Matter Stream: Science, Creativity, and the World Inspired by Star Trek (general)









January 2020
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Media and Fandom in the 1970s.

For a global cultural phenomenon, Star Trek got off to a rocky start. The Original Series survived cancellation after just two seasons thanks in part to the efforts of fans, but the reprise brought only one more year of exploration for Kirk and his crew. The real story of Star Trek's success can be found in what happened next—reruns, The Animated Series, NASA's first Space Shuttle, and a theatrical reunion of the original cast—all in the 1970s. In this episode of Matter Stream we're joined by John Tenuto to talk his research into media coverage of Star Trek during the 1970s and the role both media and fans played in Star Trek's resurrection.

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Alec Peters and Richard Hatch talk Star Trek: Axanar.

Star Trek has inspired fans in many ways, and for creatives one of the most tantalizing paths to exploring Gene Roddenberry’s universe is through the DIY method—Do It Yourself. Without new episodes on television, fans with a background in film production, writing, and acting have developed a number of series that extend the missions of our favorite crews—and introduce us to new ones. The quality of these films has been astounding, giving us content that rivals that of television in years past.

In this episode of Matter Stream we’re joined by Propworx founder Alec Peters and Battlestar Galactica’s Richard Hatch to discuss their new film project, Star Trek: Axanar, a war story set in the Star Trek universe that brings back some familiar characters, familiar actors, and delivers many new faces as well.

Direct download: ms-021.mp3
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Dylan Nord, and AIDS Research Alliance.

In Star Trek, even the deadliest disease normally requires little more than a visit to Doctor Crusher or perhaps a night in sickbay. In the real world, we’re not so lucky. At least not yet. But organizations like the AIDS Research Alliance are working hard to make such treatment a reality. And with the help of those like LeVar Burton and, the future looks bright. In this episode of Matter Stream we’re joined by Dylan Nord of to talk about the current state of AIDS—both the disease and the search for a cure—as well as the efforts of Star Trek’s own LeVar Burton to raise awareness of and funds for research. Plus, you’ll find out how you can win lunch with LeVar and help the cause at the same time.

Direct download: ms-020.mp3
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Armin Shimerman.

For more than 30 years Armin Shimerman has delighted television audiences with appearances on everything from Hill Street Blues to Who’s the Boss? to ER. And with the premiere of Deep Space Nine he became a household name thanks to his his portrayal of Quark. Since then Armin has made numerous other appearances on television, lent his voice talents to animation and video games, and now he has a new project in the works that promises to bring together his knack for comedy with a subject we all like to explore—the end of the world. In this episode of Matter Stream we’re joined by Armin to learn about this new project—Diani & Devine Meet the Apocalypse—how he came to be involved, what we can expect from the film, and how you can support the project. 

Direct download: ms-019.mp3
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Athena Andreadis: Women in SF.

Science fiction wishes to be the genre of imaginative extrapolation, yet the portrayal of female characters remains largely traditional. Even in today’s SF, the role of protagonist remains mostly a male occupation requiring by-the-numbers quests that fall short of a story’s scientific and technology ingenuity. But the sixteen writers collected in The Other Half of the Sky aim to change that by telling engaging stories in which women have strong roles. In this episode of Matter Stream host Christopher Jones is joined by Dr. Athena Andreadis, scientist and writer who conceived of and edited this collection of original fiction, to discuss the roles of women in SF literature as well as Star Trek.

Direct download: ms-018.mp3
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Bill Kraft.

Convincing the US Postal Service to issue a stamp honoring Star Trek seemed like an easy task. After all, few things have entrenched themselves in our culture like Star Trek. But as Bill Kraft quickly found out in 1985, getting the Postal Service to even consider the subject required a near act of divine intervention. In this episode of Matter Stream we’re joined by Bill to talk about the campaign he led, the formation of the committee and their efforts, and the 14-year journey that eventually gave us the 33-cent Star Trek stamp. 

Direct download: ms-017.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm MST

Heather Chandler and Thomas Kastner of Elephant Mouse.

Star Trek Into Darkness may be pulling fans into theatres, but it isn’t the only thing capturing the eyes Trekkies this summer. Star Trek Rivals, a new card battle game from Elephant Mouse, has assimilated the screens of iOS devices worldwide. In this episode of Matter Stream Christopher Jones is joined by Elephant Mouse Senior Producer Heather Chandler and Lead Designer Thomas Kastner to talk about their studio and the game that has taken us all by storm. We’ll even get some tips and strategies from the creators themselves along the way. 

Direct download: ms-016.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm MST

Anthony Montgomery.

It’s been seven years since Enterprise left the airwaves, and since that time the cast and crew have been busy charting new courses of creativity. But few have been as active in so many areas as the man who played the NX-01’s helmsman, Anthony Montgomery. Since the end of Enterprise, Anthony has had his hand in television, movies, music, and publishing. In short, he’s been a busy man. In this episode of Matter Stream Christopher Jones is joined by Anthony to talk about his latest project, Chariot, an independent film about seven people who find themselves in the middle of a circumstance they never imagined. 

Direct download: ms-015.mp3
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Rod Roddenberry.

