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Editorial
26 Jun 2016

A Universe by Any Other Name

Fans and critics used to refer to the timeline created by Nero's incursion in "Star Trek (2009)" as "Reboot Timeline", "NuTrek", "JJVerse" or "Abramsverse". It has now been confirmed that Denise and Michael Okuda came up with "Kelvin Timeline" as an official name to be used in the new edition of the Star Trek Encyclopedia.

I appreciate the new name, and I have already begun to use "Kelvin Timeline" in my articles. But you will still find many instances of "Abramsverse" at EAS. This is because I see a difference between the new timeline established in "Star Trek (2009)" on one hand, and the general philosophy, look and feel of the Abrams movies on the other hand. The latter is what I still call "Abramsverse". The Abramsverse, in my view, includes more than just the Kelvin Timeline. It also stands for a fatalistic view of time-traveling villains, or for huge ships even before that particular timeline change, to name only two examples. The Kelvin design is part of the Abramsverse, yet (somewhat ironically) not of the Kelvin Timeline.

I like "Kelvin Timeline" as a real-life designation for the new timeline. But it troubles me that the name corroborates the fixation on the Kelvin that already exists in-universe in the Abrams movies. There's the Kelvin salt shaker in ST09, the Kelvin Memorial Archive in STID and the Kelvin pod in STB. I wouldn't be too much surprised if someone in "Star Trek Beyond" casually mentioned "We're living in the Kelvin Timeline" (which could be called, less politically correctly, "the timeline created by that Romulan madman"). In a "normal" universe the Kelvin would be just one of many ships that Starfleet lost and George Kirk just one of many casualties. But this particular universe is aware of its nature as a spin-off, it seems to need unsurpassed heroes or martyrs in its creation myth. Star Trek has always been and should be about people deciding about their own destinies, which is hampered by the idea that the Kelvin Timeline is something that shouldn't have happened, something that doesn't get fixed and something that is apparently celebrated in several ways.

Bernd Schneider

Archive

Recent EAS Updates
  • 27 Aug 2016
    Here is a new story by Travis Anderson: Star Trek Deep Space Nine: True Faith. Five years after the failed assassination of Vedek Bareil, Neela is given a second chance at life. But will she free herself of Winn's influence or will she remain a willing instrument of the Kai?
  • 20 Aug 2016
    Here is a poll on the on the USS Discovery ship design. There is also a new write-up on the reasons why Starfleet's ships have saucer-shaped main hulls at Canon Fodder.
  • 13 Aug 2016
    More "Star Trek Beyond"-related updates: the galleries with Abramsverse Federation Vessels and Abramsverse Alien Vessels, the Abramsverse FAQ and a write-up on Krall's backstory at Canon Fodder.
  • 11 Aug 2016
    Bryan Fuller revealed some details on the new series Star Trek: Discovery. It is set ten years before Kirk, has a female lead character who is not the captain and will feature many aliens.
  • 08 Aug 2016
    I have expanded the article on Continuity Issues of the Abramsverse regarding the apparently new official policy on how we are supposed to understand the Kelvin Timeline.
  • 30 Jul 2016
    More "Star Trek Beyond" updates: Abramsverse Federation Ship Classes, Abramsverse Alien Ship Classes and a remarkably short list of Movie Inconsistencies.
  • 24 Jul 2016
    New Poll: How do you rate "Star Trek Beyond"?
  • 23 Jul 2016
    On today's Star Trek panel at Comic-Con Bryan Fuller unveiled the name of the new series - it's Star Trek Discovery! The teaser trailer shows us the lead ship, the USS Discovery NCC-1031, leaving an asteroid base. The ship design is clearly based on the Enterprise design by Ralph McQuarrie for the never produced film "Planet of the Titans".
  • 23 Jul 2016
    Updates the first articles with Information from "Star Trek Beyond": Homosexuality in Star Trek, The New Enterprise Design, Kirk's Ripped or Removed Shirts.
  • 21 Jul 2016
    Full spoilers ahead. Here is my review of "Star Trek Beyond". Did I mention full spoilers? Feel free to submit your own review of the latest movie. I will gradually include information from "Star Trek Beyond" to all sections of the site. If you don't find at EAS something you noticed in the movie, please only contact me if it is something not yet discussed in the various forums and social media.
Latest Comments on EAS Articles
  • 25 Aug 2016

    "The "water pool" pool is just a couple of centimeters deep in the beginning. The bullets are rolling on a solid ground. When Kirk throws the three-breasted catwoman into the table, the bullets are suddenly swimming, and the water is at least 30 centimeters deep."

