Why was Starfleet so slow to acknowledge the Borg threat?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Turd Ferguson, Jan 17, 2014.

  1. Turd Ferguson

    Turd Ferguson Commodore Commodore

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    I'm watching TNG for the first time all the way through on Blu-Ray and last night I got to the episode I, Borg (a great episode, btw) and I started thinking. If we ignore the Enterprise episode Regeneration and the movie First Contact, which are humanity's earliest encounters with the Borg, and rely solely on the incident of the Enterprise-B picking up some El Aurian survivors, shouldn't Starfleet have been asking some questions?

    For one, it doesn't even seem like the basic questions of "Who destroyed your homeworld?" were asked to the El Aurian refugees, or else Picard and the Enterprise-D crew wouldn't have been so puzzled at their first encounter with the Borg in Q Who? In fact, when Guinan comes up to the bridge suggesting they turn back now gives the impression this is the first time any Starfleet representative was made aware that the El Aurians knew who the Borg were.

    And, if we take the Voyager episode The Raven into consideration, the Hansens were trying to convince Starfleet that the Borg existed, much to Starfleet's hesitation. And this is only twenty years or so before Voyager.

    So what did Starfleet do for the fifty years from the Enterprise-B incident to launching the Raven? Did they just not care that there was a race out there that was scooping up colonies or destroying whole worlds? Did the top Starfleet brass just sweep the whole thing under the rug? Or did they just not ask any questions? Maybe a sort of "Well if we ignore the problem, maybe it'll go away" scenario?

    What say you?
     
  2. Robbiesan

    Robbiesan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I think it's a major writing mistake, but excusable based upon how many writers were working on the show, though odd. Did you look up the Memory Alpha text on the Borg?
    http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Borg

    I always thought the Borg were a HUGE future threat, but since they came from so far away, even with transwarp conduits, they'd still have problems with supply support from creating a "front" so far from Unimatrix-One. Technically they absorb species based upon threat assessment and to acquire new beings into their collective (since it's implied they don't procreate).

    Whatever threat exists, based upon how far away it is located, then usually the amount of energy to oppose it is directly proportional.
     
  3. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    But they wouldn't need supply support in the tradition context. Everything they really need or need to acquire can be done using the nanites that are coursing through their blood stream. It looked quite likely that outside the "miracle", they would've assimilated the entire Alpha Quadrant with a single cube.
     
  4. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    We also don't know when the Borg destroyed the El-Aurians' homeworld. Guinan said in "Q Who" that the event had scattered her people, and I assumed her visit to Earth ("Time's Arrow") may have been due to that scattering.

    The refugees in "Generations" may not have suffered their trauma recently, it could be a long-negotiated removal. Or the first place they went to was unsuitable and Starfleet was helping out with another new location.
     
  5. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    I would think the destruction of the El-Aurian homeworld and the events of Generations likely happened in fairly close proximity to one another...

     
  6. Robbiesan

    Robbiesan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Technically they're nanoprobes, akin to nanites but not the same. How's that for extreme nerdiness?

    I look at the Borg as a slow onslaught, a behemoth. Yes, they could conquer the whole Alpha Quadrant, but it's actually not in their best interest. It seems like they intnetionally wait until there is sufficient technological advantage in a species and if they're a threat as a result, then and only then do they conquer a species.

    That behaviour is seen numerous times as a microcosym of their corporate behavior. You see this in TNG and Voyager for sure. In the former, the Borg ignore Starfleet officers at first, and when Seven of Nine's parents observe the Borg, they don't do anything for quite awhile.

    They're an intentional or deliberate pseudo-species, and when they strike...it's overpowering.

    An aspect of developing the mod in my sig is understanding the different species' inclinations (though that idea is stereotypical) as well as their technology. When I considered the Borg, though they possess a lot of accumulated technology from thousands of years of conquering other species, I wondered if they actually had that much innovatative ability or creativity. I would think not.

    As such, the primary motivator for the Borg is acquiring bodies or worker bees to do the work to sustain a hive, but also waiting until creative ideas were noted. At that point, assimilating the species because it had developed that technology.
     
  7. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    There's no way they don't assimilate the Federation if they had been successful in taking Earth. There's no way that the remainder of Federation worlds could wait to take action while the Borg built up their strength.

    War (a short one) would've been on from the moment that Earth was assimilated. It couldn't have played out any other way.
     
  8. Robbiesan

    Robbiesan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Agreed, but that's part of the writing error. In effect, the Borg would supercede all other dangers. That would make them a prominent villian species, and unassailable (The Federation can't get to Unimatrix One). They can travel faster than any other species (at least during TNG) due to the transwarp conduits. They have better weapons. They have no foes who can oppose them (yet...for Species 8472 isn't around at the moment but still in fluidic space).

