Barely Political’s Star Trek Parody

Star-Trek-universeHere we have the hilarious satire group that produces musical parodies under the name “The Key of Awesome”, back for more with a parody of Star Trek. Most likely made in honor of the honor of the successful relaunch of the franchise, here we see Spock and a lady Vulcan subordinate come together for Pon Farr. And of course, its all done to the tune of a particular slow jam, with hilarious results!

I have yet to see Into Darkness, but I’m lobbying hard to accomplish this that weekend. How can I be expected to do reviews and keep up with the latest in pop culture and science fiction if I don’t occasionally get out to see a vastly overpriced relaunch??? Enjoy the video:

Zachary Quinto vs. Leanord Nimoy: “The Challenge”

spock-oneonone

Just came across this hilarious, extended commercial for Audi. In it, Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto (old Spock vs. new Spock) square off and compete for no apparent reason other than to make us laugh. Oh yeah, and to showcase how the new Audi stacks up against an older classic car.

Product placement aside, it’s a hilarious video. The inside jokes and Trekkie references are sure to provide some monumental nerdgasms. And be sure to be on the lookout for the Audi robot car featured at the end. It’s appearance was a nice touch, and their reactions pretty priceless!

Pluto’s New Moon to be Named Vulcan

pluto1For roughly a month now, the SETI Institute (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) has been holding an online poll – appropriately named Pluto Rocks! – to help them name Pluto’s smallest moons, officially designated P4 and P5. Discovered in 2011 and 2012 respectively, an online poll ran up until the end of February, at which point researcher and co-discoverer Mark Showalter took the names before the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to finalization.

Although there were several choices for for Pluto’s fourth and fifth moon, it was P4 that became the focus of a great deal of attention. Of all the names for this space rock, two top contenders came out on top: Vulcan and Cerberus. Out of a whopping 450,324 people who took part in the poll overall, 174,062 voted for Vulcan, effectively putting it in the top spot. This was perhaps due to a little Twitter intervention by Mr. William Shatner.

Pluto_moon_orbitsWhen the contest began back, it seemed that two camps emerged as the forerunners for naming the rock. On the one hand, there were the Trekkies who seemed determined to name P4 after famed-character Spock’s homeworld. On the other, there those who belong to IAU camp, who favored the classical Greek name of the beast that guarded the entrance to the underworld.

After just a few days in, William Shatner, Mr. James T. Kirk himself, proposed the name Vulcan, and not just because of the connection to his show. In Roman mythology, Pluto (aka Hades in the Greek pantheon) was the God of the underworld and Vulcan was one of his sons. Cerberus might have been more appropriate since this beast was Pluto’s/Hades companion, but the connection still works, and provides a nice little tie-in to one of the most popular science fiction shows of all time.

Pluto-and-VulcanFans and Trekkies worldwide rallied, and as of Feb. 25th, Vulcan had a comfortable lead over Cerberus and Styx, which were vying for the 2nd place position. SETI has now advised that people be patient, as it will take another months or two for the names of the two moons to be finalized and selected. However, barring any major objections or upheavals, I think it’s fair to say that P4 and P5 will henceforth be named Vulcan and Kerberos.

And I have to say, this is fascinating news in more ways than just one. Not only does it demonstrate that our collective knowledge of the outer Solar System is growing. It also demonstrates how henceforth, astronomical studies and cataloging may become a much more democratic affair. Once considered the province of academics and scholars, space exploration may truly be an open field in the future, subject to mass participation.

Oh, and congrats to Mr. Shatner for his enduring influence, to Mr. Nimoy for the shout-out, and to Trekkies the world over for showing what a committed fandom made up of millions of geeks can do! And may all the people who bullied you for your interests and keen intellectual skills consider what a force you’ve become and cower in fear!

Worlds of Star Trek

In honor of the other sci-fi franchises I’ve covered in my “Worlds Of” series, which includes my own (shameless!), I’ve decided to throw some credit and attention Gene Rodenberry’s way. His Star Trek franchise is not only one of the most popular science fiction franchise of all time, it’s also hailed as one of the most detailed and in depth, owning to many years of existence and countless contributing minds. And so, here’s my list of the franchises hot spots, in alphabetical order:

Bajor:
The homeworld of the Bajoran people and situated near the Bajoran Wormhole, this planet and the system are the setting for the spinoff series DS9. Throughout the series, many details are given about the Bajoran’s culture, history and people, most of which revolve around the occupation of their planet by the Cardassian Empire and their worship of “The Prophets” (aka. the wormhole aliens).

