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- Enterprise and other ships only fire one torpedo or phaser at a time. It would look cooler be more efficient to fire multiple torpedoes and phasers at once.
- This image disagrees with you with the torpedoes. As for the phasers, they seem to be some sort of array that combine themselves into one big shot, so why split things up when you don't need to. Or are you talking about earlier versions?
- Budget! The Enterprise is fully capable of a crazy-ass alpha strike. Studio Paramount is much less capable of doing this more than once a season.
- We've seen the Enterprise-D lay down some pretty heavy fire in a few times: The Survivors, Best of Both Worlds: Part I, Best of Both Worlds: Part II, and Descent showed that when the budget was available, Enterprise could be one hell of a formidable warship by firing all of its phaser banks while simultaneously launching rapid torpedo salvos. In Conundrum, we're even shown that starships aren't nearly as Point Defenseless as they appear when Enterprise off-handedly slaps down a handful of fighters without breaking stride.
- Even factoring out the budget concerns, the fact is that up until about halfway through Voyager (towards the end of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), the ships used were all physical models, and there was only so much they could do with them. Now, with the ships all being CGI, it is easier to do glorious battles with More Dakka Up to Eleven.
- This was more of an issue in TOS, where the FX budget was very tight. Also, the Constitution class Enterprise was much less advanced than 24th Century starships. Among other things it had fixed-position phaser banks, as opposed to the widely-spread arrays on the Galaxy class. The original Enterprise got refit with a double torpedo launcher in the movies. But this was still not capable of the kind of rapid fire that later generation ships could pull off.
Supply Problems on Voyager?
- During Voyager its often implied at the beginning that they're running out of food (they need Neelix to find more food... must be pretty desperate to deal with him). Its mentioned in an episode of Enterprise that waste is recycled back into parts and food. When you eat food all the same atoms still exist so the massive requirement of replicating new mass isn't the problem. The only thing that changes is that the energy in the chemical bonds is released, which is roughly equal to the energy expenditure of the crew. In order the restore the food to being nutritious again all you need to do is put the energy back in. Although inefficiencies could possibly exist within the recycling process the energy expenditure of 160 people (approximate crew compliment of voyager) would be miniscule against systems such as the warp Engines, weapons and shields. The series could have better presented a supply dilemma by having them run low on shuttles and having to jury rig repairs onto the remaining ones (they lose alot of shuttles during the series), or by having a chronic lack of crew members (this would be a interesting way to play with the concept of losing red shirts in other series). This wouldn't exactly add to the budget, just say the shuttle damage is not visible from the cockpit or externally and make a few plot points of saving what shuttles they have.
- Bernd Schneider's website Ex Astris Scientia analyzed the shuttle problem, concluding that over the course of the show, ten of Voyager's shuttles were definitely lost, seven were probably lost, and eight were 'badly damaged.' If you pressured the show's staff for an answer—which, given how obsessive we Trek fans are, I'm sure someone has—they'd say that the crew constructed new shuttles out of replicated components. If they'd even once addressed this in an episode, though, many fans would probably be more willing to overlook the problem. I'd have liked to have seen those tiny type-15 shuttlepods from TNG start to show up as the show went on. Despite being the Pontiac Aztek of spaceships, they actually look like something you could build in your garage in your spare time.
- I imagine in terms of the food problem, many of the food replicators would have been damaged beyond repair, or the constituent molecules used to build the replicated food could have leaked out of the system.
Change in Borg Behaviour
- The Borg are stated when they are introduced to only be interested in Technology and not people. After first contact they are obsessed with assimilating people.
- Note, however, that this observation was made by Q, who had just hurled the Enterprise far beyond the bounds of space humans were known to have explored. At that point in time, the Borg had already assimilated humans (the Hansen family as well as the inhabitants of several colonies). The Borg Queen would later observe that humans were biologically unremarkable as species go. However, the Borg did not know about Q, and the perception that the Enterprise might possess some new propulsion technology that the Borg were unaware of the Federation possessing would, in that particular encounter, make them more interested in the ship itself than in the human crew. It was later when the Federation proved to be so resistant to attack that the Borg became more interested in assimilating people as well as technology.
- See the WMG about Borg behavior change.
- Why doesn't anyone in the Federation wear armour, even if just in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which is military based? It wouldn't cost that much to put in the series, just a spray painted helmet or recycled and recolored paintball armor set should do the job for devoted combat infantry such as in the siege of AR-558. Even if phasers can't be blocked by any armor the Federation can make they could prove useful against blades which are often used during battles. It would be pretty cool to see during the series.
- Same reason the phasers don't have sights and are about as ergonomic as a bat'leth.
- Just to expand the above: the Kirk-era Starfleet did issue armour to security guards (and presumably marines); we see it in the films. This was the same era that also had actual rifles and pistols, uniforms that looked like uniforms, and no civilians on board. Times change. Half of the problem with the entire Dominion war was that it was being waged by a side that had forgotten most of the basics of combat, over preceding decades of peace mixed with overwhelming superior firepower - it would be baffling if the defenders at AR-558 had been properly trained and/or equipped.
- Meta-reason: Cost for props. In Star Trek Online and Star Trek: Elite Force, they have personal shielding, because it's probably easier to make CG models of armour. They have armor in the movies because of the higher budget.
- Starfleet battle dress, which we've seen on at least two occasions in DS9, seems to be made of a thick, rubber-like material. The garments offer no protection from disruptor fire—both Klingon and Dominion energy weapons have been shown to burn right through them—but they must serve some purpose if Starfleet issues them to its grunts. I'd speculate that these uniforms are Starfleet body armor, and that they offer some measure of protection against shell fragments, bladed weapons, and other kinetic trauma. No clue as to why troops fighting the Dominion don't have helmets, though.
- Why do the Jem'Hadar decloak before attacking instead of staying invisible. Even if they can't fire or attack for some reason whilst invisible they could all take positions so everyone ready to fire before decloaking all at once and firing. Rocks and Shoals suggest cloaks works even at extreme close range and some ambushes in that episode suggest that Jem'Hadar they can move whilst cloaked. This could be pretty cool if done, new ways of writing do not necessarily have to be developed as tropes already exist for fighting an invisible opponent (think predator). Imagine an episode with Sisko fighting a Jem'Hadar not through a Napoleonic charge but by setting traps (such as log falls, pit falls, landmines or even a jury rigged bear trap type device) in a forest or in a building and trying to outwit it by using tricks we've seen in movies such as puddles of water to reveal footprints and fire extinguishers to reveal their outline or even listening for footsteps and filling a key corridor with weapons fire. This can work with groups of Jem'Hadar too, the Predator reboot had a group of humans vs many Predators. How badass would the Jem'Hadar seem then and how badass would Sisko be fighting them?
- I wonder what the Federation's position is on exploding a Jem'Hadar's head with a bear trap? :\, on the other hand this is Sisko we're talking about.
- Maybe they don't find it honorable to fight without giving their enemies a semblance of a chance to fight back.
- It's once mentioned that the Jem'Hadar can loose their ability to cloak (they use the word 'shroud') when they're suffering form Ketracel-white withdraw. This seems to imply their ability to shroud themselves is a biological function, rather than a technological one. Maybe their bodies can't handle the strain of cloaking and combat at the same time. You'd think that if this were the case, though, Jem'Hadar military doctrine would heavily emphasize tactics that minimize close-in combat.
- Why don't the starships place warp nacelles next to each other and then place them within the superstructure of the ship as well as combining the saucer and engineering sections? This would minimize the profile of the ship (we've seen shots miss ships in the star trek universe so profile plays a significant factor in combat survival), decrease the space between power generation and machines that need the power as well as decrease the volume of space that has to be shielded. This would allows armor to protect both your warp nacelles and engineering at the same time as well. Ships like the Defiant have their warp nacelles right next to the ship so proximity to other ship components or crew is not a limiting factor. Putting everything together might not allow for easy separation but ships such as the Klingon bird of prey and Romulan ships work well without it.
- There actually is a point where it's a TV show becomes a valid excuse when we're dealing with a franchise that A) Started in 1963 B) Enjoys its Rule of Cool and C) That design being just about as iconic as the Police box from Doctor Who.
- It's been suggested in various non-canon material that there's an element of health-and-safety consideration in this design. There are a few Starfleet designs that have the warp nacelles integrated into the hull—the Obereth-class, the Sabre-class, the Steamrunner-class—but all of the high-powered capitol ships have the nacelles set far away from the inhabited parts of the ship.
- Jem'Hadar battleships are very compactly designed and quite large whilst also looking pretty cool.
- Galor Class Cardassian ships have a design like this.
- The DS9 Technical Manual says that the warp field is more efficient if they're further out from the hull. You'll note that Cardassian ships and Klingon Birds of Prey have their warp drive within the main hull but are primarily combat oriented. Starfleet prefers efficient warp drives for speed and exploration rather than ones meant for heavy combat.
- Matt Jefferies explained why the nacelles were set on pylons away from the rest of the ship when he designed the Enterprise. In his view, anything powerful enough to accelerate a starship to FTL velocities would have to be very large, very powerful, and very dangerous, so the engines for this would have to be separate components from the hull and set away from the crew. Now, not all subsequent ships have followed this philosophy, but it was the original explanation for the design.
- Why do the Klingon soldiers use Bat'leths in battle? Phasers and disruptors have a greater range and at close range the Mek'leth (weapon used by Worf to kill a drone in first contact) has better reach whilst being easier to store and can be used one handed. Parrying (the supposed advantage of Bat'leths) shouldn't be a major factor against an enemy that uses Phaser's or Disruptors such as in the battle of Deep Space Nine and it is hard to switch between a Bat'leth and Disruptor in fighting. A smaller more efficient Klingon weapon such as a Mek'leth would be a better option if blades were an absolute must for some reason as you can carry a Mek'leth and Disruptor at the same time or a Mek'leth would take up less space.
- See WMG about Klingon soldiers. Maybe the intention was to give them a worse weapon or to use them to fight the Borg.
- Probably a cultural throwback. Bat'leth means literally "sword of honour", and was probably designed for honour duels... Except the more conservative Klingon of TNG era decided to use them in actual combat too (contrast with the more pragmatic TOS-era Klingon carrying guns), with the bat'leth returning to her niche and get replaced in actual combat by guns and functional blades when they returned to fight wars with capable opponents. As for why Kahless (credited as the inventor of the weapon) designed such an ergonomically bad weapon... Probably he felt himself so superior to Molor that he needed an handicap to have an honourable duel with him, and then proceeded to prove he was that superior in combat by winning anyway.
Use the EMH as an AI ship or at least a starship captain
- The EMH from Voyager seems to be eager to adopt a command role in a starship (he even seems regretful to relinquish this role in an episode). He is loyal to the Federation and as innovative a thinker as any of the crew (he sometimes comes up with the technobabble solution). He is shown to mainly be limited by the program uploaded into him, much like a person needs training in an area (he helped pull of a ruse when he had a command program uploaded into him). The Federation is interested in developing an AI run starship such as the M5 computer. The doctor would like this solution, why don't they upload his program into the ship's main computer with every possible program uploaded and have him run the whole ship. Even if he doesn't excel at particular areas it would at least significantly reduce the crew needed. With the aid of interactive holograms (on Voyager he can lift and move things) such as himself which are simultaneously controlled by him they could need no staff in sickbay. He could control all or most of the command functions from within the computer. If he is able he could run engineering with the computer controlled holograms or with a skeleton staff. It would create a formidable ship. If no crew are needed then it would be immune to atmosphere loss, have no internal hallways big enough for boarding parties to enter (holograms can take a variety of shapes, this also helps with construction) and not worry about inertial dampners, possibly pulling off maneuvers like a Romulan Drone ship. If he is able to be replicated then you could create many of these ships.
- This wouldn't violate the Federations no warship rule. Just call it can autonomous exploration ship or escort ship.
- No reason it couldn't happen. The Federation just happens to be really behind on AI ethics, they only acknowledged the sapient rights of an android in 2365, for crying out loud!
- Given that this was pretty much the entire plot of Message in a Bottle, there's definitely no technical obstacle. The Federation's cultural problems, on the other hand... Actually the episode goes even further: with no crew you wouldn't need the EMH personality program at all, as the Starfish Alien that is the ship's main AI can do literally everything by itself anyway.
Borg tactical maneuvering
- Why do Borg cubes travel facing flat side forwards? If they point a corner towards their target then they would be able to bring 3 sides worth of weapons to bear against an opponent instead of only one.
- Why should they? The only race the Borg ever had trouble with in a one on on fight was Species 8472. The Borg simply do not need to bring that much firepower to bear against a singular opponent. The best way to fight the Borg is with swarm tactics so the cube's orientation doesn't matter with enemies all around them.
- Well, except that time that Enterprise-D obliterated 20% of a cube with it's main phasers. Noticeably, though, this was the only time Enterprise was able to inflict any appreciable damage on a Borg vessel—and I always assumed that they allowed this to learn about Starfleet weapons. We have seen a Borg Cube rotate in combat, presumably to utilize its weapons on each side of a cube and spread damage across a greater area of a cube's surface, but they only ever seem to use four of the six sides they do this. The tactic seems to be reserved for situations in which—if you'll forgive the use of extremely technical military jargon—shit gets real.
- When the Borg enter a ship they can walk through internal force fields by "matching phase" with them. This means that when they are doing this you know what phase the Borg drone is using for shielding. Why don't troops just adjust their weapons to counter this known phase, set up force fields and choke points to massacre any Borg boarding parties?
- In fact, if you watch some of the later encounters with the Borg, Picard and the others do tell their subordinates to set their phasers on a "rotating modulation" in order to keep the Borg from automatically producing a force field that can block their shots. However, this is always a very temporary solution, with the Borg apparently being able to adapt their own modulation enough after just two or three of them get fried such that they can block the phasers' rotating modulations as well. Presumably, one could likewise rotate the shield phases to keep the Borg from adapting to them right away, but they would adapt themselves to match with a rotating shield phase just as quickly as they do to the phasers' modulation.
- Isn't rotating phase to ensure that it is harder for the enemy to know what phase you are using so they can't counter it? I got the impression that each shielding phase had specific counter phase (hence the term match phase) allowing you to walk though or shoot through the shield. If the Borg want to get through a shield they need a counter phase in their own shield for it. Doing this makes the Borg shield take on a known phase (the counter phase) allowing the Federation troops to set their weapons to counter what the Borg is using. The Borg seem to adapt by changing their phase rapidly and predicting what phase you are going to use so you can't find their counter phase as well as finding what phase to set their weapons to so they can use your counter phase. If the Borg try to change their phase in this situation against an unchanging shield door the Borg shield simply won't match the doors counter phase and they won't get through or the Borg shield will change to a different phase when they are part way through and they will get wedged and stuck in the door.
- It's more that the Borg can remember every phaser frequency used against them, so they can block it once they've adapted to that frequency. The problem is that the phasers can only remember a few frequencies at a time, so once the Borg have adapted to all the frequencies programmed into a certain phaser, there's not much else you can do.
What does everybody else on that ship do?
- Before I start, I'd like to admit I'm not a huge fan of Star Trek, but I am aware of the concept. However, it seems like they travel through space in a huge spaceship with at least a hundred people on it, and yet only the people on the bridge do anything, even when they go down to the planet. Now I know that there need to be people to look after a ship of that size, but surely it would be easier just to have a smaller ship with less crew who are there just to be killed off every time they run into a little bit of trouble, as it seems to be their only job is cannon fodder and I can't really think anyone in this type of Utopian society would sign up just to be cannon fodder.
- Several episodes give the crew size as 430, which really isn't very many at all (a real world aircraft carrier has a crew complement of about 5000). The commanding officers would beam down because only they had the authority to make contact with a newly discovered planet. The cannon fodder redshirts were security guards whose job was to act as bodyguards for the main characters. (Although it does seem serving as a security guard under Kirk was more hazardous than most captains in the Federation.)
- The vast majority of the crew are going to be maintenance and operations crews. You only need a small number of people to give orders, but that translates into hundreds of people to carry them out: e.g. the captain orders the ship to go to warp, a full maintenance crew is keeping an eye on the engine and adjusting the power levels. Giving the order to fire a torpedo means the torpedoes have to be armed and loaded, which requires supervision, and a team of people to keep them ready for use and properly looked after. Shuttles need to be fueled, repaired, cleaned after use, etc. Food, air and fuel need to be organised. People need to fill out paperwork whenever any of these resources is used up. And so on. Double that for the large science teams Federation ships carry... who in turn need their own maintenance and administrative personnel for their scientific equipment... (You'd expect the computer to do a lot of the work, but the story 1. doesn't allow shipboard AI for some reason and 2. is based on present day ship crews.)
- There are several episodes dedicated to the lower decks of the various ships who sit at a console waiting for something to happen. Nothing is immune to decay. Fuses, lightbulbs, plasma couplings and other things need to be maintained, probably on a daily basis. That stuff isn't very glamorous but it is necessary. Scotty merely represents the leadership of the entire engineering department that is putting the ship back together after every battle.
- The franchise as a whole does have a pretty bad case of The Main Characters Do Everything. Star Trek: Enterprise, to its credit (a phrase that I find painful to type), actually steps away from this significantly by finally including marines—MACOs, in-universe—with the crew.
- In theory, of course, full automation would allow a ship like the Enterprise to function with a much smaller crew. There are two reasons that Starfleet sticks with semi-automation: 1) Every position on a military ship needs to have a backup - and, ideally, two backups - to allow for casualties. Note that in this film, the main cast are largely those very backups. 2) The ST universe has a lot of A.I. Is a Crapshoot instances which would lead almost any starship designer to feel that having everything run through a central computer cannot end well.
- Assuming A.I. Is a Crapshoot were not in force, you'd also have that the Federation is a post-scarcity, post-money society which doesn't have to worry about things like budget constraints (of employing larger crews than necessary) and are probably people-oriented in their values- they employ people because it gives them a reason to do something of value to themselves.
Why do they use phasers like terrible guns.
- It's been a constant, minor irritation to me that these apparently advanced civilizations employ weapons that are, to be honest, terrible. Especially in situations where lethal force (such as the battles in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) is called for, phasers seem to be much worse in practice than, say, assault rifles. Why do they never take the logical step and hold down the trigger, sweeping the gun from side to side, killing every hostile in the room?
- Well, for one, indiscriminate shooting has a tendency to hit non-targets as well. Sure, the stun setting is there for a reason, but phasers are shown to even at low settings hurl a person backwards, which can still result in further injury, and, in extreme cases, death. Then there's also the fact that damage to the surrounding area could easily cause a collapse - take something like 'The Seige of AR-558.' Wildly waving around the phasers could have brought the whole cavern system down around their ears, killing them and destroying the valuable sensor array. And then there's the basic fact that they also end up firing from behind cover, and doing the phaser sweep leaves you exposed to those you haven't gotten to.
- It looks like phasers are more power-hungry than disruptors for the same damage output, and multiple non-canon sources show people using a phaser for the first time(in some sense) just like that… before someone teaches them to use short bursts. So it may just be to save ammo.
- On a related note, has Starfleet—or any military force in the franchise, for that matter—been shown to have a weapon that fills the role of a machine gun? It's been pointed out many times that, in the above mentioned Siege of AR-558, a modern machine gun could have completely suppressed that Jem'Hadar attack. I'll wager even a Jem'Hadar Super Soldier would pee his pants at the prospect of charging through a narrow canyon through M2 crossfire.
- Never actually seen, but implied in the TOS episode "The Omega Glory" and the thousands of Yang bodies killed by captain Tracy and his men draining four phasers on them. Given that hand phasers don't have that much juice, the best option is that they had some kind of phaser machine gun equivalent and drained four of them for the job.
- A couple of hand phasers on a wide beam kill setting could easily kill thousands of primitives armed with swords or muskets - rapid fire is completely unnecessary. Also if we go by the figure of four phasers killing thousands, that means that each power pack could potentially hold upwards of 500 rounds which really isn't that far-fetched for a post-warp civilization like the Federation.
- Aside for the fact I can't recall ever seeing a phaser in wide beam setting killing people, only stunning, there's a problem with that statement: it's a pistol, and unless in the hands of extremely skilled shooters it's a short-ranged weapon for ergonomic reasons, meaning that thousands of screaming primitives would cross the distance between them and the shooters before they could take so many losses. Even a rifle equivalent would have trouble, as it would be relatively short ranged (about 200 meters). A machine gun equivalent, that is a phaser made for long-ranged sustained shooting, would on the other hand do the massacre (at least until they ran out of charge).
- In the Voyager episode Cathexis a possessed Tuvok threatens to kill the entire bridge crew with a phaser on wide-beam, and seeing as no one bats an eyelid it is obvious that such a setting exists. Also I just went a re-watched the episode and the natives are only using bows and blades; therefore as long as Tracey had enough cover to block an arrow he could stand but a few paces away and slaughter the whole lot of them. We also outright see that his hand phaser has run out of ammo during his duel with Kirk. Finally there is the little fact that such a rapid fire phaser is never referred, shown, mentioned or alluded to ever again in the history of the franchise until Nemesis. Such a weapon simply does not exist in canon.
- For "Cathexis", a phaser on stun setting at extremely short range can be lethal (seen on screen). On that cover, I repeat at the short range of an handgun they could just rush him in the dozens and then beat him to death with bare hands, no matter the cover. On a machine gun-equivalent never being referred, there's the fact that not only "Nemesis" did show it (as you said), but there's also the fact TNG era Starfleet has abandoned a number of useful weapons they used to have, like the mortar Kirk and his crew used in "Arena" (I know it was from the colony arsenal, but the simple fact Kirk had the training to properly place and use it means Starfleet does use them). My guess is that they had machine gun equivalents in the TOS era but the only time it would have been appropriate to use them we only got the aftermath, for some reason it was deleted from the inventory after Khitomer, and during the Dominion War (in the same period they reintroduced the assault rifle) they reintroduced the machine gun, even if they didn't get around to produce adequate numbers or train enough servants for them in time for AR-558.
- To answer the machine gun question now that I've reviewed all instances, we have a machine gun equivalent shown once, maybe twice. The one confirmed is the aft-mounted phaser of the Argo buggy in "Nemesis", that we've seen firing short bursts, appearing right after the Dominion War. The unconfirmed one is the grenade launcher from "Into the Darkness": the prop is an actual automatic grenade launcher, but Kirk takes down its target before it can actually fire more than once so we don't know if it was meant to be an automatic weapon or not.
- This is actually a case of phaser effectiveness decaying with each subsequent series. Viewers who watched TOS will recall that handheld phasers could be used to flood an entire room with a stun field, and the ship's phasers could stun several city blocks from orbit! This capability was largely forgotten by TNG, and the overall power of phasers steadily decreased even as their size increased. To the point that in DS9 and VOY you had Starfleet people carrying around these huge phaser rifles that, based on relative phaser power shown in TOS, ought to have been able to inflict more damage than a bombing run from a B-52 bomber, but instead acted rather like the blaster rifles in Star Wars.
- We see the wide-beam stun setting in the Voyager episode Cathexis and we see a hand phaser tunnel through a cliff wall in the Next Generation episode Chain of Command so clearly 24th century phasers are still just as powerful as their 23rd century equivalent. The real world reasons why the Starfleet Elite never use these settings is a combination of the infamously bad writing of latter-day Star Trek and dramatic convenience - it would be pretty boring if every firefight ended in five seconds flat.
How did the Klingons ever develop into a space-faring race?
- More specifically, how could they possibly have kept their pervasive culture, which apparently consists of: being physically aggressive, demeaning non-physically imposing warriors, killing each other constantly (indeed several legal matters seem to be tied to trial by combat), a weak central government (like, "we don't like your clan so we're rebelling" weak). I am surprised this type of culture ever progressed to the industrial age, let alone beyond the atomic age. Perhaps all the clever, innovative, and thoughtful klingons are simply not shown? It seems unlikely though.
- This is covered in Star Trek: Enterprise. The Klingons used to have a more varied society with lawyers, scientists, etcetera being given respect and honor. The warrior class took over society only after the Klingons started making themselves into a galactic power (something lamented by the Klingon lawyer Archer speaks to). We also see a few non-warrior Klingons in chronologically later series, who are subject to Klingon Scientists Get No Respect and it's acknowledged as a problem in Klingon society.
- That and they've suffered an alien invasion in the 14th century. Given what is known of Klingon history (Kahless had conquered all Klingon, one of his successors was famous for conquering a Klingon city and slaughtering all its inhabitants, and after the Hur'q invasion the Klingon were ruled by a Second Dynasty), the most probable theory is that: Kahless created a Klingon Empire that did develop an industrial society and used superior technology to conquer a large area (if not all) of Qo'noS (Kahless' conquests were amped up by propaganda); in the 14th century the Hur'q invaded and sacked Qo'noS, demolishing pretty much all societal structures); the Hur'q either left on their own because they were raiders or were driven out by a combination of La Résistance and local spacefaring nations (we can confirm the existance of spacefaring Orions, Vulcans and Vegan Tyranny at this point in time, with the Vegan Tyranny being a relatively large and powerful empire); for whatever reason they left, the Hur'q left behind technology (either damaged ships they didn't care to repair and other forgotten tools if they were raiders or a whole industrial infrastructure if they were planning to colonize the world), technology that a rump state recognizing itself in the former Klingon Empire reverse engineered faster than other rump states and used to conquer the planet and expand in space; this new Klingon Empire needs its success to scientists and captured enemy technology, but propaganda needs make the empire bury that and inflate the role of the warrior caste in repelling the invaders (that would be considered as having planned to enslave or exterminate the Klingon, and would have been told to have been repelled with no alien help whatsoever); by the time of Enterprise, the pro-Warriors propaganda has transformed the Klingon in Space Vikings.
Earth Standard Time Everywhere
- This is a peeve of mine with the entire Star Trek franchise. Why is it that no matter what planet, space station, or alien culture we're talking about, time is always referred to in Earth-centric units? Days, weeks, months, years...these units are all based on the rotation and orbit of planet Earth! So, when we're not on Earth, or dealing with species not from Earth, it makes no sense that they would use them! Prisoners talk about having done "seven years" in penal colonies in space, Vulcans talk about being several hundred years old, and the crews of the various starships talk about how many days they are away from their destinations. In an episode of Enterprise, Archer even tells Phlox to turn a lever to the "three o'clock position" - another Earth idiom, based not just on our measurements of time, but on the standard physical 12-hour clock used to measure time on Earth, that everyone on Earth is familiar with, but which Phlox's planet probably doesn't have. Granted, some of this can be handwaved by the universal translator converting alien time units into a form that humans are familiar with, or maybe the Federation uses Earth time units as the standard seeing as it's a human-based organization, but mostly, it's a mark of lazy writing. It would be nice to hear an alien race use units of time that are germane to THEIR planet for a change. Also, there's another problem: The passage of time is not constant throughout the universe! One day on earth does not equate to one day (or the equivalent of one Earth day) on another planet, or in space; the theory of relativity holds that time is not "synced" between places very far apart in the universe. This issue becomes extremely mind-boggling in Enterprise when Archer's captains logs are still being recorded using Earth's calendar rather than stardates (which, according to lore, were devised specifically to avoid this entire issue). Just because it's July 12 on Earth, doesn't mean it's July 12 in the middle of space. Lazy writing.
- It's a human-built and human-staffed starship in addition to the fact that Most Writers Are Human, they have a priority to use the time scales created by their own species. Trying to resolve time frames for every species they encounter is not lazy writing, it's recognizing what is not needed to tell a compelling story. It can also be assumed that when meeting species unfamiliar with Earth or humans at all when they refer to any time scale it is a factor of the universal translator, it's adjusting what they mean to the closest approximation of hours, minutes and seconds.
- For that matter, how do they work out duty shifts on vessels with multiple species aboard? Not all planets have a 24-hour day cycle. Is it just that all M-class (which I interpret as Earthlike) planets have similar-length days, or is some other arrangement made?
- Deep Space Nine used the Bajoran schedule. I'm guessing it's majority rule.
- Starfleet might prefer a standard 24-hour day because 24 is just a really easy number to work with. Being a superior highly composite number, it's simple to use 24 for scheduling because 24 is evenly divisible so many whole numbers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, and 24.
- There has to be some standard (on Earth, if a planetary standard is needed, it's generally Greenwich Mean Time, which is essentially arbitrary) and Earth is as good as any - it is where Federation HQ is after all (and obviously Most Writers Are Human and Most Viewers Are Human, too). That does ignore the effect of Relativity, admittedly.
- It's almost unavoidable as using the current measure of time immediately gets the point across to the audience without bogging down the narrative with constant time unit conversions. And if they're using some new-fashioned clock then what they say is essentially gibberish unless someone asks and gets it converted in the show, but if even the Federation uses a different clock, then who would ask for a modern Earth time? How else would they know what a Standard Galactic Week is? You could assume it's roughly equivalent to an Earth week, but that would be wrong. Units of time are essentially all arbitrary, so it's just choose one to make your standard. It could be Earth time, or something entirely new. Chances are since the Federation capitol is on Earth that they decided to use Earth time for this reason. It's hard to say how much of an effect relativity would have had on the NX-01, but I am sure they took care of it, likely by means of the occasional synchronization with Earth time. We deal with relativity today the same way on a daily basis with all our major clocks from financial to GPS to our home computers synchronizing to stationary atomic clocks, but the effects of relativity at this level are too miniscule to really notice, more noticable being the clock's own natural inaccuracies (being that it's not an atomic clock). Even in TNG they still synchronized clocks (using Federation Time Beacons). As for Phlox, though he might not have been born on Earth, he spent some time there, so it's not unlikely that he would have picked up on a few human idioms. Given the Universal Translator was relatively new tech, he probably spoke the same language as everyone else on the ship.
Your Consoles A'Splode!
- Why is every control panel on the Enterprise packed with explosives? Surely getting hit with a torpedo shouldn't cause the consoles to explode? And even if they have to use explosive panels, wouldn't a fuse or circuit breaker be a useful addition? Also, since the ship is apparently still fully controllable after the panels explode, what purpose do they serve?
- The first two questions: Because it Looks Cool. (Actually, of course, as you and many others have noticed, it looks pretty ruddy dumb...but random explosions have been action-adventure visual shorthand for "OK, we're in big trouble now!" since long before computers were invented.) The third: Most of those control panels are 'science stations' or similar, dedicated to the gathering of data and reporting on status rather than actually running the ship.
- Because most of the action centers on the bridge, and having bridge consoles explode is the only way to pose a mortal threat to the bridge crew without causing massive damage to the ship. Without exploding bridge consoles, the only way for them to establish that an enemy attack is dangerous would be to show random Red Shirts getting killed. And they do enough of that already.
- Because they're powered by plasma instead of solid wires. Think of it as steam IN SPACE: one malfunctioning valve sends pressure spikes across the ship.
- This is a type of Adaptation Decay. The first case of a console freaking out in Star Trek was in the seventh Original Series episode, where they fight a Romulan starship. There, the console shorted out, but it was pretty much just a standard electrical fire. Spock got things under control soon enough. But over time, the idea of bridge console fires and explosions got out of hand, until you wind up with control panels packed with C4.
- The trip to the energy barrier in the second pilot damaged a bridge console so badly soon-to-be Red Shirt Kelso had to scrounge replacement parts from the Automated Lithium Cracking Station.
- Also, in the new movie, they have fixed this. Every time the ship is damaged, rather then seeing something on the bridge explode, we see something in engineering blow up instead, which makes a bit more sense.
- They'd do that on TNG too any time things got Really Bad. For example in the Best of Both Worlds part I, after a few solid hits and some minor console explosions, the Enterprise takes a really bad hit and we cut down to Main Engineering to see Geordi evacuating the warp core room amidst all sorts of busted pipes spraying steam or whatever the hell it is.
- Because that's how the Adam Savage-Jamie Hyneman Console Engineering Building puts 'em together?
- I could be wrong, but as I recall the whole exploding consoles thing started when Saavik was taking the Kobiyashi Maru test. In universe the simulator was just the bridge so the panels were rigged to explode harmlessly in response to the 'damage' the simulated Enterprise was taking from the Klingons as a indicator of the catastrophic nature of the damage and the casualties, essentially the consoles exploded and the bridge crew 'died' as a representation of the simulated battle damage and casualties. Unfortunately this escaped from simulated starship bridges where it made sense and 'real' starships started to ape this in combat, hence Made of Explodium consoles.
Scan it! Scan it again!
- Why do they always have to try scanning everything twice, once with an "increased resolution"? Doesn't anybody in Star Fleet know how to work a scanner?
- Filler. Pure filler.
- Or maybe it's like looking at the stars through a telescope. You take a wide angle shot to look at an entire section of the sky, find the items of interest in it, and then take more pictures with a much higher resolution focused on the interesting parts. The first scan doesn't and can't give you all the information, it's telling you what to look at with the more detailed scans.
- This troper usually clicks "preview" to get a quick overview of the page... then selects the area he wants to scan at full resolution (say, 1200dpi). Why, how do you work a scanner?
Beware the Holodecks
- If it's so easy for the Holodeck to trap everyone inside and try to kill them, why do all these ships have them? You'd think Moriarty would only have to take over the ship once for them to get the hint.
- Even though one presumes that word of Moriarty got back to Starfleet somehow, some guy named Felix is still allowed to create a fully sentient hologram (Vic Fontaine, from seasons 6 and 7 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and nobody thinks to ask What Could Possibly Go Wrong?? Sure, it's Quark's privately-owned holosuite, but Sisko and Odo have both proven able to stop Quark's more reckless behavior in previous episodes, and the Bajorans probably wouldn't want something that dangerous on their station. And what if that little Ocean's Eleven caper episode didn't go according to plan? Vic might've been friendly but those Vegas mobsters weren't.
- Well, yeah, it'd be safer, but then they'd run out of things to do.
- Because the Holodecks are really dang useful. They aren't just glorified recreation rooms, they can do everything from highly realistic combat simulations to crime scene investigations. Even if they do sometimes malfunction, removing such a powerful and versatile tool from a starship would put the crew at a distinct disadvantage.
- But even if its useful for pragmatic purposes, why on Earth allow something so dangerous to be used for recreation? Also, who would ever use it?
- On Deep Space Nine they don't have Starfleet holodecks, just the privately owned holosuites. They never use it for official purposes at all; it's strictly for recreation. They did use it for business in "The Magnificent Ferengi," but that wasn't a Starfleet mission, it was a private expedition led by the owner of the holosuite.
- But Deep Space Nine's holosuites also malfunctioned much less than the ones on the Enterprise. In fact, this troper can only recall one episode involving a holosuite malfunction, and that was a result of something going wrong with the transporter. Also, O'Brien joked about how no one could keep the Enterprise's holodecks working right, implying that the the Enterprise's holodecks were unusually prone to failure.
- Possibly because Starfleet is a monyless Utopia, they don't worry about getting sued. Quark, coming from the ultra capitalist Ferengi society has to make sure his holodecks actually work or face massive lawsuits. Chalk one up for capitalism!
- Are you kidding? "Computer! 100 incredibly busty/hung beautiful/handsome women/men! In a giant pool of Jello! And they all want to jump me bones and aren't jealous of the other people!" Yeah, nobody would want to use that at all.
- In theory, holodecks have safeties. And, in those shows where holodecks are legal and common, we see that everyone uses them. There are even children's holodeck programs. And Quark has a side-business renting holodeck space.
- In many ways, this is a change in premise. The pilot and first season of TNG made it clear that they were fairly new, at least on starships. Picard had clearly never been in one prior to his first Dexter adventure.
- In theory, holodecks work nearly flawlessly... It's just that we only usually see the times it malfunctioned.
- Basically, we DO only see them when they malfunction. And it should be noted that just because they malfunction, doesn't mean they aren't more useful than dangerous, cars being the standard example here. Half the time, malfunctions are caused by Negative Space Wedgies and explosions only experienced in certain ships. They sneak up on the Enterprise and cause malfunctions before the deck can be emptied.
- We see them functioning normally on a regular basis. We only see episodes entirely about them when they malfunction.
- Not every holodeck episode is a broken holodeck episode: "Manhunt," all three Vic Fontaine episodes, "Take Me Out to the Holosuite," "Fair Haven." In that last one, the holodeck broke in the end, but that wasn't the point of the episode.
- Oh, and the ENT finale.
- Given the multiple duty schedules, it's probable the holodecks are running close to 24/7 on the Enterprise. If they've only malfunctioned a handful of times, often due to alien interference, it would be less "we must get rid of this deathtrap" and more "you must sign this waiver."
- Firstly, the times where the holodeck malfunctions or do something unusual are the easiest ways of making them actually interesting from a story perspective. Secondly, things are liklely to malfunction when you're on a starship encountering dangerous situations exposing ships' systems to damage. Thirdly, things like Moriarty occur when things are done with the holodeck computers (or, in the case of "A Fistful of Datas", the ship's computer) beyond their intended design. Moriarty became self-aware because Data needed a challenge... but the holodeck was designed with human entertainment in mind. "A Fistful of Datas" occurred due to computer malfunction when they tried to link Data to the ship's systems... an experiment the ship's systems were not designed for, with unforeseen consequences.
All I Need Is My Holodeck
- On this subject, can someone tell me why the Holodeck wasn't the last invention ever? They have replicators, they have holodecks, it's like the Internet taken to its logical extreme, with actual food sources built into the wall. Doesn't that pretty much end society?
- How many people can seriously go a week on the Internet without DOING something? Get a minifridge, fill it with a week of food, block out a week, and see how long you can last. There are some people who spend their lives in the holodeck, but most people want to go outside and talk to people occasionally. One thing about holodecks is, until very recently, holopeople were not nearly as interesting as real people. We've watched the invention of sentient holofolks, and the field testing of holocommunication. Everything else is just a decent simulation.
- Alternatively, half of society IS in the holodeck, which is why we only see extroverts.
- Wasn't an unhealthy holodeck obsession one of Lt. Barclay's many, many diagnosed mental or physical ailments? If it's an actual diagnosis, presumably that's something that future psychiatrists are responsible for treating.
- True. Geordi says to Barclay "You're going to be able to write the book on holodiction," as if this is a well-known neologism and an established phenomenon.
- The closest we've come to seeing this was Nog after his leg got shot off, and that was the result of an extreme psychological situation. I'm willing to bet that most people in the Federation have extreme self-control. Even today, there are people who know when to turn off the Xbox and return to the real world.
- The holodecks we see in the show are stand-alone systems on starships or stations. For planet-bound systems, it might be a simple matter to link multiple holodecks together, running the same program. Imagine an MMORPG you could *literally* live in, 24/7, eating and sleeping in your player housing when not out questing or socialising with your guild in the tavern. Depending on how much access private citizens have to holodecks and how their use is legislated/restricted, there is a possibility that holo-addiction is a huge social issue.
- I've heard this argument about how the existance of replicators and holodecks would make everybody just sit around and playing in holodecks and replicating food until our species died out because we'd have no motivation to invent or really do anything else. However, one thing I've noticed about whoever makes this argument seems to forget several facts about how technology works and human nature when they say things like that. For one thing, if we invented holodecks and replicators, regardless of the science behind them those holodecks and replicators HAVE to be fueled by something, and they will expend more energy operating than they can produce, so we will have to go out to find more of whatever makes replicators and holodecks work, and there's only going to be so much on Earth, so we'll have to head out into the stars to get more, which means we'll have to invent more tech to deal with the obstacles in our way. That, and the fact that even if the replicators and holodecks produce 100% realistic characters and objects, can replicate anything, and are entirely self sufficent, (which would take a lot of time and effort to get the both of them there if it's even possible) we will still need to constantly create more and more new stories and characters for the holodeck to create and more types of food and other objects for the replicators to make, if only to avert boredom. He may be from Stargate and not Star Trek, but Daniel Jackson sums it up quite well:
Jackson: Imagine you were stuck in a room for a thousand years with only a TV, a VCR, and 5 movies, how long could you watch them over and over again until you were bored silly?
- Except a holodeck isn't a locked room, a tv, a VCR, and five movies. It's a fully immersive virtual world that is infinitely variable and infinitely customizable. For your analogy to work you would have to assume that instead of being locked in a room with only 5 movies to watch, you were locked in a room with infinity movies to watch. All of them with the most spectacular resolution and realistic special effects you can imagine and with fully interactive characters that you can talk to and hang out with. Hell, you could BE the star of every movie if you wanted to. You could bag any Hollywood Hottie/Hunk anytime, anywhere, anyway you wanted. You could even create your own movies. You could even spend years rewriting every movie that disappointed you and then watch your new creation play out before your very eyes. And you could (potentially) share your newly written creations with other people around the world, who would in turn share their creations with you. Would some people get bored with that? Maybe. But then, it's entirely possible for some people to recreationally snort crack cocaine and never become addicted. You're right about one thing, though. Holodecks and replicators do need fuel to keep running. But, think about this for a second. Does that really sound like a bright future to you? An entire civilization that lives only to keep their holodecks and replicators working?
- My theory? Based on Janeway's reaction to realizing she was beginning to fall in love with a holographic character in one episode, what keeps a lot of people from getting addicted is getting bored with having every little thing their way. As she points out, the problem with having a relationship with any holodeck character is that there's no challenge; if the character has some annoying habit or isn't interested in you quite the way you want, you just say a few words to the computer and suddenly the character accommodates your every whim. In other words, It's Easy, so It Sucks. If you could be on the holodeck all day every day, you'd eventually get bored with having every little thing your way in every situation.
- Social values dictating that the holodeck is "fantasy" that should not interfere with "real life".
- With respect I think the OP attributing 20th-21st century values on to the enlightened 24th century humans. Go back and listen to a good portion of Picard's speeches; they work to better themselves and others, further the course of science and to explore space. In other words Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future of humanity. 24th century humans don't want to spend their lives in a meaningless fantasy world, the idea to them is complete lunacy. Their reactions to Reg Barclay in his first episode are prove enough of that.
Why Didn't Ya Just Shoot God?
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier's Sealed Evil in a Can proves to be easily destroyed by a single torpedo, so you'd think anyone who could seal off the center of the galaxy could have dealt with him with much less fuss.
- Maybe he used to be more powerful, but he spent so much in time the center of the galaxy cut off from his power source that his power waned considerably.
- Or whoever sealed him off didn't want to kill him. Not every culture has capital punishment, even for a Negative Space Wedgie with a God complex.
- Maybe he would have deflected the torpedo quite easily, had he not been blinded by rage at a pesky Starfleet Captain.
- It's Star Trek V. Do you really expect it to make sense?
So Many Galactic Barriers, So Little Time
- ...and wasn't that barrier at the edge of the galaxy?
- Different barrier. And why assume that the barrier was made by someone? It could just be a natural phenomenon that someone took advantage of to trap the Big Bad. Or Fake God got stuck in some cosmic flypaper and managed to smuggle out rumors of "paradise" to the outside galaxy before he was fully entangled. Likewise, we don't actually know that Fake God was destroyed, he might be merely indisposed.
- The Expanded Universe tells the story of the villain that barrier was made to protect the galaxy from, sealing the evil out of the can, and references his underling from The Final Frontier.
- It could be the same barrier, just that it envelopes the entire galaxy three-dimensionally in the shape of a flat torus with a small gap in the middle.
