To boldly go where you’ve already gone before… [OT]

Cidu Bill on Sep 24th 2017

In honor of tonight’s premiere of Star Trek: Disaster…

Has there ever been a good prequel? I’m not talking about the odd cases such as Godfather 2, where they were simply filming another section of the novel, but stories (such as “the first Star Wars trilogy”), written years later, that lead up to the original.

Filed in Bill Bickel, Star Trek, television | 78 responses so far

78 Responses to “To boldly go where you’ve already gone before… [OT]”

  1. Pete Sep 24th 2017 at 03:44 pm 1

    Well, there’s The Musgrave Ritual, Sherlock Holmes’ first case.

    The TV series Gotham.

    The comic Batman:Year One.

    The film Rogue One.

    The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. (arguably a prequel)

    The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Also, Temple of Doom

  2. Arthur Sep 24th 2017 at 03:58 pm 2

    E.E. Smith’s “First Lensman” is of the same quality as the
    Lensmen series it’s a prequel to.

    Randall Garrett’s good “The Spell of War” was a prequel to the
    Lord Darcy series.

  3. Kilby Sep 24th 2017 at 04:29 pm 3

    I’m sure that others will disagree, but I thought that “Monsters University” was a perfectly serviceable prequel to “Monsters, Inc.”

    P.S. Being blissfully ignorant of American network advertising, changing the most relevant word in the title from “Discovery” to “Disaster” led me on a merry wild goose chase. Not to mention that the change indicates a preconceived verdict.

    P.P.S. I’m sure that we will soon see 30 to 50 lines of vituperative screed detailing all the weaknesses of everything that has appeared since Star Trek IV, but I don’t care, I liked all three of the three “rebooted” Star Trek movies, even despite Abram’s infantile fascination with lens flares.

  4. Rick Sep 24th 2017 at 04:38 pm 4

    X-Men: First Class, unless you consider it a reboot in light of Days of Future Past.

    Black Sails (to Treasure Island).

  5. Kilby Sep 24th 2017 at 04:45 pm 5

    P.P.P.S. @ Pete (1) - Ditto that @3 with regard to “Rogue One”. The fiilm has some serious weaknesses, which I don’t need to list here, because someone else is surely going to take care of that shortly, but it also did a very good job on a number of points, not the least of which were discarding the “happy end” version on the cutting room floor, and giving an eminently credible explanation of just why the Death Star had such a ludicrous defect in it, which then permitted the temporary “happy end” in what is now called “Part IV”.

  6. James Pollock Sep 24th 2017 at 05:00 pm 6

    Here’s your screed, but you were off a bit.
    Star Trek II was a good movie. Star Trek VI was… serviceable. Everything else can be safely ignored as a waste of time.

    If you expand from movies, there are some good prequels. Several of the Star Wars prequel games were good, including “Knights of the Old Republic” I understand the “Better Call Saul” TV show is worthy of “Breaking Bad”, although I personally haven’t watched either.

    Anne McCaffrey did several prequels in the Pern series… one of them is probably the best novel of the lot, Moreta, but there are also a set that are set around the time of original colonization which are substantially different in tone from the later works. I believe the “Harper Hall” trilogy are technically prequels, as well.

    I think the problem with most sequels is that they get pushed into production too quickly. The creators spend however long developing their original idea, working and re-working it to get it just right. Then we need a sequel, and instead of waiting until the product is “just right”, we push it out as quickly as possible to get it out there before interest in the original fades. You can really see this in TV shows, where a really good first season is often followed by a so-so second season… movies have about a 3-year turnaround, but TV shows’ turnaround is measured in months.
    Prequels are extra challenging, because you HAVE to rush… if you want your original actors to play younger versions of themselves, you can’t let them get visibly older. That’s why animated prequels do a little bit better, I think. Some prequels are longer in gestation, and involve re-casting the iconic parts, which is also dangerous if it doesn’t work.

    I mean… is “Batman Begins” a “prequel” to “Batman”?

    Smallville is a prequel to all the later Superman TV shows, isn’t it? “Caprica” wasn’t a popular series, but I thought it was pretty well-made.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with “The Hobbit” films, that was caused by the filmmaker’s decision in how to make it. Dragging it out to 3 films grated on people, but once the decision was made that there would be 3 films, I think they made 3 good films.

    As for Star Trek: Discovery, in particular, I will point out that this new series is supposed to take place only a short time before the orginal series… but they have completely new and different uniforms, and they have “new-style” Klingons rather than “original-recipe” Klingons. The notion that all these later series take place in the same universe as the original series continues to weaken. (Meanwhile, the slow start to production means that they let Seth MacFarlane get on air first… is his show more “Star Trek-y” than the CBS/Paramount one?

  7. Cidu Bill Sep 24th 2017 at 05:07 pm 7

    I’m not sure I’d call Gotham, Smallville or First Class prequels, since they were reboots or “re-imaginings” or whatever the cool word is these days. That is, they aren’t intended to loop around to where the original property began.

    Specifically, they’re not forced to conform to the same continuity, which is where the problems come in.

  8. James Pollock Sep 24th 2017 at 05:07 pm 8

    “X-Men: First Class, unless you consider it a reboot in light of Days of Future Past.”

    I considered it a reboot in light of the fact that it isn’t even remotely internally consistent with the first two X-Men movies.
    I also didn’t like it nearly as much (though it isn’t the total abomination of “X-Men: Origins”.

    Is the Wolverine movie technically a prequel, since it started with Logan in Japan for the first atomic bombing there? (Kind of like “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” opens with an extended young Indy sequence.)

  9. Cidu Bill Sep 24th 2017 at 05:24 pm 9

    Kilby (3), the “preconceived verdict” is based on the assumption that CBS would release trailers that show the program in the best possible light.

    And the trailers look bad.

  10. Kilby Sep 24th 2017 at 05:25 pm 10

    I’ll second that motion on production lead times. One major strength (or at least advantage) of computer animation is that the director and/or producers can fine tune the script throughout the development process. Given how long animation and rendering can take, this gives them as much as a year or two to make significant changes to the story(*). This just isn’t possible with live action films, which are generally shot and “in the can” within a (low) number of months. At the very least, such changes require re-shooting, which can be very expensive indeed.

    P.S. (*) Pixar has done this on several films, notably improving the story each time.

  11. Kilby Sep 24th 2017 at 05:38 pm 11

    P.S. @ Bill (8 ) - If you have trailers to work from, then I withdraw my objection to the verdict. I remember when I researched the Emoji Movie a couple months ago, looking for some confirmation to XKCD’s satiric stance. Rotten Tomatoes was fairly indicative, but the trailer was the clincher: if that was all they could find to show, then the rest of the movie was clearly a waste of time (and money).

  12. Arthur Sep 24th 2017 at 05:59 pm 12

    I believe the “Harper Hall” trilogy are technically prequels, as well.

    The Harper Hall trilogy starts well after the beginning of the
    Dragonriders trilogy, so I wouldn’t call it a prequel.

