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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old August 15 2013, 12:56 AM   #76
Robert Comsol
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

Now, really back to the original topic and to the beginnings. I’m afraid I have to exercise some pre-production speculation first, but would appreciate corrections from Trek production history specialists where applicable.

What came first? The 5-year-mission or the stardate concept?

Roddenberry said he didn’t want to use real dates to fix a certain point in time in the future but I think that’s not the whole truth. Before TMP and Decker’s “300 years ago” remark regarding Voyager 6 (hasn’t been launched yet, has it?), TOS was repeatedly (and consistently I should add) set in the future “200 years” from the 1960’s, so the future century had been fixed.

Of course, there is another 5-year-mission (“continuing the work of my late husband”, according to Majel-Barrett Roddenberry), namely that of Babylon 5.
Joe Michael Straczynski (JMS) had wrote himself into a hole from the start. It’s a 5-year-story he wanted to tell in 5 seasons and that almost didn’t happen (I think it actually became a 6-year-story after the original planned Season Five became part of Season Four).

Had Roddenberry provided the year 2166 for the first episode, his 5-year-mission would have ended in 2171.
Of course, he didn’t know how many seasons of Star Trek he’d be able to produce, so rather than limiting his possibilities he came up with the stardates, a time measurement whose scheme was only “known” to the Star Trek creator.

The original episodes were broadcasted out of production order (and out of the modest chronological stardate order these had). Asked about the discrepancies Roddenberry referred to the manipulation of space and time (by the warp engines) and concluded “I’d just as soon forget the whole thing before I’m asked any further questions about it.” (The Making of Star Trek)

Perfectly understandable!

The creator didn’t know yet and the correct answer would have probably been “I’ll tell you when I’m finished telling my 5-year-story (because only then can I calculate the elapsed time between the first and last stardate mentioned and give you an approximation)”.
But at the time of the Whitfield interview Gene Roddenberry couldn’t foresee, yet, when he was actually and terminally done telling his story.

But although understandable from a practical production point of view, the inevitable negative side effect was an apparent inconsistency of stardates. According to the writer’s guide suggestion 1 stardate digit equaled one day but this would have put the 5-year-mission at an end by the conclusion of Season One (were they that pessimistic?).

Did they change the scheming during TOS? For the fun of it I did a little math. In the first season, the average space allocated to each single episode would have been 72.6 digits, 86 digits for Season Two and 65.5 digits for Season Three.

Apparently and encouraged by the success of Season One they allocated wider timeframes for the second season but when they knew they had only one third season left to go, they rather drastically reduced this timeframe as if to meet a deadline, perhaps Stardate 6000.0 (because the stardate of the last episode produced and broadcasted was “5928.5”).

But when would have been a good time for Gene Roddenberry to state we had seen everything of the 5-year-mission (and to do “his” stardate math)?

I think it’s fair to say that by the time of the motion picture (TMP) it was clear and final that the 5-year-mission had become a thing of the past.
TMP is the next item I’m going to address, stay tuned.

Bob
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Old August 15 2013, 01:15 AM   #77
Warped9
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

Robert Comsol wrote: View Post
@ Warped9

Robert "Consul"? Is that a promotion or do you regard me as a Romulan wreaking havoc on conjecturally established Star Trek "facts"?
Sorry, misremembered the spelling.

Darth Duck wrote: View Post
You are a knee-jerk hater.
I'll refrain from saying what I really thinking other than you know absolutely nothing of what you're talking about particularly in regard to someone of which you no zilch.
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Old August 15 2013, 01:18 PM   #78
sariel2005
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

We can argue not though, IIRC Spock's leaving date from the original universe uses a Abramverse stardate not TNG one, which is differrent from what we know.
I see that just as a difference in interpretation by different filmmakers, rather than a meaningful difference in-universe -- no more "real" than the difference between Fred Phillips's Tellarites and Michael Westmore's Tellarites, or between Kirstie Alley's Saavik and Robin Curtis's Saavik. Stardates are so inconsistent within any one series that one can't really read too much into the variations between different series' approaches to them.
You make an excellent point, what we see on screen may well effectively be a recreation of events. certainly no one would assume that Saavik had an offscreen regeneration, and after all that allows for the abramverse Enterprise to be completely the same ship that the TOS one was just shown differently.
That said since this is a thread about stardates its worth considering the reasons for any differences.


