Thursday, May 07, 2009

Losing My Geek Cred

Thanks for all the fun science fiction recommendations. That may help me come up with good summer reading. Really, right now "fun" isn't too popular in the publishing world. "Dark and dangerous" are the buzzwords. Romantic comedy and chick lit are pretty much dead except for a few authors -- and even there the chick-lit-like books are mostly about what happens after marriages fall apart. The cover blurbs all seem to go along the lines of "Mary Sue thought she had the perfect marriage, until she caught her husband with the pool boy. Now she's trying to cope with being a single mother, re-establishing her career and re-entering the dating scene." Not really my idea of fun reading. Fantasy -- both urban and otherwise -- is all about the dark and dangerous. Science fiction seems to mostly be about how the world is coming to an end because humans are terrible. Maybe I'm shallow, but for summer reading, in particular, I want to read about people I like having adventures. A touch of darkness and danger is fine, but I don't want to wallow in it.

Sometimes, that strong craving to read something is a sign that it's something I should be writing, but I suspect that if I tried to create a Firefly-like space adventure it would probably end up looking like Firefly fan fiction with the serial numbers filed off. Or else I would be so conscious of trying to avoid looking like I was writing Firefly fan fiction with the serial numbers filed off that I'd be making character choices strictly for that reason, which isn't good, either. Maybe someday an actual plot/story/character will drop into my head and I can write it, but at the moment I'm not even sure there's a market for that sort of thing.

Speaking of space adventures, I'm going to have to come clean with a confession that will show that I'm either a bad geek or a truly geeky geek: I have no interest in the new Star Trek movie. In fact, I'm kind of opposed to the very existence of it. It's not for the reasons given in the Onion spoof video about Trekkies hating the film. I have no objections to more action and fewer scenes of debating ethical issues. I just hate the idea of a prequel to the original series involving the characters from the original series (I wasn't thrilled with the idea of Enterprise, either, but at least that was set in a different era).

While I am a fairly old-school Trekker (I may even be a Trekkie, to be honest, though I don't own a set of Spock ears, I don't have a Starfleet uniform and I don't speak Klingon), I'm also capable of being open-minded about it. I love the original series for what it was and have fond memories of watching it. I saw it in bits and pieces as a kid (my mom watched it during the original run, part of which I was alive for, so I guess I was indoctrinated early), then they started running it after school when I was in high school. Both my parents worked at the school, so we all came home together and watched it every afternoon. I fell in with the group that I ended up hanging out with in college when they used to gather in someone's dorm room to watch Star Trek every afternoon before going down to the cafeteria for dinner. The fourth movie came out my freshman year, and there was a big group outing to go see it.

But I'll admit that I liked The Next Generation even more when it came along (we crammed into a dorm room for that, too). And my favorite series of them all is Deep Space Nine, which should prove that I'm not really the hidebound, old-school Trekkie who refuses to accept anything that doesn't meticulously follow Roddenberry's vision.

My problem is that I'm not a fan of re-boots, especially not of something so iconic. If you're going to do it, go the Battlestar Galactica route and really re-do it without pretending it has any connection to the original. But to re-boot with a prequel that takes place not too terribly long before the original? I can't quite deal. The ages don't really line up well and it all ends up looking like the Muppet Babies, where there was already an "origin" story of how they met as adults, and then suddenly they all were in the same nursery together as babies. And then there's the look of things. The original series had a pretty distinct look that had a lot to do with the time period and the budget, and there are a couple of ways to approach it -- you can update the look and pretend it was always like that, just depicted using the technology available at the time, or you can go with it, acknowledge it and accept it as the aesthetic of a particular era. I loved the way they dealt with it on the "Trials and Tribbleations" episode of Deep Space Nine -- they considered it a particular era with a particular style and acknowledged that things really did look like that then. They even dealt with the old-style Klingons with the "we do not discuss it among outsiders" line.

I would have been all for a Star Trek re-do with a new crew -- like the next-next generation or even another ship. But my old-school Trekker heart won't let me cope with other people playing Kirk, Spock and McCoy in a universe that looks nothing like the Trek universe. The movie's getting great reviews, and I might have been willing to be dragged by friends, but my friends are going at a time when I can't go, and I can't picture myself taking time out to go to the movie on my own.

So, do I have to give up my geek badge of honor for not seeing a Star Trek movie, or do I enter the Geek Hall of Fame for being too geeky to accept the re-boot? I already didn't see the latest X-Files movie. It looks like I'll have to see the new Harry Potter on opening day (I plan to) to retain any geek credibility.

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