The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

A New Star Trek Continuity (By Wold Newton Means)

Posted by BigWords on September 5, 2010

Star Trek. One of the most successful science fiction properties of all time, and one of the universes which gets a disproportional representation within the SF community, has always had problems. I’m not referring to the twisted around ideas which led to stardates (there is a certain logic to the notion that relative time can be kept, then squared against a central database), nor the mess made of warp drive numbering (that is covered by Science Marches On in-universe), but more esoteric aspects of the timeline which cannot be easily reconciled without heavy editing of the facts as they are presented to us. Having never been the most obsessive nor reasonable fan of televised SF, I’ve often looked outside of canon for explanations to the things which bug me, but this time I think I may have crossed a line in my attempt to rationalize some of the things which don’t make sense, or which need greater expansion.

This has taken me a while to work out (and there are still bits and pieces that I’m adding, changing, tweaking and blatantly ignoring), but I think I know most of the reasons that Star Trek doesn’t work for me. This is, of course, pushing my interpretation of Star Trek farther from the one which most viewers will be familiar with, but if it makes sense to me, then I can live with any irritation I raise in others. First and foremost amongst my problems with the universe is the timeline, which has been so completely screwed over by multiple re-tellings, contradictions, reset button-pushing and blatant lies, that it no longer resembles a stable progression of events as much as it does a hodge-podge of ideas thrown together by various disparate groups within the controlling group of writers, making a mockery of how people appreciate the events which led to the creation of an interstellar society able to function independently of Earth.

Lets see if I can shed some light on how I perceive the world of Picard, Sisko, and Captain ‘Crazy Janeway’ as filtered through a Wold Newton-inspired interpretation of things which might make up for the problems in the accepted history. It’s going to annoy the hell out of purists, but it is the only way that I can watch the show and not feel the need to to scream profanities at the screen. I’ve ignored some elements considered canon by both the show and the fans, and introduced things which are possibly heretical but which are very, very cool. This may turn the bright, happy future envisioned by Gene Rodenberry into a Crapsack Universe, but it is one in which I would much rather spend time. The dates are rough, though I’m sure someone with a tad more patience could make it all hang together if they consider the events I have decided to include – some of which actually make sense of the logic which Enterprise and the recent film reboot have thrown out of the window, fetched back inside, crapped all over, then thrown out of the window again.

Before anyone decides that the following is entirely too dumb, spend five minutes flicking through the reviews of DS9 and Enterprise episodes on The Cynic’s Corner, and try to reconcile the multiple given histories of the Federation. Try it. You’ll go insane in the attempt. Better to start afresh, and use all the basic story points as a way to fold in some of the better ideas from outside of Star Trek canon, because the franchise is in desperate need of a shot of adrenaline. It’s more apparent when you watch episodes back to back, but even a casual viewer there are problems. Consider this along the same lines as Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, where things are similar to the original stories, but told afresh and with a more coherent ethic – well, at least as Ultimate was in the beginning. The Ultimate Universe managed to contradict itself mightily as it went on.

The Pre-History Of Space Travel

1969 – 2025

In the two-part Voyager episode Future’s End it is shown that Henry Starling has had access to 29th century technology from as far back as the 1960s, which he has been using to push Earth’s software and hardware knowledge far in advance of where such knowledge should be. This, more than any other aspect of Star Trek‘s timeline, is the crucial point at which we ought to separate from our own history – the “real” history of Earth. Voyager‘s only notable contribution to either entertainment or logic was this one story, as Starling’s existence suddenly makes a lot of other things fall into place neatly. It is with his mangled understanding of 29th century technology which allows both the creation of the experimental S.A.I.N.T. robots [1] (which eventually leads to the T-1 [2]), and – eventually – the technology necessary for the integration of mechanical elements into Officer Murphy [3]. The robots were nuclear powered at this point, as the advanced power cells had not been completely understood.

