Do Other Science Fiction Franchises Exist Within the Trek Universe?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Knight Templar, Mar 25, 2012.

  1. Theodore Jay Miller

    Theodore Jay Miller Commodore Newbie

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    Re: Do Other Science Fiction Franchises Exist Within the Trek Universe

     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Do Other Science Fiction Franchises Exist Within the Trek Universe

    One of the characters in my novel Department of Temporal Investigations: Watching the Clock was Clare Raymond, the 20th-century housewife from TNG's "The Neutral Zone," and while working on scenes involving her thoughts and recollections, I got to wondering what mass-media science fiction would've been like in a universe where there was no Star Trek TV series in the '60s. I vacillated between positing a reality that simply lacked such a series altogether and inventing a substitute series that could go in its place and fill the same role. (I was tempted to use Astro Quest from that CSI episode. Galaxy Quest wouldn't have worked, since it was supposedly made in the '80s.) I ended up going the former route, but I didn't really develop it in detail. The main '60s sci-fi shows I mentioned Clare being familiar with were Lost in Space and The Invaders (which might've been bigger without ST), plus peripheral things like Batman and Bewitched. I also included a reference to The Six Million Dollar Man being of interest to her in the '70s. I doubt space-based SF would've become as popular without ST, but the bionic shows were more along spy/superhero lines, so they might not have been affected (although would D. C. Fontana have ended up writing for 6M$M without her experience on ST?).
     
  3. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Re: Do Other Science Fiction Franchises Exist Within the Trek Universe

    ^ I went through a similar reasoning process when I wrote the third Khan book, which featured characters from the 1990s. Khan himself didn't seem the type to drop Buffy or X-Files references, but I had to assume that some of his followers were familiar with twentieth-century pop culture.

    In the end, I went easy on the pop-culture stuff, since that was a pretty grim book and Xena in-jokes would have clashed with the ominous tone, but, as I recall, I did make one of Khan's followers a "Captain Proton" fan . . . .
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Do Other Science Fiction Franchises Exist Within the Trek Universe

    The thing is, Star Trek had such a major influence on popular culture that it's hard to imagine how different the media landscape would be without it. Star Trek did a lot to make science fiction a more respectable genre in the mass media. It pioneered or popularized many aspects of the modern fandom experience -- conventions, fanzines, even slash fiction. The success of ST in syndicated reruns proved that reruns were more viable than broadcasters had thought and led to a rise in rerun use and a decrease in season lengths. Later on, TNG's breakthrough success in first-run syndication paved the way for the syndication boom of the '90s.

    So without Star Trek, there might never have been a Xena or a Babylon 5. Not to mention all the shows that have spawned directly from Trek veterans like Michael Piller, Ron Moore, Ira Steven Behr, Robert Hewitt Wolfe, Rene Echevarria, and so on. There's no telling if they would've ever gone into SFTV if not for ST. If it hadn't existed in the '60s, then SFTV and first-run syndication in the '90s, '00s, and '10s would be a lot sparser. Heck, without B5 breaking new ground in serialized storytelling, we might not have as many of the heavily arc-driven shows we have today, in SF or otherwise. It's a ripple effect.

    Without ST, sci-fi would probably have maintained a reputation as kid stuff, since the most successful exemplars of the genre in TV would've been Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Lost in Space. I think my conjecture that the bionic shows would still exist is pretty sound, since they were based on a novel and weren't really seen as hardcore sci-fi; series producer Harve Bennett wasn't an SF-oriented type and wasn't very familiar with Star Trek prior to being pegged to produce the movies, so his '70s career wouldn't have been affected much by the absence of ST. Ditto for Bionic Woman creator Kenneth Johnson, who went on to do The Incredible Hulk, V, and Alien Nation. If Roddenberry hadn't made his mark in SFTV, maybe we'd look back on Johnson as the man who proved that science fiction could be an adult genre, though that proof would've come along much later. And we might've still gotten Earthbound genre shows like The X-Files and Buffy.

