Interview: Reeves-Stevenses Talk Mars and Enterprise

Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens have been writing science fiction books and TV for decades. They have written a number of Trek novels on their own and in collaboration with William Shatner (including "Star Trek: The Academy–Collision Course" coming out next month). They were also brought in for Star Trek Enterprise’s final (and most consider best) season. But the couple are also aficionados of science fact (see picture of pair on an actual Space Shuttle). They have written a number of non fiction books including one about real missions to Mars. Their most recent television project (the Race to Mars mini-series airing on the Discovery Channel in Canada this Sunday) brings fact and fiction together. Judy and Gar spoke to about their Mars project and also about their time on board Enterprise.

About "Race to Mars"…taken from the Discovery Channel description:
Born out of exhaustive scientific research and consultation, the four-hour mini-series "Race to Mars" captures every exhilarating detail, from lift-off through touchdown on Mars to return to Earth, drawing viewers into the heart of this amazing journey. In the year 2030, the race to be the first to reach the Red Planet is on. China has stunned the world by leapfrogging over America’s long-term plans and has landed a series of advanced rovers and robotic landers in their quest to make the most important discovery in history – extraterrestrial life on Mars. Once again, America and its partners, Canada, France and Japan, are thrust into a winner-take-all space race – but the stakes are much higher than the race to the Moon nearly seven decades earlier. Race to Mars is running on the Discovery Channel which is known for documentaries. So is this a ‘docu-drama’ or a regular dramatic mini series?

Garfield Reeves-Stevens: Race to Mars is a four hour dramatic mini series that is a companion piece to a six hour documentary series. The Mars Rising documentary is a complete presentation of all the challenges we are facing today for sending humans to Mars. What they wanted to do is take all that information and actually show it. The mini-series is based on what we know now and what we expect to know in the next 25 years or so. So would you even classify this as ‘science fiction’?

Garfield: Well 20 years ago you would have, but these days it would best be described as ‘predictive fiction’? How did you guys get involved?

Judith Reeves-Stevens: They came to us because we had worked with one of the other producers and because we had written the book "Going to Mars" with the Brian Muirhead, on of the chief engineers of JPL. And now Brian is the chief architect for the Constellation Program, which is NASA’s plan to send humans back to the moon and on to Mars – for which Mike Okuda has designed the mission patch. 


Mission patch designed by Star Trek designer Mike Okuda How accurate is your depiction? There are many ideas for going to Mars such as the Zubrin ‘Mars Direct‘ proposal, which did you use?

Garfield: You know we just started working on this project around the time of the shooting of "Terra Prime" for Enterprise. We were using the Paramount theater as an assembly hall for Archer’s speech at the end of  the episode and were standing outside with all the alien ambassadors and ran into Lou Friedman of the Planetary Society who was at Paramount talking about another project. We told him about Race to Mars and he asked the same question…’which plan would we use?’. After talking to us he reminded us that if you get 10 Mars experts in a room you will end up with 10 really good ideas for going to Mars. We based Race To Mars on the NASA Reference Mission. Every few years NASA pulls together scientists and engineers and they plan a Mars mission and that is subject to constant revision. In fact while we were writing Race to Mars they were all abuzz because the latest analysis data from the Mars Exploration Rovers show they had made some incorrect assumptions about the Martian Atmosphere which effected how parachutes would work, so we made changes to reflect the latest thinking. We now have four smaller landing vehicles instead of just two larger ones.

Judith: What we benefited from is spending years going back and forth to JPL and talking to the actual people who are landing craft on Mars. So we were able to make adjustments to reality. And we had over 70 science advisers from all over the world to tell us where we went wrong. So how long is your mission to Mars?

Judith: It is called ‘the sprint mission.’ It uses nuclear rockets so it is 11 months to Mars, 60 days on the surface and then 14 months back.

Terra Nova craft from Race To Mars The show is called ‘Race’ to Mars. It presupposes the US working with Russia, Japan and the Europeans in competition with China to get to Mars. Do you feel that a 60s style race is what it would take to get us to Mars?

Judith: Historically exploration has always been motivated by competition…

Garfield: ..whether it is economic or political. And this is addressed in the series.

Judith: Competition and cooperation are joint themes of the series. The premise also revolves around there being some discovery of indications of life on Mars and the ‘race’ is to be the first to find the proof. Do you think that search for life is a requirement to motivate people to go to Mars?

