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Editorial
24 May 2020

Strange Old Worlds

I can't remember any Star Trek announcement of the past two decades that was so well-received in the fan community as the one of Strange New Worlds, the Discovery spin-off series with Captain Pike (Anson Mount), Spock (Ethan Peck) and Number One (Rebecca Romijn).

As much as I personally hate the prospect that the reckless reboot of Star Trek continues, Strange New Worlds (SNW) is proof that the people at CBS are listening to the fans, and willing to revise some of their errors they made with Discovery and, to lesser extent, with Picard:

  • Like TOS end every other classic Star Trek series, SNW is going to be episodic again. This is a clear departure from the heavily serialized concept of DIS and PIC, which at the time these two were announced was deemed the only way to produce a "modern" TV series.
  • As per Akiva Goldsman's affirmations, the new show is "going to try to harken back to some classical Trek values, to be optimistic." This is an implicit confession that these values were not present or not perceptible enough in Discovery and Picard.
  • The example of Captain Pike and his classic virtues illustrates what is wrong with the "edgy" characters of Discovery, most of whom are eccentric, obstinate, deceitful or otherwise unlikable - and simply not Trek-like. The moment Pike comes aboard in DIS: "Brother", it is obvious he is designed as the savior of Discovery, and is well-received by fans and "haters" of the show alike.

On the downside, SNW will be the creatively most limited Star Trek series ever produced. It will have the reboot look and the anachronistic technology of Discovery (at least the one whose existence Starfleet doesn't lie about). It will feature the characters of Pike, Spock and Number One we already know. It will have to fit into the barely eight years from Discovery to the Kirk era. This does not sound at all like the premise Star Trek needs to boldly go and explore strange new worlds (at least not without giving rise to even more major continuity errors).

In this regard, SNW is the logical culmination of a trend. For some reason the producers of new Star Trek are obsessed with "going back to the roots", with reducing the complex universe to a very simple formula and with focusing on known characters from the TOS era.

  • Abrams did it in "Star Trek (2009)" with the formula "Star Trek = Kirk + Spock + Enterprise". An alliance forged by destiny in this alternate universe, and against all logic.
  • All Star Trek movies of the past 20 years did it by designing a villain similar to, or even identical to Khan, because "Star Trek movie = fight against a villain who wants to destroy the Enterprise, Earth or the galaxy" and "ultimate Star Trek villain = Khan".
  • Discovery initially tried something new and brutally anti-nostalgic, I'll give them that. The story would have worked infinitely better in the far future and with a race other than the Klingons, but it was forcibly squeezed in the pre-TOS era, with the only benefit that it could use the punchline "Back to the roots, before Kirk, etc.". When the series went downhill, it was decided to throw in the usual high dose of token nostalgia, because "Star Trek before Kirk = Pike + Spock + Enterprise", which now becomes the premise of SNW.

The people at CBS fail to see Star Trek as a whole, as a universe that has a future and not just a past, that waits to be further explored. Picard is a small step in the right direction but it too lives too much in the past. Strange New Worlds may become a success because of its likable characters and the return to classic values. But it is further sad proof that the Star Trek Universe has become a canvas that no one wants to extend anymore, and that simply gets painted over.

Bernd Schneider

Archive

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Latest Comments on EAS Articles (Overview)
  • 20 Oct 2020

    Suggested addition:

    COUNTER-CONTINUITY
    * As far back as the 24th Century, starships had the ability to recrystallise dilithium in their warp cores. As far back as the 23rd Century, it was possible to restore Dilithium using particles obtained from a primitive atomic fission power plant. The most huge problem with season 3 is the highly artificial cataclysm that really isn't even slightly plausible.

  • 19 Oct 2020

    Ever since 2009, Star Trek sure seems to love its natural disasters that affect the whole galaxy.

    That said, I don’t really buy it. By the 32nd century, I doubt they’d still be reliant on Dilithium, or incapable of manufacturing it artificially. I can’t imagine the time-drives, bigger-on-the-inside space-pods, temporal observatories and the like with powered by dilithium; if they could beam people through time, it seems to me that they had self-contained super-powerful power sources far beyond the matter/antimatter/dilithium-chamber reactions of the 22nd-24th centuries. Plus, they could beam people through time in Relativity… and a single ship could beam them to/from the Delta Quadrant and Mars without hassle… it makes transwarp beaming (which was invented in the Prime universe already, pre-Hobus) look like a ship-to-surface transport by comparison. Not to mention the numerous other forms of travel that Starfleet has encountered- from subspace catapults to coaxial drive to ‘transwarp coils’ to soliton waves- which needed no Dilithium, which I’m sure seven extra centuries of technological development would easily be able to make work in a practical way. As I saw someone else online pointing out,t eh Romulans had mastered non-Dilithium power sources and warp drives for literal centuries, the Federation could doubtless have switched over all their ships to something like that in a heartbeat, at their tech level; in the 31st century, probably even chest-badge communicators could have micro-singularities built-in, with an artificial wormhole generator nestled right next to them to route the communications to the far side of the cosmos. :-)

    So, yeah. I get the universe they are trying to make- a limited-resources kinda space-travel-is-something-you-can’t-take-for-granted-anymore sort of thing, and a rebuild-the-Federation storyline. I understand what the Burn is meant to accomplish. But I don’t buy a dilithium shortage in the 32nd century crippling the Federation the way a dilithium shortage in the 24th century would. Their technology had moved way, *way* beyond that by this point. They could easily beam from planet to planet without starships if needed; maybe even beam the starships from system to system without FTL travel. Not to mention the various alternate forms of FTL…

    Maybe a mass-Omega Molecule explosion destroying subspace or something might have been more effective, with people stuck charting routes through the rare intact-areas of space? I dunno. Either way, I think they could have come up with a much better explanation for what they were trying to accomplish here; this one doesn't check out, even by the end of the 24th century.

    The small caveat of not buying the base premise at all aside… this sounds like a promising direction, at least.

  • 18 Oct 2020

    Thanks. I have fixed that.

  • 17 Oct 2020

    it reminded me of the series Andromeda.
    a fallen great nation having to be put back together by people from the past.

  • 17 Oct 2020

    I believe the planet in "The Enemy Within" is Alfa-177, not Alfa-117.

    https://memory-alpha.fandom...

  • 16 Oct 2020

    Yes, Grudge!

    I think the Cause of the "Burn" is going to get dangled in front of us until about halfway through the season when we find out what it actually is. Much like Burnham's "Grievous Offence" to distance herself from Spock last season. I'm also expecting it will be several episodes before she reunites with the rest of the crew back on Discovery. Enough time to grow those long braids at least. :)

  • 16 Oct 2020

    Yup, that's a promising start :)

    We have a little bit of detail on "The Burn" now, which means dilithium is in short supply, which makes me think Discovery is going to be a double game changer for this new era - she has a FTL drive that is not dilithium dependent and she perhaps has really, really good dilithium recrystallisation technology aboard that was reconfigured by Po to hold the time crystal... Suddenly this diminished Federation has something to offer. I'd presume in the intervening centuries, the mycelial network has had a chance to recover fully.

    Also Grudge :)

  • 16 Oct 2020

    Okay, if you suffer from motion sickness... be careful for about the first 20 minutes of the Premier. The director went overboard with the camera movements, lol!

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