    And would there even have been a Star Wars without Star Trek? In the Trek Nation documentary, George Lucas says he'd attended some Trek conventions before creating Star Wars, and he says ST helped pave the way for SW by proving that sci-fi could be successful -- and that it could be produced impressively on a tight budget. So without ST, with mass-media American science fiction in the '70s lacking that one massive success story, would any movie studio have been willing to take a chance on Lucas's idea to do a Flash Gordon pastiche as a big-budget movie? If they had, it probably wouldn't have been called Star Wars, a name that I've read Lucas chose because it evoked Star Trek. And it might've been a much smaller, lower-budget film, and there would've been less of a pre-existing genre fanbase for it. And its effects might not have been as sophisticated, since the FX studios for Star Trek pioneered new techniques on that show. Without Star Wars as we know it, there wouldn't have been an ILM, let alone a Pixar. Sci-fi and fantasy wouldn't have become the giants in the motion picture industry that they are in our world; the films and franchises that would never have been made are too numerous to list. Nor would there have been a Battlestar Galactica or Buck Rogers in the 25th Century or Jason of Star Command. And without Donald Bellisario cutting his genre teeth on Galactica, there might never have been a Quantum Leap.

    So probably the biggest SF fan community would be for Doctor Who, and maybe Blake's 7 would have a big following too. England would most likely be seen as the vanguard of science fiction in popular culture, though SF would be seen as a genre characterized by cheap production values, and thus would have trouble gaining more than a niche fanbase in the US.

    And what about all the people inspired to become scientists and engineers because of Star Trek? If that show had never existed, then modern technology might be less advanced in some respects. There might not have been as much incentive driving people to invent flip phones or pad-style computers. Which might explain why some aspects of technology do seem to have advanced more gradually in the Trek universe itself, although its 20th century clearly had much more impressive progress in crewed spaceflight and genetic engineering than ours.

    So all in all, as utopian as Star Trek's 22nd through 24th centuries are, it looks like their 20th and early 21st centuries would've been rather deprived where mass entertainment was concerned. Maybe that's why ST's characters are mainly fans of detective fiction and Westerns and gothic romances and the like -- maybe science fiction never really caught on outside its particular niche audience.
     
  5. YARN

    YARN Fleet Captain

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    Re: Do Other Science Fiction Franchises Exist Within the Trek Universe

    I think that you are right on here and this is why it is so hard for Trek to reference the past. Fictional Trek has had such a profound influence on the Real World, that it can no longer reference the Real World without risking referring to itself (as Fiction).

    It's kind of like watching the occasional monster movie where the characters appear to be entirely ignorant of what Vampires are or what Zombie are. If you saw hordes of walking dead trying to eat people, you're response would not be, "What are they?" but rather "OMG, it's ZOMBIES!" And yet, when you see a zombie flick, there is still the typical exposition scene where people have to be educated about zombies.
     
  6. Knight Templar

    Knight Templar Commodore

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    Re: Do Other Science Fiction Franchises Exist Within the Trek Universe

    I once read that while Star Trek inspired some people to go into science and engineering, a number of space exploration advocates (James Oberg might've been one IIRC) think that the existence of Star Trek actually hurt public support for the U.S. space program by giving an exaggerated feeling among Americans regarding what was possible.

    The idea being that when you've watched for years of people traversing the galaxy at warp speeds in giant starships, the prospect of long duration lunar missions or putting 6 astronauts on Mars don't seem that awe inspiring anymore.
     
  7. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Re: Do Other Science Fiction Franchises Exist Within the Trek Universe

    I believe that's the reason they never actually use the word "zombie" on The Walking Dead. If they actually called the "walkers" zombies, that would imply that zombie movies exist in the Walking Dead universe and that the characters would realize that they were playing out a familiar horror-movie scenario, which would undermine the reality of it all.

