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Brian Hague
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Posted: 10 February 2018 at 11:37pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

"Right people with the right intent" are hard to find anymore, Greg. But yes, I'm probably just being cynical in my thinking concerning Trek prequels. Genuine respect for what has come before seems in short supply these days, however.

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 10 February 2018 at 11:43pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

I’ve come to the conclusion that people are too afraid to come out of the closet and admit that they emotionally invest in this stuff, and so go overboard in laying on the snark, dark, and retcons.

No respect, no sense of history. Beloved heroes of yore are revealed as failures, and prequels snatch away their discoveries (pun!) and accomplishments. 

“Please love our new stuff! It’s so much cooler than that silly old s*** we’re basing it on!”


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 10 February 2018 at 11:43pm
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 10 February 2018 at 11:50pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

As we're posting at about the same time, Greg, these responses are becoming staggered in an interesting fashion... Reading DC immediately post-Crisis wasn't especially jarring anymore so than modern readers are finding the New52 transition into Rebirth I would imagine. It did leave one thinking that no one had hold of the rudder anymore and that things were about to become a great deal more random. Which they did. 

Early in Marvel's "Ultimate" line, they did an "Ultimate Team-Up" title in which Bendis paired his Spidey with Ultimatized versions of Marvel heroes who hadn't yet been reimagined. When those heroes finally were given the Ultimate treatment, they turned out to be nothing like the Team-Up versions we'd been shown. (The FF especially.) 

The whole thing created a frission similar to that when Superman met the very Pre-Crisis-like Katar and Shayera in Action before Truman revamped the concept in "Hawkworld." Suddenly, not everything counted anymore and the idea that it could all be explained by having everything still be "in flux" took root, leading to the miserable Zero Hour reboot soon after. 

I'd hate to see that kind of constant logical uncertainty crop up in Star Trek, but after First Contact, Enterprise, the Abramsverse, and now Discovery, that ship has apparently sailed. 

Again, the answer becomes ignoring the "big picture" and focusing instead upon the stories being told within this new, unfortunately imperfect context. Trying to re-conceptualize the franchise and bring it all under one, overriding timeline or definition of reality only invites shoddy repair-work and sends up a steady stream of red flags that the system is broken now for the duration.


Edited by Brian Hague on 10 February 2018 at 11:55pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 12:09am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

I’ve also become a big believer in letting things lie. If a story is well-told, and an arc fulfilled, then leave it alone. There are exceptions, of course.

In the case of TREK, there was TOS, then the spin-offs. The spin-offs didn’t exactly adhere to the letter of the law laid down by TOS, but they were their own thing, and didn’t (usually) go out of their way to strip-mine and/or undermine TOS. 

By the time we got to ENTERPRISE, though, there was money at stake. It didn’t matter that there had been hundreds and hundreds of hours of TREK produced continuously for nearly 15 years. It didn’t matter that the writers, producers, and crew were burned-out. More TREK= More Money, so they went the predictable route of a Younger, Sexier, Edgier (well, sort of) prequel. It didn’t work out so well.

So instead of letting sleeping dogs lie, they doubled down, handed the I.P. to the metaphorical jocks, and we got Abrams’ truly Younger, Sexier, Edgier (and Dumber) version. Which made tons of money. For awhile.

Then, on to DISCOVERY. Take a big helping of Abrams’ style, but go back down the prequel road so as to milk all that nostalgia, and trick fans into thinking that the timeline can somehow, some way match up with TOS. Put it behind a paywall, too. 

And here we are. A divided fanbase, and a franchise that's about as far from its original spirit and roots as you can get. Seems to be a common theme with a lot of beloved properties, these day. Because people just...can’t...let...go. Be it out of greed (the studio) or the addict’s need for more and better highs (the fans).
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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 10:37am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

I tremendously enjoy the universe of the Federation and Starfleet. It's positive at most turns, and I think Roddenberry's original ideas are still good.

