“In the end, it’s your fear that will destroy you.”
One of the downsides to having your most popular novel be about conspiracies is that, occasionally, you meet a true believer. Someone who mistakes my joy at the human race’s facility for endless and needlessly complex self-delusion for a sincere belief in the goings on of my comedy novel. It’s always a chilling moment, the confirmation coming when the person says things like “building seven,” and their eyes get the steeliness of Dennis Reynolds discussing “the implication.”
“It took centuries for Earth to evolve into the peaceful haven it is today. I would hate to be remembered as the Federation president who destroyed paradise.”
-- President Jaresh-Inyo
Occasionally, sci-fi gets it right. Not just right, but with witch-like accuracy that would cause Nostradamus to think there might be a little consorting with the devil happening around here. Science fiction is fundamentally about speculation, about what will happen a hundred, or two hundred, or ten thousand years from now. The genre has predicted things that have come true: personal computers; earbuds; hell Star Trek predicted the tablet. It’s also predicted things a lot of experts say are likely to come true: Isaac Asimov’s yeast vats are looking like a probable source of food as the population blooms on our dying planet.
“Kiss the girl, get the key. They never taught me that in the Obsidian Order.”
-- Elim Garak
If transporters are the signature piece of speculative technology of Star Trek as a whole, then the holodeck has become that for the TNG era. Makes sense, considering how badly the unrepentant gamer in me desperately wants one. The chance to explore my favorite gaming universes, from Rapture, to Brightness Falls, or even just the West Indies in 1720, would be too much to resist. Yet it’s undeniable that the holodeck gets really weird really quickly.
“You know what I like about Klingon stories, Commander? Nothing. Lots of people die, and no one makes any profit.”
DS9 spent the bulk of its first season trying (and failing) to be TNG. The next two seasons saw it diverging from the path, figuring out what sorts of stories it could tell. By this point in the fourth season, the show had carved out enough of an identity to be comfortable telling what turns out to be an anti-TNG story, starring one of the most popular characters of that show.
“The speed of technological advancement isn’t nearly as important as short-term quarterly gains.”
When The X-Files debuted, a friend of mine called to tell me they’d made a show just for me. He wasn’t wrong. I had been obsessed with cryptozoology since I was old enough to have obsessions, and as I matured, this developed into an overarching love of conspiracies and the paranormal. I have since channeled this love in the most, or least, constructive way possible (depending on your viewpoint), by writing a series of books (blatant plug!), but this kind of story will always resonate with me.
“I hate the Gamma Quadrant.”
Calling Wrath of Khan the best Star Trek movie is one of the most uncontroversial statements it’s possible to make. Of course, making it on the internet practically guarantees someone will respond with a 10,000-word post beginning with the word, “Um.” “Um” is the “don’t eat, cat poop” of sentence structures. Once you see it at the beginning, you can comfortably not look at the rest.
“It’s really good to see you again, Dax. That sounds so strange. I mean, I’m looking at a different face, hearing a different voice, but somehow it’s still you.”
-- Dr. Lenara Kahn
Of all the various flavors of Trek, DS9’s alien aesthetic and experiments in serialization have allowed it to age the most gracefully, yet even it is not immune to the passage of time. When you’re trying to pin down what aspect is the most dated, you usually go to the obvious: the clunky desktop computers, the sartorial nightmares Garak seems to be churning out as part of an elaborate prank, or the wall-to-wall carpeting. But, far more obvious, far more weird to the modern eye, is what’s missing.
“I’ve found that when one has a difficult job to do, personal reasons can be quite an incentive.”
-- Gul Dukat
The cliche that men and women are fundamentally different is an ingrained part of our culture. The question is, how much of it is ingrained in biology? Reputable studies have suggested men are better at spatial relations while women are better at distinguishing color, though both of these areas have profound overlap. Are men better at spatial relations because we’re culturally encouraged to play war games? Or are women better at color because, as gatherers, they were evolutionarily selected for the ones who could tell what was ripe and what was poisonous?
“I have fought against races that believe in mythical beings that guide their destinies and await them after death. They call them gods. The Founders are gods to the Jem’Hadar. But, our gods never talk to us, and they don’t wait for us after death. They only want us to fight for them. And, to die for them.”
There is no fallacy more damaging to the state of modern discourse than the misguided notion that “there are two sides to every story.” There are two sides to many stories, sure. Other stories have three or more sides. Some only have the one. Yet when you have scientific facts like climate change being man-made, vaccines being safe, and evolution being real turned into only one of two valid political positions, you run into a problem. This is why it’s so nice to see a liberal/conservative debate where both sides actually do have a point. Granted, you have to go into the arena of Star Trek to see that today, but still. Such a thing exists, in its way.
“It’s life, Jake. You can miss it if you don’t open your eyes.”
-- Captain Benjamin Sisko
Science fiction has a reputation of being the emotionless genre. An enduring fascination with stoic characters like the Vulcans, any number of robots, and the odd hive-mind alien race can leave the universe looking like a pretty gray place, emotionally speaking. Yet sci-fi writers are as human as the rest of us (Honest, we are!), and we have the same feelings. If you prick us, do we not laugh that you said, “Prick?”