Stitches in your Knob – An Ironic Circumcision

Note – the below contains some graphic descriptions of surgery and an awful lot of T.M.I. for the people who know me personally. There are no gory images and no images of anybody’s penis, but please proceed with caution if you’re squeamish about operations, or about me talking about my private parts, or me just feeling sorry for myself in general.


I spent the afternoon of my thirtieth birthday sat on a bed, in a hospital, with stitches in my bellend.

On reflection, I’d say it was my fifth-worst birthday.

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Getting to this point is a fairly mundane, boring story, but I’ll go through it because it’s pretty pertinent.


The Origin Story

In the latter months of 2017, my foreskin became very tight, rather suddenly. It seemed to be over the course of a week that it went from being its normal, relatively stretchy self, to having a maximum diameter of about a centimetre, or roughly half an inch.

Now, when I say “tight”, I mean there was literally no give in it whatsoever. It was too tight for me to even get my fingertip inside, meaning I had no way to clean the end of my knob. Which isn’t great.

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It also meant I couldn’t retract it over the bellend, which is also not great. In fact, I was lucky that my foreskin decided to do this whilst it was still on the end of my penis. If it had somehow managed to make its way further down, then it would have been acting as a tourniquet around my bellend, which would have warranted a trip to the emergency room, and everything would have been Much Worse.

As it was, I simply found it uncomfortable to masturbate, and on occasion the foreskin would get sore if it had been stretched too much.

I was panicked, at first, because I was sure this must be the result of some form of STD. Which in itself isn’t something to be ashamed of. What really bothered me is that the only possible way I could’ve contracted an STD would be from a toilet seat: my sex life,  excluding a few weeks in my mid-twenties, could be charitably described as “dormant”, and less charitably as “non-existent.”

voyagervirus

It turns out that I had “balanitis xerotica obliterans,” or BXO, which isn’t related to any kind of infection, isn’t communicable, and basically “just happens.” Like, at random. In essence, as I understand it, it can cause dry skin, which then cracks when stretched and subsequently scars. Scar tissue is tighter than normal tissue, decreasing the diameter of the foreskin, causing it to stretch and crack more, leading to more scarring, leading to a tighter and tighter foreskin.

Essentially, shit just happens. I was prescribed a topical ointment at first to see if this had any effect (it didn’t), but pretty much from my first appointment with the doctor I was advised that circumcision was only realistic treatment.


Me and My Penis

I have a horrible relationship with my dick.

gobtears

I’ve spent my entire life single. I was seeing someone briefly for a few weeks in my mid-twenties, but beyond that my interaction with romantic and sexual intimacy has been non-existent.

When this has come up in conversations, my friends have always been keen to be supportive and point out all the usual cliches – that it doesn’t matter, that everyone goes through things at their own pace, that I’m sure to meet someone right around the corner, and so on, ad infinitum. Which is nice, it’s nice to have nice friends who are friendly and nice.

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But it’s actually counter-productive. Because the world isn’t as nice; the world tells you, every single moment, that sex is important, and relationships are meaningful, and that part of being a human being is engaging with people intimately, both at a physical and emotional level.

As a man, my chief lesson (others may have learned otherwise) has been that my value is based around my dick, specifically who I’ve put it into and how many times I’ve put it into people. From my parents instilling in me from a young age a need for me to find a wife and have kids of my own, my dad reminding me almost every time we meet to adhere to his idea of a smart appearance because “you don’t know who you might meet”, to simply the number of times I find myself in discussions with friends about sex and relationships and have to either remain as inconspicuously silent as I can, or otherwise fake an experienced attitude just to try to fit in and avoid any awkward conversations.

It pretty much all comes down to the dick. Men are luckier than women when it comes to social expectations – we can sleep with lots of people, or we can sleep lots of times with only one person: as long as we’re putting our dick in someone, we’re fulfilling our role as men in the eyes of society. And the fact that I haven’t been therefore means my dick serves only one real purpose – as a constant reminder of my failings as a man.

And it’s isolating. Very isolating. Growing up and seeing your friends start relationships, end relationships, sleep around, get married, get divorced – being incapable of participating in that side of life (through no one’s fault but your own) makes you feel like an alien, like a distant observer, and a complete fucking weirdo. Which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the more you feel like a weirdo, the more you act like a weirdo, as your insecurities snowball and when you’re near someone you like, you at best manage to be awkward and at worst turn into a fucking creep.

smithsonianofloneliness

Having your first kiss at 25, losing your virginity at 26 – just typing those words out is painful, almost nauseating. It feels like some great, shameful secret. It is a shameful secret. In this interview, a 62-year-old John Cleese physically writhes revealing that he didn’t lose his virginity until he was 24 – and he is a founder of one of the world’s most influential comedic groups of the last few decades. He is not an incredibly mediocre man stuck in an incredibly boring job with an unpaid sideline as a nerd-rage blogger.

And whilst it’s flattering to compare yourself to someone like Isaac Newton, he had invented calculus by the age of 21, at which point I was most of the way through failing my engineering degree.

Which leads to the great irony that my penis, basically ornamental and one of the chief sources of my persistent misery and depression, had spontaneously and despite its lack of use developed a mildly uncomfortable disfigurement which now required me to attend hospital for the first time as a patient, and undergo my first ever surgery.

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(There’s a larger discussion here about how the portrayal of sex in the media as an achievement and a goal causes straight men to devalue and objectify women, the same way that target-driven salespeople devalue and objectify potential buyers, and leads to the kind of misogynistic “incel” communities that are rife in certain corners of the internet, but I’ll leave that for better minds to discuss.

It’s also worth pointing out that if you can’t convince someone to consider you as a sexual or romantic partner by just being yourself, then you are the person that needs to change, not them. Which isn’t always a nice thing to hear if you have no idea what it is about yourself that you need to change. For me, I’ve been told that I need to not be a fat, ugly arsehole, but I was just as much of a failure before I gained all the weight, so who knows.)


Under the Knife

Anyway, moving past my wallowing in self-pity like a scouse hippopotamus bathing in salty muck, and onto the matter at hand.

I am lucky enough to never have needed surgery before. I am also lucky enough to live in a country that provides free healthcare to its citizens. Neither of these things helped ease my anxieties on my way into hospital, given that the next few hours were to feature a variety of sharp implements being used to carve pieces off my penis.

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The local hospital to which I was admitted was pretty modern and very clean. The staff were helpful, generally friendly and reassuring. I had my blood pressure taken more than it has been in the entire rest of my life, I think. Twice before the surgery, twice during the surgery, and twice after. I was given some paracetamol before hand, as well, to preemptively soften any pain response.

Despite the fact that I’d already agreed to go under a local anaesthetic rather than a general, there still seemed to be some confusion just before the operation as to which kind of anaesthesia I’d be subjected to. I don’t know if this was normal or not, but it meant a lot of to-ing and fro-ing over how I should prepare. I had assumed that this is something that would be decided long in advance, but apparently not, as the surgeon consulted me about half an hour before the op, recommended a local, and I made the decision then to follow his advice.

