Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by A.V.I.A.F., May 27, 2011.
Any problems with "Elaan of Troyius" can be solved with plaster of Paris.
Possibly poetic license then.
The bit of dialogue indicates Starfleet knew the Ceti Alpha system and so should have the computer of Reliant. If you know a star system has "X" number of planets, and when you get there it’s now "X-1" that should be something of note. Something Starfleet would want to investigate. Planets don’t explode unless something caused them to. Starfleet might want to know what caused it and where the debris went.
The thing is, though, Starfleet cannot tell that a planet count goes from X to X-1 unless it specifically sends a starship to look - at least not if the star system is off the beaten path. That much is established in "Doomsday Machine" already.
Apparently they do have good quality telescopes, but not such good quality that they would show individual planets at long distances in real time. (You can perhaps choose any two out of those three, but no more...)
Also, there's plenty of evidence that our heroes don't routinely scan the star systems they enter - just like past naval heroes didn't routinely chart all the new harbors they entered, even though this became more and more common as methods improved and became less laborious to apply. Kirk and pals aren't space explorers as much as they are space exploiters; a strange new world to them is just a mission where one concentrates on the essential, and only scans for the neighboring non-Earthlike worlds if the situation explicitly so warrants.
Perhaps none of this makes much sense from our point of view. But it's highly consistent internally - it's how our heroes think and work.
Terrell (and Chekov) would have been looking at planets only in the inhabitable zone anyway, why scan the entire system?
More specifically, if the Ceti Alpha records listed a desert world, they'd head for the desert world in that system, because that was the only thing they wanted out of the system.
If its orbital parameters were a little different from what had been previously recorded, odds are they would rather trust their own eyes/instruments than previous records. The Trek galaxy, with its occasionally mobile planets, duplicate Earths and wormholes, is weird enough to make mapmaking a frustrating exercise...
And Chekov might have been fully aware entering the system that the world they dumped Khan upon was Ceti Alpha Five, and he informed his Captain of a Starfleet restriction on that one planet, without going into unnecessary detail.
They weren't heading for that planet anyway.
It's only Chekov's later behavior that suggests that this probably wasn't the case. His "dawning realization" scene indicates he hadn't even been thinking about the ship named Botany Bay until he read the name. If he did beam down thinking "This is a gadawful place, but at least it isn't the place we left Khan in, one planet over", his "dawning" would come from seeing the containers already, not from going in and reading the name!
Of course, Chekov is probably a veteran of hundreds of visits to alien worlds. He would be well justified in barely remembering the adventure with Khan, and not having the faintest idea on the name of the star system involved in that ages-old adventure.
For all we know, Kirk didn't even tell his off-duty crew where the ship was going. We seldom hear informative public announcements from him in the general case. Unless Uhura is doing it for him whenever the camera is not looking at her, the crew is probably completely in the dark most of the time - much like Trip Tucker so often has to phone the bridge of NX-01 and ask "Are we fighting somebody, or are you shaking this ship just for fun?".
I'm just saying that Reliant's mission was to find a suitable planet to test Genesis on. So it would make sense that when she comes into the Ceti Alpha system, she would scan to see: 1. How many planets are in the system. 2. How many moons large enough to support a planetary atmosphere there are. 3. Eliminate planets/moons that already have life from the list of candidates. 4. Check out what remains, if any.
The Ceti Alpha system is known to Starfleet, as Spock led us to believe in Space Seed, so they would know there are X number of planets. Now there is X-1. Khan said CA VI exploded, that would mean a huge debris field with that debris either moving out in all directions from the spot where the planet exploded. Or, if were ripped apart by the gravitational pull of a nearby gas giant or giants, there should be the an asteroid field that wasn't there when the Ceti Alpha system was first charted either by telescope, long range sensors, a star ship or what ever allowed Spock to know that CA V can support life.
It is unlikely that the ship would scan the system for suitable worlds if she arrived there with the specific knowledge that the system contained a suitable desert world.
And why else would the ship sail there? A blind search for lifeless but life-capable worlds (such as the breathable-atmosphere Ceti Alpha V/VI) would be folly. If Starfleet indeed has records on solar systems, those records would be researched first, and a starship sent only later.
Apparently, the requirements of Genesis were extremely specific. The crew appears quite fed up with their search, and elated that Ceti Alpha V/VI pans out; clearly, not just any lifeless solid world (of which Sol already offers a dozen or more, and the Federation must have in thousands) would do. After having surveyed a dozen desert worlds that looked good on paper but didn't match the criteria on closer look, the Reliant team wouldn't be particularly interested in surveying star systems. They'd just get in, do their scans on the local desert world, and get out.
That's what Starfleet does. They don't pay attention to asteroid fields unless they get showered by one. They don't study gas giants because after "Sleeping Dogs", they've already seen everything. They go for Class M worlds and strategically important targets. Or at least our main heroes do; perhaps other ships have different priorities. The priorities of the Reliant were clear, though, and would have justified the same sort of tunnel vision that the Enterprise normally demonstrates.
So you're saying they would go into the Ceti Alpha system knowing that Ceti Alpha VI was lifeless (not a desert world or Class M, since both would be capable of supporting life) and Dr. C. Marcus was clear that it couldn't have so much as a "microbe or the deal's off." They would go to a desert world that had a high probability of having life, and not just scan the system to check to see if maybe other worlds or moons could be candidates? I'm not saying going in and looking at every planet and moon in the Ceti Alpha system, but after however long their tedious mission was just grab at straws and take a quick scan and see if maybe Ceti Alpha III was hit by a gigantic meteor and now is a lava world, as perfect a candidate as can be found for Genesis. And that during their quick scan the science office would say, "Hey! There's a planet missing! Maybe now, since we're here, Starfleet can take off this godforsaken, career ending assignment and let us look at something interesting and reassign the Livingston to Genesis!"
It's a case of two wrongs making a right: finding a "lifeless world" should be a trivial task, so the writers "must" have meant something more than that. And if the world our sidekicks are looking for is more than a generic dead rock, then a blind search won't get them far, not in a galaxy as diverse as the Trek one. They must know what they're looking for pretty exactly - and they appear to have suffered a series of setbacks, indicating that few star systems would offer what they are looking for.
We know that the devastated but formerly habitable Ceti Alpha V was almost good enough for Genesis, and Chekov later lied to Marcus that it (or what he called "CA VI") had indeed panned out. We also know intriguing details about said desert world: it had a perfectly breathable atmosphere (which apparently was as per the Genesis requirements) and just a smidgen of local life (which apparently was not). What are the odds of finding something like that? Free oxygen should not exist unless the planet has plant life, or has had plant life in the recent past. Genesis apparently needed a world that was dead, but only recently! I'm not sure that "grasping at straws" would be a viable way to find such things.
As per TOS precedent, one needs a starship to get realtime information about distant star systems. But one can use telescopes to get non-realtime info, which is still almost up to date - just a couple of thousand years old. It is through such info that the Federation would know about planets that have oxygen in the air but no other signs of surviving life. And apparently sudden and catastrophic changes would not be common enough to cause concern and distrust in the non-realtime observations...
If Ceti Alpha VI was the reason they went into the system, they wouldn't start scanning for the possible sudden sterilization of Ceti Alpha III until and unless Ceti Alpha VI for some reason failed them. Or so the evidence appears to suggest, here and elsewhere: we simply do not hear of our heroes scanning star systems for idle knowledge.
Well I'm just thinking that even a desert world, with a breathable atmosphere, would have the one thing that would disqualify the planet from Genesis, life. Dr. Marcus would even refuse a planet with only microbes as a candidate. She told them that. That should have been enough to disqualify what they thought was CA VI. On screen evidence suggest that even if they found a place that fit every criteria, more would need to be done before Genesis could be used. Remember the scientists at Regula I were surprised that even though that, as far as they knew, CA VI fit their criteria Genesis was going to be used immediately.
It doesn't fit.
And as far as grabbing at straws, I'm sure that if I were the science officer on board Reliant and I knew CA VI had something that may or may not be a bit of pre-annimate matter stuck in the matrix, I'd scan around just see if there was another choice, like the sterilization of a planet in that system due to a meteor or comet strike or any other choice place. Why not? There really didn't seem like much else to do.
"Science Office Vanyel to Captain Terrel."
"Looks like Ceti Alpha III was hit by a meteor or comet and is now a lava world, we could beam you and Commander Chekov back and check it out, that way we wont have Dr. Marcus and her son chewing our asses off for checking a world that most likely has life. I wouldn't mind having my ass chewed by the younger Dr. Marcus but...wait...did I say that with out pushing mute? Oh no, I pushed ship wide communications. Ummmm Vanyel out."
But that's the very thing that fits: we see that the characters believe that CA VI would have been exactly like the post-disaster CA V, save for the complete lack of life. That belief can't come from the scans of the Reliant, but must come from preceding results, apparently preexisting UFP records. And if such records existed, and if Genesis called for something as specific as CA VI, then the Reliant would have every reason to head straight towards the desert world in the CA system and no reason to scan the rest of the system for anomalies.
...Not originally, and IMHO not later on, either.
The thing is, Chekov's team appeared to find some sort of a very localized lifeform ("the garden of CA VI"), something they did believe they could transplant away from the world or else they would have said no to Marcus. If two guys in a spacesuit can do it, it's not much of a hassle after all. These guys expected to find a suitable world (although they were getting disillusioned with the Marcuses' list of "suitable" candidates), and the presence of life was an anomaly they felt they could solve. Either by transplanting, or then (and this was probably the likelier alternative) by beaming down and showing that they dynoscanner had malfunctioned and there was no life down there after all.
So I still argue that in the Star Trek context, scanning for other planets is the bigger hassle. Especially since it had apparently failed them already, by giving incorrect life readings on what they thought was CA VI.
I wrote a fanfic once, set in the Pike era, that postulated that Number One and Nurse Chapel were sisters. My thought was that Number One studied on Vulcan, and became enamored of their way of logic, which explained her demeanor and stoicism.
I've read a fanfic, where Number one was assigned on USS Intrepid with the all-Vulcan crew (and probably died there, as all the Vulcans). But I think she shares Spock's opinion 'Nowhere I am so desperately needed, as on a ship full of illogical humans'. I think she's Christine's sister, her name is something like Roberta Chapel (but nobody knows it) and her behaviour comes from her nature. Man (or woman) doesn't need to be a Vulcan or have a vulcan education to be like her or Spock.
Separate names with a comma.