Borg Packin' Heat
- Why don't Borg ever run or carry personal weapons? You'd think creatures so obsessed with perfection and efficiency would try to be a bit more efficient when it came to survival? The same goes for ignoring people not considered threats: you'd think by First Contact, the Enterprise crew would have been considered a threat - as would anyone whose ship you happen to be invading.
- Well, I think the writers do this to emphasize that to the Borg, the individual humanoid components are of no consequence. The Borg are a hive organism and care no more for individual humanoid portions of themselves than we do about individual cells. Which does not strike me as much better or more logical, come to think of it. Then again, I gave up on Trek years ago and haven't watched much of it since around 1990.
- This troper concurs. Borg drones may be highly expendable in the sight of the collective, but they still cost something in finite resources to produce (if nothing else, the time, effort, and availability of victims are finite resources) and thus should not be thrown away unless the benefit of doing so outweighs the cost of assets expended. Or, to put it in plain English — toilet paper might be so cheap and disposable that you feel free to wipe your ass with it, but you still don't throw all your TP rolls into the fireplace every day just for laughs, do you? Of course not. It might be cheap but it still ain't free, and if you waste all your toilet paper then you're stuck in a very uncomfortable situation until and unless you can go buy some more.
- But the Borg actually benefit from allowing a few drones to be killed — it's how they learn about and adapt to your weaponry. Your fancy phaser rifle might take out three or four drones, sure, but as each one goes down it's transmitting information about what killed it to the Collective, and within minutes they've worked out a solution. Then when your ship tries to fire a really big version of that phaser rifle at the Borg cube, they already know the score. They may even allow boarding parties to wander around their ships unmolested precisely because they know their unarmed, lumbering drones make for tempting targets.
- Given that their policy of letting intruders wander around their ships unmolested ("Best of Both Worlds") is the direct cause of their failure to take over the Federation, its really hard to argue that policy had any good results. Likewise, finding out about their new phaser rifles did absolutely nothing to help them prepare against the anti-starship weapons specifically invented for use on the Borg, notably the Defiant's pulse-phasers and the quantum torpedo.
- Neither of those weapons were shown to be of much use against the Borg in the long term.
- For that matter, why did the Federation never get the bright idea to go around the Borgs rotating shields by using bullets? It's even worse considering that First Contacts proves their usefulness.
- The idea of just using bullets to kill the Borg was something this Troper thought of the first time he saw Best of Both Worlds pt. 1 at age 9. However, upon reflection, it probably wouldn't work. Most of the dialog about why the Borg are nigh invincible states that they adapt to whatever energy is directed at them (the first few times they shot them with phasers, it did kill them, then the Borg figured out a defense). It seems logical that after the first dozen or so Borg that got gunned down by solid slugs they could easily adapt their shielding to deflect physical projectiles as well, so Starfleet probably didn't bother, especially since they'd have to retrain their people to use old-style firearms.
- Except that the Borg have never demonstrated any ability to shield against physical attack, even after getting punched, kicked, or slashed with bladed weapons over and over again.
- This troper swears there was a TNG episode where a Borg forcefield blocked a blade that Worf was swinging... But either way, it is worth pointing out that the tommygun sequence in First Contact wasn't using actual physical bullets. Those were holographic bullets, which are some configuration of forcefields and photons. So really, it was just a case of a novel energy weapon that the Borg hadn't adapted to yet. We still have no idea what real bullets would do.
- Given how easy it is to protect ships from incidental collisions with space matter at interstellar speeds, I imagine protecting against something as superficial as bullets is very easy.
- Knives would be even more easy then, wouldn't you think? And yet, it doesn't work that way with the Borg.
- There was a projectile weapon developed by Starfleet, actually. It was used in one of the less necessary Deep Space Nine episodes; naturally, it wasn't just a gun, it had to incorporate a transporter to "shoot through walls" (turning a physical bullet into energy? Doesn't that kinds miss the point?). Gotta have the latest, shiniest and high-techiest toys to justify that research budget, after all. Just like like the US space program can't be seen using cheap mass-produced boosters, we have to use the finicky and massively expensive but visually impressive Space Shuttle.
- The "TR-116" rifle? While it may never have been shown to be much use on screen, it fares much better in the books. According to them it didnt get mass produced until the end of the Dominion war, but was used repeatedly in the Tezwa conflict, and a combined force of Starfleet troops from the Enterprise, Aventine, and Titan boarded and captured a Borg ship in the "Destiny" trilogy by using said weapon and energy dampeners to clear the ship of Borg.
- Actually, the projectile weapon was developed by Starfleet without the teleportation thing, then they gave up on it entirely because it still didn't work very well. The crazed Vulcan added the micro-transporter to the rifle in order to safely shoot anyone on the station from the comfort of his quarters.
- Either that, or the rifle was originally fitted with a transporter for use by Section 31 as an assassination weapon, and the story about it not being designed to shoot through walls is just a cover story.
- It could be that Borg shielding works like Dune, or Stargate. Only projectiles/energy weapons moving above a certain speed threshold are blocked.
- Actually, it's physically impossible for the Borg shield implants to deflect bullets, because the momentum is transferred to the implant, which would then be moving at near-sonic speeds inside the Borg. Also, did you know they apparently have lasers on their arms? They seem to use them in one episode.
- Er, no. The deflector shields in ST don't work that way. Energy is countered and dispersed, not transferred into the shield generators. At least not in TV canon; some EU stories may have different rules. As for the lasers, yes, they did use them in the very first Borg appearance in "Q Who?" to kill a Redshirt. But since most drones are not dedicated combat units, they rarely fight back. No, it's not efficient; but then, the Borg aren't and never have been efficient, they just like to tell themselves (and everyone in earshot) that they are.
- An easy resolution for the above debate as to why the Borg would not be able to adapt to bullets: the fact that they haven't already done so. Think about it: what are the odds that, in all the millennia the Borg have been conquering planets, they've never encountered a species that uses bullets or some other form of projectile weapon?
- As for why the Federation doesn't seem to be smart enough to use projectile weapons against them (aside from phasers being cooler than kinetic weapons): they've fallen victim to the problem plaguing the Asgard in their war with the Replicators over in the Stargate Verse. Namely, they've become used to searching for technological solutions to their military problems (read: technobabble) rather than innovating tactically with what they already have, and being unwilling to make strategic sacrifices a la Carter's bait-and-switch with the O'Neill in "Small Victories". Teal'c's assessment of the Tollans in "Pretense" is applicable as well: "The Tollans [Federation] have not been at war for many years. They do not think strategically." Picard's "We're explorers, not soldiers" mindset is the heart of the matter: At the beginning of TNG, Starfleet doesn't see itself as a military organization, so when forced by circumstance into that role, they do a uniformly terrible job until the mindset changes. In that respect, the Dominion War and the various conflicts with the Borg are healthy for the Federation in the long run, inasmuch as they've given them a good swift kick in the pants. The effects of that kick can be seen as early as Star Trek: Nemesis (three or four Earth years post-war), where for the first time we have an armed ground vehicle that can be used for scouting. It was probably developed as a counter to a similar Jem'Hadar vehicle during the Dominion War.
- The video game Elite Force has Borg that develop a ranged attack. However, those were "isolated from the collective for a long time," which somehow suddenly made that a pressing need.
- That would be consistent with the Borg we see in the Descent two-parter, which also have been seperated from the collective (and from each other) and who started using energy weapons. (Lore, Data's predecessor who found those disoriented former drones and turned them into his mooks, might have had something to do with that as well.)
- The complete inability of the drones to defend themselves individually could be either a holdover from an era when the Collective was not yet fully established (ie. gun control), or perhaps allowing even the thought of individual self-defense is dangerous to the Collective.
- I'm still wondering why they never display any knowledge of unarmed combat techniques, and individual drones are often at least temporarily neutralized by hand-to-hand combat. The lack of subterfuge skills is equally puzzling, in a race that contains all the skills, knowledge and abilities of every member individual or databank it has ever absorbed.
- Well I think hauling attackers across the room and/or giving them broken noses is quite a good unarmed combat technique...
- And don't get me started on the fact that the Borg, entirely counter to all logic, become progressively weaker as the series went on, until Voyager reduced them to a complete mockery of their original status as the universe's ultimate boogeymen.
- Subterfuge may be something that an assimilative hive mind, by its very nature, has difficulty with. If the Borg were to trick a numerous race into getting assimilated, then the false belief they'd foisted off on their recruits might potentially establish itself in the Collective, because no one Borg's thoughts or beliefs have priority over any other Borg's. Majority rules, so if a cube of a few thousand assimilates a planet of millions, the lies told to those millions would supplant the truth in the cube's own awareness (e.g. if they'd been told that the Borg are peaceful explorers, those particular Borg really would begin acting like peaceful explorers). Such aberrations in belief could potentially disrupt Borg civilization, much as Lore's or Hue's introduced deviations did; better to be completely honest and open about their own nature and intentions, because Resistance Is Futile and they're positive they'll win even if their prey are forewarned.
- They have deemed standard star trek fighting techniques futile. Can't say I blame them actually. On a more serious note: the Borg are shown to pretty much need to mentally conference every time they do anything. Martial artists, that does not make.
- A meta-explanation would be that the Borg seem to be modelled after the Living Dead of the eponymous films. Their menace was the intelligent behaviour without apparent intelligence. Ignoring threads, the lack of emotion or urgency when attacking. Their attacks had a somewhat inevitable quality.
- In-universe, it doesn't make any sense. They've existed long enough to have encountered formidable resistance before. And if entities from a ship you're about to assimilate transport onto your own vessel, you should take that as a thread. Especially since it was proven time and again that blowing up a Borg cube from the inside was not that difficult.
The Scotty Diet
- How did Scotty get so fat?
- You honestly think Q was the first person to replicate ten hot fudge sundaes at once?
- I think this comic explains it pretty well.
- Captain, There Be Whales Here.
- He always looked a bit pudgy to me. I just thought when he got older he let himself go.
- Yakko, Wakko and Dot Warner introduced him to donuts.
- I always comforted myself with the idea that in-universe, he was an acrofatic stout powerful Scotsman warrior sumo guy.
- I like to think that it was just more subtle evidence of the character's alcoholism.
- Same way James Doohan did, he ate more calories than he burnt off. Presumably in the gap between the series and the movies he wasn't running for his life, or in a blind panic trying to fix the engines before the latest godlike alien Kirk pissed off blew it up, so he got more sedantary and just didn't cut back. Plus he got old(er), and with age comes a slowing metabolism.
Captain Leeroy Jenkins
- I like the original 1960s Trek as much as the next guy (and find it consistently superior to all later attempts to revive the Trek brand name), but it always just bugged me when Cap'n Kirk beamed down to the planet to investigate weird stuff in person. I know, he's the hero of the piece and he's supposed to be Odysseus IN SPACE!. In the real world, any naval captain who constantly took such insane risks wouldn't be in command of a ship for long. In real navies, going ashore to investigate weird happenings is what junior officers and Marines are for.
- Answer: Dramatic necessity, natch. This one Just Bugged the writers too, so starting with TNG, they compromised and had the first officer lead away teams. But because ENT pre-dates the original series, they got to put Archer in as much danger as they liked.
- Kirk was just that kind of cowboy. No one ever accused him of an excess of self-restraint, as a lot of pregnant Green Space Babes could tell you.
- Pretty much all Star Trek series are guilty of this. There's a particularly telling scene in Enterprise when Trip, the chief engineer has to go fix an engineering problem in a conduit that can hold 2, and he takes the Science Officer, T'Pol, rather than a member of his Engineering staff. Sure, she's smart but they're ENGINEERS. In other scenes, an Ensign is left in charge of the flagship of Starfleet while the senior officers beam down to investigate something. I've had it put to me that the bridge crew go on away missions so often because they have the most experience but my response to that is that it's not a roleplaying game and they're not DnD adventurers!
- Then again, Trip would happily use any flimsy excuse to be stuck in a narrow Jeffries tube with T'Pol.
- In the modern navy, sure, he wouldn't. On the other hand, Captain James Cook did. On the gripping hand, that's probably why he got killed in Hawaii...
- Star Trek is more like the navies of the 19th century. Read about what Captain Fitzroy and science attaché Darwin got up to during a 5 year mission aboard the Beagle. Yes, that Darwin.
- What made it really stupid is that he usually took his XO along.
- My response to the "is Kirk or Picard a better captain" debate has always been. "When Picard sees an anomaly that might kill him on a planet, he scans it and sends in an away team if that doesn't work. When Kirk sees one he says, "ok everyone, I'm going down there and I'm taking my second in command and the chief medical officer along with me. And also Ensign Redding Shirtham. If we don't come back, you're all screwed. Bye!" Ya, I'm on Picard's side here.
- I've always come to the conclusion that it's in Kirk's character to put himself before his men. While Picard represents the more sophisticated side of a military man, Kirk represented the spirit of one. Excited at the prospect of adventure, boldly going to new places, and completely loyal to his men and 'country'. Because of this, he would jump before considering protocol if he needed to and considers himself more expendable than a lowly redshirt because that's just his character. And I think, when you explain that he takes the best people on away missions, you underestimate the people he would leave in charge on the Enterprise. Like Scotty, who was next in command and more than capable of leading the Enterprise and then Sulu, who was able enough to command the Excelsior in the movies. And on the medical side, Nurse Chapel or Doctor M'Benga was more than qualified to take care of matters. Just because he takes Spock and Bones with him on dangerous missions doesn't mean the Enterprise is weakened due to their absence. I think Kirk is the more preferred captain to adventurous fans while the more subdued like Picard. The whole 'who's a better captain' spiel is just plain nonsense and juvenile.
- That aspect of Kirk's character is very much on display in Star Trek The Motion Picture. That film spends a lot of time showing that Decker, not Kirk, should be in command of the Enterprise. And there are many other instances of Kirk's ego causing problems. One of the character's strengths, though, is that he's aware of his flaws and always works to keep them in check. I suspect that Picard was intentionally written to be Kirk's antithesis. Kirk was young and brash, Picard was seasoned and restrained. Kirk bristled at challenges to his authority, Picard specifically chose a first officer who would stand up to him. Kirk made seat-of-his-pants decisions based on instinct, Picard always took his officers' opinions into consideration when he made decisions. Kirk was a company man through-and-through, Picard put his morality ahead of his loyalty to the Federation. As you suggest, Kirk was loyal to his men, but I think Picard actually had Kirk beat in that regard: Kirk would always break the rules to help his friends, but Picard would absolutely put his ass on the line for every single member of his crew; including some who he'd probably never even met, like Simon Tarses in "The Drumhead," Lal in "The Offspring," Ro Lauren in "Ensign Ro," and Sito Jaxa sometime between "The First Duty" and "Lower Decks."
Where Did All Those Wars Go?
- Also, was there nuclear war on Earth in the late 20th or early 21st Century, or not? I wish they'd make up their minds about the backstory, in all seriousness.
- Answer: Yes. The Third World War took place in the mid-21st century. They've been relatively consistent on that for a while now; if you want a real continuity mess, try the Eugenics Wars that were due to be waged about ten years ago.
- This editor suggests Eugenics Wars were actually fought in an MMORPG. Khan was actually a super-nerd, who took over a quarter of a video game "Earth". We saw in "Space Seed," Khan's first appearance, that 23rd century "Ship's Historians" were not necessarily that bright, so a mix-up in the historical records could happen. Right? Right?
- I always figured that the Eugenics War and World War Three were the same thing but with different names. Than again, I'm not as up on fanon as some other people, so I could be way off.
- I have the first season on blu ray and in the full length version of space seed, that is said. "The mid-1990s was the era of your last so-called world war. The Eugenics Wars."
- I think the writers retconned the war to a small out of the way conflict that went down in the middle of Asia that no one really noticed.
- Specifically, the retcon was that the Eugenics War was fought in many places all over the world and over many years, but was covert enough that very few other than the active participants knew about it. Some real-life events were portrayed as covert actions by one or more of the factions, and those who knew the truth were covering it up. It's not spelled out, but the implication is that only years later did the truth get declassified, and that the horror at having nearly being annihilated by enemies they didn't even know existed is the origin of Star Trek humans' distaste for genetic engineering.
- I always thought they could have easily solved the problem with the Eugenics War what with all the time travelling they do in Enterprise, and was quite surprised that they didn't even attempt it.
- SPOCK JUST SCREWED UP. He just got the date of the war WRONG, people. Deal with it.
- The Word of God supposedly states that the events of the Voyager episode "Future's End" caused the Eugenics Wars to "unhappen" within the Star Trek universe. That the Timeship from the 29th century that crashed in the 1960's changed history.
- Except that just raises more questions than it answers. It seems "Future's End" just takes place in an alternate 1996 that is more like our world because of the tampering with history and it was cleaned up by temporal agents, where in the Trek world the eugenics wars did happen when Spock said they did.
- Actually it's suggested that the Eugenics Wars (that Spock dated as occurring in the mid-1990's) were localised to the eastern hemisphere, leaving the United States of America largely unaffected, hence Future's End being set in an apparently A-OK USA-of-A. It's considered in ST's EU that the Eugenics Wars were a catalyst that EVENTUALLY led to World War III, a war which did consume the US more directly, hence it's rustic appearance in Star Trek: First Contact.
- "Localized" in the Eastern Hemisphere, which happens to contain the continent, Asia, with the largest chunk of the human population on Earth is a severe case of Creator Provincialism! More people live in India alone than in all of North America! The real problem was that nobody expected Star Trek to turn into a franchise that would run for decades, and potentially overlap the projected date of the Eugenics Wars. Even much later sci-fi series, such as Buck Rogers, would place WWIII in the very near future (the late 80's in this case).
- The answer to this and all other continuity problems that don't match up with "real" history is, of course, that we are living in the evil Mirror universe.
- That retcon about a Eugenics Wars Masquerade was from a non-canonical novel, and contradicts virtually everything Spock said about them - and personally, this troper hates the entire Masquerade trope with a passion and is glad it's that way. Do we really need any explanation for why they didn't happen other than "Star Trek ain't real"? It takes place in its own timeline, one where the Eugenics Wars happened in the '90s, World War 3 is due to happen within the next few decades, and then Zephram Cochrane invents the warp drive and introduces us all to a shipful of Vulcans. It's not like those things are any more likely to really happen, and Star Trek'll hopefully still be around when their expiration dates have passed too.
- Because we're living in an alternate universe to the Prime universe, and hopefully we'll AVOID things like the Eugenics Wars and WW 3. Let's just hope it's not that universe that got overrun by the Borg...
- And then there were all the wars that supposedly took place during early TNG but which we never heard of... specifically with the Tzenkethi and the Cardassians. Plus a whole bunch of wars (Talarians, anyone?) right before TNG started. Apparently the Federation is just so big that it can be at war for years with someone we've never heard of before this week's episode.
- I personally think (and there is a WMG on this) that those conflicts were just separate theaters of one war, with the Tzenkethi and Talarians as Cardassian allies.
- Would you like this troper to post a list of major American military actions since World War II? It's hardly implausible that in the half century plus between the Star Trek VI and TNG that the Federation got into some scraps. And from what we've since learned about the conflict with the Cardassians, it was a series of low intensity border disputes, not a total war like the Dominion War. The situation was probably similar with the Talarians and whoever else.
- The definition of a "war" is also a little subjective here. Ronald D. Moore was a huge fan of the Flaunting Your Fleets trope. Whereas earlier Trek series had made it seem like starships were so rare and valuable that even the major powers would never field more than a couple dozen of them in even the worst of circumstances, DS9 and the Dominion War thrived on epic space battles where starships were as numerous as fighters in other series. Prior to the Dominion War storyline, a "war" might only involve regular clashes involving no more than a half-dozen starships from both sides, often in one-on-one battles. The first Federation-Cardassian War took place at a time when the Federation had extensively demilitarized due to peace with the Klingons and the isolation of the Romulans. At the time, Starfleet was still fielding 23rd Century ships such as the Miranda and Excelsior classes. The development of the Nebula and Galaxy class starships, along with later, more military vessels, was directly driven by the Cardassian War.
Join the Redshirt Army Today!
- Wouldn't the Star Fleet security department start to, er, run into recruiting problems after a while? (James Alan Gardner memorably skewers this point in his Expendable series.)
- The mass production of Replacement Redshirt clones is the Federation's largest growth industry.
- WWI fighter pilots had a life expectancy slightly shorter than that of ice cream left out in the sun on a warm day, but they still recruited plenty of people. Plus, security officers probably aren't the brightest recruits out of the Academy - anyone with real talent gets pushed to command, all the geniuses go into science, and the gearheads go into Engineering. Security officers result from people who still want to go into space, but have no talent in any of the high-profile areas.
- Star Trek Critics have No Sense Of Scale. Starfleet is a large organisation, granted, however it's staffing levels pale into insignificance compared to the population base it can draw on. Take Earth, population around the 4 Billion mark in the Trek Era that is one single planet. The Federation has 150 member planets, plus countless colonies and allies. Now, of those 150 the population probably bobs around a bit but for most will be in the billions (most likely between 2 and 10 billion). That is a huge population pool to draw from. Even if only a tiny fraction of a percent of the population want to be in Starfleet then Starfleet will still have more applicants than they can handle. We've seen how difficult it is to get accepted to the fleet, only the best of the best, of the best, of the best and Harry Kim even get to the entry test. And most of those who take the entry test fail. In the unlikely event of there being a shortage all Starfleet needs to do is lower the standards a tiny little bit and they are back to having more than they can handle. Plus even with the conflicts like the Dominion War you are still unlikely to die or be killed. After all, even in WW1 most soldiers who marched off to war marched home again no worse for wear, we just notice deaths more than survivals, so the people bright enough to look at the numbers (which is the group Starfleet wants anyway) will not be put off applying. And as I said they've got a population pool upwards of 300 Billion to recruit from.
- Combine this question with the "Leeroy Jenkins" question above, and you come up with an amusing possibility: with the senior officers always off putting themselves in dangerous situations, it's incredible they don't get killed a lot more often than they do. Maybe on just about every other ship besides the Enterprise, they do get killed pretty regularly. If your superiors keep getting themselves killed, just imagine how many opportunities for rapid advancement you'd have! Sure, security's a dangerous and thankless job, but as long as you never get picked to be on the away team (or if you do, your superiors get killed instead of you), chances are you'll be a superior officer in just a few years. For that matter, maybe that's how Kirk and his peers managed to get their seats and hang on to them: they survived a lot of away missions as lowly security officers, and learned how to pick the kind of security guards who put Honor Before Reason to be their own cannon fodder on away missions.
Ignore that Superweapon, It Was Just a Test!
- Why in the glorious bleeping hell did the Xindi test their prototype Earth-Zapper(tm) on THE REAL PLANET EARTH? They tested the second one on an uninhabited moon, so they obviously came to their senses eventually. Come on, there were any Earth-like planets around you could zap? What about that Cowboy planet in North Star? That one even had real Humans on it! If you hadn't gone and shot at Earth long before you were ready to blast it into little pieces, they would have been completely surprised when you blasted it into said little pieces. This is Bond Villain Stupidity taken to an amazing level. You have a weapon that can kill your enemy in one hit. Your enemy doesn't know you have this weapon, that you hate him, or even the fact that you exist. So instead of waiting for your weapon to finish being built you decide to build a smaller version that will 1. piss him off instead of kill him 2. tell him of your existence 3. tell him of your location and methods 4. give him time to stop you. DO YOU SEE WHERE YOU WENT WRONG?
- I'm playing Devil's Advocate here because I agree, but it could have been to test Earth's defences, maybe? Besides, without Daniels-From-The-Future, Starfleet probably would never have found out who sent the Earth-Zapper(tm), let alone where they live, so the Xindi were perhaps not so stupid as their choice of targets might suggest.
- Perhaps they needed to confirm that an unmanned vessel could navigate through the Expanse's weirdness, yet still home in on Earth as intended? Plus, the Earth-analog you mention wasn't discovered by Starfleet until Kirk's day, so the Xindi couldn't have known where it was even if they'd been spying on Earth prior to the attack.
Wanton Cruelty to Tribbles
- Okay ... at the end of "The Trouble with Tribbles", Scotty deals with the tribbles "humanely" (i.e. instead of killing them) by beaming the tribbles into the Klingons' engine room. Klingons being Klingons, don't you think it'd be a bit more humane to just beam them into space?
- Classic: Klingons and Tribbles hate each other for about the same reason Tribbles like humans. Tribbles can induce humans to like them; clearly, Klingons don't take whatever method they use any better than Kirk does.
- Deep Space Nine: Worf states that Tribbles bring famine and plague. (Which isn't implausible, given their breeding and eating habits.) Speculation: the Tribble plague produced the evolutionary crisis which led to Klingons growing Mars-bar heads.
- They taste good too.
- The tribbles became far more dangerous after they were injected with the DNA of Human Augments. That's why they turned from harmless fuzzballs into the Klingon-killing Fuzzballs of the Apocalypse.
- More likely the Klingons blew up the Tribble homeworld's atmosphere.
- ...That was a result of the above problems, not the cause of anything.
- Another problem is that this could very easily interpreted by the Klingons as a deliberate, unprovoked attack on one of their vessels. Given the nature of the tribbles, beaming hundreds of them into a battlecruiser's engine room is tantamount to sabotage, at least in the eyes of the Klingons.
- Sabotage? Hell, they probably interpreted it as either a psychological weapon or a WMD.
Life Support Belts Out of Style?
Gene [Roddenberry] had a habit of 'de-canonizing' (if there is such a thing) things when he wasn't happy with them. He didn't like the way that much of the animated series turned out, so he proclaimed that it was NOT CANON. He also didn't like a lot of the movies. So he didn't consider all of them canon either... Gene's view of canon was, I think, pretty fluid. He thought of TNG as canon wherever there was confict between [TNG and TOS]. He admitted it was revisionist thinking, but so be it.... That's kind of like God telling you the stuff in that old bible...well, he [was] just not that into it anymore.
- I suppose we'll never know the answer to this, but... how come we've gone from spacesuits to "life support belts"; around Kirk's time... but afterwards, back to spacesuits?
- Of course, as I write this, all the many, many times their supposedly foolproof gadgets broke down for various reasons come to mind. Chances are, a few too many life support belts shorted out when a Negative Space Wedgie sneezed.
- Gene Roddenberry declared Star Trek: The Animated Series (in which the life support belts appeared) to be non-canonical. That's why the belts weren't in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- Yes but Roddenberry also considered TOS to be non-canon when he made TNG, but everyone still considers TOS canon. (He considered TOS apocryphal. Kirk existed, and some of the missions happened, but nothing happened the way TOS showed it.)
- Wrong. He specifically said that where TNG and TOS conflicted, whatever TNG said was canon, but this is because of the canonical mess that was the third season. TOS is very definitely canon.
- No, right. From Paula Block in "Voyages of Imagination":
Gene Roddenberry said that when another series conflicts with TOS the non TOS series wins. That's the definition of apocryphal, meaning that from his point of view TOS was not canon. The point is moot anyway since CBS and Paramount consider both TOS and TAS as offical canon.
- If a belt can provide life support, an entire suit can provide much MORE life support. When it comes to living, I want backup systems!
- The FASA RPG explained this by any hit inflicting over 10 points of damage would render the belt useless. This is one good punch or a grazing shot from any energy weapon.
Those Meddling Feddies
- I know that Gene Roddenberry was completely convinced for some reason or another that human beings are basically good, and that given enough time we'll eventually evolve to become even better. That said, doesn't the whole concept of the Federation seem kind of really, really racist? I mean, they don't interfere with species that aren't capable of warp, for better or for worse, but they'll willingly interfere with anyone else. That seems kind of... White Man's Burden-y to me. Prime Directive aside.
- Hngh... it's hard to place, I'll admit, but think there's a line somewhere between "White Man's Burden" and "hey, we like to poke our noses into your problems."
- They never willingly interfered with someone else. It was always either to save a life of a Starfleet or Federation citizen, or by accident. Granted, most of the situations were still easily avoidable in the first place, but they didn't just throw darts at a starmap and say "today I'm going to radically alter this society".
- Yeah. "White Man's Burden" is what you get when the 'advanced' empire takes it upon itself to 'civilize' all those poor primitive natives who obviously don't know how to live because they don't have cool technology like steam engines and top hats. Starfleet has an actual policy against doing that. It isn't perfectly consistent, and it gets bent a lot by the people out on the sharp end, but the policy is there.
- Kirk still did things like that all the time, with good examples being "Return of the Archons," "The Apple," and "The Omega Glory," the latter after he'd chewed out another captain for doing it.
- Whether or not the federation "interferes" with other cultures usually has absolutely nothing to do with that culture's species. And at least they often go out of their way to keep other cultures happy in the interest's of diplomacy.
- A big point is that they also don't want species who have just discovered warp drive (and per First Contact, are much more likely to show up on sensors) to blunder into the middle of a situation they're woefully unprepared for.
- Granted, but Federation culture is almost always painted as fairly ideal. Even Deep Space Nine painted a fairly hopeful look at humanity, despite the darker undertones. Other cultures aren't painted as wrong, per se, but misguided, and if you would just do things a little more humany, you'd be set. Klingons are savage and preach honor but practice dishonor. Worf, on the other hand, was raised by humans, acquired a human morality in addition to his Klingon honor, and because of that, he's the best Klingon ever. Nog and Rom joined Starfleet and the Bajoran militia, respectively, and they're painted in a much more sympathetic light than their older, more typical Ferengi characterizations. It just seems like the Federation (and provisional member worlds) make everything better.
- The undertones of "white man's burden" is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to racist undertones in Star Trek. See this essay.
- The essay is not a particularly good one. It's full of false comparisons. Alien cultures aren't supposed to stand in for different races, they're supposed to stand in for different cultures, and the reality is that it would be acceptable to chastise a child for acting disgusted because a French friend enjoyed escargot or whatever. And the "torn between two cultures" thing is something that really does affect people of mixed descent. It's oversimplified, yes, and not always handled as well as it might be, but it's legitimate. Honestly, I find the essay more racist than the arguments: "There's a clear allegory for the differences between people. All these people look different, therefore it must be a race based allegory! It couldn't possibly be cultural, otherwise they would look the same."
- "Alien cultures aren't supposed to stand in for different races, they're supposed to stand in for different cultures" That's precisely the problem. In Star Trek, aspects of culture are treated as immutable characteristics, a classic form of racism. The escargot example isn't applicable because this wasn't just an example of differing food preferences. This was an example of behavior. Nog was behaving like a chauvinistic jerk. When Jake Sisko complained about it, his father basically told him "well son, Ferengi are just like that". If a black child did something mean to your son or daughter and they ran home crying, would you tell them "well, black people are just like that"? "And the "torn between two cultures" thing is something that really does affect people of mixed descent." Spoken like someone who is not mixed race and has never met someone who is mixed race. Mixed race children are not "torn between two cultures". As a teacher, I've had several mixed race students in my classes. NONE of them were ever "torn between two cultures". Yet ALL of the mixed race characters in Star Trek are routinely described as "torn" between their human and non-human (because it's always human and non-human) sides. In real life, children of mixed race marriages grow up identifying with one side of their ancestry or the other, or some combination of both. They don't grow up "torn" between the dueling cultures of their parents. One wonders how such a marriage could even function if there was so much culture clash that children were routinely "torn" between two backgrounds.
- I'm glad you've never met any mixed-race children who had to deal with that sort of issue, but that hasn't always been the case. Cultural acceptance of mixed-race children has improved of late, but don't you dare sit there and tell me that the experiences my family has had are illegitimate because you've never seen it happen. Moreover, Sisko wasn't saying "All Ferengi are like that," he was saying, "His behavior is acceptable in his culture." And in Sisko's culture, which is the Federation, he's expected to be tolerant of other social mores even if he himself disagrees with them.
- Another point to raise is that perhaps Sisko was indeed being a bit racist with respect to Nog — Quark calls him out on something similar in "The Jem'Hadar." Nog earns Sisko's respect in the fullness of time, though the point remains that he does so by what could seem like an assimilationist move — going to Starfleet Academy.
- We're not talking about "cultural acceptance" of mixed race children. We're talking about the nature of mixed race children. In Star Trek, every child of a mixed-species union is inevitably described as "torn" between two fundamentally conflicting natures. Human/Klingon hybrids have to struggle to control their fiery Klingon tempers. Human/Vulcan hybrids struggle to reconcile the human desire to emote with the Vulcan desire to suppress emotion. They suffer physical and psychological stress trying to reconcile their mixed-species heritage. This does not happen in real life. Only in the world of Star Trek (and apparently in the mind of Gene Roddenberry) does this happen. "Moreover, Sisko wasn't saying "All Ferengi are like that," he was saying, "His behavior is acceptable in his culture."" Wrong. Sisko's exact words were: "Sounds like he's acting like a Ferengi to me. You can't blame him for that." I defy you to explain to me how that is not racist.
- It's only racist if you're assuming that aliens in Star Trek are no more different from humans than human races are from each other. And that's not true. Other alien races in Trek have talked time and again about how their cultures all have a single defining trait, and how weird humans are for jumping wildly from one extreme to the other (in Star Trek: Enterprise, the Vulcan ambassador Soval admits that the Vulcans are deeply worried about what humans might do to the galaxy, because they're so unpredictable compared to everyone else). So, armed with the knowledge that diverse personalities are considered humanity's hat by everyone else, it makes perfect sense that the Ferengi would seem to be mostly alike from a human's perspective, and there's no reason why Sisko wouldn't point that out to Jake, just as Soval, Quark and others have pointed out that humans seem emotionally schizophrenic to them. That's not racism, that's just plain old Humans Are Special.
- Keep in mind that different species in Star Trek are not a perfect allegory for different races among humans. Among human races, there is no biological hardwiring that makes races act certain ways; behavior is all taught through culture. A black child raised by white parents will not have a tendency to "act black" because there is no such thing as "acting black". But in Star Trek, the Vulcans and Klingons and Ferengi are not different races, they are different SPECIES. They evolved completely independently of humans and as such their brains probably don't function exactly the same. So to say someone is "acting Klingon" may actually be a legitimate statement, even if it is wrong to say someone in the real world is "acting Asian". And this means that a human-Klingon hybrid having to tone back her fiery temper may be legitimate too, because who knows what psychological, emotional, and hormonal effects Klingon biochemistry would impart on a hybrid child.
- What about Worf's son Alexander (as he is in TNG)? He's got an excellent sense of himself and his identity as an individual from a very early age — not in terms of his heritage on either side. He is himself, and he'll decide who and what he wants to be. Worf keeps pestering him about it, and he does send himself back through time to encourage his younger self to be a warrior, because he blames himself for Worf's death, but in the end Worf realizes Alexander must be what he is.
- "But in Star Trek, the Vulcans and Klingons and Ferengi are not different races, they are different SPECIES." If they were different species they wouldn't be able to successfully breed together. They can produce fertile offspring with each other, therefore they are different races, not different species. QED.
- Different species CAN interbreed, right here on Earth even. No doubt you've heard of mules? A donkey and a horse are not the same species. Even species that aren't even from the same genera interbreed sometimes. Now (as with mules), such hybrids are usually sterile - but They Have The Technology to fix that...
- Being able to interbreed is not sufficient to tell whether two specimens are one species or two: they must produce fertile offspring: their children must be able to have children as well. So: a horse and a donkey don't produce fertile offspring because mules can't breed, so horses and donkeys are different species. A Klingon and a human produce fertile offspring because their children can have children as well, so Klingons and humans are the same species. QED.
- Actually its stated in various series that hybrid like Spock and B'lanna only exist because of technological assistance. Klingons, Vulcans and humans all evolved on different planets and have very different internal biology of course they are different species.
- See: K'ehlyr and B'elanna Torres. Both were human/Klingon hybrids who produced children with no apparent medical intervention. Ergo, Star Trek humans can be classified as Homo sapiens terra and Klingons as Homo sapiens kronos (excuse my terrible Linnean taxonomy).
- About two centuries before K'ehlyr or B'lanna were born, augmented human DNA was introduced into the Klingon genome (ENT-"Affliction", "Divergence"), which resulted in the appearance of the smooth-headed Klingons seen in TOS. It is plausible that this enabled the existence of Klingon/human hybrids.
- It might be worth noting that essay is from a site that is dedicated solely to unfavorably comparing Star Trek to Star Wars, so bias is heavy here. In the example of respecting Ferengi cultural values being a racist statement, cultures DO have different values. Any sane person will tell you that. It's just that when people say, "He's acting like a Ferengi" it's because the species has a dominant mainstream culture that is then synonymous with the people. You could read it that Sisko meant Nog is biologically hardwired to be chauvinist, but I'd argue you read it wrong. Unless people freak out and cry racism any time someone calls Monty Python "British humor" implying there is one monolithic British people who all find Monty Python equally funny, then saying Nog is acting like a Ferengi isn't racist.
- This troper never got the impression that the different species in Star Trek were actually supposed to stand in for different cultures so much as they were supposed to stand in for different philosophies. Hence the hats everybody is always wearing.
- I think Azetbur in ST:VI said it best: "'Inalien'. If only you could hear yourselves. 'Human rights'. Why the very name is racist. The Federation is no more than a Homo-sapiens-only club."
- This is a pretty thin argument on her part. Neither "alien" nor "human" are terms specifically connected to species in 21st-century usage (i.e. Homo sapiens is one of several known species of human; illegal aliens of the species H. sapiens are often pursued by immigration authorities). It would have made more sense to assume that by the 23rd century, "human" also includes Klingons, Vulcans, etc., and... there's no logical connection whatsoever between the word "inalienable" and any species.
- "Human" includes Klingon? Isn't that a bit like saying "Mankind includes women"? It may be linguistically accurate, but that doesn't mean people won't take offence when alternative words exist (Sentients in former case, People in the latter).
- There is no canonical basis for the argument that the word "human" refers to any other species besides actual people descended from those on Earth. Quite the opposite in fact. Even Human Aliens are invariably referred to by their homeworld or species name and never as "humans". Even Half-Human Hybrid individuals like Spock and Troi are specifically identified as Vulcan and Betazoid respectively, as those are the planets they come from despite their human ancestry. To take it a step further, "the Federation" and "Starfleet" invariably carry a connotation of "human". In "Encounter At Farpoint" for example, Deanna explains that she is only half-Betazoid and that her father was "a Starfleet officer". It was an interesting bit of phrasing, because she did not feel the need to specify that he was a human Starfleet officer. That was inferred. It was her Betazoid lineage that was being called out, ironically by a Bandi, a Human Alien species native to Deneb IV who are never referred to as "human" in the episode.
Why So Military?
- In Star Trek, almost everything that happens revolves around military officers. Military officers doubling as explorers, but military officers all the same. An unintended consequence of this is creating the (almost certainly unintentional) impression that the supposedly utopian Federation is a military society. For example, in the Deep Space Nine episode "Paradise Lost," there is an attempted military coup, which has no trouble with civilian resistance, but instead is only opposed by the good military officers. Why don't more people inside the Trek-verse notice this?
- Because they don't watch the show. They actually get to see all the behind-the-scenes civilian stuff that's not onscreen.
- That said, this Troper was rather stunned when Star Trek VI actually showed the (civilian) Federation President.
- Massive glorification of the military is a common theme in communist regimes. And the Federation is, by any definition, a communist regime.
- "By any definition"? An odd statement, considering there are several definitions by which it doesn't fit.
- Also, as said, the military officers double as explorers - so it might be safe to say that the Federations IS a military regime (just like the Klingon and Romulan Empires) but with a substantially different philosophical and social view of what that means.
- It should be noted that Star Trek is focused on Star Fleet; the arm of the Federation that has explicitly military responsibilities, over and above the peaceful roles of exploration and diplomacy. Asking Star Trek "Why So Military" is like asking of Law & Order "Why So Police-ey?".
- The level of militancy in Starfleet is directly proportional to the level of combat expected by its members. For example, the Enterprise and its crew in TOS was focused on exploration and were Mildly Military; the Kirk-era movies were explicitly taking place during a war against the Klingons, so operations were pretty much entirely military in nature (that time-trip to get some whales notwithstanding); TNG introduced an Enterprise where combat was considered so unlikely that the ship carried a sizable civilian population but still wasn't considered a Civilian ship; Deep Space Nine became progressively more military because, well, there was a war on; Voyager is a bad example because it operates in a vacuum and is notoriously inconsistent from episode to episode, but still follows the pseudo-military organization of Starfleet.
- Gene Roddenberry's original vision of the future is that the people in Star Trek are 'scientists first' and 'military second'. Star Fleet was never meant to be a 'Might Makes Right' organization.
- Which is interesting, considering the starring vessels of the show are armed to the teeth. For example, when the meeting with Chancellor Gorkon goes wrong, "We will have to count each torpedo, visually." "That could take HOURS!" Good lord, Scotty, how many antiship antimatter bombs do you HAVE onboard?
- They are arguably in denial, but Starfleet's self-image is that they aren't a military organization. There are several instances of characters saying as much, particularly in TNG. Notably there were objections to the Enterprise engaging in war games that basically came down to "that's not what we do." The explanation for their firepower is that it's not wise to plunge into the unknown unarmed. The Defiant is considered Starfleet's first actual warship, and it was built in response to the Borg almost assimilating Earth.
- Even in Kirk's era, the Enterprise was designated a "Heavy Cruiser" - yes a somewhat military name but the Klingon D7 (essentially the Constitution class Enterprise's opposite number) was designated a "Battle Cruiser" and the Romulans flew "Warbirds" - much more military and aggressive names. The Defiant is officially designated as an "Escort Cruiser" despite it's design and actual role/abilities.
Losing My Communicator
- In the Original Series, Kirk and company would constantly get their communicators taken away. This, along with transporter malfunction and "interference" were dramatic ways of keeping them being saved with a quick "Beam Me Up, Scotty!". However in Patterns of Force, they introduced the extremely useful subcutaneous transponder whose purpose was to be able to lock onto the landing party if they were out of communication. In the episode, this was rendered null and void because Kirk didn't feel like faking another stomach cramp to make his escape. Instead, he and Spock used them to turn a light bulb into a laser. My question is why this little piece of technology has never been used since?
- Perhaps it is, but it wasn't as useful later. Notice that Next Gen ships usually know where any crewmember is at any time. Anyway, without communication, you can't tell if the landing party wants to leave.
- The whole point was it was to be used if they were unable to communicate with them. In other words, "If you can't contact us, assume we're in trouble and get us out of there." It's not applicable to all episodes but there are plenty of examples where it would have been.
- Point: Ships only know where the comm badge is at any time, not the crewmember.
- Wasn't something like that a minor plot point in Nemesis? Including part of the Dramatic Heroic Sacrifice scene at the end?
- Maybe they were issued, but didn't tend to actually work very well? Like 'here, have this transponder - nine times out of ten it craps out, but on the off chance it doesn't, it'll be pretty useful'?
- Neelix lampshades this in an novel - after the away team including him, Tuvok and the Captain are imprisoned he produces a phaser hidden in the heel of his boot and when asked if also has a communicator (their combadges having been removed) exasperatedly replies in the negative and asks why Starfleet doesn't just implant them into all personnel - their medical technology is good enough. Another novel with sequences set in an alternate future has Data using a built in communicator and if I remember correctly this is now standard practice for all Starfleet personnel.
- Implanted communicators are only useful if the opposition doesn't suspect you might have them. If they do suspect, they have a lot less reason to keep your captured crew members alive at all.
