2009-05-06

Star Trek 2009: Uchronia?

The new Trek movie has not yet come out in the United States. However, there are enough clues to point to a plot revolving around a temporal incursion in Trek's early 23rd Century by (rogue?) Romulan forces from the late 24th. This temporal incursion, seemingly featuring massive changes to the timeline and significant changes to the Federation member world count, is apparently focused on James Tiberius Kirk.

Star Trek embraces the many-world hypothesis of parallel universes, but for the most part the actual time travel stories have suggested a single timeline which, when altered, reshapes the Trek fictional universe. Visitors from another universe to our universe with its altered timeline would thus find it in its altered state . . . it would not seem broken in any way. It would simply be what it was. If they wanted to find one more like the pre-altered one (were it possible for
them to know), they would simply keep going amongst the infinite universes until they found another one just like it.

However, per this spoiler-filled interview, it appears that the plot of the new film is somehow a bit confused. The writers based their dealings with the Trek lore on the many-worlds concept of parallel universes, but apparently somehow mixed this in with multiple timelines to wind up with the idea of "parallel timelines", which Robert Orci seems to use interchangably with the idea of "another universe".

Thus we end up with time travel that always causes us to find ourselves in a new universe. Orci suggests that someone from the late 24th Century will try to explain to mid-23rd Century Kirk what is going on and why he followed the rogue Romulan forces to the mid-23rd Century.

If such explanation is anything like Robert Orci's comments, though, the whole movie is forfeit. After all, if a new "parallel timeline" is formed as soon as you go back in time, you have effectively travelled into another universe. Who cares what happens there, really? So fine, rogue Romulan agents are crossing into parallel universes to erase parallel Starfleet officers. Even if they kill them all you'd never notice, so why chase after them?

But that chase, it seems, drives the plot of the film, based on the information available pre-release.

The end result is that the beautiful Jefferies Constitution, Shatner's Kirk, Picard, Sisko, and the gang all continue to exist in their own "parallel timeline", per Orci's idea, meaning that nothing we see in this film has any bearing on that "prime timeline" (borrowing the term from Anthony Pascale).

Finally, this new timeline probably diverges quite strongly from the old one, beyond having a Federation with people named Kirk and Spock and a ship named Enterprise. Consider that once you start messing with a temporal "menace" like Kirk, you also mess with all the temporal incursions he has made, and those that follow on. Many of the time travels of Kirk occurred to times well before his own birth.

Consider that for a moment. Go back in time and blow up Kirk's Enterprise as soon as it pulls out of Spacedock, for instance, and you not only change the 23rd Century but even the 20th ("Tomorrow is Yesterday", "The City on the Edge of Forever", "Assignment: Earth", and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home). This would likely also alter the 24th Century, meaning Picard's Enterprise, meaning "Time's Arrow" . . . in which case the 19th Century is altered, not to mention the 21st and 22nd (First Contact and the related "Regeneration"[ENT]). But of course, at that point the 20th Century gets even more altered, thanks to "Past Tense"[DS9], "Little Green Men"[DS9], "Future's End"[VOY], and "Carpenter Street"[ENT].

While you could argue, per Orci, that each of those events created a different universe, it is clear from all those episodes that Trek lives in a universe where each of those events and changes occurred.

Sure, there are other avenues to consider, but these are the roads I'm going down. Thus, whereas we had an explicit reference from Scotty in "Mirror, Mirror" that the differences between the Enterprises were basically cosmetic (and hence that the tech data was useful), we have no such luxury here. As such, I cannot justify use of tech data from the new film, unless of course they explain things within it much differently than Orci did and the previews suggest.

1 comment:

  1. Would love to know your thoughts once you've seen the movie and had some time to digest.

    ~ J. Marcus Xavier

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