Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Enterprise1701, Oct 13, 2017.
Garth will appear as a Section 31 leader to whom Lorca reports.
I HAVE TRUSTED SOURCES.
Well, if the criteria is most decorated, what typically gets the most decorations are combat engagements, particularly in major wars. If that 70 years was relatively peaceful, compared to periods on either end, then even excellent captains may not have been highly decorated.
Out of curiosity, I decided to google most decorated US soldiers, and found an article purporting to have the top 5. Two were active in WWI, two in WWII and the other in Viet Nam. We know that there wasn't a slump of mediocrity in the US military prior to the 20th century (and I was surprised that no 19th soldiers made the list, given that there are several famous generals from that era I could name off the top of my head), or post-Viet Nam, so I don't think we can assume the same about late 22nd to early 23rd century Starfleet.
But Starfleet started out as an exploration service, not a combat service. It stands to reason that it would give out decorations for great scientific accomplishments, first contacts, peace treaties, and such. Keep in mind that one of Kirk's decorations is the Palm Leaf of the Axanar Peace Mission. Although there's also the Grankite Order of Tactics and various awards for things like Valor, Honor, Heroism, and Conspicuous Gallantry, which are the sort of titles often used for combat medals, but could mean other things in a Starfleet context (e.g. awards for heroically saving lives, say).
Ah, so *this* explains why Robau didn't appear, he was actually the first name on page 2!
WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AT WAR WITH EASTASIA.
I LOVE CAPSLOCK!! JUST WANTED TO SAY THAT!
If the Constitution-class is the first long range exploration project of the Federation in canon, that might explain why Pike, April, and Decker are on the list. The "seventy year lull" may just be the fact Starfleet was handling exploration and science in a somewhat slower fashion than they did before the Xindi War.
I doubt they'd hand out medals just for what would be considered "routine" accomplishments.
"I found a new planet! We made first contact with a new species!"
"Um, yeah? Wasn't that kind of your job, Captain? 'Explore strange new worlds? Seek out new life and new civilizations?' Any of that ringing a bell?"
"Well, at least you didn't violate the Prime Directive or blow them up or try to subjugate them. Take two citations out of petty cash. NEXT!"
True, but in theory captains who served in wartime probably would have served in peacetime also, so they would have had the opportunity to earn those types of medals as well as combat decorations, whereas those who only served in peacetime would not have the opportunity for wartime medals. I would still expect those with extensive combat experience more likely to end up higher in the medal count.
Sure, but there can certainly be really major accomplishments that aren't combat-related. Say, you save a whole planet from being sucked into a cosmic anomaly. Or you stage a diplomatic coup that brings a coalition of five planets into the Federation. Or you discover an ancient alien archive containing cures for thousands of diseases.
Heck, Kirk and his crew should've gotten commendations for discovering the Botany Bay and solving one of the great historical mysteries of the late 20th century. That should've been a galactically famous achievement, prompting a renaissance of Eugenics Wars historiography and generating dozens of new monographs and rewritten textbooks. One of the many, many absurdities about the premise of The Wrath of Khan is the idea that Khan's rediscovery and confinement on Ceti Alpha V was somehow unknown to the Federation at large.
And let's see, there's also discovering time travel (in 2 or 3 different ways); making peace with the Horta and not only saving Janus VI as a viable mining operation but making it far more productive; saving Deneva and other planets from the Flying Pancake Monsters, saving the Rigel Colonies from the Doomsday Machine; saving Earth from Nomad (and later V'Ger); and discovering a whole parallel universe. There are a lot of important, non-routine achievements that don't involve war.
But that's the assumption of our relatively warlike time where we see combat as something to glorify. I don't agree that a more peaceful civilization would have the same priorities. Granted, it would probably reward saving lives over taking them, and wartime would create more hazards to defend people against, so maybe there's something there. And I guess you could argue that medals are more necessary in wartime because of the need to keep up morale, to find any trace of positivity in the midst of all that awfulness. But I just think that a society that prizes science and discovery over aggression would give out lots of commendations for non-military things.
Before we go too far into the weeds with this (fat chance, I know), it's important to remember that Saru's request to the computer was because he wanted to compare the various captains' leadership qualities with his own. Making a scientific discovery or something of that sort doesn't necessarily provide that kind of insight, as opposed to military actions or other actions taken during times of crisis, or making some kind of key diplomatic accomplishment.
I dunno, I think there's a certain level of changing parameters given the technology and diplomacy involved. I'm sure there's layers of awards here. For example, I'm sure there's a "1st contact" award for any exploratory service. However, with people like Archer and Kirk there's first contacts every other week. Once they reach the greater galactic community that's going to slow down a bit as they meet people who know people. So I could easily see first contact not happening nearly as much in-between the ENT and TOS era.
