Book Review: Dragonflight

I usually post my book reviews over on Life for Beginners, but since this is solidly science fiction, I thought I would share it here too.

City Borg on the Prairie


Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey is the first novel written in the series relating to the planet of Pern, written in 1968, but I did not realise that it is quite far along in the Pern chronology.

I chose to read it firstly because it was at the top of my fiction pile, secondly because I read a book by Anne McCaffrey years ago, Black Horses for the King, which I enjoyed, and finally because I am still in the mood for a little bit of fantasy-flavoured escapism.

It was quite different from Pawn of Prophecy which I read last – the writing is far more complex, the language somewhat archaic in places which adds weight to its medieval feel, and the topics more adult-oriented, and the world of Pern was somehow much more solid and easier to envisage, and of course, dragons (top feature – who could resist?).


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The Nagus

The Nagus is the first episode which features Ferengi culture in a big way, introducing us to Grand Nagus Zek, the overall leader of the Ferengi people who embodies everything that the Ferengis value – principally, greed and business acumen, so Capitalism personified, if you like, and Quark seems to worship him.


I really can’t stand Zek as a character although I do like the actor, Wallace Shawn – Vizzini from The Princess Bride. I’m sure he is meant to convey some important truths, beyond being a foil for Quark’s character, but he’s just way too annoying for me to notice. Plus I know there is a reference to the Godfather films, but I just don’t get it as I have never seen them. If anybody cares to explain why the Godfather is so popular, feel free. It’s not really on my radar. The nearest I come to watching gangster movies is Bugsy Malone.

Quark’s character development is interesting, as is Rom’s, who reveals himself to be far more devious than his brother had imagined, which thoroughly impresses Quark even though it nearly kills him!

The other interesting development, the sub-plot, is Jake’s friendship with Nog, and the way that Jake and Sisko’s relationship – even at this early juncture – is beginning to grow and change as Jake gets older and starts making his own choices.

I remember my middle son being horrified by Sisko’s apparent racism against Nog, not wanting Jake and Nog to be friends (not to mention the Bajorans’ continued racism against all Cardassians, amongst other examples), but drawing attention to racism and busting race and gender stereotypes is something that Star Trek has always done well. At least until JJ, but that’s another story.

I liked that, when Sisko asks Jadzia for parenting advice, she says “I’ve been a mother three times and a father twice,” but then admits that she was never really very good at it from either side. But then Sisko still takes her advice and chases after Jake to find out why he wasn’t at dinner!

While I was looking for different opinions on this episode, I found this interesting post:

But then I went off on a bit of a rabbit-trail, totally unrelated to DS9, to investigate the origin and meaning of the poster’s username, Andraste.


It turns out that Andraste was the Roman name of a Celtic goddess, Andred, invoked by the legendary Boudicca of the Iceni in her fight against the Romans in Britain, her name thought to mean ‘invincible’ in the Celtic tongue, and cognate with the Roman goddesses Andarte/ Andarta, Victoria and others.


In addition, Andraste is the name of a band from Manchester,
who describe themselves as being “Purveyors of Finest Folk Metal” (my favourite kind!)
Check them out on Soundcloud. I really liked their sound until the singing started. Sorry. Nice flute.


Finally, Andraste is also a character in the videogame DragonAge, which I’m guessing is from whence the poster took the name.

I haven’t really investigated video games very much at all – I’m just a bit too old to have caught it when it all got good. It was all still Commodores and Spectrums, Pacman and Space Invaders when I was young enough to have disposable income and time to spend on such things. But now all my kids are teenagers themselves, I might have another chance to explore. Hit me up with suggestions of good ones to start with!


Film Review: The Machine

I wanted to re-post this here as it is obviously a science fiction film. I’m not sure why I liked the film so much as it was really quite dark and creepy! Enjoy! LLAP. (Warning in case you haven’t seen in – contains Spoilers!)

City Borg on the Prairie

I spent half an hour this morning writing a post about this fascinating film, and the internet ate my post. Ugh. So anyway, you can find the basic plot on Wikipedia.

