My worlds collide – Star Trek and the Great Rift

“Beam me up, Scotty!” That’s what I’ve been feeling I need in book II of The Great Rift Trilogy – a way to get our heroes from one faraway place to another – instantly.

While writing this new book, I’m reminded that readers need to be aware of what happened in the previous one; how Fayah was rescued from the mage’s tower, her battle with the demon-wraith where its magic was transferred to her, how our three heroes escaped the underground cavern of the dead, why they are desperate to reach the capitol city of Turien and warn the King of the impending dark army attack, etc. All this needs to be peppered into the narrative through dialogue and recollections in a way that doesn’t feel like I’m simply “telling the reader what happened previously”.

But enough is enough! I just want to get our heroes to Turien – where the real meat of the story begins – thus, a “beam me up” solution. It was here that I realized two of my creative worlds had crossed paths – Star Trek and The Great Rift Trilogy.

In Captain Picard's chair during the filming of Star Trek - Insurrection

I guess this subconscious relapse to Star Trek transportation techniques derives from a memorable span of my career spent working on visual effects for Star Trek projects: in television, The Next Generation, Deep Space 9, and Voyager, and in the feature film, Generations and Insurrection.
As we know, science fiction and fantasy genres have many similarities: they both have characters that are grounded in human emotion but are often physically or intellectually quite different. The milieus they exist in are generally fantastical, yet congruous enough to our own world that we “get it”. And the technology (be it based on science, magic, or a combination of the two) is comparable enough to our own that any point of departure is “within the realm of believability”. It seems to me that authors in both

Enterprise Bridge - the green screen before graphics are added.

genres are faced with similar problems – navigating through time and space.

In Star Trek, of course, characters are transported using the science of warp drive or the iconic “beam me up, Scotty” teleportation technology to move from destination to destination. In the fantasy genre, we solve this problem through the use of magic, magical creatures, or magical devices, such as the Scrying map used in “The Becoming”, which transported Fayah from the earthly plane to the spirit plane.

Given that I have sat in the legendary captain’s chair on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise – does this afford me the liberty to use the “beam me up” command? During the filming of a bridge scene in Star Trek – Insurrection, director Jonathon Frakes’ cast and crew broke for lunch. I

The space shuttle set where Captain Picard and Worf sing the H.M.S. Pinafore song - 'A British Tar'

had some work to do during the break, so I lingered on the set of the bridge. At one point, I looked around and noticed there was no one in the room aside from me and my co-worker – so I took the opportunity to sit in the captain’s chair and had a picture taken (unfortunately, the photo is so blurry it might as well be a shot of a Yeti sitting in the chair) – but for what it’s worth, I’ve posted it along with a couple others.

Still, there I was ‘boldly sitting where so few had sat before’, and that’s when the wow hit me. It was a moment where objectivity takes over and you realize that “this is pretty amazing”. I recognized the history behind this piece of furniture. It was an acknowledgment of the significance for fans from around the world, myself among them, who have sat spellbound and watched how the universe was saved from this very chair.

Reflecting back on that moment and the talented writers on Star Trek, I was inspired. They had solved the space and time problem any number of times and in any number of ways. Sitting up in my own “captains chair”, I decided that I could, too. However, I will stick to magic for my solutions and not beam anyone up. But then again…

Thanks for reading.


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