Monday 30 April 2018

To Boldly Go (Again)

There's a line in Star Trek Generations – the 1994 big screen baton handover between the original series and Next Generation crews, and a film of which I'm fonder than I have any reasonable right to be – that's been resonating with me recently. It comes during the sequence in the extra-dimensional Nexus, when James T. Kirk is rebuffing Jean-Luc Picard's exhortations to join him in saving the world (well, a world) one last time. As he strides up the stairs in his beautiful Rocky Mountains log cabin towards his doubtless equally beautiful waiting wife, Kirk declares: "This time it's going to be different."

Of course, directly after that Kirk realises that the Nexus is a sham and joins Picard in his battle against planet-destroying El-Aurian nutcase Soran and winds up getting killed (spoiler alert!), but even so, that line has lodged in my mind since late last year, when I once again became editor of the official Star Trek Magazine.

I say 'once again' because it's not the first time I've been editor of Star Trek Magazine. I previously edited it for a couple of years in the early 2000s (when it was known as Star Trek Monthly and was a little slimmer than it is now, as well as being, as its title suggests, monthly, as opposed to the current bimonthly... ish), having quit a career as a music journalist in order to do so – much to the bemusement of more than one friend at the time, who couldn't comprehend why I'd abandon such a 'trendy' profession in order to go and edit a magazine about Star Trek.

And maybe they had a point. Looking back, I spent much of that 25-issue stint in charge of the magazine bending it into shapes that perhaps better suited me and my background – a music special, funny captions, endless best-ofs – than the mag itself – and always with an eye to other opportunities at Titan, the publisher of Star Trek Magazine. (To my credit, that last one did work out: I subsequently got to run the Titan graphic novels dept for five years.)

So this time I think maybe it will be different. This time, and coinciding with my reignited fervour for science fiction and space opera, I'm much more interested in Star Trek itself; in digging into how it is (and was) written, produced, filmed – how it's made; how it works – as well as chronicling its latest incarnation, Star Trek: Discovery. In fact, what with Discovery – the first season of which I loved – and the Abrams/Kelvinverse films – the first two of which I loved... and the third of which I actually didn't mind – right now I'm probably more into Trek than at any time since the heyday of Deep Space Nine 20 years ago, and possibly even since TNG was first on telly.

My first issue back in the captain's chair, #66 (March/April 2018), came out earlier this year, and my second, #67 (Summer 2018), is out in the US now and in the UK in a few weeks; I'm pretty pleased with how that one in particular – a DS9 anniversary issue which delves into how that show's first season came together 25 years ago (plus some Discovery stuff, including an interview I did with Wilson Cruz) – has turned out. Whether or not I can extend my prior two-year tenure as editor into a five-year mission – or even an ongoing one – remains to be seen, but I've plenty of plans for the main magazine and its various spin-off specials (including a Discovery one later this year; more on that anon).

As Captain Kirk says to Captain Picard in Generations: "Don't let them promote you... don't let them transfer you... don't let them do anything that takes you off the bridge of that ship, because while you're there... you can make a difference."

The covers illustrating this post are by Star Trek Magazine's regular designer, the supremely talented Commander Martin Stiff from Amazing15.