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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    Anyone remember when the refit Enterprise was launched in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture"?

    It is implied that the "glow" of the main deflector dish is actually a product of the matter/antimatter reactor in the secondary hull coming online. In the movie, IIRC the moment the intermix starts up it cuts to an exterior view of the Enterprise and the "deflector dish" starts to glow. A glow which grows steadily.

    Of course in this regard it helps to remember as evidenced by the original "cutaway" poster of the refit Enterprise, the matter/antimatter intermix chamber was NOT a simple vertical cylinder but the entire front end of the engineering hull.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The memo clearly comes from a point during the early production of "The Cage," when the basic design elements of the ship were still being decided upon. TMoST explicitly says that Roddenberry passed around the memo "during that time." We may not have an exact date from it, but TMoST is quite clear that it is from the pre-production process of "The Cage." I don't see any reason to doubt that. Of course it's not absolutely certain, and I stated that the memo was undated when I first cited it. But the uncertainty about the exact date seems trivial in this context. As I said, my original goal was merely to verify that the deflector dish idea came from TOS's creators rather than being a post-TOS retcon as some people incorrectly believe. Let's not get distracted from that key point. Whether it came from 1964 or 1968, it still came from TOS rather than Franz Joseph. That's what needs to be clear.
     
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  3. yotsuya

    yotsuya Captain Captain

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    I've read over the 4 rules of starship design that Roddenberry (Andy Probert says they were all Gene) created and they have been violated over and over again. The unused Excelsior designs which have ended up on screen do not have direct line of sight between the nacelles. A lot of the warp engines barely have forward clearance. Discovery doesn't have any line of sight for most of the engines. Like Saladin, Hermes, and Federation, the the Kelvin has an odd number of nacelles. Canon ships can go to warp on one nacelle. So those rules have been violated over and over and over at this point so they are pretty worthless. Several FJ ships are canon thanks to dialog and on screen use of some of his pages. As far as I'm concerned, the single nacelle design is canon and so there is no reason not to have a three nacelle design (two for standard warp drive and one for additional power and warp capability when the saucer separates).
     
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  4. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The fine line between continuity and fanwank.
    I don't have an issue with single or multiple nacelled ships, either. I can see there being performance reasons why two is often the optimal number, but clearly there have been cases where a different number was desirable. The rules haven't been consistently adhered to enough in what we have seen on screen that I feel particularly beholden to them.
     
  5. Dukhat

    Dukhat Vice Admiral Admiral

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    To be fair, only the holiest of holy acolytes of the Church of Roddenberry still considers this to be sacrosanct, despite that it is constantly contradicted. Kinda like the actual Bible, sorta. ;)
     
  6. Unicron

    Unicron Boss Monster Mod Moderator

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    I was under the impression that only one "rule" involving paired nacelles came directly from Gene, owing to his belief that it was necessary like the rotors on a helicopter. When it came to nacelles needing LOS and such, I thought that was more of Probert's creation because the intent with TMP was to have energy passing between the nacelles, and that was scrapped for cost reasons. I might be wrong, but my impression over the years in watching some of Andrew's interviews was that he came up with some of those elements and tried to keep them consistent with how he thought Gene's system should work.
     
  7. yotsuya

    yotsuya Captain Captain

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    In some of his interviews, he points out that the energy between the nacelles was Gene's idea, not his. So we can assume that 50% line of sight is Gene's along with the pairs rule. The visible from the front rule makes sense because the front of the nacelles have the Bussard collectors and they don't do any good if they aren't visible from the front. FJ never violated that rule. The bridge being on top of the saucer is silly, but adhered to except for the Shenzhou. So 2 of the rules are broken and in ruins and two of them somewhat stand, one for being practical and the other because only one ship design has broken it.
     
  8. Unicron

    Unicron Boss Monster Mod Moderator

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    You might be right about the energy passage. Bussard collectors weren't really a thing before TNG, so it could be argued that the earlier ships didn't necessarily carry them. I've never minded the bridge being where it is, because I don't buy the common fan complaint that a centered location is more inherently vulnerable.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, not under that name. But the 1980 David Kimble ST:TMP blueprints refer to the forward structures of the nacelles as "SPACE-ENERGY/MATTER SINK (ACQUISITION)," which is a more convoluted way of saying the same thing.

    Besides, it's hard to look at the original forward-pointing nacelle spires or the subsequent swirly-light nacelle caps and not think they were doing something that required them to be pointing forward, whether it's absorbing something from the space ahead or helping to emit the warp field that surrounds the whole ship. So just from the standpoint of visual logic alone, it seems reasonable that they're supposed to have an unobstructed line of sight.


    The problem is just the opposite, that it's not centered, i.e. not buried deep inside the ship but on the outer edge where it's more vulnerable to weapons or radiation. Now, for realistic space combat, that wouldn't matter, because projectiles at those velocities and energies would penetrate clear through a ship (much as seen in The Expanse, and as intended by the original production staff of Andromeda, though I don't recall if it ever came up in the show), so it wouldn't matter where the bridge was (though radiation protection would still be a good reason to keep it deep inside the ship). But the way Trek depicts space combat, something sitting right on the surface of a ship does seem more vulnerable to damage than something deep inside it.

    Of course, it could be argued that Starfleet ships aren't meant to be battleships, that they're made for exploration rather than combat. But they're still designed with defense against attacks and natural hazards in mind.
     
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  10. SpyOne

    SpyOne Captain Captain

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    I recently have encountered a handful of sources quoting Gene about the Enterprise during the making of TOS where it is clear that he intended the Enterprise to be the biggest and most powerful ship in Starfleet. Or rather tied for biggest and most powerful: there are others that are equal, but none better.

