Fan Highlight Interview with Amy @LirbesOlerybes

Hi Amy!
Thanks for agreeing to do the interview, I’m sure people will love the chance to get to know you better.
How did you get into Star Trek?

I have a funny story about my first contact with Star Trek. Our old television sometimes caught signals from another station and I remember seeing a man in yellow and a man in blue with pointy ears and they were running around some rocks, shooting at someone. Later I learned that their names was Pike and Spock. I believe I must have been early teens.

I did watch Star Trek: The original series (not the whole) later, but I first really got into Star Trek with the movies and then it just exploded with Star Trek Discovery. DISCO was really home for me.

That’s great! I watched Star Trek as a child, myself, but then really got back into it when I found Discovery.
I love seeing your cosplays on Twitter, how did you get into cosplay and, do you have a favorite?

Oh, that’s great! Yeah, DISCO really got me into Star Trek BIG TIME! It’s really been a show that hits a deeper nerve in me.

Awww, thank you, that is very kind of you! I still think of myself as a beginner in the cosplay game, but it’s a huge joy in my life!

It was actually my husband who got me into cosplaying in a way. I grew up in a very conservative place and the only fantasy litterateur I read was 3 novels about 3 female warriors.

When I was 15-16, I started to watch action movies, which became my favorite genre and still are. It was first when I met my husband that he introduced me to Star Wars, Harry Potter and most importantly: Lord of the Rings.

I fell totally in love and my wedding dress was maybe my first step towards cosplaying, because I wanted a dress that resembled Galadriel’s. From that point I started to buy handcrafted products and clothes.

My first real cosplay and “public appearance” was for the premiere of the last of The Hobbit movies, and “of course” I went as an elf. And until the pandemic I had quite an amount of visits to the cinema in cosplays.

But you ask if I have favorite. I think I’ll always be in love with my elven cosplays. It’s really something special about the ears and the dresses, but I have also Loki, and he is a favorite of character. But then you have Elnor, from Star Trek Picard and his clothes are really comfortable and cool, so… it’s hard to pick!

I love LOTR! I don’t think I have ever seen you cosplay that. That’s exciting!
I’m really looking forward to Loki’s show coming out this summer, have you been keeping up with the Marvel shows?

You do? That is so awesome! I can’t get enough of LOTR. I randomly post elven cosplay, but it’s been a long time since I actually wore one.

Oh, yes, I try my best to keep up with the Marvel shows! I really, really enjoyed WandaVision and I hope TFATWS will be a hit as well. Can’t wait for Loki tho, that’s my bi expectation together with Doctor Strange’s movie – argh all the waiting!

I’m watching all the Marvel movies with my daughter at the moment, she wanted to watch them. Just finished Iron Man, so it’s not a fast watch!

That’s great!
So, last question, what upcoming Star Trek show are you most hyped for?

Oh… I’m a bit sad they shifted to their own platform, because I can’t follow – we already have way too many different platforms and, yeah. So I don’t know if I’ll be able to watch the new shows… But I’m very very excited for Strange New Worlds! Love Ethan Peck’s Spock, so …

Thank you so much for doing the interview!

And Thank you so much for asking me! It was really fun to share with you 🙂

The Joy of Star Trek

Guest blog by Sarah-Louise Thomas

(Twitter: @shropsarah)

I’ve been wanting to share my joy for the Star Trek universe and the influence that it’s had on my life for quite a while. It’s taken me a long time to decide where to start. But then I thought, how about at the beginning?

Some of my earliest memories are of watching Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns on BBC2 sometime in the early 2000s on BBC2. It was always on after dinner at 6pm. I used to feel such an anticipation as the opening scenes began, awaiting the famous theme-tune of the classic 80s sci-fi credits to roll on.

As a geeky eight year old, it all felt so aspirational. The technology they had at their fingertips, the fact every crew members wanted to do good in one form or another, the hope and kindness winning over the evil and darkness. The characters were all so smart, strong and empathetic. Of course, through a fully fledged adult’s lens I now see some questionable themes and stereotypes that I may go into further on another blog, but innocent mini-me only saw joy and love.

I was a typical nerd who felt more comfortable having a conversation about cooking with adults than socially engaging eye-to-eye with my peers, so in many ways I saw myself in Star Trek. I was nervous, academic and much preferred to make believe than face the real world. I might not want to admit it, but you could consider me a classic case of Reginald Barclay. Even the quirkiest of character, such as Reg, despite being dubbed ‘Mr Broccli’ by the less forgiving Wesley Crusher (you weren’t exactly a social butterfly, sir) was not only accepted, but welcomed into the inner bosom of the crew with open arms. This type of acceptance and understanding of my weird ways was everything I hoped to received when I was a grown up.

Fast forward from the baptism of joy that was BBC2’s reruns, to the next Christmas. My parents and Uncle Martin quickly became clued up to my sci-fi obsession and wholeheartedly approved, buying me my first Star Trek: The Next Generation DVD box sets. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, and these box sets are still some of my dearest positions 20 years on.

I’m not sure how much depth I’ll go into on individual Star Trek episode in the future, but it seems fitting to recount my experiences of the pilot two-parter “Encounter at Farpoint2. Now, I want you all to bear in mind that I’m certainly not a critic, and many of my initial impressed were skewed by the fact I was a starry-eyed child…

Grumpy, bored, omnipotent alien Q decided to come along and put the previously aggressive and war-torn humanity on trial. What we found throughout this episode was that despite the horrendous past that these 24th century humans had faced (which is looking more and more like our future), our society had actually progressed and improved. You’ve got to remember at this point, mini-me was terrified of everything. The world was scary. People were scary. Bad things happened. I was acutely aware of everything always. It was tiring. So watching a future utopian version of ourselves was actually a very cathartic and relieving piece of hope that my anxious self needed at this point. And if I’m honest, it’s something I need more and more as I develop into a cynical adult too!

Then I come onto the biggest happy-hope-joy bringer of them all. The fact that the humans work out that the station is in fact a strange morphing alien, and choose to save the strange space jelly fish over ignoring the inhumanity and moving on to their actual mission. As an adult, I see some flaws with the pink and blue space octopus couple. But, as a child, all I saw was the humans choosing the welfare of another creature that they couldn’t even relate to over themselves. This was everything that I wanted (and still want) humanity to be. Intelligent enough to problem-solve the strange occurrences happening at the station, curious enough to investigate them and compassionate enough to act on anything that doesn’t meet our moral or ethical codes at humans. What more could you hope for?

I certainly think this is one of the reasons I followed a career path in charity. I want to work in a way that demonstrates an empathy for others, both human and animal. I want to make a positive difference, whether it is on a small individual basis through working with volunteers or in a larger, more general way by my life choices. I’ve been guided by the principles that Star Trek has taught me. Hard work, honesty, working together as a team, empathy and a shared goal to explore and do good. All of these are my learnings from a childhood on a diet of sci-fi. Along with the occasional cooking programme, too. But that discussion is for another time…

Guest blogs represent the views of the guest blogger.

Star Trek and Autism: Representation on the Spectrum

Guest post by Robert Vaux

(Twitter: @rvaux16)

