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Old October 19 2012, 01:00 AM   #74
Re: Think We'll Ever See A Trek Series Longer Than 7 seasons?

Christopher wrote: View Post
Ti-BOO!-rius wrote: View Post
First of all, since Starfleet is the primary scientific arm of the Federation, it makes sense that any civilian scientists will be working with them. We saw it all the time in Next Gen and DS9.
We saw it all the time in those shows because those shows were set aboard Starfleet ships or facilities. Obviously there's a huge selection bias there. It doesn't make any sense to assume we have a representative portrayal of life in the Federation when the shows we have are exclusively from the Starfleet point of view. As I already said, that would be tantamount to watching JAG and NCIS and assuming that all criminal investigation in the United States was done by the military.

And no, it does not make the least bit of sense to assume that every scientist in a free and diverse civilization of trillions would be obligated to collaborate with the military, or that every single one of them acting independently would make the exact same choice to do so. There must be other options in a civilization that immense and pluralistic. It makes no sense to think there wouldn't be. How many different research institutions are there just in the United States alone, a society thousands of times smaller than the Federation?
Gee, I'm beginning to think you just want to disagree with me, Christopher!

I'm not saying that Starfleet is the only organisation that conducts scientific research. I'm just saying that it gives the most flexibility.

Secondly, it will give the scientist characters a chance to conflict with Starfleet. If the only characters are the scientists, then they could all be happy to do something that would, say, bend the PD. But if they are working with a starship crew, then the Captain of that ship could be against it, introducing potential for a whole lot more conflict. And conflict is good for stories.
Yes, that's one possible source of conflict. Of course it's not the only one. You really think that scientists and other civilians would never have any form of conflict among themselves? If anything, it'd probably be a lot easier to generate conflict within a civilian crew.
And my idea of having a civilian crew working with Starfleet will still allow all of the potential conflict within that civilian crew, as well as introducing another source of conflict on top of it.

There was a time when people would've thought "the scope of Trek" meant only shows about Kirk and his crew, or only shows set in the 23rd century, or only shows set on starships. Isn't Star Trek supposed to be about seeking out and embracing the new?
And my idea of having the guest characters staying on the ship and having much greater interactions with the crew isn't new?

Of course it is, but my point is that it's illogical and frankly quite disturbing to assume that the military has a monopoly on starships. Come on, it's a civilization consisting of trillions of beings on hundreds of worlds. Of course there are going to be groups other than Starfleet that are capable of building and operating ships and motivated to use them for exploration. And since it's not a dictatorship, since it's a society that welcomes plurality of thought and practice, there's going to be nothing to prevent those groups from exercising that capability and desire.
Yes there are, I'm not disagreeing with this point. My point is that Starfleet is the only way to get the characters to the newest and most top secret locations, like newly discovered planets.

And let's not assume that I'm talking about non stop scientific missions. My idea of a quick-response starship that picks up new mission specialists every few weeks will allow them to tell stories about colony establishment, medical emergencies, diplomatic missions, first contact scenarios, rescue missions etc. All of which are impossible if the series is following a group of civilian scientists with their own vessel. After all, why would you have a group of wormhole experts working to save a colony that's just been attacked by the Breen?

Not to mention that space is inconceivably huge, and there's no way any single institution, even one as large as Starfleet, could make a reasonable dent in exploring it. There would be every reason for the Federation to encourage multiple groups, including civilian ones, to participate in space exploration.
But like I said, Star trek is not just about space exploration. It's also had stories about diplomacy, and all the other stuff I mentioned just up there. Having a group of civilian scientists will not allow those kinds of stories to be told.

Again, what you're assuming is impossible is something that I have personally already done in a book. Portions of my novel The Buried Age feature a civilian research expedition organized by the University of Alpha Centauri, which commissions a custom-designed starship and assembles a team of experts in multiple fields. True, that's specifically for an archaeological expedition, but it would certainly be possible to assemble a more diverse crew for a more general exploration mission.
But could that premise work in a multi-season series?

Let's say that you have a team consisting of a wormhole expert, a diplomatic expert, a planetary geologist, a stellar physicist and a subspace field specialist. If the story this week calls for them to go and help a team who has just discovered a wormhole, would you really decide to take the diplomat, the planetary geologist or the stellar physicist? You'd be leaving half your team behind each week.

On the other hand, my idea will allow you to carry your core group of characters with you each week, and bring aboard new mission specialists each week.

In your model, sure, but my point is that yours is not the only possible model.
I can't think of any way to get around it without having half the characters that come with you each week totally unsuitable for the task, as I explained above.

Ohh, I dunno, to explore strange new worlds, maybe? Or to seek out new life and new civilizations? Why wouldn't such a team exist? Like I said, space is so huge that the Federation would be insanely stupid to forbid anyone but Starfleet from organizing a multidisciplinary starship crew for general exploration -- and the Federation is sufficiently democratic and free that they'd have no incentive or mechanism to forbid such an effort.
But such a crew is quite unbelievable. Teams like that are put together for specific purposes. In the military today, they do not have teams where one person is trained in desert tactics, another is trained in jungle tactics and the third is trained in Arctic survival. Because if they go to the jungle, two of the group will have no experience.

Again, you're deliberately making limiting assumptions to force your desired conclusion, which is circular reasoning. Why couldn't a university or major research institution assemble a ship with a crew of, say, 50 or 60 people, with multiple individuals in each discipline? It's a post-scarcity society. Resources are abundant, and so, surely, is expertise.
Would you want to pay to send out a crew to investigate something when most of that crew is totally inexperienced in what they are studying?

Or would you say, "Well, we're sending them out to study a wormhole, so let's just send the wormhole specialists out and leave the rest at home. In fact, if we leave the planetary geologists at home, we can send them over here to this planet that's breaking up from tidal forces."

Having it set aboard a starship will allow the characters without experience in the anomaly of the week to still contribute by having them contribute to running the ship instead.
Yes, that's true, but again, not all starships must be Starfleet. Jacques Cousteau and Robert Ballard didn't work for the Navy. Civilians can operate ships too.
True, but they were specialised ships. They'd be great for telling stories about sea exploration, but they're useless for telling other kinds of stories.

Likewise, if we followed a group of wormhole specialists who had their own ship, how would we tell any stories where they have to infiltrate the bad guy's lair to steal some top secret data rod? Or a story where they had to carry a group of colonists going to settle on a new planet? Or a diplomatic mission to end a civil war on a planet? You can't.

But if you have a Starfleet vessel that is "hired out" to various groups, you can. You want to tell a story about a new wormhole? Then you can have the wormhole specialists come on board. You want to tell a story about a civil war? Then the wormhole specialists leave and you get some diplomats come on. Want to tell a story where they have to carry some colonists? Then the diplomats leave and the colonists come on.

And meanwhile, you have the crew of the starship in each episode who provide the bridging structure across the different story arcs and serve to tie the different arcs into one continuous series.
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