31 March 2013

The Dauphin

Episode: s2, ep 10

Wesley falls in love and it's nowhere near as saccharine or nauseating as I feared.
Not quite sure about the episode title; it's a French term for the heir to the throne, but it's also masculine. It must be referring to Salia, but then I would've thought it should be "Dauphine".

What Happens
The Enterprise goes to a very foggy planet to collect Salia, a young head of state, and transport her to the war torn planet she will rule. She's accompanied by Anya, her very protective guardian. Salia and Wesley are attracted to each other, but Anya warns the young ruler that she must focus on bringing peace to the homeworld she barely knows. According to Data's infodumps, Salia's parents are from the two warring sides in a civil war and were killed when she was an infant. The idea seems to be that she can unite the two very different groups, but since one lives in darkness and the other lives in light I'm not sure how that would even work.* Wesley is confused and goes around asking advice from senior crewmembers, this would be inappropriate were it not for the fact that various male crewmembers made a pact to raise him as their own, or something.**
Anya goes around the ship criticising things, she claims the engines aren't working well enough. She turns out
to be shapeshifter who can take on various forms, and turns into a big, ferocious creature whenever she thinks Salia might be at risk. The guardian is locked in the brig after threatening to kill one of Dr Pulaski's patients, lest he pass infection to Salia. Picard asks Wesley to stay away from Salia for the good of the ship, but the young woman goes to see him. When Anya finds them together she goes growly again, but Salia shields Wes by turning into a big-furry-thing-with-claws too. Wesley gets upset about her being a shapeshifter and not telling him, but they part on good terms. She says she wants him to remember her human shape, but lets him see her true form, which is basically shiny energy (not bug-eyed and furry).

Riker: lover, adventurer, middle-management
After being sent away by Geordi, mildly alarmed by Worf and scienced at by Data, Wesley asks Riker for
advice on talking to girls. It took him long enough. As they're in 10 Forward Riker invites Guinan to help. Riker and Guinan flirt with smooth, eloquent intensity, ignoring Wesley's attempts to interrupt. It's both hilarious and weird. Wesley is confused and freaked out (which isn't surprising) and leaves after Guinan tells him to shut up.

Does Not Compute
Data talks to Wesley about biological compatibility and cell membranes after he overhears Worf giving Wesley advice about mating rituals. Wesley is unimpressed by Data's scientific approach.

Klingon Warrior
After being sent away by Geordi Wesley asks Worf for advice. Klingon flirting seems to involve roaring and clawing from the women, and poetry and ducking from the men. It is clearly too hardcore for Wes, so Worf suggests he begs like humans do.

Blind Engineering
Wesley is working for Geordi and should be fetching a magnet when he sees Salia and goes to his quarters to preen in front of a mirror instead. Geordi summons Wesley back using comms and finds that he's too distracted to be of any help. When Geordi discovers Wes is thinking about a girl he sends him away because his glands are full of hormones, which means he can't be useful. Instead of leaving, Wesley quizzes Geordi about exactly what he should say to Salia. Geordi's advises Wes to introduce himself, but he quickly has to tell the kid to talk to someone else. As Chief Engineer he's busy doing whatever it is with the engines, which is no doubt very important and probably nothing to do with ending the conversation (not that anyone could blame him).

Counsellor Pointless
Troi senses something odd about the women visiting the ship. Not that they're impostors, but they aren't quite what they say they are. This is yet another situation where Troi's powers are of little use. No one can do anything to act on her vague suggestion.

