I signed up because of this thread
This project strikes me as something potentially absolutely awesome, but also really scary.
What I’m hoping to do in Rise of the Federation is to continue season 4′s emphasis on worldbuilding and laying the foundations of the TOS era while also bringing back season 1′s focus on exploration and the pioneer spirit, as well as its focus on character development.
The inception of the Federation presents massive opportunities, but also attempting to describe a historical era in great detail, can lead to huge problems; in all honesty, even academics who study the inception of political unions all their lives, would hesitate to speculate on the details of how a utopian post-scarcity federal alliance of planets came about. When each member joined, how their starships developed, how the new culture formed, etc.
Sometimes what is unsaid matters more than what is said; it's better to leave possibilities open than to close them - so the idea that we must fill in every lost era, can be a destructive one, that closes speculation and opportunity. Perhaps it's better that the Romulan War never appeared on screen for example, as whatever the writers of Enterprise had done, they probably wouldn't have lived up to the expectations of the time - but in the absence of official continuity, fans are free to wonder about the enigma, and let their imagination run wild.
Often, in attempting to describe a society, people have fallen into the trap of over-describing it, simplifying it and ossifying it - I think part of the problem with Klingon culture (in some cases), was that people did not leave enough room for opportunity - they tried to fill in absolutely every question. In some works, every avenue of their culture was explained systematically, leading to a really monolithic and simplistic society, which even the smallest nation on Earth, would seem diverse in comparison to. I really like what little we have seen of JJ Abrams Klingons
- going back to a less comprehensively understood society, which acts more naturally like TOS Klingons. They are not obsessed with honour, glory and religion - no society on Earth, not even the most obsessive theocracy, would have citizens or military servicemen constantly drop Kahless, honour, bat'leths, etc, into every conversation - it's not natural. Even the Vikings were more than just conquerors.
Also sometimes people suffer from 'bridge syndrome' (for lack of a better term). The idea that the period between two events must present a logical gradient - a ship or phaser made in between two other models, must look like a hybrid of the two. Sometimes this works okay - the Ambassador class looks like a lovely intermediate step between Excelsion class and Galaxy class. But other times, it's taken as a rule, and undermines what really determines the look, feel and technology of any era - practicality and logic. Trying to bridge things can create an autistic view of history, which is all about symmetry, and is very stifling to creativity. For example, it's unlikely that Klingons would wear furs and impractical armour just out of romanticism for the past - any rational society worth a damn (and certainly one capable of running a space empire), would go with practical fabrics and technologies. The reasoning that they have traditions, romanticism for the past, etc, is not compelling.
That's why when you say that you are focusing on exploration and pioneering, I am all the more interested in reading this one. Like you say, that is what season one of Enterprise got right. And by focusing on the fundamentals of what Star Trek was all about, you can't go wrong
One question I would have is to what extent the USS Kelvin's era will influence the story?
The more I think about what little we saw of the Kelvin - a large vessel similar to Franz Joseph's 70s designs, on a survey mission in the fringes of space - the more I become interested in that era, which is shared by both settings. Love that TOS era feel - one ship out amongst the myriad god-like beings and computer-tyrants of the galaxy
When I watched ENT in its original run, my perceptions were filtered through “Oh, that’s not what I expected” or “That’s not how I would’ve done it,” and that colored my reactions, as I think it did for a lot of us. But on revisiting the series, I was able to accept that this was how it was and evaluate it on its own terms. And I think it held up pretty well overall. It certainly has its share of duds and mediocre episodes, but overall I like how it turned out.
The first season does a great job at conveying a flavor of exploration and discovery, a sense of wonder and novelty and fascination with the unknown. Sometimes the characters were a little too naive and reckless, but I liked the sense of experimentation, of pioneers trying everything for the first time and figuring stuff out as they went. Few Trek series have ever done as well at capturing that feeling of exploring the strange and unknown.
Indeed, having re-watched it, I think was way too harsh on the series at the time. Many people (of which I was one) wanted some Babylon 5 type epic historical chronicle in a prequel. We also expected humans by the 22nd century would not be so naive or judgmental. We expected a larger Earth starfleet, and an exploration of what people imagined was the defining conflict of the era - the Romulan War.
But actually, it makes a lot of sense to me now, that the producers chose to make another episodic series about exploration. An early era focused on exploration and discovery is much more in line with Roddenbury's vision - the vision that is still the life essence of Trek. Early Starfleet being a non-military NASA-like organization is a reasonable idea, considering the Federation's ideal of 'humanism'. An organisation that valued military culture and discipline for it's own sake, out of romanticism, would already be very far on the wrong track, and at odds with the ideals of Star Trek.
As much as I loved it, more and more, I think DS9 might have been where the franchise went wrong. By focusing on logistics, fleets, militarism, office politics, dirty deals, etc, the small UN type Federation, full of wonder and homeliness, was replaced by something more like a nation-state, with all the homogeneity and dirty games it entails in our own era.
From being very critical of Enterprise, and quite sceptical about the direction Trek XI went in, I think both of them have been positive in bringing the UFP back from being just another Byzantine space empire like the Old Republic, or Imperium of Man.