Tag Archives: Star Trek

Surprise Appearances by Bunnies in Geek TV

This is my bunny.
This is my bunny.

So I live with my sister, and we have a pet rabbit. Before my sister adopted the bunny and brought him to San Francisco, I never thought much about rabbits — but now I’m mildly obsessed. One of the highlights of any day (for the bunny-obsessed part of me, anyway) is reading the words of wisdom from Bunny Buddhism in my Twitter feed. I look for bunny jewelry and clothes. And anytime a rabbit appears in one of my favorite shows, I get a little giddy. Here are some of my favorite surprise bunny appearances so far:

Bluebell (Sherlock)

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Bluebell is one of the best guest stars on Sherlock, if you count animal characters. Which I always do. At Baskerville, a secretive Ministry of Defence research base, researchers have created a luminous rabbit by implanting the fluorescent jellyfish gene. The result is Bluebell, the glow-in-the-dark bunny. If you’re doubting how special this rabbit is, just do a Google search and enjoy the fan fiction, memes, fan art, and T-shirts that little Bluebell has spawned.

bluebell

The Rabbit in “Day of the Doctor” (Doctor Who)

bunny pic

In the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special, the 10th Doctor goes head to head with a rabbit, thinking the little guy is a monstrous alien taking the form of a bunny. It only takes a few seconds for the Doctor to realize the bunny is not a threat but “basically just a rabbit, aren’t you?”

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The White Rabbit (Star Trek: The Original Series)

We all know the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland: He’s late, he’s super upset about it, and he’s wearing a lot of clothes. But he also makes a creative appearance in the Star Trek: TOS episode “Shore Leave.” It involves a planet that scans visitors’ thoughts and conjures up illusions for them — hence McCoy’s illusion of a giant rabbit and Alice running around on the planet’s surface. This White Rabbit may not be the cutest, but he gets points for being a bizarre and funny surprise in Star Trek.

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— Ashley

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My Top 5 Spaceships from Science Fiction

Maybe a ship is only as good as her crew, and a crew is only as good as its captain. But in many science fiction stories, the ship comes to represent the characters who call it home. Ships can also become iconic images for their fictional worlds. That’s probably why some of the first images that appear when you look for Mass Effect and Star Trek are stylized artworks of the Normandy and the Enterprise.

I like ships and think of them as characters sometimes. They’re breakable and upgradable. They can be adapted, and they often change over time with new paint jobs and new parts. Sometimes they’re replaced entirely, but that doesn’t mean the spirits of the originals are gone. What matters is that they offer their crews shelter, the ability to explore, and sometimes defenses or weaponry that they need in times of war.

There are a lot of fantastic ships out there, but these are a few of the biggest names that also happen to be my personal favorites.

5. USSC Discovery One

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I’ve yet to see a spaceship that looks quite as elegant as the Discovery One from 2001: A Space Odyssey. At first glance, she looks like two bulbs connected by a hulking metal bar. One end is the gaseous core nuclear reactor engines working away, while the other end — the graceful sphere — contains the crew quarters. The sphere spins to produce artificial gravity.

Aside from the polished design, that’s my other favorite thing about the Discovery One: the real world physics that obviously went into its conceptualization. It doesn’t make noise; it couldn’t in the vacuum of space. (Learning that fact has ruined a lot of other fictional spaceships for me, let me tell you…) And director Stanley Kubrick eliminated the structures that looked like wings so audiences wouldn’t assume they were for flying through the atmosphere, something the Discovery One does not do.

4. Serenity

 

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The Serenity in Joss Whedon’s Firefly TV series and Serenity movie is one of those ships with true personality. That’s because she’s ready to fall apart at the seams, yet her crew relies on her for their living doing odd jobs — including illegal ones. The Serenity is apparently an older ship, which explains why she’s so rickety, but the design is gorgeous. She’s bulky at first glance, but the ship’s bulb-shaped tail glows like a firefly when a fusion explosion initially propels the ship forward. I can understand why Captain Mal and engineer Kaylee wax poetic about the Serenity so often; I even have a model of it in my apartment that’s one of my favorite things in the world.

