Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Hope in Interstellar and Star Trek!

Hi guys welcome to my latest blog about the newly released Sci-fi movie Interstellar, which I had the pleasure of going to see last week!

It struck me as I was watching how wonderfully it mirrored Roddenberry's intentions when he first created Star Trek way back in the day. The show embraced hope for humanity through humans co-existing peacefully in the galaxy and abolishing things like poverty and war that nearly destroyed Earth. It gave hope to all of us that watched the franchise. Throughout out these difficult periods humans gave hope to each other in going out and achieving in life by venturing out into the stars, which is what Interstellar does magnificently!

The film tells the story of Earth literally being a desolate wasteland as it struggles to survive with little resources. Farmers are in desperate need to cultivate and harvest crops for the upcoming winter. One farmer Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) who used to be an engineer yearns to explore the galaxy as he believes it holds the key to saving Earth. Eventually he runs into his old professor (Sir Micheal Caine) who tells him he is sending a team of explorers into space to find a potential habitable planet that humans can settle on if they can find wormhole, which will take them to the other side of space.

There's lot of stuff happening throughout the film like family drama and time travel, where the wormhole is a five by three dimensional construct (don't ask me how that works!) It's fascinating stuff, but what most resonated with me throughout is how the film put across the message of hope for humanity

Throughout Interstellar Cooper does the same thing in that he sacrifices everything in leaving his son and daughter behind to protect and help them for the future. (You'll have to find out for yourself if Earth is saved!) It's the hope and belief he has in himself and those he travels with to go out there into the solar system and travel (for 2 years!) to find the gateway. No matter how long it takes and what obstacles he and the other explorers go through he never gives up and it's these qualities the film shows and what mirrors Star Trek so well.

The essence of hope that watching Interstellar and bits of Star Trek again drew me back to my University days (feels like years ago now!) when I was still discovering things about myself and what I could do. I eventually ended up doing Karate for six months, thanks to encouragement from one of my uni friends. It's something I never thought I could or would do! It got me fitter, more confident within myself and did wonders for my mental health in keeping me more focused and relaxed during exam periods and writing essays!

Now I know this doesn't sound like much compared to saving humanity! But hope whether drawing from yourself or giving to others to achieve something amazing comes in all shapes and sizes! It's incredible what the feeling of hope can make us do!

So on that last thought I ask you...

What does hope mean to you? Where do you draw it from? And how has it propelled you to achieve your potential in life?

Monday, 24 November 2014

The Engage Podcast's Guide to a Trekkie's Christmas List! What to buy a Trekkie for Christmas!!!

Hi guys, with Christmas just around the corner I thought I would take this opportunity to explain what sort of Star Trek related presents you can get for the Trekkie (or Trekker) in your life!

Ranging from small Stocking fillers (or Secret Santa presents) to the really extravagant presents...that every fan would love to get for Christmas (myself included)!

There will also be suggestions for the new fans of the franchise, as well as for the old devotees! I will also recommend a book idea for all my fellow starship fans. Finally I'm also going balance the guide out by proposing a 'Wild Card' present, which I think all Star Trek fans will appreciate getting in one way or another!!!

Stocking fillers (or Secret Santa presents)

Light Up Star Trek: Phaser Kit (Hardcover)- RRP £5.99
QMX Enterprise-D Keychain- RRP £13.99

The first set of present ideas are great to give to a fan as a Stocking filler or as a Secret Santa, as they
are inexpensive and show that you have put a bit of thought into their stocking or Secret Santa!
As you can see there are four presents I would recommend buying in this category.
The Phaser & Enterprise Kits can be given to someone so that they can 'add' an element of Star Trek to their work desk, whilst the Quantum Mechanix Keychain is a great miniature representation of the infamous starship (for its size ), making it a fantastic addition to any set of keys.

Light-Up Starship Enterprise Kit (Hardcover)- RRP £7.99
FanSets MicroFleet collection badges- RRP £9.99
The last set of ‘presents’ I would recommend are the badges made by FanSets. The devotion to detail they put into their MicroCrew & MicroFleet collections is astounding for their size and quality of each and every badge.
FanSets MicroCrew collection badges- RRP £6.90
Without a doubt a must for any Star Trek fan, and well worth a buy!
Making them my Product of the Year!!!

