Nanowrimo – 2018

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Nanowrimo 2018 is fast approaching and I will be taking part. Even though, at this precise moment, I have very little idea of what I am going to be writing about.

I already have several projects on the go and it would make more sense to finish one of them but I enjoy the challenge of nanowrimo and I want to do it. Also I have done it for the last couple of years and don’t want to miss one. It is funny how an established habit makes it easier to continue. I discovered the other day I had missed a day on my morning pages and that was annoying – although it is possible it was a computer error and that entry didn’t save.

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There are some characters in my head that I have done very little with and I think writing 50,000 words on one of them might be a good idea.

I have been a fan of Star Trek since I was very little. And have been telling stories since I was old enough to speak/annoy my parents depending on how you look at it. So it was only natural that I would have my own starship crew.

I have in my head a group of eight main characters that make up my starship crew:

  1. Commander Michael Wisdom
  2. Major Virgil Noxon
  3. Major Duncan O’Reilly
  4. Major Tracy Troxell
  5. Major Melissa Dorn
  6. Major Svea Borg
  7. Major  Dimitri Kriskovich
  8. Lieutenant Stephanie McKnight

As you can see it is perfectly balanced between men and woman – which in the crazy way this world is going will probably annoy everyone!

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I have written a story or two with these characters but haven’t got fully immersed into their world. Weirdly I have back story for some of them.

I know, for example, that Lieutenant McKnight has red hair, is from Toronto, and her father was a Police officer.

I know Svea is blond, started as an enlisted crewman and, made the jump to officer – although I have since rethought how the ranks work in this universe.

I know Melissa is French, gay, and went into the space force over the objections of her father but that they now have a good relationship.

I know Duncan O’Reilly is from a race of genetically engineered humans, is telepathic, and has small horns on his forehead.

I know that Virgil Noxon was adopted, has twin younger siblings, Wyatt and Morgana, and, that his mother served in the space force before him.

And I know that Michael Wisdom is the middle child. His elder brother is also in the service and his younger brother is somewhat estranged from the family.

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So, yes, all this information is floating around in my head but there is very little written about these people or their universe. So my novel for November will be about these people – now I just need something for them to do.

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I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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I Understand…

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Some people complain about diversity in fiction. They seem to see something wrong with having characters from a variety of backgrounds. This is going to be a post where a white, heterosexual, and male person talks about diversity. What have I got myself into?

When Star Trek Discovery began there were some complains about it. It had a black female lead and a gay character. There are people who dislike it purely because of these factors. I don’t like Discovery. I saw the pilot and 1.5 episodes and it wasn’t gripping me so I watched something else instead. It had nothing to do with diversity. On the contrary that was one of the few bright sparks of the show. It is about bloody time we had a gay character!

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Previously, in Trek, we only had off hand references to gay people existing. Whoopi Goldberg got a small victory in changing a line to reflect everyone rather than being heteronormative. In DS9’s Rejoined Kira couldn’t understand why Dax can’t be with the woman she is falling in love with. In that episode it was the Trill taboo that was the problem and not that they were both women.

Diversity is good and it is something that should be seen more of in films. However there is a side to it that I find confusing. Some people talk about it being needed to help the audience identify more fully with the characters. This was certainly true of Whoopi Goldberg who was inspired by seeing Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek. As, at the time, a black woman in such a position was unheard of. Uhura was fifth in command of the Enterprise!

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Now I know what you are thinking: ‘You are a white heterosexual man. Almost every film ever made has a white heterosexual man.’

You are right of course but, for me, those factors don’t mean much.

I need to clarify what I am saying here because I do not want to cause any offence to anyone. I know that white privilege is a thing. And so is homophobia.

I know that no one is going to question me walking down the street holding a woman’s hand. No one is going to question me standing on a station platform holding her while waiting for a train. If I was gay they might. It should not make a difference. Love is love. The point I am trying to make is that my privileged status is shown in indifference. So although I am privileged I don’t notice it because it manifests in people being decent. I haven’t seen the other side. And I don’t really think of my sexual orientation, my race, or my gender as being significant to the person I am.

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I remember reading a book report in Primary School. When I was finished I was asked a question: ‘Do any of the characters remind you of someone you know?’