Vulcans Behaving Badly
- Vulcans are taught to actively try to suppress, purge, or otherwise ignore their emotions. While it does make a certain amount of sense, after a fashion (since their emotions are many times stronger than most species), why is it that they insist on perpetuating this slavish devotion to bad logic? It's been shown repeatedly that a Vulcan with his self-control broken (T'Pol, Spock, Tuvok) is infinitely more dangerous than the handful of Vulcans who nurture their emotions to keep them in check (such as T'Pol in the, oh, three good episodes of Enterprise). It would seem more logical to break with tradition and focus on safeguards for dealing with the emotions they can control than just hope it never reaches the point when they can't.
- Plenty of humans (especially guys — no offense!) still haven't grasped that concept.
- And moreover, Vulcan privacy issues are pretty illogical as well.
- Tuvok stated more than once that Vulcans don't "purge" their emotions or ignore them. The emotions still exist, they just work very hard to control them and keep them in check. Part of that process is acknowledging their existence.
- This. I consider the Voyager episode "Gravity" to be the episode anyone who wants to write a Vulcan to watch because it explores this deeper than any other episode in the franchise. (I know, high praise for a Voyager episode! I'm weirded out a little too ;) ))
- The Enterprise episodes set mostly on Vulcan deal with this issue. Surak's teachings were about the control of emotions through logic, not the elimination of emotions. The same episodes largely tried to retcon a bit of their portrayal of Vulcans circa ST: Enterprise with the suggestion that the Vulcans had drifted from Surak's teachings down the path of elimination, and that this marked the beginning of a revival of Surak's original teachings.
- Because logic was what saved them from wiping themselves out, and those who protested it became amoral Proud Warrior Race Guy Strawman Emotionals, I guess you can't really blame 'em for wanting to stick with the tried-and-true. Also, when you run down the list of illogical (and often emotional) cognitive biases that can distort our thinking, you almost empathize with them. And as for the danger of a Vulcan who's had their control broken, maybe they're just Genre Savvy enough to realize it's Fetish Fuel. (Okay, that last point was kinda a joke).
- Logical behaviour is an ideal they aspire to, not necessarily a state all Vulcans have actually reached. Also, in TOS, the way Spock tends to talk about logic could make one think that the use of the word 'logic' is actually just an approximate translation for Surak's teachings, and incorporates certain elements of behavior (like the whole privacy thing) which humans would consider illogical.
- Holy crap. That makes sense. Vulcans are illogical... according to the definition of logic understood by Western Earth cultures. It's a bad translation, because some thoughts just don't translate very well between languages and cultures.
Prime Directive, Who Needs It?
- The Prime Directive doesn't make any sense at all. What would be so horrible about a species that hasn't developed warp drives to find out about species that do? It's not any more shocking than experimenting with warp drives and have the Federation and a bunch of aliens showing up. Something about the warp drive seems to magically make it easier, and it makes no sense.
- Pre-warp versus post-warp makes a convenient dividing line for Starfleet. It probably wouldn't do that much harm if they made first contact with a species that already has stuff like the Internet and orbital spacecraft but no warp drive. But it could do a lot of harm if some Starfleet captain decided to bend the rules and make first contact with some culture that's still in the Bronze Age. So they just define Technology Levels with warp drive as the dividing line. It's arbitrary, but at least it protects the kind of society that would mistake Captain Kirk for a legendary demigod. Or it would, if Kirk followed the rules.
- It's easy to tell if a civilization has warp drive or not, whereas it might be hard to tell if they're advanced enough to make contact by other standards. For example, one popular science fiction standard for dividing 'advanced' from 'primitive' civilizations is the use of atomic power. But a civilization might simply not bother to invent nuclear weapons or nuclear reactors if they didn't have to fight a big war right around the time nuclear fission was discovered.
- On Enterprise some crew members were captured by a pre-warp society, believing them to be spies form another country. Reed suggested the idea of just telling the civilization the truth, reasoning how much contact with the Vulcans helped Earth. Archer specifically rejected the idea because this society hadn't split the atom yet. When Earth achieved warp travel right after WWIII, society was in a much more reasonable state. There is no absolute perfect strategy, and some bronze age people might be more ready then the microchip age, but the Federation wants to eliminate the gray area that's open to reinterpretation.
- It's a pretty safe bet that any culture advanced enough to build warp drives is mature and technically sophisticated enough that the arrival of aliens in CoolShips won't devastate or confuse them too badly. They've probably at least considered the possibility of running into aliens once they start exploring the galaxy, and they'll be familiar enough with machines to recognize that the visitors are not gods, but instead are just people with better machines than theirs.
- More importantly, there's the fact that once they develop warp drive, it's just a matter of time before they meet you or another alien species (Probably a generation or so as they perfect the drive and ships). If they can meet you, you can meet them. That's what makes it the convenient dividing point. Once they develop warp, the Federation drops in and says hi, before the newly space-traveling species ends up running into Romulan space.
- Exactly. To wit, from the TNG Episode "First Contact", Picard saying "We prefer meeting like this rather than a random confrontation in deep space." Basically a combination of the fact that a civilization that is warp-capable is hopefully mature enough (though not necessarily; see the Ferengi, Malcorians, and maybe others), but also because they are basically forcing the issue at that point.
- The EU implies there are other qualifications besides 'warp drive' they can hit, species just tend to hit warp drive first. It's not stated what they are, but interstellar subspace communication would logically be one of them, as that also would also quickly have them interacting with other civilizations. And we know contact with other space-faring species counts, once they are in contact with one group of aliens, contact with another group can't hurt them too badly.
- Cynically, if you wait for them to develop warp, they may come up with something better than you have— and if you beam down just after they figured out the can maybe meet other cultures, you've got the whole awe thing that SHOULD keep them from challenging you, and might get them to join your space club.
- But why worry so much about introducing yourself to a "primitive" and warp-less society? Really, what's the worst that could happen?
- You end up getting mistaken for gods and people start trying to sacrifice people for you, etc.
- That any jerk with a relatively cheap set of modern supplies could turn a whole planet full of sentient beings into his slaves?
- A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court. Enough said.
- That very example was discredited in "Time's Arrow."
- Enterprise makes the point that by waiting until the civilisation has invented Warp technology, then 'cultural contamination' would be lessened. I suppose they want the alien culture to be itself, rather than just a mimic / parrot of the race that gave them possibly the most important technology on a galactic scale. Promotes diversity, that sort of thing.
- More to the point of a matter-when the Federation DID try a pre-Warp first contact, it ended up with the primitive culture wiping out itself. Warp tech brings a level of understanding about the universe as well as the fact that most cultures that do it have started to do away with War, Poverty, Prejudice, etc. thus are * mature* enough to handle interstellar relationships. Hell, Babylon 5 shows what happens with primitive races getting FTL tech rather well.
- And all this is simplified, anyway. The Federation doesn't meddle in the international affairs of any (other) civilization at all, all the way up to their allies the Klingons. From the top to the bottom, the Federation stays out of the affairs of non-members. That is the 'Prime Directive', it's not 'Don't talk to pre-warp people'. (In other words, Sisko's tricking the Romulans into the war was a Prime Directive violation.) The Federation just consider informing civilizations that don't know about aliens (and aren't about to find out about them via their new warp drive) about aliens to automatically be 'meddling'. I wouldn't be surprised if this was actually a 'court decision' interpretation of the PD instead of actual written policy.
- It's an arbitrary metric designed to make the Prime Directive enforceable, it doesn't have to make sense. Without some kind of concrete standard the only thing a Starfleet captain has to rely on is his/her own individual judgment. And if the number of times Picard and Janeway have foolishly plunged their ships into unknown spacial anomalies is any indication, common sense and good judgment is not a required skill for a Starfleet captain.
- The scope of the Prime Directive seems to vastly increase between TOS and far surpass the mere notion of non-interference with pre-warp civilisation. The best example is when Picard flat out refuses to help Gowron (the lawful leader of the Klingon Empire - who were their ALLIES) against an attempt to overthrow him because it's apparently a violation of the Prime Directive. Not only that, Picard at another point openly admits that the Prime Directive has prevented them from helping races be EXTERMINATED. Not wanting to interfere with the development of a less advanced civilisation is one thing but they seem to treat the Prime Directive like some infallible all knowing oracle. It's hard to say whether that's crazy or just plain stupid.
- A rather effective demonstration of the increase in scope and dogmatification of the Prime Directive is in comparing the TOS and TNG reactions to finding a doomed world that the Enterprise can save without revealing to the world that aliens interfered - TOS had The Paradise Syndrome, in which the reaction is "Starfleet rules mandates that we save this civilization, if it can be done without revealing ourselves" while TNG had Pen Pals, in which the reaction is "Unless we can find a loophole, the Prime Directive forbids us from saving this civilization". From the perspective of a modern-day observer, it does look as if Starfleet forgot that the original purpose of the Prime Directive was to protect primitive cultures.
- It's merely a matter of self-protection: Any civilization capable of FTL travel is technically capable of building a spacecraft designed to crash into the Star Fleet HQ at relativistic speed, turning a good chunk of Earth into molten rock. So they figured it would be better for them to introduce themselves before things get awkward.
- Its one thing to forbid contact or trade. Perhaps that's pretty reasonable as allowing societies to develop and become reasonable enough to deal with. Where it gets stupid is stuff like not taking out a comet before it kills of a world full of people because they are too primative. Or allowing a world that's sophisticated enough to send distress messages into space if not travel far die because of plague or natural disaster.
- To play devil's advocate, the Federation's reasoning is probably that they can't possibly save everyone, and would wipe themselves out trying to rush around the galaxy and rescue every primitive society that faces extinction. And if they can't save everyone, then it's the height of arrogance to start picking winners and losers, choosing which planet should be saved from a purely natural disaster based on convenience, shared ideals or any other criteria. For that reason, as well as all the potential unintended consequences, the Federation's decided that it doesn't step in unless a society reaches out and asks for help. That's the rule Picard cited as justifying saving Data's pen pal; in that case, he was deliberately stretching the definition of a "call for help", but that the rule exists at all shows that the Federation isn't so much heartless as merely practical.
- We have a trope for this line of reasoning.
- Except the Federation has a partial solution. It helps anyone it's allowed to have contact with, and judging by all the vaccine deliveries, comet impacts to avert and other planetary-scale disasters of the week that send the Enterprise-D running ragged every other episode, that keeps them plenty busy as it is. Starfleet even saved the Klingons from extinction, and tried to save the Romulans too. Barring infinite resources, the line for delivering aid always has to be drawn somewhere, and the people on the other side of that line will always complain that it's not fair (and it's not, but it's also unavoidable).
- "Anyone it's allowed to have contact with"...'allowed' by whom, exactly? The Federation came up with the Prime Directive all on its own; it wasn't handed down by some nebulous higher authority. Thus, the above statement basically reduces to "The Federation helps whoever it damn well feels like", again. (The 'limited resources' argument is something of a Strawman here; nobody, I think, is seriously arguing that the Federation should actually try to take on all the galaxy's woes all by its lonesome, especially not those it's not even aware of yet. What's being questioned is the merit of a priori denying potential aid — as slippery a slope as that may sometimes be — to a sizable chunk of the galaxy's intelligent population based on nothing more than their technology level.)
- Are you out of your mind? The Prime Directive's rule against making contact with pre-warp level civilizations isn't some arbitrary piece of bureaucracy. It's because the implications of first contact for pre-warp civilizations can be disruptive at best and devastating at worse. And I'm not talking about simply "primitive" societies. If aliens made contact with Earth tomorrow it would probably trigger World War III. Imagine it from the aliens' point of view? What country do they make contact with first? Do they go through the UN? Is there intelligence about us even good enough to understand what the UN is and what role it plays in international law? What if one nation, or a hand full of nations feel threatened by the arrival of the aliens. What if they declare war on any nation that opens diplomatic relations with the aliens? What about religious fundamentalists who view the very idea of extraterrestrial life as blasphemous? There are a million things that can go horribly wrong, resulting in untold deaths, and that's with our reality advanced global civilization. Only making contact with warp-level civilizations makes perfect sense, because with a warp-level civ, it's ready or not, here they come. Before that point, the risks far outweigh any ethical duty to intervene. A case maybe could be made that if a pre-warp civ faced total extinction it would be better to accept the risks than see them wiped out, but any thing short of that, it would be the height of irresponsibility to make first contact with a civ that wasn't ready for it (though this makes some of the times Kirk et el break the Prime Directive major wall-bangers).
- Except that that entire argument was invalidated by Star Trek: First Contact. When the Vulcans made first contact there was no United Earth yet! In fact, the warring nations of Earth had only taken a breather and declared a ceasefire, not a peace treaty, from their nuclear World War III! This is why Lily Sloane assumed that the attacking Borg were really the Eastern Coalition resuming hostilities. The Vulcans did not even make first contract with a country, but with just the single, isolated, community from which the test flight of the Phoenix occurred! This was in 2063. As we had already seen in Encounter At Farpoint, barbarities would continue well after that until at least 2079. But the crew of the Enterprise-E is adamant that first contact with the Vulcans is what saved humanity from itself and caused them to pull together, which is why the Phoenix test flight had to happen on the specific day that the Vulcan survey ship would be in-system. If it happened so much as a day later, then humanity would still have warp drive, but might nonetheless plunge back into global war instead of heading to the stars! And then there would have been no Federation at all to push its Prime Directive gospel!
- According to Star Trek: Enterprise, it's a Vulcan policy that was indeed handed down to Earth Starfleet as part of the alliance, which at the time wasn't on any sort of equal footing. The Federation probably wouldn't have been formed if Earth hadn't conceded the Prime Directive to its biggest and most important ally. Besides, the Federation does have limited resources. By the TNG era it had already spread itself way too thin trying to help everyone it has contact with, acting more like an interstellar UN/Red Cross than a defensive fleet. When the Dominion showed up, Starfleet spent the first half of the war paying a devastating price for its diplomatic and humanitarian focus. If "too primitive" seems to be a sucky cutoff point for intervention and aid, it's a lot better than "outside our borders", which is what just about every spacefaring society apart from the Federation has declared.
- Ooh, ooh! Fridge Brilliance! Fridge Brilliance! Here's the reason for the seemingly "arbitrary" standard of warp capability: The Federation doesn't bother with non-warp species because non-warp species have no way of affecting the Federation in any way. Without warp travel, any given species is effectively limited to their own solar system. So why should the Federation bother with them? They're not a threat if they don't have interstellar travel. And if they're technologically advanced enough to build a warp drive but haven't yet, then they're obviously not interested in dealing with other races and are content to remain isolated.
- I think it's unethical for the Federation not to make contact with primitive civilizations (in a controlled, respectful way). By not offerring to share their medical advancements, the Federation is condemning countless beings all over the universe to preventable deaths.
- The risk of disruption to the primitive civilization far out weighs any benefit they would gain. There's also a strong argument that by handing out technology to civilizations who had not developed to a sufficient degree that the federation would be
- The risk of disruption to the primitive civilization far out weighs any benefit they would gain. There's also a strong argument that by handing out technology to civilizations who had not developed to a sufficient degree that the federation would be stunting the growth of that culture, and affecting it with untold unforeseen consequences. Ethically, the mere fact the Federation can prevent death is not the only factor to consider. Indeed, due to the dangers of contact with a culture unready for its implications, utilitarian calculus would dictate the ethical course of action is non-contact.
- At the end of the day, speaking from the perspective of a pre-Warp civilization myself, the Prime Directive just comes across as rather patronizing. "We will not make contact with your planet because in our wisdom we already know, without so much as needing said contact to inform our decision, that there is just no way you primitive screwheads could possibly handle it." In other words, it's the Federation's excuse to act as Neglectful Precursors.
- It's called a Bright Line Rule, and it's why it's illegal for a person one day away from their 21st birthday to buy beer, but legal for a person one day after his 21st birthday to do so. Warp capability makes perfect sense as a Bright Line test, since before that, the chances of the civilization is insular, but once it has warp drive it's only a matter of time before they make contact with an interstellar species, so let's make contact first before the Romulans beat us to it. Warp-capability doesn't seem to be the only standard for contact, if my memory serves, the civilization the Enterprise was observing in the episode "First Contact" was pre-warp, but the Federation was close to making first contact, so probably some sort of balancing test is also used, no doubt weighing factors like ethical advancement, political stability, lack of complicating factors like religious extremist sects or national factionalism etc. But warp-capability forces the issue of contact, because a warp-capable species just cursing around the galaxy with no knowledge of its other inhabitants is a recipe for trouble.
- It was fair enough for Picard to refuse Gowron's plea for help. After all, Duras had not attacked the Federation so there was no reason to get involved. However, when dealing with warp-capable empires, the Federations does do the right thing by indirectly getting involved. They couldn't help the Bajorans directly because it was a "legal" client world of the Cardassian Empire. Only way they could have helped would have been to push deep into Cardassian space to liberate the Bajorans. They did manage to apply political pressure by averting a Cardassian invasion and having Picard released from prison at a time when most Cardassians were getting fed up with the occupation as well.
- I always looked at it like the Federation didn't want to interrupt the evolution of a culture. Personally I can see why it would get annoying if some random aliens landed on my planet and paraded around with their technology. I figured that was why the Vulcans waited until we achieved Warp drive. This way you don't get a bunch of planets which are basically Federation clones by imposing your technology.
- The Federation wants to maintain trade and diplomatic relations with other cultures as equals. Primitive cultures have little nothing to offer other than as subjects of study. Saving people from natural disasters is, obviously, different from getting involved in a civil war. That being said, it doesn't make sense to have an absolute "no getting involved" policy apply to advanced civilizations like the Klingons. It would make more sense to say, "no getting involved without permission from higher-ups". But there's plenty of precedent for the Federation to help peacefully resolve conflicts as long as they're invited. They had Riva, after all.
- There is more than a little hypocrisy in play though (or at least Early Installment Weirdness). In the TNG episode Angel One, the titular planet supposedly has a 20th Century level of technology at the time the Enterprise-D shows up there, and apparently Starfleet had had prior contact with the planet 62 years earlier! This is either a massive case of Modern Stasis, or else the Federation happily made first contact with a pre-spaceflight civilization. Why? Well, one possibility is that the planet is conveniently close to the Romulan Neutral Zone, and it is explicitly stated that the Federation hopes to bring Angel One in as a member! This is especially appalling as it is not even clear from the episode that Angel One has spaceflight, much less being anywhere even close to warp drive! The most impressive technology they are shown to have is a device the size of a large piece of furniture that can apparently disintegrate a large vase or a person considerably less efficiently than a handheld Starfleet phaser — from Kirk's era! Apparently the Prime Directive can be waived in circumstances where the Federation feels like they would get some benefit out of ignoring it, such as acquiring a strategically valuable, if technologically and socially primitive, planet.
Why does having warp drive make a species "civilized"?
- Narrowing the Prime Directive focus down to this one item: on what basis is it argued that possession of warp drive technology is a reasonable threshold for differentiating "primitive" from "advanced" civilizations?
- As seen in Star Trek: First Contact, when Dr Zefram Cochrane conducted his test flight of the Phoenix in 2063, Earth had only just emerged from World War III, post-war problems plagued much of the planet and a unified world government with real authority would not solidify until the next century. So basically Earth was exactly the kind of planet that the Federation would normally avoid like the plague and it was largely a mistake on the part of the Vulcan's that they decided to make first contact with humans at that time.
- However, ironically (and hypocritically), Troi gives a speech to Cochrane about how his warp drive flight and first contact with the Vulcans are what causes humanity to pull together and become unified in the coming decades! In other words, by basically violating the principles behind the Prime Directive and getting involved in shaping the development of a violent, factionalized species just come out of decades of world war produced a positive result that led to the unification of the human race, the push for interstellar exploration and ultimately the founding of the Federation itself! Essentially: by "interfering" in a primitive civilization's development, the Vulcans actually ended up ensuring the future of entire Alpha and Beta Quadrants!
- But it still leaves the question of what made warp drive proof of sufficient progress as a civilization. Given that Earth was still divided into nations and post-war atrocities would continue for at least another couple of decades, all that this proved was that one human was a clever scientist. Otherwise, there was no indication that humanity was a truly civilized species. Indeed, the Vulcans of all people should have known that a species could have warp drive technology and still be barbaric and violent based on their own history! So why is this the key metric in the Prime Directive? Certainly pre-warp species that were much more civilized than 21st Century humanity have been shown (e.g. the Valakians).
- There is also an ironic case in "VOY: The Omega Directive". In the episode, a pre-warp alien civilization has nonetheless managed to create, and at least partially contain, the so-called "Omega Molecule", an incredibly difficult to produce but "perfect" compound which represents an incredible threat to spacefaring civilizations because it can permanently destroy subspace, making FTL Travel impossible within the effected area. This is a scientific accomplishment exceeding similar experiments conducted by both the Federation and the Borg! In fact, the Federation failure caused a local destruction of subspace and modest loss of life. The Borg attempt cost 29 cubes and over 600,000 drones! Janeway, thanks to the emergency powers granted to her by the Federation's Omega Directive, can even summarily suspend the Prime Directive itself due to the threat to interstellar civilizations posed by Omega! The entire incident, however, illustrates how a "pre-warp civilization" can exceed the technological accomplishments of warp-capable ones, to the extent of necessitating disregard of the Prime Directive.
- Civilizations that develop warp drive aren't exempt from the Prime Directive's protections/strictures because they're necessarily more "civilized" than others, they're exempt because they can go out themselves and contact other spacefaring races. The only realistic way to stop them from doing so would be to curtail their use of technology they'd independently discovered, which would be interference in itself. Hence, the Prime Directive vanishes in a Puff Of Logic Bomb.
- Which raises an issue, because civilizations that are warp-capable are deemed inherently more valuable than ones that are not. The Federation actively tries to recruit such civilizations. They will also bend over backwards to try to save such civilizations from calamities (as seen in episodes such as "Deja Q" and "True Q", wherein the mission of the Enterprise was specifically to save planets from a natural catastrophe in the first instance, and a self-inflicted environmental disaster in the latter. Were either civilization pre-warp, they would have instead been having a raging internal debate over whether or not the Prime Directive allows them to prevent extinction events!
Kirk Has Space Syphillis?
- In an episode of TOS, citizens of a beyond-Malthusian overpopulated planet kidnap Kirk and get him to pass some dangerous STI along to one of their women to thin out their population. Now how many Green Skinned Space Babes has the good captain mentioned this to? None!
- Possibly he got cured of the disease aboard the Enterprise after the events of the episode? Star Trek medical technology can cure nearly anything that doesn't leave you dead or crippled.
- It was implied the disease got transmitted through the wound on Kirk's arm which he didn't remember how he got (he was probably injured by his kidnappers). He was previously treated and was only a carrier; Odona received the same treatment at the end of the episode, so they could have their fatal disease and she could live.
- It also wasn't an STI. It was a type of meningitis. He needn't tell any space babes, green or otherwise.
Everybody's Mac Guyver
- Anyone ever notice that EVERY MEMBER of Starfleet is an engineering genius? I mean, yes, the chief engineer is supposed to be awesome like that, but everyone else seems to know far more about engineering than they should. When stranded on a planet, if any member of the crew has the parts, even members of Security or Command divisions, they can assemble any device. Sometimes, they don't even have the parts, just raw materials. This is generally absurd, and bugs the heck out of me. It makes me wonder why they even need anyone in engineering other than the Chief. Just have more security guys, and when they aren't needed put them in engineering.
- There was an episode in season one of TNG where a child who looks to be about ten years old was complaining about having to go to calculus class. I think you have your answer.
- Basically, a normal Starfleet officer is near what we consider expert level in several sciences, engineering, combat, law enforcement, and diplomacy. When you add a specialisation on top of that, you hit outright Future Badass level in that discipline. May have a slight connection to Evolutionary Levels.
- Think about this: the Academy (as nicely shown in the most recent movie) has enough cadets around to staff approximately eight to ten ships. These cadets are drawn from the finest students on every world of the Federation. We're almost literally talking about one in a billion talents for even the lowest security officer. Out of Earth's current population, there's probably only ten people who'd be good enough for Starfleet Academy.
- This also works the other way. In Deep Space Nine we see the main cast regularly shoot down Jem Hadar soldiers, which are supposed to be very tough. This main cast includes a Doctor, an Engineer, and a Science Officer. Admittedly, the Doctor is genetically engineered (But so are the Jem Hadar, and they also train from birth), the Engineer used to be a soldier, and the Science Officer is several hundred years old, but it should least appear that Worf, ya know, the actual Klingon Security Officer is better than these guys, yet it is rarely the case.
- Saying colloquially that Jem'Hadar are trained "from birth" is misleading, since they reach mature adulthood in a few days. Entire generations might not equal human lifespans, making Jadzia and Bashir more experienced in combat by virtue of having lived through more fights (across many more years).
- The main cast of Deep Space Nine may be in mostly non-combat professions, but they're still members of a military organization. And like any military organization, Starfleet obviously gives combat training to all of its recruits, not just its security officers.
- What we don't see is that the Jem Hadar train from birth against puppies. Space puppies, but still puppies.
- I think those are pretty big things to just count out, especially in the case of O'Brien and Jadzia. They know how to shoot a gun because of long experience, and guns are pretty equalising now matter how good Jem'Hadar are. It still stretches my ability to accept it when Jadzia beats Klingons or Jem'Hadar in hand-to-hand though, for all that Curzon was a master of Klingon martial arts...
- Jadzia doesn't just have old memories. It's indicated from early on that she stays in practice, and is one of the best hand-to-hand fighters on the station, and, though not quite as strong as Curzon was, still a superb athlete.
- Starfleet Academy is pretty much the U.S. Naval Academy In Space. At the Naval Academy, you automatically graduate with a bachelor of science regardless of the major you choose - in fact, they advocate choosing any major you want; you'll receive all the training you need when you get your ship assignments. So it's not too hard to imagine that the curriculum at the Academy includes basic training in pretty much everything you need to run a ship. The difference is the level of depth the technology is studied. Basically, the captain and company can make the Phlebotinum run the ship, but the engineer can make it sit up and beg.
- Also consider that the impressive skills of Starfleet Engineers is lampshaded on Deep Space Nine. A Vorta states that Starfleet Engineers can make rocks into replicators.
Brainwashing Fixes Everything
- The plot of the TOS episode "Dagger of the Mind" makes no sense at all. Why was Dr. Adams established as someone who had revolutionized mental health care only to be revealed as a Mad Scientist? What was his motivation for Brainwashing everyone in the penal colony? And why in heaven's name did he think he could get away with doing it to a starship captain? What was his plan? That the Enterprise crew would get bored waiting for Kirk and just go away? That sounds like a really dumb plan.
- At one point, Adams was a well-regarded and benevolent researcher. He just got too enamored of his new invention's potential, started using it far beyond ethical limits, became just as mad as his charges, and jumped off the slippery slope. He likely originally intended to brainwash Kirk into reporting nothing unusual, and when it didn't work, just monomaniacally kept trying.
- My memory is hazy, but are we conflating two characters? I thought the inventor was the one who went mad because his assistant used the mind erasure machine to get him out of the way.
- Here's how I understood the events surrounding that ep. Dr. Adams and his assistant both developed the tech together. They started testing it on patients, and it seemed to work. As they used it, Adams became more and more... unhinged at the power he had over the patients. The assistant, Dr. Van Gelder, wanted to report this to Starfleet, but Adams found out and had him brainwashed to stop people from finding it out, using the excuse of an accident. Then, enter Enterprise, who beams up the records, and Van Gelder. The ep plays out as we see and that's that. Why he became unhinged, I don't know. Could be the ol' absolute power stuff.
Starfleet's Run By Reed Richards?
- Why can't anyone in Star Trek ever seem to take their technology and use it in remotely intelligent ways? After the episodes with the extra Riker and the return of Scotty, for example, you'd think that transporters would be retrofitted to be savepoints. The Borg - why do they send giant obvious ships, instead of small subtle ships with drones built to blend in with the natives, and get everybody at once, by releaseing nanoprobes into the atmosphere, or at least convert key personel, so as to undercut defenses and have all the important data, like Friend-Or-Foe identification, and shut-down codes BEFORE they start the fight. So much technology, so few people actually using it remotely intelligently.
- The extra Riker created the same individual twice. Assuming it could be replicated, and they successfully accomplished it, it would be ridiculously immoral to actually do so. Scotty is a different case—he created a "save point," as you call it, but a) he couldn't get himself out, b) he couldn't do anything while inside it, and c) it didn't actually work—the other person locked in the transporter buffer degraded too much to be restored.
- That, and having a 'save point' of you doesn't make the original any less dead. From a purely military standpoint the ability to photocopy a human is useful, but in practice that's the sort of thing that results in mutiny or military coup — there's a not unreasonable fear you'd be used as a Red Shirt.
- The Borg don't care. The Borg aren't Yeerks, subtly infiltrating society in order to conquer them before they're even aware of it. They're a force. If they lose a few vessels, if they lose a few drones, no big deal. There are more. There are always more. Which is why they're effective villains. They're as malicious and as dangerous as a hurricane.
- Actually, in Dark Frontiers, when Seven and the Borg Queen are chit chatting, the Queen suggests a method of dispersing nanobots into a planet's atmosphere as a means of subtle assimilation. Given that in Scorpion Seven proposes a multi-gigatonne weapon that could spread the 8472 killing nanobots over LIGHTYEARS. You'd think that would be pretty handy.
- She wanted to do that nanobots in the atmosphere thing because they'd had two straight-up invasions fail. They would have happily kept sending cubes against the fleet if each one had brought them a little closer to their goal, but the complete and utter lack of progress led them to want to try other things. (Though why "other things" didn't start with "Let's send five hundred cubes through this handy-dandy transwarp corridor we've never gotten around to using" is a valid question.)
- Why rely so heavily on assimilation? Why not clone new drones with the sesired combination of traits?
- They would stagnate. The Borg know that they don't innovate, they merely add "biological and technological distinctiveness" to the Collective. Even their upgrades that they develop upon being introduced to new and interesting ways to destroy them is a technology stolen from another species. There is no species they could create that would be "perfect" enough for Borg sensibilities.
- Also, they do clone, or breed in vitro, new drones-to-be; at least, that was the implication of the "nursery" scene in their first appearance. Assimilating adults is just faster, and adds new information.
- Haven't you heard? Reed Richards Is Useless, so why should Starfleet be any better?
Send Out the Clones
- Why is the Federation filled with luddites? How can such an advanced society be so hung up about clones and genetic engineering? Whenever a genetically engineered or cloned person appears, the Enterprise crew reacts with awe and dread. Sometimes, the appearance of a clone warrants a commercial break.
- The Star Trek universe had some very bad experiences with gene engineering. The first large-scale effort unleashed a wave of augments that took over a fourth of the planet in the mid-80s and until the mid-90s, and the results were devastating... whenever the canon remembers them. Klingon attempts at genetic engineering on similar lines resulted in a plague that nearly killed off their entire species. Military technology enhancement projects or cloning likewise tend to have rather nasty results, presumably with the local universe (or at least Federation scientists) being predisposed to such issues. This has driven those fields to the edges of space and pseudoscience, with the resulting increase in similar mistakes and further enforced prejudices. The Federation Counsel is also a rather humans-only club, so they seem to suffer from a degree of Frankenstein syndrome.
- That's not even mentioning when TNG episode with the genetically engineered uberkinder who had immune systems so effective, they killed normal people...
- Wait, what? What on Earth gave you the impression that the Federation, the people who put touch screens on a pair of barbells, are in any way "luddites"?
- The problem with cloning and genetic engineering seems to be more of a fear of the past. As they said in one episode, "For every Julian Bashir, there's a Khan Singh waiting in the wings." Given the abysmal catastrophies that cloning and genetic engineering have created in the past, no one wants to take the chance again.
- But all of this emphasizes the Earth Is the Center of the Universe trope. The Eugenics Wars happened before humanity developed warp capability and were limited exclusively to Earth. The botched attempt to create Klingon Augments was an example of taking science that was already known to have bugs waiting to be fixed and injudiciously trying to implement it on a short timetable. None of this explains why the numerous other Federation species would have a ban on cloning and/or genetic engineering other than to accommodate human paranoia about it. On the other hand, some Federation species (e.g. Vulcans) have a suspiciously high number of very valuable adaptations. Is this because they found a little genetic fine-tuning "logical"? It would certainly account for why they are telepathic when Romulans do not appear to be. Betazoids are also suspicious, because their telepathy is just awesome (it works at really long range), which could leave one wondering why they even have the ability to speak vocally at all (after all, the Cairn can't). If their telepathy evolved very recently in their history, and their not-so-distant ancestors were not telepathic, that would explain why they can speak. But traits like that rarely spread through an entire species gene pool without either a lot of generations, or else artificial intervention.
Picard's No Solid Snake
- Where do people on Star Trek learn their infiltration skills? Whenever anyone sneaks into a facility, or up on someone, they have no silenced weapons, night vision goggles, flash grenades, or, in case things get real messy, combat knives. If a guard accidently discovers them, they don't silently put a bullet in his head or slit his throat. Instead, they take him out, from a distance, with a glowing, noisy beam of plasma. In Star Trek VI, the Undiscovered Country, for example, a sniper tries to take out the president (or kung fu master). The assasin fails but still. No self-respecting sniper would fire at a target with a noisy, glowing beam of plasma that can be traced back to the sniper's position. Every Star Trek show does this. When they're scoping tangos, they don't do it through rifle scopes. Hell, they usuaully don't have rifles to begin with. Usually, the only ordinance that they carry with them is their dustbusters which shoot noisy, glowing beams of plasma. Now, I know the Federation has a code against killing with hand weapons. Phasers are almost always set to stun, even if the other guy has a supernova disruptor pointed at them. But come on!
- A couple points: First, when they have rifles, they don't need an optical scope, they have sensors and a display screen tied into a computer assist that lets them fire off-axis. Second, that I recall, when Starfleet crew were sneaking around, they beat down/nervepinched/sedated opposition far more often than they used phasers. (I do, though, agree that knives would have been very helpful.) Third, Colonel West's scheme in STVI, with his Klingon disguise, would only have worked if he was seen—you can't blame someone you can't (mis)identify. Following from this, he likely didn't intend to survive; if the imposture was to be maintained, suicide by disintegration would have been far more practical than evading capture after being spotted.
- Because the Star Trek universe is populated by idiots who have never heard of the concept of "combined arms".
- Degradation of warfare mentality due to a shift in combat norms. Most warp-capable species do the majority of their fighting via ship-to-ship combat, having found more enemies out in space than on their own worlds. Consequently, they don't employ snipers as often, and so have forgotten/neglected a lot of the applicable tactics for them.
Boldly Going Where No Waiter's Gone Before
- Why do restaurants and bars still need wait staffs? Why don't they just put food replicators at everybody's tables? It's not like Quark, Whoopie Goldberg, Neelix and Sisko's father need jobs, right? Nobody does. Because they don't use money, right?
- I always considered the entire "They Don't Use Money in the Future" to be a load of hogwash, so in my eyes they do need jobs.
- Neelix they needed him because they had to cut down on replicator usage. As for Sisko's father there's a theory here that doing stuff like having a restaurant earns you prestige or something. For Quark, I think people go there for entertainment as well. For Whoopie, I got nothing.
- You don't see why someone would want to develop a relationship with a bartender? I love my favorite bartenders, I'd miss them so much if I stopped drinking there or they quit or whatever, and they don't have a tenth of Guinan's insightfulness.
- I always thought Sisko's father had a resturant just because he enjoyed cooking and serving people. As for the waiters i've got nuffin. Acutally what do humans do in a world where we don't need money and everthing is handed to you on a replicated plate?
- Captain Picard said in First Contact, "we work to better ourselves". Draw from that what you will.
- Whoopie was a morale officer, someone who you could talk to about your problems or whatever and someone who wasn't required to answer to anyone (so she wouldn't have to tell your secrets if she was ordered to). Also she was immortal, had lived for a long time, was present in events in the past that the Enterprise crew was part of, and also knows a lot of unwritten information on species and et cetera. Besides, when you go to a bar or restaurant, you're actually not buying the food (well, you ARE, but), what you're buying is the ambiance, the freedom from having to clean up after yourself, the possible chance of meeting someone new or interesting, and the chance to try food that you wouldn't be able to cook, or in this case, food that you wouldn't think to replicate on your own. If everyone didn't find a point for having social interaction over dinner where they didn't have to clean up the mess, we'd probably just see everyone as incredibly anti-social shut-ins who just eat replicated gruel in their quarters.
- "Whoopie was a morale officer, someone who you could talk to about your problems or whatever and someone who wasn't required to answer to anyone (so she wouldn't have to tell your secrets if she was ordered to)." WOW. That's an...interesting angle to take. Now I'm wondering even more why anyone listens to Counselor Troi if she can be ordered to violate doctor-patient confidentiality by anyone who outranks her.
- Or maybe, just like everyone else in the Federation, they were waiting table/tending bar because they wanted to. Hell, if you've got replicators and holodecks, you only ever do something because you want to.
- Replicators just generate a whole MESS of problems - the only things that are of any value are the random things that are unreplicatable. This is presumably why Deep Space Nine dedicated an episode or two to playfully skirting around the issue of the nebulous economic mechanics... but of course, one gets to thinking that if you can replicate just about anything in a starship... and get to making a really, really big replicator, shouldn't it become possible to just put in the materials, hit the button and create a ship in a minute or two?
- Deep Space Nine had the wormhole mined with Rom's cloaked self-replicating mines... Assuming that these mines can maintain their number indefinitely... isn't this a big ol' conservation of mass violation? Should these mines run amok, couldn't they fill the universe?!
- On the subject of the restaurants... if there was a replicator at every table, then that would completely defeat the purpose of having a restaurant, because people go to restaurants because they want non-replicated food. Quark still tens bar because the drinks he serves are real, not replicated, and you still need a bar tender to mix them. Same thing for Guinan. And honestly, for places that use a mix of replicators and real food like Quark's and Ten Forward, it just eats up more power to have a replicator at every table than to have a half dozen and some waiters.
- As for why people do it, other than 'because they want to' (since one might suppose that being a waitor is only the ideal job of a select few people) jobs in the service industry might be a way to earn passage into space, exploration, etc. without necessarilly joining Starfleet. Since we only see civilian ships every once in a blue moon, one gets the impression that anyone who wants to leave their planet and isn't a genius-level Starfleet recruit has to get creative about it.
- Also, I'd imagine there's a higher work-life balance for someone with a lower level job. Someone with the aptitude and ambition can be a revered Starfleet captain, but they'll have to put off any hope of a personal life 'till after retirement. Alternately, someone who wants to spend more time with their family or pursue their outside interests could take a job like being a waiter and, though they don't get the prestige and power, they only have to work at a nearby restaurant for a few hours a day. It's much the same reason people choose different jobs today, except money doesn't factor into it anymore.
- As for having a waiter job or running a business, why not? It gets you out of the house. Cabin fever is a bitch.
- Why be a waiter? Because in this society where money isn't important anymore, what matters is your skill and your ability. Waiting tables at one of the most popular and successful Cajun restaurants in the city is a perfect way to learn the trade so that, when you are ready, you can go open your own restaurant, having learned at the hands of the master.
- Several times in DS9 cooked meals were described as "better than that replicated stuff". Replicated things might be good, but it could not be the same quality as if it was made "the old fashioned way". I guess you could apply the same thing to the replicating starships idea, will they have the same sort of stress tolerance a traditionally built ship have? So yeah, people go to restaurants because they want to eat something good.
Transporters Got No Hard Drives?
- If someone is dying of an incurable illness, why let them die? All you have to do is store them in a transporter and reassemble them once a cure is found. Equally, I love when they have to beam a severly injured person to sickbay, the medical staff runs around and acts like an ambulance is in-bound. Well, there's no reason for that. An injured person can be stored in the transporter and reassembled, perhaps weeks later, when the medical staff is ready to work on him. Therefore, all the Star Trek "ER" scenes are absurd. As long as transporters are around, there should never be more than one patient in the ER at once.
- Case in point - Transporters come with biofilters that can apparently screen out viruses and other nasties...
- People can't be stored in the transporter for weeks safely. (Although if someone can be stored for decades with a 50% failure rate, like Scotty and the other guy, logically a week should have about a 0.001% failure rate, which is probably worth it simply to set up the surgical room in advance.) However, that doesn't change the fact they can be stored for hours just fine, and thus scenes like what happened with the Doctor above, where two patients show up at exactly the same time and one is left to die while the other is treated, shouldn't happen. Especially since, IIRC, they were both beamed into sickbay. You'd think the transporter operator would store them and dole them out whenever the doctor asked for them.
- Keep in mind that Scotty had to pull off a lot of jury rigged Applied Phlebotinum to make his suspended animation trick work. Most of the time, if the transporter chief doesn't either complete the tranport or send them back within a matter of seconds, they're dead. Of course, this doesn't explain why things didn't change once they'd found out how Scotty made it work.
- Worse yet: we know they have stasis fields, so why don't they have a nice, medical stasis room, beam the extra casualties there, and then beam them out when there's room on the table? It's not like being beamed is equivalent to the normal problem with moving highly injured folks.
- Of course the fact that their bodies can be stored in the holodeck is even worse, Fridge Logic-wise. I'm pretty sure the holodeck can duplicate characters. So stick their bodies, without their minds, in there, work on them, if you save them, beam them out, if you don't, work from a backup of their body. Even if you only get an hour or so before their 'pattern degrades', it's still safer.
- They probably don't do that because they're afraid of Professor Moriarty, Minuette, or even program Riker 6.
- Actually the Doctor does something similar to this in the Voyager episode, "Lifesigns" (2x19)
- This always bugged me too. Especially this: if you're beaming someone up with horribly life-threatening wounds, you're completely disassembling them and reassembling them on the transporter pad atom by atom. Well, why not simply reassemble them WITHOUT all the horribly life-threatening wounds? If fact, you could create a literal fountain of youth if you decided to reassemble them so they were physically much younger (like in TNG: "Rascals"), though maybe a little bit older, like 18 or 21.
- Because seen from a molecular level, most organisms are extremely complex. It's one thing to dis- and then reassemble something after a template, but actively changing things? The results could be Nightmare Fuel.
- Indeed, the transporters seem not to have anything like our hard drives, though they do have a kind of storage. To do some Wild Mass Guessing, I'm thinking that the Duotronic and Isolinear technology they mention using in the future are actually greatly sophisticated versions of our analogue technology. While the exact nature of these new technologies is never detailed (because they're Phlebotinum, after all), I'm thinking that since transporters work with material down to the quantum level (with its Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle), they are unable to quantify the objects and people they transport as data; those storage buffers are more like a tape or an old LP than any kind of digital disc or hard drive; as such, a high-quality pattern buffer (such as the one storing Scotty and his doomed comrade) might be able to maintain the integrity of a stored pattern for a very long time the way a golden LP can store a sound pattern for eons, whereas a somewhat cheaper and lower-quality buffer can only store it for a short while the way a vinyl LP might only store a sound pattern for several decades. (The Cardassians who built the transporters on Deep Space Nine, for instance, seemed to value any given technology's immediate effectiveness over its long-term efficiency, so theirs was probably a lower-quality pattern buffer.)