Normally, local anaesthetics are the best option, as they are less risky and require less recovery time. Apparently, the surgical staff prefer general anaesthetics, as it means anxious patients are completely unconscious and therefore easier to handle.

In my case, this already being a penis surgery, on my thirtieth birthday, for a penis that was barely out of the packaging from a sexual perspective, matters were obviously special. I faced an intense but very brief pain as the surgeon stuck the needle into my dick. This wasn’t too bad. Sadly, my nerve cells apparently had Wolverine-like resilience, because the left half of my penis didn’t respond to the local. This confused and frustrated the surgeon.

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What followed was roughly fifteen minutes of visible annoyance on the face of the surgeon, reassuring vocalisations from the other surgical staff, and occasional hard tugs and presses on my stubborn member as the surgeon tried to massage the anaesthetic into working. Intermittently, he would stab my bellend with something sharp and ask if I felt it. On the right side I felt nothing. On the left side, I felt Everything. The surgeon concluded that this was “weird.” I concluded that the day had already overstayed its welcome.

All of this as I lay naked from the waist down, in a brightly lit room, surrounded by half a dozen strangers, with my groin stained with dark brown cleaning fluid. At this point, the surgeon and his assistant were the fourth and fifth people, other than myself, to ever touch my penis. The second and third were my GP and the consultant urologist a few months earlier.

So I got another injection, on the left side of my penis. Fortunately, this took effect after a few more minutes (and after a few more stabs to the bellend to confirm), and the operation could begin.

I have no idea of the exact procedures used to remove the problematic foreskin, as a sheet had been strategically piled on top of my belly to conceal any of the activity below. So instead, I had a chat with the staff, mostly about upcoming films and weekend plans.

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Whilst I couldn’t see anything, I could feel it. A local anaesthetic is a peculiar thing. As advised by the surgeon’s assistant, I could feel pulls and tugs and physical movements, but I couldn’t feel anything sharp. When the knife was cutting, it felt like someone drawing on my foreskin with a marker pen (after they had already drawn on it with a marker pen to sketch out the cuts and so on).

Feeling the stitches going in was a weird one. I couldn’t feel the needle, but I could feel the thread being pulled through, from the bumpiness of it as it was pulled tight. This was strange. Not exactly unpleasant, and definitely not painful, but absolutely disconcerting.

From the point that the anaesthetic took full effect, the entire procedure seemed to last about twenty minutes. As best as I can tell, it all went according to plan. However, there was one moment where the surgeon jerked backwards, as though he’d just seen something that He Did Not Expect To See. It was the sort of movement someone makes when something that they think is dead suddenly moves. I didn’t ask him what was wrong. I was confident there was no answer he could give that I would like.

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I never saw my foreskin again. It was put in a container (I presume) and sent off to a lab, for testing and research. Possibly to further medical knowledge. Most likely not in any significant or uplifting way.

I was wheeled out on a gurney back to my bed station on the ward. I was tended to quite attentively by the nursing staff, who brought me toast, water and coffee. This wasn’t to make me feel better, so much as it was to make sure I could keep food down. They also needed to check that I could still urinate. I could. The damp dressing and been so tightly bound around my penis that I could pee EVERYWHERE. I pretty much coated the toilet. It sprayed out at ballistic velocities in multiple directions, like an agricultural water sprinkler.

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With my watersports qualification awarded by the staff, I was discharged to leave the hospital, roughly an hour after the surgery completed, and roughly four hours after I arrived. I left in loose-fitting jogging trousers, loose boxers and an old t-shirt, and was driven home by my parents. I spent the rest of the day doing not very much at all.


The Aftermath

So, what now?

Well, it’s nearly a week on.

It’s still sore. The extra local anaesthetic I received seemed to dull the pain for the entirety of the rest of the operation day. When it wore off the next day, I still didn’t experience much pain at all.

Twenty-four hours after the operation, I was able to shower and remove the dressing. This wasn’t painful, but it did expose my newly de-fringed member to more contact with my clothes and my bedsheets, which made it uncomfortable.

Removing the dressing also revealed the aesthetic results. They were not pleasant. Whilst there is still a lot of healing to do and swelling to go down, even now it looks like something out of John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’. Although I dreamed of having a neatly-trimmed, porn-ready dong after all of this, at the moment I’m just hoping to end up with something that doesn’t look like a piece of ’80s body horror.

thething

In the last few days, the pain has increased. Specifically around the more exposed stitches. In the last 48 hours, a pungent smell became evident, and earlier today (the fourth day after the operation), I noticed small amounts of yellowy discharge from one side of the wound. Which led to a trip to the GP, and now a course of antibiotics to fight the infection. This is despite consistent care as advised when I left the hospital, including regularly washing the area with salt water and changing underwear two or three times a day. Sometimes, you get bad luck in runs.

Everything around the cut area has swollen, badly, causing the swollen flesh of the rest of my penis to push up and engulf the bellend. This leads to the ends of the stitches digging into the swollen parts, leading to stinging and further discomfort.

Erections used to be fun. Sometimes, I’d wake up with morning wood and just enjoy having it. Erections, in a weird way, used to feel almost powerful, or rather potent, like you’d just been handed a gun. Now, my erections are totems of anxiety. For the first few days, they weren’t painful, but they did feel tight, like everything was being stretched, presumably due to the stitches, which I worried were going to burst open. Over the last couple of days my erections have been truly agonising, feeling like something is going to tear at any moment.

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I still have to pee sitting down. Two days after the op, with the dressing gone, I tried peeing into the bathtub, just to test it. The stream came out at Mach speeds. I reckon I could have peed across a distance of eight metres, easily. Sadly, there was still some spraying, and nothing approaching control. Hopefully, this is just a result of the swelling. I would like to return to peeing standing up. It was one of the few privileges of being part of the patriarchy that I didn’t feel too guilty about, and was happy to just enjoy.

I was told I wouldn’t be able to have sex for a month after the surgery. I was like, “Hah! Make it a year, see if I notice!” Then they told me that included masturbation and I nearly cried. As it is, exactly one month after the op is a Saturday. If I had a partner, I’d probably try to spend all day with them, with the curtains drawn, giving the newly refurbished dick a test-drive. As it is, I intend to spend the day with my internet connection, and the curtains drawn, having the most emotionally profound wank of my entire life.

Star Trek: Frontier Academy – Part 5

This is part of a collaborative effort to produce a piece of Star Trek fiction that looks forward, rather than backward. Future installments will follow as they are written.

Link to Frontier Academy – Part 4


The room was awkward. Pleasant, but awkward. Like the rest of the building, Nav’s new quarters were all organic curves, smooth lines, no edges to speak of besides the shelves built (or maybe grown) into the wall.

