My "theory" of Star Trek time travel

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Belz..., May 19, 2013.

  1. Belz...

    Belz... Commodore Commodore

    May 19, 2013
    In a finely-crafted cosmos... of my own making.
    I don't know if this is in the right section. Please correct me if I'm mistaken. This is something I thought up after the 2009 movie came out:

    Star Trek fans in general, myself included, have often tried to make sense of Star Trek and attempted to construct a single universe out of its various incarnations. For my part, I tend to consider minutiae such as starship scaling, prop or stylistic changes and such things to be interesting but ultimately unimportant. What matters is the plot, the narrative of the Trek franchise. Unfortunately there the principal problem of Star Trek lies, mainly because of its longevity and the absence of a "writer's bible". And so one of the tasks that Star Trek fans give themselves is to weave all those contradictory events and references into a coherent continuity, but that task has not been an easy one.

    Despite obvious contradictions or depictions of the past that didn't quite match their previous descriptions (Cochrane's character in First Contact, the technologies on Enterprise and the early contact with the Klingons, etc.), we have been reluctant to accept that those time travel events could really alter the timeline, mainly because we are simply used to thinking of time as a linear thing, and therefore assume that changes to the timeline would mean that what happened in Star Trek "before" that point will no longer occur; but also, because we want to be able to construct, for instance, a lineage of Federation starship designs, something that would otherwise depend on what version of the timeline we are observing, and which would become very complicated.

    But what if time in the Star Trek universe wasn't linear ? If we loosely follow the actual production of the show, we go from TOS and the movies to TNG/DS9/VOY, then after First Contact we go to Enterprise's 22nd century, and now in 2009 we're right back where we started. But instead of thinking of all this as predestined, one way to look at it is that Enterprise is a direct consequence of the changes in First Contact, and that Star Trek (2009) results from changes further down the timeline, but without the resulting paradox. Of course, that wouldn't work in linear time, because there would only be one timeline.

    Well, I propose "planar" time. A 2-dimensional timeline, or time tapestry, if you will.


    Each time one travels to the past, the previous timeline ceases to progress, and the "new" one proceeds from that point on (2nd dimension). The events of the previous timeline are essential to the change itself, so they must have occured, but the tapestry follows the time traveler and proceeds anew from there. And if one later travels even further back, the shift occurs in the opposite direction in order to allow revisiting that past. Since only one "version" of the timeline exists at any given time, it avoids the violations of the 1st law of thermodynamics that diverging timelines would entail (making a great number of new physical universes being born every second).

    Planar time thus allows us to take into account the changes to the timeline while still acknowledging the events of the past, eliminating the contradiction. We will posit that people or objects displaced a certain "distance" from their natural time period are immune to the changes in the timeline. This removes the threat of paradoxes, explains Guinan's temporal awareness (her own displacement perhaps caused by her time in the Nexus), and allows 31st century humans (temporal cold war participants) to use it to shield themselves from changes in time so as to be able to correct them if needed. We will also posit, as we need to under any time-travel mechanic, that once an object or person returns to its "own" time, they replace their duplicates in the new timeline, one way or another.

    From a "franchise" point of view, planar time allows us to follow the narrative of Star Trek itself, rather than attempt to build a single, linear chain of events.

    Most time travel episodes in Star Trek are inconsequential, so the "simplified" timeline above ignores all but the most significant ones, and one could assume that even those changes could be more-or-less canceled out by the events that weren't changed, somewhat diminishing the impact of the changes as time progresses again. Travels to or from the future or those with possible effects on a very short time period are also ignored for simplicity. The "complete" timeline below integrates all but the least significant events, but is presented in a less detailed format.


    (These two pictures are hosted on my own website)

    Phew ! Let me know what you think. This may or may not make sense. ;)
    Last edited: May 19, 2013
  2. Count Zero

    Count Zero Make our planet great again! Moderator

    Mar 19, 2005
    European Union
    I think this is better suited for General Trek Discussion and you'll probably get more responses there so I'm moving it.

    Also, if there were supposed to be pic in your post they weren't being displayed for some reason. I changed them to links so people can click on them at least.
  3. Belz...

    Belz... Commodore Commodore

    May 19, 2013
    In a finely-crafted cosmos... of my own making.
    Last edited: May 19, 2013
  4. Belz...

