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Old May 3 2013, 03:45 AM   #236
GSchnitzer
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Re: Franz Joseph Blueprints Revisited

(I like to write. Is that so wrong?)

All your points are worth considering. Ultimately, I don't think the evidence that the Enterprise is some class of vessel other than a Constitution class is actually very compelling. The evidence of that seems to be somewhat circumstantial and inconclusive.

At first blush, it might appear that when Khan says "I've been reading up on starships," he might mean "I've been reading up on starships of more than one class." But linguistically and grammatically speaking, in fairness, we should actually give equal weight to the equally likely possibility that Khan might have meant "I've been reading up on starships of a single type--this one that we're on right now." I think that's an equally plausible interpretation of his comment. That's one reason why I don't place much value in Khan's comment. You think that I "filtered out" or ignored or otherwise disregarded Khan's comment because it was incompatible with the notion that the Enterprise was a Constitution class vessel. That's not correct. I disregarded the comment because, as you can see, his comment is actually equally supportive of either notion. "I've been reading up on starships" doesn't automatically mean "more than one class." As EliyahQeoni suggested, "Couldn't he have meant 'I've been reading up on starships (of this class)'? The plural could have referred to multiple ships of a single class, rather than multiple classes." The answer to that question, of course, is: yes, that's exactly what he might have meant. The notion that Khan was discussing a class other than the class to which the Enterprise belongs is just as likely a notion as the notion that he was discussing the class to which the Enterprise does belong. I think you would agree that "reading up on starships" doesn't actually necessarily mean "more than one class of starship"--although it might. Khan's comment probabaly wasn't given much weight back in 1968 when Bjo Trimble created the Star Trek Concordance--not becuase it didn't fit someone's theory--but because Khan's comment was inconclusive: it would fit either of the two "Constitution class" theories equally well, and doesn't really help to resolve the question one way or the other.

The same, of course, is true for the term "manuals." When Khan says he has been reading "manuals," it doesn't necessarily mean "manuals from different classes of starships"--although I suppose it could mean that. The comment might just as easily mean "multiple manuals from just the class of ship to which the Enterprise belongs." In fact, Spock says: "Mister Khan was very thorough in his study of our tech manuals." A possible interpretation of Spock's comment is that "our" tech manuals refers to tech manuals "about our ship," not just tech manuals "available on our ship." Just like Khan's "starships" comment, since "manuals" could mean "manuals from just one class of starship" just as easily as it could mean "manuals from multiple classes of starship," this too is inconclusive and we should probably just disregard it as well, since it doesn't really resolve the question one way or the other.

For what it's worth, a close reading of the script indicates that Kirk does not actually grant Khan access to the manual. Kirk indicated that, actually, they are available to any patient. Kirk simply explained that Khan already had that access; Kirk didn't actually provide it. Of course, it's not just patients that can access them: Scotty also seems to enjoy reading them. He seems to enjoy reading them in the same way that Ford Mustang owners sit and read their Haynes Ford Mustang automotive manual in bed at night when they actually have a Ford Mustang parked in their driveways. (I can't be the only one who does that, can I?)

Actually, it's probably more likely from an Occam's Razor standpoint that Khan's comments actually do pertain to a single class. "I mean to take this ship--so I will now read up on other kinds of starships" seems less likely than "I mean to take this ship--so I will read up on this ship." Actually, I think that back in those days of 1967 when "Space Seed" was written, there actually weren't multiple classes of starships. I think there were "spaceships" and then there were twelve "starships"--a special kind of spaceship. "Not one man in a million could do what you and I have done: command a starship." "He commands not just a spaceship, Proconsul, but a starship--a very special vessel and crew." There were "only twelve like it in the fleet"--and they were all one class. Anything other than those twelve vessels weren't even called starships. Back then, when Star Trek was in production, there was no such thing as a "starship" that wasn't one of those twelve ships. The idea that there were multiple classes or "flavors" of starships other than the class of the twelve established starships was an idea cooked up years later--long after Star Trek went off the air. I think we can dismiss the notion as being anachronistic to the intent of the series. When Khan says "starships," he means that group of twelve ships to which the Enterprise belongs. Back then, there were no other starships. "Constitution class star ship" must have been pertaining to the Enterprise, since there were no other ships called starships. In fact, a good clue that there were no other flavors of starship is the fact that the ship's dedication plaque reads "Starship Class." "Constitution class star ship" and "Starship class" would seem to be synonymous simply because, back then, there were no other starhips envisiond that weren't that class. If the intent actually had been that there were different classes of starships, then the bridge plaque isn't very supportive of that notion and isn't very informative.