At one time, Bajor was the home of one the oldest civilizations in the Alpha Quadrant, characterized by art, poetry, and a caste system where the priestly caste were at the top. During the occupation of Bajor, which last fifty years, the Cardassians murdered millions of inhabitants, destroyed much of their infrastructure and even poisoned large tracts of land. To mark the occupation, they built a large space station named Terok Nor in orbit.

In order to fight against the occupation, the Bajorans abandoned the caste system so that everyone could become fighters. After fifty years, the Cardassian government chose to cut its losses and abandoned the world. The Bajorans took control of Terok Nor shortly thereafter, the provisional government invited the federation to take control of it, and it was renamed Deep Space 9. After the discovery of the wormhole, Commander Sisko ordered the station to relocate to guard the entrance.

It was learned shortly thereafter that the wormhole was an artificial phenomena that connected the Alpha Quadrant to the other side of the Milky Way Galaxy (the Gamma Quadrant), and was inhabited by a race of super-evolved beings that had made contact with the Bajorans in the past. Because these beings were non-corporeal and had no concept of time, they were named “The Prophets”, mainly because of their ability to see into the future.

When the Dominion was discovered on the other side of the wormhole, Bajor would become the front lines in the Alpha Quadrant alliance’s war against them. During the course of this war, DS9 would become occupied by the Cardassian-Dominion alliance. Before abandoning the station, Sisko and the crew of DS9 made sure that the entrance to the wormhole was mined so as it ensure that the Dominion could not bring in reinforcements. Due to the articles of the Bajoran treaty with the Dominion, Cardassian forces were also forbidden from occupying the planet again. As a result, Bajor would remain free until the Federation and its allies retook the station a year later and once again controlled entrance to the wormhole.

Betazed:
Home to the telepathic race known as the Betazoids, this planet is a member of the Federation and a major contributor to its ranks, particularly in the field of diplomacy and counseling services. Deanna Troi and her mother, Lwaxana, both call this planet home, as do many other secondary characters in the TNG and spinoff series’.

In the course of the TNG series, many aspects of Betazoid culture are made clear. For one, the planet appears to have a semi-matriarchal culture, where the eldest woman of the family holds the title for the house and all its honors. This was particularly true of Lwaxana, who in addition to being a decorated diplomat, was named “daughter of the Fifth House, holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx, heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed”.

The planet was mentioned many times in the TNG series, usually in conjunction with the Enterprise’s many contacts with Lwaxana. During the Dominion War, Betazed was occupied for a brief time when Dominion forces caught the local fleet off guard. This development is what prompted Sisko to attempt a rapprochement with Romulan forces to bring them into the war.

Cardassia Prime:
Also known simply as Cardassia, this world is home to the Cardassian people and the seat of power for the Cardassian Union. Based on the many descriptions from DS9, Cardassia is apparently a warm, humid environment that favors reptilian creatures, which is apparently the basis of Cardassian biology.

Prior tot he militarization of their culture, Cardassia was home to thriving civilization that produced renowned works of art and architecture. However, the civilization soon fell into severe decline and decay, resulting in mass starvation. As a result, martial law was declared and the foundations for the Cardassian government were laid.

This consisted of the Central Command on the one hand, which controlled the military, and the Obsidian Order which acted as the secret police. Between the two was the relatively impotent civilian government which exercise little real power, but which occasionally was called upon to enact policy which Command knew would be unpopular. One such decision was the removal of Cardassian forces from Bajor after 50 years of unsuccessful occupation.

Cardassia was the first to ally themselves with the Dominion after their discovery in the Gamma Quadrant. This was after a disastrous war with the Klingon Empire, which the Dominion instigated through one of their shape-shifter replacement of General Martok. As a result, Cardassia Prime would remain occupied by Dominion forces for many years, until the arrival of Allied forces and the defection of the Cardassian military. In retaliation, the Dominion ordered the destruction of the Cardassian people, and over 800 million perished before the Founder officially surrendered.

