"The Slaver Weapon"

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Ketrick, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. Ketrick

    Ketrick Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    In this episode which brings elements of Larry Niven's Known Space universe into the Star Trek universe, there is mention of four wars having taken place in the mid-to-late 21st century between the feline Kzinti and humankind apparently sometime after first contact with the Vulcans. From what else is known of Trek history of this period, it seems almost impossible for four wars to have occured.

    I have a theory that because Earth is not yet united that four wars can be fought in a very short amount of time if they are being fought between different nations or coalitions and the Kzinti. In fact, some of these wars may be occuring simultaneously. What do you think?
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2013
  2. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    I honestly have no idea how "The Slaver Weapon" and the current version of Trek history can be reconciled without massive retcons.

    Enterprise planned to tackle the Kzinti in a season five episode entitled "Kilkenny Cats". I'd love to see how they planned to do it - my guess would be those wars would have been been downgraded to battles (in a similar fashion to the Earth/Romulan war being turned into a three-day battle in Earth orbit in the unmade movie Star Trek: The Beginning), and the era moved to ENT's "present", the mid 2150's.
     
  3. Ketrick

    Ketrick Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Why do you say that? What problems are there other than the four wars?
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    According to ENT, humanity barely ventured into space prior to 2151. There were a few interstellar colony expeditions, the first one in 2078, and the low-warp Earth Cargo Service ships populated by the "Space Boomers" and travelling out only a couple of dozen light-years. Humanity hadn't even made contact yet with Andorians or Tellarites. And interstellar war was something they had no experience with; NX-01 was launched as a pure research vessel, and the crew had no idea when they started out that the galaxy was as full of dangerous aliens as it turned out to be. I just don't see any way of reconciling that with an episode claiming that humanity had four wars with a race as relentlessly warlike as the Kzinti before 2070.

    Even accepting the animated series as a whole as canonical (and Trek producers have been implicitly doing so ever since "Unification" referenced events from "Yesteryear"), later canon has ignored or contradicted specific episodes or events from earlier canon on several occasions. "The Alternative Factor"'s interpretation of antimatter (which itself contradicted what "The Naked Time" had previously established) has been completely ignored by all subsequent Trek, and the episode has never been referenced. DS9 and VGR ignored how easy travel to the galactic center was shown to be in The Final Frontier, not to mention "The Magicks of Megas-tu." VGR's "Threshold" has not only been ignored and contradicted, but explicitly disowned by its own writer. VGR's "Fury" made claims about the difficulty of changing course at warp that have been completely ignored since then.

    So contrary to the myth in fandom, canon doesn't mean every last detail, or even every episode, undeniably happened as shown. A canon pretends to be a consistent reality, but it's really a work of fiction that's being made up as it goes, and sometimes things get rethought, bad ideas get abandoned, new creators disagree with old creators' choices, and new ideas supersede old ones. So there could be entire episodes of Trek that are no longer counted as "real," or that are treated as inaccurate in their details. "The Slaver Weapon" occupies, at best, a tenuous position within canon. If ENT had dealt with the Kzinti, it's certain that any backstory elements from "The Slaver Weapon" -- which were actually taken nearly verbatim from the original "The Soft Weapon" novella and the history of Niven's Known Space universe -- would've been altered or disregarded and a new interpretation presented.
     
  5. Ketrick

    Ketrick Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I get what you're saying about canon, but in the case of "The Slaver Weapon", I don't think it's hard to reconcile it with Trek continuity and history, as long as you focus only on what's revealed in this episode and not how the Kzinti or Slavers are presented in the Known Space universe.


    The way I see it during the 2060s and 2070s, both the Kzinti and humans are new to interstellar travel and fight with primitive weapons by future standards. Here's a scenario of how I think this could work:

    A few Earth nations start building and subsequently launch warp-capable spacecraft. In a relatively short time some of these vessels are attacked by the Kzinti who eat the humans on board leaving only bones in the vessels which are discovered by the Vulcans who report what happened to the Earth nations. These nations, still antagonistic toward each of other as a result of World War 3, declare war separately on the Kzinti resulting in two or three simultaneous wars which each nation wins. A few years later, the Kzinti start attacking Human vessels again. This time, the warp-capable nations form a loose coalition which, with minor Vulcan assistance, forces the Kzinti to demilitarize.

    In this scenario, humans don't have to be that advanced or have many ships or go deep into space because the Kzinti aren't anymore advanced than we. In other words, this scenario doesn't contradict things as painted by Enterprise. In fact, the Man-Kzinti Wars, along with WW3 and the post atomic horror, could partly explain why the Vulcans acted the way they did towards humans in the 22nd century.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^I just don't buy it. As I said, in that context, humanity would certainly know how many violent and dangerous aliens are out there, and the naive optimism of Archer's crew when they started out would make no sense.
     