    Regarding The Hobbit: I was surprised on another site where The
    Hobbit was regarded as a prequel, since it was written before
    LOTR. I hadn’t thought about the movies. And would it fall into
    Bill’s exception because it’s just other chapters of the Red
    Book of Westmarch?

  13. PeterW Sep 24th 2017 at 06:26 pm 13

    “Has there ever been a good prequel?” The Enchanted Forest Chronicles is a four-book YA fantasy series. The last book chronologically was the first book written, the other three were a prequel trilogy about the hero’s mother, set about 20 years earlier and begun five years later, and are much superior to it.

  14. John Small Berries Sep 24th 2017 at 06:35 pm 14

    The main theme for Discovery isn’t a 90s power ballad lifted from the Patch Adams soundtrack, so it’s already a better prequel than Enterprise.

  15. Mark in Boston Sep 24th 2017 at 06:58 pm 15

    If Shakespeare did not write his historical plays in historical order, then a later play about an early Henry would be a good prequel.

    Wagner’s “Parsifal” has to be a prequel to “Lohengrin”, because when Lohengrin reveals his story he says that Parsifal was his father.

  16. Ian D Osmond Sep 24th 2017 at 07:36 pm 16

    “The Magician’s Nephew”, the second-to-last Narnia novel, but the first chronologically.

  17. Fluffy Bunny Slippers Sep 24th 2017 at 11:09 pm 17

    It is hard to make prequels work simply due to the fact that the material you have to work with was meant to prop up the original film/series/whatever and not work as a stand alone project. This means you have to really go back (like X-men: First Class which, though very different from a production standpoint, is theoretically the same in both timelines) to find material fresh enough to work with or you try to figure out a way to tetris your way into a satisfying movie by fitting different narratives or trying to slide surprises in which just adds to an already high difficulty of making a quality show.
    There is also the fact that in an original work you are supposed to be writing the most interesting/exciting/fun/entertaining/whichever story or standpoint or point of view. If it isn’t the most interesting then why aren’t you following the most interesting point of view after all. This axom naturally leads to the fact that prequels are naturally less interesting or the prequel woulda been the original story.

  18. larK Sep 24th 2017 at 11:28 pm 18

    If only someone had explained that to George…

  19. Boise Ed Sep 24th 2017 at 11:57 pm 19

    If you’re going to do a prequel, you really need to adhere to the constraints your original has set up. Instead, the modern “thing” seems to be free license to redefine everything, and pooh on the original universe. Viz. Gotham, the various Batman, Spiderman, etc., movies, and so on.

  20. Winter Wallaby Sep 25th 2017 at 12:07 am 20

    Kilby #3: “. . . even despite Abram’s infantile fascination with lens flares.”

    Honest Trailers had a good montage of lens flares, followed by the question “How does anyone even see anything on this ship?”

    I also liked the Star Trek reboots - they weren’t amazing, but they were OK. But do reboots qualify as prequels? They don’t take place before the Star Trek TOS, they just reset.

    Ian #15: When I see the Narnia books sold now, they, to my annoyance, have reordered them to make “The Magician’s Nephew” first.

  21. Winter Wallaby Sep 25th 2017 at 12:11 am 21

    Boise Ed #18: I dunno, in a lot of cases, being constrained by continuity is such a strong constraint that it’s going to make it hard or impossible to make a good story. For superheroes, the comics need to somehow “reset” every 20 years or so anyway to prevent getting weighted down by too much baggage. If the “original universe” in comic medium is going to reset from time to time, it seems reasonable for the movies to do it too.

  22. Winter Wallaby Sep 25th 2017 at 12:13 am 22

    “. . . giving an eminently credible explanation of just why the Death Star had such a ludicrous defect in it.”

    I look forward to another prequel explaining why the Empire then built several more Death Stars, each with the same ludicrous defect, after seeing what happened to the first one.

  23. Cidu Bill Sep 25th 2017 at 12:50 am 23

    I’m fine with re-sets: Gotham, the first new Star Trek movie, and the like. The problem is when they present something as a prequel and then either contort themselves to make it mesh with the original (Revenge of the Sith) or just make a mess of it (if a plot point in the original Star Trek series was that there’d never been a female ship captain, you can’t have a female ship captain in a series taking place ten years earlier).

  24. James Pollock Sep 25th 2017 at 01:33 am 24

    “For superheroes, the comics need to somehow “reset” every 20 years or so anyway to prevent getting weighted down by too much baggage.”
    This is the DC approach. Marvel has largely steered clear of these. (They have plenty of retcons, but they don’t reboot the whole universe. They just launch a new one, and then operate both of them.)

    “If the ‘original universe’ in comic medium is going to reset from time to time, it seems reasonable for the movies to do it too.”
    The Bond movies didn’t get around to a “reboot” until long after they’d run out of original Fleming material, which they were ignoring anyway. And the “reboot” of Bond was to take it back to the original, after they’d wandered off from it. Strictly speaking, the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man and the second iteration were based on different Spider-Men. Tobey was original-recipe, and Andrew Garfield was the Ultimate version. In Star Trek terms, it would be like if they made a show that was set in the original ST universe, then they made a “Mirror, Mirror” version, where everyone had beards. I’m pretty sure there are some novels that are set in the Mirror, Mirror universe.

    “I look forward to another prequel explaining why the Empire then built several more Death Stars, each with the same ludicrous defect”

    Sure. Right after they make some movies where the Empire builds several more Death Stars with the same defect in it.

    Because I don’t know what you’re talking about. There’s one more Death Star, in Return of the Jedi, and it doesn’t have the same defect in it. They have to fly into the superstructure and blow up the reactor directly, and they have to do it before the Death Star is finished, because if they wait, there won’t be a way to blow it up. And that’s all the Death Stars there are (in the Extended Universe, there was the Darksaber, which was the planet-killer superweapon of the Death Star, without the rest of the Death Star, and in the comics, there was the Tarkin, a Death-Star-2.0 that didn’t have the thermal exhaust port flaw in it. Both of these required a different method to blow them up.)

  25. James Pollock Sep 25th 2017 at 01:45 am 25

    “(if a plot point in the original Star Trek series was that there’d never been a female ship captain, you can’t have a female ship captain in a series taking place ten years earlier”

    If you went through a huge retcon to explain why in NextGen times there are headbump Klingons and only headbump Klingons, whereas in original series there are greenskin beard Klingons and only greenskin beard Klingons, you probably shouldn’t launch your new series with a third and fourth kind of Klingons.

    In the original series, Klingons did not have cloaking technology. Romulans had cloaking technology. Klingons GOT cloaking technology, from the Romulans, in return for Klingon cruisers (thus saving the miniatures department on the original series from having to build two kinds of models.) These Klingons have cloaking technology.

    These Federation ships seem to have much more advanced computer systems than did the original Enterprise. And there’s a name-check on the Andorians, but no other species looks like anything that was in TOS.

    If a major plot point of your pilot episode is that some unknown force has destroyed your subspace relay that enables communications across vast distances, you probably shouldn’t have instantaneous transmissions immediately thereafter.