New fan
Star Trek: The Visual Dictionary- RRP 14.99

Beyond the Final Frontier book
For new fans to the franchise I am going to recommend a couple of books (and comics) for both ('Prime' and 'Kelvin Timeline') Universes. All of the presents in this category are meant to give the receiver a better understanding of both universes.

With that in mind, I'm going to start off with the 'Prime Universe'. The first book I would recommend is the Star Trek: The Visual Dictionary, as it gives the reader a clear guide to 'Prime' cosmos.
The second book I would suggest is Beyond the Final Frontier, which pilots a new fan through all the episodes in 28 out of 30 season of the Star Trek series! Making it a great addition to any collection!!!

Star Trek Nero omnibus- RRP £9.99
Star Trek Countdown omnibus- RRP £9.99


For the 'Kelvin Timeline' I'm going down a similar path by suggesting the Countdown omnibuses and the Star Trek Nero omnibus, as they will give the reader more light on that universe. By preceding the Star Trek '09 and Star Trek Into Darkness films.

Star Trek Countdown to darkness omnibus- RRP £9.99
Old Fan

For the old fans I would suggest doing a bit of  'reconnaissance' before buying one of these presents, as the Trekkie in your life may already own either one or both of my suggestions in their collection. If this is the case then consider buying my 'Wild Card' present suggestion!

Star Trek Encyclopaedia- RRP £100.00
My first present idea for an old fan is the Star Trek Encyclopaedia. This (newly updated) reference book is the main staple for any Star Trek fan in my opinion. As you can imagine it has information on characters, planets, starships, food and countless other topics covering both universes (‘Prime’ Universe & ‘Kelvin Timeline’) right up until the ‘Kelvin Timeline’s’ Star Trek Into Darkness (2013).
A book which is on my Christmas List for this year!

The second book I would recommend buying is Star Trek Federation: The First 150 Years (Hardcover) book. As it gives an interesting look at the beginnings of the Federation by presenting the information in a very innovative and thoughtful way. Which is achieved by been written from the point of view of a 24th century historian!

Star Trek Federation: The First 150 Years (Hardcover) book- RRP £19.99 (book only) or RRP £75.00 (book with pedestal)
Starship fans
As I've said on more than one occasion I am a complete and utter starship geek! Which is why I wanted to indulge myself in this blog post by suggesting a present for starship devotees like myself. The book I would buy is the Star Trek Starship Spotter, which is filled with 30 fully illustrated starships from multiple species and races including the Federation, the Klingon Empire and the Romulan Star Empire to name a few. The book also makes use of the CGI models, as well as the construction histories and technical data for each ship!
Just like I said for the old fan make sure you doing a bit of  'surveillance' before buying this present, as the person you're buying for may already own this in their collection.
I say this as starship fans (myself included) tend to buy every book associated with the subject, making it frightfully difficult to buy for! If this is the case then I would contemplate buying the 'Wild Card' present.
Star Trek Starship Spotter book
'Wild Card' present
Star Trek: The Art Of Juan Ortiz (Hardcover)- RRP £24.99
If so far you've been uninspired by my present suggestions, then make sure you check out my 'Wild Card' present I think it's the quirkiest present on my list! Meaning that if you give it to the Trekkie in your life they won't expect it at all, which if you ask me is the best kind of gift you can receive at Christmas!!!
The item I have selected for this section is Star Trek: The Art Of Juan Ortiz (Limited Edition Hardcover), as the book is just so amazing...and fun! The reasoning behind this is because it is a compilation of Juan Ortiz's artwork for all 80 episodes in the Star Trek: The Original Series.
Each episode has it's own unique piece of artwork, which perfectly symbolises the events on the show. Juan Ortiz also talks you through each design through an accompanying paragraph. Its a book you can tell has been thought through thoroughly from start to finish!
The Star Trek: The Art Of Juan Ortiz has been produced in two ways. The first is the 'normal' (unsigned) book, which would make a great present...but I would recommend (if your budget allows) spending a little bit more on the signed edition of the book.

