In 1979, the USS Enterprise flew onto the big screen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Without giving away too much of the plot, NASA's Voyager program that began in 1977 featured prominently in the film. Of course, the real twin Voyager probes carry the Voyager Golden Record, the iconic message for extraterrestrials that my friends Timothy Daly, Lawrence Azerrad, and I released on vinyl for the first time as a lavish box set.
While the Voyager Record isn't mentioned in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I was still delighted when my old pal Ariel Waldman invited me on to her wonderful talk show Offworld, on Adam Savage's Tested channel, to talk about Voyager, the Golden Record, and the heady, awkward, and pretty great Star Trek: The Motion Picture! Even more exciting is that the other guest was Frank Drake, father of the scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence and the technical director of the original Voyager Golden Record! Far out.
The Voyager Golden Record 3xLP Vinyl Box Set and 2xCD-Book edition is available from Ozma Records.
Below: Frank and I scrying with his original copy of the Voyager Record cover.
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Star Trek's original series and TNG were shot on film, allowing them to be rescanned for high-definition broadcast. Star Trek: Deep Space 9, however, depended much moreso on sprawling CGI space battles and other special effects sequences that were mastered on standard-definition video. This creates an enormous challenge for remastering: machine learning to the rescue! CaptRobau writes:
I will go into greater detail about my process in a future blog post, but it took me about two days to get everything extracted, upscaled and put it back together in a way that was pleasing. This resulted only in the first five minutes of the episode being done (the episode recap, the opening scene, and the intro). Still pretty good time for a mid-to-high end PC with software that isn't just available to professionals.
The result left me pretty awestruck. It looked better than I had hoped. No weird issues or anything. It looked pretty much like an HD version of DS9. Since (moving) pictures are worth more than a thousand words, here are two comparison videos that show off the improvement I was able to get with this machine learning based upscaling technique.
Below, the intro at 4K. CBS, hire this man! (Or license his code!) "Imagine what a real team could do, with more powerful equipment, custom trained neural networks ... and access to the original SD files instead of a DVDRip like me."
CORRECTION: I originally suggested that DS9 was entirely shot on video, which is incorrect. Read the rest
Back in 2016, the Dr Seuss estate won a preliminary court action against "Oh, The Places You'll Boldly Go!" a crowdfunded parody of Dr Seuss's "Oh the Places You'll Go!" and Star Trek, written by veteran Star Trek creator David "Tribble" Gerrold and illustrated by the comics giant Ty Templeton.
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Volante Design (previously) scored a huge win last November with a line of licensed heavy denim, cosplay-adjacent Starfleet jackets that could be worn like Star Trek: TNG uniforms or like motorcyle jackets, depending on how you zipped them.
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Sir Patrick Stewart doesn't play the Reskian flute, or any flute for that matter. The trick worked on me at least, because I hadn't noticed even after seeing this episode several times over the last 26 (!) years. From Wikipedia:
...As neither Stewart nor Hughes could play their instruments, it required a number of camera techniques to be used in order to disguise the musicians playing just off screen. Husband and wife duo Natalie and Bryce Martin played the piano and tin whistle respectively to portray Daren and Picard's abilities. Bryce had played his instrument to represent Picard's Ressikan flute since it first appeared in "The Inner Light". However, while Stewart did the majority of his flute fingering, he was doubled in several scenes by Noel Webb and John Mayham. Webb also doubled for Brent Spiner early in the episode when Data was playing Frédéric Chopin's trio in G minor.
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I've just returned home from Star Trek: The Cruise, a truly extraordinary fan event for lovers of Science, Science Fiction, and the future.
You really want to be on the next one.
Longtime Boing Boing friend Wil Wheaton headlined the third annual cruise, which this year featured stars from every series of Star Trek from The Next Generation onwards. They, along with thousands of die-hard Star Trek fans took over an entire cruise ship for a week (flying the flag of the United Federated of Planets no less), Taking part in everything from photo and autograph sessions, Science Lectures from experts in the fields of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Game Shows, Q&A sessions, and even a narrated performance of the Scopes Monkey Trial transcript.
But the real reason you should go isn't one of those events.
There's a unique culture behind Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry's optimistic vision of a utopian future attracts a certain type of fan, and there's something special about putting thousands of like-minded people and the actors who portrayed their most beloved Star Trek characters on a ship for a week. Wil Wheaton put it best in his initial address during our sendoff:
"I have been a fan of Star Trek my entire life. [...] I learned everything that was important to me from the values that Star Trek taught me: I learned to be honest, I learned to be honourable, I learned to be kind. My whole life I've wanted to live in that world that we imagined when we worked on Next Generation, and that I loved to watch when I was a little boy. Read the rest
So, get this. For many years now, NASA has been putting out some really fun posters to bring awareness to their space missions. They reference everything from Star Trek to Star Wars and lots in-between.