    I suspect that his lack of criticism of the stuff FJ sent him was ... he mostly didn't care. He didn't regard the Technical Manual as "official", and just kept saying "looks good, thanks for keeping the fans excited."

    And then came Star Fleet Battles.
    I don't think Gene's problem was FJ making more money than him off the Tech Manual, but when people started doing an end-run around Paramount (and Gene) by licensing the Tech Manual instead, that bothered him.

    And it can't have helped that most of the stuff licensed off the Tech Manual slsnted towards the military aspects of the setting just as Gene was pushing away from that.

    In Summary:
    Gene's dislike of the Dreadnaught design can be traced to a belief that there were no Federation ships bigger or more powerful than the Enterprise, but probably mostly derived from dislike of the book it came from, which dislike probably derived from a poorly thought out license agreement and the unintended consequences thereof.
     
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  11. Samuel

    Samuel Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    To me that jives with what Richard Arnold wrote in a letter to Starlog in the 1990s. Someone had pointed out that Shane Johnson's "Mister Scott's Guide to the Enterprise" showed the new Enterprise as having "Transwarp Drive".

    Arnold said the whole point of Transwarp Drive (and it not working) was to show just how great the old Enterprise really was.

    Ironic then that in the Trek franchise, the Excelsior class ships have appeared far, far more times than the refitted Enterprise ever did.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, not that it didn't work so much as that it was easy to sabotage, at least according to Scotty.


    Though that was because TNG needed to reuse ILM's ship models to save money, but didn't want to use the Constitution class model because it was too associated with the Enterprise. It never entirely made sense in-universe.

    People today are complaining about the implausibly rapid changes in technology between "The Cage" and Discovery (just as they complained about the same thing between TOS and TMP 40 years ago), but I've always had a problem with the implausibly slow changes between the movies and TNG. The budget limitations on TNG required them to reuse sets, costumes, miniatures, and even stock footage from the then-current movie franchise, leading to the implausible result that Starfleet went on using the same ship classes and equipment designs for nearly a century and the same uniforms for the better part of a century, when at other times they upgraded their ship classes every decade or two and their uniforms with staggering frequency.
     
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  13. STEPhon IT

    STEPhon IT Commodore Commodore

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    So did The Excelsior used Transwarp drive in the Undiscovered Country?
     
  14. Dukhat

    Dukhat Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Arnold is full of shit. The original intent of the Excelsior was that it was going to eventually replace the Enterprise as the hero ship in future movies, because ILM hated filming the TMP Enterprise and wanted an easier model to film.
     
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  15. Samuel

    Samuel Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    How could ILM have preferred the Excelsior class model as at least when originally filmed it had simply horrible good viewing angles?

    What was so hard about filming the TMP era Enterprise anyway?
     
  16. SpyOne

    SpyOne Captain Captain

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    I have heard lots of complaints about it not being "compact", and the nacelles being long and "flimsy".
    My guess is that the center of mass of the model is a spot where it would be very hard to attach a mount, either because that part of the model wouldn't conceal the mount or possibly because it was actually in empty space.
    That would mean that rotating the model in a different axis would require removing it from its mount and placing it on a different one, which makes certain shots much more complicated.
     
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  17. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Roddenberry was a brilliant storyteller, and a visionary, and a fountain of optimism for the future, at a time of great pessimism. And today, in a similarly pessimistic time, with a racist, elitist, misogynist reactionary in the White House, doing everything he can get away with to erase every bit of political, economic, and social progress made since President Roosevelt (and that's President THEODORE Roosevelt) took office, WE NEED MORE PEOPLE LIKE RODDENBERRY. But he was also an ordinary human being, with faults, just like the rest of us. In his case, his biggest fault was that he was a chiseler. His struggles before he achieved any major success made him that. I'm sure most of us have heard the story of why Alexander Courage stopped writing new ST scores early-on: because the lyrics Roddenberry wrote for the ST theme were neither an artistic exercise, nor an exercise in vanity, nor even done with any realistic expectation of public performance, but purely for the sake of gaining tighter control over the music.
    So regardless of whether or not there is any evidence that his "nacelles must come in pairs for a stable warp field" rule (and the "USS Tritium" fiasco chronicled in the now-deprecated Spaceflight Chronology to justify it) was simply an excuse to formally deprecate FJS's works (even though they made several cameo appearances in TMP!), none of that would surprise me in the slightest.
    Personally, I liked FJS's dreadnought design (and I have a kitbashed "scout" and a kitbashed "transport/tug," both from the old AMT Enterprise kit, sitting on shelves that are within eyeshot as I type this), although I also disliked the "Rittenhouse" version portrayed in Diane Carey's novel (and it's pretty clear to me that Ms. Carey wanted the "Rittenhouse" version to be disliked).
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    As I recall, the TMP Enterprise miniature was designed with multiple mounting points so that it could be shot from any angle, precisely to give it a versatility that the TOS model lacked. It could be mounted from the bottom, from either side, from the deflector dish, from the shuttlebay, and maybe even from above.


    Except they worked that out, because Courage came back to write library music for season 2 and to score "The Enterprise Incident" and "Plato's Stepchildren" in season 3, as well as the "Captain's Log" cues for TMP.
     
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  19. Samuel

    Samuel Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Isn't that a pretty routine reaction for those in the entertainment industry who as they say "work for years to become an overnight success"?
     
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  20. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    I said out, dammit!
    It was an extremely heavy model, which made it difficult to move around, and had a complicated lighting/electrical system. The effects crew hated working with it.
     
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