Why Did Roddenberry Hate the "dreadnought" from the Starfleet Technical Manual?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Samuel, Dec 31, 2017.

  1. Samuel

    Samuel Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Don't know if this is the right forum. If I've made a mistake sorry.

    I've heard for years that Gene Roddenberry did not like Franz Josephs Starfleet Technical Manual, in large part due to the inclusion of the "dreadnought" among the additional original series era ship designs. The other two being the Saladin destroyer/scout and the Ptolemy tug (which looks for all the world like an original series Miranda class ship),'

    Now why would Roddenberry dislike the dreadnought so much? Now we know that "dreadnought" has since the original British HMS Dreadnought entered service in the years prior to World War One been kind of a catch all term for "big gun battleship". But.

    1) When he originally wrote the first pilot of Star Trek the U.S.S. Yorktown (later the Enterprise) was described as a "heavy cruiser" which is no less a militaristic type of designation than "dreadnought"

    2) I thought most of Roddenberry's major dislike of the militaristic elements entering Star Trek actually came much later, mainly during the later ST:OS movies.

    So why the dislike of the dreadnought? Or is his dislike of it just a story fans tell?
     
  2. Unicron

    Unicron Boss Monster Mod Moderator

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    I've heard mixed stories about this over the years; I think Gene essentially approved all of the work that went into the TM, but didn't like the fact that Franz Joseph retained specific control over those designs (and could license them as he saw fit to make money). Gene's view that nacelles had to occur in even pairs to create a stable warp field (like a helicopter requiring two rotors to counteract each other's torque) is the only legitimate "Roddenberry Rule" that I'm aware of, with some of the others being derived by Andrew Probert during the production of TMP. It's not a bad idea necessarily on its own, but since Gene wasn't an engineer and never thought the processes through, I don't consider it a necessity either. My impression from reading fanon works is that one advantage of a three-nacelled design is having extra power output and that a single dreadnought could serve a role that would require, say, several frigates or multiple destroyers.

    I know later Gene came around to a more "utopian" view which was most noticeable in early TNG, where humans were supposed to have a more "perfect' society and weren't supposed to "police" the galaxy. This has a number of writing issues, to put it mildly. ;) For myself, I don't mind if Starfleet has a handful of dreadnoughts and other vessels designed primarily for tactical or war purposes, if we're supposed to buy their long history of conflict with rivals like the Klingons and Romulans. I think there's a fair argument also for vessels that can serve multiple roles, but I don't agree with the view that such vessels should necessarily comprise 99% of the fleet.
     
  3. feek61

    feek61 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    He probably hated it because the design sucks; just terrible!
     
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  4. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You stole my answer. ;)
     
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  5. Samuel

    Samuel Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I always thought it looked rather elegant at least from the port and starboard sides. Not so much fore and aft. At any rate, Star Trek is full of ugly ships. For that matter, for years most fans loathed the Excelsior class. Now from what I've observed most fans love it.
    .
     
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  6. Galileo7

    Galileo7 Commodore Commodore

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    As a boy watching reruns of TOS and TAS prior to TMP I really enjoyed the expanded Starfleet technology of Franz Josephs Starfleet Technical Manual:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  7. Tenacity

    Tenacity Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Lose of control and money were probably Roddenberry main problems.

    Only thing I have against the dreadnought is it's not twice the dimensions of the Enterprise, if you're going to go big, go big.
     
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  8. Samuel

    Samuel Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I always thought it would be a cool scene to have onscreen with a Federation class dreadnought flanked by two Constitution class heavy cruisers and the three of them surrounded by several Saladin class destroyers.
     
  9. Dukhat

    Dukhat Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Roddenberry didn’t give a crap about the dreadnought. He gave a crap about someone else making money off of Star Trek who wasn’t him. That’s all it boiled down to. His “rules” of nacelle placement was just something he pulled out of his ass to discredit the manual.
     
  10. mos6507

    mos6507 Commodore Commodore

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    The guy's dead and you're not clairvoyant so the only thing you've got going for you is your typical modern (or post-modern) icon-destroying cynicism.

    Roddenberry was actually pretty micro-managerial when it came to designing the shape of the original Enterprise. He was also keen to offer feedback on the refit Enterprise for TMP. Ship design was something that mattered to him when he was in a position to influence it. That's not necessarily mutually exclusive with his desire to control the licensing. People are complex creatures, not just "artistes" vs. "money-grubbing hacks".
     
  11. mos6507

    mos6507 Commodore Commodore

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    It's too bad the TOS production didn't really think about how to make more than one federation model. So much of how the Enterprise was shaped and built (turned wood, etc...) would have been hard to duplicate if they wanted to make a sister-ship with some (but not all) common parts.
     
  12. Dukhat

    Dukhat Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I stand by what I wrote. Roddenberry was fine with FJ’s manual until he realized he was losing money because FJ was licensing the tech manual ship designs to RPGs. It didn’t matter what the ships looked like. It mattered that Roddenberry wasn’t making money off them. That’s also why Trek RPGs from FASA ended when Roddenberry became executive producer of TNG.