Judith:  Two of the characters on the show love quoting famous Mars quotes back and forth to each other. One of them is by Arthur C. Clarke who said "Sometimes I think we’re alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we’re not. In either case, the idea is quite staggering." The idea is that if they find life on Mars then odds are really good that there life everywhere since there has been two Genesis events. If they find absolutely no life on Mars, and especially since we know Mars was so much like Earth billions of years ago, then everything we know about how life forms is wrong. So we need to go to Mars to find out why that is so. A lot of biologists tell us that they would be more surprised if life isn’t found there because the indications are so strong. Being that Race to Mars is still a dramatic mini-series, even though it is based on strict science, how do you guys get past some of the dry ‘reference mission’ and make this an exciting drama

Garfield: By being exceptional writers. [laughs]

Judith: It is almost like McMurdo in the South Pole where the cooks go after each other with cleavers after being cooped up so long. There is an element of cabin fever that is going to bring some excitement. And the exploration in the hostile environment also brings drama of its own. When you have people far from home and they are reliant on themselves and any support is far far away, things will happen that their training alone will prepare them to deal with.

The Race To Mars crew on the surface of Mars One bit of speculation you guys added was naming one of your characters Okuda.

Garfield: We knew we had an international team. It was patterned after the International Space station and the Japanese Space agency is putting a huge effort into astro-biology. So we made the one scientist Japanese — and who better to name him after but Mike’s Dad? Are there any other Trek references in Race to Mars?

Judith: We were very cautious. We put exactly one little Star Trek reference in there and when we saw the rough the actor, who shall remain nameless, blew the line! He was supposed to say ‘Mr. Spock’ but he said ‘Dr. Spock.’ Unfortunately, due the way it was shot it could not be fixed so it had to be cut.

Kevan Ohtsji as Hironi Okuda in Race To Mars Speaking of Trek, you guys co-wrote "Terra Prime" which was the first time in whole Trek franchise that we get to visit Mars. Did you guys feel that it was time to give Mars its due?

Judith: Well to be fair, since the beginning of the season there was a board up in Manny [Coto’s] office and he had all these story areas he wanted to address and Mars and the ‘Fundamental Declarations of the Martian Colonies‘ was one of them. When Manny wanted to do the Demons/Terra Prime arc it was to bring the themes of Enterprise home to the solar system and that is when we said "then we have to go to Mars." That was the second to last episode for the series, but many consider it to be the real finale for the series.

Judith: It was nice people got two. One ("Terra Prime") ended Enterprise and one ended the recent Trek era ("These are the Voyages").

Garfield: In everybody’s heart of hearts the show was going to go a couple more years and was going to end with Archer’s speech to the Federation. But early on Manny started to thing ‘what do we do if we don’t get those years.’ You guys were brought in for the 4th season of Enterprise. When one looks over your episodes they are just laden with continuity nuggets. Was that why you guys were brought in specifically? Was that your mandate?

Judith: I think Mike Sussman and Manny had read our book "Federation" and when we came in to talk to them, the themes they wanted to address were those from "Federation." That is something they thought was a strength of ours. That is how we approach it – we always love to tie things up and find novel explanations.

Garfield: When we came in and met with Manny and Brannon they emphasized that anyone coming on staff had to be people who understood Star Trek completely so they could start working on the first day.

Judith: Which we certainly did. I think we were on to our first outline within two weeks. Did you see that Brannon recently said that once he saw how things went on Season 4 he thought that maybe that is how the show should have gone since the beginning, do you agree?

Judith: It is hard to say in hindsight. That show evolved

Garfield: Season 4 was so heavily continuity driven and it was great for the fans. But by season 4 the audience had been reduced to just the fans. For whatever reason the audience dropped off the previous years.

Judith: It is hard to say but everyone would have loved to have the opportunity to continue it. Manny had plans already. What were some of those ideas you guys would have liked to have seen if you got more seasons?

Garfield: Manny was determined to find a way to get Shran onto the bridge of the Enterprise. The context of Star Trek is so huge and there was so much that Enterprise could have done…there is no end of stories. Any specific ideas you guys had?

Garfield: Well we pitched this story to have Alice Krige back as a Starfleet medical technician who made contact with the Borg from Season 2 [ENT: "Regeneration"] and we would see the birth of the Borg Queen.

