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Piers Anthony, Jan. 1, 2011 Piers Anthony, Jan. 1, 2011. Photo by Jane McConnell.
Jamboree 2019
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I read Death Storm, by Keith Robinson, a sort of sequel to Forest of Souls, because the situation started in that novel is concluded in this one. It is actually the fifth novel in a different series, Island of Fog Legacies. The protagonists are Travis, who is Hal and Abigail's son, and Melinda, who is Robbie and Lauren's daughter. They're around twelve and eleven years old, respectively, and may become a couple in a few years. They have such strong immune systems that Miss Simone's shape changing potions don't last more than two days. That's actually an advantage, because it means that each time they take the potion, they can become something new. The story starts with news of a horrendous storm made of blue dust. Where it passes, the people are gone. They encounter a creepy old man, Grimfoyle, who says he wants to help them. He does this by taking part of their souls. Then it gets complicated. They need to save the town from the magic of the storm. The thing is, only humans with whole souls are taken by the blue dust, so this makes them immune. But there's a whole lot more to it than that. It's actually a plot by the female faun who caused so much mischief twenty years before. She means to eliminate humans, changing them to other forms. Grimfoyle says they need to become something that flies and something that swims. Travis becomes a mothman, and Melinda a mermaid. There's something about that form that really makes Travis pause, but he's not sure what it is. I suspect he will figure it out in a few more years, though by then she won't be in that form. It all makes sense in the end, but there's a great challenge in the middle. This is another tense story.

I watched The Late Great Planet Earth. It was narrated in Spanish; I had to go to the disc menu and change the language to English. It is narrated by Orson Welles, who tells of the Babyllon exile of the Israelites, and how their holy temple was destroyed and had to be rebuilt three times. Babylon ruled the world, the source of evil. John suffered a vision of the apocalypse; the kings of the world were destined to come to Armageddon to fight. The biblical prophecies are now being fulfilled. The end of the world may be near. Or so the contemporary prophets are eager to claim. This is essentially a religious tract forecasting doom. I am a complete skeptic of religious prophecy, yet ironically I agree: the world is indeed doomed if we do not soon change our ways, and we are not changing our ways. Overpopulation, waste, pollution, ignorance and war are already wiping us out. They say that when Satan comes, the Antichrist, the Beast, he will appear to be an agnostic humanitarian, a good man whom the people will ardently support. How will we know him? His number is 666. He will be struck down, then raised from the dead, a miracle. He will become dictator of the world, and lead us to the end of days. There will be a ten nation confederacy; Israel will sign a pact with it, and this will begin the seven year countdown to the end. Armageddon. So there are the signals. Okay, I am watching.

I watched Knight Club. I got it in 2000 and couldn't remember whether I'd watched it, so watched it again. Gary is a young unemployed actor who talks his way into an all night party in Los Angeles. Then he gets hired as a bouncer. When a man attacks him he throws him over his back. That impresses the head bouncer, and the job becomes regular. Suddenly he is in contact with all manner of illustrious folk, including sexy women. But there are also drugs and drunks and fights. Then he gets another offer for a fabulous salary. He is good as a doorman, but he gets corrupted by money, power, sex and drugs. He alienates old friends, loses his girlfriend, loses his job, and has trouble getting another. And finally gets shot dead. The moral must be don't get corrupted.

I watched Bad Teacher. This is humorous wild sexy farce. Elizabeth got dumped by her fiance for good reason, and now has to scratch out a living as a seventh grade teacher. She drinks, does drugs, and is foul mouthed, no model at all for children; in fact she mostly shows movies in class. All she wants is to nab a wealthy man and escape the need to work at all. She is pretty, and seeks a boob job to further enhance her assets. When she washes cars to raise money, her way, she causes two police cars to collide. She even puts out a collection jar for “New Tits.” Another teacher, Amy, resents her, understandably, but doesn't succeed is messing her up. There's a remarkable sequence of her dry-humping the man she is after. (I watched the unrated version.) but she does care about her students in her fashion. And in the end she becomes the school guidance counselor, a position for which she is surely qualified.

I watched Sex Tape. When it started they had wild sex all the time. Then came marriage, babies, children, work, and it got squeezed out. After ten years they finally get a night alone—and it doesn't work. Then they get a bright idea: make a video of them doing every position in the Joy of Sex book. They make a three hour tape, then agree to erase it, but he accidentally sends it out to his wider family and business mailing list. Now how do they get it back, without giving away its content, which the others may not realize is there? They have a wild night, but don't succeed. They finally conclude that it doesn't make much difference, because there are so many sex tapes out there already, so it's okay, maybe. What else is there to conclude?

I watched The Sweetest Thing, third of a trilogy of movies featuring Cameron Diaz. Three girls have fun at parties. Then Christina meets who may be the man of her dreams, Peter. But next morning he has left town to attend his brother's wedding. So Christina and Courtney drive to attend tho wedding. Courtney needs to use the bathroom, but they wind up in a men's room. So she tries to pull up her skirt and urinate into a urinal, facing away and bending way over. Then they turn on some kind of shower accidentally and get soaked. So they travel on in bras and panties while they dry. Christina is trying to locate something on the car floor, her damp bottom elevated, when a motorcyclist passes and is wowed. They buy dry clothing at a passing store and are suddenly brightly outfitted. They reach the wedding, and it turns out it is Peter, not his brother, who is getting married. But midst the ceremony the bride says she doesn't want to marry him, and he doesn't want to marry her. So they kiss to the break-up. Christina doesn't know it. Then he seeks her, and explains that he didn't get married. They work it out.

I read Flying Saucers and Broomsticks by Jason K Albee. As the title suggests, this is a mixture of science fiction and fantasy. Amelia wakes at night to discover weird things happening; it seems that aliens are abducting her sister Molly. Trying to stop that, Amelia falls through an archway and finds herself in a desert. She gamely starts walking. Years pass, and Amelia is caught in a different realm, enrolled in a magical cooking school, still determined to rescue her sister if she can. Serious magic can be done in cooking if the right ingredients are found. Amelia has a certain eye for magic phenomena that others can't see, which helps. Then it gets complicated, and she winds up in space, fighting aliens between cooking classes. There is plenty of action here, and the trade-off between cooking and space conflict is unusual, but I am concerned that the narrative seems to lack emotion; we see the events but don't properly feel them. I understand this is intended as a juvenile; maybe young readers will be satisfied with a pretty wild story.

I watched The 2 Sides of The Bed, in Spanish with English subtitles. Well I watched part of it; I discovered that however clever the dialogue might be, it didn't come across well translated and in subtitles. So I cut my losses and quit about 45 minutes into it. It is supposed to be about two men with two women, the men not knowing that the women are in love with each other. But I didn't get that far.

I watched the Discover video How the Earth was Made: The Rockies. They were once twice their present height, rivaling the Himalayas of today. There are clam and ammonite fossils on them, which means this ground was under the sea, seventy million years ago. Now not only are they higher, they are tilted at sixty degrees. What caused that? Plate tectonics: the drifting of continents. Continents collided, so that the land buckled. They can tell how high by leaf fossils; leaves with jagged edges grow in colder weather than those with smooth edges. Higher is colder. Thus they know how high the mountains were at the time those trees grew on them. There were also huge volcanic eruptions depositing deep layers of ash, like blankets of snow. Then three million years ago came the Ice Age, when glaciers scraped the surface, eroding the valleys at geologic lighting speed. That ended ten thousand years ago: an eye-blink. Now a gigantic rift is opening up, the Rio Grande Rift Valley, advancing northward. The area is still rapidly changing, though we won't be around to see it; it is as if we are at a frozen moment in an eternal process. I find it fascinating.

I read Radley's Home for Horny Monsters, by Annabelle Hawthorne. If you like sexy fantasy, and I do, this is one great read. Some novels have virtually no sex, while others have sex but no real story. I like to have both together. This has plenty of both, and I enjoyed it throughout. Protagonist Mike has inherited an estate, and goes to learn just what is there. Monsters, in a manner, but they tend to be female, shapely, sexy, and expressive. When he takes a bath, the water spirit Naia manifests and eagerly has sex with him, her way of relating. Then he encounters Tink, the goblin girl, who relates similarly, only she's small and tight, so they both have to struggle to get him all the way into her for the culmination. And Cecilia the banshee, who accepts sex rather than death for him. And Abella the stone gargoyle, who softens for his intimate embrace. Together they guard the premises. But there are others who want the estate, handsome women, and they use magic to nullify the guardians and ensorcell Mike. He fights them off sexually, and finally manages to prevail despite seemingly having no chance. For example, one puts him to sleep, and he can't wake up until he has sex with her in the dream, when she can take his soul along with his orgasm. She can assume any form, and tries to seduce him in the form of Naia, but he catches on, I think, when she begs him to fuck her in the ass, and he knows the water spirit does not have an ass in that sense. If he declines to oblige her, she'll wait years if necessary; he can't escape. Only by making her climax instead of himself can he defeat her, and she is savvy and not about to allow that. He finally succeeds, essentially by outsmarting her, and his pleasant future here seems assured. So sex and action are integral, and it's a fun story from beginning to end. I loved it, and recommend it for horny, I mean regular readers with a similar taste.

