Cloaking tech

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Discovery' started by flottanna, Nov 29, 2017.

  1. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Doesn't matter what it NEEDS to be, it LITERALLY IS that, because that's how the episode was written. Subsequent productions invalidated the "theoretically" and are thus a retcon.

    What you're really saying is "In my headcanon, they're just talking about what the Romulans are currently doing." That's all well and good, but your headcanon isn't shared by Discovery's writers, seeing how it is, you know, in your head.

    UESPA was retconned as literally "a 22nd century agency that launches (unmanned) probes," as demonstrated by its only OTHER reference from "Friendship One." Both of which are themselves references to the mention in "Tomorrow is Yesterday," and neither of which change the fact that the USS Enterprise does not answer to UESPA. Kirk's line "Our authority is the United Earth Space Probe Agency" is therefore stricken from canon; that's NOT who he works for, because the writers decided so.

    Yes, they COULD be.
    But they AREN'T.

    The difference between "What is" and "what could be" is literally the difference between canon and headcanon.

    This is fiction, dude. Discrepancy LITERALLY IS discontinuity unless it is deliberately reconciled on-stage. Those of us behind the fourth wall can make up anything we want to explain it, and that's where "willing suspension of disbelief" falls into play. Or the characters can break the fourth wall themselves and say "Huh... interesting discrepancy" which pretty much covers up the discontinuity by hanging a lampshade on it.
     
  2. The Mighty Monkey of Mim

    The Mighty Monkey of Mim Commodore Commodore

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    Nope. What the writers were thinking at the time they wrote it is not the ultimate arbiter of what it means. That's just what it meant to them at the time. Spock does not LITERALLY say "invisibility is possible only in theory and unknown in practice." He just doesn't. Getting there from what he says requires interpretation as much as getting anywhere else does.

    The point is, it's equally headcanon to say "he meant no one had ever seen cloaking in action, and that the Romulans never had any sort of cloak before"...it's only one potential interpretation. Whether it's one that was intended by those particular authors in 1966 or not is pretty much entirely beside the point. They aren't around to appeal to anymore. Discovery's writers may not have my particular explanation in mind, but I have no doubt they have some explanation in mind. My particular explanation(s) merely illustrate(s) that this perceived discrepancy is not inexplicable.

    It was actually a 21st century agency there. But there was no suggestion that it only existed in that time, nor that launching unmanned probes is all it ever did. None whatsoever. That's your headcanon.

    All headcanon, informed by offscreen authorial intent or not.

    UESPA may indeed be the operating authority of all Starfleet, a legacy of its having started out as a United Earth organization. Or it may be that it has joint or parallel jurisdiction to Starfleet when it comes to certain activities in the vicinity of Earth. That's all headcanon too—except the part about SF having originally been a United Earth organization—but no less valid than yours. (Or the writers' for that matter, until/unless they put it explicitly on the screen. Then it becomes canon. But doesn't necessarily "strike" anything that came before.)

    More headcanon, then.

    Totally unfair standard. If it can be explained, then it doesn't necessarily break continuity. We don't ever have to know what the specific explanation is. We need only know what is "theoretically possible." ;)

    -MMoM:D
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
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  3. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Only to the extent that OTHER writers get to re-interpret what it means in the context of later stories in the same general continuity. Either way, it is the WRITERS who get to decide what it means. The audience is free to draw its own conclusions, of course -- as you are clearly doing -- but the writers know what their own story is about, even if the audience (or you) want to see it differently.

    It would be exactly the same case if you simply misunderstood a scene in some drastic way and nobody came and corrected you on it. Back in the 90s, there were a lot of kids who thought that Spock and Saavik actually had sex on Genesis to help relieve his pon far. There's definitely room for that interpretation -- it would be a totally logical thing for Saavik to do -- but the writer's intent is completely absent, and that's not really what the story shows. It's headcanon at best, shipping at worst.

    No, because that's the background of the story at the time. That this was changed LATER by other stories in retroactive continuity is relevant too, as it forces one to either reinterpret the story in the context of the broader canon, or treat it as the standalone it originally was and ignore the broader implications. You are, of course, perfectly free to make up any theory you like about what might be going on behind the scenes, but you don't get to claim that's what ACTUALLY HAPPENED until the producers themselves verify this is indeed the case.

    Indeed. And UNTIL an explanation becomes part of continuity (e.g. "Affliction") then the discontinuity remains present. Science fiction being what it is, literally ANYTHING can be explained if you come up with an exotic enough explanation.