Nav soon came to realised that she missed having corners.

Corners were nice. Corners were defined – they showed you where one wall ended and another began. And corners were natural homes for things – for lights, or tables, or bookshelves, or even just piles of clothes and boxes of stuff.

Nav had lived out of Boxes of Stuff for the last seven months of her life, between moving to San Fran, finding out she would be leaving and so never unpacking, living on a cramped starship as it crawled across the Gamma Quadrant. Boxes of Stuff had been her life, and they had always found a home in a spare corner of whatever room in which she happened to be sleeping.

And now, this room had no corners, and so her Boxes had no home, and so she had no home – just a bed, and some shelves, and an unmarked border with her roommate, who was presumably a Vulcan based on the sparse decoration and the absence of anything which might possibly possess sentimental value.

This wasn’t an immediate issue, as Nav’s Boxes were all still aboard the Nicholls, due to be beamed down in the evening. But it would definitely be a problem, she knew, when she would eventually have to confront the notion of – and this word made her shudder – the notion of unpacking.

Seriously, how the hell did people live their lives with all of their stuff in different parts of a room?

She also had a chest of drawers, she realised. Which was a bit like a stack of boxes, she had to admit. But she was probably going to have to designate specific draws for specific things, like some kind of bloody sociopath.

She missed Earth.

“Good afternoon.”

Nav span on her feet to see a Vulcan in the doorway. She was tall, and had the physique of a champion athlete, and god bloody damn it was she striking to look at. She was also staring at her own side of the room, her eyes darting to each item in turn.

Nav followed her gaze. “I didn’t touch anything.”

The Vulcan looked at her. “It would not be a problem if you had.”

Nav found this odd, because Vulcans weren’t supposed to lie. “I’m Nav. Nawisah. Whatever. Hi.” She pointedly held out her hand.

The Vulcan stepped forward and shook it, firmly, and this caused Nav some degree of alarm. “I am Suvek,” she said. “I am fascinated to meet you, Nav Nawisah.”

“It’s just Nav.”

“I know.” Suvek’s face gave nothing away. “You do not appear to have many possessions,” she said, looking around. “If there is anything you require, the replicator will be able to attend your needs.”

“Replicator?” Nav asked.

“Indeed. It is a common piece of technology. It is curious that you are not familiar with the concept.”

“I know what a bloody replicator is.” Nav was beginning to lose her grip on her emotions. She normally enjoyed speaking to Vulcans. They normally had a calming effect on her. She kept her voice level. “I meant that I don’t see a damn replicator in here.”

“Indeed,” Suvek said, in a tone both completely even and Vulcanian, and yet somehow dripping with condescension. “Computer, hairbrush, calibrate for dry hair.”

Glowing particles coalesced in front of Suvek, forming the shape and structure of a hairbrush. It hung motionless in the air until Suvek took hold of it and presented it to Nav. “This will get you started,” she said.

Nav was stuck in the middle between awe and rage, her surprise at the invisible replicator matched only by her desire to shove the hairbrush down Suvek’s throat. She took the brush from Suvek, closed her eyes, counted to three silently, and then looked the Vulcan straight in the eye. “Wouldn’t it be a failing in logic,” she said, “to piss off the person with whom you’ll be living for the next year?”

Suvek raised an eyebrow. “You proceed on three false assumptions,” she asserted. “The first is that we will be sharing these quarters for a year – we will in fact part ways at the end of the semester. The second is that this is a zero-sum game: of the two of us, only you are capable of experiencing emotional responses such as anger, frustration, or of being pissed off. The third,” she continued, ignoring Nav’s swiftly-flushing cheeks, “is that this is an attempt to piss you off. In point of fact, your hostile tone and provocative body language implied a need for me to assert myself sooner, rather than later, and make clear to you from the outset that your negative attitude would go neither unnoticed nor disregarded.”

Nav had no response. For several seconds she had no response. She felt like she might explode with rage. Or implode with shame. Certainly some kind of stellar catastrophe was on her emotional horizon.

She realised she hadn’t taken a full breath since Suvek began talking. She inhaled through her nose, exhaled through her mouth. Suvek was staring at her the whole time, expressionless and unblinking.

Finally, Nav relaxed her fists. “I haven’t got dry hair,” she stated.

“Indeed,” Suvek acknowledged. “By all counts, you attend to it very effectively. But you should keep the brush. It is equally effective on all hair types. It is, after all, merely a brush.”

Nav’s mood was swinging like a metronome, and the only thing she was certain of was that she was wildly out of balance. She said nothing more, but turned away and began unloading her travel bag onto her bed. Behind her, Suvek sat down on her own bed and retrieved a PADD, which she began to read.

A few minutes passed in silence. Nav surveyed her belongings on the bed – a spare uniform, some toiletries, data crystals with libraries of her favourite books and music, a few holodeck programs, two bags of coffee beans (her espresso machine was yet to be beamed down), some casual clothes, a tricorder, a backup tricorder, the inscribed custom-built tricorder dad had made for one of her birthdays and which never saw use, a pair of walking boots, a pair of running shoes, a-

“Will you be attending the ceremony in the afternoon?” Suvek enquired.

Nav didn’t turn to face her but remained focused on her unpacking. “Maybe,” she said, “depends on if my parents are there.”

“I am sure they would be.”

“Exactly,” Nav said. “Why?”

“Myself and three other students will all be attending together,” Suvek said. “It may prove useful for you to be introduced to them.”

Nav shrugged. “We’ll see,” she said. “I’ve only been here three hours, seems a bit soon for a party.”

Star Trek: Frontier Academy – Part 4

This is part of a collaborative effort to produce a piece of Star Trek fiction that looks forward, rather than backward. Future installments will follow as they are written.

Link to Frontier Academy – Part 3


“Who’s the new meat?” Kor’va asked, tipping her head to indicate the fresher on the other side of the concourse.

“Don’t be crass,” Mateo chided. “She’s an Earther, she arrived on the Nicholls. I don’t know who she’s arguing with, though.” He watched the newbie as she gesticulated at two science officers. Her frustration was clear even from the other side of the concourse.

“Probably her parents,” Siron answered. “Maybe, I dunno, maybe she’s angry at them for dragging her away from the Academy on Earth, and they’re annoyed with her for picking this moment to start that argument again.”

Mateo turned to her. “Seriously, Siron?”

Siron blinked her innocent, Betazoid eyes with their big black irises at him. “What’s wrong?”

“We agreed: never on other cadets.”

“Oh please, she only just started,” Siron said, incredulously. “Besides, they’re hardly having a private discussion – you would chastise a Chelondite for being able to hear them.” Mateo stared at her disapprovingly before she relented. “Okay, fine, you win.”

The new cadet and her parents parted, neither side appearing satisfied. The show was over. The three spectators moved on to a café in one corner of the concourse and sat down at a table next to a Vulcan cadet, another first-year.