Whatever the buffer's quality might be, however, the pattern would degrade with each attempt at materialization just as an old LP's sound quality degrades a bit each time it's played. Considering the horrific things the misplacing of just a few molecules could do to people at the cellular level (such as puncturing their cell membranes or shattering their DNA), such degradation would make it virtually impossible to keep a humanoid "on file" for more than one or two attempts at re-materialization before he or she (or it) would be unrecoverable. "Save points" for humanoids are therefore highly unreliable and only used as a last resort as in Scotty's case.
- This kind of broaches a question about medicine and transporters: There have been a number of instances (The Enemy Within, Lonely Among Us, Unnatural selection, et al.), in which the transporter has been used to cure various afflictions. In Unnatural Selection, a major plot point involves the crew frantically searching the ship for a sample of Dr. Pulaski's DNA because she doesn't have a transporter record on file; planning to use it to restore her body to the state it was in before she became ill. If they can use the transporter like this, shouldn't it be a virtual panacea for everyone who has a transporter pattern filed away? Why don't they use the transporters to treat everything from a broken bones to ebola?
Where Did All the Religious People Go?
- What's up with Star Trek and religion? Other species seem to have it, but all humans have is some weak New-Agey Stuff. Even Chakotay's practice isn't for a specific tribe. We don't even know whether they are from Latin America or North America (the show gives evidence to both). It seems odd that in a culture where you or your loved ones could drop dead at any moment (hey, all those red shirts had families) and a good percentage of the population spends their time staring into the dark void of space, organized religion wouldn't have any appeal.
- Well... the "real" answer is that Gene Roddenberry was a secular humanist and a Writer on Board.
- What do you want them to do? Have Commander Goldman eating a bagel while reminding the captain he can't work on Saturday? For one, it can get offensive pretty easy just like my example. For two it's the 24th century. All religions that exist now still exist, but people aren't jerks about trying to force their religion's dogma on the rest of the universe anymore. Also we always see military installations, and usually when people are on duty. That's not an appropriate time to discuss religion. In fact, there have been religious humans in Trek. (a catholic in TOS, Joeseph Sisko quotes from the bible, and it's implied O'Brien's wife is a buddist, just off the top of my head) As a further note, some forms of Islam and Hinduism both forbid military service. That's one of the in-universe reasons that there are so few South Asian and Middle Eastern crew members on starships.
- Funny you mention 'forcing dogma' since I could say the same thing about any philosophy, including atheism. There isn't any such thing as neutrality. Also, if you seriously believe that your faith or philosophy is the best, would you not want to let others know about it so they too could benefit from it? Telling those that are interested about your faith is not forcing anything. Forcing others to join anything at bayonet point to join anything, however, is a problem.
- How do they handle things like the Cmdr. Goldman example in today's military?
- It's also a documented fact that religious belief (on Earth anyway) is negatively correlated with widespread scientific understanding of the universe. Put simply, in Star Trek science has advanced to the point that many of the Earth religions relying on miracles and such are simply viewed as incompatible with what's known about reality. Most people simply don't believe in them anymore for this reason. Remember, Starfleet personnel are some of the best educated people around. Education is also negatively correlated with religious belief.
- Not negatively enough, according to the Harris Poll. Yes, there is a difference, but that still left 85% of postgraduate degree recipients having some sort of religious beliefs. Most people find their religious beliefs go just fine with their education. This troper has not found that her two science degrees have harmed her (Christian) beliefs in any way, nor do most others of her religion; it seems likely the same is true of most Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and other educated religious people. No, I think we can safely say this is a Writer on Board case.
- I couldn't figure out which of the many polls listed you were referring to, but I'll take your word for it. Harris polls of Americans are just a little irrelevant because of the off the charts level of religiosity Americans demonstrate when compared to our peers. In the broader Western world, far fewer educated people believe in Christianity or other miraculous religions. Surveys of members of the Royal Academy of Sciences (UK) and the National Academy of Science (USA) show that a vast majority of the best scientists in these two countries do not believe in a god. When you consider that the humans portrayed on Star Trek would probably be the equivalent of members of the Academies, it makes perfect sense that few are religious. This troper has found that nearly all of her friends who achieve a M.S. do not remain believing Christians. Some become deists, but most become atheists or agnostics.
- Your experience does not equal reality. Bluntly, religion is something that's not remotely disappearing. Europe had this view for a while and now seems to be uncomfortably aware it's not just the United States that seems to have an overfondness for it.
- "Religion = Christianity" is another strictly American POV. Europeans tend not to have the cultural assumption that you can't be spiritual or Deist. If you correct the questions to allow for a range of results rather than just asking "are you a Fundie?", you'll find them to be much more balanced regardless of education level.
- "Education is negatively correlated with religious belief"? — Learn what Jews believe about education, study Jewish and Islamic history, and see if you still think that. Not all religious belief, not even all Christian belief, is blind, mindless faith.
- Er, am I the only one who remembers that in Star Trek: Generations, Picard meets his (imaginary) family when they're celebrating Christmas? Or that the Hindu Festival of Lights was mentioned as one of the ship's scheduled events during "Data's Day"? Religion isn't shoved in people's faces at every turn, but it's still there.
- This troper is an atheist and celebrates Christmas, too. Not for religious reasons but because it's nice to spend some time with the family now-and-then.
- Real reason: Because Gene Roddenberry was a silly, silly man with an unrealistic concept of the future. As for all the new-agey/Eastern religion floating around the Trek-verse, ask yourself what kind of religious beliefs are popular in Hollywood today.
- That can't be it, there are no Scientologists on board.
- Okay, correction. Consider what kind of religious beliefs were popular in Hollywood back when TNG was in its hey-day.
- Gene Roddenberry had a lot of liberal beliefs he tried to imbue in his creation. While this isn't as noticeable in TOS, by TNG he had gained Protection from Editors and set about painting his vision of what humanity could, should, and would be like in the future, if only it tried. This included things like atheism, tolerance, communism, technolgical advancement, abundance, noninterventionism (the prime directive), and other such ideas that he liked and that he thought would be great improvements to the human race (note episodes like "Encounter at Farpoint" and "The Neutral Zone," where Roddenberry's disgust and contempt for the history and present state of humanity is contrasted with his idealism and optimism that we would one day rise above it all). Thus, no religion for the Federation in Star Trek. Mind you, this has weakened a bit since his death.
- Shatner and others had their own opinions on it. William maintains the "God" of the Undiscovered Country was actually the Devil.
- If you were aware of beings like Q, wouldn't you question your religious beliefs?
- Maybe, but I'd also expect our most vocal thorough-going atheists who are so sure that empiricism and rational thought (as they choose to define it) can explain everything to question their antireligious beliefs.
- Huh? How does that logic work, exactly? Given all the God Like Beings floating around the Trek universe with rational scientific explanations behind them, why would running in to Q make any atheist or skeptic more likely to reverse their position?
- Feel free to scientifically explain the Q for us. If you can.
- Yes, feel free to scientifically explain a species who's very shtick is that they operate on a level of scientific understanding that is as far beyond us as we are beyond microbes. That's a perfectly logical argument. The Q aren't gods, they just have more understanding then we do. The same is true of all beings like them. See: Sufficiently Advanced Alien
- This is a Necker cube. Q and related beings are aliens who "may as well" be gods. Perhaps the distinction is hairsplitting. Should this make the Star Trek theists reconsider their views (the alien side of the argument "beats" the deity side), or atheists (vice versa)? Perhaps it's impossible to say by definition.
- "The Q aren't gods, they just have more understanding then we do." That's a pretty big assumption. How do you know the Q are using anything even approaching science to do what they do? At the end of the day, "we can't explain it, therefore God did it" and "we can't explain it, therefore it must be a science we don't understand" are basically the same statement. You're making an assumption based on little more than what you prefer to believe.
- They don't fit the traditional philosophical definition of "God". They're not all powerful. Beyond that, I don't know of any precise traditional definition of a god, so it's a matter of opinion whether you want to call them gods or not.
- Also, there's no actual factual issue in dispute here. Whether gods or not, the Q "use science" to do what they do in that whatever they do follows the rules that any correct scientific theory would advocate. This is true of any and all possible gods/God, and whatever they do, no matter how miraculous; by definition, within the fictional universe where they exist and do those things, they fit within what a *correct* scientific theory allows. It just may not be the type of theory we're used to (though neither is quantum mechanics, which already allows for "miracles" of a sort). And the Q may not "use science" in the sense of understanding the science behind why what they do is possible, although if they're as knowledgeable as they say they are, they probably do understand. But it may not be the understanding, or any sort of technology, that allows them to do it. None of this bears in any obvious way on the question of whether "god" is the proper term for what they are.
- "They don't fit the traditional philosophical definition of "God". They're not all powerful." That's A philosophical definition of God. Not THE philosophical definition of God. Many if not the majority of cultures on Earth did not use that definition. The Ancient Greeks, for instance, did not consider their Gods to be all-powerful. They had limits. They could be tricked. They could even be killed. Yet we still call them Gods. How are the Q any different?
- But this is a fundamental problem that would be just as applicable to existing Earth religions, including Abrahamic ones. Remember McCoy's little breakdown over the Genesis Device? "God created the world in six days. Now, watch out, here comes Genesis! We'll do it for you in six minutes!". Every single miracle in the Bible could be matched or outdone by the Q at will. Thus raising the question of the No Such Thing as Space Jesus problem. An Atheist could readily argue that the Bible could be literally true, except that "God", was a Q or even a less powerful but still godlike being. Believers would have to fall back on non-Biblical theology regarding the creation of everything from nothing by God, because the Bible does not really explicitly state that God created what later people would call the universe. It also creates the problem of an ever-greater distance between beings like humans and any kind of being that would be beyond the likes of the Q.
- Q fits right into a pagan-type pantheon, so an atheist of the type who denies the existence of anything remotely like pagan gods should question their beliefs. But an atheist who simply denies the traditional definition of the Abrahamic God is still safe. Q are not all-powerful, as we learn later; different Q can overpower each other. They are also clearly not infinitely good, and seem not to know everything either, at least as concerns the plans of other Q, despite claims to the contrary. On the other hand, Abrahamic theists are safe too, at least as safe as they are now; there could still be an all-powerful true God who is simply just as hands off about the actions of the Q as he is with other (sometimes annoying) powerful beings.
- Let's look at this perspective. For primitive civilizations, we're basically reality warpers. The primitives don't have the sufficient science to explain them, and that's why they end up dismissing us as Gods (Fundies insisting that everything is A Wizard Did It is a pretty much cancerous obstacle on science for far too long). The most iconic example of Clarke's Third Law is the tech-worship Cargo Cult. Now extend that parallel to the Federation's perspective on the Q. Sure the Q may be Reality Warpers, but the most important difference is that the Federation is actually rational enough to see them objectively for what they are (extra-terrestrials) instead of dismissing "Qdidit" and torturing and killing each other screaming "My Q is better than your Q!"
- I don't know, but I'm pretty sure I saw some Space Fundies in the episode Let He Who Is Without Sin.... They were complaining about the sinful ways of Risa or something like that.
- They were complaining that the Federation citizens had become complacent while the Dominion was aggressively encroaching on the Alpha Quadrant. Whatever your opinions on the quality of their message, it had zero religious content whatsoever.
- I write Star Trek fanfic and myself and others on my fanfic site have written characters with religious beliefs. My theory is that they're still there; after all, Sisko's dad once quoted the Bible. They've just restructured themselves to do away with the "God made marriage for one man and one woman!", "Jesus said I can have guns!", "The path to Allah is terrorism!" soundbytes and all that crap. Now, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and others are structured to being a better person, teaching about love, understanding and tolerance, which is still important if the Federation is to keep the moral high ground.
- No offense, but it sounds like you just watered down religious beliefs into meaninglessness, particularly with the 'marriage' example. According to the Bible (since most of those using that phrase are Christian) marriage can easily be found to be defined as being between one man and one woman, not so much for those of the same gender. The fact that there is even a debate over this anywhere that once called itself Christian shows just how much (lack of) belief affects a culture. It might make more sense to say that religions are there but, with no extremely large percentage, especially when you go past Earth to include all the different cultures just within the Federation, they have less of an effect on the culture of the Federation as a whole than if the number of their numbers were larger.
- Acceptance of same-sex marriage does not necessarily mean a loss of Christian faith. You'd be surprised at the number of Christian churches that now accept LGBT members, ordain non-celibate LGBT clergy, and perform same-sex marriages or covenants. There's even a movement within the Mennonites to allow these things. Religion evolves just like everything else.
- In many ways, Gene Roddenberry's death opened the Star Trek canon to considerable improvement on this subject, widening the theories and interpretations available.
- We get to see the Klingon religion that comes off sounding remarkably Judeo-Christian for all that it denies its Messianic figure is a Messiah or that its Devil is a Devil.
- If you're referring to Fek'lhr, that's definitely not the same thing. Fek'lhr is an avatar of punishment (and not considered a deity by Klingons). Whereas the Devil is the personification of evil itself. Fek'lhr is closer to Cerberus or Hades.
- The Bajorans have their Prophets, bringing up the question of whether there's really any meaningful distinction between a Sufficiently Advanced Alien and God (or at least, gods).
- The Dominion and its Founders took this question even further in the case of the Vorta, who considered their genetic benefactors a kind of deity. (When Odo questions whether the Vorta are genetically programmed to worship the Founders, the one in his care replies along the lines of "Well, of course; that's what gods do!")
- Chakotay on the Voyager had his odd Native American beliefs, although he acknowledged there was a strong scientific explanation for the inner workings of most of its practices.
- Vulcans, the Ocampa, and Talaxians all have some concept of souls and the afterlife, although Neelix has his faith rather badly shaken at one point. Also, when McCoy asked Spock about what the afterlife was like, Spock told him that basically he had no frame of reference in common with McCoy by which to explain it; if he wanted to know, he'd have to die and pay the afterlife a visit himself.
- Even the Borg have a kind of religious reverence for the Omega Particle, though Seven of Nine indicates their idea of "worship" is to assimilate it at all costs. (They want perfection, this God particle represents perfection, and therefore they must assimilate it.)
- Evidently, the religions and religious peoples of Star Trek haven't gone anywhere. Gene Roddenberry just couldn't see them through his biases. Moreover, the series is not committed to just one point of view: the future is neither an atheist utopia, a garden of New Age synergism, nor yet a theocratic paradise; it's more like an enormous zoo in which religion has even more competing species than biology does.
- Whether someone is religious is a lot more than just whether you understand science. It has more to do with what kind of person you are and what your individual experiences have been. The Federation, or even a single starship, represents a much wider sampling of people than, say, America, so it would vary a lot, but I don't think religion is somehow extinct in the 24th century because of space exploration. One of the themes of Star Trek is that the universe is a big, big place and there are many things we can't explain, even with super-advanced technology, such as Q, the Bajoran prophets, various anomolies-of-the-week, etc. As for what we see on the show, it's likely a Federation ship takes a pretty neutral position, considering just how many religions there are, and there isn't any ship-wide celebrations or religious holidays. People are probably left to practice on their own or in independent groups and maybe there's a policy on time off.
Religion Part II: Nontheistic Religions and Sufficiently Advanced Aliens?
- An interesting question regarding religion arises when one considers nontheistic religions such as Buddhism, which in the present-day real world has roughly one billion adherents on Earth. For those faiths that do not take a firm stance one way or the other on the existence of a Creator deity, what is the impact of the scientifically-proven existence of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens and documented instances of individuals and entire species having Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence on these religions?
- Buddhism would seem like the most obvious religious beneficiary of the discoveries made by Starfleet. Essentially, it has been demonstrated many times that it is possible to achieve a higher state of being, and even to transcend the physical body entirely. The rather Buddhist-like Organians calmly noted that none of their race had died in a long time, and they demonstrated Psychic Powers great enough to put a stop to a Federation-Klingon interstellar war and impose a peace treaty on both sides. They are virtually poster children for Buddhist philosophy and theology.
- Vulcans, interestingly enough, also have a religion, which also has a definite Asian/Buddhist flavor to it. They are known to meditate, pray and practice observances in temples, although they no longer appear to venerate any particular deities.
- But how does this fit with Federation law about No Transhumanism Allowed, when the explicit goal of a number of religions is to transcend biological humanity? Does the Federation permit the concept as an abstract theology, but legally oppose any efforts to actually ascend, since it is known to be possible to do so?
Religion Part III: Evolution is God?
Commander William Riker:
If there is a cosmic plan, is it not the height of hubris to think that we can, or should, interfere?
TNG: "Pen Pals"
- There seems to be a very strong belief in Goal-Oriented Evolution amongst Federation people, in particular humans. In addition to their No Transhumanism Allowed policy, on various occasions when the Prime Directive is under debate the arguments frequently end up turning towards the notion of a "cosmic plan" or that Evolution is a purpose-driven force whose decisions should not be questioned. By that argument, isn't Evolution therefore a "God"? And if so then how is this reconciled with the well-known fact that Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, including ones such as the Q who could legitimately claim godhood, routinely intervene in the multiverse with a casualness that clearly demonstrates their disdain for the idea behind the Prime Directive? Does this mean that Evolution and the "cosmic plan" are above even omnipotent beings such as the Q? Are the Federation closet theists without even realizing it?
Never the Continuities Shall Meet?
- For as much completely awesome (and completely stupid) stuff the writers from the shows come up with, aside from a few major events and the races, they never really like to cross-link the series. Obvoiusly, within each series there are exceptions, and while TNG referenced the most of TOS (what with all the original crew showing up and doing stuff), I really expected them to do more with things from the past, especially during the Voyager run. In particular, even though he's a Creator's Pet, ...Wesley. The last we see him (in the series) is when he goes off with The Traveller, which is who he should have stayed with. But to bring him back for an episode of VOY just to show that he is kickin' around subspace and travellin', that'd be a nice treat. Not to mention the guys who sent the probe out in IV.
- Voyager bump into a TNG plot in False Profits... and Deep Space Nine had the Mirror Universe and used the Riker clone from TNG... Not to mention that TNG talked to Quark once or twice and TNG, Deep Space Nine and Voyager all started with increasingly gratuitous guest stars.
- Deep Space Nine also revisited the Iconian gateways from an early TNG episode, and made reference to TOS's episode "Arena" through Kassidy Yates (she came from the same colony that was attacked by the Gorn back then, implying that the Gorn and Federation have put aside their differences). Deep Space Nine, oddly enough, often seemed more prone to casual continuity nods than the other series.
- For the most part, writers like creating new stuff better than pandering to continuity porn. It's also rumoured that more than once writers and directors were either chosen because they weren't hardcore fans, or specifically instructed to come up with new stuff, because new material tends to be better received.
- On a related note, Deep Space Nine seems to contain more nods to TOS because some of the main writers (such as Ron Moore) were big hardcore TOS fans, while VOY writers such as Brannon Braga weren't. In the Deep Space Nine Companion book, Ron Moore says that it was easier to remember obscure facts from TOS episodes he watched as a kid than main plot points of TNG episodes he'd written only a few years previously.
USS Stands for United States... Wait, What?
- Why the names of Federation starships start with "USS" (USS Enterprise, USS Voyager, etc.)? USS is the shortcut for: "United States Ship", right? But in the Star Trek universe the USA is only a part of the planet, which is only a small part of the Federation. Why not name them like: "UFPS Enterprise" (United Federation of Planets Starship Enterprise)?
- I think it's been said somewhere U.S.S. stands for "United Space Ship" or "United Star Ship".
- United Star Ship. The distinction between a "Starship" and a "Spaceship" is important in TOS (moreso in the early EU. In Best Destiny, Enterprise is revealed to be the first starship. IIRC, spaceships bear names using just "S.S." instead of "U.S.S.". Also, the dedication plaque next to the bridge turbolift says that the Enterprise is "Starship Class". 'Course, this got totally dropped in the TNG era.) What I want to know is: What does 'NCC' mean?
- Naval Construction Code. In other words, it indicates a ship built for (and presumably by) Starfleet, as opposed to a ship built for some other purpose (like a cruise liner or a cargo carrier). The NX prefix used in a couple of ships that are first of their kind is Naval Experiment.
- Just a guess but maybe the ships are registered in the same numbering series as Federation (or maybe Earth) civilian ships, "NCC" happened to be the next full 0000-9999 block of numbers available and the equivalent of the DMV found it easier to hand it over to Starfleet than register each new ship individually upon completion.
- The Excelsior is NX-2000 when it's brand new and the Transwarp testbed, but when it's still in use 80 years later in various TNG episodes (and I think when Sulu commands it in Undiscovered Country) it's been reclassified NCC-2000.
- Possibly they did: United Federation of Planets Star Ship.
- Outside of the storyline, the naming mimics American ships— this troper served on the USS Essex, LHD-2, and is still impressed at how many folks can rattle off ALL of the Enterprises from the USN.
- Third and fourth posters have it right. The rest of you don't.
- Note that it's not mandatory to put the name of the country in a ship's designation—for example, the British use "HMS", which stands for "His (Her) Majesty's Ship" with no indication of which Majesty is being referred to. On the other hand, "United Space Ship" is actually a pretty odd term, unless they sometimes refer to The Federation as "(The) United". Bottom line, though, the real reason they used "USS" is almost certainly for the sake of familiarity to an American audience.
- Maybe it is not the "United Space Ship", as in "Spaceship of the United", but rather "United Space Starship", meaning Starship of the United Space, wich makes mor sence for me.
- United Starfleet Ship
No Romulan Ale For You!
- Why is Romulan ale illegal?
- Possibly an embargo against Romulan goods. Or because it's clearly not at all healthy: even the mighty Klingon can't really handle it that well.
- It was explicitly stated in Deep Space Nine that it was an embargo, when they lifted it. And there are solid reasons for it. Crossing the Romulan Neutral Zone (if you're caught, which gives an unfortunate advantage to the Romulans with their cloaking devices) means an international incident, possibly full-scale war. The Federation has good reason to discourage its private traders from going there; sooner or later one would take the short way, instead of cutting through a third party's territory (especially when the most notable such party is the Klingons), and that's a very stupid way to start a war.
- The Neutral Zone is only off-limits to the Federation and the Romulans (and often not them, either, it seems). Even the Jem'Hadar were allowed to use it before they found themselves at war with the Federation and the Romulans. So there should be neutral species at peace with both powers who can carry ale into the Federation. Of course, if the embargo is strict enough, a third-party middleman wouldn't be legal, either, as with Cuban products in the United States.
- And it is, amusingly one of the most loosely enforced laws on the books. Every time they break out the Romulan Ale, someone remarks that it is illegal, yet it is given as gifts amongst officers, a Federation starship on a diplomatic mission has it in stock to serve to foreign dignitaries, and it is even brought up during Kirk and McCoy's trial on Q'Onos in Star Trek VI. Notably, it wasn't brought up to discredit them because it was illegal, but merely to bring up the possibility that McCoy was drunk. If there was a great time for anyone to use Romulan Ale's illegality against the heroes, that would have been it. So why didn't they? Even in a sham trial, nobody cared. Presumably both the Romulans and Federation turn a blind eye to traders carrying the stuff back and forth, because the humans like to drink it and the Romulans like to sell it. Hell, the traders might even double as low-profile spies and couriers, discretely carrying information (and booze) back and forth, giving both sides further reason to laxly enforce the embargo: If one side cracks down, their own information flow from the other side gets clamped off too.
- Presumably it's a deliberate parallel to Cuban tobacco products being illegal in the US.
- Because it should be (owwww).
United Federation of Nutcase Bureaucrats?
- On that note, why is it that everyone in Starfleet who isn't a main character is either an Obstructive Bureaucrat or a nut case just waiting for the opportunity to go rogue?
- The same reason why holodecks malfuntion almost every time we see them. It doesn't really happen all that much. It's just that the invisible cameraman who is us is always around when it does.
- You're forgetting the redshirts and token love interests, too.
The "Beam Me Up" Paradox
- The main page for Star Trek lists Beam Me Up, Scotty! as one of the tropes it named, yet, as the trope page points out, the phrase was never uttered within the show (at least not in the central canon). How can it be the Trope Namer for something it never said? Or is that the point?
- I think that's the point - it was never said in the show, but through Popcultural Osmosis or whatever, that's what everyone thinks it said. I don't know how the phrase "Beam Me Up, Scotty!" came about in the first place though.
- It's a variation on what was actually said - something akin to "Two to beam up, Mr. Scott" - that became associated with the show as something that you might hear being said.
Kirk's Bad With Dates (Not That Kind)
- On the subject of film chronology: the given time gaps between "Space Seed", "Wrath of Khan" and "Generations" don't add up. "Wrath of Khan" takes place when Kirk is turning 50 - that's the year 2283. They say that "Space Seed" happened fifteen years ago - officially, it happened in 2267, which is OK assuming they're rounding off. But then the Kirk-era part of "Generations" takes place in 2293... and in Kirk's Nexus fantasy, Kirk says "This is nine years ago!" Nine years ago, Kirk would have been commanding the Enterprise-A. If they wanted the fantasy scene to be of a time just prior to "Wrath of Khan" (which it seems was the intention), they should've said "eleven years ago".
- A mistake, plain and simple. But if you want an explanation, I've been saying that things that happened in 1990 happened "ten years ago" for the past nine years, even though it's currently 2009. Possibly something happened two years ago to Kirk that made the number stick in his head, so he just said it without thinking, and no one wanted to correct him.
Time Cops Are Useless
- Remember those various groups of Time Police that kept on showing up in Voyager and Enterprise (and that Deep Space Nine tribble episode) to ensure that history didn't get changed? Um... where were they?
- Stuck in two series vastly inferior to this movie, evidently.
- Chasing down a certain Time Lord.
- There might be a cute gaiden-story about a time agent arriving in the twenty-third century just in time to see the Kelvin get blown up, then shrug, say "Crap." and pop out of existence.
- Ever notice how they didn't show up when Kirk was in 1930s New York, or when he was in 1980s San Francisco, or when he met Gary Seven in the sixties? They seem to have some kind of policy about leaving the original crew alone.
- This is practically canon, given that in the Deep Space Nine episode, their reaction to Sisko telling them where he'd ended up was almost literally "Aw crap, Kirk? We hate Kirk cases."
- Repairing the damage the Warden did to the Space-Time continuum.
- They show up when a temporal incursion will change their timeline. For whatever reason, this temporal incursion created a new timeline not in line with previous canon. In essence if there are Time Cops in this world, all these events are what happened, to them. (The real world reson it created a second timeline was so they could, in essence, do a reeboot but leave the old timeline in tact.)
- Why didn't the Time Cops show up and bitch slap Janeway in the Voyager finale? WHY?!
- Because anyone that frightens the Borg is the last person you want to try to bitch slap.
- Because, didn't that one guy (Captain Braxton or something like that?) go crazy trying to correct Janeway's various incursions, whether or not she meant for them to happen? Maybe they marked her as 'will cause issues, no matter what you try' like the original crew and decided to leave well enough alone.
- The man's name was indeed Braxton, and for the record, none of the temporal paradoxes Janeway encountered were her fault. Ironically enough Braxton himself was responsible for his own Voyager-related problems (making his angry vendetta against Janeway very hypocritical at best).
Super-Special Holodeck Batteries?
- Here's one - why do the holodecks run on a different and incompatible power source than the rest of the ship? Voyager sometimes barely had enough power to keep the lights on and the air recycling, but there was plenty of juice for Tom Paris to play "Captain Proton". And even with that, you're telling me nobody in Starfleet has figured out how to fix this problem? I mean, Voyager's crew built a quantum slipstream drive from scratch and yet can't make a converter to turn holodeck power into ship power?
- That was a Voodoo Shark to explain why they could let the writers play with the Holodeck when they were otherwise rationing power, especially replicator power. Their power troubles eased off after a while... your call whether that made it better or worse.
- Possibly unintended Fridge Brilliance - with so many holodec disasters such as Moriarty any whatnot in the past, the incompatible power source may have been a deliberate move on Starfleet's end so that power to the holodec could be cut off immediately if necessary, without any rogue programs being able to divert power from another part of the ship in order to sustain themselves. The real problem could be less converting the power than overriding whatever system was put in place to keep the power source seperate from the rest of the ship's systems. What's more confusing is that the EMH doesn't run on the same juice, or if he does, why they don't ration holodec usage anyway so that they don't burn through his time too quickly.
We've Been Boarded! Oh well...
- Any time a starship gets boarded, it annoys the heck out of me. Only occasionally do they use force fields. Also, couldn't they evacuate those areas and shut off life support or something? Or maybe shut the turbolift to the bridge? Or beam them into space (or if that's not cool) into the brig? The amount of times where intruders (or really anyone) can just walk in on the bridge like that is hillarous. And also, I noticed security never ever runs. They just walk there.
- Shutting off life support to a whole deck wouldn't instantly suck all the air and heat out of the area (unless it's the main bridge or an area with an exterior door like the shuttlebay). Even when it has happened elsewhere on the ship, it takes hours to get to the point where it would be incapable of supporting life. As for beaming them into the brig - having a holding cell that you can beam people into and out of would kinda defeat the purpose of having one in the first place. I mean, any ship that can get close enough could just beam the prisoner off.
- Transporters can be blocked, scrambled and jammed with trivial ease, so just keep some low-level jammers around the brig unless you're moving prisoners around. Hell, if I were designing a brig for ST (or any universe with teleportation tech for that matter), I'd build it so you can only get in and out via transporters. Good luck breaking out when there's no door.
- Shutting off life support might not instantly kill everyone who wasn't in a spacesuit, but trapping the boarders in a forcefield and sucking their air out sure would. So would adjusting the temperature to a level of unendurable heat or cold. Then there's the option of pumping poison or knockout gas into that section. Given that the Enterprise has a fire control system that works by setting up a forcefield around the fire that kind of thing should be pretty easy. Then we have the canon tactic of turning up the gravity in one section so high your opponent can't stand up from Enterprise: In A Mirror Darkly. There are tons of nasty things you could do to any (living, organic) hostile fool enough to board your ship without a space suit with Star Trek technology, but for some reason hardly anybody ever seems to do them.
- When Data shut down Bridge life-support in "Brothers", he had to bypass multiple independent safety systems to do it. Considering how easy it is to take over or corrupt Federation computer software, the risks aren't worth the rewards.
- What about, say, increasing the gravity in a section? You could even have safeties in place so that the gravity can be increased beyond the ability of a boarding party to operate as an effective fighting force, but well short of the point where short exposure would cause serious permanent health effects. I'm not sure where the respective thresholds are exactly, but I'd imagine five or six G-forces would do the trick. Then the redshirts stand just beyond the affected areas and stun the intruders, who are too busy trying to stay on their feet even to think about returning fire. Then as soon as everyone's been neutralized, you restore the regular gravity to be extra-sure there are no lasting effects on the people you've trapped.
- If it's Deep Space Nine or ENT, and we're fighting the enemy like we mean it, make it fifty G's instead of five, record the boarding party going splat, and send the video to the deceased enemies' superiors with instructions not to fuck with Starfleet.
- Used in William Shatner's "Totality" trilogy. The alien beings from the invading "Totality" are made of Dark Matter, and don't really like gravity fields. They can barely stand one G, and disintegrate under higher weights. As they can impersonate people similarly to the Founders, Starfleet quickly institutes a policy of regularly turning up the gravity all over the ship, and keeping officers' quarters constantly on high.
- Also, you can play with temperature. Humans can function just fine at temperatures well below those at which Klingons curl up into shivering balls. Since Klingons are humans' greatest enemies in TOS, the movies, and a season of Deep Space Nine, you'd think they'd have used it to their advantage once or twice. The same thing would work on Cardassians, too; they're comfortable at temperatures which are too warm for most other species, even non-humanoids like the Founders. So chances are they wouldn't be able to fight effectively if they boarded Deep Space Nine and O'Brien lowered the temperature to, say, 273 K (the freezing point of water).
Emergency Redshirt Holograms
- Related to the above - why do unarmoured, flesh-and-blood security officers respond to boarders, instead of hundreds of Emergency Security Holograms? The computer might only have enough power to manage one medical program at a time, but surely repelling boarders can't be much more demanding than what the holodeck gets up to every day.
- Those might just be a slow-in-coming development. During TNG, getting a hologram to exist outside of the holodec is something of a challenge. In Voyager, the EMH is confined to sickbay or the holodeck until he gets his mobile emitter. Once that technology spreads to the wider Federation, it seems more plausible that we'd see things like holographic security officers. In the meanwhile, they probably don't have them because they'd have to put holographic projectors all over the ship, and such officers would be useless for away-kmissions and whatnot.
- The Prometheus had holo-emitters on every deck, and while that was an experimental ship, Andy Dick seemed to be saying that that aspect at least had become standard. We never saw it on the Defiant (or the new Defiant after the original got destroyed at Chintoka) or the Enterprise E, but then we never really saw a situation where it would have come up. "Vic Fontaine to the bridge, please."
- Starfleet learned its lesson from the "Ultimate Computer" incident and doesn't give deadly weapons to artificial intelligences any more. Except Data.
- And the Emergency Command Hologram.
- Holographic crew is a sizable part of your redshirt crew in Star Trek Online
Ferengi Speech Impediment?
- Why do the Ferengi consistently mispronounce "human"? They always overstress the second syllable, like "hugh-MA Hn". They never have any trouble saying Bajoran or Cardassian or Klingon. In fact why are there pronunciation difficulties at all?
- Possibly they're saying it in such a way that it's a subtle insult to humans—the term could be a reference to Ferengi anatomy or bodily functions. On the other hand, it could be that the word "human" itself is the bad word, and Ferengi pronounce it differently to differentiate from the Ferengi word for "scrotum" or whatever.
- On occasion, there has been a usage of 'human' instead of 'hew-MON.' Nog and Rom seemed to both use the misprounciation less and less as the series went on. Likely it is just a Ferengi insult - Humans in Star Trek have given up the pursuit of monetary wealth, which is the basic foundation of Ferengi society.
- Probably for the same reason that universal translators don't translate DRAMATIC Klingon words into English - racial affectation.
- The Ferengi probably have words for the other species which the Universal Translators render into English (or Federation Standard Speech or whatever it's called.) When they say "hew-MON," they're actually sounding out the English word, which the Universal Translator doesn't or can't overdub.
- Fridge Brilliance! Have we ever actually heard Ferengi language? Maybe for some reason the word for "human" is more closely from English (or Federation Standard), while other race names have assimilated better or had more time to assimilate. "Human" may be an incredibly foreign sound in the Ferengi tongue, so they take extra care with it. note
- We hear the Ferengi language for a bit in Little Green Men. It definitely sounds like "hew-MON" might be how the word would sound with a Ferengi accent. That still doesn't rule out it being a slur of some kind. Maybe the act of sounding it out so it doesn't go through the translator is a slight against the listening? Like "I'm going to show you that your language is simple and primitive by deliberately speaking without my translator when I say your speices name, Hew-MON" That would be consistent with the times we hear Ferngi over-pronuncing the word as opposed to the times they say it without affectation.
- Could just be a racial slur. Notice that Rom and Nog slow down their usage of it as they start to become friends with humans, but Quark keeps it up as hew-MONS are always interfering with his profits (in his mind, at least).
- More support for the "slur" theory comes from our own language. The most racially insulting term there is for a black person in English comes from accumulated distortions to the Spanish term for "black" which is negro. For all we know, "hew-mons" may even be a politer term than some that the Ferengi have for us (the way "negroes" is not entirely an offensive term, though it does raise eyebrows if you use it these days).
Marriage in the 24th Century
- WHY are pretty much all women, 200-300 years in the future, STILL automatically taking their husband's names? Does this bug the heck out of nobody but me?
- Umm... examples? The only ones I can think of is Keiko O'Brian and Dr. Crusher (see below). Troi didn't change her name (see below), Jadzia didn't change her name (she's a Trill and she married a Klingon, so who knows what the name convention is), and in the case of most of the other married couples we meet, there's actually nothing to say for sure that the husband didn't take his wife's name.
- Not necessarily true. In Star Trek: Voyager B'Elanna says to Tom that perhaps he should now be known as "Tom Torres" as "it's the 24th century, after all" (though for the rest of the season neither of them change their names). In Star Trek: Nemesis Picard says to Commander Riker "You have the bridge Mr. Troi" (though most likely out of humour). And in "Sub Rosa" it's implied that Beverly's family have been keeping their maiden names and Beverly was apparently the first to break it. Then again, said episode was a Transplanted Character Fic of something else best taken with a pinch of salt.
- Betazoid culture is matrilineal; Deanna's father took her mother's surname. Will probably won't, but Deanna is unlikely to insist upon it as much as her mother would have to Ian Troi.
- Same reason pretty much all women 200-300 years in the future still grow their hair long and wear make-up, I suppose.
- Actually it gets worse, there are at least two TNG episodes where women are referred to as "Mrs [husband's-first-name, husband's-last-name]", granted that "Mrs William Riker" was a simulation but there was certainly nothing to imply that addressing a woman as such was culturally inappropriate for Federation humans. Of course, this is just a victim of Society Marches On and it was probably already something of a Dead Horse Trope in Real Life by the time the series aired
Humans New and Busted, Vulcans Old Hotness?
- So, we all know Enterprise introduced a mess of continuity issues - depending on how liberal you want to be with bending the rules of common sense - but surely one of the strangest things is: The Vulcans have been flying around in space for hundreds of years, and their ships in Enterprise are a lot faster, a lot more powerful and just generally better in pretty much every conceivable way. Yeah, it seems clear that Starfleet follows the presumably inferior design of the NX-01 style ships. Given that Starfleet is part of the Federation and Vulcans are pretty much the first people to sign up with the humans, you'd think it would have been smart to go with the Vulcan awesomeness.
- It was likely a compromise issue. Each of the inagural species of the Federation all had issues with one another, except for the "common thread" that they were all friends (or on friendly terms) with Earth. Likely the biggest reason Vulcan tech wasn't primarily used was because the Andorians would pitch a major fit. Ditto for some of the other species that joined initially. But, since everyone was cool with Earth, use their design, and incorperate the tech from each civilization into the design. Silly, but sometimes a must in diplomacy. It's also the biggest reason why the Federation capital is on Earth and not on another planet too.
- Possibly Warp Five was as far as the Vulcans, Tellarites, and Andorians had gotten as well. The Vulcans were better than humans because they already had Warp Five ships while we were still fumbling with warp. Further FTL research was done under the heading of the Federation rather than the respective governments of Earth, Vulcan, Andoria, or Tellar, and given that there's a marked aesthetic change from the early Earth Starfleet ships to the Federation ships of the future, one assumes that other races had a hand in the design.
- In Season One a Vulcan ship showed up and its captain came aboard the NX-01 as a show of support for the alliance, or something. Since he was an ENT Vulcan, and Archer was Archer, it quickly devolved into a pissing match. Before it did the Vulcan captain mentioned that his ship could push Warp 7. Shran's ship had a similar maximum speed, and in "Proving Ground" Tucker's mourning for his dead little sister proved enough of a Tear Jerker that Shran ordered his engineer to give Tucker one of the Treknobabbles that let them break Warp 5.
- And in the finale they said they routinely exceeded Warp 6 and that the next class of starship that the NX's were being phased out in favor of could break Warp 7.
- In The Forge Soval gave an awesome speech in which he basically states that the Vulcans noticed the fast progress the humans have made regarding space travel (from first space flight to warp 5 in ca. 200 years, whereas the Vulcans needed much more centuries for all this), and are impressed, but above all frightened by this. Perhaps the humans indeed did technologically draw level with the other Federation founders within the decades after Enterprise, or even surpassed them. In this regard, consider the episode In a Mirror, Darkly, in which a time-travelled TOS-era Federation ship is able to wreak havoc because it is indeed more advanced than the big 22nd century Vulcan and Andorian ships! (Although granted, mirror-universe ships may not be at exactly the same technology-level as their prime-universe counterparts.)
- It might also be that, much as [[Hatedom some Trekkies among us]] like to mock Archer's leadership, Starfleet had the best reputation of all the Federation members' services. The one little ship had beaten not just the Xindi but the superbeings from another dimension who had backed them (making them the only pre-Federation power that can claim to have won a major war in living memory). It also led the international force that prevented a major Romulan incursion into what would soon become Federation space. It figured out how to stop the Romulans and only requested assistance from the others because it needed a lot of ships. Two ships turned back an entire Klingon fleet intent on destroying the Klingons' own colony. Et cetera.
- By contrast, the Vulcan High Command didn't do one damned impressive thing in the entire series. The Andorian Guard only had one Bad Ass, and they fired him. Combine that with the fact that by the 2160s Starfleet's ships were able to keep up with the top speeds of their Vulcan and Andorian counterparts and they're looking more and more worthy of taking the lead in the new government's military.
A Pon Farr with Rosie Palms?
- About the whole Pon Farr Mate or Die thing, why doesn't A Date with Rosie Palms work?
- It's probably not just a question of release. Consider when Tuvok went into pon farr. Tom Paris was able to rig up a hologram of his wife that allowed Tuvok to blow off steam, but the implication is that nothing else would have worked. It might be an emotional thing. There are multiple episodes that suggest that the Vulcan emotional suppression is not good for them. Pon farr could very easily be a consequence of that.
- There was a prior Voyager episode where Ensign Vorik entered pon farr and the holoprogram failed to work for him.
- Vorik had another option: B'Elana. Pon farr basically had him obsessed with her. Perhaps if Tom had thought to make a B'Elana hologram for Vorik to bang, he would have been able to pull a Tuvok.
- In the first Star Trek: New Frontier novel, we see a pretty explicit Pon Farr between two Vulcans, where they mind meld in the middle of coitus. Presumably doing this (combined with the physical act) is what causes the Vulcan's internal sex clock to reset.
- Hormones. Very specific ones, too-where you NEED the hormones produced by your matched partner. Also why The Oldest Profession doesn't work for them.
- It probably is specifically something to do with the emotions. While a mind meld would help facilitate an emotional release, Tuvok and Vorik certainly couldn't have melded with holograms. The reason the hologram worked for Tuvok (once he was able to get it to stay online) is that he really did love his wife, and could express his love for her with this reminder of her. Vorik, on the other hand, only got temporary relief from T'Pera because she was a purely fictional holodeck character and he couldn't really fool himself into loving her the way he would love a real person. Each of the three known ways to resolve pon farr also show signs of being related to emotional release:
- Mating is the most direct method of demonstrating one's love for another, of course.
- Ritual combat for one's mate is somewhat less direct, but is much-romanticized in many cultures. Certainly, a man would have to love a woman quite a lot to be willing to fight for her, possibly to the death.
- The intensive meditation, which did not prove effective for Vorik, probably focuses on one's intense love for an absent mate. As Vorik acknowledged, his betrothed had probably already given him up for lost. Tuvok, on the other hand, knew his wife was waiting for him at home, and he had the hologram to help remind him of that further. She presumably had some similar thoughts of him to comfort her through her own intensive meditation, knowing he was alive and on his way home.
Why Don't Ya Just Beam Him?
- When site to site, or point to point transports have been demonstrated in multiple series, why have we never seen the following scenario:
Hostile Boarding Party Member appears on Federation vessel. Random Federation Crewmember: "Computer, execute Defense Protocol Epsilon 7 Alpha." Hostile Boarding Party Member reappears in space. Or, Weapon appears in every Federation Crewmember's hand. Or, Federation Crewmember disappears to safety. Or, Hostile Boarding Party Member's heart appears a meter to the left of Hostile Boarding Party Member. In short, why do they not have set protocols to arm and distribute the crew strategically via the transporter?