3. Bebop

bebop

In the stellar anime series Cowboy Bebop, bounty hunters Jet Black and Spike Spiegel call the Bebop home. Though it was originally a fishing trawler on Ganymede, Jet outfitted it with big engines and took it to outer space to start a new life hunting down criminals with Spike, Faye Valentine, hacker kid Radical Edward, and super smart dog Ein. It’s one of those ships I find myself wishing were real, because the characters who live there are some of my favorites in fiction. Sure, they spend a lot of time complaining about not having any money and having to subsist on ramen noodles, but the Bebop is always there for them.

2. SSV Normandy

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The Normandy is home to Commander Shepard and her crew in the Mass Effect series of video games. Over the course of the three games, it really does come to feel like home, with its private quarters, lockers, research lab, and weaponry that makes it a fighting machine when things get rough. It’s blown up and retrofitted — sometimes with the Alliance and sometimes with the questionable paramilitary group known as Cerberus — but its spirit remains intact through all the chaos. Personally, I love the Cerberus design and paint job, as well as the Cerberus-installed AI known as EDI who becomes a beloved character in Mass Effect 3.

1. USS Enterprise

NCC-1701-2009

I don’t think any ship can ever match the USS Enterprise for me. Technically, there are several Enterprises that have warped through outer space in the various Star Trek TV series and movies, but this is a case of the spirit being the most important thing. Well, the spirit and the design, which remains absolutely exquisite in every incarnation. The recent J.J. Abrams movies really show off just how clean and bright and polished the Enterprise is. But more than that, this ship is a vessel of exploration (with weapons, just in case) that sets off “to boldly go where no man has gone before.” In this way, it truly represents what Star Trek is all about, and why I love it so much.

— Ashley

 

My Top 5 Refreshments from Fantasy and Sci-Fi

Science fiction and fantasy have some of the best foods and beverages in fiction. I’m not just talking about Star Trek’s weird obsession with root beet — which is my favorite soda, by the way — but about the array of fictional dishes and drinks. Some days, I feel like the main reason to travel to a sci-fi/fantasy world is the eating. Here are the top five edibles I like to feast my mind upon:

5. Skyrim’s Sweet Roll

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The people of Skyrim take their sweet rolls very seriously. Sweet roll theft is running rampant across the land, and everybody knows when somebody’s stolen one of your sweet rolls. That kind of thing just shows on your face, you know? The sweet roll is surprisingly handy in combat situations, because it restores a decent amount of health – at least as far as Skyrim foods go. It’s also decorative, so I like to litter my Skyrim bedrooms with sweet rolls as an alternative to something slightly more romantic, like rose petals.

But my favorite thing about Skyrim’s sweet rolls is that I can imagine exactly what they taste like just by looking at them. They taste like doughnuts with frosting on them. It’s that simple. I want one for breakfast almost every day. In fact, when I’m playing Skyrim, I often like to select a sweet roll in my inventory just so I can spin it in the air and watch it floating perfectly before a terrifying landscape where I could die at any minute. There’s something comforting about sweet rolls, and I love them for it.

4. Lord of the Rings’ Lembas

lembassmall

Also known as Elvish waybread, this is basically a power food. It does something crazy to your system, so just one small bite gives you enough energy and sustenance for an entire day. In Lord of the Rings, this is how Frodo and Sam survive their ridiculously long journey to Mordor. Normally, I would assume this tastes disgusting – sort of like the gruel sailors used to eat, or like the boring rations people always eat in science fiction set in the future, when fruits and vegetables aren’t commonplace anymore. But apparently it’s “more pleasant than cram,” according to one of the elves, so I’m convinced it’s tasty. At least, I was almost convinced, before finding out that cram is kind of like a biscuit, and biscuits are generally gruel. Plus, Frodo and Sam seem really tired of it after a while…

3. Star Trek’s Raktajino

Raktajino

I had to look up how to spell this one, but the name just trips off the tongue. As a fan of caffeine every morning, the idea of ordering a Klingon coffee from the replicator in the AM is extremely appealing. If I lived on Deep Space Nine station, that’s exactly what I would do every day. Raktajino can be served steamed or iced, extra strong or extra sweet, and even with makapa bread that apparently makes a peppermint-flavored froth when dipped in the raktajino. But maybe my favorite thing about this drink is that even though it’s an alien beverage from the future, its name still manages to sound like an Italian coffee, so there’s no confusion as to what this is.

