Star Trek

Star Trek and the Civil War

Time to brighten my chief geek of the blog credentials.  Long time readers of this blog know that I am a fan of Star Trek and that I have a passionate interest in the Civil War.  Imagine my joy when the fifth episode of Star Trek Continues, fan movies producing new episodes of the original Trek, is set at the battle of Antietam, at least what Kirk and McCoy think is the battle of Antietam.  Enjoy!

Star Trek Politics

 

Time to renew my creds as Chief Geek of this blog.  I have come across one of the best essays I have ever read about Star TrekThe Politics of Star Trek by Timothy Sandefur, which appears in the Claremont Review of Books:

 

Star Trek VI opens with a shocking betrayal: without informing his captain, Spock has volunteered the crew for a peace mission to the Klingons. Kirk rightly calls this “arrogant presumption,” yet the Vulcan is never expected to apologize. On the contrary, the film summarily silences Kirk’s objections. At a banquet aboard the Enterprise, he is asked whether he would be willing to surrender his career in exchange for an end to hostilities, and Spock swiftly intervenes. “I believe the captain feels that Starfleet’s mission has always been one of peace,” he says. Kirk tries to disagree, but is again interrupted. Later, he decides that “Spock was right.” His original skepticism toward the peace mission was only prejudice: “I was used to hating Klingons.”

 

This represented an almost complete inversion of Star Trek’s original liberalism, and indeed of any rational scale of moral principles at all. At no point in the show’s history had Kirk or his colleagues treated the Klingons unjustly, whereas audiences for decades have watched the Klingons torment and subjugate the galaxy’s peaceful races. In “Errand of Mercy,” they attempt genocide to enslave the Organians. In “The Trouble with Tribbles,” they try to poison a planet’s entire food supply. The dungeon in which Kirk is imprisoned in this film is on a par with Stalin’s jails. Yet never does the Klingon leader, Gorkon, or any of his people, acknowledge—let alone apologize for—such injustices. Quite the contrary; his daughter tells a galactic conference, “We are a proud race. We are here because we want to go on being proud.” Within the context of the original Star Trek, such pride is morally insane. Continue reading

The Omega Declaration

KIRK: If my ancestors were forced out of the cities into the deserts, the hills
SPOCK: Yes. I see, Captain. They would’ve learned to wear skins, adopted stoic mannerisms, learned the bow and the lance.
KIRK: Living like the Indians, and finally even looking like the American Indian. American. Yangs? Yanks? Spock, Yankees!
SPOCK: Kohms? Communists? The parallel is almost too close, Captain. It would mean they fought the war your Earth avoided, and in this case, the Asiatics won and took over this planet.
KIRK: But if it were true, all these generations of Yanks fighting to regain their land.
MCCOY: You’re a romantic, Jim.
(A drummer enters. Cloud William stands.)
CLOUD: That which is ours is ours again. It will never be taken from us again.
(A a tattered flag is brought in with great ceremony. Red and white horizontal stripes, with a corner of white stars on blue background. Kirk and the others stand.)
TRACEY: They can be handled, Jim. Together it’ll be easy. I caution you, gentlemen, don’t fight me here. I’ll win. Or at worst, I’ll drag you down with me.
CLOUD: I am Cloud William, chief. Also son of chief. Guardian of the holies, speaker of the holy words, leader of warriors. Many have died, but this is the last of the Kohm places. What is ours is ours again.
(He goes over to the flag and puts his left hand over his heart.)
CLOUD: Aypledgli ianectu flaggen tupep kile for stahn
KIRK: And to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
ELDER: He spoke the holy word!

 

Star Trek, The Omega Glory, March 1, 1968

 

 

 

Shatner the Canadian explains the preamble of the Constitution to us!

 

One of the “alternate Earth” episodes that became fairly common as the original Star Trek series proceeded, as explained by Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planetary Development and limited production budgets,  this episode featured an Earth where a cataclysmic war had driven the Americans, the Yangs, out of their cities and into primitive warbands.  Chinese Communists, the Kohms, settled in America.  Their technology was a few steps higher than the Yangs.  The Yangs had been waging a war for generations to drive the Kohms from their land, and the episode coincided with the Yangs taking the last of “the Kohm places”.

Over the generations, the Yangs had forgotten almost all of their history and what little knowledge remained was restricted to priests and chieftains.