Few television shows foster as much in-depth discussion as Star Trek. So it’s easy to say that podcasting and Star Trek are a match made on Sha Ka Ree. There are many podcasts dedicated to this world created by Gene Roddenberry—including quite a few right here on But a new show has entered the fold, produced by the son of Gene Roddenberry himself, Rod Roddenberry.

Mission Log is a podcast produced by Roddenberry Entertainment and Nerdist Industries dedicated to examining the deeper meaning of Trek. And the mission is a daunting one. Hosted by John Champion and Ken Ray, Mission Log will cover every episode of Star Trek beginning with “The Cage” and ending with “These Are the Voyages…” 

In this episode of Matter Stream we’re joined by Rod to talk about the genesis of the show, about podcasting as a medium for discussion, and we even delve into how each series approached his father’s vision of the future.

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Titled Sketch Project.

Star Trek certainly has its serious side, and it’s this social commentary that has kept the franchise going strong for 45 years. But even Starfleet officers like to cut loose every now and then—and the same holds true for fans.

In this episode of Matter Stream we toss our serious hat aside for the night and take a light-hearted look at Trek with Dan Oster, Will Maier, and Bobby Mort of Titled Sketch Project. TSP is a comedy group featuring veteran actors from MADtv, Boom Chicago, and The Groundlings, and they join us here to talk about bringing humor to what is more often than not a very serious subject. 

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Morgan Gendel.

Despite the starships and aliens, wormholes and warp travel, Star Trek has—at its core—always been about exploring humanity. It’s this commentary on the inner workings of our world and society that have helped Gene Roddenberry’s creation endure for so many decades.

There are few episodes that better exemplify this exploration than The Next Generation’s, “The Inner Light.” This story in which Captain Picard lives out an entire life on the planet Kataan captured one of only four Hugo Awards ever won by Star Trek, and has come to be one of the most beloved episodes of all time.

In this episode of Matter Stream we’re joined by Morgan Gendel, the writer of “The Inner Light,” to talk about how the episode came to be, his inspirations, and “The Outer Light”—a continuation of the story that is being released as a graphic novel.

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Dan Madsen.

As Star Trek fans we all dream of finding ourselves right in the middle of it all—on the set, covering the biggest moments in franchise history as they happen. For Dan Madsen, that dream came true when Gene Roddenberry told Paramount that what started as a fan newsletter should become official.

When Paramount Pictures approached Dan Madsen in 1982, what had begun as a simple newsletter about Star Trek: The Motion Picture grew into one of the largest endeavors in fan history. With the backing of Gene Roddenberry himself, The Official Star Trek Fan Club was born and this newsletter evolved into the magazine that came to be known as Star Trek Communicator. It set Dan Madsen on a lifelong journey with Star Trek, and the nature of this story could not be more fitting to the core of what Star Trek represents.

In this episode of Matter Stream we’re joined by Dan to talk about this journey and what Star Trek has meant to his life. 

Direct download: ms-011.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm MST

Athena Andreadis.

The Star Trek universe is teaming with life. Everywhere our heroes travel they find aliens, mostly of the humanoid variety, yet in the real world we still know of only one place that life calls home: Earth. Our species has believed for most of its existence that we were either put here by divine beings or we are just a fluke of nature. In the past few decades, however, we’ve discovered life here on Earth in places we never expected, and now we’re discovering worlds orbiting other stars that could host life as well.

The general assumption has long been that life must have the same type of environment that we find comfortable in order to survive. Oxygen, nice temperatures, and a bit of carbon to form the basis of its biology. But as we find life in extreme environments that assumption is being challenged more and more.

In this episode of Matter Stream we’re joined by Dr. Athena Andreadis, Associate Professor of Cell Biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Andreadis is the author of the book To Seek Out New Life: The Biology of Star Trek, and today we’ll talk about the many forms that life can take here on Earth and what we might find elsewhere in the solar system and beyond. 

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John Tenuto.

Few characters have endured in the hearts of Star Trek fans like Khan Noonien Singh. And one of the primary reasons is the man who portrayed him: Ricardo Montalbán, the Mexican born actor who became one of America’s most enduring figures of radio, theatre, television, and film.

Despite making only two appearances in the franchise, Montalbán influenced Star Trek in a way few have. Yet his contributions to entertainment extend far beyond the bounds of the 23rd century. Facing many obstacles in his life, Montalbán defied the odds to become an inspiration to millions.

In this episode of Matter Stream we’re joined by John Tenuto, sociology professor at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois. This month Tenuto will be presenting three special events celebrating the life of Montalbán, the history of Star Trek fandom, and the making of Montalbán’s most famous film: The Wrath of Khan. 

Direct download: ms-009.mp3
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Dayton Ward.

Without new Star Trek on television the task of continuing the voyages has been left to Pocket Books and the many great writers who take us on literary Treks where no one has before. The weekly shows may be over—for now—but the exploration continues.

In recent years Pocket Books has been taking fans in multiple directions with unique series such as Typhon Pact and Vanguard. One of the key writers in this evolving Star Trek universe is Dayton Ward, who has penned both solo works and collaborated with other authors to continue the post-television world of the 24th century—and to add depth to the TOS era as well.