2. Firefly’s Ice-Planet

Firefly S01E12

In “The Message” episode of Firefly, River Tam tries to eat a dessert that basically looks like a ball of swirly ice cream hanging from a string. Sure, it’s problematic, but it looks delicious. I am a huge fan of frozen desserts, so Ice-Planet sounds exactly like the type of food I would enjoy on a summer day or after dinner or pretty much any time. I imagine this one being something like ice pops or popsicles, but I’d be good with straight-up ice cream, too.

1. Harry Potter’s Butterbeer

butterbeer

If I could live inside the pages of Harry Potter for a day, I would spend at least several hours feasting – probably with Ron Weasley, because I think he’s into that, too. And to top off the meal, I would have a keg of butterbeer. The teens at Hogwarts drink it when they go on their field trips into town, but apparently it is slightly alcoholic and makes you feel all warm and tingly inside. It tastes “a little bit like less-sickly butterscotch” and can be served cold or hot. Also, it’s based somewhat on a real medieval/Renaissance drink called “buttered beer,” made from beer, sugar, eggs, butter, and nutmeg — and everything’s better with nutmeg. Mmmm.

— Ashley

No Fees Attached – send me into the F2P madness!

As I told you in my post from last week, I’m not done yet with the topic of free-to-play titles. Nope, ladies and gentlemen, I will turn this topic into a recurring thing. There’s some damn fine podcasts and videos here at GFN, focused on gaming, but what this consortium of sexy geeks needs is a specialist, an expert. This place needs someone who puts his gaming habits into the hands of the reader, heeding their call no matter how sadistic it is. It will be hard to be that guy, but I can be him. I can be the hero GFN deserves.

Alright, enough of this quoting and needless overstatements. What I’m trying to say is that for the coming weeks, I will guide you through the jungle of F2P titles by actually playing them and telling you of my experiences in them. The funky part is that you, dear readers, will decide which game I will focus on first. I’ll give you three options, and you will have a week to vote on which game I will delve into. What are your options? Well, I try to offer you a variety of titles, so here goes!

Option 1 – Star Wars: The Old Republic
Oh, sweet SWTOR. I waited so long for your release. I pre-ordered you the day you became available, and I devoured you as soon as I could enter you (that came out wrong…). I was in love with you, or at least so I thought. I guess we just didn’t work out. You wanted to be many things at once, while I loved you when you invested your energy into the story aspect. You wanted to please all those other gamers, while I wanted you to be loyal to my wishes. Our breakup was quick and painless, but I still bear the scar your lightsaber caused. I thought I could never look at you again, but now that there’s no fee attached, I guess we could give it another try…right? I’ll call you in case the readers want to.

Option 2 – Star Trek Online
The war between Trekkies and Star Wars fans will be eternal, so it is kinda sadistic I’m having you choose between these two. Still, STO is a fascinating game that has changed a lot since its launch. The fact that it mixes space combat with classic RPG ground action sounds interesting, and the fact that you command your own ship and crew gives the player a certain sense of power. Want to see me as a Captain of Starfleet, dropping cheap TNG and Voyager references? Give your vote to Star Trek Online!

Option 3 – Planetside 2
And you thought I would only have you choose between RPG’s! Planetside 2 is one of the most enjoyable shooters I’ve played in a while, and I would be more than glad to cover it more extensively in this column. If you want to hear about how I get stomped by teenage FPS prodigies, then you have to choose this final option!

Before you make a choice, let me tell you on what I will focus on during my time with the “chosen one”. First of all, I want to see how good the game itself is: is it a quick cash grab, or is there actually some depth to it? Second, I want to find out how well you can play the game without investing a single dime, if that is even possible. Last but not least, I want to show you what the game has to offer to people who want to give it some of their monthly budget, and how it all adds up. A final thumbs up or thumbs down will tell you if I find it worthy of your time or money.

So, let’s get to the voting and choose my destiny! I’m curious to see into which digital and free-to-play world you’ll send me…

My Top 10 Robots with Feelings

tinmanAs my blog’s name (Robo♥beat) would suggest, I’m a big fan of robots — especially when they have something akin to an emotional side. My interest probably started with the Tinman in The Wizard of Oz, who’s not quite a robot but definitely wants something beyond mechanical survival. Sometimes droids imply emotion without words, and they’re often driven by organic feelings and judgments, such as love or even prejudice.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite sci-fi robots with feelings, or something equivalent to them. I can think of several more worth mentioning — such as Clank from Ratchet and Clank and Sonny from I, Robot — but these are the bots, droids, and AI systems I know and love best.