While many of the elements of the future technology were able to be reverse engineered by in-house scientists, some of the advancements were so esoteric as to preclude direct understanding of the way they operated. A significant amount of the research into matter transportation was given to Seth Brundle through a dummy corporation named Bartok Industries [4]. His interpretation of the software would result in his untimely death, and his research would not be continued until Dr. Emory Erickson (in the Enterprise episode Daedalus) perfected the means by which to transport living tissue.

That doesn’t mean that there weren’t subsequent accidents, though. One of the most notable situations erupted on a Mars “mining” station, when a transporter opened a portal to another dimension, which led to the deaths of a number of researchers continuing their exploration of future technology [5]. At some point in the early 1980’s, an Antarctic research team is attacked by an unknown alien which has been extricated from its’ ship [6]. It was whilst searching for the remains of this vessel that a group of researchers would later encounter the frozen remains of Borg.

During the 90’s, a salvage operation mounted on a Russian naval vessel resulted in the crew of the tug being attacked by a disembodied alien presence which used human parts and machinery to create a physical presence for itself on Earth [7]. Later investigation would associate this entity closely with the Borg hive-mind, though notable differences would be recorded for further study.

After 2000, with advances far outstripping ‘real’ history, the US government, seeing the valuable technological advancements being made by Starling’s Chronowerx Industries, requests assistance in coming up with solutions to some of the problems it is facing. Researchers who have studied the advanced database use their knowledge to create a stable wormhole which allows for a limited  glimpse into the future [8], and an AI to interpret massive data input now being collected by the military branches of the US intelligence community [9]. It is the spectacular failure of the AI which leads to further advances in AI being halted until more is understood about the technology, though one last-ditch attempt to integrate AI leads to the creation of a satellite defense program dubbed Skynet, which is one of the primary reasons for future problems [10].

The medical database from the future also provides for the creation of a breathable liquid, which plays an important part in one of humanity’s early extra-terrestrial encounters [11]. Spurred on by the existence of beings living on other planets, more of the future technology is plundered to create the ground-work which will lead to the genetically-engineered Khan and his followers. This is also around the time that things start to go seriously wrong with society. The slip into anarchy begins with a few minor problems, but left unchecked the mysterious Quitters, Inc [12] and Consumer Recreation Services [13] soon lead to rampant anarchy in the streets as people release tension created by the existence of genetically superior individuals being created. It is from these dark days that the Eugenics War erupts into full-blown war.

The Deep Space Nine episode Past Tense shows what has happened to the US by 2024, with large sections of cities cordoned off to provide housing for ‘undesirables’ – a technique replicated in France, among other countries [14]. Some cities, such as Detroit, prefer to deal with their social unrest by handing over their policing to corporations, which results in the creation of the RoboCop program [3]. Other locations fall into complete unrest as “entertainment” such as The Running Man [15], Death Race [16], and other shows allow the population to be kept entertained and (largely) kept under control. The foundation for these openly-violent shows being broadcast is the underground snuff shows which were broadcast (and circulated) by Lionel Starkweather [17]. It was during this time that Scotland was walled off from the rest of the country so that the inhabitants could die off due to a plague that was threatening the UK [18].

The Fallout From The Eugenics Wars

2025 – 2200

(note: I’m pushing the Eugenics Wars to the 2020s to preserve some sort of cohesion in the timeline)

Taking refuge in the stars was not the sole preserve of the genetically engineered super-soldiers, as others decided to abandon Earth. As Picard pointed out in the TNG episode The Neutral Zone, cryogenic stasis had long since been abandoned as a means of interstellar travel, but in the early days of space travel it had been employed routinely. One of the mining vessels which was operating in deep space encountered an alien life form which killed the entire crew save for its’ Warrant Officer [19]. Another cryogenic vessel was considered lost, with its’ occupants awakening after hundreds of years, submerged under the ocean of an alien planet [20]. Yet another ship was considered lost, though later turned up having traveled into a region of space that had sent its’ occupants mad [21]. Occupants of other ships were not so lucky [22]. These disasters resulted in tighter controls being made on the design of astronavigation systems.

