My Promise as a Writer

I promise to entertain you to the best my twisted little mind can manage. I will take you from the light, and into darkness. I might even let you see the sunrise at the end of the journey, but that I can't promise. My stories will sweep the hair from you brow, leave your stomach in knots, and suck the air from your lungs. But no matter how far we descend, I will offer you a fragment of hope to cling to. I will treat you to dark fantasy, science fiction, horror, and anything that falls into the strange and disturbing. Will we re-emerge into the light? Well, that is the point of taking the journey. I hope you will join me on these adventures.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


4.2 Mrs. Smith's Kindergarten class is still hard at work designing nifty aliens for Rick Berman.

Eventually, we are introduced to Species 8472. That is their Borg designation, and that is how the crew of Voyager refer to them. We never learn their true name (unless I missed that, which is entirely possible as Reason 9 will point out). Species 8472 is intent on wiping out Voyager's crew resulting from a short lived alliance between Jayneway and the Borg Queen (Species 8472 has a bit of a blood grudge with the Borg). Not once in Jayneway's attempts at negotiation did she make the effort to learn what the species prefers to be called. A Starfleet captain truly intent upon seeking peace would have been wise to learn by what name the enemy prefers. Calling them "Species 8472" throughout the series is tantamount to using Borg war propaganda. Not a wise move. What do we know about Species 8472? We know they live in fluidic space, whatever the hell that is. Wait! Fluidic space exists in another dimension, so I suppose that explains everything . . . We know the vacuum of space does not crush them into a pulpy goo since we have seen them crawling around on the external hull of Voyager. We know they are huge compared to humans, and are living, breathing tripods--the third leg seems completely unnecessary and cumbersome though they move with grace. They navigate space in bio
ships, a technology that was first introduced with the Vorlon. Their ships look the same, and the prime weapon is close enough to identical as to not matter. The Vorlon first appeared in Babylon 5 . . . Was that canonized into the Star Trek universe when I was sleeping? Our is this simply blatant plagiarism?

This new alien race had some great potential, but we know nothing else of the Vorlon/Species 8472 culture. A sad decision on the part of the producers.

Voyager's carelessness with alien races extends to cultures previously introduced in the
Star Trek Universe. In this case, I am focusing on the Borg. These cyborg terrors were first introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and were an instant hit. Granted, they are nothing more than watered down versions of Dr. Who's Cybermen, but they were fun. That is until they were found in the same shipping lanes as Voyager. Once again Rick Berman and Brannon Braga decided to forget everything they had produced in the Star Trek. When Jean Luc Picard last saw the Borg in the television series there was some definite evolution taking place. In Star Trek: First Contact he and Data put an end to the Borg Queen in a manner in which only a graphic novel could hope to resurrect her. In Voyager, however, the Borg are nothing more than drones once again, and the Borg Queen is alive and well for a miraculous return nearly two years after her gruesome death. There is no explanation given for her resurrection (unless I missed it due to Reason 9). She is simply alive and well.

When the Borg were first introduced, they referred to themselves in the plural, "we," and, "our." Never did they use the singular until later episodes of The Next Generation, and only by those drones who had managed to disconnect themselves from the Borg Collective. (The exception being Locutus.) Voyager ignored this aspect in regards to their intended lack of personality. I suspect this is due to the writers viewing the constant use of the plural as cumbersome. Under the care of the Voyager team, the Borg are not a species to be feared. Rather, they are a joke filled with inconsistencies.

The one thing Voyager did right when it came to the Borg was in casting the queen. The actor portraying the Borg Queen in the television series, Susanna Thompson, looks so much like Alice Krige from First Contact that it is almost impossible to tell them apart.