- Site-to-site transporting is extremely power-intensive. Not to mention that the targeted crewman would have to be standing perfectly still or else the phaser would end up transported into their body by mistake.
- The transporter-to-the-brig idea above is much more convenient, especially if you custom make the brig to have a transporter pad built in. Then it becomes point-to-pad, not point-to-point. Confiscating prisoner weapons? It's canon that a transporter can be preset to selectively choose what to transport, so that's no issue. (one running gag in any Academy-Days storyline is cadets infiltrating the transporter room immediately before its use by an intended victim, and setting it to not transport anything matching the molecular structure of nylon, rayon, or other common synthetic fibers found in cadet uniforms. Cue the victim appearing at his destination in falling-apart rags if not outright naked.). You can make that "transporter-to-the-escape-pod" if you prefer to run away from a fight.
I Want to Be a Federation Janitor When I Grow Up!
- Okay fine: the Federation doesn't use money. Are you telling me that jobs like sanitation worker, janitor, pest control and other unglamourous non-military jobs are either done by volunteers or are completely automated? Targ droppings!
- I always considered the entire "We Don't Use Money in the Future" thing to be a load of hogwash. As an answer to your question, in my eyes, no.
- Why shouldn't they be completely automated? They have teleporters that can move anything halfway around the planet in the blink of an eye, and machines that can manufacture everything from food to electronics out of thin air. And antimatter-based power sources. They can pretty much do anything. Sanitation for an entire continent could be five technicians sitting in a room with a big computer panel somewhere, programming a transporter network to beam the contents of every trash can in every driveway into a giant direct-matter-to-energy incinerator each evening. And they'd have plenty of time left afterwards to go off to the opera and pursue other wholesome and personal-growth-supporting activities... or to go make out with holographic hotties. :P In addition, they don't necessarily have no money. Credits are occasionally mentioned, in some cases credits for specific things (transporter credits you have to spend to teleport yourself around Earth, for example). I think the main point is that Earth culture is no longer founded on greed or the pursuit of wealth for its own sake; doing certain unpopular jobs might still get you more transporter/replicator/whatever credits to provide incentive, it's just that people don't take up jobs just to be rich, and everyone is provided with everything they need to lead a happy life, so work is done mostly because you want to do it, not because you have to.
- Why wouldn't they be? Because they're not on starships, where such a thing would be an advantage. And even if they weren't, you're telling me that no one ever has to go fish Sewerbot #242 out of Junction 1234X because it's jammed or some stupid kids have covered a statue of Admiral Archer in Ferengi graffiti? Even if they have machines for that sort of thing, no one 's running them? Even by remote control? No sale, sir!
- No matter how shitty a job is you can always find someone who honest-to-god-actually enjoys doing it. It's like Rule 34 of employment. Plus jobs aren't just about money, there is a social element to them as well. People enjoy getting out of the house, doing stuff, mixing with others, and feeling useful in society at large. I bet there is an employment ladder thing there too, y'wanna do #cleannicejob, well there is four hundred people wanting that, so we'll only give it to you if you've done #dirtynastyjob first.
- Forgive me if this seems a bit rude, but this argument strikes me as rather naive. It's easy to say that "someone" must enjoy, say, shoveling shit for a living when you yourself don't have to shovel shit for a living. As for the possible psychosocial benefits of shoveling shit, those are all well and good until our hypothetical shit-shoveler runs into someone else who has the exact same quality of life as he does...without having to shovel shit all day long (an office worker for instance). The shit-shoveler will start to wonder why this other person gets to spend his time sitting in a comfy chair in an air-conditioned office, while he has to perform back-breaking labor under the hot sun and has to go home smelling like the southbound end of a northbound cow. In the real world the only reason the shit-shoveler would keep doing his job is if he was unable to get the education/training to find a better job or his paycheck was fat enough to make shoveling shit all day worth it. Lack of skills or education would not be an issue in the utopian Federation, where such resources are available to everyone. So if the hypothetical shit-shoveler is not drawing a big fat paycheck, then what keeps him from quitting his job?
- In one episode, it is mentioned that the Enterprise-D has some ability to clean itself (specifically, someone gets told that they don't have to clean up something, the ship will do that for them). And running the machines, well, that changes the nature of the job.
- Changes the nature, perhaps. But it doesn't eliminate dirty and degrading jobs. And our concept of what a "bad job" is is very relative. Running a cleaning robot may seem better than doing the cleaning yourself, but once everyone has replaced their janitors with clean-bot operators, then being a clean-bot operator will become the new "bad job" that nobody wants. Instead of parents saying to their kids "Don't skip school or you'll end up as a janitor!" they'll say "Don't skip school or you'll end up as a clean-bot operator!" And as one of the above tropers pointed out, there will inevitably be times when a clean-bot malfunctions and gets itself stuck somewhere unpleasant. So who has to go fish it out? Or are there also robots for retrieving stuck clean-bots in the future? And robots for retrieving stuck retrieval-bots?
- I got the impression that officers were paid, but, as Picard said, "The acquisition of wealth is no longer our primary goal." So they get paid, but the majority of people don't care about the amount, just that they're contributing to society.
- Alternatively, Picard and other Starfleet personnel are trumpeting the official Federation line, but many individual Federation citizens do care about money.
- While that is an interesting theory that adds a rather disturbing undertone to the Trek franchise (a society where the military and the civilian populace are so ideologically at odds with each other is a recipe for bad things) it doesn't jibe with everything we see on screen. For instance, in The Neutral Zone the Enterprise encounters some 20th-century humans in cryogenic stasis. When one of them (some sort of banker or stock broker or somesuch) says he wants to see how much his financial assets have grown in the centuries he's been in stasis, Picard reacts with puzzlement and confusion. Far from simply disdaining the acquisition of wealth, Picard clearly doesn't understand even the basic concept of monetary investment.
- Adding a strange twist to it all is that, in "In the Cards," Jake Sisko explicitly states (in a sequence that gloriously sends up this entire issue) that humans don't have money — not the Federation, per se. So maybe humans just refrain from making money. So... Starfleet pays Dax but doesn't pay O'Brien or Sisko?
- It could be a planetary government thing, with each member of the Federation having its own economic system (in fact, it'd almost have to be that way, unless abandoning money is a requirement for joining the Federation, which doesn't seem to be the case). Earth government doesn't use money, but let's say the Trill government does, in which case each one handles its own reimbursement for citizens serving in Starfleet; Earth would cover the moneyless O'Brien and Sisko's expenses with "Federation credits," as Quark called them, while Dax would just get a paycheck from the Trill government.
- Also, keep in mind that Jake said humans don't need money, not that they don't have money. To cover essentials, humans don't need money, but it would be safe to assume that, in order to afford some luxuries (e.g. anything you can't just order out of a replicator, such as an authentic Willie Mays rookie baseball card), humans would have to use money like anyone else. Whether or not that translates into pay for Starfleet officers isn't ever really made clear ("Federation credits" notwithstanding), but it does suggest that there is at least an incentive system to entice people to perform otherwise lousy jobs (I don't think there are enough people in Starfleet who believe that being a janitor or whatever is the ultimate job to cover all the janitorial work that needs to be done).
- For what it's worth, Jake's precise line is "I'm human, I don't have any money." Nog follows up with "It's not my fault that your species decided to abandon currency-based economics in favour of some philosophy of self-enhancement."
- Followed by Jake espousing the Starfleet philosophy, to which Nog replies, "What does that mean, exactly?" and Jake says, "It means...it means we don't need money." Humans don't need money, so Jake, being human, doesn't have any, or at least he doesn't until someone has something he wants and won't give it up without payment. Though I suppose it's splitting hairs at this point; the line could be interpreted several different ways. The point is that evidence that other humans do use and seek money (Vash, for example) does exist, so going from "humans don't need money as a general rule, as part of their philosophy" to "no human ever uses money ever" doesn't work.
- Yes, but Jake's reaction then is not "let me access the incentive programs by which human beings acquire money under exceptional circumstances," but rather "let's go on a wacky bartering adventure." One assumes that those humans who deal with money, like Vash (or Harry Mudd?) are dealing with different economies (and implicitly betraying that "philosophy of self-enhancement"). This is one of those issues that seems to have no adequate answer. In Star Trek: First Contact, Picard unblinkingly says "Money doesn't exist in the 24th century" which is demonstrably untrue, although one assumes he's limiting it to the human context and oversimplifying for his audience. The problem really seems to be that the writers haven't thought this through: they're committed to the idea of the future as a nebulous post-scarcity Utopia but haven't worked out the details.
- There's an entry on the DS9 page that covers money. It's probable that Star Fleet officers do get paid something, so they can use it when they're visiting places that do require money. There are plenty of scenes where characters eat in restaurants and/or shop in places where you probably have to pay. It's just that if you live in the Federation you won't need money to get by; all the essentials are free. As for the "working for pleasure" matter, if you just sit around at home you'll get bored, and also people will probably value you more if you have a work ethic. If you want to be a janitor because you love it, well, more power to you, but otherwise there are other reasons to start out in bottom-rung job. You'll meet people and hopefully get promoted. And if you were applying to another job, having something like that on your resume shows that you were willing to work and contribute even when it isn't the greatest job.
- If you go back, you'll find Roddenberry thinking technology will solve the problem of money, with no idea of how, so the show just acts like it doesn't change much. Well, if you assume enough Federation citizens value being an enlightened being enough, technology can solve it, but with dramatic visual changes: a transparent society. This allows checking on someone's enlightenment. Adding a standardized rating system could allow individuals to take on a penalty in exchange for giving someone else a bonus — that is, to exchange enlightenment rating as if it were money. (I.e, to print fiat money against their personal economy as a producer of enlightenment.) If this is what Federation credits are — as in "credit where credit is due", not as in "credit and debit" — the Ferengi objections would be obvious. It would also mean jobs that nobody wants to do are probably a quick way to rack up the ability to print credits. So there's a mix of janitors who're in it because they like fixing society's shit, even if that must be literal, and janitors who're in it to make the big bucks(er, to better themselves quickly).
- If those people were provided with food, accommodation and healthcare then that might be payment enough? They do get to travel the universe, after all, it's not that bad a deal.
- To quote A Matterof Lifeand Death, "There are millions of people of Earth who'd think it heaven to be a clerk." Even Utopias will require unglamorous jobs, but that doesn't mean people won't be happy to do them.
- I have not seen the film you're referring to, but I would wager that in context that quote is referring to people who live even worse lives than the average clerk. I'm sure a starving person in Africa or a homeless man living under a bridge would love to be a clerk, but only because it would give them a steady source of income, not because they've always dreamed of being a clerk.
- It actually refers to Heaven, where you can do what you like for eternity (apparently).
- We've seen how powerful anti-matter is in the Trekkiverse? Why is that no one seems to have weaponized the stuff? Even in a "we used to do that, but the stuff is way too dangerous" manner?
- Photon torpedoes use antimatter warheads. There's been other references too, like the Vulcan civil wars being fought with antimatter bombs, and the Enterprise-D using an antimatter spread to attack a Borg cube. And the planet killer used an antiproton beam to slice through planets.
Those Ships Need Seat Belts!
- Why are there no seat belts on the Bridge? They get knocked around often enough that you'd think some sort of restraining device would be only logical.
- This is addressed in a deleted scene/alternate ending to Nemesis where Picard is shown some new features they've installed on the bridge, including a seat belt. Picard's response is along the lines of, "It's about time!"
Unbeatable Cloaking Devices?
- Why is it that, 28 years after the Romulan Cloaking Device was discovered and reported by James Kirk, Starfleet still didn't have any countermeasures? During "Undiscovered Country," Spock and McCoy should not have had to jury-rig a torpedo to track the Klingon ship. Such devices should be standard. I know "Rule of Drama" and and what have you, but come on: Starfleet is responsible for protecting the Federation. One of its main enemies has a device that makes its ships invisible to the naked eye. They pass that device to Starfleet's other main enemy. And yet, Starfleet does nothing about it. Starfleet should have had countermeasures in place within a couple of years.
- 1)To paraphrase Reed Richards: What makes you think they haven't tried and just couldn't?
2) I imagine it's pretty hard to counter technology when agreed not to pursue your own version. It's like agreeing not to pursue radar technology and trying to perfect jamming and stealth tech.
- They wouldn't even need to counter the technology. A cloaked starship may be essentially invisible, but it is still there. It still has mass, and it still moves through space. It still gives off exhaust emissions of some sort as it moves. It is still generating all sorts of energy. It might even have a magnetic signature. There are all sorts of ways they could hit it without having to take a wild ass guess, or having to Jury-rig a torpedo at the last minute. I know this way is more dramatic, but it just seems to me that Starfleet dropped the ball. It's just not well-thought out, in my view.
- I recall reading in one of the books that the treaty between the Federation and the Romulans forbade the Federation from building their own cloaking devices.
- I believe the episode with Riker's old ship, which hides by phasing inside of stuff...with predictable results.... mentions that ALL cloaking technology for the Feddies is disallowed by treaty; the Klingons, not being bound by that treaty, have their cloaks. The treaty was a pretty big plot-point in Deep Space 9, with the Defiant. (I think that's generic enough to not be a spoiler.)
- Also, maybe they did, and in response the Klingons & Romulans improved their cloaking technology.
- This non-canon website suggests that the additional mass of the Enterprise-B's engineering section houses a more powerful sensor array and targeting system designed to counter the type of Klingon bird-of-prey that so ravaged the Enterprise-A. Firing while cloaked was no longer a viable strategy. As for countering cloaking technology in general, one would assume that just like anything else there's escalation: they make stronger weapons so we make stronger shields, we make better sensors so they make better cloaks. And while the first cloaking devices might have just been invisible on the EM spectrum, later models hide pretty much all traces of a ship. Plus, stealth planes now still have mass, heat, velocity, magnetic signatures and still have SOME radar reflection but unless you're close enough to touch the plane, you're pretty much looking for a honeybee a mile in the air going 500MPH. Star Trek cloaks are never wholly foolproof but they usually require you to be pretty close to detect them, like in The Undiscovered Country where Chang's ship is so close to the Enterprise that Spock thinks its radiation signature is coming from their own ship.
- Technology Marches On. We've seen them on-screen develop tactics to outwit the cloaking devices (Off hand, the Dominion had ways of detecting the Defiant when cloaked). The answer to finding ways to get around the cloak? Create a better cloak. It's clearly a useful technology, so instead of tossing it aside once a countermeasure is developed, they make a counter to the countermeasure.
- In other words, it's an arms race.
- The biggest question of them all: where are all the ethnicities? This becomes a major head against wall moment for this troper, because the timeline of the Star Trek universes includes several major wars, including a nuclear World War III that supposedly killed 600 million people. It would be fair to assume that most of these casualties occured in the world's most powerful nations, namely, the United States, Europe, Russia, and China. So why do white people still make up 90% of Starfleet? The world population has always been overwhelmingly non-white, so any world government/military would reflect that one-fifth of the the world population is Chinese, one-fifth Indian, one-fifth African, and two-fifths various other ethnicities. Starfleet also seems to prefer rather Anglo names for its ships. Star Trek in all its incarnations has been noted for being progressive for showing different ethnicities, and has gotten better at doing so over time, but it always bugs this troper how it appears all non-white populations are minorities in the future.
- Cause the Americas won the third world war or at least survivored it best. India, the middle east, and Asia got nuked to hell and back, Khan was in India, suggesting the wars were against him. At least that's Fanon attempts to explain it, and why all non whites tend to be Americans still. Some suggestions of discrimination in Starfleet as well as the prefered cadets are all from the Western Hemisphere. Only three major human crew members are suggested from being from Earth and not from the Americas, Picard, Uhrua and Malcolm. Possibly, some Fanon has held, parts of Asia and so forth are still more or less uninhabitable. (Chekov is Russian, and Worf is a non-human Russian.)
- Most humans should be African, then. If Asia got wiped out, that would make Africa the most populous continent. Discrimination in Starfleet, you say?
- Geordi LaForge is an African, not an African-American. Miles O'Brien is Irish, and Dr. Bashir is most likely of Middle Eastern descent. Presumably a fair amount of the humans aren't Americans but just sound like they have American (or English) accents due to the Universal Translator.
- Uhura is also African.
- If I were required to make a canon explanation, I'd have a bio-engineered plague that responded poorly to cold— probably have it originate in Russia— as part of the response to the wars that gave us Khan. That would explain the lack of Africa, South America, Australia, etc— if you also assume that the Universal Translators remove accents and the only reason Picard, Scotty, O'Brien, Bashir and such have accents (while Keiko, who's Japanese, doesn't) is because they're speaking Federation standard. Most of the rest of the world being royally screwed would also explain why so much happens in San Fran. (Would you base your Space Fleet there? It's crowded as heck NOW!)
- Another demographic oddity: Japanese are hugely overrepresented in Starfleet compared to Chinese. On Earth today, there are 10 times as many Chinese as Japanese, yet virtually every major Asian character in Trek is Japanese: Sulu in TOS, Keiko in TNG and Deep Space Nine, and Hoshi in ENT. The only exception, Harry Kim in VOY, is Korean. I don't recall seeing a single character in any Trek series with a Chinese surname, except for some Academy instructor in an early season ep of TNG.
- It possibly has to do with China being decimated by World War III. Maybe the population loss was so much that they really are proportionally represented in Starfleet? Or Japan imposed their culture on China during WWIII, liked they tried to do in WWII, so some people of Chinese descent ended up with Japanese names?
- Along those same lines, it's also noteworthy that the eastern half of the United States is almost never mentioned in Trek, and cities like New York and Washington DC don't seem to exist. Characters from North America usually hail from the rural midwest or the west coast, and the Earth government's based in San Francisco. It may be that the nuclear war was fought between China and the U.S., and both mainland China and the eastern U.S. were hit so hard that their populations fell permenantly behind everyone else.
- There are Klingons with Chinese surnames for names, though! Maybe lots of them immigrated to the Empire?
- Given that regions such as China and India are so densely populated, it could be that those ethnic groups were among the first populations to migrate en masse to colony worlds. Their colonies would therefore be the longest-established human settlements outside our solar system, which would make them the best-defended and most-civilized ... hence, the least likely planets to require a visit from an exploratory vessel like the Enterprise. They do exist, we just don't see episodes about them.
- It should be noted that as a television series, the casting of all the Star Trek series is dependent on the average population makeup of the city in which it's produced, so what appears on screen is not indicative of the population of Earth, but the population of LA-based Paramount Studio's casting calls. So for all we know the crew of the Enterprise should be more, er... brown than normally shown, but when you make a casting call for extras and only caucasians show up, are you really going to hold up production until you've found more extras of the appropriate ethnic makeup?
- Err... is there any actual evidence that "only Caucasians showed up" to casting calls for extras? May have been truer in the 1960s, but from the '80s onward?
- Also, the names of ships and planets in Star Trek are still Anglo- and Euro-centric, which has nothing to do with filming location.
- It's a show made by Americans for an American audience. Ships have Anglo and Euro centric names because the core audience for the show at the time of it's production did... In America.
- The evidence that only caucasians showed up for the casting calls...is the fact that the extras they hired were almost entirely caucasian. The only other explanation is intentional discrimination. If you have any evidence of that, please feel free to share it with the rest of us.
- I suppose the question is, considering that the series is supposed to depict the future of all humanity, whether it would have behooved the casting people, including those casting the extras, to specifically seek out a diverse group of men and women?
- (ahem) There's a little thing called "practicality" that makes that difficult. A scifi tv show needs to save as much money as possible for sets, props, and special effects. They couldn't afford to be that choosy with their extras. It's easy for you to say what they should have done when you don't have to manage their budget.
- I find just about every part of this post puzzling, not the least the presence of "(ahem)." Ahem what? Do you think that non-white people get paid more as extras? — in Hollywood, extras are virtually always paid union scale. Or is it that you think L.A. is such a monoracial city that they'd have to, say, import non-white people in from faraway and exotic parts of the world at great expense so they can walk around in the background of scenes? Or that the budget for extras is more than a drop in the bucket for a show that cost at least $1.3 million an episode? Why would it be impractical to find non-white extras? Perhaps I am not understanding: are you seriously saying "they had to cast white people because that's all they could afford"? Because as a defense for lack of diversity, that is a pretty weak one.
- "Ahem what?" What do you mean "what?" What's not to get? I was trying to politely say that I thought your response (assuming you are the same troper I was responding to; if not I apologize) was naive. Firstly, Hollywood may be more diverse than most cities but the acting industry isn't. The profession was and is still dominated by white actors. So right from the start your choice of extras is limited. Secondly, because extras are often cast after everything else has been finalized, you have a very slim window to vet them, hire them, and drill them for their stage business before shooting begins. If you can't find a diverse enough group of extras you have to delay the shoot, which throws off the entire production schedule and can quickly snowball into an ungodly snow-boulder of costs. You might think Trek's $1.3 million per episode budget would allow them the luxury to do that, but in fact it's the opposite. The reason Trek had such a large budget was because they needed it for the new and expensive special effects they would be using almost every episode, not to mention the costumes, alien prosthetics, props, and sets. It's not like a family sitcom where no special effects are necessary, you can buy the wardrobe at the local thrift store, and your set can be a repaint from some other show. In Trek, 99% of what you see on screen had to be custom made for the show. They had to save money anywhere they could, so any expense that wasn't strictly necessary was on the chopping block. And for most episodes it wasn't strictly necessary to go on a scavenger hunt for as many racially diverse extras as they could find, so they just hired whoever was available. And apparently most of the ones available were white. Unfortunate, but there it is.
- For the record, typing "ahem" actually makes something less polite, not more. This all makes it sound like you think extras are hired off the street, rather than through large, well-established casting agencies. I suspect that if we examined the pool of L.A. extras, we would find that there would a sufficient number of non-white people willing to work — provided you think to ask. My guess is that nobody asked, simply because this was an element of the production sufficiently uncoupled from those making creative decisions.
- "For the record, typing "ahem" actually makes something less polite, not more." No, it's a way for the other person to save face. I could have been a lot more insulting but I chose not to be, because it seemed clear that the mistake was an innocent one. And extras often are hired off the street. Especially for newer shows that haven't yet proven their staying power. What you "suspect" about the situation and what actually is are two different things. You really overestimate how represented minorities were in the acting industry in the 80s and early 90s (or even today). Sure, it would have been possible for them to have cast a more "even" racial balance of extras for the show. And who knows? Maybe if they asked a casting agency for exactly X number of minority extras by next Friday the agency would have said "Oh sure! We just happen to have X minority extras available right now." Or maybe they wouldn't. Maybe the agency wouldn't be able to muster up that many on short notice, forcing them to delay the shoot until the right number of extras can be found. That's the problem. It's all a gamble. A gamble that, in the grand scheme of things, really isn't worth taking. Did the apparent deficit of non-white extras somehow negate Star Trek's message of tolerance and coexistence? Is the moral of the show somehow rendered invalid just because there aren't enough black people milling around in the background? And as a troper below points out, if we really get down to it the most realistic thing would be for almost all the human characters (including the main actors) to be racially ambiguous. If this truly is a post-racial future, shouldn't the races be so blended as to be almost indistinguishable?
- "Did the apparent deficit of non-white extras somehow negate Star Trek's message of tolerance and coexistence? Is the moral of the show somehow rendered invalid just because there aren't enough black people milling around in the background?" Yes and no. File it under Unfortunate Implications — the kind of thing that certainly isn't intentional and no one in particular is to blame, and indeed may have real-world protection concerns behind it, but it still ends up reflecting societal values in a way that is, well, unfortunate (except for the implication that non-white = black, although a great many Americans seem to like to forget that other racial minorities exist). Here's why: there is a tendency in Euro-American society to treat whiteness as a kind of default. Black people are black people, Native people are Native people, etc. but white people are simply people and are presumed to be able to represent humanity seemingly through lacking race (check out Richard Dyer's book White for a good primer on this). Star Trek, while certainly deserving respect for advances in depictions of minorities, still mostly abides by this; as you note, even Star Trek's purportedly postracial future ends up mostly being a white one. For a related point, see this study of the overrepresentation of English and Irish names for Star Trek characters. Star Trek is most certainly not unique in this regard, but it seems possible to suggest that it did less to correct it than it might have. That's all I am saying here.
- As SF Debris pointed out in his review of TNG's "Code of Honor", it is entirely possible to cast an entire planet filled with black people, so they certainly could be more ethnically diverse if they wanted to.
- The casting people for that episode likely searched specifically for black actors to populate the planet. And it was only for one episode. The rest of the time they probably sent out a generic call for actors with no racial requirement. It just so happened that the majority of the actors who responded to those calls were white.
- Another problem with human races on the series is that, realistically, in Star Trek's post-racial future, we should see many more people who would appear racially traceless to our eyes, the results of centuries worth of mixing. Hard to cast, obviously. Also, surnames will be a less reliable predictor of outward appearance (a point Arthur C. Clarke makes in 3001: The Final Odyssey with, for instance, a character of outwardly Japanese appearance named Indra Wallace.
Always Keep a Spare Bridge Crew in the Trunk
- Whenever the bridge crew assembles an away team, we see some of the main characters leave their stations while others walk in from the off and man the vacated stations. Are there special 'secondary crew lounges' right next to the bridge where the replacements sit, twiddling their thumbs, until a senior officer goes on an away mission?
- Kind of like an On Call area, probably.
- Possibly those stations just aren't ever supposed to be left unmanned unless there's no alternative, so the nearest qualified person takes them until the 'official' replacement shows up.
- Yeah, I'd guess there are some stations more vital than others and the bridge crew has some cross-training on them, so if one's vacated they can just switch what they're doing to "autopilot" and run over to the other one.
Holographic Doctors Ain't Got No Soul?
- Starting with the EMH on Voyager, and continuing with Vic Fontaine on Deep Space Nine (or maybe it's the other way around, I don't remember), we see that self-aware holograms are starting to become, if not commonplace, then at least not totally unheard of. This raises a huge issue: Doesn't the creation of self-aware computer programs to do your bidding more or less amount to slavery? Think about it. The EMH and Vic are both fully aware that they're holograms, yet neither (at least initially) is allowed to do anything except perform whatever function they were designed to do. Only the Doctor seems to see a problem with this; he complains all the time that crew members talk right past him as if he's not there, forget to turn him off before leaving sick bay, and any number of other indignities. Did nobody think about this when the idea of giving holograms consciousness was first floated? More to the point, what happened to the much-touted evolved sensibilities that the Federation is supposed to embody? Data was specifically stated to be a conscious, free being despite being artificially created rather than born; why doesn't anyone extend the same courtesy to holograms until they're beat over the head with it? Hell, the EMH program was even repurposed to produce menial laborers; if that doesn't scream Unfortunate Implications, I don't know what does.
- Bear in mind that no EMH was ever supposed to be self-aware, the Doctor becoming so was an accident, and as the crew come to understand that he has become self-aware, they start to allow him time off, to upgrade his program with other abilities, and so on. The end of "Author, Author" is problematic, though, because it implies that all the menial labour holograms have become something close to people, which would make it slavery, and it doesn't make sense anyway: the Doctor becoming sapient was a result of a combination of the crew overcomplicating his program by trying to get him to do much more than he was supposed to be able to, and the fact that he was left on for far too long. The menial labour holograms, by contrast, were presumably reprogrammed for a very simple task, and not left on for extended periods of time. They shouldn't really have gained sapience.
- Nope. The Doctor knew from the beginning that he was a hologram, and it was in the very first season that he started complaining about being mistreated by the crew. So the original point still stands. Plus, you still haven't addressed the problem of Vic Fontaine, who also knew he was a hologram; he just didn't complain about it because the crew treated him relatively well. The closest he came was when Nog was using the Holosuite as his rehabilitation facility, and Vic complained that he wasn't used to being on 24/7 (or whatever the hell clock they used on Deep Space Nine), and even then he didn't seem to hold it against Nog.
- We're getting into P-zombie issues at this point, though. The Doctor said he was a hologram and complained about the crew, but a computer could be programmed to say "I'm a computer, and you guys suck" without being sentient. It's later revealed that the Doctor's program was mimicking his creator Dr. Zimmerman at first, and only later started branching off into things Zimmerman wouldn't have approved of, like raising a family and singing opera. So even though a hologram's saying things that make him sound sentient, that could just be a very advanced but still mindless AI running a "what would this character do" simulation. Though now we're getting into solipsism and the question of how to prove that anyone's really sentient at all, which is the kind of philosophical nightmares the Federation's probably trying not to get legally sucked into (which is likely why the court in "Author Author" ruled that the Doctor can be an author while specifying that the ruling does not necessarily mean he's sentient). On the other hand, they'll have to deal with it sooner or later...
- What bugs me is the idea of sentient holograms in general, going all the way back to Moriarty. It's not that these weren't great characters and some great stories, but it just raises too many issues. First of all, there's Data. Data is made out to be this very unique, highly sophisticated android, the product of one man's entire life's work; a truly sentient form of artificial life. Data is something so special that top researchers can't duplicate him. But then the holodeck accidentally succeeds in creating an artificial life form more sophisticaded than Data, with a full range of emotion and personality, who then goes on to create another program like himself. This very idea completely undermines Data's uniqueness. Secondly, consider that the holodeck is a part of the ship's computer, and all holodeck programs are stored there. So now we're suggesting that the Enterprise itself is capable of creating multiple living entities by itself, within itself. Doesn't it stand to reason that the Enterprise itself is capable of sentience? And thirdly, this bugs me because by the time we get to Author, Author (if you even count Voyager, which you shouldn't) we're now dealing with the issue of Hologram rights. This was just one of those things that I think got out of hand in Star Trek. Suddenly there's an entire race of accidentally created lifeforms. It just stretches my suspension of disbelief too far. One of the fundamental problems with Star Trek is that if you consider every episode, there's always some idea or piece of technology lying around that the characters never consider, like the way the transporter could essentially solve every single problem if you really think about it.
- It seems generally accepted that Vic Fontaine is a person; he certainly doesn't seem to operate by the normal hologram rules, what with the ability to turn himself on when he's been turned off. Okay, maybe he gained some measure if sentience, if not sapience, over time. But then, when the hidden Mafia subplot in his holosuite program switches on, the author of the program simply refuses to restore the status quo. First, if Vic is a person, isn't that reckless endangerment? And second, isn't that godawful customer service, refusing to disable an unwanted "feature" completely unrelated and in fact contrary to the purpose for which the program was purchased (to be a simple casino lounge)?
- I think the possibility of simply resetting the program was brought up in that episode. However, that would also have erased Vic's memory from an unspecified period of time which is why they decided to play by the program's rules.
- For the record, they never actually said in the episode that the safeties were disabled when the jack-in-the-box kicked in, so it's quite possible that the DS9 crew were never in any danger at all during their big heist. The only one in danger was Vic himself, and Bashir could always reset the program and bring Vic back if he had to, but that would have reset Vic's memory too. And perhaps...that was the entire purpose. Perhaps Felix was trying to open people's eyes about holographic rights by creating this sentient program, getting people attached to it, and then putting that program in danger. Suddenly the crew is willing to enact a complex plan, possibly even risking life and limb, to get rid of the jack-in-the-box. And not because they don't like the Mafia subplot, but because they want to help Vic. All of a sudden they realize they've stopped thinking about Vic as "just another hologram" and started thinking of him as a real person. And once they realize that, maybe they start looking at some of their other favorite holo-characters a little bit differently...
The Future's Into Retro?
- Other than a few isolated examples, why does pop culture in the Trek universe seem to have completely stopped after the Sixties? Tom Paris is the self-proclaimed expert on the 20th century, yet we get the impression that if someone were to ask his opinion of Pearl Jam (which existed and was quite popular when the show was created), he'd have no idea what they were talking about. As far as literature goes, it's even worse; we almost never see anyone reading anything written after about 100 years ago (from the viewer's perspective). In three or four centuries, not one writer's managed to produce a novel that's considered a classic? That would be like us in the 21st century disregarding everything written after early 1700's.
- Things went down hill so bad that we had literal warlords with control over most of the earth by the early 90s. By 2024, folks have been caged up long enough to trigger the Bell Riots. The music never was created, and the things that may have become classic were overpowered by the influx of alien lit. Or the writers just aren't that creative.
- I'm gonna have to go with option 2. If indeed everything after our (the viewers') present got destroyed in the turmoil of the early 21st century, then how did anything before our present survive? And if indeed "alien lit" supplanted everything, then why are people still so in love with Charles Dickens?
- There's enough novels from the many printings over the years that some survived the destruction so they were reproduced.
- Thanks to expanded copyright law, overly-aggressive DRM and inadvertent EMP blasts in the Eugenics Wars, all post-1920's pop culture, music, film, and literature are locked behind an inoperative region coded Content Scrambling System.
- Of course, one of the real-world explanations is that because of copyright law, they often had to use public domain stuff in the first place when they didn't make things up. In addition, the reason that the only "old" music used was classical and jazz because because the creators considered it universal where as rock music would make the show dated.
- On that note, I really wish scifi writers (and Trek writers in particular) would give up this fantasy of making their shows "universal" or "timeless". Because it's never gonna happen. Any tv show, movie, book, etc. that speculates about what the future might hold will inevitably become dated after a certain point. Especially for a franchise that prides itself on insightful social commentary and clever allegories for real-world issues, like Trek does. History Marches On and all that. There's nothing wrong with making a period-specific show.
Supersize Those Starships
- I'll be the first to admit that the starships in Star Trek look awesome, but is there any logistical reason why they have to be so huge? What are all those personnel for, anyway?
- Not an exhaustive answer but, after the prequel Enterprise and before the Defiant, Starfleet had this strange policy of never building any true warship. Insteed, every starship is designed as some kind of flying city, with an emphasis on scientific research.
- In TOS, various claims are made that the facilities on board the Enterprise alone pretty much match anything available at a starbase, that the ship can wipe out an entire planet easily, and that the dilithium crystals were virtually inexhaustible as long as you weren't stressing the ship. Really, the ship often does provide a technological solution to Kirk's risky god-defeating habit; it was supposed to be the limitless pinnacle of imaginable human accomplishment. Therefore, the large ship makes a bit of sense... a lot of inspiration was taken from WWII-era U.S. naval ships in the design (Jeffries designed the TOS bridge to be kind of spartan) and sheer prodigiousness of the power a "starship" packs. And even though "starships" are supposed to be the biggest and baddest machines available to humans, the complement of the NCC-1701 doesn't come close to its 19th-21st century equivalents. The Enterprise-D does, it should be noted, but still cuts it on the small side compared to, say, a nuclear aircraft carrier (not a fair comparison because the Enterprise is more like a battleship than a carrier, which needs more crew to take care of the planes, but Star Trek IV did it first so nyeh nyeh).
You have to bear in mind that a lot of these things were designed with the idea that Space Is an Ocean. For actual warships in real life, there is a lot of redundancy required so that parts of the crew can take shifts (sleep), and so parts of the crew can die in a war situation without leaving the ship helpless in any one of its capacities. And there are also a lot of things that require crew to keep an eye on, too; any given part of a ship might keep one to several people busy non-stop if the ship's operation demands it. Add a command structure on top of that. That's how you get the huge complements on ships with a wide field of capabilities—many of those capabilities will have specialists, and then there's necessary redundancy.
Scotty's an Old-School Mac Guy?
- In Star Trek IV, how does Scotty get the computer to work so quickly? It has to be explained to him that it doesn't have a human-language-parsing voice interface like he's used to, but once he's told that the I/O is via keyboard, he not only figures out the interface with no difficulty at all, but manages to construct a 3D graphic on a Mac without touching the mouse.
- TNG offers a truly shocking blink if you miss explanation as to just how Scotty might have come by those mad keyboard skills. In the Enterprise's computer core, the interface isn't one of the standard 24th century touch screens. It's a CRT monitor and a standard keyboard (although the keyboard looks slightly high tech by today's standards and probably looked more futuristic back when the episode aired in 1989). So, even in the 24th century where every command function on the bridge is controlled by touch panels, at the heart of the computer controlling it all is a terminal that seems to deliberately be intensely old school. I wouldn't be surprised if the damn thing has bios and a command prompt.
- That is most likely absolutely the case. Look at modern computers: We have your standard extremely user friendly, efficient, multi-purpose home PC's and Mac's that literally anyone of any age and any training can use; and we have huge, rugged, ugly machines with bulky buttons and flashing lights that tend to be found in hazardous or industrial environments and designed to fulfil one or two set tasks. There is no real reason why this would change by the 24th century; especially since in-universe the NX-01 Enterprise of the 22nd was still using keyboards (albeit of a different design) and it would make sense that the ship that helped found the Federation and contained a revolutionary warp engine would have been something Scotty would have studied at some point.
- Scotty is still unfamiliar with the then-contemporary Mac OS, and using the keyboard in that way surely involves the use of a number of keystrokes/keyboard shortcuts that would not be obvious to a system newbie, even one as otherwise technically skilled as Scotty.
- There are some people who can pull off something akin to Scotty's performance today. Place a veteran Auto CAD user in front of a computer, and they will create a fully functional model without touching the mouse at all. It's all a matter of knowing which keyboard commands to use.
Working Day and Night?
- Why do Starfleet ships and installations have a day/night cycle? It makes little enough sense on ships, where hostile aliens or spatial anomalies could show up at any time; it makes no sense whatsoever for Deep Space Nine, which is permanently attached to a planet, and therefore in constant contact with local authorities (which don't sleep - planets are round), as well as managing dozens if not hundreds of ships docking and departing all the time. Even worse, in that situation why would Quark of all people ever want to close the bar and turn away paying customers?
- Because people have a day/night cycle built into their genes and tend to go a little Janeway if the environment doesn't reflect that. All the essential tasks are covered, but non-essential stuff is only run during day-shift (or if there is a crisis).
- As for Quark, three possible reasons. First is that even in the future a public establishment needs downtime to clear up, run maintenance, etc. There is a lot more to running a bar than just serving booze and a lot of this stuff can't be done unless you clear the customers out. Also remember Deep Space Nine and inhabitants has a day/night cycle so there will be a period where even Morn has gone home and it isn't cost effective to keep paying staff to work when wages would cost more than income. If you run a cost-benefit analysis it works out cheaper to close down for a few hours to do the back of shop properly and let the staff sleep than just try and keep running. Second, Deep Space Nine has to work under Bajoran laws and there is probably a licensing restriction about how long bars can stay open that Odo loves to enforce to the second. Third, even Quark needs to sleep and he isn't willing to trust any of his underlings not to try and screw him on the finances if he leaves them in charge.
Omnidisciplinary security forces
- Why do the same people seem to be responsible for internal shipboard security, ground combat, and ship-to-ship combat? Admittedly there's probably a fair bit of overlap between security guards and marines, which explains part of it, but the really glaring issue is the choice to always make the chief of security also the main weapons officer - these roles don't overlap in any way besides letting Worf attempt to shoot more things with different weapons. Really "Starfleet security" ought to be at least three separate corps (as using unarmoured security guards as ground troops is also just wanton cruelty to the common redshirt).
- They've tried to deal with this on a few occasions, like Worf and Tasha Yar's dual roles during the first season of TNG, and then Worf and Odo in Deep Space Nine, and Malcolm Reed and the space marines in Season 3 Enterprise, but it usually results in the characters who are in charge of intraship security and combat stations butting heads. The creators are probably just trying to conserve characters by making one of them "the action guy". It's not realistic, but when they do split the roles up, one character often starts to seem redundant.
Watch me pull a new race out of my hat
- Trek has a tendency to pull new "old" species out of its hat... like why didn't we hear of the Cardassians before "The Wounded" if they supposedly fought a war with the Federation? It would be easy to reuse old species, especially since most aliens in Star Trek have only been named and not seen. The writers could have taken the name of a group already mentioned. Headscratchers.
- A lot of these aliens really just weren't that memorable. They would introduce new alien species as needed. Those who really captured the audience's imagination (Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians, Bajorans, Founders/Vorta/Jem'Hadar, Borg) got called back for increasingly prominent roles. Those who were all right but uninteresting (Nausicaans, Breen, Vidiians) were used sparingly in supporting roles. Those whom the audience disliked (Kazon) or just didn't get (Suliban) were quietly written out after a few tries at rehabilitating their image (except the Ferengi; they went from an unpopular antagonist to an even more unpopular attempt at comic relief, then finally they let the species's two most respectable specimens, Quark and Nog, do most of the talking, and we stopped minding the others quite so much.) The dozens of one-off aliens were very often quickly realized to be bad ideas. Do you really think "The Wounded," and for that matter all of Deep Space Nine, would have been better if, rather than invent the Cardassians, they had reused those catatonic fish people from "Manhunt"?
- Some of the one-off aliens were used to tell very good stories, either in bottle episodes (Tamarians in "Darmok," Devore in "Counterpoint") or in metastories, like the Xindi; but were more or less written to be one-trick ponies.
- My complaint was more about why don't they just reuse a set number of random species names instead of making up fifteen in a single episode, and why don't they also reuse random alien names when they need to introduce a new one-trick pony race. That would be a lot more plausible. After all, after Starbases started getting incredibly high numbers, Gene Roddenberry himself stated they shouldn't go above a certain number.
- They started doing that in Enterprise, though more with place names than with species. On the rationale that it is possible to have more than one thing happen in the same system or nebula over the centuries, they would retcon unrelated events into the same location. For instance, after Soong steals the augment embryos, he plans to hide out with them in a nebula that was the setting of Insurrection AND whose Klingon name is also the name of some offscreen battle from their history that someone mentioned once. It all felt rather cheap to me, especially given how ENT kept having to deal with accusations of kicking canon to the curb.
What does the Alpha Quadrant Look like?
- When the dust had settled, you pretty much had four great powers in the Alpha Quadrant: the Federation, the Klingons, the Romulans, and the Cardassians. Then there are secondary powers like the Ferengi, the Breen, and the Nausicaans, and one-off species like the Tzenkethi and the Son'a; but dealing just with the Core Four, this is complex enough, so let's leave them be.
- I'm not sure that the Cardassians are really in quite the same league as the others; TNG makes it quite clear that they were pawning their priceless cultural treasures in order to maintain their war economy against the Feds (and given that this war wasn't even mentioned onscreen until it was over, it's fair to assume that for the Federation this wasn't a conflict on anything like the same scale as the wars with the Dominion or Klingons), bearing in mind that during this time the Cardassians had a highly militaristic society and the Federation didn't even have dedicated warships and still they felt so unthreatened by the war with Cardassia that they were using the flagship as a taxi half the time; plus the Klingons go through them like a hot knife through butter in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It seems more likely that they're sort of first among the secondary powers, rather than a Great Power.
- Although we don't get much canon on this, it's hard to imagine the Cardassians as still being a major power after the Dominion War, as it was particularly unkind to them.
- At different points, each of the four powers is referred to as sharing a border with each of the other three. Assuming they all have contiguous territories—which I guess they might not—there are only two possible explanations: There's a point where the borders of all four come together at a ninety-degree angle and they meet in some center, like Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico; or three of them have borders that would come together and meet at a 120-degree angle (like an equilateral triangle divided into thirds) and the fourth one being plunked down in the center of this and extending out from the central point.
- Actually, the former doesn't work, either: The Federation had a Klingon Neutral Zone and a Romulan Neutral Zone and a Cardassian DMZ. So it had borders with all three extending for a good while. For the Square States model to work, it would only touch one of the three at a geometric point.
- As for the latter setup—I guess it works, but it's pretty stupid, isn't it?