As it has been personally signed by Juan Ortiz himself on the signature sheet at the beginning of every book, which also features concept art of the 'Enterprise Incident'. The book also comes with a 'Space Seed' art print also signed by Juan Ortiz.
Make sure you get them the signed edition of the book as it is limited to 500 copies worldwide, so I would recommend ordering one as quickly as possible!
Star Trek: The Art Of Juan Ortiz (Limited Edition Hardcover)- RRP £35.00
Expensive presents
Star Trek Original Series Phaser Universal Remote Control- RRP £119.95
Lastly I'm going to give you a couple of suggestions for the expensive presents, which every fan would love to get their hands on!
My first suggestion actually gets mentioned (by Jamie) in the News section on our Star Trek 3 discussion podcast.
Jamie was of course talking about The Wand Company’s release of the Star Trek Original Series Phaser Universal Remote Control. This 1/1 scale screen accurate replica of a Type II phaser mixes the functionally of a regular remote control with the style associated with the sixties classic!
Making use of infrared (IR) combined with advanced gesture recognition technology the phaser is capable of controlling the majority of home entertainment systems around the world including TVs, iPod docks and DVD/Blu-ray players...and before you ask it can just be 'played' with it as its got 10 authentic phaser firing sounds (including Phaser Overload sequence), and 8 Starship Enterprise sounds!
But if your recipient get's a bit to "trigger happy" with all the sound effects, the remote is capable of being put into 'Silent mode'. If that's still not enough to stop the shenanigans then it can be locked with it's 'Four digit Personal Lock Code'.

Star Trek The Next Generation Ressikan Flute Prop Replica- $299.95

My second idea for an extravagant present comes from the dead planet of Kataan, so you won't see many of these about! This 1/1 scale Ressikan Flute Prop Replica blends the 'look' and 'feel' of a real musical instrument with the screen accuracy you come to expect from the Roddenberry Entertainment.
This flute comes complete with a Prop Story and an autograph from Morgan Gendel. For all those unfamiliar with the name, Morgan Gendel was responsible for writing "The Inner Light" in which the flute appears.
In "The Inner Light", Captain Jean-Luc Picard encounters an alien probe that allows him the chance to experience an alternate life. In his alternate life he is a man called Kamin, who lives with his wife on the thriving planet of Kataan. Where one of his hobbies is playing his flute. But once Kamin has lived his whole life on Kataan, the probe shuts down and he awakens on the bridge of the Enterprise...once again he is Jean-Luc Picard (with his memories created on Kataan intact). The probe is brought aboard the Enterprise to be examined, and Picard is once again reunited with his flute!

If the Trekkie in your life loves Star Trek: The Next Generation, then this is definitely worth considering!!!

I just want to make a quick note to any of my friends or family that have read this. Unsurprisingly I already own everything on this list...except for the last two present suggestions! 
This is Simon from The Engage Podcast signing out!
Merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, 6 November 2014


Hi everyone! I wanted to apologise for such a long gap between this and my last blog, which seems like eons ago! Due to a combination of work, the convention and mainly technical issues with my laptop, this has sidetracked me in contributing to the blog for a while. But I'm back now!

So let's throw myself straight back into the mix with my latest topic about imagination! One definition I found  via Google is "the ability of the mind to be creative and resourceful." We all at some point have used our minds to imagine other possibilities, to indulge ourselves in entertainment by reading books and watching movies. And come up with ideas and solutions to solve problems we face.

Throughout history the use of imagination has been formed to create wonderful new technological inventions such as the telephone and medical breakthroughs with the ability to treat cancer. Imagination has and will continue to help us enrich and develop us as a species, so we can keep understanding ourselves and our role in life better!

We imagine and develop these ideas through sounds, words and pictures. As a child I had an active mind and always felt we discover insights about ourselves as individuals or a society through reading someone else's story or our own. For example it has been suggested that Roddenberry's experiences as a bomber pilot in WWII may have influenced him envisioning a utopia future for humanity in space with Star Trek.