The four of them made for a diverse group: Kor’va, a Klingon; Mateo, a human (technically a Martian); Siron, a betazoid; and Suvek, the Vulcan. Starfleet in the Alpha Quadrant was still forty per-cent homo sapiens, but Zhenxun had been a destination for immigrants from all worlds of the Federation, and that was reflected in the intake of its academy.

One of the waiters brought over a tray of drinks – four spiced celosia teas, an incredibly popular beverage on Zhenxun, brewed from local celosia plants and served steaming hot. They each took one and breathed in the spiced, earthy aroma.

Siron took a sip, then addressed the group. “So, are we all going to the ceremony later?”

“I will be late,” Kor’va answered, “My Civics lecture finishes at fifteen-hundred.”

“It’s going to be pointless,” Mateo said. “It’ll just be a boring speech and a load of arrogant Alphas cheering about how well their little province is doing.”

Suvek raised an eyebrow. “That’s a very adversarial interpretation.”

“It’s true,” Kor’va said, “they see us as nothing but a curiosity, a side project of the great Federation Dream. They hold us in contempt, because they are secretly envious of our rapidly advancing culture and scientific achievements.”

Suvek’s eyebrow remained raised. The rest of the table was quiet for a moment. Siron was first to speak. “Well, I mean, I don’t know about all that. We’re still very much a part of the Federation.”

“Are we, though?” Mateo asked. “We’re six months from the Wormhole, six months through unclaimed territory. We fly different ships, we have different rules. The uniforms are the same, but…” He paused briefly. “Do you feel like you grew up in the Federation? Or do you feel like you grew up in the Gamma Quadrant?”

Siron shrugged. “I feel like I grew up on Zhenxun, in Maathai city. Which is a Federation planet and a Federation city.” She took a sip of celosia. “Suvek? How do you- Well, that is to say, what are your thoughts?”

Suvek calmly finished her tea before she spoke. When she did, she was impassive. “Cultural identity is a difficult topic to assess objectively. Having matured here, on a colony in the Gamma Quadrant, largely isolated from the politics and factions of the Alpha Quadrant, I could not claim to have had comparable experiences to my contemporaries on Vulcan. And yet this is a colony built and managed, at least nominally, by the Federation, an organisation very much shaped by those same politics and factions within the Alpha Quadrant. And so surely my development must have been shaped, even indirectly, by Alpha Quadrant concerns, no?”

As usual, no one really had much of a challenge to Suvek’s insight, either due to its accuracy or its sheer verbosity. Kor’va remained adamant. “This is not the Alpha Quadrant, and I am not an Alpha Quadrant Klingon.”

Mateo put his cup down and folded his arms. “Well, what about me, then? I wasn’t born here, but I didn’t grow up back there. What does that make me? A wormhole child? One of the Prophets?”

“That is not what I meant and you know it!” Kor’va barked. Mateo shrugged with indifference. “You are of this Quadrant, even if you weren’t born here,” Kor’va explained. “You have spent a lifetime breathing Zhenxun air, drinking Zhenxun water. The spirit of Zhenxun runs in your blood, literally!”

Siron hushed them all. “Careful!” she hissed, gesturing towards a senior officer in dress uniform several metres away. “He’s from the Nicholls. You know how they are about that stuff.”

“We dare not be ashamed of our own qualities!” Kor’va protested. “They’re the backwards ones! Get lost!” she shouted at Mateo as he kicked her under the table.

The commander moved away, apparently unheeding of their conversation, or of Kor’va’s outbursts. Suvek stood up and straightened her uniform. “I must adjourn, my new roommate is moving in this afternoon, and I ought to attend to her.”

Siron smiled impishly. “You’re going to make sure she doesn’t touch any of your stuff, aren’t you?”

“My belongings are arranged optimally for comfort and convenience,” she said, averting her gaze. “Having to re-arrange their layout following misplacement would be an unwanted disruption.” She began walking away.

Mateo connected two dots in his head, and called after her “Suvek! Are you getting the new Alpha girl?”

“I am ‘getting’ nothing,” Suvek called back, “I am merely losing half of my living space.”


On to Part 5

What the Hell is Up With Lorca? A ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Mystery

Lorca.

Lorca Lorca Lorca.

Lorca.

Looooorrrrrca.

To pay lip service to brevity, here is a summary of what we’re going to cover today:

  • Gabriel Lorca is a complete fucking toerag.
  • Y’know who else is a complete fucking toerag? Everybody in the Mirror Universe.
  • Lorca’s old ship was the Buran, named for the old Russian space shuttle that never launched.
  • Lorca’s new ship is the Discovery, named for the old American space shuttle that launched several times.
  • Is it possible that the Buran was conducting transdimensional travel experiments similar in principle to the Discovery?
  • If so, is it possible that Lorca, or indeed the whole Buran, swapped universes, just as the Discovery did?
  • And is it therefore possible that Evil Lorca subsequently destroyed the ship to conceal his identity?

Find out answers to all of that and more, by reading on! Or don’t, I don’t fucking know, I’m guessing at this as much as the writers are.

lorcadesk


Broken Soul or Arsehole?

There’s an argument to be made that Lorca is suffering from PTSD, or at least a condition with symptoms similar to PTSD. I’m no psychologist, so I won’t delve into this too much, I am happy to acknowledge it as a possibility and let someone more qualified than me review and rate that possibility.

Certainly, following a traumatic wartime event in which Lorca was forced to murder all of his crew, and suffer a debilitating injury, the possibility of him developing PTSD is a reasonable one. And this would explain things like his paranoia (keeping a phaser in his bed) and his emotional issues, although it’s notable that he does not seem to suffer avoidance – indeed, he willingly and frequently places himself and his crew in battle situations.

The PTSD angle doesn’t explain his apparent malignance, or his willingness to manipulate and emotionally abuse others to achieve his goals. As I understand it, PTSD can make a person’s behaviour more problematic than it otherwise would be in certain situations, but it doesn’t turn them into a bad person. Again, though, I’m not a mental health professional, so please don’t take these statements as medically sound.

But, if Lorca was actually his own Mirror Counterpart, we can see a stronger pattern:

  • Mirror Captain Tilly won her position by stabbing her captain whilst he was recovering in bed. Lorca sleeps with a phaser.
  • The next time we see Lorca with a phaser, he’s staring at his own reflection:

lorcareflectionphaser

  • The Terran Empire operates under coercion and fear. Lorca’s only demonstrable leadership techniques so far are berating, bullying and emotional manipulation.
  • Right before overriding Discovery‘s jump co-ordinates, Lorca delcares “Let’s go home.” This is a few hours after explaining to Stamets the concept of parallel universes and the possibility of accessing them via the Spore Drive.
  • “No matter how deep in space you are, I always feel like you can see home,” is Lorca’s first ever line, again on the subject of home, and delivered as he is staring at his own reflection:

lorcareflection

  • Lorca’s line in Episode Ten “There’s me hoping I’d find a better version of myself here,” in response to finding out that his Mirror Counterpart is dead.
  • Lives in the Terran Empire are entirely disposable, with assassination being the most common path to promotion. Lorca intentionally interferes with Discovery‘s jump coordinates, not knowing what it might do to the already unwell Stamets.
    • He also abandons Cornwell to likely ambush (and later refuses to try to rescue her) when she confirms that she’s going to report his unsuitability for command.
  • There’s also all the stuff that’s already been covered way back before Episode Seven.