    If your show is allegedly “science fictional” in nature, you probably shouldn’t get basic science wrong. The Klingon ship lights up like a giant flare… with the nearest outposts 3 and 6 light-years away, and Sarek, presumably at home on Vulcan, and unknown distance further than that. But they saw the Klingon ship light up as “a new star in the sky”, revealing that the writers don’t know anything about how much light a star puts out, or how long it takes for light to travel several light-years. Grr. The Big Bang Theory pays a science consultant, so they get the science right. But Star Trek… a show that CBS is hoping to build an entire content-subscription service around… muffs really simple things.

  26. Kilby Sep 25th 2017 at 01:45 am 26

    @ WW (21) - It took me a while to figure out why you used the plural form. Lacking any knowledge of the intermediary “clone war” stuff, the only “other” Death Star that I could recall at first was the one in Episode 6, which didn’t necessarily have the defect, since it wasn’t complete when it was attacked and destroyed. But you are absolutely correct, the planet killer in Episode 7 has exactly the same sort of Achilles’ heel that was present in the original movie. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only plot element that was dusted off and reused in that sequel.

  27. James Pollock Sep 25th 2017 at 02:07 am 27

    Has anyone seen “Star Trek Continues”? They’re not all great episodes, but they ARE all very true to the original look and feel of TOS. (They have a pretty good retcon that explains WHY there hadn’t been a female starship commander in Starfleet.)

    On the subject of Gotham, I liked the original concept… what was Gotham City like before the Bat? But I am not thrilled with the execution, which seems to be “Let’s take all the bad guys from Batman’s Rogues Gallery, including ones that weren’t created until after after Bruce became Batman, and make them be between 10 and 20 years too early. It *IS* possible to tell a good Batman story without costumed or superpowered villains. Witness the animated series, which had “It’s Never Too Late” and “Appointment in Crime Alley”. both of which would make my top-10 episodes list. It’s also possible to make up a good backstory for a little-known character (the animated series origin for Mr. Freeze is now the generally-accepted one, and was stolen pretty much straight-up in Gotham).

    Yes, this topic has made me wordy. Sorry about that.

  28. Boise Ed Sep 25th 2017 at 02:35 am 28

    For superheroes, the comics need to somehow “reset” every 20 years or so anyway to prevent getting weighted down by too much baggage.

    The Phantom has been going for some 80 years now, and is pretty much consistent if you compress some time scales and hand-wave the long-ago relocation of Bangalla. His origin and ancestry are unchanged, and remain canon.

    If you’re fine with re-sets, retcons, reboots, reinventions, or whatever, then when Superman gets weak in a future movie, you won’t automatically figure there’s kryptonite somewhere, because he might be from Alpha Centauri IV this time. (I’m already at a loss to know which origin story belongs to any given Spiderman.)

  29. James Pollock Sep 25th 2017 at 03:44 am 29

    I read comics extensively in my youth; somewhat less as I gained adult responsibilities. My favorites were, in order, SpiderMan, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four. I read basically their entire runs from the 1960’s to the early to mid-80’s, and only occasionally since then. So, there are some storylines that occurred since then, that I have only a vague familiarity with, and a lot more that I have none at all. There are also holes that reflect my lack of interest in those characters… notably, the Avengers.
    So, I watched the Avengers TV show, and they fought the “Squadron Supreme”, and I kept saying “Why aren’t DC’s lawyers all over this? These guys are super-obviously the Justice League.”
    I did read the Civil War series, beginning to end. I kept meaning to read the Secret Invasion stories, but… never quite got around to it.
    There were some characters introduced when I was still reading that I have a fondness for… Cloak and Dagger, and they never got around to revealing the Hobgoblin’s secret identity while I was still reading Spidey’s adventures (although I did get throug hthe first appearance of Venom, or, as it was known back then, of “the alien costume”, which Spidey defeated by making it really loud, which doesn’t seem to be a problem for Venom nowadays?

    Oops. Wordy again. And even after I cut a bunch of paragraphs.

  30. Dave in Boston Sep 25th 2017 at 04:15 am 30

    The Darkover novels were largely written working backwards; Marion Zimmer Bradley explained why at one point and it made a lot of sense, but i can’t remember the reasoning. Now, the most prequelish of these is basically awful, but a number of the others are quite good…

  31. padraig Sep 25th 2017 at 09:02 am 31

    I had to keep convincing myself that Discovery supposedly happened BEFORE Kirk & Spock, despite youthful Sarek and a couple of pointed references to the year 2258 (I think OS was supposedly early 2300’s?). How did all Starfleet’s equipment get so crappy in the next 50 years or so?

  32. James Pollock Sep 25th 2017 at 09:10 am 32

    One of the “Back to the Future” movies is a prequel, isn’t it?

    And Captain America comes prior to Iron Man.

    The new, no-Harry-Potter-in-them Harry Potter movies are prequels, and the first one was OK.

  33. James Pollock Sep 25th 2017 at 09:25 am 33

    “I had to keep convincing myself that Discovery supposedly happened BEFORE Kirk & Spock”
    Before Kirk. Spock has been in Starfleet for 15 years.

    “despite youthful Sarek and a couple of pointed references to the year 2258 (I think OS was supposedly early 2300’s?)”
    Wikipedia answers all:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Star_Trek

    This series is set just a handful of years AFTER the events of “The Cage” (Captain Pike) and a couple of years BEFORE “Where No Man Has Gone Before” (Captain Kirk, Enterprise bridge layout #1)
    The original series Enterprise exists at the same time as the events of these episodes.

  34. Brent Sep 25th 2017 at 10:10 am 34

    @James Pollack (24): Yeah, at first that light reaching Vulcan immediately bothered me… but then I realized that it wouldn’t be a very good beacon for summoning the Klingon houses if it didn’t cover large distances practically instantaneously. Who wants to wait years for it to reach anybody, and then have it reach the different houses over the course of decades? So clearly it wasn’t just a simple light… it had to be some sort of magical subspace thingy broadcasting indiscriminately across a large area of space with the appearance of being a light source (you know… poetic like, Light of Kahless, Klingons like that sort of thing). If it was TNG we would have had some technobabble with tachyons and subspace and such to hand wave it, but apparently that’s not how this series works.

    Much more disconcerting was all the gratuitous computer “defects”… I was glad when DS9 dropped the whole cheesy 3D holographic telepresence communication thing, and although the flare is less than the reboot movies it’s still distracting along with too much bloom. I’m thinking the best way to watch this is by not looking at the screen… although I don’t have the Klingon for doing that. Although that was probably for the best, as the main Klingon sounded more stilted and unnatural than the more exaggerated versions of Shatner’s Kirk. His younger self in a flash back sounded fine. But, yeah, introducing yet another interpretation of Klingon… no. They really should have just done a slightly upgraded version of the genetically corrupted with human DNA Klingons of TOS (and fourth season Enterprise)… it would have even supported the story quite well. But again, this seems to be an effect showcase to the point of defect.

  35. HJ Sep 25th 2017 at 10:15 am 35

    Ah, memories… http://comicsidontunderstand.com/wordpress/2015/10/22/prequels-ot/

    I’m still going with “The Muppet Movie”.

  36. Christine Sep 25th 2017 at 10:47 am 36

    ” How did all Starfleet’s equipment get so crappy in the next 50 years or so?”

    I remember reading something about this a while ago. Basically there was a problem, where real-life technology was already better than the fictional “future” stuff that had already been pinned down. (See the points other people are making about not contradicting what you’ve already got if you’re doing a prequel). So they had to come up with technology that was both less advanced than what had already been established for the series, and more advanced than what we had now (which was already more advanced that was was established.)

  37. Winter Wallaby Sep 25th 2017 at 11:09 am 37

    Kilby #25: In Episode VI, despite the fact that the Death Star looks half-built, it’s supposed to be “fully operational” and it’s location was revealed to the Rebel Alliance as “a trap.” However, the Alliance, when planning, sees that it has the same vulnerability as the original Death Star. So I’d still rate that Death Star as having an explicably replicated defect.

  38. Wendy Sep 25th 2017 at 12:00 pm 38

    Regarding Pern: It’s true that the Harper Hall books are in the same time as the original trilogy, but there are several prequels that I thought were really good. The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall was very interesting, and The Masterharper of Pern at least starts before the original trilogy, though it then continues on into that same time period.

    Regarding Narnia: Why does it bug you that they are put in chronological order for the world they are written about rather than the order they were written? As soon as I read through the 7 book set the first time, I re-ordered the books to be chronological for future readings. It just makes more sense to read them that way. Many years later, I couldn’t find my Narnia set and bought a hardbound book with all 7 stories in it, and was pleased to find they were “my way”, and that it had notes telling you the order they were written too.

  39. James Pollock Sep 25th 2017 at 12:11 pm 39

    ” However, the Alliance, when planning, sees that it has the same vulnerability as the original Death Star.”

    Which is why they attacked the second Death Star exactly the same way they did the first, I suppose. I mean, since it could be destroyed from the surface of the Death Star, all they had to do was fly a fighter down to the same thermal exhaust port, shoot a missile into it, and the threat is over. No need to fly through the superstructure in order to destroy it. Just shoot it from outside, like before. So that’s what they did.

    Wookieepedia expressly says the second Death Star didn’t have the same vulnerability.

  40. James Pollock Sep 25th 2017 at 12:25 pm 40

    There are several cases where Ms. McCaffrey went back and told the same story from a different character’s perspective.

    “Moreta” and “Nerilka’s Story” are the tightest pairing, but the period around the start of the “Present Pass” is described from multiple perspectives, as well… the same period is covered in the Harper Hall trilogy, then again in Renegades of Pern, then again in Masterharper of Pern, and then again in “The Girl Who Heard Dragons”.

    Of course, it helps that the stories involved time-traveling (er, spoiler alert).

  41. Winter Wallaby Sep 25th 2017 at 12:28 pm 41

    JP #39: The second Death Star was a giant expensive project with millions of soliders and technology on it, that could be completely destroyed by a single shot. With all due respect to Wookieepedia, and to your desire to parse “same vulnerability” as “completely identical vulnerability,” that’s the same vulnerability.

    If you build a system that fails catastrophically, when you build a second system that fails catastrophically in pretty much the same way, no one is going to be impressed that there are minor differences in the mode of failure.

  42. Kilby Sep 25th 2017 at 12:49 pm 42

    @ WW (41) - The difference that I am talking about is the way that the first Death Star was intentionally sabatoged in order to have an exploitable weakness. The second Death Star was “operational” only in that its planet killer weapon was functional. The superstructure of the second Death Star was obviously incomplete, rendering the presence or absence of an intentional guide tube irrelevant. Yes, it effectively had a similar vulnerability, but there is no evidence that this was because of a comical weakness in the final design. They simply weren’t finished building it. The attackers could just fly through the unfinished parts to blow up the core, without having to find a particular shaft.

    P.S. (*) - The decision to rebuild exactly the same weapon was hilariously parodied in the Lego Star Wars DVD mini movie.

  43. Kilby Sep 25th 2017 at 12:51 pm 43

    @ Bill - Is there any chance that you could implement a system that would automatically mark comments that have been recovered out of moderation with a little asterisk or some other symbol? By my count, this thread recently gained at least three new comments (all before WW@37), but I have no idea which three they might be.

  44. James Pollock Sep 25th 2017 at 01:10 pm 44

    “The second Death Star was a giant expensive project with millions of soliders and technology on it, that could be completely destroyed by a single shot.”

    Except, of course, that it couldn’t. First, because it actually took multiple shots to destroy it, and secondly because the only reason that the Alliance was able to destroy the second one was that they got to it before it was finished.
    So, if your definition of “the same flaw” is broad enough to include “It has a major design vulnerability built into it on purpose” and “they got to it before it was finished and could fully defend itself”, then yeah, I guess they had “the same flaw”.

    Also, the Death Star has a full complement of millions of soldiers, but it wasn’t fully staffed. The Alliance terrorists killed only hundreds of thousands of people in their second attack. (Of course, they caused a truly ginornous amount of deadly shrapnel to fall from the skies onto the forest moon of Endor, so who knows how many Ewoks they killed?

  45. Winter Wallaby Sep 25th 2017 at 01:12 pm 45

    Kilby #42: Fair distinction. I suppose part of it is whether you view the design flaw as the exhaust ports themselves, or whether it’s building an entire Death Star with a single point of failure. Also, given that the partially constructed Death Star was supposed to be a trap, you can only excuse so much with “partially constructed.”

    This pretty much sums up my view: https://youtu.be/zdukWtJwlPU?t=44

  46. Winter Wallaby Sep 25th 2017 at 01:12 pm 46

    Oh, and the lens flares: https://youtu.be/OTfBH-XFdSc?t=169

  47. Cidu Bill Sep 25th 2017 at 01:16 pm 47

    Kilby (43), I suppose I should feel flattered that you think I’d have any idea how to do that.

    I do, however, try to check the moderation file once or twice a day so things don’t get TOO out of hand.

  48. James Pollock Sep 25th 2017 at 02:08 pm 48

    “given that the partially constructed Death Star was supposed to be a trap, you can only excuse so much with “partially constructed.””

    It was shielded from a fully-constructed shield generator on the ground.
    The “flaw” that got the second Death Star blowed up was that the Empire didn’t consider the Ewoks dangerous. Because they didn’t relocate, exterminate, or provide sufficient troops to hold them off, the shield generator was destroyed, which exposed the second Death Star to attack.

    Of course, both movies fail to explain why the Death Star tractor beam generators, which were capable of grabbing the Millennium Falcon near Alderaan, were not able to grab the Millennium Falcon near either Yavin or Endor.

