Well that was real mature...

Well that was real mature...

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Representation vs. Continuity: How the culture wars and Star Trek exposed a different kind of racism.


One of the things I have always loved about Star Trek is its diversity. The original series was produced during the Civil Rights era and one of the regular characters was Lt. Uhura, a black woman. The U.S. was also embroiled in a bloody land war in Viet Nam and right there flying the ship was an Asian, Lt. Sulu. The Cold War was ratcheting up and for two of the three seasons, sitting next to Sulu was Ensign Chekov. The captain was a Mid-Westerner, doctor was a Southerner, the engineer was from Scotland and the first officer was not even from our planet. Trek has always tried to be inclusive. Sure, if you look back at it today it can be painfully sexist, and those racial minorities rarely had lines that were more than functional, but they were there and treated with respect. If you look at it as a product of its time it was (pun intended) lightyears ahead of just about anything else on television. As times changed so did the show, but it was always striving (even if it sometimes fell short) to include more underrepresented people, not just in casting, but story content as well frequently addressing social issues.

Uhura from the original Star Trek.

There has been an ugly strain of racism rearing its head in fandom the last half decade. The political vocabulary of the extreme right has been popping up more and more and when Trek returned to tv with Star Trek: Discovery, immediately charges of being “woke” jumped out. “Oh, they are doing agenda tv with a black woman as the star,” or “Oh they are pushing the gay agenda with a gay regular.” It was nasty hateful shit that made me wonder, if they had been watching the same show that I spent my virtually my whole life watching and re-watching. Whenever I would push someone by asking “what do you mean by “woke?”” invariably what would eventually come out would be racist, sexist, or homophobic.




If “woke” means more representation to actors of color, more gender equitable roles and increased visibility of LGBTQ+ characters and performers, then I’m all for it. Everybody deserves representation. Everyone NEEDS representation. The problem is right wing media is trying to play on the racism of its consumers to generate fear and outrage so they will knee jerk defend the Nazi’s chanting “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville and condemn Black Lives Matter as a violent organization even though the FBI reports 93% of BLM protests were peaceful (and most of the remaining 7% were instigated by counter protesters and the Department of Homeland Security reported that white supremacists groups were a larger threat to security).


This is where it gets fuzzy, the writers and producers of Discovery were not helping. You see, I don’t like Discovery very much. It is literally the bottom of my list when I order my Star Trek series. Whenever, I voice this opinion and two things happen, I’m accused of being racist, homophobic, or sexist which causes the racist, homophobic, misogynists start defending me.

Burnham from Star Trek: Discovery

My big gripe about Discovery, being a longtime fan, was the horrid continuity and lazy writing. Plot twists were painfully predictable. (For the record I had the exact same feelings about Star Trek: Enterprise during its first two seasons) I won’t go into details for fear of getting too far off topic, but I hope someday to do an analysis of Discovery and vent my frustration with the show.

But here is the problem…

Every time I had a criticism of the show, the progressive fans who liked the show didn’t seem to want to take my word that my issue is with continuity or the writing, and the conservative half-wit anti-woke crowd wanted to graft their hate onto my complaints to try to legitimize their positions.

Both sides ignored it when I pointed out that Tig Notaro’s Jett Reno had become my favorite character, just edging out Anthony Rapp’s Paul Stamets (whose character and performance is literally the only thing that kept me from quitting the show the first season). Both performers and their characters are gay. Blu del Barro’s non-binary Adira Tal is probably the most important character to be added to a Trek cast since Roddenberry put Nichelle Nichols and George Takei in the original cast. Other than the production values (which will always improve as technology improves) THAT is what Discovery gets right: Representation. They have a fantastically diverse cast of regulars, guest stars and recurring characters. It is one thing that I absolutely love about the show. In fact, I find myself wishing some of the supporting players would get more to do (especially Patrick Kwok-Choon who plays Gen Rhys and Oyin Oladejo who plays Joann Owosekun).

Reno from Star Trek: Discovery

Staments from Star Trek: Discovery.

Adira Tal from Star Trek Discovery

Many of those who like the show want to ascribe ulterior motives to my dislike of the series often dismiss continuity as an excuse. It’s doesn’t matter to them, so in their eyes I’m just using it as a shield for my own hidden racism. I don’t like to crap on other people’s love of stuff, but I’d gladly debate Discovery’s story quality and if you dig the production values (which are spectacular) that’s fine. If you dig the representation aspect, I feel ya, it’s the best thing about it. But if I get taken out of the story because of poor continuity or weak storytelling or predictable plot twists, please don’t presume an ulterior motive. There are plenty of genuine racists, who are blatantly telling you their motives when they repeat buzzwords like “woke.” Don’t try to shrug it off my legitimate complaint saying, “there have always been continuity issues.” Yes, there have been, and they always bug the living piss out of me.

Continuity is important. It provides a sense of verisimilitude. When a continuity issue pops up it makes me crazy. It always has. When a line from Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s pilot “Encounter at Farpoint” blatantly contradicted a line of dialogue from Spock in the original episode “The Omega Glory.” I cringed. I still do. It takes me out every time, even after all these years. The vast majority of continuity errors are usually errors that slipped through. Little errors that could have been fixed with a line of dialogue. Sadly, some are deliberate choices made by the showrunners. To me it's a big issue.

Star Trek: The Next Generation - "Encounter at Farpoint"

Star Trek - "The Omega Glory"

Now, if you don’t care about continuity, that’s certainly your prerogative as a fan, but don’t lump me in with the anti-woke Tucker Carlson watching lemmings just because we disagree and I find Discovery disappointing dramatically and nonsensical as a prequel. A lot of the issues could have been avoided if the show were rebooting a new universe instead of forcing itself into the original “prime” universe. This is truly the perplexing part. Why make a prequel then ignore the continuity when you can just reboot a new continuity and pick and choose, in buffet style, what you want to keep and toss?


I know this next little bit will seem off track and even random at times, especially when I said the continuity and writing are, in essence, a whole different issue from all of this, but context is king so I need to discuss some terms and provide some back story before I move on to the real point of this article.

There are three ways to add onto a franchise. 

FIRST set a spin-off in the same universe as a sequel or prequel or parallel to the source material. This is what all of the Trek television shows claim to be. 

