31 January 2023

20 Years ago today: Her Name was Columbia, the falling star that came to Texas


In 1981, I watched the first NASA Space Shuttle launched and it lit my imagination. Then in 2003, I watched the Columbia rain down in fiery pieces across Texas like falling star. Oddly, the footage of the orbiter breaking up was captured by my local ABC station, WFAA. The loyal and beloved first Space Shuttle and her final crew of seven all were killed and taking with it the entire Shuttle Program at NASA. 20 years ago today, we lost those seven brave souls and our lady Columbia across the state I live due to a impact on the thermal shielding by a piece of foam during take-off. For those that were invested in the US manned Space Program, the loss of OV-102 Columbia and valiant crew was a traumatic experience. It would take two years for the next shuttle launch in 2005 and while the shuttle program continued for years after, there was always a difference. In 2011, STS-135 was the final shuttle mission using my favorite Shuttle, OV-104 Atlantis. After this, the US manned space program have to rely on the Russian Soyuz capsules for the manned missions to the ISS...that is changing with the SpaceX system. Given the status of the Columbia as the first space-worthy American Space Shuttle (OV-102), she gained much popularity in media. While the name Columbia was certainly not new, this shuttle orbiter of the first launched STS mission in 1981 "Columbia" pushed the name into another level, especially in science fiction. The name "Columbia" is unfortunately taken from explorer Christopher Columbus name. Given the grim realities of Columbus expeditions into the New World, the origin of the name is tarnished. OV-102 was actually named after the privately owned American Sloop Columbia Rediviva of the 1780's that was the first American vessel to circumnavigated the globe and where the name for Columbia River comes from. The Columbia shuttle launched 28 mission in its service life that started April 12th, 1981 with it being the first shuttle to have a female commander of the 1999 STS-93 mission. Today, FWS remembers her and her brave crew. Wherever they are, I hope they know that we still think of them. Due to the popularity of the OV-102, FWS has decided to explore some examples of the Columbia in  the realm of science fiction.

The NX-02 Columbia from ST:ENT

The NX-01 Enterprise was humanity's first Warp 5 ship and it was to allow mankind to enter into deep space beyond the limited exploration conducted by UESPA and the Earth Cargo Authority. During the run of the show, references were made to other NX class ships hulls being laid but no specific name. It wasn't until the loss of the OV-102 that the name and naming convention of the NX class was established. The naming of the NX-02 came from Trekkie Anthony Davis of Brentwood, Tennessee. He reached out to producer Rick Berman and suggested that 2nd NX ship should be named after the OV-102. While the NX-02 was hinted at during the first 2 seasons, it was not named until the 3rd Season E2. The NX-02 was seen in orbital drydock in the 2nd ender "The Expanse", but not named. It wasn't until the 3rd Season 21st episode "E2" that aired on May 5th, 2004 that the NX-02 was given the name "Columbia".
This laid down the name convention of the NX class being named after the NASA Orbiters. If the series have been allowed to continue the next three seasons, we would have likely seen the NX-03 "Discovery", NX-04 "Atlantis", NX-05 "Endeavor", and NX-06 "Challenger". In my head canon, the NX-07 would have been "Buran". The fate of the NX-02 was muddled by ST:ENT novels and the maybe non-canon (Beta-Canon) disappearance of the NX-02 and its later discovery in the Gamma Quadrant some 200 years later. One of the fitting tribulates for the crew of the OV-102 to the NX-02 was the Columbia patch was the seven stars representing the seven astronauts that died that February day.

The Columbia Orbiter from Cowboy Bebop epsiode "Wild Horses"
Much like the World Trade Towers being seen in productions just before the September 11th attacks, the Columbia space shuttle was seen in the 19th Cowboy Bebop episode "Wild Horses". The ancient spacecraft is by Miles and Doohan (insert Trek references here) used to rescue Spike's Swordfish II in orbit and then the ancient shuttle crash-lands. I missed this session when watched Cowboy Bebop back in the day and launching the orbiter that way would never work...but it is cool. This would air in America two years prior to the loss of the Columbia and it normally does not air today due to this. I've read that Columbia was edited out and the Atlantis was placed in for some edits and some still have the Columbia name still there. 