Thus, I would enjoy a Star Trek series with Captain April or Captain Pike. I might like a Star Trek series with Captain Harriman or Captain Garrett. 

I would say that there would have to be only two rules.
1) Set the series on a space craft. I would prefer it to be the Enterprise, but I love me some Enterprise... my second favorite vehicle in space opera type fiction.
2) Leave the past OUT OF IT.

By that, I don't mean that the 23rd century should ignore the 22nd century. I mean that 2018 shouldn't screw around with 1967 or 1987. LEAVE THEM ALONE.

Get a new crew as necessary*. Write new stories. But leave any earlier details the hell out of it. TOS violated this once, with "The Cage", and even that had some practicality issues in real life. Once in a season or two is a good exception. TNG wasn't too bad about this... a McCoy cameo, an episode with Spock or Scott, a redux of "The Naked Time"... all rare enough, in my opinion, to be acceptable.

But don't start a show with the idea, "We're going to show the Vulcan first contact" or "Here's how the Federation REALLY encountered the Borg" or "This story will deal with details from TNG, but set half a century earlier!"

No, I believe that doing things new would let the show stand on its own merits, and give it a chance for more success, with no "homework" required.

*I know that Spock and Scotty were on Pike's Enterprise. I don't mind using them as long as they aren't delving into their pasts or backstories that were handled in TOS. Don't contradict them, don't change them... just leave them alone.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 11:30am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Our own Paul Gibney has long suggested an anthology series simply titled FEDERATION, with stories told about different folk, on different worlds, all across Federation space.

Basically, a stealth version of TWILIGHT ZONE or THE OUTER LIMITS.

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 11:35am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

To give TNG proper credit, it really was a modern updating of the basic STAR TREK format, rather than a nostalgia-fest designed to draw in longtime fans. Aside from the McCoy cameo in the pilot, and a few early episodes which either riffed on TOS stories (“The Naked Time”), rewrote unused scripts (“The Child”), or played with familiar tropes, they really did try to just do their own thing. It was YEARS before they felt confident enough to blatantly reference TOS, or feature original characters as major guest-stars.

Same basic storytelling structure (done-in-one stories set aboard a new Enterprise with a new crew), but without constantly ringing the TOS bell in terms of references and cameos. Riker was not Kirk’s grandson, Data was not shoehorned in as young Spock’s long-lost pet android, etc., etc.

Flash-forward to now, and we have things like NuSulu being retconned against George Takei’s wished into an LGBT character, and Michael Burnham being shoehorned in as Spock’s adopted sister. It’s a parade of constant retcons and rethinking of beloved characters and lore, which seems to come down to an inevitably toxic mix of brand recognition/marketing and risk aversion. People were more likely to give DISCOVERY a shot if it tied into TOS lore in some significant ways. And, of course, the Abrams films went back to the well by taking TOS- -still the most well-known and beloved iteration of the franchise- - and supercharging it for modern sensibilities.

The results of this are pretty apparent. A good chunk of the core fanbase has been ticked off, and the franchise has gone from several all-ages TV series to a trilogy of dumb and loud movies which quickly proved not to have legs to a streaming-only series hidden behind a paywall and aimed at adults.

To paraphrase Spinal Tap manager Ian Faith, modern STAR TREK’s appeal has become...more selective.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 11:37am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Our own Paul Gibney has long suggested an anthology series simply titled FEDERATION, with stories told about different folk, on different worlds, all across Federation space.

Basically, a stealth version of TWILIGHT ZONE or THE OUTER LIMITS.

++++++++

Aside from the Enterprise and crew being the one constant (and focus), that’s kinda what the early of episodes of TOS were doing- - anthology stories set on different planets, with different guest-stars. 