  49. Fluffy Bunny Slippers Sep 25th 2017 at 06:44 pm 49

    @James Pollock 48: It is my theory that they purposely left a physical opening to the core for alliance spies to see cause otherwise the empire would be smart just to toss a few wires across at various points of the unfinished opening by the core just to stop any potential ships entering due to a fluke (like the shield being down) otherwise having an unobstucted path (minus a lone shield generator) to the one place that the massive battle station is vulnerable to a single man fighter during a major planned assault means they didn’t learn a valuable lesson from the first death star which is to put up some cheap plywood over the vulnerability.

    The emperor also felt the need to up the ante by being on the death star himself which either shows the startling incompetance of the alliance’s intelligence network for not being aware of the death star until the emperor let them know about it or a remarkable restraint to attack it until the emperor’s presence made the bait irresistible.

  50. James Pollock Sep 25th 2017 at 07:11 pm 50

    The big question is, why can’t you fire a missile from way, way back and let IT figure out how to hit the target? Why not put a droid brain in it that’s smart enough to fly down through whatever trench/channel/passage is needed? Yeah, smart munitions are expensive, but cheaper than fighters, and if your supply of pilots is limited…

    The Empire has lots of pilots. You can tell because they don’t bother to put shields or hyperspace engines in their fighters. But the Separatist military had fighters that were droids. Wouldn’t one of those be super effective in the anti-Death-Star mission profile? We saw a single A-wing take out a Super Star Destroyer. (OK, we don’t get the same feeling of heroic sacrifice when the good guy says “send out the droids on a kamikaze mission”, and one of the crashes into the bridge, which for some reason is not buried in the heart of the ship, the way a modern carrier’s combat information center is.)

    To be fair to the Empire, if the Death Star hadn’t had an intentional vulnerability AND had Grand Moff Tarkin had even an ounce of tactical sense, the Alliance would have been destroyed at Yavin, and the Emperor would be still running the show, and Vader would have been out of offspring.

    “Sir, we’ve come out of hyperspace on the wrong side of the planet. The rebels are operating out of a base on the fourth moon, and the fourth moon is on the other side of the planet, so we can’t shoot at it with our cool, planet-destroying weapon.”
    “Really? The reason we can’t shoot at our hated enemies is because there’s a planet between them and our planet-destroying superlaser?”
    “That’s right, sir.”
    “And it would take us, what, about ten seconds to go around the planet, in hyperspace?”
    “That’s right, sir”
    “And it’s going to take us 15 minutes to go around?”
    “That’s right, sir”
    “And they’re attacking a 160km wide battle station with snub fighters?”
    “Right again, sir”
    “OK, let’s give them as long as they want to nose around, until they find out that we fixed that thermal exhaust port thing, then send Vader out in that souped up fighter of his to clear any of the fighters left over after we blast Yavin out of the sky. Bits of exploding planet will rain down upon the moons, quickly rendering them all uninhabitable.”
    “Yes, sir.”

  51. Jason Sep 25th 2017 at 08:10 pm 51

    One of the problems I have with prequels is that they try to shoehorn an explanation or backstory for everything that happened in the other films. I have a feeling that the Han Solo movie is going to be the epitome of this. As if everything that happened before the first movie was just foreshadowing.
    I’m seriously considering making bingo cards. Here’s the short list of things that will probably appear:
    How he got the Millennium Falcon
    How he met Chewbacca and why Chewbacca owes him a life debt.
    Why he always says “Never tell me the odds” (bonus if someone else says it to him and that’s why he says it now)
    How he finished the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs
    Why he doesn’t believe in the Force
    Why he has the pants with the red stripe
    Why he owed Jabba money (including why he dumped the cargo)
    Why he was in the bar on Tattooine
    Why Greedo doesn’t like him
    Why his name is Han Solo

  52. chuckers Sep 25th 2017 at 08:23 pm 52

    The original Japanese Ring 0: Birthday was a pretty good sequel (and FAR better than Ring 2)

    Cube 0 was also pretty good as a prequel.

  53. James Pollock Sep 25th 2017 at 09:28 pm 53

    “Here’s the short list of things that will probably appear:”

    Most of the things on your list have answers in the “Expanded Universe”. I don’t understand the problem.

    Perhaps most famously, there’s a backstory to the Kessel Run that actually makes sense, and explains why it would be impressive to complete one in under 12 parsecs.

    I told everyone who’d listen at the end of the prequel trilogy that the best possible movie to make would be a biography of Han Solo… no lightsabers, no Jedi, no Force… just an honest guy trying to make an honest living flying his spaceship around, discovering that you can’t make an honest living flying your spaceship around, and finding out just how dirty he’d have to be to make a living flying his spaceship around. It’d have just the fun parts of Star Wars… spaceships, blasters, and spaceship blasters. No Podracing. Interesting aliens. No Republic politics. Plenty of action, running around, trying to do shady stuff without getting caught. No way to screw it up.

    I’m now fairly confident that Disney will screw it up.

  54. Mark in Boston Sep 25th 2017 at 09:53 pm 54

    Is “Go Set a Watchman” a prequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird”?

    Or is “To Kill a Mockingbird” a sequel to “Go Set a Watchman”?

    As for Narnia, “The Last Battle” was written in 1953 and “The Magician’s Nephew” was completed in February 1954 (also sprach Wikipedia), so the earliest to take place was the last to be written.

  55. larK Sep 25th 2017 at 09:55 pm 55

    So basically Firefly then…

  56. Cidu Bill Sep 25th 2017 at 11:21 pm 56

    Neither, Mark: Watchman was an abandoned novel that Harper Lee never intended to mesh with Mockingbird.

  57. James Pollock Sep 26th 2017 at 01:05 am 57

    Most SF writers who intentionally set their stories in a common universe wrote the stories out of order. In that sense, there are a lot of “prequels”. The first chapter of “Foundation” was the last to be written, since it was written specifically for the book.

    If you insist that only who books count, with common characters, themes, or plotlines, There are several in the Foundation series. Asimov himself wrote two, and the “Killer Bs” (Brin, Bear, and Benford) collaborated on a prequel trilogy.
    The Lensman series was also written out of order.
    Another one that I liked was in the Dune universe. Loved the original novel. Never could get more than 50 or 60 pages into the sequels. Finally decided that Frank Herbert wrote only one Dune novel, and it was darn shame he never wrote any more. But the prequels (I think there might be more of them now than sequels) were more to my liking.

  58. Arthur Sep 26th 2017 at 01:25 am 58

    In another thread, someone mentioned the prequels to the
    Dragonrider (of Pern) books.

    I stopped reading the prequels after reading Masterhaper of
    Pern. This took place not long before the Dragonrider and Harper
    Hall trilogies. The Masterharper’s wife was, herself, a master
    Harper. This means that nothing in the first two Harper Hall
    books makes any sense, because they’re predicated on the idea
    that everyone knows that women can’t be Harpers.

    I agree that it was good as a stand-alone book. But I can’t
    consider it a proper prequel. It’s more a prequel in a different
    universe.

  59. Kilby Sep 26th 2017 at 06:11 am 59

    As long as we are arguing about the logic of the cartoon physics in Star Wars, can someone explain how the magnetic sealing in a metal trash compactor chamber can reflect a blaster’s laser multiple times, but still permit a cheesy miniature radio communicator to send a perfect signal right through the solid metal walls? While we are at it, how come nobody on the Death Star noticed any of those tranmissions? And why do droids “talk” to each other, when there are obviously radio links that would be a more reliable means of communication?

