Category Archives: History

The Fall of the Federation, the Fall of America?

The 2nd Deep Space Nine

The 2nd Deep Space Nine

WARNING: Book Spoilers Ahead!

One thing I’ve always loved about Star Trek is its contemporary social commentary, and that is as true with most of the novels I’ve read as it is with most of the T.V. series and movies.

Revelation and Dust is the first book in a new series of novels titled “The Fall”, where a singular event signals the possible downfall of the Federation and its Khitomer Accords allies with the opposing Typhon Pact, a fall into war, a fall from grace.

The novel starts with the dedication of the 2nd Deep Space Nine (a Starfleet Frontier-class station), some two years after a terrorist attack by rogue members of the Typhon Pact destroyed the original, killing some 2,000 Federation citizens. Members of the Khitomer Accords alliance, such as the Klingons (whose Klingon Qang-class warships have been in conflicts with the Typhon Pact), Ferengi, and Cardassians arrive on the station. Surprisingly, even members of the Typhon Pact, the Romulans and Gorn, arrive for the dedication as well. Just before the dedication of the new station can be completed, the Federation president is assassinated, and evidence eventually implicates the Typhon Pact as the perpetrators.

The storyline, in some ways, vary obviously parallels the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. In a previous post, I commented on some of the moral and ethical struggles the United States and Federation have faced and continue to face in light of these attacks.

The Federation now faces a choice, will it fall from grace and declare war on the Typhon Pact, when never in its history has it ever declared war first? Will doing so make a mockery of the peace and principles that the Federation so espouses, the very reason for its creation in the first place? By the same vein, the United States faces similar moral, ethical, and even legal questions, such as: What actions are justifiable to protect itself? Spying on one’s allies (even though those same allies spy on it as well)? Violating the Geneva conventions when it interrogates captured suspected terrorists? Spying on one’s own people, in violation of its own laws?

At what point do our actions to protect ourselves lead to the destruction, the fall, of our core principles, those tenets that we value above all else, those virtues that make us who we are? John F. Kennedy once said, “The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” Is America at the edge of its “fall”, or are we merely at a “stumble” in the continuing road that is history? I had a long talk with a fellow lover of history the other week, in which we both discussed how our very conversation on this and other matters may have been paralleled over a century ago by two British gentlemen in the years before the Great War, when the British Empire reined supreme over the world, unsurpassed by any other contemporary nation …

The Starship Polaris: Our North Star

The Starship Polaris by Dave Metlesits

With friends and family now departed from our home for Thanksgiving, I have time to post about one of my favorite subjects, Star Trek! Today I bring to you the Starfleet Polaris-class starship, a fan-made ship set in the TOS era of Star Trek. It’s a wonder nowadays to be able to search the internet for literally any topic you want, be it starships, Thanksgiving day recipes, or what-have-you. We have a guiding star in our travels through the internet.

It’s fascinating, because with all this information at our hands we often limit ourselves to only the subjects we love, so focused are we on our guiding star, our Polaris. In pre-internet days, people were very limited in their ability to choose what topics to find information on (hello World Book Encyclopedia), and subsequently read information about topics they may not have chosen if presented with alternatives. How fascinating is it that we have so much more choice and breadth in our information today, but are less generally well-rounded in our knowledge? So go forth today and veer away from your guiding star and read about something you may not have at the top of your favorites list, or better yet, something that was not on that list to begin with!

Future Imperfect

Just as in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s series finale, I sometimes feel as though our own society is racing towards collapse. I see man’s inhumanity towards man, politicians spouting the same old rhetoric, petty acts of vandalism and destruction, and so much ill-will towards other groups, whether those groups be different religiously, ethnically, racially, or whatnot.

But as a lover of all things historical, I take the moment to look at our world and compare it to what it was like even a century ago, and despite all our problems plaguing us today, from the economy, to racial and national tensions, to ecological stresses, we are better off than we were. We do live better and longer lives, with more opportunities than ever before to achieve our dreams both large and small.

It’s difficult sometimes to be positive, but it’s important in times of difficulty to be mindful of all we do have and all we might yet achieve, both individually and as a society. We can change the world for the better. We already have. We just have to remind ourselves of that every now and then.

So here’s to a future perfect!

Here’s a new starship, to boot:

Drugs, Violence, and the Jem’Hadar

That white tube in his neck pumps drugs directly into his system.

Star Trek is full of warrior races in opposition to the Federation. We’ve got the ubiquitous Klingons, plus the Andorians, Nausicaans, Kazon, etc. A relatively recent addition to that menagerie of hostile warrior peoples is the Jem’Hadar. There are a few things that set them apart from all others, one is that they were genetically modified to be the “perfect” warrior, unquestioning, skilled, cold-blooded killers. Second, they are born addicted to a drug called ketracel-white, without daily use of which they will die.

As with many other incidences of Star Trek, even the Jem’Hadar are an analogy for our lives. Our recent wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan have produced a similar, if not so blatant problem. But why stop at our warriors in our examination? How many people do we know that have a de facto drug store in their medicine cabinets to treat their conditions? Medication for a heart condition, hypertension, diabetes, etc.? Are these not medications without which these people would die? Are they not controlled, in a way, through their continued reliance on these drugs? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but perhaps in asking them we can eventually solve the problems they pose. Having had numerous discussions on these issues with my wife, she firmly believes that our reliance on artificial foods and sedentary lifestyles are major contributing factors for many of the ailments that plague us now. She says we have thrown our lives out of balance as a result, and that by seeking to balance our lives through a healthy diet and exercise are key to ridding us of many of these problems.

