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









May 2018
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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.

Direct download: ms-012.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm MDT

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 MDT

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. 

Direct download: ms-010.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm MDT

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
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00pm MDT

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. 

Direct download: ms-008.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00pm MDT

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. 

Direct download: ms-007.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00pm MDT

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
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00pm MDT

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. 

Direct download: ms-005.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00pm MDT

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. 

Direct download: ms-004.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00pm MDT

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
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00pm MDT