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Old September 21 2013, 12:27 AM   #1
David.Blue's Avatar
My Idea: Starship Hippogriff

Okay, I'll submit this idea. Fact is, I wrote it up for fun and even created a Pinterest board on the subject.

First, I start with an earlier era, before the Borg or Dominion. When Starfleet technology still had limits, and a ship might easily find itself out of communication with higher authority for weeks at a time! So figure circa 2250 CE, roughly the same time period as "The Cage" when Christopher Pike is Captain of the Enterprise, James T. Kirk still attending the Academy and no one knows Romulans and Vulcans are cousins. More, instead of exploring a future society per se I'd rather return to the series' roots. Gene Roddenberry portrayed his original concept as "Wagon Train to the Stars" but in all honesty it was usually at its best when "Gulliver's Travels in Space." In other words, it offered commentary on the (then) contemporary world. When TNG came along, Roddenberry initially tried to do the same--but was commenting on the world of 1970 not the period in which the show was set.

So I'd want a dynamic set of characters who have inherent conflicts between them, and the stories would focus on the issues of our time--lingering racism and gender bias, the balance between liberty and security, the challenge of living amid those who sometimes violently disagree with one another, the reconciliation between scientific and religious world views, etc.

The Saladin-class starship USS Hippogriff functions more or less as a light cruiser. While there's only about a dozen Constitution-class vessels wandering around, there're more than twice as many of this type. The original Federation Starship Manual lists this class and we even catch a glimpse of them now and then in the movies. So they are canon! I figure a crew of about 95 (heavy cruisers at this point carried 200 but would later upgrade to 430). We're talking about missions of exploration, escorting colony ships, re-supplying science expeditions, SAR (Search And Rescue), First Contact, etc. But in this era relations with the Klingons remain years away from the point of war. Orion pirates evidently remain a problem. We've had tales of renegade Andorians too, who want to secede from the Federation and return to The Old Wars of Empire.

I'd focus the stories on the top four officers--the Captain, the Science Officer/Exec, the Chief Engineer and Chief Medical Officer. Wheras TOS had marvelous dynamic between Kirk/Spock/Bone (a 'trio' akin to Harry/Hermione/Ron in Harry Potter, Buffy/Willow/Xander in BTVS, etc.) I'd like these four characters to make up a foursome. This dynamic echoes the four Hobbits at the beginning of LOTR, The Fantastic Four of Marvel Comics fame, Dorothy and her companions in The Wizard of Oz, etc. Each would essentially embody an archetype:
  • CAPTAIN - a choleric dominant type (fire)
  • SCIENCE OFFICER - a sanguine innovator (air)
  • ENGINEER - a melancholy voice of conscience (earth)
  • DOCTOR - a phlegmatic supporter (water)
Rather than go for bigger and more impressive space battles, ever-more terrifying alien empires that threaten the Federation, I'd want to focus in rather than out. The universe itself will never be in danger. Characters, even worlds will be--and sometimes lost. Rather than go for formulaic "solutions" each episode to complex issues, aim instead for asking questions and coming up with some kind of decision. A choice. Knowing nothing ever turns out perfectly.

Some story ideas:

The first Orion woman to graduate Starfleet is court martialed, and it gradually becomes clear everyone--including our characters--cannot quite succeed in thinking of her as anything but first and foremost as a sexual entity. Hippogriff's captain sits on the board, while crewmembers are put through a simulator where they get to face the same situation she did (all very hush-hush, not allowed to reveal details, etc.). I quite like the notion that she's found guilty (if done right, plenty of the audience would not agree) and she's demoted, then transferred to the Hippogriff.

Some Federation and Starfleet officials are quietly drawn to an archeological theory The Great Enemy Hypothesis--namely, that the various vanished stellar empires of the ancient past all came to their end via some common cause. Hippogriff's missions put them in position to gather evidence about this theory (ultimately revealed to the senior officers) who each have their own opinion. But what shapes events is whether individuals accept this theory or question it. For example, do we risk the Prime Directive to study an ancient artifact worshiped by the Bronze Age descendants of a former star-faring race?

Offered for feedback, acceptance, rejection, suggestions, etc.
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