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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

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  • 27 Jun 2016

    Nicely put (with the 'Kelvin Timeline'). I do have one hope for the designation; that if- and I understand, after the marketing, that people are leery- but IF Justin Lin manages to break away from what Abrams did, and use the legacy of what he created to still tell a decent Trek story, that this new name will give him a chance to escape Abrams' shadow. So that even if fans continue to loathe the 'Abramsverse' until the day they die, they may be able to separate out the 'Kelvin Timeline' as still containing something of value, and not throw the baby out with the bathwater. (That all hinges, of course, on the 'IF' of whether Beyond will be any good, but I have high hopes based on everything Lin has said in interviews. He seems to have the right creative mindset, at least, to salvage something from the universe he's been handed.)

  • 26 Jun 2016

    Sure. I'll give it a chance. I only hope it remains recognizable as Star Trek and doesn't get too ambitious.

  • 26 Jun 2016

    I agree with you. The drawing nicely demonstrates how the unchanged exterior may correspond with the sets seen in the film. And while it shows that a huge ship would be required to fit in the hallway and the brewery (which we already knew), it also becomes clear that the usage of space is poor on this ship (compared to the Enterprise-A or Enterprise-D, for instance).

  • 26 Jun 2016

    Looking at the admittedly well-drawn cutaway from Popular Mechanics, it corroborates the notion that the new Enterprise is, in my opinion, unreasonably huge. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like the window arrangement is still mostly the same. And making the ship even more spindly worsens the problem. With the pylon and nacelle redesign, it looks like the nacelles could snap off easily. But I guess that's the point. Digressing, I kinda like the Franklin though.

  • 25 Jun 2016

    Y'all complain too much. The serialized format could be really intriguing, and it's exciting that the new series will be incorporating a wider variety of genderer/orientation/race characters than before.

    This sounds infinitely more promising than the reboot film series and it's the best news I've heard about Trek in ages. There's no reason to inherently fear the serialized format - TV is far more ambitious than it was in the past. It may just wind up being a great thing. Why let it make you worried?

  • 25 Jun 2016

    Ugh, continuing "serialized" stories. That was one thing Roddenberry warned them about when he handed over the reigns before his death. He said "avoid continuing stories." I prefer episodic stories myself. But, at least the series is being released online. That way, if you miss an episode, it's not the end of the world. I wonder if all 13 episodes will drop at once (Netflix style) or if we have to wait for a new one each week (traditional TV style.) If it's going to be drawn out over 13 weeks, I may just wait until all episodes are up.

    I don't mind gay characters. However, simply have that be the character's state of being, and not a focus of entire story arcs or anything. Establish that the character is gay but don't have it be a thing. If you have it be a thing, you defeat the purpose of Roddenberry's vision of the future, where people are just people and everyone is equal without the petty BS that divides us even to this day.

  • 24 Jun 2016

    It now occurs to me that if this is true, that the ships name and registry goes with the saucer, and the secondary hull is viewed as replaceable, this would then explain out of sequence ship registries, such as the USS Constellation - their saucers were originally constructed for another class of vessel, but were then refit to the new class in order to bring more ships online faster. This is the advantage to standardization of construction, beyond just the sharing of components it allows for these kinds of overhauls. Don't need as many Saladin class destroyers? Refit one to a Constitution class cruiser. Instead of a few years for a new vessel, a few months of refit to mate up to the engines. Or even change during construction. Whoops, we have more Hermes class scouts under construction than we actually need it turns out. Adjust the work order and the partially completed units become something else. But as the hull registry is the construction contract number (NCC = Naval Construction Contract), that would stay the same.

  • 24 Jun 2016

    A thought. What if the refit was not the first refit either? The Motion Picture Enterprise was derived from the Phase II plans. Let us for a moment consider Phase II then, and insert it between TOS&TAS and TMP. Now we have a clear lineage of evolving design. For Phase II, a new secondary hull but the original saucer remaining. We have another 2 examples of similar secondary hull substitutions in Star Trek, in the hull added to NX-01, and the Enterprise-C, which had two different secondary hull configurations shown in series.

    Replacing the secondary hull with a new unit may have been viewed more as an engine upgrade. After all, the saucer was designed to separate (as witnessed a few times in TNG). Building a new secondary hull to mate up to existing saucers is still cheaper than building a whole new ship so I would guess. Then after Phase II, the saucer needed a major refit, while the secondary hull was still relatively fresh and only had service upgrades. As such, even if it was nearly half replaced, due to how new the secondary hull was, it would be considered cheaper and easier to refit.

    And it would explain why the lack of refit later on as well, as now there was no ready-fresh systems remaining, and it would need a complete bow to stern rebuild.

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