    And btw, you don’t know a thing about me, so don’t presume to act like you do. And I don’t recall that someone being dead precludes not being able to know anything about them. That’s like saying that it’s a mystery why Hitler wanted to invade other countries because he’s dead and we can’t ask him.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
  13. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    I said out, dammit!
  14. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    On what do you base these assertions? (including the farther-upstream) assertion that two-nacelle rule was concocted to discredit FJ)
     
  15. Dukhat

    Dukhat Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's from an interview with FJ's daughter. Here's the link:

    http://www.trekplace.com/fj-kdint01.html

    There are several places in the interview where the tech manual is mentioned. Here's one of the relevant quotes:

    "FJ kept meticulous records as to which drawings he was working on and how long they took, and NONE of the "non-canon" material in the TM was produced after the contract for the motion picture was signed. Further, GR had already seen all of FJ's extrapolative material in 1973 and 1974. FJ was very concerned about doing anything extrapolative in GR's universe, and made a point of sending "in-production" materials from the Technical Manual to GR on a regular basis, including all the speculative stuff like the new ship designs (see below). GR only responded with words of encouragement. If GR had said "no," or "stop," or "this isn't how I envisioned it," or "this conflicts with another project I'm working on," FJ would have dropped it or changed it immediately. GR never said a single negative word.

    Again, in FJ's own words: "FACT: A copy of the Articles of Federation were sent to Gene Roddenberry on 22 June 1973. His reply of 28 August states: 'I thought the Articles of Federation were extremely well thought out and presented, although I have some question in my mind whether they are a bit too long to maintain fan interest.' FACT: Copies of the Fleet Ship Classifications and the Dreadnought 3-view were sent to Gene Roddenberry on 22 June 1973. At no time during the preparation of the Manual did Gene ever mention he objected to these types. In his reply of 28 August 1973, he did state: 'Your drawings jump right off the page to the reader and are very exciting.'"

    Now stay with me here, 'cause this is the most Important Part of this whole interview. If you follow the FJ Timeline through 1975 and 1976, Paramount rejects script after script from GR and others, while FJ's Plans and Manual climb the bestseller lists to astronomical heights. GR's head must have been ready to explode. Then, if you read further, Paramount starts to court FJ as a consultant for the movie but FJ declines any involvement. At that point, Paramount and GR have the same problem. Because of the aborted Lincoln Enterprises deal to publish the Plans and the Tech Manual in 1973, and because Lou Mindling of Paramount allowed FJ to copyright the Manual in his own name in 1975, neither GR nor Paramount owns the rights to FJ's original work (such as the Star Fleet space station, the Dreadnought and other ship designs, the UFP "two faces and starfield" logo, etc.). [The rest of this paragraph is pure speculation, but I don't think I'm too far off the mark.] GR doesn't want to use FJ's designs because he feels he has had little control over their creation and no control over their publication, and he'll be damned if he'll pay royalties to an outsider for stuff spun off from the universe he created. Further, FJ has proven difficult to deal with in other encounters (Planet Earth) and GR doesn't want to go through that again. Paramount desperately wants FJ to be involved with the movie because FJ's work is so enormously popular, but FJ is not being a "team player" and agreeing to be a consultant or a writer on the project. If FJ is not going to be directly involved so they can exploit his name in their publicity, then Paramount doesn't want to pay him royalties, either.

    After that point, everything in the movies was either designed to directly contradict FJ's work, or to modify designs or concepts first put forward by FJ to make them just different enough that FJ could not claim copyright infringement (especially the UFP logo you mention in Q12). In retrospect, knowing what a "control freak" GR was about the series and the movies (as documented in many written accounts), none of this is a surprise to me."


    Don't get me wrong: I don't hate GR or think he was some jerk. He was a businessman and felt he wasn't getting his due from a spinoff of something he created. Whether he was right or wrong about that assertion wasn't my point. My point was that he had no particular issues with FJ's ship designs until he realized FJ was making more money off of them than he was. Then after the fact he proceeded to discredit FJ's work because he made it personal. Did he really need to do that? I don't think so, but I'm not him.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
  16. GNDN18

    GNDN18 Gravissime Premium Member

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    It seems to me that GR sold rights to what must have appeared to be a spent mine, only for another vein to be discovered. Apparently neither GR nor FJ were team players, which was unfortunate.
    01E4A90A-C9BD-4B07-9652-2B434AAC7985.jpeg
    Didn’t GR also have a chance to buy the rights to the franchise but couldn’t raise the cash?
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Could you elaborate on this part, please? I don't recall if I ever heard anything about Schnaubelt being involved with Planet Earth.
     
  18. Dukhat

    Dukhat Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    All I know about that was what Karen Dick mentioned in the interview.
     
  19. Mysterion

    Mysterion Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    IIRC, he did some design work for some of the equipment carried/used by Pax in the films(s). Medkit, communicatin device, etc. There was an interview with FJ in an issue of the fanzine Enterprise Incidents (#12) in the early 80s where he discussed them. The interview included reproductions of some of his drawing for these items.

    Found one of the drawings online: http://www.trekplace.com/images/medikit.jpg

    His daughter discusses his work for Roddenberry on these films in this interview: http://www.trekplace.com/fj-kdint01.html
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
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  20. Unicron

    Unicron Boss Monster Mod Moderator

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    I seem to recall that some of the FASA issues might have been more the work of Richard Arnold, although Gene may have approved his actions on some level. I know at that time he (Roddenberry) was working on TNG and using the utopian angle, and the FASA Trekverse always had a distinctly military feel which I'm sure didn't sit well with Gene. Personally, I consider that one of the better aspects of the FASAverse in that it treated Starfleet as primarily a military branch with exploration duties, but it was clearly both a space navy and a "frontier" navy also in ways.

    I also keep thinking Gene's view of the engines being codependent might go back in some ways to TOS, but I may be wrong on that. I seem to recall that Andrew Probert is generally comfortable with the assumption that nacelles work this way and should have LOS, but as mentioned I tend to ignore those as rules for my own head canon.
     
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