Tell Me A Story: Levar Burton Reads

Monday, February 12th, 2018 | Posted by Elizabeth Cady

Reading Rainbow

Admit it. You are singing this song in your head right now. And possibly craving fruit loops.

I’m a child of the 80s. And 90s. I’m technically a member of a little sliver generation in between Gen X and the Millennials, and even that depends on who wrote the chart you’re looking at. But the point is, Levar Burton was a pivotal figure in my childhood. First through “Reading Rainbow”, the long running and highly acclaimed literacy program for children on PBS, and then via “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. I still remember the first season of Reading Rainbow: it premiered in 1983, and I was an avid watcher. When “The Next Generation” premiered four years later, I was just at an age to appreciate it. So when I heard that Burton was launching a new podcast series for adults via Stitcher, I was quick to subscribe.

It has been an outstanding addition to my podcast feed.

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Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Desperate Hours – A One-Two Combo

Saturday, September 30th, 2017 | Posted by Derek Kunsken


This week saw the first new Star Trek TV show debut in a long time. If you missed it, or because subscribing to CBS All-Access for a single show irks you, it was more than pretty good. In fact, I downright enjoyed myself in a way I haven’t since the Star Trek: Enterprise debuted in 2001. And it was my 12-year old son’s first real experience of Star Trek.

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GenCon 2017, Pt. 2: Science Fiction Edition

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

starfinderScience fiction themes were front and center at GenCon this year, in a way that surpasses what I have seen in previous years. Usually the science fiction games are almost entirely tied into existing property lines, like the various Star Wars miniature battle lines produced by Fantasy Flight Games. These were certainly present, but they were matched by new science fiction games that had an appeal independent of being tied to well-established and beloved properties.

I’ll dig into several of these games more deeply in future full reviews, but for now here are some high-level looks at some of the new science fiction-themed games and expansions from GenCon.


The release of the Starfinder Roleplaying Game was one of the central events of the convention, the science fiction/space fantasy game set in the distant future of Paizo’s Pathfinder universe. We’ve spoken about Starfinder previously (see here, here, and here). I’ve been enthusiastic about the prospect of this game since the day it was announced, so it’s a pleasure to see that its release was an astounding success. As Erik Mona of Paizo explained to me, the company had looked at their past records and brought more copies of the Starfinder Core Rulebook than the number of any previous book they’ve ever released at GenCon … and it sold out in less than 7 hours. (The PDF, however, is available through for only $9.99!)

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Modular: Star Trek Adventures is Versed in Multiple Techniques

Friday, April 7th, 2017 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

startrekadventuresThis week marked the -46th anniversary of First Contact Day, the date in 2063 when Zefram Cochrane was the first human to create and engage a warp drive (time travel situations excluded), as depicted in the film Star Trek: First Contact. As such, it seems appropriate to look at the state of affairs with the upcoming Star Trek Adventures roleplaying game, slated for a 2017 release from Modiphius Entertainment.

Modiphius has been playtesting the game since late last year as an open live playtest, using gamers from across the world as guinea pigs to find bugs in their design and crowdsourcing improvement suggestions. In addition to the Alpha set of rules for playtest, the Round 1 included a generic “starter” adventure that all of the playtesters could run through. I discussed my thoughts on this shortly after I playtested it, back in December, playing the group with a mix of Star Trek enthusiasts and their less-enthusiastic spouses, all of whom are relative novices at roleplaying games.

Earlier this year, based on feedback from the first round, Modiphius released a second round of playtest, as well as new adventures focused on the specific ship that you signed up to test for, allowing them to test science/exploration missions vs. combat-oriented missions vs. diplomacy missions, and so on. The new set of rules contained updates to earlier rules, but also a key new gaming system: starships. Once we provided feedback on the Round 2 playtest, playtesters were given access to the character creation system.

So let’s take a moment to dive into Star Trek Adventures …

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Star Trek Movie Rewatch: Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017 | Posted by William I. Lengeman III


As a TOS fan who came to the other Star Trek series relatively recently, I have to admit that The Next Generation, although entertaining, didn’t grab me as much as its predecessor. Nor did the first entry in the TNG run of movies — Generations.

Fortunately, First Contact fares quite a bit better than that installment.

Part of the appeal this time around, in this the eighth of the Star Trek movies, is that it centers on the Borg. Who were the most effective of all Star Trek villains, in my opinion. They first appeared in Star Trek: Next Generation and then in each of the TV series after that. They turned up very frequently in Voyager, which featured Seven of Nine, a “recovering” Borg/human, as a regular member of the cast.

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Modular: Boldly Go … with Star Trek Adventures RPG Playtest

Monday, December 5th, 2016 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

A Starfleet away team encounters some complications in Star Trek Adventures RPG.

A Starfleet Away Team encounters some complications in the Star Trek Adventures RPG

Though Star Trek is one of the most popular franchises in science fiction and fantasy, it’s been over a decade since there has been a tabletop roleplaying game in production set in the Star Trek universe. That’s about to change in 2017 with the release of Star Trek Adventures from Modiphius Games.

The game is currently in development, but if you’re interested in checking it out, you don’t have to wait until 2017. Modiphius has just begun an open alpha playtest, allowing people across the world to begin playing games set in the world, test out the rules system, and provide feedback in time for the final design of the game.

Last Friday, I was able to get together a group to do a trial run of the first open playtest adventure. Though there’s no telling exactly which mechanics will stay the same through the playtest process, what is clear at this very early stage is that Modiphius is putting together a game that captures the feel of Star Trek in a tabletop roleplaying game.

