In our last installment we began looking at terminology for Star Trek as planned for season 1. We continue that today. While there is still more about life in the 24th century most of it is still about the gear and science used on The Next Generation. There’s a separate section for weapons, one for the computer, and a bunch of other terms. I just thought “technobabble” fit best since there’s a lot of it involved.

In this section we’ll look at food, force fields, another visit to the Prime Directive and a bunch of other stuff. But most of it should be technobabble.

The first section that we’re covering tonight involved the food replicators. In the original series you’d put a card in the slot (because that’s how everything worked in the original series, like an oversized flash drive) and you’d get your food. How does it work a century later?

We will probably never see a kitchen aboard the Enterprise. This doesn’t necessarily mean there are no kitchens–but our 25th century crew may have a different relationship with food than we do.

The century goof is in the guide, 25th instead of 24th. Granted I’m sure a Star Trek/Buck Rogers crossover will happen some day given some of the odd Trek crossovers recently in the comics but this is the writer’s guide, and apparently David Gerrold and Gene Roddenberry could have used an editor in their own guide for writers, directors, and one would assume the editing staff and whoever handled the rewrites. As far as no kitchens, we would eventually get one on Star Trek: Voyager out of necessity. But I’m not sure that was a good thing. It just gave Neelix an excuse to stay around.

To them, food is not simply a tasty fuel, it is an art form in it’s own right, and culinary achievements are highly regarded. Therefore, cooking is no longer a chore, it has become an exciting hobby.

And that’s different how? It may be more prominent today with cooking challenges on TV and at least two TV networks dedicated just to food and cooking, but none of this anything new. Or are they now saying everybody thinks the exact same thing and nobody considers food an annoying necessity that takes them away from work or their preferred hobby? “My compliments to the chef” is something that predates the 24th century. Actually, until we saw Riker cooking breakfast for his friends, which they were all saying “why not use the replicator”, I figured they had actually gotten lazy about cooking when there’s a machine that will simply teleport your food and drink to you. I don’t even know why they needed a cafeteria when they could eat in the rooms. We usually see replicators in their rooms and offices.

Food and drink aboard the Enterprise is instantaneously synthesized by an in-ship transporter system that takes the necessary raw materials from storage and rearranges them into whatever the individual has ordered, delivering them via the wall-slots. These wall-slots may be seen in individual cabins and living areas as well as in recreation and meeting rooms. There are also wall-slots in the bridge lounge.

“I even have a tea kettle in the kitchen.” “Tea kettle? Kitchen? You use strange words, Doctor.”

AKA the meeting room. So, I’m confused. Cooking is no longer a chore but a hobby so beloved that nobody really does it and just makes the machine do it all? They can’t even make TEA in the 24th century on their own. Frickin’ TEA. Captain Picard can’t even be bothered to boil water and bounce a little bag in a cup for a minute. It’s a hobby so exciting that everybody’s too lazy to do it! I’ve seen replicators used on planets. Like, you can make the case for a ship for various reasons but people in their own homes can’t even make a cup of tea without having the computer do it for them. I question your understanding of cooking and hobbies, guide.

The next section goes into force fields. Have you ever wondered how a force field works in science fiction? Or is it just some energy ball they wrap around the ship so they don’t have to add scorch marks to the model?

The force field is one of the basic tools of 24th century technology. The manipulation of energy fields is so sophisticated that it is possible to build walls of pure energy. These are called “force fields”. We use manipulatable force fields as tractor beam, as deflector shields, as a protective “landing envelope” for away teams, and as shielding for our matter/antimatter engines.

The only thing I learned is that “manipulatable” isn’t a word according to Firefox spellcheck or WordPress’s own spelling service. I don’t remember force fields ever being used as a “landing envelope” or what that even means. However, it seems like force fields represents the biggest advancement in the Trekverse. We know the holodeck also uses them to make their holograms solid. So does that mean the Doctor’s holo-emitter also creates a force field?

Anyway, the next part just talks about the forward monitor on the bridge and if you’ve watched the show you already know what it does. No interesting science there. After that it discussed impulse drive but no science there either. It just says that impulse can travel between planets, used to to dock with a station or another ship, and to get in and out of orbit. It’s too slow to go between stars because it doesn’t travel at light speed. That’s pretty much it. Then we get into metric winning the measurement wars in the future. Why you can’t use feet and meters since they don’t translate the same I can’t understand. It’s like throwing out yards because it isn’t feet. How many millimeters in an inch? Who knows, we don’t use inches as an actual unit of measure anymore in the 24th century. I’d ask how they measure their comic panel lengths but nobody makes comics any more in the 24th century. I guess Marvel really did kill comics.

We’ll end on the Prime Directive, the big no-no don’t break me rule except when they do. SF Debris still has the best take on Starfleet General Order 1 and how it has been used both well and poorly in Star Trek depending on the writer and the people in charge of the show, but how is it actually supposed to work?

THE PRIME DIRECTIVE PROHIBITS MEDDLING WITH OTHER WORLDS’ DESTINIES

Starfleet General Order Number One says that we do not have the right to interfere with the natural process of evolution on any planet. We do not have the right to interfere with the culture of the people who live on the planet. We do not have the right to interfere with the natural process of life.

I would love to go through every episode of the series, from the unsold pilot to whatever Discovery is doing now, that somehow involves the Prime Directive and “interfering” with other species, and see if the application was proper. Were races unnecessarily sentenced to die because of the Directive and were there violations that actually prove it right, and what actually qualifies as interfering. There are special cases built right into the guide.

There are only two possible exceptions to the Prime Directive: 1)When the safety of the starship is jeopardized. 2)When it is absolutely vital to the interests of the Federation.

Any Captain who finds it necessary to violate the Prime Directive had better be ready to present a sound defense of his actions.

There’s a particular storyline in the first DC run of Star Trek comics that I really want to explore #1 with. As for #2, what qualifies as “absolutely vital” to the Federation? They used to consider slavery vital too, and some smaller areas of the planet do today as well. Colonization was also considered vital but now it’s so looked down upon that people BORN in the United States hate the United States for being the result of it. Look, the Prime Directive was a good idea in-universe as it keeps our heroes humble but in our universe it’s been poorly applied by writers with bad ideas of how to implement it to create a particular result whether or not it makes moral or narrative sense.

I hope you like the letter S. Next time we’ll be looking more at shields, ships, starbases, Starfleet, and subspace radio. Join us for the next installment. (I tried to fit words starting with “s” into that sentence and I couldn’t without being horribly forced.)

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About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

One response »

  1. […] go without explanation. Not really any revelations there. From there we go on to the shields. Last time we talked about how force fields had been mastered and how they work. Shields come from said […]

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