Star Trek: Outpost
Official Site / Listen : Click Here
(Giant Gnome Productions)
I’ve been putting off reviewing the Star Trek audio dramas, but I felt I had to say something about this show. Originally when I got into audio drama I subscribed to every single Star Trek show available (which is saying a lot as there are so many) but it became very quickly apparent which ones were rubbish. I am now down to only two Star Trek audios on my feed and this is one of them. It took me a long time to give it a try, because I was quite jaded when it came to Trekker audio when episode 1 was released. Fortunately, Waldo at GGP kept mentioning I should give it a try and finally I gave in. I listened to the first few episodes with a very cynical attitude, but that was quickly replaced with a devotion to the show. Here was finally another decent Star Trek show! I’ve eagerly anticipated each episode ever since.
Unlike most fan shows where I am reviewing from the point of view of someone who never saw the original thing it was based off of, I am a proud Trekker with a t-shirt, large model of every space station / ship, all the action figures up through DS9 and several phasers to prove it. I think the worst came when an innocent person in my family put a communicator in my stocking one Christmas that made the sound when you pressed it…they never heard the end of that one. To this day, my mobile phone plays the Star Trek: Next Generation theme when it rings. This being said, I unfortunately cannot comment on whether or not a non-Star Trek fan would enjoy the show because I am so far removed from that point of view that I really do not know. From a Trekker/Trekkie’s perspective, however, it is quite well done and probably closest to Deep Space Nine in feel.
There are currently nine episodes of the show, and they are each quite long, as has become traditional with Star Trek audio dramas. The series begins with Lt. Commander Torkelson being assigned to a space station basically in the middle of nowhere under a commanding officer who is more interested in sending proper paperwork to Starfleet than actually running the station. As a result, most of the engineers and staff of the station have to find ‘alternate means’ of securing supplies and equipment they need. This is extremely realistic– my father was an engineer once at a place where the paper-pusher decided it looked better on his reports not to buy a part until the old one was broken. As a result, when one of the machines broke down there was a several week waiting period of petitions and shipping before the part could arrive and left the engineers furious that they couldn’t just go out and purchase items they knew would be needed ahead of time. The result of this situation on Star Trek: Outpost is that the engineers begin to resent the upper command and go off to the black market for what is needed. The black market, of course, is provided by a few recurring Ferengi characters who are a lot of fun. It is difficult to make unique Ferengi personalities, but Daniel McIntosh and Tony Raymond succeeded in their writing to create characters that aren’t just Ferengi1 and Ferengi2 but their own distinct people. The main part of this series in general that struck me was the excellent characterization of each of the cast of the show– much like the actual Star Trek series’.
So far this season there have been all sorts of mysteries brought up and there are plenty of storylines for Outpost to play with in the future. We have the man Torkelson arrived to replace who went missing, a sinister backer to the pirate ship Solar Winds, what Captain Taldeen was really sent to DS3 to investigate and the true motivation of Admiral Thomas’ fleet for coming to the station. Part of the fun of this series is trying to unravel the mysteries before it is officially revealed. I know I’ve been thinking about some of the possibilities. My personal favourite aspect is the archaeological evidence of a long-dead local advanced civilization whose artifacts have curious properties. That was one of the reasons I enjoyed Stargate when it first started out, as well as some of the Star Trek episodes that had to do with archaeology. It is always fun to see history merging with science fiction.
If you enjoyed Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, you will definitely want to check this audio drama series out. If you aren’t really a Star Trek fan, it may or may not hold any fascination for you but it would be worth a try. Some of the terminology might go over your head, but I think the basic story and interesting characters might still be worth attending to. Even if you don’t end up liking or listening to the audio series, I’d recommend going to the GGP site to look over the album art. They did a great job with the modeling of the station and choosing appropriate quotes to add to the art for each episode.
The post-production and voice acting quality is about standard and has its ups and downs. The music choice is usually quite good, and I’ve never found the sound to be distractingly bad. In general it has a very stable, excellent quality level and the same goes for the writing. This isn’t brilliant witty stuff, but it also isn’t poorly done or boring. In fact, it is basically the level that the Star Trek tv series’ usually were, which is precisely where it should be! And, as I said, it is leagues better than the usual Star Trek audio dramas.