I watched Robot Revolution. A lady police officer, Constable Hawkins, and her android partner make a routine check on a high-rise apartment building. She wears a black left eye patch, and the android looks like a humanoid robot. They question a resident; then an armed man and woman come and there is an altercation and the visitors are killed. An elevator malfunctions, trapping a man. Two girls smoke a drug stick, and get knocked out. There turn out to be nano-robots, miniature robots, macroscopic, that can take over a human body and operate it. They control anything with a microchip. So the lady cop shoots the main control of the floor, meaning the equipment can no longer be controlled because it is inoperative. The next step is to disconnect the whole building from the power grid. They do it, but the nano plague is already spreading. The lady cop leads them down and out of the building. On the way they have to fight off the monster robot cleaning machine. They do, but it takes out the android. Or does it? The issue is evidently unsettled. Is the government behind the nano-robots? This is a low-budget effort.

I watched the Discover video Incredible Mysteries of the World: Atlantis. Legend says that 12,000 years ago there was an advanced civilization that crashed. Could it be true? There are six sites that have been called Atlantis. The legend has been told all over the world throughout history, and endlessly embellished. Plato told it, having heard it from his grandfather. It prospered, but then there were tremors, violent earthquakes, and a volcanic eruption that finally destroyed it. Other legends, such as that of the city of Troy, have been verified as true, but what about this one? Malta has prehistoric ruins; was it flooded by the sinking of Atlantis? What about Thera, near Greece? That volcanic eruption was one of the most phenomenal of history. Did it happen 9,000 years before Plato? No, 900 years, but that could be a typo. Thera had been a flourishing community before the eruption. And yes, I agree: Thera was surely what Plato referred to. But was it a civilization more advanced than others of its time? I doubt it. The legends, like the measurements of time, may be inflated ten fold.

I watched The Arrival. Zane, a radio astronomer, picks up a cosmic noise that just might signal alien intelligence. 42 seconds and it's gone, and it does not repeat. He turns the tape over to his boss. Then things start going wrong. His boss says there was no signal. The recording disappears, and people get the backup tape and that too disappears. They pretend Zane imagined it, and he is fired. His girlfriend Char is transferred out. His partner turns up dead. Something is definitely up, and he means to find out what. He fashions an antenna array, and finds the same signal—but this time it's from Earth. Impossible—unless they are talking. He goes to Mexico, and a wild accident almost kills him. He finds a man who seems to be tracking him, corners the man—who then leaps impossibly up to the roof and escapes. The aliens are no longer far away; they're here. He meets Ilana Green, a young woman in similar business, and she's getting the same brutal treatment. Deadly scorpions are put in her hotel room. So much for her. Zane sees a large antenna rise from underground, signaling something. He finds his way into the underground hanger and sees an alien with backward knees and prehensile hair, becoming a lovely woman. He manages to escape. But they are still after him, masquerading as people. Char shows up, but he doesn't trust her. Then she sees an alien attack him, and realizes that he was not exaggerating. Now she's on his side. He manages to freeze the aliens with gas, but their weird sphere whirls and generates dangerous effects. He and Char escape, but this is clearly not the end. The aliens say they are merely speeding up the destructive process that humans started. Earth is doomed regardless. They may be right. This is one hell of a disaster movie.

I watched 2035, Forbidden Dimensions. Jack Slade can time travel. But when he goes to the year 2035 he finds himself beside a corpse in a post apocalyptic wasteland. Doctors seem to run things, but they seem as crazy as the damaged people. There are flashbacks to other times, perhaps showing how this situation came about. Extended scenes showing not much. Detective Giger interviews him. Slade gets gorily gutted and beheaded. Another sequence sees him restored without explanation, and bloodily attacked again. In another scene he gets tortured by electric shocks. He encounters a grisly zombie woman. A man leads him through a weird maze of effects, then tells him to run, run run. He finds a nude woman he has been looking for. She kisses him and things go wild. And he dies of a heart attack. An odd low-budget effort, with its surprises, but overall not really comprehensible.

I watched Pernicious. Three pretty girls visit Thailand to teach English for the summer. Black haired Julia, the blondes Alex and Rachel. It is nice and scenic. But this is a horror movie, so you know it won't stay nice. The house is nice, but has a life size golden metal statue of a naked eight year old girl child that is a bit eerie. They go into town and pick up three boys. The blonde is flirtatious; the black-haired Julia is far more cautious. Then visions of horror as the girls slowly and bloodily torture the boys, stabbing flesh, plucking out eyeballs, tongue, teeth. Killing them, licking off the blood. Horrible dreams, maybe a product of the local alcoholic drink. They they discover that the golden statue has been stolen. They call, and are told there is no statue. Then in town they see a little girl that age who leads them to the countryside and a weird establishment, where an old woman tells them the life girl is a spook, not real. They learn that a child was murdered, the body then cased in gold like a statue, maybe to protect the soul, per Thai custom. This may be what they are encountering. They start seeing the statue at odd moments, such as when they are trying to sleep, or take a bath. It appears and disappears. Then the old woman gets gorily murdered by a hooded grown female. The girls wake to find mud footprints leading to or from their house. They learn that the prior occupants were a family of man, woman pregnant with a son, and daughter. The woman was ill, so to save her and his son the man gave the daughter, Vanida, in sacrifice. But the woman hung herself, so the sacrifice was for nothing. They made an amulet to prevent the little girl's soul from seeking revenge. But now she is free, and seeking that revenge. The old man gives the young women the protective amulet. Then the young man sacrifices himself to end it, to set right the wrong. But the ghost child still seeks revenge. It is not yet clear why she blames the three Americans, who had nothing to do it the murder. Then it seems she animates Alex, who then goes after the other two girls, to get their blood for the sacrifice. Because they have everything the little girl ever wanted. She drinks their blood and smears it on herself. Then the vengeful spirit lets her go, horrified, for just long enough for her to summon her boyfriend. Then, re-possessed, she will torture him to death. The revenge will continue.

I watched Starship Rising. Almost inaudible prologue, and the ensuing dialogue remains faint, with loud background music. The action seems jumpy. Aliens have conquered the planet. Now the Federation governs. A woman is abducted; a man is raping her when another woman knocks him out. Later the rebels need a pilot. John Worthy can fly a ship if he joins the uprising. A woman gives birth. A couple has somewhat violent sex. A spaceship lands on a planet. A pretty coworker kisses Worthy. The enemy gives Worthy an ultimatum: surrender or his mother and sister will be killed. He hesitates, and his mother is killed. They are afoot on a barren world when flying machines attack. They escape. A planet is attacked. Explosions all over. People die. Worthy and the woman kiss again. Good guy fights bad guy hand to hand. Bad guy says mother and sister weren't really killed; it was an emulsation. Good guys finally win—I think. It is a stage in a lager war. To be continued.

I watched Devil's Tower. A guy gets fresh with a girl, and she tears out his throat with her fingers, but she doesn't seem to be a vampire. Sarah moves into a new apartment. It's not much; trash lines the hallways. She has been abused, and this represent a new chance at life. Her mother is a vicious bitch. Sarah collects what meager belongings she has and moves in. She defends herself with a frying pan. Every so often a watching person appears on the TV, and causes that person in life to do horrible things. Sarah appears on it briefly, and goes briefly crazy. Something is viciously controlling them. Her new friend Sid is alarmed. Weird, bloody, and sexy things keep happening. People are brutally killed. It becomes a free-for-all brawl. There isn't really a resolution. Not my kind of movie.