The Columbia Orbiter in LifeForce
Lifeforce is a crazy space vampire movie that came out in 1985 at the apex of Space Shuttle love and fandom. In the movie at stars Sir Patrick Stewart and the beautiful Mathilda May, the British space shuttle HMS Churchill, that was bought from the Americans and modified, found an alien spaceship in the coma of Hailey's Comet. During the mission to the alien ship, the Churchill crew in MMUs recover three naked human bodies. However, contact is lost with the Churchill and the Columbia is sent up to investigate the Churchill. The Columbia is the craft that brings back the alien space vampires. This movie is a cult classic and worth checking out.

The Columbia Orbiter in For All Mankind

In the alternate history of the Space Race, we see the OV-102 Columbia being used in the 1980's to ferry personnel and supplies to the Lunar outpost of Jamestown. The shuttle fleet seen in the series has more shuttles with some with different names that are mostly stupid save for the Constitution instead of the Enterprise. The real question that was asked by the audience was if the Space Shuttle Orbiters could have made it to the Moon. The answer is no. They do not generate enough Delta-V nor carry the fuel for such a trip...orbital space only. This was known to the producers of the series, but chose to ignore for the iconology of the Shuttle and to save due to not having to design a new spacecraft.

The Endeavor Orbiter in the movie The Core

This 2003 world-ending disaster film had its trailers released just after the Columbia loss and the trailers for The Core showed the Endeavor making an emergency landing (Miracle on the Hudson style) on the LA river canal system due to issues with the Earth's core. While the scene is cool, there was an issue. Due to distasteful nature of this scene shortly after the loss of the Columbia and her crew, the trailers were recalled for the process of removing the scene. However, the shuttle crash in the film was left and as become a favorite despite on completely inaccurate it is. Originally, the Endeavor was to land at LAX, but tighter security at airports following 9-11 caused that to be scrapped. That is two real world disasters that caused the disaster film to be altered. 

The Columbia Orbiter from the TV Series The Cape

The Cape was a 1996 live-action TV show that was in syndication and only lasted one season that was centered around astronauts training and mission control. It is not be confused with the 2011 TV of the same name that stars Summer Glau. During the end 2-parter, the Atlantis crashing into the Mir Russian space station and damages some of the heat tiles. The Columbia is launched on a rescue mission. During the investigation of the Columbia Disaster, the possibility of launching the Atlantis to rescues of the Columbia was detailed in the CAIB Report and this was even a possibility explored by the Rogers Commission during the Challenger Disaster way back in 1986. 

22 January 2023

The Weapons of Sci-Fi: Jaffa Ma'Tok Staff Weapon


In one of the longest running and most iconic military science fiction TV shows of all time, one of the primary weapons of the key alien race is a direct energy weapon based on a staff melee weapon. This is the weapon of the slave-warriors of the Jaffa in service to their serpent masters, the Goa’uld. First seen in the original 1994 feature film, Stargate, the DE staff weapon has been featured in all of the entries into the massive Stargate Franchise. These Jaffa staff weapons have become one of the most iconic sci-fi weapons and it is high time we discussed the Ma’Tok Staff of the Jaffa warriors.  