“Cloud William: Freedom?
James T. Kirk: Spock.
Spock: Yes, I heard, Captain.
Cloud William: It is a worship word, Yang worship. You will not speak it.
James T. Kirk: Well, well, well. It is… our worship word, too.” Continue reading

Mr. Spock as Conservative

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over at The American Thinker there is an article entitled Why Conservatives Will Miss Spock.  Go here to read it.  I am afraid I found it fairly unsatisfying.  However, there are examples of Spock giving voice during Star Trek episodes to fairly conservative viewpoints.  Here are some of these instances:

 

 

1.  Balance of Terror-Sadly, war sometimes is necessary:

War is never imperative, Mister Spock.

McCoy, after Spock agrees with Stiles on attacking the Romulans

It is for them, doctor. Vulcan, like Earth, had its aggressive, colonizing period; savage, even by Earth standards. And if the Romulans retained this martial philosophy, then weakness is something we dare not show.

Spock, responding to McCoy

 

 

2.  Space Seed-Freedom is better than rule by even an able dictator-

Captain James T. Kirk: [looking at a library picture of Khan on viewscreen] Name: Khan Noonien Singh.

Mr. Spock: From 1992 through 1996, absolute ruler of more than a quarter of your world, from Asia through the Middle East.

Dr. McCoy: The last of the tyrants to be overthrown.

Scott: I must confess, gentlemen. I’ve always held a sneaking admiration for this one.

Captain James T. Kirk: He was the best of the tyrants and the most dangerous. They were supermen in a sense. Stronger, braver, certainly more ambitious, more daring.

Mr. Spock: Gentlemen, this romanticism about a ruthless dictator is…

Captain James T. Kirk: Mr. Spock, we humans have a streak of barbarism in us. Appalling, but there, nevertheless.

Scott: There were no massacres under his rule.

Mr. Spock: And as little freedom.

Dr. McCoy: No wars until he was attacked.

Mr. Spock: Gentlemen…

[All but Spock laugh]

Captain James T. Kirk: Mr. Spock, you misunderstand us. We can be against him and admire him all at the same time.

Mr. Spock: Illogical.

Captain James T. Kirk: Totally.

 

3.  Mirror Mirror-Civilization is better than barbarism-

 

Spock:  It was far easier for you as civilized men to behave like barbarians than it was for them as barbarians to behave like civilized men. Continue reading

Leonard Nimoy: Requiescat in Pace

 

A sad day.  Leonard Nimoy has departed this Vale of Tears.

Leonard Nimoy, the legendary actor who played Mr Spock in Star Trek, has died at the age of 83.

The star, who was first cast in the science-fiction series in the mid-1960s, suffered from COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – and was rushed to the UCLA Medical Center after a 911 call on February 19.

His wife Susan Bay Nimoy and son Adam confirmed he passed away at his Bel Air, Los Angeles, home on Friday morning.

Nimoy’s final tweet from his hospital bed urged fans to ‘live long and prosper’.  Continue reading

Prelude to Axanar

 Never attempt to force the pink skins onto thin ice!

Andorian maxim about Humans

 

Further proof that with Kickstarter, and other modes of alternative financing, and CGI technology being literally at our fingertips, we are rapidly reaching a world where the old Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney movies of the thirties, with complete amateurs somehow putting together a professional musical, can now be taken as prediction rather than fantasy.  The above video, Prelude to Axanar, is incredibly well done, a “retrospective” look by major participants in The Four Years War between the Klingons and the Federation.  It is in effect a Youtube advertisement for the forthcoming independent movie on the battle of Axanar, the decisive turning point in The Four Years War.  Trek fans rejoice.  Also rejoice those who are hungry for better quality entertainment than is slopped out by the networks, cable channels and the Hollywood studios.  Virtually any group now can put together entertainment of this quality.  Hey any Catholic group who wishes to put out quality movies on the saints.  A pathway now exists for you to do this.  O Brave New World!

Star Trek Continues

Time to renew my Chief Geek of the blog creds.  As faithful readers of this blog know, I am a Star Trek fan.  (No, I do not own a Star Fleet uniform, let alone worn one to court!)  Over the weekend I watched the three episodes thus far produced by Star Trek Continues, go here to their website, an unpaid volunteer group making episodes to complete the final two years of the original Star Trek five year mission.  Other Star Trek “tribute” episodes have been produced by other groups, but I have seen nothing that comes as close as Star Trek Continues in capturing the feel, and the fun, of the original series.  Judge for yourselves.  The video above is the third episode produced:  Fairest of Them All, which is a continuation of my second favorite Star Trek episode, Mirror Mirror, which introduced the alternate “bearded Spock” universe where the Federation is an aggressive interstellar empire.  Long may Star Trek Continue continue!