I read An Atheist's History of Belief, by Matthew Kneale. This is not his own belief, but that of the world, religion. As an agnostic atheist I relate strongly to what he is saying; he truly exposes the foibles of religion. He explains how modern man developed a mental ability unknown to other creatures, the Theory of Mind, which is the ability to put yourself into the mind of someone or something else, see things from his (generic “his,” meaning his, hers, its) perspective, understanding how he might see things. Why did that ability develop? Surely because it aided our survival, and in the end made us the dominant species on Earth. If you are hunting an ox, it helps to have a notion how the ox thinks, anticipate its decisions, and be there for the kill. If you encounter a warrior from another tribe, your insight into his mind may help you avoid getting killed. If you spy a highly desirable mate, it may enable you to win that prize. Further, it enables the whole art of storytelling, which I, as a professional storyteller, believe is the very foundation of what makes us human. We put our minds into the characters, and see what they see, hear what they hear, feel what they feel. A story could begin: Joe Schmoe walks down the street. He sees shiny new car, a shaggy growling mongrel dog, and a lovely nude girl. You have a pretty good notion of his thoughts, don't you? You'd like to drive that car, avoid that dog, and get close to that girl, because of your Theory of Mind. I could continue for some time on the impact of storytelling, but let's move on. The Theory also enables religion, because you can enter the supposed mind of the storm that means to blow you away, the forest fire that wants to toast you, or the spirit of the ox you killed, that means to extract revenge. You appreciate the need for supernatural help to fend off vengeful spirits. You need a spirit on your side, a powerful one. You also need assistance from the spirits of the crops you are growing, so they will live long and prosper and feed you well. You need, ultimately, God. The author traces the signals of religion from places like Catalhuyuk, which I wrote about in GEODYSSEY; the cave painters, ancient atifacts, Stonehenge, and so on. The signals of the Theory are everywhere.

Then on into actual religion. Such as the biblical Book of Daniel, which he says was a forgery, adding a dream of foretelling the future. The dream was remarkably accurate—because the fakery was in the dating of it, pretending that actual history had been prophesied. It concluded with a bit of real prophesy: that after a period of non-violent Jewish resistance the Greeks who were oppressing them would be dealt with by the angels, and a new golden age would begin, ruled by the people of Yahweh. It didn't happen, but the piece had impact that continues to this day, because people liked the idea of the end of the world and the final rewarding of the Chosen Ones—themselves, of course. He goes on to cover, sketchily, the whole of religion through the ages, concluding with the Scientologists and their trillion year insight into the past. He does it with a straight face, but you can see how ludicrous it is. I loved this book, but I suspect religious folk will not be so much amused. Maybe a devotee should write a similarly amusing refutation, A Theist's History of Non-belief.

I watched Alien Dawn. Suddenly alien machines attack the world and there is chaos. The machines are slow flying things, and there are also three legged land giants. Targeted people are blown into dust. People fleeing them start fighting each other for simple things like food. Mercy killing of the seriously wounded. A woman, Melissa, and two men struggle to survive, then to fight back, though it seems hopeless. The men argue incessantly. They meet others, and head together for Paradise City. They make bombs. Melissa signals a three legged giant machine, getting it to chase her, so that it steps on a bomb, loses a leg, and crashes down. Their first victory! Others join them. Writhing nests of tentacled things consume screaming people. These must be the creatures that built the machines. The resistance becomes more effective. They are stopping the machines. But they will have to keep fighting until every alien thing is gone.

I watched Navy Seals V Demons. Mutilated bodies start showing up in Jack County, Texas. So the Navy recruits some out of luck Seals who were once a team to tackle the demons, off the record. Three of them cycle down. They visit a bar, where the barmaid shows how sexily she can dance. When a biker gang leader accosts her, the Seal takes him down, and his friends, impressively. Now they respect him. The Seals meet up with the Demons, and find them supernaturally strong. The local padre explains that his church is the only place left where demons can't enter. The demons need virgin blood to purify themselves so that they can enter and destroy this last sanctuary on earth. So the girls stay here at night. The Seals make an alliance with the Bikers to tackle the menace. They raid the Demons' hangout. They fight the Demons. With the aid of the Cross they manage to kill the chief Demon. The threat is over.

I watched Curse of the Dragon Slayer. Bloodshed the Orc fights an elf girl, Nemmit, who has glowing blue eyes when she fights. (Not sure of the spelling of the names.) She finally beheads him. Keltus learns that the God of the Undead will soon awaken. He must stop the orc before he sets free the God of the Undead. Then Nemmit gets arrested when she comes for promised payment for the orc's head. Keltus has her freed in his company, promising to help her get rid of the cursed mark on her left arm. He then frees a bound warrior, Coliman, and the three move on in an uneasy truce, having a common enemy. They get waylaid, and Nemmit is captured, but Coliman rescues her. Then Keltus rescues them both. The go to break up a demonic ceremony involving the sacrifice of maidens. Keltus tackles a fiery four horned dragon. Nemmit dies, but Keltus draws on new magical power to bring her back, her curse gone. So all is well with the three, who have earned real respect for each other. Together they have thwarted the evil God of the Undead and the world is saved.

I watched March of the Penguins. The Emperor Penguins leap from the water and start marching seventy miles to their mating place. They have been feeding all summer—our winter—and are fat birds, at least night now. When they tire of walking they skid along on their bellies. There are fewer males than females, and the ladies may quarrel over desired males. The males don't seem to mind. In due course they pair off and engage in slow courtship and lovemaking. Winter intensifies, and they huddle together to stay warm. They put the eggs on their feet and sit on them. The mother must go forage and eat, so entrusts the egg to the father. Some lose their eggs. The father safeguards the egg for more than two months. He must go without food for more than four months. The mother makes the return trip to the sea, in colder weather, and having lost about a third of her weight; she is starving. The temperature is now 80 degrees below zero, and the wind can be 100 miles per hour. The warmest place is in the center of the flock, but of course not everyone can be there. The females must search for the new shoreline, because ice has formed where the old one was; they can take days looking. Finally they find water. They feed on fish, krill, and squid. The males struggle to stay alive, and some don't make it. It is dark almost all the time. Survival is truly a community effort. Sea predators, like sea lions, pursue the mothers. But July they make the walk back, in darkness. Finally spring comes and the chicks hatch. But the worst is yet to come. The chicks sit on their fathers' feet. He feeds the chick with a milky substance from his beak, but that lasts only a day or two; if the mothers don't return soon, the chicks will die. The mothers arrive, and sound off; the fathers recognize their voices and answer. The mother sees her chick for the first time. The chicks are passed to the mothers. The father and chicks sing to each other, so they will recognize each other when the fathers return. The males have lost half their weight, and must walk 70 miles; some don't make it, which may be why there are fewer males than females. The chicks learn to walk alone. Mothers and daughters walk together. A storm comes, and many chicks will not survive it. They learn to huddle for warmth. Flying predators attack the chicks. In August the mothers must depart to feed again, leaving the chicks behind. The fathers return. By September the ice thins and cracks, allowing the parents to go back and forth more frequently. The parents will finally separate for the last time. The chicks will be on their own, growing and strengthening. In December the chicks go to sea, swimming and foraging for themselves. They will live at sea for four years, until they too will return to land and march, restarting the cycle. What a life!

I watched King Arthur Legend of the Sword. Evil Mage Mordred marches on Camelot. Giant elephants bash down walls. Townsmen flee. There's a line of men to try to draw the sword Excalibur from the stone; Arthur draws it and collapses. He know nothing about the legend; he is the bastard child of a whore. He is arrested and slated to be executed while being ridiculed. He doesn't want to cooperate with those who want to make him fight. When he touches the sword he sees supernatural monsters, flaming steeds, dark knights. He doesn't like it. There's an awful lot of waiting around. The lady mage tells him that the venom of a snake will show him things he doesn't want to see, but he needs its protection. The snake bites him, and it is so. The bad guy treacherously kills his own daughter, I'm not clear why. At the end Arthur fights the evil spirit and defeats him in one of the few good action sequences in the movie. Then Arthur takes power as the new King. The movie has its moments, but overall is somewhat tedious.