Earth:
In the original series, TNG, DS9, and other spinoffs, much is made of how life has improved on Earth since the late 20th century. Though we don’t get to see much of it beyond San Francisco or Paris, it remains one of the most important planets in the Star Trek universe. As the seat of the Federation, it was the home of the Federation Council and of the office of the Federation President, and serving as the central headquarters of Starfleet.

In addition, Starfleet Academy is located in San Fransisco, just in view of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was here that all characters in the franchise received their education and commission as officers. Between Kirk, Picard, Sisko and Janeway, many stories are told of memorable and nostalgic incidents, and all allude to rather trying curriculum in which their abilities and aptitude were strenuously tested.

In the course of the original series, TNG and DS9, several major events are alluded to which had a drastic effect on Earth and the human race. These include the “Eugenics War” of the late 20th century, where genetically-modified human beings attempted to take over the planet. This ended when the last of the modified humans, under the leadership of Khan Noonien Soong, fled aboard the spaceship Botany Bay. During the early 22nd century, Earth was devastated in what was referred to as the “Atomic Horror”. This causes the destruction of most major cities, 600 million deaths, and the emergence of totalitarian regimes.

However, all that appeared to have changed with the development of the warp engine by doctor Zefram Cochrane and First Contact. Thereafter, Earth became united in the goal of reaching the stars and building a better future. Starfleet was created to acheive this goal, and the United Federation of Planets established between the Vulcans and humanity, and many subsequent races thereafter. Beyond that, not much is specified about Earth of the 23rd and 24th century, other than saying that it is a “paradise” where no crime, hunger, war, or poverty exist.

Ferenginar:
Wet, mucky, swampy, and perennially rainy, this moldy planet is home to the enterprising race known as the Ferengi. The seat of power for the Ferengi Alliance, it is also the home of the Tower of Commerce, the Sacred Marketplace, and the Ferengi Commerce Authority, the ruling body of their species.

Though it was never shown in TNG, Ferenginar makes a few appearances in the DS9 series. Here, it is depicted as a rainy, wet and extremely humid place where most people live in low-domed structures. In the capitol, the majority of architecture consists of these types of dwellings, expect of course for the central spire of the Tower of Commerce, where the Authority is centered.

The leader of the Ferengi people is known as the Grand Nagus, the head of all commerce for the Ferengi and the leader of the Authority. In addition to the sacred text, “The Rules of Acquisition”, the Ferengi are governed by the Bill of Opportunities, a quasi-constitution which sets out the rights of individual citizens. These revolve mainly around the right to own a business and make a profit, provided they don’t violate any of the sacred Rules or the regulations of the Commerce Authority.

Though women have traditionally had no rights under the law, amendments made by Grand Nagus Sek during the course of the DS9 series granted them the right to wear clothes and make profits. A ruling council was also established to pass several sweeping social reforms, which including the imposition of taxes, social programs, and laws banning monopolies and the mistreatment of workers. According to expanded universe sources, over 78 billion Ferengi live on their homeworld, and the civilization has been warp capable for some time.

Qon’oS:
The home of the Klingon people and seat of the Klingon High Council, the ruling body of their Empire. Though very little information was given about this planet in the original series, it appeared repeatedly in TNG and subsequent spinoffs, and was mentioned repeatedly in relation to the character of Worf and the Federation’s dealings with the High Council.

Due to the prolonged state of tension between the Klingon Empire and the Federation, very little was known about this world until the late 23rd century, when the destruction of its mining moon of Praxis forced the Klingons to sign the First Khitomer Accord with the Federation.

However, it was not until Khitomer Massacre, where Romulan forces commited a sneak attack on the Klingon delegation, that an alliance was formed between the Federation and Klingon Empire. This was apparently due to the fact that the Enterprise C responded to the Klingon’s distress signal and was destroyed while attempting to defend the colony against four warbirds. Thereafter, the Klingons became convinced of the Federation’s honorable nature and committed to a joint-defense pact.

