Tag Archives: tv

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 …

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The Yellowstone

Not the national park you are looking for!

The Starfleet Yellowstone-class runabout is a small starship used by the Federation for a variety of missions. These missions include everything from scouting to cargo and personnel transport to combat (in extreme cases). All this is made possible due to the modular nature of the starship design, as the entire central portion can be swapped out depending on the mission called for. This has the advantage of making this small starship much more versatile than larger starships that are built specifically for just one purpose, such as science ships, exploration ships, etc.

Too often as human beings we resemble those larger fixed designation starships, believing that we are only built for one purpose, one role. We tend to define ourselves by what we do. The truth however is that we are much more versatile than we give ourselves credit for, we are adaptable, we can change to suit the mission life has set before us.

So let us all be more like the humble runabout, adaptable and versatile, multi-faceted and agile as we wend our way through the infinite choices of our lives!

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:

Star Trek-style travel in our lifetime

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.

Perhaps.

Smirking Vulcans

Doesn’t he seem so smug?

In the Enterprise series episode, “Fusion“, we are introduced to a small band of Vulcans travelling aboard the Vulcan Vahklas-class transport. Without spoiling too much of the episode for you, what makes these Vulcans intriguing is that they are Vulcans that have found a balance between logic and emotion. This balance is something that we humans strive to achieve on a daily basis. Too far in the realm of logic and pure analytical reasoning, and we risk being unemotional and detached, isolating ourselves from our friends and co-workers. Too far into the realm of emotion and we risk letting our stronger emotions (whether hate or fear or happiness) run wild, possibly leading to similarly undesirable consequences.

So here’s to more balance in our lives, between the fire of our heart’s passion, and the cool logic of our minds.

Aggressive Vulcans

Administrator V’Las of the Vulcan High Command.

The Vulcans in Star Trek have always been known for their peaceable natures and their commitment to logic and a philosophy of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations (IDIC), which advocated for tolerance and even acceptance of differing belief systems and practices. It came as somewhat of a shock to many Star Trek fans when the Enterprise series portrayed Vulcans as being far more militant than they’ve ever been shown before. The Vulcan government in the series was shown fielding starships designated as Vulcan D’Kyr-class combat cruisers, engaged in covert spying of nearby species (Andorians) as well as acting as Big Brother to humanity. Most shocking of all was the Vulcan governing body known as the High Command was willing to fire upon and kill those that disagreed with its policies, actions hardly congruent with the traditional Vulcan philosophy of IDIC. The Vulcans were justifying these actions using logic, but logic without reference to the morality of their founder, Surak.

We later discover that the Vulcans had strayed from their society’s founder’s core tenets and beliefs and eventually the Vulcans of the Enterprise series (22nd century) would morph into the peacenik Vulcans we know and love of later Star Trek series (23rd and 24th centuries).

It’s an object lesson to us that all societies change, but that we must be careful to look to the intentions, to the morality behind our laws when we go about changing them or creating new laws. Sometimes we get lost in the wording of our laws and lose sight of the intent behind them, and inevitably we marginalize viewpoints and perspectives that are abhorrent to the majority but sacrosanct to the minority.  Even scarier is when we adopt the language of a law whose intent was to marginalize the minority (whether racial, religious, ethnic, or other) and apply it to our entire society, without realizing that discriminating intent. We must be ever mindful of the intent behind our laws, for we are all affected by them whether we realize it or not.

Militant Federation

The Vigilant-class Heavy Escort (Warship)

In the universe of Star Trek: Online the peaceful Federation has come into increasing conflict with the Klingon Empire, with the result that the Federation has begun producing more warships, rather than its formerly (almost) exclusive policy of building multi-function starships suitable for both peaceful and military purposes.

It’s interesting that the Federation would have ever thought that it could realistically sustain its territory without building ships dedicated to war. The reason being the Federation is an obvious analogy for either the United States (or more rarely the United Nations). Can you imagine the United States naval fleet being composed of ships that were like the Federation’s multi-purpose ships? We’d have ships that would be housing entire families, with large areas devoted to arboretums and recreation areas. As laudable as the Federation’s intent is, it is not something that would be feasible here on Earth, just as in the end it proved to be unfeasible in the fictional universe of Star Trek. Perhaps one day we can have sea ships similar to the Federation’s starships, vessels that while capable of defending themselves are more suited to peaceful purposes.

Check out the militant Federation ship below: