I’ll be the first to admit that I am among those who have long mocked the tendency of Star Trek to travel down the “Aliens have ridges - with occasional ruffles” highway, especially when compared to SF programs like Farscape or Babylon 5, whose producers displayed an imagination parallel to few others when it came to depicting alien races on the small screen.
Hell, even the original Trek, back in the 1960s, had more imagination than the reincarnated show dared allow itself once it emerged in 1987. Then, of course, there are the aliens (sigh) on the still under-appreciated animated Star Trek series.
I’d have been happy just to see a Dalek or two, trundling down the corridors of the Enterprise, just to get away from those damn ridges featured so prominently on so many alien faces.
And no, I don’t believe it was due to a lack of money. For a long time, like others, I held to the belief that it was simply laziness on the part of the producers. But what if it wasn’t?
What if they were trying, albeit in a way too subtle to be picked up by the audience, to send a message:
Earth people are the sexiest people in the galaxy.
No ridges on the ends of their noses.
No ridges on their chins.
No deep slashes on their faces.
No ridges or ruffles on their foreheads.
No, Paranoid Reader, no blemishes at all. Skin as smooth as . . .
Note what happens when so many aliens transport to the Enterprise, and they - usually men - look upon the first woman they see. It’s love, baby. True love.
Forget the war waging on the planet below.
Forget the trade mission.
Forget the approaching wave of super-heated particles of Galactic Anal Retentiveness, which threaten to sweep over the entire galaxy and make everyone really, really boring.
Sometimes it’s guys, but all too often it happens to be women. In fact, the transporter room occasionally just seems to be some sort of interstellar singles bar, given the fact that so many people unrelated to the mission-at-hand seem to be hanging out in the transporter room at any particular time.
And they have a point, after all; who among us isn’t crazy over earth people?
Klingons used to be sexy
Before they were ridgified and had all their sense of humor sucked out of them, a case could be made that the 1960s Klingons were pretty cool, too.
Swarthy, bearded (well, not the women) and prone to toss a witty line your way as they were knifing you in the gut, they were the bad boys of the galaxy.
Now, of course, they are pretentious, fight all the time, whine about honor, and listen to opera.
Did I mention that they whine a lot?
A Passion for Books
This book is for those of us who ever wondered if they were alone in their addiction to book collecting - and for those who love them but think they are quite mad. A Passion for Books, edited by Harold Rabinowitz and Rob is the definitive word on the efforts throughout the centuries, of those collectors who did so for their own enjoyment, but also for the preservation and spread of knowledge.
Some famous (and infamous) book collectors have been certifiably insane; one man married a woman for her sizable dowery alone, so that he could continue to buy books. Others have stolen books from the libraries of competitors, while one man collected so many books that he was reduced to sleeping in the hallway, because there was no room left in his bedroom. He moved to his brother’s house, where the books took over that home as well.
Some collectors read voraciously, while others never seemed to have cracked open the pages of the books in their possession. Now, as then, some collect not for the pleasure of having a thing, but for financial speculation.
Included in this work are the inevitable lists compiled of the “best” books, or lists of those which no educated person should leave untouched. Such lists are always suspect, although I believe that they serve as an excellent guide for those hoping to expand their world views.
Some have risked their lives to preserve knowledge. There is a dramatic story of two young men in Nazi occupied territory, helping to rescue Jewish works, after the Nazis had decreed that the Jews must turn over all of their books, so that they could be destroyed. While minor compared to other Nazi atrocities, this act served to further demoralize an already oppressed people.
Those who work on newspapers will enjoy the stories about the printing of the first Bibles, many rife with spelling errors. “Thou shalt commit adultery,” is just one of the amusing errors. One printer was so mindful of potential errors that he hung up all of the pages on the walls, so that they could be read and re-read for errors. When it finally came to be printed, a mistake was discovered - on the very first page.
I think the best advice given to potential book collectors in this collection of essays is, “Collect what you like.”
Mad or not, book collectors are responsible for much of the knowledge of the past that we have today. Humanity owes each and every one a huge debt of thanks.
The only part of the book that made me uneasy were the passages of woe dealing with those who borrow books and fail to return them. As I write this my eye falls on a book about murderer Gary Gilmore I have failed to return for almost three years. I’d better do something about that, maybe.
Quote of the Day
Where books are burned in the end people will be burned, too. - Heinrich Heine