Bored Panda writes:
Since the very first International Space Station mission in 2000, NASA has been creating expedition posters usually featuring a group photo of the crew. These posters were used to advertise expeditions and were also hung in NASA facilities and other government organizations. However, when astronauts got bored of the standard group photos they decided to spice things up a bit.
They call them "cringy" but I love them. I think they're fun and creative.
Here's a few of them (more here):
images via NASA, lead image cropped to fit Read the rest
I love the clothes from Volante Design ("Superhuman Streetwear"); their latest is the "Starfleet 2364" line of men's and women's jackets inspired by Star Trek: The Next Generation uniforms.
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For two years, a group of die-hard Star Trek fans labored to create Stage 9, a totally noncommercial virtual replica of the USS Enterprise built with Unreal Engine; they assumed that when CBS Vice President for Product Development John Van Citters was serious in 2016, when he publicly acknowledged the debt that Star Trek owes to its fans and assured people creating fan media that "They’re not going to hear from us. They’re not going to get a phone call, they’re not going to get an email. They’re not going to get anything that’s going to ruin their day one way or another and make them feel bad, like they’ve done something wrong."
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William Shatner is unleashing a Christmas album next month. Titled "Shatner Claus," it features guest performances by Henry Rollins (Black Flag), Iggy Pop, Rick Wakeman (Yes), Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), and many more. Released by Cleopatra Records, "Shatner Claus" is just the latest in ol' Bill's lengthy recording career that includes "Ponder the Mystery" (2013), "Seeking Major Tom" (2011), "Has Been" (2004), "William Shatner Live" (1977), and, of course, "The Transformed Man" (1968).
Below, Shatner and Rollins "sing" Jingle Bells:
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Captain Jean-Luc Picard is back. This afternoon in Las Vegas, Patrick Stewart announced he was returning to the iconic role in a new Star Trek series for CBS All Access.
"I will always be very proud to have been a part of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but when we wrapped that final movie in the spring of 2002, I truly felt my time with Star Trek had run its natural course," said Stewart, who will also exec produce the new series. "It is, therefore, an unexpected but delightful surprise to find myself excited and invigorated to be returning to Jean-Luc Picard and to explore new dimensions within him.
The yet untitled series will be a new entry into the Star Trek universe and is not an extension of The Next Generation. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon is one of the writers and executive producers alongside Akiva Goldsman, Alex Kurtzman, James Duff, Kirsten Beyer, and Rod Roddenberry.
Patrick Stewart to Reprise 'Star Trek' Role in New CBS All Access Series [Variety/Leslie Goldberg] [Photo: Wikimedia Commons] Read the rest
Is it me or is there something off about these t-shirts?
Haha, just kidding. That's the point of the slightlywrong tees, that they aren't quite right. For example, in their brilliant misquoted t-shirt world, Spock's motto "Live long and prosper" becomes "Live long and proper."
Their tagline? "T-shirts with slightly wrong quotes on them to annoy the pedants in your life."
And their pro-tip: "Insist the quote is 100% accurate."
Shut up and take my money.
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Bill McGovern worked as a second assistant camera on a lot of shows, which is why he seems pretty unfazed to have handled the clapper and slating duties on some iconic Star Trek episodes. Read the rest
Booze, the final frontier. This is the marketing death of a childhood memory you prize.
Yeah, there's Star Trek-themed vodka to be had. According to io9, CBS and the Silver Screen Bottling Company, have plopped out a Star Trek: The Next Generation-themed line of hooch to help you drink away the fact that the future, despite what Star Trek might have had to say about it, is twelve kinds of terrible.
Aside from featuring an LCARS-influenced bottle design (that’s the Enterprise’s computer operating system from TNG onwards), the vodka’s Star Trek-iness is enhanced by the fact that... it’s been to space? No, really: the company is planning to send a batch of the spirit into space, which will be blended with the larger stock to guarantee that at least every bottle contains a tiny bit of space-bound booze. I’m sure the discerning Star Trek fan will absolutely be able to notice this cosmic addition while they down shot after shot during their next Trek marathon.
Ten Forward Vodka. It's clever, I'll admit. But I dunno. I love Star Trek and I applaud healthy fandom. But outside of the novelty of drinking space hooch, or perhaps buying this for a Trekkie pal's birthday, I don't see how this product could be any more niche. What do you guys think?
Now, if someone were to figure out Chief O'Brien's scotch-flavored chewing gum from Deep Space Nine? I'd be all over that.
Image via Silver Screen Bottling Company Read the rest
Andy W writes, "An artist/illustrator friend of mine just put an illustration of hers up on RedBubble — two iconic science-fiction television characters sharing a tender moment on the couch."
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In 1973, the National Association Of Progressive Radio Announcers released "Get Off," a 1973 vinyl record featuring dozens of musicians delivering anti-hard drug warnings. Along with personal warnings from Grateful Dead, Alice Cooper, the Doobie Bros., BB King, Ravi Shankar, the Staple Singers, and Frank Zappa, the crew of the starship Enterprise visits a planet ravaged by hard drugs. Just say know.
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