Where is Laura Roslyn?

The clues unlocking the mysteries of Battlestar Galactica on youwillknowthetruth.com are frustrating.  Today’s clue shows last years famous photo of the cast minus the final cylon.  But in today’s clue we get the same image we’ve seen for over a year, except it’s missing Laura Roslyn and the fire she is lighting.  Why?  Theories?

Image from today’s clue.

picture-1

Image from last year.

battlestar-galactica-theories

“Duet” DS9, Season 1, Episode 18

This is quite possibly the single best stand-alone episode I have yet seen in a Star Trek series.  I was completely unprepared for the superb quality of this episode when I casually sat down to watch part of it over lunch.  Part of it turned into, there is no way I’m turning this off until I see the end.  I have a special place in my heart for the one-hour TV episodic drama, but there have been few times when I have been so very riveted.  

I started watching DS9 about two months ago and I absolutely love it.  I mean really love it.  Voyager level love here.  The series started off well and has only gotten better as season 1 moves along.  I am really looking forward to what this series has to offer over the long haul.  That being said, I did not like all of the characters at the outset.  Major Kira primarily.  She’s loud, aggressive, quick-tempered, and bit too much of a victim for my taste.  At least that’s what I previously thought.  Really she is quite a compelling character.  Sure she has some irritating traits (more attributable to her Bajoran race than to the actress), but she is wonderfully layered and complex.

The reason I bring her up is because “Duet” is a Kira centric episode.  We get to see, essentially for the first time, the profound impact the Cardassian occupation had on her.  Further, what that occupation involved.  We learn that the Cardassian occupation of Bajor was similar in many respects to the Holocaust.  Extermination and genoicde were used to describe the scenario.  Kira witnessed the effects of this genocide as it was happening.  In “Duet” we really see her scars (and in many cases open wounds) laid bare.  Here’s her description of the events at Gallitep (the labor camp at issue in the episode) to Sisko:

“Commander, if you’d been there twelve years ago when we liberated that camp, if you’d seen the things I saw… All those Bajoran bodies, starved, brutalized… Do you know what the Cardassian policy was?! And I’m not even talking about the murder, murder was just the end of the fun for them! First came the humiliation. Mothers, raped in front of their children, husbands beaten until their wives couldn’t recognise them, old people buried alive because they couldn’t work anymore….!!”

Kira spends the entire episode delving into the life of a man she believes she knows she hates.  A man who identifies himself as Marritza (later as Gul Darhe’el, and eventually confirms he really is Marritza) who worked at one of the Bajoran labor camps Kira fought to liberate.  The plot twists in this episode were dizzying but extremely well timed and effective.  By the end of the episode Kira has completely changed her opinion of Marritza.  The two characters connected when Marritza finally admitted his guilt in the labor camp atrocity yet he also showed showed an emotion Kira did not expect, profound remorse.  It was through his repentance that Kira was able to finally see past Marritza as a Cardassian (a people she hates), to a person she could connect with as they both feel immense grief over the genocide at the labor camp.  

Marritza was an incredible character that came in for a brief moment and did the impossible: he managed to change Kira’s opinion of Cardassians.  I’m very glad her perspective has changed.  I think she will now be a far more complex and interesting character as she will, inevitably, have to be a leader among Bajoran’s as they work to shift from hating their former oppressors, to eventually tolerating them.

Legend of the Seeker

Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert’s new television show (beginning on November 1) has been re-named “Legend of the Seeker.”  The story line for the TV series is based on the Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth saga and was previously titled “Wizard’s First Rule” after the first book in the series.  I am always in the mood for a Raimi/Tapert show and can’t wait to see how this one shapes up come fall.  If it’s anything like the preview, it will indeed rock.

I CON(‘t) Make Up My Mind

I love sci-fi conventions!  Con’s if you will.  I’ve only been to one thus far but it was AMAZING.  Possibly the most fun a person could have with a $25 day pass.

