This entry was published 16 years ago. Since that time the information may have become outdated or my beliefs may have changed. I strive to grow as a person as I age, and I likely posted things in the past that I wouldn't post today in the same way or at all. In general, assume I've moved politically leftward as time has gone by.

Khan Noonien Singh, long one of the most famous and most loved villains in the Star Trek universe, has over time presented some (extraordinarily geeky) issues to fans who know his story.

Namely, the Eugenics Wars of the 1990’s. According to Star Trek canon as established in the original series episode ‘Space Seed‘…

From 1992 to 1996, Khan was absolute ruler of more than one-quarter of Earth’s population, including regions of Asia the Middle East.

In the mid 1990s, [Khan and other genetically engineered] Augment tyrants began warring amongst themselves. Other nations joined to force them from power in a series of struggles that became known as the Eugenics Wars. Eventually, most of the tyrants were defeated and their territory re-captured, but up to 90 “supermen” were never accounted for.

Khan escaped the wars and their consequences along with 84 followers who swore to live and die at his command. He saw his best option in a risky, self-imposed exile. In 1996, he took control of a DY-100-class interplanetary sleeper ship he christened SS Botany Bay, named for the site of the Australian penal colony. Set on a course outbound from the solar system, but with no apparent destination in mind, Khan and his people remained in suspended animation for Botany Bay’s (nearly) 300-year sublight journey.

Of course, when this was all dreamed up in the 1960’s, no-one knew that Trek would survive until the mid-’90’s, let alone grow into the phenomenon that it did. Once the ’90’s rolled around, though…well, yes, as fans, we are perfectly aware that Trek is fiction. It’s just more fun when we can find ways to make the Trek universe and our universe overlap. When Trek takes place tens or hundreds of years in the future, that’s easy. Once we get to a point where we’ve moved solidly into the decades referenced in Trek with no sign of genetically engineered supermen or Eugenics Wars…well, that’s when things start to get creative.

A couple of years ago, I picked up two Trek novels by Greg Cox: The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Volume I and Volume II. Cox does an incredible job of retconning (that is, ‘retroactive continuity‘: “…the adding of new information to ‘historical’ material, or deliberately changing previously established facts in a work of serial fiction. The change itself is referred to as a ‘retcon’, and the act of writing and publishing a retcon is called ‘retconning’.”) as he merges the established Trek universe with the known recent history of the real world.

In Cox’s version of history, many of the perceived minor skirmishes and events around the world during the ’90’s, from middle-eastern conflicts to terrorist incidents were actually the public result of conflicts between the supermen as they battled with each other behind the scenes. It’s done quite well, and nicely filled in the details of Khan’s life on Earth up to his exile on the Botany Bay.

Hundreds of years later, of course, the Enterprise discovers the Botany Bay drifting in space and has their first encounter with Khan, culminating with Khan and his crew being marooned on Ceti Alpha V. Then, eighteen years later, Khan is rediscovered and eventually killed during the events of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

While long recognized as one of the best (if not the single best) Trek film, Khan left a number of unanswered questions regarding Trek continuity:

  1. Why did the Reliant not recognize that Ceti Alpha VI had exploded and that they were actually orbiting Ceti Alpha V?
  2. Why did nobody realize they were in the same system that Khan had been marooned in?
  3. Why had Khan never been checked up on, as Kirk had promised to do at the end of ‘Space Seed’?
  4. How could Khan recognize Chekov (and vice versa) when Koenig wasn’t on the show until the season after ‘Space Seed’ was filmed?
  5. What happened during Khan’s years on Ceti Alpha V?

Yesterday while on lunch and browsing the bookstore shelves, I noticed that Cox had a new Khan book out, To Reign in Hell: The Exile of Khan Noonien Singh, in which he explores the eighteen years between ‘Space Seed’ and The Wrath of Khan. I’ve only read the first chapter so far, but Cox is continuing to display his ability to construct believable retcons. The majority of the book is concerned with the last of the above posed questions, telling the story of Khan’s years in exile. The first chapter, though, in addition to setting up the framing story of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Sulu returning to Ceti Alpha V to investigate and assuage Kirk’s guilt over the deaths of his crewmen, family, and ship during the events of the second, third, and fourth Trek films, also quickly and concisely answers the first three questions.

Cox even comes up with an explanation for the fourth — though he did fail to use Koenig’s “Chekov kept Khan waiting in the restroom” idea.

Khan’s long been Trek’s best villain, and Greg Cox is doing a bang-up job of filling in the holes outside of established canon. It’s well worth picking up his books if you’re in the mood for a little Trek-based fun.

(Incidentally, consider ‘retkahn’ or ‘retkahnning’ to be my proposal for Greg Cox’s ability to flesh out Khan’s story. The word amuses me, and neither seems to show up in Google yet [retkhan, retkhanning], which actually surprised me a bit.)

Discovering Deep Space Nine

This entry was published 19 years ago. Since that time the information may have become outdated or my beliefs may have changed. I strive to grow as a person as I age, and I likely posted things in the past that I wouldn't post today in the same way or at all. In general, assume I've moved politically leftward as time has gone by.

First off, a confession: I’m a trekkie (trekker? whatever). Have been practically since birth, and it’s all my Dad’s fault. ;) Two years old, sitting on my dad’s lap, watching the original series on television. As soon as the Enterprise zoomed across the screen and Captain Kirk started the famous lines, “Space…where no man has gone before…” I’d be excitedly saying “speesh!” and pointing off into space (which apparently was somewhere behind me and over my left shoulder).