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Celebrate a Glorious Half Century with The Best of Star Trek: Volume 2 – Fifty Years of Star Trek

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

50-years-of-star-trek-volume-2-smallI’ve been celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek in my own way. Meaning I’ve been giving in to impulse buys, and snatching up those commemorative photo-books and magazines when I see them. Yeah, they’re sometimes a little lacking in depth, but it doesn’t matter. I buy them mostly for the marvelously nostalgic photos, for the way they manage to make Star Trek — one of our most venerable franchises — young again.

Titan Comics has been publishing the official Star Trek magazine since 1995, and they collected collected some of the best articles from that magazine in The Best of Star Trek: Volume 1 – The Movies (June 2016). This is the second volume in that set, covering the various broadcast series. It will be available at the end of the month.

The 50-year history of Star Trek, as told by the people who were there – every cast member interviewed.

From the vaults of Star Trek Magazine, we celebrate a half-century of Star Trek in a volume packed with classic archive interviews with every lead cast member, from William Shatner to Patrick Stewart, to Chris Pine and beyond. Featuring every incarnation of world’s favorite sci-fi saga, including the stars of the original series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, and the Trek movies, familiar faces reveal the true story behind the greatest moments in the fifty-year history of Star Trek.

Celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the world’s favorite sci-fi saga, this special collection of cast interviews tells the true story behind the making of Star Trek. Join us as we revisit classic interviews with the entire casts of every Star Trek series, including William Shatner (Captain Kirk), Leonard Nimoy (Spock), Patrick Stewart (Jean Luc Picard), Brent Spiner (Data), Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway), Jolene Blaylock (T’Pol), and many more. We’ll also discover how actors Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Zoe Saldana (Uhura), and the stars of the recent movies made the characters their own.

The Best of Star Trek: Volume 2 – Fifty Years of Star Trek will be published by Titan Comics on November 29, 2016. It is 176 pages in full color, priced at $19.99 for both the trade and digital editions.

Star Trek Movie Rewatch: Star Trek: Generations (1994)

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016 | Posted by William I. Lengeman III


I think the statute of limitations on spoilers has probably run out 22 years after this movie was released… but be advised that there’s a sort of big spoiler ahead.

I suppose I should also mention that I was a TOS guy back in the day and didn’t even get around to watching the other Star Trek series until about a decade ago. I ended up liking The Next Generation well enough, although oddly it always seemed to me that it might have been more dated than its predecessor. But that’s neither here nor there.

What I’m getting around to, perhaps awkwardly, is that even though I’m mostly a TOS fan, I thought that six TOS movies were enough and perhaps even a bit too much, and it was probably a good time to switch things up a bit. But not before some TOS crew members appear on the scene, early on in this movie.

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Fantasia 2016, Day 3: Alien Spirits (Parasyte: Part 1 and Part 2, La Rage du Démon, For the Love of Spock, and Terraformars)

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

Parasyte: Part 1Saturday, July 16, began early for me. I headed downtown to the Hall Theatre for an 11:05 showing of Parasyte: Part 1 (Kiseiju), the first instalment of a Japanese science-fiction–horror duology. After that I planned to head to the festival screening room; I hoped to see La Rage du Démon (Fury of the Demon), a French horror mockumentary that mixes film pioneer Georges Méliès, occultism, and legends of mass hysteria into the story of a cursed silent movie. Then I’d head back to the Hall for a showing of For the Love of Spock, a documentary about Leonard Nimoy and his most famous role, hosted by the director, Nimoy’s son Adam. I’d wrap up the night with Terraformars, a science-fiction film directed by Takashi Miike about humans battling genetically-modified cockroaches on the surface of Mars. Miike would be present to host a question-and-answer session and receive Fantasia’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

It would be a full day of films, and it began, as I said, with Parasyte. I would see the second film — in English Parasyte: Part 2, in romanised Japanese Kiseiju Kanketsu-hen — on Sunday morning, so I’ll write here about the two films together. Both were directed by Takashi Yamazaki from scripts Yamazaki wrote with Ryota Kosawa based on the manga by Hitoshi Iwaaki (an English translation of the manga came out from Tokyopop and is now in print from Kodansha Comics USA; an anime version, Parasyte -the maxim-, ran in Japan in 2014 and 2015). The films do a reasonable job of standing alone, but the last shots of Part 1 explicitly set up Part 2, while there’s so much story in Part 1 that I’d have to think Part 2 would suffer from not having seen it. I suspect Part 2 would end up understandable, but the characters perhaps even more than the plot would feel flattened. The first film runs an hour and three-quarters and the second two hours, so they both individually have the length of full stories. But there’s no doubt to me that they benefit from being viewed fairly close together.

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Star Trek Movie Rewatch: Star Trek V – The Final Frontier (1989)

Sunday, July 31st, 2016 | Posted by William I. Lengeman III

Star Trek V pics 3-small

Early on I was inclined to be charitable about Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and I wasn’t really sure what all the fuss was about. As you may be aware, the consensus seems to be that it was one of the worst of all of the Star Trek movies.

But up until about the halfway mark I didn’t quite get it. Not that the first half of this movie is a masterpiece, mind you. But as the second half began to unfold I started to catch on.

The plot can be dispensed with in a few words. Spock’s half-brother — one of those free-spirited emotional Vulcan types — commandeers the Enterprise and sets off to the center of the galaxy to find God. Which doesn’t seem to be all that far removed from the premise of the first Star Trek movie. Which also featured an abundance of scenes of people trying to look awed but mostly looking dopey. Since there’s little drama or interest to be found in this premise there’s also some standard stuff about Klingons with bad intentions lurking about.

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