Edited by Greg Kirkman on 11 February 2018 at 10:16pm
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 4:14pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Star Trek's initial premise was wonderfully conceived for maximum diversity in storytelling. You could do funny episodes, serious ones, murder mysteries, space battles, tales of individual conscience... And there was always a place somewhere initially for the guest-star to come front and center. 

Soon, the focus shifted almost exclusively to our regulars, which was fine, but the format was still elastic enough to accommodate the occasional guest. There were good scenes for the central players, and nice enough business provided for everyone else. Later, the focus narrowed even more, and the quality of the scripts just wasn't there anymore, but it never fell into the trap the franchise has today of endlessly self-referencing existing material and concepts, mining them for "untold stories" and "new angles." 

I get that folks love the Mirror Universe and Khan, but Trek used to be in the business of coming up with ideas of this magnitude, not simply revisiting them.

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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 7:07pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I get that folks love the Mirror Universe and Khan, but Trek used to be in the business of coming up with ideas of this magnitude, not simply revisiting them.

*** 

It seems to be the way things are now in the entertainment field: prequels, remakes, revisiting old concepts, etc. Films are doing it. Comics are doing it. To a lesser degree, TV shows are doing it.

And fandom may be to blame (bear with me).

Whenever a franchise (e.g. FRIDAY THE 13TH) discusses going in a different direction, some people complain. When such a franchise does that very thing, people complain more - and box office suffers. So a franchise instead plays it safe or revisits old ground.

It seems that a vocal minority don't want change. 

Now, when I say change, I don't mean making something unrecognisable, e.g. Captain America as a HYDRA agent. I'm referring to moving on with things, having fresh opponents, etc. In the case of STAR TREK, I'd love to see another ship, perhaps set after TNG's time. Or something fresh. But it seems that when *some* fans discuss that, other fans complain. So instead we get this constant revisiting and obsession with prequels.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 8:53pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Our own Paul Gibney has long suggested an anthology series simply titled FEDERATION, with stories told about different folk, on different worlds, all across Federation space.

Basically, a stealth version of TWILIGHT ZONE or THE OUTER LIMITS.

++++++++

Aside the Enterprise and crew being the one constant (and focus), that’s kinda what the early of episodes of TOS were doing- - anthology stories set on different planets, with different guest-stars.

•••

That's kind of an abuse of the word "anthology".

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 11 February 2018 at 10:19pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

That's kind of an abuse of the word "anthology".
+++++++++

Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s just that the series’ early format, with its wildly different types of stories, planets, and guest-stars, gives me a pseudo-anthology vibe, despite the use of consistent main characters. 
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 12 February 2018 at 2:00pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Hmmm, gotta disagree, Greg. An anthology is a very specific kind of show. I am not sure pseudo-anthology can exist. Or pseudo-anthology vibes.

It'd be like being a pseudo-vegan or pseudo-virgin. Some things either are or they aren't. The very nature of an anthology series is that it presents different characters each week, telling different stories.

Otherwise, how far do we go? KNIGHT RIDER took place in various US towns/cities/counties across the seasons, but had a consistent main character. Yet would we call that an anthology or pseudo-anthology? 
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 12 February 2018 at 2:13pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Psuedo-anthology about guy with psuedo-talking car, and psuedo-new identity, played by psuedo-actor?

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 12 February 2018 at 5:19pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

Hmmm, gotta disagree, Greg. An anthology is a very specific kind of show. I am not sure pseudo-anthology can exist. Or pseudo-anthology vibes.
+++++++++++

You're taking me too literally. I simply mean that early TOS had a structure similar to an anthology like THE TWILIGHT ZONE (wildly different stories/themes, settings, and guest-stars from week-to-week), yet was still NOT an anthology, due to the constant presence of the Enterprise and crew.

It often feels to me like a science-fiction anthology series (covering such varied subjects as androids, time travel, Greek gods, Nazis, vampire clouds, and alien space battles) without actually being one. Not quite the same thing as Michael Knight driving from town to town and helping people with different problems!

