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Science Fiction Round 62: Classic Star Trek


I saw Star Trek: Beyond last weekend, and it was basically perfect.

Well, you know, for a Star Trek movie.

I was worried after the first trailer — it looked like Star Trek: Fast and Furious at that stage, and I had no interest in seeing that.  Fortunately, that’s not what’s actually in the movie for the most part.

I have issues with each of the other two reboot films — I’ve mentally re-written half the plot of Into Darkness to make it better — but all I’ve really got for this one is nit-picking and the usual Star Trek physics fail.

Naturally, there will be spoilers.

It's the Enterprise, going through something that's way too dense to be a real nebula, but hey, it's Star Trek.

It’s the Enterprise, going through something that’s way too dense to be a real nebula, but hey, it’s Star Trek.

The Warp Drive Was Not Sparkly

The warp drive was as it should be.  I can now move on from Star Trek: Into Darkness.

All The Right Tropes

This made me happy.  Numerous people have compared this movie to being like one long original series episode, and they’re right — in a good way.

Ancient Alien Artifact of Doom?  Check.

Space station in peril?  Check.

Mysterious, convenient sensors-blocking nebula?  Check.

Scotty does ridiculous engineering?  Check.

Angry Starfleet captain/Federation guy who’s lost his ship causing trouble?  Lost Starfleet vessel at the heart of the problem?  Check, and check.  (You’d forgotten how often that happened in the original series, hadn’t you?)

Spock and McCoy bantering in the best way?  Check, complete with organ arrangement references.

Upgrade to the NCC-1701-A?  Check.  (Fine, that’s more a movie reference, but whatever.)

I am a happy Trekkie.

Starbase Yorktown

I’m aware that some people have complained about the snowglobe space station as being ridiculous.

But, frankly?  It was beautiful.

Plus, this is a reality filled with forcefields and artificial gravity, and the station is intended to be a diplomatic center.  It’s not on a planet to avoid favoring anybody’s homeworld over the rest — so why restrict yourself to planet-like gravity?

Besides which, a fragile-looking space station is a good way to emphasize that you’re about peace and people in a way that a heavily-armored hunk of metal would not.  (That being said, the Yorktown does have some pretty good outer defenses, even if they’re not so obvious.)

Plus, I bet they could have some amazing inter-planetary racing competitions in there.

Ancient Alien Space Vampires

This was… kind of an okay mashup, but… I have a hard time understanding Kraal/Balthazar Edison.  Is this really a philosophical dispute, where you think humanity would be stronger without the crutch of the Federation, or are you really just pissed that they didn’t rescue you and your crew?  I’m also surprised that, given the relative invulnerability of the swarm ships, Kraal waited to get his ancient artifact bioweapon first rather than working to destroy the Yorktown outright.

And, speaking of the crew… how many of them agreed to stay with Kraal over the century they spent marooned?  From what we see in the film, I’m guessing this is what went down:

  1. The USS Franklin crashes.
  2. Most of the survivors are pissed enough at not being rescued to follow Edison.
  3. After the energy-draining immortality tech is discovered, anyone not following Edison gets drained.
  4. Using the local technology, Edison/Kraal deliberately maroons any other ship that comes by, allowing his people to drain them for energy and causing their own appearances to be altered into an alien form.

Also, there couldn’t have been enough people left after that crash to pilot all of the little ships in the swarm.  I’m assuming that either a lot of those things were automated, or Kraal recruited a lot of people, or a lot of his followers are the kids of his crew who have never known another life, which… is kind of horrifying to consider.

The official word on how this worked seems to be that there were only three survivors, including Edison/Kraal, and that the rest of the people are “drones” produced by the ancient alien tech.  But that seems a bit like a cop-out, by turning the drones into morally acceptable targets.

Also, who designs swarm ships whose coordination is screwed up by high-power radio transmissions?  Seriously, they don’t have a fall-back program they can use in that scenario?

Spock and Uhura

I’m okay with the Spock/Uhura dynamic for the most part, but I really want the “Spock feels obliged to have Vulcan kids” thing to actually be addressed, since that seems to be a key issue for the two of them.

For one, I’m still bothered that the destruction of Vulcan is implied to have wiped out all Vulcans.  This still doesn’t make sense to me.  What, there were previously no Vulcan colonies elsewhere?  Vulcans don’t travel any more?  When Vulcans had warp drive LONG before humanity did?

In fact, in the original series, we hear about a science and exploration vessel that’s entirely crewed by Vulcans.  Admittedly, said ship was promptly eaten by a giant space amoeba

Regardless of the actual accounting of Vulcans, Spock is still half-human.  Even if he married and had kids with a Vulcan woman, he’d end up adding a bunch of 3/4 Vulcan, 1/4 human kids to the (apparently small?) Vulcan gene pool anyway.

It’s possible that this whole problem came up because Spock was upset about alternate-older-Spock’s death, and trying to figure out how to deal with it.  But I’d still like to see Spock and Uhura discuss the issue like adults at some point.  Communication!  It’s important!

As the exploded swarm ships could tell you.

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