From its inception, Star Trek has featured characters who deeply resonate with the Autistic community…starting with Mr. Spock and including every series in the franchise thus produced. But it’s Data (Brent Spiner), the self-aware android who struggled with his humanity, who might be the more prominent. He became a touchstone for Autistic viewers just as understanding about Autism was filtering into the public view. The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) added Autism and Asperger’s to their manual in 1994, the same year The Next Generation came to an end. In the seven years previous, a lot of people on the spectrum turned to Data to express their truth.
The similarities have since been widely discussed in the ND (neurodivergent) community. The character paired extreme intelligence with a detached bafflement at social situations. His skills were astonishing when on the job, but off-duty, he often struggled with interactions that his crewmates took for granted. He felt no emotions and his face remained a blank mask most of the time. And yet he routinely demonstrated ironclad ethics, selflessness and compassion, along with an absolute devotion to duty that only an artificial being could muster. His circle of friends was comparatively small, but fiercely loyal, and for a figure so supposedly clinical, he demonstrated creative thinking and leaps of imagination that could surprise everyone… including himself.
The ND community might have found one or two things to identify with in there. Data’s comparatively unique status in the Federation further endeared him to people on the spectrum, who often feel alone or ostracized within their neurotypical social circle. Almost every other character in TNG came from an existing race or culture that held intrinsic meaning for them. Even Worf, alone in Starfleet, still had his fellow Klingons and their history to turn to. Data, on the other hand, was singular. (Okay, he had an evil twin. But the principle holds; besides which, Lore clearly isn’t ready for a healthy sibling relationship.) He existed in a world with no peers and no common past: seeking knowledge and wisdom without the benefit of “belonging” to guide him.
In the days before the Internet – and indeed before Autism was acknowledged or properly diagnosed – such feelings were far from uncommon. People on the spectrum were simply “odd” or “weird,” or misdiagnosed with any of a dozen alphabet-soup comorbidities that never quite made sense. Data made a perfect fit for anyone who felt like they stood out just for being themselves.
In addition, his inner peace and self-awareness provided an ideal to strive for. Data knew who he was and accepted who he was without recrimination. His efforts remained unclouded by the self-doubt or insecurities that so many people on the spectrum struggle with. And all despite the fact that he understood no more about the purpose to his existence than his human colleagues. He questioned without getting any easy answers. He learned, and even developed quirks and hobbies. He tried new means of expression, including acting, painting and (very bad) poetry. He discovered the ability to dream and even found his own emotions eventually. The show’s seven-year-run provided ample opportunity to chart his development, and took good advantage of it. 
Most importantly, Data grew and evolved without ever changing the traits that Autistics identify with so much. They weren’t flaws for him to overcome or challenges to resolve. They were part of who he was and remained with him throughout the series. To change them – to even want to – went against his fundamental nature.
The final truth about Data’s appeal to the ND community lies as much in the franchise itself as the character. Star Trek helped pioneer in the notion of a shared universe, with an intricacy and level of detail that held an innate appeal to those on the spectrum. Indeed, fan devotion famously helped feed the Trek phenomenon throughout its history: filling in the details of the comparatively modest original series through fan fiction and similar expressions long before such practices were common.
Beyond that, there’s a deeper and simpler appeal for the community, especially when it comes to this character. Data was loved and accepted on the Enterprise. His friends celebrated him for who he was and didn’t look down on him when he appeared confused or awkward. They treated seemingly simple questions with patience and understanding. (“What is the definition of life?” he asks Dr. Crusher in one episode. Beverly suggests that he take a seat.) In short, they let Data be Data: part of Trek’s underlying ethos of diversity as strength exemplified in a figure who became one of the franchise’s most enduring icons.
It was a part of the vision the show offered: a world where everyone was valued for who they were. Data – and by extension those on the spectrum who identified with him – belonged there, not despite his uniqueness, but because of it.

You can follow Robert Vaux on Twitter @rvaux16. He also has a Rotten Tomatoes page.

Guest blogs represent the views of the guest blogger.

Star Trek Represents Hope

⁦‪Guest blog by Craig McKenzie

(Twitter @Nemesis4909 and @KneelBeforeBlog)
Kneel Before Blog

Star Trek has been a big part of my life as long as I can remember. From a young age I was indoctrinated into the franchise by family through prolonged exposure in early life. As time went on, I developed my own appreciation and my fandom evolved along lines that would make it personal to me. 

Many fans can talk about how Star Trek has brought them comfort during times of their life where they felt sad, overwhelmed, isolated and any other less than positive feelings. That has certainly been the case for me, however, it has also been there through the best times of my life. No matter what is going on in my life, there is a Star Trek episode or film that will compliment it. I’ll always be grateful that the franchise exists and it will always be there when I need it.

It’s impossible to boil down something so personally influential to a single episode, event or character, but I did recently have something stand out to me as a great example of how the franchise makes me feel. It’s a moment right at the end of the Enterprise season four episode “United” where Archer, Shran and the Tellarite Gral are in Enterprise’s conference room discussing the recent escape of the Romulan ship. Earlier in the episode, Archer managed to bring together Vulcan, Tellarite and Andorian resources to hunt down the Romulan ship. It’s the first chronological example of cross-species cooperation in pursuit of a common goal and the experience proves to be inspiring for all present. Up until this point, the Andorians and Tellarites had been constantly antagonistic towards one another but the success achieved from working together changes that mindset for them in this moment.