Personally I tend to think that there WAS divergence from the Enterprise era to the JJVerse caused by the events in Enterprise. After all a major change in the timeline is the Xindi attack on Earth, and Archer certainly gained tech and information from the future. As to whether that constitutes a change to the original timeline or a divergent one seems a bit, well ... wibbly Wobbly Timey wimey
Whereas my belief is that ENT was always meant to show the beginnings of the Trek universe we know, and that's the approach I'm taking in my Rise of the Federation novels. Sure, things like the Suliban's destruction of the Paraagan colony and the Xindi attack on Earth may not have been part of the future Daniels came from, but we never actually got confirmation that he came from the same timeline as TOS/TAS/TNG/DS9/VGR -- just that he was from some future where a version of the Federation existed.
Don't get me wrong, I think that although it changed the timeliine that it still occured in Broadly the same manner, something time seems to attempt to do in the abramverse as well. BUT I think that it would have caused some changes in technology and outlook. With The Kelvin, the greater familiarity with the Romulans and the difference in Stardates reflecting that.
Of Course your interpretation is just as valid ( and the idea that Daniels came from a different future is pretty clever) and in writing the Birth of the Federation novels the assumtion it lead to the TOS universe is of course completely the correct one.


Stardate 2387 would be an extremely weak argument. What is to stop the Jellyfish from connecting to the local timebase and switching the stardate system from TNG to JJ? A simple location-based service, just as my smartphone might change the time zone and begin showing the adjusted dates/times. It's not like AR technology would be totally alien to that of PR — most of the protocols are probably compatible.

Also, the IDW timeline is using JJ stardates for PR dates (2364, 2369, 2409...), thus confirming rather officially (though probably not canonically) that the system can be applied to an era where it wasn't used at all. So if Spock-prime were to speak with Spock-alternate about his time, he might say he "defected" to Romulus on stardate 2368.
The IDW timeline using JJ stardates strengthens the argument though, if the events of ENT caused the change to the JJ stardates then its far more likely they would have been used consistently into the 24th century than used until the 2260s, abandoned then restarted in the late 24th.

Good point. Roddenberry himself explained the inconsistent stardates of TOS by saying they weren't an absolute time reference but changed depending on a starship's location and velocity -- because there's really no way to define an absolute objective time standard over interstellar distances. So presumably any stardate reference in a log entry would be relative to local time, and it stands to reason that a computer giving a stardate would automatically adjust the reference to whatever scheme was locally/currently in use.
Two thoughts on this point. The first is that although it makes a sort of sense we do see that Stardates are consistent despite location with Enterprise D resetting its clock with the correct stardate more than once. ( in fairness the use of this indicates that stardates DO tend to drift )

The other is that we also see inconsistent stardates for the same locations on occasion. For example the DS9 episode Dax has a latter stardate than most dated stories later in season one, and the station maintains its position.


Again, something I consider it best not to think about. One thing I don't like about the Abrams movies is their use of Earth years as "stardates." Why even call them stardates if they're just Gregorian years?
A fair point, extending the logic it baffles me why the 1000 units = 1 year idea seems to have been attached to a calender year, especially when on screen evidence ( Data's Day for example) seem to dispute this. FWIW , that said it explains why we never see our heroes celebrate christmas since bad stuff always happens in that period ( maybe ST happens in the same universe as Eastenders ).

The new format gives us more evidence to think about. If 2259.14 can be a stardate, why couldn't 2259-01-14?
Well just because the JJ stardates use the Gregorian year, doesn't mean that the number after the decimal point has to be a calendar date as well. It seems its not, its either the day of the year Or a decimal reflecting how far into the year it is. So it IS different from the standard calendar and is internally consistent.
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Old August 15 2013, 01:42 PM   #79
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

sariel2005 wrote: View Post
Two thoughts on this point. The first is that although it makes a sort of sense we do see that Stardates are consistent despite location with Enterprise D resetting its clock with the correct stardate more than once. ( in fairness the use of this indicates that stardates DO tend to drift )

The other is that we also see inconsistent stardates for the same locations on occasion. For example the DS9 episode Dax has a latter stardate than most dated stories later in season one, and the station maintains its position.
Again -- differences in interpretation. This is all fiction, a bunch of stories made up by different people; there is no consistent underlying reality that we can reconstruct from the evidence. The only thing that, say, TNG's treatment of stardates is evidence for is how the script coordinator for that show (since that was the person in charge of assigning stardates) chose to go about assigning the essentially meaningless numbers. The reason there's no uniformity to stardates is because they're just not important enough a detail to worry about.