Obviously, you could also state you'd only handle the Medal of Honor out for facing something that's an existential threat to the Federation or its people. Which we know Kirk did on a regular basis and we have both Pike and Georgiou both do in DESPERATE HOURS.
I suppose it amounts to the "New Frontier" question. In New Frontier, Peter David's Jellico implies that the majority of Starfleet doesn't encounter the constant flow of gods, amoeba, Abraham Lincoln, and the Great Bird of the Galaxy which we saw in the TOS. Kirk was just unlucky. However, as a child, I just assumed the Star Trek universe is THAT weird and everyone who travels out into space invariably runs into 9 impossible things before breakfast (as Michael would say).
So it depends really what the "typical" life of a Starfleet officer is. One of the humorous things I once read was a post which states the big reason for Janeway having such an inconsistent personality was she was essentially faking confidence and knowing what she was doing (until she actually did) because her job as a science officer turned command had been spent studying comets and algae before she was suddenly thrust into a trip Kirk would envy.
Yeah, but the point is there are a lot of things that can show leadership other than combat. And I think the Federation is a society that would value peacetime leadership more than wartime leadership. It's not our society. For us, war has been a fairly frequent experience and there's a whole set of traditions built up around it. But the 23rd-century Federation has been mostly at peace since its founding nearly a century before. That's not an experience we've had, sadly, so we can't expect our culture's values and priorities and practices to map precisely onto theirs. We have to be open to the possibility that our experience may not be a good model for what their world is like.
No, the point is that Saru's request was specific, owing to his present circumstances and his current role as first officer of a ship in a forward area in a time of conflict. That's it.
As for the rest, you're not telling me anything I don't already understand, or haven't actually experienced firsthand.
How specific, though? I don't remember him asking for a list of the captains most decorated for combat, just the most decorated captains, period.
Maybe it's like how Facebook shows you ads for things you search on Google. "Computer, produce a new list disregarding all personal data including but not limited to my search history and personnel record." The list might be different then.
I think he just asked for the most decorated people in Starfleet flat out. Which given Star Trek computers are literalist, means probably the people with the most medals and awards.
Christopher's Theory would allow Shran, Reed, and X'box the Annihilator to be on the list. They're just on page two of an alphabetically sorted list.
My theory (that it is THE LIST) would imply these five were the alphabetically sorted top five out of the whole of Starfleet period and anyone else is behind them in terms of awards in the whole of the organization's 100 years history. It just so happens the top five happen to be people we all recognize and are primarily from this period of time as well as all humans.
Which is RACIST but oh so typical of Starfleet the homo-sapiens only club that it is.
*stabs table with bat'leth*
Which I find implausibly coincidental, and therefore not desirable to believe. I don't like it when every item on a list in a Trek story just happens to be something encountered by James Kirk or Jean-Luc Picard or whatever. It makes the universe feel artificially small and insular. It makes it feel more like a TV show and less like a believable universe. I prefer it when there are references we don't recognize, when there are hints of a larger reality that isn't limited to what we've already seen. TOS did this all the time. Napoleon, Hitler, Li Quan, Ferris, Maltuvis. The Nobel and Zee-Magnees Prizes. Redjac striking not only in London, but Alpha Eridani, Rigel IV, etc. It hinted at a larger universe than what we already knew. The problem is, the Trek universe is so large by now that it's easy to fall into the temptation of just referencing it rather than enlarging it.
We need to stop using "combat" as the default for anything "military." There's more to military leadership than just how one leads under fire. It's just that those are the sorts of things that people think of as acts for which one is typically "decorated," itself a bit of military parlance. After all, rare is the person who's "decorated" for leading a team to a successful and on budget deployment of some new software package.
(Unless that person is doing so in a military setting. :: raises hand :: )
Saru finds himself a first officer in what is largely a military situation; something he's not aspired to do. It seems reasonable that he's going to try to learn something from people who have been recognized for such things.
As for the name on the list: make them recognizable, some people take issue because there aren't enough "new names." Go the other way, and we argue about who these people are because OMG we've never heard of that person before now.......pretty much what some fans are doing with the new show as a whole, just like they did with Enterprise.
"Fans do not argue for reasons. They simply argue." - Sarek of Vulcan
I'm not saying you're wrong, Christopher. Just that I think it's a valid option.
The thing is, while making these the top 5 is a small universe syndrome, it does mean the next 5 after them is entirely open vs. the next five being open whose surnames are after the letter P.
It's really a question of placement more than range. In your version, Garth of Izar isn't there because he's not one of the alphabetically listed while in mine is he's not cracked the top 5 but might have cracked the Top Ten. Personally, given you're a Trek author, I'm inclined to think you probably will win but I was just listing ways to view it.
Separate names with a comma.