The Closing of the Science Fiction Mind

If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one.

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

 

 

I have read science fiction since I first learned to read as a child.  I enjoyed the exposure to new ideas and the frequently iconoclastic opinions, many of which I disagreed with, by the great authors of the field:  Asimov, Heinlein, Anderson, Dickson, etc.  Their imagination and writing skills took me far away from the small town in which I lived and enlivened my life by revealing to me that books could be tickets to strange worlds and stranger people.  They helped to teach me to like to read and to like to think, both of which I have found handy throughout my life.  It is sad then to see that science fiction in this country is now beset by those who wish to impose a stifling political orthodoxy on it.  John C. Wright, a science fiction writer and a convert from atheism to Catholicism, gives us the details:

Robert Heinlein could not win a Hugo Award today.

If you are a fan of science fiction, you know how shocking that statement is. If you are not a science fiction fan, I salute you for having better things to do with your time than read stories about space princesses being rescued from bug-eyed monsters by stalwart and clean-limbed fighting men of Virginia; but please let me explain why this is shocking.

Robert Heinlein is without doubt the leading writer in the science fiction field. He was the first to break into the slick magazines or into hardcover. Were it not for him, science fiction would still be languishing in a literary ghetto, no more popular than niche-market stories about samurai or railroad executives.

He was a gadfly. Heinlein’s two most famous novels are Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land. The first challenges the orthodoxy of the Left as much as the second does that of the Right. But in his day, few science fiction readers were offended by his or anyone’s ideas. Science fiction was proud to be a literature of the new and startling. A spirit of intellectual fearlessness was paramount.

A darker time followed. The lamps of the intellect were put out one by one, first in society at large, then in literature, then in our little corner called science fiction. What we have now instead is a smothering fog of caution, of silence, of an unwillingness to speak for fear of offending the perpetually hypersensitive.

Science fiction is under the control of the thought police. The chains are invisible, but real. For a genre that glories in counting George Orwell as one of its own, this is ironic, to say the least.

Myriad examples exist. Orson Scott Card publicly expressed the mildest imaginable opposition to having judges overrule popular votes defining marriage in the traditional way. The uproar of hate directed against this innocent and honorable man is vehement and ongoing. An unsuccessful boycott was organized against the movie Ender’s Game, but he was successfully shoved off a project to write for Superman comics.

Got that? The award-winning Mr. Card, one of the finest science fiction writers today, was forced off the project because the dictates of his religious faith (not to mention his faith in democracy over rule by activist judges) did not agree with the political beliefs of the thought police.

No one accused him of attempting to write a Superman story belittling homosexuals, or belittling anyone. Sales would have grown, not fallen. This was not about money or hurt feelings. It was about this: if a man thinks what St. Paul thought about homosexual acts, he cannot write a children’s yarn about a friendly alien Hercules saving a spunky girl reporter from mad scientists or moon-apes. Continue reading

Star Trek Medley

Something for the weekend.  A medley of the Star Trek theme songs.  Ah, what memories they evoke of the endless hours I have wasted watching the various Star Trek shows!  Shatner of course had the best comment regarding obsessive Star Trek viewing.  Go here to view his comment.

Heresy!  Of course at the end of the skit we learn that Shatner was merely demonstrating what the evil Captain Kirk from the “Mirror Mirror” universe would have said to faithful Star Trek fans!  (What a relief!)

That leaves us free to debate important, meaningful questions.  What was the best Star Trek original episode?  I vote for Balance of Terror: Continue reading

The Original Klingon

Well we haven’t had a Star Trek post in a while and my Chief Geek credentials for the blog need refreshing.  The idea of the Klingons being Shakespeare fans never struck me as far fetched.  The Bard after all has his admirers in all cultures here on Earth and the Germans often refer to him as unser (our) Shakespeare.  Granted that even Shakespeare has his moments of tedium but for those reared on the form of endless torture known as Klingon opera, that would be of no moment. Continue reading

Constitution Day: Star Trek Style!

 

One of the “alternate Earth” episodes that became fairly common as the original Star Trek series proceeded, as explained by Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planetary Development, and by limited production budgets,  this episode featured an Earth where a cataclysmic war had driven the Americans, the Yangs, out of their cities and into primitive warbands.  Chinese Communists, the Kohms, settled in America.  Their technology was a few steps higher than the Yangs.  The Yangs had been waging a war for generations to drive the Kohms from their land, and the episode coincided with the Yangs taking the last of “the Kohm places”.

Over the generations, the Yangs had forgotten almost all of their history and what little knowledge remained was restricted to priests and chieftains.

