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Old July 28 2011, 01:30 PM   #1
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What influence has the Spaceflight Chronology had?

Last Sunday after only a brief amount of hesitation I bought, at the same huge BMV used bookstore in downtown Toronto on Bloor Street West where I found my copy of Diane Duane's TNG novel Intellivore, a copy of Stan and Fred Goldstein'sSpaceflight Chronology. I was really lucky: The book may have been printed back in 1980, but I was able to find a good copy, and cheap, too! I'd never have come across it if not for a physical bookstore where I could actually browse for books.

Spaceflight Chronology is a good read. Between its detailed and engrossing chronology--progress always happens, people learn, technologies advance, frontiers retreat--and the very high qualty of Rick Sternbach's colour and sketch illustrations, both colour and sketch, I'd say it bears comparison with the classic Terran Trade Authority series.

This book is a double alternate history. In the first place, Star Trek itself is an alternate history; there really were no Eugenics Wars, not because they were hidden up but because Star Trek is entirely fictional. (It needed to be said.) In the second place, the timeline and the universe that the Spaceflight Chronology recounts is radically different from the canon that has been developed in the novelverse up to 2011.

* In the Spaceflight Chronology, the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s was Earth's final conflict, following which space travel and colonization flourished along with Earth's unification, with an aggressive blue-algae-driven terraforming of Venus succeeding by the mid-21st century even as the Moon and Mars were colonized and the first STL ships sent to Earth' neighbours entirely independently of any other power.
* In the novelverse, Earth continued to struggle through its geopolitical turmoil, seeing space travel and space colonization develop at a rather slower rate than above finally suffering a global nuclear war before Cochrane's development of warp drive led to a rather necessary Vulcan protectorate and, ultimately, to the emergence of Earth as an autonomous power in the galaxy.

Beyond these details of the past, the near-Sol environments differ markedly. In the Spaceflight Chronology, Earth's first contact is made at Alpha Centauri in 2048, when the UNSS Icarus happens upon the astonishingly very-nearly-human Alpha Centauran civilization, opening up a productive relationship that sees the Centauran Zefram Cochrane start a joint Earth-Centauri program leading to the development of warp drive. The discovery of a damaged Vulcan scout craft in Sol system by the UNSS Amity and the return of its crew to the Vulcan homeworld in the Epsilon Eridani system follows, with contact made in 2073 with the Tellarites and at an undetermined point with the Andorians. By the end of the 21st century, these five states and Rigel have bounded together to form the United Federation of Planets. By the time of V'Ger's visit just after the beginning of the 23rd century, the Federation is a thriving culture set to develop rapid intergalactic travel, ubiquitous psionic skill sets in anyone so interested, and the ability to move planets about.

The novelverse is much different. Vulcan is in the 40 (or, if you would, Omicron 2) Eridani system, not nearby Epsilon, Alpha Centauri's extensive planetary system was unpopulated until Earth colonists set up an independent state there some time after the mid-21st century, contact with the Tellarites and the Andorians seems to have been limited by the Vulcan protectorate well into the 22nd century, Rigel was not a founding member of the UFP, and the development of the technologies I described at the end of the last paragraph is well, well into the future.

Despite the huge differences, I think that the Spaceflight Chronology still has some influence on the form of the current novelverse. Alpha Centauri may not be home to a very-nearly-human civilization that's one of the five founding states of the UFP, true, but it is an independent state founded by successive waves of human colonists from the mid-21st century on that becomes one of the five founding states of the Federation. Vulcan might be in a different planetary system, but the Vulcans are a somewhat standoffish and secretive race possessing a high technology well ahead of their neighbours and maintaining active scouting operations among the neighbouring primitive cultures. The Romulans are a secretive culture known to exist only via Vulcan quasi-mythology, scouting out their future conquests quietly before going all out.

What say you all?
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Old July 28 2011, 01:38 PM   #2
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Re: What influence has the Spaceflight Chronology had?

I loved the Spaceflight Chronology, particularly the illustrations. The later Star Trek Chronology would bump events up by about 60 years (Launch of Captain April's Enterprise in SFC: 2188 vs. STC: 2245)

Several old novels, including Final Frontier, The Final Reflection, Spock's World and Strangers From the Sky reference it to varying degrees.