It is often been suggested that the Qon’oS of the original series is not the same planet as that of the Next Generations. This is because of events in the movie The Undiscovered Country, where  the evacuation of Qon’oS became necessary because of the destruction of Praxis. Though it was never made clear if Qon’oS was simply established on another world or was somehow saved with the help of the Federation, the name of their homeworld remains the same even if the locations has changed.

Risa:
Originally a dismal, rain-soaked and geologically unstable environment, the native Risans have managed to transform their world into the pleasure capitol of the known universe. This was accomplished with weather control satellites, seismic regulators, and ecological engineering, all of which resulted in a planet wide paradise that is known throughout the quadrant.

Noted for its vast beach resorts and tropical climate, Risa’s greatest attraction lies in the open sexuality of its population. Identified by a decorative emblem between their eyes, Risians often initiate or respond to the desire for sexual relations through the use of a small statuette called a horga’hn, the Risian symbol of sexuality or fertility.

As was made clear to Captain Picard during his first visit, to own a horga’hn is to call forth its pleasures. To display one is to announce that the owner wishes to participate in jamaharon, a Risian sexual rite. Riker has apparently visited the planet many times, and often relates why its his favorite vacation spot in the galaxy.While Picard was on leave, he also discovered the local of the Tox Uthat, a 27th century weapon which had was hidden on Risa and passed into local legend.

The crew of DS9 also went to Risa during shore leave, during which time a group of extremists planned to sieze the planet to demonstrate how the Federation was not prepared to deal with the threats facing it. In the course of the visit, it was also revealed that Dax’s former host, Curzon, died there as a result of engaging in jamaharon. Death by pleasure. No wonder the place is so popular!

Romulus:
Along with its sister-planet Remus, Romulus is the home of the Romulan species and the seat of power for the Romulan Star Empire. Settlement of this planet took place in 4th century by Earth standards, when Vulcan colonists discovered it at the end of a long exodus. Shortly thereafter, the Vulcan society changed with the strict institution of logic and repression of emotion.

As a result, Romulans society bears little resemblance to their Vulcan forebears, though they are genetically related. Known for their arrogance and innate sense of superiority, the Romulans are one of the dominant powers in the galaxy, located in the Beta Quadrant adjoining Klingon and Cardassian Space. Because of this strategic location, they have been involved in skirmishes with virtually every civilization that borders there own.

The planet is the home of the Romulan Hall of State and the Imperial Romulan Senate. In the TNG series, Picard and Data also traveled here seeking Ambassador Spock. After finding him, they discovered that his presence was part of an effort known as “Reunification”, a movement between Romulans and Vulcans who wanted their worlds to come together again after centuries of being apart. During the Dominion War, the planet also hosted a Federation Alliance Conference to help them plan strategy and address wartime concerns.

Additional events took place in the franchise’s movies, particularly the TNG movie Nemesis and the JJ Abrams Star Trek relaunch. In the former, Romulus became the focal of a plot by Reman agents, led by a Picard clone, to take over the Romulan government and incite a war with the Federation. In the latter, Spock indicates that in 2387, a supernova destroyed Romulus before he could contain it using a “red matter” singularity device.

Vulcan:
The homeworld of the Vulcan race, the birthplace of their philosophy, and the center of their star-faring civilization. Noted for its higher than normal gravity and thinner atmosphere, the climate of this planet had much to do with fact that the Vulcan race, in their primordial form, are physically very strong, fast, and quite aggressive.

Much is mentioned of the history of Vulcan in the original series, TNG, and the various spinoff. After contact with Earth, it became one of the major worlds of the Federation and home to several key installations. In addition, many key events took here in the expanded franchise because of its importance in the Star Trek universe as the homeworld of Spock.

During the original series, Spock was summoned back to his homeworld to take part in the ritual of Pon farr, where he ended up Kirk to the death for the honor of his less-than-honorable betrothed. During the movie Search for Spock, the crew was forced to come to Vulcan aboard a captured Klingon vessel so that Spock’s regenerated body could be reunited with his consciousness.  This ritual, known as fal tor pan and conducted on Mount Seleya, was successful in restoring Spock’s mind, which had previously been sojourning in Dr. McCoy’s head.