The Theory

Alright, here’s the theory:

  1. Lorca and Mirror Lorca were respective captains of the U.S.S. Buran and the I.S.S. Buran, respectively.
  2. Both vessels were trialing experimental drives or transporters when there was some kind of accident. (Or, Klingons attacked causing something strange to happen, possibly linked to experimental tech).
  3. EITHER:
    1. Only Lorca himself swapped realities, and Mirror Lorca found himself in Prime Universe, on the U.S.S. Buran, and scuttled her and killed all her crew to protect his identity.
    2. The entire Buran swapped realities, and Mirror Lorca destroyed his own ship and all his crew because he realised they would never all be able to successfully remain incognito – this would be a one-man job.
    3. The Buran was destroyed in the accident, and Mirror Lorca miraculously survived in the Prime Universe.
  4. THEN Mirror Lorca manages to con his way into captaining this new, experimental ship he’s heard about that can transcend space and time with it’s incredible drive system. OR the fact that Lorca and the Buran were involved in the project to begin with game him the leverage to get the assignment.
  5. It also gave him leverage to pick his own crew – Tilly, who he knew to be the Mirror Discovery‘s captain. Saru, who he knew to be Mirror Burnham’s slave. Detmer, who he knew to be Burnham’s first or second officer, and so on.
  6. Mirror Lorca uses the Discovery to both chart the Mycelial Network, and win enough victories to keep him in command until he can collect enough data to chart a way home. (“Apparently, the 133 jumps we made filled in the gaps.”)
lorcanarrowpicnarroweyes
I’d be lying if I said this article was anything more than an excuse to post lots and lots of pictures of Jason Isaacs.

The matter of the attempted assassination on the Terran Emperor Georgiou is up for discussion. Either it was a ploy by the ambitious Mirror Lorca to seize power for himself, and the destruction of the Buran led to the reality-swapping accident, or it was a ploy by the Prime Lorca who was trying to oust an evil tyrant and shine a bit of Utopia on Shadesville.

Either way, it seems more and more compelling that Lorca is in fact Mirror Lorca, and that he’s been up to no good all along. Which seems strange, given that we’ve already got one Wolf-in-Sheep’s-Clothing plot with Ash Tyler the Human. This is another, related story thread, which just seems weird and out of place.

The alternative is that this will be some kind of redemption arc for Lorca, who will see the evil around him, have a light cast on his own decisions and subsequently sacrifice himself for the crew of the Prime Discovery, thereby undoing all of the terrible things he had already done and making him a good guy all along.

Because that’s how it works.


Shit, I promised you answers.

Erm.

Shit.

Okay.

Lorca is from a Mirror Universe, but he’s actually from the Mirror Universe where Watermelon-flavoured Calippos exist (everybody knows that watermelon-flavoured things are the best flavour of things). Now, he’s on a mission to return to some other universe where he can get a whole freezer full of Watermelon Calippos and spend the rest of his days in fat-free bliss.

Angry Space Triangles: Useful Links for Every Player

As I have so frequently commented before, Armada is a game with an awful lot to it. Every match you play has dozens, probably hundreds of variables, and mastering them, hell, even recognising them, can prove incredibly challenging. Even writing a list, just keeping track of how many points you have spent, what you have left, can be tricky.

To try and help with my own understanding of the game, I use a few different resources that are freely available on the web to help get my head around the game. I personally have found these to be invaluable, and I return to them frequently as I muse on the possibilities the game has to offer.

By way of sharing my inspiration, you can find links to them below – along with a brief synopsis of why I find them useful. Good hunting, admiral.


List Building – Fab’s Fleet Generator

fabs

This is the first of two fleet generators that I use. Fab’s is a fantastic tool for quickly assembling a fleet list based on what you have in your collection. You first tell it which sets and expansions you have, and how many points you are playing to, and then use the intuitive design to add ships and squadrons to your roster, as well as upgrades, commanders and objectives. By clicking on the “PDF” button, you can then export that fleet to a really smart, neat “Tournament-friendly” printable document.

Fab’s Fleet Generator is particularly useful because it limits your options based on what you actually own. Unless you activate “Free Mode” you can’t select more copies of a card or ship than you have in your collection. It’s really handy, especially because trying to remember if you have two Gunnery Teams or three, one Overload Pulse or two, is frustrating, especially if you’re list-building away from your card deck.

The only weakness with Fab’s site is that it’s not amazing for sharing over the internet – you have to share a long link which, when used, goes to a fairly ugly-looking layout. However, it is the perfect site for theory-crafting and experimenting with fleet builds.


List Building – Armada Warlords

warlords

If I was being trite, I might compare the differences between Warlords and Fab’s with the “Mac vs. PC” framework. And I am being trite. Warlords is like a PC – stronger on a technical front, but not as showy in front of your friends. Warlords is flashier and more attractive, and is overall more polished as a user experience.

Warlords has a very intuitive layout, and allows you to create lists just as quickly as with Fab’s. Warlords doesn’t take into account your collection, however, so is always on “free selection” mode, which makes it less useful if you’re not sure how many of each card you have. However, Warlords saves your lists on the site’s own servers, meaning you can access them from anywhere, and it has many formats when sharing those lists online –  I actually use it for all of my list-sharing activities.

Both Warlords and Fab’s are completely free to use, but there is currently a Patreon page for the Warlords site creator, and I heartily recommend donating – it’s only a small amount, and if you’re anything like me you’ll be getting more than your money’s worth out of the site on a regular basis.


General Information – The Star Wars Armada Wiki

armada wiki

The Star Wars Armada Wiki, much like its sister ship for ‘X-Wing’, is a really well put-together resource with every piece of information you might require about the game and its contents. Each page is updated with the latest FAQ and errata as they’re released, and it even contains information on the original announcement and release dates of each wave.

I can’t really recommend it enough, and for simple queries about the wording on a card, or to find out which expansion came with which upgrades, there isn’t a much more simple or direct solution than the wiki.


Analysis and Education – Steel Squadron HQ

steel squadron

I try to provide what insight I can into the game with some of my own limited experience and theory, but the heart of ‘Armada’ analysis is Steel Squadron HQ. They have an absolute plethora of after-action reports, analysis articles, guides and hints, I really can’t offer enough recommendations.