10. Claptrap (Borderlands)

Claptrap

With his grating little voice and tendency to ramble, you’d think Claptrap would be annoying, but that’s all part of his charm. In the Borderlands games, the Claptraps are beloved for their friendliness, amazing humor, and crazed complaining. And really, who wouldn’t want to protect this boxy little guy when he’s having a bandit-induced panic attack?

9. DØg (Half-Life 2)

Dog and Alyx

DØg is one of my favorite video game pets of all time. In Half-Life 2, this gigantic robot puppy has undergone upgrades by Alyx to become a car-throwing death machine. But don’t worry – he’s on your side, and he likes to play fetch.

8. R2-D2 (Star Wars)

R2D2

Sure, I could have put C-3PO here, but R2-D2 is my favorite of the two Star Wars droids. When I used to babysit, kids always let me be the R2-D2 figure, because they know how deep my love for this little guy runs. And who wouldn’t like him? He’s makes adorable bleeps that convey a surprising amount of information – even emotion.

7. GLaDOS (Portal)

GLaDOS

At first nothing more than a hilarious, disembodied computer voice, GLaDOS soon becomes one of the most interesting villains in the video game world. She’s a unique artificial intelligence system with a rich backstory — and to make things weirder, she spends some time in Portal 2 as a potato. But even when she wants to kill playable character Chell, she brings an offbeat humor to the Portal games that keeps me coming back to play again.

6. Robbie (Robbie,” by Isaac Asimov)

Robbie

In a 1939 Asimov short story, Robbie the robot is a nursemaid to Gloria in the Weston family. She thinks of him as her best friend, which makes her mother worry about her socialization. When the family gets rid of Robbie, Gloria becomes depressed. But in a surprising twist, Mr. Weston whisks the family to the robot construction factory – you know, to show Gloria that robots are not real people – as a set-up for Gloria to be reunited with Robbie, who’s working there as an assembler. (Go, Dad!) Gloria rushes in front of a moving vehicle to her Robbie, inspiring the robot to spontaneously save her from death. Even Mrs. Weston is moved. Awwww.

5. HK-47 (Knights of the Old Republic)

HK-47

What can mere words say about such a kickass robot? I’d write a poem to HK-47 if I could. (Trust me, you don’t want to read my poetry.) As a misanthropic assassin droid who calls organics “meatbags,” I’d hate to meet him in real life. Nothing’s scarier than a droid that seems to enjoy the act of killing. But that’s also what makes him an extremely useful companion in the Knights of the Old Republic games. Seriously, I love that he adores blaster rifles, and every time he hates something, I love him even more.

4. EDI (Mass Effect)

EDI

EDI is the Enhanced Defense Intelligence system installed on the Normandy ship. At first, she’s represented by a holographic sphere — and most of the time, she’s just a disembodied voice. But in Mass Effect 3, she takes control of an android body and becomes part of playable character Commander Shepard’s shore party, too. Her most human trait is her curiosity, which leads her into a romantic relationship with the Normandy’s pilot, Joker. What I love most about EDI’s human relationships is that she analyzes her way through them — a very AI thing to do — yet they add real, emotional meaning to her life.

3. The Iron Giant

Iron Giant

After the Iron Giant crashes to Earth, nine-year-old Hogarth Hughes befriends it. The question is, is this Giant a programmed killing machine, unable to control its self-defense mechanisms, or can it be one of the good guys? Hogarth puts all his faith in the Iron Giant, believing everyone can choose his own path in life — and that means even a hulking metal robot that everyone fears can choose to be a hero.

2. Data (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

Data

I always have a soft spot for the intelligent outsider, and Data is exactly that. He is a sentient android, capable of quickly processing information and making calculations, but he always strives for human emotion, too. (One of my favorite moments is when he writes and recites an over-the-top ode to his cat, Spot.) As The Next Generation progresses, he becomes increasingly human – an interesting journey for such a nuanced android character.

1. WALL-E

WALL-E

WALL-E is a trash-collector robot that looks like a little tank with eyes and arms, but he has more heart than any other robot I’ve encountered in fiction. When he sees the robot EVE, it’s love at first sight. Even without speaking, WALL-E is able to convey his wide-eyed innocence, passion, and bravery, all in the name of love.

— Ashley