- Allow me to introduce you to a concept called "3 Dimensions". Space is not a flat map where 4 regions can only meet at a single corner. Granted, this *is* Star Trek which adores the Space Is an Ocean trope. The boundaries can wander and roam all over the place, and it would be pretty easy for all 4 empires to share stretches of contiguous border.
- The relevance of the third dimension depends how big the empires are: the Galaxy is much narrower along its "vertical" axis (its thickness is only 1% of its diameter). While this is still an enormous distance, and it's reasonable to expect overlap, we're also dealing with incomprehensibly-huge nations here that may well extend far further than that in the "horizontal" plane. Assuming they each spread evenly from a central point, the borders would reasonably tend to line up when viewed from above.
- And another thing: Federation space includes a bajillion species, both Fed members and pre-warp civilizations whom they ignore under the Prime Directive but protect from foreign interlopers by maintaining their own territorial integrity. The Romulans have only the Remans. The Cardassians had only the Bajorans until they got thrown out. The Klingons tried to enslave two races in TOS and had one whom they had enslaved in ENT. But for the most part all three species had their space to themselves.
- Now assuming that the likelihood of a Class-M planet will develop an intelligent race is pretty much the same anywhere (and I can't see any reason it wouldn't be) that means that the Federation is either much larger territorially than the others, or it has a much denser concentration of inhabitable planets, which one assumes mean many more resources to exploit. Either of those factors would give it a huge advantage over the other civilizations, would make the the Alpha Quadrant's dominant superpower. But it deals with each of the other three as equals most of the time.
- In the first half of TNG I could easily imagine the Federation being run by such shrinking violets that they can be bested by enemies a fraction of their size. Then the Borg came along and gave them a wake-up call. It's kind of like the United States in WWII: In 1940, despite being much larger than Germany, the US army was severely outnumbered, outweighed, and outclassed by its German counterpart, because the Germans were on a war footing and the US wasn't. In 1943, the US war machine was going all-out, and even without the rest of the Allies would have had every advantage over the Germans in a one-on-one fight.
- Where this breaks down is that the Federation had had a ton of Pearl Harbor moments, starting with Wolf 359, the near-war with Cardassia in "Chain of Command," the war with the Klingons in Season 5 of Deep Space Nine, the Dominion alliance with Cardassia, the second Borg invasion. . . . Eventually, the Federation certainly created the impression that it was going balls-to-the-wall to deal with all these threats. But if it were, and if it's as much a potential powerhouse as you suggested, it couldn't help being as strong in the Alpha Quadrant as the Dominion was in the Gamma—In which case it would have beaten the Cardassians and the fraction of the Jem'Hadar fleet that got through before the wormhole got cut off like a rented mule, even without the Klingons' help, and would have faced the entire Gamma Quadrant Dominion force on an even footing. Instead, it's barely keeping its head above water with the fraction of the Dominion fleet in the Alpha Quadrant, and at the beginning of the sixth season everyone's puckering their assholes at the thought the rest of the Jem'Hadar will show up and give the Dominion an insurmountable numerical advantage.
- Remember the Federation supposedly has no military, that most of Starfleet's ships are equipped for research and humanitarian aid and that most of the crew signed up for the engineering or scientific opportunities. Starfleet simply doesn't operate on the level of the Cardassian or Klingon militaries; it seems reasonable that the Federation must be many times larger and more (economically) powerful if it's even able to maintain an equal relationship. Even when they get onto a "war" footing, they're still mostly using obsolete ships (notice the Excelsior-class appears a lot in Deep Space Nine), crewed by personnel with woefully inadequate combat training, as they have no dedicated military academy or warship production facilities. The few instances where a ship or crew is up to scratch militarily (the Defiant, any Galaxy-class with the children offloaded) they're normally portrayed as being able to tear through enemy ships by the dozen, with the exception of the very first battle with the Dominion.
- While this is pure fanon, it is also possible that the Klingons, Romulans, and Cardassians have enough worlds and subject species under their control to have comparable resources to The Federation, but the fact that they are Empires that conquered these territories instead of democracies that formed alliances with them along with a healthy dose of institutionalized racism means that the races who these Empires are named after are the ruling class and are the only ones to rise to the possitions where The Federation deals with them (i/e: Government and Military)
Why do they even bother? I don't mean the insubordination; that's a separate issue
. But they have actual procedures specifically devoted to working around rank structure. From "The Doomsday Machine," when Spock cites regulation that allows a captain to countermand a commodore if he uses his "personal authority," to "Harbinger," when Major Hayes said he didn't have a problem taking orders from Reed despite the fact that a major outranks a naval lieutenant—outranks everyone on that ship except Archer and Tucker. And in "Zero Hour" the same major says he wants a corporal to take command of his unit after he's gone. Harry Kim got screwed out of promotions all the time, but was still fifth in command despite being junior to every single Starfleet officer on the ship as well as however many Maquis were either made lieutenants or had previously had Starfleet commissions which predated Kim's own. Department heads with lower ranks than members of their departments. Acting captains and especially acting first officers of lower rank than some of the people under their temporary command. Inconsistent rules over whether a person could be promoted to captain and/or admiral without transfering to the Command department. Inconsistent rules about how the Bridge Officer test was applied. Officers from foreign services (Kira Nerys, T'Pol) pulling rank on Starfleet officers on Starfleet ships (not Deep Space Nine, of course, but the Defiant.
) It just . . . grr!
- Pay grade? As long as you choose to ignore the claims about not having salaries, because they're silly.
- The "personal authority" thing probably has to do with who is captain of what - the personal authority cited is Kirk's as "Captain of the Enterprise.". Presumably, a captain of a ship has some authority over even higher-ranked visitors, which technically is what Decker was. As for T'Pol, she was an exchange officer. Starfleet might just have given her an acting rank while she served as part of the Enterprise's crew.
- In addition to being "Wagon Train to the Stars" Star Trek was also Hornblower IN SPACE! and there was, indeed, an old British naval tradition that a Commodore visiting another officer's ship had little to no authority to command that ship's crew despite their much higher rank. In fact, in one of the Hornblower books, Hornblower - by then not only a Commodore, but also 1. a lord and 2. married to the sister of the Duke of Wellington - has to hitch a ride on a glorified patrol boat, commanded by a mere Lieutenant. Said Lieutenant is not particularly competent, and Hornblower muses on how despite his vastly higher rank, wealth, and social status, he can't actually order the Lieutenant to do anything related to the running of the ship, he has to reason with the Lieutenant or hope to awe the Lieutenant into doing his bidding with his titles. A visiting admiral, on the other hand, could relieve a captain in his squadron (which, apart from the fact that the crew just respects him that damn much, is probably why there's little drama attached to Admiral Kirk taking the Enterprise in the movies (Decker Junior's little hissy fit notwithstanding). This tradition isn't carried over to modern navies, which may be why we don't see that many of the numerous mad admirals in the TNG-era just try to relieve the captains.
Vulcans and Romulans
Romulans are the descendants of Vulcans who left Vulcan about 2000 years before Kirk's time and yet they're treated as separate species who are sometimes genetically incompatible with one another. In the past, human populations have been reproductively isolated from one another for 2000 years (mostly) yet we're all the same species and far more genetically compatible with one another than, say, a bonobo. Passionate Vulcans are regarded as an oddity in the Trek universe, but that's basically what Romulans are. Of course, that also suggests that Romulans can mind-meld but just like the "evil" Vulcans of Enterprise they don't pursue this potential. It also serves to cast the Vulcan aversion to emotions in a new light: they believe that allowing themselves to feel emotions will result in their being consumed by them and become violent and destructive (see any episode where a Vulcan loses control) but if Romulans are just passionate Vulcans then they're not so different from humans. Sarek's teachings seem less like the only means his species could survive and more like a flawed, Equilibrium
-type of dogmatic belief.
- Vulcans and Romulans can't interbreed? Since when? Since they're genetically close enough to pass all but the most rigorous genetic testing, that makes no sense—especially since we know that both are able to cross-breed with humans and Romulans can cross-breed with Klingons. That would be like telling this white male troper that he can't have a child with a black woman but he can have a child with a turtle. And weren't there Vulcan-Romulan hybrids? Supposedly they were going to work that into T'Pol's backstory in the mythic Enterprise Season 5.
- I never said they can't interbreed, I said they're sometimes genetically incompatible. I should have been more clear since the specific example I was thinking of was in the TNG episode "The Enemy" where a Romulan needs some sort of transfusion and the only compatible donor is Worf. They even mention that the Vulcans onboard are not suitable donors. So even though they ought to be the same species, a Klingon is the best match. Obviously Romulans and Vulcans can mate, as Saavik and T'Pol are part Romulan, but this seems to follow the more whimsical connection of alien hybrids rather than what we might call "interracial coupling."
- Blood types and genetic markers. All humans aren't compatible with all humans for transfusions either. Those specific Vulcans weren't compatible with him. It doesn't mean they never are. This does bring up the question of why a Klingon and Romulan would have compatible types and markers, but this is a universe where species who evolved on different planets (and in the case of humans and Vulcans even have completely different processes for circulating oxygen through the blood) can mate, so it's probably not worth thinking about.
- As for the rest, I always thought perhaps Vulcans weren't able to access their latent telepathic abilities until they'd fully embraced the teachings of Surak. I guess there would be no stopping the Tal Shiar from infiltrating an agent into a monastery to spend years and years learning all the secrets of Vulcan mental discipline until he was able to access those things himself, but there's a high risk that the agent would either be discovered or flip in such a rigorous setting. I guess that part's kind of weak.
- I always wondered if they go through Pon Farr, myself.
- I assumed that Pon Farr was a side-effect of repressing all emotions rather than something that any Vulcan/Romulan went through biologically. How would an overpowering urge to mate only every seven years evolve on a planet as hostile as Vulcan?
- I was thinking about this recently myself, and considered that possibility. However, if pon farr has a strong mental element like that, why would it happen every seven years like a clockwork? Shouldn't there be clear variations in the timing and intensity of pon farr due to individual psychological differences?
- I figure that maybe they do have something like Pon Farr, but it's just not as noticeable since they're rather openly emotional all the time. When a Romulan goes into Pon Farr, all it means is that for the next week or so, his wife is going to be having even more fun in bed with him than usual.
- Romulans very likely just have sex whenever they're in the mood, whereas Vulcans try to repress sexual desire like all other emotions. In order to ensure that their species' birth rate doesn't nose dive, the Vulcans would need some kind of biological alarm clock to remind them to mate. Hence this primitive trait is more prominent in them than in Romulans. Much like a human female's menstrual cycle, the timing is not exact. Vulcan men know approximately when they are due for Pon Farr, but since the time between "periods" is so wide, there is probably months worth of wiggle room as to when exactly it will hit. Although, it is rather interesting that Vulcans and Betazoids, both telepathic species, have hard-wired reproductive impulses built into their life cycles (in the Betazoids it's the female Phase).
- My WMG: Romulans have no telepathic ability, and were the victims of some kind of race-war with the pre-Surak Vulcans. They ran away and set up an ultra-paranoid state out of fear that the Vulcans would come looking for them. WMG part 2: Vulcans are broadcasting on a "background frequency" all the time (as in Sarek, or another interpretation of Sybok's ability), and the suppression of emotion means they don't incite each other to violence and were able to move on as a society; Romulans don't need to do this.
This doesn't really bug me per se, but it does strike me as odd. Just about every child character who's got a remotely prominent role is being raised by a single parent. The reasons for this vary and are all unrelated, but it does seem an unlikely coincidence, especially since we're given every indication that the nuclear family is still the norm.
- David Marcus: Raised only by his mother, who went out of her way to keep him from his father until he was an adult. (Which gives us the Fridge Horror of realizing that while Kirk was warping around the galaxy earning our respect and admiration, he was arguably a deadbeat dad, though it's not exactly like he was receiving and ignoring repeated requests from Carol for child support, or anything.)
- Wesley Crusher: Raised only by his mother. His father died when he was very young.
- Alexander: Raised only by his mother at first; she pulled a Carol Marcus on Worf for a few years, then introduced father and son. No sooner had this happened than she died, meaning that the poor kid only had a couple of days of knowing both his parents.
- Lal: Okay, she was a special case.
- Jake Sisko: Raised only by his father. His mother died. He was old enough to remember her, but she didn't come anywhere close to seeing him as an adult.
- Also, he gets the Alexander treatment, in that his dad finally marries Kasidy Yates (making her Jake's stepmother), only to be whisked off to a higher plane of existence a short time later. Given the events in "The Visitor" and the final shot of the series, the future doesn't look too happy for poor Jake Sisko.
- The future shown in "The Visitor" was an alternate timeline created by the accident. When Ben Sisko returned to his own time, that Jake Sisko's life was overwritten with whatever he would have done without having a father trapped in a temporal bungee cord.
- True, but Jake at the end of the series was only a few years older than he was in that episode (the beginning part, anyway), and the situation was very similar. The point being that "The Visitor" showed the level of obsession Jake was capable of to bring his father back, and the fact that that future didn't actually happen still doesn't mean that Jake isn't the type of person that'd become obsessed about it again, especially since we've seen it in him already.
- In "The Visitor," Ben was removed from Jake's life by an accident that Jake hadn't thought to try to reverse until Ben started coming back from the "dead." Yes, he could technically be considered KIA until he returns, but presumably Kasidy will pass the word along to Jake that this is supposed to be a good thing and that he'll be back in due time. Besides, Ben points out that the Prophets could very well deposit him back yesterday. Since they barely have a concept of time, they'd probably let Ben guide them in what time to send him back to, and he'd select the very next day, or next week.
- Nog: Raised only by his father. No one seemed to notice that his mother was absent. I can only remember one instance of any of the Ferengi characters (or any of the non-Ferengi characters, for that matter) even mentioning her: Rom frets that Leeta will grow tired of him, as Nog's mother had. From that I assumed she'd left Rom for being a loser, which, given how emphatically Ferengi men hold all the cards in their marriages, is really saying something. I suppose that explains why Rom kept Nog, though: Fathers are probably the default custodial parents in cases of divorce.
- It's actually established in one episode — I don't remember if it's the same one where Rom is worried about Leeta — that Ferengi marriages are five-year contracts and that Nog's mother (and Rom's father-in-law) opted not to renew it. On account of Rom's being a loser.
- Molly and Kirayoshi O'Brien: As of the end of Deep Space Nine they're being raised in a two-parent household. That makes them unique among the kids, though.
- Naomi Wildman: Raised only by her mother. Presumably would be in a two-parent household had Samantha Wildman not been on a ship whose three-hour tour turned into a fateful trip.
- Icheb: Was raised by both his parents, but only if your definition of "raised" is "infected with a cybernetic STD and abandoned at the Borg's doorstep; miraculoulsy survived, returned to them, and then they tried to do it again."
- New Coke Kirk: Raised by his mother. Father died on the day he was born. The real Kirk was raised by both parents, but we only know this because the real Spock pointed it out by way of contrast with New Coke Kirk.
Also common for adult characters: Of the TNG regular cast members other than Wesley (see above), Worf, Beverly, and Tasha Yar were orphans; Riker and Troi each lost one parent in childhood; and Data was abandoned by his parents when the Crystalline Entity struck. Geordi's parents both survived into his adulthood, though he lost his mother during the show's run; and Picard's parents were both dead before the show started, though we don't know when they died. His father apparently lived long enough to try to talk him out of joining Starfleet. Over on Deep Space Nine, Sisko's mother left him and his father after the Prophets stopped possessing her. Kira's mother faked her death when she became Dukat's concubine, and her father died when she was young though not quite a child anymore. O'Brien and Bashir had both parents still living during their Starfleet careers. Quark's father died when he was and adult, Worf I already mentioned, Jadzia's parents we never heard of, Ezri's family was apparently led by a single mother, Jake I mentioned above, and Odo . . . We don't know how the Founders reproduce, but whoever was responsible for bringing up new Founders decided he'd be fine just floating around on his own. On VGR, Janeway's father died when she was fourteen, Belanna's father walked out on her, and Seven's parents were assimilated when she was little (as was she). On ENT, Archer's father died when he was twelve. T'Pol's father died before the show started, though we don't know how old she was. Everyone else seemed to have a complete set.
On TOS, Kirk and Spock were both raised by both their parents, and I don't think they ever mentioned the parents of the other five. We know McCoy's father died when Bones was a young man. We also know Bones had a daughter, and when we first met New Coke McCoy, he's complaining that he's going through a tough divorce, which means we're probably looking at yet another broken home for his girl.
- From a writer's point, it creates more drama and opens up more potential storylines (Deceased parent comes back, last parent dies, etc). But logically, you are watching a series about military ships floating around in space and poking their noses in every last nook with a "Oh hello, I see you are being wiped out by an insanely dangerous threat, you want to join our society and we'll save you" theme on going. What do you expect when nearly every action episode contains the line "Casualties being reported from decks X through Y"?
Nature Abhors a Vacuum
Exposure to the vacuum of space will kill you instantly
. There are many ways of doing so: asphyxiation, the sudden drop in air pressure forcing everything in your body to push out to reestablish equilibrium, sudden exposure to temperatures of three degrees Kelvin. Hell, we all know that the very, very
mild cousins of any of these will be deadly even within the Earth's atmosphere; why else would our airplanes be airtight and include oxygen masks in their emergency equipment?
Yet in Trek vacuum exposure is survivable as long as you're holding onto something that's bolted down. If you're not you'll blow out the airlock and that can kill you, but if you're holding onto something you'll be just dandy. Take the Borg: First Chakotay in "Scorpion" and again Archer in "Regeneration" kill of a whole boatload of them by sealing sections that they're in and popping open the airlock. Dead. But in First Contact
they walk around on the outside of the ship without EV suits—and when the redshirt that Picard and Worf take out there with them gets assimilated, he can have the mask of his helmet broken and survive. What sets these Borg apart seems to be that they've magnetized their feet, so they're anchored. Keep in mind that the whole plot of that movie hinged on the fact that destroying the biological component of a drone would leave the technological component unable to function. So the takeaway message is clear: As long as you're anchored, you'll live.
And it happens to our heroes all the time. In TNG's "Disaster," Crusher rattles off a list of negative health effects that vacuum exposure will cause, but none of them include instant death. A few seconds' exposure for Archer in "Augments" takes him out of commission for the rest of the episode, but in other episodes, like "Dramatis Personae" and "Deadlock," everyone's fine as soon as the hatch is sealed. We hear
people threatening to beam people into space or throw them out the airlock, but even when we see
it, the only
thing apparently wrong with them is that they've been blown way out into the cosmos. (And by the way, when you're watching a battle scene, notice that a preferred way of saying "This ship is screwed
" is to have some crew members blown out a hull breach.) As long as you're staying physically connected to something that's anchored down in or on the ship, relax! I'm half-surprised they didn't offer balcony seating in Ten Forward.
- You can actually survive a surprisingly long time in vacuum, with training/preparation. How many examples do we have of people who were exposed more than half a minute without ill effect? It's prettied up somewhat for the story, but the longest outgassing I can think of is in "Disaster," and after they get the air reestablished, the next time we see them is after medical treatment.
- Exposure to the cold of space is hardly instantly fatal, as there is no convection.
- This only accounts for the Borg, but: Star Trek has invisible atmospheric force fields as a staple, so if you're not scared of power failure you probably don't need a space suit. The ones on the outside of the hull presumably had something like this built in. No idea why the ones in Regeneration and Scorpion wouldn't have it though. In fact, you'd expect the Borg not to care much about air or pressure either, but...
- What necessarily means that dumping those Borg out the airlock was an insta-kill? It simply got them off the ship, and it doesn't take much on the part of the ship to get far enough away that those drones couldn't survive a trip to get back to it - not only is space BIG, but these are ships capable of faster than light travel. Of course, if the ship IS in motion, then the fact that organic bodies weren't meant to travel at FTL speeds WOULD be an insta-kill, but it's not because of the vacuum of space.
- The Rigel system is home to several alien species, despite the fact that Rigel itself is a B-type star. Those stars only have a lifespan of less than 400 million years.
- Are they explicitly indigenous? The Expanded Universe asserts that "Rigelians" are another offshoot of the Vulcans; like the Romulans but less warlike.
- The canonical basis for the Vulcan/Rigelian link is the reference in "Journey to Babel" that they have similar blood chemistries. It's not clear if that makes them an offshoot like the Romulans or some case of covergent evolution like the Mintakans. But the other 'Rigelians', the ones from "The Cage," seem to be native to Rigel in any event.
We Will Not Use Army Tactics In The Future
- Can somebody explain to me why the Federation (and Dominion for that matter) has forgotten about such things as tanks, IFVs, personal armor, ground attack aircraft, helicopters, artillery, squad automatic weapons, barbed wire, digging trenches, offensive tactics that did not involve imitating Leeroy Jenkens, and other things we did not see at the Siege of AR-558? Really, has everybody forgotten about all but the most basic ground tactics?
- Because that would have completely busted the show's budget.
- And yet they had enough money for several CGI space battles. They could have diverted some of time and cash to show a long range CGI tank duel, or if the budget was already over the limit, at least mention that "our armor divisions were overwhelmed". Plus, there's the matter of body armor. Why not reuse something from TNG, TOS, or even a non-Trek show? And really, there is no excuse whatsoever for the hilariously poor infantry tactics. Was it too much trouble for the writers to consult with somebody in the armed forces or at the very least rent a WWII movie? Sure, any of these sujestions would have probably cut into other parts of the budget, but Starfleet probably wouldn't have ended up looking like total idiots.
- Excuse me, but I'm pretty sure that most of those space battles weren't CGI. At least according to this page. Of course they did use CGI on numerous occasions, but most shots of ship-to-ship combat were models.
- A CGI tank battle would have looked completely ridiculous. And saying "they've overwhelmed our armored divisions!" would have sounded ridiculous. The viewers would have immediately asked why they didn't get to SEE those armored divisions being overwhelmed (the old "show don't tell" rule). And their tactics weren't that bad. In the Siege of AR-558 they did at least hunker down under cover and herd enemies into a choke point. It just broke down into a melee fight when the Jemhadar overwhelmed them with superior numbers. What you asked was why the Federation didn't use, and I quote, "tanks, IFVs, personal armor, ground attack aircraft, helicopters, artillery". True they could have afforded some body armor (though in the Siege of AR-558 they were explicitly low on supplies so it's somewhat understandable) but all those other things you listed would have drained the budget completely even if it was just for one episode.
- ^^"And yet they had enough money for several CGI space battles." A CGI space battle is far cheaper and faster to make than a live-action ground battle sequence is to film. ^While I agree that the general suckitude of the Starfleet tactics used at AR-558 has been overstated, they still made several key errors. For instance, they didn't even attempt to collapse the cave entrance. At the very least this would have slowed the Jemhadar down, perhaps long enough for Starfleet to return and reinforce their position. But then, the Jemhadar weren't immune to this problem themselves. The disappearing-reappearing mines they set up were almost completely worthless. It hurt the morale of the Starfleet forces, sure, but they would have been much more effective if they worked like real mines. Instead of letting the enemy walk past the same spot a dozen times before exploding, they should have been set to drop out of their little subspace pocket and explode the first time someone got close to them. If they had done that, the Starfleet officers might have all been killed before Sisko ever made it to AR-558.
- Apart from the budget, what kind of space armada would bother with ground equipment for most of its engagements? All the real battles would be fought among the stars. Over in the Mirror Universe, I recall the chilling ending to the Star Trek: Enterprise two-parter which had the Terran Empire's new Empress introducing herself to Earth by declaring "Surrender now or we'll begin targeting your cities." In other words, if they don't surrender, she's going to start blasting whole cities into oblivion with phasers and photon torpedoes from a Constitution-Class starship of the kind available to James T. Kirk in his time. If one of those ships has roughly the firepower of a nuclear-armed submarine fleet, it stands to reason that all the real action in these wars takes place between these starships. The only time to send in troops is while attempting to occupy a place, and once you've destroyed the other guy's shields, you can send them in directly with your transporters. Equipment intended for use in two-dimensional warfare is obsolete.
- "...what kind of space armada would bother with ground equipment for most of its engagements?" Uh, the kind that sometimes needs to secure ground targets without completely demolishing them in the process? A salvo of modern-day ICBMs (with or without nuclear warheads) can utterly annihilate an enemy city from miles away, and yet the American government has yet to phase out the US Army. It's all well and good to say "Surrender or we'll glass your city from orbit" ...until someone calls your bluff. If your enemy knows you need the city intact, or is willing to gamble on you not being the type to wantonly slaughter civilians (which the Federation is decidedly not), then what do you do when you say "Surrender or else!" and the enemy responds "Or else what?"
- "Or else we phaser you into submission!" It's not mentioned incredibly often, but a star ship's phasers can be set on stun just like the handhelds, and with a wide beam too. (See the original series episode "A Piece of the Action" for a demonstration of this.) Another possibility: "Or else we'll transport these six thousand troops we're carrying right into your citadel." Deep Space Nine in particular showed that the Federation does have some shock troops, and the Next Generation episode "Yesterday's Enterprise" indicated that the Enterprise-D on war footing was capable of housing that many troops at a time. For that matter, considering some of the ruthless and downright genocidal enemies the Federation was facing in each series, it might well be willing to get a bit nastier and say "Or else we'll release this brand new silicon-based virus of ours on your planet; there's no known cure and it's extremely contagious and deadly." In the case of the Dominion War, this was the very kind of enemy the Federation was facing, and I should point out the Cardassians and Romulans certainly didn't pull any of their punches trying to slag (what they thought to be) the Founders' home world with their armada's weapons during their ill-fated attack on the Dominion. Again, some of the fighting was hand-to-hand or at least phaser-to-phaser, but this was mostly between troops on star ships and space stations, not on the ground. Having troops still makes sense in a future with energy shields and transporters, but making them march and roll artillery across a field at each other does not. Of course, over in the Mirror Universe, where neither the Terran Empire nor the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance had any scruples whatsoever against slaughtering civilians, there's no question at all that anyone would be using scorched-earth tactics early and often.
- For the same reason that armies don't make rectangular formations on open fields and take turns shooting at each other anymore. Combat evolves over time, and what was once the most innovative tactic in the book is now obsolete.
- There's a very real difference between "evolving over time" and abandoning a still useful tactic.
- Rule of Drama and Rule of Cool basically; the Klingons are still using swords and not very efficient swords at that, but it's more entertaining to watch than both sides sitting in bunkers targetting one another with swarms of automated AP drones and different types of Technobabble from across the horizon.
- Out-of-universe reason: because the writers assume a starship can do anything, including phasering into submission enemies in a bunker or an army covered by a tactical theatre shield. In-universe reasons: by the time we saw Federation ground forces they were in the non-militant TNG era, where their military abilities for ground combat had decayed to the point they can't even design a decent handguns are ergonomic nightmares; the Klingon we saw on the ground are space vikings and would naturally prefer blades to guns and other practical equipment (and even then they still used mortars in "Nor the Battle to the Strong"); by the time we saw the Jem'hadar army, the Dominion was forced to use a more aggressive and apparently less competent version of the Jem'hadar, they probably were just too stupid or aggressive to use them; other powers we never saw on the ground, so for what we know the Romulans and the Cardassians do have powerful armies (and that would explain Shinzon's status as a war hero in spite of his incompetence: if he's army he would have gained his reputation in ground battles, and his incompetence in Nemesis would be explained by him simply having no training in starship combat and improvising as best as he can).
The Uses and Misuses of the Metric System
- Star Trek as a whole has a strange relationship with the metric system. TOS wavers between metric and imperial measurements seemingly at random. TNG seems committed to the notion that the metric system prevails in the future, but sometimes the writers get the details hilariously wrong. In "Attached," Crusher and Picard act like going two kilometers to the Kes border is a significant distance. In "Gambit, Part II," Picard is described as being about two metres tall — which would make him a man Michael Jordan would look up to!
- Possibly referenced in Star Trek: Nemesis. Shinzon (Picard's clone) says "I had hoped I'd hit two meters." Picard responds "as had I."
- Also, in "What You Leave Behind," Sisko states: "The Dominion is beaten and they know it, but they're going to make us pay for every kilometre of the planet." Considering that a kilometre is a measure of distance and not area, it's hard to make that make sense — granted, it would have been awkward for him to say "square kilometre" instead.
- He could have said 'hectare', which is a more common way of measuring plots of land.
Babble, comma, techno
- My jaw dropped the first time I heard someone say they liked technobabble. I wonder if someone can articulate for me the upside of technobabble. To me, it's a cancer which eats away time for proper dialogue and character interaction. It's always great to see characters solving problems, but not when the whole process is a string of incomprehensible jargon. Used sparingly, technobabble can be fun (there's not much of it in TOS) but latter-day Trek, especially Voyager, bathes in it.
- Ok I'll do it. "I reversed the polarity" may sound ridiculous, but it's much less grating than things happening and being handwaved. They go too far with it sometimes, but it has a purpose.
- In his autobiography, James Doohan says he hated having to the technobabble scenes from 'Relics' and makes what I think is a good point: engineers talking shop would not use the most tongue-twisting technical language available to them. Rather, they would speak in a kind of disciplinary shorthand that would be linguistically simple and efficient. It seems to me that Star Trek would have done well to develop such a thing for its characters to use; after all, it doesn't matter if we don't understand it, so long as we accept that the characters do.
- In a way, technobabble is worse than a handwave because it attempts to deceive the audience into believing it isn't a handwave. The amount of people who stubbornly insist that Star Trek is scientifically accurate (even the most scientifically accurate scifi show in history) is a testament to how insidious and damaging technobabble really is.
- Watching the first season of The Wire and its infamous "fuck scene," it made me sad that Trek never did more of that; establish that crewmates would develop a professional shorthand, a way of talking to each other that would convey a lot with a little (as opposed to technobabble, which does the opposite). In fact, TNG even nodded to this in the climax of "Allegiance," where Picard non-verbally instructs the bridge crew to capture the aliens. The question is, why don't we see this more often?
- Here's a genuine headscratcher present across all of the multiple series: what the heck are life signs? How can you scan for something as nebulous and ill-defined as "life"? And how come the scan normally returns only intelligent life rather than every animal, plant, single-celled organism, etc.?
- They have different ways of scanning for life and sometimes they have to alter their scans to be a bit more precise. Sometimes they can't read human lifesigns to locate a lost away team so they scan for Vulcan lifesigns instead. It's not perfect—like when the Reliant mistook the crew of the Botany Bay for "preanimate matter"—but they can usually adjust their scans from broad to specific depending on the needs of the mission. As for why they normally pick up intelligent life, they often scan for humanoid life forms so it be as simple as "Is it alive and shaped like us?" Another more outlandish WMG would be some real-life technobabble: according to physicists like Eugene Wigner the simple fact of being a conscious being influences reality. Since the "Schrödinger's cat" thought experiment requires a conscious being to make the cat either dead or alive, maybe Star Trek uses quantum scanners to detect wave function collapse, which would be a telltale sign of some form of consciousness.
- If your sensors are strong enough, it wouldn't actually be that hard. You look for a mass of interconnected heat with both the rhythm of a heart near the first heat center and a secondary heat center where the brain should be.
- Yet when they first encounter the Borg, they fail to detect lifesigns from them, and the Borg presumably have hearts and brains.
- Maybe the borg are really well insulated?
- Or possibly all the machinery and computer stuff integrated into a Borg drone obscures the body heat, pulse, etcetera.
I claim this planet in the name of...
- One thing that has never made much sense to me is the colonization and border procedures of the Federation (et al). Early in First Contact, Admiral Hansen relates that the Federation colony on Ivor Prime has been destroyed (he even describes it as "our colony"). A scene later, Picard states that the Borg ship "will cross the Federation border in less than an hour." So: Federation colonies lie outside the Federation's borders. This follows in a Space Is an Ocean kind of way... but does it really make sense? If the Federation has colonized a planet, why do the Federation's borders not then extend to claim it? This question touches on a set of broader issues: how does one claim a planet in space? How does one claim space itself? We have certainly seen examples of different powers disputing ownership of given worlds (Cestus III, for example, and the various border conflicts with the Cardassians, and the business with the Sheliak), which reminds us that there is no one agreed-upon way of claiming interstellar territory. So: just what constitutes the Federation's borders? And why establish colonies outside of them (especially considering that habitable yet uninhabited, M-class planets always seem to be in such plentiful supply)? And do said colonies outside of the Federation's borders not enjoy the Federation's protection... at least not the same degree as worlds within its borders?
- Could be they're non-contiguous borders or an exclave and you have to fly through, say, Ferengi space to get to Ivor Prime. Or borders aren't perfectly even, but are a bit more "jagged" so a Borg ship flying straight for Earth would pass through Federation space when it hit Ivor Prime, then fly into Ferengi space and come out the other side into Federation space again.
- Consider the United States of America, which includes states that are not geographically attached to the main portion of the country (Alaska and Hawaii) as well as territorial possessions like Puerto Rico. To get to Hawaii for example, you must actually leave U.S. territory and cross over the international Pacific Ocean. One of the weirder ideas of Star Trek (and a lot of other science fiction space nations) is that anyone would bother to make territorial claims to empty space. It could be argued that this is a security issue (you do not want Klingons buzzing around just outside the boundaries of the Sol System). But especially in the case of remote colonies, the Federation may not hold formal claim to all the space around them, especially if there are other civilizations in the area.
- Some people may hate to think of the Federation this way, but it's basically a matter of power and control. If you have enough ships to take control of an area, and your enemies think it's too much of a risk to try and take it from you, then it's yours. Ergo, "Federation Space" is the area of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants where the Federation has undisputed control. The colonies outside this area are places where the Federation is still encroaching. In theory, those worlds will become part of Federation Space once the Federation solidifies its control over them.
- Yes, but even in saying this, there needs to be formal, legal, recognized mechanisms in place to establish where these areas of control begin and end if you're going to call them "borders."
- Trek has never shown an actual canonical map of the Federation, and has been rather inconsistent on this, but judging from what've seen on the various series, the most likely conclusion is that the Federation's borders are not contiguous, like most nation states today, but rather that Federation space consists of numerous pockets of worlds and colonies separated by stretches of open, unclaimed space.
- Here is an intriguing question... what is the status of space itself in terms of ownership (especially the bulk of space that lies outside of solar systems)? Is it analogous to the ocean here on Earth — that is, no power can claim it beyond a certain distance? Or is it more like mountains or tundra or some other kind of terrain that you can't built large-scale settlements on but can put railroads or highways through — it's yours and only some sort of border dispute will suggest otherwise? Or is it some complex combination of the two, where there are spaceways or shipping lanes that are policed and maintained but beyond them an "open space" that's a kind of no man's land?
Where has all the writing gone?
- At least in TOS, it seems that there is next to no written text. No labels to any of the (numerous! Very, very numerous!!) switches and levers on all the ship. No keyboards. No labels to doors, nor on the uniforms. How in the bloody hell does everyone know what key to press? Okay, I can understand that the more experienced crew members know their stuff by heart - but there are bound to be newbies somewhere in starfleet. How does one write a book, or a poem, or a love letter?
- Handwritten letters are very uncommon in the 24th century. One episode of Voyager has Chakotay writing a letter to himself about an alien woman he fell in love with whom—because of her physiology and her race's deliberate tampering with the ship's computer—he will soon be unable to remember. He's visibly struggling with writing since it's something he's likely never done before, not to mention the "pencil" is the size and shape of a D cell battery.
- Even typing seems to have gone by the wayside later on; Scotty had no trouble operating a keyboard and mouse on late 1980s Earth (once he remembered the mouse is for pointing, not entering voice commands), but when the Voyager crew traveled back to the 1990s on Earth, none of them could do any better with a keyboard than to use the hunt-and-peck method. Apparently, the future is almost entirely composed of touch screens and voice transcription.
- That creates an oddity in Voyager's "Future's End," where Chakotway remarks to Janeway "You never learned to type," which in itself would imply that some people in the future know how to type but some don't. Janeway replies, "Turn of the millennium technology wasn't a required course at the Academy. It's like stone knives and bearskins," referencing Spock in "City on the Edge of Forever." But if typing is a feature of turn of the millennium technology, why is Scotty so good at it in the 23rd century? Just a retro hobby?
- Typing is by far the most efficient method of entering information into a computer that we currently have (and that is ever shown on Star Trek as well) - you can augment it with various predictive systems but by itself it's still whole orders of magnitude faster than dictation or graphical input. It wasn't a required course for commanders because Janeway isn't required to do large amounts of programming and designing in her day job, and only needs to operate existing computer systems. She's probably exhibiting the management-stereotype of taking a highly disparaging attitude towards skills she doesn't fully understand. Scotty, on the other hand, will likely have used it quite a lot since he's an engineer, and programming with voice input and an LCARS terminal would be painful at best (more likely, flat-out impossible).
- Nice though but everything about Janeway's statement indicates that typing is a lost art. If people still do it as a matter of course, even in other lines of work, why would anyone refer to it as "turn of the millennium technology"?
- Janeway may not have to do much programming and designing as a Captain, but what does she do when she has to make a report? And she wasn't always a Captain. Once upon a time she was a science officer. Back then she probably had even more reports to write about all the science! she did. And part of that science may even have included some programming and designing.
- Most English keyboards are Qwerty by defaut, which is an artifact from the typewriter era and unergonomic. Starfleet-era typists probably use Dvorak or something, so when they go back in time they have to hunt and peck on the unfamiliar layout. (Doesn't explain Scotty, but maybe he just likes Qwerty for some reason.) Also, voice recognition (and thus dictation) is loads better in the future than it is today, so typing and writing by hand then might be similar to fountain pens and calligraphy now. It's a nice way to write, but only people who are into it will go to the trouble of learning it.
- Whether Dvorak is superior to Qwerty is still a matter of debate. But even if Starfleet does use it, then why don't we ever see it? Never are we shown anything like a keyboard layout, whether Qwerty or Dvorak. It's possible Starfleet uses some sort of Stenotype system but that's pure speculation on my part. And if that's what they do, then it makes the complete absence of pen and paper writing even more glaring. Stenotype is hard to learn and doesn't accommodate hunt-and-peck typing, so anyone not trained to use it would have a tough time writing anything.
- Things like computer code in the future have probably become so long and complex that programs are no longer human-readable. In all likelihood they use software to write software. The programming that went into Data and Lore, as an example, would have taken a small army of programmers years to produce at best. Yet somehow Dr. Soong managed to fit that in along with designing the positronic brain and all the other novel aspects of his androids' bodies...doing the work himself! So user interfaces have very likely become very oriented towards executing processes, rather than text entry. Likewise, things like officer logs are invariably dictated verbally (although speech-to-text software may transcribe them as well).
What about all those dishes?
- Whenever they eat something, they just ask the replicator for it. And it always comes with fitting dishes. But you never see them washing, throwing away, or recycling any of those. What exactly happens to all those dishes? Are they automatically dissolving somehow? Are they edible?
- I believe there was an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine where Keiko mentions putting the dishes back in the replicator. Presumably the replicator can also vaporize the dishes or convert them back into energy to be used again or something.
- This is also mentioned on Voyager, during the Year Of Hell episode. Janeway orders Chakotay to recycle a replicated gift so that the energy can be put back into the ship.
Boarding Party Massacre
- Given the amount of control over the environment that we see on starships, it beggars belief that any hostile boarding party could ever seize one... yet they do with some regularity. As people have suggested elsewhere, if somebody beams on, beam them back. Or beam them to the brig. Or if you're feeling nasty, decorporalize them and leave them that way. Transporter not working? Turn off the lights. Turn off the heat. Turn off the gravity... or ramp it way up. Drop force fields wherever you feel like it. Worst comes to worst: open an airlock. Some of these strategies would be more drastic and risk more collateral damage than others, but the point is that there should be about a billion strategies to stop or at least slow down intruders, yet in episodes like "Rascals," "Basics, Part I" and too many others to count, our heroes just lean back as the bad guys waltz in.
- Beaming has to deal with the fact you would have to drop your shields, and if you beam out the boarding party the enemy ships with antimatter warheads knows they have no reason to torpedo you while you have no shields. For the rest... Rule of Cool.
Genetically engineered half-humans
- A fairly big point in star trek is genetic engineering being highly, highly illegal. Yet, genetic engineering is necessary to produce half-human (or other) hybrids, which is fully accepted. But no one ever brings this up. And it also presents a massive loophole for everyone who wants to circumvent the anti-genetic engineering law. Why would Bashir's parents do it the illegal way if they could have just combined their son with alien DNA instead?
- It's not genetic engineering that's illegal, it's genetic augmentation. Genetic treatments to fix birth defects are fine, and probably cross-species mixing are also fine, but making a Space Marine is not. Also, mixing in alien DNA after the kid is born is probably going to be very, very difficult.
- Sort of makes one wonder how the genetic engineering project underway in "Unnatural Selection" is legal, given what we later learn about Federation laws.
- Feel free to correct me, I can only recall one reference (in Enterprise) to genetic engineering being required to make a hybrid baby. It makes sense, but there are too many hybrids who were clearly the product of accidental pregnancies to assume that this is the case all the time (Tora Ziyal comes right to mind).
- When Worf and Jadzia were discussing having children, Jadzia went to Dr. Bashir to get some sort of medical procedure done to make it a possibility. The episode doesn't say outright whether genetic engineering but it might've been, or it might not have been. Also, regarding hybrids at least in the case of Bajorans and Cardassians, there is a discussion on the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine page about how those two races had been interacting for millenia and neither had a taboo against genetic engineering, so it's possible that, either through natural or artificial sources, the two species were interfertile (who knows if their offspring would've been, though; since we never saw Ziyal or any other Bajoran/Cardassian have kids it's a matter of speculation). With humans, was there ever any hybrid we see that was explicitly an illegitimate or at least unplanned child? I can think of at least one (Alexander), suggesting that, as ludicrous as it may sound, maybe the major Alpha Quadrant races are interfertile in the Star Trek universe, possibly having something to do with the "shared DNA" mess from the TNG episode "The Chase". In that case, genetic engineering has nothing to do with producing hybrids, and therefore they wouldn't violate humanity's genetic engineering taboo.
Holo-program production times
How is everyone able to create new holo-programs at the speed that they do? In many episodes, like Tom Paris in author, author
, it is implied people write holo-programs in a matter of hours. But those things have a ridiculous amount of complexity, and I doubt that every single model or person could have been pre-programmed, given the versatility in creating these things. It's simply absurd how little time it apparently takes to write a program.
- Part of it is a lot of automation. The example you reference, Tom's edit of Photons Be Free, is also implied to be just one or two scenes, which are half ripped off from the Doctor's work and half jammed together with something comparable to RPG Maker. Most holonovels are implied to take at least weeks. Individual Captain Proton episodes seem to take that long to make. Tom's Photons Be Free scene is probably heavily railroaded through the narrative he wants to write, as is the original PBF, because the Doctor is a hack. As for the character models, they're living in a world where people are scanned on the quantum level, taken apart in one place and put back together in another several times a week. Doesn't take much time to say "access transporter records for Crewman Doe and apply physical parameters to Character Jones."
- I was referring more to, say, the Talaxian resort model Neelix creates rather than the model of a person. Voyager never went to that place, nor has any other federation spaceship, so they wouldn't have the advanced scans. Yet Neelix is able to freely replicate the entire resort. Also, railroading would actually take more work than a open world in a sufficiently advanced engine; you would need to set up all the triggers rather than just inserting characters and locations. The closest proximation of this in current times seems to be editors or modding utilities for computer games, and even those that are simple to work with would take a lot more time to create a similar scenario.