I grew up with Star Trek. I never did get into sewing my own uniform, or donning rubber Vulcan ears or Klingon foreheads, and I’ve only been to one convention, but I’ve got a library of original series technical manuals that I’ve picked up over the years. One of the earlier ones (the Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual) had an alien alphabet printed out, which I dutifully memorized, characters and pronunciation both. Imagine my surprise when I later visited Greece, and discovered that the “alien alphabet” was nothing more than Greek, and I could read every sign around me in perfect Greek. I had no idea what I was saying, of course, but I could read it all, and it’s all thanks to Star Trek.

One summer I was at one of the CTY summer camps that I participated in, and much of the talk and gossip at the time was about this new Star Trek show that was being started. Some “new generation” or something. We were all highly skeptical — after all, we’d all grown up with the Holy Trinity of Kirk, Spock and McCoy, and now someone wanted to try to recapture that? Not likely! Our skeptical opinions weren’t helped at all when one of the sunday papers printed a picture of the new crew. That kid from Stand By Me was there (a kid?). The dorky guy from that kid’s “Reading Rainbow” show was wearing a banana clip on his face. The captain…was old. And bald. To top it all off, their uniforms were one-piece jumpsuits, recalling bad memories of the horrid 70’s costuming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture — and they were hot pink! Obviously, the show was doomed from the start.

Needless to say, we were (thankfully) wrong. The kid, admittedly, suffered from some bad writing (but he’s since turned into a pretty damn cool guy). We got used to the banana clip, and it certainly helped that that “dorky guy” was also a well-respected actor in his own right. As far as old, bald captains go — if I can be half as cool (and sexy) as Patrick Stewart when I’m his age, I’ll be doing well! And, thankfully, those hot pink uniforms turned out to be nothing more than bad color in the newspaper.

Since then, while I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the original series, Star Trek: The Next Generation has been my favorite Star Trek incarnation (at least, as far as the TV incarnations go — the Next Gen movies rarely approached the cinematic quality of either Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan or Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, imho).

However, towards the end of Next Gen’s run, I stopped watching TV. Less and less of what I saw on television appealed to me, and commercials were getting more and more annoying, so I just stopped. With three exceptions (the Y2K turnover, the 2000 presidential debates, and the first couple months of Enterprise), I’ve not seen any more television that what I may have wandered into while at friend’s houses. Because of this, I missed the last couple seasons of Next Gen, and have caught no more than the occasional episode of Deep Space Nine or Voyager. I watched the first few weeks of Enterprise, which seemed passable at the time, but then Paramount started releasing DVD sets of Next Gen, and I revised my opinion of Enterprise.

So throughout 2002, I revisited Captain Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise NCC 1701-D as each successive DVD set was released. It was a lot of fun — I hadn’t seen many of the earlier episodes in years (some of them probably not since they were originally broadcast), and many of the later episodes I hadn’t seen at all. Once that was done with, though, I faced a dilemma. I knew that I enjoyed the Next Generation series enough to buy it all, but Deep Space Nine was an unknown. I’d caught a few of the episodes from time to time, and generally enjoyed what I’d seen, but I didn’t have enough experience to really make a judgment. Fan opinion on DS9 always seemed to be somewhat divided, too, with fairly equal camps lauding it and decrying it.

However, as 2002 approached and I started reading more about DS9 as the DVD release came closer, I started reading more and more people recommending it. Eventually, I decided that I’d at least pick up the first season to see what I thought of it. After all, if it bored me, I wasn’t out too much money, and I’d know not to pick up the rest.

The blood of a trekkie runs deep and true, it seems.

As it turns out, DS9 has impressed me far more than I was expecting. The series, quite simply, kicks ass. A lot of potentially dangerous decisions were made when putting the show together (not least of which was setting it on a space station, rather than a ship), but they ended up working out incredibly well. They were able to create long-lasting story lines that run not just from show to show, but from season to season, political maneuvering and machinations galore, battle scenes that have had me wide-eyed with surprise, and many other touches that have made my introduction to DS9 incredibly enjoyable.

Today, I brought home the DVD set of season four of DS9, and just finished watching the season opening episode, “The Way of the Warrior“. Wow. There’s definitely a jaw-dropping aspect to watching a fleet of thirty-some Klingon ships, from the now familiar Bird of Prey to newer battleship designs — even a few of the old standard D7 class (yes, I’m a geek, I didn’t need to look at that up) — decloaking around the station. Too freaking cool.

The more I watch of this show, the more I like it. The long lasting story arcs have been handled incredibly well so far, and after reading bits and pieces here and there about the Dominion War for years, it’s a lot of fun finally being able to see it unfold in front of me, without knowing what’s going to come up next, or which directions the various players are going to take. The character arcs have been just as strong as the story arcs, too, and Garak (the Cardassian tailor) is quickly becoming my favorite character on the show. His questionable standing and constant banter with Dr. Bashir (“But which of the stories you told us were true?” “Oh, my good doctor, they’re all true!” “Even the lies?” “Especially the lies.”) are wonderful.

At this rate, DS9 may just end up supplanting Next Gen as my favorite Star Trek series.

(Next year, of course, comes the next question. Once DS9’s DVD run is complete, Voyager will start to hit the shelves. I’ve heard far more people decry Voyager as being the downfall of the Star Trek franchise than any other previous Trek creation [except possibly Star Trek V: The Final Frontier]. So, do I cross my fingers and give the first season a shot? I’ve still got about five months to decide, though, and until then, I’ve got just under four more seasons of DS9 to work my way through.)