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Poll of the Week: Safety Protocols Disengaged

Insurance for Starfleet ships would be a nightmare. The ships are constantly investigating dangerous anomalies and getting into fights. But that’s not even the most dangerous thing that a Starfleet ship does – there’s a less obvious danger hidden in plain sight on most Starfleet ships: A piece of technology that is so ridiculously prone to failure or malfunction that it is one of the best-known Star Trek cliches. The holodeck.

It would seem that every time an episode centers on the holodeck, something has to go wrong with it. This could be as simple as the doors locking and the safety protocols turning off. However, that is only the start of what could go wrong with the holodeck. It could even, with a little outside interference, take on a mind of its own and actively try to hunt you down and kill you. We can only assume that the engineers responsible for the holodeck safety protocols are the same engineers responsible for the tendency of bridge consoles to explode. There are a lot of problems that could be pointed to in the holodeck’s safeguards.

This week’s poll asks which holodeck malfunction you think was the worst.

Click here to head to the forums and vote. Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the thread.


Poll of the Week: Best Movie Soundtrack?

The best soundtracks in films are those that match and enhance the ambiance and themes presented on the screen. In this regard, Star Trek composers have had a particularly difficult job: how do you compress wonder, mystery, and beauty into small auditory snippets?

Fortunately for us fans, it seems that each movie in the Star Trek franchise has been graced with a phenomenal musical accompaniment! Whether it’s the introspective, grand and powerful themes from The Motion Picture, or the pulsating, action-filled tunes from the nuTrek movies, there’s something for everyone.

This week’s poll asks you to name your favorite movie soundtrack. Head to the forums now to register your vote, and let us know what you chose in the comments section below!


Lower Decks Interview: Ensign Beelam Grog, USS Montreal

We’re here with another interview with a newer member of our community. The title of this column is “Lower Decks,” hearkening back to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode titled “Lower Decks,” in which junior officers aboard the Enterprise-D speculate on the reasons for recent unusual actions taken by the command crew near the Cardassian border.

This month’s interview is with the writer behind Ensign Beelam Grog playing a Trill female medical officer assigned to the USS Montreal.

GALVEN: I appreciate you for accepting my Interview! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself for our readers out there?

GROG: Sure thing. I live and go to college in Colorado where I am studying to become a special education teacher. In my free time I do role play for systems like Star Trek adventures, write and watch British history programs.

How did you find out about Starbase 118 and what made you ultimately choose our community and stay with us?

I find it to be a funny story. I found your group when I was searching google for Information about Starfleet academy. I found the wiki and upon seeing that this group was still active decided to join. I mostly stayed because I liked the people and how they valued the players as real people first.


Poll of the Week: Shortcut of the Week

The most important aspect of the overall story of Voyager was the distance of their journey back home to the Alpha Quadrant. Shortening the distance that the ship had to travel, or even returning to Earth immediately was a frequent plot device in Voyager episodes. It seems like at least once a season there is the potential of some shortcut getting the crew back home only to not work out or only take them part of the way. On one occasion this desire to find an alternate way home got the ship stuck in a trap they thought was a wormhole.

It’s understandable that there were occasional episodes centered around this idea. Sometimes it was a good idea to shave time off of the trip like in the episode “Night,” where the ship had to get clear of an empty void of space thousands of light years across or in the finale “Endgame.” However, it will appear in a story from time to time where it isn’t related to the primary plot. Sometimes the plot device of a shortcut to Earth was just used to raise the stakes of an episode and was never mentioned again.

This week, we want to know which Voyager shortcut you felt was the least necessary for the episode.

Head to the forums now to register your vote in the poll. Then us more in the thread below!


Witty Wordsmith: He said, she said

Captain Kerk got up from his seat and headed out to the bridge. Kerk looked at the viewscreen where the ship was in orbit around planet Sigma Iotis. Kerk smiled, looking at the lush Class M landscape below. Kerk was hoping that it would be the perfect spot for shore leave.  “Let’s prepare an away team!” Kerk said.

