“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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    No, that's Sarek throwing Sybok in the pool. Spock is in the back with Michael. (I had the same thought at first before I noticed little Spock.)
     
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  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Oh, I see. Wow, that's a really cruel take on Sarek.
     
  3. David cgc

    David cgc Admiral Premium Member

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    "Spock, one of the other delegates has been brutally murdered, and the evidence points at your father. You know him best, what do you think?"

    "Yeah, that sounds like something he'd do."
     
  4. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Moderator

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    I have them all and read them as each volume came out, but all currently in storage.
     
  5. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    For whatever it's worth, when I was first getting into Star Trek around the summer of 1995 at the age of 10, I read the first entry in the middle schooler series Star Trek: Starfleet Academy series, Crisis on Vulcan by Brad and Barbara Strickland. And I seem to remember that book referred to Spock as the first Vulcan in Starfleet.
     
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  6. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    A little bit of poking around tells me some people claim this idea comes from the Star Trek Concordance. I only have access to the 1995 edition, and it is indeed there, cited to "Whom Gods Destroy." Does anyone have an older edition of the Concordance? It's not actually said in "Whom Gods Destroy," but I suppose it could be in the script (which I don't have access to, either).
     
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  7. Bryan Levy

    Bryan Levy Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Hmm, where is it cited? I have the “Special Book Club” edition from I think 1976. I looked at the blurb for WGD, Spock, Vulcans, and Starfleet Academy, and I didn’t see it.
     
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  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I checked my '76 edition of the Concordance already, and I couldn't find any such assertion in the Lexicon entries for Spock or Vulcans. I just double-checked the Spock entry, and it's definitely not there.

    I'm guessing the claim in the very problematical 1995 edition (which contains a lot of unsupported conjecture and guesswork and is dreadfully poorly organized) is based on the dialogue exchange in "Destroy" about how the Axanar peace mission had a dream that spread to the stars and allowed Kirk and Spock to become brothers. I've seen that interpreted to mean that the Federation didn't exist or include Vulcans before the Axanar mission, but that's a major reach beyond the evidence.


    So the claim seems to have taken hold widely by the early '90s and is found at the earliest in late-'80s sources. Which still doesn't tell us for sure where it originated, but it seems to narrow down when it originated, and it definitely isn't part of first-generation fan lore. Weird.
     
  9. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's the very first sentence of the Starfleet career section of the entry for Spock: "Spock is the first Vulcan in Starfleet (WGD)."

    Yeah, even if the Axanar mission is what integrated Vulcans into the Federation and/or Starfleet (which I think is a reasonable interpretation of the episode), I don't see how you get from there to Spock himself being the first one.

    Indeed it is. Poking around on the Internet, I can see threads both here and on Reddit where people try to trace it, and many people assert that it came out of fandom in the 1970s/80s, but I haven't yet seen any citations to actually support that.
     
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  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I think the line in WGD is hard to reconcile with the rest of the series's worldbuilding, let alone the rest of the franchise. In such a case, we should go with the preponderance of evidence and disregard a single exception in a badly written episode (like how we ignore "The Alternative Factor"'s crazy take on antimatter or "Fury"'s bizarre claim that starships can't change direction at warp).


    Given how it seemed to show up in multiple sources within a few years in the late '80s and early '90s, that sounds plausible. As with a lot of things in folklore, it may be impossible to identify the true origin; the best we can do is backtrack its published occurrences as far as we can, and narrow down the chronological range in which it appeared.
     
  11. TheAlmanac

    TheAlmanac Writer Captain

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    They certainly aren't on top of their dated website copy--in doing my own searches for past online discussions around this topic, that very same passage is quoted verbatim from the official website in Usenet threads going back as far as May 2001, before Enterprise premiered.

    Going back significantly further, David Gerrold comes close to expressing the "First in Starfleet" sentiment in Starlog Issue 8 (September 1977), when he writes out some scenes he'd like to see in the then-upcoming first feature film and has Spock say:
    This is part of a scripted exchange between Spock and Chapel in which he claims Sarek married Amanda and had Spock as part of a deliberate plan to explore Human/Vulcan compatibilities.

    (On another note, Gerrold says in the same piece that he hopes he can at least personally appear as a crewmember in the same upcoming film, so I'm glad that part worked out for him.)

