Balance of Terror

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Nightfall to-Ennien, Dec 16, 2017.

  1. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I doubt AQS is an alternative to "warp drive" as such. It's just a power source, and we don't really know that it would be less common than the antimatter-dilithium rig-up that Starfleet prefers. Perhaps the generic alien flies on chemical power or fission or fusion or ZPE.

    ...Do we have any onscreen references to "impulse power" that would not clearly mean "the power giving impulse speed"? That is, is there any support for interpreting Scotty's "their power is simple impulse" in any other way besides "their power can give impulse and no more"?

    We know of "impulse reactors" in many Trek eras, so we could argue Scotty means "power produced by the reactors of the impulse drive" - but can we plausibly then further claim this power would be available for warp? We know it can be used for many things, but has it ever given a boost in propulsive performance? Even its contribution in "The Corbomite Maneuver" is arguable, and arguably almost unprecedented to boot, judging by hero reactions.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  2. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    What canonical data do we have for fusion reactors powering warp drives?
     
  3. Search4

    Search4 Captain Captain

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    I would remind us that Phoenix from first contact certainly hit warp without a M-AM capability.
     
  4. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    How so?

    Antimatter might be trivially available at your local socket in the Trek 2060s. After all, it becomes trivially available at some point, and there's no, uh, point in postponing that point.

    FWIW, LaForge mentions "intermix" as a feature of Cochrane's rig. Intermix of fuel and oxidizer? Of deuterium and tritium? Of matter and antimatter? No telling. But it would be disingenuous to claim that Cochrane couldn't have antimatter power when he can have backyard rockets and warp drives.

    Now, Cochrane might be short on dilithium. But Earth gets the stuff from somewhere in the next few decades (Starfleet and Boomer ships both run on it), so perhaps there's a mine in Montana?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  5. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Intermix of what is the question. No thing canonical to say how low craft used antimatter and matter. Was Dlithium mentioned in his shop?
     
  6. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    No dialogue mention of dilithium, no Okudagrams featuring the substance. At most, some of the smaller push-buttons might have been dedicated to dilithium, but the audience really can't tell.

    OTOH, antimatter at the time was likely to have been a weapon of war. Less than a decade later, Friendship One would carry knowledge that would allow aliens to start waging an antimatter war on short notice, after all.

    WWIII on Earth was repeatedly described as "nuclear", not "antimatter" or even the nowadays ambiguous "atomic". But it is a mere technicality how USAF would speak of a war fought with m/am Titan V missiles (or with whatever replaced those and left one unfired and available to Cocrane).

    Did Zep more or less randomly choose m/am as his power source, when other players might have originally chosen differently and ended up with different space fleets? Or did the resources of postwar Earth absolutely dictate the power choice, and would other planets or histories dictate otherwise? Many cultures explicitly use m/am tech combined with dilithium. A select few use explicit other tech. But the majority uses tech not described... Perhaps the lucky few who get to use Cochrane style tech have the best odds of becoming top dogs like Feds or Klingons.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  7. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I speculate that post war Earth has no infrastructure for M/AM production much less transporting it to Bozeman. Fusion generators and deuterium would be easier to get. Also how long ago was this project started? If before the war, maybe AM might have been stored that long.
     
  8. Samuel

    Samuel Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Anyone remember the James Blish adaptations of the original series episodes? Now all of them were far too short, especially in the case of "Balance of Terror".
    But Blish's written version of "Balance of Terror" IIRC suggests that the Federation outposts and the Romulan Neutral Zone actually surround the home solar system of the Romulans.
    If this was true, then it is obvious how the Bird of Prey could've attacked using only sublight impulse engines and also explains why there was a comet with a tail near the Neutral Zone as comets can only have tails when near a star.

    But the problem then is how can the Romulans be one of the major bad asses of the galaxy if their "empire" consists of only one solar system.
     