There’s so much material on there that I haven’t even read most it yet, so if you’re new to the game and want some information overload, Steel Squadron is the place to go. They also run Vassal tournaments – online matches of Armada using the Vassal engine – and these themselves provide a huge amount of material for scrutiny.


Community – Fantasy Flight Armada Forums

community forums

This game has a small but incredibly passionate community, and a lot of that community’s interaction occurs on the boards set up by Fantasy Flight Games themselves. I’m a regular participant in discussion myself, and although there are some very frank and earnest expressions of views – an act of which I am particularly guilty – there’s also a ton of battle reports, idea sharing, and mutual support which is really helpful.


Community – Star Wars Armada Subreddit

armada subreddit

Reddit is a peculiar place, but the Star Wars Armada subreddit has proven really helpful to me in the past. It’s consistently active, with a lot of discussion and interaction. If you’re already a member of the Reddit community, then it’s an excellent subscription choice. It also led to me being unexpectedly gifted an MC30c expansion pack by my Reddit Secret Santa, so I feel obliged to promote it to the best of my ability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Review of ‘Star Wars: The Force Unleashed’ (2008)

‘The Force Unleashed’ is the Evil Hodor of Star Wars games: big and simple, only capable of saying the same thing over and over again, and, unlike Good Hodor, entirely lacking in loyalty to its benefactors. It captures the very essence of everything that is bad about computer games in general, whilst also being one of the worst additions to the Star Wars universe since the screenplay for ‘Revenge of the Sith’.

First off, you’ve got the fucking ludicrously over-powered Force abilities. The Force used to be something subtle, a small influence that gave our heroes the slight advantage they needed. The Emperor may have used it to barbecue Luke, but that was a powerful villain displaying his power at the climax of the entire story. Now, apparently every single force user has god-like abilities to warp reality and fling enemies around the map as though they’re over-stretched scrotums filled with soggy spaghetti.

forceunleashedstardestroyer
Pictured: The very essence of Missed Potential.

The creators actually managed to sacrifice theme and credibility for the sake of gameplay, and then manage to make the gameplay tedious. In one particularly egregious moment, you are tasked with dragging a Star Destroyer out of orbit and smashing it against the ground – you may think that this would be some kind of epic set piece, except that unending waves of TIE Fighters keep appearing to interrupt you, forcing you to deal with them – and this happens every few seconds. It takes a climactic moment and makes it repetitive and boring, as you gradually drag the Star Destroyer to the ground, each tedious inch punctuated by an abjectly non-threatening wave of mooks.

As you take on the Empire you are faced with unending hordes of Storm Troopers. They start out basic, barely posing a threat except in numbers. However as your character grows in power, so too do the Storm Troopers, until you’re regularly facing hordes of shielded, power-armoured monstrosities capable of knocking you down and stunning you repeatedly. Not only are they incredibly annoying to fight, but WHERE THE FUCK DO THEY COME FROM? I mean, the Empire sends these goons out on every single mission by the later stages – you’d think they’d have no problem eradicating the Rebel Alliance in about sixteen nanoseconds with some of these arseholes.

Almost by definition, they are a match for the most powerful lightsaber-wielding evil Jedi apprentice the Galaxy has ever seen – and there are thousands of them. There are missions based around Imperial attacks on rebellious worlds, but how long can an attack last when you have unending supplies of elite troopers protected by unbreakable forcefields? Just drop one of those absurd, twelve-foot “Purge Troopers” in the middle of a rioting city: I’m pretty sure that if they can make a gimp out of a man who can crash Star Destroyers with his mind, they can deal with a few pistol-armed dissenting peasants.

And all if this escalation in enemy threat makes redundant the work being done by the game’s RPG-style ability development. “Starkiller”, the protagonist, ends the game with such seizure-inducingly powerful abilities that the simplest explanation is that he is actually a god. But, when every single enemy you face in the later levels is a similarly-powerful new version of a Storm Trooper, Starkiller’s abilities feel mundane. In other games, as you level up you face more and more challenging enemies because you’re going on ever-more dangerous missions. In ‘The Force Unleashed’, you’re revisiting the same video-gamey environments, only now the standard foot soldier is packing a flamethrower and a thirst for blood.

And whilst the game play may be nonsensical and stupid, that’s NOTHING compared to the story. In one memorably awful moment, we are treated to a conversation in which our protagonist describes feeling the suffering of an enormous non-sentient toothy earth-vagina – literally at the same time that he is electrocuting hordes of enemies until they submit, and then electrocuting them some more – the game actually allows you to continue attacking the limp forms of your enemies long after they ceased being a threat, even Jawas.

I mean, doesn’t that figure? “I’m psychically sensitive to the suffering of this huge fleshy blob of tentacles in physical distress, so I am going to torture my way through ranks of sentient humanoids to save it, and end my own guilt.” The sheer disconnect between narrative and gameplay actually manages to be greater than that of the likes of ‘Skyrim’ and ‘Oblivion’, and even most MMOs. There is such a huge gap between the what we, the audience, are told, and what actually happens on-screen that I’m inclined to think George Lucas was behind this limp wank-rag of a story.

You can’t use dialogue to convey a narrative that is in no way backed up by the experience of playing the fucking game. ‘Jedi Outcast’ managed to do it right six fucking years earlier – as a player you could electrocute people, choke them to death, throw them off cliffs and listen to them scream, go into the game console and change the settings for maximum dismemberments, and then stand there over your foes’ lifeless bodies, carving them into progressively smaller chunks with your lightsaber… You could do all of that neat stuff, because the emotions imposed on the player’s character were entirely focused on his personal quest for vengeance and redemption. They didn’t have fights in which you cut enemies in half, only to follow them up with a cutscene about how in touch Kyle Katarn is with his feelings of compassion and mercy.

In essence, before ‘The Force Unleashed’ there were two types of Star Wars story. There’s best kind, the thematic approach, which focuses more on the emotions and relationships, which uses special effects and extraordinary settings and scenarios to internalise likable characters. And there’s the worst kind, the meat-head variety, where narrative and compelling character arcs give way to extreme visuals, unnecessary violence and “totally rad Force powers, man.”

‘The Force Awakens’ introduces a third genre of Star Wars story: the Shit Kind. This is Force Encounters of the Shit Kind, and it’s more obnoxious and shallow than a Petri dish of vomit.

CrudeFiction: What Happened After The Crime

What Happened After The Crime: Reservoir Crocs

A writing group I’m part of recently set a 750-word writing prompt: “What happened after the crime.” This was put forwards by Catriona Ward, the author of ‘Raw Blood’, who sat with the group for an interview a couple of weeks ago.

Here’s my take on the prompt. No attempt at originality. Or quality. Or style. Just read the damn thing. Or don’t, I’m not your boss.


The van listed from side to side as it careened around corners and through junctions. The midnight roads were empty, but the van was full of five masked men and one crocodile, savagely thrashing in protest at its rope restraints. One of the men lay on the floor next to it, clutching his arm to his chest, blood soaking his black turtleneck as he cried out in pain.