In the TNG series, some details are given about Vulcan’s prehistory, before the adoption of logic and the repression of emotions. This period, known as the “Time of Awakening” was marked by civil war between several different factions, and even involved the use of nuclear and psionic weapons. One of these weapons, known as the Stone of Gol, survived the wars and was being sought by a Romulan agent posing as a Vulcan.

In the relaunch movie, Vulcan was a key setting, mainly in relation to Spock’s upbringing and his decision to join Starfleet rather than the Vulcan Science Academy. It is was later destroyed when Nero, the Romulan Captain of the Narada, used the red matter device to trigger an artificial singularity at the center of the planet. Because of these events, the Vulcan race has become an endangered species in this alternate timeline, though resettlement efforts did begin in earnest by the end.

Alright, that’s Star Trek done. Now that I’ve covered this franchise, Star Wars, Dune, and even my own, there’s only one or two left that I think deserve mention. The first is the Firely universe, which I’ve already talked about at length. And then there’s the Babylon 5 universe, which I’ve talked about WAY more! Like to the point of nausea, tedium, and even boring myself! But if people are even the slightest bit interested, I’d be happy to cover them. Just give me a week or two to decompress… all this writing about fictional planets has got me nerded out!

Robots, Androids and AI’s

Let’s talk artificial life forms, shall we? Lord knows they are a common enough feature in science fiction, aren’t they? In many cases, they take the form of cold, calculating machines that chill audiences to the bones with their “kill all humans” kind of vibe. In others, they were the solid-state beings with synthetic parts but hearts of gold and who stole ours in the process. Either way, AI’s are a cornerstone to the world of modern sci-fi. And over the past few decades, they’ve gone through countless renditions and re-imaginings, each with their own point to make about humanity, technology, and the line that separates natural and artificial.

But in the end, its really just the hardware that’s changed. Whether we were talking about Daleks, Terminators, or “Synthetics”, the core principle has remained the same. Based on mathematician and legendary cryptographer Alan Turing’s speculations, an Artificial Intelligence is essentially a being that can fool the judges in a double-blind test. Working extensively with machines that were primarily designed for solving massive mathematical equations, Turing believed that some day, we would be able to construct a machine that would be able to perform higher reasoning, surpassing even humans.

Arny (Da Terminator):
Who knew robots from the future would have Austrian accents? For that matter, who knew they’d all look like bodybuilders? Originally, when Arny was presented with the script for Cameron’s seminal time traveling sci-fi flick, he was being asked to play the role of Kyle Reese, the human hero. But Arny very quickly found himself identifying with the role of the Terminator, and a franchise was born!

Originally, the Terminator was the type of cold, unfeeling and ruthless machine that haunted our nightmares, a cyberpunk commentary on the dangers of run-away technology and human vanity. Much like its creator, the Skynet supercomputer, the T101 was part of a race of machines that decided it could do without humanity and was sent out to exterminate them. As Reese himself said in the original: “It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”

The second Terminator, by contrast, was a game changer. Captured in the future and reprogrammed to protect John Conner, he became the sort of surrogate father that John never had. Sarah reflected on this irony during a moment of internal monologue during movie two: “Watching John with the machine, it was suddenly so clear. The terminator, would never stop. It would never leave him, and it would never hurt him, never shout at him, or get drunk and hit him, or say it was too busy to spend time with him. It would always be there. And it would die, to protect him. Of all the would-be fathers who came and went over the years, this thing, this machine, was the only one who measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice.”

In short, Cameron gave us two visions of technology with these first two installments in the series. In the first, we got the dangers of worshiping high-technology at the expense of humanity. In movie two, we witnessed the reconciliation of humans with technology, showing how an artificial life form could actually be capable of more humanity than a human being. To quote one last line from the franchise: “The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it, for the first time, with a sense of hope. Because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too.”

Bender:
No list of AI’s and the like would ever be complete without mentioning Futurama’s Bender. That dude put’s the funk in funky robot! Originally designed to be a bending unit, hence his name, he seems more adept at wisecracking, alcoholism, chain-smoking and comedicaly plotting the demise of humanity. But its quickly made clear that he doesn’t really mean it. While he may hold humans in pretty low esteem, laughing at tragedy and failing to empathize with anything that isn’t him, he also loves his best friend Fry whom he refers to affectionately as “meat-bag”.