Edited by Greg Kirkman on 12 February 2018 at 7:24pm
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 12 February 2018 at 6:08pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

I was just reading an interview with Donald Bellisario who said that he wanted to do an anthology series at one point, and that idea changed over time to become Quantum Leap; A different era each week with a different supporting cast and yet the audience would still have two familiar, likeable leads to relate to while the stories themselves went wherever and whenever the writers wanted them to. Definitely not an anthology, but similar enough to one in structure that it allowed the writers and production staff a tremendous amount of latitude in their jobs from week to week.

With TOS, with each episode, you could find yourself in the 1870's, the 1930's, or the 1960's (or reasonable facsimiles thereof.) You could be in a mystery, a light comedy, or a military confrontation. The audience largely did not know what to expect, except that their favorite characters would be in the thick of whatever was taking place, and the writers had enormous freedom. It was not an anthology, but it did benefit from a similar sensibility and approach.

Shows with a traveling lead character assisting strangers along the way have many of the same advantages,* but adding Science Fiction and Time Travel to the mix opens up the possibilities exponentially.

* Television is a Fugitive medium.


Edited by Brian Hague on 12 February 2018 at 6:10pm
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Allan Summerall
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Posted: 12 February 2018 at 6:56pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

Regarding Captain April, I really enjoyed the novel "Final Frontier" by Diane Carey that came out back in the late 80's. The novel begins with Captain Kirk on leave on Earth after "The City on the Edge of Forever" episode & contemplating resigning from Starfleet. The book splits throughout between Kirk reading letters his father wrote to him and the past with George Kirk, Captain April & others on a secret mission with the,then unnamed, "Enterprise" that involves the Romulans. I know very little,if any,in the way of the novels are considered canon, but I liked this one a lot.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 12 February 2018 at 7:25pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

It was not an anthology, but it did benefit from a similar sensibility and approach.
++++++++++++

Exactly.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 13 February 2018 at 4:49am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

 Greg Kirkman wrote:
It often feels to me like a science-fiction anthology series (covering such varied subjects as androids, time travel, Greek gods, Nazis, vampire clouds, and alien space battles) without actually being one. Not quite the same thing as Michael Knight driving from town to town and helping people with different problems!

But couldn't I make the same argument for KNIGHT RIDER? Battling a corrupt county sheriff in one episode, assisting South American revolutionaries in another, and then an episode set almost entirely in an airport.

Or DOCTOR WHO? The Romans one week, Daleks in the future the week after, contemporary sea monsters the week after that, etc.


Edited by Robbie Parry on 13 February 2018 at 4:49am
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John Byrne
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Posted: 13 February 2018 at 5:11am | IP Logged | 20 post reply

For me, this "pseudo-anthology" concept is acceptable only if we apply it to all other fiction. GUNSMOKE was an "anthology". BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER was an anthology. LAW & ORDER was an anthology.

Nah. Doesn't really work once there are recurring characters.

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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 13 February 2018 at 5:23am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

Yes, if we went down that road, BUFFY would be an pseudo-anthology, given an episode might feature a robot dad ("Ted") or Dracula himself!
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 13 February 2018 at 10:53am | IP Logged | 22 post reply

Maybe you guys should be less eager to nitpick an offhand comment. My point was that STAR TREK, by virtue of being a genre series capable of both space and time travel, was able to apply some of the structure and strengths of an anthology series to its advantage, despite its not actually being one. 

Take out the main characters and replace them with a bunch of generic ones, and you could have a nice little collection of science-fiction anthology stories with a wide (limitless, even) range of subject matter. Wider than you’d get with Earthbound dramas. Every LAW & ORDER is still set within the legal system of present-day New York, after all. The stories come to the police and lawyers, rather than the reverse. The nature of TREK’s series format provides a tremendous amount of latitude in terms of storytelling. Space travel, time travel, dimensional travel, planet shows, shipboard shows. No, it’s most definitely not an anthology, but it almost feels at times like it could have been, but for those recurring characters.