The SECOND way is a hard reboot. This takes the basic concept and reworks it from the ground up. It has no impact on the original and the original only serves as inspiration for new. Battlestar Galactica (2004) is an example of a hard reboot.
The Battlestar Galactica hard  reboot.

The THIRD option is the soft reboot. You set it in continuity but devise a way to wipe the slate clean, so you have an excuse to not beholden to continuity. The Star Trek trilogy films starring Chris Pine (2009-2016) are an example of this. Spock from the original prime universe continuity goes back in time chasing a Romulan villain and the timeline gets altered creating an alternate parallel timeline for the new stories.

Kirk from the Star Trek soft reboot.

No one is forcing you to like the soft or hard reboots, but they are a tool for writers to get away from being hemmed into continuity. If we did a hard reboot of Trek we could drastically change things up and have a female Latinx Capt. Kirk, a Black Dr. McCoy or a female Scotty, and Spock could be red and eat via a plate in his stomach (as originally intended) but in the soft reboot we must have the characters be mostly recognizable unless the change can be traced back to the plot element that altered things (in this example the timeline changes by the Romulan). Discovery producers deliberately decided the show would be set not in the soft reboot continuity, nor a brand-new hard reboot continuity but instead insisted it was part of the original prime continuity.

During season two of Discovery the story arc tied into the original failed 1964 Star Trek pilot, “The Cage.” (In 1965 a new pilot was made, and the series was sold becoming the show we all know, and the original pilot footage was used as flashback material for the two-part 1966 episode “The Menagerie.”) On Discovery, they recast characters that appeared in that original pilot (Spock, Capt. Pike and Number One) and fan reaction was so positive that a new series, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, was announced and would be set between the two original pilot episodes in the original prime universe. The show premiered May 5th.

The Cage - The original 1964 Star Trek Pilot

The Cage characters recast for Star Trek: Discovery

The Cage characters in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

In 1974 Star Trek’s first ever spin-off, Star Trek: The Animated Series was made and ran for two years. It won an Emmy for Best Series in 1975. It helped keep Trek alive in the decade between the cancelation of the original series and its resurgence as a motion picture series. When Star Trek: The Next Generation was on the air, there was a time when TAS was considered non-canonical. However, over the years more and more references from the movies, TNG, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Enterprise and most recently Star Trek: Lower Decks have brought it into continuity.

Star Trek: The Animated Series

What do these things have to do with one another? You’ll see because now I’m finally at the point of this whole post.


Recently it was announced that a black actor had been cast as Admiral Robert April a reoccurring guest character for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. And of course, some red hat wearing asshole complained online that it was another example of modern Trek being “woke” ruining Trek because the character had previously been established in the TAS as white. He was roundly and properly taken down. Again, in *my* experience EVERY TIME someone uses the word “woke” pejoratively and they have been questioned or pushed on it, it reveals a racist, homophobic or sexist sentiment.
April from Star Trek Strange New Worlds
April from Star Trek: The Animated Series

Here’s the problem: I agree that the actor should not have been cast but for different reasons. You see: Objecting to the casting of an actor of color because it’s “woke” is racist. However, objecting to recasting of ANY established character that is supposed to be in the same continuity (not a hard reboot) by someone of a different race or gender is not racist because the reasoning is not based in hate but a desire for continuity.

My fellow liberals pounced and proclaimed me a racist. Maybe I am. Maybe I am unconsciously using continuity as a shield. I'm self reflective enough to at least consider the possibility. However, if I were, certainly it would come out in other ways, right? So, I started asking myself questions. It’s always good to ask oneself questions when you find human garbage in agreement with you.

Do I object to a person of color being a high-ranking officer to whom a white man must answer?
No. I never questioned that Commodore Stone, Admiral Morrow or Admiral Cartwright as Kirk’s commanding officers in “Court Martial,” Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. I would not have a problem if the actor in question were hired to play Admiral Smith instead of Admiral April and served the same function in the story. In act after finally seeing the first episode, there was absolutely no reason to call the character Robert April
. By the way, DS9, which featured a black commanding officer, is my favorite Trek series. For whatever, that's worth.

Commodore Stone with Kirk in Star Trek "Court Martial"

Sisko from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Would I still object if the situation were reversed?
Oh, you betcha. If April were originally depicted as black in TAS and they announced a white actor playing the role I would be against the casting. I would also object if black characters like Sisko, LaForge, or Mayweather were recast with white actors. Hell, I would be object if Arex, an orange skinned three-armed alien from TAS, were depicted in live action as purple with four arms.

Arex from Star Trek The Animated Series

Would I object if the casting was part of a hard reboot?
Nope, not at all.

Is the continuity of his race the only thing about the announcement that bothered me?
Nope. He’s listed as Admiral but the character as he first appears on TAS is a lower rank, a Commodore, in an episode that takes place more than a decade later. Also, I don’t know how old the actor is, but he looks much younger than 60 (April was 75 in his appearance on TAS).

The answer to these questions satisfied me, but every racist I’ve run into has sworn up and down they were not racist, so maybe I’m fooling myself. Again, I'm self reflective enough to consider the possibility. I do know that when pointed these positions out, sadly, my fellow liberals gave me ZERO benefit of the doubt and even went so far as to move goal post and start downplaying the series. Their counter arguments were frequently rude, ill conceived and had the whiff of desperation. Here is a tase of how many conversations went...

“You are full of crap. Sisko was a regular. The April character only appeared only once.”
I would not want one-time characters of color like Boma (“The Galileo Seven”) and Shea (“By Any Other Name”) recast as white, in fact you can make the same argument about Pike and Number One when they were first used as guest stars on Discovery. They tried to keep those characters like their original interpretation. They even dyed Rebecca Romijn’s hair to match the original actress. There were no accusations of hating blonde’s or accusations being secret brunette supremacists. After finally seeing the first episode, it appears that April is not the only character whose race is changed. Transporter Chief Kyle, who was originally a white British officer, is now Asian with no trace of a British accent. Kyle was not a one off but a reoccurring character who appeared in nine episodes of the original series and even one of the feature films.

Boma from Star Trek "The Galileo Seven"

Shea from Star Trek "By Any Other Name"

“Boma and Shea were live action. April was a cartoon.”
I wouldn't want Gabler, a recurring character who appears in five episodes of the  the animated series to be recast as white. Also again, Kyle was live action. Also , I wouldn’t want Beckett Mariner or Capt. Freeman, both black characters voiced by black performers in the animated Trek series Lower Decks recast as white in a live action series (in fact I would lobby for the voice actresses to get the job). Second, we now have two animated Trek series currently in production. Animation should not disqualify the series from being cannon.

Gabler from The Animated Series.

Mariner and Freeman from Star Trek: Lower Decks

“The Animated Series is over 40 years old, Lower Decks is new.”
Eh, so what? Strange New Worlds is literally based on a pilot that is almost 60 years old.

“The Animated Series is dated.”
Yea. So is TOS which is the basis for everything, all the shows get older every year. Is this a suggestion that we put “expiration dates” on the shows? TOS and TAS have “expired” since they are over 40 years old. TNG is 35 so we can start ignoring it in five years. This is lame, if the producers want to ignore old stuff, all they had to do was a reboot instead of putting it in the original continuity.

“The Animated Series not cannon. Roddenberry said so.”
It wasn’t… until it was. As I noted above. The show and the episodes have been brought into continuity by other series, some as recently as just last year. The context of Robbenberry comment was that if he knew the show would become a franchise and continue with movies and TNG he would have toned down the sillier elements. With that said, Roddenberry proudly put his name on the series. Seven members of the cast returned to voice their characters (William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForrest Kelley, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Majel Barrett), as did guest stars (Mark Leonard, Roger C. Carmel, and Stanley Adams) many episodes were written by people who worked on the original series including TOS story editor D.C. Fontana, David Gerrold, Samuel Peeples, Marc Daniels, Margaret Armen, Stephen Kandel and Walter Koenig. It has some pretty deep cred on the creative side, more so than just about any other Trek tv show.

“The writer of the original animated episode is ok with the casting.”

Yes, Fred Bronson (who wrote the episode under the name John Culver) tweeted support for the casting. Given that he might be savaged and accused of racism if he didn’t, it may have been his only choice. There is some debate as whether or not he created the character. Bronson has said he created the character using the name April because he knew Gene liked it (Gene used the name before in other scripts). Conversely, Roddenberry did make the claim at conventions that he created the character because wanted the Enterprise to have "a history" and used a rejected name for the series lead as the first commander/backstory (I heard him say this myself in 1989). Either way the name first appeared to the public in the 1968 book The Making of Star Trek by Roddenberry and Stephen Whitfield as well as an early as a pilot script draft dated March1964, more than a decade before "The Counter Clock Incident" was written. However, that does not necessarily contradict Bronson's recollection, since that point the character was the character that would become Pike. If he did create the character let's hope he's getting the residuals for the use of his character. 

Bronson's Tweet.

“The episode sucks.”
Yea, so what? The first episode was filmed in 1964. There have been 12 television series (five of which are currently in production) resulting in 861 episodes (including all ten episodes of SNW this season and the yet unaired 10 episodes from this season of Star Trek: Prodigy) with another 50-60 episodes in various points of production for next season and 13 motion pictures (with one in preproduction). When you produce that much material there are going to be some winners and some stinkers. You must take the good with the bad, it wasn't the first ridiculous episode nor was it the last. Continuity and cannon should not be based on a score from Rotten Tomatoes.

“The Animated Series sucks.”
That’s your opinion. The Television Academy of Arts and Sciences disagrees, they gave it a Best Series award. It remains the only Trek to earn that distinction. By contemporary standards it’s dated, cheap looking and may not be your cup of tea, but just because YOU don’t care for it doesn’t mean should be ignored.

“You hate the actor.”
No. I’m completely neutral on the actor. He did a perfectly good job in the first episode as had the actor who has been playing Kyle. I know nothing about either one of them and to the best of my knowledge I have not seen either of them in anything else (If I did, they flew under my radar). I would have no problem if they were presented as new/different characters with different names or the series was a hard reboot.
Kyle from Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

Kyle from the original Star Trek

“You hate Strange New Worlds”
Given the continuity on Discovery, I’ll admit was very concerned about SNW, but I wanted to love it. I wanted it to be good. I hoped it’s the best Trek ever. This is usually my attitude about every new Trek show before it airs. Since seeing the first three episodes I am of two minds. If it had been presented as a reboot I would hail it as a fantastic start with potential to be one of the top three Trek series, but as a prequal, the numerous continuity issues are distracting and annoying, leaving me very divided. My only real non-continuity related issue with the first episode is some of the cringe worthy Vulcan dialogue near the beginning of the episode.

“It’s clearly racial, you didn’t throw a fit when April was erased from continuity in the Star Trek 2009 film.”
That was a soft reboot. He wasn’t erased, the timeline was altered. His new fate was depicted in the comic book story “Countdown to Darkness” which is considered cannon by the reboot trilogy producers (one of the rare exceptions for a comic or novel).
April from the soft reboot comic.

“It’s clearly racial, you don’t have other continuity complaints.”
No, the announcement of the actor happened before the show aired creating the initial controversy and conversation, in addition to the two instances of changing of existing characters ethnicity, I counted at least 12 other continuity issues in the first episode alone after finally seeing it. More have popped up in the two episodes since then. All of which would be non-issues if the show were a reboot instead of a prequel. 

“Your reboot argument sucks. People hate reboots.”
Yes… and no. Many hated the hard reboot of Battlestar Galactica and the soft reboot of the new Star Trek film trilogy. But many people LOVED them. You can’t please everyone but why deliberately antagonize and alienate longtime fans by disregarding continuity when it could be avoided one way or the other?

Of course from the other side when a bigot tries to join in to defend me: "Star Trek was never woke or political with this Social Justice Warrior crap before."
You clearly were not paying attention or are a drooling idiot... probably both.

Star Trek - "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"

Star Trek: The Next Generation - "The Outcast"

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - "Rejoined"


Here is the thing.

Yes, there is racism. Yes, since Tump’s election, racists have become emboldened. Yes, conservative media is fueling the outrage machine and stoking fear and hate especially in terms of race and the LGBTQ+ community. And yes, racists will sometime lie and try to use non-racial arguments to further a racist agenda or even change packaging to make the racism more subtle or palatable (all you must do is listen to one of Nixon’s advisors, Lee Atwater, discuss the “southern strategy” on YouTube to hear that clearly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_8E3ENrKrQ). That’s all absolutely true.

However, if you always assume that someone disagreeing with you is evil and racist, then you are as bad as the jerkoffs who scream “woke” every time a person of color or member of the LGBTQ+ community is cast in a movie or a series. It’s ok to be skeptical, most of these hateful pricks are disingenuous blowhards, but ask good faith questions and listen, really listen, and think about the responses, look at their profiles and their past posts. If they are feeding you a line, it will be mostly apparent but otherwise you may be attacking an ally who just has a difference of opinion and not for the reason you suspect or assume.

One thing is for sure. Knee jerk reactions like this will sway people in the political middle. The people who don’t actively go out an advocate for racial diversity or LGBTQ+ inclusion but likewise are appalled by hate groups and would find any effort to impede advancements in those areas distasteful. Maybe the person is a fan who loved The Animated Series, perhaps it was their introduction to Star Trek as a whole. If they agree with the bigoted knuckle dragger but for completely different reasons and they see the brutal attacks on social media. They will walk away thinking, wow, maybe Tucker Carlson, Alex Jones and Laura Ingram are right about all these extreme “woke” liberals. And if they are right about that maybe they are right about vaccines, January 6th, and etc.

This will be catastrophic for the mid-terms and our country. I despise the anti-woke crowd and make no mistake the right wing can’t run on their positions, because they don’t have a record to run on, all they have is the culture war and misinformation and they will be running on the four table legs of a platform that includes nonexistent Critical Race Theory in schools, Transgender bigotry, blaming Democrats for pandemic and corporate greed induced inflation and the ginned-up idea of the “woke” left extremists. With the GOP passing laws that allow people maneuvered into place to over turn election results they don't like, passing restrictive voting laws for those they don't want to have a voice,  gerrymandering maps and packing the courts. Democracy is literally on this line this midterm
and you are helping them by automatically lumping everyone who disagrees into the same basket of deplorables.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

10 Music Collections to Know Me

Continuing my lists of things to know me. I now present my favorite music collections adding to my previous lists of books, movies, tv shows and comic book collected editions. It is very soundtrack heavy, so it’s an eclectic mix of individual songs. Because I doubled up some entries (or more) there is no “honorable mention” for this list (although if I were to add one it would be the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack). Being a luddite, my choices for the list was simple. I just asked myself what cassettes or CDs I popped into my player back before digital downloads moved the market back toward singles and away from albums.

10. Reservoir Dogs: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by various
1992, MCA, Mix

Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino rocketed to stardom as a unique filmmaker that could balance dialogue and action with plot and characterization. In his low budget first film he squeezed in a small but impactful soundtrack that was full of unexpected choices (I defy anyone to think of “Stuck in the Middle with You” the same way after watching it). Competing music that was of a similar era but stylistically different complimented the narrative of his story, but even on its own it makes for a satisfying and fun listening experience.

Track List:
Little Green Bag – The George Baker Selection
Hooked on a Feeling – Blue Swede
I, Gotcha – Joe Tex
Magic Carpet Ride – Bedlam
Fool for Love – Sandy Rogers
Stuck in the Middle with You – Stealers Wheel
Harvest Moon – Bedlam
Coconut – Harry Nilsson

9. Babylon 5: The Original Television Soundtracks by Christopher Franke and the Berlin Symphonic Film Orchestra
1995 (original) 1997 (Vol. 2: Messages from Earth) 2001 (Best of), 1997-1999 (Episodic) Sonic Images, Instrumental

The music of Babylon 5 was a slow burn for me, the original opening theme was fantastic but otherwise the early episodes were a strange (I’ll even say off-putting) amalgam of 80s era European synthesized sounds but as the show progressed traditional orchestral sounds moved up in the mix resulting in a power house range of music, from season one’s tense “Requiem of the Line” music in the episode “And the Sky Full of Stars” to the sweeping notes that can been heard in the series finale “Sleeping in Light.” Franke came along way in five years going from simply managing to create and build tension with a creative mix of strings and percussion to being able to evoke the emotion of heart break with brass and woodwind.

The music of Babylon 5 was presented in suites on the full-length releases of Babylon 5 Volume 1 and Babylon 5 Vol. II: Messages from Earth with extracts from various shows, however there were also releases of episodic CDs, containing music from induvial episodes in their entire length with cues playing chronologically as originally aired with an average total time of 30 minutes (longer for the feature length episodes). Those include Chrysalis from season one. The Coming of Shadows and The Fall of Night from season two. Severed Dream, A Late Delivery from Avalon, Walkabout, Shadow Dancing, Z’Ha’Dum, Interludes and Examinations, War Without End (parts 1 and 2) and And the Rock Cried Out No Hiding Place from season three. Into the Fire, No Surrender No Retreat, The Face of the Enemy, Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?, The Long Night, Lines of Communication, Endgame, Falling Toward Apotheosis, Thirdspace and In the Beginning from season four. River of Souls, The Ragged Edge, Darkness Ascending, Objects at Rest and Sleeping in Light from season five. Franke also did the music for The Lost Tales, the reunion film in 2007, which also got a release (as did the spin off Crusade with controversial music by Evan Chen). These releases show that Franke wasn’t afraid to change up style, like his Celtic inspired tracks for “A Late Delivery from Avalon” or the arrangements for songs written by J. Michael Straczynski specifically for guest star Erica Gimple (Fame) in the episode “Walkabout,” the “Bar Background Music” from “Face of the Enemy” which was inspired by the Juliet Lewis performed song, “Hardly Wait,” by PJ Harvey from the film Strange Days and the new arrangement for a classic gospel song “And the Rock Cried Out No Hiding Place” (from the episode of the same name) performed by Marva Hicks. It was easy to underestimate Franke at first but by the end he was delivering some amazing music for the series.

Track list (Vol. 1):
Chrysalis I - IV
Mind War I & II
Parliament of Dreams I - III
The Geometry of Shadows I-III

Track list (Vol. 2):
Main Title 1st season (extended)
Messages from Earth
Main Title 2nd Season
Main Title 3rd Season
Severed Dreams
Main Title 4th Season
Voices of Authority

Track List (Best of):
Main Title 2nd Season
The Geometry of Shadows III (aka Requiem for the Line)
Sheridan & Father
The Big Battle
The Signal
Main Title 3rd Season
Into the Abyss
Begin to Attack the Shadows
Emergency Treatment
The Geometry of Shadows II
The Geometry of Shadows I
Main Title 4th Season
Main Title 5th Season
Dying Station
Sierra Theme

8. Star Trek: The Motion Picture: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith (with Alexander Courage) and the Columbia Orchestra
1979, Columbia Records (original), 1999, Columbia/Soney Legacy (20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition), 2012, La-La Land Records (extended), Instrumental

While Star Trek fans may argue the quality of the film, no one questions the brilliant Academy Award nominated score. From energetic main title theme that would be recycled for Star Trek: The Next Generation, to martial quality and clicks of the Klingon anthem, to the absolutely breath takingly lovely Ilia’s Theme/Love Theme (also used as the Overture in most cuts of the film), Goldsmith set a standard for building suspense, highlighting reveals, ratcheting up tension and accompanying character moments without stepping on the dialogue, performances, or effects. It’s masterful in the same way John Williams was with Star Wars and Superman, it grounds the fantastical elements while simultaneously heralding the epic qualities.

Track List:
Overture (Extended)
Ilia’s Theme
Main Title
Klingon Battle
Total Logic (20th)
Floating Office (20th)
The Enterprise
Malfunction (Extended)
Goodbye Klingon/Goodbye Epsilon Nine/Pre-Launch (Extended)
Leaving Drydock
TV Theme/Warp Point Eight (Extended)
No Goodbyes (Extended)
Spock’s Arrival (20th)
TV Theme/Warp Point Nine (Extended)
Meet V’Ger (Extended)
The Cloud
Vejur Flyover
The Force Field (20th)
Micro Exam (Extended)
Games (20th)
Spock Walk
System Inoperative (Extended)
Hidden Information (Extended)
Inner Workings (20th)
Vejur Speaks (20th)
The Meld
A Good Start (20th)
End Title

The extended release includes everything from the first two releases plus also includes alternate takes, isolated extracts, and other extras - including the "rejected" cues.

7. Moonlighting: The Original Television Soundtrack by various
1987, MCA, Mix

Like the show itself, you can expect the unexpected from this mellow collection of soul, retro and love songs. The different styles of music work well together and even the provocative songs have an innocence to them. There is a romantic quality overall (which seems apropos) given the source.

Track list:
Moonlighting - Al Jarreau (opening and closing credits)
Limbo Rock - Chubby Checker (“My Fair David”)
This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You) - The Isley Brothers (“Knowing Her”)
Blue Moon - Cybill Shepherd (“The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice”)
I Told Ya I Love Ya, Now Get Out! - Cybill Shepherd (“The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice”)
Good Lovin’ - Brice Willis (“Atomic Shakespeare”)
When a Man Loves a Woman - Percy Sledge (“I Am Curious… Maddie”)
Someone to Watch Over Me - Linda Ronstadt & The Nelson Riddle Orchestra (“Maddie’s Turn to Cry”)
Stormy Weather - Billie Holiday (“I Am Curious… Maddie”)

6. MCMXC a.D. by Enigma
1990 (Original), 1991 (Limited Edition) Virgin/Charisima, New Age

Meditative, relaxing, and vaguely sexy while exploring themes of good & evil and love & sadness, the album is a unique listening experience. The experimental first album from the German project plays off contrasting opposites by mixing archaic sounds with modern music, paring dance beats with Gregorian chant and religious themes with sexuality. It worked amazingly well and is most definitely different from anything else out there.

Track list:
The Voice of Enigma
Principles of Lust (Sadness/Find Love/Sadness Reprise)
Callas Went Away
Mea Culpa
The Voice and the Snake
Knocking on Forbidden Doors
Back to the Rivers of Belief (Way to Eternity/Hallelujah/The Rivers of Belief)
Meditation (LE)
Fading Shades (LE)
Everlasting Lust (LE)
The Returning Silence (LE)

The limited-edition volume released a year later added four alternate versions of previous tracks.

5. Pulp Fiction: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by various
1994 (original), 2002 (extended), MCA, Mix

Over his career, Tarantino proved is a master of mixing genres in his movies but as early as his second film he displayed the same quality in his music selection. His selections of song not only provide a mood for the sequences but even invigorate previously out of date music. Eclectic and unconventional choices work well and like his plot twists, never fail to surprise the viewer, or in this case the listener.

Track List:
Misirlou - Dick Dale & His Del-Tones
Jungle Boogie - Kool & The Gang
Strawberry Letter #23 - The Brothers Johnson (extended)
Let's Stay Together - Al Green
Bustin' Surfboards - The Tornadoes
Lonesome Town - Ricky Nelson
Son Of a Preacher Man - Dusty Springfield
Bullwinkle Part II - The Centurians
Rumble - Link Wray and His Raymen (extended)
Since I First Met You - The Robins (extended)
You Never Can Tell - Chuck Berry
Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon - Urge Overkill
If Love Is a Red Dress (Hang Me in Rags) - Maria McKee
Comanche - The Revels
Flowers On the Wall - The Statler Brothers
Out Of Limits - The Marketts (extended)
Surf Rider - The Lively Ones

4. Pump Up the Volume: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by various
1990, MCA, Alternative

There are probably three definitive films about what a friend of mine once called “teenaged bullshit angst,” - Rebel without a Cause, The Breakfast Club and Pump Up the Volume. With all due apologies to Simple Minds fans, Pump Up the Volume is the best soundtrack as it embraces darker alternative rock songs, sometimes with deceptively upbeat music (and yes even the love ballad is depressing). It’s a fascinating mix of music that works both in the film and as a collection in its own.

Track List:
Everybody Knows – Concrete Blonde
Why Can’t I Fall in Love – Ivan Neville
Stand! – Liquid Jesus
Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf) – The Pixies
I’ve Got a Minatare Secret Camera – Peter Murphy
Kick Out the Jams – Bad Brain with Henry Rollins
Freedom of Speech – Above the Law
Heretic – Soundgarden
Titanium Expose – Sonic Youth
Me and the Devil Blues – Cowboy Junkies
Tale O’ the Twister – Chagall Guevara

3. Still in Hollywood and Recollection by Concrete Blonde
1994 and 1996, I.R.S., Alternative

I first noticed Concrete Blonde on the above listed Pump up the Volume soundtrack with their version of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows.” It wasn’t until fall of 1991 that I got a real taste of their work when when my first college roommate had all three of their albums which, to my surprise, included the song I recognized (and loved), “God is a Bullet,” from a 1989 episode of 21 Jumpstreet. I quickly became a fan. To people unfamiliar with their work, I recommend their “best of” album, Recollection, which pulls from their first five albums. It’s a great introduction to what is genuinely a great collection of their best songs, but personally I prefer a different collected edition: Still in Hollywood. Filled with alternate versions of popular tracks and previously unreleased material, it is surprisingly better. The live acoustic version of “Joey,” which is about being in love with an alcoholic, is much more haunting than the studio version because the pain and vulnerability are much more on display in the performance. Likewise, the live versions of “Gold is a Bullet,” “The Sky is a Poisonous Garden Tonight,” “Roses Grow” and especially “Tomorrow Wendy,” a story about a woman with AIDS, have a much more raw and energetic feel than the studio versions. The extended French release of “Bloodletting” is far more enjoyable than the edited version (if 4:28 is good than 7:08 is better). All the remaining tracks are certainly as good if not better than most songs released on their albums post 1990 but may fall a little short of some of the great songs on Recollection (hence the double dip). My only complaint is that “I Want You” from the Point Break soundtrack didn’t make either collection. The best thing about these collections, is that Concrete Blonde was about telling stories through music and those stories came from a personal place, making them genuine art.

Track List Still in Hollywood:
"It'll Chew You Up and Spit You Out" (alternate version of "Still in Hollywood")
"Everybody Knows"
"God Is a Bullet" (live)
"Probably Will"
"The Ship Song"
"Joey" (live/acoustic)
"Little Wing"
"Roses Grow" (live)
"The Sky Is a Poisonous Garden Tonight" (live)
"Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)" (extended French release)
"Simple Twist of Fate"
"Side of the Road"
"100 Games of Solitaire"
"Tomorrow, Wendy" (live)

Track List Recollections:
"God Is a Bullet"
"Tomorrow, Wendy"
"Scene Of a Perfect Crime"
"Ghost Of a Texas Ladies Man"
"Dance Along the Edge"
"Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)"
"Happy Birthday"
"Cold Part of Town"
"Walking in London"
"Heal It Up"
"Everybody Knows"
"Mexican Moon"
"Still In Hollywood"
"Mercedes Benz (live)"

The live version of “Joey” was from MTV Unplugged while the others were from a performance from the Malibu Club on Long Island)… and seriously how did NO ONE think to use “Bloodletting” in the film adaptation of Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire. Maybe someone working on the AMC adaptation will realize it's perfect.

2. Due South Volumes I & II: The Original Television Soundtracks by various
1996 (Vol. 1) and 1998 (Vol. 2), Nettwerk Records, Mix

This eclectic mix of alternative, classic rock, Canadian country and even a 13th century Christian hymn is as bizarre and wonderful as the tv show itself. While the music was usually picked to augment individual scenes in episodes, they hang together surprisingly well as collections. It’s a great way to discover a talent or style outside of your normal listening habits. The slightly darker and more obscure tracks from Volume 2 edge out the more popular Volume 1 but both make for fun and unique listening experiences hence another double dip.

Track List (Vol. 1):
Due South Closing Theme - Jay Semko
Bone of Contention - Spirit of the West (“An Eye for an Eye”)
Cabin Music - Jay Semko (“Pilot”)
Possession (Piano Version) - Sarah McLachlan (“Victoria’s Secret”)
Horses - Ashley MacIsaac (“They Eat Horses, Don’t They?”)
Akua Tuta - Kashtin (“A Hawk and a Handsaw”)
American Woman - The Guess Who (“Diefenbaker’s Day Off”)
Henry Martin - Figgy Duff (“Gift of the Wheelman”)
Ride Forever - Paul Gross (“All the Queen’s Horses”)
Flying - Blue Rodeo (“Some Like it Red”)
Due South Opening Theme - Jay Semko (seasons one & two)
Neon Blue - Holly Cole Trio (“Chicago Holiday”)
Victoria's Secret - Jay Semko (“Victoria’s Secret”)
Calling Occupants - Interplanetary Craft - Klaatu (“Starman”)
Eia, Mater (from Stabat Mater) - Andrew Davis (“The Deal”)
Dief's In Love - Jay Semko (“The Wild Bunch”)

Track List (Vol. 2):
Oh, What A Feeling - Junkhouse (“Eclipse”)
Drunken Sailor - Captain Tractor (“Mountie on the Bounty”)
Robert Mackenzie - Paul Gross (“Mountie on the Bounty”)
Mind - Vibrolux (“Good for the Soul”)
Mountie on the Bounty - Jay Semko (“Mountie on the Bounty”)
Song For a Winter's Night - Sarah McLachlan (“Hunting Season”)
Slave To Your Love - Dutch Robinson (“Mountie and Soul”)
From A Million Miles - Single Gun Theory (“Pilot”)
Take Me Out to The Ballgame - Trevor Hurst (“Dr. Longball”)
November - Mythos (“Seeing is Believing”)
Cubically Contained - Headstones (“Mountie and Soul”)
Nobody's Girl - Michelle Wright (“Mountie Sings the Blues”)
Sophia's Pipes - Ashley MacIsaac (“Mountie on the Bounty”)
Western End of The Trail - Jay Semko (“Call of the Wild”)
Holy Tears - Tara MacLean (“Call of the Wild”)
Revised Due South Opening Theme - Jay Semko (season three & four)

1. Thorogood Live and Let’s Work Together by George Thorogood and the Destroyers
1986 EMI and 1995 Capitol, Rock and Roll/Blues

My wife and I disagree on live albums, she prefers studio recording because they have a better sound quality, but I like the live versions because the energy is always up. This has never been more true as it is with Geroge Throrogood and the Delaware Destroyers’ first two (of seven) live albums. Not only is the original Thorogood Live my favorite alum ever, it may be the definitive album for the band because it highlights what they do best: a high-octane boogie beat fusion of rock-n-roll and blues that shows off their own hits as well as songs from rock and blues icons
, like John Lee Hooker and Elmore James, that are sadly falling off the radars of younger generations. Their inspiration/affection for the fading classics make them more than performers; they are like fellow fans of the genre giving you a nudge saying “hey, let me play you this, you’ll love this guy’s song” or “if you dig that guy’s work listen to my song that was inspired by his work.” This love of the genre is evident and results in that infectious energy that is abundant in their live performances. I threw in Let’s Work Together because it has the same energy and stylistic mix of the previous album and combined, the two are a great anthology that highlight the best of their first dozen albums and almost two decades of work. There may smoother musicians and better voices out there but none with a better sense of history or energy. These are great if you want to tap your toes and experience rock and blues by fans for fans.

