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Old September 7 2012, 04:59 AM   #16
Mr_Homn
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Re: How do star dates work

How do star dates work?

They don't.
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Old September 7 2012, 05:10 AM   #17
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Re: How do star dates work

Christopher wrote: View Post
Lord Garth wrote: View Post
^ If you're writing a story in the TOS era, just use whatever as long as it's four digits and one passed the decimal point.
Although it's worth keeping in mind that the stardates did follow a broadly upward pattern from season to season -- the first season went from the 1000s to the 3000s, the second was mostly the lower 3000s to the upper 4000s, and the third was almost entirely in the 5000s, with the animated series more inconsistent but still largely in the 5000s to 6000s. Then TMP was in the 7000s, the next four films were in the 8000s, and TUC was in the 9000s. Quite an inconsistent rate increase, but if you want to capture the feel of a certain season or era, it might help to pick a number in its range.
As I did say in my first post.

I was kind of conceding. We're outnumbered by the "La la la!!! TOS stardates don't mean anything, anything, ANYTHING!" crowd and I wasn't going to belabor my point. I didn't think it was worth it. But the TNG-era stardates are held up to a lot more scrutiny.
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Old September 7 2012, 10:59 AM   #18
Hando
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Re: How do star dates work

Christopher wrote: View Post
Lord Garth wrote: View Post
^ If you're writing a story in the TOS era, just use whatever as long as it's four digits and one passed the decimal point.
Although it's worth keeping in mind that the stardates did follow a broadly upward pattern from season to season -- the first season went from the 1000s to the 3000s, the second was mostly the lower 3000s to the upper 4000s, and the third was almost entirely in the 5000s, with the animated series more inconsistent but still largely in the 5000s to 6000s. Then TMP was in the 7000s, the next four films were in the 8000s, and TUC was in the 9000s. Quite an inconsistent rate increase, but if you want to capture the feel of a certain season or era, it might help to pick a number in its range.
Does this mean that there is an actual stardate chronological view-order for TOS episodes?

An interesting idea, I will try to watch them in that order.
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Old September 7 2012, 02:01 PM   #19
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Re: How do star dates work

Yeah. While the TOS numbers were intended to be nonsensical, they were also apparently mostly intended to be systematic, with smaller ones indicating earlier dates. In the few cases where the ordering of SD numbers differs from the ordering of production dates, the plotlines actually make more sense if we follow the stardates (say, "Catspaw" coming before "Space Seed" and thus Chekov being aboard to meet Khan), although this is completely unintentional.

But as said, we can go one level further in "makes unintentional sense" here. By choosing to treat TOS stardates exactly like TNG era ones, we witness five years passing between Kirk's first TOS appearance and his last, not mere three. Overall, assuming that a thousand stardates equate one calendar year is a good match for what we see in TOS - up to and including the idea that the three zeroes roll at the beginning of each shooting season, at the end of the summer, rather than at January 1st (say, Thanksgiving in "Charlie X" falling in the middle of the first stardate year).

Of course, any system that can only list years and not decades is impractical for longterm timekeeping. With four digits, the TOS system would have to roll over every ten years; with five digits, the TNG one would have to do that every century. But we can assume Starfleet drops digits much like we do: if I say "Back in sixty-nine", it's understood I refer to 1969 unless the context suggests otherwise. The neat thing here is that this leaves the viewer in the position of being able to pick the decade for a "historical" stardate as he pleases!

In the end, then, the TOS gimmick of using nonsense dates has made it easy and convenient to maintain the Trek timeline. And the later DS9 and VOY practice of failing to mention the stardate at all in the episode makes things even easier.

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Old September 7 2012, 02:36 PM   #20
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Re: How do star dates work

Hando wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
Although it's worth keeping in mind that the stardates did follow a broadly upward pattern from season to season -- the first season went from the 1000s to the 3000s, the second was mostly the lower 3000s to the upper 4000s, and the third was almost entirely in the 5000s, with the animated series more inconsistent but still largely in the 5000s to 6000s. Then TMP was in the 7000s, the next four films were in the 8000s, and TUC was in the 9000s. Quite an inconsistent rate increase, but if you want to capture the feel of a certain season or era, it might help to pick a number in its range.
Does this mean that there is an actual stardate chronological view-order for TOS episodes?
No, it really, reallllly does not mean that. Remember, we're talking about something that was intended by the creators of a work of fiction to give a general impression of the passage of time. Like an impressionist painting -- if you look at it up close, you can see how rough the brush strokes are and how little it resembles reality, but you're not supposed to look at it up close; you're just supposed to look at the broad strokes and get a general feel for what it's trying to convey.