Young Love
Wesley and Salia spot each other in a corridor and briefly talk about magnets before Anya intervenes. Then
he goes to see Salia and has absolutely nothing to say to the security officer guarding her door. It's a good thing she comes to the door with a reason for him to come in, otherwise he probably would have bolted.
They talk about the different places Wesley has been, and Salia has only ever read about. I guess Wesley is well-travelled and worldly (quadrantly? galaxyly?). He says she should see other places and takes her to the holodeck to show her various amazing places. He talks hopefully about her seeing other places, but she is wistful because she knows her path is already set. It's actually a pretty effective scene; it looks good, plus the dialogue is simple and honest and it doesn't get bogged down in sentiment.
The pair eat chocolate in 10 Forward and Wesley notices Salia's mixed feelings. She explains that she was isolated before and spending time with him has made her sad because she knows she'll have less freedom in the future. Wesley suggests she stays on the Enterprise (as though that is in any way an option), but she gets upset and leaves. Guinan suggests Wesley go after her. In the corridor Salia is distressed because she knows she can't stay and Wesley tries to insist she can. They are interrupted by Anya and Picard who sternly separate them. Picard tells Wesley that Anya is a dangerous shapeshifter and that he should stay away from Salia for the safety of the ship.
Salia sneaks to Wesley's quarters, and he expresses reservations but is clearly happy see her. They kiss and it's actually fairly sweet. They're interrupted by Anya in full creature mode. Salia tells Wes to run, he calls for security. Anya doesn't back down, so Salia turns into a big furry whatsit too. Wesley runs.
Before she leaves Salia visits Wesley. He's angry and accuses her of 'playing humanoid'. She apologises for hurting him, she didn't mean to. They both talk of love (which seems a bit premature, but this is how these things work on TV), but Wesley refuses to accept her apology. Just before she leaves Wesley gives Salia some chocolate to remember him by.

Security Breach
Worf and Anya are both warriors and both strongly bound by their duty to protect. Even though they wrestle and Worf has to put her in brig, they clearly respect each other. There are times when Worf and Anya exchange hard talk and gazes. I got the feeling that Worf wasn't being careful about poking the bear.
After Anya eludes her guards using her abilities they have to seal her quarters with a forcefield. This is actually a fairly sensible precaution.

Staff Meetings: 2
1. Picard and Troi discuss the situation with Anya and how dangerous she is. Troi senses that on an emotional level Anya is Salia's mother
2. Picard calls Wes to his ready room and explains about Anya being a shapeshifter. The Captain doesn't want to involve himself in personal matters, but for the safety of the ship he asks Wesley not to see Salia. Wesley agrees.

The End
After Salia's gone Wesley sits moodily in 10 Forward. Guinan offers him some understanding words about loss.

* For the purpose of this episode what Salia has to do and how she'll do it are of little importance. The focus is the situation she's in and how she feels.
** A situation which could be exploited for far more comedy value.

25 March 2013

Pirate story

I'm pleased to announce that my flash story 'The Trouble with Daydreams' is going to be published in an anthology by Fox Spirit.

This is super exciting as the folks at Fox Spirit are wonderful and its the first time my fiction will be published with ink and paper. 

The Piracy anthology is the first of the Fox Pocket books.
These short books are themed anthologies of flash fiction. They're designed to be a quick, cheap introduction to Fox Spirit authors and stories. They'll be released regularly throughout 2013 and 2014.

24 March 2013

The Measure of a Man

Episode: s2, ep9

I'm told that this is the first good TNG episode, and I can't argue with that. Picard gets to say something meaningful rather than just speeching at a problem until it's solved. Plus Data is saved from a terrifying stalker. There is one huge flaw in the concept of the episode (see The Flaw), but if you ignore that it's pretty good.

What Happens
The Enterprise visits a starbase where Commander Maddox, a cybernetics expert, wants to copy Data's brain in order to create more androids. Data doubts Maddox has the skills to do the procedure and refuses to participate for his own safety. Maddox uses the command structure to try and forcibly transfer Data. Picard fights the order and Data even resigns from Starfleet. Maddox then claims that as Data is merely property he can simply be requisitioned and doesn't get to make decisions about his own future. Picard convinces a judge to hold a hearing in order to prove Data has the same freedoms as other sentient beings. Due to a lack of legal staff Picard must argue for Data and Riker is forced to argue for Maddox.