  60. James Pollock Sep 26th 2017 at 10:56 am 60

    “can someone explain how the magnetic sealing in a metal trash compactor chamber can reflect a blaster’s laser”

    Blasters aren’t lasers. They have substantially different properties than lasers.

    But I’m going to point out to you that your question boils down to amazement that something can be opaque to one frequency of electromagnetic radiation, yet transparent to another other frequencies of electromagnetic radiation, and let you think about that.

    As for the droids talking to each other, there are several possible answers.
    It could be that they’re using audio links because the designers of the droids didn’t WANT them able to communicate using radio. It’s also possible that they are communicating by radio in addition to using audio. Finally, there’s the possibility that they are using radio, and the filmmaker, recognizing that we wouldn’t be able to hear the radio signals, has thoughfully dubbed the actual communication into audible English for our convenience.
    In the case of the battle droids, specifically, you’d want to use audible signalling to backup radio in case the other side used radio jamming. There are several occasions in Star Wars where radio signals are jammed. If that were the only means of communication available, then communication would be blocked. So you build in as many different styles of communication as possible.

  61. Winter Wallaby Sep 26th 2017 at 11:39 am 61

    Kilby #59: “While we are at it, how come nobody on the Death Star noticed any of those tranmissions?”

    Well, for that matter, when they escape from the Stormtroopers by jumping down the tunnel, why don’t the Stormtroopers follow them? Or look up where the chute leads to, so that they can be waiting outside the door of the trash compacter when it opens? Or…

    Oh, wait, never mind, this makes sense. Remember that Darth Vader let them escape, so that he could track them. Princess Leia realized this and…

    Oh, wait. She knew Darth Vader had let them go to track them decided to immediately fly to the Rebel base?

  62. Kilby Sep 26th 2017 at 12:18 pm 62

    @ JP (2) - “…something can be opaque to one frequency of electromagnetic radiation, yet transparent to another other frequencies of electromagnetic radiation

    Yes. Amazement has nothing to do with it. Blasters are not real lasers, but they they are comic book lasers. Those walls were metal, not glass, and metal blocks both lasers and just about every frequency(*) that would be usable for a radio communicator.

    P.S. (*) Before you turn on your self-serving swivel chair argument mode to point out that the communicator could be using x-ray or gamma radiation, let me point out that both of those would have fried Luke’s hand off.

    P.P.S. But the real answer to all of these inane quibbling questions about the supposed “reality” of anything to do with the physics in Star Wars is simply that nothing about it has to be even the slightest bit “real” at all, it just had to support Lucas’s cinematic goals. Or as William Shatner phrased it on SNL, “Get a life!

  63. Cidu Bill Sep 26th 2017 at 02:25 pm 63

    I would define “reality” as “logically consistent with the previously-established laws of this particular universe.”

  64. Jason Sep 26th 2017 at 02:58 pm 64

    “Most of the things on your list have answers in the “Expanded Universe”. I don’t understand the problem.”

    Because the new movie will contradict or invalidate most if not all of these Expanded Universe explanations. And all of those things will have happened within the same few days or weeks that the movie takes place, instead of over the course of a long life of being Han Solo.

  65. Wendy Sep 26th 2017 at 04:34 pm 65

    (Forgive me if I have some details wrong, it’s been a few years since I last read the Pern books.)

    Arthur, not everyone knew that women couldn’t be harpers. Please remember that, despite the fact that the dragons can move instantaneously to places, normal people and goods and communications all traveled at the speed of oxen or horses at best. The fishing village where Menolly starts her life is a secluded little place on the edge of nowhere. The harper assigned to the town as teacher is an old grouch who didn’t approve of women, and he was sort of self-exiled there, as I recall. He’s the one who told her women can’t be harpers. Since what harpers say is basically the law, everyone there believed him. Also, I believe that in Masterharper, they comment how fewer and fewer women are choosing to become harpers as time passes.

    I’m not saying there aren’t some inconsistencies, but then I’ve read many a trilogy where the author has contradicted one of the earlier books, just because it’s been about 2 years since the earlier book was done, and they didn’t go back and re-read it. So that isn’t just prequels. Mostly you have to decide if you like the author and the story enough to ignore those errors, just like the many times you have to suspend disbelief in movies (see the discussion about Star Wars here, or any horror movie where they split up, or all sorts of moments in various TV shows where you look at the characters and just ask “Why would you do it that way??).

  66. Arthur Sep 26th 2017 at 05:08 pm 66

    The fishing village where Menolly starts her life is a secluded little place on the edge of nowhere. The harper assigned to the town as teacher is an old grouch who didn’t approve of women

    And that grouch was the husband of a female Harper. And the
    current Masterharper is the son of that female Harper. And
    everyone else at Harper Hall thought Menolly couldn’t be a
    Harper because she’s female.

    I stick to my contention that the events of this novel are not
    consistent with those of the first two Harper Hall novels.

  67. guero Sep 26th 2017 at 07:14 pm 67

    JP - my wife loves the original Dune, and like you, cannot get more than 30 pages into the sequels. Me, I could never get past the first chapter of the original. And I would love to see your Han Solo movie, but yeah, Disney’ll screw it up.

  68. James Pollock Sep 27th 2017 at 01:30 am 68

    “Blasters are not real lasers, but they they are comic book lasers.”

    Blasters are not lasers. They have substantially different properties. They have no features in common. I don’t know what “comic book lasers” are. But if they’re not lasers, they’re something else, then they don’t work like lasers, and complaining that they don’t work like lasers is, well, silly.

    You ALSO can’t pop 40 tons of popcorn with a space-based laser, even if you are Val Kilmer. You MIGHT be able to write on the surface of the moon with a powerful-enough laser, but where Chairface Chippendale got a laser powerful enough to write on the surface of the moon is about 23rd on the list of obvious questions about Chairface Chippendale.

    “Because the new movie will contradict or invalidate most if not all of these Expanded Universe explanations.”
    Yes. So? Once you take the position that the Expanded Universe doesn’t count, as Disney did when they took over, then the Expanded Universe doesn’t count.
    The point I was making is that all of those things have been answered before (with varying degrees of success) without, in my opinion, diminishing either the original movies or the new stories. There’s no reason to dread this happening again.
    Consider the Young Indy sequence from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. They provided explanations for why Indy uses a whip, why he really doesn’t like snakes, and why he has that scar on his chin. None of those things diminished the two Indy movies that came before, nor the rest of the Last Crusade. Now, the fourth Indy movie… was not as good. But that didn’t have anything to do with prequelity. The second Indy was a prequel, and it wasn’t as good as the first or the third… but that wasn’t because it was a prequel, it was because they didn’t have a good idea of what they wanted to do… they were clearly stuck between staying PG so they could sell tickets to kids, and telling an R-rated story, because that’s what they had. So they told an R-rated story, cut it so it could just barely get a PG, and then sold tickets to kids, and invented the PG-13 rating.