    As such, it's a classic error of an overpowering force that can't be logically defeated. It would mean practically the main focus of all of the episodes, or a swift defeat.
     
  9. Shaka Zulu

    Shaka Zulu Commodore Commodore

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    Also, imagine if the Enterprise had actually succeeded at destroying the Borg cube (as the Borg were dealt with in the Enterprise episode) without the cube notifying Unimatrix-One? Then the Borg wouldn't bother with the Federation.

    THIS.
     
  10. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think the only writing mistake was to not make clear the extent of the Borg threat.

    As of BoBW it seemed like that was the only Borg cube. Then in I, Borg when it's clear there are other Borg, it seems they no longer find interest in assimilating the Federation, and nobody seems too incredibly worried about them.
     
  11. Robbiesan

    Robbiesan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Actually a probe is a standard military tactic to determine the strength of an opposing force. The probe's intention is to determine reaction time, technological ability, weapons type, discipline, detection, etc.

    As such, the first on the scene are survelliance and engage more to see what will happen. Then to strike later. If defeated, then this would only arouse the Borg's curiosity for it would be unusual to be defeated. The Borg being utterly destroyed by the Federation and by their self-destruct mechanism (to ensure no species has their technology like the transwarp conduit) is expected from the standpoint of if things go wrong, the Borg don't have a survival mechanism, because the Collective comes first.

    In every case, as written the Borg would have sent a large taskforce to assimilate the Federation for sure. Again, this is bad writing.

    Look at the 2nd Matrix film. Neo is too powerful. He's become a Superman. Who can defeat Superman? It's a given that the hero will win, but if you give either the protagonist or the antagonist too much power...then it becomes boring.

    Honestly this is the conundrum of the first season of The Walking Dead. The writers create an overpowering horde that the professional military cannot defeat. The undead don't breathe. They don't have to eat but do act as mindless cannibals. They aren't affected by weather. They are an unrelentless mass that cannot be halted. Worse, every human is infected by a pathogen and so anyone could become a walker simply by dying. This kind of writing results in terrible problems for there is no further way to imperil except by sheer numbers. Then to make the untrained undisciplined survivors try to exceed the power of the military is highly illogical and the icing on the cake of that unsatisfying dessert.
     
  12. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    One of the points Q was trying to make in Q Who is that the Federation/Starfleet has grown complacent and unprepared to counter certain threats in the galaxy. Applying that mindset, it becomes easily understandable.

    When the El Aurians were rescued they may very well have told Starfleet everything they knew about the Borg, but when Starfleet reviewed the facts they likely felt that the Borg are on the opposite end of the galaxy and won't pose a threat any earlier than several decades later, it's not an immediate problem. We got other things to worry about, like maintaining this fragile new peace with the Klingons. Not to mention the Romulans seem up to something.

    Or, alternatively, maybe reports of the Borg did stir something among the Starfleet brass who put forward several initiatives to counter them as soon as word first came from the El Aurians in the 2290s. But then years go by and then decades with no contact from the Borg and no evidence that they are sizing up the Federation or even that they exist. Eventually someone's going to realize that there's better things to be devoting resources to. Like cleaning up after the Tomed Incident, dealing with Tholians attacking starbases, war with the Cardassians, peace with the Klingons deteriorating, some mysterious race called the Ferengi who are rumoured to eat people and have destroyed a Federation starship commanded by one of Starfleet's top captains. In light of all this, one can understand why Starfleet and the Federation would downgrade the priority assigned to what is starting to look like a space myth.
     
  13. Saito S

    Saito S Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    There was actually a simple way around the Borg being so overpowered: ditch the "Borg are from the Delta Quadrant" idea.

    This wasn't established in either "Q Who?" or BOBW. The only thing that was established was that the Ent-D's encounter with the Borg cube took place way over yonder, but nothing was said about where the Borg as a whole come from. It wasn't decided until much later that the Borg are based in the DQ, controlling a large chunk of it and ever expanding outward, with thousands of cubes - all capable of transwarp - at their disposal.

    Which, of course, makes the "Send a cube. It got blown up? Ok, wait a few years, then send... another cube. They blew that up too? Damn. *shrug*" approach that the Borg seem to take toward Earth and the Feds completely nonsensical. :lol: What they should have done is have them be from another galaxy. This would explain why they only accost the Feds occasionally, and with one ship at a time: their resources throughout the Milky Way are actually spread quite thin, and since one cube often IS enough to assimilate an entire world or more, they don't send more than one unless it's absolutely necessary. Of course, as it turns out, it IS necessary for the Feds, but it's reasonable that they'd try the one-cube-every-few-years approach a few times before giving up and sending in an armada if their situation forced them to be more careful with devoting large amounts of resources to any one task.