    Thinking this might've emerged, like "Nyota" did, from 1982's Star Trek II Biographies, I also read through that book's entry for Spock. Looking past some obsolete details ("Siblings: None"), he is quoted telling his mother he's "the only Vulcan attending" Starfleet Academy, but not the first; and another excerpt states "that Vulcans were a rarity in Starfleet in his time," but not that they were unheard of. Similarly, Christopher Pike is later quoted telling his brother he has hardly met any Vulcans because "there are sadly few of them in Starfleet."

    There are many, many extrapolative/speculative pieces about Spock's life and Vulcans in general throughout The Best of Trek, but a cursory search hasn't so far revealed any asserting that he was the first Vulcan in Starfleet.

    The mystery continues.
     
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  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Wow, that's interesting. I still suspect this may be a case where "only Vulcan currently" got memetically mutated/telephone-tagged into "first Vulcan ever." People generally don't handle nuance well and tend to exaggerate everything to extremes -- like how everyone assumes the Preservers are some incredibly ancient race from billions of years ago even though the one known population they transplanted couldn't have dated from earlier than the 17th century.
     
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  13. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The way Star Trek does it is the way tie-ins usually work. The only other franchise I know which has Star Wars style interconnected tie-ins is Doctor Who, and I think those tended to just be a few things occasionally connecting, not everything all the time.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Doctor Who tie-ins are more like Star Trek in that they have a variety of different tie-in continuities. The novels have had one or more continuities (I think the BBC Books series was originally treated as separate from the previous Virgin series but later retconned as a continuation of it), the Big Finish audiobooks have a different one, the comics have a different one (or more), etc., though they occasionally borrow from one another. The franchise as a whole has always been very flexible about continuity anyway, since it originated at a time when TV was seen as ephemeral and the young audience was expected to age out and turn over every few years anyway. These days it tends to be assumed that all of it happened in various alternate universes and rewritten timelines.

    Babylon 5's novel and comic tie-ins were all meant to be canonical, although only two of the nine Dell novels ended up being counted in canon due to difficulties keeping them consistent while the show was in production. Firefly/Serenity has comics presumed to be canonical, and I think it has novels as well, though I don't know if they share continuity. Avatar: The Last Airbender/The Legend of Korra has a canonical comics series and a pair of canonical YA novels, though whether they remain canonical now that new TV productions are being developed remains to be seen.
     
  15. Daddy Todd

    Daddy Todd Fleet Captain Premium Member

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    Guilty. But it’s been some years, so I refreshed my memory by skimming “biographical” articles about Spock in BoT #2 and #3. Neither suggested Spock as The First Vulcan in Star Fleet. And the BoT #2 piece explicitly states there were other Vulcans in Star Fleet before Spock.

    It’s not stated in the fanzine or Ballantine editions of Trimble’s Concordance. Gerrold doesn’t mention it in WoST. Neither Asherman’s first edition Compendium or the 1967 Writer’s Guide make the claim.

    So, despite decades of thinking that someone, somewhere made the semi-official (even if not canonical) claim, it looks like it may be a later invention.
     
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  16. Avro Arrow

    Avro Arrow Hey, Earthlings! Stop nuking each other! Moderator

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    It always strikes me as odd to see people say things like this in relation to Star Trek. This seems akin to someone talking about the U.S. Ambassador to the Royal Canadian Navy.
     
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  17. dupersuper

    dupersuper Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If you can get him to say it backwards, you can send him back to Vulcan.

    Well, it's easier with B5 and especially Firefly, with so much of it coming out after the shows ended.
     
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  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yeah, that's pretty much the only time "canonical" tie-ins can really work, since the creators of the canon have the time to focus on the tie-ins, and more importantly since there's no new screen canon to overwrite them.
     
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  19. TheAlmanac

    TheAlmanac Writer Captain

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    You understand what the Federation is, don't you? It's important. It's a peacekeeping and humanitarian armada...

    In other words, I hear where you're coming from. Would you feel better if I mentioned that countries do send civilian ambassadors to NATO?
     
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  20. Avro Arrow

    Avro Arrow Hey, Earthlings! Stop nuking each other! Moderator

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    The passage I quoted made me think of that exact line too! :D

    In case there was any doubt, my comment certainly wasn't intended as any disagreement with you; I was just surprised to hear such a thing from David Gerrold. I just needed to wrap your quote around Gerrold's quote, otherwise it lost the link attribution to the previous post.

    (And TBH I didn't know that about NATO. Although I thought it was more of an international organization, than a single military force?)
     
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