Spoilers Star Trek: Strange New Worlds - Pike series and novel continuity

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Enterprise1701, Feb 5, 2022.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But the point was that the possibility for negotiation existed, that it was an error to assume they were just unmotivatedly evil because they looked scary. "Arena" is basically the same story as "The Devil in the Dark," a subversion of the "scary-looking monster is evil" assumption by saying "Well, maybe they see us as the monsters."




    No. Again, it was never meant to be literally our future. People who write fiction do not assume themselves to be prophets; they know they're making it all up. Nobody who made Trek ever believed that Vulcans or Klingons are actually out there in the universe or that Jim Kirk or Uhura would actually be born someday. The point of fiction is not to lie to the audience, but to show them a satisfying illusion. The goal is to create a fictitious future plausible enough that you can suspend disbelief and allow yourself to pretend it could be the future while you're watching it. Just like the magician's audience watching a lady get sawn in half, they're not supposed to believe it's actually real.

    I mean, good grief, even most non-science fiction TV does not literally depict our present, just a fictional world that resembles our present. Look at all the "realistic" shows where the US President is a fictional character, or where the foreign spies come from an imaginary country, or where the leading TV news network is VNN or JNN instead of CNN, or where the NYPD cops operate out of the nonexistent 12th Precinct and have 555 phone numbers. It's nonsensical to expect fiction to depict our reality literally. That's not what fiction is for. It's just meant to feel enough like reality that we can play along with the illusion.
     
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  2. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    This is taking my statement a bit too literally. My point was that Star Trek always attempts to align itself with our reality. It is not an alternate reality or an imagine period but informed by our human history. Like how Doctor Who used President Obama in one story.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No, not that closely. Prior to the 1970s or so, network censors did not consider it appropriate to reference real-life political or cultural figures in TV shows. Any reference to a present-day president or foreign ruler would have been to a fictional one invented for the story, or at most would be an oblique, non-explicit reference to a real one (for instance when Adam West's Batman spoke on the phone to the president and made a reference implying it was Lyndon Johnson without outright identifying him as such). ST's contemporary Mission: Impossible made up dozens of imaginary foreign countries because it was deemed too controversial to identify the team's enemies as Soviets outright.

    There are multiple references in TOS that make it clear that their version of Earth history had differences from the real one. Edith Keeler knew Clark Gable as a movie star in 1930 when his first notable film roles weren't until 1931. "Assignment: Earth" established a program to put nuclear platforms in orbit in 1968 when there was no such effort in real life. "Space Seed" established adult eugenic superhumans taking over much of the world in 1992, meaning the genetically enhanced superhumans must have already been alive in the late 1960s and the program for their creation must have been far older. "Who Mourns for Adonais" puts the heyday of the Greek gods 5000 years ago, a couple of millennia too early. And in real life, Alexander the Great, Leonardo da Vinci, and Brahms were not the same person.

    So no, Star Trek has never tried to "align itself with our reality" in anything more than the rough, approximate way that was standard for the era when it was created. It's not about the specific details, just the overall feel of the illusion.
     
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  4. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Fascinating. :vulcan:

    I find the use of location shots to be more problematic then.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    When did TOS ever use a location shot to represent where it actually was? (Stock footage doesn't count as location shooting.) They shot 1930 New York on the Mayberry backlot from Andy Griffith. They used Vasquez Rocks to represent alien planets. We didn't see a location represent itself until The Voyage Home, and even that took liberties, e.g. passing off the Monterey Bay Aquarium as the fictional Cetacean Institute of Sausalito 120 miles further north, or filming Gillian picking up Kirk & Spock on what was clearly the San Francisco side of the bay when the story asserted they were still on the Sausalito side.

    In fiction, even reality is an illusion.
     
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  6. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I was thinking of the Voyage Home and then to Voyager too. But, your point is well taken.
     
  7. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Probably in a joking manner. Boimler will comment the Enterprise looks different than it does in historical files, Mariner will slap him and say it doesn't matter. Or maybe they'll toss a dig in about novels not being canon an Mariner will say something like "don't believe what you read. Only what you can actually see counts."
     
  8. Markonian

    Markonian Fleet Admiral Moderator

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    Sorry, does that mean SNW now lies outside the prime timeline of ENT to DSC to VOY to DSC?
     
  9. David cgc

    David cgc Admiral Premium Member

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    Kind of, but not really? In another reply in the SNW forum, I borrowed Christopher's term describing branching possibilities as "sheafs" rather than "lines." A bunch of stuff has happened in Star Trek, and all of it more-or-less happened from the perspective of any given episode or movie, but with minor potential variations that all average out in the end.

    There was a Eugenics War, sometimes it was in the 1990s, sometimes it was in the 2050s, sometimes it was World War III, sometimes World War III was a different war.

    Jim Kirk has a middle name, sometimes it begins with "R," most of the time it begins with "T."

    Sometimes Zefram Cochrane was thirty-something when he discovered the space-warp, sometimes he was sixty-something when he first broke the light-barrier with "Lily Sloan" and another copilot no one bothered to think of a convincing lie to account for.
     
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  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No, I think that TOS/TAS is the outlier and everything else is at least roughly in the same timeline. After all, it was "Encounter at Farpoint" that moved WWIII from the 1990s to the mid-21st century, and that timing for WWIII has been in use consistently ever since. And TOS's depiction of the late 20th and early 21st centuries is irreconcilable with real history overall. It seems simplest to assume that, while TOS/TAS's overall events still happened in the timeline shared by the rest, they didn't happen in exactly the same way.
     
