“First Vulcan to graduate at the head of her class”

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Bryan Levy, May 13, 2021.

  1. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I too thought of that line in Star Trek (2009), which drives me crazy. One, it confuses the Federation and Starfleet, and two, who doesn't know what country they live in! It's like me saying to a neighbor, "You understand what the United States is, don't you?" and then defining the Coast Guard.
     
  2. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, NATO is not a military force itself. Rather, it's an international military alliance comprised of those sovereign states that have signed and ratified the North Atlantic Treaty (hence its full name, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization). Technically speaking, NATO Member States don't send ambassadors -- they send what are called Permanent Representatives to the North Atlantic Council (the Organization's decision-making body); "ambassador to NATO" is an informal name.

    NATO would be more akin to whatever joint Federation/Klingon/Romulan military command structure might have been set up during the Dominion War than to Starfleet per se.

    Yep! Confusing the state with its armed forces is weird. I mean, I get that ST09 was designed to attract newbies and they needed a quick way to explain what the Federation and Starfleet were to people who'd never seen Star Trek before or who were only casually familiar with it. But the line should definitely have been something like, "You understand what Starfleet is? It's a humanitarian and peacekeeping armada. The Federation unites dozens of worlds under one flag, but Starfleet is the glue that holds them together!" or some such.

    * * *

    Having said all that, we repeatedly hear of Federation members who have ambassadors to one-another or to the UFP itself, and that always seems weird to me. Like, the State of Ohio does not send an ambassador to the Commonwealth of Virginia; the Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not send an ambassador to the United States. In fairness, though, the Länder (federated states) of Germany have what are called Landesvertretungen in Berlin that support their state delegations to the Bundesrat (which is comprised of representatives of the state governments, like the U.S. Senate before Senators were directly elected), and the Landesvertretungen are basically de facto embassies for their state to the German federal government. Maybe the Federation has something like that -- maybe Federation Member States have something on Earth that's not officially called an embassy but which serves the equivalent function and is unofficially called an "embassy?"

    I'm still not clear on what the distinction is between a Federation Member State's Federation Councillor and a Member State Ambassador to the Federation. Was Sarek the Federation Councillor for the Confederacy of Vulcan, informally called "the Vulcan Ambassador to the UFP?" Or maybe some Federation Member States retain an office of "Ambassador to the Federation" that's mostly symbolic? Beats me.

    The reference we hear of Federation Member States engaging in direct diplomatic relations with non-UFP sovereign states makes sense in the context of paradiplomacy, though presumably the Federation government has final say on such relations.
     
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  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's worth noting that an early version of that scene released online as a preview did not contain the "armada" line, and in the final film it's a voiceover line spoken when Pike is off-camera. That tells us it was added in post-production ADR dubbing and wasn't in the original script. So it was kind of an afterthought, probably added when they realized that they'd failed to adequately define the value of the Federation for novice viewers. My assumption is that the "armada" reference was supposed to be to Starfleet rather than the Federation, but something got left out in the editing process. That process on ST '09 was kind of turbulent, since principal photography was during a writers' strike and thus dialogue couldn't be altered during production, requiring an unusual amount of ADR looping and editing in post-production to make changes after the strike ended. So that probably meant that some of the adjustments, including that one, were sloppier than they could've been.
     
  4. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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  5. TheAlmanac

    TheAlmanac Writer Captain

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    This would only move the earliest sourced reference slightly further into the past, but does Allan Asherman make this claim under his entry for either "Spock" or "Vulcans" in DC's Who's Who in Star Trek (April 1987)? I'm not sure which longbox around here has my own copy, so I haven't been able to check it myself.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No, no such claim appears. The closest thing is the line in the Spock entry saying:
    Yet even though it calls Starfleet "non-Vulcan," that sentiment implies it's something Vulcans would want to be a part of.

    The only "firsts" mentioned in the "Vulcans" article are Spock being the first to discuss pon farr with outsiders (with the taboo on its discussion having been subsequently revoked due to a paper proving that the gag rule was costing the lives of Vulcan Starfleet and UFP personnel -- in contrast to Voyager, where it's still in effect a century later) and Saavik being the first "recorded" Vulcan/Romulan hybrid in Starfleet.
     
  7. Shamrock Holmes

    Shamrock Holmes Commodore Commodore

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    Or perhaps that Starfleet is not exclusively Vulcan, as the Vulcan Science Academy and Vulcan fleet are by design if not totally at any given time.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Clearly the line just meant that Starfleet wasn't founded by Vulcans. My point was that you'd reallllly have to twist the meaning of the line to misinterpret it as somehow saying there were no Vulcans, and that therefore the idea definitely did not come from there.
     
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