Introduction to EAS
"Space - the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise, its five-year mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before."
Ex Astris Scientia (EAS) is an unofficial, privately owned and strictly non-commercial website dedicated to the Star Trek science fiction franchise. It was created and is maintained by Bernd Schneider, an IC designer and long-time Star Trek fan based in Germany. EAS focuses on the starships and future technology that appeared in the various TV series and movies, as well as on the discussion of artistic, social and philosophical aspects of Star Trek. The Starship Database, Starship Articles, Fleet Charts, Treknology Encyclopedia and the treatises on Time Travel and Investigations are the most comprehensive references of their kind available anywhere. They are considered by some fans as almost authoritative, although the conclusions put forward at EAS are in no way official.
EAS is canon-based, meaning that only evidence that actually appeared on screen is taken into account, as opposed to games or novels. If in any way possible, updates and amendments of the facts and conclusions at EAS take place immediately whenever newly found canon evidence requires them. Minor maintenance of the site takes place almost every day. New content is added at least twice a week.
EAS includes episode reviews of all Star Trek series and movies (those of TNG are still in work), galleries of starships and other pictures, many of which were originally scanned for this site and are not available in this form elsewhere. Among the numerous smaller sections of the site the continually updated Links page with 200 hand-picked Star Trek sites is of particular interest, as well as the Ex Astris Excellentia Award (EAE), the only renowned award for Trek websites still in existence. It is given out to outstanding Trek sites in uninterrupted succession since 1999. EAS itself received a large number of distinctions too.
The site was launched on January 21st, 1998, at that time located on the server of the University of Siegen at www.uni-siegen.de/~ihe/bs/startrek. Since 2000 the domain is www.ex-astris-scientia.org and has been secured until 2016. The language of EAS is English. A small number of articles are available in German. However, an EAS version in German or other translations of the site are not being planned. While EAS is essentially based on static HTML, there are several customized or custom-made CGI and PHP scripts implementing interactive functions like the Guestbook, Add Your Link, Poll, Feedback Form, Episode Review Submission Form, Substance/Particle Submission Form and the Site Search. An RSS newsfeed is available as well. A strict ethical code enforced at EAS includes a ban on scripts that are not under the control of the EAS webmaster, as well as on any form of advertisements or sponsoring.
With roughly 6000 unique visitors every day and 200 gigabytes transfer volume per month EAS is among the world's top Star Trek websites. The site ranks between #3 and #7 in the Star Trek category at Alexa, only surpassed by news and community sites. EAS is the biggest and most frequented commerce-free Trek site to exist and the arguably best known Trek site maintained by a single individual.
EAS spawned several fan projects that would not quite fit into the strictly canon nature of the site and were outsourced to their own websites with distinct names and layouts, namely the Advanced Starship Design Bureau (ASDB), The Starfleet Museum, the Journal of Applied Treknology (JoAT), Star Trek Fan Fiction and Canon Fodder. All these sites present the works of various artists and authors. They reside on the same server as the main site and are taken care of by Bernd Schneider. The officially endorsed forum of EAS is the Subspace Comms Network.
It was in 1973 when I made first contact with Star Trek: The Original Series. As a child I didn't get the whole picture of what was going on in the show, but there was already some difference between Star Trek and other TV series to me. It must have been the very special, often surrealistic atmosphere -although I would have chosen different words- and the fact that future technology was credibly presented for the first time. In those days TOS epitomized the vision of scientific miracles and of a bright future more than any other fiction. Contrary to common belief I don't think that it has lost much of its credibility since. I was lucky that my father was not really interested in football (soccer), otherwise I would have been facing the same dilemma that many German families had on Saturday afternoons when Star Trek was aired on the second channel and the sports news on the first one. There was no chance yet for Star Trek to become really popular. Another problem, especially in Germany, was and still is that the episodes are shown exclusively in a dubbed version. Translation errors and unintentional humor included. Especially TOS has been given a silly undertone that can't be found in the English version.