What is the Ma’Tok Staff Weapon?
In the vast Goa'uld Empire that was run by the System Lords, the muscle of the empire was the enslave Jaffa warriors that had been genetical modified from ancient Terran stock. In the hands of the Jaffa was the Ma'Tok plasma directed energy staff weapon and the pistol-like Zat'nik'tel. The Ma'Tok fired a powerful slow-rate-of-fire plasma bolt. Given the Goa'ulds need for style and ceremony, the Ma'Tok was lavishly appointed and designed for a weapon. However, the Ma'Tok was a weapon designed more to be a weapon of imposed order via fear and terror and a symbol of the snake gods. In addition to the portable plasma cannon on the emitter tip of the seven-foot long staff weapon, the staff could be used as a melee weapon and even as a flashlight. The power for the weapon came from a small liquid naquadah power pack that according to some, could power the weapon for its entire service life. 
It is unknown how long the Goa'uld enslaved military forces used the Ma'Tok, but it was used after the fall of the System Lords and even by the Jaffa after their revolt against their snake overlords. Some of them where even taken by the SG team on their expeditions throughout the gate network. During the run of the show,  there were variants to the Ma'Tok, both by Jaffa Warriors and rebellious elements. 
This brings up the name of the Jaffa Staff Weapon. Through the many episodes of Stargate SG-1, the primary weapon of the Jaffa, both loyal to the System Lords and those are rebelling against the rule of the Goa’uld are never named properly. In the original concept art for the 1994 film, it is believed that the name “Hekat” was assigned to the directed-energy staff weapon of the royal Jackal and Horus guards to Ra. This was likely named after the ancient Egyptian god of magic and medicine, Heka. Officially, Hekat was never used in the extensive Stargate franchise. In the 2010 Stargate: Resistance online 3rd Person video game, the Jaffa weapon was labelled an “Ma’Tok”  and has been used ever since then to describe the staff weapon. Like many of the names in the Stargate franchise, the name Ma’Tok is Hebrew and means “sweet”.

What Do Those Ma’Tok Staffs Fire?
One of the larger benefits and its greatest issues of the Jaffa directed energy two-meter long weapon is its power output The standard issue Ma'Tok seen by Terran personnel is basically a handheld plasma cannon that has all of the power, ability, and disability of that weapon philosophy. Being that the Jaffa were the enforcers of their Goa’uld overlords, their primary weapon was used to quell rebellion and put populations into their proper place. As Colonel Jack O'Neil observed, the Ma'Tok was a weapon of terror. Given all of the facts above, we can imagine the power of the staff weapon. 
In combat, the Ma'Tok can blow a hole through an average Terran soldier or even other Jaffa...this with or without body armor at the highest setting. The highest setting has been seen to damage trees, blowing holes in reinforced doors, and even cause secondary effects via burns. This means that groups attempting go against the will of the Goa'uld would be met with directed energy weapons that could kill and wound several people in one volley at close range. This would make most scared to counter the will of the Jaffa and their gods. However, this power comes at a price. 
The Ma'Tok is large, heavy, unwieldly, has a slow rate of fire, especially when compared to the Terran kinetic weaponry, it eats power, and it is inaccurate. Then, there is the effective range of the Ma'Tok: abut 60 meters. This places the primary weapon of the Jaffa warriors in the effective range of a Terran pistol! Power comes at a price and Ma'Tok is a symbol of that. Speaking to that, to power this weapon, the power source is a liquid naquadah power source. Like many weapons of science fiction, the Ma'Tok is a plasma-firing directing energy weaponry that exists in a soft-serve science fiction universe. While this form of lethal energy is shared among hundreds of sci-fi weapons, the Ma'Tok is unique in design and power output compare to the normal plasma DE weaponry

The Use of the Ma’Tok Staff by Tau'ri
When the first SG-1 team was sent out through the Stargate to the world of Abydos in the 1996, this small US Air Force off-world team made contact with the royal guard using the Ma'Tok...it was a tough introduction for the Tau'ri. Given the abilities of the Tau'ri weaponry and the advanced nature of the alien weaponry technology, the US government was interested in acquiring the directed energy weaponry that is well beyond the current Terran technological understanding. When Apophis made his presence known to the Tau'ri in 1997, the US government was able to get some examples of Ma'Tok and present them to retried Jack O'Neil. Once the SG-1 team was formed, the Tau'ri would use Jaffa weaponry from time-to-time. The Jaffa snake pistol was used more, due to it stun abilities, than the Ma'Tok, due to its size. 