Another man was knelt over him, desperately trying to staunch the bleeding with a rag. He looked up at the masked occupant of the front passenger seat. “I thought you said you had put it to sleep, Derek,” he said, trying hard to be heard over the roar of the engine, the racket of the writhing crocodile and the screams of the wounded thief.

Derek looked back. “I did put it to sleep, Hank, I put a dart into its big fat yellow belly. You idiots were responsible for extraction. You must’ve woken it up. Or something. Damn thing’s enormous, probably needed a bigger dose.”

The driver swore and the van swerved to avoid a lorry; the wounded man cried out again. Hank examined the wound. “Looks pretty clean Fred, if we still had the hand you could probably get it reattached.”

With a whimper the prone, blood-covered Fred lifted his head. “What…? What do you mean, ‘IF?’ What happened to my hand?”

Hank shrugged. “It’s probably still with the other crocodiles. We were in a hurry, we didn’t really have time to go back for it, fella.”

Fred wailed. “My hand! You left my hand behind!”

“Funnily enough,” Hank said, “it was your left hand and all.”

Fred wailed again. Derek rolled his eyes. “Calm down. We’ll just have to hire someone to open jars for you. Besides, you’ll still be able to read the newspaper.” He thought for a moment. “As long as you’ve got a flat surface to lean it on.”

The fifth member of the team, Jerrod, was yet to say a word. He was on his knees behind the crocodile, a coil of rope in his hands, nervously eyeing the restless beast.

The driver swore again as he barely missed a taxi. Derek thumped him in the shoulder. “Watch it, Ryan, you arsehole. We want to get to the airfield in one -” He looked back at Fred. “We want to get there alive.”

Ryan switched gears on the run-up to a bend. “Would you like to drive, or are you happy to sit there and keep patronising me? Do you have any tips on driving a van with six-hundred kilos of angry yellow-bellied crocodile in the back?”

Derek’s eyes narrowed. “Yes, actually, here’s a tip: Do It Better.”

Ryan purposefully swerved the van, sending Hank flying into the side wall. The crocodile rolled over onto its back, thumping down next to Fred who wriggled away from it frantically.

Jerrod, in the back of the van, stared at the sprawling croc and raised his hand. Fred watched him enviously. “Ah, Derek? I, ah, have a question,” Jerrod said.

Derek rolled his eyes again. “I swear to God, Jerrod, if you ask one more time why we didn’t use a helicopter I’m going to feed you balls-first into that bloody lizard.”

Jerrod shook his head. “It’s not about the helicopter.”

“Oh, thank goodness,” Derek said, with genuine relief.

A few moments passed with Jerrod’s hand still in the air. Hank, Fred and Derek all glared at him. Hank snapped first. “Well, what was the question, idiot? If it wasn’t about helicopters, what the hell do you want to know?”

Jerrod might have found that hurtful, but it was difficult to tell beneath the mask. He lowered his hand. “All I wanted to ask was, did you say it was called a yellow-bellied crocodile?”

Derek turned in his seat. “Of course I bloody did, that was – that was the whole damn point of this all! You were in the bloody briefings! This breed goes for two million to the right collector, that’s why we’re stealing this one in particular, you moron. This is the only yellow-bellied snapper in the Western bloody hemisphere, and we only had tonight to get the damn thing before it gets sent off for breeding. Why would you even ask that? Why now, of all times, are you suddenly checking what the name of the bloody thing -”

He looked down at the monster, rocking on its back, its legs uselessly thrashing the air.

“Oh,” he said, “shit.”

Ten Amazing Facts About Spiders

Adorable invertebrate or avatar of terror, spiders consistently prove themselves to be one of the most diverse and biologically fascinating orders of fauna in nature with every new fact we discover about them. Here are a few that should convince you.


 

Giant house spider Tegenaria Gigantea

1 – Their Legs are Hydraulic

Spider legs are all attached to their central body – what boffins call a cephalothorax – which essentially acts as a pressure vessel on their own blood. They extend their legs by contracting the top and bottom halves of this “cephalothorax” together, squeezing the blood into their legs, allowing them to move extremely quickly, or even jump considerabl distances.


eyes

2 – Spiders Rarely Crawl Into Your Mouth

Most people have heard the statistic that the average person swallows a certain number of spiders every year whilst sleeping. The number varies from 8 to 12 to as many as 20, but regardless of the size of the number, it’s wrong. This was a “fact” that was fabricated by a journalist, to see how quickly false information could spread around the internet.


orb

3 – Spider Web Is Not As Strong As Steel

Another piece of misinformation that frequently circulates is that spider web is as strong as steel. Whilst the origins of this myth are unknown, it is demonstrably false – and can be proven so by anyone who attacks a spider next with a pipe or implement actually made of steel. Even much softer metals, like copper, are more than a match for the weak and fragile spider webs in your garden.


arm

4 – Spiders Have an Incredible Sense of Smell

Spiders have very advanced olfactory organs – noses, to you or I – through which they can track prey even at night, or in heavy fog. They can even pick up on chemicals in the breath and sweat of other animals, specifically those released in conjunction with an adrenal response. In essence, they can smell the fear of the creatures around them, and have been observed to use this knowledge to attack when the prey is at its most vulnerable and frightened.


 

p metallica

5 – Spider DNA is Unique and Bizarre

Obviously, all creatures have unique DNA, in the sense of unique combinations of genes that define the species. Spiders, however, have a specific strand of DNA that has not been identified in any other type of creature – and scientists have no idea where it comes from. It is found in genes that characterise their aggressiveness and willingness to hunt larger prey, and is arrayed in an incredibly regular sequence, almost as though it was manufactured deliberately. With no other examples of this gene sequence in nature, its origins are baffling – and mysterious.


 

Red-kneed tarantula Brachypelma smithii

6 – Spiders both Fear and Crave Humans

A big, noisy human will scare most spiders into hiding, as they have no instinct to see us as prey. However, recent lab tests have found that a specific chemical in human blood – Erythropoietin, which controls production of red blood cells – is highly addictive to almost all species of spider upon ingestion.

Indeed, their enhanced sense of smell allows them to detect it from several metres away, even through walls and closed doors. Spiders that have previously ingested Erythropoietin, or any human blood which contains it, will attempt to harvest more of it in a desperate frenzy, sometimes chewing through up to a centimetre of solid wood to reach its source.


trapdoor

7 – Their Camouflage is a Mystery

Researchers have been trying to replicate spiders’ ability to actively change their surface colour to match their surroundings for decades, with little success, but we are starting to understand the ability a little better. The fact that it doesn’t work on solid surfaces, such as walls and ceilings, but only functions in softer environments, like bed sheets and bath towels, suggests it must be based on their sense of touch, maybe the hairs on their legs – maybe one day soon we’ll find out how they manage to almost disappear entirely when on a sofa cushion or a pile of clothes.


ter-insects-black-widow-spider-article-2

8 – They Live for Decades, and they Learn

Unlike a lot of invertebrates, spiders have incredibly long lifespans – indeed, we do not currently believe they are dying of old age. Provided they are fed and free from injury and disease, spiders can live for decades or, in one extraordinary case in a Hungarian zoo, over two centuries.