I watched Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Three years after the original theme park was destroyed by escaping dinosaurs, the island's dormant volcano returns to life. Now they have to rescue the dinosaurs from another extinction. A mission to fetch DNA samples gets caught; their man on the ground barely catches the rope ladder descending from the helicopter—when a mosasaur leaps up and gulps him down. Now the question: should the government intervene to save the dinosaurs, or let them be re-extincted? The government decides to stay clear. Claire receives a call. She meets Eli, who says a private corporation has prepared a new sanctuary, but they need an expert. Maybe Claire can convince that man, Owen, whom she used to date. They especially want to save Blue, a new species, the most intelligent of the dinosaurs, but that will be a challenge. They go with Zia and Franklin to capture key dinosaurs for the transport. But the soldiers on the mission tend to be trigger happy and mess things up. Blue is shot, and needs treatment. Meanwhile the volcano is leaking lava, working up to a full eruption. Owen, Franklin, and Claire barely escape. They have to get blood from a carnisor to help Blue. The child Maisie overhears men plotting to sell the dinosaurs, but her grandfather won't listen to her warning. Then Grandfather dies. The auction for the dinosaurs proceeds. This of course is not the way it was supposed to be. The main attraction is the new Indoraptor, the ultimate carnovore. The bad soldier collects teeth. He shoots it wish anesthetic dart, clips out a tooth, and gets chomped himself. But now the indoraptor is loose. It chases Owen, Claire, and Maisie. It is quite a chase. Much smaller Blue attacks it, distracting it long enough. Then Maisie presses the button that frees them from the building. It has turned out that Maisie herself is a genetically made creature, so she feels for the dinosaurs. Now they are loose on the mainland. Blue departs after showing she remembers Owen. There will surely be more, in due course.

I watched Paddington 2. Paddington is a little talking bear living among human folk in London. His aunt Lucy Bear is turning 100, and Paddy wants to buy a fancy pop-up book for her, so he gets a job as a barber to earn the money. Naturally he messes it up. So he tries being a window cleaner. He has a unique messed up way of doing it. Then he gets a job making marmalade for a prisoners' meal, as he has a special formula. Meanwhile we learn more about the pop-up book, which is very special, as it's twelve scenes of London may be clues to where a treasure is hidden. The marmalade is a big success with the prisoners, who then remember other old good recipes they can make. But now Paddington is in prison, where he can't clear his name. They stage a breakout, and fly a balloon away. Paddington catches a train. His friends catch another. This leads to about as wild a chase as may be imagined, with the prisoners saving the day from an airplane. All finally ends well. The story continues during the credits, showing the dispositions of key characters, good and bad.

I finally completed my viewing of Star Trek Voyager, and it is my favorite so far. I like feisty Captain Janeway, and urbane Chakotay, and temperamental B'Elanna, and shapely Seven of Nine. The other series had women in tight costumes, but Seven really carries it best. I think bringing her in and showing her slow humanization strengthened the series, and my favorite incident is when the Doctor and Seven sing the duet “You Are My Sunshine.” Another I like is when obviously alien figures playing roles in the Holodeck animation, seriously preach the Nazi gospel of the pure master race. I started 2018 watching original Star Trek episodes, and proceeded on through the several series, liking each series better than the last. In 2019 I will be watching Enterprise, and the animated series, and a non-Star Trek series recommended to me, Orville. Of course I understand that another Star Trek series is running now; eventually I'll have to catch up with that. Stay tuned.

Incidental notes: in Brazil they have discovered a colossal complex of more that 200 million termite mounds, covering more than 88,000 square miles, dating back as long as 4,000 years. They can be up to ten feet high and thirty feet wide. The amount of soil excavated is equivalent to four thousand pyramids of Giza. All this accomplished by termites only half an inch long. Plants do more than we may think. A scientist suspects that plants can learn and remember. She set up a fan so that the wind blew toward where light would be. Soon they learned to follow that signal, and grow where the fan went. They have no brain; the entire plant is the brain. Rats are social creatures, helping each other, exchanging favors. When a rat-sized robot on wheels was there, the rats helped it too. Maybe it is similar to the way humans get to like dolls or machines. Cave art sometimes shows outlines of hands. Some of those hands show missing fingers. Does this represent sacrifice or accident? Or merely fingers bent over to make the effect? We wish we knew. A study finds that most folk are okay with a person paying a lifelike humanoid robot for sex. Indeed, robot brothels are being set up. They have found that bouncier running shoes lead to more leg injuries, not less, because the springiness causes runners to change their pace. There are ways to halt global warming, but they require daily sacrifices, like using less fossil fuel, or eating less meat, that few people actually want to do. So it is my regretful belief that the world really will go to hell, in the sense of becoming too hot for long term survival. The charity RIP Medical Debt uses its money to pay off medical debts so that people can get on with their lives. But of course if America had the kind of medical insurance other nations do, there would be no medical debt. Green burials are gaining popularity: no embalming, no concrete-lined caskets, no big headstones. just let nature absorb the remains as it does for any other creature. Use it or lose it: if you use your brain late in life, you are likely to live longer and better. I have been doing that all along, and at age 84 I seem to have most of my mind with me. I also eat right and exercise. Speaking of which, an article in NEW SCIENTIST says that the benefits of dancing go far beyond enjoyment or exercise. People are born to move, and to move rhythmically. When they dance, their attitudes towards one another are better, their creative thinking improves, and their mental skills remain later in life. Damn! That's one thing I have not been doing. Women are still underpaid, and it's worse than thought. Theoretically they make 20% less than men for similar work, but a more careful long-term study indicates it is more like 50% less. And we call ourselves an advanced culture? Workers are starting to improve the ethics of tech giants. Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple have felt the impact, and are starting to reform. The human epoch, starting about 11,000 years ago, is called the Anthropocene. Something about the first four letters of the word appeals to me; eventually I may figure it out. Too bad this epoch has not been kinder to the natural world. And the spacecraft New Horizons that gave us our closest view of Planet Pluto three and a half years ago is now passing Ultima Thule, four billion miles from Earth. Light takes ten hours to reach us from there. It's just a tiny ball of ice, I think only about twenty miles in diameter, but we should soon know much more about it.

Semi-personal notes: we value rain, here on the tree farm, and there isn't always enough of it. But normally dry Dismember changed that. We had two rainy fronts come through, bringing almost ten inches between them, and the month is our best of the year and highest Dismember in our thirty years here. The TAMPA BAY TIMES revised its comics pages, deleting in its typical fashion two of my favorites, “Holy Mole” and “Lio.” Maybe the problem is that you need an IQ above 85 to appreciate those. Where the latter used to be is now “Breaking Cat News,” which I suspect you need an IQ under 85 to appreciate. It has been an interesting year for tame plants. Deer had eaten down our Turk's Cap Hibiscus so much that though they used make a hundred flowers a season, last year they made none. Once after a freeze I was removing dead stalks and discovered I had just pulled out one that had new little roots growing. So I hastily replanted it and took care of it. This was the only one that managed to survive the deer. So this year Daughter Cheryl and I put up a children's climbing dome, and buttressed it with chicken wire, and that lone Turk's Cap sent out new shoots from the root and flowered. We also planted new single hibiscus flowers, and they were lovely, until maybe caterpillars denuded them; I say maybe because I never saw one in the act. Only one plant survived intact; another is trying to recover, and two seem to be dead. I spread Sevin powder around them, but maybe too late to save them. Our Christmas Cactus had flourished in our pool enclosure for years, until a raccoon or opossum got in and wiped it out. We managed to save only fragments, which we grew indoors on the kitchen window sill, but indoors is not great for that plant to flower. So this year I transplanted the three plants back outside, protected by a total chicken wire enclosure, and thus protected they produced about sixty flowers, a real success. And I discovered a small Mulberry sapling growing about two feet from the house, where it couldn't stay. Probably a bird perched on our 40 foot TV antenna—we don't have cable or satellite—and pooped, and the seed grew from that. Years ago I found one and transplanted it to a safe place; it is is now a fair size young tree. So I transplanted the new one, regretting the damage done to the orange roots in the process. It had eleven leaves, lost seven, but today four remain in good order and it should survive to become a second nice tree. So that should be another success. Those who wonder what I do when not writing, reading, or watching videos, well, caring for local plants is a significant part of it. They are living things too, just trying to make their way, and I care about them as I do about animals. We have many palmettos around our house and yard, and they are Sable Palmettos, which I leave alone. So what? you ask. Well, that just happens to be the State Tree of Florida. I think of them a wickerwork basket plants, because of the way their fronds impressively cross-hatch around the trunk. Eventually they shed those and become pretty much indistinguishable from traditional palms. I'd like to find a book that identifies all the palms and palmettos; they are fascinating.

Next month I will start writing Xanth #45 A Tryst of Fate. We're working on getting the prior three published; it should happen any year now. The big Xanth movie that went bust really messed up the schedule. Yes, movie interest continues to flirt with Xanth, but like a cruel tease it has never solidified.