The year was 2006.  It was November in Springfield, MA and I just happened to find a link to a convention that was happening that very weekend.  It was Friday in the law library.  I was clearly hard at work (especially considering I was apparently researching sci-fi con’s on the internet).  After I did a happy dance while seated at my cubicle I promptly called my WNEC sci-fi comrade to let her know about the event.  A few hours later we were drinking and talking BSG with our new friends from Boston, dishing Star Trek DS9 with a clerk for the Supreme Court of Connecticut, and chillin’ with some Klingon’s.

Like I said, it’s amazing.

Now it’s a year and a half later and I’m dying for a con.  I was super psyched about Starbase Indy when I moved back to Indianapolis from Springfield.   The year I was in MA they had Katie Sackhoff as a headlining guest.  This past year it was the dude who played Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode 1.  ??  I know.  That’s what I thought too.  The guy never spoke nor did you see his face in the entire film!  Lame.  I did not go.

Since that time Starbase Indy has been acquired by Vulkon Entertainment.  The 2008 guest list started off by snaging John De Lancie (Q from Star Trek).  Done.  Sold.  I’ll be there.  Tickets are reasonably priced at $159 and $99.  Depending on who else ends up on the guest list I may just buy a day pass.  Either way it should be worth it.

But that’s just some local fun.  I really want to GO to a sci-fi con.  A destinati(con) if you please.  Of course top of the list are Dragon Con (in Atlanta) and Comicon (in San Diego).  But those are a given.  I also would love to spend copious amounts of money touring around the Creation Entertainment Con network sometime.  They’ve got all of my favorite show specific cons.  Star Trek Las Vegas would be stellar.  Janeway’s gonna be there!!  Plus, about every other cool person who’s been on Star Trek over the years.  The Stargate Con in Vancouver.  Wow.  Creation’s got it all – Xena.  Serenity.  Battlestar Galactica.  Farscape.  Lord of the Rings.  Lost.  The list is impressive.

Now you can see my dilemma.  I con(‘t) choose.  I want to go to them all.  But at $350/weekend pass + hotel and travel I can only do one.  Maybe one.  That’s about $800 to spend on weekend.  It’s well worth it in my opinion.  I just want to make sure I spend it wisely.

Some folks want to go to the beach.  Me, I want to put on my “frak” t-shirt and get all geeky for the weekend.  :)  Best.  Time.  Ever.

Enterprise(d) Surprised

I’m watching it, and…I like it.  A few weeks ago I was catching up on Battlestar Galactica episodes on my DVR when the commercials started to roll.  Before I could hit fast forward I saw a Star Trek ship.  Having just finished Star Trek: Voyager, I really missed my Federation friends.  It was a moment of blissful nostalgia.  I then saw that it was an ad for Enterprise.  The Sci-Fi Channel would be airing three episodes every Tuesday.  Funny, I thought, today is Tuesday.  So I hopped on over to my local listings and saw that the Enterprise episode starting that evening was “Broken Bow.”  Hmm.  That really didn’t tell me much, so I did another jump.  This time over the StarTrek.com to the episode guide.  As fate would have it, (and she is a saucy minx) “Broken Bow” was Season 1, Episode 1.  What was I to do?  I had earlier mocked that Scott Bakula would force me to watch Enterprise last…fate proved me wrong.  I am watching Enterprise now.  Nine episodes later I can comfortably say that I enjoy it so far.  It’s not Voyager, but it’s pretty good.

This time we are in the Alpha Quadrant.  Vulcan’s are our annoying friends who won’t let us doing anything fun.  Klingon’s are the enemy.  And we can only travel warp 5.

Stargate Continuum

Oh how I love teaser trailers!  And Jack O’Neill’s back.  :)  July 29th folks.  I am, for one, excited.

Farewell to Voyager

Well folks, I finished it.  All seven seasons in about four months.  Not too bad I reckon.  I have to lend a great deal of thanks to the Spike network for playing the series in sequential order, as well as my DVR for dutifuly recording the episodes each and every day.  I thought I would write a quick post detailing my initial reactions to the series.  You know, before I start thinking about it a little too much.

