The Utopia Planitia shipyards above Mars in the 24th century.
According to this article, there is now definitive proof that Mars once contained flowing water. We’ve suspected for years that Mars once harbored liquid water on its surface, a good indication life may have once been found on our near planetary neighbor. Now we know for sure that it definitely did have liquid water. What does this mean for us? Might we, as the picture above, eventually terraform and colonize Mars and build something like a Starfleet Presidio-class space station in orbit over it? My question is whether we have the right to do so. I think the answer depends on whether there is any life on Mars today. If there is, we would more than likely destroy it by terraforming Mars’ environment to better suit ourselves. But then we run into a bit of a conundrum, because don’t we as a species have a right to propagate and ensure our survival? Right now we are confined to Earth, and as the saying goes, we’ve got all our eggs in one basket. What is the measure by which we determine how possible alien life on Mars compares to the billions of humans of Earth?
Perhaps if NASA develops its warp drive in the next few decades such a terraforming and colonization of Mars would be more likely, and such an academic question will become more existential.
It sounds like science fiction, but in fact NASA is working on a real-life warp drive. Theoretically, with this technology we could achieve interstellar travel with effective speeds of 10c! We would be able to travel to nearby stars and the planets that surround them all within a human lifetime. The possibilities are just endless. It fills me with such terrible hope for the future of humanity that we will be able to escape the womb of mother Earth and finally reach the stars! What wondrous opportunities for humanity will this herald?
Simultaneously I am filled with equal amounts of trepidation, for what terrible dangers will we discover? Aggressive species? Unforeseen space phenomena? Technical difficulties that lead to us being lost in space? Unknown killer viruses from alien worlds?
Perhaps we will discover less-advanced species nearby and instead of following our own history and taking advantage of them, we will, like the Vulcans in Star Trek, merely send something like a Vulcan Survey Ship to observe and perhaps help them on their way to the stars.
The Bajorans were first introduced into Star Trek as a species of refugees, their homeworld having been taken over by the reptilian-like Cardassians. What was the Federation, that all-inclusive beneficent civilization in part founded by enlightened human beings seeking to do no harm, doing while the Cardassians were strip-mining the Bajoran homeworld for decades and enslaving its people? Nothing. You see, the Federation has this policy of non-interference (called the Prime Directive) that forbids them from interfering in the affairs of other species, particularly if that species is less-technologically advanced. That seems reasonable, as otherwise we might have situations where we’d be equipping the Mongol warriors of 1000 A.D. with Abrams tanks, grenade launchers, and machine guns.
But in some ways, the Prime Directive seems like the ultimate coward’s way out. As Burke and some others said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” How often have we been guilty of just that? Standing by and letting something we know to be wrong go on? Why? Perhaps because we fear we are ourselves wrong.
Below is just one type of ship used by the beleaguered Bajorans.
The Vidiian Warship
The Vidiian Warship is a small, fast starship used by the Vidiians to harvest organs from other species. Check out the starships page for more Vidiian starships, as well as starships from throughout trek lore.
Not exactly the pretty boys of the Delta Quadrant.
The Vidiians are a tragic species in Star Trek. For millenia they were a peaceful people renowned for their art and philosophy. Then the plague-like disease, the Phage, began striking them. In short order, all the Vidiians would be afflicted with this disease, which besides slowly causing organ failure was also horribly disfiguring. In the historical blink of an eye, their culture transformed into one obsessed with reaching a cure for the Phage. Vidiians now explored the galaxy in ships like the Vidiian Battle Cruiser not to share their art and philosophy, but to harvest the healthy organs of those species compatible with their physiology, and always, always, searching for the ever elusive cure.
How would our own society react to a disease that was so terrible? Would we lose elements of our culture that make us who we are? The Vidiians eventually were cured, and their culture transformed back into what it was before the Phage struck. Would they ever really be able to forget the horrible things they did to reach that cure? Would we?
Iden, a Bajoran hologram created by the Hirogen.
Another update to the starships page with another Hirogen starship, this time the Hirogen Destroyer. The destroyer was used by Iden in the holographic rebellion against their Hirogen creators.
Star Trek has raised this issue several times, namely, what qualifies as “life”? In the case of Iden and these other holographic creations, is it really life if they are merely acting out their programming? Aren’t we biological creatures also programmed in our own way? Aren’t humans programmed from childhood to believe in certain things and act in certain ways?