I conclude with a question I received from “Endev42” www.endev42.com: “What is the meaning of Life?” This is problematical, because I doubt life has any inherent meaning. Life is merely a process, like fire burning or a river flowing; it has meaning only if we live for meaning, and many don't. It is evident that I was not among the first or second round of folks they questioned, or the first hundred or thousand; I am a late afterthought. So here is my formal answer to their question form, which I suspect will not much resemble their other responses:

What is your religious affiliation? Agnostic
What is the meaning of life? Life has no inherent meaning. It is a process, like Fire, or a River, or Thought. When that process is complete, there is only meaningless refuse. It is like asking “Is this statement false?”
Life has meaning only if we live for meaning. Few do. We can try to shape our refuse into something worthwhile, at least in our fancy, by calling it Accomplishment. Such as a changed environment or a beneficial philosophy. We know processes by their refuse. Fire leaves ashes, or a cleansed environment. A river leaves flooded devastation, or the Grand Canyon. Thought generated this statement, which may be false.
The meaning of life may be false.

PIERS


Voyager



Season 5, #24 “Warhead” Harry Kim is at the helm, assisted by the female Jenkins, night shift. He gets a distress call. He beams to the planet with the Doctor and a crewman. They find a machine sending the automated signal. It asks why it can't see, or feel its arms or legs. Apparently it doesn't know it is a machine. It is damaged, and suffers memory loss. They conclude it is a weapon of mass destruction. They try to transfer its intelligence to a holo like the Doctor, but the bomb takes over the doctor himself and threatens to destroy them if they don't cooperate with it. They talk with it, and learn that its orders were rescinded. But it doesn't trust this, and decides to proceed to destroy its target. Kim talks it into changing its target, now that it understands that the war is over. It beams to space and destroys the other missiles. But this was one close call.

#25 “Equinox Part 1” Flying things are attacking the science ship the Equinox. The Voyager goes to the rescue. They beam aboard and find a few survivors in the wreckage, including Captain Ransom. Another officer is one B'Elanna date ten years ago. The other ship is stranded. They make common cause, but the creatures are still attacking and all may not be quite as the other captain says. They want to get home, and may be willing to sacrifice the Voyager to accomplish that. It turns out they were using the aliens to facilitate their journey home, and the aliens were trying to protect themselves. Now they're trying to do the same to the personnel of the Voyager. They take off, leaving the Voyager to fight off the aliens. To be continued.

Season 6, #1 “Equinox Part II” Really strange ships, like giant insects, introduce season 6. Betrayed by the ship they tried to help, they must fight off the alien attack. The Equinox has captured Seven of Nine, who refuses to cooperate with them, and a copy of the Doctor. Ransom deletes the Doctor's ethical subroutine so he will operate on Seven to obtain her codes, though this will destroy her mind. Janeway is angry, and means to hunt Ransom down. Chakotay disagrees, but follows her orders, until she relieves him of command. They ambush the Equinox away team on a planet and capture it, but it refuses to cooperate. Tuvok objects, but Janeway refuses to change her course. She talks with the aliens, and agrees to deliver the Equinox to them if they cease their attacks. Ransom is relieved of duty. The Equinox is destroyed, but Ransom survives on the planet. They capture several surviving members of the crew and will take them home, but as crewmen, not as officers. This was one rough engagement, ethically as well as physically.

#2 “Survival Instinct” The Voyager is taking shore leave time at a planet. A trader brings Seven of Nine a set of Borg synaptic relays. This is some kind of campaign whose object is not clear, but it could be a Borg plot to recover Seven. Raiders try to abduct her, and are fought off. The units are Two Three, and Four of Nine, others in Seven's group. Eight years ago she forced them to return to the Borg collective. She refuses to make that mistake again. They are free, though it seems they do not have long to live.

#3 “Barge of the Dead” B'Elanna gets shaken up in the stuttle; it picked up a Klingon artifact. Then it leaks blood that vanishes. Is she hallucinating? Tuvok thinks it is a psychological manifestation of her objection of her Klingon heritage. Other visions occur. She finds herself on the Barge of the Dead, her soul being ferried to hell. She tries to fight her way clear, and wakes back on the 'Voyager; she's been in a coma throughout. So the Doctor put her into a trance that duplicates the conditions that sett her off before, and she's back in the Klingon realm, on the Barge of the Dead. She talks with her Klingon mother Miral. She takes Miral's place, trying to save her mother. They try to bring her out of it, but it only modifies the vision. Until at last she does wake, having perhaps rejected the violence in her soul.,

#4 “Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy” The Doctor has a vision sequence of him singing while saving Tuvok from his mating siege. A Borg sphere attacks. Borg units assimilate other members of the crew. The Doctor takes charge and destroys the sphere. Comes out of his daydream and goes into another. Pig men are trying a sneak attack; they are the ones behind this. The Doctor is now in continuous daydream mode. He paints a duplicate Seven nude. A dream B'Elanna comes on to him while the real B'Elanna watches. The alien Hierarchy thinks the Doctor commands the Voyager. So Janeway sets it up so that the Doctor does seem to be in charge, to fool them. He says to activate the photonic cannon, a mythical weapon the aliens think is real. They retreat. The crown has a ceremony to honer him for his performance, this time not a daydream. But Seven tells him not to expect her to pose for him.

#5 “Alice” They discover a junkyard of ships and pieces of ships. Among other things they trade for Alice, a special small ship in need of repair. She responds directly to mental commands and seems to be conscious. Paris works on her. Alice assumes human form, a pretty girl who tries to persuade him to depart with her. Then Alice tries to kill B'Elanna. Alice takes Paris to space. It becomes a struggle between Alice and B'Elnna. Alice wants him and freedom with him being a part of her. The little ship is destroyed and Paras comes out of his waking nightmare.

#6 “Riddles” Neelix and Tuvok are on a mission on the Delta Flyer. Something rays Tuvok and wounds him. It may be the Ba'Neth, a highly secretive species. Tuvox is unconscious in sick bay. Neelix tries to get through to him, and somehow succeeds. But he still doesn't talk. Finally he does, but his memory is foggy and his convalescence is slow. Seven suggests that Janeway helped her not by restoring her to the Borg but by helping her to become something new. So Neelix tries that with Tuvok. Now Tuvok can smile, and turns out to be a fine chef. He makes a pantry design that emulates a cloaking frequency. Now Janeway is able to bargain with the Ba'Neth. Now they can restore Tuvok, but he doesn't want to be restored; he'd rather have fun. But he agrees, and returns to his normal cold self. Yet now he does have a thin streak of illogic.

#7 “Dragon's Teeth” There has been an accident, and folk must put themselves to sleep for five years, to start again when it passes. I note how most aliens, including these, are totally human except in their heads. Then to the Voyager, sucked into a subspace corridor midst debris. Aliens attack, the Turei, and they hide on a highly radioactive planet 900 years dead. They revive a sleeper, a Vaadwaur, and with his help scare off the attackers. They have access to numerous space tunnels that could significantly help the Voyager move toward home. But they mean to betray the Voyager. Seven and Neelix catch on, and the Voyager escapes. But this may not be the end of it.

#8 “One Small Step” Near planet Mars, ancient Earth history 2032: something appears in space and closes rapidly on the ship. John Kelly sees it. Then on Voyager signals get mixed up; Seven is upgrading the system. Then hey encounter a graviton ellipse, a rare phenomenon. Chakotay, Seven, and Paris take the Delta Flyer into the ellipse. Chtakotay is determined to recover the ancient module despite the risk. They find the old Mars module, tractor it, and depart, barely in time to avoid a collision with a dark matter asteroid. But they remain locked in the anomaly. Seven beams to the module to obtain a distributor they need. Meanwhile she receives the ancient captain's last transmission. She gets the distributor and they escape with the downloaded recording. They commit Kelly's body to space with due honors.

#9 “The Voyager Conspiracy” Naomi wants to help Seven of Nine but has to depart. An alien is experimenting with a catapult that might hurl a spaceship a thousand light years. Alien fleas are infecting things. Seven is suspicious of the technology, and makes a case to Chakotay that Janeway has a conspiracy to establish a presence in the Delta quadrant. Then she tells Janeway that Chokatay is conspiring to take over. Janeway and Chakotay get together and realize that something is going on. They trust each other. Seven is malfunctioning, paranoid, maybe from the fleas. Janeway finally talks Seven into trusting her, and her malfunction is fixed.

