"Title This" Competition

According to Trek Today, Rick Berman plans to write a tell-all book about his experiences with Star Trek.

What do you think the best title or tagline for such a book would be?

Here are some possible contenders:

"It Wasn't My Fault!: Reflections on the Decline of Trek"
"Susan Suckett's Got Nothin' On Brannon Braga"
"Still Bitter: How DS9 Succeeded When I Wasn't Looking"
"Mediocrity As High Art: The 20-Year Rewards of Taking No Risks"
"Fulfilling Your Vendettas: The Writing of "These Are The Voyages...""

Feel free to add your own.

Brain Fart: Possible Temporal Irony

One particular item from ENT3 has confused people. The Xindi's Guardians, despite their monkeying-about with the timeline, seemed to provide none of the components for the Xindi weapons, which were largely engineered by Degra. However, it's suggested that some of the components for the prototype that struck Florida were from the future, as deduced via quantum dating.

While it's possible that the early prototypes were supported by Sphere Builder components (they were, after all, able to leave a guy as a guinea pig in "Harbinger", not to mention building the spheres, so it isn't like they couldn't drop stuff off), there is another possibility.

As seen in "Little Green Men"[DS9], kemacite has temporal properties when exposed to high energy, and is also a material highly regulated by the Federation. It's generally assumed, though not proved, that this material is the same as kemocite.

However, if it were, it could imply that the Xindi prototype weapon actually had no components provided by Sphere Builders, but that the kemocite in the weapon just happened to impart a temporal signature on some of the components. These components would thus be made to appear to be from the future.

Thus, the cornerstone of Archer's argument that he needed to go into the Expanse would've been based on coincidence, not fact.

(Also, given that it was Future Guy who tried to give him the heads up, one is left to ponder the possible manipulation.)


"More Input!"

This is largely off-topic, but it's interesting as hell.


Perhaps the most interesting bit comes at the end, with the push for greater and greater access to information. As computer power improves, greater access to this sort of information in readily-usable formats could change the face of politics and society.

Of course, at the same time, this will undoubtedly contribute to ever more information overload. Americans are largely becoming more insular with their knowledge at the same time as more and more information is readily available. Studies show that more people are ignorant of more basic facts now than ever before, despite the possibilities of the internet.

And indeed, with the fracturing of the media as big media contends with smaller, more focused outlets, I can't help but wonder how all of this is going to pan out.

Are we going to keep on ignoring the facts until our ignorance kicks our ass? Are those in the know going to simply become so fractured because they talk about entirely different things that homogenous societies become a pipe dream? Is that why we already have such divisiveness and close races? Will the 'series of tubes' known as the internet simply become kaleidoscopes for porn?

Oh wait . . . for many the last one is already true.


Tactical Tipping Point: Now It's a Strategic War

With the latest update, a comparison page on weapons ranges, it finally dawned on me that I'm pretty much near the end of the tactical side of the debate (defined for our purposes as pondering ship-to-ship combat), 'cause I've got pages on almost everything I need to have pages on. Sure, there's lots to do yet, but the following facts have been fairly well established:

1. ST weapon range and targeting just embarrasses SW weapon range and targeting.

2. ST firepower readily trumps SW firepower . . . compare "Rise"[VOY] to the small-town-killing shots of Star Wars (the biggest and best they've ever mustered).

3. ST vessels embarrass SW vessels in regards to maneuverability, though expect some changes in this regard . . . ST ships are grand, but SW ships have been underestimated here due to a deceleration example I recently found. But still, ST ships have a 10-to-1 advantage on acceleration at least, and overall maneuverability is incredibly superior.

4. I still need to run numbers and do some analysis on shields (been meaning to do that for, oh, what, six years now?), but assuming anything near parity between effective firepower and shield strength would bring things strongly in Trek's favor. Even assuming vastly greater comparative shielding for SW (i.e. that their shields would last for days in a firefight within their own universe), it still doesn't work well for them.

And this, of course, is the case even using my biased-toward-SW methods.

In effect, then, an ISD can't hope to match even a smallish Federation starship in individual sublight combat. The Federation ship would run circles around the ISD, pummelling it endlessly without any threat of return fire.

What this means for me is that, while I still hope to complete the tactical pages, the simple fact is that as far as ST-v-SW.Net is concerned, the tactical side of the debate is largely over.

I've generally avoided drawing conclusions of that type on the site, instead leaving the reader to draw his or her own . . . and besides which, I prefer to leave plenty of room for new data.

But I can't help but acknowledge that tactically speaking, the tipping point has been reached.

The main question of the debate is now strategic.

But this, too, must be clarified. After all, we know the Empire has around 25,000 vessels of ISD equivalence, going by the guns of the Death Star and some math. In other words, they could have a million ships, but by firepower they only add up to about 25,000 ISDs.

The Federation has something like 10,000 ships. Even if we assume that only 2,500 of these are war-worthy, that's 'only' 10-to-1 odds. In direct fleet-to-fleet action, that wouldn't be impossible at all given the tactical shortcomings of the Empire's best.

The Empire would have two basic choices.

The first comes in two flavors.