Judith: We were thinking that there were all sorts of "Federation"-like ties we could have between the end of Enterprise and other established canon. We could have linked them more so you could have seen the continuity and you could see the flow of events and people. You could have seen them from the beginning and that is likely what Gar and I would have gravitated towards. Plotting out what might have linked Enterprise to the others.

Captain Archer visits Mars in "Terra Prime"

The first part of Race to Mars airs this Sunday on the Discovery Channel in Canada. It is also airing on RTE in France and NHK in Japan (check local listings). It will air on the Science Channel in the US in early 2008. The companion documentary Mars Rising (narrated by William Shatner) airs in October. More on both at the Discovery: Race To Mars website. For those outside Canada, you can view some of the preview videos at Spacecast (scroll down to Race To Mars section on the left) Also learn more about Gar and Judy at their official site will soon follow-up this interview with another related to their new book "Collision Course" written with William Shatner.  


VOTE: Mars or Bust?
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Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens items mentioned above, available on Amazon



Photos/Images: NASA, Discovery Channel (&Pierre Dury), and CBS Studios

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When they say Alice Krige was going to appear as a Starfleet medical technician who made contact with the Borg from Season 2 of Enterprise, which then leads to the birth of the Borg Queen… could that EVER have transpired without the Borg knowing all about Earth long before Picard and crew came along?? I really hate it when they screw with continuity!!

Mars waits for us

Yeah, the less Borg in “Enterprise”, the better.

Good for the Reeves-Stevenseses. They seem like good people.

#1: “How could that EVER have transpired without the Borg knowing all about Earth long before Picard and crew came along??”

Star Trek: First Contact

I’m a big fan of the Reeves-Stevenses, but I have to say I can’t stand these cheesy new “docu-miniseries” that the Discovery and History channels have been doing.

They aren’t remotely exciting or dramatic to watch, the actors are all really dull, and all the interviews that are interspersed throughout constantly take you out of the story anyway.

Give me just a straight, old-fashioned documentary any day.

In Voyager it was stated the Borg existed at least 900 years prior to the episode “Dragon Teeth”. It’s true, that we don’t know how long the queen “figure” has been around, but the collective must’ve spawned from something right?

I loved season 4, and would’ve enjoyed a season 5 and beyond. But any more Borg episodes besides Regeneration would’ve just totally bombed.

#4 “Star Trek: First Contact”

Nah, that was the Borg from Picard’s time going back to change things…..I’m talking about the Borg who existed in Archer’s time…they didn’t know about Earth at that point! Therefore there was no interaction with Starfleet personnel from that time period, otherwise the Borg would have targetted Earth back then and THAT never happened!

Time cunundrums give me headaches. PLEASE no time travel in XI. Just character-driving fun action/issue adventure.

I hate mysteries. They give me a bellyache and I’ve got a big one right now.

8. CmdrR –
I love time travel! Next movie must have some “time jumping” elements if we’re to accept Nimoy and Junior as Spocks! I’ve got my Flux Capacitor set to max.

#7: “Nah, that was the Borg from Picard’s time going back to change things…..I’m talking about the Borg who existed in Archer’s time…they didn’t know about Earth at that point!”

What’s the difference? They could still explain why the Borg are there, because they DID exist there nearly a century before the “Enterprise” era.

But just because they could explain it away, doesn’t mean that I think it would be a good idea for a story. Having the one Borg episode in Season 2 was okay, as a follow-up to “First Contact”, but it was fairly clear that the “Borg storyline” from that episode ended at the end of that episode. Unless another Borg corpse shows up on Earth. But I think it’d be better if they just left it at the one episode and no more.

I for one love the trend of fictionalized docu-dramas on BBC/Discovery like 2006’s ‘Voyage to the Planets and Beyond’ and the more recent Michio Kaku futurist look at ‘2057’. And the Reeves-Stevens are the best! Of all the Trek fiction I’ve read, ‘Federation’ and ‘DS9: Millennium’ are the best! Enterprise’s fourth season rocked in large part because of them! I was fortunate enough to meet the members of the band The Flaming Lips this week in Seattle and the first thing I asked them was, “How cool was it being on Star Trek?!” (they were extras on the moon set in ‘Demons’/’Terra Prime’) and they didn’t laugh but immediatley told me it was the best day of their lives! If only Enterprise had lived..! Shran on the bridge, Alice Krige back with more Borg back-story–I’d be in heaven! I *love* retroactive continuity, regardless of all you nay-sayers!

