Who knew that John Yoo is a total science fiction geek?! I’m going to have to go back and scour his law review article footnotes to see if I can detect esoteric references to Sci-Fi classics, which, it turns out, he has thoroughly familiarity.

Ken Green channeling Jayne Cobb.

Some time last year I did a podcast on science fiction with my old AEI writing partner Ken Green (who turned up with this episode with his Jayne Cobb cap!), and John Yoo immediately filed for an injunction with the Supreme Court of Podcast Appeals, and today we performed the remedy: a podcast in which we kicked around most of the fundamental SciFi geek questions: Star Trek versus Star Wars (we were unanimous on this verdict); Star Trek: The Original Series versus all of the sequels that Ken lumps under the heading, “Woke Trek.” But wait a minute! The original series had a latest wokeness to it, though it was more sophisticated than what has come since. How to tell the difference? I argue that Captain Kirk was a true statesman, while Piccard was a UN bureaucrat.

From there we offer observations on good science fiction, though with an interesting spectrum of opinion about Firefly, the Alien franchise, Dr. Who, The Expanse, and other science fiction of note from recent decades, including some truly obscure programming, such as Blake 7.

So break out some of your best Romulan ale, and send along suggestions for how we can follow up on our proposal to do MST3K-style sequels in which we beat down on truly fictional science films like Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.” I am reserving the Tom Servo slot!

Subscribe to Power Line in Apple Podcasts (and leave a 5-star review, please!), or by RSS feed. For all our podcasts in one place, subscribe to the Ricochet Audio Network Superfeed in Apple Podcasts or by RSS feed.

There are 20 comments.

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  1. mildlyo Member
    mildlyo
    @mildlyo

    As “head cannon” judgements go, I agree there were only three good Star Wars movies. Can’t agree to discard DS9, however. I judge it the epitome of Star Trek, never equalled. Nothing after Sisco joined the prophets is worth watching, though it took me painful years to accept that.

    Never apply economic judgements to science fiction as a general rule. It’s never the point.

    Prefer Star Trek to Star Wars. Trek is post-scarcity, not communist. As you mention, there is an undercurrent of the capitalist wealth that got them there.

    Yes, the Orville is a Next generation clone. You need to turn your liberal BS filter up to about 6 to enjoy it. It can be fun.

    Blake’s 7 was a fun crew of misfits with scenery chewing villains. Very British. Comparing it to Firefly is interesting.

    Babylon 5 is generally overrated, in the “rose colored” memories of aging fans. The aliens got the best lines, humans were all stiffs.

    The movie Serenity was good, because it condensed three years of the cancelled show into an hour and a half. Whedon would have stretched that story into 60 episodes of excruciating plotting if he had the chance.

    I liked the Expanse, but they never should have renewed it after the ring gates opened. It didn’t really work as an interstellar show.

    Foundation+ started interesting, but once Hari Seldon died it went off a cliff.

    Dr Who has a long glorious pedigree, is very British, but went insanely woke to the point of destroying its entire story in recent years.

    If you want to do a MST3K style review, I suggest “Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity“. A personal favorite.

    Fun podcast!

    • #1
  2. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Voyager is Star Trek’s Odyssey–the journey epic.

    Deep Space Nine is Star Trek’s Iliad–the war epic.

    • #2
  3. mildlyo Member
    mildlyo
    @mildlyo

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Voyager is Star Trek’s Odyssey–the journey epic.

    Deep Space Nine is Star Trek’s Iliad–the war epic.

    I see your point, but is Voyager Odyssey or Anabasis?

    DS9 started as a western on the frontier and ended like the Philippines in WWII.

    • #3
  4. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    mildlyo (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Voyager is Star Trek’s Odyssey–the journey epic.

    Deep Space Nine is Star Trek’s Iliad–the war epic.

    I see your point, but is Voyager Odyssey or Anabasis?

    DS9 started as a western on the frontier and ended like the Philippines in WWII.

    Few comparisons are perfect.

    • #4
  5. Henry Racette Moderator
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    It’s silly to get into heated debates about profoundly subjective topics, as if people are going to change their minds about what are essentially matters of taste.

    With that in mind, I’ll confine myself to two purely objective observations.

    First, Star Trek is better than Star Wars.

    Secondly, Star Trek — real, authentic Star Trek — went off the air, never to return except as reruns, before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.

    • #5
  6. Leslie Watkins Member
    Leslie Watkins
    @LeslieWatkins

    I saw Star Trek on TV when I was 13 and found it cheesy (similar to Lost in Space). Conversely, I will never forget the feeling I had the first time I saw the opening crawl of Star Wars and the Millennium Falcon darting through space. It was the most interesting visual experience I had ever had to that point. Now it’s passé. But it made a much bigger mark on me than Star Trek

    • #6
  7. Taras Coolidge
    Taras
    @Taras

    Off the top of my head …

    The novel by H. Beam Piper the panelist was thinking about is Little Fuzzy (a Hugo Award nominee in the early Sixties).  Fuzzy Sapiens is the sequel (murdered by the publisher, a long story).  Piper is perhaps best known today for two influential novels, Space Viking (interstellar warfare) and Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen (war in an alternate America settled by Indo-Europeans), which spawned hundreds of imitations.

