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Well, yesterday was a bit of a mixed day. Went into Kings for a… - John C. Kirk

Jan. 10th, 2003

10:01 am

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Well, yesterday was a bit of a mixed day.

Went into Kings for a revision lecture, which was rather futile. One guy couldn't seem to understand that when he was monopolising the class with a question that only interested him (literally, everyone else in the class said it was a waste of time), it would be more appropriate for him to talk to the lecturer privately afterwards. Another guy asked which topics he needed to revise. Now, a few people have made jokes about "could you tell us what the exam questions are?" (which are getting a bit tired by now), but he genuinely seemed to think that the lecturer would say something like "Well, there aren't any questions about sorting, so don't bother revising that - just focus on matrix multiplication". Apparently this is his second attempt at the MSc course (i.e. he did the same course last year), and with an attitude like that I can understand why... Oh well, grading on the curve is my friend :) I spent the time reading through my notes, so at least I achieved something.

In the evening, I went into Imperial for ballroom dancing. I was a bit worried that I'd have forgotted everything over the holidays, but we started out with mostly new stuff, and so I found it all surprisingly easy. I missed the first few weeks last term, so maybe this explains why I struggled initially. At one point, Dorothy (teacher) was correcting my posture, which reminded me of the beginning of "Pyramids" (the Pratchett novel) - "you put your arms up, your shoulders down, your body up, and then you attempt to move..." Anyway, it was a fun class, with a roughly equal gender ratio, so that was good.

Went on to Magic in the ICSF library, but I didn't get to play a game due to lack of time, so I just chatted to the others while they played. Then we went off to the cinema to see "Star Trek: Nemesis". I was a bit wary about this, as almost all the comments I'd heard on the internet about it had been negative. Still, it's Star Trek, so I could hardly not watch it... Basically, I thought it was ok. Not the greatest Trek film ever, but certainly worth watching. They had some good ideas, and some stupid ideas, and I did feel a few times that the concepts they were exploring had been handled better elswhere.

More detailed comments:

* The Argo

I really liked that ship. The standard Starfleet shuttlecraft looks like a flying brick, so it's nice to see something that's got a more aesthetic design. Digressing slightly, one thing I liked about "Crusade" was the fact that their shuttles looked as if they could conceivably fly in an atmosphere (e.g. they had wings), and I'd hoped that "Enterprise" would use a similar approach (sadly, they didn't). Speaking of shuttles, I also liked the scene where the stolen shuttle got beamed aboard the Enterprise - "I'll see your tractor beam, and raise you a transporter!" Always nice to see some strategy in space battles, rather than two ships just pounding on each other's shields until one gives way. And speaking of battles, I thought the Romulan sub-plot was handled well - the assistance was foreshadowed, rather than being deus ex machina. Mind you, I felt that the ramming aspect was handled better in the "Federation" novel, although the special effects were more impressive in the film :) It was interesting to note that when Picard said "Divert full power to the engines, cut out life support if you have to", they still kept the artificial gravity running... But I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they would have diverted that power before life support if they'd needed to, but they found other sources.

* Worf

I understand that they want to put him in every TNG film, but the justifications are getting more tenuous. In "Generations", he was part of the Enterprise crew, so no problem there. In "First Contact", he'd been assigned to DS9. However, the Defiant was built as an anti-Borg weapon, so it absolutely made sense for that to join the battle, and Worf had been pretty much living on the Defiant for the past couple of months at DS9, so it made sense for him to command it. Again, no problem there. In "Insurrection", Picard was slightly surprised to see Worf onboard at the reception, and asked him what he was doing there, but the camera panned away before you heard his answer. So, that suggests that there was a reason, but we don't know what it was, i.e. the writers couldn't think of one. So, not great, but at least they acknowledged the issue. In "Nemesis", he's supposed to be the Federation ambassador to the Klingon Empire, so why is he a Starfleet Commander again? I've heard comments (possibly from the novelisation, i.e. cut from the film) that "he wasn't suited for diplomacy", but I don't like that. Firstly, I really enjoyed the novel "Diplomatic Implausibility", which showed him doing well as an ambassador. (Although there was some entertaining dialogue with Riker - "From the moment I first met you, I knew you'd make a good diplomat" "Really?" "No Worf, the first time I met you, you were about to shoot the viewscreen with your phaser because Q's face was on it" "Ah, well, I was younger then...") Secondly it seems like a step backwards in character development, particularly since Sisko had made it clear to him that he'd never make Captain (after the situation with Jadzia), so he doesn't have much of a future in Starfleet.

