Before anyone asks, I do indeed plan to finish the Stargosy stories I began during the April A-to-Z Blog Challenge. The story that evolved from my daily nano fic turned into something a lot bigger and more complex than I had time to develop during the Challenge. As for these first two weeks of May, My lovely wife Debra has changed jobs, which as anybody knows is stressful and tedious and makes keeping up with things like blogs harder than normal.
End of excuses.
This will be the first in a series, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Star Trek.. The title of this post kinda says it all - I intend to look at this most venerable of American SF franchises in various levels of detail and then attempt to re-imagine it in a hard SF sort of way. I will examine the technology of Trek, obviously, but also the aliens, the timeline, and the general themes of the original show, and if they can be recreated in a more realistic setting.
I want to do this project for a couple of reasons. First, I love Star Trek, and the scientific inaccuracies make my teeth itch. It doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of the show, mind you - I fell in love with TOS and TNG at the same time back in ‘87 and haven’t looked back - but anything that makes a setting more plausible, in my opinion, is worth doing. It is my contention that you can tell a story that is in the best, most worthy tradition of Star Trek without negative space wedgies, technobabble, handwavium, and technology that is only limited by the needs of plot. Remember Ray’s Rule of Science Fiction:
“Soft Science Fiction tries to make technology fit the imagination, and Hard Science Fiction tries to imagine what fits the technology.”
So...gauntlet thrown, I guess.
Another reason for wanting to re-imagine Star Trek is more personal and less objective. Namely, I don’t think that the current offerings given us by the owners of the Star Trek intellectual property are worthy of the franchise. I think the stories could be better, and better done. The current Star Trek movies, while spectacular eye-candy and rousing action stories, are plots that seem to follow the “average guy bewildered by the future” sort of story. Those are fine stories, I enjoy them and they capture the feeling many of us have in the face of rapidly changing technology.
But it ain’t Trek.
Star Trek, if I may be arrogant enough to analyze, tells classic “competent expert using technology to solve a problem” stories. These types of plots used to be the norm in science fiction, back when ‘Merrica worshiped progress and believed in the technological messiah. Now, we don’t trust our politicians, our scientists, our teachers, certainly not our bankers, and technology is changing our lives far faster than we are comfortable with. But for all the chaos of our modern lives, Star Trek was hardly produced in a time of peaceful living and stable societal institutions. In the late sixties, when the original series was on the air, things that cause national outrage today were not only commonplace, they were the status quo. And there was Star Trek, breaking social conventions by presenting women and minorities as competent, professional and hin positions of power. The crew of the starship Enterprise treated the unknown like a mystery, not an enemy. They solved problems without violence more often than not, and the most common conflict was cultural misunderstanding.
So when I watch the current crop of Trek, with it’s whitewashed villians, all-male Admiralty, protagonist that glorifies ignorant instinct and fisticuffs over training and expert knowledge, and faces the unknown with phasers drawn, I have to say that it is not the Trek I’m looking for.
And because I’m some species of science fiction writer and artist, I can take what I think is important, file the serial numbers off, and make my own damn science fiction setting that has what I love about Star trek without the stuff that makes my teeth itch. Over the coming weeks, I’ll show what I mean.
Our first foray into this world of re-constructed Star Trek will be to establish the scope of our new universe, and decide how we can tell Trek-like stories in a setting that doesn’t flat-out violate physics. See you then!