    We accept at face value that Dax and Ben Sisko were on the bridge of the original Enterprise the moment Kirk sat on a tribble, despite the fact that when we watch the original episode they are very clearly NOT there. This is a very obvious discontinuity (something being there vs something not being there in the exact same scene) that could be explained, but hasn't been yet.
     
  4. The Mighty Monkey of Mim

    The Mighty Monkey of Mim Commodore Commodore

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    Which they clearly have done in the case at hand. They just haven't made it entirely clear to us as to exactly how they've reinterpreted it...yet. My conjectures are only "theoretical possibilities" and have never been intended as anything other than suggestions as to what the explanation might be.

    The only functional difference between a writer's interpretation of the work and the audience's interpretation of it is that the writer has the power to actually include and specify it within the story. In the absence of this actually being done, there is no functional difference.


    You're completely wrong there. That's exactly what the writers did intend, and Saavik was to have become pregnant with Spock's child, this having been the intended reason for her remaining behind on Vulcan in the following film. But as that was all absent in the final work, there is indeed room to interpret otherwise.

    I'm in total agreement with this. What are you arguing with me about, exactly? I'm only pointing out that there is no pressing reason to think any part of this scene as it actually appears in "Balance Of Terror" has been or need be "stricken" rather than simply "reinterpreted in context of the broader canon" as you put it. That's it. You and some others seemed to be suggesting before that the latter approach is unfeasible, and that's what I've taken exception to, because I find it to be a falsifiable proposition. If I misinterpreted you, apologies.

    Uh...I think it was clearly explained in the story. It was a result of time travel via the Orb of Time.

    -MMoM:D
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
  5. David cgc

    David cgc Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    Clearly, there's an ongoing controversy over the description of invisibility screens working through bending light with gravity fields, and since it's "just a theory," a movement exists to have it taught in the Academy as an alternative to "intelligent cloaking."
     
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  6. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Right. So "theoretically" is a non-starter. Invisibility is not "theoretically" impossible, it's "known to be possible."

    But did not film, or imply. So the intent didn't make it on screen and remains headcanon. As you yourself just said, unless the writers actually put that intention IN there, their interpretation is just as good as the audience.

    The thing is, we have to reinterpret it because canon contradicts that part of the scene. So we basically have to reinterpret it as "translation error."
     
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  7. The Mighty Monkey of Mim

    The Mighty Monkey of Mim Commodore Commodore

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    He doesn't say "theoretically impossible"; he says "theoretically possible." That does not contradict it being "known to be possible." Quite the opposite. Rather than typing it out again, I'll just quote myself:
    It's theoretically possible to build a nuclear bomb. It's also been done many times over. No contradiction between those statements.

    That's my point you're making there.

    -MMoM:D
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
  8. Refuge

    Refuge Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    And therein lies the best quote of this thread.
     
  9. The Mighty Monkey of Mim

    The Mighty Monkey of Mim Commodore Commodore

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    Seems like I must have misinterpreted @Crazy Eddie when I said his point about Spock and Saavik was completely wrong. It seemed to me that he was saying by the above that it was just an idea come up with by some kids in the 90s and wasn't intended by the writers. I guess it's another example of how a statement that one meant to be interpreted in a particular manner may contain ambiguity that leaves room for it to be interpreted in another, even a completely opposite one! The same principle applies to Spock's statement about invisibility.

    If it is "headcanon" that Spock and Saavik had sex and she became pregnant with his child, then it is equally "headcanon" that Spock meant that cloaking had not been practically demonstrated or witnessed before "Balance Of Terror" (TOS). They are both things that were intended by the writers at the time but were never made explicit onscreen.

    -MMoM:D
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
  10. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    For what it's worth, Robin Curtis certainly thought that Spock and Saavik had sex when she played that scene--and was disappointed when Saavik wasn't revealed to be pregnant in the next movie. :)
     
  11. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That's not "headcanon" so much as "basic understanding of the English language." Something is not described as being "theoretically possible" if the concept has been practically demonstrated numerous times. Even Balance of Terror uses the term "practical invisibility screen" to distinguish it from the theoretical screen that Spock is familiar with.

    Different from the Saavik/Spock sequence since it is left more than a little ambiguous. The former requires a lot more fudging than the latter.
     