Track list Thorogood Live:
Who Do You Love?
Bottom Of the Sea
Night Time
I Drink Alone
House Rent Blues/One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer
Alley Oop
Madison Blues
Bad To the Bone
The Sky Is Crying
Reelin' & Rockin'

Track list Let’s Work Together:
No Particular Place To Go
Ride On Josephine
Bad Boy
Cocaine Blues
If You Don't Start Drinkin' (I'm Gonna Leave)
I'm Ready
I'll Change My Style
Get A Haircut
Gear Jammer
Move It on Over
You Talk Too Much
Let's Work Together
St. Louis Blues
Johnny B. Goode

Nine other albums considered along with the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack for the Honorable Mention slot, and would make a top 20 list include (in no particular order):
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band – The Beatles (1967)
The Anthology: 1947-1972 – Muddy Waters (2001)
Cracked Rear View – Hootie and the Blowfish (1994)
Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette (1995)
Eagles Live – Eagles (1980)
The Ultimate Collection (1948-1990) - John Lee Hooker (1991)
Appetite for Destruction – Guns N’ Roses (1987)
Big Ones (Special Edition) – Aerosmith (1994/1998)
Bat Out of Hell – Meat Loaf (1977)

Monday, April 18, 2022

10 Books to Know Me

Continuing my lists of things to know me. I now present my favorite books to add to my previous list of movies, tv shows and comic book collected editions.

by Stephen King
1975, Horror
I’m frequently frustrated by King’s novels, feeling he makes them up as he goes along without any idea where they will end and thus a great story is marred by a poor ending. I waffled between this novel and J. Michael Straczynski’s 1988 horror novel Demon Night. Both were about evil coming to a small town, and both had wonderfully interesting and eclectic characters and Demon Night even had the more satisfying ending, but I ultimately sided with King’s book because of my affection for vampires vs. demonic possession. Perhaps it was too many Universal films as a kid or all those Hammer House of Horror vampire films, but I’ll confess to being a sucker for, well, blood suckers. In the end there is something compelling about a vampire coming to a small-town contemporary community even if King’s version is a bit more nihilistic than Straczynski’s demonic possession story.

10. Starship Troopers
by Robert Heinlein
1959 Science Fiction

This militaristic story is allegory for the post war U.S. military industrial complex as explored from the POV of a grunt who rises through the ranks during a war with alien spider like creatures. Through a contemporary lens, the examination of individual rights versus societal responsibilities takes on new meanings in our current pandemic related crisis as citizens childishly demand their “freedom” while simultaneously abdicating any sense of responsibility to their community. The story uses the narrative to promote an ideological dialogue that can either be construed as jingoistic pro military propaganda or an ironic and sly satire that is a critique of nationalism, fascism, and authoritarianism. Who knows, it might even be both.

9. The Autobiography of Malcom X
as told to Alex Haley by Malcom X
1965, Autobiography

As a white boy growing up in the south, there was a palpable distaste for Malcom X among older white folks and good ol’ boys. He was usually portrayed in these circles as bigot who advocated violence, a villain, if you will, standing in sharp contrast to the (grudgingly) heroic nonviolent Dr. King. However, once you dig in and read his story, it is a fascinating journey of a man who went from criminal and hustler to self-educated man of God. Yes, he is a man who for a time had bigotry in his heart but overcame it though a deliberate exploration of his faith (and draws an interesting demarcation between the Black Muslim faith of The Nation of Islam versus the Sunni Muslim faith practiced by 85-90% of the world’s Muslims). He did advocate for violence, but in terms of self-defense and in defense of others (an attitude those same white good ol’ boys would normally strongly advocate). He tells his story in an almost confessional style that is keenly self-aware and illustrates that his greatest strength was that he was willing to learn and change his views while others become stuck and intractable. It’s a worthwhile read and depending on your background you may find the man was much different than hate stoked caricature presented in many circles.

8. Stranger in a Strange Land
by Robert Heinlein
1961 (original edition) and 1991 (uncut edition), Science Fiction

This Hugo award winner explores the interaction and transformation of our culture when a human being, Valentine Michael Smith, raised by Martians, comes to Earth. The deliberately provocative story is a magnificent parable with religious overtones that both serves as a series of commentaries on the human race and challenges readers to question preconceptions, assumptions and prejudice as the naïve but brilliant Smith gains fame after his escape from authorities.

7. It Can’t Happen Here
by Sinclair Lewis
1935, Fiction

The events of the last seven years have reaffirmed my belief that Lewis’ novel should be required reading in schools. His classic cautionary tale describes the rise of an American dictator. Most people want to point to Geroge Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four as a cautionary tale of totalitarianism pushing out democracy. To me, it appears to over the top since it takes place in an already existing repressive regime that had been established over the course of 45 years. Conversely, It Can’t Happen Here is about the process of a demagogue developing a deep cult of personality by entering a presidential campaign on a populist platform and promising to restore the country to prosperity and greatness. He promotes himself as the champion of the “forgotten man,” American values and patriotism while simultaneously fomenting fear. After his election, he takes control of the government via an autocoup and cements his position with a paramilitary force that terrorizes citizens and attacks demonstrators. He maintains control by having sectors managed by corporate authorities manned by prominent businessmen and dispenses with objectors in stacked kangaroo courts.

6. Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets
by David Simon
1991, True Crime

Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon spent a full calendar year shadowing Lt. Gary D’Addario’s shift of detectives in Baltimore’s Homicide Unit as they worked their portion of the 234 murder cases for 1988. Every aspect of the job is recounted from investigations, interrogations, search warrants, arrests and giving testimonies at the trials. It neither glorifies the police but neither tries to tear them down as it follows them, getting into their minds and processes of trying to catch killers. The Edgar Award winner was the basis for the NBC’s Homicide: Life on the Streets and several aspects of HBO’s The Wire.