Case for the Prosecution (Commander Riker)
Riker demonstrates Data's robotic functions: his strength, his memory and the fact his arm can be removed to look at the shiny circuitry inside. Riker then demonstrates Data's 'off' switch, which is not cool. Firstly, I'm not sure Riker should even know about it, and if he did isn't that confidential information? Secondly, Riker asked for permission to remove Data's hand, but asked for no permission and gave no warning when he turned Data off.
What sort of hearing is this where the representative for the defence renders the plaintiff unconscious on the stand?

Case for the Defence (Captain Picard)
Picard asks Data about the objects he packed when preparing to leave the Enterprise. Data explains why he values his medals, a book Picard gave him and a hologram of Tasha. Data reveals that he gave his word to not reveal his relationship with Tasha, but Picard suggests she'd be OK with it in this case. Data simply says they were intimate. I must say I'm curious as to how Picard knows about that.
Picard calls Maddox to the stand as a hostile witness. Picard asks Maddox what is required for sentience then asks the cybernetics expert to prove that he (Picard) is sentient, which Maddox finds laughable. Picard then takes Maddox through his definition of sentience and proves that Data fits 2 out of the 3 criteria.* Then Picard launches into his oration about how duplicating Data would be creating a race and how such creations are treated will reveal what kind of people the Federation are.

Louvois rules that Data is a machine, but not property. It's not her place to say whether Data has a soul, he should work it out for himself. She grants him the freedom to choose.

Oh Captain, My Captain
At the starbase Picard meets Phillippa Louvois, a judge who was temporarily kicked out of the Justice department after trying to court martial him. They have an adversarial relationship, but there's chemistry there too, she calls him a "pompous ass and ... damn sexy". This is far more interesting than a lost love/old flame relationship. The episode sees them arguing more than flirting, but that makes sense in context and it's nice that neither uses their wiles on the other.
Picard uses his skills to save Data and prove the lieutenant's personhood. The Captain is motivated by his principles, loyalty, friendship and his desire not to lose the most efficient employee he's ever going to have.

Riker: lover, adventurer, middle-management
There's no other legal staff on the starbase and so Judge Louvois forces Riker to represent the prosecution. Riker initially refuses because he's against the idea that Data isn't a person. Louvois says that if Riker won't participate, and try his best, she'll simply decide that Data's a toaster** without a hearing. Riker grudgingly researches for the hearing and constructs a reasonable argument. After the hearing Riker feels ashamed of his part in it, but Data reassures him.

Does Not Compute (Thinks)
What the episode never acknowledges is that Commander Maddox's attitude towards Data is horrifying.
Maddox first encountered Data on the Academy entry panel, and was the only person to vote that Data shouldn't be admitted, on the grounds that he's not sentient. Maddox was fascinated by Data and ever since then he's studied the work of Data's creator Dr Soong, trying to understand and replicate it. To do this he claims that he needs to study Data's brain. Maddox refuses to listen to concerns from anyone and goes on about his dream to create copies of Data.
To put it another way: Maddox has been obsessed with Data since they met. He ignores Data's wishes, treats him like an object and plans to hold him, experiment on him and make copies of him against his will. Whenever he and Data have a scene together Maddox stares at him with a weird intensity. Maddox also gets angry when people speak of Data's rights, he claims that Data having rights impinges on his rights.*** One can't help imaging that Maddox's lab is behind a fake wall in a basement somewhere.
Despite the creepiness of the whole situation -which probably goes right over Data's head- at the end of the episode Data says that he would be willing to work with Maddox in the future, when the Commander is better prepared. Of course Data is stronger than a Klingon, so it's unlikely Maddox presented a real threat to him, unless he was able to access his off switch.