In this episode of Matter Stream we’re joined by Dayton to discuss how he became involved with Star Trek fiction, writing Trek fiction, thoughts on canon vs. non-canon, and to talk a bit about his new Original Series novel That Which Divides. 

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Craig Sheeler.

Over the years Star Trek has inspired many to produce their own take on Gene Roddenberry’s universe. Without new episodes on television, fans with a background in film production, writing, and acting have developed a number of series that extend the missions of our favorite crews—and introduce us to new ones.

Many fans are familiar with Star Trek Phase II—previously known as New Voyages—a series that continues the story of Kirk and his crew beyond the third season of TOS. But a new series in development brings an all-new crew aboard the legendary Enterprise 1701 to carry out a very important special mission. This series is called Secret Voyage.

In this episode of Matter Stream we’re joined by Craig Sheeler, executive producer and creative director of Star Trek Secret Voyage, to discuss the series, what inspired him to take on this enormous project, and what we can expect to see in the year to come. 

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Seth Shostak.

Each week seems to bring new discoveries of worlds around other stars; and not just the Hot Jupiters of the past decade but small rocky worlds that are more like Earth. We haven’t yet found our twin, but the odds of it being out there are looking better each day.

Long before we began detecting extrasolar planets, the idea that these worlds existed was commonly accepted. The idea that they were home to other civilizations became the foundation of Star Trek. As we now discover—thanks to the Kepler Space Telescope—that planets may be more plentiful than stars it seems inevitable that intelligent life has arisen out there somewhere.

In this episode of Matter Stream we’re joined by Dr. Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute to discuss if and when we might detect other life, how it is likely to happen, and how it will impact our society. 

Direct download: ms-006.mp3
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Kevin C. Neece: The Undiscovered Country Project.

Star Trek presents a humanistic view of the future, a world in which science and technology have entirely supplanted religion and spirituality—at least on Earth. At the same time a core component of Star Trek is the exploration of what it means to be human. For many the omission of the spirituality contradicts this mission. Although we see religion from time to time in Star Trek, it always comes in the form of adherence to planet-controlling computers, aliens posing as gods, or is presented as antiquated belief systems on primitive worlds. As far as Earth and humans are concerned, the stories of various faiths are referred to as “ancient mythology.” But is this a realistic view of the future?

In this episode of Matter Stream we’re joined by Kevin C. Neece, writer, speaker, and founder of The Undiscovered Country Project, an ongoing exploration of Star Trek from a Christian worldview perspective. 

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Larry Nemecek: The Con of Wrath.

Today, when someone mentions the word “convention” together with “Star Trek,” a certain image comes to mind. Record numbers of fans gathering in costume, huge productions in places like Las Vegas, and dozens of big-name stars headlining panel after panel. The conventions of today are slick productions, but it wasn’t always that way.

In this episode of Matter Stream we’re joined by renowned Star Trek historian Larry Nemecek to discuss Ultimate Fantasy 1982, his project to tell the story of one of the greatest debacles in fandom history, and what it meant for those involved and the future of conventions. 

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Athena Andreadis: 100-Year Starship Study.

When Star Trek premiered in 1966, the idea of traveling through space on a ship like the Enterprise was truly futuristic. Today, that same idea is accepted by many to be the inevitable outcome of our technological advancement. But is it really possible?

In this episode of Matter Stream we’re joined by Dr. Athena Andreadis, Associate Professor of Cell Biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Andreadis is the author of the book To Seek Out New Life: The Biology of Star Trek, and she spoke earlier this year at the 100-Year Starship Symposium.

Direct download: ms-003.mp3
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Catherine Pooley: City of Vulcan.

Vulcan may have been destroyed in the 2009 J.J. Abrams Star Trek film, but never fear—you can still visit. And the best part is that you don’t even have to leave Earth to do it!

Imagine a landscape stretching from horizon to horizon, the scenery changing unexpectedly, highlighted by breathtaking sunsets. Only it’s not quite as far away as 40 Eridani, the real-world star system that is home to Spock’s birthplace. No, this Vulcan can be found right here on Earth. In this episode of Matter Stream we hop into our shuttle and make the short trip to the Canadian Badlands to talk to Catherine Pooley, Tourism Coordinator for the Town of Vulcan and Vulcan County in Alberta. 

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Rod Roddenberry.

Imagine a world where new frontiers are discovered and explored, all children are given the chance to thrive, our environment is treasured and preserved, everybody is given a chance to prosper, disease is a thing of the past, quality education is accessible to all, and innovation and imagination are valued. These are the core ideals of Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek; but they’re more than that. They’re also the ideals that guide The Roddenberry Foundation, the non-profit philanthropic group founded by Gene’s son, Rod Roddenberry.

In this episode of Matter Stream we sit down with Rod to discuss how the Foundation came to be formed, how it works together with those dedicated to making the vision of a better world a reality, and where the Foundation is headed in the future. In addition, we also talk about the upcoming documentary Trek Nation, how Rod learned who his father really was over the course of the 10 years spent making documentary, and what he hopes fans will take away from the show. 

Direct download: ms-001.mp3
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