In addition, he’s got some aspirations that point to a creative soul. Early on in the show, it was revealed that any time he gets around something magnetic, he begins singing folk and country western tunes. This is apparently because he always wanted to be a singer, and after a crippling accident in season 3, he got to do just that – touring the country with Beck and a show called “Bend-aid” which raised awareness about the plight of broken robots.

He also wanted to be a cook, which was difficult considering he had no sense of taste or seemed to care about lethally poisoning humans! However, after learning at the feet of legendary Helmut Spargle, he learned the secret of “Ultimate Flavor”, which he then used to challenge and humiliate his idol chef Elzar on the Iron Chef. Apparently the secret was confidence, and a vial of water laced with LSD!

Other than that, there’s really not that much going on with Bender. Up front, he’s a chain smoking, alcoholic robot with loose morals or a total lack thereof. When one gets to know him better, they pretty much conclude that what you see is what you get! An endless source of sardonic humor, weird fashion sense, and dry one-liners. Of them all “Bite my shiny metal ass”, “Pimpmobile”, “We’re boned!” and “Up yours chump” seems to rank the highest.

Ash/Bishop:
Here we have yet another case of robots giving us mixed messages, and comes to us direct from the Alien franchise. In the original movie, we were confronted with Ash, an obedient corporate mole who did the company’s bidding at the expense of human life. His cold, misguided priorities were only heightened when he revealed that he admired the xenomorph because of its “purity”. “A survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.”

After going nuts and trying to kill Ripley, he was even kind enough to smile and say in that disembodied tinny voice of his, “I can’t lie to you about your chances, but… you have my sympathies.” What an asshole! And the perfect representation for an inhuman, calculating robot. The result of unimpeded aspirations, no doubt the same thing which was motivating his corporate masters to get their hands on a hostile alien, even if it meant sacrificing a crew or two.

But, as with Terminator, Cameron pulled a switch-up in movie two with the Synthetic known as Bishop (or “artificial human” as he preferred to be called). In the beginning, Ripley was hostile towards him, rebuffing his attempts to assure her that he was incapable of killing people thanks to the addition of his behavioral inhibitors. Because of these, he could not harm, or through inaction allow to be harmed, a human being (otherwise known as an “Asimov”). But in the end, Bishop’s constant concern for the crew and the way he was willing to sacrifice himself to save Newt won her over.

Too bad he had to get ripped in half to earn her trust. But I guess when a earlier model tries to shove a magazine down your throat, you kind of have to go above and beyond to make someone put their life in your hands again. Now if only all synthetics were willing to get themselves ripped in half for Ripley’s sake, she’d be set!

C3P0/R2D2:
For that matter, who knew robots from the future would be fay, effeminate and possibly homosexual? Not that there’s anything wrong with that last one… But as audiences are sure to agree, the other characteristics could get quite annoying after awhile. C3P0’s constant complaining, griping, moaning and citing of statistical probabilities were at once too human and too robotic! Kind of brilliant really… You could say he was the Sheldon of the Star Wars universe!

Still, C3P0 if nothing if not useful when characters found themselves in diplomatic situations, or facing a species of aliens who’s language they couldn’t possibly fathom. He could even interface with machinery, which was helpful when the hyperdrive was out or the moisture condensers weren’t working. Gotta bring in that “Blue Harvest” after all! And given that R2D2 could do nothing but bleep and blurp, someone had to be around to translate for him.

Speaking of which, R2D2 was the perfect counterpart to C3P0. As the astromech droid of the pair, he was the engineer and a real nuts and bolts kind of guy, whereas C3P0 was the diplomat and expert in protocol.  Whereas 3P0 was sure to give up at the first sign of trouble, R2 would always soldier on and put himself in harm’s way to get things done. This difference in personality was also made evident in their differences in height and structure. Whereas C3P0 was tall, lanky and looked quite fragile, R2D2 was short, stocky, and looked like he could take a licking and keep on ticking!