Guinan's Hat: purple-ish
Picard shares his concerns about the hearing with Guinan. He fears that the wrong outcome will be disastrous, and not just for Data. Guinan speaks about disposable people, and Picard picks up on the analogy to slavery. In cases like this 'property' is a comfortable euphemism.

Staff Meetings: 3
1) Picard, Riker and Data meet with Commander Maddox to discuss his plans. Data (who knows his own systems better than anyone) asks various technical questions, which Maddox cannot satisfactorily answer. Riker and Picard are both concerned.
2) Picard and Data meet to discuss the situation. Picard doesn't want Data to go, but points out that creating other androids could be beneficial. Data points out that making all sighted officers replace their functioning eyes with visors like Geordi's would be beneficial, but no one asks them to do that.
3) Picard explains to Data that Louvois ruled him property, but Picard is fighting it and making her hold a hearing.

Poker Face
At the start of the episode Riker, Data, Geordi, Pulaski and O'Brien play poker, the first senior crew poker game. Playing cards in the future look disappointingly unfuturistic; they aren't even shiny or holographic or anything. During the game Riker manages to successfully bluff Data. It's something that Data understood in theory, but doesn't have the skills to identify in reality.

The Flaw
This is a fine episode that makes various good points, it's a shame that it's redundant.
The central question (should Data be treated as a person) was answered years before. Data entered the Academy, graduated as a Starfleet officer, served aboard vessels for at least 20 years, rose to lieutenant, and was awarded various medals. Now I'm assuming that replicators don't have ranks, transporters aren't granted service awards, and vacuum cleaners are stored in cupboards not given quarters. Data has been treated as a person ever since he joined the Federation. If he'd been considered to be equipment the entire time then surely he would have been kept in a lab, or a box? No one should have listened to Maddox once he started claiming that a Starfleet lieutenant is an object.

The End
Data tells Riker that he shouldn't be ashamed of his actions at the hearing because his participation helped save Data.

Edited to Add:
Through discussions I have been reminded that just because a group pf people have been granted rights previously, doesn't mean that those in power won't try to take them away for their own convenience. So while I feel the flaw is still something worth raising I hadn't considered the many real-world situations in which the agreed rights of huge numbers of people are threatened or even removed. Data is just one individual, so even in the utopic Federation I guess it makes sense that he is threatened.

* And as Meat Loaf tells us, that ain't bad.
** It's a purposefully silly decision. As anyone who watches BSG will know, Data is far more advanced than a Cylon Centurion.
*** Claiming that other people shouldn't have rights because it inconveniences you pretty much makes you the villain.

17 March 2013

Good news everyone!

I've got a new job! It's all very exciting.*

This last week or so has been a bit of a whirlwind.
I saw the job advertised a couple of days before the closing date and filled in the application form in an afternoon. I got invited to interview on the closing date itself, which I was not expecting.
Obviously the interview went well, I did more prep than I have previously. If anything I probably over-prepared, but that's no bad thing. After the official questions were out of the way the people seemed really nice and it was fairly relaxed (for an interview) and I chatted with them a bit.
I found out I had the job 2 days later and was fairly buzzed for that entire afternoon.

I'm really pleased because I've been job hunting (on and off) for a year, and thinking about leaving for longer. I like working in libraries, but the situation kept changing for the worse and I've gotten restless. Plus my husband works for the same library service, and when there were cuts our situation felt precarious.

I'll start my new job in mid-April and there's plenty to get done before that, mostly sorting things out at my current job. I'm interested to see how my reading habits are affected (and I suspect that'll be the change that's most obvious on this blog). I'll probably get through my TBR pile quicker; without the daily distraction of library books I'll probably read more new stuff. I suspect my choice of reading could narrow a bit, but I'll try not to let that happen too much. Besides I can still use libraries even if I don't work in them.

I'll be working in a contact centre, so it'll mostly be taking phone calls, and dealing with emails and letters. Enquiry handling is something I do a fair bit of in the library, so although the environment will probably be very different I think the skills needed will be similar.