The paragraph above shows a common issue that all writers struggle with, and that’s stagnancy in sentence structure. Many writers worry that their writing will boil down to a narrative of “My character said this, my character did that. My character went there and then my character did this other thing.” One of the reasons that this issue is a common struggle is because it is a fully functional way of writing, especially when you are focused on only one character’s point of view like we commonly do in our simming.

Because this is such a useful and functional form both for actions and dialogues, we can’t just get rid of it. No one wants to read paragraph after paragraph of needlessly complicated prose when the same thing could be said by writing “Captain Kerk was the first one to beam down.” So how can we keep the majority of writing straightforward while not feeling like every sentence is just a laundry list of things a character did, felt or said?

  1. Think about what is around the character. What is the setting they are in? Who is around them and what are they doing? Adding in some description not only helps add variety to your writing, but it helps create a clearer picture of the whole scene for your readers. In the above example you might focus on the setting of the planet Kerk has just arrived on: “Sunlight spilled through thick palm fronds on a white sand beach making Captain Kerk glad that he was the first person to beam down and experience this.”
  2. Focus on reasons why characters do actions, not just the actions. In the example above, if you put a reason why Kerk would be the first to beam down you might write “It was the job of a commanding officer to take lead, that’s why Captain Kerk always beamed down first.” This still describes the action, but gives us a little more insight into Kerk’s mindset.
  3. Picture the character in action and describe that action. This technique helps bring the scene action to life in a very descriptive way. Again, with the above example this might look like “Running ahead with a bouncing excited step, the rest of the senior staff held back to let Captain Kerk beam down first.” This is particularly good for scenes where characters are engaged in combat or a similar sort of dramatic action.
  4. Bring a ‘tight focus’ into the character and describe how they physically feel in a way that relates to the action or setting. Examples of this are feeling heat rise in the character’s cheeks from embarrassment or describing difficulty breathing from a alien poison. This puts the character front and center under a microscope, letting the audience know their inner workings before describing their actions. Working with the above example, you might get: “His heart was beating faster and faster, brimming with excitement – it had been too long since their last shore leave and Captain Kerk was absolutely itching to beam down first”
  5. Don’t sweat it. After all is said and done, straightforward statements are fast easy ways to cover ‘down time’ or explain simple things that don’t really matter to the meat of the story. Beaming down to a planet might be a big deal for a character – or it might be something totally boring for that character and writing “Kerk beamed down first.” is an easy way to move into action that Kerk and his writer are really invested in.

Hopefully this will help you consider new ways to describe scenes and actions, while also reminding everyone that sometimes just writing things out in a straightforward way to move the plot forward is the best way to go.


Poll of the Week: Best Wedding?

Whether you’re throwing rice at the bride and groom or beating them over the head with Ma’Stakas, weddings are generally happy occasions, and symbolize a sacred union between two people. From the first (aborted) marriage of Robert Tomlinson and Angela Martine aboard the Enterprise NCC-1701, to the long-awaited conjugation of Deanna Troi and William Riker, Star Trek has a long tradition of showing such ceremonies on the screen. Each has taken a different tone, different visual style and, of course, different participants.

This poll asks you which of the many marriage ceremonies shown on screen was your favorite. Did you enjoy the Japanese-styled ceremony of Miles O’Brien and Keiko Ishikawa? Or were the somber, aggressive overtones of Worf and Jadzia Dax’s wedding more to your taste? Perhaps the less than romantic civil union imposed upon Quark by the widow Grilka struck the right tone.

Click here to vote now on the forums and explain your choice in the thread below the poll!


Lower Decks Interview: Lieutenant German Galven, USS Montreal

We’re here with another interview with a newer member of our community. The title of this column is “Lower Decks,” hearkening back to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode titled “Lower Decks,” in which junior officers aboard the Enterprise-D speculate on the reasons for recent unusual actions taken by the command crew near the Cardassian border.

This month’s interview is with the writer behind Lieutenant German Galven playing a Denobulan Male Chief Science officer assigned to the USS Montreal.

SHIN: Hello Lieutenant, thank you for taking the time out of your day for this interview. To start, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself and your character?

GALVEN: The pleasure is all mine! Thank you for having me. My name is Dane and I write for Lieutenant German Galven. I was born in the midwest of the United States and was raised in a military family which made me learn to be outgoing and larger than life to make friends quicker since we had to move around so much. I’ve simmered down since my childhood, but I bring out that aspect in German. He’s a quirky Denobulan that is inquisitive and always curious about what’s in front of him.

How did you discover SB118 and how long have you been with the community now?

I found out about SB118 from a friend named Zech (Groznin Smith) and I’ve been with the community for almost six months now. I still have that enthusiasm I had when I first joined! Every day I learn something new and explore the possibilities that the game has so far.


Poll of the Week: Medical Officer by Day, Secret Agent by Night

The holodeck is one of the most versatile pieces of technology at Starfleet’s disposal. When you use the holodeck, there is a nearly limitless amount of resources at your disposal. Any item in the database from a wine glass to a shuttlecraft can be recreated by the computer. Characters with artificial personalities can be added in to either create a particular atmosphere or act out a story. The walls and floor with the yellow grid on them can become any number of vistas or locations from across the galaxy with the push of a button. Everything is controlled by the ship’s computer, adapting the program as it goes along to provide whatever the user is looking for.

Holodecks are primarily an outlet for crew recreation, but they have many other uses as well. Aspects of the Delta Flyer were originally designed and simulated using the holodeck. Authors can make a living by writing holonovels. In some cases we’ve even seen holodecks used in group therapy sessions or to covertly test someone’s loyalty to the Federation. In this week’s poll, we want to know what your character most frequently does when they use the holodeck. Do they save the world from evil villains and take part in historical battles, or are they more likely to utilize the holodeck when they’re trying to simulate a project or need to do some training exercises?

What does your character use the holodeck for most? Head to the forums to cast your vote and be sure to comment with your thoughts!


Poll of the Week: Most Interesting Parent/Child Relationship?

It’s rather surprising to realize just how many relationships in Star Trek are principally parent/child based. In most cases, these connections between beloved characters has yielded fantastic character building episodes, while often posing intriguing philosophical questions. Since the first episode to feature an example of this trend, TOS’ “Journey to Babel”, in which Spock must confront the burden of command and the needs of his family, a long standing tradition has been maintained. Whether the relationship exists for a short time (such as in the TNG episode  “The Offspring”) or for the length of an entire series (Benjamin and Jake Sisko), they almost always manage to add heart to a show that can sometimes feel clinical and dry.

This week’s poll asks you which parent/child relationship in Star Trek you found most interesting. Give us your vote by clicking here to head to the forums. Be sure to comment below the poll!


Poll of the Week: Cloaking Device Sold Separately

The Romulans, Cardassians, Klingons, and Ferengi all have very distinct styles of ship design. However, most ships share the same essential elements: There is almost always a bridge, some form of energy and projectile weapons, both warp and sublight engines, and basic living spaces for the ship’s crew.

Beyond unique design styles, most factions also have their own special technologies that are seen as trademarks of their fleets. Both the Romulans and Klingons equipped their ships with their own versions of cloaking devices. The Breen were feared for their unique energy dampening weapon that turned the Second Battle of Chin’toka into a decisive defeat for the Federation, Klingons, and Romulans. There were also non-standard features that were unique to certain classes of ship. The USS Prometheus had a revolutionary new multi-vector assault mode that could turn one ship into three built on older saucer separation technology.

If you were designing a starship, you would have to include all of the standard features in the design. But no ship has room for all of the optional extra technologies that are seen on starships across the galaxy. A ship that was transwarp-capable, cloaked, multi-vector assault mode equipped, and armed with special weapons would likely never hold together. Ships like the USS Defiant show that an over-specialized ship stuffed with advanced technology was an engineering nightmare to keep running.

If you were designing a starship, which non-standard feature would be at the top of your list?

Click here to head to the forums now and register your vote in the poll. Be sure to comment below in the thread and let us know what you think!


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