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The universe of Star Trek: Discovery


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#1 Orpheus

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 09:58 PM

New show, new universe -- whatever TPTB claim -- and Star Trek has been fueling legendary geek debates for over 50 years.

Let me toss out a few points to start the discussion.

To me, the pre-title opening of the premiere was a worthless throwaway. I think it was purely designed to make clips that might lure Star Wars fans

"...you're lost ... very lost."
C'mon, there are dozens of ways to avoid getting lost. Heck, without getting very technical (for Star Trek), there's inertial navigation, which simply records your movement (any smartphone can do this). The shadows are clear enough to navigate by, and the landscape is flat enough, but not too flat, to allow visual reckoning by landmarks for total routes of hundreds of miles. Any cross-country hiker in the history of humanity could reasonably do it. If it were hard, we couldn't teach it to grade school Boy Scouts.

They mentioned "General Order One" [aka the Prime Directive], so maybe they didn't want to risk any electronics or physical maps, not even an implant. Well, except for bedrock-busting super-rifles. The Prime directive might also explain why their ship came out of the stormcloud, when every other direction offered clearer viewing to locate their soon-to-be-overrun officers.

Any Scout knows not to hike under conditions where you're likely to get lost. They should have had good knowledge of the local "geography" and some means to navigate beyond Vulcan-trained hunches -- and so they did: their ship knew where the well was all along (else they wouldn't have known where to go). It knew where to pick them up, just not when. By the same token, it would have known they were about to be hit  by a storm, and would have come in to rescue them (and finish the mission) in an hour anyway

"How did they find us?" "I sent up a star"
But though the above is a sensible answer, the dialogue doesn't really support it: From any significant distance, foot tracks in the desert are harder to see than the two officers themselves. Queue up the scene where they approach the well -- or ANY scene of them and their foottracks except the scene establishing the "clever idea". You'll see that the officers are substantially larger and higher contrast than their tracks. Their Starfleet symbol may have been large, but it was as faint as a pencil eraser mark viewed from 100 meters.

"They survived here for over 1000 years"
Oh, the Crepusculans are recent immigrants! They didn't evolve there. It's an oxygen atmosphere, which takes hundreds of millions of years of life to accumulate to human-breathable levels [on Earth it took billions]. The American Indians have been in the Southwest about 16x as long as the Crepusculans have been on that planet -- maybe longer. Or is DSC afraid of offending Creationists?

But if the Crepusculans are recent arrivals, aren't they space capable, and therefore ready for contact? They must be intelligent (the Prime Directive doesn't apply to random animals).

Why would one waterwell determine the survival of their entire species? Are they the last surviving colony?

Sorry, I'd have accepted almost any number in/near the millions [as a sentient species] or billions [re: their biological lineage]. If DSC doesn't explain this scant "1000 years", it's a stupid throwaway. Maybe they're abandoned space-pets who forgot their origins.


"...the ambient radiation from a nearby meteor drilling accident dried out their water table"
What does this even mean? It doesn't fit with any geology or definition of "ambient radiation" or drilling I know. It's the kind of gibberish that he worst Trek episodes are mocked for.

Why is the word "meteor" in there? (I note that they dropped it from the subtitles, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it dropped in other languages/releases. Reshooting the scene in a one-off location would have been too expensive.) This place shows every sign of being planet-sized (earth-like surface gravity, atmosphere, weather) and in a stable orbit (billions of yeas of oxygen producing life). Don't tell me the Federation using diverted meteors to DO the drilling! That (or any major drilling operation, really) would blow the Prime Directive out of the water.

"...point seven second field burst at level setting 13.5"
I'm sure a lot of you will have plenty to say about what is wrong with this. So very very much.

In fact, it's so obviously wrong that I've actually been working on a technical retcon to justify it.

The snag I keep hitting is: where are the Crepusculans? Surely they knew their well was dry. Clearly, they built/maintained it. Why weren't they digging/fixing it?

And as far as they Prime Directive goes: you can see the Crepesculans watching from the cliff (and closer) all the while. The officers could easily have been more discrete (e.g. lying down at the edge of the well, putting the rifle into the well and firing it below ground. Or, y'know, dropping a couple of grenades into the well on a 10 minute timer and walking away.

No one said General Order One was easy (except Kirk) -- and yes, it might have endangered nearby Crepusculans who came by in those few mioutes (as we saw), but freak accidents and random death aren't violations of the Prime Directive. Revealing the existence of alien technology is.

"What will [sic] you do if you were stuck here for 89 years?"
A perfectly reasonable hypothetical -- but a incongruently specific one. Benefit of a doubt: Georgiou was giving Burnham some Kirk-like Kobayashi Maru advice by saying "I'd escape!" after specifying "You're trapped". IOW: "I don't believe in no-win scenarios!"

They said there would be a drought for 89 years. I'm not sure why StarFleet wouldn't be able to come pick them up in a drought. (Then again, you never see any Federation uniforms on Tatooine or Arrakis, do you?) -- but Burnham's  answer really threw me! "As a xenoanthropologist, I could reveal myself to the natives, learn their culture. Try to fit in, if possible."