  7. Ketrick

    Ketrick Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I disagree. Just because humanity came into contact with the violent, carnivorous Kzinti early on doesn't mean they would automatically assume all or even most aliens were dangerous. Also, "boomers" came into contact with several hostile alien species and surely some reports reached the general population of Earth so I don't see the problem you do. Not only that, Enterprise had weapons and an armory officer so humanity wasn't totally naïve from the time they launched (despite not having the phase cannons online because of leaving Earth early).
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2013
  8. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    Keep the Kzinti, modify the backstory, and ignore Spock's line about the four wars. :shrug:
     
  9. Ketrick

    Ketrick Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I believe it was Sulu who said there were four wars.
     
  10. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    The idea of four Man-Kzin wars comes from the Known Space series, and they occur at a much later period of fictional history in that universe, in the 25th and 26th centuries. "The Soft Weapon" takes place in the 27th century.

    I like The Slaver Weapon a lot, but I recognize that it basically shoehorned Known Space into the Trekverse, so I don't demand that it seamlessly meld with it.
     
  11. SiddFinch1

    SiddFinch1 Captain Captain

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    I.would have liked.to see enterprise bring the kzinti to Tv again but would have required some real retcon work. I liked enterprise but not the way it made humans sit around basically doing nothing for 90 years after inventing warp. Should have been set in the 2090's instead
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well... maybe, but I still think it's a reach. You'd think somebody would've mentioned any such Kzinti conflicts -- or that somebody, upon hearing of the Xindi attack, would've mistaken the name for "Kzinti." Maybe it's not an impossible fit, but it's an awkward one. Clearly the people who created ENT had no intention of making it compatible with "The Slaver Weapon," and if -- if -- they had done a Kzinti episode in a hypothetical season 5, it most likely would've reinterpreted the specifics.


    Well, technically it was Jason Papandreou's line which was assigned to Sulu in the adaptation. ;)


    I'm happier letting Known Space be Known Space and Trek be Trek. It doesn't feel right to me to try to fit a story from one into the other. I mean, there's been one other Trek episode that was an adaptation of an earlier, non-Trek science fiction work: TNG's "Tin Man," which was adapted by Dennis Bailey & David Bischoff from their own novel Tin Woodman. But it wasn't anywhere near a close retelling; it took the basic premise of the novel, a telepath making contact with an organic ship and running off with it, and built a very different story around it, one that fit better with the Trek universe and characters. But "The Slaver Weapon" is very nearly a beat-for-beat retelling of "The Soft Weapon" that fudges the Trek setting to fit the existing story -- we just get three characters in a shuttle instead of the whole starship and crew, and Known Space species like Kzinti and Slavers and their respective histories are thrown in virtually unaltered (although the Slaver history is greatly simplified, and the fact that the weapon was actually built by their slave species the Tnuctipun to be used against them is cut out). So it's not so much a Star Trek story as a Known Space story with Trek characters acting out the roles of the protagonists. Thus, I don't feel it really belongs in the Trek universe. It feels like a weird sort of fanfic mash-up to me, like those pieces of fan art you see that depict characters from one franchise in the roles of the leads from a different franchise.


    But an important part of the story was that the Vulcans had deliberately held us back that long, not trusting us to handle interstellar contacts responsibly, and we were finally breaking free of their resistance.
     
  13. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    I got no problem with that...since I completely ignore ENT in regard to TOS anyway. :lol:

    The series' world building was completely flawed from the beginning.
     
  14. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, if some Kzinti from the Known Space universe were caught in a rift to the Trek universe, you could reconcile the two histories--with Sulu talking about an alternate timeline. A stretch yes, but it keeps the Archer era intact. Which is good, in that the FASA history even had the Connie as having nuclear weapons as part of the FAC
     
  15. Ketrick

    Ketrick Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I really don't think its much of a reach. Yes, you would think there would be, but considering there wasn't even a mention of the Eugenics War until Season 3 or World War 3 or the post atomic horror until Season 4, I don't think it's much of a problem especially if you also consider how little those major events are mentioned in the other series. A Xindi/Kzinti mixup would have been funny, but unnecessary ultimately. Honestly though, I think part of why I don't see much of a problem is because I've never read any Known Space story and I see the Trek version as being very much separate and distinct despite the close adaptation of "The Soft Weapon".
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I just think it's a poor fit into the Trek universe as we now know it. Not only is there no other mention of Kzinti, but none of Slavers or stasis boxes. It stands to reason that they would've left artifacts all over the Trek universe and their impact would be felt, as is the case in Known Space. Sure, there are plenty of ancient races we only ever hear about once, but the Slavers were supposed to be this vast galaxy-spanning power, and it's stated outright in the episode that their boxes are highly important, sought-after treasures. If they were part of the Trek universe, it's hard to believe they would've gone so totally unmentioned outside this episode. That makes it hard enough to reconcile even with what came before TAS, let alone everything that's come after. The story just works better in Known Space, because it was meant to happen there and was an outgrowth of ideas already established there (in World of Ptavvs and "A Relic of the Empire"). It's a much more awkward fit in the context of Star Trek.
     
  17. RPJOB

    RPJOB Commander Red Shirt

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    What else did we hear on the shows about the Talosians? Or the Organians? Or the Metron? Does that mean that they don't exist either? Other than a mention of the Organian Treaty in Trouble with Tribbles you could make a case that Errand of Mercy never happened since Klingons and the Federation seemed to be able to attack each other with ease (Day of the Dove, More Tribbles, More Troubles, all of TNG/DS9/VOY). Never saw any sign of the Organians stepping in to stop things. I'd say the Slavers and the Kzinti are just as valid in the Trek universe as the Organians are.
     
  18. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    ...Which fits perfectly! Apparently, "pure research vessels" were an utter novelty in a Starfleet that had existed for at least half a century already, in one form or another. What had its ships been doing until then? Why, making war, of course!

    The major issue would be that before warp five engines, the wars would have been fought with enemies who came all the way to Earth. Archer extended the wars to enemies who did not.

    "The Slaver Weapon" eliminates many aspects of "The Soft Weapon" that would have been in major conflict with the Trek universe. Essentially, we only need to deal with a handful that weren't previously mentioned in Trek:

    - The Slavers existed as shown. Since this happened a billion years ago, it has virtually no effect on anything elsewhere in Star Trek. The Slavers were said to have had subject species, which died along with them in a past war, but nothing is mentioned of the "pancidal" nature of that war, of the essentially telepathic weapon that necessarily terminated all intelligent life everywhere. Just the Slavers and their subject races died, is all. (And then "intelligent life had to evolve all over again", but this probably happens all the time everywhere anyway, and the remark in its Star Trek isolation carries none of its original Known Space significance.)

    - Stasis Boxes exist as shown. It's a weird alien technology, standard fare for Star Trek. It is furthermore portrayed as truly indecipherable, thus with no applications whatsoever, which is better than with most alien tech in Trek. It has yielded artificial gravity, but Spock never says for whom and when, so that's not a continuity complication. That's all Spock mentions as a benefit, along with one small-scale drawback that probably cost a dozen lives at most, so it's not really all that grandiose in scale, not in the Trek version.

    - The Kzinti exist as shown. Nothing wrong with three-meter kittycats who bear a grudge, have telepaths and nonsapient females, and despise herbivores and pacifists, not in the Trek context. We've seen weirder, and it has never had any cross-connectivity to other Trek biological or cultural weirdness. Our heroes just aren't into cross-connecting, save for very rare occasions such as the "Wolf In the Fold" bit about things similar to Redjac.

    - The Kzinti fought four wars with humankind and lost all of them. The last one was two hundred years ago from the viewpoint of the late 2260s or early 2270s. Conveniently, the scope of those wars would have to be really modest if the early mankind triumphed in them; automatically, then, these would leave no mark in the general history of the Federation, or even that of Earth, and Sulu would only bring up the insignificant scuffles to humiliate the Kzinti. For all we know, Earth only triumphed thanks to Vulcan help (that is, Vulcans did all the fighting), but Sulu would of course omit that bit - for two reasons: to emphasize that two of the captives of the Kzinti are fearsome, superior warriors, and to downplay that one of them is an even more fearsome one.

    The only real problem there is the one of timing. But since Sulu is dribbling a lazy insult at the ratcats from one corner of his mouth anyway, this is the perfect time and place not to take him completely literally. "Two hundred years ago" from the 2260s perspective could be more like 2100 or even 2150 than 2060 - that is, anything more than 100 years ago would do, really. Starfleet in Archer's time could be full of "veterans of the Kzinti wars" who'd go "Huh? We fought those, too?" when reminded of the fact, as the fight really was nothing to write home about. Archer probably had a comparable war or two during his televised mission...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Umm... don't you mean at season 5 of ENT not existing?
     
  20. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    Still distressed at season 5 of Enterprise not having the the Kzinti in it.

    http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Kzinti

    [​IMG]

    Lots of probs with the timeline...I think we'd have to reduce it down to ONE or maybe TWO wars at max if they were ever used again.