    ” He’s the one who told her women can’t be harpers.”
    He taught her well enough that she was able to apprentice the hall, and fairly quickly advance from apprentice to journeyman.
    It’s been a long time since I read this trilogy. My recollection was that it was Menolly’s parents who didn’t want her to be a harper, to the point of not properly treating an injury, so she would be unable to play gitar. Petiron the harper encouraged her and developed her talents, and talked her up to the Masterharper, who went looking for her, but she was feared lost outside in Threadfall. Robinton finds her at Benden Weyr, and asks her to become his apprentice. That’s the dramatic conclusion of Dragonsong… Masterharper Robinton finding Menolly and inviting her to study at the harper hall.

    “And everyone else at Harper Hall thought Menolly couldn’t be a Harper because she’s female.”

    They cheered when she walked the tables. And Menolly isn’t the only female present at the Harper Hall in Dragonsinger. What WAS different about her was that she had fire lizards, which were… disruptive. Some of the masters doubted she had the discipline for harpercraft, because she was always distracted by the fire lizards and their mischief. But most of the masters in the hall supported her.

    “I stick to my contention that the events of this novel are not consistent with those of the first two Harper Hall novels.”
    The first harper hall novel ends with Robinton asking Menolly to be his personal apprentice. Which part of “The Masterharper of Pern” did you find that was substantially inconsistent with this?

    ” Me, I could never get past the first chapter of the original.”

    Yeah, Frank Herbert was a challenging read. I made it through “The Santaroga Barrier”, but wouldn’t read it again. It got a little bit more than half-way through “Whipping Star”, and decided that I liked Dune, and that was the extent of my admiration for Mr. Herbert’s works. However, the prequels that were co-written by his son and some other well-known authors had the good parts of Dune, and only a tiny bit of the weirdness that made Herbert, Sr.’s work so challenging.

    Right now, I’m working through “The Difference Engine”, the novel that more-or-less gave birth to steampunk. I read it when it first came out, and not since then, so I’m seeing it with fresh eyes.

  69. James Pollock Sep 27th 2017 at 01:42 am 69

    ” This means that nothing in the first two Harper Hall books makes any sense, because they’re predicated on the idea
    that everyone knows that women can’t be Harpers.”

    Not quite. The people in Half-Circle Sea Hold think that women can’t be harpers, specifically including Menolly’s father. But the actual harpers have no such opinion, and in fact Menolly’s talents were developed by the sea-hold’s harper. This is because Masterharper Robinton believed in developing talent, whoever happened to have it.

    Some folks believe that the first priority of women is, and should be, the raising of children. They are solely involved in the first nine months or so after conception, and are pretty important during the next year or so until the babies grow teeth and start chewing solid food, and this is even more apparent in societies where infant formula as a substitute for mother’s milk is not available. While it certainly is possible to be productive and successful during pregnancy and in the period of infancy, these do present challenges to productive labor. Not insurmountable challenges, but non-trivial challenges, either.
    So, sometimes the societal answer is “you know what, during the time you’re capable of producing children, that should be your first priority.” and there is nothing wrong with this. Sometimes the societal answer is “sure, you can devote all your time to raising children, but, since talents and skills are distributed to women as well as men, perhaps following those talents and skills is the first, best destiny, and other people can help with the kids” and there is nothing wrong with this answer, either. Most importantly, it’s actually possible for these two philosophies to exist side-by-side. They do in modern-day America, and they do in Pern.
    It is absolutely true that a recurring theme of the Pern series is smart, capable women overcoming adversity, including a bunch of menfolk who think that women can’t be capable by virtue of being women. It’s almost as if the woman writing the novels is a smart, capable woman who has experienced that kind of doubting male person, and is writing for other smart capable women who will experience that kind of doubting male person, giving them an inspiration that a smart-enough, capable-enough woman can (and will, and should) overcome the twits who doubt them just because of their gender.

    A powerful force on American science fiction from the 30’s, 40’s, and into the 50’s advocated for stories that featured “the capable man”… the sort of pioneer who could go off in to the unexplored wilderness and survive by cleverness, by mastering a wide variety of different skills (as, in fact, the American west was conquered by people who fashioned there own almost-everything, because there was nowhere else to go get it. If you broke a wheel on your wagon, you had to make another wheel for your wagon, because the wagon needs all its wheels and there’s no other source of wagon wheels. The writers who thrived during this period did so by crafting characters who were smart and capable. Heinlein was an early feminist… he peppered his stories with “capable women” as well as capable men. The Lensman series, one of the nominees for “best all-time series” when that was a Hugo category, was depressingly sexist, but Clarissa MacDougall Kinnison is a “capable woman”, too.
    In the Pern stories, Lessa was the first of the capable women, and Menolly was the second. Moreta was pretty capable, too. When “Dragonsdawn” was written, there were plenty of capable women amongst the Pern colony’s pioneers.

    A lot of early SF was targeted at an exclusively male audience. The womenfolk are decorative to the storyline, not participants. (Compare and contrast the roles of the three main characters in Flash Gordon: Flash himself, doctor Zarkov, and Dale Arden.)

    I introduced my daughter to SF as a young child, intentionally selecting stories that had aspirational roles for girls. Podkayne of Mars, Tunnel in the Sky, and yes, the Harper Hall Pern novels. Alas, she got pulled aside by Twilight, and lost interest in the kind of SF I’d have preferred she stick with. But she stuck with Pern, and wound up with a science degree, so it partly worked.

  70. Dave in Boston Sep 27th 2017 at 02:59 am 70

    I’d characterize the gender stuff in Masterharper of Pern as a poorly-executed attempt to reconcile the story of Robinton’s lover/wife, which we’d already had in passing somewhere else, with the militant sexism portrayed among the Harpers and elsewhere at the beginning of the Present Pass.
    Remember that one of the themes of the first book was that during the later period of the Long Interval various aspects of Pernese society had gone off the rails, leading to unacceptable behavior like wars of conquest, disrespect for harpers, disrespect for dragonriders, subjugation of women, you name it. This all had to be corrected in order to cope with the Pass… and the stresses that imposed made it possible. It’s routine for any fictional society that an author continues to write about to have a renaissance, but in the case of Pern it’s pretty clearly part of the initial setup.
    The problem is, attitudes like “everyone knows women can’t be harpers” don’t develop on the timescale suggested in Masterharper of Pern; it takes longer than that, because if any significant number of people remembers when women wereharpers it’s clear nonsense. (This doesn’t preclude “women shouldn’t be harpers because [whatever]”, but that’s not what’s displayed in the early books and the Harper Hall trilogy.)
    So I guess I’m with Arthur except I wouldn’t say Masterharper of Pern is inconsistent, I’d say it’s implausible. It tries to set up the historical context, but fails. This is not by any means the only way in which this book lacks plausibility (Robinton being personally present in disguise at the duel with Fax? Really?) so IMO it’s best to just treat it as not quite canon and move on.

