'Star Trek: Starfinder': Review Of Pilot Episode 'The Back Of Beyond'
Two months ago, I met the creators of the upcoming audio series, Star Trek: Starfinder. (see the interview here). As a fan of both old time radio drama and every thing to come out of the Star Trek universe, I was very excited to hear it for myself. I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peek listen to the exciting pilot, “The Back of Beyond,” which drops today on the official website, USSStarfinder.com.
The series takes places 30 years after the events of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. I could tell right away that this show is for the true fan. Right off the bat, we’re re-introduced to the time-displaced Dominion fleet of 2,800 starships from the sixth season DS9 episode “Sacrifice of Angels.” (Awesome episode, by the way) Some of those displaced Dominion troops, led by a Vorta named Alura, have requested to serve Starfleet.
The main plot takes place on board the USS Starfinder, an Odyssey class starship that is home to a crew of well over 2,500 Starfleet officers, crew members and MACO’s (military Assault Command Operations, the Federation equivalent of marines).
The USS Starfinder comes with several unique things. The ships captain is an A.I., a self-aware computer program that interacts with the crew in the form of a male human. Joining Captain A.N.N.-D on the ship is his first officer, Commander Vaihuu, the first Romulan in Starfleet, as well as Dr. Torik, Alura, Sergeant Byrnes, and a host of other well thought-out characters.
(The USS Starfinder in dock. Image via Paul "themightyspud" Knott)
The mammoth ship is the first starship to explore “The Outback,” a recently opened section of space beyond the Federation colony of New Australia. This vast section of space contains more than a few wonders and dangers.
The episode starts off with some back-story, so that the listener can get up to speed. From the Vorta and Jem’Hadar to liberated Borg and Tholians, this series has plenty of aliens to go around.
Also apparent is the apprehension that the crew has about serving under a captain that, while programmed with the life experiences of several masterful Starfleet captains, is essential a living computer system. I’m better that there will be more than a few tense moments between the captain and crew.
After setting out to explore The Outback, the crew encounters a planet that is teeming with life. Fans and critics who always wished that Star Trek would feature aliens that were a bit more "alien" will be happy with the new species this series introduces. The rest, you will have to listen to for yourself, but trust me, it's worth it! Be prepared for plenty of classic Trek sounds as well. There is nothing like the sound of the red alert siren to get your blood pumping. Also worth mentioning is the shows original music score, which fits nicely with the mood of the series.
It wasn’t difficult to enjoy the episode, even if it’s a show done by fans, and not a seasoned crew of actors on a Hollywood set. Some of the inflections of certain characters could use a bit more gusto, and splicing together of scenes is not 100% perfect. Still, this show is definitely worth checking out.
Being a show that relies 100% on audio, introducing the characters is tricky. The shows creators however, present the dialogue and narration quite well. The friction between certain characters is believable, and there are some references that even I, a level 9 black belt Trekker, had to think about for a second (the creators even were able to use real Klingon!). Despite all that, someone who knows nothing about Star Trek could still enjoy it.
I for one will be listening in to each new episode. The show is already being syndicated across several internet stations, which can be seen in the links section of the official website. Public download is set to be available about a week after the shows debut.
Whether you are a fan of audio books, old time radio, Star Trek, or just enjoy a good story, I highly recommend you check out Star Trek: Starfinder. Like other parts of the expanded Star Trek Universe, it’s awesome to see true fans carrying on the saga.
This series will only increase in quality with each subsequent episode, so it’s best to get in now. I can’t wait to see where it goes!