    You could still run the Borg vs. 8472 plot line, too: say that the center of Borg power FOR the Milky Way region is in the DQ, and that that's the area that's being attacked by 8472. Perhaps a goal of 8472 is to glean information on just where the Borg home galaxy is, and of course, the Borg would be keen on not letting that information get out. This DQ force could have dozens, instead of thousands, of cubes at its disposal. The only other major consequence of having written the Borg this way would be that they probably wouldn't have been able to use them as often on Voyager, which could only have helped that show.

    As to the original question in the thread: I agree with the idea that it's something which actually worked fine at first. Admiral Hansen mentions that the "Q Who" encounter was so far away that Starfleet Command expected much more lead time; they have been trying to prepare as best they could, but figured on having more time. Picard then speculates that perhaps the Borg have a far superior FTL system. The whole conversation underscores the fact that there is a LOT they still don't know about the Borg, and everything about this makes sense. Even with Guinan seeming to know about them during "Q Who," there's no reason to think she'd have detailed insights about their technological capabilities (she even says she wasn't there personally when they destroyed her world).

    It's later, when GEN and FC and Voyager come along and retcon things in, when the problems start occurring. Not the first time this kind of issue has come up in Trek (and also not the first time it's been caused by there simply being too many cooks in the kitchen, writing-wise).
     
  14. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Reelin' and Rockin' Mod Moderator

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    I have a craving for a Dilly Bar....
     
  15. Robbiesan

    Robbiesan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    A mint Dilly bar if you're buying.

    And Saito S, the other galaxy idea is a great one. It gets back to the idea of the Federation is tooooo far away and possibly not technologically advanced enough to have something that would make it worthwhile.

    Re: the Milky Way and the Star Trek galaxy

    See the Stellar Cartography topic on the Trek Tech section. A major problem has been randomly assigning the Star Trek galaxy as being our galaxy. That has major issues since Sol is located on a very minor part of a minor spiral fragment, not even a spiral arm. As such, the lining up of say the Vulcan sun with Eridani doesn't make sense.
    http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=232543&page=3

    This is why it's far better to make the Star Trek galaxy and the Milky Way to be two entirely different galaxies. The center of the galaxy in the Milky Way is in no way close to say the alpha and beta quadrant borders.
     
  16. Saito S

    Saito S Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    :lol:

    Thanks, and yeah, the Ent-D would be interesting enough in "Q Who", once Q forced the meeting, for them to take an interest, but not enough to devote large amounts of vital but limited resources to. The way the Borg were depicted in Voyager, they absolutely could have assimilated the Federation if they'd wanted to, and there would have been no way to stop them.

    Hmm... I dunno. Here, I don't really agree. I'm not going to get deeply into this subject here (because it's not what this thread is about), but having skimmed that other thread, I really don't see the need to explicitly define Trek's galaxy as "not the Milky Way." It's the same as with Earth: we had no Eugenics Wars in the 90s that I am aware of. So, Trek's Earth is Earth, it's just not quite... our Earth. Things happened a little differently. Same thing re: the Milky Way.
     
  17. Robbiesan

    Robbiesan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/02/27/article-0-11EF84AB000005DC-183_964x959.jpg
    Sol is nowhere near the center, and far from the densest part of the Milky Way. As such, the Enterprise is not going to get close to the center any time soon without expending a lot of energy and time.

    http://d1jqu7g1y74ds1.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/canisgalaxy_2mass.jpg
    But this distant position could be why the Sol comes under the notice of the Borg. Canis Major intersects with the Milky Way galaxy. That's following the rule that practically every stellar cartographer of the Star Trek universe has followed. I'm the exception as it means constantly saying, "Hmmm. Now that star doesn't have the right planets so that can't be the star even though in terms of light years and warp drive it was plausible. This is why I discard the need to use real Milky Way stars and match them with the Star Trek universe.

    So using the standard method and your suggestion, Canis Major would have been an ideal candidate and a plausible one for the Borg instead of the Delta quadrant.

    The isolated arms of the Canis Major galaxy are clear paths and so the Borg could follow those dense arms (seen in red in the animation). The Canis Major dwarf galaxy is closer to us than it is for us to reach the center of the Milky Way, believe it or not.
    [yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hl8NHB5lnYM[/yt]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 18, 2014
  18. Xerxes1979

    Xerxes1979 Captain Captain

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    Actually Guinan says it was two centuries prior, meaning it was after her time on Earth.
     
  19. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Fact check. The Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy wasn't postulated to exist until the end of 2003, over two years after the last episode of Voyager aired. It wasn't an ideal candidate for anything while Voyager was being written.
     
  20. Robbiesan

    Robbiesan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    You've just demonstrated why I dislike the 'Well we need to match the stars up in Star Trek with our stars" theory.

    You're right. Andromeda is a long long long long way off though. Maybe the Magellanic Clouds?