    I assume that, in the WD universe, the word "zombie" only refers to your tradition Haitian-voodoo zombie, and not Romero-style ravenous undead hordes . . .
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Do Other Science Fiction Franchises Exist Within the Trek Universe

    I still think that in the universe of Sherlock, where Sherlock Holmes lives in the present day and thus there were no Sherlock Holmes stories in the late 19th century, police procedure should be less sophisticated. Because Conan Doyle and the Holmes stories actually did popularize new, cutting-edge procedures of criminal investigation, and without those stories, such techniques might've been slower to catch on. Which might justify why the police in Sherlock's world still need to turn to a private consulting detective for help instead of having the necessary expertise themselves.

    Then again, I doubt the nonexistence of the Holmes canon would've had any bearing on when the DNA molecule was discovered, and the effects of that would've probably helped accelerate advances in police work by now. And there were other works of literature that helped popularize and promote those novel investigative techniques, such as Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson, which (as viewers of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. may recall) featured the then-new science of fingerprint analysis as a key plot point.
     
  9. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Do Other Science Fiction Franchises Exist Within the Trek Universe

    It seems to me that the elements that made Star Trek come together -- space opera, a generation of television writers who'd read pulp science fiction and space opera (Lensmen, and later Foundation, etc.) as teenagers, a audience with a desire to see serious and adult science fiction (within the confines of the conventions of 1960s American television, anyway), an increasing public interest in science fiction and space as a result of the Apollo program, the development of color television -- would all likely have come together to prompt the creation of another adult space opera in the late 60s or early 70s, even if there had been no Star Trek. And I think it would have been reasonable, if one were to propose such a "replacement Star Trek" for the Trekverse history, to depict this other series as being just as popular as Star Trek ended up becoming in real life.

    Just IMO, of course. But I do think that these sorts of ideas were floating in the cultural zeitgeist and could have put together in a parallel form.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Do Other Science Fiction Franchises Exist Within the Trek Universe

    ^Maybe. Maybe Space: 1999 would've been bigger and filled the role of ST to an extent, come to think of it. That was a British production, so it wouldn't have been too affected by the absence of Star Trek.

    There's also the War of the Worlds TV series that George Pal tried to get off the ground in 1975. That could've filled a Trek-like niche had it gone to series.
     
  11. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Re: Do Other Science Fiction Franchises Exist Within the Trek Universe


    Or perhaps the Star Trek niche was filled by such long-running hits as Assignment: Earth, Genesis II, and The Questor Tapes . . . .
     
  12. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Do Other Science Fiction Franchises Exist Within the Trek Universe

    Sure. Or hell, maybe someone would have done a TV series adaptation of Forbidden Planet. Or something else that's original and has no counterpart in the real world -- after all the Trekverse was already diverging from real history in the late 1960s, such as the attempt to launch orbital nuclear weapons platforms that Gary Seven thwarted.

    Interestingly, I think Gary Seven and Doctor Who are prime examples of how similar ideas can come together independently of one-another. Gary Seven is a mysterious man from a miraculously advanced alien culture who can travel through time and space, thwarts evil, and uses a pen-like device to hack into computers, open doors, and perform other miscellaneous pieces of technological wizardry, all the while generally operating by himself with the assistance of a beautiful young contemporary woman. The Doctor (especially as he was conceived of before The War Games revealed the existence of the Time Lords and established definitively that he wasn't Human) is a mysterious man from a miraculously advanced alien culture who can travel through time and space, thwarts evil, and uses a pen-like device to hack into computers, open doors, and perform other miscellaneous pieces of technological wizardry, all the while generally operating by himself with the assistance of a beautiful young contemporary woman.

    Obviously, Doctor Who was probably not an influence on the development of the Gary Seven premise -- Doctor Who hadn't yet been exported to the United States when "Assignment: Earth" was conceived, and this was in the era before it was easy to pirate TV shows either in the form of home videos or over the non-existent Internet. But it goes to show how similar elements can come together in ways that are unique, but still have fascinating parallels. If real life damn near yielded an American Doctor Who doppleganger, I have no trouble believing that the Trekverse might have a Star Trek dppleganger.
     