Further, the incredibly fine hairs on their legs are linked to a peculiar form of memory storage – the fine hairs provide a huge surface area, covered in a primitive form of neuron (brain cell) which allows them to store memories for their entire lives. This allows them to learn the behaviour patterns of their prey, and they have even been used to predict the movements of crowds of humans in a panic, able to identify where the most scared, helpless individuals will end up should large numbers of people find themselves fleeing from a danger or threat.


 

horn spider

9 – They Talk to one another with Dance – But not about Practical Matters

Normally, communication within the animal kingdom has been limited to bigger animals, like dolphins or primates, and usually only on very simple, physical terms. However, spiders exhibit unique body language that hints at a complex ability to communicate to one another. Progress has been slow, but zoologists have noted that, based on a few observed dances and gestures, they are unable to communicate about the physical world, but instead deal in abstract concepts, such as Fear, Hatred, Hunger and Domination.


 

Goliath-Bird-Eating-Spider-2

10 – Their Teleportation Organs are Directly Wired in to their Perception of Observers

Whilst spiders’ short-range teleportation abilities whilst unobserved are widely- and well-documented, recent discoveries have shown that their ability to “jump” in this manner is controlled by their perfect 360-degree vision – as soon as they can tell they are no longer being watched, their teleportation organ – the saltarimical cortex – triggers immediately, almost as though it is an automatic response. Of course, scientists are still trying to figure out how it is that spiders can tell they’re being observed remotely, even by hidden camera – yet another mystery of these fascinating creatures.

 

 

 

 

 

Big Holes in the Stories of J. J. Abrams’ ‘Star Trek’ Remakes

Whilst J. J. Abrams’ ‘Star Trek’ remakes were great fun, they were sadly riddled with holes throughout their stories, and for me this really compromised how much I enjoy them. Here’s some of the biggest examples of holes in the stories of the films; sadly, all the lens flare in the world won’t cover up these whoppers.


First off is the opening scene of ‘Star Trek’ 2009, where we first encounter the villainous Nero and his enormous and deadly ship, the Nerada.

Star-Trek-gallery-movies-0036

I mean, just look at that. You could literally fly a ship through it, and they did! That’s a pretty big hole. You’d have thought the screenwriters might have caught that before filming. Nice work, Lindelof.


The Nerada attacks, causing severe damage on the poor Starfleet ship. Amongst the carnage, a few crew-members suddenly find themselves in outer space, but why?

Star Trek Into Darkness Bad Robot international trailer hull breach 5

You guessed it! Another huge hole. I guess you can put this one down to special effects more than anything, but it’s still a pretty big hole to make it to the final edit.


One of the most dramatic events is the destruction of Spock’s homeworld, a huge catastrophe, but the film’s creators fail to address the enormous hole in the story at the centre of it all.

startrek_vulcan

Pretty sloppy, don’t ya think?


Later, Nero explains some of his backstory but it’s tricky to take much of it seriously, given that it all comes out of one major hole in the story that’s easy to see, even for non-Trek fans:

Nero_(Romulan)

By this point, the film is riddled with holes in its story, but that’s nothing compared to it’s sequel, ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’…


Right from the off, there was something strange with the plot of ‘Into Darkness’. So many of the scenes revolve around holes in the story, so much so that one of the biggest even made it onto the film’s poster!

harrison

Can you believe it? This should have given us ample warning that this plot would be full of holes.


There’s two minor holes in the story in the opening scene, but they’re easy enough to overlook given the excitement of Spock’s antics in the volcano.

star-trek-into-darkness-ilm-visual-effects

Compared to some of the others, they’re barely worth mentioning, really.


But what about this? Things like this really make me think that Abrams and his crew just weren’t even paying attention, which is a real shame.

star_trek_into_darkness_still_6-620x411

This wasn’t even the biggest hole in this scene!

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Look at that, two massive holes in the story in quick succession. What a shame.


The film pays homage to the classic ‘Wrath of Khan’ with this emotionally-charged outburst from Spock. Sadly, the scene is ruined for me by a huge hole which is in plain sight.

Star-Trek-Into-Darkness-Quinto_612x380_0

If only the screenwriters hadn’t been so oblivious, this could’ve been great.


Such a shame that these films couldn’t have been more than they were. Hopefully the sequel, due out in 2016, will rely a little less on holes to advance its story. We can but hope.

Philosophical Questions Asked and Answered by ‘Prometheus’ (2012)

A few years ago, Ridley Scott directed a film that divided the opinions of many, but ‘Prometheus’ managed to ask some deeply philosophical questions, and actually provided answers for many of them, something that few other big budget releases manage.

My full review of the film is still a work-in-progress, but for now, here’s a list of some of the most thought-provoking philosophical issues that ‘Prometheus’ addresses, and the answers that it provides.

 


Question: What will the future of space travel look like?

prometheus-spaceship-image

Answer: Pretty cool.


Question: What will happen when we create androids with the ability to experience emotion, and then treat them like crap for no reason?

prometheus_hd_stills_david_and_ampule

 

Answer: They’ll get really creepy and do weird, nasty, random stuff for similarly little reason.


Question: In the future, will women in Science Fiction stop being defined by their uteruses and the men around them, and have fully-formed personalities of their own?

PROMENE476

Answer: Probably not.


Question: What might motivate some of the world’s leading experts in their respective fields to participate in mankind’s first true mission of interstellar exploration?

prometheus-scientists

Answer: Money.


Question: On first encountering alien life on another world, as a top biologist what would your first impulse be?

prometheusbiologist

Answer: Try to stroke it.


Question: As you first set foot upon an alien world with its own vital ecosystem, would the dangers of microbial infection inhibit your desire to immediately remove your space helmet after discovering an oxygen-rich atmosphere?

Prometheus - Charlie Holloway Sick

Answer: Nah, it’s probably fine.


Question: If a group of people, all united on a quest of exploration and monetary reward, should find themselves in a labyrinthine cave network, which of them will get lost and be unable to navigate out of the caves?

file_597710_sean-harris-0952014-115713

Answer: The geologist directly responsible for mapping the caves.


Question: As a captain, responsible for the well-being and safety of mankind’s first interstellar mission of exploration, what would be your first impulse upon discovering that two of your crew are stranded in a cave and being approached by an unknown alien lifeform?

promidris

Answer: Try to have sex with a blonde woman, just to see if she’s a robot.


Question: Based on this film, how do you expect humanity’s first steps beyond our own humble solar system to progress?

promcrash

Answer: Poorly.