    James: Menolly wasn’t the only girl at the Harper Hall, but she was the only female apprentice. The other girls were paying students/dilettantes and neither skilled nor expected to be.

  71. Dave in Boston Sep 27th 2017 at 03:05 am 71

    Oh, and WW: They did look up where the trash chute led to. That’s why the walls started closing in. Given the general fecklessness of the Imperials it’s reasonably plausible that nobody noticed the squish order had been cancelled inside the central computer until later.

    It always bugged me a lot more that after they got out they were suddenly clean and dry.

  72. John Small Berries Sep 27th 2017 at 10:31 am 72

    ”How did all Starfleet’s equipment get so crappy in the next 50 years or so?”

    Even worse than that. According to the date Burnham gives at the beginning of the first episode, and the chronology that Michael Okuda worked out based on various dates given in the other shows and movies, Discovery takes place two years after “The Cage” (and therefore eleven years before “The Menagerie”). So they had pushbuttons and blinkenlights in 2254, rediscovered 21st-century touch screen monitor technology by 2256, and then apparently decided that was too convenient and went back to pushbuttons and blinkenlights again by 2267.

    Logically, the simplest answer is that, despite what the producers have claimed, the shows do not all take place in the same universe. That would explain every violation of existing canon: the differences in technology, uniforms, and iconography; the radically different physiology of the Klingons (which completely undermines the explanation in Enterprise for their smooth foreheads during Kirk’s time); the existence of a female captain (it was stated in “Turnabout Intruder” that “Your world of starship captains doesn’t admit women”); and so on.

    At least, that’s the explanation I’m going to go with in order to avoid constantly being irritated by such things.

  73. Winter Wallaby Sep 27th 2017 at 11:11 am 73

    Dave #71: You’re right, I forgot that. But that’s perhaps even worse. They turned on the compactor, and then went off to get lunch or something without even checking to see if it worked? I wouldn’t just call that feckless. I’d call that a Dr. Evil level of stupid.

    Is that one line in “Turnabout Intruder” the evidence that Starfleet has never had a female captain? If so, that doesn’t seem definitive. I haven’t seen that episode in decades, but (1) it’s uttered by a crazy person and (2) I might say something like “The Senate is an all-boy’s club” without literally meaning that there are not, and have never been, female senators.

  74. Pete Sep 27th 2017 at 12:08 pm 74

    Getting back to the subject of good prequels.

    CS Forrester wrote several books tracing Hornblower’s career from Captain to Lord. Then he wrote a few about Hornblower’s early career as midshipman and Lieutenant. After that the timeline jumps around a lot. The final book, incomplete when Forrester died, ends just as Hornblower receives his promotion to Captain.

  75. James Pollock Sep 27th 2017 at 12:21 pm 75

    “Given the general fecklessness of the Imperials it’s reasonably plausible that nobody noticed the squish order had been cancelled inside the central computer until later.”

    R2-D2 can give commands to the Imperial computer systems. Perhaps he can also edit the logfiles, so when Stormtrooper XJ388465 looks up the trash compactor, he sees that it completed compacting the accumlated trash from the detention level. It isn’t until Stormtooper UV3488309 actually walks down that passageway that they learn that the compaction process was never completed.
    “So THAT’S where those rebel infiltrators we detected near Alderaan came from! He was about to activate his comlink and notify his superiors, when the call to battle stations came because they were going to clear out some old moon in the Yavin system.

    “Logically, the simplest answer is that, despite what the producers have claimed, the shows do not all take place in the same universe”

    But but but… Generations!
    Hand me your agonizer, Commander Berries.

    (Note: There’s a simpler explanation of why the Klingons of TOS are green and have no headbumps, and the Klingons of TNG and beyond are not green and have headbumps. Some enterprising Klingon invented the headbump club for Klingons, and made a fortune selling fake headbumps to those Klingons who were suffering from premature headbump loss. Remember, I’m not just the founder of the headbump club for Klingons, I’m also a member!”)

  76. Cidu Bill Sep 27th 2017 at 08:44 pm 76

    I recall the Klingon issue being referenced twice: first by Worf in DS9, with a curt “We don’t like to discuss it,” and then explained “scientifically” in Enterprise.

  77. Jason Sep 28th 2017 at 12:55 pm 77

    “Yes. So? Once you take the position that the Expanded Universe doesn’t count, as Disney did when they took over, then the Expanded Universe doesn’t count.
    The point I was making is that all of those things have been answered before (with varying degrees of success) without, in my opinion, diminishing either the original movies or the new stories. There’s no reason to dread this happening again.”

    The Expanded Universe didn’t try to cram it all into one 2-hour story. My problem isn’t that prequels try to answer some of the questions about a characters past, my problem is that a single prequel movie will try to cram *every* answer into one movie. As if every aspect of who they are today is defined solely by one single adventure they had in the past rather than a whole life of experiences.

    I suspect that the Han Solo movie is going to show that Han Solo met Chewbacca, obtained the Millennium Falcon, became indebted to Jabba, completed the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, decided he didn’t like Imperials, started saying “Never tell me the odds,” and ended up in a bar on Tatooine all within a couple of day period during a single adventure. It’s cheap, unrealistic, and lazy storytelling.

    If that turns out not to be the case, I will be pleasantly surprised.

  78. James Pollock Sep 28th 2017 at 10:49 pm 78

    I agree that the movie is likely to hit all or nearly all of these events in the young Han’s life.
    I don’t think they’ll put all that into one single caper.
    I’d forecast that Act 1 sets him up as a good guy who follows the rules, gets him into the Falcon, and follows him trying to hear an honest living flying his ship around. He won’t start with the ship, they’ll either have a short prologue where he’s a pilot looking for work flying someone else’s ship, or he’s in an Imperial academy learning to fly. He’ll win the Falcon early in the movie, but not right away.
    Act II will show him growing increasingly desperate, taking work he would have preferred to pass up. Chewbacca arrives here, as part of a caper gone wrong. Then he goes to work for Jabba, still trying to find enough honest work to fly the straight and narrow. At the end of act II, he gets boarded and has to dump Jabba’s cargo.
    Act III is a caper… one big score to get enough to pay Jabba, fix up the ship, and stick to honest work for a while. It will go wrong, leaving Han broke and looking for something, anything, that he can do to earn 15,000 credits or so. Then he goes into a little spaceport bar…
    The Kessel run will probably be there, but not sure how big a role it is. It might be part of Act I, but probably not (perhaps a 12-parsec Kessel Run is what gets Han noticed (and hired) by Jabba. I don’t think that’s it. I think Han does the Kessel Run as part of his work for Jabba, and his really good run gets him noticed (and boarded) by Imperials. Or maybe it’s part of the caper in act III. Han makes a great Kessel Run, but winds up getting stiffed on what he was supposed to earn. Any of these are possible.

    At least, that’s the structure *I’D* use. But Disney isn’t about telling a great story. Disney is about prying money away from people. So there has to be a toy tie-in, a fast-food tie-in, new ships so that Lego can sell new kits, and all of those things mean trade-offs.

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