Gral is the one to offer that they have more to discuss than trade disputes and Archer replies with “Why wait until we get to Babel?” The camera pans out of the conference room to show Enterprise surrounded by vessels belonging to the other races. Enterprise was often criticised for being of poor quality, but in its final season it really turned things around and concentrated on being a true prequel. To me, this moment exemplified fundamental aspects of the franchise and sent a strong message about overcoming differences in the spirit of cooperation. The moment was earned, because of the focus on highlighting the conflicts at play to make it all the more satisfying when those differences were tossed aside in favour of starting to communicate.

The franchise is full of similar moments where people of different backgrounds realise that there is strength in working together rather than wasting energy concentrating on what divides them. It’s a consistently inspirational message and the wealth of content promoting it only serves to highlight how important that is. The “United” example resonates so powerfully with me because it is framed as an epic moment that is the first true step towards the Federation. Out of conflict comes cooperation and everyone in that room recognises the value that the others bring. It’s relatively understated as well, with only a few words spoken to get the point across. It speaks for itself and the legacy it leaves behind is immediately obvious to those watching.

For me, Star Trek represents hope. It’s hope for a better future, hope that we can unite as a species to build an inclusive society devoted to constant improvement, hope that people can be fully accepting of the wonderful variety that others have to offer and hope that there is light to be found in the darkest circumstances. The franchise tells us that we all have to take responsibility for creating that hope and if my exposure to it has made me a better person, its importance cannot be overstated.

Guest blogs represent the views of the guest blogger.

“I will remember to expect nothing…even from this espresso. Espresso – I release you.”

Silvia Tilly may have released espresso but I never will. If there is one thing in life you should be able to count on, it’s espresso, or even just coffee in general.

But she probably had a point about expecting nothing.

One of the most difficult things in fandom is the disconnect between what we hope and dream about for a series, and the reality of what we are given on screen. Everyone has an idea, or “head canon” as we sometimes call it. Some are great ideas, well-crafted story telling, some are just fun, half-baked whimsy, but in the end we all get the same product. A story that came from the professionals who are entrusted with the franchise we love.

Theories are fun to discuss and debate, but at what point do they become harmful? Is it possible to become so attached to a theory that we’re unable to enjoy a story that doesn’t fulfil that dream? But on the flip side of that same coin, aren’t theories the very thing that makes serialized story telling fun? Exchanging theories with fellow fans is one of the staples of fandom as we know it.

But that leads to another question. Is the internet polarizing fandoms the same way it seems to polarize every aspect of our lives? This tool that allows us to connect with so many like-minded fans is double edged sword. After years of enjoying science fiction in a solitary way, finding online fandom has been a very joyful and engaging experience for me. But it’s not without its frustration.

There is pressure to fit in and align with others. Even a pressure toward consistency. It can be difficult to offer even minor criticism about a franchise that you actively support or even defend in a public space. There is a fear, I feel at times, that anything but unquestioning loyalty and support may be labeled as “anti” or “negative.”

Places like Twitter are not known for the ability to parse nuance. It’s easier just to ignore things you may not like and focus on the positive. But again, that may be due to the polarization effect and the fear of being perceived, albeit incorrectly, as a member of the opposition group.

The ability to share our theories with the world, get backed up by fellow fans and form an echo chamber around ourselves can be deceptive and might set us up for disappointment when our dreams don’t become reality.

Technology shapes our experiences in multiple ways.

Is our ability to engage with media changing in an environment where we are able to consume entire multi-year series in a matter of weeks? In times past, people waited years for sequels and followed television series with thirty episodes per season without any discernable arc. And they were happy about. Dare I say, grateful even.

In a world where we are surrounded by instant gratification, the temptation to produce a theory ourselves to answer the questions and mysteries a story presents is very strong. We aren’t used to having to wait for answers.

Which brings us back to Tilly.

Can we release our beloved franchise from the expectations of canon, tradition, and our own theories and just let it be what it is, and even love it for it?

I hope I can. If I’m disappointed I’ll grab an espresso, it will never let me down.