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Old May 5 2014, 03:25 AM   #1
Gretnablue
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How would you deal with Alien races in a new series?

One of the big problems in the previous Star Trek series was the idea of one culture for one alien race. With rare exceptions who are usually shunned, all Vulcans are logical, All Romulans are deceiving etc. The Klingons are probably the best example of this are due to there over exposure and there generic warrior race shtick.

Now it makes sense with some races such as the Borg as they are a collective with a single hive mind. However it seems pretty silly and kind of problematic that only humans or very human like races (and even then it’s iffy with cultures, early TNG anyone?) can have unique and multiple cultures.

Many games, movies and TV shows etc have made fun of this trope like Mass Effect. In a time of more sophisticated TV, this is a trope that should be left behind in my opinion.

My question is how would you deal with alien races in a new star trek series?

1. Would you keep the trope or change it and if so, how?
2. Would you have many first contacts, a few, none at all? If yes to first contacts, how would you go around it without walking into previous ground?
3. How would your new races act or behave?
4. Which races from previous series would you bring back? In the TNG era, a lot of the old TOS races were mostly absent such as the Andorians, Tholians, Gorn, Tellarites etc until Enterprise. Even the Romulans were going to be absent mostly if the Ferengi had been successful villains. Which races do you feel should be left behind, which should be expanded upon like Klingons in TNG.
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Old May 5 2014, 04:25 AM   #2
HIjol
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Re: How would you deal with Alien races in a new series?

Gretnablue wrote: View Post
My question is how would you deal with alien races in a new star trek series?

1. Would you keep the trope or change it and if so, how?
2. Would you have many first contacts, a few, none at all? If yes to first contacts, how would you go around it without walking into previous ground?
3. How would your new races act or behave?
4. Which races from previous series would you bring back? In the TNG era, a lot of the old TOS races were mostly absent such as the Andorians, Tholians, Gorn, Tellarites etc until Enterprise. Even the Romulans were going to be absent mostly if the Ferengi had been successful villains. Which races do you feel should be left behind, which should be expanded upon like Klingons in TNG.
I would crush them, see them driven before me, and hear the lamentations of their women...

...whooops...wrong thread...

Here are my thoughts:

1. Would you keep the trope or change it and if so, how?

...I would keep the Vulcans, Klingons, Cardassians, Romulans, Ferengi and those in the Federation posted on ships...

2. Would you have many first contacts, a few, none at all? If yes to first contacts, how would you go around it without walking into previous ground?

...a few First Contacts would be good, and they could be both benevolent and mal-intentioned...hard to get too far off the reservation with regard to races, though...either bipedal or non-corporeal...

3. How would your new races act or behave?

...the would act each according to their gifts and cultural norms...serious...the is the essence of Star Trek, n'est pas?

4. Which races from previous series would you bring back? In the TNG era, a lot of the old TOS races were mostly absent such as the Andorians, Tholians, Gorn, Tellarites etc until Enterprise. Even the Romulans were going to be absent mostly if the Ferengi had been successful villains.

...see Number 1 above

Which races do you feel should be left behind

...hmmm...Gorn, Tholians, Metrons

which should be expanded upon like Klingons in TNG

...Ferengi, Romulans, Vulcans


...very interesting post...thank you!
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Old May 5 2014, 09:57 PM   #3
T'Girl
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Re: How would you deal with Alien races in a new series?

Which races do you feel should be left behind

Some of the standard species have been over-seen and over-used.

Nothing would make me happier than to drop the Romulans, they're completely played out and weren't all that interesting to start with.

The Klingons were quite interesting, but should be heavily pushed into the background, rare mentions at most. Similar to how TNG used the Vulcans.

New species and previously little use species could be brought to the front, like what ENT did with the Andorians.

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Old May 6 2014, 12:23 AM   #4
publiusr
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Re: How would you deal with Alien races in a new series?

I would make the alien extra-galactic, so it worries all the main players, wondering just what is coming...
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Old May 6 2014, 01:41 AM   #5
2takesfrakes
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Re: How would you deal with Alien races in a new series?

