Tag Archives: star trek

Starlog 3: Star Trek and Societal Issues

If you haven’t already read my other posts, I’m currently taking a course on Star Trek and it’s cultural impact. Is that geeky? Sure, but so am I.

The most current question that’s been posed in this class is: Which pilot best addresses the contemporary societal issues from when it was produced while taking the most advantage of the television format on which it was shown? Rank the episodes you watch in numerical order where 1 is the episode that best answers the question prompt.

If you watch any episode of Star Trek, from any series, you’ll be almost guaranteed to find some sort of remark about societal issues. The specific pilot episodes that were part of this assignment all speak about what it is to be human and how we treat both other humans and other species.

#6 – Star Trek Enterprise: “Broken Bow” – I personally love Enterprise, even though I know a lot of Trekkies don’t. I’ve got to put it at the bottom, however, because I think this was more about nostalgia and finding a way to keep the franchise going by looking back than about any societal commentary.

#5 – Star Trek Voyager: “Caretaker” – While overall I ended up loving this series, I thought the pilot was pretty boring. It could be said that the issues the Federation and the Cardassians have with the Maquis are a commentary on the various wars that were still happening overseas in 1995. In that year, the telescopes in the Keck Observatory spotted the most distant galaxy yet found at that point, at 15 billion miles away. Could that have been inspiration for a ship being flung to the furthest, unknown reaches of the galaxy? I think so.

#4 – Star Trek Discovery: “The Vulcan Hello” – While I don’t feel this pilot did much to comment on current societal issues, I do think it served to take advantage of its television format. This speaks to the entire series, considering its only available through a paid streaming format. The producers took this change to make a Trek series that is rated TV-14 or TV-MA (depending on the episode). It’s a show that’s more adult-oriented instead of the other family-aligned series, which gives it the chance to pull in entirely new fans.

#3 – Star Trek Deep Space Nine: “Emissary” – It seems to me that the newly freed planet of Bajor–which Benjamin Sisko is charged with bringing into the Federation “at all costs” while serving on the nearby space station–could represent the constantly changing issues in the Middle East in the early nineties.

#2 – Star Trek The Original Series: “The Cage” – This wasn’t an episode I’d watched before, so I pulled it up on Netflix. It’s got the family-oriented format that network television (particularly back in the 60’s) demanded. It’s the original pilot of the series, and it features Captain Pike instead of James T. Kirk. The episode comments on women in a position of power when Pike says, “I just can’t get used to having a woman on the bridge.” The crew lands on a planet that had been left unable to sustain life on the surface after thousands of years of war, which could certainly point to an anti-war message in the era of Vietnam. Another anti-war message I spotted was the fact that the aliens were essentially putting Pike and another woman in a zoo to be studied. This is incredibly similar to a plot point in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. I think it must be coincidence, given that the show was made in 1966 but never aired until the 80s, and the book was published in 1969. I can’t help but think there must be some message there that I simply don’t get because I wasn’t around in that time.

#1 Star Trek The Original Series: “Where No Man Has Gone Before” – Here we have the pilot that truly started it all, featuring James T. Kirk and all the other characters we’ve come to know and love. The crew looks for a lost ship and finds its ejected recordings, which could speak to the large number of plane crashes that were happening at the time. There’s also a scene where Dr. Dehner comments, “Women professionals do tend to overcompensate.” This is obviously a statement about feminism. The family-friendly format of the show launched it into a franchise that would become absolutely massive, so I think this definitely deserves a #1 spot.

What do you think about Star Trek’s social commentary? Which series or pilot is your favorite? I want to know!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside Detective.  Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.


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Book Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi

I didn’t know I was looking for a story that combined my love of sci-fi shows and sci-fi books, but I found it anyway in Redshirts.

From the Cover:  

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.

Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expendedon avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.