10 KevinA

I agree. Time travel can be cool if done right.

#11″They could still explain why the Borg are there”

Okay, last time explaining this, then I’ll leave it alone…
If during the run of Enterprise, they have an episode where a human (Alice Krige) from Earth is assimilated by the Borg, then the collective would know of Earth’s existence during Archer’s time and that doesn’t make sense from a continuity standpoint since the first ACTUAL encounter was with Picard and crew on TNG many years later. It was only after THAT interaction that the Borg made a concerted effort to head toward Sector 001 (Earth). Of course the Borg EXISTED during the time of Archer, but they didn’t know of Earth’s existence at that point in time. Everybody got that???

I liked the novels they wrote with Shatner, and FEDERATION is one of my favorite Trek novels, but I really loved ICEFIRE, QUICKSILVER, and FREEFALL. Can’t wait to see their Mars movie.

Two things.

1. While I myself am not a big fan of the faux documentaries, I say that any way to get people (kids especially) more interested and curious about science is a good documentary.

2. I loved Enterprise Season 4, it was one of the most enjoyable seasons of all of Star Trek. Great credit to the Reeves-Stevens, Sussman and Coto. I love continuity in science fiction. The Demons/Terra Prime two-parter was terrific. Amazingly, it was the first time any Star Trek series got around to having the episode take place on either the Moon or Mars. Looking back, I just can’t believe no one had done so earlier. After Earth, you would assume that the Moon and Mars would be pretty important to humans of the future. I hope J.J. considers placing some scenes in “our” backyard in his movie next year.

I love how you’re all complaining and ranting about a plot that never ever made it to the screen.

Bully, you’re right! ;-)

But in my opinion this idea (Alice Krige/Borgstory) would have been interesting. It’s somekind of a shame…

If the Reeves-Stevens’ are reading this, I’d like to thank you both very much for writing some utterly brilliant episodes for the 4th season. You guys and Mr. Coto made it my personal favorite Trek season, I loved it even more than I loved TOS, and that’s saying a lot! Thank you very much.

I loved the Star Trek: DS9 Millennium trilogy by the Reeves-Stevenses, possibly my favourite series of books ever written. They were so elegant, and it was brilliant how everything, despite all the time travel between past present and future, fell into place as part of causality. All the littlest details from book one were tied up neatly at the end of book three. And the Shatner books were good fun too, can’t wait for the next one.

And yeah…full credit to them for *finally* giving us an explanation for the smooth-headed Klingons!! :D And all the little nods to other things e.g. Data’s creation, The Tholian Web, etc.

And yeah, please, time travel in the new movie!! I mean, there hasn’t ever been a diabolical Trek episode or film involving time travel…has there?

What we’re “ranting” about is that so called “experts” of Trek were WILLING to SCREW with ESTABLISHED CANON just for the sake of ratings!!!!! They were going to betray ALL that has been established in return for a mere paycheck! Disgusting!

Harry, in terms of continuity, technically, you could look at this way. The events in the Trek continuum already took place through TNG, then the timeline was changed with First Contact. It sounds crazy, but that is the nature of space/time. It’s like in Back to the Future, when Marty’s parents went from losers to winners. Only Marty remembered them as losers. Does that mean it didn’t happen? No, it happened one way in one segment of space/time, and another in one of those offshoots. So technically, if you believe this is the nature of the space time continuum, then such circumstances are possible.

However, I agree that having the Borg be known about prior to TNG kind of spoils on TNG crew having not encountered the Borg before. Again though, that thinking went out the door when they did First Contact (in order to make money at the box office….ala Ratings on TV). I concur that having the Borg on Enterprise was a bad idea, and in fact, while Regeneration was written by Mike Sussman (a great Enterprise writer), I was so annoyed at this concept, that I completely turned off on Enterprise. (until S4) The final nail was The Expanse, which ended the dreadful second season.

Had they brought Alice Krige back again, despite the goodwill of S4, I would have objected. I thought replacing her with another actress and then bringing her back, even though she was already dead the whole time, was the lowpoint of Voyager. It was a black eye on what otherwise IMO was a pretty good show.