Within the franchise itself humans can expand their own imaginations through a wonderous invention called the Holodeck, which "is a simulated reality facility located on starships and starbases." (Wikipedia) This is an environment where anything and everything can be formed and recreated, an endless supply!

If you had a Holodeck, what would you use it for? Me personally, create a nice sunny beach with lovely cool drinks and a good book to read! Star Trek characters like Geordie in The Next Generation have used the Holodeck to relax and unwind on the beach to try and impress a certain lady called Christy in Booby Trap! (S3, EP6)


It has also helped and taught other Trek characters to strive to understand themselves and reach their full potential.

For example Nog retreated into the Holosuite in Deep Space Nine in It's Only A Paper Moon (S7, EP9). It became a 'rehabilitation clinic' in a sense as he tries to deal with the trauma from losing his leg during the war in a battle with the Dominion in The Siege of AR-558 (S7, EP8). And Data used the Holodeck as a comedy act setting to try and understand humor, as he strives to become more human in The Outrageous Okona (S2, EP4)

These are just a few examples in how imagination has been used to enthrall and entertain us, but more importantly how we have formed concepts and ideas from it to discover solutions and invent. This has made us develop and understand ourselves more as a species and even if humanity hasn't yet reached the full potential of Roddenberry's vision, we can still imagine it will as (see picture below)   


Monday, 3 November 2014

Simon: My science fiction background!

Hi guys
In the hopes of giving you a better understanding of who you're listening to, I thought I would help giving you an idea where my love for science fiction grew from!
It means that I will have to travel back in time, which has the risk of crossing into my own timeline (let's just hope I don't contaminate it!).
I know I've already used this trick before in the Convention Guide Post...but I thought it works quite well last time!
As you can imagine, I'm going to make a few changes to the instead of traveling in the Tardis (sorry Doctor Who fans) I'm going to be using the Enterprise-E (my favourite star ship) traversing through time via the Slingshot effect!!!

As some of you may be aware I had a quite turbulent childhood. Because during that period in my life I was being bullied at Primary school and my parents were getting divorced.

Which drew me towards science fiction and the positive morals, messages and meanings (thank you Mission Log Podcast) it has!

I think the first place I would take the ship back to is around 1993-1995 where...

my first encounter with science fiction starts! Although it's with a set shows originally produced in the 1960's...I am of course talking about Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Stingray!

These three shows were repeated in the early nineties paving the way for my love of the genre!
Trivia: My favourite Thunderbirds craft is Thunderbird 2!
With they're bright colours and they're wonderfully simple filming techniques interested me straight away! I think the fantastic craft they use (in particular Thunderbird 2) formed the foundation for my love of starships and their design!
Moving forward a few years to 1997, where I got to see...Star Wars! As in his ultimate wisdom (which is debatable!) George Lucas decided to remaster and re-release Episodes IV through VI in a Special Edition box set (which we owned). My love for starships and their design grew once again...when my Mum bought me multiple Galoob Action Fleet starships, which I imagined 'flying' them home in my hand! Along with those I also managed to get The Death Star Playset. To my knowledge they are all still in our loft!!!
 Trivia: My favourite Star Wars character is R2-D2!
Moving towards the noughties to around 1998. This is when the science fiction genre started to make an impact on an young impressionable Simon Cordell, as this is when I saw my first Star Trek: The Next Generation. I watched it every Wednesday night on BBC2 at 6pm, this lead me to buying Star Trek video's (which are still in our loft).
Around this time I also caught glimpses of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on Thursday nights and Voyager on the Sunday nights.
Three years go by and we are introduced to  a new form of Star Trek, in the form of Enterprise! Not on the friendly Aunty Beeb (BBC) this time...but to Channel 4 where it ran modestly until the season four finale in 2006.
Trivia: Don't bring up "These are the voyages..." with Jamie, as it doesn't exist to him!
Trivia: Phil's favourite character is Marvin the robot!
Then another few years pass...until 2005 when The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was released in the cinema's. To me and Phil, this was something we had to see!
As both of our Dad's had heard the radio plays when they were younger, and encouraged us to see it. So I think we went and saw it in the cinema  (I can't remember...Phil?) and loved it!