  13. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Worf in the 23rd Century Premium Member

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    Re: Do Other Science Fiction Franchises Exist Within the Trek Universe

    Or the Gene Roddenderry of the Star Trek Universe created a show called Star Trek.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Do Other Science Fiction Franchises Exist Within the Trek Universe

    Well, A:E wouldn't have existed in the Trekverse any more than ST would have, unless Gary Seven went the Wormhole X-Treme route or something. However, I suppose it's possible that if the Trek universe's equivalent of Gene Roddenberry never conceived of doing a space show, he might've still concocted Genesis II -- and if he'd sold that to Herb Solo at Desilu instead of going to Universal, maybe it would've turned out better.



    Well, in the aired episode, there were no time travel elements. The only hint that Gary's backers had any sort of broader knowledge of time was his line "Humans with a Vulcan -- you're from the future!" But that could've just been an educated guess -- "Humans and Vulcans have never met, and this ship's technology is too advanced for Earth, so the only explanation is that they're from the future."

    Still, the original pilot proposal did have Gary as a time traveler, so the point is taken. (And note how similar the original pilot idea was to the Temporal Cold War on Enterprise -- Gary was sent back to the '60s to prevent the evil Omegan aliens from changing history so that Earth never became a great interstellar power.)



    That was established in the very first episode.

    http://www.chakoteya.net/DoctorWho/1-1.htm
    The Doctor's alien nature was always clear in the series. The only thing that "The War Games" introduced was the name of his people, the Time Lords, and a bit about their culture. The only time a version of the Doctor was portrayed as human was in the Peter Cushing movies, in which TARDIS (no definite article) was the invention of a human scientist named Dr. Who.


    Definitely not. And Gary's servo debuted less than two weeks after the Doctor's sonic screwdriver -- given production lead times, there's no way either production could've been copying the other.
     
  15. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Do Other Science Fiction Franchises Exist Within the Trek Universe

    Then he must have a 24th-century descendant, as the Starfleet Chief of Staff (as listed on many starship dedication plaques) is an Admiral Gene Roddenberry. ;)
     
  16. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Do Other Science Fiction Franchises Exist Within the Trek Universe

    Yep -- exactly. Ideas can manifest in many different ways.

    Ah, okay, my mistake there.

    I don't doubt it, but I didn't want to speak in terms of absolute certainty, simply by virtue of the fact that I hadn't researched, for instance, exact airdates, or whether there were U.S. science fiction audiences in major markets aware of Doctor Who's existence over in the U.K., etc. I just didn't want to leave no room for error on my part.
     
  17. Knight Templar

    Knight Templar Commodore

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    Re: Do Other Science Fiction Franchises Exist Within the Trek Universe

    Anyone ever read the anthology book "Alternate Kennedy's"?

    I think it is David Gerrold that has a short story about John F. Kennedy deciding to go into acting instead of politics and in the late 1960s in Hollywood, he agrees to do a science fiction series called "Star Track" where he is the captain of a starship teamed with his alien first officer named "Rom" (played by Donald Pleasance).

    IIRC, in "The Making of Star Trek" David Gerrold commented that another Trek producer or writer had said (in the 1960s) that "Star Track" would've been a better name.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: Do Other Science Fiction Franchises Exist Within the Trek Universe

    You must mean The World of Star Trek. I don't remember that bit from the book, though.

    Maybe in an alternate world, where an equivalent space-adventure franchise had come along a decade or so later during the pop-culture ascendancy of CB radios and the song "Convoy," the show would've been called Star Truck. ;)
     
  19. Knight Templar

    Knight Templar Commodore

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    Re: Do Other Science Fiction Franchises Exist Within the Trek Universe

    Ever read "Starrigger", "Red Shift Freeway" or "Paradox Alley"?
     
  20. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Re: Do Other Science Fiction Franchises Exist Within the Trek Universe

    That was a fun story.

    Full disclosure: I wrote the cover blurb for that book:

    "Ask not who the Kennedys were. Ask who they might have have been."

    I'm still proud of that one! :)