First and foremost I thought Star Trek Voyager was a great show.  I think they really hit their stride in the third season and things just kept getting better from then on out.  At the same time, I loved the first few seasons (save a few of those Kazon episodes) where Voyager was trying to stand up on its wee little legs.  People who know me will frequently hear me go on a tangent about how TV today is too well written.  Producers and writers know exactly where they want their shows to go and how long it will take to get them there.  TV is too well polished.  First seasons of TV series are no longer delightful disasters to suffer through.  Funny episodes you can watch years later and cringe at – I like that sort of a thing.  It just shows that someone, somewhere had a really good idea, pitched it, got a gig, and ran with it.  They didn’t really know what they were doing, but that was the best part.  Characters and story arcs weren’t set in stone.

Sorry, sorry.  End tangent.  Basically I loved Voyager because it too seemed to have a bit of an identity crisis in the beginning.  For me, this is a good thing.  I love to watch a show grow and develop.  If I wanted to see polished I’ll buy a movie ticket.

Other great things…  Seven of Nine was awesome.  I wasn’t even sad to see Kes go really.  Seven was a much better addition to the show.  Janeway is also an amazing character.  I think she’ll be one of my all time favorites.  Also, the Doctor, Torres, and even Lt. Kim grew on me after some time.  Voyager certainly had a great cast.

This leads me to one of the more difficult issues I had with Voyager.  I have to say at the outset that I struggle with this issue on other TV series as well, it’s not limited to Star Trek.  I am finally confident in saying that I hate ensemble casts.  I just do.  They are TOO BIG!  I don’t like any one character enough to want to suffer through entire episodes either without them, or with limited interaction with them.  I totally get why they are better to work with logistially on TV.  More people means more story lines, less taxing work on the actors, all sorts of other good things as well.  But at the end of the day I want dynamic duos.  Mulder and Scully.  Xena and Gabrielle.  I’ll even take SG-1 (Daniel, O’Neill, Carter, and Tiel’c).  More than four and you lose me.  I guess I like really indepth character development.  I never cared for one moment about Chakotay, Tuvok, Neelix, etc.  If an episode centered around them I really had to grit my teeth and bear it sometimes.  It was too big.  I didn’t like everyone, and even if I did like them I didn’t want a whole episode about them.

I digress again.

In summation, I really did like Voyager.  Was it my favorite sci-fi of all time?  No.  Voyager was something I could pick up and love, but easily put away and not think about for weeks at a time.  Other shows have been much more of a craving for me.  I had to see the next episode.  If it could have been downloaded directly into my brain that would have been better.  Others were SO great.  Voyager wasn’t quite like that for me.  Yet still I loved it.

It is my guess that Voyager will end up being my favorite Star Trek series.  It’s just a guess, but I know myself pretty well.  What can I say?  I❤ Janeway!  (I think I even said that in my first post on this blog.  Good to see somethings never change!)  If she were my captain, I’d follow her anywhere.

AdmJaneway

The God Complex

I am currently writing a paper for my Law and Technology class on the legal personality of artificial intelligence.  Though certainly not a new area in science ficition, it is relatively new in terms of the law.  The section I am including below (blissfully not full of legal mumbo-jumbo for you non-lawyer types) is in regards to an issue I’ve been thinking a great deal about.  I’m not sure whether this section will make it into the final draft of my paper.  To be honest, it’s sort of a philosophical debate that may or may not lend insight to the rest of my paper (once I get around to finishing it).  For that reason I thought I would post it here.  Offer it up to you for comments and discussion.

The God Complex

Proponents against human cloning, genetic engineering, and A.I. often describe scientists and theorists who work in these various fields as “playing God.”  This negative description seems to capture a fundamental belief by some members of society that creation and alteration of intelligent beings should be off limits, or limited to God.  Is this true?  What does it mean to be God, or a god?  In the Christian faith, God created man in his image.  Similarly, the character of the Doctor on Star Trek Voyager was a holographic computer program that looked exactly like a human.  Were the Doctors creators, albeit fictional, playing god?  Is it indicative of a god complex to create something in your image, in this case the image being a replica of our species, human?  Japan, currently engaged in the most aggressive robot program today, already includes humanoid robots in various aspects of their society.  For whatever reason, there does seem to be a clear goal of creating robots capable of mimicking humans.  This humanity can be in appearance (two arms, two legs, eyes, a mouth, etc.) or in personality (such as giving a computer program a voice and emotion).

