Exploring the Explorer: Thoughts on Issue 1 of Star Trek Explorer
For the uninitiated like myself, Star Trek Explorer is a relaunch/overhaul of the official publication Star Trek Magazine. Think of it like the Enterprise refit in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. When I had the chance to review this first issue of Star Trek Explorer, I jumped at the opportunity!
Growing up as a kid in Canada during the late ’90s and early 2000s meant I had somewhat limited access to Star Trek merchandise when compared to the US. I could find Trek toys and merch, but it was always a bit of a mission. The same was true of Trek magazines. If I really wanted to get them, I could, but they weren’t just floating around. On the rare occasion I did see a Trek magazine, I would get it.
One such moment was in June 2001, when I was at Shoppers World, a very sketchy but classic mall in my hometown of Brampton, Ontario. I was with my mom, doing the usual errands, when I saw it. It was a particular issue of Star Trek: The Magazine (not to be confused with the aforementioned Star Trek Magazine) and it featured B’Elanna Torres on the cover. I purchased it with my own money and was certain it was a steal at $11.99 CAN, even if my mom disagreed. I read it front to back more times than I can count; I loved it. Since then, I haven’t really read a lot of Star Trek magazines, beyond the odd issue here and there.
Going into this review, I was pretty sure I would enjoy the initial issue of Star Trek Explorer, but I was a bit skeptical about how informative it would be and how much I would learn from it – not because I didn’t think it would have good information, but because I am so engrained in Trek and follow all Trek news very closely. Turns out, my skepticism was completely wrong.
The Magazine Itself
I must say that I had a blast reading this magazine. This 100-page first issue is filled with so many interesting and insightful features. I can’t get into all of them here but some that stood out to me were “Top 10 Kirk Moments” by Jonathan Wilkins, Larry Nemecek’s “A Fistful of Data” (where he answers fan questions and breaks down technology), and “The Definitive Guide to Enterprise” by Rich Matthews.
I hate to admit this but the feature on Kirk’s top ten moments helped correct a misunderstanding I had about Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan for all these years. When discussing Kirk’s famous “Khan” yell, Wilkins explains that the yell was a performance to fool Khan into believing he had won. I always assumed that Kirk’s yell came from a genuine place of anger at what Khan had done, even if the situation wasn’t as dire as they led Khan to believe. I’m not sure if that is common knowledge and generally accepted as canon, but either way, I am happy to be set straight.
Larry Nemecek’s “A Fistful of Data” has some very interesting deep dives. In one such deep dive, Nemecek explores the Romulan artificial quantum singularity drive and tries to determine if it used dilithium, as well as how they might have fared in the Burn. I didn’t fully understand the answer, because it was very tech-heavy even for me, but I am going to go back and read it again.
“The Definitive Guide to Enterprise” was my favourite part of the issue, because I am a huge Enterprise fan and I don’t think it gets the love it deserves, though that does seem to be changing. The guide, as with everything else in this magazine, was very informative and did a fabulous job of breaking things down. I, as a seasoned Enterprise fan, got new insights into the series, and I’m sure it will be helpful for Trekkies who haven’t explored much of Enterprise. Additionally, this section included a ranking of the top Enterprise episodes. I never get tired of episode rankings, but I do have a minor complaint with this part of the magazine, which I will discuss further on in this review.
I also really enjoyed some of the cast interviews, particularly the interview with Blu del Barrio as Star Trek’s first non-binary character. It was amazing to learn about their casting experience on the show, and the incredibly warm and positive feedback they received from the fan community. While Trekkies are naturally open to diversity and inclusion given the nature of the franchise, I have been concerned by the small segment of fans that has been very critical of Discovery for being too inclusive and diverse. As such, hearing that del Barrio has been welcomed into the community with open arms and that they’ve received such positive feedback is heartwarming and confirmation that the larger and more inclusive group of Trekkies is alive and well.
In addition to the aforementioned segments, this first issue also included two short stories that featured Q. Both stories were interesting, but it was Lisa Klink’s Q and False that really got my attention. The story was a very classic and compelling ethical dilemma involving the Prime Directive, and on a personal note it was nice to see that it was written by Lisa Klink. I am always excited to see Lisa’s name pop up because she has written so many fantastic Voyager episodes (“Scientific Method” being one of my personal favourites) and I honestly can’t tell you how cool it is that Lisa is a fellow writer for Warp Factor Trek.
For context, I should note that I reviewed the digital version of this magazine, so I don’t know how it compares to the physical version. Therefore, I will speak about my tablet experience. On my iPad, this magazine was a joy. The two viewing options I had were appreciated. One option allows you to view the magazine as a PDF and the other allows you to view it as an actual magazine. I’m not sure if that was a feature of the magazine itself or a feature of the app I was using. For those curious, I am using an app called ZINIO. Of course, the biggest selling point of reading it virtually is that you don’t have the physical clutter of an actual magazine. It also doesn’t hurt that you can read this in public without the entire world knowing you’re reading a Star Trek magazine, though the world does seem to be becoming a little more accepting of us Trekkies. This might just be a me thing, but I love being able to pretend that I’m Captain Picard reading a very important document on a PADD.
Nitpicks and Conclusion
While there is so much to love about this first issue, I do have some very minor gripes. One frustration I had was with the layout for the “10 Best Episodes” ranking of Enterprise installments. Curiously, they didn’t put any numbers indicating where the episodes actually stand in the ranking. I don’t know if this was an intentional choice, or if it was just an odd quirk of the digital version. It didn’t take away my enjoyment of the feature, but it was just a little frustrating.
The other minor gripe I had is that I would have liked more features on some of the newer shows, like Lower Decks or Prodigy. There are still plenty of issues to follow, so I’m sure they will have more content on those shows, and I’m looking forward to reading more issues in the future.
If you love and breathe Star Trek like I do, then I highly recommend you give Star Trek Explorer a try. I’m certain that, if you do, you will find at least one feature which connects with you or will learn something you didn’t know about this fantastic franchise.
Issue #1 of Star Trek Explorer is available now, directly from Titan Magazines.