Zefram Cochrane’s warp flight brings the attention of the Vulcans, but also alerts a race of predatory aliens that the mildly interesting hunting grounds on Earth had become immensely more interesting. Taking to the still-devastated city of Los Angeles, the alien manages to evade both police and a secret agency under the directive of Section 31 [23]. It is also around this time that the full horror of what Skynet has become is made clear, and with the assistance of Vulcan technology the rise of the robots is prevented [10]. From this point on, all research into advanced robots is banned in an international treaty. (And you wondered why there were so few instances of cool robots in Star Trek, didn’t you?)

At some point before 2100 the world is pushed into a fully-blown war due to the unbalanced resources available on Earth, ending only when nuclear weapons are deployed. In the utter devastation which follows, mankind is slow to rebuild, though a few individuals take it upon themselves to give hope to the communities which have gradually coalesced. One such person dons the uniform of a postman [24], whilst another, shattered by his experience at the hands of a biker gang, decides to take revenge on the evils plaguing society [25]. Yet another wandering force for good makes use of his extraordinary martial arts abilities to destroy a gang which has overrun a formerly-peaceful region [26]. The Vulcans once again step in to take care of mankind, before we untimely destroy ourselves.

The NX-01 is launched, though the dedication ceremony is marred by some truly awful music…

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Additional notes:

With the technology required to pass themselves off as aliens, I would also fold in the IMF to the WN Star Trek timeline, as their lifelike masks seem to possess all the requirements needed for covert operations on alien planets. Backtracking to a point where they could conceivably be placed in a position to take part, I would suggest them being the groundwork for Section 31, renamed as of a point somewhere before the year 2025. (Mission: Impossible)

The increased time travel related episodes of Star Trek, where the Starfleet Time Police, or Temporal Investigations (or whoever Gary Seven and Daniels were working for), seems to suggest that they began as a much simpler organization. It makes a sort of sense that the events of Timecop could be the shaky beginnings from which the Federation would spin out its’ time protection force. Not sure where that would place events of the film, though sometime after the stable wormhole was created [8] seems about right.

It seems likely that there is room to fit Barb Wire in somewhere around the 2020s, though I didn’t think about it until I had already written most of this up. It’s such a minor film that I can’t be bothered re-numbering everything, so just pretend I added it.

———————————————————————————————-

The Pre-History Of Space Travel

[1] Short Circuit (1986) dir: John Badham
[2] Terminator: Salvation (2009) dir: McG
[3] RoboCop (1987) dir: Paul Verhoeven
[4] The Fly (1986) dir: David Cronenberg
[5] Doom 3 (2004) id Software / Activision

[6] The Thing (1982) dir: John Carpenter
[7] Virus (2002) dir: John Bruno

[8] Déjà Vu (2006) dir: Tony Scott
[9] Eagle Eye (2008) dir: D.J. Caruso
[10] Terminator (1984) dir: James Cameron

[11] The Abyss (1989) dir: James Cameron
[12] Quitters, Inc. by Stephen King (1978, Doubleday)
[13] The Game (1997) dir: David Fincher

[14] District 13 (2004) dir: Pierre Morel
[15] The Running Man by Richard Bachman (Stephen King) (1982, Signet)
[16] Death Race (2008) dir: Paul W.S. Anderson
[17] Manhunt (2003) Rockstar North, Rockstar Games
[18] Doomsday (2008) dir: Neil Marshall

The Fallout From The Eugenics Wars

[19] Alien (1979) dir: Ridley Scott
[20] Pandorum (2009) dir: Christian Alvart
[21] Event Horizon (1997) dir: Paul W.S. Anderson
[22] Dark City (1998) dir: Alex Proyas
[23] Predator 2 (1990) dir: Stephen Hopkins

[24] The Postman (1997) dir:Kevin Costner
[25] Mad Max (1979) dir: George Miller
[26] Fist Of The North Star (1995) dir:Tony Randel

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