There was absolutely no intention for the episodes to be watched in stardate order. How could there have been? This was the 1960s. They didn't have home video or streaming internet; they hardly even had reruns. The only possible order to watch the episodes in was the one the network aired them in -- or maybe, if you were lucky, the order that some local station aired them in when they bought the syndication package years later. And the producers had no control over either of those. So of course they didn't make the episodes with any specific viewing order in mind. The stardates were just meaningless numbers. They tried to trend them generally upward as the series progressed, but just roughly, just as a way of giving a broad impression, because they had no way of knowing what order the episodes would actually air in. The best they could do was try to make sure that the stardates toward the end of a season were higher than the ones at the beginning, and that the stardates at the start of the next season were about the same or a bit higher.

If you try to watch TOS and TAS in stardate order, you'd get some very strange results. The first episode would be TAS: "The Magicks of Megas-tu," followed by "Where No Man Has Gone Before." "Patterns of Force" from season 2 would be less than halfway through season 1. TAS: "The Practical Joker" would be late in season 1. "This Side of Paradise" would be immediately after "Amok Time," which seems an unfortunate juxtaposition both in terms of the Spock romance and the Kirk-Spock fight. TAS and season 3 would be largely intermixed. And there are five episodes without known stardates, so where would you put them?

I suppose it wouldn't be completely nonsensical, except for "Megas-tu"; you could assume, say, that Chekov had been on occasional bridge duty in season 1, or that Chekov and Arex were aboard at the same time and were just on different shifts -- though why is everyone else on both shifts? Also you'd have to ignore the design changes in the bridge and engineering between TOS and TAS. If you left out TAS, just went with the live-action seasons, it wouldn't be too bad, aside from the "Amok Time"/"This Side" juxtaposition; in some ways it might make a little more sense than airdate order (since I don't think it makes sense in terms of the Kirk-Rand relationship for "The Corbomite Maneuver" to come after "Miri" as it does in airdate order). Still, I don't see any reason to prefer it over production order.
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Old September 7 2012, 02:43 PM   #21
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Re: How do star dates work

Voyager's Hometead is one episode that gives us both the calendar date and stardate. Therefore, April 5 2378 is apparentally stardate 54868.6.
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Old September 7 2012, 02:49 PM   #22
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Re: How do star dates work

^Which doesn't fit the scheme favored by Pocket Books, but I rationalize that by assuming that Neelix wasn't necessarily celebrating the anniversary in Earth years.
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Old September 7 2012, 03:01 PM   #23
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Re: How do star dates work

Christopher wrote: View Post
Like an impressionist painting -- if you look at it up close, you can see how rough the brush strokes are and how little it resembles reality, but you're not supposed to look at it up close; you're just supposed to look at the broad strokes and get a general feel for what it's trying to convey.
Except that, with respect to that kind of impressionistic painting, you're supposed to be impressed that the image is composed of what look like random blobs of color up close. In addition to regarding it from afar, you are also supposed to examine it up close, at least to the extent needed to marvel at the technique. Seeing how the illusion is done, or at least that there actually is an illusion happening, is part of the viewing experience for that kind of painting.

On the other hand, seeing how a magic trick is done generally isn't a part of the experience of viewing a magic act. For the stardate illusion to work, we aren't supposed to examine the sequences too closely over all the episodes.
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Old September 7 2012, 03:22 PM   #24
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Re: How do star dates work

^Well, I think both analogies apply. That's kind of what I did in the last post -- explaining the technique behind the illusion, the reasons why, in the context of the way television was made and broadcast in the 1960s, it made sense to create the illusion only in broad strokes. I think too many viewers today don't think about how much our modern perception of TV is shaped by things like home video and the Internet and the like, things they simply didn't have back then. Understanding how different things were back then, why they couldn't and wouldn't have made decisions the same way they do now, helps give us more appreciation of the work they did.
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Old September 7 2012, 05:00 PM   #25
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Re: How do star dates work

Actually, come to think about it, saying "star date" is a shout-out that it's all make-believe, kind of like, "Once upon a time," in it's own way. So, maybe you are supposed to notice the broad strokes part, too.
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Old September 7 2012, 07:01 PM   #26
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Re: How do star dates work

In the TNG era past stardates are referenced in the 30000s before TNG started. The TNG version started when Picard entered the academy.
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Old September 7 2012, 07:04 PM   #27
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Re: How do star dates work

Red Giant asks White Dwarf if he can stick his flare in her corona.
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Old September 7 2012, 07:20 PM   #28
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Re: How do star dates work

Or:

A lot like normal dates, except you have to avoid the paparazzi.
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Old September 7 2012, 09:54 PM   #29
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Re: How do star dates work

To tell you the truth, there really is no way to figure out how star dates work; unless they're between other stars.

Seriously. Unless you're making 7-10 figures annually, and can get through all the security, it's going to be pretty hard to get a date with a celebrity.
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Old September 9 2012, 12:35 AM   #30
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Re: How do star dates work

"Very well, thank you."
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