I didn't see the Star Trek movies of the 70's and 80's in the theater, perhaps because cinema generally wasn't very popular. The first time that I watched Star Trek again after it hadn't been repeated on TV for almost a decade was in 1988. It was also the first time that the complete series was aired in Germany (save "Patterns of Force"), and I didn't miss a single episode. Yes, there were really bad ones, but even the worst episodes became pieces of the entirety, the Star Trek Universe. TNG marked a new beginning, and I liked it from the very first episode. There were not only the advances in both fictional technology and real-world VFX. TNG was special because it had both the pleasant atmosphere with carpeted floor in the engineering room and, on the other hand, still the daring "where no one has gone before" feel. And great stories. And Jean-Luc Picard, the best of all captains.
Well, I didn't care much for DS9 in the beginning, which is mostly because the stories of the first season were so darn boring. Subsequently, as it developed and unfolded its story arcs, I became very fond of it. DS9 was the series that perfectly combined the bright and hilarious with the dark and threatening, and so were the characters: always good for a surprise. I don't know to express it better, it created new facets of Star Trek, this simple explanation should suffice. The same goes for Voyager. However, unlike DS9 this series hit me like a lightning. Ask my pals Thorsten and Steffi about my facial expression when I saw the starship's engines fold upward for the first time. It was the series of "Wow!" effects, which doesn't mean that profound stories were missing. They were rather the rule than the exception. It's only that the many critics probably failed to see them behind the outstanding visual effects. Star Trek Enterprise continued where Voyager ended. Only set 200 years too early. The series lived up to its premise as late as in the final season, arguably one of the best seasons of all Trek series.
I enjoyed J.J. Abrams' reboot "Star Trek (2009)", because it brought back the excitement into the franchise. But as a prequel to the Trek I love the popcorn movie with its gaping plot holes and its lack of a positive vision definitely failed. "Star Trek (2009)" compares to the old Trek like a one-night stand to a decade-long relationship.
What do I like most about Star Trek? Well, I could give you the brief and obvious answer: starships! I certainly have more sophisticated motives as well, such as Gene Roddenberry's commonly quoted vision of a better future for humankind. While both answers are true, I usually consider the entirety, the consistency that keeps Star Trek together and that distinguishes it from other fiction. Star Trek has a philosophy that I continue to hold up despite all recent efforts to break it up or water it down. This is the Star Trek Universe, or at least my view of it.
Why did I create this website? The answer may surprise, but I did it all for myself in the first place. I have always tried to sort out and categorize things, and this is my approach to Star Trek likewise. After the fun of watching comes the fun of analyzing. So this website is more or less my personal compendium of Star Trek, as far as I have the time to and feel like adding something. However, before you call me egocentric, I have done few things about this site all alone. There were many visitors who gave me feedback, be it praise or criticism, or provided me with valuable information and suggestions. I maintain regular contact with several of them, and a few of them I can even call my friends. I think this alone was worth while all the efforts putting up this site, as an incentive for discussions about our favorite (I hope so) science fiction.
Make it so!
I originally designed the site layout and techniques with a Pentium I 100MHz with 32MB RAM and 2MB graphics board and for Netscape 3. That was in 1998. But in order to take advantage of the increasing number of text and layout enhancements a CSS-compatible browser (at least Internet Explorer 5 or Mozilla 1.1) is required to view all parts of the current site correctly. I strongly recommend using Mozilla Firefox, rather than Internet Explorer. It is faster, safer, more intuitive and more versatile. Internet Explorer suffers from its obscure security concept, its irresolvable integration with the Windows (file) Explorer, its inflexible user interface and several rendering errors (especially regarding table borders) that I am not willing to recode the site for.
This website is laid out to occupy the whole screen width and not a tiny portion of your browser window. 1024*768 or 1280*1024 pixels or is the optimum screen resolution, but it will look good even at as few as 800*600 pixels. True color is strongly recommended. If you see ugly color steps in images, especially where there should be a gradient, it is probably because you have only 16 bit color depth or less. I recommend to turn off the font smoothing globally, not just for this site. At least that's what I am doing because blurred fonts strain my eyes and give me the wrong impression that I would need new glasses. With Windows XP and Firefox you still have that chance.