Naturally, it was this combination of talents that made them comically entertaining during their many adventures and hijinks together. The one would always complain and be negative, the other would be positive and stubborn. And in the end, despite their differences, they couldn’t possibly imagine a life without the other. This became especially evident whenever they were separated or one of them was injured.

Hmmm, all of this is starting to sound familiar to me somehow. I’m reminded of another, mismatched, and possibly homosexual duo. One with a possible fetish for rubber… Not that there’s anything wrong with that! 😉

Cameron:
Some might accuse me of smuggling her in here just to get some eye-candy in the mix. Some might say that this list already has an example from the Terminator franchise and doesn’t need another. They would probably be right…

But you know what, screw that, it’s Summer Glau! And the fact of the matter is, she did a way better job than Kristanna Loken at showing that these killing/protective machines can be played by women. Making her appearance in the series Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles, she worked alongside acting great Lena Headey of 300 and Game of Thrones fame.

And in all fairness, she and Lokken did bring some variety to the franchise. For instance, in the show, she portrayed yet another reprogrammed machine from the future, but represented a model different from the T101’s. The purpose of these latter models appeared to be versatility, the smaller chassis and articulate appendages now able to fit inside a smaller frame, making a woman’s body available as a potential disguise. Quite smart really. If you think about it, people are a lot more likely to trust a smaller woman than a bulked-out Arny bot any day (especially men!) It also opened up the series to more female characters other than Sarah.

And dammit, it’s Summer Glau! If she didn’t earn her keep from portraying River Tam in Firefly and Serenity, then what hope is there for the rest of us!

Cortana:
Here we have another female AI, and one who is pretty attractive despite her lack of a body. In this case, she comes to us from the Halo universe. In addition to being hailed by critics for her believability, depth of character, and attractive appearance, she was ranked as one of the most disturbingly sexual game characters by Games.net. No surprises there, really. Originally, the designers of her character used Egyptian Queen Nefertiti as a model, and her half-naked appearance throughout the game has been known to get the average gamer to stand up and salute!

Though she serves ostensibly as the ship’s AI for the UNSC Pillar of Autumn, Cortana ends up having a role that far exceeds her original programming. Constructed from the cloned brain of Dr. Catherine Elizabeth Halsey, creator of the SPARTAN project, she has an evolving matrix, and hence is capable of learning and adapting as time goes on. Due to this and their shared experiences as the series goes on, she and the Master Chief form a bond and even become something akin to friends.

Although she has no physical appearance, Cortana’ program is mobile and makes several appearances throughout the series, and always in different spots. She is able to travel around with the Master Chief, commandeer Covenant vessels, and interface with a variety of machines. And aside from her feminine appearance, he soft, melodic voice is a soothing change of pace from the Chief’s gruff tone and the racket of gunfire and dead aliens!

Data:
The stoic, stalwart and socially awkward android of Star Trek: TNG. Built to resemble his maker, Dr. Noonian Soong, Data is a first-generation positronic android – a concept borrowed from Asimov’s I, Robot. He later enlisted in Star Fleet in order to be of service to humanity and explore the universe. In addition to his unsurpassed computational abilities, he also possesses incredible strength, reflexes, and even knows how to pleasure the ladies. No joke, he’s apparently got all kind of files on how to do… stuff, and he even got to use them! 😉

Unfortunately, Data’s programming does not include emotions. Initially, this seemed to serve the obvious purpose of making his character a foil for humanity, much like Spock was in the original series. However, as the show progressed, it was revealed that Soong had created an android very much like Data who also possessed the capacity for emotions. But of course, things went terribly wrong when this model, named Lor, became terribly ambitious and misanthropic. There were some deaths…

Throughout the original series, Data finds himself seeking to understand humanity, frequently coming up short, but always learning from the experience. His attempts at humor and failure to grasp social cues and innuendo are also a constant source of comic relief, as are his attempts to mimic these very things. And though he eventually was able to procure an “emotion chip” from his brother, Data remains the straight man of the TNG universe, responding to every situation with a blank look or a confused and fascinated expression.

More coming in installment two. Just give me some time to do all the write ups and find some pics :)…