What Does the Ma'Tok say about the Jaffa & the Goa'uld?
Every weapon tells a story about the society that produced it and along with when it was produced...and the Jaffa directed energy Ma'Tok staff weapon is no different. At times, style overtakes tactical considerations in weapons designs and a weapon purposefully designed to be more ritualistic in nature than effective on the battlefields that the Jaffa are deployed to across the Milky Way galaxy. Due to the Goa'uld sense of design and theater, their staff weapon was fashioned like a snake with technology culled from the Ancients, and the weapon design itself was a representation of their imperial religious nature. Members of the Tau'ri would associated the design of the staff to the ancient Egyptian culture. With all of this symbolism attached to the weapon, it would make sense that the Ma'Tok is symbolistic in its performance as a weapon. jack O'Neil stated famously the best summation of the Ma'Tok: "This is a weapon of terror. It's made to intimidate the enemy." The intimidation factor was applied to the fearsome abilities of the Jaffa staff weapon, the warriors themselves, and even the power of the Ma'Tok. However, when faced with the soldiers of the SG Teams armed with modern Terran weaponry, the limitations of the Jaffa staff directed-energy weapon were painfully shown. Despite this, the rebel and loyal Jaffa continued to use the Ma'Tok. When examining the Ma'Tok as a whole, the overall design and function demonstrates what the goal of the snake gods was and how they wanted to maintain their empire: through fear. That could be also extended to the incorporating of a melee function to the Ma'Tok. Smacking around the unwashed masses that offended the state imperial religion of the Goa'uld is another way of importing terror and submission...along with the cool armor worn by some of the Jaffa warriors
The Ma'Tok Variants

-The Sodan
This is shorter variant of the Jaffa Ma'Tok comes from the religious heretics of the Jaffa Sodan  and comes in at 52.5 inches long verse the standard seven feet length of the Jaffa Ma'Tok.

-The Serqet
This Jaffa warrior woman is found in the web-series Stargate Origins and she customized her Ma'Tok that added a blade on it for use when she was acting as the right hand of Aset. Cool series.  

-The Bashaak
This wooden Ma'Tok was used to train Jaffa warriors in the melee combat skills and carrying an Ma'Tok into battle. This would make the Bashaak a fancy quarterstaff. 

-The Staff Cannon BFG
This crew-served directed energy weapon system that is a bridge between light artillery cannon and heavy machine gun. When used as field artilerry pieces, the staff cannon is mounted to a wheeled platform or a stand. These are also mounted on Goa'uld warships and even their Glider fighters.  It "can" be a handheld weapon if you are Teal'c. These were first seen in the 1994 Stargate film on the Glider fighters.   

The Ma'Tok Prop from the Film and the Series and the Ma'Tok in Toy Form
Stargate is longest running sci-fi television series in North America and the staff weapon has been there since the 1994 film. There are some differences between the film Ma'Tok and the TV Ma'Tok...however, there seems to be some confusion and misinformation out there. According to a few collectors, there were four "working" staff prop weapons on the set of the 1994 film and were run using compressed air to open the clamshell emitter head on the weapon. There more stunt and background staff weapons in the film. When the props arrived at the shoot location, one was broken, one did not function, leaving two that worked. Only one of the working prop staff weapons is known to exist and is in the hands of a collector. This idea that there was only one staff prop that opened, by either design or accident, is mentioned on many sites I found. So, the question begs itself...is there a difference between the Ma'Tok staffs from the TV series and the 1994 film? One being the size is an issue (that's what she said) due to it being not standard across the various props. One of the props from the TV show is listed at the dimensions of 84.25" × 7.09" × 3.54. Another prop from the show was listed as 76 inches in length. One of the few hero props from the 1994 film is 7ft and 7 inches. These are all close in size, but not the same. Very interesting. During a search of Ma'Tok props, I came across a unfinished staff prop from the 1994 film and it appears close to some items seen in the excellent Patrick Tatopoulus concept art for the Horus guard. 
It appears that this 1994 prop was a pre-production study staff before the final design. The description for the sale says that it is likely that the prop was never finished being "weaponized" by the production staff or the staff was going to be more magical than blaster like. For the 1994 film and the TV series, there was toys made by Hasbro and FWS will cover those in more depth in their own article because the 1994 toyline needs because it is very odd and very 90's. Both the "Horus" and "Anubis" guard figures came with a form of the Ma'Tok. Later on, there were much better figures with the staff made for the Stargate: SG-1 TV series. 

