These Are the Voyages: A Celebration of Star Trek #2: Spock

It’s hard to imagine Star Trek without one of its most iconic characters, but there was almost a time when Mr. Spock was destined for the dust bin of television. When NBC requested that Gene Roddenberry reshoot the pilot among the things they wanted him to get rid of was Spock, fearing that with his pointed ears and eyebrows that he looked too Satanic and would give the children nightmares. There was something unearthly about Spock’s appearance, and unlike Martin in My Favorite Martian, he couldn’t hide his unique features.

It seems surprising, considering that television on that time featured such magical creatures as  witch Samantha on Bewitched and the Jeannie on I Dream of Jeannie, that the pointy eared hobgoblin could cause this much consternation for network censors. The production notes from Gene Rodenberry addressed the Spock’s appearance probably

Mr. Spock

Mr. Spock

didn’t help matters much,

“The Captain’s right hand man, the hard working level commander of all the ship’s functions from manning the bridge to supervising the lowliest scrub detail. His name is “Mr. Spock”… and the first view of him can be almost frightening—a face so heavy lidded and satanic you might almost expect him to have a forked tail. Probably half Martian, he has a slightly reddish complexion and semi-pointed ears. But strangely—Mr. Spock’s quiet temperament is  in dramatic contrast to his satanic look.”

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These Are the Voyages: A Celebration of Star Trek #1: Captain James T. Kirk

Anytime you have a wild, and seemingly hostile environment around you, it is natural for the storytellers of that time to populate those places with heroes. Whether it’s Jason, Odysseus,  Captain Nemo, Ishmael,  or Horatio Hornblower with the sea or folk heroes Davey Crocket, Daniel Boone, John Henry, Paul Bunyan, and Pecos Bill with the American frontier, that which is unexplored is always the best proving grown for these mighty men. Naturally with the beginnings of the science fiction genre in the late 19th century and humankind beginning to dream of traveling to the stars, outer space would be populated by its own heroes.

There was Civil War veteran John Carter would fall asleep in a cave and mysteriously end up on Mars where he would win the heart of the beautiful Dejah Thoris in Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter of Mars books. Exposed to a radioactive gas during a cave in, Buck Rogers would fall into a state of suspended animation for 492 years until he is awoken in the year 2419 and becomes Earth’s space faring defender. In an attempt to halt the collision of the Earth with the planet Mongo, Flash Gordon and his friends Dale Arden and Dr. Zarkov would board a make shift rocket,  only to end up tangling with Ming the Merciless.

Captain Kirk

Captain Kirk

It was these three characters who would pave the way for one of the most iconic heroes in the history of science fiction television: Captain James T. Kirk of the Federation starship Enterprise from the original Star Trek series. While the show spawned four spin-off TV shows, it was Captain Kirk who would lay the ground work for all who would come after. In fact among the Star Trek fans as to which  there is much discussion as to which Captain they would rather serve under, Captain Kirk or Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Sure, there was Benjamin Sisko on Deep Space Nine,  Kathryn Janeway on Voyager, and Jonathan Archer on Enterprise, but at the end of the day the eternal Trek debate will always be waged between Kirk and Picard. Continue reading

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Coming soon to this blog…

He has gone from the halls of Asgard and the fields of World War II in a Countdown to the Avengers, to the doomed planet Krypton and the dark alleys of Gotham City in Road to Rises. He’s gone to Erebor with Bilbo and Gandalf in an Unexpected Blog-series, and traveled to a galaxy far, far away in The Saga Continues. Then he went to Narnia in Beyond the Wardrobe. Now, Jonathon D. Svendsen gets ready to take his readers on another exciting journey to…

In anticipation not only for the all new Star Trek Beyond this July, but the 50th anniversary of the classic series, Jonathon will look at the iconic heroes of this modern day odyssey. Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov and the Star Ship Enterprise will all be a part of this exciting voyage that celebrates the lasting legacy of this series in These Are The Voyages: A Celebration of Star Trek.


Launching this April.

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Beyond the Wardrobe: Celebrating the Chronicles of Narnia: Part 8: Aslan

When Digory, Polly and the small group with them first arrived in Narnia in The Magician’s Nephew, there was nothing but void. Digory wondered if they had fallen into Charn in nightfall, but Jadis knew otherwise and moaned that it is a different type of darkness. That was when they hear the sound of a single solitary voice singing. As the voice sang, a vibrant yellow sun slowly begins to rise over a newly formed world. That was when they see that the voice of the singer is a Lion.

