‘Star Trek’s’ future is history in new book

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Updated 02 December 2012

‘Star Trek’s’ future is history in new book

For a fan base obsessed with a fictional future, the past sure seems to matter.
More than 45 years after “Star Trek” took fans boldly into the 23rd century, television writer David A. Goodman has written the first detailed narrative in history-book form of events depicted in the iconic science-fiction TV and movie franchise.
“This is the history of the galaxy as it’s already been painted by the writers of the original ‘Star Trek’ series, the sequel series, and the movies up to but not including the (2009 “Star Trek”) J.J. Abrams movie,” Goodman, whose work includes writing for the most recent TV series “Star Trek: Enterprise,” told Reuters.
“Star Trek Federation — The First 150 Years” details the history of the founding and early years of “the United Federation of Planets” — the interplanetary alliance that has explored the galaxy and kept members safe from Klingons, Romulans, and other villains.
The 167-page book, to be published on Dec. 4, connects the dots and fills in many of the black holes of “Star Trek” history as seen in the live action TV series, animated series and movies since 1966.
Like a precious collection of memories, the timeline of events is important to Trekkies — and they are watching.
“If I’m going to buy an official Trek History, I expect it to be true to that history,” wrote fan “KingDaniel” on fan website Trekbbs.com.
website Trekcore.com has already made its judgment, referring to Goodman’s book as a “Historical Trek Masterpiece.”
The book comes packed with original illustrations depicting epochal moments and iconic characters like Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Kh a n , Zefram Cochrane, Richard Daystrom and Solkar of Vulcan.
Inside the back cover is a pocket containing “documents from the Federation Archives,” including a handwritten letter by a young Jim Kirk to his mother.
From the beginning of “Star Trek,” its late creator, Gene Roddenberry, often used US history and current world events as inspiration for his stories. Some of those themes are reflected in Goodman’s work.
His “Articles of Federation” strike an especially familiar note.
“Our worlds hold these truths to be self-evident that all species are created equal,” with the stated goal “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic and intergalactic tranquility, provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare,” Goodman writes.

The pivotal event of Goodman’s history is “The Romulan War” which, he said, has echoes of World War Two. The relationship between “Star Trek”’s Romulan emperor and his admiral was inspired by Japan’s wartime admiral, Isoroku Yamamoto, Goodman added.
The class of spaceships that included Captain Kirk’s Enterprise, and the way their construction was farmed out across the Federation, was inspired by the B-52 bomber program, which spread over several US states to gain wide political support.
And the character of Captain Jonathan Archer from the 2001-2005 TV series “Star Trek: Enterprise” is “the George Washington of the founding of the Federation,” Goodman said.
The book comes housed in a plastic pedestal display which lights up with the push of a button to the familiar voice of actor George Takei as Admiral Hikaru Sulu introducing the history.
“A deluxe history book” was the idea behind the book’s design, said design manager Rosanna Brockley. “We really wanted it to look elegant.”
“Star Trek Federation — The First 150 Years” is published by 47NORTH and produced by becker&mayer! and has a list price of $ 99.99.
But if #1SheGeek’s comment from StarTrek.com — “I HAVE to have this. I will die without it” — and Alexander’s comment from blastr.com — “Shut up and take my money!” — are any indications, Goodman’s book may be poised to explore sales numbers that boldly go where few “Star Trek” books have gone before.

Saudi Venice Biennale debut follows Cannes

Updated 25 May 2018

Saudi Venice Biennale debut follows Cannes

  • The Saudi pavilion illustrated the evolution underway as the country embraces a new era of change, powered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 blueprint for the future
  • Communication is the overriding aim for the creators behind the Saudi pavilion

VENICE: In its debut appearance at Italy’s leading architecture fair on Thursday, Saudi Arabia unveiled a sweeping exhibition exploring the country’s progress over the past five decades. 

Holding its own among the 65 national pavilions at the 16th Venice Biennale’s International Architecture Exhibition, the Saudi pavilion illustrated the evolution underway as the country embraces a new era of change, powered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 blueprint for the future.

It is the first time the Kingdom has had a presence at the Venice event, which is considered one of the leading forums for international architecture and draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the globe to the city.

At the heart of the display in the Venetian Arsenal — the historic shipyards that house some of the most prominent pavilions at the fair — a set of screens on opposite walls flash clips of Saudi cities showing people wandering along the Jeddah Corniche or drinking coffee at a Bujairy Park cafe in Riyadh.

The reels illustrate the way urban sprawl has unfolded across the Kingdom, where rapid urbanization resulting in settlement-driven growth has skipped over spaces in Saudi cities, leaving vast lots vacant between buildings.

