Tuesday, November 5, 2002

How Many Miles to Babylon?

Finished watching the first season of Babylon 5 on DVD, in a self-indulgent marathon session. Had deliberately not watched it on the tube as I was a Star Trek fan and one space opera a time is enough.

Having watched it, I realized how much time I had wasted watching STTNG.

Have always had core problems with Trek. Nutshelled:

It's a media-free universe. Except for one scene in one movie (where Kirk gets sucked out a hole into space -- yay!) there are no reporters, news organizations or, for that matter, any future TV shows of any kind. Evidently, all these cats in the future do is play around in the holodeck. Writers went the way of blacksmiths.

The chuckleheads in the future all blindly support the Federation. There are no racist throwbacks on earth who say: "Screw the aliens and this inter-galatic peace crap." There's no atavistic "Earth First" organization throwing sand into the Federation's gears and cogs.

Since it's a media-free universe, nobody ever seems to criticize the Federation. ("Captain Kirk, in an apparent violation of the Prime Directive, destroyed the suicide booths on Whackoff-7. Critics are calling for his immediate ...") Nope. No sir. It's one big happy-happy Federation. No arguments here.

The notion of military tactics and strategy are on the level of the kid on the short bus playing chcckers with chesspieces.

The aliens aren't really alien. Ohmygod, it's Q, the deus ex mechanae from beyond dimensions. Gimme a fucking break. There's NOTHING that feels really alien -- like the beings in Lem's Solaris or all of Lovecrafts eldricht nasties. All aliens in the Star Trek universe have two eyes, a mouth, two legs, etc. Basically, we're talking latex prosthetics.

Aside from not being alien, none of the aliens are better than us. The evolutionary ladder ends at humans. All the aliens we bump into are EXACTLY on our level. Any aliens above us conveniently disappear into another dimension. There's no sense of the galaxy as an eco-system of intelligences -- some much greater than ours.

And, assuming FTL is possible, you would also have to assume some of the intelligences would be OLDER than ours, and would have left the infrastructure of their FTL civilizations all over the place. Nah. Except for the occasional Guardian of Forever, the universe is made up of (A) Uninhabited planets (B) Savages with stone axes (B) Technological civilizations at EXACTLY the same level as earth.

This shit always bugged me. I always imagined writing sort-of an anti-Star Trek to address these points.

Stracinzky (or however you spell his name) did it.