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Literature / The Three Minute Universe

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The Three Minute Universe is a Star Trek novel written by Barbara Paul about a race of repulsive aliens called Sackers. Noted to be peaceful, respectful, and mindful of local customs, their presence is dreaded throughout the galaxy due to their Bizarre Alien Biology due to their repulsive appearance, overpowering smell, a voice that can cause deafness, and skin so hot that a casual touch can cause second degree burns. Fed up with being pariahs where ever they go, the Sackers genocide an entire race of people and set off a Doomsday Device that opens a hole to another young universe that had just undergone a big bang. The intense heat is enough to burn up entire star systems and threatens the entire galaxy, possibly the entire universe. It's up to Kirk, Scotty, Uhura, and Chekov, who have been taken captive by the Sackers, to stop their plan and close the hole to the new universe before it's too late to get close enough to stop it.

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The series shows examples of:

  • Aliens Speaking English: Subverted by the universal translator, only to be played heartwarmingly straight later when a Sacker who looked up to Scotty learned to speak English just by listening to him, accent and all. Scotty was equal parts impressed and honored.
  • And You Thought It Was a Game: A Gletchenite tells Kirk how the Sacker ship that attacked his crew was toying with them at first, shooting all around their outclassed ship for sport before finally getting bored and shooting them down. It was later revealed that the inexperienced crew really was having trouble hitting their target.
  • Bad Powers, Good People: Sackers are recorded as being polite and amiable, respectful to local customs, willing to trade, and generally nice neighbors. They’re also dreaded throughout the galaxy due to their very presence being harmful to most other races.
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  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Unlike the Rubber-Forehead Aliens common to Star Trek, Sackers are roughly human shaped but they have translucent skin with multicolored organs clearly visible, body temperature hot enough to cause burns, an intense smell that makes other races sick, and voices so loud and high pitched that they cause deafness.
  • Brown Note Being: Sackers are offensive to all five classical senses. Visually they look like rotting corpses with translucent skin, showing sickly colored organs and little white chemical messengers that look like maggots. This, coupled with their intense bad smell can induce projectile vomiting in most other races. Their voices are loud and shrill enough to cause hearing damage, and their skin is so hot to the touch that it can cause second degree burns from a casual brush. As a result of this, they’re dreaded throughout the galaxy.
  • Child Soldiers: When the environmental controls on the Sacker ship malfunction and all the adults are killed by the low temperatures their young are left to operate the warship and carry out their plan.
  • Coitus Ensues: Subverted and played for laughs when Kirk and Uhura try to come up with a flimsy excuse to leave the bridge for a moment to discuss their plan and one of the Sackers bluntly notes that the human urge to reproduce can come up out of nowhere and asks if that’s why they’re suddenly so eager to leave.
  • Cool Starship: The Sacker ship qualifies, being able to transform multiple shapes and configurations to meet the needs of the situation at hand.
  • Descriptively-Named Species: Sacker is a name applied to the race, as they resemble roughly human shaped sacks of disgusting. They adopted it anyway, as nicknames from others are seen as an honor, moreso if it comes from an alien race. Their name for themselves is Vinithi.
  • Doomsday Device: The Sackers, tired of being rejected and reviled by every other race in the galaxy, decide to activate a device to let a new universe into our own. This new universe is hot enough to burn up even stars.
  • Facial Horror: A couple of redshirts were roasted alive by Sackers while investigating a Blister Dome they had built and the one that survived had trouble reporting what happened after his lips were burned off.
  • Falling into the Cockpit: The Sackers are actually children who are the sole survivors of a shipwide malfunction that killed the adults and are quickly forced to learn how to operate the ship and the rules of space combat.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: The Sackers use these at times, charring a couple of redshirts to a crisp when they got too close to their blister dome. It makes sense since they can take - and prefer - very high temperatures.
  • Genocide Survivor: The Doomsday Device used by the Sackers is set off in the Zirgosian's home system, almost wiping them out completely. A few survivors are found in a colony on another star system, but the population was poisoned, further reducing their numbers. Only a handful remain.
  • Immune to Fire: Sackers have an incredibly high tolerance for heat, able to harmlessly walk through flames that would easily kill humans.
  • Man on Fire: A couple of poor redshirts are incinerated by Sacker weaponry for getting too close to one of their blister domes. One survives but is horribly disfigured and has difficulty speaking after his lips were burned off.
  • No Name Given: Sackers either don’t have names for each other or their names are unpronounceable to humans. As a result they will take any name given to them by another race. Lampshaded when Chekov asks one what her mother would’ve called her before she got her nickname, only for the Sacker in question to hesitate and say that everyone will call her by that name now.
  • Only Fatal to Adults: Sackers require uncomfortably or even fatally hot environments to survive in, though younger ones can stay alive in cooler temperatures. As a result, when the environmental controls fail on the Sacker ship, the adults are all killed and their young are left to run the ship and carry out their plan.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Sackers will take nicknames given to them as others as their actual name, including their own. Justified, as the Sackers see getting a nickname to be a honor, no matter how ridiculous it is. Lampshaded when Chekov asks one what her mother would’ve called her before she got her nickname, only for the Sacker in question to hesitate and say that everyone will call her by that name now.
  • Power Limiter: Sackers wear voice modulators to lower their voices to safe volume so they don’t deafen other races. One forgot to activate it after Kirk, Scotty, Uhura, and Chekov beamed over and the four of them collapsed in agony and went deaf for a short period.
  • Space Nomads: The Sackers are completely nomadic since an unspecified incident happened to their home system. Since then they wander the galaxy in clans of exactly one thousand, only stopping on planets to grow new Sackers in vats, then heading back to their ships once the young Sacker or Sackers are mature enough to handle space travel.
  • Title Drop: Near the end of the first chapter Kirk tells Uhura to notify Starfleet Command of the three minute universe.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: The Sackers tried to be as polite, respectful, and accommodating as possible but were still treated like pariahs. Eventually they grew tired of everyone dreading them due to their biology and decided to get revenge on a galaxy that hated them by setting off a Doomsday Device.
  • Uterine Replicator: Sackers live in clans of exactly one thousand and when one dies, they stop at the nearest planet and grow a new Sacker (or Sackers) in vats. Once the newborn Sackers are mature enough to survive space travel, they're beamed back up to the ship.
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