TrekLit politics

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by WorseThanHitler, Mar 11, 2011.

  1. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    For some reason that reminded me of those old Reese's ads about your chocolate and my peanut butter. :lol:
     
  2. Kestrel

    Kestrel Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Eh, no big. I figure local stuff like that is supposed to be hard to pick up on. Let's them know who's an outsider. ;)
     
  3. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Tell me about it! I'm convinced the local papers are written only for people who have lived in the area for generations. They seldom give directions, addresses, or phone numbers for anything, but just assume you know where the "Solanco Fairgrounds" or "Redman's Pavilion" or "The Octararo Inn" are!
     
  4. Janos

    Janos Commander Red Shirt

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    I never felt that ST TV/movies never took political "sides" (conservative vs. liberal), but did express its views of inclusion.

    STAR TREK is a progressive, inclusive vision of the future.

    Well that just shows you wrote an entertaining and balanced story. :bolian:

    In the end, I have found the ST lit that has various characters of various political/religion/whatever persuasions/differences interesting. One-side, one-dimensional characters? Not really. In many cases, how I choose to the view their actions (as good or bad) is based on what value I apply to those activities in the real world unless its things that are universally reviled by the left and right, e.g. genocide, etc.

    I wonder how much of our views of these and others stories are shaped by the context of the real world at the time? Would I/we get the same "take" on these stories if reread 5 to 10 to 20 years later?

    The thread has been tame, but entertaining. This is great since topics like these always get heated, with entertainment valuable questionable, on other boards.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2011
  5. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Ah...actually:

    True-blue honest-to-goodnss Free Market Laissez-Faire Capitalism is nothing close to the Ferengi society.

    A free market system does not have anything at all like the FCA--which is a big-govenrment intrusion into the marketplace if ever I saw one (for proof of this, not Brunt's references to all the regulations Quark and his mother are violating in "Family Business"--to say nothing about Brunt's authority to shut down Quark's business for an audit at a moment's notice--and order a blackball on him).

    The Ferengi economic system--and while we're at it, the current American system filled with "Evil Greedy CEOs"--is a false Crony Capitalism, in which the government props up corporations through favors, subsidies, and bailouts (see: "The Nagus", when Quark gives Nava express permission to monopolize on synthehol exports to the Gamma Quadrant).

    Frankly, Crony Capitalism is held in contempt by the Right as well as the Left. The difference is, the Right doesn't make it a straw man for the true Free Market.


    As for the "lack of money", that is impossible. "Money" is simply trade in tangible form. Every time you trade something for something else, you are using that something as money.

    "Currency" is another matter. And frankly, Socialism/Communism uses money, too--it just distributes it differently, "From Each According To His Ability, Blah Blah Blah...". A moneyless society is not specifically Socialistic.


    As for "providing for everyone's needs", the question must be asked: by whom? There is no explicit evidence that the government is what provides for every UFP citizen's needs.
     
  6. Captain Robert April

    Captain Robert April Vice Admiral Admiral

    A few things about Federation society that makes current day political concerns somewhat irrelevant: fusion power and replicator technology.

    Y'see, a large factor in shaping our current political strategies and economic theories is the exploitation of available resources, and how best to do that. In the Star Trek universe, though, energy is freely available and you can have just about anything you want courtesy of your friendly neighborhood replicator. With that scenario, tax policy and entitlement programs suddenly become about as archaic as Roman laws concerning the proper treatment of one's slaves.

    Right there is why so many Star Trek episodes showed our heroes looking upon some poor alien society that is still struggling with the stuff we're struggling with today, and offering advice which usually started off with something like, "We used to be like you..."

    It's also why trying to apply present day political allegories onto the Federation, more often than not, just reads as wrong. Not because the author is clearly a raving leftie or rock-ribbed conservative, but because the analogy just doesn't work. The Federation doesn't have the same concerns we have today, so their political reality shouldn't bear any real resemblance to our political reality.

    Now, doing that with an alien culture, sure, no problem, it's the way Star Trek was set up in the first place, and you're only limited by just how well you actually know the issue you're tackling.
     
  7. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    There's a SHARP difference, though, between political polemic (annoying) and using your writing as a playpen where you can off a sitting president (disgusting).

    And before anyone asks, I got mad at someone (not a Treklit author) who wrote that kind of story involving Obama. Even though they did a "reset button" at the end and fixed it...God, it made me sick. And angry. I don't care how bad my disagreements with Obama are...I find that so horrifying and sickening I absolutely cannot read it.
     
  8. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Except that that wasn't my point per se. I was referring specifically to a member of a minority group that has traditionally been horribly oppressed, and in particular to black people, and I thought I had made that clear in my post.

    I'm no expert on Peru -- does it have a history of persecuting Japanese-descended persons as extensively as the United States persecuted African-descended persons?
     
  9. Captain Robert April

    Captain Robert April Vice Admiral Admiral

    Fujimora had a pretty extensive history of oppressing political opponents all by his lonesome...
     
