Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Hollow (er, holo) episodes

Fair warning: today's post is a bit of a rant (and perhaps a bit of heresy).

I've mentioned revisiting the Star Trek universe. At this point, I'm well into Star Trek Voyager. Overall, I'm enjoying myself -- but I can fairly predictably spot episodes that'll make me sputter: anything holodeck-intensive.

To name just a few gripes:

1. Could the safety provisions be any less reliable, or the safety protocols any easier to disable? And after, say, the tenth incident, why has no one thought to fix things? It's lazy writing, pure and simple.

2. Holo matter is magical stuff that people can touch -- or that can strangle them -- when it is convenient, and is ephemeral at other times. It's limited to the holodeck, except (and I'm not referring to the "mobile holo-emitter") when it's not. More lazy writing.

3. Why, exactly, does the holographic doctor use a terminal to interact with a computer? Isn't he already a two-way, real-time program within the ship's computer network?

(And as to the shipboard network, a non-holo gripe: Why hand-carry little computers to deliver crew reports? Is email too advanced?)

4. Holo matter is projected and/or maintained by force fields. The illusion of a space much larger than the physical holodeck comes from a sort of virtual treadmill -- more force fields. And still no force fields to keep people in their chairs on the bridge during battle.

Virtual reality -- good. Holodeck -- faugh. I won't even dignify the latter as a respectable SF trope.


AReichl said...

You are right!

Of course there are people (fans) they can explain everyhing. I still have the Technical Manual, the Encyclopedia e.t.c and the work and technical expertise that went into it is astonishing. A pice of art so to say. If these people were working for NASA, we would be back on the moon NOW, not 2020.

Star Trek began as "story telling" - the technical gimmicks were second place. Later then some fans began to think about the physics behind it and tried to explain everything. And - be assured - they KNOW about the flaws in some stories. They even declared some stories as "non canon" if the physics involved was too far fetched or simply "wrong" (wrong in the Star Trek universe).

As one actor once said: if we fired a torpedo out of the wrong launching tube, the next day we got bomb threads.

By the way - the 2 BEST Star Trek novels i EVER read are:
"Memory Prime" and "Prime Directive", both by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens. If you have not read them - DO IT. Every paragraph is worth the money.

AReichl said...

I forgot something. About the "force fields to keep people in their chairs on the bridge during battle".

Again you are right - BUT:

On todays battleships and submarines you will find no seatbelts either (i think the captain has one). I have seen some military ships and submarines and every time i asked. The answer was a question: "What for? Our job is NOT to get hit". I cannot quite understand that attitude, but so be it.

Of course a spacecraft with forcefields is something different.
The filed IMPLIES that you know you get hit and be thrown around. You don't win if you hit first but if you can sustain longer than the enemy (and therefore be thrown around longer). So yes - some kind of advanced seatbelt would be an advantage. In Star Trek 1 Kirk at least had armrests that could be shifted to fix his legs.

Dennis Ward said...

Excellent points! Here are a few more to ponder:

1. Why doesn't the away team carry a video camera so they can transmit exactly what is going on?

2. Stop, Look, & Listen -- every time they arrive at a new location, they immediately beam down to the surface without any regard as to possible threats (salt vampires, vampire clouds, etc.). Why don't they exercise the caution that any child uses before crossing the street?

3. What are the decks made of? When caught between dimensions/universes/planes of existence, characters can walk or float through walls & hulls, but don't sink down into the deck.

4. Why don't their ships have bathrooms? Gene Roddenberry was quoted back in the 60s that the reason Klingons are mean because they didn't have bathrooms onboard.

5. What did Harry Kim do to make Janeway hate him so much? The guy was an ensign for 7 years! If you're still a shave-tail after 18 months, you know you're never going to get promoted.

Edward M. Lerner said...

I sense I've started a revolution ;-)