This is not Trek for children and it is not Trek for panting teenagers. This is Star Trek for grown-ups.

    Character Studies

    Three Can Be Better Than Two

    Dozing in Decon by Bluetiger
    Dozing in Decon by Bluetiger

    For T'Pol, there's more than one possibility for romance. By the time Captain Archer and Commander Tucker are brought back from a kidnapping, something's changed for good. PaulineM's What Lies within Lies Between is rightfully rated MA for explicit sexual situations.


    In After Rain by Mr Smith, Captain Archer shows he has a rather particular and unexpected talent. Rated T for the situation more than anything else.

    Mr Picard's sweet Eight Letters, Three Words, One Meaning brings Captain Picard together with a young bartender. Rated MA for explicit scenes.

    Section 69's From the Depths explores a very frightened Armory Officer pushed to his limits. Who does he think of in his darkest hours? Rated T for some situations.


    T'Pol's Secret by Bluetiger
    T'Pol's Secret by Bluetiger

    When Trip and T'Pol talk a bit after a certain intimate act, the questions begin to pile up in the humorous exploration, Questionably Yours by Aquarius. This short story is rated T for the specific circumstances more than anything else.

    Unrequited love is finally requited, but only in the midst of adversity. Prisoners of Hope, by Kathy Rose, adds a new dimension to the end of the third season of ENT. Rated T for some violence.

    Worf and Jadzia share some very intimate moments in Ginomo's Homecoming. Rated M for explicit acts.

    In Sorrow, Shared, Honeybee explores a rather visceral reaction to tragedy. Rated MA for the explicit situation.

    But it's not all angst. A little fun goes wrong, wrong, wrong in Aquarius's humorous Afternoon Delight, another story rated MA for explicit sex.


    Of course sex isn't the only reason for a more "adult" rating. Lil Black Dog's Ripples explores what would have happened if Doctor McCoy had not been available for Spock's wedding. This harsh look at an alternate fate is rated T for violence, and won the January 2011 "It's a Wonderful Life" challenge on Ad Astra.

    The horrific crime of genocide is explored in Jean-Luc Picard's chilling Anvil of the Gods, an exploration of just what the Dominion does to a species that it considers a threat.

    In D'Storlin, a taunted hybrid child is pushed too far, with tragic consequences. What people can do to each other can sometimes be far worse than what any enemy does. Rated T for implied violence.

     Rush Limborg's From Risa With Love
    Fantasy Bashir girl Brigitte Bardotbrings action and old-style James Bond heroics to the Deep Space Nine era, as Dr. Julian Bashir goes from holodeck fantasy intrigue to the real thing. But all is not as it seems, as a mysterious woman toys with our hero's heart and the Orion Syndicate threatens peaceful Risa. Rated T for some violence and implied sexual situations.


    For those of us who like a little spice with our Trek, the field remains rich and dynamic. I can't wait for next year, can you?

     IDIC indeed!