I've ticked off one of New Years Resolutions, and it's the one I had the least control over.

* For a given level of exciting. I'm not going to be having wild adventures or doing anything dangerous. Then again I'm a fairly low key person in many ways, so this definitely counts as exciting.

9 March 2013

A Matter of Honour

Episode: s2, ep 8

Subtitle: A Tale of Two Exchange Assignments

What Happens
It's time for the Starfleet Exchange Programme. (Did you know this was a thing? I did not.) Admittedly no one is actually exchanged. Also it turns out that it's not limited to Starfleet. But it's certainly a programme of some kind.
The Enterprise receives an Ensign from a Benzite Federation ship, but hasn't sent any crew members anywhere. Picard and Riker discuss this over a holodeck shooting game (see Staff Meetings) and Riker is sent to a Klingon ship.

Ensign Mendon (Benzite)
Mendon beams onto the Enterprise for his exchange placement. After being greeted by the First Officer, a young acting-Ensign assumes he is a different Benzite and talks to him as though they've met before. He's confused Mendon with some guy called Mordoc, who was admitted to the Academy the previous year. Mendon accepts this, being from the same geostructure it makes sense that they'd look alike. He's not offended, just confused, when the acting-Ensign asks how they tell each other apart, which some might find tactless or insulting.
Mendon walks around the ship politely offering to make systems more efficient. The reception to his help is lukewarm. On the Bridge he makes a comment about Klingon hospitality to the nearby Security Chief, who doesn't take kindly to it, probably because he's a Klingon himself. Ooops. Mendon runs a scan of a Klingon ship and finds an unknown, microscopic organism on it. Further scanning fails to identify it and so, following proper Benzite regulations, he runs a full analysis in order to find a resolution before reporting to senior crew. Mendon introduces himself to Captain Picard, who seems surprised to be addressed and isn't particularly interested in hearing about improving efficiency. He suggests that Mendon report to Lieutenant Worf, who continues to be fearsome.
A mysterious, bacterial substance is found on the Enterprise, it seems to be the same as the stuff on the Klingon ship, and it's gradually eating into the hull. Mendon mentions that's probably where it came from and gets told off by the Captain for not reporting it earlier. It seems that on this ship the crew report things before they've run a full analysis and have a solution, it's a different way of doing things. The Captain instructs him to finish his analysis and report what the damage will be to the Enterprise and the Klingon ship. Despite the problems it's causing, the Captain seems interested in the possibility of a new life form. Mendon's report states that the Klingon ship will be worse as it has more of the bacteria on its hull, there's likely to be a breach already. The Enterprise goes to intercept the Klingon ship and warn them.
As he's working to find a solution Mendon is interrupted by acting-Ensign Crusher, who tries to reassure the Benzite that he has not failed and is not to blame. Picard may be angry, but he understands that errors happen. Mendon appreciates this, though he doesn't understand why Wesley is being nice and making friends with him. He realises he still has a chance to prove himself and becomes more determined. Once his analysis is finish he finds out how to stop the micro-organism and reports his solution to the Captain.

