Saturday, March 17, 2007

Birthday bridge


This weekend, the Sydney Harbour Bridge turns 75. Something for Aussies to get excited about, perhaps - but, as a Danish Star Trek fan I met recently, intimated, "Nothing built in Australia is over 200 years old. In Europe, we have churches that are over a thousand years old." Certainly puts all the pomp and circumstance into perspective.

The bridge is open to pedestrian traffic only on Sunday, and you are supposed to have booked a time on the Internet in advance if you plan to be a part of the historic walk, re-enacting an event held 75 years ago. Funnily enough - or perhaps not so funnily - radio ads and news items all week have been warning people not to cheat and attempt to do the now-booked-out walk anyway, because no one's checking booking receipts. Sadly, the ads probably give people the idea to go into the city and walk the bridge, even if they forgot to book in time.

I hope the government gets this one right, especially after last Wednesday night's train tunnel debacle, and the recent crushing crowds the evening the Queen Mary ocean liner met the QE II in Sydney Harbour. All those spectators and not a Port-a-loo in sight! For the bridge's 60th birthday, pedestrians were enouraged to walk from either The Rocks' end, or the Milson's Point end, and to meet in the middle. An English friend of mine, on teacher exchange from London at the time, took her local Girl Guides group in - and they almost got crushed because no one had considered what would happen when the two sides of walkers met in the middle. A similar thing was done for the Sydney Olympic Games celebrations in 2000, but that one worked much better. If I recall correctly, carefully selected (non crush) footage from the earlier walk event was used in the campaign to win us the Olympic bid.

I've done the Bridge walk numerous times. On my first USA trip, in 1983/84, several penpals' relatives expected me to know exactly how long the walk would take, so I had to do it as soon as I got home. It's about ten minutes for the bridge proper, but both approaches are probably longer than the bridge itself. The tower museum is worth investigating, and I really loved the amazing milk bar/lolly shop I found over at Milson's Point that first time. (It's changed a lot now, but the shop used to sell the most amazing choc-coated green-jelly frogs!; worth several return visits just to buy frogs.) And, about six years ago, teacher-librarians of ALIA School Libraries Section (NSW) walked across the bridge, from Milson's Point, to celebrate Library Week. The next time I do it, I wanna go over the arch: Bridge Climb!

The state government's organized enough big bridge walking events now to get it right; this time everyone's supposed to be walking the same direction. And, not to mention, there's a NSW election coming up. Otherwise, lightning's gonna strike!


As I was just about to upload this blog entry, a friend writing a university thesis on Star Trek fandom contacted me, wanting the specifics on Captain Therin's "official" licensed tie-in appearances in the Star Trek literature.

I had to tell her that Captain Therin has had a recreational park named after him! The novel Andor: Paradigm by Heather Jarman (in Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Book 1, Pocket Books, 2004), has the two main characters walking through Therin Park on Andor! Heather wrote in the reference to thank me for my site providing her with essential Andorian research.

A short while later, one of the unnamed Andorian crew seen briefly in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture", was given the name Shantherin th'Clane - in the novel Ex Machina (Pocket Books, 2005) by Christopher L. Bennett - as a homage to me (and Therin), for providing Christopher with research on the alien races of the United Federation of Planets.

I'm in a thesis. Another one. Cool!


Therin of Andor said...

May 25, 2004: My Amazon review of "Worlds of DS9: Andor: Paradigm".

I haven't finished Una McCormack's "Cardassia: The Lotus Flower" (the first story in this book) yet, but as a diehard Andorian fan, I turned to Heather Jarman's "Andor: Paradigm" first...

I'm floating on air. Overall I'm am thrilled and fulfilled by "Paradigm", not only an exciting continuation of "Deep Space Nine" after its so-called "eighth season" (see "Mission: Gamma", "Unity", etc) but this is an Andorian-rich Star Trek story - at last. "Paradigm" drew me in and kept me there. I had a ball; always trying to second guess the action and motivations and being thwarted by Jarman's clever plotting all the way.

In "Paradigm", Andorian DS9 crewman Shar returns to his home planet in disgrace. He has disappointed his birth mother (a UFP councillor) and his two surviving bondmates by shirking his responsibilities to start a family. It was almost hypnotic reading at times. The alien atmosphere is captivating. Shar, and two human DS9 characters introduced in this series of novels set after the TV series, are metaphorically moving backward in time (with the reader) as more and more about ancient Andor is revealed.