I would prefer ALL first contact stories, myself. But ... gotta cut corners, you know? Gotta $ave a buck, here or there. Gotta scrimp. Nobody wants to any work harder than they have to ... so just reuse known rubber heads. But new, made-up aliens should be the order of the day. All CGI ... where the imagination is free to fly! And everybody loves and misses the exploration side of STAR TREK, anyway ...
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Old May 6 2014, 06:16 AM   #6
BigSnake
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Re: How would you deal with Alien races in a new series?

Interesting questions. I'll take these out of order:

Gretnablue wrote: View Post
My question is how would you deal with alien races in a new star trek series?

1. Would you keep the trope or change it and if so, how?
The basic idea of having the protagonists run into a variety of settlements whose cultures provide story opportunities and mirror or comment upon human foibles was always sound. That Trek wound up applying it homogenously to whole planets was the flaw. Typically speaking, the basic unit of a ship's interaction with a people should be a city, a port, a station, a planetoid settlement with its own culture, not an entire planet or a "planetary government."

Also, I'm very partial to having "aliens" who are types of human, or commentaries on human flaws and foibles, being just future subspecies of human (via genetic engineering, cloning, mutation, or what have you). Forehead Aliens-of-the-Week who all just happen to look human is a bit much.

4. Which races from previous series would you bring back?
Almost none. The Great Bird of the Galaxy was not himself by the time TNG came to fruition but I will say this for him, I think ultimately his instincts to ditch all the aliens from TOS were defensible. Updating old "races" with new ideas, it's a crapshoot whether you manage to please anyone or just piss everyone off (TNG ultimately managed it with the Klingons and the Romulans, but OTOH the Klingon culture stuff in the long run is also widely recognized as some of its worst cheese).

Moreover, if you reserve for altered humans many of the "alien" roles of human-social commentary that Trek used, it makes sense only to use truly alien aliens -- nonhumanoid, unfamiliar, weird, strange, arguably monstrous or at any rate certainly eldritch from a human perspective -- as your aliens, and to use them only when you need the inscrutable, the wondrous, the terrible, the mysterious and the indecipherable in your story. The mysteries of genuinely nonhuman aliens shouldn't be something you can unravel in an episode. They should be near-permanent mysteries, a thousand times more inscrutable and vexing to humanity than humanity itself.

If I did keep any Trek races about for this purpose, it would be races like the Sheliak or the Tholians.

2. Would you have many first contacts, a few, none at all? If yes to first contacts, how would you go around it without walking into previous ground?
First contact should be very, very rare and the first problem to be conquered should be simple understanding. TNG did the best job of conveying this of any of the shows, but even so that was only really in a few scattered episodes, two of them involving silicon-based lifeforms and the third being "Darmok." Trek was ironically quite restricted by the "Universal Translator" conceit because it made writers reluctant to do stories about the difficulties of simple language and communication, which are some of the richest problems plaguing first contact.

3. How would your new races act or behave?
Human-related cultures should occupy the full range of human cultural possibility, and should preferably not be crude stereotypes. "Warrior races" built around "honor" can in particular be lived without, or should at least have some kind of original concept going for them if they're used. A settlement full of delusional quasi-Klingon cosplayers could be fun.

Alien cultures should have a worked-out internal logic of their own, but should be something like a mystery story to any viewer -- showing frustrating signs of intelligibility, but eluding it. This is my ideal, of course; in practice it could be hard to pull off.

No goddamned hiveminds or allegories for Communism. Enough already. And absolutely no space-zombies.

(... okay, that last one is sort of negotiable. But only the strictest limits. )
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Old May 6 2014, 11:26 AM   #7
2takesfrakes
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Re: How would you deal with Alien races in a new series?

For general audiences, it's just easier to have one-note alien races, otherwise, they start becoming too "Human." Also, even with the Human characters, they are often one-note, taking the various aspects of the Human Condition and dividing them up amongst the principles: The gorgeous woman is the sexuality, the scientist is the intellect ... etc. We've all seen it. If alien life is DNA based, then I suspect that the similarities are going to be striking. It will have a recocognizable head and limbs. It must have a physique suitable for creating and controlling fire, around which technology is based. Through eons of evolution, it will have a conservative body plan, much like what we see in the wilds, with rare exceptions. But with a Sci-Fi show, we're meant to be dazzled and awed by these creatures, so they have to be exaggerated and over the top, in appearance. Otherwise, keep their cultures simple, so as to keep it clear what alien does what and so on ...
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Old May 6 2014, 11:42 AM   #8
1moreRobot
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Re: How would you deal with Alien races in a new series?

2takesfrakes wrote: View Post
FIf alien life is DNA based, then I suspect that the similarities are going to be striking. It will have a recocognizable head and limbs. It must have a physique suitable for creating and controlling fire, around which technology is based. Through eons of evolution, it will have a conservative body plan, much like what we see in the wilds, with rare exceptions. But with a Sci-Fi show, we're meant to be dazzled and awed by these creatures, so they have to be exaggerated and over the top, in appearance. Otherwise, keep their cultures simple, so as to keep it clear what alien does what and so on ...
All life on earth is DNA-based, from bacteria and unicellular microorganisms all the way up to us. A wide variety of shapes and forms are possible. I would have liked to see more of that diversity in Trek (of course, understanding the economic and storytelling reasons why that wasn't the case).
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Old May 6 2014, 03:50 PM   #9
Bry_Sinclair
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Re: How would you deal with Alien races in a new series?

Limit the "alien-of-the-week" plots, build up alien races met to be fuller.

No Klingons, other than mentioned in passing.
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Old May 8 2014, 04:17 PM   #10
The Colonel
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Re: How would you deal with Alien races in a new series?

QUOTE=Bry_Sinclair;9551359]Limit the "alien-of-the-week" plots, build up alien races met to be fuller.

No Klingons, other than mentioned in passing.[/QUOTE]

I agree about the "alien of the week" schlock, it worked most of the time in TNG but it got really tired by the time VOY and ENT came out. I prefer the idea of focusing on a smaller number of alien races and really fleshing them out/having complex stories revolving around them. DS9 did this really well with the Bajorans, Dominion and Cardassians.

As far as Klingons, they were overused to the point of becoming a crutch. They became increasingly silly and one dimensional and they lost much of their intelligence, fierceness and fear factor. DS9 was guilty for a lot of that, especially when it became all Klingons all the time in season 4. I like how they were portrayed in ST VI and early TNG as well as their redesign in the new movies. I would like to see them in a new series but have them be intimidating and intelligent. Make them believable as an advanced space faring race but one radically different from humanity.
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Old May 22 2014, 07:13 AM   #11
8472
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Re: How would you deal with Alien races in a new series?

I think the movie District 9 did a very good job in displaying bipedal aliens. I'd leave behind the rubber masks and make some serious aliens. Other than that, the sky's the limit in the amount of variation that should be done.
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Old May 22 2014, 06:31 PM   #12
T'Girl
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Re: How would you deal with Alien races in a new series?

if it's going to be a alien that we're going to have a opertunity to come to know, then any physically/make-up would be secondary to the culture and behavior of the character(s) being different.

Having the alien (especially if a regular on the ship) be protrayed as "non-Human" would be a must.



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Old May 23 2014, 05:58 AM   #13
QuarkforNagus
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Re: How would you deal with Alien races in a new series?

I don't think that Star Trek portrayed this one-culture-for-one-alien-race situation. The Federation really only deals with the ruling elite of any given planet, so it makes sense that you might only see one side of that species. But the show alludes to outliers. For example, they talk about that group of Vulcans who practice emotion.

But I do agree about this whole alien of the week thing. That's probably why the only clear memories I have of outliers are Vulcans and Klingons. They got a lot of air time so their characters were really fleshed out.
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Old May 24 2014, 08:16 PM   #14
Wadjda
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Re: How would you deal with Alien races in a new series?

I would get rid of the Ferengi. They are a ridiculous stereotype.
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Old May 24 2014, 08:18 PM   #15
Wadjda
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Re: How would you deal with Alien races in a new series?

QuarkforNagus wrote: View Post
I don't think that Star Trek portrayed this one-culture-for-one-alien-race situation. The Federation really only deals with the ruling elite of any given planet, so it makes sense that you might only see one side of that species.
No it does not. Just look around in Davos, all sorts of people show up.
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