After all, 99% of viewers couldn't care less about how stardates work. So the writers treat the stardates as if they're a consistent, universal calendar scheme because that's what's convenient for the story; anything else would be a distraction. The stuff about stardates differing from place to place is just a sop for that tiny percentage of us who bother to notice the discrepancies in the scheme. It's not supposed to be an integral part of the universe, not supposed to be something included in the stories -- it's just an excuse to get us obsessively nitpicky types off their backs.
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Old August 15 2013, 02:02 PM   #80
King Daniel Into Darkness
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

Another fudge/possibility is that the Stardates in the new movies are an even more simplified version of FASA's "reference stardates", basically a slightly modifed version of the old fandom/Franz Joseph YYMM.DD system (plus century, and laid out thusly: C/YYMM.DD), which was a Federation-wide standard concurrent to the starship/mission/location -variable stardates of the TOS TV series and movies. This would sort-of explain why the JJverse comics lapsed into TOS stardates on occasion.
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Old August 15 2013, 02:32 PM   #81
Boris Skrbic
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

sariel2005: the IDW timeline doesn't strengthen the claim of revisionism, since stardates like 2364 or 2369 are explicitly shown on the prime branch of the timeline. Look at the diagram again, and also review the interview with Orci I quoted earlier. The intent is crystal-clear: the prime timeline still exists.

Also, while the number after the separator hasn't been defined in the canon, there are three quotes by Orci saying that it represents the day of the year (1-365, though he probably meant 366 in leap years), which is also confirmed beyond doubt by the 21st and 22nd century dates from the IDW timeline, those that can be compared with known calendar dates. Also, the comics routinely use up to three digits after the separator, which indicates that Mike Johnson is aware of the new rule (I asked him on one occasion why he wasn't applying it in a couple of early comics, and he said they'd fix that for the later ones, and they did, barring one or two odd numbers such as 2259.155 being only a few months after 2258.42).

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Old August 15 2013, 02:40 PM   #82
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

You know, there are many different calendars in use on Earth; maybe we could just pretend that there's more than one stardate scheme. Certainly we know the stardates used in the TNG era can't be reconciled with TOS stardates, since if they go up 1000 units per year and 41000 is the start of 2364, then the whole thing would've only begun in 2323. So if there are different schemes in use consecutively, there could be different schemes in use concurrently.
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Old August 15 2013, 02:45 PM   #83
sariel2005
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

Christopher wrote: View Post
sariel2005 wrote: View Post
Two thoughts on this point. The first is that although it makes a sort of sense we do see that Stardates are consistent despite location with Enterprise D resetting its clock with the correct stardate more than once. ( in fairness the use of this indicates that stardates DO tend to drift )

The other is that we also see inconsistent stardates for the same locations on occasion. For example the DS9 episode Dax has a latter stardate than most dated stories later in season one, and the station maintains its position.
Again -- differences in interpretation. This is all fiction, a bunch of stories made up by different people; there is no consistent underlying reality that we can reconstruct from the evidence. The only thing that, say, TNG's treatment of stardates is evidence for is how the script coordinator for that show (since that was the person in charge of assigning stardates) chose to go about assigning the essentially meaningless numbers. The reason there's no uniformity to stardates is because they're just not important enough a detail to worry about.

After all, 99% of viewers couldn't care less about how stardates work. So the writers treat the stardates as if they're a consistent, universal calendar scheme because that's what's convenient for the story; anything else would be a distraction. The stuff about stardates differing from place to place is just a sop for that tiny percentage of us who bother to notice the discrepancies in the scheme. It's not supposed to be an integral part of the universe, not supposed to be something included in the stories -- it's just an excuse to get us obsessively nitpicky types off their backs.

True enough and from a production POV absolutely correct. Taking that viewpoint I guess the answer to the threads question could stardates make sense is Of course not, nor were they supposed to ( though Ironically the JJ Stardates can and do make sense).

It also makes it very obvious that Roddenberry's statement about stardates was nothing more than fudging ( which to be fair is hardly a revelation).

That said it IS fun to speculate on what we see, and if we do then we have to weigh up all the evidence not discount the bits that are inconvenient in favour of throwaway statements made by the production team. - admittedly we will likely tie ourselves in knots and not find a consistent answer.

Generally there is a trend for Stardates to go up - though they are hardly consistent ( indeed even the progression of stardates in individual episodes relating to passage of time are at varying rates in TNG for example sometimes 1unit is a day, sometimes it seems to clearly be the same day) And in TNG they are all over the place ( and show far more continuity problems if the episode order is rearranged into Stardate order).

We do know that starfleet synchronises them, Which would seem to be onscreen evidence that discounts Roddenberry's fudging.
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Old August 15 2013, 05:11 PM   #84
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

^Lots of onscreen evidence contradicts other onscreen evidence. Sometimes you can reconcile it, but sometimes it's just too much trouble for too little gain, and stardates are definitely such a case.

And sure, Abrams's scheme is the only one that has any real chronological coherence to it, but it's problematical in other ways. As I said, why even call them stardates when they're really just Gregorian calendar dates expressed in a slightly different format? Although I can see why they did it. The movies are designed to be accessible to a new audience, viewers who aren't already familiar with the universe, so just using years for stardates is a handy, quick way to let the audience know that the first movie began in 2233 and took place mainly in 2258 and that the older version of that guy with the pointy ears came back in time from 2387. So from that standpoint I can see the practicality of it. But in-universe it's harder to justify.

Anyway, I long ago decided that pretty much any and all numbers in Trek are best taken with a grain of salt. Different creators make different assumptions about various numbered phenomena like dates and distances and ship registries and so forth, or they don't much care about the specific numbers since they're more concerned with plot and character (as they rightly should be), so it's hard to find any real consistency in any numbered property of the universe. So I try not to take them too literally, and often I just ignore them.
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Old August 15 2013, 07:40 PM   #85
sariel2005
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

And sure, Abrams's scheme is the only one that has any real chronological coherence to it, but it's problematical in other ways. As I said, why even call them stardates when they're really just Gregorian calendar dates expressed in a slightly different format? Although I can see why they did it. The movies are designed to be accessible to a new audience, viewers who aren't already familiar with the universe, so just using years for stardates is a handy, quick way to let the audience know that the first movie began in 2233 and took place mainly in 2258 and that the older version of that guy with the pointy ears came back in time from 2387. So from that standpoint I can see the practicality of it. But in-universe it's harder to justify.
Got to agree it makes little sense in that regard, then again having a 1000 unit system for Stardates that runs along the gregorian calendar is just as silly, especially since they continue to use 24 hour days and nights.

Then again if it weren't for TNG season 1 I would be totally behind stardate order for episodes.
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Old August 15 2013, 08:13 PM   #86
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

Certainly we know the stardates used in the TNG era can't be reconciled with TOS stardates, since if they go up 1000 units per year and 41000 is the start of 2364, then the whole thing would've only begun in 2323.
This isn't really a problem, because we are forced to assume the existence of "dropped digits" in any case, for both systems. Starfleet cannot be so blind to history that it would operate on a system that is only good for dealing with one decade at most (TOS) or one century at most (TNG), especially with the zero point more than a century into the existence of the organization - but if the system has, say, six digits, then 2323 simply means the year when the century digit last rolled.

If 2363/64 is in the 41XXX range, then the TOS episodes in the putative "previous" 41XXX range would fall on 2263/64, which isn't too problematic a concept. OTOH, since the five-year mission ended in 2270, the last TOS date would have to be in the "previous" 48XXX range, and the first episode qualifying as being part of the five-year mission would be "The Menagerie" at SD 3012... Unless Kirk just spent two years returning from his five-year mission.

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Old August 16 2013, 08:24 AM   #87
Boris Skrbic
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

Dropped digits aren't supported by any piece of evidence I recall, and why would we need them? It is clear that for the time before TOS, humans at least use mostly Gregorian calendar dates (seen even in TOS, aside from numerous references to relative dates in calendar days, months, years, centuries). There is also evidence of alternate timekeeping systems, with the Mitchell/Dehner dossier numbers (1087.7 and 1089.5) being about two years apart, and like I said, JJ stardates are also a candidate. The presence of various systems, including calendars of other Federation members, is probably alleviated by the universal translator and the advanced computer, taking care of any conversions for the average user.

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Old August 16 2013, 11:28 AM   #88
Robert Comsol
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

Boris wrote: View Post
There is also evidence of alternate timekeeping systems, with the Mitchell/Dehner dossier numbers (1087.7 and 1089.5) being about two years apart, and like I said, JJ stardates are also a candidate. The presence of various systems, including calendars of other Federation members, is probably alleviated by the universal translator and the advanced computer, taking care of any conversions for the average user.
Beautiful in-universe explanation.

(However, there was no calendar date reference to Kirk's era in TOS other than the one "200 years" - from then / 1966).

Bob
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Old August 16 2013, 12:03 PM   #89
Boris Skrbic
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

Not to Kirk's era — I said “for the time before TOS”, meaning dates like 2002 (Nomad), 2018 (end of sleeper ships), 2105 and 2156 (Redjac murders, from the Jack the Ripper show). These were all given explicitly, not calculated for the Star Trek Chronology.
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Old August 16 2013, 12:20 PM   #90
Robert Comsol
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Re: Could stardates make some sense?

Got it, thanks for taking the time for clarification. Will be back later.

Bob
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