  10. Ensign_Redshirt

    Ensign_Redshirt Commodore Commodore

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    I'm not an expert on Peru either, but in that case it's still a bit far-fetched to say that Turks are "presecuted" in Germany the way black were in the United States (since you made a direct comparison between a black U.S. president and a Chancellor of Turkish descent in Germany).
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    And it's been firmly established that any such accusation about Dave Mack's intentions in writing A Time to Heal is at best a fundamental misreading of the text, at worst a malicious lie. For one thing, just because Zife was influenced by Bush doesn't mean he was literally meant to be George W. Bush, or that the situation was meant to exactly parallel 21st-century events rather than simply reflecting them to an extent. As I've already pointed out, it is grossly oversimplistic and wrong to assume that a writer's only motive in telling a story is political commentary or allegory. That may be an influence, but it's merely one of the many factors that shape a story.

    For another thing, it was clear that the assassination of Zife was presented as an evil, horrifying thing. Yes, getting him out of office was for the best, but it required a disturbing moral compromise to do it, and what really underlined that compromise was that final act by Section 31 that took things way too far. If anything, that was intended as a cautionary statement, pointing out the dangers of crossing the line in the name of what you think is right. It was saying that if you compromise your principles at all, even for the best of reasons, you can't pretend you haven't been seriously tainted.

    I can't understand how anyone can read a David Mack book and see only a simplistic, black-and-white moral parable. His books are full of unnerving, ambiguous situations, stories where the heroes have to make uneasy moral compromises and questionable choices, stories where the nominal antagonists can be sympathetic and admirable, stories where it's unclear whether anyone has really done the right thing. If you think Dave is endorsing or celebrating any of the dark actions taken against the antagonists of his books, you're not paying attention at all. What Dave is doing is not letting his characters off the hook. That's his trademark as a writer. He doesn't pull his punches. He doesn't just bring characters to the brink of death, he kills them hard. He doesn't just have characters flirt with the line between good and evil, he shoves them across it and down the slippery slope, so that they have to face the full, horrifying extent of what it means to make an ethical compromise. He doesn't leave them, or the readers, the comfortable recourse of pat, easy answers. Mirror Spock has to become as ruthless and violent as the Empire he hopes to overthrow. Bashir has to shoot to kill in order to survive on his spy mission. Lonnoc Kedair has to live with a friendly-fire mishap that she caused. And Admiral Ross has to face the knowledge that when he made a deal with the devil for the good of the Federation, he wasn't as able to control that devil as he'd fooled himself into thinking.
     
  12. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    ^ You know, it's a shame that Dave never got to write any of the new BATTLESTAR GALACTICA books. He would have been perfect for them.
     
  13. Kestrel

    Kestrel Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well said, Chris.

    There are many possible good reasons to write a story involving the assassination of a US President without portraying it as a good thing.

    Well, considering Lancaster Co. is home to so many Old Order folks and people that are somehow associated with them (especially in South Lancaster Co.) I'm not surprised there's a bit too much assumption of familiarity.
     
  14. ATimson

    ATimson Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think that happens when a reader believes that Mack crossed the line between it being "unclear whether anyone has really done the right thing" and "clear that the characters have done the wrong thing".
     
  15. Count Zero

    Count Zero Says who? Moderator

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    A bit? :lol: I'd take offense with the notion that people of Turkish descent are in any way persecuted here in Germany. Granted, there are prejudices and private discrimination and I wish our immigration and citizenship laws were a lot more liberal but that doesn't amount to persecution at all. In fact, they have more religious freedom here than they'd have in Turkey, for one.
    I'm also pretty confident we'll see a Chancellor/President of foreign descent in my lifetime.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No, it happens when they falsely assume that depicting the characters doing the wrong thing is the same as endorsing it. That is a mistake that anyone who's been through high-school English class and read Huckleberry Finn should know better than to make. Lots of fiction portrays things in order to question them, to critique them, to expose their wrongness or folly.
     
  17. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    It's also worth noting that sometimes the "politics" of a story are determined by the characters and genre. I don't necessarily agree with the Federation's hard-line ban on human genetic engineering, but felt obliged to stick to the Star Trek party line when writing the Khan books.

    On the other hand, if I was writing a CONAN novel, I'd wouldn't try to sneak in civilized, progressive values. It would be all blood and thunder and barbarism by Crom!

    One more example: I recently wrote a PHANTOM story set during the French Revolution, in which the Ghost Who Walks rescues a beautiful young countess from the guillotine. Does this mean I'm a closet monarchist and counter-revolutionary? Of course not. I just wanted to write a swashbuckling adventure in the vein of the Scarlet Pimpernal . . . .
     
  18. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Perfectly well put.
     
  19. Janos

    Janos Commander Red Shirt

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    I think there is a difference when you write a historical piece set in an established era of the past vs. "creating" a new era in the future (Khan perhaps being a bit different; but that future/past seemed established - parameter wise - somewhat in TOS TV). That said, I imagine there are some editorial decisons that have been made about the paramaters of the ST universe for writers to follow. Ultimately, STAR TREK is a progressive, inclusive vision of the future. I do agree that the politics of the characters themselves can and should come in. And in most of the ST I have read, both sides of a thorny modern day political issue projected into the future seems to be depicted/presented. Unless a writer is heavy handed, typically readers can make their own minds on right and wrong.
     
  20. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Perhaps. But it could be argued that I was taking sides in a contentious historical controversy. And at least one reader did take me to task for not giving a more "balanced" view of the Reign of Terror and the politics surrounding it.

    To which I shrugged and pointed out that, hey, it was a Phantom comic and not a serious history lession. The point being that sometimes it can be a mistake to try to read any sort of political statement into what was meant to be just a rippin' yarn.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2011