Lieutenant Riker (Human)
After volunteering/agreeing to go to the Klingon ship Riker makes preparations. He asks for Worf's advice and learns about the importance of assassination in Klingon hierarchy. Worf gives Riker a personal locator signal to be used in an emergency. Riker samples various Klingon foods, which are bought to him by one the the Enterprise's rarely seen waiters. Picard is glad Riker is going because they "know so little about them." Worf is not there for this conversation. Riker is looking forward to the challenge.  I assume that Klingon ships involve less paperwork*
The decor of the Pagh is shadowy with red lighting. The Klingon Captain demands to know where Riker's loyalties are and the 2nd Officer accuses him of lying when Riker says he'll serve the Captain and the Pagh. Riker takes the suspicious Klingon by surprise and knocks him down, thus cementing his status as 1st Officer. Riker states his intentions as an officer, then claims that's the same as an oath of loyalty.
In the mess Riker eats with the crew and exchanges bawdy jokes. The female crew members aren't attracted to Riker, but they're curious about whether he can handle Klingon women. Curiosity sex: probably better than pity. Neither Riker nor the Klingons were expecting the other to have a sense of humour and they're surprised they can laugh together (Worf's grumpiness is obviously just him). Though differences are highlighted in the way they treat the elderly.
Riker is called to the Bridge, a hull breach has been discovered. It's not serious yet, but at the rate the hull's being eaten away it soon will be. The Captain believes the Enterprise did this, he knows they focused a scan on the area where the hole is. Riker tries to argue that they wouldn't, but the Captain decides to attack the Enterprise and cloaks in preparation.
The 2nd Officer doesn't think Riker is involved and nearly convinces the Captain of this, however when they realise the Enterprise is heading towards them the Captain is convinced it's intentions are hostile. Riker is asked to give information about the Enterprise's weak points. He refuses, he says he's under two oaths. He'll do what's best for the Pagh, even fighting and dying, but he won't betray Federation secrets. Riker turns on the emergency locator Worf gave him, the Captain snatches it away from him. Using the signal the Enterprise unwittingly beams the Klingon Captain onto the Bridge, where Worf has to stun him. Meanwhile Riker takes over the Klingon ship, asks Picard to surrender (which he does**) and then allows the Enterprise to make the repairs they'd been offering. Riker hands the Pagh back to the original Captain then returns to the Enterprise after the shortest exchange ever.

Poor O'Brien
O'Brien wishes Riker luck and says that he'd be too afraid. O'Brien is really selling himself short here.
This is the same Miles O'Brien who'll be arrested by the Cardassians and survive, who'll get captured by the Jem'Hadar, who'll defeat an entity possessing his wife, who'll actually masquerade as a Klingon in order to go undercover among them, and who'll be involved in a variety of other dangerous missions and combat situations.
Now I want to watch DS9.

Staff Meetings: 1
This staff meeting has been cunningly disguised to look like fun. The dialogue is the usual stuff, but the viewer is distracted by shiny lights as Picard and Riker play a target practice, shooting game in the holodeck.
Picard tells Riker that it's been suggested that an Enterprise officer take part in the exchange programme. Then he mentions that there's a Klingon ship near by and that a Federation officer has never served aboard one. I assume he's purposefully getting Riker interested, but his manipulation is fairly subtle.

The End
Riker thanks Worf for the locator, praises Klingons then says he's glad Worf is there. Worf welcomes Riker home. It's not as mawkish as it sounds and is far more effective than episodes that try to be funny right at the end.

It's a beam of repairing, not a beam of fighting.

* Or 80s-looking-iPad-work, which is the future equivalent of paper work.
** I guess surrender doesn't count when it's between friends.