#10 “Pathfinder” Lt. Reginald Barclay, once of the Enterprise, now of Earth, is trying to establish communication with the Voyager, but his idea is rejected. He talks with Deanna, a psychologist, frustrated because no one believes in him. He makes a holodeck simulation of the Voyager and tries to send a message to it via a micro wormhole. He finally succeeds and they do establish brief contact, that may indicate future contacts. It is a phenomenal breakthrough. The Voyager sends its history to Earth, and is encouraged. There may be more, in due course.

#11 “Fair Haven” Paris and Kim are in a holodeck simulation of a quaint nineteenth century Irish town, Fair Haven. Then the ship encounters an energy wave it must ride out. Thus the holodeck setting, maintained full time and folk can wander in and out whenever they want. Janeway visits, likes a man, so has him modified to be more interesting and not married. It becomes a romance. She departs, and he is heartbroken. He loves her, but he's only a hologram. But she may visit him again.

#12 “Blink of an Eye” They visit a planet, but their presence generates disruptions. The Voyager must depart, but is locked in orbit. Time there is accelerated, so that when the Doctor beams down, a few seconds become three years for him. Soon they achieve space technology, and reach Voyager. They board, and the personnel are frozen—until they adapt to the slower time frame. The woman dies, but the man survives. He returns to the planet to tell them what he has learned, and in due course two ships come up and tractor the Voyager out of orbit so it can resume its journey home. But their visitor is now centuries out of his own time frame.

#13 “Virtuoso” There's a minor collision with another ship, and the Qomar take several of the others aboard to treat their injuries. The Doctor sings as he works, and they are intrigued, not being familiar with music. Thus the Doctor becomes the performer. He revels in being a celebrity. He wants to stay with the Qomar. Janeway allows it, though she has reservations. Seven of Nine is not pleased. Then Tincoo creates a superior replica of the Doctor. Now she no longer needs him. It's a comedown. So he stays on the Voyager. But Seven says she's a fan of his. That is a considerable consolation.

#14 “Memorial” Paris return from a successful away mission. B'Elanna has made a 1950s TV replica for him, complete with vintage programs and commercials. He loves it to the exclusion of his attention to her. He finds himself in the battle action sequence. B'Elanna wakes him; it was a dream. Meanwhile Kim, who was also on the away team mission, suffers collapse; the Doctor suspects he was overworked on the away mission. Then Neelix suffers a siege of paranoia, and Chakotay finds himself in the battle action, in a nightmare. So does Paris. Now they discuss it, remembering the details of the action. They had been days without sleep, on a mission to evacuate a village. Things went wrong, and they wiped out the village instead. Then Janeway hallucinates being part of that dreadful scene. They all have the same vivid memory. It turns out to be a 200 year old memorial that triggers memories of what occurred there, so that such an atrocity would never be repeated. They repair it and move on.

#15 “Tsunkatse” It s a gladiator type show with two men brawling before an audience. Crewmembers on shore leave are watching it. Meanwhile Tuvok and Seven of Nine take a shuttle to watch a collapsing nebula. Something happens to their shuttle, and Seven finds herself slated to compete in Tsunkatse, in order to save Tuvok. She hesitates during the match, and loses. A former fighter trains her so that she will have the proper reflexes for the next match. And her match turns out to be her trainer. Meanwhile the Voyager attacks the alien ship and manages to beam them out just as Seven is about to win the match. Now her trainer will get a chance to find his lost son. A powerful episode.

#16 “Collective” Paris, Chakotay, Kim, and Neelix are in a shuttle. Suddenly there's a Borg cube. They get taken into its assimilation chamber. The Voyager negotiates, and Seven is beamed aboard the cube. She learns that five children are running it, all that survive of 5,000. A pathogen is responsible. The children make demands. Seven persuades all but one of them to make their lot with Voyager, and four are beamed aboard. They will be assimilated—in Voyager.

#17 “Spirit Folk” Paris is in old Ireland, riding an early motorcar. They tell stories of a haunted town that disappeared. Kim is there too, and Janeway. The Doctor is a priest. Paris plays a practical joke, turning Kim's date Maggie into a cow just she was about to kiss him. Katie (Janeway) dates Michael Sullivan, resuming a relationship they had in Episode #11. But the holo characters are becoming self aware. To them, the Voyager folk are interfering spirits. Paris and Kim get caught, and the Doctor. Michael gets to Voyager, and Janeway shows him around. Now the folk of Fair Haven know about Voyager. Things will continue on a new basis.

#18 “Ashes to Ashes” A woman is being chased in her starship. She contacts Voyager. She turns out to be Ensign Lyndsay Ballard, a former member of the crew who died in an accident, a friend of Kim's, reanimated by the Kobali and made to look like them. The Doctor treats her to make her look human again. Meanwhile Seven of Nine is training the rescued Borg drone children, in fits and starts. Then Lyndsay starts to revert. The Kobali want her back, and she wants to go, and does, to Kim's regret. Meanwhile progress is being made on the Borg children.

#19 “Child's' Play” The four children rescued from the Borg are working on individual projects, supervised by Seven of Nine. They are impressive. Especially the eldest boy Icheb, who is already materially enhancing the Voyager's galactic sensors. But they have located his parents and he should return to them and their way of life. But he doesn't want to; their life would prevent him from exploring advanced science. Seven us not eager for him to go either, fearing it is wrong. But finally he decides to go with them. So he goes. Then inconsistencies are discovered; all was not as the parents said. In fact they are using Icheb to fight the Borg, sacrificing him to save their planet. The Voyager rescues him again; now he remains aboard, having been betrayed by his family. A thoughtful episode.

#20 “Good Shepherd” Janeway selects three imperfect crew members for an away mission she commands, hoping to bring them up to snuff. The female, Celes, feels inferior, incompetent. Something hits them and they lose thrust power. Then something gets into one of the men, Billy. They get it out. It's an alien creature, not necessarily hostile. Then there is pursuit. They barely escape. Janeway says the good shepherd—her—went after some lost sheep, and ran into a wolf. Fortunately she found the sheep.

#21 “Live Fast and Prosper” Two people saying they are Janeway and Tuvok negotiate with aliens for an ore trade. They cheat the aliens, and Voyager gets the blame. It turns out that the swindlers tricked Neelix into giving the access to Voyager's database, so they could emulate crew members. They manage to catch Nala, the swindler woman. She breaks free, steals the Delta Flyer, and escapes. But she doesn't know that Paris and the Doctor are on the flyer; Janeway has outsmarted them. Then the Doctor emulates Nala. They take over and set things right with the seven other ripped-off worlds.

#22 “Muse” A group is animating Voyager stories. Kelis the Poet narrates. B'Elanna is caught on the crashed Delta Flyer, and Kelis needs to get information from her to write his next play. B'Elana then plays herself in the story of her rescue. Harry Kim turns up; he made it to the planet and had to walk for ten days. They re-power the Delta Flyer. B'Elanna enters the ongoing play, bids Kelis farewell, and beams back to the ship, leaving the audience amazed. This is an interesting merging of fiction and reality, the reality being the Voyager itself.

#23 “Fury” They receive an Ocampan distress call from a woman Janeway knows. It's Kes, once a member of the crew, before Seven of Nine. She beams aboard just before her ship collides with Voyager, and walks down a hall as explosions pace her progress. Others accept her presence as she goes to suck power from the central power unit. She is up so something, and they seem to be living in the past. Only Tuvok is aware that something is strange. She replaces herself of the past, then later means to take her past self away. Then Janeway of the past catches on, and kills the future Kes, the one who is betraying them. They work to change time. Back in the present Janeway faces Kes again. This time Janeway persuades Kes to take a different course, saving the Voyager and her own life. Another weird time travel episode.

#24 “Life Line” Doctor Zimmerman, who made the Doctor holograph, is having problems. At once point he is being massaged by a lovely alien female, but she turns out to be the Doctor of another time, the holograph created in his image. Barclay of Earth is there, the one who succeeded in sending a message to the Voyager. Back in the “Pathfinder” episode. Then Deanna Troi, empath counselor of The Next Generation, shows up. She gets a tour of a simulated Voyager. Zimmerman reprograms the Doctor, who now is able to treat him effectively. I lost some sleep the night before viewing these last two episodes; I think it affected them, making them at least partly nonsensical.

