2009 as we imagined it

I have a new article up at Fantasy Magazine, cataloging some of the events in speculative fiction that were said to take place in 2009 – from Star Trek time travel and The Master’s conquest of Earth in Dr. Who to David Brin’s post-apocalyptic The Postman and the more recent monster movie Cloverfield.  Whoever did the graphics and layout did a great job on the design for the article, as is always the case at Fantasy.

You’re likely to see more nonfiction from me at Fantasy this year, so keep an eye out for it.

JJ Abrams & Star Trek: New Hope or Disaster Movie?

The new Star Trek trailer came out last week. This version has a different ending, with a cameo by Leonard Nimoy as old Spock:

On first viewing, the trailer got me excited.  Going back to a younger Kirk and Spock seems promising, especially after several lackluster movies that felt like they were covering well-trodden territory (or, let’s be honest, territory that should never have been trod at all).  And when the bad-ass little kid answers that his name is “James Tiberius Kirk,” I can’t help but notice the shiver running up my arms.  Yes, I think to myself as I watch, that is exactly what Kirk was like as a kid.

But … but but but…. I can’t shake the feeling that it’s a cool trailer for a bad movie.  You know, those bad movies where they take the only ten good lines in the movie and splice them together to make an amazing trailer.  Doesn’t this seem like this could be one of those? 

Then there’s the fact that JJ Abrams – of Alias, Lost, and Cloverfield fame – is the director.  I’m a big Alias fan – or at least I was for the first two seasons.  And Cloverfield was a very cool, original take on the classic monster movie plot.  But I’ve never been able to watch more than two minutes of Lost and its on-the-nose dialogue without changing the channel. And JJ Abrams is yet another of those creators who seems way too compelled to keep announcing he’s not a trekkie.  I mean, really.  It’s like a straight guy in gay bar who keeps telling all the other guys he’s not gay.  It only makes you wonder what’s really going on.

Now, I’m all in favor of making a movie that’s not mired in the details of Federation history and that’s accessible to a wider audience.  All of the best Trek movies were like that (and for me the best were indisputably the three-series run of II, III, and IV.) And I’m not one of those fanboys who gets annoyed at minor continuity glitches.  (Okay, I admit I’m slightly annoyed that it seems like the Romulans are the villains and we all know that the Romulans were never seen by anyone from the Federation until the original series episode “Balance of Terror,” but I’m willing to overlook those sorts of things if the story makes it worth it.) 

But what really concerns me is when new creators come in and get the characters all wrong.  My friend Corey, who hates Lost, thinks that’s what’s going to happen with this one – he thinks Abrams will make a slick action movie that has no respect for the characters or the essential themes of Star Trek. This quote from JJ Abrams doesn’t exactly help rebut that: “I didn’t love Kirk and Spock when I began this journey — but I love them now.”  I don’t want to entrust these characters to some guy who had to go through the process of making a multimillion-dollar movie to realize who cool they are! 

But some of the other stuff JJ Abrams has said seems much more promising.  He seems to get the essential optimism of Star Trek.  And the two guys who wrote the script are avowed Trekkies who seem like they get it, too.  And both the casting and set design seem visually right-on – paying homage to the old series, a bit retro, but without deteriorating into silliness or imitation. 

My partner Hassan, all-around wise person and big-time Trekkie (I would never have relations outside the genre) says that it doesn’t matter what the actual movie is like.  We should just enjoy the anticipation and excitement, the idea of all the great things the movie could be. 

I guess I’ll go with that approach for now….