Here are my condensed thoughts. Warning! Spoilers!

Netflix has this as a ‘G’ it is NOT a G or PG, it has some really brutal, bloody scenes.

Now, I know I keep saying I’m not a feminist, but I saw this from a totally feminist perspective and that’s one of the things that made it so fascinating.

It seems to me that Machine and the Cyborgs could be seen to represent a ‘new world, and perhaps the female world whereas everyone else represents the ‘old world’ of patriarchy.

One of the scenes that I couldn’t understand to begin with is Suri killing a guard in a horrible scene where he is dowsed in petrol and set alight. But after…

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A Man Alone

An old enemy of Odo’s, Ibudan – a notorious smuggler with a mercenary attitude, no friend of the Cardassians, but no true friend of his fellow Bajorans either – appears to have been murdered, and everything seems to point to Odo as the murderer. Only Odo, misunderstood and standing alone as a Shapeshifter, different from everyone around him, can prove his innocence.

“You don’t know me. You have no reason to believe that I wouldn’t kill Ibudan if it suited my fancy. So don’t tell me there isn’t some doubt inside of you, some question about whether or not I murdered the man.” – Odo to Sisko


We’re also re-introduced to Keiko and Molly O’Brien, Quark’s brother Rom and his son Nog in this episode.

I immediately identify with Odo in this episode – a man cut off from his own people, unable to find his tribe, only awkwardly fitting in with his surroundings.

Of course I have never been accused of murder, never been framed for murder (although I have been accused of things I didn’t do, on more than one occasion). But for some reason I have always been a loner. Not on purpose, not at all. but somehow I always seem to be at variance with those I find myself in company with. As a child, I always seemed to be on the fringe, the outskirts of the cool crowd. As a teenager, I found the geeky group, but that only lasted until the end of school. As soon as I moved into the world of work, I was back on the outskirts again.

To be fair, I’m not sure that my geekiness is to blame. But I am awkward and gauche. I even considered at one time that I would make the perfect, archetypal (although female) vicar. I could just see myself in a parish, slightly confused, slightly out-of-touch and distracted. 🙂

[Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple: Murder at the Vicarage]

I see myself as well in Keiko as she is arguing with Miles about being brought to the middle of nowhere, feeling that she has no sense of purpose, that her expertise is being wasted, If only it were as simple as opening a school on the station. Of course, in a sense, I did just that when we were back in Federation Territory, homeschooling my kids from 1999. But now here at the Wormhole, my youngest is 12 and I’m right at the end of the life of the station school. Jadzia and Quark are even considering going into state school for the last year or two, Dr Bashir having gone in to sixth form to complete his GCSEs a couple of years ago.

I’m in my 40s now, but I still haven’t quite figured out what I want to do with my life. I bummed around as a secretary in London until I had children (a very well paid secretary though, I remember – I was getting £14 per hour 20 years ago) and since then I have been bumming around at home, teaching them. It’s been fun, but hard, and without reward other than satisfaction.

So now I’m poor, and although not without ambition, it’s a bit of a challenge to start a career from scratch in your 40s, especially when you don’t really know what you want to do. Policing? Botany? Starship Captaincy? Actually, I’m interested in everything, which made me perfect for teaching homeschool. Do I have to pick one?


Past Prologue


This episode introduces the character of Elim Garak, one of my favourite DS9 personalities, with all his complexity and ‘layers’, as Shrek (or was it Donkey?) might say, and brings back the Duras sisters Lursa and Betor, with both Dr Bashir and Kira Nerys needing to decide which side they are on. (Also a nice early appearance of Vaughn Armstong – Admiral Forrest from Enterprise – as Gul Danar.)

I was reading through the transcript of Past Prologue (and watching again), and wondering who on earth I might have seen as Tahna Los or the Kohn-Ma back in 2006-8 when I wrote the original blog on Open Diary.

The Cardassians are the big bad enemy, and they’re easy to cast – the government (you might also see me refer to it as the ‘Babylon system’), politicians, or organised religion, in short authorities and authoritarians of all kinds.