An interesting facet of the character Iden is that he was programmed with the Bajoran belief in the Prophets. This begs the question, is his belief any less valid because it was programmed into him? Is religion something that many of us are programmed with? If a child is brought up in one church and knows only of the teachings of that one church, is that one child’s (now an adult) faith any less valid than someone that has discovered a religion as an adult?
So many questions, so few answers.
I’ve added the Hirogen Venatic-class warship to the starships page. Unlike the smaller Hirogen Hunter-class warship, the Venatic is only used by the Hirogen (aka Star Trek’s version of the Alien Predator) when they are hunting “worthy” prey. In this case, that worthy prey ends up being the Starship Voyager.
The above episode of Voyager is one of the more interesting ones, as it deals with the fallout of some of Captain Janeway’s meddling with other species, in this case through giving the Hirogen holographic technology. Perhaps those old fogies in Starfleet Command knew a thing or two when they created the Federation’s highest directive, to not interfere with the natural development of another civilization (aka the Prime Directive). Janeway effectively did the 24th century version of giving a knife to a kid that liked poking himself with a sharp stick.
Hunter and Prey
The Hirogen are Star Trek’s version of the alien Predators from the sci-fi franchise of the same name. When they first popped up on Voyager, these aliens were unique in Trek for several reasons. One, they hunted down intelligent species for the sheer joy of it, and because of their cultural prerogative. Two, they were BIG (see the above picture). The first interesting aspect did last, but unfortunately the second did not. As it turns out, it was rather hard finding actors that were 6’6″ or taller! The Hirogen aren’t the first alien species from another science fiction franchise to work their way into Trek. There were the Bothans of Star Wars as well, though admittedly they only shared the name.
You won’t find any stats for Bothan starships on this blog (yet), but you will find some for the Hirogen Hunter-class warship.
A.K.A. The Jerk dad from That 70s Show.
The Krenim were featured in two Voyager episodes titled, “Year of Hell”. In particular, the shows focused on Annorax (see picture above), and his centuries long quest to restore his wife to life. As it turns out, Annorax has spent two centuries manipulating time, wiping out entire civilizations and species, all in an attempt to restore his wife to life (he accidentally wiped her out of existence before). I won’t spoil how it ends for you, though you can probably guess. Still, it’s an interesting dilemma many of us have faced in our lives. How many times have we wished we could go back in time and erase some mistake we have made, or how many times have we thought back, “What if I had chosen the other path?” While I don’t advocate a complete disregard of paths we may have chosen, I think it’s important to remember that all our experiences (both good and bad) have helped shape who we are now, and that by focusing on the here and now, on the present moment, we can make our lives better. Too often we, like Annorax, are stuck in the past, or are too caught up in what might happen in the future. In times like that, we end up not enjoying the life we have now, in this moment. All we have is the now, and we should live that present moment, for it will never come again.
Below is just one kind of starship used by the Krenim:
Nog, as a Kazon that looks like a Klingon.
I’ve grown to enjoy a lot of Star Trek: Voyager in the years since it aired its last episode. One thing I have not grown to love is the Kazon, or Neelix. Before I digress too much in a discussion of anthropomorphic porcupines and their mindless cheerfulness, let’s look at the Kazon. Every species in Star Trek serves as a foil for some aspect of humanity, whether it be the honor-bound Klingons, the cunning Cardassians, or deceptive Romulans. Unlike those three well-documented species, the Kazon just don’t seem to capture my attention. Perhaps they needed more airtime on Voyager to be further fleshed out (though I know many Trek fans that would say they received too much air time), or perhaps they needed to be unique.
That’s the problem though, they aren’t unique, in my mind they’ve always come off as cheap knockoffs, the Delta Quadrant’s Klingons, who do what Klingons do, except not as well. Perhaps it’s not entirely the fault of the Kazons themselves, and perhaps it’s the whole Voyager series. Let me clarify. What I mean is that the very premise of Star Trek: Voyager is one that runs contrary to the spirit of Star Trek. To me, Star Trek is all about humanity journeying out to the stars, stepping away from our cradle Earth and discovering new life while simultaneously discovering more about ourselves in the process, and thus learning and improving ourselves through contact with those diverse cultures. Voyager seems to have this completely in the reverse, it’s a starship far away from home and spends the entire 7 seasons of its episodic run finding a way home. It’s a knockoff of Lost in Space, Star Trek’s version of Lost in Space, doing what Lost in Space did, except not as well because Voyager gets unlost by actually finding Earth. Ah well, there was always the Doctor.
Here are some Kazon ships for you to blow up in your game: