Friday, December 14, 2007

Day 12: A Trek Fan Calendar

Our final present to you is one of time: a calendar featuring the fan productions we have highlighted over these Twelve Days of Christmas. Our hope is that it will help you organise your time so that you can wring enjoyment and fulfilment out of every day of the coming year! May 2008 be a safe and prosperous one for all and may your fan experience exceed your wildest dreams!

The New Year has always seemed to me to be like the crest of a hill or a mountain pass where you can see not only where you have come from but also look ahead and view the vistas of lands yet to be explored. Think of the calendar, which can be downloaded from the TrekUnited website at (no registration needed), as a road map pointing out some of the interesting byways that you can find in fandom. The theme of this calendar is the same as that of all the Trek Days of Christmas - fan productions! Just as Star Trek fandom is an attempt to achieve a resonance of that which we admire – Star Trek – so too are fan productions a pale reflection of the work of professionals. In they come close on many points, as with some of the more high profile fan films, others are in fields that are devoid of licensed productions, as in paper models and podcasts. However in all cases they are meant to enhance rather than replace professional productions. They're the things that fans make and do to amuse themselves and other fans, in between professional productions.

I truly believe that if you printed out everything that had been written about fan productions and copyright you would cut down a medium sized rainforest in paper! The salient point behind the whole problem as I see it is: are fan productions diverting money away from the copyright owners? The answer has to be no, or if there is any indirect gain it would be so miniscule as to be insignificant and it would certainly be less than the legal costs involved in trying to gain restitution through the courts. The value of fan productions as a publicity and marketing tool far, far outweighs any minor, indirect infringement.

Creatively fan productions work under a whole different set of priorities to their professional sires. A production made for commercial consumption needs to be a financial success and as such it's creators need to mold it to the desires of its audience. A fan production is made by a person or group who have a specific vision that they want to see come into reality. It could be to see more of Star Trek in a specific media, film, audio or print or to explore ideas that the professional productions cannot or will not attempt.

Of course involvement in fan productions are not to everyone's taste. Many, in fact most, see Star Trek fandom as a social community, a chance to "meet and greet" others from around the world who have a similar love for Star Trek. The community that you involve yourself in could be as simple as a meet-up group, a local fan club or a casual circle of friends you have met from conventions. Increasingly, through the power of the internet, this sense of community is becoming global with such organisations as The International Federation of Trekers, Starfleet International and TrekUnited. I like to think that in a small way, the Twelve Trek Days of Christmas, can show that during the season of goodwill, Star Trek fans can come together in the spirit of IDIC - Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations - to show that at least within fandom we can have a United Earth.

Looking through the calendar reminds me of how greatly indebted I am to a diverse team of talented people in many Star Trek fan groups and organisations who have given freely and unselfishly of their time. January – the Hako Enterprise bridge - is an example of one of those grand projects which are created with patience over long periods of time and represent a major accomplishment. Ron Caudillo is working steadily, as he always does, to complete the remaining parts and is asking about next year already!

The fanzines in February will hopefully make you think how easy it is to contribute to one of the many fine newsletters and 'zines out there. Whether it is your local club's newsletter or one the major periodicals, contributing news, photos or commentary. If fiction is your forte search out one of the Trekzine's like Imaginations Unlimited or offer it for publication in one of the 'Genzines' like Acrux. Just remember that all of these things survive by their submissions, without them they are just an editor trying to be in as many places as possible to look like a crowd!

March is “The Three Wise Men”, in this case Anthony Pascale of the TrekMovie website, Walter Koenig and Trekdom, the fanzine. My purpose here was to make you think. That’s what science fiction is all about, questioning our values with “What-if?” type stories: what if there was a united “Federation” that was free from war, disease, prejudice. How great would that be? How could that come about? Why can’t we do that in real life? One of the major reason why I am a Star Trek is because I want to believe that humanity can have a positive future, that a caring and ethical use of technology can get us there. But it won’t be the technology that will save us, it will be people such as these, asking the right questions, making the right decisions and fighting for their beliefs.

April shows the four featured podcasts, for whom I have to thank Zach & Kinneas of Hailing Frequency, Dan & C.J. of the Love Long and Prosper podcast, Jim & Doug of Twerpcast and Jim Perry of “Things Are Looking Up with Indiana Jim”. Listening to podcasts is something that I've been doing more of over the last year as I've found more shows that suit my tastes. As you can see from the range of styles and content available from just the four that we've highlighted here, there is much to choose from! Audio as an entertainment media is closer to the capabilities of the average computer user than, say, video fan films whilst at the same time affording unlimited challenges and opportunity for expression and growth. Perhaps most exciting of all is the way that Kinneas of Hailing Frequency is making it possible for them to expand into video production - now that's one of those that makes you go hmmm...

At this point I have to say something about the artwork of the calendar because Derek Kessler (see more about him below) has done what I think is a truly elegant graphic for May! I've had a couple of cocked eyebrows pointed my way about my choice of fan films, but this graphic says it all - IMHO these five fan films are classics that deserve to be featured in a "Hall of Fame"! What more can I say other than to point out that there are fan films in production today that in a couple of years time could be rivaling them in influence and will have earned a place in that hall of fame themselves!

Day six, June, was fun and I would like to thank my old friend, Fleet Captain Robin Van Cleave of the USS Joan of Ark for gathering the lyrics that we made into the songsheets. Doesn't that CD in the calendar graphic look cool? With an earlier start next year I reckon we could make one of those!

The content for day seven, July, was another enjoyable project to research! The list of seven outstanding music videos is straight from the favourites list of the House of L'Stok! This is another calendar graphic that I reckon really fits the bill! Derek has turned another hard subject into an eye-catching composition!

A production such as the PodBooks of Day 8 can only succeed with teamwork and I have been blessed with one of the best! From the guys at TrekUnited who contributed content and hosting, through the pro' quality covers and sound editing from Aric Hutfles and Merodi Media respectively, to each one of the Voice Actors, they have all given of their best! Ladies and gentlemen, the House of L'Stok is honoured to call you friends!

Gaming, as featured on September of the calendar and day 9, was another subject where, the more I dug, the more I found to report on - fascinating stuff but very time consuming to research! Today, I must acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Zach Nicodemous, captain of the UFP media ship, Devilfish - better known as the gaming podcast, Hailing Frequency - who has helped me with content and critique. Your biological distinctiveness will be marvelled at by the House of L'Stok for years to come!

Aric Hutfles, the young comicbook artist who has created your present for Day 10 and the covers for our PodBooks on Day 8 is a great bloke whose work ethic and consistent quality artwork will take him far. You'll notice that Derek's graphic for October is, like most of his work, a live camera shot - makes a change from computer graphics.

Likewise, the eleventh day could not have happened without the card modellers who contributed their time and creativity - Lord GrayTiger, Steve Marshall and Professor Plastik, and in retrospect Ron Caudillo and Butch price for day one's offerings! Your paper engineering prowess will be spoken of with awe in the cardboard engine-rooms of pulped-wood spaceships for eons to come! In this case Derek took a cue from the graphic I did for the 12 days website but did a much better job on the perspective of the background, very effective!

So, with December we come to the calendar itself. I must admit i was mildly surprised when Derek Kessler volunteered to do the calendar since at that time all I knew of him was that he was the head of the news desk of TrekUnited. His profile though shows his wide interests in everything from writing (he has a popular fan fiction series called "Star Trek: Aldrin", look here and here) to technology, especially the stylish Mac / iPod / Apple. Over the past few months I have come to realise that Derek is accomplished in the arts as well as the sciences and it came as no surprise to find that he is studying architecture at university, a discipline that he pointed out is "more of an art than a science, as computers these days are easily capable of computing the structural requirements for most any design."

Lastly, on the theme of time, a word about the ghost of Trek Christmas future. I shall be compiling a list of lesson's learned from this years event and using that to organise a similar event next year. This project is perhaps unique amongst fan productions in that, for it to be effective, it needs to be released on time, something that I have failed to achieve quite dramatically! If this has caused disappointment then all I can do is apologise and promise that my major goal before June will be to organise things using project management principles to ensure on-time production next year.

Thank you for your interest, friends, and remember, if you want some more presents next year, ya gotta be good for goodness sake!

Qapla' !!!

-------------------------- Kirok of L'Stok -------------------------
---------------------Lt Cdr, USS Southern Cross --------------------
---------------------- Moderator, SFI Writers ----------------------
---------------Moderator, Fan Productions, TrekUnited --------------
--------- Listowner ---- Star Trek Paper Models Group --------------
--------- Editor --- Acrux, Star Trek under Southern Skies ---------
--------- Producer - The Twelve Trek Days of Christmas -------------
--------- Email ---- ----(^!^)----------
-------------------------bI'IQchugh yIvang! ------------------------
----------------------- If you are sad, ACT! -----------------------

Day 11: Eleven Hako, Hacking

Short Post

There is far more to paper modeling than just Hako clones, however they do make a rather good introduction to Treknology in paper! Before Christmas, on the First Trek Day of Christmas, we introduced you to them when we released Ron Caudillo's modular Enterprise Bridge set, scaled specifically for Hako Clones and provided you with the original Hako crew from back in 2004. They were fun, and some of them have stood the test of time - Butch Price's Redshirt always cracks me up! Both of these are now lodged on Jon Leslie's Lower Hudson Valley Challenger Center Paper Model Egiftshop.

However time does not stand still - not even for paper people! - and the hako clones available today are as diverse and innovative as the designers who have made them. On this, the second last Trek day of Christmas, not only will you get links to a whole new set of downloadable Star Trek Hako clones, but I will try give you an insight into the world of paper model design. Who knows? Perhaps it will spark an interest in the hobby for you?

You might be forgiven for assuming that, because they are simple to make, they are simple to design. Well ... they are and they aren't! There's no denying that the hardest part of creating a new model is turning the idea in your head into a three-dimensional object, the actual designing of the construction, sometimes called 'paper engineering'. Creating a new Hako clone can be broken down into a number of different levels of difficulty from the ridiculously simple (which can shortcut the construction process) to the insanely skilled!

At it's simplest level you could do what is called a 'repaint'. As the name suggests you simply put new graphics on an existing model. A point to note here is that the paper model community, in common with most online communities in my experience, is generally supportive and polite, with it's own etiquette. One of the major points is a respect for other people's work: if you want to repaint someone else's model you should make every effort to contact them to ask permission. I don't think I've ever heard of anyone refusing permission but the act of seeking permission shows that you appreciate the work that they have put into creating the model in the first place.

Likewise on the next step up, you can start from a blank or partially completed template and make major changes to create anything from a different character with the same uniform perhaps, to a totally unique person. My first Hako, Scotty from the Original Series, which is in the Original Hako crew book released on day one, was modeled on the 'Mad Modeller Massamune's' Superman! Using a template is really simple, the equivalent of painting by numbers! All that you need to do is sketch in the clothing and face, then colour it in (either by hand or on your computer), print it out, cut it out and glue it together.

Once you've mastered the basics of creating a new Hako, you'll want to start 'tweaking' the basic template to add individuality – skirts and various hairdos for females. Ah! I well remember the Mad Modeller Massamune's “Whipping Wendy”, a Hako legend! The very simplicity of Hakos is a challenge to achieve though. I mean, how can one improve on the basic idea of a simple caricature without making it overly complex? The Hako Tribble and Butch Price's redshirt with optional degrees of battle damage – alive, in agony or dead - were simple ideas, elegantly executed!

Because they are caricatures, creatures of your imagination, the scope for subject matter is only limited by your creativity. Everybody has characteristics that can be lampooned, whether they are a movie star, a sportsman or your boss!

At the moment you have the option of using one of three styles of template, most of which are lodged in the files section of the Star Trek Paper Models Yahoo Group (STPMYG) ...
  • The Original Hako Clone. Created by Massamune Washington: stocky, blocky and inflexible, it is nevertheless elegant in it's simplicity and the perfect choice for an off-the-cuff caricature of ... a news reader, a sportsman, the boss ... whatever takes your fancy! Available on the STPMYG as a pdf, png & vsd (Visio CAD file) blank as well as a generic Next Generation / First Contact uniform.
  • The Marshall SD Hako. The work of Steve Marshall, a prolific paper modeller, whose gallery, Homespun Magixx, shows his versatility (checkout his Klingon disruptor!). The SD Hako is articulated in that it can move about seven joints, the ankles, hips, arms & head. Steve's Hako template has different proportions as well, giving it a more human shape. Steve has templates on his site for you to create Original Series crew in the Command, Science, Medical and Engineering/Security sections.
  • The Professor's Go-Hako. Developed by Professor Plastik, a paper modelmaker who has turned his hand to creations of his own , this too is articulated at the same seven points but in a different way, particularly the ankle which twists. The Professor has two blank templates, a male and female, which are lodged in the Files section of the STPMYG as bmp, gif, jpg, pdf, png, tif.
The eleven Hakos offered for your enjoyment today are ...
  1. Lt M'Ress by Lord GrayTiger. [Graphic for this above here]One of the most memorable characters from The Animated Series, a Caitian engineering officer who sometimes stood watch as relief Communications Officer. This is the first of a complete series of the Animated Series crew done by Lord GrayTiger, hopefully to be released in the near future.
    Click here to download Lt M'Ress[Link inactive]

  2. Lt Cmdr Scott by Kirok of L'Stok. [Graphic for this above here]I broke my own rule about making the Hakos from The Original Series, but since I had already done an Original Series Scotty, as well as Scotty in fatigues from "The Journey Home", I wanted to continue the theme with one of Scotty in a radiation suit from "The Wrath of Khan".
    Click here to download Cmdr Scott in Radiation Suit[Link inactive]

  3. William Shatner as Cpt Kirk by Steve Marshall. [Graphic for these above here]When people think of Cpt Kirk they think of William Shatner's iconic performance from the Original series and the later movies. Steve's poseable Hako is the only style that can actually sit in the captain's chair. (^V^)

  4. Leonard Nimoy as Mr Spock by Steve Marshall. Again, when you think of Mr Spock, you think of Leonard Nimoy and probably always will, no matter who plays the role in the future!
    Click here to go to the downloads for Kirk & Spock on Homespun Magixx

  5. Lt Uhura & the Original Series Crew by Professor Plastik. [Graphic for these above here]The professor's articulated Hako design stays closer to the original Hako proportions, whilst giving them great flexibility. The twisting ankle is a clever touch, since this makes it possible to get a lot of variations in the stance of the model as can be seen from the photos of some of his previous models. The professor's Hako crew consists of Kirk from Season 1 with gold tunic & Season 2 with green wraparound, McCoy in S1 uniform & S2 surgical suit, Chekov, Spock, Sulu, Uhura, Chapel, Scotty and Rand. As an extra, lookout for the Equipment Sheet with Phaser, Tricorder, Communicator, Pad & Stylus, MedKit and Laser Wrench
    Click here to download the Professor's TOS crew on The Professor's paper Empire
    Click here to download the Professor's TOS crew on Homespun Magixx

  6. Balok by Professor Plastik. [Graphic for these villains above here]The first of the professor's villains ... or was he? Only someone who has watched the episode, The Corbomite Maneuver, can tell! This is actually a Hako computer screen diorama, why? Well, er, you'd have to have seen the episode to know!

  7. Lokai & Bele of Cheron by Professor Plastik. One of the classic morality tales of Star Trek , Let This Be their Last Battleground, brought to life by matching Go-Hakos.

  8. Klingon Commander, Kor by Professor Plastik. What would Star Trek be without Klingons? Aggressive, ruthless and cunning but bound by a rigorous code of honour that transcends all other considerations, they are a perfect counterpoint to the United Federation of Planets.

  9. Mugatu by Professor Plastik. A two metre tall, great white ape with a massive horn and spikes running down his back, serrated teeth and venom-filled fangs from the planet of Neural. He's soooo cute!

  10. The Gorn by Professor Plastik. You have a Gorn, your choice of three Kirks, all you need now is to make a replica of Vasquez Rocks in the kid's sandpit and you can replay one of the classics of the Original Series - "Arena"!

  11. The Salt Vampire by Professor Plastik. Another one of the classic Star trek monsters which, like Balok and the Gorn, was made by master prop-maker, Wah Ming Chang
    Click here to download the Professor's Villains on The Professor's Paper Empire
Want to go a step further? Make your own template! Or dispense with the idea of templates altogether and go freestyle! Perhaps a tad more complex than a standard Hako but beautiful examples of their type are the WebDude's Samurai Jack series, Paperpino (who even has a Hako of himself!) and Mike Hungerford's website.

Whilst copyright might seem like a corporate nuisance to some, in paper model circles it is taken very seriously since, as creative people themselves, paper model designers can see how unfair it would be for someone else to profit from their work. The community is a prime example of self-policing, in that any evidence of commercial use of copyright properties is reported very publicly and effectively. The usual battleground is eBay where we regularly come across people selling paper models for which they do not own the copyrights - eBay in their turn are always cooperative in closing such cases down.

However Designers have rights as well. Even though they make no claim to owning the subject matter on which their models are based, they have the moral right to be identified as the creator of the work. The skill and ingenuity with which they have translated an idea into what amounts to a three-dimensional paper sculpture is theirs. The main way that this affects anything is in their standing amongst their peers - they are respected and appreciated more.

For more information - news and help with problems - you can't go past the Papermodels II Google Group, the Zealot cardmodel forum and, in Europe, the massive forum. For information and discussion specifically about this subject, join the Star Trek Paper Models Yahoo Group.

Day 10: A Ten Page Comic

Over the twelve days of Christmas we have many fan productions created and brought to you by their owners, this could be the one you remember the most - a ten page comic brought to you by a new talent to the Star trek fan scene. Of course you're not going to get away with collecting your present without getting an article from the House of L'Stok surveying the current status of professional and fan Star Trek comics and some New year philsophising. Click on the link to collect your present!

Aric Hutfles, our featured comic artist, has drawn comics pretty much all his life and it is his dream to break into the comics business. Let's hear about his work in his own words ...

Click on the cover to download a 10 page pdf of the comic
I actually submitted school reports in comic format. Almost all of the comics I read are sci-fi or action/adventure. I like sci-fi in all formats, movies, TV, novels, and comics is just another format for enjoying sci-fi.

ST:TNG Damaged was pretty much just an excuse to draw the Borg. It is also a comic version of a 'bottle show.' A bottle show is an episode that takes place mainly on the ship to save budget by only filming on standing sets. Damaged is the first comic I have written myself. It attempts to set up why the crew would blindly follow Picard, aka "Captain Ahab," in ST: First Contact in a hopeless battle against the Borg.

For Damaged, I used very clean, tight penciled line art and did not ink over it. I computer colored the cover using Adobe Photoshop. With the story pages, I used watercolor paints for most of the color with a few computer enhancements on pages 4 and 7. I made a model sheet for each of the Borg (which I will post later) so that the reader will hopefully be able to tell which Borg is which throughout the story.

Aric's work represents one of the reasons for people to create, not just fan comics, but fan productions in general. That question, why would someone do something and then give it away, is one that has occupied much of my attention over the years. I mean, what drives people to go to the lengths they do to create something that, in the case of a fan film, could cost them thousands of dollars and years of their spare time?

"Fame and fortune"? Fame ...well, perhaps. It takes real guts, talent and determination to create something and put it on the internet for the world to see, so there's nothing wrong with someone expecting to be congratulated for what they have done, but fortune? Forget it! For the most part, fan productions are, as Rob Caves of Areakt productions wryly described fan film making, "a very expensive hobby". People do it because they enjoy doing it, they have a skill or talent that they want to exercise and the end product is something that they want to share.

However, there is no denying that the process of exercising talents acts - like any exercise - to strengthen the creative muscles. You want to be a concert pianist? Practice the piano every day! If you want to be a comic book artist you have to practice your craft just the same. Creating your own fan comic is just one of the ways for an artist to learn, not just the craft of drawing but the business of getting the comic from their head to their audience. Aric wrote the story, sketched and composited every page, then coloured and lettered every page. The House of L'Stok is proud to be able to help Aric to showcase his work.

He deserves to be congratulated and therein lies the motivation for many professional and semi-professional people to be involved in fan productions: the building of a portfolio, building contacts within the fan community, creating or maintaining a public & professional profile. One could be cynical and point out that YOU, the fan base, are the hip-pocket from which all the prosperity in professional production stems from. Fan productions, to my mind at least, represent a quite legitimate avenue for professionals and would-be professionals to connect with their audience, their 'target demographic' if you want to put it into the language of the promoter.

Whilst fan productions such as this might act as a weather vane to show in which direction the fans interests lie, they are not in competition with professional productions. The makers and consumers of fan productions are fans, they are the consumers, commentators and critics of the professional media that is offered to them. Aric, for example, is a comic collector and contributes on the subject to fan forums.

There are still a variety of Star Trek comics which are currently licensed by CBS / Paramount (see Mark Martinez' website for an exhaustive survey of all commercial Star Trek comics). The flagship is the IDW line of Star Trek comics, which has had a successful first year with Star Trek: Year Four, Star Trek: The Next Generation: Intelligence Gathering, Klingons: Blood Will Tell and the fan-favorite Alien Spotlight one-shots. The coming year looks even better with the recent news that in March, IDW will premiere a new series that celebrates the 10th anniversary of Peter David's ST: New Frontier saga in comic book format. This is followed in April, by DC Fontana's new series of ST: Year Four which kicks off with a sequel to the Enterprise Incident. In May, ST: Assignment Earth brings us the spin-off series that never was - the story of Gary Seven and Roberta Lincoln - from the pen of comics legend, John Byrne. Finally in June, ST: Mirror Images continues the saga of the Mirror Universe of the TOS era, to be followed up later in the year with a series that focuses on the MU and The Next Generation crew.

For those who prefer their comics Manga style, TokyoPop has produced two volumes of stories, ironically the first, Shinsei Shinsei, features artwork by E. J. Su, one of the main artist for The Transformers, published by IDW. The second, Kakan ni Shinkou, has a story written by Wil Wheaton

The Trek Life, by David Reddick, is the official fan comic strip, commissioned for in July 2005 and run in The Star Trek Magazine by Titan and IDW's Star Trek comics. It is about Trek Fandom and Mr. Reddick has said that the main character, uber-fan Carl, is based on himself. Things look good for him at the moment with his strip currently still running on, not withstanding their current staffing problems, plus a new feature starting on the site - Gene's Journal!

Comics hold a fascination for all of us - we've all, at some point doodled a comic or a caricature. I wonder how many school exercise books have been filled, like David Berner's "Don't Spok the Afflicted", or Andrew Looney's 2001 BC: A Spam Oddesy, with adolescent humour or space opera? Most fan comics are never released to the general public, they are only seen by close friends and relations or are made as art samples to show publishers. Many of them are made by artists who work in other fields, as graphic designers, editors, software engineers for example.

The ones that we do see cover a wide range of media and styles. Humour, as you would expect, plays an important part in fan comics. Some, like "The Worst Wing" by Dermot O'Connor, are political satires but, for the most part, the parody is aimed more at the quirks of the characters and the silliness of some of the plot-holes. Sev Trek is a well-known example by John & Wendy Cook which has expanded into Sev Wars, Fraud of the Rings, Sevylon 5, Hairy Plopper, Bluffy, etc. Bet you'll never guess who they're parodies of!

Styles range from the action/adventure TAScomics of Kail Tescar that are drawn in the style of The Animated Series, through the Manga style "USS Tamerlane" and "Enterprise Oddities", to the serial comic strips of STS: The Forgotten Frontier, Trek Wars, ST: Phoenix-X,

Not all comics are hand-drawn, some are screenshots of machinima or game play, like "Elite Farce" by Laz Rojas. Laz has created a whole Original Series starbase, Starbase 11 as featured in "Courtmartial" and "The Menagerie", as a mod for Elite Force II game - a ready made screen set for either a screenshot style web comic or a machinima! Others are photomanipulations
which are retouched graphics like "Final Leap" and "K'Pinky and the Brain" which gets it's graphics from a variety of sources including action figures!

The majority of comics, however, are either created by hand or by computer. Now when I say 'by computer' I don't mean that there is a program you can buy that will create the graphic for you - it still takes skill and talent, just a different kind of skill with different tools. Most, such as our featured comic artist, Aric, favour a combination of the two.

For more of Aric's work check out his ComicSpace pages or his DeviantArt account.

Day 9: Nine Gamers, Gaming

A Christmas stocking would be pretty bare without some games so to fill your stocking to overflowing, here is information and resources of nine types of games. We have everything from Chess to online multiplayer gaming, From eBooks to free give-aways by licensed gaming companies

Early last year there was an article in Wired magazine by Clive Thompson entitled "Forget Film, Games Do Sci-Fi Best" where, after bagging the Star Wars movies, Thompson mused ... have an inherent affinity with sci-fi and fantasy. Those genres are based on what-if premises; they're the literary version of the Sim, the author as world-builder. Part of the fun of watching a sci-fi movie is mentally inhabiting a new world and imagining what it feels like to be inside. But now there's a medium that actually puts you in.
The great phenomena of TV over the last few years has been "reality TV". Cynics have said that their rise is due to the fact that they are so much cheaper to produce than drama, and this is especially so with CGI intensive drama like most Sci Fi. However I believe it goes deeper, that it represents a shift in the very makeup of society's idea of entertainment.

Put simply, people want to be involved and how better to be involved than by the traditional role-playing elements of gaming augmented by the increasingly sophisticated immersive and realistic environments that computer technology can give us?

For today's 'presents' I'm taking a broad definition of gaming and aiming it at people who have had no experience of gaming as well as those who who might only have an expertise in one area. I've tried to cover a wide spectrum of games and each present is meant to cover a specific subset. I've not played many games myself, although my two teenage kids are avid gamers, so I've got a Noob's outlook on it. Who knows? Given some spare time, I might find a game that suits my own style.

As a general principle I want to make each present something that is self-contained rather than a free expansion on a hundred dollar game. The exceptions to this are the mods - you obviously can't play an Elite Force II mod without having a copy of EFII, but there is just no way that you could talk about fan involvement in gaming without mentioning mods!

Speaking of modding ... along the way, I'll be pointing out some of the great commercial games that are available in the same vein as the fan produced ones. Take my word for it, the game licensees have a very enlightened attitude towards how the fans use of their products and they deserve your support. Besides, with the best will in the world, fan produced media are rarely as good as the commercial products and we would be deceiving you to say otherwise .

  1. The Board Game - I'm old enough to remember a time when there were no electronic games! A little study shows that board games go back beyond ancient Egyptian times and in the past there have been Star Trek versions of such popular games as Monopoly, which had a TOS and TNG version, and Trivial Pursuit. There have even been Star Trek versions of chess and checkers, but the game that stands out in the public's mind - I'd go so far as to call it a cultural icon! - is Star Trek 3D Chess. The beautifully sculptured half-scale Franklin Mint replicas no longer appear on the online Frankline Mint catalogue but you're sure to still be able to pick one up on eBay. The good news is that those of us who are, uh, 'financially challenged' can still play 3D chess!

    • Practise on a virtual chess set, such as Parmen by Doug Keenan or the new Vulcan by Marco Bresciani for Linux. I've had Parmen on my computer for a couple of years, neat program, and I'm going to update to the new version Doug has online.
    • There are building instructions on line, originally from David E. Rutan in 1988, of how he made his full sized chess board from ballpoint pens, bolts, plexiglass, copper pipe, dowel and a lamp stand. Unfortunately no plans or pictures.
    • If your skills are not exactly artisan class a much easier solution lies with the 3D chess set on Jens Meder's comprehensive website. His instructions are precise yet flexible, based on the height of the playing piece, with plans and materials lists. It might not look as elegant as the original but it is practical, easy to build, sturdy and has the advantage that it can be to disassembled for storage and traveling. Jens site also has a picture gallery of home-made chess sets and authoritative tournament rules making it an invaluable resource.
    • If you are interested at all in the idea of 3D chess - which has been around in various forms for a hundred years this year - the place to find out more is the 3-d-chess Yahoo group.

  2. The Customizable Card Game - Card games are another traditional form and have merged with modern fantasy and Manga culture to give us runaway mainstream media successes like Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic The Gathering. Decipher, who seem to have something new in the pipeline, announced earlier this month that the 13 year run of their Star Trek Customizable Card Game will end with the release of their next expansion pack which by all accounts will round off the game. Amarillo still offer their card game Star Fleet Battle force.

  3. The Constructable Card Game - These could perhaps be merged with the last present but I think they're sufficiently different to warrant their own category. The most popular of these is "Pirates of the Spanish Main" which is like a cross between a trading card game and tabletop wargaming. There is no Star Trek Constructable Card Game as such, but Wiz Kids had a retro-SF style game called Rocketmen.

    • "Pirates of the Federation" is a fan made game that, instead of using slot together models, which are laser-cut from styrene sheet, has small printable card models that can be used in a similar game play style to the "Pirates of the Spanish Main"

  4. The Starship Sim - Tabletop wargaming and board games have morphed with RPG's to form the space battle simulation. Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc (ADB), originally part of Task Force games, have a long history in this type of game, and their newest offering, Federation Commander (FC) is the next stage in evolution of Star Fleet Battles (SFB), the classic Trek board game designed by Steve Cole back in 1979. Amarillo seems to be incredibly stable in a volatile market and works on the philosophy that when you buy one of their products, it does not require any other products for use. There are no “boosters” that force you to buy more cards in the hope of finding that one “killer” card that will win every game for you. Their in-house designers regularly create expansions that provide new ships, new enemies, and new situations, but NOT complicated additional, expansion, or optional rules that require the purchase of new rulebooks.

    • The Star Trek: Starship Tactical Combat Simulator is a fan produced game based on the 1986 game sold by FASA. Not only are there downloadable materials for the board game, there is a multiplayer online game that emulates the board game. Zack of Hailing Frequency was ecstatic in his praise of this game. "While the game is not as graphically advanced as some people might like, you have to remember that this game is not so much about graphics and more about giving you a realistic rendition of a Star Trek combat situation ... just giving it a 10/10 doesn't seem to do it justice! ... I can only hope that one day, the Star Trek gaming licence-holders will realise that this is the sort of game that a Star Trek fan wants."
    • Amarillo have released a freely downloadable starter pack that introduces their board game Federation Commander. They also have a free starter subscription for Starfleet Battles Online (SFBOL), their multiplayer online game environment. For all questions about FC, including setting up games locally and 'Play By Email', see the Federation Commander forum.

  5. Role Playing Games - To the mainstream market, the most famous Star Trek RPG would have to be the Star Trek: The Next Generation version of the How To Host A Mystery" game created by Decipher. Over the years, a number of companies have done Star Trek RPG, most noticably Last Unicorn Games or LUG (1998-2000) and Decipher (2002-2005). One company that is still in the market is Amarillo, with their Prime Directive RPG extension of the long-running Star Fleet Battles wargaming series for the GURPs and D20 systems, two strong and popular gaming systems.

    • If you own an old copy of one of the Last Unicorn Games RPGs it's not a dead end, Memory ICON has a number of Fan Produced netbooks available for free download. Checkout the other game resources whilst you're there.
    • For general discussion of Star Trek RPG's checkout TrekRPGNet

  6. The Text-based Computer Game - OK, so this is only a historical curiosity, although there is still a small core of retro-gamers out there! These are probably of more interest to real programmers - the guys who talk to computers rather than people like me who talk to programs that talk to computers!

    • Super Star Trek - Written for BASIC-PLUS in 1973
    • Classic Super Star Trek, a 1977 Fortran version in portable ANSI C by Tom Almy
    • Apple Trek - this one is from the DOS 3.2 System Master disk of 1979
    • Video Trek 88 - the very first commercial PC game based on Star Trek series—released in BASIC back in 1982
    • Quadrant - Written in 1984, in GWBASIC, playable on a modern machine.
    • ... and for those of you who really and truly have to have a graphics interface, there is OpenTrek, a 3d open source update of the classic "Super Star Trek" game.

  7. The 2D Games - These presents were nominated by Zach Nicodemous of Hailing Frequency. The earliest computer games dealt with gameplay in only two dimensions, either as if you were looking down from the top - "top-down" - or from the side - a "side-scroller".

    • Star Trek Final War II is made by Racoon Software which is based in the Czech Republic. "It's a top-down, realistic battle simulator, with the most fun being found in the game's skirmish mode. It has a range of features that make it well worth a play
    • Star Trek: Red Alert is another top-down, tactical combat simulator, whilst a more 'polished' production with a better interface and graphics it falls short of Final War II in terms of game-play. See also Red Alert: Apocalypse
    • Flash Trek: Assault is part of a series of games created by Vex Xiang, the previous ones being Flash Trek, Flash Trek: Romulan Wars and Flash Trek: Broken Mirror . Because they are Flash-based they can be ported to windows-enabled cell phones. "It's a cross between a point & click side scroller and a strategy game. For a game that seems outwardly simple, we were pleasantly surprised with this game".
    • Star Trek: 'Badda-Bing Badda-Bang' an arcade game created in the style of the retro-classic Asteroids whose only flaw according to Zach is that it is too hard to complete! Sounds like a challenge to me!

  8. The 3D Games - This is what we have come to expect in an a modern computer game, an immersive environment that we can move around in and interact with. However it is immensely more complex to create and besides, if you could make 3D games, would you be doing it for free?

  9. The Mods - A much more doable way of creating new games material is to mod (modify) an existing, commercial game. The way that the game manufacturers, the owners of the copyright, not only allow but encourage their fans to mod their products speaks volumes for their relationship with them. Perhaps it is because, if you think in terms of "added value", modding extends the lifespan of a game far beyond the commercial resources of the game's makers! There are far too many Mods for me to list here, I've simply picked one Mod from each gaming engine to feature here. Checkout what is available for the old games that you have floating around in the bottom of the drawer at the Modding forums of Hailing Frequency, Space Station K-7, ST Gamers

Although I have done extensive research myself and drawn on the knowledge of experienced gamers, I must admit to relying heavily on Memory Alpha's exhaustive listings of obscure Star Trek games and can think of no better introduction for the curious than to browse their extensive listing of Fan-made games.

Day 8: Eight Trek Fan-Podbooks

Today marks the release of the first of a series of eight podbooks, a seven part miniseries, "Dispatches From the Romulan War" produced as a "Save Enterprise" project, followed by a special presentation from the House of L'Stok! Listen to them live on the TrekUnited Audio Center or download them from the Twelve Trek Days of Christmas web site. Come with us as we break new ground producing full cast audio narrations of innovative Star Trek fan fiction!

What Star Trek fan has not watched a fan film or listened to a fan produced audio drama and thought to themselves - I wish I could do that! Many of us have written fan fiction, some better than others, but all of it written from the heart! What few people realise is that there is a step they can take towards creating or participating in that does not take years of their lives and thousands of dollars to make. Turn your fan fiction into an audio book ... or better still a podbook!

Podbook is a contraction of Podiobook, a word coined by Evo Terra of The Dragon Page and Slice of Scifi to describe serialized audio books which are made available in podcast format. I used this term especially because I wanted to make the distinction between the two, the reason being that, unlike the system at, ours are not set up to be sent out automatically.

However we do have something almost as good! Courtesy of TrekUnited you can listen to the episodes, or dispatches, online in the TrekUnited Audio Centre. As I've said, this production is an official Save Enterprise project, the text is taken almost verbatim from a fan fiction serial submitted by members and its purpose is to maintain the profile of Star Trek: Enterprise in the eyes of fans.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to listen to the news reports that might come from the Romulan War?

View the Podbooks in the TrekUnited Audio Center.
Download the PodBooks from the Twelve Trek Days of Christmas webpage.

Stylistically this is a 'full cast audio book" which means that the spoken parts for each character are portrayed by a different voice actor. As such it places us in an enviable position, halfway between an audio book and an audio drama. An audio book is a narration which is produced to convey the authors written text as if you had the book in your hands - it takes the place of the internal voice you hear when reading. Audio drama, on the other hand, is the "theatre of the mind"- a drama that you experience blindfolded! The script is written as a dramatic production with the cast and crew working to bring the writer's work to life with the help of sound effects and music.

Because of the nature of the texts - media reports - we have read them as narrations and yet , by careful choice of voice actors who have given dramatic deliveries and clever use of music and ambient sound, they can be listened to as a dramatic representation of the news reports!

Would the cast and crew take their curtain calls, please?! The players, in this series are (alphabetically) :
  • David Ault - Jasim Khatami; Ensign, Columbia NX-02
  • Thomas Frazier - Juan Ramirez; Reporter, Earth News Network
  • Kim Gianopoulos - Rebeca Sanborn; Lieutenant, Starfleet News Feed
  • Larry Nemecek - James L. Anderson; Editor, Santa Rosa Chronicle, Santa Rosa, New Mexico
  • C. Eleiece Krawiec - T'sel; Reporter, Vulcan Information Directorate
  • David Maciver - Rek Tson; Andorian chancellor
  • Jeff Robinson - Admiral Garrett Black; Commander, Starfleet
  • Alasdair Stuart - Charles Carmen; Reporter, Earth News Network
As a rookie director/producer I would like to thank my cast for their work, especially considering the short lead time and the time of the year. I would like to make special mention of my two emergency recastings ...
I would also like to thank Larry Nemecek for fitting us into his busy schedule. Most people know Larry as an author and the editor of Star Trek: Communicator however his major in college was theater. This has shown in the professionalism that he has applied to his rehearsal and delivery - this was definitely not stunt casting! But then all those convention appearances wouldn't be far from theatre sports, would they?

I also want to highlight the contributions of Tyler Edwards, as project manager, and Derek Kessler as editor of the TrekUnited fan fiction project, "Dispatches From the Romulan War", for their patience and their dogged determination to see this production through.

If luck has anything to do with this production, our biggest break has been in being able to link up with Aric Hutfles, an up-and-coming young comic book artist, who has given us our superlative covers! Aric has shown fantastic commitment to providing us with the cover that we have wanted in a comic book style. I have been absolutely blown away by his talent and work ethic and you will be too when you see Aric's ten page comic, "TNG: Damaged" which we will be featuring on Day 10 of the Twelve Trek Days of Christmas.

However by far the biggest contribution, the person without whom this series would have been a total loss, is our Sound Editor, Cathy Rinella, 'Merodi' of Merodi Media, who recently produced The Adventures of Radioman for the WCBE 90.5 FM, Columbus Green Fundraiser. She totally threw herself into this project, producing draft after draft during late night sessions that have brought the writer's and directors ideas into "the theatre of the mind". Her technical ability and aesthetic choices have been impeccable and I have no hesitation in commending to you this fresh, young talent!

We hope you enjoy our series and if you do, just think how much better the story of the Romulan War would be as a professional production, perhaps as a direct-to-DVD series? Hmmm?

Day 7: Seven Music Vid's

The internet is full of witty, entertaining and moving videos - mostly on YouTube which has cornered the market as the defacto distribution network. I've scoured the airwaves for links to seven of the best Star Trek music videos and in the process met some interesting people and ended up in some strange places! It is by no means a definitive list think of this as the House of L'Stok's Playlist. To access the links go to our webpage at

The task of choosing seven music videos was not as easy as I thought! A superficial look at the scene makes it look like everything of note is on YouTube, and it's true - Youtube is a vast repository of material, ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime!

Some contributors have many vid's that bear checking out. For example, I learned about Dangermouse14 from his cute and boppy DSN video, "Rom's Got It!" which celebrates everybody's favourite Ferenghi klutz who, like the songs say "You Got What It Takes" (the Dave Clark Five). When you click on the creators name you go to his YouTube homepage where I found that Dangermouse had more that was well worth watching: "Garak: Obsidian Order Man" and "Women of the Mirror Universe" all of which are Convention music video award winners.

Choosing the right music has a lot to do with making a music vid memorable. ElizabettGornRosh made a great choice with "Nobody does it better", performed by Carly Simon from the James Bond flick "The Spy Who Loved Me", as the perfect theme music for Enterprise's Action Man, Malcolm Reed.

Not all Music Videos are humorous or amorous. Some are sad and moving, such as "Enterprise, Baby Mine" put together by Flomuk and I defy anyone to watch enkratic's "Tribute to Scotty" with a dry eye! Again the eerie drone of the celtic music complemented the mood beautifully and this particular video is immensely popular, having had over 18,000 hits in the past year.

YouTube doesn't have an absolute stranglehold on music videos though. There are websites that specialise in music videos, for example Final Frontier Video, a Dutch site, Vic's Lounge on and For Enterprise fans, House of Tucker is still there with it's alter to the different 'shippers of that show. ST: Enterprise Lives is also there where you can still watch one of my personal favourites, HoloDarlin's "God bless the Broken Road".

The music video has morphed at times into a tool for popularising campaigns, as can be seen in the TU related category of the TrekUnited Video Center where you'll find some truly amazing work by Skippy2K and Cpt Pike. Taking a leaf from the studio's book, Geoff James, created a Klingon music video for his Machinima blockbuster "Borg Wars" ... although these ain't yo' Mama's Klingons!

The one who has impressed me the most recently though would have to be those done by Kinneas - Tony Tuthill - one half of the creative team that steers the UFP Devilfish through the virtual universe of Star Trek online ... or so they would like to believe! With Zach Nicodemous, Kinneas runs Hailing Frequency, a Star Trek Gaming podcast, one of the four that I featured on Day 4 of The Twelve Trek Days of Christmas. Kinneas is talented. not just with putting music and video together but, unlike most who use TV or Movie clips for their video, he is a talented graphic artist!

Ok, so the video is actually still graphics, created in Adobe Illustrator, that he has animated using good ol' Windows Movie Maker and a bit of Flash MX, but he is very, very good at it! So much so that there is very little "willing suspension of belief" needed to imagine them as moving video.

Tony's homepage on YouTube currently links to 18 of his videos, ranging from video issues of his fanzine ST:Oned to portfolios of his work and even an animated audio drama from the Christmas issue of Hailing Frequency! "Arthur Yoria: Strange Grin (v.2)" is my clear favourite from Tony, although "Captain Kirk, Gorn, Slime Devils and Scatterpacks" is a close second and he tells me that "Lemon Demon 's Telekinesis" is the public favourite of his music Videos.

Day 6: Six Filkers, Filking

Filk is a tradition as old as Sci Fi conventions, and a subset of this tradition is Star Trek parodies of Christmas carols which are traditionally sung by trek fans to celebrate the season of goodwill to the accompaniment of much revelry and the imbibing of your drink of choice! The USS Joan of Arc, a Starfleet International Star Trek fan club of Corpus Christi, Texas, quite often gets the whole restaurant singing along with them at their Christmas parties! Follow the link to read more and download the songsheets for six of their original Filk Christmas carols.

Whatever the definition of Filk, Star Trek Christmas carols are a long-standing tradition, some are collected on their creators websites and others have anonymously been handed down for years - decades! - on Star Trek bulletin boards. Fleet Captain Robin Van Cleave of the USS Joan of Arc in Corpus Christi, Texas has collected six Filks from her crew and their assorted friends in Trek fandom and beyond - she even got one from her boss, the captain of the County Sheriff's Office! They are offered with their Christmas wish for you to enjoy the very best of the Holiday Season and that you have a happy and safe New Year.

click on the title to download the song sheet:

The Twelve Days of Trek-Mas!

Deck the Great Halls

Captain Baby

Voyager, the Infamous Spaceship

Nuttin' For Christmas

A Dominion Wonderland

... If you want to hear how it's done, why not listen to Zach on Hailing Frequency #41 and Dan & CJ of the Love Long and Prosper (#73) podcasts who have a rendition of one of my personal favourites - "The Twelve Trek Days of Christmas"! Enjoy!

Day 5: Five Fan Films

Fan films are by far the highest form of fan production around today but who are they, where did they come from and how do they relate to each other? Consider Star Trek: Hidden Frontier, Star Trek: Intrepid, Star Trek: New Voyages, Starship Exeter and Star Wreck. Kirok of L'Stok has taken his reporting on the five major fan films producing today and turned it into a chronology that we wager you'll find interesting and illuminating.

Star Trek: Hidden Frontier is a fan phenomena! Fifty episodes in seven seasons, roughly one every two months for seven years! Strictly speaking they are not now in production since the series finished earlier this year, however it lives on in the form of not one but two new productions: Star Trek: The Helena Chronicles and Star Trek: Odyssey

Star Trek: Intrepid, an example of what can be accomplished by a group with a common bond - their love of Star Trek - plus years of methodical and painstaking care! Starting life as just a group of friends with an idea, this Scottish group took a character driven script and strong performances, added solid production values like beautiful CGI & crisp, green-screened backgrounds and gave us a memorable Star Trek experience.

Star Trek: New Voyages is without a doubt the highest profile Star Trek fan film around today and deservedly so! Their commitment to a high quality show that resonates with the style and panache of the shows of the Original Series makes them the benchmark against which fan films in all genres measure themselves. The roll call of stars that they have been able to get as guest stars on their shows is nothing short of amazing!

Starship Exeter, the Cinderella of Star trek fan films! On the one hand their second episode has been plagued by an extended period of post-production and yet it still holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Star Trek fans. Looking back, as we now can with the last act recently made available, fans can say that it was all worth it!

... and Star Wreck: a staggering fifteen years of parody and biting satire, the result of one man's passion and dedication that made a film that is credited as being the most popular Finnish film of all time! In doing so they have developed a methodology, an international web of resources and contacts, an internet based project management and distribution network that could revolutionise small film making, Ravens Nest.

This body of work is a 25 page consolidation of my reporting on these five major Star Trek fan films still in production today. I make no claim to it being a complete coverage, especially to the early years and to the latest news. I can't even make any claims to it being comprehensive of my own work; I know that there are some pieces written by one of my split personalities that are not included here!

I believe though that you will find it of interest, not least because it is a transcription, only lightly edited for this context, from primary source documentation of the time. I hope that the reader will see the connectivity of the Star Trek fan production community who I have found to be, as a rule, generous and helpful with their time and resources. How one group will pass on props to another and that group might have its stars cameo in the work of another. In nearly all cases they treat each other in a gentlemanly manner that is so very refreshing in a world that only seems to value status and competitiveness.

Five Fan Films, A Chronology 1 3 Five Fan Films, A Chronology 1 3 Kirok This body of work is meant to be my present to Star Trek fans everywhere as Day 5 of the 'Twelve Trek Days of Christmas" for 2007. It is a consolidation of my reporting on the five major Star Trek fan films still in production in Dec '07 - Star Trek: Hidden Frontier, Star Trek: Intrepid, Star Trek: New Voyages, Starship Exeter and Star Wreck.

Day 4: Four Podcasts

Last year I attended a workshop on Podcasting at Conflux 3 and gained a broadstroke introduction to the technical and stylistic aspects of podcasting from the guys at Coolshite. Since then, I’ve been an advocate of fan audio productions on the internet and I hope I can convey some of that enthusiasm to you today.

Everybody's heard of them but not everyone understands what they are. Think of podcasts as radio programmes that you can listen to any time you want to, as many times as wish. There are fundamental differences of course. They are not professional productions although some are sponsored. Some of the best ones play on their spontaneity, their freedom from commercial broadcasting pressures, such as the classic video podcast “Ask a Ninja” with its manic ‘stream-of-consciousness’ wit.

Most serve a niche market. Hailing Frequency for example draws it's fanbase from the Star Trek gaming world. Run by Zach and Kinneas, and not to be confused with the newsletter of TrekUnited, Hailing Frequencies Open, they entertain and inform with a sequence of fast-paced, authoritative yet casual segments from a cast of colourful characters.

I'm not much of a gamer, although I'm the sire of two manic gamers, but this is rapidly becoming a favourite of mine. Sure its a quick & easy way of keeping up with gaming news and opinion but it's also, when you look below the surface, real multimedia! Kinneas is an accomplished artist and topics reported on Hailing frequencies have got a habit of being lampooned in ST:Oned, his fanzine now with it's own website. Similarly original music featured in "Fleet Radio", an idea for a radio station actually IN Star Trek:Online, sometimes gets the Kinneas treatment as a music Video. I'll tell you more about that on Day 7 though! The Hailing Frequency forum completes the package with episode links, interview transcripts, feedback and discussion threads as well as galleries

The multimedia continues next episode with a short audio drama! The valiant crew of the USS Devilfish must fight to save Christmas from an evil foe - good meets bad in the ultimate battle. Old enemies return and new enemies are revealed. Resistance is definitely not futile!

Twerpcast is another podcast that has ties to other media. TWERP - Time Well Electronic Recording Productions - is a group of friends who also create audio dramas: Star Trek: Eras is on its act 1 of it's 3rd episode whilst Star Trek: NX-01 is in pre-production. Conceptualized in the summer of 2006 by two Star Trek geeks, Jim Caswell and Doug Zeitlen who realised that there was a market out there for audio presentations, which meant that they didn't have to actually step in front of a camera to convey their stories -- and the world cheered! Realizing that we had more than just Star Trek in us, we developed a production company. It was Doug that wanted to do a podcast as part of our stable; thus TWERPcast was born.

Now on their ninth episode, they talk about their favourite movies, television, books - whatever moves them at the time. Their usual formula is to show where we've come from, where we are and where we'd like to go. The podcast they have created for us lives up to my every expectation! Like expert collectors showing you over their collection, they point out the details and generalisations that define where Star Trek has come from, The Original Series, and where it is going, the upcoming film.

They are great people to know - quick to help anyone who is trying to get set up with an audio production of their own. Their whole production comes across as casual and laid back. "We try to give segments of our lives, presenting a show that's more like listening to a couple of friends chatting than tuning into a podcast. We all have those friends that we just sit and talk with. We want to be those friends to you."

The "Love Long And Prosper Podcast", winner of the Winter ’07 Podcast Peer award, has a strong, upbeat formula that draws you into the life of Dan and C.J., a young Middle class, Arizona couple who talk about life, the universe, and the joys of parenting within the context of Star Trek fandom. Every podcast they talk about a different Trek episode or movie in ‘Private Quarters’, this week it is ‘Day of the Dove’, and this week they feature a classic story re-told by the one and only Worf (sounding suspiciously like Admiral Andy from The AndyCast) – they even get Filky with a Trek Christmas carol!

Podcasting is a very supportive community and Dan & CJ’s production has featured many of their friends from around the internet over the past couple of months, including Shelly’s Podcasts, The Redboy Podcast , Tvindy Time and Barely Podcasting. For example as they complete reviewing a season of Star Trek, they host an awards show, appropriately named the LLAPPys, with winners in various categories, including "best newly discovered race", "best weapon", and "most homo-erotic moment" announced by their friends from all the different podcasts.

Which brings us to our last podcast - Things are Looking Up With Indiana Jim! (TALU) Jim Perry's passion is writing and podcasting and he combined both recently with his audio drama comedy, "Thesis A Fanstasy". Jim was able to rope in some of his favorite podcasters as his voice actors, such as Jack Mangan, LeAnn Mabry, Podcasting’s Rich Sigfrit, Doug Rapson, Jack Hosley, Christiana Ellis. If you listen closely you'll even hear a certain Shlomi of Vulcan!

He's reported extensively on podcasting, recently interviewing author and 'podcasting legend' Tee Morris, and has tried a few different projects of his own, most recently The Fanboy Sportscast. His other major interest is the craft and business of writing, most noticeably the interface between amateur and professional writer. I know Jim from articles he has submitted for Sci Fi Studios magazine so when I found out his interest in interviewing writers who had made the transition from fan to professional I introduced him to Larry Nemecek, the Editor in Chief of SFS Mag.

Larry made that transition way back in the 90's! Starting off by writing several successful fanzines, working in fan clubs and organising SF conventions he got his big break in 1989 when his annual episode guide and concordance fanzine for Star Trek: The Next Generation came to the attention of Gene Roddenberry. Since then he has published the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, become a regular contributor and editor on, edited The Communicator for the Official Star Trek Fan Club as well as writing columns for various Star Trek magazines.

Jim has been delayed in getting his podcast out because Larry has been a might preoccupied with the disappearance of his job with last week, but has finally been able to connect with Jim to deliver a great interview!

Personally I can only see an expansion of the world of podcasting in the future driven by advances in technology – expansion into community & satellite radio, faster, cheaper internet connectivity, a blurring of the boundary between mobile phones and PDA’s that will turn them into mobile entertainment systems. The only problem with such expansion might be a flooding of the aether such that it will become hard for the listener to know what is worth listening to.

Plug yourself into podcasts! Pickup an mp3 player, load on your podcatching software – I use PodcastReady – hook yourself up to the ‘Net and choose your downloads – Don’t forget to load these four up! Here are the RSS feeds …

Hailing Frequency

The Love Long And Prosper Podcast

Things are Looking Up With Indiana Jim!

Twerpcast (Has no xml)

Day 3: Three Wise Men

Star Trek was the first serious science fiction aimed at the mainstream public and Gene Roddenberry set the tone for the series by getting real science fiction writers to write for him. Today we are going to introduce you to three wise men. I make no claim that they are the wisest of men but each has had something to say during the year, using Star trek as their vehicle, that I have found either profoundly inspiring or profoundly challenging ... and isn't that what science fiction is supposed to do?

Over the years, the five series, ten movies and hundreds of episodes, the Star Trek universe has developed into a rich mythology of heroes and villains, epic sagas and stand alone parables. It has fictional races in it that have taken on a very real existence in the modern psyche and developed sociological concepts that have grown far beyond the world of fiction.

Even I would not go so far as to say that Star Trek embodies the very best in challenging science fiction, it is after all still shackled by the almighty Nielsen ratings. However it has been the catalyst for others to make some fascinating observations about existence and the human condition.

I must preface this by saying that whereas all the other days are a product of teamwork, the responsibility for today's present to you lies solely with me, Kirok of L'Stok.

My first nomination is to someone who has used their association with Star Trek to aid an international campaign to bring the light of freedom and democracy, something that so many Western nations take for granted, to a military dictatorship far more repressive than any fictional Romulan Empire. I refer of course to Walter Koenig's July visit to Thailand and his continuing advocacy of human rights in Burma. Walter is still very much a working actor and writer as can be seen from his recent interview with William S. Kowinski on his "Soul of Star Trek" Blog (in itself a rich source of brain food). His trip preceded the recent public outcry over the Burmese government's and the UN and US condemnation. As he says on his website ...
"I was shocked at how little I knew," Koenig, 70, said, referring to the hundreds of thousands of refugees living along the border in Thailand. "The time was right in my life to be a part of something that is worthwhile. It's one thing to espouse a liberal and political attitude - and quite another to act on it."

The United States Campaign for Burma, an activist group based in Washington, D.C., organized the trip to northwest Thailand where he met civilians suffering from battle injuries and disease.

Star Trek fans share a value system that will help connect them to the refugees and shine a spotlight on their plight, Koenig said.

"In the original series, we were an international, interethnic, interracial community," Koenig said. "People have responded to that for 40 years and I think there's a sense of benevolence and humanity in the fans. Their nerdiness not withstanding makes them good company to get the word out."
My next nomination is again about someone who has espoused a real world advocacy but might come as a surprise because the gentleman concerned is better known for his commentary on the latest rumours about the upcoming Star Trek XI movie than any of his editorial comment. In July, Anthony Pascale wrote on his blog an article entitled "Time to Form Starfleet", which was set off by the thirteen space agency agreement to co-ordinate future exploration . Mr Pascale said at the time ...
Any Trek fan knows that eventually humans will work together in the exploration of space. To have various groups of humans duplicate effort and cost is clearly illogical, and lets face it…there has been an astouding lack of progress. ... The obvious solution to all of this is a new level of cooperation where all agencies and countries of the world can work together and share both the burdens and the benefits of the exploration of space. Let us all band together and begin to discover all the strange new worlds that await us.

Trekkies are famous for protests and letter writing campaigns to save fictional TV series. How about turning those energies into getting involved in real public policy. Let your government know that you support the human exploration of space and unmanned space science. Hopefully through the cooperation with international partners one does not have to come at the cost of the other.
Like most Trek fans I am a great fan of space exploration and sadly it looks like the initiative to share resources in space seems to be dissipating in a new nationalism that is reviving the space race that, although it motivated governments to finance the multi-million dollar Apollo project, internationally it cost the global economy dearly in duplicated infrastructure. I for one would cheer just as loudly if the next astronaut to land on the Moon were Chinese, Indian, Russian or American.

My last nomination is not a person but a group, a fanzine in fact. Star Trek has often confronted debates about politics and religion. Personally I've been preoccupied over the past month with the lack of religious ceremonies in Star Trek, not because I wish to see any particular religion or philosophy endorsed by Canon, but rather because I believe that the human condition requires ceremonies and occasions that mark the milestones of our lives. Christenings, weddings and funerals mark the three conditions of mankind and without ceremonies to mark them what does that say about us?

Trekdom, Star Trek fanzine is a Blogzine that, in it's own words, publishes provocative interviews, think-pieces, and op-eds on Star Trek so you read it at your own risk! In the past two months, they have had 14 articles including "Star Trek and Religion", a rant about the Inconsistencies of Capt. Janeway, "Star Trek as Liberal; Star Wars as Conservative" and "Communism and Star Trek - Is the Federation the Ultimate Communist State?" Challenging reading! However, it is only by reading something that you disagree with, that you can be forced yourself to reevaluate and, in many cases, strengthen your ideas.

If you disagree, though, why? You have to have motives for your actions otherwise it is supposition. Seasons greetings to all!