The first flavor would be to be brutal, prosecuting a war of terror against the Federation in an effort to win quickly by breaking their will to fight. In other words, trying to race to the nearest large planet or two and destroy all life before the Federation has a chance to gather significant forces, hoping the Federation will surrender in the midst of the surprise. For this, the Empire need only come through the usual plot-device wormhole all at once in overwhelming numbers, and preferably with a Death Star.

The second flavor involves a somewhat slower campaign if the Federation fails to immediately capitulate. This flavor relies on large-scale maneuver and large-scale tactics . . . force concentration and so on. It requires that the Empire destroy all life on several worlds without spreading itself too thin. For this, hyperspace travel would preferably need to be many times faster than warp drive, as opposed to near-equal as it now appears (though this should be qualified, since high warp would be required for long durations for the Federation ships). This option requires many more vessels total.

The only other choice is for the Emperor to truly changing the face of the Empire so that shipbuilding becomes the sole focus, making it a war of economic attrition. This is a long-term, protracted campaign, wherein the Empire is subject to extraordinarily losses but tries to overwhelm the Federation with sheer numbers over time, burying the Federation in broken Imperial hulls. This choice involves total war from the Empire, and probably total war from the Federation in order to win. Heaven help the Empire if the Federation's allies assist, but heaven help the Federation if its enemies attacked.

In short, the first choice (in either flavor) comes down to something akin to Graham Kennedy's "Portal". The last choice would put the Federation in the sort of long-duration war it's never seen.

But in any case, at least ST-v-SW.Net has some vague conclusions now.


"A New Sith" and Other Thoughts

Agree or disagree with this, but it's refreshing to see some real and thoughtful speculation on Star Wars.

It's interesting, really. Lucas has called Star Wars fans independent-thinking people, which is true to a point. But I think the EU, which tries so hard to answer all of the questions, curtails that. Sure, they recently cancelled the planned novel on Darth Plagueis on the grounds that "the mystery was worth keeping", but really . . . why cancel it? There's very little mystery that the EU hasn't cast aside.

Thanks to the EU, we just about know everything. At this point, when there's an EU story covering almost every face and droid and building seen in the films, opportunities for relevant independent speculation largely dry up. Hardcore fans who don't accept the EU get their ideas attacked by EU Defense Forces and whatnot. This is especially true if the idea contradicts the EU, though that isn't an absolute necessity given the attitudes of some EU-philes.

For this guy to have taken an idea, expanded it into such a large bit of speculation, and posted it is downright bold in such a climate.

Perusing the StarWars.com forums, you'll find that, largely, the speculation is about the next answer from the EU . . . or the speculation is about EU minutiae and directed as a question to the EU VIPs. In a way that's quite nice, but in another way it might be considered stifling, at least in this context.

The issue hits me along what we in the US call "red-state/blue-state" lines. That description is technically inaccurate . . . a look at this page breaks it down by counties. As you can see by the blue peaks in the 3D map, as a rule those who dwell in large cities tend to vote more to the left. And as a rule, the left in this country tends to be more of a big-government sort of party.

In the rural areas, government is limited in its reach. Without the needs or budget of cities, the level of what we might call "government impression" and regulation in one's daily life has historically been fairly low, contributing to the image of self-reliant rural types. But in cities, the level of government impression has historically been very much higher. Worse, as the service-oriented sector of the economy has grown, the fundamental disconnect with the means of production (i.e. "food comes from McDonald's like magic! Shutting down those cruel cattle ranches won't hurt!") seen among some has increased. We thus get more people viewing the government as the necessary caretakers of the population without knowing how that works at all, an image very much different than the self-reliant "show-me" one.

This simpification takes us back to the EU. Star Wars fans may be independent thinkers, but insofar as speculation goes Lucas Licensing is, for many fans, their necessary caretaker. Speculation, like the services of government, is more visible and official, and more regulated too. And dare I say, it may help foster a certain disconnect with the methods of logical speculation.

Star Trek doesn't have an EU of that sort, though Pocket Books and other licensees are wanting to create that sort of thing. Certainly there wasn't much of a Trek EU during the first Trek interregnum (circa 1969-1987). Indeed, there was a Trek magazine in that period that often featured extensive speculation on TOS and the characters. It's really quite amusing to read now.

Some of this speculation was treated as fact by other fans, while others didn't agree. There weren't flames about it and no indication that camps formed and considered other camps idiots . . . though of course this was prior to the social de-evolution of the internet.

In short, there was, then, a sort of liberty of speculation and spirit of cooperation that modern Star Wars fandom doesn't have.

I'm not sure which is better insofar as franchise longevity is concerned. But, given that welfare often begets welfare, I'm hazarding a prediction here that Star Wars will be the long-term winner inasmuch as keeping a fanbase. But the trick is, the fanbase has to avoid becoming so fractured and negative that Star Wars ends up going the way of Trek.

This probably won't happen, despite certain elements in SW fandom doing their best to bring it about. Star Wars, unlike Star Trek, has been scarce enough in common media like TV that the new live-action show, if ever actually made, will have people flock to it, overwhelming the nay-sayers.

It'll be interesting to see, though, if the show fans transition into EU fans, and if Licensing can have products that integrate the two well enough that folks aren't overwhelmed with the detail.

Then they'll just have to manage the newbie speculation . . .