We loved it so much, that we bought The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Trilogy of Four: A Trilogy in Four Parts, and then travelled up to London in order to visit the Science Museum's exhibition on the film.

2005 was also the year that  I was formally introduced to another British science fiction classic Doctor Who.

Trivia: The Tenth Doctor is my favourite!
It's not until 2006 when my love for Star Trek is rekindled, after painstakingly introducing Jamie to the Star Trek franchise! This took quite a while as Jamie had his own preconceptions about science fiction. Once that happened Though his subsequent discovery and enjoyment of the series meant that I could relive the thrill of exploring the franchise for the first time!
As I was initiating a new Trekkie I thought it was about time I reviewed some of my old preconceptions about Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Voyager. So we (me and Mum) started to buy the DVD box set's to both, which I watched from start to finish. This is where my 1998 conceptions evaporated.
Three years later (2009) a new form of Star Trek is revealed with Star Trek '09 (or if you prefer Star Trek XI). The first of the Abramsverse films, when I saw the film (3 times in total) I was always struck by the drastic changes made in the film. To point that I was just speechless, due to all the thoughts running around my head surrounding all the implications from the film!

The other amazing thing to come from this film is the fact that I managed to finally introduce Phil to the Star Trek franchise through by this film and playing Star Trek Online! Once again I felt the thrill of discovery coming from Phil!
A year (2010) goes by and another science fiction series arrives, this time it's the remake of V! A very overlooked series, which is well worth a watch...although I have got to admit that I've only seen the first season. Apart from that, I'm really glad I can add another 'string to my science fiction bow'!
2011 is when I finally got to see a series I was longing to get many hands on...I am of course talking about the remake of Battlestar Galactica.
Which (unlike the V remake) is a series that is not overlooked. if you haven't seen this series then definitely check it out, as you won't regret it at all!!!
Another twelve month's passes by, landing us in 2012. This the year that I finally saw the Remastered Star Trek: The Original Series Season three and Star Trek: The Animated Series.
Just like everyone else I assumed that season three was a lost cause...but watching it, and then hearing what morals, messages and meanings John Champion and Ken Ray got out of them. I don't think it deserves the reputation it has been given over the years!
The same is said about The Animated Series, as everyone think's it isn't part of cannon...but why not? It's got as much right to be a part of cannon as any other show! Well worth a watch, even if you only see it once!
This was also the year that the three of us attended Destination Star Trek London, which was absolutely amazing! It is hopes that at some point in time you'll be able to hear our 'practise' episode covering the event!!!
Going back to last year (2013) the big event that occurred in the Abramsverse was Star Trek Into Darkness, which...again I saw 3 times in total! This was the first Star Trek film I'd seen in the cinema with Phil and Jamie making it quite a big event for us. We were able to see it the second day of release, making us very excitable!
Just like Destination Star Trek London 2012, we recorded an episode giving our thoughts on the film. Which we hope you'll be able to hear sometime in the near future!
What can I say about 2014...well it's been quite a year!
In February I went alone to Destination Star Trek Germany in Frankfurt, which was absolutely awesome and amazing! If you were unfortunate not to go, then you missed out big time!!!

Met up with the lovely Trekkie Girls (hi girls!) while I was there, and ended up 'briefly' on stage at the Trek Radio's Transmitting Trek: Taking Entertainment to the Final Frontier talk on the Sunday. Once I got home we recorded an episode giving my opinions on the convention. Which we hope you'll be able sometime soon!
Last month we also attended Destination Star Trek 3, where we hosted our Borg Fan Panel (see The Engage Podcast at DST3 part 1) with the aid of our first 'Honouree' member of the podcast Neil Green (hi Neil!).
On the same day we also launched podcast, by covering all three days of the event...again will an episode giving our thoughts and feelings on the convention (see The Engage Podcast at DST3 part 2).

I hope you found this blog post interesting!
This is Simon from The Engage Podcast signing out!