    Belz... Commodore Commodore

    May 19, 2013
    In a finely-crafted cosmos... of my own making.
    Well I can't see the pictures anymore. That's odd, since they're on my own website. Anyway, the links are in post #3 above. :(

    The first is the one with only the most important changes but more detail, and the second is almost all time-travel events but simpler in design.

    And here's the "timelines" I constructed from it:

    A) First Timeline
    1992: The third world war. 37 Million people die.
    1996: Khan and his followers are exiled into space on board the Botany Bay.
    2061: Zephram Cochrane demonstrates the warp drive.
    2123: The first interstellar vessel named Enterprise (XCV 330) is launched, using an annular warp drive based on those of the Vulcans.
    2138: Establishment of Starfleet.
    2156: Romulan war.
    2161: Establishment of the United Federation of Planets between the Humans, Vulcans, Andorians and Tellarites.
    2218: First contact with the Klingons.
    2223: First Federation-Klingon war.
    2245: Launch of the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701, under Robert April.
    2254: Discovery of Talos 4 by the Enterprise.
    2264: James Kirk begins his historic five-year mission with the Enterprise.
    2268: Time-travelling James Kirk encounters Gary Seven on 20th century Earth. Seven manages to prevent a nuclear incident.

    B) Second timeline

    NOTE: Gary Seven's involvement, though he himself did not come from the future, is done with knowledge of the future. Therefore the change to the cold war may have had a profound effect on the coming third world war. Of course, Khan still appears in ST2 and speak of the 20th century. He also mentions 200 years, though, and we already know that the supermen were put in stasis on at least one other occasion, so his dictatorship may have been pushed back. In fact Kirk's mention of 15 years in 2285 puts "Space Seed" three years later than originally intended.

    1968: Gary Seven, a human agent trained by unknown aliens, prevents an accident that would lead to nuclear war.
    2053: Earth recovers from the third world war. 600 million people died in that conflict.
    2271: Return of Voyager 6 as V'Ger.
    NOTE: This doesn't quite add up. If Seven's involvement is meant to correct the
    timeline and make it fit with real world history, then Voyager 6's launch would have
    to be removed. Unfortunately TMP occurs _after_ Assignment: Earth, but before STIV.
    2285: The Genesis incident.
    2293: The Khitomer Conference establishes peace with the Klingons as the Federation
    agrees to shelter millions of Klingon refugees on its outlying colonies.
    2311: The Tomed incident leads to the treaty of Algeron with the Romulans.
    2337: First contact with the Cardassians.
    2341: The Klingon-Cardassian war begins. It will last 18 years.
    2344: The Enterprise NCC-1701-C rescues a Klingon outpost at Narendra III, leading to an
    alliance with the Klingons. This is the only contact with the Romulans between
    2311 and 2364.
    NOTE: The Enterprise-C's travel to the future did not create a new timeline, but
    its return to its proper time did. However, since there are no known events in this
    new timeline, it does not have its own entry here.
    2363: The Enterprise NCC-1701-D is launched under the command of Jean-Luc Picard.
    2367: Battle of Wolf 359.
    2370: First contact with the Dominion.
    2371: The starship Voyager is lost in the Delta Quadrant.
    2373: The Dominion War begins when the Cardassians sign an agreement with them.
    The Borg attempt to change Earth's past by preventing first contact with
    the Vulcans but fail.

    C) Third Timeline

    NOTE: Borg incursion into this period, known to Cochrane, makes humanity more cautious and the Vulcans more protective, delaying the creation of Starfleet. It may also affect the design of NX-01 and the technologies available in the 22nd century, though it may average out by the 24th, canceled by surrounding, unaffected events.

    2063: Zephram Cochrane demonstrates the warp drive. The event attracts the attention of
    the Vulcans and leads to first contact with an alien species.
    2151: Travels of the EAS Enterprise, NX-01, the first starship to bear the name.
    First contact with the Klingons following Suliban interference.
    NOTE: The Temporal Cold War that affects the sequence of events at this point comes
    from the future, so we include it in this timeline rather than in its own, because
    we don't need seperate timelines to follow the narrative.
    2154: End of the temporal cold war with the Suliban and their mysterious future
    benefactors (Sphere Builders ?).
    2379: The Remans under the clone Shinzon attempt to overthrow the Romulan Star Empire.
    2387: The Hobus supernova threatens Romulus. Spock halts the advance of the disaster using
    red matter but fails to do so before Romulus is destroyed. The Romulan Nero attacks,
    and both craft are caught in the resulting black hole and are thrown into the past.