  9. Unicron

    Unicron Boss Monster Mod Moderator

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    I have the modern B & N compilation of Blish's works, so perhaps I can look at that tomorrow. That would make more sense, although the idea of the Empire being so restricted is sort of weird as described. One of the interesting ideas FASA came up with was that when the Romulan War broke out, the Romulans apparently mistook the Federation for being either a Klingon ruse or Klingon allies - that they were an entirely new foreign power wasn't clear for a long while. Incidentally, I also like the FASAverse idea of the origins of the Romulans (being descended from primitive Vulcans who were relocated by the Preservers, and who created an imperial government to find the "gods" who had placed them on Romulus).

    It would have been nice if the aired episode had the missing dialogue about Romulan espionage left intact, as it would have made Styles' actions a bit more sensible if inappropriate.
     
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  10. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The idea that the Romulans would be "major badasses" is in direct contradiction with "Balance of Terror" to begin with. In that episode, the heroes barely remember who these clowns are, and the very concept that they could pose a threat to anybody is amazing news.

    Why are Stiles' actions "inappropriate"? Odds are very high that Spock is an enemy agent and a dangerous traitor with a deadly mission: even though everybody in the galaxy looks like humans, virtually nobody looks like Vulcans, but here we learn that the previously faceless enemy has the Vulcan face. And they make their first move in a century exactly when Starfleet sends Spock to the Neutral Zone! Frighteningly, Spock himself has now made a move that reveals the connection - surely he must be within seconds of launching his dastardly plan of killing all the crew or worse, if secrecy and personal security no longer is a concern for him?

    If anything, Stiles is being too timid, and Kirk is in dereliction of his duty for not placing Spock immediately under guard and, if not hauling him into the brig (or gunning him down) right away, then at least stopping him from pressing any buttons until the situation can be resolved somehow.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  11. Samuel

    Samuel Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    a couple of points regarding Blish's interpretation of the "Romulan Star Empire".
    1) We tend to think that all solar systems are similar to that of Earths. One inhabitable planet. But it is more than possible to have a solar system with literally dozens of inhabitable planets, moons, or orbital habitats. In short more than enough to support an "empire".
    2) Just because a political entity calls itself an "empire" in no way means its something like we think of as an empire on Earth. Like the Roman or British Empires controlling much of the known world at various points.

    IIRC, in the 1980s there was a tiny nation in central Africa that called itself the "Central African Empire". The name "Romulan Star Empire" might simply being the sense of self importance on the part of the Romulans.
    At any rate, when it comes to Romulan origin stories I prefer Diane Duane's "The Romulan Way" to any other.
     
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  12. Avro Arrow

    Avro Arrow A Cliché in a Song Moderator

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    Yes, because bigotry based on someone's ancestry or appearance was exactly the underlying message of Star Trek.

    Styles's actions were inappropriate because they were racist. I shouldn't have to explain this, because the episode already did.
     
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  13. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Bullshit. Being black won't protect a murderer from a white jury, and never should. And in this instance, being Vulcan was a crime, and a hideous one at that - or so it seemed.

    As I explained, Spock looks guilty as hell of treason. Turns out it is a cosmic coincidence in the end - Spock indeed just happened to be at the fateful place at the fateful time for innocent reasons. * But no jury and no police officer on the scene should assume cosmic coincidences against more obvious (if ultimately misleading) evidence.

    It's not even as if an innocent man would be hanged: all Spock should suffer is the indignity of being detained for the duration of the mission. (And apologies are illogical, although for some reason Vulcans still go for those.) So being afraid of sounding racist should never hinder Stiles from saving the day.

    Timo Saloniemi

    * Or for no reason at all, apparently. Although we could argue it was the Romulans who coincided their attack with Spock's tour of duty. Although to what end, it is not easy to tell...
     
  14. Avro Arrow

    Avro Arrow A Cliché in a Song Moderator

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    Are you seriously arguing this? :wtf: Just being should never be a crime. I can't believe you are actually arguing in favour of taking action against someone just because they look like the enemy. By this logic, you appear to be arguing, for example, that Japanese internment during WWII was justified. It was not.

    This is clear-cut racism. It appears you are missing one of the major themes of the episode. Unless of course, you are just posting this in order to get me riled up. If so, congratulations, it worked.
     