    I generally assumed that the earlier game was supposed to give the illusion that the table is full of water, and the balls are suspended on the surface as if it was solid, to have a vaguely 'futuristic' (albeit a strange application of, presumably, low-level forcefield technology) appearance.

    "The by far silliest logical mistake of the movie and probably of all Trek movies is when Spock points the weapon at Sybok after the crash landing of the shuttle. Kirk frantically screams "Shoot him!" But even if the weapon doesn't have a stun setting, Spock would still not have to let Sybok take it. He could throw it away, he could use it to hit Sybok, he could simply keep it in his hands until support arrives to apprehend the rogue Vulcan. So why does he choose to give the weapon to his brother? The only explanation that doesn't let Spock appear as a complete moron is that Sybok's mental powers had some effect on him. In this case, however, Spock's outrageously lame excuse that he couldn't shoot his brother would be dishonest for he wouldn't admit that he didn't act on his own."

    This dilemma has appeared elsewhere, like recent Doctor Who. The bizarre false dichotomy of 'either murder your loved one (or impostor of loved one, in some cases) in cold blood while you have them at gunpoint, or lower your weapon and completely surrender to them, compounded by an angry screaming commander who tries to force the choice into murder.' It is a very frustrating trope, and it always looks very silly to suggest that those are the only 2 choices available.

    "If leaping a few meters away from a torpedo explosion saves your life, then the blast can't be all that strong. And Kirk doesn't explicitly call for a smaller charge than usual. As for the effect, the explosion makes the columns tumble that "God" raised, but it leaves hardly a crater."

    The perpetual Star Trek weapons 'ground effect' problem. Shields > 'Primitive' nuclear weapons or laser weapons (at least, in the TNG era). Photon torpedoes/phasers damage and eventually bring down shields. Thus, Phasers/torpedoes ought to be > nuclear weapons. Yet whenever a Starfleet ship, Klingon ship, Son'a ship- or even the Borg in Frist Contact,whom I'd imagine have little care for restraint in the circumstances and seem to be trying to do maximum damage- fires on something we have a measurable scale for comparison against, like the ground, it does the damage of a large hand-grenade (or very small air-to-ground missile). I could see Starfleet always conscientiously lowering the power to avoid planetary destruction (and as per general order 24, that's just what their weapons SHOULD be capable of)... but the other races seem to confirm that, no, the weapons that SOMEHOW overcome shields that can withstand unfathomable forces only have enough power to destroy a small building; sometimes not even that much.

    Overall, your Star Trek V section on this page has a wonderful sense of humor; delightful reading.

    "The ship-wide announcement that Burke and Samno, the two assassins who are actually already dead, need to be interviewed, is conceived as a trap for their murderer. When Valeris comes to sickbay with a phaser, she must be surprised to find the room dark and the two men apparently asleep. But what was her original intention? Shoot the two crewman during their interrogation, which was scheduled to take place immediately?"

    I assumed another close-range stun to kill the weakened men before anyone arrives to interview them.

    "Why are delegates from various civilizations attending the conference (once again including the Romulan Ambassador)? Isn't this just about peace between the Federation and the Klingon Empire?"

    Perhaps most are from Federation member worlds, or the Federation council? The Romulan Ambassador then becomes the anomaly, of course- but he's already been an anomaly of participation in previous scenes anyway. :-)

    "Dr. Crusher advises Data to be "spontaneous, live in the moment, do something unexpected." That is exactly what the android does when he pushes her off the deck of the sailing ship into the water. I never understood why Deanna and Geordi are so upset about it ("That was not funny."), in addition to Beverly whose anger is perhaps still understandable. It almost seems like their sense of humor is just as impaired as Data's. I found it quite funny, just like everyone else in the theater. As a German saying goes, malicious joy is the best joy."