I thought about it and I said that one of the female characters reminded me of my brother. Some people in the class were confused by that. As if men and woman were so wildly different they couldn’t be compared in that way.  I don’t think I have ever needed similarity to find connection – or enjoyment in a work of fiction.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of my favourite shows growing up. It has a mostly female cast and I never felt alienated or disconnected or disinterested.

The too main male character’s in the show are Giles and Xander. I like them both but they are nothing like me. Giles is an older mentor character and Xander had enough confidence to ask out his crush out – I could never do that and I wouldn’t have been asking out a girl with super powers. Although I probably would have handled rejection better.

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TL:DR: Diversity is fantastic but its absence doesn’t effect my enjoyment.

I said before that factors like who I love and my gender don’t matter so what does?

The things I enjoy doing would be much more important. I prefer quite nights in to noisy nights out. With the acceptation of if I am kissing someone!

I am also disabled. I don’t talk about it much, and I think I generally say no to the question, but technically I am. I have dyspraxia, a condition that effects hand/eye coordination, I also have some issues with mental heath.

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So…I was wrong.

When I saw Doctor Who last week I had a feeling of joy inside when Ryan was shown to have dysprixia. I finally get it. Diversty is not just a nice to have it is absolutely essential. So on this one I have been a little slow.

Also Jodie Whittaker was awesome as the Doctor I have never liked a new Doctor so fast. She had echos of Tennant and even a bit of Troughton.

I look forward to seeing where they go with this show. And I hope they show Ryan coping with his dysprixia rather than an alien healing him. As much as I would like to be normal magic wands don’t exist in real life. And as a very special woman told me the other day: ‘There is nothing wrong with you.’ I should listen to her – a boost to self-esteem is invaluable.

I hope you are doing well with whatever you struggle with. You can do this!

***

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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Mudd’s Women

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Mudd Mudd glorious Mudd. I bet you never thought you’d see a connection between a Star Trek episode and Flanders and Swann. Many of you probably don’t even know who they are. So without further ado lets just get into it.

Well we are still yet to get to the really good stuff of TOS. This episode once again has the TOS staple of treating women badly.

Harry Mudd introduces the three women as ‘cargo’. He is transporting them in order to help find them husbands. The implication is that without husbands their lives would be meaningless. Which is rather offensive. It also seems counter to everything Star Trek is supposed to be about. And when it comes to describing what being a wife is it falls back on cliches of housework!

As an aside I understand the need to find someone. However in this episode it is presented in a rather creepy way.

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Specifically mentioned is ‘cooking’ and ‘sewing’ which seems anachronistic in the Trek word. Sewing is hardly something we do in the 21st century! I find it hard to imagine it would be a priority in the 23rd.

As for cooking that is a bit more difficult to pin down. There are references to real food in Trek but in TOS we see the crew eating colourful food cubes.

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Bringing up TNG is futile but just for completeness. In The Wounded Keiko is surprised that Miles’s mother touched real meat. And in Lonely Among Us Riker states that animals are no longer used for food in the 24th century. So who the hell knows?

In short Mudd’s Women is locked into gender roles. That probably isn’t something I can criticise it for. I don’t think that was an idea in the 1960s. Nevertheless for a show often referred to as progressive it is strange how much it clings to how things are rather than how they could be.

Harry Mudd presents an interesting character. I am surprised he got past Roddenberry He is so far from the ideal humans that Roddenberry liked. He is well performed and he is not an evil villain. I am not sure what else to say about him. Certainly his next appearance is more interesting.

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At the end of the episode the three woman marry the miners. That is right they marry them. And they have only known them for a few hours at this point. And apparently they only marry them because they are rich. I am slow clapping now.

Beyond the obvious implications what is the point of being rich when stuck on a backwater planet in the middle of nowhere?

This episode also comes with the threat of the week. Unfortunately that seems to be seen as something of a necessity. I am at least glad the problem wasn’t caused by sabotage or evilness. Instead the Enterprise over extended itself in trying to rescue Harry and his passengers. The Enterprise must acquire lithium [dilithium came later] before the Enterprise is pulled down into the planet’s atmosphere. And the miners seem prepared to let that happen if they don’t get what they want – mainly the women.