* Data

I have to say, I agreed with Geordi on this one - copying over all of Data's memories to B4 seems like a really bad idea. The way I see it, they're either trying to replace his existing mind with Data's (which seems a bit unethical), or they're saying "let's trust a complete stranger with classified Starfleet information", which isn't the best move strategically. I was also a bit dubious about Data's claim that if the two androids were physically identical, and had the same memories, then they'd have different personalities. But that's partly because the more I learn about AI, the more sceptical I am about the way it's presented in Star Trek, so this may just fall into the same category as the instant universal translator/communicators - "magic technology". When Geordi asked Data how he'd feel about B4 having all his memories, and Data said "I don't feel anything", I'll give the writers the benefit of the doubt, and say that he meant "it doesn't bother me", as opposed to "I don't have any emotions, despite my chip". Oh, and for anyone who's wondering, Data was whistling "Pop goes the weasel" in his first appearance. One plus point about B4 - when I saw the trailers, I assumed his double was Lore, so that was a surprise to me.

* Picard

They seemed to be deliberately portraying him as flawed at the end, which was an interesting choice. Bearing that in mind though, I felt one flaw was that he didn't shoot Shinzu as soon as he came onto the Scimatar's bridge. He clearly didn't have any qualms about gunning down all the Remans, so I don't see why some shared genetics should affect things. Mind you, that may just be my personal bias showing through - I've heard the "my blood flows in your veins" argument enough times to have developed an immunity to it... Especially if Picard was stunning the Remans, it wouldn't even have done any long-term damage (at least until the ship exploded). A similar principle applies to the "Buffy" episode where Willow meets her vampire counterpart - if there was a killer running around with my face, I wouldn't be saying "Oh, please let him go free".

* Main plot

Destroying Earth would be inconvenient for the people who lived there, but I really don't think it would wipe out humanity/cripple the Federation. There are enough colonies to sustain the species, and all the Starfleet vessels would still be intact - they'd just need to designate DS9 as a temporary command centre.

* Wedding party

Slightly odd to have the wedding on Betazed after their honeymoon, although I guess they didn't want to wind up with an 18 certificate on the film :) Nice to see Wesley there (far left on the table), even if his speaking scenes were cut out. I was surprised to see him in a Starfleet uniform, but if they let Q get away with it, I guess there's a clause for omnipotent entities. And it has been suggested that he may officially be on sabbatical from Starfleet while he jaunts around with the Traveller, if he never actually resigned his commission (and they probably wouldn't want to fire someone with his abilities). The comment about Romulan Ale being illegal was slightly odd - I'm sure that there was a comment in DS9 about the trade embargo being lifted (due to the Federation-Romulan alliance during the Dominion War). However, that may have been in one of the relaunch novels rather than an episode, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on that one too.

* Enterprise-E

I think whoever designed that ship has been watching too much Star Wars - diagonal chutes off the side of corridoors, and a catwalk over a bottomless pit. I can accept the Jeffries tubes as the sewer system of the Enterprise, but those are some odd choices for design features. Mind you, I was reading the Evil Overlord list the other day, which included this item: "62: I will design fortress hallways with no alcoves or protruding structural supports which intruders could use for cover in a firefight." Based on this film, they are useful to defenders as well as attackers, so not such a stupid feature :)

* Doubles

This is an interesting theme, but I really think it's been handled better elsewhere. In particular, I'd recommend Bujold's novels. Some of them deal with Miles Vorkosigan's clone (Mark), who was grown to replace Miles, and infiltrate Barrayaran security (sound familiar?). Thinking of the end of the film, where Picard is talking to B4, I wonder whether they'll be keeping him around the Enterprise. Personally, I think that would be a really bad idea, as everyone will expect him to be Data, rather than accepting him for who he is. I remember some dialogue in one of the Bujold novels between Miles' parents (when Miles is critically injured). Father: "[Mark] may be all we have left of Miles" Mother: "No, he's all we have left of Mark" But even if you discount novels, and stick to Star Trek, I personally thought that the Tom Riker arc was handled better than Shinzu. And if you liked that arc, I recommend the novel "Imzadi 2: Triangle" by Peter David, which has Tom Riker and Sela (Tasha Yar's daughter) in key roles.