Tag Archives: History

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.

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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?

Human species and the Xindi

I was watching a recent Ted Talk where the speaker pointed out how at one point in the history of our planet, there were nine different human species in existence. Mind-boggling. The subject reminded me of the Xindi people of Star Trek, a group of five related species with a misdirected desire to destroy Earth and humanity for humanity’s supposed future destruction of their as-yet undiscovered new homeworld.

Yeah, so throwing aside the multiple issues of punishing people for what they will or might do but have not yet done, the concept of multiple human species on one Earth is intriguing. Some reports indicate there were a hobbit-like human species living in present-day Indonesia as late as the 19th century! If true, then it’s a testament to the Xindi that they managed not to wipe each other out, because look at our own sibling species: Neanderthals (extinct), Homo Erectus (extinct), Homo Floresiensis (extinct), and so on.

Without further ado, here is the Xindi-Reptilian Warship for the CODA Star Trek rpg.

Doomsday Device

I’ve been on a bit of a Star Trek and History kick lately, and it’s gotten me to thinking. There’s a lot of focus lately on Iran and it’s possible acquisition of nuclear weapons, the ultimate doomsday device created by mankind. Captain Kirk said, and I paraphrase here, that such a device is intended as a bluff, so strong is it that its use could destroy both sides. Is that definition of a doomsday device applicable to our own nuclear weapons? It doesn’t seem like it. We’ve used nuclear weapons already. Twice. Our nuclear weapons may have originally been intended as a bluff, maybe, but its actual effect is as a deterrent. Our proverbial “big stick” to hit people with if they mess with us. The problem we now face is that other people already have that same big stick, and we want to limit who else gets the big stick. But how can we prevent them from doing so when some of those others with big sticks may show others how to make big sticks? Oh well, there’s probably just too many big sticks shoved up in dark places to begin with.

Oh yeah, so here’s my Planet Killer for the CODA Star Trek rpg, Captain Kirk’s doomsday device.

Axis and Allies and the triumph of London

I love Axis and Allies. I’ve played it with my wife, with my friends, with Game Table online, and I just can’t get enough of it (though the AI player annoys me with its focus on air forces). I’ve played the Allies and smashed the Axis, and played the Axis and triumphed over the Allies. Maybe it’s because I’m a history nerd, or the son of military parents, but I’m endlessly fascinated by that monumental struggle that ended almost 7 decades ago.

But I digress. Here’s my latest CODA Star Trek rpg ship, the Starfleet London-class, now on my starships page.

Now I need to go watch some uber World War II action on Netflix!