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  15. Samuel

    Samuel Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    To be honest in "Balance of Terror" Lt. Stiles already seemed pretty unhinged about the Romulans well before it was revealed they looked like Vulcans. I mean come on, he alone among the crew seems to be obsessed with the Earth/Romulan War while for the other crew it was such a distant event that Kirk and Spock had to deliver an entire briefing to the crew as a whole summarizing the conflict complete with a graphic display.

    Such long lasting war hatred sounds more appropriate for the 20th century than the 23rd. Which might've been one of the points.
     
  16. Unicron

    Unicron Boss Monster Mod Moderator

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    Stiles' racism as it appears in the aired episode seems far less appropriate than it should (IMO), because the deleted dialogue about Romulan espionage gives it a better context and makes Stiles look less directly racist. It's still not the right behavior for a professional officer, especially when no one had many details about the Romulans as an enemy in a modern context.

    In looking over Blish's adaption today, there are some interesting things. The Romulan War is described as having been fought about a century before the ep's timeframe, with the Romulans seemingly attacking out of the blue seventy-five years prior and the war itself lasting a full twenty-five years. After their defeat, the Romulans were basically enclosed on Romulus and Remus within the neutral zone and the Federation patrolled it vigilantly.

    Kirk says that the Romulans were about a century behind the Federation when the war broke out and seemingly shouldn't have posed much of a technological threat in comparison, but their willingness to fight aggressively and to not take any prisoners seemed to offset that during the war. That the bird of prey has clearly modern systems as well as advanced prototypes (the cloak and the plasma weapon) is a fact that is surprising to the command crew, since they have reason to assume that Romulan technology hasn't advanced that rapidly since the war with the NZ in place. A few Romulan corpses were recovered during the war, so it was known they were of Vulcanoid stock, but they were badly damaged so only a few details were known. No living Romulans were ever seen visually.

    Stiles himself is still a rather snobby officer but less abrupt than in the televised version, and it's stated that other members of the crew (including Scotty and even Kirk himself to a degree) have a degree of discomfort with Spock simply because of his Vulcan side. That doesn't mean their relationship is less professional, but it's clear that he is an outsider in some ways. Stiles is killed in the Blish adaptation along with Tomlinson, as a result of the battle with the Romulans.

    The Blish adaptation, unsurprisingly, doesn't have the perspective of the Romulan crew. Having to pursue the BOP puts Kirk in a challenging position, since it can theoretically escape without much trouble and has a superior weapon, and destroying it could help spark a new war that the Empire wants. If the ship isn't pursued and makes it home safely, it might encourage the Romulans to commence more open aggressions with more cloaked ships, assuming they have them. There's also the concern that Kirk's actions, in any direction, could cause divisions within the Federation itself, as it's hard to prove the Romulans are guilty when dealing with a ship that can cloak. And the espionage, which is clearly mentioned in the Blish version, has the potential to paint the Vulcans in a bad light when it's learned the Romulans are genetic relatives.
     
  17. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The cases are in no way alike, which is not surprising considering we're in outer space here, in a coarse and simplified Hollywood analogy gone extra wild. Spock's guilt here is unambiguous (except it's just a coincidence), and his species may well be collectively guilty if he is (which he isn't but there's no way to tell that). It's just how this works, and it has absolutely nothing to do with racism, just as jailing a gang of women conducting hate crimes on a feminist agenda has nothing to do with misogyny.

    You simply have it the wrong way around. Spock's guilt isn't established by his race - and his guilt isn't mitigated by his race. But once found guilty, he's found guilty of conspiring with those of his race.

    It has the deceiving appearance thereof, because race is the mechanism of guilt here. But thinking of it as racist is racist in itself.

    I can't help it if the writers shoot themselves in the foot by establishing circumstances where race is so closely associated with guilt.

    Catharsis is good for you and me. But Stiles had it right, even though his racist persona made others riled up and therefore too stupid to see he was right.