    Deep Space Nine was influenced by Babylon 5.   Which was influenced by the classic anime series, Legend of the Galactic Heroes.

    The producers of Alien had to settle out of court with A.E. van Vogt, for borrowing ideas from two stories he wrote in the late Thirties-early Forties, “Black Destroyer” and “Discord in Scarlet”.   Van Vogt, the world’s leading science fiction writer during World War II, also wrote a series of stories, later collected as Mission to the Stars, which seem to have influenced the creation of Star Trek.  

    That I read those stories first is probably why I was not that impressed by the TV series; though it’s certainly more cerebral than the medievalistic space fantasy of Star Wars.

    Finally, The Orville is perhaps the worst acted TV series I’ve ever seen.

    • #7
  8. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Nice to hear someone with a knowledge of Niven´s work talking about it. And, yes. The Expanse is the most realistic SF ever attempted on small-screen video format. The Pak Protectors on screen…that would be terrific, if done right. Now, Heinlein´s Future History books would be non-starters today due to the dated science (e.g. “The Roads Must Roll”).

    • #8
  9. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    mildlyo (View Comment):

    As “head cannon” judgements go, I agree there were only three good Star Wars movies. Can’t agree to discard DS9, however. I judge it the epitome of Star Trek, never equalled. Nothing after Sisco joined the prophets is worth watching, though it took me painful years to accept that.

    Never apply economic judgements to science fiction as a general rule. It’s never the point.

    Prefer Star Trek to Star Wars. Trek is post-scarcity, not communist. As you mention, there is an undercurrent of the capitalist wealth that got them there.

    Yes, the Orville is a Next generation clone. You need to turn your liberal BS filter up to about 6 to enjoy it. It can be fun.

    Blake’s 7 was a fun crew of misfits with scenery chewing villains. Very British. Comparing it to Firefly is interesting.

    Babylon 5 is generally overrated, in the “rose colored” memories of aging fans. The aliens got the best lines, humans were all stiffs.

    The movie Serenity was good, because it condensed three years of the cancelled show into an hour and a half. Whedon would have stretched that story into 60 episodes of excruciating plotting if he had the chance.

    I liked the Expanse, but they never should have renewed it after the ring gates opened. It didn’t really work as an interstellar show.

    Foundation+ started interesting, but once Hari Seldon died it went off a cliff.

    Dr Who has a long glorious pedigree, is very British, but went insanely woke to the point of destroying its entire story in recent years.

    If you want to do a MST3K style review, I suggest “Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity“. A personal favorite.

    Fun podcast!

    I agreed with most of the criticisms here except that of B5. We re-watched seasons 2-4 recently and found both Biggs and Doyle better than I remembered. Boxlightner? When he brought his a-game he was great. But he didn´t always. Neither did Mira Furlan. Christian got better as the series went on.

     

    • #9
  10. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    And while I´m at it: Niven´s story “The Cloak of Anarchy” is the best literary take-down of doctrinaire Libertarianism I have read and I recommend it.

    • #10
  11. Ernst Rabbit von Hasenpfeffer Member
    Ernst Rabbit von Hasenpfeffer
    @ape2ag

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):

    I saw Star Trek on TV when I was 13 and found it cheesy (similar to Lost in Space). Conversely, I will never forget the feeling I had the first time I saw the opening crawl of Star Wars and the Millennium Falcon darting through space. It was the most interesting visual experience I had ever had to that point. Now it’s passé. But it made a much bigger mark on me than Star Trek.

    Star Wars’ success owes a lot to John Williams.

    • #11
  12. Henry Racette Moderator
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Incidentally, Niven’s novel The Mote in God’s Eye mentioned by the panelists was one of the Niven/Pournelle collaborations (and a very good one). Just wanted to make sure that Jerry Pournelle was acknowledged for that, as he holds a special place in the hearts of old conservative software-writing science fiction fans.

    • #12
  13. Taras Coolidge
    Taras
    @Taras

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    And while I´m at it: Niven´s story “The Cloak of Anarchy” is the best literary take-down of doctrinaire Libertarianism I have read and I recommend it.

    It’s a long while since I read the story, but as I recall it struck me as written by somebody who didn’t know all that much about the subject.