In the chronology of the Narnian stories, this is just one of the first hints at the power and majesty that Narnia’s true King, the great Lion by the name of Aslan possesses. Like any lion, He appears calm, regal and majestic. Even without seeing Him, His name alone, which is derived from the Turkish word for “Lion”, can inspire the heroes of Narnia.

Even before the four children meet him, we are told that upon hearing his name,

“And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning—either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in his inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.”



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It’s a Good Movie, Charlie Brown!

It goes without saying that the typical movie season is filled with films for movie goers of all ages, and this is especially true among the slate of animated movies that come out. 2015 was no exception. Some movies are clear cash ins, a mere attempt to pacify children for a few hours so adults can have some peace and quiet, while others are very brilliant works of art. However, while The Minions may have made all the money, and Inside Out was the critical darling that won the awards (and justifiably so) one animated movie that brought a smile to my face from open to close was The Peanuts Movie.

The Peanuts Movie

The Peanuts Movie

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Beyond The Wardrobe: Celebrating the Chronicles of Narnia: Part 7: Jadis The White Witch

It is easy to dismiss fantasy literature as childish drivel. In a story that can often be filled with magic, mystery, and mythical beasts it is easy to see the genre as nothing more than an escape from real life. Yet despite the magic, the worlds we met in these stories are very rarely often peaceful utopias. Something is very often going wrong behind the scenes, something that will usually allow the heroes and heroines to rise to the occasion to save that world.

Harry Potter and his friends may not have to sit through boring school classes but their

Jadis The White Witch

Jadis The White Witch

school is often besieged by the forces of He Who Must Not Be named. Wonderland may be filled with random nonsense, yet Alice discovers it is ruled by a despot who will behead her subjects if they make even the slightest mistake or win in a game fair and square. Middle-earth is under the growing threat of the dark Lord Sauron. The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz dispatches her flying monkeys throughout the Land of Oz

So to, not long upon entering Narnia, does Lucy Pevensie discover the same is true for Narnia. It is when Tumnus the Faun has second thoughts about turning Lucy over to the White Witch that he reveals the sad state of affairs in Narnia, introducing her, and the readers to the villain of the story, telling Lucy,

“Why, it is she ( The White Witch) that has got all Narnia under her thumb. It’s she that makes it always winter. Always winter and never Christmas; think of that!” Continue reading

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Beyond the Wardrobe: Celebrating the Chronicles of Narnia: Part 6: Professor Kirke

The old writer’s axiom of “Write what you know” seems to be difficult to follow when it comes to science fiction and fantasy,  after all no one can really do or go to the places encountered in those stories. However, while the worlds may be far out there and fantastic, it doesn’t mean the characters no matter how bizarre they may be won’t be based to some degree on someone they knew. While they will not be an exact carbon copy of the person in question a real person will usually always serve as a muse of sorts to the writer. Tolkien for example based Treebeard off of CS Lewis. Lewis himself based his character of Elwin Ransom in his Space Trilogy on both JRR Tolkien and fellow inkling Charles Williams.

The same was true in the Narnia books. Caspian’s nurse in Prince Caspian was inspired by

Professor Kirke

Professor Kirke

Lewis own nurse who often told him fairy stories as a child, while Puddleglum the Marshwiggle from the Silver Chair was inspired by his  gardener Fred Paxford. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Lewis based Professor Digory Kirke on his own mentor Professor William Kirkpatrick, or “The Old Knock” as he was known to CS Lewis. Like Kirke, Kirkpatrick was a huge proponent on logic, and held a dismal view of the education system, something Lewis shared as was evident by Professor Kirke’s oft heard lament of, “Bless me, what are they teaching in these schools.”

However, Professor Kirke was also had some traits Lewis pulled from himself. As Paul F. Ford notes,

“When Lewis was writing LWW (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe), he did not yet know that the unnamed professor and Digory Kirke were the same person. The Professor is modeled both on Lewis’ tutor…a rigorous logician…, and on Lewis himself: he had sympathy for children who imagine other worlds, and he opened his own home in oxford to many children feeling the London Blizt and the beginning of World War II…It is not clear form what is now known of Lewis’ life if Digory’s insatiable curiosity is something Lewis remembered of himself or if Digory is only a character through whom Lewis can reveal his beliefs about the limits of knowledge and other important themes in TMN ( The Magician’s Nephew).” Continue reading

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