5. Lonesome Dove
by Larry McMurtry
1985, Western

My father was a cowboy connoisseur, not the shoot ‘em ups with outlaws and lawmen spraying hot lead on dusty trails but rather the storytelling of life on the open range and rugged survival in a less hospitable time in our history. He would ask me to pick up a book at the bookstore, “It doesn’t matter the author, just make sure it’s thick with small print.” It was his measure of excellence. If it was a genuine sprawling epic, it had to be a word heavy, otherwise there were no details. I think this came as a direct result of Lonesome Dove, the story of a pair of retired Texas Rangers who decide to mount a cattle drive from Texas to Montana. Expertly plotted and littered with rich and interesting characters, the epic has an amazing depth. This Pulitzer Prize winner is the ideal western for people who don’t like westerns. McMurtry wrote a sequel, Streets of Laredo, in 1993 and two prequals Dead Man’s Walk and Comanche Moon, in 1995 and 1997. I found the sequel unreadable and the prequals were solid and respectable stories but fall far short of width and breadth of the scope of the original novel.

4. Star Trek: The Next Generation – Rock and a Hard Place
by Peter David based on the series created by Gene Roddenberry
1990, Media Tie-In/Science Fiction

I’ll confess, I’m a sucker for media tie novels. They are too frequently dismissed. Sure, many can be dreadful and only find their way into print because they have brand logo slapped on the cover that will guarantee a certain number of units will be sold. Conversely, there are some brilliant works that would be award winners if were not for the stigma of having that same brand logo slapped on the cover. My selection is probably a surprise to Star Trek fans. Many are probably thinking that if I were going to pick a Trek novel by Peter David, I would choose his New York Times bestseller, Star Trek: The Next Generation – Imzadi, which I will confess is objectively the better book. I’ll even confess there are at least a dozen other superior media-tie in novels. However, there is something about Rock that is endlessly intriguing to me. Set at the beginning of the show’s third season, Enterprise first officer Will Riker is temporarily reassigned to a terraforming colony with the dangerous mission to getting the pioneers of Starlight City back on track in the unforgiving frozen wasteland on the ironically named planet Paradise. Meanwhile, his temporary replacement, Quintin Stone, is to be assessed by Captain Picard and Counselor Troi since Stone, who was considered an up-in-coming charismatic, intelligent leader has been displaying disrespectful and possibly even psychopathic behavior. I normally hate Trek novels that have a focus on a non-regular character, but Stone is simply fascinating (so much so that David uses many of the character’s attitudes and attributes for Mackenzie Calhoun in his Star Trek: New Frontier novel series, the first series of Star Trek novels to feature an original cast not based on a specific series). David’s combination of sly humor and depth of characterization comes together to create an astonishing “guest star” who walks a line between being a hero and a villain and leaving readers wondering if he’s a brilliant thinker who just has a different and unique point of view or is he a mad man on the verge of destruction.

3. Asimov’s Guide to the Bible
by Isaac Asimov
1967 and 1969 (as two separate volumes) 1981 (single volume), Non-Fiction

While Asimov is known for his fiction, particularly the Robot, Empire and Foundation series, he was also a very prolific academic non-fiction writer as well (he was a Ph.D. and a professor in Biochemistry after all). I initially picked up the combined volume of Asimov’s Guide to the Bible after reading the fantastic, combined volume Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare (1970). It is not a critical guide and neither takes a pro nor anti-Christian position. It simply examines the text in an academic neutral analysis. It tackles the context of the words given the politics and culture of the time it was written, including occasional examinations in variations between translations and editions. I have heard both educated believers and non-believers extoll the virtues of his approach and meticulous detail as it will appeal to history, literary and theological buffs (although biblical literalists may find it off putting). It makes a great companion to his other historical and scientific tomes: Asimov’s Guide to Science, Asimov’s Chronology of Science & Discovery, and Asimov’s Chronology of the World. It’s one of those rare works where you can pick it up, open it up to almost any page and become enthralled.

2. Becoming Superman: My Journey from Poverty to Hollywood
by J. Michael Straczynski
2019, Autobiography

The autobiography by one of my favorite writers is such a powerful story that I really believe it should be required reading in high schools. Straczynski expertly weaves his story amidst the backdrop of a family mystery, which alone would be worthy of telling, that is simultaneously horrifying and inspiring. This story can inspire any kid who comes from tough circumstances that they can overcome that history (no matter the amount of physical or psychological abuse or abject poverty) to become whatever they want to be. For kids who come from better circumstances, it can illustrate to them how they should feel very fortunate, and hopefully illustrate the importance of empathy because the person next to them may be fighting a war they are unaware of or have additional obstacles that they themselves don’t have to grapple with. Straczynski is a master storyteller who broke the mold for television with his pre-planned five-year-arc style of storytelling and has written novels, comics books and feature films but the best story he ever told might possibly be his own.

1. Dune
by Frank Herbert
1965, Science Fiction

Set in the distant future, this Hugo and Nebula award winner is about the sociopolitical conflict between interplanetary fiefdoms in a decaying interstellar empire. Various planetary houses scheme and battle for control of the desolate planet of Arrakis which is the only source of the spice mélange a substance that enhances mental abilities, extends lifespans and (most importantly) is necessary for space travel. Environmental and religious allegory enhance the brilliantly layered world building by Herbert. The conduit for the story is a familiar “boy who would be king” trope, as we follow Paul Atreides (son of Duke Leto Atreides who newly installed as steward of Arrakis) and his journey from boyhood to leader. The first sequel, Dune Messiah (1969) is such a seamless extension of the original novel that it could be published with the original and no one would know the difference. However, I’ll confess as the series moves past Paul’s story on to other characters in the follow ups -- Children of Dune (1976), God Emperor of Dune (1981), Heretics of Dune (1984) and Chapterhouse: Dune (1985) -- I gradually lost interest and enthusiasm, but they are worth reading. Unfortunately, Herbert died before he could finish the series. Herbert’s son claimed to have found notes for Dune 7 and under that pretext has developed sixteen novels (mostly prequels) with more on the way, that have turned into the ultimate flogging of the carcass of a deceased equine, try as he might, he still cannot diminish the brilliance of the original.