If I remember correctly, The Queen mentions on a Voyager episode that she was young (a child ) when she was assimilated. The two part episode in borg dreamworld.

#22 and #23:

“Regeneration” fits into continuity. I’m not sure why I’m the only one that gets it. I’m not sure what the concept is called, but I think it’s referred to as a Predestination Paradox. The Borg were MEANT to travel back through time to the 21st century and then were MEANT to send off a signal to the Delta Quadrant in the 22nd century, because that gets the ball rolling for when the Enterprise-D makes first contact in the 24th century (“Q Who?”). I believe that in that episode, Q says something like he’s showing them THEIR future. In other words, what’s coming. I also think I remember Picard talking to Guinan at the end of the episode, saying that the Borg ARE coming, stating that at least Q gave them the heads up, so to speak. Picard doesn’t act like it was Q’s fault that the Borg were coming to Earth. He acts like they were already on their way and Q just gave the Enterprise a bit of a preview of things to come.

So, the Borg are on their way to Earth. But why? Why would they be going to Earth, a specific planet, way outside their own territory. It’s because of the signal sent off in “Regeneration”. The signal gave the coordinates of Earth. “First Contact” didn’t change the timeline. It was always like that. Because it was MEANT to be like that, as a sort of 300-year causality loop.

A) The Enterprise-D makes contact with the Borg, who are already on their way to Earth, in the 24th century.

B) After several offensives against the Federation, the Borg decide to go back in time to the mid-21st century, where Earth would be an easy target. However, the Enterprise-E travels back in time after them and stops them by blowing up the Borg ships.

C) Pieces of the Borg ship’s debris fall to the Arctic and remain there buried in the ice for nearly a century, before being recovered by Earth scientists in the mid-22nd century.

D) The scientists become assimilated by recovered Borg drones and leave the planet via ship. Before the NX-01 destroys the ship, however, the Borg transmit a signal to the Delta Quadrant, giving the coordinates to Earth.

E) It takes the signal almost 200 years to reach its destination. But when it does, Borg ships are sent to the coordinates given to them. All they have are coordinates. Nothing more. They don’t know what the planet is called, the don’t know what the name of the species is, they don’t know anything except what they got from the signal.

F) The Enterprise-D makes contact with the Borg, who are already on their way to Earth, in the 24th century. (Hey, wait a minute. Wasn’t this letter “A”?)

A 300-year causality loop.

wow. He’s got it down like a clown charlie brown. Listen up, the rest of you! Stop being slouches!

Kyle, not saying “Regeneration” was not part of continuity. Most of the angst it caused that show was because many viewers and fans were a little Borged out by then, and the resulting episode really provided nothing new on the Borg and cheapened Enterprise.

Kyle, as Maxwell Smart used to say, “you lost me after ‘listen carefully'”!

Or, as Rick Moranis asked in Spaceballs regarding the audience following a piece of exposition, “everybody got THAT?”

25 – yep thats how i always imagined it all to be..kinda like the Planet of The Apes.movies…

I never had a problem with the Ent Borg episode…in fact i think it was one of the best eps of the entire show…certainly the best ep of season 2 or 1.

and that Kevan Ohtsji looks the spitting image of a young Takei – sign him up for Sulu!

oh and the whole Alice Krige birth of the Borg Queen thing in the Ent ep would have been intersting…

It would have been terrific! The Borg are the best Trek villains ever!

I’m not a ‘against-continuity-Trekkie’ but ‘FC’ started this paradoxon… and I like it! :-D

I always thought that the Borg Queens were cloned, that’s why they all look the same, or nearly so. I mean just because the one Queen said she was assimilated as a child doesn’t mean she was. If you recall, she was talking to a girl at the time, trying to win her trust.

Wasn’t it shown in “First Contact” that the Queen’s brain and spinal cord were made of metal?

I am a lifelong Star Trek fan and I think the Borg Queen origin episode idea would make a good novel, Who is with me? And for all those that get upset because it interferes with “ESTABLISHED CANON”, you may want to brace yourself… ITS A TV SHOW! GROW UP!

Thank God the novels have nothing to do with CANON, so go ahead and read whatever crap you want! And frankly, I’ve had my PHIL of you!


I also thought about a potential novelization of this story. Let’s get JUD and GAR to write it.

To hell with established canon (in this particular case)!