  11. Enterprise1701

    Enterprise1701 Commodore Commodore

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    Yes but no. It is like how I interpret Star Trek: First Contact. Picard's crew grew up in a timeline where Cochrane flew the Phoenix with regular humans in 2063. The temporal intervention instigated by the Borg caused Riker and Geordi to replace Cochrane's regular pilots, but when the Enterprise-E crew returned to 2373, nothing important had changed, and their child and adult environments in the 24th century were intact because no one in the 21st century took Zefram Cochrane's drunken stories seriously.

    I still think it's a cop-out for the PIC and SNW writers to insist on overdone mimicry of the real-life 2020s through the plot device of Temporal War shifting, but we're stuck with it, I guess.
     
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  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Like I said, "Encounter at Farpoint" did it first. Roddenberry didn't insist that Trek had to be immutable and unimprovable; he wanted to be able to fix its mistakes, to update it for new generations, to evolve with its audience and era rather than being trapped in an increasingly less relevant past. Some of his successors lost sight of that in their fannish desire to reference the past, but the current shows are being true to the way Roddenberry approached it.
     
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  13. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    And yet Abraham Lincoln turned up in TOS.... :shifty:

    That's assuming there WERE any "regular pilots". For all we know, the events of ST:FC were a predestination paradox - they were always part of the timeline, and there never was one where they were not. (Remember, in VOY, Seven is aware of the Borg incursion in FC. And ENT's "Regeneration" is a direct followup to FC, and prequel to "Q Who".) So assuming that's so, Riker and Geordi were always Cochrane's copilots.

    You can't prove this isn't the case, anyway. :shrug:
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2023
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  14. DGCatAniSiri

    DGCatAniSiri Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I mean, I always had the impression that Lily was supposed to copilot with him, but with her on the Enterprise, Riker and La Forge stepped in...
     
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  15. Markonian

    Markonian Fleet Admiral Moderator

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    Wouldn’t that mean that TOS/TAS represent Alpha Canon, or history as it is meant to be/the correct timeline. And anything from TNG and after presents an alternate timeline/Beta Canon, some sort of Bizarro Universe?
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Given how ubiquitous time travel is in Trek, and given how many ancient civilizations there are in its galaxy, it makes no sense to assume we've ever seen an unaltered timeline. The history of the Trek galaxy has probably been subject to constant alteration in the distant past by time travelers from all eras of past and future. The very nature of time travel precludes it from having a "starting" point. And if time travel is easy and commonplace, then it's a routine part of how history develops rather than an aberration imposed on that development.

    And I'll channel UEF Captain Kirk here -- "correct" by whose definition? It's all relative to where you're from. I addressed this in Watching the Clock -- Agent Lucsly believed as a matter of near-religious faith that there was a "true" timeline he was striving to protect, but the reality was that even that timeline had been shaped by frequent temporal alteration, and what temporal agents fought to preserve not some objectively "correct" version of history, but just the one that included their own civilizations and heritages.

    Really, this episode's model of time travel has been part of Trek canon since "Yesteryear," when Spock's actions in the past caused a significant change (I'Chaya dying) yet restored the present to something close enough to count as the original. The idea, again, is not that all bets are off and the storylines can go in a completely unconnected direction, like in Kelvin, but that the overall flow of events is the same even if some pieces of the backstory or setting are adjusted. TOS/TAS still happened in the current timeline, just with some variations of detail, particularly where 20th- and 21st-century events are concerned.

    Indeed, "Yesteryear" proved that the TOS timeline was itself the product of time travel. I'Chaya aside, Spock's existence was a time loop; he would never have survived to adulthood if his adult self hadn't gone back and saved him. The only thing the historians in "Yesteryear" did to change Spock's past was to rerun it in the Guardian without adult Spock being part of it, proving that adult Spock's time travel was always necessary to save child Spock. Ditto "Assignment: Earth," which established that Kirk & Spock's presence in 1968 was an integral part of what allowed events to unfold as history recorded. So we've literally never seen a version of the Trek universe that hasn't been shaped by time travel.
     
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  17. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I actually seem to recall this exact conversation was in the Department of Temporal Investigations books where it is revealed that the Future members of the group were not going to permit reversing Janeway's acquisition of anti-Borg technology in order to give them a leg up in the events of Destiny. Lucsly is basically informed that there's probably no such thing as a "prime" timeline and that all of history as they knew it had been modified many times throughout history (so to speak). I may be conflating two conversations, though. I always liked that, though.

    I think as our resident expert on time travel, Christopher, you're the only one who can answer the REAL question here. Does this mean that Kirk has been involved in EIGHTEEN separate temporal incidents now or was this included in his original Seventeen?

    Or is it Nineteen, including Trials and Tribulations?
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2023
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I don't think it counts if it's an alternate Kirk. And the DTI wouldn't know about it, since La'an kept it secret. Yes, Agent Ymalay and her dead partner were DTI agents, but clearly from further uptime than the 24th century, since the 24th-century DTI doesn't actively time travel, and the DTI device showed a graphic matching the 29th-century Temporal Integrity Commission screen interfaces seen in "Relativity."
     
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  19. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Read the full post you quoted and you'd see the context is meant to be in reference to contemporary real life political and cultural figures. Since Abraham Lincoln was dead for a hundred years when he appeared on TOS, the rules wouldn't have applied to him.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yes, of course. The censors didn't want to reference real, currently living people or current events for fear of stirring up controversy, or inviting lawsuits if they portrayed a person or institution unflatteringly.

    Moreover, in the early decades of American film, there was a certain reverence toward the presidency, so some filmmakers wouldn't even show the face of a fictitious president, treating him as a remote, larger-than-life figure. So they certainly weren't going to depict any real living president -- only historical ones like Lincoln.
     
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