Staff Weapons in Science Fiction
Human fashioned weaponry from natural sources likely has an origin point well before the Homo line. One of the earliest non-rock weapons every used by people throughout the Homo line and before was likely long branch or piece of wood. This would evolve into the spear and this weapon could be used as a stabbing weapon or a melee weapon depending on the target. Given the easy of crafting of a staff-like weapon and it's many uses in day-to-day activities, the staff became a common weapon of the people. Even today, old brooms, PVC pipe, and metal rods are used like staffs for playtime and urban street brawls. It makes sense that staff weapons of all times and designs would be added even if a blaster or laser sword is more sexy. To me, the addition of staff weapons in a science fiction setting is about the capitalization of the martial arts staff to a warrior character for the coolness factor. For Stargate, it was due to the Egyptian roots of the Goa'uld and others, like B5, did to up the coolness factor of a badass warrior-monk character. 

Other Staff-Based Weapons in Sci-Fi

The Imperial Royal Guard SoroSuub Controller Force Pike from Star Wars
In 1983, the infamous royal guard of the Emperor was seen walking along side him and guarding his throne room. Unlike the blacks, greys, and whites of most imperial uniforms and armor, the red of the royal guard popped and I took notice. I owned several of the original action figures and I've always loved the look and mystical nature of the royal guard. Over the years, we've gotten more information on them and their secret society to the point of ruining the mystery behind them. One of the elements that has been mocked by fans over the years as been the royal guard staff weapon, often called a pike. The melee weapons of the original royal guard were enhanced for the elite Pretorian guard for the war-crime-level The Last Jedi. The reason for the pike in ROTJ was to have the royal guard look ceremonial and separate them from the Stormtrooper corps along with connecting them to the Jedi/Sith weapon choices...they were of two worlds and they walked in the shadows of the Dark Side of the Force. 
While they do nearly nothing during the film besides stand and walk around, they did do something. In a deleted scene from the 3rd film, Moff Jerjerrod confronts Lord Vader and the Sith Lord Vader does take too kindly to be threated by a normal human and Force chokes the bitch. When this happens the Royal Guardmen rise their pikes to reveal that these pikes have an emitter on the tip of them.  I decided to consult my copy of West End Games Star Wars Imperial Sourcebook from 1989. These were the SoroSuub Controller Force Pike 2 meters long and the Force Pike was used by stormtroopers, planetary patrols, bodyguards. These ranged in quality and ability due to the construction and wielder of the Force Pike, and naturally, the Royal Guardsmen were the expert users of the Force Pike. 
The vibro-edged head of the Force Pike could be used to stun or even kill in conjunction with being used as a melee weapon. In the hands of the Royal Guard, the Force Pike was a deadly weapon and few that the training of the Mandalorian, the Jedi, or the Sith could stand toe-to-toe with them. Given that the Royal Guard appear in a Star Wars production, we know that there were toys of them...lots of them. I owned the original figure in 1983 and had it for years. The majority of Force Pikes in the package with the original ROTJ figure were bent and the pike had a handgrip for the figure. It wasn't until better molding technology that we got better representations of the Force Pike seen in the film into plastic, like the 2016 Black Series 6inch figure (which is fucking awesome!).  

The Anla'Shok Fighting Pike Denn'bok from Babylon 5
During the peak years for Babylon 5, we get the "cool character" in Ranger Marcus Cole in the episode "Matter of Honor". He was British, was a warrior-monk that laid down some knowledge and beat-downs via his alien stick and had a death that made the teenager me cry. At times, B5 would overplay a theme, character, or event and the Anla'Shok were one of those elements. To capitalize on the cool element of the Rangers, they were heavily blended with the Jedi and a martial artist and that meant  that these space rangers were given them a staff weapon. The weapon is a traditional Minbari weapon that goes back to the days of Valen and is called the "Denn'bok". This weapon came from the non-Minbari weapon called "Barrken" from the insect Tak'cha race. When Valen had training with members of the Tak'cha race, the staff combat was folded into Minbari culture. With modern Minbari technology, the Denn'bok could be retraced into the palm of a hand and expended for combat up to 5 five long in a flash. Some of these pikes were very old and passed down in the Ranger community after a Ranger retired or died. Fans have reproduced the collapsed and extended staff weapon.  