2 March 2013

Unnatural Selection

Episode: s2, ep7

What Happens
Following a fuzzy distress signal the Enterprise  finds the Langtree, a ship without life signs. Picard remotely accesses the Langtree and looks at the bridge, the crew are dead at their positions. Pulaski says they died of old age and the dead Captain's log says that everyone was infected by an accelerated ageing illness. The ship's last stop was the unoriginally-named genetics lab, Darwin Station. The Langtree is quarantined and a beacon left as a warning to shipping.
Darwin Station has declared a quarantine. Kingsley, the woman in charge, has clearly aged beyond her years, and it turns out she's a fan of Pulaski's work. She begs the Enterprise to evacuate the children. They've shown no sign of illness and are kept isolated because they're genetic experiments. After discussion, it's agreed that one child will be beamed aboard for medical testing, using increased precautions. A 12 year-old boy is beamed over, except that he looks about 19. (Hmmm, could this be related to the problem? You know, I think it just might be.) Even in stasis Troi senses that he's telepathic and scans say he's in peak physical condition, due to being genetically modified. Pulaski wants to evacuate the children, but Picard is sceptical so they argue (which is Just Not On).
Pulaski delivers the bad news to Kingsley, who pleads for the 'children'. Pulaski asks permission to put the 'child' in a shuttle for testing, and Picard unexpectedly agrees. The doctor takes Data to pilot the shuttle, she says he'll be fine and shows no concern for her own safety. In the shuttle the 'kid' is taken out of his plastic casing and talks telepathically to Pulaski. She experiences painful, high-speed arthritis; the children aren't ill, but they are carriers. The silent, muscular GM lad is beamed back to the station, Pulaski and Data follow in the quarantined shuttle.
On the station Kingsley shows Pulaski the 'children', they all look much longer. They have telekinetic abilities and perfect immune systems, in fact their antibodies are airborne, and genetically adapt viruses. (Ah, that's it!*) Pulaski gets Data to check the lab's computer. Meanwhile the Enterprise crew discuss ways to help Pulaski. The transporter logs could save her, but she's never used the Enterprise transporters.
After high-speed computer browsing Data figures it out. A Langtree crewman with a minor illness visited the station, which triggered the children's immune systems to mutate the virus. Anyone infected ages rapidly and becomes a carrier. A much-aged Pulaski reports this to the Enterprise. Picard wants to bring her back, but she won't hear of it, the station and the children must be kept in perpetual quarantine. Data returns to the Enterprise after thorough transporter scanning.
It turns out the transporters could be used to cure the irreversible illness, using DNA. Data and Riker find a hair follicle in Pulaski's quarters. If this works they could cure everyone at the lab. Pulaski reluctantly uses the transporter, despite her reservations. O'Brien says it's a one way transport (for reasons) and Picard says he'll operate the transporter (for some other reasons). Pulaski glowies in and out for a bit, getting younger each time until she's cured.

Oh Captain, My Captain
Picard wants to assess Dr Pulaski, and asks Troi for her impression. Troi says Pulaski is the "most dedicated physician" she's ever worked with (poor Crusher). Picard seems concerned that dedication isn't enough.
Picard and Pulaski argue intensely over the best course of action, both are determined to do their duty. Later Picard allows Pulaski to try the dangerous shuttle experiment, much to her surprise as she's still trying to convince him after he agrees.
Picard is determined to help Pulask after she's infected and talks to Pulaski's previous Captain, who was obviously deeply impressed by her. He didn't want to lose her, but she was determined to work on the Enterprise when the job opened up.

Does Not Compute
Pulaski assures Data that there's no chance of him catching anything, despite the events of the Naked Now (though she wasn't there when it happened). Clearly Data only catches the amusing ailments.
When saying goodbye Pulaski says Data's in a class of his own when it comes to androids. Well yes, he would be, he's practically the only one. I don't understand how much general awareness there is of androids. Still, at least the Doctor seems to be changing her tune towards him.

Doctor Doctor
This episode emphasises Pulaski's compassion as a medic and her determination to help.
She asks the counsellor about why she and Picard keep arguing. Troi suggests they argue so much because they're similar, both are determined to do their duty and this makes them impassioned when they don't see eye to eye.
It turns out that Pulaski has never used the Enterprise's transporters, and barely used them on her previous ship because she's deeply mistrustful of them. This is presumably because she's the female Bones, I don't really know much about Bones, so I can't comment on other similarities. I don't know why they need a character based on a previous one, I guess at this point the show is still in the shadow of the Original Series.

Poor O'Brien
O'Brien really earns his money (which I don't think anyone actually gets) in this episode. He's clearly the transporter maestro and does all the vital adjustments to ensure safety when the 'kid' is beamed over.
He's invited to a staff meeting to try and help Pulaski. He points out the feasibility of various suggestions and is so keen to impress that he techno-babbles as hard as he can. It's clear O'Brien is the one who's going to do all the legwork on this. 