#25 “The Haunting of Deck Twelve” They shut down for several hours as they pass through a nebula, as a precaution. It is nervous business. The Borg children ask Neelix about the haunted Deck Twelve. Flashback to several months before, when they passed through a nebula, and their presence destabilized it. There is a jolt with minimal damage, and they move on. But it seems something came aboard. They find themselves back where they were an hour before. Problems occur, such as Chakotay caught in a plunging elevator, and Seven of Nine attacked by an alien creature. An alien thing has taken control of the ship. Janeway manages to establish communication, but understanding is difficult. She finally gets control of the ship back, and makes a place for the alien on Deck Twelve. Or maybe it is just Neelix's story to divert the children during the power outage.

#26 “Unimatrix Zero, Part 1” A Borg setting. The Borg Queen needs information. Then Seven of Nine is dreaming as she regenerates, and meets Five of Twelve—Axum—in a primitive planet setting. He says Seven was part of their lives for eighteen years. Here Seven is Annika, without Borg implants, her hair loose, and she is one pretty girl. She and Axum were lovers for six years, at least during the regeneration dreams, but she does not remember. Janeway takes B'Elanna and Tuvok in the Delta Flyer and goes on a mission to a Borg cube, to release a virus that will nullify the Borg. They beam aboard as the Flyer is destroyed. But the Queen is watching them. The Borg overpower them, to the satisfaction of the Queen. Or do they? They may have assumed Borg identities. To be continued.

Season 7 #1 “Unimatrix Zero Part II” The regular ship is back for the opening pictures. Janeway is captive, but Tuvok and B'Elanna head for the central plexus. They find Janeway, who looks like a clone but seems to be herself. Is she? They deploy the virus and it starts having effect. The Queen has Janeway captive and demands the antidote. Janeway says there is none. Seven and Axum interact, and kiss. They are falling in love again. Janeway gives an order to Chakotay, but it is not the one it sounds like. They destroy Unimatrix Zero, but the revolution continues. They return to the Voyager, where the Doctor managed to remove most of the Borg implants and they begin their slow recovery. Seven hopes that somehow she can be back together with Axum.

#2 “Imperfection” They find a home for three of the rescued children; only Icheb remains aboard. It is a sad parting, but surely for the best. Seven of Nine is suffering subtle malfunctioning. Her cortical node is shutting down. Janeway takes Tuvok and Paris in the reconstructed Delta Flyer to the Borg debris field, hoping to find a replacement node. Scavengers intercept them. There is a fight, but the away party manages to return, with the node. But the node doesn't work, having been inactive too long. B'Elanna helps Seven cope; the animosity between the two is thawing. Icheb offers to donate his node to help her; maybe he can survive without it. But Seven declines, because of the risk to him. So he removes his node himself, to prove that he can survive without it, and makes a good point to Seven she should not refuse to be dependent on anyone else. So finally she accepts his node. In six days they know: the node has saved her, and he is recovering. This is a powerful emotional episode.

#3 “Drive” Paris and Kim are trying out the rebuilt Delta Flyer and encounter another small craft. They race, and meet Irina, a pretty pointed eared girl, who tells them of a big race coming up. They modify the Delta Flyer so it can participate. B'Elanna had planned a three day holodeck excursion with Paris; this squelches that, to her chagrin. So she replaces Kim as his co-pilot, thus getting time with him doing something that turns him on. The race begins, but is halted because of an injury. Someone is trying to mess it up, and provoke war. Irina's co-pilot is the one injured, and Kim replaces him, thus getting to be with her. But it turns out she sabotaged her own ship, and others, and there will be will be mass destruction at the finish line. Meanwhile Paris and B'Elanna stop racing and talk out their relationship. Kim and Irina also stop. Kim messages Paris about a sabotaged warp core, and Paris saves their ship just in time, and proposes marriage to B'Elanna. Kim and Irina obviously will not have a relationship.

#4 “Repression” Paris” and K'Elanna discover a crewman in a coma in the Holodeck. He was attacked. Janeway puts Tuvok in charge of the investigation. Another crewman is attacked. A suspect is Crewman Jor. Five people are attacked, all former Maquis. Tuvok is perplexed. Then B'Elanna, and Chakotay. There is something odd about Tuvok; he seems to be involved. He investigates and uncovers this. He says he must be confined to the brig. He has visions of a stranger who gives him orders. Victims start recovering on their own. Chakotay recognizes the vision of Teero, a Bajoran vedek. Then Tuvok relays a coded order to Chakotay, who in turn relays it to B'Elanna, and the two of them take control of the ship. But Janeway talks to Tuvok, and he reverts to normal, and the takeover unwinds. Tuvok frees Janeway.

#5 “Critical Care” An alien shop proffers a device, which turns out to be a way to summon the Doctor, who is bewildered to find himself here. It turns out that the alien, Gar, stole the summoning device, substituting a poor replica. This society uses T. C., Treatment Coefficient, a number for the importance of any patient, and those with low numbers don't get treated. Meanwhile Janeway is on the trail. Both the Doctor and Janeway hardly hesitate to use coercive methods to gain their ways as they deal with an obstructive bureaucracy. The Doctor finally is rescued.

#6 “Inside Man” Voeyager now receives monthly packages of letters from home. This time instead comes Reg, a holographic fixit man deriving from Barclay, who promises to improve things. Such as taking Voyager home. Reg meets Deanna Troi on a beach. His girlfriend Leosa has left him because she finds him boring. It turns out the Ferengi want to get hold of Seven of Nine's nanoprobes. That plot is foiled, but the Voyager does not get home.

#7 “Body and Soul” Kim, Seven of Nine and the Doctor on the Delta Flyer are captured by an alien ship that claims they have contraband, such as the Doctor. To avoid capture the Doctor takes over Seven's body; thus the actress is assuming the Doctor's mannerisms. He/she gobbles food, relishing the new experience. The real Seven is left with the food hangover and is not pleased. Meanwhile on the Voyager Tuvok is suffering the stages of the seven year Vulcan mating urge. The alien captain gets a yen for Seven. She plays on that to get the information and access she needs to get them back to the Voyager. That, and Janeway's hard-nosed attitude, get them free. Then Seven shares a nice meal with the Doctor, describing the gustatory experiences for him. He loves it, maybe not just for the description. Seven is continuing to mellow.

#8 “Nightingale” Neelix, Seven of Nine, and Kim are aboard the Delta Flyer, loking for dilithium. They happen across a fight between two ships. They nullify the attacking Annari ship and help the victim ship, the Kraylor, which is carrying medicines for their people. Janeway allows Kim and Seven to help them, cautious about interfering in alien affairs. Kim renames the medical ship he captains Nightingale. His inexperience shows, but he catches on that there is more here than shows. This is not a medicine cargo, but a cloaking test. Under attack, he has to get clever and tough. He does, and saves them. He has come through.

#9 “Flesh and Blood” This is a double length episode. Two aliens are hunting in a forest, until humans ambush them and kill them. Voyager gets a distress call and comes to the planet, and finds the two dead Hirogens. Then a live one. Then holodeck controls. They turn it off and the forest disappears, revealing a number of bodies. It is technology they got from the Voyager. The Hirogen modified the holo technology, and the result is prey that is better at fighting than the original. The Doctor works with the leader Iden and woman Kejal. The Doctor helps the holograms because he is one of them. Then they abduct B'Elanna because they need her technology. The holograms are of many forms, including Cardassian, Bajoran and Klingon. They want to develop a culture of their own, not organic. They also want to liberate all holograms, and they will kill organics to accomplish that. They want to become the hunters. In the end Iden in destroyed and the hologram threat is ended, but there remain things to think about.

#10 “Shattered” The ship enteres an anomaly and off things happen. Chakotay finds himself seven years in the past, and Janeway doesn't recognize him. Then he's five years in the past and Seska is after him. In fact different parts of the ship are in different time zones. He manages to recruit Janeway before the ship gets stranded across the galaxy, by taking her thorough one of the time warps. Then, together, they set about restoring the ship. In the process they visit the future 17 years after they die, when little Naomi is a grown woman and Icheb her companion. Seska tries to take over, but Seven from the past stops her. It finally gets resolved, but necessary mysteries remain. Another wild episode.

#11 “Lineage” B'Elanna turns up pregnant. Immediately everyone knows. The baby has a congenital curvature of the spine, which the Doctor fixes. What will they name her? B'Elanna suffers mood swings. Old issues are evoked, such as her relationship with her father. She blames herself for what went wrong in her family. Finally Paris persuades her that there well be no repeat in this generation of that problem, and all is well again.