It should be noted that Greg Jein actually did read the scripts--and, in fact, reproduced some of the the scipts' contents in his April, 1973 article "The Case of Jonathan Doe Starship." In his article, he captions the Matt Jefferies diagram that was made for "Space Seed" with the comment: "'The Space Seed,' Scene 44. Enlargement of a portion of a film clip. This indicates that the U.S.S. Enterprise (MK IX/01) is a Constitution Class vessel." So Greg Jein clearly knew about Scene 44. He also made the following comment: "In going through a number of scripts, I came across a few additional starship names. Some cancelled themselves out in later script drafts. In 'The Omega Glory,' the U.S.S. Argentina later became the U.S.S. Exeter. The U.S.S. Lord Nelson became the survey ship S.S. Beagle in 'Bread and Circuses.' The U.S.S. Scimitar was changed to U.S.S. Defiant in 'The Tholian Web.' And of course, the original name for the Enterprise was the Yorktown. He also indicated: "The starship names that did hold up are the U.S.S. Essex, the U.S.S. Eagle, and U.S.S. Endeavor. (Uhura in Fontana's 'Journey to Babel,' first draft, p. 64, September 30, 1967: 'Star Fleet Command confirms alien attack on the other starships, Sir. The enemy was defeated. Starships Essex and Eagle suffered heavy damage, but will make base.' Kirk in Sturgeon's 'Amok Time,' first draft, p. 27, May 15, 1967: 'Excalibur and Endeavor are the other two ships assigned with us to Altair.')"

I think the idea that the Constitution was an (apparent) latecomer to the final list of "names that were established for starships" is probably a little wide of the mark. D.C. Fontana said in her August 8, 1967 memo which had gotten the whole business started that "We have in the course of a season and a half established that Star Fleet includes 12 ships of the starship class. We are frequently called upon to name one or the other of them, and no one has kept track of who's where." Clearly, the production team had already been establishing ship names, but no one was keeping track of them--and they were getting lost in the shuffle. They were forgetting about ships they had established. For example, in her memo, she remembered that the Constellation had been established in "The Doomsday Machine" but even she seems to have forgotten about the Valiant from "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and the Republic from "Court Martial." Just as the Valiant and the Republic later show up on the final list after actually having already been established but overlooked and left off the list, it appears that the Constitution, too, had been established, overlooked, and left off the list. In the end, the Constitution was also added back onto the list because someone remembered that it, too, had already been established in a script. So in addition to the ships from D.C. Fontana's list that Bob Justman seemed to favor in August of 1967, the final list (or at least as "final" as the list was when the book was published in September of 1968) included the ships that had been initally overlooked, as well as the newer ships that had just recently been established in the recent episodes "Obsession," "The Immunity Syndrome," and "The Ultimate Computer." As a side note, I suppose the Hood, the Intrepid, the Potemkin, and the Kongo were established to help accomodate Justman's deisre to have some English, French, Russian, and Japanese names. Of course, if folks did forget for a time that the Constitution had been established as one of the twelve starships, then they, of course, forgot that it had also been established to have been the class ship. (Well, most people forgot, but a couple of devout script- and film clip-collectors seem to have remembered.)