Heck, it could pretty easily have really been one, if each episode had focused on the crew of a different Constitution class ship, using the same sets and different actors, each week.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 13 February 2018 at 11:23am | IP Logged | 23 post reply

Take out the main characters and replace them with a bunch of generic ones, and you could have a nice little collection of science-fiction anthology stories with a wide (limitless, even) range of subject matter.

••

I could not disagree more! The very fact that we have seen two captains undercuts your point. Kirk and Pike were not interchangeable cardboard cutouts. Kirk, written correctly, would have made "The Cage" a different story. Pike, as Pike, would have changed the series episodes. The stories may have been occasionally generic, but we viewed them thru the lens of those particular characters, and that was what made STAR TREK what it was.

My hackles rise, here, because your comments sound altogether too much like Shooter's "anybody can be Iron Man".

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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 13 February 2018 at 5:54pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

I wasn't nit-picking, Greg, it was simply contributing (or trying to contribute) to a discussion. 

I just feel an anthology is what it is. You can't have a pseudo-anthology any more than you can have a pseudo-virgin or be a pseudo-vegan. An anthology is surely an absolute term! Something either is or it isn't.

If we went down that road, offhand comment or not, it could be applied to almost any series. You thought my KNIGHT RIDER comparison was invalid. Maybe it wasn't the best. But there's a bit of a difference between seeing Knight and KITT aiding revolutionaries in South America and dealing with a corrupt county sheriff within the United States.

The Enterprise may well have spent one episode on a time travel trip and another one landing on a planet, but it was still that one ship. And I disagree profoundly with this:

Take out the main characters and replace them with a bunch of generic ones, and you could have a nice little collection of science-fiction anthology stories with a wide (limitless, even) range of subject matter.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 14 February 2018 at 2:15am | IP Logged | 25 post reply

I could not disagree more! The very fact that we have seen two captains undercuts your point. Kirk and Pike were not interchangeable cardboard cutouts. Kirk, written correctly, would have made "The Cage" a different story. Pike, as Pike, would have changed the series episodes. The stories may have been occasionally generic, but we viewed them thru the lens of those particular characters, and that was what made STAR TREK what it was. 

+++++++

That wasn’t what I meant! I was just thinking in broad strokes, like, say, removing the Enterprise and crew from “The City on The Edge of Forever, and having a different group of characters (say, an archaeological team who stumble upon a “lost” city) discover the Guardian of Forever. With a few story tweaks, it could even be located in some lost city on present-day Earth. Just a nice little time-travel story of the sort you’d find in an old sci-fi anthology book. 

I certainly didn’t mean to imply that Kirk and company could simply be replaced with other characters in exactly the same roles. No, no, no. Your point is absolutely correct. Kirk’s presence would indeed have made “The Cage” into a very different story, etc., etc. I simply meant that many of TOS’ stories are strong sci-fi-anthology-type premises which could likely still function as good and interesting stories without specific STAR TREK characters and elements (namely, the Enterprise and crew). The ship and those characters are what make them STAR TREK stories, but many of those story premises would still make for good non-TREK stories. Like, say, a FORBIDDEN PLANET version of “What Are Little Girls Made a Of?”, or a TWILIGHT ZONE-ish version of “Operation—Annihilate!” set on present-day Earth. Maybe a version of “Arena” where an average Earthman is teleported to the alien planetoid and forced to fight the Gorn. That sort of thing.

Of course, the events of so many episodes depend upon the specific actions and choices of our familiar characters, as well as TREK-specific tropes and technology, but that’s why I was speaking broadly! If one took on the task of rewriting various episodes to turn them into non-TREK stories, a good number of them would probably require extensive revisions, to the point of becoming very different stories.


I suppose my communication skills need some kind of tune-up. Also, brain no work sleep well without.

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