    Based on everyone I've spoken to, American humor seems to concur about this scene.

    "Moreover, when the Scimitar fires the engines, the Enterprise would realistically be dragged along. The two ships are likely to form a rigid connection after the crash, and only painfully cutting them apart should really help."

    I always wondered about that. In zero-g, they shouldn't pull apart unless there is a counterforce holding the Enterprise in place while the Schimitar pulls against it, correct? (Or else the connections binding them are loose enough for the drag of the Enterprise's mass to pull them apart, which doesn't seem to be the case?)

    "The auto-destruct is offline. What a contrived plot twist! If someone really wants to blow up the ship, there's plenty of antimatter available, so there's not really an excuse to give up this plan."

    And simillar to the shuttle issue below, can't they use the (previously shown to have weapons) Captain's Yacht or a shuttle- even in a suicicde ramming manuever- to destroy the Schimitar rather than blowing up the whole Enterprise? (Or, as you mention, use the transporters ALSO established in the last film to beam Picard back or others over)? There are just way too many solutions to this manufactured crisis that don't require Picard's commando raid or Data's death.

    "Why does Picard go nearly catatonic after Shinzon's death, requiring Data to finish the business? Sure, Shinzon was like his twin brother, but the emotional impact was clearly overdone in this scene. In a more realistic depiction, Picard should have given Shinzon a compassionate last glance, picked up his phaser rifle and blown up the emitter."

    Especially considering that Picard phasered his own self to death- not just an identical appearence, but his actual self time-displaced by a loop- with narry a hesitation or qualm in Time Squared.

  • 22 Aug 2016

    You got the aggravations of wikipedia editing and twitter limitations spot-on; I feel your pain!

  • 22 Aug 2016

    That is actually not true - else you would not have convert to religion in adulthood, that come of their own free will despite having grown up in an atheistic household - nor would you have people that change religions, nor would you have American Muslims or Jews (in the religious sense), unless you ascribe to the notion that it is simply immigration that brings these perspectives into the nation. But since America's history has been predominantly culturally influenced by Christianity up to the end of the 20th century, the fact that other religious beliefs thrive within the nation despite that societal influence does indeed suggest that people come to belief systems independent of whichever one has the loudest cultural voice in their region. Likewise, the existence of Middle Eastern Christian's, those in India, China, and other nations where in that faith is very much not culturally dominant - and even punishable by ostracization or Death - suggest very strongly that such beliefs are indeed determined by individuals, rather than their culture or family.

  • 22 Aug 2016

    "There is no need to "believe" in the Prophets' existence, as this much is proven"

    Yet strangely, numerous people- especially in the last few seasons, and especially Bashir and Ross- make statements about not believing in the prophets. Even though the prophets have been shown and demonstrated to exist, characters act as if this is some sort of earth religion with no 'visible' gods, where atheism is actually an option. Not only do they act with this strange form of denial- as if the Federation is so against any sort of religion that even when the gods have been demonstrably shown to existen and scanned with sensors, they still feel compelled to deny their existence on principle- they also downplay and disbelieve Bajoran prophecy (not just someone's interpretation of it, but the validity of the prophecies as predictors of the future in general), even when multiple prophecies have been shown to come true, and their originators- as Sisko suggests at one point- had a trans-temporal view of time, already having seen the future, and these 'prophecies' are merely reports of observations from a nonlinear standpoint.

    One could argue that this idiocy gets Jadzia killed- but either way, this is a very strange portrayal that seemed to be trying to take an 'Earth mixed crowd' approach (some religious individual, some atheistic, etc, as you might see today) and apply it to a place where such lack of belief would simply not be logical in the face of the evidence. Essentially, the writers constructed a scenario in which the voices that they gave to the characters were not logical positions for anybody to take under the circumstances.

  • 22 Aug 2016

    I may have asked this already, some time in the past, and if so I appologize for the redundancy- but have you ever considered an article on the opening credits of the various series? (Something that I believe would be unique on the internet, at least based on what I've been able to find.)