It should be noted that D.C. Fontana suggested that whatever the final list of starship names ends up being, that they "put it in The Star Trek Guide and use it...if this seems feasible." As it turns out, of course, their third (and, as it turns out, final) revision to the Guide was dated April 17, 1967; there never actually was a fourth revision made to the The Star Trek Guide any time after D.C. Fontana's memo of August 8, 1967. So other potential scriptwriters never really did get the chance to learn about (and use) the name Constitution. (Maybe it's just as well the final list was never really socialized better among potential writers: it allowed the Scimitar-That-Became-The-Defiant to be established.)

It dawns on me: if it were true that NCC-1701 were "the first bird" of its class by virtue of being the 1st of the 17th cruiser design, it does raise the question: "To what design series does the "NCC-1700" vessel indicated on Commodore Stone's "Star Ship Status" chart belong?" Where should we put it? If the classes actually were to follow some "NCC" numbering scheme, does 1700 belong to the same class as 1701? When was it built--in relation to 1701--before? Or after? I understand the "1st bird" or the "2nd bird," but when was the "0th bird"constructed? Ultimately, I guess I can understand Greg Jein deciding that the class ship identifed in "Space Seed" must be the one associated with the 1700 number. To what other class could NCC-1700 belong if not to the same class as the Enterprise? It also raises the issue of what number to use when the 100th vessel of a class is built. ("Sorry, we can only construct 99 vessels of the 17th crusier design. As much as the design meets the needs of Starfleet, and as much as we'd love to build more than just 99 of them, we've sadly run out of numbers.")

It's funny: it has been necessary for me to write "the class to which the Enterprise belongs" over and over again. I can see how Bob Justman and Stephen Whitfield could have slipped up and simply written "Enterprise-class" when they simply meant "the class to which the Enterprise belongs" and didn't really mean "the class that is actually named after the Enterprise." (I think you would concede that "the class to which the Enterprise belongs" could more simply be written as "Enterprise class.") I think the couple of times that the term appears in The Making of Star Trek, it's being used simply as a compound adjective and not really as a proper noun indicating the eponymous class type. I think "the class to which the Enterprise belongs" is all that's really meant by the two uses of "Enterprise class." I think that "Enterprise class" simply means "Enterprise's class."

Lastly, it's been noted that Gene Roddenberry seems to have settled on Constitution-class in his novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Folks may remember that as the movie opens, the V'Ger cloud attacks a bunch of Klingon ships. In the novelization, Kirk is actually able to "see" this happening. (An emergency signal was transmitted directly to an implant in Kirk's brain--a sort of emergency communication device.)

"Kirk found himself seeing three Klingon cruisers which appeared to be moving at warp velocity and in battle formation. The images became more detailed, increasingly real--he could begin thinking about them consciously. The Klingon vessels were big, dangerous looking--undoubtedly their new K't'inga-class heavy cruisers which some Admiralty tacticians feared might prove faster and more powerful than Starfleet's First Line Constitution-Class starships."

Ostensibly, it seems possible that the "Starfleet's First Line Constitution-Class starships" might be a reference to some class of starship other than the one we know and love. But I'm reminded of this comment from The Making of Star Trek: "Starship Class vessels are the largest and most powerful man-made ships in space." So I don't think there actually is anything larger and more powerful than the Enterprise and her sisters.

I think, in the end we can chalk up the "Serial No. 1 of the 17th Cruiser Design" that Matt Jefferies came up with afterwards, as just an idea that didn't really pan out--like his idea of a cylindrical thing on the front of the engineering hull instead of a deflector dish that also appears on the same drawing. It seems to have been simply an idea that he was noodling with as he was developing the ship, but then later abandoned. Not everything he toyed with in the development process--whether it's the "first bird" or the front-of-the-engineering hull cylinder-thing--ultimately got adopted. This idea just seems to be another one of those casualties.
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Greg Schnitzer
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Last edited by GSchnitzer; May 3 2013 at 11:04 PM. Reason: (typos)
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