Security Breach
Worf is right to be suspicious and cry "A trick!" when a fully grown 12 year old is beamed over. Once they agreed to send the kid I don't understand why the lab didn't explain about the accelerated ageing. Yes, it's suspicious (and, as it turned out, the cause) but once they saw him it was obvious, there was no reason not to be upfront. In fact I'm surprised it took so long to realise the 'children' were the cause.

Staff Meetings: 4
1. Picard asks Troi for her assessment of Pulaski. Troi says she's the "most dedicated physician" she's worked with (poor Crusher). Picard fears that dedication is not the same as good judgement.
2. The dead Captain's log reveals the ageing illness spread rapidly. Pulaski explains that the Langtree medical records were all clean besides one crewmember who had a very minor, treatable illness.
3. The crew discuss the lab's request to evacuate the children. Most believe they should refuse. Pulaski wants to know more and suggests examining the child, with precautions.
4.Troi, Geordi, Riker, Picard and O'Brien meet to discuss what to do about Pulaski. Troi suggests transporter filters, but O'Brien points out that those already haven't worked. Geordi suggests altering the bio filter, but they don't know enough about the illness to tell the transporter what  to filter out. O'Brien says that a trace using existing logs could help, though it would take a lot of work, but Pulaski's never used the Enterprise transporters.

Missed Opportunity
Transporters are ridiculously powerful and frankly could lead to transhumanism in a different sort of setting. As far as I can tell they could be used to make replicas of people people (oh wait, that'll happen to Riker) or resurrect those lost in space (oh wait, that happened to Picard already). I wonder what would happen if doubles just walked out of transporters wherever people's logs were still on file? That'd be interesting.

Won't Somebody Think of the Children?
This is exactly what Kingsley is doing, with her lab's genetically engineered 'children' (who are surprising given the Federation's stance on eugenics), though it could endanger all the non-GM kids on the Enterprise.

Death by Space Misadventure
26 people on the Langtree died of the accelerated ageing illness. The

The End
Pulaski's log narrates the ending. The Enterprise uses its weapons to destroy the Langtree. It's a solemn moment, with an big space explosion.

* As soon as they mentioned the GM kids' immune systems I realised how this was gonna go (though obviously much of it is the bollocks you'd expect). Then again I knew what antibodies were at the age of 6.

1 March 2013

LetterMo Review

So February is over and so is LetterMo, and I have to say it's been good fun.

I decided to do the letter writing challenge on the spur of the moment after I first discovered it, and didn't do much preparation (well obviously I bought envelopes and stamps, but not much else). I didn't quite reach the target of 24, but I sent 20 letters, so that's not bad.

I had an idea of various people I wanted to write to, but wasn't very organised and approached it a bit randomly. I didn't end up writing to many old friends, which was a shame. I think that the run-up to Christmas is a better time to collect addresses from people, but at the end of last year I just didn't feel like sending a lot of cards out. I hope to rectify that this year.

Most of people I wrote to are friends I've made in the last 2 years and communicate with mostly online. I've met so many cool people over the last couple of years, which is brilliant and there were many more people I could have written to, and I plan to do so later. I have a history of being a bit awkward around people and I can get a little paranoid about friendships, but that doesn't really happen with online friends.
Having said that I suspect some of the letters felt awkward as I wrote, because letters feel more formal than online communication. Also once you've written something down it's there and you can't easily change it. A few times I started a sentence and wasn't sure how to finish, but I think I covered it OK each time.

Towards the end of the month I've done some slightly different kinds of letters, including a few based on something Arthur Conan Doyle was said to have done. I'm happy to report that no one fled.
 It's very nice to send or receive something tangible, and it's clear that people have appreciated the letters, which is great. I've had a few replies, which have been really lovely. I like getting fun post.

I'll definitely do LetterMo next year, and hopefully keep up with my correspondence until then.