    It seems to me that each of the opening credits sequences- TNG and VOY in particular- contains stellar phenomenon and imagery unique to their series. An analysis of this imagery, a look at the apparent composition of the various star systems shown and what we may be able to gather about them from that, and any behind-the-scenes information (if there is any; I have not been able to find any, but you seem to have contacts not available to the average internet fan) could make for a very interesting and singular look at these generally-ignored visual sequences.

  • 22 Aug 2016

    Kinda agreeing with a lot of that; Nero's incursion would have shaken things up, disrupting the evolution of starships to their TOS form because suddenly the Romulans are dragged back into the astro-political situation earlier than they were in the Prime universe and likely they spent a whole bunch of time trying to explain Nero was nothing to do with them, but Star Fleet are now worried about these monstrous Romulan ships that might be out there leading to the path to the Prime Constitution class being interrupted, and being delivered later and bigger (the underlying technology perhaps not as sophisticated as in the Prime version, but has "bigger" thrown at it "behind the scenes"). Because of the delay in the Constitution programme, Kelvin type and derived starships form the core of Starfleet longer than they did in the Prime so giving us the very distinct jump in look that's apparent in the first movie.
    You can actually "explain" the stardate question consistently in any case. Stardates seem to be different in different time periods as we've seen. In Enterprise, real Earth dates are used, and we don't see a stardate until TOS (and not in "The Cage"...) so we don't have the canon form of stardate used prior to 2265 ish. So what if since at least 2233, and prior to 2265 in Prime the stardate was the system used in the Kelvinverse movies (which is an obviously Terra-Centric system, and was perhaps changed at a later date to be more politically neutral)? The Jellyfish's computer would have known that was the correct form to deliver the stardate to someone of the era, it knew damn fine when it was.
    It's a parallel universe - all instances of time travel will create parallel universes, and it's observer arrogance alone that will maintain that "we fixed it" because you ended up creating a universe sufficiently similar to the one you originally diverged from. Remember, we have always been along with the observers/instigators for the ride until Star Trek (2009).

  • 21 Aug 2016

    IMO. The "parallel universe" is the most reasonable explanation. Star Trek has some of the least-consistent time-travel plot-holes, and Kelvin-verse is no different. Considering we had an entire series (Enterprise) that invoked time-travel as the background-dressing, it has to be "canon" into the Kelvin-verse, and as such there was already universe-tampering. So the way to read this would be
    TOS->TAS->STIV->TNG->DS9->FC->VOY->Nero/Spock's time travel into Kelvinverse
    then
    FC -> ENT ->Kelvinverse

    For all intents, The events of FC and ENT would be similar in the prime timeline, seeing as Enterprise has a rather large Butterfly effect on events (see Shockwave) it would not be unreasonable to consider that each time travel technology and means has different consequences. "Slingshot" TOS time travel and 29th century(VOY) "time teleporting" seem to have the same effect, in that any incursion into the past, remains history, while ENT's 31st century Time travellers seem to be able to remove themselves and others from the timeline, affecting the universe but not themselves or the target. Perhaps the means that Spock used has a "fuzzy" landing, which is how Nero wound up in 2233, and the Jellyfish into 2258 of a parallel universe where everything (FC->ENT) was similar to Prime, and only with destroying the Kelvin did a directive from the federation to "make ships bigger" because this monster of a ship is out there. That would also seem to justify that super-sized ship in Into Darkness.

    But there are a lot of errors made in the Kelvin-verse just from a storytelling perspective that even if we overlook the time travel mechanic placing it in the original universe, diverged universe or a parallel universe from the beginning, there's plenty of small things like the Jellyfish's computer, that create more questions.

    One way to resolve the Jellyfish's computer date is by asking the wrong question. TOS's stardates didn't have any special meaning (eg relative to position in the galaxy,) where as TNG and later were the episode numbers. Obviously a film is not going to have either, so the computer is essentially responding to "when is my birthday" (like how people will usually say what month and day not the year) not "what stardate is my birthday", and has no point of reference to calculate a stardate.

  • 19 Aug 2016

    I didn't give that a thought yet, although I watched "Elogium" only recently. Thanks for the hint!

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