  12. The Mighty Monkey of Mim

    The Mighty Monkey of Mim Commodore Commodore

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    Sorry to get all "bro do u even lift" on you here, but I happen to be an English major who has worked for years as a certified tutor teaching people the English language at the college entry level. Your statement is incorrect. (Maybe you're drawing on knowledge of a specific usage in a particular technical field on some higher level that conforms to this statement? I don't know. But it does not stem from any immutable underlying principle of the English language, that much I can say.)

    Making a fortune is theoretically possible through winning the lottery. Winning a poker game is theoretically possible through drawing a royal flush. Getting away with bank robbery is theoretically possible through evading the police. In fact, anything and everything that has ever happened anywhere at any time, but cannot be said for certain to in fact be happening in a given place at a given moment, is theoretically possible.

    Once again, to be clear: I am not disputing that the writer of "Balance Of Terror" meant the line to be taken as you suggest, nor that in the absence of evidence to the contrary this would be a logical implication or inference to draw from it. I am disputing the premise that even in light of exactly such contrary evidence, it cannot be taken any other way. It arguably both can, and must be. (Or you can simply ignore it, sure...but that's unnecessary.)

    -MMoM:D
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
  13. zar

    zar Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    You have no evidence to declare that. This could very well - likely even - be exactly what the writers have in mind. But no one is claiming that it absolutely is, while you are claiming it absolutely isn't and can't be. Which is really the core problem here.

    Since Kirk clearly fell under the authority of Starfleet explicitly, as shown in the very same episode that he stated that, the idea that UESPA and SF are related wasn't even a retcon in ENT. Unless you're suggesting D.C. Fontana suffered memory loss and had two different "authorial intents" within the same episode.

    Anyway, ENT clearly connected them, intentionally, and you still deny it... just as you deny DSC being a prequel to BoT as it is intended. I think it's become obvious which of us is trapped in headcanon.
     
  14. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    They included a scene where Burnham exhaustively described in detail how the cloaking device actually works, something which no character in Star Trek has ever actually done. So it's clear that THEY do not think the scene in "Balance of Terror" works the way it was originally written or filmed. Cloaking devices aren't theoretical at this time and have LONG since moved to "practical applications."

    ENT alluded to it the same way "Friendship One" did, but ENT didn't establish UESPA as being "the authority" that oversees Starfleet. Again, Friendship One clarified that (somewhat) by saying UESPA was the organization that operates unmanned probes.

    If it was a prequel to Balance of Terror, the antagonists would be Romulans, not Klingons.


    And was an English major and for years worked as a technical writer, public relations specialist and on a daily basis have to coordinate with various people and businesses using spoken and written communication. Word choice matters, and using words incorrectly can make people angry and confused. I am telling you from EXPERIENCE that this is not the way "theoretical" is actually used in any industry I'm aware of and even in day to day conversation it creates confusion. (e.g. "What do you mean ' theoretically'? Does it work or not? Give me a goddamn straight answer!" vs "Is that theoretically possible? If so, can you give me a cost estimate?")

    Strictly speaking: one would say "winning the lottery is theoretically possible through actions X, Y, and Z." That is, if you have a one in 45,000 chance of winning the jackpot, then theoretically you would win the lottery IF you played it 45,000 times, or if you bought 45,000 tickets at once. A few years ago there was even a group of enrepreneurs who put that theory to the test when they figured out how many lottery tickets they would have to buy to gaurantee a win, weighed against the cost of those tickets and the actual jackpot.

    "Theoretically possible" can be spoken as a colloquialism in the way you're using it -- e.g. "Falling off your bike is theoretically possible" or "Getting gonorrhea is theoretically possible" but that's not what that term actually means. "Theoretical" in this usage is contrasted with "practical." Meaning "in theory" vs. "in practice." It is in this sense the term is generally used, and it is in this sense that Spock is actually speaking.

    As if there was ever any doubt. This is Spock we're talking about.

    No, it is not. Again, there's a difference between "practical" and "theoretical" knowledge in most contexts. A "theoretical invisibility shield" can be spoken of in terms of thought experiments, models, simulations, etc. A practical invisibility shield is something that someone actually builds and has demonstrable, quantifiable characteristics that may differ substantially from the theoretical models.