EDIT: Oh yeah, and SFC formed the basis of the FASA Trek tabletop RPG game's timeline.
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Old July 28 2011, 03:09 PM   #3
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Re: What influence has the Spaceflight Chronology had?

rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
* In the novelverse, Earth continued to struggle through its geopolitical turmoil, seeing space travel and space colonization develop at a rather slower rate than above finally suffering a global nuclear war before Cochrane's development of warp drive led to a rather necessary Vulcan protectorate and, ultimately, to the emergence of Earth as an autonomous power in the galaxy.
Which, of course, is screen canon that the novels have merely expanded on. TOS put the third world war in the 1990s, which still seemed remote at the time, but when TNG came along in '87, Roddenberry retconned WWII to the latter half of the 21st century (probably drawing on his Genesis II/Planet Earth backstory), which implicitly reduced the Eugenics Wars to a more minor conflict.


In the Spaceflight Chronology, Earth's first contact is made at Alpha Centauri in 2048, when the UNSS Icarus happens upon the astonishingly very-nearly-human Alpha Centauran civilization, opening up a productive relationship that sees the Centauran Zefram Cochrane start a joint Earth-Centauri program leading to the development of warp drive.
Yeah, I never cared for the idea that Alpha Centauri had humanoid inhabitants. It's taking the "Zefram Cochrane of Alpha Centauri" line from "Metamorphosis" way too literally, and ignoring the same episode's multiple clear indications that Cochrane was human and unaccustomed to interacting with aliens. (I suspect what Gene Coon intended was that humans had settled Alpha Centauri at sublight before Cochrane, a colonist living there, invented warp drive. But what was later established about Trek history made that unviable.)




The novelverse is much different. Vulcan is in the 40 (or, if you would, Omicron 2) Eridani system, not nearby Epsilon...
It was James Blish's adaptation of "Tomorrow is Yesterday," published in Star Trek 2 in 1968, that first suggested 40 Eridani as Vulcan's home system, a dozen years before the SFC was published. Most subsequent works have followed Blish's lead. It was made nearly canonical in Enterprise: "Home," which established Vulcan as being 16 light-years from Earth, a distance compatible with 40 Eri and very few other systems. Epsilon Eridani is only 10.5 ly from Earth, and is far too young to be likely to have inhabited planets, and far too full of debris belts to be safe for life.


Despite the huge differences, I think that the Spaceflight Chronology still has some influence on the form of the current novelverse. Alpha Centauri may not be home to a very-nearly-human civilization that's one of the five founding states of the UFP, true, but it is an independent state founded by successive waves of human colonists from the mid-21st century on that becomes one of the five founding states of the Federation.
It was Franz Joseph's Star Fleet Technical Manual from 1975 that established Earth, Alpha Centauri, 40 Eridani, Epsilon Indi (misspelled "Indii"), and 61 Cygni as the five founding members of the UFP, and Eileen Palestine's Star Fleet Medical Reference Manual from 1977 that identified Epsilon Indi with Andor and 61 Cygni with Tellar. The SFC, like most subsequent works, was drawing on what they established, although the SFC's authors changed Vulcan to a different star in Eridanus for some reason. (Rick Sternbach worked as an artist on both the SFMRM and the SFC.)
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Old July 28 2011, 06:21 PM   #4
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Re: What influence has the Spaceflight Chronology had?

The SFC is my favorite ST book. In fact, I've got a copy sitting on my desk right now. So many things about it are great.

The format is quite unique. It's part tech manual, part chronology, part history book, part artwork. And the whole is greater than the sum of those parts.

The artwork is by Sternbach, so you can't go wrong there. And boy, there is a LOT of it. Both schematics and full color artwork. Better and better.

They could have provided a straight-forward timeline chronology (they do) and left it at that. Adding the log entries gives a great "you are there" color to the chronology, which again is fantastic and not seen elsewhere.

Of course now it's widely panned for violating established canon and so on. But you gotta remember...
all there was at the time was TOS/TAS up to TMP.
There was damn little to fill in a couple centuries of history based on that alone, especially on a year-by-year basis. No other Paramount-authorized source provided it, so SFC came first in my book.

I don't really have a problem with ST history as it was told in the book and generally prefer it to other stuff that came later.

Interesting that the big point of divergence seem to be the space shuttle.

The book was published before the shuttle first flew, right before that first launch--an exciting time for those who remember it.