    A couple of very important points here (substitute, say, "German" and "Nazi" wherever you wish, incidentally minding that functionally they were the exact same in most WWII combat situations, and "functionally" is the only thing that counts for our soldier heroes):

    1) It's not wrong to hate Romulans. Romulans are evil. Or, more exactly, they are the ruthless enemy, which for their opponents spells evil.
    2) Even if there is a good Romulan or two hiding somewhere, these folks in the episode aren't it.
    3) Spock is in cahoots with these people, regardless of the sharpness of his ears. His unique presence at the RNZ coincides with this unique attack. He gives away the ship's position to the Romulans. And he fluently communicates with the enemy, even if it appears one-way, while nobody else has managed that so far.
    4) Stiles is no doubt the poster child of racism. But he's still right on his accusation that has nothing to do with racism, and everything to do with, ironically enough, logic.

    That's what Schneider wrote. If he intended something else, he should have written that. (And omitted the bit about "theoretical invisibility" while we're at it!)

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  18. The Librarian

    The Librarian Commodore Commodore

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    Timo Saloniemi[/QUOTE]

    Guilty of what? There's no evidence of any crime, let alone any guilt, and you're trying to rewrite what you said earlier.

    You are literally saying that Spock is guilty because of his species, and then later trying to claim that's not racist because he is guilty because reasons. It's not even a case of locking him up because he's Japanese, you're saying to lock him up because he's Chinese and both nations are Asian. The humans on the crew can't tell the difference between Vulcans and Romulans but they sure look similar so they must all be traitors.
     
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  19. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    "Guilty of what?" Of conspiring with the enemy - because when it turns out the Nazis of the 1940s to everybody's horror and utter surprise turn out to be (gasp!) Germans, and for their first evil deed in a century sail out in a sub and sink four US ships, this happens when the only USN vessel with a German officer aboard is at sea, and indeed tasked with guarding those very ships, for the very first time in the history of that ship or that officer.

    This much can be a coincidence in Hollywood only. But we're trying to pretend that Star Trek does not take place in Hollywood, so in-universe, Stiles is correct in his conviction that Spock is a traitor until proven otherwise. In a courtroom, the burden of proof might be reversed; aboard a warship, it is not.

    Spock could of course also be spying for the Germans while himself being French or American, say. In that case, 1) the situation would not falsely appear racist, but 2) he wouldn't even be found out in the first place, because 3) there would be no cosmic coincidence involved. But the extreme (and I can't fail to emphasize how extreme) weight of statistical significance of his actually being the unique German in a situation unique to the century is why he is found out.

    So once again, Spock's undeniable guilt is found out because of his species. Spock is guilty of being of his species, in the sense of his species belying the game. And in a separate step, the incident confirms that all the Romulans our heroes are ever going to meet are eeeeeeevil, including their secret agent Spock - an objective and true rather than racist assessment.

    As for the actual racist aspect of this: are all Vulcans eeeeeeevil like Spock, too? It's a possibility, but not a certainty. A racist may jump to the conclusion (without further evidence, which is what makes it racist), but so may a non-racist, taking into account the low odds of the Vulcans not knowing of the Romulans, in a galaxy where pointed ears are so rare. In any case, it's separate from Spock's unambiguous guilt, and not even something claimed by Stiles, who only concentrates on Spock's guilt.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  20. Samuel

    Samuel Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    In regards to Romulan history I greatly preferred the Diane Duane take on them in "The Romulan Way" (with some elements from FASA thrown in.

    In "The Romulan Way" the "Romulan Star Empire" consisted of only the twin worlds of "ch'Rihan (Romulus) and "ch'Havran" (Remus) when a Starfleet vessel encountered them. The Romulans panicked and started building thousands of small fighter like spacecraft to deal with the threat. They blew away the next Starfleet vessel that came along and then became bolder and captured the third Starfleet vessel that entered their system. They adapted the technology from that ship to start equipping their own vessels with warp drives.

    Note in "The Romulan Way" the Earth/Romulan War lasted fully 25 years. I wrote my own take on the Earth/Romulan War once and I had it lasting 33 years to help account for the extremely long travel times from Earth (4 years) and the Romulan homeworld (2 years) to the major combat areas.