In all fairness, I have to admit creature design is a difficult job that challenges even the seasoned artist. I would also be foolish not to mention the problems in alien design did not begin with Voyager. The problem began with The Original Series where we are introduced to mind controlling rubber dog poop aliens, a rock tunneling alien that appears to be a steaming pile of dinosaur skat, and aliens that are nothing more than light shinned through a kaleidescope. Though many fans laugh at the silliness of these creatures, we still give them a free pass for any number of reasons: 1) Technology, 2) Budget, 3) A less sophisticated audience. We expect more from our television shows now more than ever (take a look at the success of Lost.)

The Next Generation also proudly displays its own collection of poorly conceptualized space aliens. Though I am beginning to like the tar monster from the first season, found in the episode Skin of Evil, I have to admit it looks more silly than menacing when taking on a humanoid appearance. The Next Generation had some of the same problems as The Original Series when it came to budget and technology, despite great advances in both issues. It is because of these advances that the aliens Picard encounters are viewed with a more critical eye.

The technology was there to support a limited budget by the time Deep Space Nine and Voyager aired. Adding this to the years of creative experience leading up to Voyager tends to leave an audience with high expectations--an expectation to see fewer cheesy aliens rather than more in this case. Unfortunately, (and this pains me to say so) Enterprise followed suite with erecting its own Cheese Factory for producing aliens. (I may get to that in more depth at some point in years to come.) This glance at Voyager's alien cultures was nearly cut from the blog series, but ultimately retained since it is indicative of the sloppiness plaguing what could have been a fantastic series.

Reason 1
Reason 2 (Part 1)
Reason 2 (Part 2)
Reason 3
Reason 4 (Part 1)
Reason 5
Reason 6
Reason 7
Reason 8
Reason 9
Reason 10
Reason 11

Related Links:
Wired: Star Trek's 10 Cheesiest Classic Creatures
Delta Quadrant Alien Database

Shadows Beyond the Flames
J. M. Tresaugue Books


  1. Blerk, wrote an incredibly insightful comment and the Internet ate it.

    So anyway...

    The Borg was strongest pre-Locutus and before the Borg Queen. To me the idea of a mindless collective was the most alien threat the rugged individualism of the Federation could conceive of. When the Borg became all romanced with individuality, they lost some of their intense horror. I think by the time Voyager came along, it was open season on the Borg.

    Now you know I love Seven. I was fascinated by her Stockholm syndrome, her loyalty towards the Borg, her ambivalence towards her humanity, her repressed memories. The "childlike" automoton was wearing a leeetle thin by the time Seven came along, but still, I think that the Borg lent excitement and pace to the series, as well as fully teasing out many of the issues of who the Federation are as colonialists and interlopers.

    8472 could have been so much better. I think someone came up with a really great, simple concept: an alien that frightens the Borg. But then they couldn't actually conceive of such a creature. File that under "the world would be better if I was the boss of it". I mean really, any alien that chooses to take on the form of Boothby? I mean for crying out loud...

    1. I would honestly give Voyager a free pass on the Borg if the series was not already a collection facility for junk. There is the continuity argument, but honestly with over 700 hours of Star Trek there comes a point when continuity is practically impossible. But you are right. The Borg were more terrifying before Locutus. The following episodes in TNG provided for some good moral bantering, but otherwise we knew what to expect. "We can't beat the Borg!" 40 minutes later "We beat the Borg!" Once I'd have enjoyed seeing Picard or Janeway losing his/her shirt to the Borg (I'm talking in a drastic way beyond assimilation since we all know Beverly can fix that little issue.) Perhaps the worst of the Borg episodes in the one in which Janeway, Torres, and Tuvok assimilate themselves to perform a bit of espionage. A good idea, but handled poorly.

      I have never been a fan of Seven, but the way you defend her, well I'd be a fool not to keep your comments in mind the next time I watch Voyager.

      I agree with you completely on 8472. Boothby. . . How did that alien meeting go down? Did some alien actually raise his hand-tentacle-thing and beg to be the gardener? I was honestly excited when I learned there was a species the Borg feared. What a let down.