Before the age of blogs (or even web pages), those of us on the internet had other places to hang out and exchange thoughts. In fact, in many regards, the “Bulletin Board Systems” (BBS) and “internet news groups” (USENET) were more conversational than blog or Facebook comments. They were more like chat rooms where conversations took place over days and weeks (and months).
Like chat rooms, they involved a group of people having a conversation. I miss those days… blog comments are too brief and passing to be a conversation. At best, brief remarks are exchanged for a half-dozen rounds or so, and then the river flows on.
Okay, any Star Trek fan knows that Gene Roddenberry invented the transporters so he wouldn’t have to deal with the special effects necessary to show a landing every time the crew visited a planet. It also cut out any time needed to show the launch, travel time or landing, and that moves the story along. Both of those are smart and good, so let me start by saying, “Gene, that was awesome! And so is the horse you rode in on!”
There’s also the simple fact that, in science fiction, you have to grant a few “gimmes” in order to tell the story you want.
The canonical example here is warp drive. Do you want to explore strange new worlds, and seek out new life and new civilizations? Well, you’re gonna have to find a way around Mr. Einstein, who laid down the Universal Speed Limit, a little thing we like to call c.
As a quick Sideband sidebar to the Star Trek holodeck article just published, I want to mention a metaphor I use to refer to a common science fiction fan phenomenon. The metaphor has a label: “Star Trekking it.”
A while back I mentioned another metaphor: “doing a Boston.” This is like that. It’s a specific reference applied to a general situation. In this case, the metaphor is a general idea in a specific context: explaining away ridiculous stuff in Star Trek.
And make no mistake, Star Trek needs plenty of explaining!