Wait! That's an option? I think that when you get back to Base, you'll find your Xenoanthropology license has been revoked. Switch the species: you're a Crepusculan xenoanthropologist who find itself stranded on Earth, so you reveal yourself. How is that NOT a violation of the Prime Directive? This isn't ALF. You can't expect a goofy middle class family to adopt you and keep your secret. Michael can't go "my Favorite Martian" or "people of Earth", she's twice as tall as the Crepusculans and would look just as weirdly alien to them as a Crepusculan would look to us. No, there would be terror, maybe weird religions or dissections... something. Federation xenoanthropologists have died protecting their secret and Michael as a Starfleet officer, should be willing to die in the line of duty -- I bet even Lt Saru would! Oh sure, he'd complain that he saw it coming, but he'd do his job!

#2 G-man

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 05:18 AM

And that's just from one scene from the teaser.

Yeah ... the writing left A LOT to be desired, and regarding that "star" the captain set, with the winds blowing as they were, the footsteps would've been erased by the time the symbol was completed.

/s/

Gloriosus
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Let me think of the right and lend my assistance to all who may need it, with no regard for anything but justice.
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Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens, and my associates in everything I say and do.
Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.
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#3 Sci-Fi Girl

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 07:48 AM

View PostOrpheus, on 27 September 2017 - 09:58 PM, said:

"...you're lost ... very lost."

~

Any Scout knows not to hike under conditions where you're likely to get lost. They should have had good knowledge of the local "geography" and some means to navigate beyond Vulcan-trained hunches -- and so they did: their ship knew where the well was all along (else they wouldn't have known where to go). It knew where to pick them up, just not when. By the same token, it would have known they were about to be hit  by a storm, and would have come in to rescue them (and finish the mission) in an hour anyway

And if the ship knew where the well was, why didn't they just beam down right next to it and skip the hike all together?!?!?  :headshake:

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Edited by Sci-Fi Girl, 28 September 2017 - 07:49 AM.

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#4 FarscapeOne

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 10:01 AM

The only two things I can think of are...

1 - they could not get a solid enough lock on those coordinates to beam down.

2 - the Prime Directive.  It's easier to explain a pair of humans walking to that well than it is explaining how the same two people magically appear and disappear into thin air.

#5 Orpheus

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 11:22 AM

Yes, I was assuming #2.

The ship flew in from the storm, once the storm had covered the cliffs, blocking the Crepusculents' view. In fact, I'll give DSC credit and assume the storm was key to the timing of the whole mission.

And I guess I can't criticize them too much for heeding the Prime Directive only as much as the current script absolutely demands. TNG was better about this than TOS, but it's a TV Trek tradition.

Also FTR, I'm making a stand on "xeno-everything".

I'm not putting quotes around "geography" anymore when talking about other planets, even though 'geos' means 'Earth'.  In the past, I've been rightly corrected [thanks!] for sloppily using "perigee" (or "apogee", both from the root 'geos') when I should have said 'perihelion' (closest point to a star in a stellar orbit), 'perijove' (closest approach to Jupiter in a Jovian orbit), peri-Caprica, whatever.  But I don't recall the scientific literature using a consistent term for alien geology. Any substitute for 'geology' would confuse/obscure, rather than communicate.("Xenography' is taken: it means "knowledge of a foreign language", though hardly anyone knows that word)

'Xenobiology' is a fine word, but it's a branch of biology, so you'd usually be fine just saying "biology". "Xenology" is a legitimate word that means "study of extraterrestial aliens" in Sf circles, but in Real Science, it means "gene transfer between species" (e.g. the transfer of antibiotic resistance among diverse bacterial species). "Xenoanthropologist" (used in this episode), on the other hand, is an odious beast of a word, because "anthropos" means "pertaining to humans" (so it should mean "study of foreign humans"), but it seems to be accepted in SF -- Real Science doesn't have a word for it because "xenoanthropologists" don't exist yet.

#6 G-man

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 12:16 PM

How about:  Xenothropology - for the study of societies other than human; and, maybe, Exogeology - for the study of geology not of Earth?

/s/

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Edited by G-man, 28 September 2017 - 12:17 PM.

Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, so that all may profit by it.
Let me think of the right and lend my assistance to all who may need it, with no regard for anything but justice.
Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage.
Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens, and my associates in everything I say and do.
Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.
-- Doc Savage

Few people want to be moderated, most people see the need for everyone else to be moderated. -- Orpheus

#7 Cybersnark

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 12:22 PM

I tend to prefer "xenosociology" for the study of alien societies (regardless of how human-like the members of those societies might be).
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#8 G-man

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 02:08 PM

I recall a time when anything space related had an "astro" prefix attached to it, if not "space" as a descriptor.

"Xeno" is a popular label for writers nowadays to latch onto when wishing to label something as special, and not your everyday field of study.

/s/

Gloriosus
the G-man Himself
Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, so that all may profit by it.
Let me think of the right and lend my assistance to all who may need it, with no regard for anything but justice.
Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage.
Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens, and my associates in everything I say and do.
Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.
-- Doc Savage

Few people want to be moderated, most people see the need for everyone else to be moderated. -- Orpheus


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