#12 “Repentance” They receive a distress call. It turns out that the other ship is transporting prisoners. The one beamed to sick bay quickly revolt, and one holds a knife to Seven of Nine's throat. That threat is nullified and the prisoners secured in a cargo hold. But the guards seem to be as brutal as the prisoners. The prisoner Joleg seems rational. He is a Bentkarian, whose people are punished ten times a much as others, just for being of their species. It is evidently modeled on the American treatment of blacks. Is this right? Also, an injured prisoner is treated with Seven's nanoprobes, which in effect provide him a conscience; he is not the same person who committed the crime. Should he still be executed? These are difficult questions.

#13 “Prophecy” A cloaked Klingon ship attacks the Voyager. Their captain meets B'Elanna, who is half Klingon. They believe that her unborn daughter will be the Klingon savior. They destroy their ship and are beamed aboard the Voyager. 200 violent tempered visitors makes for a challenge. B'Elanna tries to satisfy them that her child is the one, because only in this manner will they accept relocation to a suitable planet. Paris must engage in combat with a Klingon warrior. He does, and the Klingon falls to a virus. Now B'Elanna and her baby have the virus. The Klingons stage a takeover attempt that is barely thwarted. Then the Doctor uses the fetus's antibodies to cure the Klingons of the virus. So the child does save them. That defuses the situation.

#14 “The Void” Something is pulling the ship in. The stars disappear. Other ships approach and attack. There are 150 ships, but life on only 29. They contact the one that does not fire on them, and learn from Captain Valen that all the ships are caught in the Void, and the only source of supplies is to raid new ships. That's why other ships are attacking. Janeway insists that they follow ethical rules. Captain Garon accepts her offer of an alliance. They befriend the folk of the Void, the Fantome, who communicate by music. The Fantome help to disable the weapons of attacking ships, and the Voyager escapes with its allies. Cooperation has indeed worked.

#15 “Workforce Part I” Janeway is a worker in a busy city, reporting for a new job. Seven of Nine, now Annika, is the efficiency manager. Tuvok is there. Paris gets a job cleaning up at a bar. B'Elanna is there. An Away party returns, but Voyager is not there, stranding Chakotay, Neelix, and Kim. The Doctor is alone on the Voyager, because there was radiation and the crew had to abandon ship. Then other ships attack, seeking salvage. Flashback shows how Janeway and Tuvok were treated for injuries when rescued, but seem also to have been given amnesia so they don't remember Voyager at all. Paris and B'Elanna don't remember they're married. Chakotay locates them, but the authorities block direct contact. So he and Neelix, after reconstructive surgery, go for jobs there. Tuvok begins to remember, but they treat him again. Neelix abducts B'Elanna and they beam back to the ship. But there's a major challenge remaining to extricate the others.

#16 “Workforce Part II” Janeway tells Chakotay that she has decided to move in with her local friend Jaffen. On the ship Neelix works on enabling B'Elanna to recover her memory. Jaffen helps them. They work to shut down the shields as the ship comes for them, but it is under attack. They manage to beam them in, and the conspiracy to recruit workers by erasing memories is exposed. Jaffen gets promoted and the ship resumes its journey.

#17 “Human Error” A celebration honoring B'Elanna'as baby turns out to be holo program. In that, Seven of Nine was free of her Borg implant, but outside that, she is as before, trying to learn to be more social. So we know which is which by her face. In the holo we see her as a more lustrous creature, showing some breast as she interacts with Chakotay. She kisses him; he kisses her back. They wind up in bed. But it's only her fantasy. Then she collapses. The Doctor says she has overloaded her stimulation as she tries to improve her social responses. But she decides to stop the simulations for now.

#18 “Q2” Q appears with his son Q2. This is of course mischief. Q2 is immediately making trouble. Q wants help straightening the teenager out. Janeway says the boy needs to learn the consequences of his actions. So Q deprives Q2 of his magical powers. He has one week to reform, or will be confined to a dull petri dish as an amoeba. So he tries, at first by cheating, then more seriously as Janeway sternly warns him. He works with Icheb and does make progress. But Q wants him to exhibit “Qness.” In the end Q2 does learn manners, and in appreciation Q takes several years off Voyager's journey home.

#19 “Author, Author” Direct video contact has been established between Earth and the Voyager, at least in eleven minute segments. Meanwhile the Doctor plays a series of holo sequences featuring people similar to the regular crew members aboard the Vortex. He makes a deal to publish his collection on Earth. Janeway makes a persuasive case to the Board, which concludes that while he may not be a Person, he is an Artist. That he does have the right to control his own creation.

#20 “Friendship One” A probe was launched 300 years ago, before the modern order existed. Voyager may now be in its vicinity. An away team of Neelix, Paris, and crewman Joe lands, and gets captured by diseased people. The ancient probe caused the destructive radiation. Chakotay in the shuttle takes one of the others to the ship. The Doctor is able to treat him. One of the captors is pregnant, about to birth her baby. Paris helps, and saves the boy, but he needs treatment, so they beam him up, treat him, and return him. They treat the planet to eliminate the harmful radiation and depart on fair terms.

#21 Natural Law” Chakotay and Seven of Nine take the shuttle to a conference, but encounter a barrier and have to beam to the planet as the shuttle crashes. Chakotay fractures a bone in his left leg, and it get infected. Seven goes alone to check the debris for anything that might help them. Chakotay gets captured by natives, the Ventu. Fortunately they are friendly, and Seven joins him and them. Then she goes alone on a trip of seven kilometers for another item, falls, and loses her communicator. A native woman joins her, helping and guiding her. Janeway learns that aliens placed the barrier to protect the Ventu. The Voyager departs, after removing all the debris and restoring the barrier so the Ventu can continue without being assimilated by the modern culture.

#22 “Homestead” They detect Talaxian life forms inside an asteroid. Tuvok, Neelix, and Paris take the Delta Flyer. They crash on the asteroid and Neelix wakes being tended by Dexa, a pretty lady Talaxian. Her young son Brax becomes Neelix's friend. There are 500 Talaxians who have made he asteroid their home, but the local dominant species wants to mine it and is forcing them out. Neelix assumes leadership and they set up a shield to keep the others out. Neelix has to leave Voyager to become Ambassador to the Talaxians; he will finally be with his own kind. And with Dexa and Brax.

#23 “Renaissance Man” The Doctor and Janeway are on a shuttle, returning to the Voyager. This region of space is controlled by a superior species, the R'Kaal, that has banned warp travel here. It turns out that Janeway is a clone, a replacement, not the real captain. It was the clone who returned with Chakotay. The aliens want to steal and sell the warp core, hence their story about the master species. However, the Doctor catches on, and receives a communication from the real Janeway. And starts emulating and nullifying other crew members. Until Tuvok catches on and fights back—until shot and stunned. The Doctor does this to rescue Janeway, but the aliens renege. They mean to keep the Doctor for future missions. But finally things are disentangled and returned to normal.

#24 “Endgame” introduction says Voyager returned to Earth after 23 years in space, and this is the tenth anniversary of that return. It is a double length episode, unsurprisingly. The Doctor is married to one Lana. Janeway is an Admiral. Paris and B'Elanna remain married, their daughter now an Ensign. Tuvok seems to be insane. Janeway declines to discuss Seven of Nine. Janeway is about to take a trip from which she may not return. Chakotay is dead. Then a flashback to life on the ship, when Tuvok has an illness. And back to the present, when the Doctor is concerned about Janeway, who may be in danger. And the past, when the Voyager encounters a Borg cube. Chakotay and Seven are dating. In the present, Janeway takes a device from the Klingons. Kim reluctantly helps her. Chakotay and Seven kiss. Janeway of the present contacts Janeway of the past, and beams aboard. The Borg queen visits Seven during regeneration and says if they enter the nebula again, she will destroy them. The Admiral says her technology will enable them to handle the Borg. It seems that if they take that shortcut, not only will they save about fifteen years, they may save the life of Chakotay and Seven, and the sanity of Tuvok, and more. The two Janeways consult and conclude that maybe there is a way they can both destroy the Borg hub and get home, though it is risky. Janeway Senior faces off with the Borg Queen, trying to make a deal. The queen tries to outguess and betray J Senior, but fails and loses. Voyager makes it through intact, and the lives at risk are saved. B'Elanna's baby is born. Of course Janeway Senior will no longer exist as she did, and the lives of the others will be significantly changed, but clearly she was prepared for that. This is one wow of a finale! And yes, this is my favorite Star Trek series so far.


PIERS
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