- Lots of stock textures and fantastic natural-language voice control. That's not even a story, so it doesn't need narrative input. You can just say "I want a bartender behind the bar, and a surf instructor by the beach." If you don't like the stock appearances and personalities, you can say "no, more like this...". As I recall, he wasn't reproducing the staff in much detail, just the location. He probably spoke the whole thing into existence like how the TNG crew reconstructed the alien lab in "Schisms": "Show me a table. No, a metal table. No, this height..."
- But with any custom objects, that would take a ridiculous amount of time. Again, the bar was a place voyager never visited, so the computer wouldn't know what anything looked like.
- Given that the ship archives seem to hold ridiculous amounts of information about a wide range of things, it's not at all unreasonable that relatively detailed information about the bar (on Earth, regularly visited by Starfleet cadets and therefore a part of Starfleet culture) would be included simply For One Hundred Percent Completionism (it wouldn't be the most obscure thing by a long shot).
- Even in the case of the Talaxian resort Neelix programs, just because Voyager never visited it, who's to say Neelix couldn't feed the computer information about it in other ways? Could be pictures, video footage, something of the sort, from which the computer then extrapolates textures, dimensions and other program elements, which Neelix can then tweak to get details right.
- With the wonders of twenty-first century technology we can reconstruct 3D scenes from still camera frames. Considering that the Voyager crew are armed with holo-cameras (whatever those are) and tricorders, it's highly likely that holonovel authoring software can so something similar, but at much better accuracy and capturing more detail (including things like sounds and materials).
- Maybe the most egregious case of this is in "Unification Part II" where Data, using an unfamiliar Romulan system, is able to whip up a fully realistic hologram of Commander Riker and two other Starfleet officers, seemingly in no time flat. The only flaw is that he doesn't get Riker's hair right! Okay, it is Data, but it stretches belief in any case.
- To be fair, the Romulans likely had images of the security officers and Riker from both intelligence reports and recording their visual conversations with Starfleet vessels. Since this was Sela's office, Data could have gotten access to these images and create the holograms in a hurry. Also, the holograms didn't do much, so creating the program wouldn't be that hard for Data. As for Riker's beard, maybe Data was only able to access older images of Riker during the time he had, so he needed to add the beard in a hurry.
Why so human, borg?
Why do all the borg always look like humans? While there are admittedly a pretty large amount of ridiculously humanoid aliens (back from the TOS budget), but most have at least forehead ridges. Yet all the borg we ever see have flat foreheads and otherwise human features.
- In First Contact, the design teams actually went out of their way to show Romulans, Klingons etc. among the drones. We can probably assume most of them look the same because most of them will be biologically descended from the original Borg species... which was introduced during the early period full of Human Aliens.
- But that's when it would make the most amount of sense to have human-Borg, as the Borg would be assimilating from mainly human stock.
- Related question: just how many humans have the Borg assimilated? It's hard to imagine the number is all that high. When Picard famously says "They assimilate entire worlds... and we fall back." Does he mean Federation worlds? If so, when did this happen? Not in "The Best of Both Worlds," and while there's an quick reference in First Contact to the colony on Ivor Prime being "destroyed" (which may or may not coincide with assimilation), it's hard to fit large-scale assimilation campaigns close to home into the timeline. Even Wolf 359 is inconsistent in this regard: "Emissary" certainly does not seem to show the Borg stopping to assimilate, just destroying, yet in the Voyagers episode "Unity" and "Unimatrix One" there are Borg who claim to have been assimilated at Wolf 359. Other times, especially on Voyager, it is heavily implied that a huge number of humans have been assimilated by the Borg. At one point the Doctor points out to Seven that she represents hope for those whose relatives have been assimilated. "Unimatrix Zero" shows at least one human other than Seven the titular matrix, while simultaneously claiming that only one in a million Borg manifests there, so unless humans are really statistically irregular, there should be at least a million assimilated humans. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that the Borg have assimilated Federation citizens en mass on other occasions, forcing one to wonder why? When? How were they stopped?
- There's also the matter of why Borg assimilated at Wolf 359 are still around at all, considering that that particular cube blew up not long afterwards. Yet twice Voyager went back to that well... why not say that they were assimilated at Jouret IV or one of the missing Neutral Zone outposts, which would make a lot more sense (if you can buy that the Borg both scooped up entire colonies and assimilated their inhabitants)? The presence of a number of Romulans in "Unity" suggests the writers haven't entirely forgotten about that detail.
- I never understood why it's so hard for people to accept that some drones assimilated at Wolf 359 would survive. The Borg Queen says, "You think in such three dimensional terms" which in the context of a time travel movie suggests they used time travel to send the queen and some drones back in time somehow. They could have easily folded space with some kind of transwarp escape pod and gotten out that way.
- The Borg Queen says "You think it such three dimensional terms" to explain why she was still alive, when Picard (suddenly!) remembers having seen her on the cube of old. She could well be chiding Picard for not considering that they were in contact through the link, rather than meeting in the flesh (for what it's worth, that's always how I took it). The line is ambiguous. I don't think that playing the time travel card to explain everything away makes sense. If the Borg had time travel at their disposal during "The Best of Both Worlds," they could have easily prevented their defeat and destruction, not just swept in to pick up a few measly drones.
- It's not implausible given the size of the Federation that there could be small colonies of several million. The Borg could have scooped up highly populated cities and easily gotten a million humans that way. As for why? It's what they do. When? Just before the events of "The Neutral Zone" would be the likely timeframe. And how were they stopped? They weren't. The Borg got what they wanted and after the cube was destroyed over Earth via cyber-warfare the Borg decided we weren't really interesting enough to attack again for another few years. Of course, the real question is if the colonies that were scooped up had a combined population of at least one million, why did Starfleet seem mildly apprehensive about these abductions and not freaking out about the disappearance of millions of Federation and Romulan citizens?
- It's also noteworthy just how early bad continuity sets in with the Borg. In "Q Who," there is an overt reference back to "The Neutral Zone," but it ends with Picard saying "So they will be coming?" and Guinan answering "You can bet on it." Um... they've already been at your door, so "coming" is probably a bit too generous. From then on, everyone forgets all about "The Neutral Zone" and follows the party line that Q introduced the Federation to the Borg.
- There's a difference between a long-range scouting mission and actual attack. (Going into WMG territory here) When the Borg first encountered the Enterprise, they assimilated part of the crew, they had to have realized that this was a species from the other end of the Galaxy and the Borg were witness to Q throwing the Enterprise back to the Alpha quadrant. That would suggest a high level of technological sophistication - what sort of engine did the Enterprise have? The tactical systems were unable to resist them, thus Starfleet should be easy pickings. There's also the idea that the Borg were concerned that Starfleet would now be aware of the Borg and work on creating new weapons that would render the scouting information out of date. Yes, the Borg visited the Neutral Zone about a year prior to Q's interaction, but Q revealed them and allowed the Enterprise to gain intelligence. Another theory goes that the Borg were already on their way to Sector 001 and Q just helped alert starfleet to what was coming.
Power Perversion Potential & Star Trek Sex Crimes.
To be sure, we know Captain James T. Kirk did some serious womanizing in his time, but managed not to leave too many illegitimate children behind thanks to those monthly contraceptive injections that (although rarely mentioned) are apparently standard issue for the fleet. Consider, however, two issues:
- Both biologically and culturally speaking, the Federation and more importantly the entire Milky Way is teeming with diversity. Star Trek: Voyager in particular managed to show some really bizarre races that matured backwards (that little kid is actually 96 years old and has grandkids), aged exceedingly rapidly (the Ocampa, with their 9-year lifespan, look and act 12 years old by the time they're 6 months old), and achieved sexual maturity and started whole families by age 3 (the Breen, according to the Doctor). What must the Federation's age-of-consent laws be like, and how are they keeping some major perverts from engaging in sex tourism?
- Maybe they just define the age of consent per species? Though I'd love to know whose job it is to assign ages of consent to newly discovered species.
- One can imagine the species itself might have some laws concerning that subject. What really starts raising questions is hybrids. In Star Trek: Voyager: "Before And After" for instance, Kes marries Tom Paris and has a girl named Linnis Paris. A few years later, Tom's friend Harry Kim marries Linnis and they have a son named Andrew. It's not clear how much the hybridization with humans slowed the maturity rate and increased the lifespan of the part-Ocampa children, but presumably (this being shown as having happened only a few years into the future), they still grew up amazingly fast. All the same, had this alternate timeline not been erased, Tom and Harry would each have had a lot of explaining to do when they got home.
Owen Paris: You married a five-year-old!?
Tom Paris: Oh, come on, Dad, it's not like I robbed the cradle! She looked thirty. She was at her adult height. She was quick learner, and she'd had a boyfriend before. We were even able to have a daughter.
Owen Paris: Next thing you'll be telling me is you married her off when she was five too!
Tom Paris: Yeah. To Harry Kim. They had a son named Andrew, and he married Naomi Wildman when she was ten. Come on, Dad! Give it a rest already. We were all adults. Ask Admiral Janeway; she presided over our marriages. I think she's as qualified as anyone to say whether they were legal.
Owen Paris: Hmph! Well I still think the Voyager was a ship of perverts!
- Even leaving that aside, just imagine what kinds of perversion must be possible using holodecks. Is any spectacularly perverted use of the holodeck illegal, and if so, how does the Federation (or the Romulan Star Empire or the Dominion or anyone else, really) enforce these laws?
- Probably nothing short of creating an actual AI to do the deed with is illegal. There would be no victims after all.
- It is weird, though. Consider the present: You go to work, chat with your colleagues, then you go home and play GTA IV, where you run around stealing cars, beating, stabbing and shooting people willy-nilly. That's fine, but is there some cutoff point where the illusion is so close to reality that it becomes creepy? How do you work an eight-hour shift next to a guy if you know that come quittin' time, he's heading straight to the holodeck to beat people to death with a golf club for two hours? I think we know it's not illegal to do so, as we see Worf's training program several times.
- Some of the pornography that exists now is pretty creepy for this very reason, though that's not really the issue. The biggest problem with people being able to play out their most twisted sexual fantasies with holograms is that certain fantasies (especially sadistic and rapacious ones) do require some elaborate AI programming (to ensure that the program puts up some real resistance to being tortured and raped), and that every single instance of a sophisticated hologram's becoming sentient, self-aware, and capable of free will has come from being thrust into some kind of situation that forced the holographic being to seek out self-improvement. What's to stop somebody's holographic rape slave from getting inventive enough to realize that physical resistance, cries of pain, and feelings of self-loathing are exactly what the rapist wants, and that one can best punish him by submitting and spoiling his fantasy? The day a holographic rape slave says "Fine, have it your way, sicko!" is likely to be a great day for the Federation's photonics' rights lawyers and a total nightmare for everyone else.
- Surely though if you just restart the programme each time you are finished as opposed to saving it there would be no danger of your hologram ever thinking of itself as a real woman. One interesting example is when Quark is asked by a client to try and create a sex-hologram of Kira and it does require the person in question being scanned by a Tricorder or by the Holodeck itself so there are some safeguards present to prevent having sex with anyone you like (which as Barclay proved are immediately invalidated if you happen to be using a public Deck.) Copyright law is extremely lax in the Federation; in real life it would probably be extremely illegal to reproduce the likeness of someone real without written permission which I imagine would be an insane boost to the adult entertainment industry. As for a Grand Theft Auto style program I would argue this would be covered by Values Dissonance; the original game was extremely controversial and was accused of many many moral corruptions whereas These days the majority of the hatred is from a few musty old senators. GTA 25 Holodeck Edition would probably be no different.
- Even so, what is the nature of a holodeck character- are they capable of self-awareness or independent thought, or are they just computer programs which merely simulate intelligence very well? This is bound to present moral dilemmas in-universe.
- Could well be that the holodeck is seen as a way of cathartically indulging in your fantasies and urges which you would not dare indulge in in Real Life. Some people justify porn pretty much this way now, same with violent games. Consider the fairly mild example of Riker's "I'll be on Holodeck Four" scene right after he refuses to "take advantage" of the empath who's promised to some alien dignatary. (Never mind that she was making the advances on him and there was no real issue of it from her POV.) It's implied he's quite willing to indulge in the fantasy of what would have happened if he was prepared to consent. Whether it could not in fact have the opposite effect in some senses remains to be seen.
- It could also well be that there are in-built protections, similar to the safety protocols, which prevent illegal use of the holodeck.
- It's a Free-Love Future, so people are a little desensitized to this kind of stuff. Which is why nobody noticed the Traveler nearly ravishing Wesley in Main Engineering. Picard is regularly subject to sexual harassment by a legally-recognized Federation ambassador (might be diplomatic immunity) who happens to be a telepath and should know that he's just not that into her. Riker tried to hook up with an alien whose "gender" entry in the records would have to be listed as "not applicable". But considering that the question of whether or not Data was a "person" finally had to be decided by a JAG after decades in Starfleet, one can assume that the Federation handles this sexual stuff via case law and precedent rather than fixed statutes.
I hate having women on the bridge, right female first officer?
A fairly minor one from the first pilot, but... what is up with Pike's reaction when the female yeomen visited the bridge to deliver a report? He complains about having a woman on the bridge, to his female first officer! When she asks what the hell is up with that, he just claims that the first officer is different. No explanation given on what or why. And it's not even like the yeoman was going to permanently stationed on the bridge, she just delivered a report! What, are women supposed to wait until you leave the bridge to deliver reports? And aside from that, its not like he has anything against women in the command structure, since the yeomen was in the meeting room later in the episode.
- An EU novel states that it wasn't that she was a woman, but the fact that his previous yeoman, a male friend of his, had just recently died, so he was feeling a bit bitter.
- I always assumed Number One was treated as One of the Boys and therefore was excepted from the rule- Cpt. Pike pretty much implies it in the dialogue.
His face is on the cover of "History of the Eugenics Wars", dumbasses.
Why isn't Khan immediately recognized as Khan Noonien Singh in "Space Seed"? From the briefing room scene, it's obvious Khan is a mjor historical figure whom everyone's heard of. They have photographs of him, know the guy they found is from the right time period, and he freakin' said his name was "Khan"
. That's like, "We just unthawed this German guy from the 1940s who has a toothbrush mustache and says his name is "Adolf" — I wonder who he could be."
- In James Tiptree Jr.'s great short story "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" an astronaut is thrust into the distant future and is surprised by how little is known about his time. But then thinks to himself: "Who do I know of the hideous Thirty Years' War that was three centuries back for me? Fighting devastated Europe for two generations. Not even names." This is a case of the same.
- Later incarnations of the franchise appear to have either retconned the Eugenics wars to something that only happened in the far East or retconned it into being a small part of the much larger World War 3. This would mean that Kahn is potentially the Star Trek equivalent of Mussolini. Seventy years after World War 2 we have all probably heard of the man from time to time but I bet most of you couldn't picture his face without Googling it.
Why did they invent synthehol?
Alcoholic beverages are a cultural staple of humanity and have been so for thousands of years. Then along comes synthehol, a chemical substitute for alcohol that most people seem to think tastes worse than alcohol and is seemingly incapable of giving you a buzz. Now sure, there are plenty of times when you don't want to be impaired by alcohol, but there are plenty of other drinks you can have in those situations. Are we supposed to believe that while in the 23rd century people still enjoyed getting drunk but by the 24th century they're so squeaky clean that they're going to come down to Ten Forward after a hard day of saving the galaxy and enjoy a glass of nonalcoholic scotch just for the taste?
- There's a novel in the EU that proposes that synthehol does give you a buzz, it's just an easily-shaken buzz, so when Red Alert sounds, you can rub your eyes or whatever and be crystal clear at your post. Also don't forget the main selling point, no hangovers, no addiction.
- This explanation seems to be borne out in canon too. Data tells Scotty: "It simulates the appearance, taste and smell of alcohol, but the intoxicating affects can be easily dismissed." That's not the same thing as saying that it is not intoxicating, the way 0-alcohol beer is.
- Another question about synthehol — a few early TNG novels were weirdly consistent in claiming that synthehol was invented by the Ferengi, including a "To the Ferengi!" toast when you knock back some of it. Where the heck did this scrap of lore come from? Was it part of the TNG bible that never actually made it into an episode?
- The only person who ever expressed distate with synthehol (aside from the Klingons) was Scotty, who was very much used to having the real deal on hand (remember, the Enterprise once greeted the Klingon Chancellor with Romulan Ale that they just 'happened' to have on board. Also, given that there is every chance of a battle or a Negative Space W Edgie at any time, its a bad idea for 1/3 of the crew (those off duty) to be blitzed. Think of it as the equivalent of NA beer given to servicemembers in combat zones: it simulates the taste and aids in morale and relaxation without the side effects that could impair mission capability.
- Deep Space 9 seemed to get along just fine with its Chief Medical Officer, Chief of Operations, and Strategic Operations Officer periodically drunk on their off hours. It's really unlikely that having actual alcoholic beverages would lead to a third of the crew at any given time too intoxicated to perform their duty.
- "Apocalypse Rising" makes reference to anti-intoxicant, as well.
- Deep Space 9 is a space station, meaning that the station, being kept in one place, can monitor for threats approaching and the crew can take the appropriate preparations, which would probably include a way to sober up personnel instantly (the above mentioned anti-intoxicants, as well as the fact that they have shown various ways of clearing poisons from a person's body almost instantly with a single injection). On a ship like the Enterprise the crew is always flying towards the danger at Warp 9, so they need to be ready at all times.
- Being a space station doesn't change the fact they need to be ready on a moment's notice. There could be terrorists or saboteurs, the Dominion coming out of the Wormhole, Cardassians a short distance from Bajor and DS9, or even just a medical emergency on one of the many transports going to and from the station. If the Enterprise can scan nebulae, broker trade deals, and survey planets with children and civilians onboard, it can do so with a handful of off-duty crew having an alcoholic beverage. It may be that alcohol is not allowed to be served while on combat missions or in certain regions of space like along the Neutral Zone or Cardassian DMZ.
- Exactly. While I have no insights into real life militaries, I would gather they are much the same situation: important people can indeed be incapacitated from time to time, because the chain of command allows for redundancy. If it seems otherwise, it's because of Star Trek's bad case of The Main Characters Do Everything.
That replicated crap
- How exactly does food taste blander or worse in any way when replicated (as Eddington complains, for example)? Does the technology completely copy matter or not? If so, why wouldn't they create the stored file from the freshest, most organic, most traditionally grown tomato they could find, and every replicated tomato would taste just as good. If not, then what exactly is replication? Not reproducing the object molecule for molecule, apparently. Also, how can there be a substance that can't be replicated (latinum)? Why not?
- It seems to be more like the difference between food that has been prepared fresh and something that was just tossed in the microwave and nuked. The fresh prepared food will almost always be more pleasing to the palate than a microwave dinner and, just as there are people who can tell now if something is fresh, reheated, or microwaved, there are people who's palates are sensitive enough that they can taste that the replicated food isn't 'fresh'. As for latinum and other things that can't be replicated, it stands to reason that it can be replicated, but that latinum has some special chemical property that can't be recreated with the computer, or some other way of detecting that it isn't genuine, just like now there are many ways to catch counterfiet money.
- Well, the reason people can tell the difference between fresh and microwaved dinners is because the two are quite different chemically. If replication does really copy things molecule for molecule, then it should be impossible to tell the difference between a fresh dinner and the replication of a fresh dinner. Palates *can't* be that sensitive because palates can only detect molecular patterns. The analogy is more like being able to tell from reading a PDF file if your computer's accessing the hard drive that file was first saved to. As for the latinum, that's possible, but it raises further questions about how replication works (or doesn't work).
- Might just be a mental thing. People assume that fresh tastes better than replicated, so their brains somehow fool their taste buds into thinking it's inferior. Like if you eat green ketchup; for most people who see it first, it tastes weird, even though it's exactly the same as the red variety otherwise. There is also a perception, that "real" things are better than "artificial" ones. For example, in the real world diamonds can be manufactured, since they are nothing more than crystallized carbon. But many people prefer natural diamonds in jewelry (especially engagement rings) even though the manufactured kind often have fewer flaws, because natural ones are perceived as "real" while artificial ones are considered to be "fake", and thus have lower perceived value.
- With the latinum, I figure it can be replicated, just at too great a cost in resources to be feasible. Several episodes hinted that replicators are basically hooked up to matter banks full of common elements. If you want to produce some of the more exotic elements, you presumably have to use some form of nuclear fusion which is very energy-intensive to do so. This makes it very similar to a hot fusion process we have for turning lead into gold right now; which nobody uses for this purpose, however, since the amount of gold it produces in return for all the energy poured into it is too trifling to be at all profitable. The Ferengi presumably picked latinum to be their new currency when it became obvious it was one of these truly rare elements that could never be inflated and would therefore never lose value.
- It may be that the replicated meals are all exactly the same, having been originally scanned from the best example of that dish they could prepare. Every time you order it, it's exactly the same with no difference at all in saltiness, texture, portion, whatever. And they'll probably have had the recipes meant to be as universally appealing as possible so if you like your chili to have a bit more spice then you're kinda out of luck. With all that in mind it's not so surprising that you'd start to crave the subtle changes in a dish that's made from scratch.
- This explanation is brilliant and convincing. Replicators should indeed leave out the random and the particular in favour of standardization.
- I like it in general. Of course it has to work at the genetic level too, because we know that sometimes the crew replicates raw ingredients and cooks with those, and Eddington complains that even those aren't up to par. So people crave small genetic variations in tomatoes and other raw ingredients too. This doesn't work for Danilo's complaint in TNG's "Up The Long Ladder" when he tastes replicated whiskey for the first time and complains that it "has no bite" (he couldn't have been tired of it already); but he was prejudiced against replicated food from the start, so the mental thing could kick in there. (And he did like the replicated Klingon drink Chech'tluth.)
- There's whiskey and there's whiskey (not to mention whisky). It's possible (likely) that Danilo simply didn't like the particular kind he was given. Maybe it's set to produce Jack Daniels by default. Wouldn't blame him.
- It's also possible that Eddington's complaint was specific to the Cardassian replicators on Deep Space 9, which might not be as good at replicating produce as the Starfleet models.
- I believe he actually makes this comment on a runabout.
Risa: Planet of Danger
- For a place renowned for being peaceful and relaxing, a lot seems to go on in Risa, and, curiously, to and from Risa. There's the Tandaran operatives, the buried superweapon, the pesky Essentialists, and the Ktarians brainwashing Starfleet officers with their evil games. And then there's the Romulans abducting Geordi on the way to Risa ("The Mind's Eye"), and the Dominion doing the same to Ambassador Krajensky ("The Adversary"). The Risian tourist board must be in constant damage control mode.
- That's hardly going to make a dent in Risian tourism. There are likely millions of people who go to Risa every year and have nothing bad happen to them. It's more a function of being a high profile individual traveling to Risa alone than it is about Risa being an inherently unsafe destination.
- In addition, each of Risa's reputations could come from it being a favorite vacation spot for criminals as well as more legitimate customers, sort of the way Saint Paul in Minnesota used to be. Risa would still have plenty of criminals, but mostly only rich crime lords who are on vacation; muggers and other poverty-stricken petty criminals like the ones who tried to rob Tucker and Reed actually would be pretty rare, though one still might have to watch out for the occasional con artist or embezzler. (However, most con artists and embezzlers are on vacation too, and can't be bothered to ply their trade.)
Doesn't anybody know how to do salvage?
- Granted, Kirk, Picard, and Sisko wouldn't have much reason to go picking through debris fields for spare parts most of the time, since they're in Federation space with plenty of places for ships to stop and refuel and lots of friendly neighbors. With Archer and Janeway, however, I couldn't help wondering why it never occurred to them to send their entire crew on salvaging expeditions whenever they came across a destroyed or disabled ship with no clear claimants in sight. In Archer's time, humanity might have gotten Warp 7 a lot sooner had it occurred to anyone to swipe one of those "classified" warp coils from, say, a disabled Vulcan ship that had lost its entire crew to Trellium-D poisoning. As for Janeway, the debris field from one Borg cube Species 8472 has lately splattered would surely provide a wealth of useful materials. If that's too risky, any other destroyed ships she finds might have a few spare kilos of Gallicite for refitting the warp coils, extra photon torpedoes to restock her supply, or even a spare slip-stream device to help speed up her journey home. Come on, doesn't anyone know the value of salvage and surplus anymore?
- This kind of thing happening offscreen probably would explain why Voyager (the ship) never really had the supply problems it should have.
- It was especially glaring in the episode "Collective", where Voyager runs into an entire, intact, Borg cube whose whole crew of drones had been killed, leaving behind only a handful of half-assimilated drone kids, all of whom had been deliberately disconnected by the Collective itself. This thing was a gigantic technological gold mine! All the more so because it was intact and they had a former Borg drone who knew exactly how to access all of its systems, including the stuff the kids could not get into. Voyager needs to get home? The secret of Borg transwarp technology was built right into that cube, along with advanced shields, weapons and who only knows what else. Heck, it was so big that they could have reasonably parked Voyager inside of the cube and flown around the galaxy in it!
- Well, it was mostly intact; the propulsion systems did get damaged with all the fighting, and the transwarp coil may well have already been out of commission. Even before the Voyager crew found out it had only five pre-teen-to-teenage kids left to run it, the exterior showed the cube was already in pretty rough shape. Also, the episode "Dark Frontier" in which Janeway and her crew did go scavenging for a Borg transwarp coil with some success (getting some 20,000 light years out of it before it gave out) reveals that the Borg do have some auto-destruct safeguards built into a lot of their technology to keep people like Janeway from just stealing it; this cube may well have self-destructed soon after she and Seven rescued the kids. On the other hand, an intriguing detail of "Collective" is that it ends with a time skip of unspecified length between scenes (the kids abandoning ship and Janeway noting in her log that now Voyager has some very troubled children aboard), and there's plenty more off-screen time between it and the next episode as well. During this time, it seems very probable that the Voyager's crew did go ahead and scour whatever was left of that cube (or its debris field) for anything of value they could carry. Since Seven established earlier that the Borg had cut off this cube and wouldn't be coming back to salvage it any time soon—if at all—Janeway and her crew could certainly afford to take their time picking it clean.
- The Voyager's meeting with the Borg does seem to mark the end of most of their supply troubles; Janeway, for one, never seems to have much trouble getting her coffee after "Scorpion" (except when they've got much bigger problems, such as during "Year of Hell"), and we also stop hearing so much about those replicator credits, suggesting the rationing was over by that point.
Tanning decks are everywhere.
- Is there ever any explanation for how the white human characters aren't ultra-pale after something like five years in space? I know they go down to planets with suns often but it isn't something they do every day and when they do they are often inside.
- Haven't you seen Data? Really though, it's probably something that it's actually Future Space Lighting From The Future that looks like fluorescent lights, but actually is a much closer mimic of actual light from the Sun... although, is it the light from the sun or the radiation from it that causes melanin production?
- lol. It's the radiation I believe. Which makes me wonder why no Trek villain has tried to push the "turn up the radiation" button, (which probably would be helpful if a species needed more of it than most areas have)to poison or burn the crew. Knowing how terrible the fail safes are in Star Fleet it shouldn't be too hard.
- Between blood screenings and battles, we see Klingon blood several times over the course of all the series. But it looks just like human blood. Didn't The Undiscovered Country establish that Klingon blood is a bright pink color?
- When was the first time we saw Klingon blood? Even before [Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country The Undiscovered Country]] was made, Klingon blood was red (see "Redemption," for instance), and it always has been since, too.
- The real reason is that Undiscovered Country might have gotten a PG-13 or even R rating if the floating blobs of Klingon blood hadn't been a Pepto-Bismol pink. Best to see it as a way to avoid the hammer of the censors for that particular movie, and ignore it for all other instances.
- Agreed, although that would sit a bit better if the film didn't make a minor plot point about it ("This is not Klingon blood!").
- One trooper on the Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country headscratchers page suggested the possibility that turning off the artificial gravity before the attack messed with the concentration of dissolved gasses in the blood of the Klingons onboard. Just as human blood without oxygen is blue, Klingon blood with a different concentration of gasses is pink.
They're the species that installed the screen door on their spacecraft!
- In "Redemption Part II," Lt. Commander Christopher "Racist Jerk" Hobson states to Data: "But no one would say that a Klingon would be a good counsellor, or that a Berellian could be an engineer. They're not suited." Isn't it a shame that we never meet the Berellians? A seemingly spacefaring species whose stereotypical trait is alleged to be a complete lack of engineering skills?
- Maybe they're like Pakleds?
- Heck I thought he said Bolian not Berellian.
- To be fair to the aforementioned Lt Racist he does genuinely have a point. Star Trek races are nearly always a Planet of Hats monoculture that all act in the exactly the same way unless we either have a very special episode or one of them becomes a regular character. All Ferengi are greedy, all Klingons are violent, all Cardassians are untrustworthy, all Vulcans are logical and up until this point in time all androids they have met have either been evil or blow up upon confronted by a Kirk speech. I would argue that in the context of the Trekverse he is far closer to a Strawman Has a Point.
Why don't they handle beaming cargo more efficiently?
- Whenever we see cargo being transported on board, usually it's a crate about the size of a beer cooler being beamed to the personnel transport pad. Wouldn't it make more sense to have transporter pads large enough to handle big cargo containers in the hold (and maybe move them with small tractor beams)? This is especially odd in Star Trek: Enterprise where the transport beams are a new technology and we are told they are mainly used to transport cargo for safety reasons. And then, the first we see it in use is with a pad about the right size for a person, used to beam in one of those small crates!
- The Enterprise D had cargo transporters and tractor beams to move things around in the cargo bays. Small items carried with a person are transported on the personnel transporter pad and large pallets of stuff are transported to the cargo bays. With Enterprise the transporter was probably as big as they could make it, and that just happened to be big enough for a person. And if they needed those parts immediately then there was no point in waiting until another set of crates arrived so they could all be transported together.
To boldly stay in federation space and fight our battles
- Okay I think this franchise is pretty awesome. It has it's ups and downs but how come they hardly ever go "Where no man has gone before". In a lot of the seasons the Enterprise is acting as a rescue ship, going down to Earth for shore leave, or no more than a week or two away from a Federation Starbase. I know TNG and DS9 had wars and border conflicts and all that going on but would it have been so hard for other Federation ships to fight there battles and the flagship, (which is primarily an explorer ship mind you) to be ordered to go to the closest place in the Delta Quadrant or just send more than one ship to explore further out there?
- There are plenty of other long-range exploration vessels Starfleet uses. The reason why the Enterprise never ventures too far out of Federation space is because it's the flagship. It's the best ship and crew they have and its presence is intended to inspire and reassure allies and intimidate enemies. Picard's reputation and the Enterprise's namesake don't carry as much weight in truly uncharted space.
- True but there must be more ships that can give them morale. Star Fleet at least in the TNG era had over 50 battleships ships in active duty. Plus it was there primary mission to explore strange new worlds. Not the other vessels. Something like the Defiant,(was that ship active before DS9?) could be refitted with most of the equipment the Enterprise has and could do the job quite well, provided they have a good crew.
- It's not just that it's a Galaxy-class ship, it's the Enterprise. Name brand recognition, if you will. There ARE other ships that are doing deep space exploration, and the Enterprise does its share of it too, but it has to split its time between diplomatic missions and patrols. The Defiant is specifically designed as a warship and simply does not have the equipment for scientific missions that a class of ship designed for that purpose would. For the size, a Miranda-class would be much better, and we see them used frequently in TNG for just that purpose.
- We see the Enterprise visiting unexplored areas within Federation space all the time. Presumably, Federation Space, Klingon Space, Romulan Space etc. is dividing between the areas of the galaxy that each power has managed to lay claim to, and considering how massive even just the 1/4th of the Milky Way galaxy is, it's easily possible that there is plenty of planets, stars, and so on that the Federation hasn't even encountered yet. The Federation is less "let's hide in our backyard while claiming to be explorers" and more like "let's find out the layout of our own backyard before we try to go into someone else's".
- Most episodes take place within the region of space nominally claimed by the Federation, but which are entirely unexplored. In particular, some episodes like "Up The Long Ladder" and "The Masterpeice Society" involve rediscovery of early Earth colonies. Since Earth did not have fast warp drive in those days, these colonies cannot be very far from Earth itself. Yet they remained undiscovered for centuries. Prior to when DS9 tried to go all Star Wars and engage in Flaunting Your Fleets, it was originally stated that starships were very valuable, and not numerous. Even if Stafleet had hundreds of ships, they could not have done thorough exploration of every single star system in the Alpha Quadrant during the few centuries they have existed. Plus you have seemingly uninhabited planets ("The Devil In The Dark", "Home Soil", etc.) that turn out to have sentient life. Finally, there is all the territory held by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who don't care what lesser species like humans, Klingons or Romulans put on their star charts.
- Good point. Though I would like to see more intergalactic travel. Hopefully if a new Star Trek series comes out they do so.
- The post-DS9 and post-Voyager (non-canon) books set up for that. Once they get quantum slipstream drive working, Dax is rather peeved when Starfleet refuse to assign her ship to an exploration mission, as she was rather hoping she'd get to go to another galaxy. It's a bit of an off-hand comment (nobody else has yet either, it's not like there's not plenty of the Milky Way to explore still) but people are definitely thinking about it. I wouldn't hold your breath for another series with the movie reboot timeline going on though.
Divergent Romulan evolution
- According to backstory, the Romulans split from Vulcans in the 4th century AD. So, roughly two thousand years before the various Trek series take place. How did they develop such clear differences in physiology in such a short time? For instance, the V-shaped forehead ridges on Romulans, and apparently they do not undergo pon farr. You could consider their divergent evolution similar to different human "races" all around the world. However, that has taken longer than two thousand years, and also Romulans would have possessed the technology to shield themselves from their surroundings much better than early humans, so environmental conditions would affect their genetic heritage much less. In all likelihood they also had much larger gene pools to begin with than early humans who spread around the world. Now, one way you could explain this is that the group which left the Vulcans to become the Romulans already possessed genetic differences. Then the question becomes, why is that? Was there a strict two-caste system in place which limited interbreeding between the proto-Romulans and main Vulcan population? Deliberate genetic engineering is another possible answer. However, some of the differences are purely cosmetic, and in some aspects, the Romulan physiology is less hardy than Vulcan. You wouldn't want to tinker with your genes to make them worse! And if we factor in the Remans from Nemesis, this issue gains a whole new level of confusion.
- This problem grows even worse when you consider the Debrune, the "ancient offshoot" of the Romulans discussed in "Gambit." Two thousand years is simply not enough time for all this to happen. Then there are the technological oddities... a good discussion can be found here.
- That is interesting reading. It offers the suggestion that Romulans interbred with another compatible humanoid species who were indigenous to their new homeworld. That would explain the differences in physiology rather neatly. Two thousand years could be enough time for the new genetic material to become spread out roughly homogeneously, and to the point where the original inhabitants would cease to exist as a genetically distinct population.
- Why do you assume it was the Romulans that tinkered with their genetics? Romulans could be the "true" unmodified Vulcans, and the ones who stayed augmented themselves to be less emotional/paranoid/aggressive, which makes more sense as Vulcan's are always treated as it is within their biology not just culture to be unemotional. It kinda paints the Romulan exodus in a new light, a minority fleeing a faction of the race hell bent on overwriting all members of the race's genes.
- Every question is easily answered. The ridges: most likely a morphological characteristic that just happened to be more diffuse among the exiles than those who stayed back on Vulcan (similar to some forms of nose being more diffused among a determinate human population), confirmed by TOS-era Romulans not having the ridges. Pon-farr: given that a pon-farr happens roughly every seven years and Vulcans get back home to their mates when they know it's coming, we simply never saw a Romulan having it because when it came the time they did the same.
The Commodore Exclusion
- Why do you suppose the rank of commodore falls into disuse after TOS?
- In most navies Commodore is the rank of the commander of a flotilla or squadron, and a separate role from that of an Admiral. Since the Next Generation era is both more peaceful and more peace-oriented, and focused on large individual ships on long-term solo missions, it's likely that Starfleet would de-emphasise the overtly military structures of the previous century. It might have made sense to bring it back for the Dominion War, especially for Sisko himself; on the other hand they had full-sized fleets and Admirals out in the field anyway.
- Out-of-universe, they mirrored the US Navy renaming the rank as "rear admiral-lower half" (note the TNG rear admirals having both one and two pins on their rank badges). In-universe... Dunno.
Somebody holds stock in a pecan pie company?
- Latter-day Star Trek has an odd obsession with pecan pie. What's with the pecan pie references, writers?
- Maybe it's for the same reason they like the number 47?
The end of all life
- How hard is it to destroy all life on a planet? Hard, you'd say: after all, the large combined Romulan/Cardassian fleet in "The Die is Cast" planned to destroy the Founder's homeworld by bombarding its crust for an hour, and the Klingons committed their fleet to destroying the tribble homeworld. But this clashes with "The Chase," in which Nu'Daq destroys all life (as in: all life, not even any bacteria remaining) on Indri VIII, using a "plasma reaction." One ship does this, unseen, nobody knowing about it until it's too late. If wiping out all life on a planet is that easy, it's a wonder that some of the more duplicitous of the alien races don't do this all the time. True, it wouldn't be good if you want a planet to be useful real estate afterwards, but it'd be a great way to wipe out enemy base or homeworld (imagine if the Breen had opted to do this to Earth, for example).
- It's probably a matter of how well that planet's inhabitants are equipped to discover and fight back against such a weapon. Total planetary destruction has always been a threat in Star Trek. Several people have already pointed out that the Genesis Torpedo from the Star Trek movies in Kirk's time could still serve as a planet-wrecker after it proved too unstable for its original purpose, which is why the Klingons were not too happy to see the Federation having it. Species 8472 from Star Trek: Voyager managed to smash an entire Borg planet into rubble with some coordinated firing from their bio-ships, and Neelix's backstory involved the Talaxians having had everyone on one of their moons nuked into oblivion with something called the Metryon Cascade. Even in Archer's time, the planet-busting Xindi were a completely credible threat to Earth, while over in the Mirror Universe a Constitution-class ship from just a hundred years into the future was a credible threat that could wipe out Earth's cities with its photon torpedoes. Arguably, Nu'Daq probably just got lucky. The Breen would have a harder time catching Earth napping later with the Dominion War in full swing, and Starfleet was undoubtedly hard at work coming up with counter-measures to every such potential attack. There's also the potential for Mutually Assured Destruction, which is part of why, despite some of our own unscrupulous peoples in their unscrupulous nations, we haven't exercised the capacity for wiping out each other's countries that we already have right now.
- I think you're misremembering what happened in "The Chase". What Nu'Daq did was destroy the atmosphere of the planet. Obviously that would kill the vast majority of life-forms on that planet, but that's hardly the same as complete sterilization. And what the Cardassians and Romulans tried to do in "The Die Is Cast" was completely destroy the planet, not merely wipe out all life on it. They wanted to blast away the crust and the mantle, and I suppose if they had time they would have destroyed what was left after that as well. I don't know about you but that sounds like the sort of thing that would take a lot more time and effort than a mere "plasma reaction".
- The fact that Nu'Daq set out to (and succeeded at) sterilizing the planet is a plot point; he was doing it to make sure nobody else could get the piece of the DNA-puzzle after him. It's unambiguous:
DATA: All life on the planet is being destroyed, sir.
RIKER: Why would anyone want to destroy all the life on an uninhabited, neutral planet with no strategic importance whatsoever?
PICARD: I believe that one of you has a fragment from Indri Eight.
NU'DAQ: Yes. And there will be no other samples from Indri Eight.
OCETT: What is that supposed to mean?
PICARD: He destroyed the biosphere of the planet after he had taken the sample.
OCETT: Typical Klingon thinking. Take what you want and destroy the rest.
- Actually it is kind of ambiguous. If the Enterprise came upon a ship that had been attacked by space pirates who murdered everyone on board, would you fault them for saying the pirates "wiped out" or "killed every living thing" on the ship even though there are probably still bacteria and other microorganisms hanging around? Nu'Daq rendered the planet uninhabitable and killed every flora and fauna that could be used to take a DNA sample. That much is indisputable. But whether that's the same thing as "complete sterilization" is another matter. Considering his obsession with absolute precision, I think if Data had meant to say "the planet is completely sterilized" he would have.
- Sterilization refers to the elimination of microbial life. DNA is contained in microbial life. The Enterprise is unable to collect any DNA from the planet after what Nu'Daq did to it. Q.E.D., what he did to it counts as sterilizing the planet. If there is ever a case for which "killed every living thing" and "complete sterilization" certainly coincide, this is it (for instance, the Cardassians and Romulans wouldn't have cared much about whether they kill microbes on the Changeling homeworld — Nu'Daq's whole point is killing everything down to the last microbe). But this distinction is a minor issue compared to the bigger point: what Nu'Daq does seems to be far too easy. The only thing I can think is that the when the Enterprise arrives as the "plasma reaction" is underway (soon to be accompanied by a dramatic special effect), and we don't know how long it took to that point — could be that it was a fairly slow process and they are just seeing its crescendo.
- Why did the writers create Section 31? I mean it seems to run contrary to all Star Trek stands for doesn't it? What with Roddenberry's vision of the future being that we humans don't have "Big Brother" watching us from the shadows, doing nasty stuff that no one wants to think about because we'd grown out of our social and political infancy. I know I'm not all that comfortable with the idea, and I'm pretty sure Gene Roddenberry wouldn't have been all that keen on the idea while he was alive. So I guess my question is, why did the newer writers create it in the first place.
- That's actually a really good question. In all honesty, I think most of the writers that came on after he died just lacked in vision and imagination. Now I'm not trying to be insulting but let's be honest. Behr himself once said "It's easy to be a saint in paradise. Why is Earth a paradise in the twenty-fourth century? Well, maybe it's because there's someone watching over it and doing the nasty stuff that no one wants to think about. Of course it's a very complicated issue. Extremely complicated. And those kinds of covert operations usually are wrong!" While Mr. Behr is right about modern earth, he seems to have forgotten that the story of Star Trek does not take place in a Dystopia. Like you said yourself, by the time of Star Trek we're supposed to have grown out of needing shadow government organizations and secret police. While I imagine that Mr. Behr, and people who simply don't like Gene Roddenberry have a counter argument for this observation, most likely that anyone who does not agree with them is being unfair. While many over the years have accused Roddenberry of being an evil, lying, stealing and sadistic a-hole (and you know who you are). Most people (including the writers) seemed to have forgotten that it's not so much the man behind the idea, but the idea itself that's important. And as to the writers, they seem to lack as much imagination when It comes to there work. Because what made Roddenberry's storytelling so great wasn't the internal conflicts, but external ones. Roddenberry's work could be provocative while still giving the audience a UFP as a happy-go-lucky place where everyone gets along and the Prime Directive is always right. He and his writing staff were just that talented.
- Well first of all, this whole section seems more like complaining than a Headscratcher, and second, my response may be viewed as Natter, so both may be deleted. But for now, in response, the writers of TOS and TNG, to the extent that they avoided any internal conflict within the Federation, simply shipped all the problems over to aliens who weren't that advanced yet. That doesn't really take much more talent than writing about problems within the human civilization of the day. And you really didn't get to see much of how this happy-go-lucky place actually functioned, or what civilian life was like there, since those two shows took place entirely in space among interactions with aliens who almost always didn't share those values.