    D) Fourth Timeline

    NOTE: We assume that the later date for the construction of the Enterprise is somehow due to Nero's intervention. It has been suggested that this is due to scans made by the Kelvin of Nero's ship, allowing Starfleet to reverse-engineer some 24th century technology and integrate it into NCC-1701's construction. With the Kelvin's proximity to the Klingon border, other issues may have come into play, such as a ill-fated rescue operation to recover the shuttles or a confrontation with the Klingons. Perhaps the events of First Contact and Enterprise also had an influence on the ship's size and design. The comic Countdown to Darkness adds that another 1701 existed, captained by Robert April, and that it was decomissioned in favour of a new design.

    2233: Nero emerges from the future and destroys the USS Kelvin. James Kirk is born when
    the shuttle carrying his mother narrowly escapes Nero's attack.
    2258: Destruction of Vulcan by the vengeful Nero.
    Launch of the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701, under James T Kirk.
    2259: Khan, awakened by a zealous Admiral Marcus to help in bringing about conflict with the Klingons, is hunted down and captured by the Enterprise after bombing London on Earth, but not before Marcus can attempt to destroy Kirk's ship to hide his own involvement.

    Sorry for the formatting.
    Last edited: May 20, 2013
  5. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

    Apr 26, 2001
    Your links don't work, and honestly your timeline is too long, so I didn't read it. What's your goal with all this timeline-sorting business? Just pleasuring yourself, or are we supposed to learn something from you?
  6. Belz...

    Belz... Commodore Commodore

    May 19, 2013
    In a finely-crafted cosmos... of my own making.
    I'm just trying to make sense of all the time-traveling business and retcons in the Star Trek universe. You're not supposed to "learn" anything from anyone not involved in creating the franchise, obviously. You don't have to be rude about it. It's just for fun.

    As for the links, that's really annoying. They work fine on my end but I can see that they don't work for other people. Let me try something else:

    Partial detailed:

    Complete simplified:

    I also edited my post to shorten the timeline.
  7. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

    Apr 26, 2001
    Who is being rude? You posted, I figured I'd ask about your goal.

    If you want to make sense of the time-traveling in Trek, I'd recommend Christopher Bennett's books Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Watching the Clock and Forgotten History. He does an excellent job of reconciling all the seemingly incompatible Trek time travel incidents and, in my opinion, makes a good story out of it all, too.
  8. Belz...

    Belz... Commodore Commodore

    May 19, 2013
    In a finely-crafted cosmos... of my own making.
    I just came up with my own, personal 'theory', that's all. Just having fun and sharing the idea. I'm not looking to compete with anybody else's fan theory.

    If I was mistaken about your tone, I apologise.
  9. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Vice Admiral Admiral

    Nov 20, 2012
    Honestly the only reason they added the alternate timeline concept to NuTrek was to not enrage fans by erasing everything that ever happened in the entire series. Until then it was always assumed that there was one timeline that got completely reset when something changed. And they always gloss over the butterfly effect consequences so long as general events end pretty much the same way. Otherwise you also have to add alternate universes for episodes like Past Tense, City On The Edge Of Forever, etc.
  10. Belz...

    Belz... Commodore Commodore

    May 19, 2013
    In a finely-crafted cosmos... of my own making.
    Right. Anyway it was just to have a "timeline" based on a franchise-wide narrative POV of Star Trek, rather than a chronological one, so it follows the real-world chronology, not in-world, hence the 2D-time thingy.
  11. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

    Feb 23, 2013
    Will be Celebrating Spocktoberfest this year!
    I appreciate your efforts. I think you have put more thought into this than Paramount, at least. I'm not stating that as good or bad.

    I had a similar idea when I recently rewatched ST IV, especially the scene with Scotty and the transparent aluminum. You can pretty much say no amount of historical backstory is worth paying attention to because it's always changed and inconsistant in a later show or movie to suit the whim of the writers or get them out of a plot problem.
  12. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Mar 22, 2010
    Bennett is your go-to guy on Time Travel her--but I like the idea of a detachable timeline, where the TOS Ent simply didn't exist after beaming back the F-104 pilot