Star Trek TOS: ‘The Devil in the Dark’

Twitter informed me that the Star Trek episode ‘The Devil in the Dark’ (1967) was first aired fifty-one years ago on 9th March 1967.  This reminded me that it’s probably my favourite episode from the original series.

Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to a mining planet where the miners are under attack from a terrifying alien creature that lives in the depths of the tunnels.

I adore ‘The Devil in the Dark’ and think it brings together the elements that make Star Trek great.

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“Fury”: Kes & Misogyny in Star Trek Voyager

I enjoy watching all the Star Trek series and spin offs, but a condition of my enjoying them is my having to accept that they were written and produced by people who, in imaginative terms, appear to have been utterly unable to move beyond the historical context of their own adolescence, hence, I have to accept that Star Trek is basically a fantasy about 1950s North Americans set in space.

This means that although it’s set in the 23rd century, the characters’ interests and hobbies look uncannily like what you would except of geeky, middle-class, white male adolescents in the 1950s/60s, e.g. Raymond Chandler novels, Sherlock Holmes, amateur dramatics, chamber music, or jazz if you’re going really wild. Black characters like Commander Sisko might be allowed to enjoy Baseball and cooking.  Of course there are no self-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or gender queer people (except sometimes in evil mirror universes), and gender norms and sexual arrangements seem archaic, even for the 1980s when Star Trek:TNG premiered.  Married monogamy is still the ideal, even though the economic basis that requires married monogamy has long since disappeared.  Although one character is usually allowed to be a bit of a lothario, until he inevitably settles down into married monogamy, almost everyone else is profoundly sexually repressed.  Most of the time I just find all this amusing or irritating, but occasionally the Star Trek writers come up with something so creepy, and yet so culturally revealing, that you just can’t quite believe what you’re seeing.

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This week’s culture round-up

Flavorwire tells us that these are the 20 most iconic books covers ever . It’s interesting that most of the books on the list are books that middle-class adolescents are expected to read.   This is not to say they’re not iconic covers, just that someone with more mental energy than I have right now could probably say something about the politics of canon formation.

From the Paris Review, an article about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Hound of the Baskervilles .  I was such a Sherlock Holmes fan when I was a teenager.  I couldn’t start reading The Adventures without going on to read the entire series. The Hound of the Baskervilles is not my favourite, but I do like its gothic atmosphere.

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This week’s culture round-up

I’m still on my SF reading binge and in the last week I have finished Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man, which I liked very much, am still working my way through Iain M. Banks’s complex The Algebraist and have just started Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow. Andy and I have started rewatching Season 4 of Babylon 5.  I haven’t watched any of the new series of Dr Who because I’m scared that it might upset me.  Anyway, here are some links to things I enjoyed on the internet:

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This week’s culture round-up

From S.E Smith writing in Bitch Magazine, an interesting post, We’re All Mad Here: Race, Gender and Mental Illness in Pop Culture 

From The Guardian, The Secret Garden’s Hidden DepthsThe Secret Garden was one of my favourite books when I was a kid.

10 Things you Probably didn’t know about Star Trek .  I didn’t know any of these things.

In response to a very disappointing article about gay couples in literature from The Huffington Post, Bonjour Cass presents seven great queer couples in literature 

From Bad Reputation, an unsing heroes post about astronaut Mae Jemison

And, just because it’s awesome, the Top 10 holes in our Earth

Little link round-up

From A Piece of Monologue, author Michael Cunningham talks about Virginia Woolf

A book to check out, Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class

From Tiger Beatdown, Fond Memories of Vagina: How to Recognise Male Lit-fic.

I love this little song posted on Feministing, ‘I’m not a virgin because virginity isn’t even real’

And now Tumblr informs me that there is a Star Trek: the Next Generation themed porn movie!  Hilarious if you’re a fan of the show (The link is pretty safe since they’re mainly interested in the clothes).

Little link round-up

Ta-Nehisi Coates from the Atlantic writes about Edith Wharton, The Age of Awesome

Eclectric Eccentric reviews Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s feminist fable Herland

Robert Ebert asks if anyone wants to be well read anymore.  I won’t start going on about the politics of canon formation here.  Read whatever you find meaningful, I say.

Speaking of which, from the Hathor Legacy, a list of feminist ‘sword, sorcery and sandal‘ books.

Female artists on tumblr, mainly a certain kind of NSFW female artist I should add.

Happy birthday to George Takei, Star Trek actor and gay rights activist.

From, a post about a movie called Zardoz which I haven’t seen, but really, really must one of these days