Sunday! In addition to being week 3 of the 2012 NFL season, Sunday also brings with it another episode of the Sunday G&T Show, the Trek-themed internet radio show hosted by friends Nick Minecci and Terry Lynn Shull!
Terry was absent this week, owing to a deadlined net connection, but Guru Mike stepped in to fill the void as he and Nick had a long talk about writing in the ol’ Trekiverse, including an extended discussion on writing in the first person (Hint: That shit can be hard).
As for this week’s “Ask Dayton” question, it poses the question of how I might tell a Star Trek story in the vein of a little 1980s action movie you may have heard of….
Dear Dayton: Die Hard is one of the best movies ever and Star Trek is one of the best universes ever. If you were to write a novel based on Die Hard in the Star Trek universe what would it be called and what would be its major plot?
Couldn’t have gone with The Cannonball Run, huh?
Well, it’s like this: I’d set it on the Enterprise-D, with the ship completely evacuated while it’s docked at a starbase, and I’d even power the whole thing down. Then, I’d send Picard back to pick up something he’d forgotten, and find out that a group of bad guys had snuck aboard his ship and were trying to steal shit. Then, I’d have Picard go all Willis on the bad guys.
Oh, and I’d call the whole thing “Starship Mine.”
Wait. They already did that on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation?
Ah, Die Hard. Endlessly imitated and never surpassed—even by its own sequels—the original Die Hard remains one of the best and most-influential action movies of all time. The basic blueprint of “a lone hero in the wrong place at the wrong time when all hell breaks loose” is practically its own genre these days, and largely thanks to this flick. It still ranks as one of my all-time favorite movies, and also holds the distinction of being my very favorite Christmas film.
Shut up. Hell yes, it counts.
Anyway, most people don’t even know that Die Hard was based on a 1970s novel, Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp, and that at one point a version of the script which eventually became this movie was almost a sequel to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cinematic masterpiece, Commando.
You heard me: cinematic masterpiece. That’s right, I said it.
As for a Star Trek take on Die Hard, we already have the aforementioned “Starship Mine” which comes closest to the formula, but we can probably name a whole bunch of other episodes from the various series that take at least some inspiration from the movie. Were I to consider my own version of such a story, I’d likely take a page from one of its numerous imitators, and craft a tale in the vein of the best Steven Seagal film, Under Siege.
(Yes, I know saying something like “the best Steven Seagal film” is a lot like discussing “the least-annoying bitchy mom on Toddlers & Tiaras,” but work with me, here.)
So, how would it go? Just for grins, we set it at the end of the original Enterprise’s five-year mission. The ship has returned to Earth and is sitting in spacedock. Most of the crew is on shore leave before returning to work on preparing the ship for its refit, or heading off to other assignments. A skeleton crew is holding down the fort, and for reasons as yet unknown a group of bad guys gets aboard. Maybe they want some of the important stuff on the ship, like the photon torpedoes or phaser banks, or some other piece of classified or restricted Starfleet technology, like the antimatter from the warp engines. Imagine a rogue group of nutballs setting off an antimatter bomb in a major city or taking out a colony on some remote planet. Can you say “Day so totally fucking ruined?”
(Note: Check out the old Star Trek novel Crisis on Centaurus by Brad Ferguson for a plot similar to that last bit.)
Or, maybe they want the whole ship, either for their own long-term use or even just to crash it into a starbase or some other fiendish thing. Pretty scary, when you think about it.
Anyway, Kirk’s aboard for some reason. Maybe he’s just been promoted and he’s doing an inspection before the refit, and is caught on board when the bad guys strike. Maybe he’s conducting a tour for his new boss, Admiral Nogura, and the two of them are trapped and forced to team up and deal with the situation. But, you know what happens when you cross James T. Mother-Fuckin’ Kirk, right? Yep, it’s serious outwit and out-double fist punch time for the would-be scoundrels.
Hey, that could almost work, but I don’t think it’s a whole novel by itself. We’d need some subplots for the other characters, for sure. You know, plausible reasons as for why they’re not around…at least, not at the start. Kidnapped by bad guys and forced to help them? Could be. Maybe a couple of them could be helping to resolve the crisis from some other location, like Scotty as our guy on the ground. Nobody knows that ship as well as he does, so he could be talking Kirk through a situation when it comes time to jury-rig some crazy engineering voodoo magic. “Fuckin’ voo-doo magic, mahhhhn!”
We’d also need a really good lead bad guy; not these pansies who’ve been the villains in the last couple of Trek flicks. Fuck it. I’m just going to write him as though Alan Rickman were playing him on screen. And we need at least one douche nozzle authority figure to gum up the process while everybody else is getting on with being the hero or the bad guys. Maybe Captain Styles from Star Trek III, or Ambassador Fox from the original series episode “A Taste of Armageddon.”
And maybe one of the bad guy’s crew is a green alien chick. You know, just because. I think Kirk would dig that, don’t you? For those quiet character moments and totally gratuitous shower scenes before she goes to do evil shit, right?
So, what do we call this ridiculous slice of schlocky pulp-fiction cheesy goodness? Easy.
To Boldly Go and Die Hard: Yippee-ki-yay-ing where no mother fucker has yippee-ki-yayed before.
Welcome to the party, pals.
This question and its answer was read during G&T Show Episode #61 on September 23rd, 2012. You can hear Nick read the answers each week by listening live, or check out the replay/download options when the episode is loaded to their website: The Sunday G&T Show. Listeners to the show are also encouraged to send in their own questions, one of which will be sent to me each week for a future episode.
As always, thanks to Nick, Terry, and Mike for including me in on the fun.