    I don’t consider myself a libertarian, but I read a lot of libertarian writings, back in the day.  The radical libertarians, or right-wing anarchists, had a pessimistic view of human nature, and their writings are full of how police and protective services might be arranged in a society without taxation.  For one thing, in the absence of a State, all land would be privately owned.   Thus, the owner of the park in the story would determine the rules that would be enforced there, and who would do the enforcing; e.g., Brinks, Wackenhut, etc.

    It’s more the left-wing anarchists who imagine that everyone would magically turn peaceful and benevolent if the police were defunded or the State suddenly ceased to exist.

    • #13
  14. Taras Coolidge
    Taras
    @Taras

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Incidentally, Niven’s novel The Mote in God’s Eye mentioned by the panelists was one of the Niven/Pournelle collaborations (and a very good one). Just wanted to make sure that Jerry Pournelle was acknowledged for that, as he holds a special place in the hearts of old conservative software-writing science fiction fans.

    Pournelle left Mamelukes, the triumphant conclusion to the “Janissaries” series, unfinished when he died.   It was completed by David Weber and Philip Pournelle, and published in 2020.

    • #14
  15. Leslie Watkins Member
    Leslie Watkins
    @LeslieWatkins

    Ernst Rabbit von Hasenpfeffer (View Comment):

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):

    I saw Star Trek on TV when I was 13 and found it cheesy (similar to Lost in Space). Conversely, I will never forget the feeling I had the first time I saw the opening crawl of Star Wars and the Millennium Falcon darting through space. It was the most interesting visual experience I had ever had to that point. Now it’s passé. But it made a much bigger mark on me than Star Trek.

    Star Wars’ success owes a lot to John Williams.

    Jaws too.

    • #15
  16. LibertyDefender Member
    LibertyDefender
    @LibertyDefender

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    Star Trek is better than Star Wars.

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):
    I saw Star Trek on TV when I was 13 and found it cheesy (similar to Lost in Space).

    By Grabthar’s Hammer, Leslie! If you found Star Trek similar to Lost in Space, you weren’t paying attention to either series.

    It took the panel far too long to mention the simplest reason that – for all its flaws, and through all of its spinoffs and tangents – the reason Star Trek will always be better than Star Wars:

    Jar Jar Binks

    That said, the 1977 feature film Star Wars was indeed a complete game changer, primarily with respect to special effects.  There are people who have seen only that picture, and none of the others.  I envy such people.  Their midi-chlorians must be through the roof.

    • #16
  17. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    mildlyo (View Comment):
    Babylon 5 is generally overrated, in the “rose colored” memories of aging fans. The aliens got the best lines, humans were all stiffs.

    I would be one of those over-raters.  I think Babylon 5 is my all-time favorite TV show.  I could not care less that aliens got the best lines.  And come to think of it, one of the best episodes (in my opinion) was Passing Through Gethsemane, whose best scenes went to the human monks, Brother Edward and Brother Theo.

    • #17
  18. Taras Coolidge
    Taras
    @Taras

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    mildlyo (View Comment):
    Babylon 5 is generally overrated, in the “rose colored” memories of aging fans. The aliens got the best lines, humans were all stiffs.

    I would be one of those over-raters. I think Babylon 5 is my all-time favorite TV show. I could not care less that aliens got the best lines. And come to think of it, one of the best episodes (in my opinion) was Passing Through Gethsemane, whose best scenes went to the human monks, Brother Edward and Brother Theo.

    As I recall — the panelists got this wrong, I think — J. Michael Straczynski was told he’d have to wrap up his 5-year story arc in 4 years.   Which, tearing out his hair, he managed;  only to be told by the Powers That Be that he had a 5th year, after all,  to fill with new material!

    Isaac Asimov sowed a good deal of confusion when, decades after finishing his classic “Foundation” trilogy, he decided to cash in and write, first a bunch of sequels, and then two prequels.   The producers of the TV series made the mistake of starting with the crappy (I’m told) prequels.    As a result we have all the garbage about the Empire, which had no role in the original trilogy, other than to collapse, Rome-like, and clear the stage for the Foundation.

    • #18
  19. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Taras (View Comment):
    As I recall — the panelists got this wrong, I think — J. Michael Straczynski was told he’d have to wrap up his 5-year story arc in 4 years.   Which, tearing out his hair, he managed;  only to be told by the Powers That Be that he had a 5th year, after all,  to fill with new material!

    That is right.  Much like the original Star Trek, I think B5 was under the threat of cancellation for the whole duration of the series.  But as season 4 was ending it looked like they really meant it this time.  Which is why Claudia Christian wasn’t there for the fifth season, although she and JMS have different recollections over just how it happened.

    • #19
  20. Internet's Hank Contributor
    Internet's Hank
    @HankRhody

    I don’t know what fantasy stories you’re reading. Come back after The Wizard of Earthsea or The Emperor’s Soul or Storm Front and tell me that all fantasy stories are the same.

    • #20
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