    It's important to note that this difference is meaningful because something being possible in theory doesn't mean it is doable in practice; the conditions that exist in the theoretical model may never actually manifest, and so the theoretical concept never becomes practical. In this case, it would be unusual to speak of "theoretical" possibilities for something whose practical applications have been demonstrated conclusively for over a hundred years, especially in light of Spock's line that implies the major obstacle to said applications:
    "Invisibility is possible with selective bending of light, but the power cost is enormous. They may have solved that problem."​
    Here, too, is another problem: we know the Romulans solved this problem in a relatively mundane way, by equipping their ship with an enormous power generator that eats fuel like you wouldn't believe. This same generator also fuels a ridiculously over-powered plasma cannon capable of destroying small moons with a single shot. But the power costs have not been the major problem for most other applications of the cloaking device, mainly due to successive shows recognizing that FTL travel takes a lot of power in the first place and this wouldn't be a problem for a starship. It certainly doesn't seem to be a problem for the Klingons, who never make any mention of the cloaking device consuming too much power or too much fuel or whatever else might allude to power consumption. They can't fire while cloaked for some OTHER obscure reason that isn't made clear.

    That's a silly thing to dispute, considering that is exactly how the line is supposed to be taken AND the fact that the context of the scene clearly supports that interpretation. Taken IN CONTEXT, you would have to take Spock to mean literally anything OTHER than what he actually says.

    In which case, I'm not even sure what your point is. You're basically conceding that -- in the context of broader canon -- Spock couldn't possibly have meant what he actually said, or meant what he obviously meant. So rather than try to put words in his mouth with some sort of bullshit semantics gymnastics, we're better off just chalking that up to a retcon and saying "When the show was filmed, that was the intent. Later episodes contradicted this." We don't need an in-universe rationalization for the line; we have all kinds of interesting headcanon ways we can explain it without having to pretend it actually works in context.

    Because, objectively, it DOESN'T work in context. Fans are really good at taking things that don't work and making them SEEM to fit, but that doesn't make it any less broken.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
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  15. zar

    zar Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    What's clear is that they've decided Balance of Terror was not Starfleet's first encounter with cloaking technology. The simple idea that Spock's statement does not preclude that is compatible with that. By no means has it been ruled out that this is the idea they're going with. The alternatives are that they decided Spock is ignorant of the battles his foster sibling played a large role in, which would be unnecessarily convoluted, or that they completely overlooked the cloaking introduction in BoT, which is unbelievable given all their comments on the episode, IMO.

    What's certain is that they are not beholden to the original thoughts that went through the TOS writers' minds. As an aside, do we even know for certain what those were? In the original script, the BoP was a result of espionage and stolen Federation starship designs. I wonder if Spock was referring to Starfleet's own cloaking prototypes? I wonder if, had the deleted scene remained and that became the general fan consensus, Crazy Eddie would be here telling us how that is the only possible interpretation of Spock's line?

    "Friendship One" didn't say anything. UESPA only existed in that episode as a marking on a model that wasn't even visible on screen. ENT explicitly showed them as related. None of this contradicts the notion that Kirk is under both UESPA and SF as suggested in "Tomorrow is Yesterday", so there isn't even a retcon to speak of. At least, not the one you're positing. If anything, "Tomorrow" was the retcon of "Charlie X", and ENT followed suit.

    It's a prequel to TOS, which includes BoT. There may or may not be a direct connection to BoT, but either way, it's meant to be compatible. You reject that notion out of hand.

    [​IMG]

    I suppose it should come as no surprise that you were a technical writer.

    If I were you I'd cut my losses now. You lost the English language argument the minute you brought it up, and you're only making it worse.
     
  16. Tuskin38

    Tuskin38 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Neither of you are going to change your minds. You’re going in circles, a time loop.

    Why can’t it just be a plain ol’ retcon? There is nothing wrong with that.

    It wouldn’t entirely change BOT’s plot.
     
  17. zar

    zar Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think you and I are in 100% in agreement. What I'm talking about is a plain old retcon. Problem is, when Eddie says "retcon", he types it in all caps and actually means "irreconcilable contradiction that proves the writers have no intention of adhering to TOS" (which is not really what it means):
    ...Then he went on to argue that TOS "RETCONned" itself in the same way with "UESPA", which is also nonsense, and now he's trying to argue semantics in order to "objectively" prove his opinion. We're not so much going in circles as spiraling into madness.
     
  18. Satron

    Satron Commander Red Shirt

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    They just fingered each other. Hard.
     
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  19. zar

    zar Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    [​IMG]
     
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  20. Saul

    Saul Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That's a fair point. But how to differentiate between what we have seen on Discovery and what we saw in 'Balance of Terror'? What Discovery has shown is clearly more than just theory. And as a theory taught in Starfleet it must have been a class that Kirk was absent from since he could not understand how a ship could just disappear.