The Vulcan Lipra from Star Trek
One of the first melee weapons seen in the OG ST was the Vulcan Lipra from the critical 2nd season episode "Amok Time". According the background of the franchise, the Lipra is a traditional Vulcan weapon that holds a special place in the Vulcan ancient history. Featuring a moon-shaped blade, a club,  and a staff, the weapon became a part of ritual and tradition. It was actually used for combat as we witness in the last season of ST: ENT due to the conditions of The Forge. Due to the iconic scenes of Kirk and Spock fighting in "Amok Time", the Lipra has gained a nearly legendary status in Trek franchise history despite it looking like a gardening tool. With it being a legendary weapon, it does pop up in other Star Trek works like Lower Decks.  

The High Guard Force-Lance from Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda
During the time of the first Systems Commonwealth, the High Guard military force used an unusual weapon as their primary sidearm for all High Guard forces: the Force Lance (AKA F-Lance). Built a s an omni-weapon for many different tactical situations and environments, the Force Lance was marvel of the Systems Commonwealth. Designed to fire plasma-based directed energy charges or smart bullets known as "effectors", the Force-Lance could engage targets in both lethal and non-lethal means. The Force Lance was a little over 11 inches in its most compact form (Mark 5 and Mark 6 units) and could extend up to 2 meters to act as a melee weapon with the directed-energy feature being still usable in the extended melee mode. Behind the scenes, the Force-Lance props were mocked by the actors and a number of penis/dildo jokes were exchanged about the Force-Lance design with star Kevin Sorbo saying repeatedly, "have seen my Force-Lance?". I firmly believe that the Force Lance drew influence from the Ranger staff weapon from Babylon 5.  

The DE Staff Weapon of the Linnarean Guard from ST:SNW "Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach"
In the SNW episode "Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach", we are introduced to the Majalan system and the unique society that lives there and the role of one young boy in holding together the society: the First Servant. Protecting the First Servant is the Linnarean Guard. During an inspection of the Guard to uncover if there is a traitor among them, there is a fight by the traitor and we see their weapon in action. A beautiful staff weapon with a devastating directed energy blast that seems about to be wielded easily by the guard more so than other staff weapons on this list. Like most of ST:SNW, it was a very good episode.   

The Staff of the MCP Guards from TRON 
One of the standout films of the 1980s was 1982's TRON from Disney due to its arresting use of computer technology and a story set with the digital realm. While a flop, it has become one of the symbols of a cult classic. In the film, the Master Control Program developed by Ed Dillinger is running one of the largest technology companies in the world: ENCOM. In the digital realm, the MCP is the overlord of the digital world and the programs serve him and his empire as it expands into other systems. One of the henchmen of the MCP is Sark and he commands an army of red-glowing security programs in cyberspace. These guards of the MCP digital empire are these heavily hooded and clothed in some sort of armor that glows red and their faces are rarely seen. In their heavily gloved hands is a pike or staff that glows and produces a shock to move programs from one area of the gaming grid to the other. These guards, the lowest in the MCP army, rely on terror and intimation rather than martial abelites as seen in their fights with Tron. These guard figures (called 'warrior" for the toyline) from TRON were produced for the 1982 TOMY toyline, which I had all of them, and these "warriors" came with a staff. This was a glow-in-the-dark thin piece of yellowish plastic and it was mostly bent in the package. Odd toys.    

Diana's Staff Weapon from the Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon
From 1983-1985 CBS, Marvel, and Toei Animation made a bold experiment that is fondly remembered by us that watched back in the day: the D&D Animated TV series. One of the party members was a 14 year old African-American girl that was instructed in acrobatics and with the DM assigned her a weapon and skill set, she was given the glowing staff weapon that used magic to be expanded from a few inches when carried and could expand up to six feet. Throughout the show, Diana would use the staff in a variety of ways including as a melee weapon, throwing weapon, pole vaulting. It was one of the best weapons in the hands of the adventurers. While this example is outside of the military science fiction genre, I fondly remember this show and I wanted to include it. 