As someone who used to be 45 pounds overweight with frightening bouts of unexplained chest pains until I changed my diet and started regularly exercising, I tend to agree.

Below  are some ships crewed by Star Trek’s addicted warriors:

Klingons, from treacherous to honorable

Old School Kor.

The Klingons from Star Trek are an interesting species.

When first presented in the Original Series, they were portrayed as manipulative, deceptive, treacherous even. We saw this many times throughout that series, as the Klingons tried to sneakily destroy the Federation, whether it be via poisoning grain (Sherman’s Planet), or arming primitives, or just being jerks in general.

New School Kor. Apparently the head ridges were part of the deal.

Fast forward a hundred years and Klingons, as exemplified by Worf, seem to be a wholly different society. Now they are concerned with honor, fight blood feuds to the death, are ruled by an Emperor, and are an all-around primitive-like warrior society equipped with all-too modern weaponry. Some fans of the franchise didn’t particularly take to this sudden change, some argued that no society can change so radically in such a short time. Is that true, though?

Let’s take a look at a society in our own world, Japan. Prior to American Commodore Perry’s arrival in Japan in 1853, Japanese society was isolationist, feudal, and by the standards of the western world at that time was technologically primitive. Perry’s arrival changed all that.

Within 40 years of Perry’s arrival, Japan had become a modern industrial nation, and by 1905 Japan proved it by being the first eastern power in recent history to decisively defeat a European power. Japanese society had also undergone a radical transformation. We were no longer dealing with a feudal warrior society going into battle on horseback armed with swords and bows, by the dawn of the 20th century, Japan was a militarily aggressive nation that had a modern army equipped with current firearms and fielding a navy powerful enough to defeat the Russian far eastern fleet.

Now let’s look at Japan 100 years after Perry’s arrival. Japanese society in 1953 had undergone yet another transformation. By this time Japanese society was no longer militarily aggressive, but was beginning its rise as an democratic, peaceful, and economic power.

Societies change, people change, the world changes, and that’s a beautiful thing.

Usually.

Below are some Klingon ships in honor of changing societies.

Star Trek: The Original Series

Ok, yeah, so they’re not quite kissing in this pic. But they do. Eventually. Compelled, actually. But they do.

There’s a lot to admire about the little sci-fi series that started it all. The Original Series with Shatner as Kirk, Nimoy as Spock, etc. featured some real jaw-droppers if not outright firsts in not just science fiction, but television history:

  • First interracial kiss – Kirk and Uhura, way before Spock and Uhura did it in the latest incarnation of Star Trek. Now, in the episode that featured this kiss, Kirk and Uhura were basically forced by god-like beings to do it against their will, but hey, it was still pretty ground breaking for its time.
  • A Russian as a good guy – Yep, Chekov, loveable faux Beetles haircut and all. At the height of the Cold War with the Russians in the 1960s, Star Trek actually dared to show a Russian as part of the “good guys!” The closest analogy I can think of at the moment would be like showing a member of Al Qaeda as a card-carrying aficionado of the “good guy club” today.
  • An Asian that speaks English, and well – Good old Sulu, they actually showed an Asian person in some role other than that of some stereotypical kow-towing Charlie Chan manner. Kudos to Trek for that.
  • An Alien that was … well, sympathetic – Yes, as strange as it may sound now with our multitude of sci-fi t.v. shows featuring good guy aliens, the network execs in charge of Star Trek back in the 60s were awfully wary of Mr. Spock. I mean, he’s got pointed ears, like some devil. Perhaps even THE devil!
  • I’m sure there’s more, but I can’t recall at the moment what other notable feats Star Trek: TOS achieved.

In honor of all that TOS goodness, here are some more starships, enjoy!

  • Starfleet Detroyat-class: Fan-made starship, and cool to boot.
  • Starfleet Pyotr Velikiy-class: Featured in the Vanguard novel series I’m half-reading at the moment (half-reading because I am also reading Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind; awesome book by the way!)
  • Starfleet Federation-class: This is another fan-made starship with a rather interesting, if convoluted, backstory. As near as I can figure it out, back when Trek was in that dead zone of having been cancelled from the airwaves but not yet having made it into the cinema screen, some guy named Franz Joseph got the thumbs up from Gene Roddenberry to publish a book with all new starship designs. After Trek picked up some Hollywood steam, Gene basically gave Joseph the boot and for all intents and purposes told Joseph to take his new ship designs and shove a photon torpedo up them. Oh well.

The Earth-Romulan War and Drones

In the last season (4) of Star Trek: Enterprise, we get a little taste of what’s to come when the Romulans start using drone starships to attack Earth and its allies. One of the lines from the episodes dealing with the drone starship went something like this:

“If they’re behind these attacks, we have to find some way to stop them, or next time, they might come back with a thousand of those ships.”

The Romulans are portrayed as quite devious and are using the drone attacks to prevent any alliances being formed among the neighboring species (Humans, Andorians, Tellarites, Vulcans) in the region. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have been killed by the drone attacks.

The United States of course uses drones now. We’ve used them to kill thousands of people in our War on Terror. Is it safe to make a comparison between the two? I’m not entirely sure. On the one hand they have killed quite a few terrorists, but have also killed civilians. We’ve also used the drones to strike into  the sovereign territory of an ally, with the justification that there are terrorists hiding in their land. The rationale for the Romulans’ attack is completely different from the U.S. rationale, or is it? Are both powers not using the drone attacks to destabilize the region and make sure the enemy powers don’t unite against them? What do you all think?