“Cloud William: Freedom?

James T. Kirk: Spock.

Spock: Yes, I heard, Captain.

Cloud William: It is a worship word, Yang worship. You will not speak it.

James T. Kirk: Well, well, well. It is… our worship word, too.” Continue reading

Prime Directive Debate

(This post is from 2009.  I haven’t had a Star Trek geek post in a while and I thought it would be fun to repost this.  We had a good discussion the first go round and I hope we will again.)

“As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Starfleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of alien life and culture. Such interference includes introducing superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely. Starfleet personnel may not violate this Prime Directive, even to save their lives and/or their ship, unless they are acting to right an earlier violation or an accidental contamination of said culture. This directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations, and carries with it the highest moral obligation.”

Yesterday Darwin had a thought provoking post about the impact of technologically advanced cultures on less developed cultures.  In the combox discussion there were frequent references to the Prime Directive of Star Trek.  This of course gives me an excellent excuse for posting this examination of the Prime Directive and for me to burnish my credentials as the “Geekier-Than-Thou” member of this blog.Memory Alpha, the Star Trek Wiki, has a good discussion here of what the Prime Directive is:

“The Directive states that members of Starfleet are not to interfere in the internal affairs of another species, especially the natural development of pre-warp civilizations, either by direct intervention, or technological revelation. When studying a planet’s civilization, particularly during a planetary survey, the Prime Directive makes it clear that there is to be “No identification of self or mission. No interference with the social development of said planet. No references to space, other worlds, or advanced civilizations.” (TOS: “Bread and Circuses”) Starfleet personnel are required to understand that allowing cultures to develop on their own is an important right and therefore must make any sacrifice to protect cultures from contamination, even at the cost of their own lives.

The Prime Directive is not enforced upon citizens of the Federation. Under the rules as defined in the Directive, a Starfleet crew is forbidden from removing citizens who have interfered with the culture of a world. Violating the directive can result in a court-martial for the offending Starfleet officer or crew. (TNG: “Angel One”)

In all, there are 47 sub-orders in the Prime Directive. (VOY: “Infinite Regress”)

Originally the Directive was a shield for primitive worlds. If such a world was in danger, Starfleet had been known to order ships to save that world, provided it could be done without violating the Directive. (TOS: “The Paradise Syndrome”)

The Directive was later amended, prohibiting Starfleet officers from intervening even if non-intervention would result in the extinction of an entire species or the end of all life on a planet or star system. By the 24th century the Federation had begun applying the Prime Directive to warp-capable species, refusing to interfere in internal matters such as the Klingon Civil War. (TNG: “Pen Pals”, “Homeward”, “Redemption”, “Redemption II”).”

The video that opens this post is from The Star Trek The Next Generation episode Pen Pals, and illustrates well the moral ambiguity that often ensued when Star Fleet officers were faced with a Prime Directive situation.   How can you turn your back on people who need your aid?  How can you be sure that such aid will not have long term calamitous results for the entities you sought to aid?  Is the Prime Directive an absolute as Lieutenant Worf contended, or is there room for interpretation?  What is the guiding purpose of the Prime Directive?

I think that Picard nails it when he says that the Prime Directive was intended for relieving Star Fleet officers from making intervention decisions when their emotions were aroused.  In a time when Star Fleet captains with enormous power at their disposal are often far from the direct control of the Federation I can see much wisdom in this policy.  Of course there are problems with the Prime Directive.

1.    The first problem is that it didn’t work in practice. When the Prime Directive is mentioned in one of the shows, the odds were heavy that the good guys were going to stomp all over the Prime Directive for some noble end.  Some sophistical justification was usually tacked on at the end to justify the violation, but the violation remained clear and glaring.  No consequence resulted from the violation, so one could be excused from assuming that no one in Star Fleet high command really took the Prime Directive all that seriously. Continue reading

Your Tax Dollars at Play

As faithful readers of this blog know I am a Star Trek fan.  Therefore I am doubly offended that the IRS decided to spend $60,000 bucks on a Star Trek and Gilligan’s Island parodies:

Yes, the IRS goes boldly where no man has gone before. And like a space tourist, the IRS wrote a check to do it. Some headlines suggest the price tag was $4 million. Actually, the IRS studio itself cost around $4 million but the Trekkie movie was around $60,000. Continue reading

Follow The American Catholic
Bookmark and Share
Subscribe by eMail

Enter your email:

Recent Comments
Archives
Our Visitors. . .
Our Subscribers. . .