Chirrut Imwe Staff Weapon from Star Wars: Rogue One
Among the cast of interesting characters in Rogue One was the Guardian of the Whills, Chirrut Imwe. One of the highly trained Guardians of the Whills on the moon of Jedha in the martial art of Zama-Shiwo. Unlike the similar Jedi, this warrior-monk possessed a flame-hardened uneti-wood staff that was just as deadly and allowed him to disarm a number of hapless stormtroopers. One of the cool elements of the staff was that there was a Kyber Crystal in the handle of the staff to allow for a light source and some harmonic abilities...this also tied him to his order and the Jedi. Given the film's desire to have a warrior-monk that wasn't a Jedi, the inclusion of a traditional weapon of Asian monks seemed the likely path and the character of Chirrut Imwe was gifted the staff. 

The Staff Weapon of Jaylah from Star Trek Beyond
As many of you know, I am not a fan of the J.J. Abrams Nu-Trek series of films and their place in the wide world of Trek. I think that they are a waste of time and money for which we could have gotten canon-Trek works. In the mercifully last of the Nu-Trek films, Beyond, we get the alien female character of Jaylah and she carried a staff-energy rifle weapon throughout most of the film. The staff weapon was constructed while her family was marooned on Altamid. She was trained to use the weapon by her older sister Keelah and by a holodisk her sister made. This training came in handy when was alone and faced off the many salvagers and enemies on Altamid. 

Rey's Quarterstaff from the Star Wars Sequel trilogy 
As I said above, I am not a fan of some of the new trilogies based on franchises from my 80's childhood. The Sequel Trilogy was much like the Nu-Trek series of films was a waste of time, money, and effort by people who did not know what they were doing and what they were playing with. At the beginning of the new Star Wars films, we all had hope with The Force Awakens and then the idea fell badly apart. For much of Ray's time onscreen, she has this odd looking staff and it is used to defend herself in the harsh environment of Jakku. It is likely that this staff is constructed from parts of the starship wreckage on Jakku and later the staff pieces and parts were used to construct the shell of Rey's Lightsaber at the merciful conclusion of the shitty sequel trilogy. I was always impressed with the look and construction of the prop. It has been remade many times for the cosplay community from items found at a local hardware store. I always wondered if Daisy Ridley has one of the hero props in her possession.  

Next Time on FWS...
In the inventories of all navies are the workhorses that deliver the mail, the ammunition, the fuel, the food, and the parts to the combat ships and the battlefields...they are the transport vessels. These are the lesser to the sexy battleships, dreadnoughts, cruisers, and frigates of the combat naval classifications, but they are just (if not more so) important to the war effort as those warships. In the realm of sci-fi, the transport vessel is one of the most used and famous. In the one of the last of the Ships of the Line series, we shall be exploring and explaining the assault ships, troop transports, and transports of science fiction . And yes, I will attempt to justify the inclusion of the Pillar of Autumn from HALO. 

07 January 2023

FWS Status Update for 2023: What the Hell is Going on with FWS?


As of late, FWS has been...dim. Normally, we create around 14-16 articles a year and in 2022, that number dropped to around 11. That is not good and my present on the social media outlets as also not good. That needs to chance or I need to close down FWS and move on to something else. Recently, I have been playing way too much Destiny 2. It is not fair to you dear readers. I want FWS to continue and at times, I am the one that is in the way of the site due to my life. I will endeavor to be better about that. I am exploring the possibility of moving FWS off of blogger to the lack of fixes and updates associated with the site into its own website. Stay tuned for more information. There will be not be any major changes in 2023 and the work of FWS will continue because I need this site for me and my own desires, I hope you do as well. 

So, what topics will be covered in 2023? Here is a teaser...

  • The Jaffa Staff Weapon is being worked on and it has been difficult to write and research. Nearly finished
  • The STARCOM toyline
  • The Jackhammer shotgun
  • The size of outer space and how creators deal with that
  • The profile of the Colonial Military seen in the rebooted Battlestar Galactica
  • The broken promise of season five of Star Trek: Enterprise
  • The Jin-Roh anime
  • The Andromeda TV show is odd
  • Destiny is odd as well
  • The Top 10 Military SF book cover art
  • The Final Countdown 1980 film
  • Military Dogs
  • The Guns of the Future from the film Elysium 
  • The M16
  • Killer Alien Robots from Outer Space
  • Ships of the Line: Explorers
  • HALO: Reach
  • Interceptor/Superior Starfighters