In conclusion this episode is meh. The women are used as a commodity, the miners seem prepared to risk the lives of hundreds of people if they don’t get them, and I am left with a rather uncomfortable feeling. I am still struggling with TOS but good episodes are just around the corner!

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I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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Night

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It is late as a write this post. 2314 for me. I want to write this now though.

Why? Why when I have to be up in the morning for work and I am still trying to wake up very early.

One reason is deadlines. Personal deadlines true but still deadlines. Deadlines for my projects. Another month is nearing its end and I can hear again the whooshing sound made my the approaching deadlines.

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Tell me I am not alone in this – being harsh on oneself for not doing something that only effects you.

It is nice to not feel alone in the strange ways of the human mind.

If these words are coming over as sad or depressed that is not the intent. If anything I am happy. A little light headed from it but I am happy. I am talking to a friend while I type this. I don’t want to be the one that ends the conversation. I don’t want them to end it either – this could be a problem.

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My computer has just given me another reminder of my bed. I should listen to it now. In closing I just want to say if you are hard on yourself I hope that you can find a way to ease up now and then. Now I just need to follow my own advice don’t I?

***

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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Change

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What would the life of a cat be like? It sounds quite nice at times – being able to sleep as much as you want and not to have any responsibilities. Also you can bite people you don’t like! So apart from having to eat cat food and licking yourself clean it could be quite an easy life.

If I had a bigger place, with a garden and a landlord that allowed it, I might get a cat. I am really more of a dog person but having a dog when out so much of the day would be very unfair. I could buy a Tamagotchi – no not really. I remember how annoying they were back in the day and that my mother once cycled into a hedge while trying to feed one.

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When I get home from work my little flat, with the exception of my clutter, does seem so empty sometimes. It is a weird thing to bring up because I am largely an introverted person.

Spending time with a few people is a lovely way to spend a night. A crowed club, like Tokyo at rush hour, is not.

I went to a bar the other day. A rare event for me. It was following my writing group. Three of us went, had some drinks, and talked for a coupe of hours. It was nice.

It was my birthday (17th September)  the other day. I invited many people but only two could make it. For the last hour or so it was only two of us. And that was nice. It gave me the opportunity to talk to that other person and get to know them. It was a Sunday night and thus the pub was quiet.

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Why do people go to clubs? I like conversation. To find out about the other person and to talk about anything and everything.  Well almost anything as some topics can lead to differences of opinion.

That is something a cat would miss. I wonder how much they do communicate. There is certainly something there given the way cats rub up against each other. Perhaps it is just an act of affection.

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A pet would be great. A dog would not let not let me sleep in. A cat would scratch at the door when they were hungry, a guinea pig might squeak. There are times when I hate the silence.

I believe having a pet would help me feel better about life. Today is an okay day. I feel fine. Having a dog to worry about would be nice.

I was thirty-one at that birthday. I think I need to make some changes. I need to get rid of clutter, I need to travel, I need to figure things out. It is a long and difficult process. I watch a lot of you tube videos about making life changes. It is time to get out of the rut and figure out what needs to change and how. I can’t have a pet. I can travel, improve my fitness, and diet. Perhaps those last two are the best places to start. What about you? What changes do you want to make?

***

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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The Enemy Within

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The Enemy Within is the first Star Trek episode to include a transporter malfunction. This would become a staple of the Trek universe. In this story Captain Kirk is split into two halves his good and bad sides. This story requires a hefty suspension of disbelief.  It also requires Shatner to over act so he is right at home.

That might be a bit of a cheep shot but Shatner does have a well earned reputation for over acting. In this episode as evil Kirk he has to yell ‘I’m Captain Kirk.’

As well as the dilemma of Kirk being split in two there is also the problem of the landing party being stranded on the planet. Watching this now the obvious question is why not use the shuttle? There is only the out of universe explanation that they didn’t yet have a shuttle to use. Even so they could have rescued them off screen and done so without need of a new set.

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I have seen this episode before but not for a long time. This time I found myself identifying with Kirk’s predicament as he sees the other him – the savage him.

I feel that way sometimes of having a part of my being that I can’t, or don’t want to, face a lot of the time. For me it is not about evil and good – rather it is happiness and sadness.

I have days when all the weight of life feels too much. I feel a sense of hopelessness. In those moments all my life goals feel far away and there seem to be no possibilities for change. Then, sometimes, I feel happy without specific stimulus. In those moments everything does seem possible – although still far far away.