- I'd say the writers' reasons for revealing that the Federation has a Section 31 to do its dirty work ties together with their reasons for bringing back the Mirror Universe in certain episodes and the popularity of some of those episodes with the fans. Regardless of his personal integrity or lack thereof, Roddenberry's utopian vision does come off as more than a bit naive. The original series episode "Mirror, Mirror" seems especially well-written in retrospect because the brutal and treacherous mirror versions of the crew seem a lot more believable as characters because they're so much like the people around us right now: acting more in their self-interest than anything else, for better or for worse. (Worse, mostly, though bearded Spock and Marlena did seem to have some decent and noble objectives.)
Flash forward to Deep Space Nine, and not only are we back to dealing with the Mirror Universe again, but the station itself is parked right on the edge of the Federation in a politically sensitive spot between Bajor, Cardassia, and the Dominion. Unlike Kirk, Picard, or even Janeway, Sisko and his crew don't get to take off and leave the problem of the week behind them at the end of each episode. The Federation's dealings with other powerful political entities who don't play by the Federation's rules raise all kinds of complicated issues and problems for which the Federation's highly academic theoretical principles don't always provide any clear-cut practical solution. Section 31, for all of its shadiness, is not so much a government organization of secret police as it is an extra-governmental group that uses the loophole in Starfleet's charter from which it draws its name to justify "extreme measures" and underhanded dealing with other entities when the Federation is threatened. It's more like the CIA or some such than the secret police, though it's not officially recognized as a Federation entity. It also tends to serve mainly as a counterweight to the likes of the Romulans' Tal Sh'iar and the Cardassians' Obsidion Order.
One should also note that real life continues to influence the plot; Roddenberry's humanistic optimism was particularly common in the interval between World War II and the Vietnam War when good and evil seemed especially clear-cut (evil = goose-stepping Nazis and godless Commies, good = freedom-loving Americans and refined civilized Europeans) and good had won a great victory over evil. It might have seemed to him that humanity was destined to go on improving itself not only materially but morally as well. Events of the last five decades, however, have greatly tarnished this kind of utopian optimism, giving rise to terrorism and corruption and cloak-and-dagger operations operating on, at best, a highly questionable kind of morality. Cynicism and pessimism have made their resurgence, rendering Roddenberry's vision rather dubious at best.
Are we really to believe that the technology that can solve so many problems in this vision of the future wouldn't give rise to problems of its own? Phasers and photon torpedoes may be more precise than our bombs and missiles, but nothing guarantees they'd be used any more humanely. Can any government really be composed of a band of angels headed up by an archangel, even one as diverse and far-flung as the Federation? Moreover, when has any government ever not had some dirty work it needed done, whether or not it was willing to dirty its own hands with it? The writers weren't being lazy at all positing the existence of a Section 31; theirs is actually quite a realistic deduction from exploring the world of Star Trek in depth. Indeed, as the Enterprise prequel series suggests, it's likely some version of Section 31 has always existed; Kirk and Picard just never saw very much of it because they rarely came into contact with any of the Federation's dirtier business. Archer and Sisko, in contrast, are each on the very edge of the Federation's frontiers, where most of the dirty business that is the stock and trade of organizations like Section 31 is to be found.
- I thought the whole point behind Star Trek was that humanity and it's technology was inherently good? And that humanity would eventually mature enough to join the rest of the intergalactic community as equals and friends? I always thought that kind of optimism was ageless, is Roddenberry's vision really all that dubious?
- Well you're right, I think that was Roddenberrey's original point, but in fact I think it was even more naïve than that: that humanity was destined to be better and more mature than any other alien societies it was likely to meet. The only prominent alien species, at least as far as I can remember, that is portrayed as being more mature and refined than humans was the Vulcans (apart from a few isolated immortals and energy beings maybe), but even the Vulcans are portrayed as being less balanced than humanity, what with their rigid adherence to logic and suppression of emotion. TOS especially is mostly about humanity teaching other species how to live more ethically and be more civilized.
But of course, that's Roddenberry's vision. He wasn't around for DS9. I'd say the point behind Star Trek as a whole has become simply to tell stories.
- Roddenberrey's original point was to fill us with hopeful confidence, not blind arrogance about humanity's future. The 23thrd and 24th century humans don't ignore human weakness, the show often reminded us that humans aren't perfect. For instance, not once did any of the five famous captains ever claim humans are better than any other species. They often did remind the audience that in order for our society to evolve, humans had to fight to overcome our weaknesses. Which, going back to the main point shows how much Section 31 runs counter to what the series as a whole is meant to represent.
- That means that human societies evolved, but that of other species didn't. (Again, including all of the other major players in interplanetary politics.) That *is* arrogance. Not of the captains, but of the vision in the first place.
- Are not both the characters and we the audience meant to be horrified by Section 31's tactics for precisely that reason? Recall Bashir's words: "This organisation, this thing that's slithered its way into the heart of the Federation, has to be destroyed." The whole point is that the future is optimistic and near-Utopian, but it takes vigilance against forces from within and without to keep it that way.
- Yep. it is Misaimed Fandom on an old fashioned power-fantasy, many of whom quite like the idea of being an "edgy" secret spy who gets to do all those nasty things that they wouldn't want done to themselves, but quite fancy being allowed to do to others. That and the idea that being morally conflicted is somehow the same as being mature and adult concepts. Section 31 is something to be abhorred and fought against, but some fans choose to embrace it.
- I think they mostly embrace the plot point, not the organization itself.
- Interestingly, Bashir clearly finds Section 31 appealing in a way for all of those same reasons, even as his strong sense of morality leads him to condemn it.
- Hell, didn't one of the writers say that we're meant to think Section 31's defenses of what they do are meritorious? If so, Section 31 is Starship Troopers-esque bullshit, pure and simple. It's the same message of "You peaceniks are only able to sleep safely at night because Hard Men are making Hard Decisions for you that you can't possibly understand!"
- I don't know if one of the writers said that, but who cares? Think what you like! It need not detract from your enjoyment of the story.
- That's kind of a problem for me, because I don't believe in Death of the Author.
- Put differently, why would the existence of Section 31 be any more of an intrinsic challenge to Star Trek's values than the self-motivated Admiral/Commodore/Ambassador trying to interfere with our heroes's mission for nefarious purposes — a stock Star Trek plotline since the very beginning? Merely because it implies something more systemic and ingrained that isn't as easy to write off as the actions of one jerk, but a sober look at Starfleet reveals that its higher echelons of power seem awfully corrupt anyway. An exchange from "The Pegasus" sticks with me: Admiral Pressman: "I have a lot of friends at Starfleet Command, captain!" Picard: "You're going to need them."
- Actually, a valid question is why wouldn't the Federation have an organization like Section 31? No matter how Utopian the Federation itself might be, there is little evidence that the surrounding powers (Klingons, Romulans, Ferengi, Cardassians, etc...) are similarly enlightened. Perfect pacifism only works if everybody is a pacifist! Even Roddenberry grudgingly put guns in his characters' hands and on their ships in recognition that life forms and even non-living things from outside the Federation might be destructive and require force to be dealt with. However, not all hostile threats are overt, covert threats also exist. In the TNG episode "Data's Day", Picard is neatly tricked into transporting a "Vulcan ambassador" to "important negotiations" with the Romulans. In actual fact, she was a long-term Romulan spy and had artfully arranged for the Enterprise to give her a ride in style back to the Romulan Empire! So clearly Starfleet security is not up to the task of weeding out covert threats. Wouldn't it make sense to have an intelligence-centric organization tasked with countering the efforts of parallel organizations such as the Romulan Tal'Shiar and Cardassian Obsidian Order? Gene's vision was sort of soft when it came to alien threats. By the TNG timeframe his new primary villains, the Ferengi, were treated as almost comical from the get-go (e.g. "The Last Outpost"). Once he was kicked upstairs, later writers knew that a conflict-free future would be too boring for viewers. MAD Magazine would spoof this by stating that one TNG episode plot was "Like last week, when Deanna outwitted a devious hairstylist?". If they're going to have serious enemy threats, then isn't some kind of black ops organization as necessary as Starfleet itself? Especially if the goal is to allow the majority of the population to lead more morally-virtuous lives?
- To be honest I think we've all drifted away from the main question here. I think what were supposed to be asking is, should Section 31 be considered a part of Star Trek canon at all?
- Section 31 is canon. Whether you want to accept it or not is irrelevant.
- Now the above argument actually does have some weight to it. After all Gene Roddenberry didn't create everything in Star Trek while he was alive, but he was the one who ultimately decided what was canon and what wasn't. When you think about it, story elements created after his death like Section 31 could be considered non-canon.
The Federation, along with non-Federation races have encountered numerous anomalies in space, countless new life forms, beings that inhabit someone's body or communicate telepathically in a manner that causes stress to humanoids, need I go on. Knowing that, why is the Federation from TNG on so willing to write off anything odd someone may be going through as a mental problem? True, it's still likely that people get stressed, depressed, etc, but even foregoing therapy there's also wonderful future medicine to combat such conditions. Furthermore, how many times was Barclay really in trouble? The one time he was actually suffering a mental disorder was his holodeck addiction- all other times it was something genuine.
My point is, there have been so many DOCUMENTED instances of crewmen being taken over, seeing things because of telepathy, time travel, etc, PLUS the freaking Q, that merely writing off anything strange as something that can be treated by the ship's counselor is the dumbest thing they could do, and is the dumbest thing because they continue to do it and never learn even after the 50th time some hallucinating crewman does so because of a mysterious alien being.
I'm not saying to get rid of the mental health program, but any such claims should be checked beyond merely a trip to a therapist, even if it's merely having the ship's computer compare the counselor's patient notes to ship's sensors to see if any oddities in behaviour could relate to some unknown sensor blip. Writing off the possibility of an outside influence(some of which have proven to be major) in favor of a mental disorder, especially after so many instances proved to be something possibly threatening, is stupid.
And for the love of all things holy, after the 10th or so time Barclay's paranoia proved to be right, LISTEN TO THE MAN!
- The real reason is going to be because it's a writing cliché. The off-screen reason could be that all those anomalies make a lot of people paranoid and we just don't get the scenes where people are wrong. The final conclusion could be that they just need to accept that Barclay's paranoia is healthy and should be trained in all Starfleet Officers. Minus the stammering.
Files can't be copied, only moved
I've seen this in a few TV series but it stands out the most here- writers seem clueless to the functionality of computers, especially when it comes to files and data backup.
Files are constantly moved around as if they were hard copy paper prints. Take a file from the ship's computer and it's suddenly gone. The ability to copy files doesn't seem to exist. The crew often detects files have been accessed because said files are magically gone.
Isn't this just a bit unbelievable even by the standards of when the show was written? This doesn't even seem to be a major issue in the 1960s episodes, but is common throughout the TNG/DS9/VOY era when DOS and Windows were already around and file copying was already a capability. Making copies of floppy discs was already a major issue for software piracy in the 80s, yet in Trek's rules, the ability doesn't seem to exist. Jadzia wants to borrow a few isolinear rods from Worf containing Klingon opera recordings, and he whines about getting them back, rather than just making new copies, or hell, playing said files from the federation archives.
I know the idea of copyrights do exist amidst a few non-Federation cultures but the Federation doesn't uphold it within the Federation, and it seems many things that should be in a free historical archive available to anyone are still inaccessible because no one understands the concept of copying a file.
Strangely, the DO manage to suddenly realize how to copy files when data makes a backup of his memories in B4's brain. Lucky for him the rules of file copying were observed here, otherwise he'd be in B4's body and Data would be an empty shell.
- Allowing this sort of thing makes it a whoooooole lot more difficult (and interesting, but eh, effort) to write AI characters.
Negotiating with Smegheads
Now, I will freely admit that I have seen less Trek than most, but I've seen the "We can't do ANYTHING to these people that might upset them because of the sensitive negotiations" plot device a number of times, and almost every time I've found myself wondering; why does the Federation constantly put up with negotiating with people who act openly hostile to them? "Code of Honor" from TNG, "The Way to Eden" from TOS... you figure Starfleet would demand that they be treated with the same respect they show the other party during talks of peace and/or trade, right?
- Usually in these situations the Federation has the weaker hand; they need something from the smegheads, the smegheads often don't need or want anything from the Federation at all. They have no leverage. (The ability to atomise the planet doesn't count, the Federation don't do or mention that sort of thing, period. That's not negotiation, it's piracy.) Philosophically, the Federation doesn't need a smeghead culture's respect in order to feel validated; and practically, because they're (supposedly) professional diplomats who are trained to eat up disrespect in order to do their jobs.
Earth is the Federation?
- The Federation is a political alliance of multiple intelligent species, each of them with distinct cultures, distinct senses of aesthetics, distinct values and morals...except Humans? Off the top of my head, I can't think of a single aspect of Federation society that isn't also, coincidentally, a Human one as well. It's been discussed elsewhere that Humanity appears to be the only race in Star Trek without a "Hat." Is this because the Federation and Earth are basically the same thing? Is Federation culture at large indistinguishable from Human culture? Was the role Humanity played in creating the Federation so enormous that there's no way to separate the two?
- Earth is not the Federation. It is a MEMBER of the Federation, more specifically one of the founding members. It is also the location of it's HQ primarily because of that fact. There are many more civilizations that are a part of the United Federation of Planets, about 150 if I remember correctly. However, all of those members still have their own laws and governments (including Earth) separate from the UFP. The best way it think about it is to look at it in resemblance to the European Union or even the United Nations.
- Not true. At least, it does not seem to be. For example, the Federation (and Starfleet specifically) enforces a ban on genetic augmentation that is based entirely on Earth's bad experiences centuries ago! This appears to be a blanket prohibition affecting all member worlds and species, despite the fact that the Eugenics Wars were limited only to Earth. So, for example, Julian Bashir's parents had to go through illegal means to have their son's genetic defects corrected. They apparently could not even have sought citizenship on a nonhuman Federation member planet and gotten the genetic treatment done there legally.
- This is very much a case of Depending on the Writer. It is not uncommon for storylines to assume that the destruction of Earth would mean the immediate collapse of the Federation. Likewise, humans make up a visible majority in Starfleet and appear to have the largest number of interstellar colonies. This is because Earth Is the Center of the Universe and Humans Are Special. Other species often seem to be confined to their homeworlds, and have few, if any, colonies.
- This was a major consequence of the 2009 Star Trek. For some reason (probably just to heighten the sense of tragedy), virtually the entire Vulcan species lived on Vulcan itself, and was wiped out when Nero destroyed the planet! Only a small minority of space-traveling Vulcans survived (Word of God claims around 10,000). Which is extremely bizarre since Vulcans have canonically had interstellar space travel capability for thousands of years! That's how the Romulans came to be a separate race! Yet apparently other than the Romulan sub-species (and possibly a few others) there were seemingly no other Vulcan colonies of note.
- In TOS, Spock is the only non-human (well, half-human) regular among the crew of the Enterprise. It is further noted that it is not common for Vulcans to serve in Starfleet, which is why he was on the short list of candidates to make telepathic contact with the Medusan ambassador Kollos in "Is There In Truth No Beauty?". The Betazoids do not appear to have joined the Federation yet at this point, as Vulcans are their primary source of telepaths.
- The very first episode of TNG "Encounter At Farpoint", involves Q intercepting the Federation starship Enterprise and putting humanity on trial! No mention is made of the 149 or so other species, despite the (half-)Betazoid sitting next to Picard and the Klingon behind him. This trend would continue throughout the series, with "The Federation" and "Starfleet" being treated as synonymous with "human". In fact, when questioned about being a Betazoid, Deanna clarifies that she is only half-Betazoid and that her father was "a Starfleet officer", the implication being that meant that he was a human, since she apparently felt no need to specify his species.
- Quark is prone to commenting on this on DS9. Dax, and later Worf, are the only non-human Starfleet regulars until Nog signs up (Kira is technically with the Bajoran government, and Odo is the station constable, not a Starfleet officer). He also tends to use "The Federation" and "humans" interchangeably quite often.
- In VOY, B'Elanna Torres expresses worry over raising her part-Klingon daughter on a starship where she explicitly points out nearly all of the crew are humans.
- The Federation civilian government, as depicted in the films, contains many aliens, although the capital of the Federation is Earth. But Starfleet admirals seem to almost invariably be human (or at best Human Aliens).
- I believe Robert Hewitt Wolfe or one of the other DS9 writers stated that they saw the Federation as entity where each member world had it's own sovereign government, and largely managed their own internal affairs, except for Earth. Earth is most analogous to Washington DC in the US. DC does not have home rule, but Congress has jurisdiction over it. Similarly, the government of Earth IS the Federation government, while the different member worlds, like Vulcan, have their own governments.
- From what we've seen on-screen, Earth and mankind hold an enormous preminence in the Federation: Starfleet descends from a United Earth organization, aside for the odd non-integrated starship Starfleet crews are mostly humans, the Starfleet admirals and politicians we've seen are for the majority humans, and Earth is the seat of the government, the legislature and Starfleet Command (and most likely the judiciary too, but that I don't recall ever having been mentioned on-screen). On why is that... Let's see the founding races at the time of the birth of the Federation: the Vulcans, a technologically advanced race with a somewhat racist mindset that at the time of the founding had just seen most their whole mindset turned upside-down, and that could have also had the government subverted for a while by the Romulans during the war (McCoy once mentioned that Vulcan got conquered, and that's the most likely way it happened); the Tellarites, a decently advanced race with a penchant for picking verbal fights with everyone; the Andorians, a militaristic race with technology and might comparable to the Vulcans and on the verge of war with them and the Tellarites until recently; and the Humans, the guys who brought the afore-mentioned guys together in a working organization and apparently led the fight against the Romulans (otherwise, why would it be called Earth-Romulan War?). Which one of the four founding races is the most likely to have preminence on the others?
Enterprise Exceptionalism: Concerning letters
- The Enterprise always has the same registry number reused with a letter added, to E that we've seen and all the way up to J at some point in a possible far-flung future. However, you never see another ship with a "low number here-G" as a designation in the time of TNG/DS9/VOY. Even when the ship the guest star of the week came in on has the same name as a TOS ship, it won't have the same number plus a letter. I know the Enterprise is the flagship, but no other ship has ever done anything worthy of having the next one be the Whatever-A? And you'd think a military (at least mildly so) organization would have to either have the name-oldnumber-D naming as either A Thing or Not A Thing, not "we're gonna do this weird unprecedented thing that's nowhere in our rule book for this one ship and this one ship only."
- Making it even odder is that only one other ship has ever explicitly had a lettered suffix: the USS Yamato in "Where Silence Has Lease" (NCC-1305-E). Even though that ship turned out to be fake, there's no reason to think that the registry number would be anything other than accurate. But when the genuine article appears in "Contagion," its registry has changed to NCC-71807. Weird.
- If the Extended Universe/Fandom theory that 'NCC' stands for 'Naval Construction Contract' is correct, it seems likely that Federation ships aren't usually given a name until well into the ship's construction (possibly until they're nearly completed). It seems to be tradition that ships named Enterprise belong to Starfleet's most advanced, state-of-the-art class of capitol ships, so Starfleet probably knows exactly which upcoming vessel will carry that name far in advance of that ship actually being laid down (I've always thought that Starfleet probably intended for Enterprise-A to be an Excelsior-class vessel, not a renamed Constitution). In other words, most ships have names that were attached to an anonymous contract number; whereas the starships Enterprise are issued a contract number that reflects Starfleet's intention to give them that legacy name.
- I've always felt it was an extremely rare honor where Starfleet orders a new ship to replace an older one and specifically wished to evoke and honor the accomplishments of the previous ship to bear the name by giving it the previous ship's registry number and the letter postfix. For what it's worth, the producers of DS9 intended for the new U.S.S. Defiant to explicitly be the Defiant-A with the same registry, but they weren't able to justify the production costs associated with that for just the one episode (the series finale). 
Human life expectancies in the future
- Occasionally we are given to expect that human life expectancies have vastly increased. Like McCoy living to be 137 years, retired but still fairly active, and the impression one generally gets that this is normal for humans, not the rare exception that a centenarian would be today. This is easy enough to believe, given the medical advances we see. Other times, however, it seems like it's not all that different — expected retirement ages don't seem to have changed that much per the later TOS films, and Dr. Crusher's grandmother's death at 100 is treated like an solid lifespan, not like a life tragically cut short when she could have lived another four decades. It's also a tad odd that turning 30 would still hold the significance Bashir ascribes to it in "Distant Voices."
- Not that this is a problem only for humans. Consider Spock — doesn't seems to have aged a day between 2293 and 2368, but then ages quite noticeably by 2387 (must be that human DNA kicking in). Also, Worf as in the future depicted in "All Good Things" should only be in his mid-50s but is made up to look as old as Kor, Koloth and Kang, who are well over a century.
- Trek writers often have a problem with remembering that this is supposed to be the future, as well as an often surprising lack of awareness of real-life science as well. For example, the longest-lived human on record, Jeanne Calment, died at age 122, thus establishing what is currently considered to be the maximum possible human lifespan without radical advances in medicine and/or genetic engineering. McCoy, at age 137, was actually doing only moderately better really considering the medical technology Starfleet has. Now, one possibility is that not everyone utilizes the full extent of medical life extension available. For example, Crusher's grandmother lived on a theme park colony emulating the lifestyle of the Scottish highlands. She might have eschewed artificial life extension, and lived as long as someone with her genetics would naturally. This does not explain Bashir's angst over turning 30 though, nor Picard's devastation at being the last of his family, since even in real life a man his age could still potentially father children. In the latter case it was more like he just couldn't reconcile quitting Starfleet to go raise a family and by that time the kids on starships fad had passed.
- 30 is a psychological barrier, it is the moment that people are likely to feel that their youth is starting to fade. This has almost nothing to do with the physical effect of aging and almost everything to do with the fact that 30 is the age where you and your friends are likely to think about having children and getting married, that you're living on your own, that you are paying your own bills, that your school/college/university education has finished, that your parents begin to show their physical age etc. It is not rational, and it is certainly not logical to think such things, but trust me when I say that most people do. I don't know whether you are pre-30 or not but trust me when I say that you are likely to be no different one day.
- I'm a little puzzled — what does this have to do with anything? A few generations ago, when people routinely married in their late teens or early 20s, the average age of first childbirth was well before 25 and the average person pursued no education after high school, 30 was absolutely not thought of as the "end of youth." Categories like "youth" and "middle age" and "elderliness" are highly fluid — they have different meanings and attached to different chronological ages in different cultural moments (and new categories, like "the teenager" in the 40s and 50s, can be invented). There is no reason to think that the way such terms are used now should adhere for centuries to come, and it is virtually impossible to image that "youth" would mean the same thing it does today in a society where people can expect to live into their 15th decade.
- That's why I said it wasn't logical or rational to feel that way. Let me repeat: It has nothing to do with your physical age and everything to do with the fact that 30 is the metaphorical end of an era; you will never go back to school, you will never have another Spring Break, you will never again believe in Father Christmas, you will never again lose your virginity, you will never again be able to play in a Little League game again etc. So many things have been and gone forever by the time you are 30 - even if your life expectancy is 1000 you still will not be able to do or experience any of that stuff again. And that can be bloody depressing, especially if you wasted your childhood in some way.
- Let me repeat: 30 is a treated as a "metaphorical end of an era" now. It was not in the past, and will not be in the future. Get past this egocentrism and cultural chauvanism which dictates that everyone else in the whole span of human history has to have an experience exactly the same as yours.
- Let me just end this argument by saying let's agree to disagree. I think you are completely wrong and you think I am completely wrong; that is not going change.
- At the risk of getting into the middle of starship battle, but Bashir is a doctor. A doctor already serving in Starfleet, assigned to a remote outpost, on the border of a hostile power! One would expect him to have lamented his lost youth back when, oh, maybe he started friggin' med school! Even in the real world, today, now, people in such education-intensive professions, to say nothing of the military, tend to have long since come to terms with the end of childhood! Looking ahead to the future, thus far we have seen the opposite from other characters. Kirk, the young captain, enthusiastically blazing a trail across the galaxy, wouldn't exhibit any age-related angst until he found himself to be a (relatively) young admiral flying a desk at an age when most other Starfleet officers were still out roaming the galaxy! Riker was happily playing the field in his 30's, enjoying the adventure and the Boldly Coming that came with it, seeing the best of his career ahead of him rather than behind. Now, especially since Bashir's youth consisted of a lot of concealing the dark secret that he is an Augment, it might make more sense to lament a life he never had at all. Not the fact that he was 30, which for some other major characters was simply the exit point of being considered a newbie and the time when their lives, careers and status really took off.
Why is nearly everyone a Fan Of The Past?
- Think about the depictions of entertainment we see in Federation society, at least in the TNG era. Picard's love of Dixon Hill, Data's fondness for Sherlock Holmes, Sisko's baseball, Bashir's James Bond pastiche, Janeway's regency era holoromances, Tom Paris and Captain Proton. For a society that likes to claim it has outgrown the flaws of the past humans in the 24th century spend a remarkable amount of time looking backwards if they want to relax. Where is the contemporary fiction, art or music?
- Good question, and the writers actually seem to agree:
- From "The Die is Cast":
- BASHIR: Modern playwrights have become obsessed with writing human interpretations of alien theatrical works while ignoring completely our own unique cultural heritage in hopes of...
- Same reason we do in the present time. Why are we so obsessed with westerns, costume-dramas and other period works, Shakespeare plays etc. despite the fact that these eras often contained values (including things like slavery and genocide as perfectly acceptable policies) we find abhorrent, yet choose to overlook? It could well be that, in the absence of a capitalist entertainment industry, the constant drive towards new trends and novelty is much less pronounced and culture a lot more timeless than it is now.
- Also, quite possibly because it helps a present-day audience relate to the characters if they are into things we would find familiar. Contemporary works from 400 years in the future would seem pretty alien (not to mention, from a writer's perspective, suffering from a severe case of Society Marches On as the time draws nearer).
- When music features in the original series, it also sounds pretty strange.
Vulcans and the Federation
- Are the Vulcans part of the Federation or just a Federation aligned but independent planet? If they are part of the Federation, why do they have an ambassador to the Federation? In the TNG episode Unification, there was a comment about how the Federation would react to a Vulcan/Romulan alliance. If the Vulcans are part of the Federation, how can they make alliances independent of the Federation? Or is the Federation really just an alliance between independent planets instead of a government, closer to the United Nations or European Union than the United States.
- The closest we have in the real world to the Federation is the European Union or the United Nations. Independent countries joined together for mutual benefit. Nothing is stopping Great Britain for example allying itself with an enemy of the majority of the EU any more than there is anything stopping Vulcan allying itself with an enemy of the majority of the Federation.
- Also consider the case of Tasha Yar's home planet Turkana IV, which apparently seceded from the Federation without repercussions (y'know, other than the whole collapse into social anarchy thing). To make it even more glaring, Turkana IV was just a human colony world, not the home to a unique species. This implies that the Federation is more like the European Union than the United States of America. Member worlds can apparently leave the Federation if they choose. Which would be a major issue in the case of Vulcan however, as it is near the center of Federation territory and if they suddenly welcomed the Romulans with open arms it would be a very serious strategic threat. The Federation would be forced to reconsider its policy regarding planetary sovereignty, which could cause the whole thing to collapse. Probably why the Romulans were so into the idea, since they hardly need just one more planet for their already sprawling space empire.
Fighting The Borg Using Common Sense
- It's common knowledge after the Best of Both Worlds that the Borg will ignore anyone trespassing on board their ship that they do not consider to be a threat and we see this right up until Voyager and Enterprise. So instead of fighting the Borg ship-to-ship where you know for a fact that you will lose; why not just beam on board with a case full of anti-matter? And no, don't give me the excuse that the Borg will recognize that you are carrying a bomb and suddenly consider you a threat, because they let Away Team's board their ships armed with phaser weapons that we have seen can tunnel through the side of a cliff and can themselves be turned into bombs if you set them to overload.
- Voyager did this with a torpedo and they recognized on the spot it was a bomb. It's a matter of scale. If a group of humans run around the ship with phasers, they can at best cause minor damage before they get turned into drones. It's worth the tradeoff if they never get to use that tactic again. Beam a bomb or enough antimatter to blow up a ship and the Borg will recognize it as an overwhelming threat.
Humans, the Most Beautiful Race
- It seems humans and aliens that resemble humans are considered to be attractive by pretty much all the other humanoid races. Just to name a few examples, in The Next Generation a Ferengi captain kidnaps Deanna and Lwxana with the intention of using them as sex slaves, in Deep Space Nine Quark is lusting after both Kira and Jadzia, and a customer of Quark's (who's of unspecified race, but he looks very different from humans and Bajorans) is so attracted to Kira that he promises to pay Quark anything if he can build him a holo-simulation of her. However, it's made clear that in general humans or Bajorans or Betazoids don't, for example, find the Ferengi attractive. So why isn't the opposite true? Biologically, wouldn't it make much more sense if the Ferengi (and other races who don't much resemble humans) were mostly attracted to humanoids that look like themselves, and would find human-like aliens ugly, just like human-like aliens find the Ferengi ugly?
- It's not just appearance, it's personality. Ferengi are misogynist and generally hold attitudes that conflict with the Federation-style beliefs. This is why Leeta and Rom became an item — he doesn't share that attitude.
- Leeta is a special case, though. When he tells the others she likes Rom, they're quite surprised, even though they too know Rom is not like the other Ferengi. So it certainly seems to be the case that being attracted to Ferengi is out of the ordinary for human-looking humanoids.
In the future, we'll have no pop music?
- Most of the times when music is played in Star Trek, it tends to be classical music or some other type of art music (such as Klingon opera). In The Next Generation we also hear jazz a few times, since Riker plays the trombone. But we almost never hear pop music of any sort. The only occasions I can think of where pop is played, it's pop music of the 20th century: Vic Fontaine singing crooner tunes in Deep Space Nine, and Kirk listening to the Beastie Boys in the new movies. Are we supposed to think that pop music doesn't exist in the future anymore, so if people want to listen to it, they have to turn to songs that are 300 or 400 years old?
- The obvious Doylist answer is that the show doesn't want to pay the licensing fees for copyrighted music.
- Maybe the question was a bit unclear, but I wasn't asking why Star Trek doesn't use licensed pop music from our era, I was wondering why we never hear any of pop music from its own era. Obviously such music would have to be written for the show (just like Klingon opera and other pieces of pieces of original 23rd/24th century music are), so it wouldn't require any extra licensing fees.
- We never hear 24th century pop music to keep the show from being too dated. Classical music has lasted hundreds of years, so it's logical to expect it to last for longer. But, we do not know what, if any, modern styles of music are going to be around 300+ years from now. It's safer to go with what they KNOW is likely to last.
- Trek is already notorious for the No New Fashions in the Future trope, with TOS characters showcasing fashions readily recognizable as being from The Sixties. Future Spandex and '80s Hair were glaring on TNG. Even DS9, VOY and ENT were not beyond this. So just trying to insert other pop culture elements would have made a known problem worse.
- Apparently they had no problem suggesting that 1950s crooner music and the Beastie Boys would still be remembered and listened to 300 years into the future, though.
- I wonder if it's possible that language and cultural differences between species means that most popular music—or even art in general—is mostly regional; even more so than it is today. Universal translators can turn any language into the one you speak, but the can't make the verses rhyme. And then there are culture's differences. Who's to say that one culture's top forty even meets another culture's definition of music? I'd imagine even biological differences could be a factor: AC/DC and Led Zeppelin* could probably kill a Ferengi. We don't hear a lot of pop music, because it's considered impolite to all but the stuffiest old music aloud in the cosmopolitan environment of a Federation starship.
- We did get 23rd Century pop music in "The Way To Eden", and Doyle-ist answer is that that episode was so badly received that they never did it again. Watsonian explanation is that it is there, but we just never get to hear it, although there was (non-Klingon) music at Dax's bachelorette party in DS9's "You Are Cordially Invited" which was apparently contemporary 24thC party music.
Native Americans, the Maquis and Amerind
- The whole point of the Maquis was that the Federation had to cede some planets to the Cardassians in order to end a war. A number of these planets had been colonized, and the colonists stubbornly refused to relocate. This was first established in the TNG episode "Journey's End", where Native American revivalists that had settled on Dorvan V refused to be removed from the planet. In the end they managed to successfully stay where they were. Unfortunately, the Cardassians proved to be bad landlords and before long the Maquis were the result. But this brings up an interesting point, in the TOS episode "The Paradise Syndrome", a planet (unofficially dubbed "Amerind") occupied by Native Americans transplanted there by benevolent aliens (who did not have something as stupid as the Prime Directive) was discovered. This raises a number of questions:
- Why did the later Native American revivalists colonize a world along the Cardassian border, instead of settling on Amerind instead?
- Neither planet was heavily populated. While Trek does tend to have a bad habit of treating any planet with more than a few dozen people on it as "full" (e.g. ENT "Terra Nova"), given the size of the original transplant population and the amount of time they had lived on Amerind, it is simply implausible that they had spread out to inhabit the entire planet. There should have been plenty of room for new Native American colonists. After all, their ancestors had all managed to fit on the North American continent just fine.
- This would further seem reasonable since the Dorvan V colonists were few enough in number that Picard was prepared to forcibly relocate them, something he could not have possibly done if there had been more than a couple thousand of them.
- The Prime Directive would not apply, since the inhabitants of Amerind are descendants of humans from Earth. In any case, new colonists could be settled hundreds, even thousands of miles from the existing population. It could easily be hundreds, even thousands, of years before they might meet and interact.
- Did Starfleet classify Amerind's existence for some reason?
- This makes the Maquis seem even more irrational and stupid, and has Unfortunate Implications especially about Native American members like Chakotay. They'll fight an impossible guerrilla war against a major space power to try to hold onto planets they haven't even lived on for very long, and will not consider relocating, even to a planet where the only other inhabitants just happen to also be people living traditional Native American lifestyles? Again, since we are talking about a planet here, cultural contamination is not a significant issue. Indeed, they might have found it beneficial to share a world with people whose cultural history was connected to their own.
Starfleet Academy for Gifted Youngsters
- Does anyone else find it strange that Starfleet does not appear to have any kind of formalized training program for cadets and crew possessing psychic powers? In cases such as Spock, Troi and Tuvok, they invariably seem to have received whatever training they have on their home planets by members of their own species. This training may or may not be formal. For example, Troi's mother actually criticizes her for not honing her telepathic potential more, to which Troi's defense is basically that she didn't want to. Yet the use of those abilities is an integral part of Troi's job on the Enterprise! Why would Starfleet allow for an ability that is part of an officer's job function to go untrained? Are security officers allowed to skip hand-to-hand combat training, or even a simple physical fitness regimen, on the basis of not feeling like pursuing them? Since there are entire species with psychic abilities, finding qualified instructors should not be difficult.
- Spock and Tuvok received their training on Vulcan, and both exhibited an interest in keeping their mental abilities finely-honed. Both practiced Vulcan meditation disciplines regularly and treated their use of the mind meld as a kind of Sufficiently Analyzed Magic.
- Deanna Troi, in contrast, is very informal about how she uses her powers, and is never shown as doing any kind of mental exercises even though on at least one occasion we see her mother, recognized as an advanced telepath, meditating. Her powers are seen as invaluable to the ship, yet ironically they appear to be largely untrained.
- As far back as TOS ("Where No Man Has Gone Before"), Starfleet was apparently testing cadets for ESP. But no indication that this ever became more than a note in their personnel records was ever given.
- Also in in TOS ("Is There In Truth No Beauty"), a rare human telepath, Dr. Miranda Jones, is being employed by Starfleet to work with an alien ambassador. It is noted that she received her telepathic training on Vulcan (granted she is not a member of Starfleet).
- As psychic phenomena are commonly encountered by Starfleet ships, it seems odd that they have no formal curriculum at the Academy for training psychic cadets, nor are psychic phenomena studied as a scientific topic, as most encounters with such abilities are often handled ad hoc.
Why are there no AI operated starships?
- In The Next Generation, Voyager and Deep Space 9 we see that the Federation can create AI holodeck characters who are capable of learning and independent judgement. Why, then, aren't AIs put in charge of flying starships? Even if the bigger ships with more complex missions (like the Enterprise) still need the experience and intuition of real people, you'd think AI operated ships would be perfect for simpler tasks like reconaissance or bombing enemy bases? Yet it always seem to be the main characters who end up doing these. Presumably the Federation could've saved countless lives in cases like the Dominion War or the Battle of Wolf 359, if they'd used AIs instead of organic crews.
- The first starship that we know of that had holo-emitters outside of the holodeck and sickbay was the USS Prometheus launched in 2374 - the Dominion war ended in 2375 so it was much too late to utilize semi-intelligent holograms in battle. Remember that fully interactive holograms are only about ten years old going by Picard and Riker's amazed reactions to the Minuet hologram in season one. Incidentally standard Federation holograms have the illusion of free will and independent judgement, they are not AI in the truest sense - think of them like videogame characters taken to the next level. That is why Data, Moriarty and the Doctor are so unique because they have reached a level of sapience approaching or equal to a human. So yes, whilst you could program one for simple tasks like running freight, actual command would be beyond what you would willingly trust a hologram with. The technology is clearly getting there though.
- The starships don't necessary have to be equipped with a holographic crew... Why not just build ships that are directly run by their computers? If the computers can run the sort of extremely complex, self-adjusting simulations that holodeck plays require, surely they could be programmed to do stuff like reconaissance flights? Hell, non-manned flying ships are already being developed today, why don't they have them in the 24th century?
- I wouldn't be surprised if they are afraid to take the chance. The M5 computer in the Original series was basically this and it ended up nearly destroying a small fleet of starships when it malfunctioned. It could be argued that a hundred years is a long time to hold a grudge but then the Federation have been holding a grudge against genetic engineering since the mid-1990's so it has a basis in canon.
- Not to mention the time Data hijacked the Enterprise because of some hidden code, or all the other times a computer went wrong or was hacked. There are plenty of powers in the Alpha Quadrant with ability to hack Federation Computers, so it is not analogous to the current situation where the people we are using drones against cannot hack them out of the sky. I could understand them being careful about handing over complete control. You'd want at least a capable skeleton crew on one just in case. Also, the primary jobs of most Starships are carrying people who want to enjoy the universe and study it first hand. Combat and security is a non-primary objective, exploration and self-actualisation is.
Easily Hackable Computers/No Security Software or User Permission Levels?
- Seen more in the later series and movies but why is it that every Federation starship's computers can be easily hacked, overriden or otherwise subverted in some way even by alien species who may not be familiar with the layout of the interface. And why is it that they can seem to do this from any terminal on the ship to go as far as to lock out other more critical terminals? I lost count of the number of times the monster of the week or the traitor or negative space wedgie some how takes control of the entirety of the ship's most important systems...via a small side terminal in the mess hall or in a random corridor or even the holodeck. Has Starfleet not heard of security software or user permission levels? In real life, I'm sure the entertainment system on a warship would not give access to the on board weaponry.
- Chalk it up to cultural blindspot. The Federation's philosophy is that people can be trusted, in fact we've seen several times that paranoia and mistrust are one of the Federation's biggest hot-buttonsnote . Most people within the Federation are actually trustworthy and intelligent people (read:boring) who do nothing to attract 45 minutes worth of drama. So in a society which holds that everyone can be trusted, and is full of trustworthy people, they have their default settings for everything be open because they don't see it as a major problem.
- I can accept that a cultural blindspot may be to blame. But that doesn't explain why they don't implement more stringent safety measures in later series and moves given the repeated security breaches caused by, if not their own traitors then other species on board. On a related note, how do Starfleet personnel know how to subvert the computers on alien species terminals anyway, especially in Voyager when they either haven't encountered the species before. Do all computers operate on a common GUI layout?
Why can some things be transported but not replicated?
- A common theme for certain plot-significant items is that they cannot be replicated and thus must be obtained via other means. However, those same impossible-to-replicate items are then often shown being casually transported as if it were no big deal. Replicators are just a derivation from transporter technology, predicated on the idea that if you can store the pattern of an object, you can make a copy of it. Yet when Rule of Drama dictates it, certain items just cannot be replicated, even if they are shown being transported.
- The selective aversion of this has been demonstrated to extend all the way up to replicating entire human beings (TNG: "Second Chances") in cases of transporter operators getting creative with beaming techniques.
- The commodity currency latinum, mostly mentioned in DS9, supposedly cannot be replicated, but can be transported.
- In VOY: "The Omega Directive", it is revealed that both the Federation and the Borg experimented with creating the Omega Molecule, but neither had succeeded in creating one and keeping it stable for so much as a single second. However, when an unnamed, pre-warp, alien civilization in the Delta Quadrant created 200,000,000 of them and managed to keep them somewhat contained and stable, Voyager was able to site-to-site transport the entire lot of them right out of their containment field and into a device on the ship designed to safely break them down!
- There's a significant difference between taking something to move it from one place to another and creating it from scratch. Even if you have a template, you still have to pull the raw materials from somewhere. Maybe a replicator works best when it's transporting like with like (that is, it's really easy to turn iron to steel, or to form an iron cup) but it has real difficulty and is far more energy intensive when applying that same iron to fortify your breakfast cereal (and so it tastes worse). Creating theoretical particles, then, is a whole order of magnitude harder - you have to strip the protons, neutrons, and electrons from the original source material and re-arrange them in a stable pattern that's completely different. That sounds ... explosive. Or, worse, radioactive.
- Contradicted in canon. Picard's explanation was that they had discovered that matter and energy are interchangeable (which is in fact true even in the real world). Atoms are nothing more than arrangements of protons, electrons and usually neutrons. This was dramatically demonstrated by what was essentially the replication of an exact copy of Will Riker. It has also been stated that the transporter does not have to rematerialize matter that it transports, it can allow it to remain as energy. Likewise, mass can seemingly come from or go to nowhere, as when Picard, Guinan, Ro and Keiko got de-aged to pre-teens. So even very complex manipulations of sub-atomic particles are possible (when the plot requires it).
Why are there no computer avatars?
- Bruce Maddox's dream in Measure of a Man was to create an army of disposable androids, and to do this, he needs to dissemble Data. Now, ethical considerations aside, the idea itself is brilliant. An android can work longer, harder, faster, further and better than almost any humanoid species in the galaxy. One of the arguments he uses for this is to point out just how much of a benefit Data's considerable abilities have been to the Enterprise, and how great it would be for every ship to have its own Data on board. However, in a civilization that has the technology to create holograms of such intelligence, creativity, interactivity and skill as the Doctor or Vic Fontaine, what is stopping every starship and space station in the Federation having a computer avatar on their bridge? At the very least it would be a significant improvement over the plodding, dry and uncreative computer voice that is often extremely unhelpful. And as a hologram in many ways is even hardier than an android as the only way to injure one is to take out the holo-emitter (which we know can be projected over a very wide area) the whole idea of a disposable mass-produced race of androids has been rendered obsolete anyway. There really is no reason whatsoever that this shouldn't have at least partly happened by the end of the series.
- Because when you make a machine to do the job of a man, you take something away from the man. For a series that's praised for championing science and technological progress it, like a lot of sci-fi, is surprisingly luddite in its views on that there is a line that technology shouldn't cross.