Evidently, the SFC history depicts the shuttle as living up to its promise as advertised at that time--frequent cheap plentiful launches, blasting off on a weekly basis.
All those launches allowed very many people to go into space, and begin serious off-planet activities.
The Solar Power Satellite system (big idea in the late 70s) became a reality and ended all the energy problems.
And the first big international project in space became a moonbase rather than the ISS.

It seems the big success of the shuttle (as originally promised and then fictionally realized in the SFC) became the big step that really opened space travel to prosper in ST history.

What the hell, SFC says last year 1500 people were living off the Earth and solar power accounts for 40% US energy use. And next year, Marsbase 1 opens.

But of course it didn't really turn out that way.
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Old July 28 2011, 07:00 PM   #5
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Re: What influence has the Spaceflight Chronology had?

I had the SFC when I was in grade school, LOVED it! I may even still have it in storage, I have to check. The one entry I remember and it kills me I cannot remember the specifics - it was a new starhip design, the ship was purple if I remember and it was three nacelles. The engineer's log was what was printed, and it was a failure, he called it "an Edsel." I remember that and something with the USS Moscow. (The USS Moscow was just so...WOW...to me as a kid in 4th or 5th grade, Moscow was the capitol of OUR ENEMY! How cool!!! LOL)
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Old July 28 2011, 07:08 PM   #6
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Re: What influence has the Spaceflight Chronology had?

Right on!

It was the first human transported, between the Baton Rouge ships USS Moscow and USS Tehran.

(speaking of enemies, back in 1980 having a ship "Tehran" was equally "wow")
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Old July 28 2011, 07:34 PM   #7
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Re: What influence has the Spaceflight Chronology had?

Nick M wrote: View Post
I had the SFC when I was in grade school, LOVED it! I may even still have it in storage, I have to check. The one entry I remember and it kills me I cannot remember the specifics - it was a new starhip design, the ship was purple if I remember and it was three nacelles. The engineer's log was what was printed, and it was a failure, he called it "an Edsel." I remember that and something with the USS Moscow. (The USS Moscow was just so...WOW...to me as a kid in 4th or 5th grade, Moscow was the capitol of OUR ENEMY! How cool!!! LOL)
There's another link! That three-nacelled ship (it wasn't purple, though, but silver) later appeared as the famous doomed vessel on the front cover of Julie Ecklar's The Kobayashi Maru (no relation to the ENT novel of the same name)
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Old July 28 2011, 08:15 PM   #8
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Re: What influence has the Spaceflight Chronology had?

Christopher wrote: View Post
It was Franz Joseph's Star Fleet Technical Manual from 1975 that established Earth, Alpha Centauri, 40 Eridani, Epsilon Indi (misspelled "Indii"), and 61 Cygni as the five founding members of the UFP, and Eileen Palestine's Star Fleet Medical Reference Manual from 1977 that identified Epsilon Indi with Andor and 61 Cygni with Tellar. The SFC, like most subsequent works, was drawing on what they established, although the SFC's authors changed Vulcan to a different star in Eridanus for some reason. (Rick Sternbach worked as an artist on both the SFMRM and the SFC.)
Don't have the book in front of me at the moment, but I don't think Sternbach did any work in the Starfleet Medical Reference Manual. The ilustrations there were by Doug Drexler and Geoff Mandel, IIRC

However, Sternbach did contribute to the Star Trek Maps (Bantam, 1980) which does support the Vulcan at 40 Eridani idea (as well as the others you mention above.

For the OP: If you're a fan of the SFC (which you seem to be), you will want to take a look at the current issue of Star Trek magazine which contains a nifty article done in the style of the SFC.
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Old July 28 2011, 08:54 PM   #9
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Re: What influence has the Spaceflight Chronology had?

^Oh, yeah, sorry, got Rick Sternbach and Doug Drexler mixed up there.
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Old July 28 2011, 10:19 PM   #10
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Re: What influence has the Spaceflight Chronology had?

SchwEnt wrote: View Post
The format is quite unique. It's part tech manual, part chronology, part history book, part artwork. And the whole is greater than the sum of those parts.

The artwork is by Sternbach, so you can't go wrong there. And boy, there is a LOT of it. Both schematics and full color artwork. Better and better.
It really reminds me of the Terran Trade Authority books, a collection of three books that is roughly contemporaneous with the Chronology, combining a detailed timeline with pictures of various of the vehicles of the near future.

There was damn little to fill in a couple centuries of history based on that alone, especially on a year-by-year basis. No other Paramount-authorized source provided it, so SFC came first in my book.
I'm certainly not criticizing it for that! It did great things with what it had, and I think that it has still contributed things to the "canon" universe notwithstanding the huge shifts elsewhere.

Interesting that the big point of divergence seem to be the space shuttle.
Well, that and the creation of Eugenic supermen ...

It seems the big success of the shuttle (as originally promised and then fictionally realized in the SFC) became the big step that really opened space travel to prosper in ST history.

What the hell, SFC says last year 1500 people were living off the Earth and solar power accounts for 40% US energy use. And next year, Marsbase 1 opens.

But of course it didn't really turn out that way.
The book is very much of the moment that way. The rapid terraforming of Venus that the book describes, for instance, fits with the abundant speculation among interested people at the time that blue-green algae could very quickly transform Venus into a near-twin of Earth, while the effectiveness of the shuttle was overestimated, as was (on a related note) the cost of boosting material into Earth orbit.
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Old July 28 2011, 10:26 PM   #11
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Re: What influence has the Spaceflight Chronology had?

Christopher wrote: View Post
rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
* In the novelverse, Earth continued to struggle through its geopolitical turmoil, seeing space travel and space colonization develop at a rather slower rate than above finally suffering a global nuclear war before Cochrane's development of warp drive led to a rather necessary Vulcan protectorate and, ultimately, to the emergence of Earth as an autonomous power in the galaxy.
Which, of course, is screen canon that the novels have merely expanded on. TOS put the third world war in the 1990s, which still seemed remote at the time, but when TNG came along in '87, Roddenberry retconned WWII to the latter half of the 21st century (probably drawing on his Genesis II/Planet Earth backstory), which implicitly reduced the Eugenics Wars to a more minor conflict.
Genesis II/Planet Earth?

I never cared for the idea that Alpha Centauri had humanoid inhabitants. It's taking the "Zefram Cochrane of Alpha Centauri" line from "Metamorphosis" way too literally, and ignoring the same episode's multiple clear indications that Cochrane was human and unaccustomed to interacting with aliens. (I suspect what Gene Coon intended was that humans had settled Alpha Centauri at sublight before Cochrane, a colonist living there, invented warp drive. But what was later established about Trek history made that unviable.)
The TNG technical manual did suggest that Cochrane et al immigrated to Alpha Centauri in a fleet of Warp 1 vehicles, there developing the "full" FTL drive.

The Reeves-Stevenses did develop some interesting things regarding the Alpha Centaurans, in Memory Alpha and Prime Directive, describing a technologically advanced culture so concerned with maintaining a low profile that the Earth expedition only discovered the high-tech civilization at Sol's nearest neighbour as it was entering into planetary orbit, the Centaurans later melding well with the Terrans, et cetera. I live happily enough without them, but it is just interesting.

One interesting thing about the astropolitics of the 21st century is that both Sol and Alpha Centauri in the Star Trek setting weren't part of anyone's empire. Sol's inhabitants didn't know about extraterrestrials (well, almost none of Sol's inhabitants) until First Contact, while the humans who immigrated to Alpha Centauri immigrated to an uninhabited and apparently unclaimed system, this notwithstanding the presence of one class-M world orbiting each A and B.

Looking at the local interstellar environment--I got my mental starmap via 2300AD--an interesting thing is that Sol, the Alpha Centauri trinary, and Barnard's Star form a fairly isolated cluster. These three systems are 4-6 light years of each other, but beyond the core of the cluster it's almost a dozen light years before you run into G/K-type stars in large numbers. Procyon, Epsilon Eridani, 40 Eridani, 61 Cygni, Epsilon Indi, and Tau Ceti (home to Andor, Axanar, Vulcan, Tellar, Draylax, and Kaferia) form one fairly tight cluster of stars, full of what we know to be fairly advanced starfarers. Maybe it was Vulcan disinterest/preeminence and fierce competition closer to home that prevent the Draylaxian conquest of Earth and settlement of Centauri III and Centauri VII?

Epsilon Eridani is only 10.5 ly from Earth, and is far too young to be likely to have inhabited planets, and far too full of debris belts to be safe for life.
I'm not sure that's necessarily an issue. Tau Ceti has Kaferia and maybe at least one other M-class world notwithstanding the dense debris belt we've since detected, and there has been any amount of seeding and terraforming and transplantation and who knows what else by other civilizations.

It was Franz Joseph's Star Fleet Technical Manual from 1975 that established Earth, Alpha Centauri, 40 Eridani, Epsilon Indi (misspelled "Indii"), and 61 Cygni as the five founding members of the UFP, and Eileen Palestine's Star Fleet Medical Reference Manual from 1977 that identified Epsilon Indi with Andor and 61 Cygni with Tellar. The SFC, like most subsequent works, was drawing on what they established, although the SFC's authors changed Vulcan to a different star in Eridanus for some reason. (Rick Sternbach worked as an artist on both the SFMRM and the SFC.)
Maybe the reason for the switch might be something as simple as a trinary star like 40 Eridani being more exotic than the broadly Sol-like star Epsilon Eridani was thought to be at the time. Epsilon Eridani, with Tau Ceti, was one of the two targets of the famous OZMA SETI search; 40 Eridani A, just a half-dozen light years further out and almost identical to Epsilon Eridani in stellar class, wasn't picked.

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Old July 28 2011, 10:38 PM   #12
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Re: What influence has the Spaceflight Chronology had?

rfmcdpei wrote: View Post
Genesis II/Planet Earth?
Failed pilots Roddenberry made in the '70s. In a post-apocalyptic world, scientist Dylan Hunt, a cryogenically frozen man from our time, works with a group named Pax to rebuild civilization, interacting with the exotic subcultures that have grown up in isolation in the wake of the war (an earthbound way of doing the same "alien-society-of-the-week" format as Trek). Decades later the concept was reworked into Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda.

A lot of TNG was recycled from Roddenberry's earlier concepts. Riker and Troi were Decker and Ilia from Phase II/TMP. Data was a cross between Phase II's Xon (the Vulcan who would've replaced Spock, since Nimoy declined to participate in the revival series) and the title android from Roddenberry's failed pilot The Questor Tapes. So I figure the "Post-Atomic Horror" backstory from TNG was based on the Genesis II post-apocalyptic backstory.


The Reeves-Stevenses did develop some interesting things regarding the Alpha Centaurans, in Memory Alpha and Prime Directive, describing a technologically advanced culture so concerned with maintaining a low profile that the Earth expedition only discovered the high-tech civilization at Sol's nearest neighbour as it was entering into planetary orbit, the Centaurans later melding well with the Terrans, et cetera. I live happily enough without them, but it is just interesting.
I found it an overly contrived and self-conscious way of rationalizing the existence of an Alpha Centaurian civilization. Don't get me wrong, those were excellent books, but the "native Centaurians" thing never worked for me.
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Old July 28 2011, 10:45 PM   #13
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Re: What influence has the Spaceflight Chronology had?

KingDaniel wrote: View Post
There's another link! That three-nacelled ship (it wasn't purple, though, but silver) later appeared as the famous doomed vessel on the front cover of Julie Ecklar's The Kobayashi Maru (no relation to the ENT novel of the same name)
Was it silver? Wow, I remember it being purple! I really need to see if I still have that book, if not I am going to check local bookstores. I also remember a log entry, damn...I can't remember what it was, but a ship had to leave a dying planet or something, it was a real down entry. Oh, and the Horizon after it left the planet we would see in "A Piece of the Action" log!!!! Wow, memories.
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Old July 28 2011, 10:51 PM   #14
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Re: What influence has the Spaceflight Chronology had?

I love the anecdote from Garamet (Margaret Wander Bonanno), who needed important background information from the "Spaceflight Chronology" to write her novel, "Strangers from the Sky" (that would reveal a forgotten Vulcan first contact), and she had to memorize the Goldsteins' log excerpts and dates in a book shop, then race home and start writing.
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Old July 28 2011, 10:54 PM   #15
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Re: What influence has the Spaceflight Chronology had?

Nick M wrote: View Post
Was it silver? Wow, I remember it being purple! I really need to see if I still have that book, if not I am going to check local bookstores.
http://www.google.com.au/search?q=ec...w=1440&bih=627
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