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So when Kirk sees this mirror of himself – this violent man. I believe I can almost understand. When I am in a state of being alright the great sadness is alien to me and I cannot imagine how it feels. It makes it hard to seek help because it is like describing a sunny day in the park to an eyeless fish in the deepest depths of the ocean.

Star Trek is well known for these types of stories. It often uses science fiction to try and explore an aspect of humanity. That aspect could be internal and emotional or external and dealing with important issues.

We have another incident of violence against woman. Evil Kirk assaults Yeoman Rand.  This is made even worse considering what happened to Grace Lee Whitney in her real life. That scene made for uncomfortable viewing and Spock’s last line of the episode, where he suggests, obliquely,  that Rand might have liked it is disgusting. It is stuff like this that makes me unsure of TOS as a whole. The 1960s seem so alien to me a lot of the time. We have a long way to go in treating all people with proper respect but I think we have come a long way too.

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I am going to come up against heavy topics a lot in this show it seems. The past really is another world.

In conclusion though this was a good story. It explore the concepts of the two sides of humanity quite well. I do wonder if they would have been better off removing the landing party plot to focus more on the main plot. We do get a nice moment with Spock where he talks about the two sides of his being and how he has to balance them.

We are only a few episodes into TOS but I will be back with the next episode which is: Mudd’s Women – which is also fairly anti-women. I am sensing a theme here. I am so looking forward to reviewing my favourite TOS episodes. We have a little way to go yet.

***

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

I now have a Patreon page. I hope you will consider supporting this blog: https://www.patreon.com/unstableorbit

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The Naked Time

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The Naked Time is one of the most well known episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series. Mainly it is known for Sulu running through the halls of the Enterprise topless with a sword – because who wouldn’t want to do that?

This is an episode that I am not complexly sure how to judge.  It is a very silly and perhaps that is the whole point.

A lot of TV shows have an episode with alternate versions of the characters. This is brought about by magic, memory wiping, another universe, or maybe just using the actors to tell a story in the past. JAG did this in one episode. My Googling failed me on this one. Basically the main cast are playing new characters. I think it was set in the 1940s but I am not sure.

The most obvious one for TOS is Mirror, Mirror but The Naked Time is another. This episode is about the crew getting drunk and the ship being in danger because of it.

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When I look back at TOS now Spock is my favourite character. I think Nimoy did an excellent job in bringing the character to life. The scene where he tries to come to terms with his emotions is well acted and shot. He too has been effected by the condition present on the Enterprise and is ill equipped to handle the emotions he is feeling. As the series goes on Spock gets some of the best lines in the show.

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When I first watched TOS Scotty was my favourite character. And this episode has that classic of Mr Scott – telling Kirk how impossible something is before making it happen ‘I can’t change the laws of physics.’

The skill of Mr Scott is particularly funny in The Enterprise Incident where he hooks up a Romulan cloaking device in about five minutes. As pointed out by SFDEBRIS it takes longer to hook up a games console to a TV it was designed for than it takes for Scotty to hook up a complex piece of alien technology. That however is just what makes Scotty such a great engineer. In this episode Scotty has to restart the engines which have been completely shut down by a drunk Irishman.

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From this episode and Up the Long Ladder Star Trek didn’t really portray Irish people well did it? At least until we get to a certain Chief of Operations of course.

At the end of the episode the Enterprise is facing destruction. Which for Star Trek doesn’t really narrow it down. In the original series the ship was taken over, or out of Kirk’s control, rather a lot.

It is a tense scene. We know that everything is going to work out. The writers are not going to blow the Enterprise up over some random planet because of incompetence are they? At least not until Generations!

Yet here, just for a fleeting second, you can almost believe it could happen. And what is even better they do this without too much technobabble. Then at the end of the episode the Enterprise, as a result of the engine restart, is sent back in time. Which I am so glad that that ability didn’t become over used in the franchise – oh wait.

This episode is not particularly deep or clever but it is entertaining. It does have to be said though that this situation, like so many other episodes, could have been avoided if they simply practised basic safety. Like maybe having an actual environmental suit and an officer who keeps his bloody gloves on.

***

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

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