Though not important directly to the legal personality or robots and A.I. it is interesting to consider the motivations for creating technology in the image of humanity and what this might say about us.  What does it mean to be a god?  The Goa’ould, a technologically advanced race depicted on Stargate SG-1, repeatedly stated that they were deserving of the status of god because for all intents and purposes they were.  Their technological superiority often made them impervious to weapons, they lived for thousands of years (again thanks to technology), and were followed and worshiped by millions of people.  They were, in many ways exactly what they said, gods.

Is this ability to play god a problem?  Does the court have a right to step in and declare that there are some things that ought not be created?  Can the courts or legislature limit some forms of technological advancement because it crosses some moral line in the sand reserved only for god– if not god, then simply a crude game of chance?  Cells coming together and choosing each other, for reasons unknown, which produce a result we as humans can wash our hands of.  Do we have the right to go beyond our role of dealing with the consequences of creations in which we had no part, or should we have the right to not only deal with the outcome, but also serve as creational architects?

Contemplation on this issue is crucial to the topic of robot rights because this is an area of the law that is currently being formed.  As we consider and construct the system from which we analyze the legal rights of robots we should also consider whether our role, as humans and creators has changed.  At the same time robots are being granted rights (if only to exist), will our rights be limited in regards to what we can create?  Should they be limited?  What is the difference between a god and a creator?  What does it mean when the created can mimic the creator?  Outdo him?  Most importantly, how will this issue resolve itself in the marble floors, wooden benches, and black robes of our justice system?

Thinking about the Prime Directive

The Prime Directive is the guiding force on Star Trek, it provides the moral compass from which all decisions are made.  As a supreme law it seems to work well.  Seeing as there is not actual legal code for the Star Trek-verse, here is the language of the Prime Directive according to Wikipedia.

The Prime Directive dictates that there can be no interference with the internal affairs of other civilizations, consistent with the real world concept of Westphalian sovereignty. …No primitive culture can be given or exposed to any information regarding advanced technology or the existence of extraplanetary civilizations, lest this exposure alter the natural development of the civilization. In addition to exposure, purposeful efforts to improve or change in any way the natural course of such a society, even if that change is well-intentioned and kept completely secret, are prohibited.

The Prime Directive seems so enlightened.  A civilization, or United Federation of Planets, that realizes the importance of the struggle for a societies advancement (in this case technological advancement).  Interference in that process is so egregious that it violates the most important law of the society.  The realization that you could help a society, but that you ought not to is profound.

As I do with most of the notions I stumble across in Star Trek, or sci-fi in general, I try and think of the message in terms of how we live our lives, as Earthlings, today.  What if the United States employed the Prime Directive?  What if every society on Earth applied the Prime Directive throughout history?  Historically its fun to imagine, but I think it’s most interesting to apply it to the current world environment.

Many of the worlds nations would not possess weapons, or at least weapons of mass destruction (as they have been coined).  In order to possess the technology there would have to be an effort on behalf of the countries citizens to seek, know, and understand.  This struggle would eventually become the great equalizer of all nations.  Everyone had to get to the end point on their own steam, and the end point is, by default peaceful in many ways.

This presumption that ultimately technological advancement leads to pacifism is fascinating.  Stargate SG-1 explored this theme a great deal.  In fact, aside from the Goa’ould and Ori, SG-1 encountered very few advanced societies that were not pacifist.  Some of them so pacified and adherent to their Prime Directives that they would not communicate with SG-1 (like the Nox).  I was always impressed at the notions this idea conjured.  A deeper understanding that all of the fighting of today will lead to a peaceful tomorrow.

While researching this topic I found a great clip from The Next Generation of all the senior staff discussing the Prime Directive.

“What we do today could profoundly effect the future.”

Perhaps we should make more of our decisions today with that simple truth in the back of our minds.

Great Quote on Death

As I was watching the episodes, “Emanations” this evening I found one of the quotes to be particularly nice.  The episode dealt with death and the afterlife.  Enjoy.

 “What we don’t know about death is far, far greater than what we do know.” Captain Janeway

She’s right.  And, I think that simple truth is okay.  Most people are not fine with such notions.