What I Loved:  Redshirts begins with a humorous dedication and then dives head-first into a prologue that immediately pulls you into the storyline.  This book is written with a humorous and casual tone, even though there are lives on the line.  It’s a much lighter read than pretty much any other science fiction book you could pick up, even though it involves alternate dimensions, time travel, and other typical sci-fi problems.  There are constant plot twists and one hilarious fourth-wall break that I made my husband listen to me read out loud because I had to share it with someone.  This story is character and plot driven without a lot of extraneous descriptions, which works really well for it.

One of my favorite quotes:  But then he tripped and one of the land worms ate his face and he died anyway.

As I said, I didn’t go looking for this book specifically.  We spend a lot of time at the library, and I just happened to wander through the sci-fi section on our way out.  Being a fan of Star Trek, I just had to get it.  Absolutely worth it.

What I Didn’t Love So Much:  There’s really nothing to write here.  Redshirts is unique and entertaining.  Once the main characters get their problem solved, the books goes on to show how the original story affected other characters along the way.  It’s fantastic.

Rating and Review:  If you like science fiction with a bit of humor, and if you don’t demand all the tiny details about how space travel or time travel work, and if you know what a redshirt is, then Redshirts is absolutely for you.  5 stars.

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Dear Internet

Dear Internet,

Most of the time, I adore you. When my kids come home with common core math worksheets and I don’t know how to help them, I’m utterly grateful to you. When there’s one line of a song stuck in my head and I don’t know the rest (nor the title or artist) you come to my rescue. And Netflix! Do I need to say more, or just catch up on every single episode of Star Trek ever?


But there are times I can’t help but despise you. You who brought my kids the opportunity to say, “Hey, Mom! Watch this YouTube video!” You, who wasn’t happy enough being on a computer, but who had to be a part of every phone, TV, and every other electronic device so that people can never just disconnect from the world. You, who makes life hard for old people even though they just want to make a call, dammit! You, who makes it impossible for a kid in junior high to fit in unless she has all the social media apps even though her mom is mean and horrible and won’t let her have them because there are Bad People out there.

eye roll

But you did bring me cat videos, so I guess that’s okay.


Love and kisses,



Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective.  Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.


Interested in having your book reviewed?  Contact me.





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Star Trek: 50 Years of Aliens Teaching Us What It Means to Be Human

For 50 years now, we’ve been boldly going where no one has gone before, and we’ve also been learning what it truly means to be human. Many of these lessons have been taught not by humans but by aliens.

I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. Several years later, I caught all the reruns from the original series. I’ve seen at least most of the movies, a few of them in the theater. Though I’ve never been the kind of fan that memorizes every episode or could win a trivia competition, the answer for me to the age old question of Star Wars or Star Trek has always been Star Trek.

A couple months ago, I began rewatching The Next Generation on Netflix. This was inspired by some science fiction ghostwriting I’ve been working on. My television choices are often dictated by my writing projects, but it was also a great excuse to re-explore something I had loved so much as a child.

While I didn’t remember the specific plots of any of the episodes, I most certainly remembered the characters. I had a huge crush on the aptly named Wesley Crusher, but my other favorite character was always Data.

Now, while I’m very much over Wil Wheaton, I am still incredibly intrigued and impressed by Data. What makes him so interesting is that he is an android and yet he wants so badly to understand what it means to be human. He strives to discover—with the help of Joe Piscopo, no less—what makes something funny, and what it truly means to laugh. He constantly struggles with and overanalyzes common expressions that we humans use without thinking. Just as people must deal with bias and racism, Data also finds that not everyone is willing to accept him for who he is. It is through these various experiences that Data shows us what it means to be human through the eyes of an android.

There are other aliens ready to teach us these lessons as well. Deanna Troi shows us the emotional side of ourselves, while the Vulcans are experts in the logical. Klingons such as Worf help us understand our anger and our feelings about war. If you want to know a little more about human interactions when it comes to greed or business transactions, just ask the Ferengi.

Personally, I’m ready to keep learning from the aliens for another 50 years to come. Who is your favorite character and what did they teach you?

Live Long and Prosper

Live Long and Prosper

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