With more than 40 percent of urban land unused, communities are dispersed, creating a sense of fragmentation between neighborhoods connected only by cars.

“The vacant lot is a highly prevalent typology in Saudi cities: anyone passing through them will notice the empty tracts of land everywhere,” said architect Turki Gazzaz, who co-created the pavilion space – which is named “Spaces in Between” — with his brother Abdulrahman Gazzaz.

The duo, who founded Jeddah-based architectural studio Bricklab, beat 70 other entries to secure the commission to create the Kingdom’s first biennale pavilion, which shows the role design can play in restoring the social and structural fabric of Saudi cities.

While outlets for creative expression have previously been limited in the Kingdom, attitudes toward design-led solutions are becoming increasingly favorable. 

“People are becoming more conscious about these critical issues that exist within our urban fabric … this is beginning to spill out into our society and affect it in a positive way,” Abdulrahman said.

Recent reforms rolled out under Vision 2030 have created a channel for creativity to fuel the country’s growth as it looks beyond the oil sector — a turning point highlighted by the pavilion’s use of resin, which is a byproduct of the petrochemical industry.

This has been mixed with sand — a material that both symbolizes Saudi Arabia and links it to the rest of the world — for the giant curved screens that frame the exhibition.

Inside, projections show digital maps of the Kingdom’s main cities, beginning with aerial perspectives that convey their fragmented growth before moving down to street-level snapshots of everyday life in the city.

These pictures have been drawn from social media and most are taken from cars, the dual axis of urban life for city-dwelling Saudis.

Below, old mobile phones, a walkie-talkie and broken motherboards are showcased beneath a glass panel of fragmented electronics to “create a conversation about consumer culture” and comment on the “virtual public space” that people increasingly congregate in at the expense of public places, said Abdulrahman.

Speaking to Arab News at the launch of the Saudi pavilion in Venice on Thursday, Dhay Al-Dhawyan, project manager at the Ministry of Municipality and Rural Affairs, described the need to “humanize” Saudi cities, something Vision 2030, and the more immediate targets for 2020, are moving toward.

“We want to bring back city centers, walkability, accessibility, connectivity and rework the visual aspects of our cities to make them more lively and functional,” he said.

The overall theme at this year’s biennale is “Freespace,” selected by the Irish curators Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara to encourage architects to explore how “a generosity of spirit and a sense of humanity” can contribute to the urban environment.

Tapping into this ethos, the Saudi pavilion curators have compiled a display that blurs the boundaries between development and desert, city border and boundless expanse.

In demographic terms, Saudi cities have always been diverse, but in many cases they lack the infrastructure to encourage interaction, said Jawaher Al-Sudairy, one of the exhibition curators and director of Nahda Center for Research as well as senior program manager at Harvard Kennedy School.

“There are public spaces, but they are under-utilized, so that’s where the conversation should be.”

Communication is the overriding aim for the creators behind the Saudi pavilion, which invites visitors to explore the evolution taking place in Saudi Arabia’s skyline and engage with the social shift underway as the Kingdom steps on to the world stage.

“We’re tackling a global issue here; this is not unique to Saudi Arabia,” said Dr. Sumayah Al-Solaiman, the other half of the female curatorial team at the exhibition.

In keeping with the spirit of the biennale, literature distributed at the Saudi pavilion errs on the side of the aloof and arty, but the experience created by the exhibition is firmly grounded and accessible.

The teams want visitors to identify with the issues raised, which have a global resonance in an era defined by rapid urban growth. “We’re more similar with other nations than we are different … and this is a great way to have a conversation that is not necessarily bound by national boundaries,” said Al-Solaiman, dean of the College of Design at Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University.

“The Venice Biennale is an excellent platform to start a conversation around architecture and how were designing and building, and we want to have this discussion with other architects around the world.”

“Our participation in the International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia is an unprecedented moment for Saudi Arabia’s creative community. It’s an opportunity to bring pioneering Saudi thought to an international platform through our creative vernacular,” said Ahmed Mater, executive director of the Misk Art Institute, which organized the Saudi pavilion.

“Coupled with the allocation of an incredible pavilion space, we are very excited about our presentation this year at the Biennale Architettura, but are also looking forward to future years and presentations and what they will draw on from our own community.”

For Al-Sudairy, one of the most interesting projects on the horizon is the Riyadh Metro, which she believes will change a lot more than mobility in the capital. “I can’t wait to see how it changes the way people move around … it’s going to transform the city physically and socially.”

The Metro is one of many large-scale projects underway in the Kingdom that aims to bring a sense of cohesion to the country’s urban environments and unite diverse communities.

The Saudi pavilion opens to the public on Saturday, May 26.


The Saudi pavilion exhibition ‘Spaces in Between,’ above and top. (Valeria Mariani)