In general, I would tend to side with the rebels and the Maquis, but the ‘splinter group’, Kohn-Ma, seemed to be something else. They’re not just fighting for the freedom of Bajor, they’re fighting for the sake of fighting, killing Cardassians because they’re Cardassians even after the occupation is over. Kira works hard to offer the rebels forgiveness (amnesty) and repatriation, even going about Sisko’s head to accomplish it.

So where is the line between lawful rebellion and terrorism? Well the obvious feature is attacking civilians. Terrorists tend to view civilians as legitimate targets, saying there *are* no civilians. Tahna Los didn’t care who got hurt in pursuit of his goal.

I can’t see any obvious parallels between the Kohn-Ma and my life., and I can’t really see anybody who quite fits the character of Tahna Los But there is an additional theme in Past Prologue – that of deception and betrayal, and sadly that is something I do know quite a bit about.

Ultimately, Tahna Los and the Kohn Ma double-cross Kira, having no intention of renouncing terrorism, and having no interest in repatriation, and he bare-face lies in Kira’s face.

One of the reasons we relocated to the Wormhole was a series of friendships in a group that went very sour, with a lot of lies told, and levels upon levels of deception and prevarication, to the extent that my family’s safety was threatened, with a couple of the worst offenders displaying characteristics of seriously damaged people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

But there was one betrayal in amongst all of this which far outweighed any other, that of my best friend, the one person I though I could trust, and so I know that, when I originally wrote about it, I would have been angry and bitter and vengeful. Perhaps I would have cast her as Tahna Los. But now I don’t feel any of that, except in the occasional emotional echo. I just feel sad about the loss of a friend.



Leonard Nimoy – 1931-2015

I wanted to make mention of the fact that today (14th December) would have been my Dad’s birthday. For various reasons, I don’t have many photos of him (you might say that they mostly all perished on the USS Saratoga at Wolf 359).

If I had photos of him, I probably still wouldn’t post them, as I can’t ask his permission. (If I asked my mum or my brother’s permission, I suspect they would refuse anyway.) I know of course that people do this all the time (especially of their kids) but I don’t like it at all. I haven’t appreciated people taking photos and posting photos of me without my permission, and I would never do it of anybody else. (At least no-one who isn’t a celebrity, already in the public domain.)

But as you know, my Dad bore a passing resemblance to Leonard Nimoy – also of blessed memory – (at least enough for me to believe as a child that he starred in Star Trek The Original Series) and an interesting thing links them even further in my mind and memory: when my Dad died, my children did not cry. Perhaps they were too young, too unaccustomed with death, too numbed from months and months of hospital visits. But when Leonard Nimoy died earlier this year, it was such a shock that we all cried long and hard, many times. It was as though the floodgates of all our pent-up emotion opened and we could contain the grief no more.

Spock wasn’t my Dad’s only Trek connection. one of the last things he said before he went into his final sleep was quoting Scotty: “You cannae change the laws of physics!” I can’t recall now what prompted him to say it. But after months and months of misery, it was the first, and last, time I saw him smile. It’s quite a nice memory to keep of him.

I chose the photo above of Leonard Nimoy – to represent my Dad _ after all, this blog is all about Star Trek as a metaphor representing aspects of real life – because he is smiling so happily. I try not to think too much about the way my Dad suffered in his final months, as it does me no good to dwell on it. I try to remember the times he was most contented.

p.s. I know ‘Yahrzeit’ is supposed to be a memorial of the anniversary of a person’s death rather than their birth, but hey. Rules are meant to be broken occasionally.

Archive: Star Trek Personality Quiz

This fun quiz was originally on the BBC website, when quizzes about anything and everything were all the rage a few years ago. it’s not there anymore, so this is copied directly from my old blog.

I’m just posting for nostalgia’s sake, and to practice! (I hope it works! Please bear with me.)

By the way, can anyone tell me why the animated gif below isn’t … animating?


Engineering’s your spiritual home.

Sound technical thinking throughout, officer.

A dazzling Starfleet career awaits you once you don the yellow shirt.

Now, if you could just work on those social skills a bit more…”

From the BBC Star Trek Quiz page