Herewith, while postponing two somewhat lengthy items I’ve been meaning to respectively finish and begin, a new category which acknowledges my maddeningly tenacious attachment to fandom. The idea is to publicly acknowledge fan-originated efforts that I feel deserve more attention than they’ve been getting. And by “fan,” I mean that I’ll mostly describe devotees of a popular commercial entertainment property of one sort or another.
First in line, a fine example of the overlap between increasingly affordable consumer computing power and the outskirts of a neglected entertainment franchise: “Star Trek.” A property which I find distinguished more by its failures than its successes, thanks to over four decades of pandering to low expectations. Despite the preponderance of cheese in the series’ canon, I’ve always managed to find more than mere distraction in its very artificial universe.
The original series was of major importance to me in my tweens, and stubbornly persists in my affections as something more than a nostalgic hangover. One reason for this is “Star Trek Aurora,” a home-grown CG-animated series by Tim Vining.
Mr. Vining has created a storyline which takes place just after the original series’ run, but like Joss Whedon’s “Firefly,” features characters and situations who are far removed from the heroic center of this universe’s idealized center of activity. Human Kara Carpenter and her Vulcan first mate T’Ling run a very small cargo ship in a part of known space that’s a long way from civilization, despite its somewhat familiar trappings.
Carpenter is just another small entrepreneur trying to make a living, but she’s not merely an anonymous face in a jumpsuit. A dark moment in her childhood, the focus of enduring interstellar gossip years after the fact, continues to resurface in her adult life. Neither her business nor her downtime are free of ghosts.
Two episodes have thus far been released, and they’re worth seeing. While the characters are physically limited by the stiffness of some of the software used to model them, there is no mistaking the amount of careful, tasteful detail that has gone into every scene of this work. The writing has already delivered more than the depressingly bland stereotypes common to both fan and professional fiction, having already broached one boundary Gene Roddenberry never saw fit to push upon.
I am impatient for Mr. Vining’s completion of episode 3.