Prynn Tenmei's interest in Ensign Shar was also developed well, even though I wasn't sure it was a good idea when suggested in "Unity", but it was a plot complication that helped to keep me guessing right till the end. Thantis was a particularly great character - she's the "zhavey" (birth mother) of Thriss, Shar's deceased bondmate.
We learn quite a bit more about four-partnered Andorian marriages (first mentioned by Data in an episode of TNG). For avid fans, there are some fun cameos: the inclusion of Shran's monument ("Enterprise" TV series), TOS Andorian chainmail, Therin Park (named for my Trek character from 1980), mention of "The Battle of Betazed" novel - and even the planet Dramia (from Filmation's TAS).

A truly magnificent effort - and I still have the Cardassian story to read.

Therin of Andor said...

January 10, 2005: My Amazon review of "Ex Machina".

"Ex Machina" is a Star Trek novel that finally salutes TMP's alien races with gusto. In fact, this novel is the "TMP Episode #2" I've been waiting for... for 25 years.

Christopher L Bennett's excellent, fast-paced novel is a highly effective sequel to TMP (and its novelization), and also the poetically-titled episode "For the World is Hollow and I have Touched the Sky". Christopher continues numerous character arcs from TMP (Kirk's guilt and self-doubt; Spock's epiphany about emotions; McCoy's future in Starfleet; even Decker and Ilia's sacrifice) and cleverly links them to important, unfinished business about Natira and the Fabrini (TOS). In addition, the author affectionately continues storylines for Chapel, Uhura, Sulu, Scott, Chekov and Rand, whose aspirations are all barely touched upon in TMP, in ways that are "spot on" and highly logical. Then we learn a little more about Chief DiFalco (TMP), the late Lori Ciana (TMP novelization and "The Lost Years" saga), and even excitable Mr Lindstrom, whom we last saw cleaning up the mess on Landru's planet (TOS). Rounding out the "Ex Machina" cast, we meet almost all of TMP's aliens through individual members recruited to the refitted USS Enterprise by Uhura (just as her counterpart Nichelle Nichols did for NASA) and the late Captain Willard Decker.

"Ex Machina" is a page-turner of a novel. Now, maybe I'm biased, but every time Christopher started to do several entertaining paragraphs about the Rhaandarites, or the Saurians, the Megarites, the Betelgeusians, or the Zaranites (based, often, on a single, sometimes-bizarre line or two of descriptive text originally written by the movie's costume designer for TMP's publicity and production notes), I was well and truly hooked, and happy to be reeled in. Various ST comic book lines over the years have sometimes paid visual homage to the odd TMP alien, but they've constantly been overlooked by the ST novels, barring the occasional mention of a Saurian. But Christopher is most generous in the time he spends developing each race, creating some memorable lower decks and bridge characters to populate the Enterprise. *Spring Rain Upon Still Water* the Megarite is a beautiful character, even if she is perhaps TMPs "ugliest" rubber-faced alien. (Doesn't sound very IDIC of me, does it?) Christopher even utilizes Worene, the unique wolfish alien created by actress and stuntwoman Paula Crist (who was barely visible in the rec deck scene of TMP), and he does so to great effectiveness. (Finally, Worene's species has a name; she's an Aulacri!) TO BE CONT.

Therin of Andor said...

(CONT.) While I often found myself thinking that "Ex Machina" was a novel I should have written myself, I also acknowledge that Christopher is masterfully efficient in his worldbuilding, particularly his explanations for the whys and wherefors of Rhaandarites, Megarites, Betelgeusians and Zaranites. I'm so very pleased with the ideas he has extrapolated about these aliens. Surely, hopefully, Christopher's worldbuilding in this novel will inspire other Pocket ST authors to make full use of Rhaandarites, Saurians, Megarites, 'Geusians, Zaranites, Aulacri, Arcturians, K'normians and turtle-like Rigellians in other ST novels.

I never spent a lot of time pondering the background and themes of "For the World is Hollow and I have Touched the Sky", but Christopher expertly peels away so many layers from the Fabrini story, developing a believable alien race who went on an incredible journey. He reminds us most vividly how history is written by the victors, and that all written history is open to multiple interpretations. Several senseless terrorist acts in the novel also ring too close to the bone for comfort, due to recent world events in the 21st century.

Christopher hasn't forgotten the science aspect of this science fiction novel, either. I was reminded very much of David Gerrold's body of SF work. No doubt Gerrold was an inspiration, especially since a character in "Ex Machina" is clearly based on the character Gerrold played as a fan extra in TMP.

Now that we finally have Episode #2 of "Star Trek Phase II: Beyond TMP", dare I ask how long we have to wait for Episode #3? And can Christopher write it please?