Small Group Progress in Trek

Observe the thesis put forth by Trek in "North Star"[ENT3], "The Paradise Syndrome"[TOS3], "Up the Long Ladder"[TNG2], "The Masterpiece Society"[TNG5], and elsewhere, which is that it is not especially likely that small transplanted groups of humans cut off from the primary civilization will develop any further technologically, and may not go anywhere especially far culturally.   The Wild West remained the Wild West.  The American Indians remained American Indians.  Irish peasant folk remained Irish peasant folk.  And genetically engineered twits remained genetically engineered twits.

The only culture that featured societal evolution was the clone group from "Ladder", but beyond mere adaptation to a new reproductive method they didn't seem terribly different culturally than what we might expect from a transplanted group of Americans from 2123 . . . they are rather similar to the "Masterpiece Society" folks in style and twittery.

I don't necessarily agree with Trek's thesis on the matter, mind you . . . but Trek's been pretty consistent on the point.

There are a handful of regressions, however, in addition to the lack of progressions.   For instance, we have the folks from "Terra Nova"[ENT1], but that's a special case since basically all the adults died.  And there's a possible tenuous connection via Turkana IV, a Federation colony that devolved into crap after cutting themselves off from Federation contact.   There's also the Mintakans, a "proto-Vulcan" group of humanoids at a Bronze Age level, though their true origin is never precisely given.

I think small groups in a new environment will do more than just stagnate, and regression is not their only other option.   Yes, there is no great manufacturing base to work from, and it's going to be a small group advancing instead of an entire planet's worth of people, but the concept of no progress whatsoever seems incredibly strange, especially when (as in the case of less technologically advanced cultures) they've seen what's possible.  Also odd is that the Mariposan clones and Moab residents, despite advanced computing, never managed to get much further.  But in the first case, we could chalk it up to a lack of imagination when it's the same five people over and over again.

The above having been said, there are issues to advancement for any group.   More primitive groups could theoretically advance more easily, what with their technology not being as complex, but at the same time there is less opportunity for advancement given that more primitive groups must expend a higher percentage of their efforts merely on feeding and sheltering themselves.   More advanced groups require advancements by those with greater specialization and more computational capability, which small groups might have difficulty supporting and creating.

However, a total lack of change or advancement seems most peculiar.


The North Star Paradise Theory

Could the Skagarans be the Preservers?

"North Star"[ENT3] and "The Paradise Syndrome"[TOS3] both feature inhabitants of North America removed from there by alien species.  "North Star" seems to involve the abduction of a large number of western US citizens circa 1865, while "The Paradise Syndrome" involves the abduction of a variety of American Indians which at no point shared contiguous lands.

The "Paradise Syndrome" people were left in place on a lush and lovely world (called Amerind in the script) that seemed to have plantlife very similar to, if not identical to, that of Earth.  I am unaware of any animal life being directly seen, but clothing and other traces of what appear to be Earth-normal animal species are present.   The only evidence of their abductor/saviors was an asteroid deflector left on the planet, with the medicine man of the colony instructed on its use.  

The "North Star" people, along with horses and cattle, were taken to their new colony planet,  which I'll call Skagara Colony.  It was a rather more arid location, and the humans were meant to be slave laborers.  Earth-normal plantlife is seen in the area.   The abductors enslaved the humans but were overthrown within about six months.  The ship was burned and most of the abductors were killed.  Those who were not were forced into sub-1865 living conditions and forbidden from educational activities.

The deflector obelisk on Amerind appears indicative of technology beyond that of the 23rd Century Federation, while the Skagaran technology is only seen in debris form, along with references among the humans to phaser/disruptor and transporter technology.  

Spock is able to decipher writing on the obelisk, and says (borrowing from Chakoteya.net):

SPOCK: Yes. The
obelisk is a marker, just as I thought. It was left by a super-race
known as the Preservers. They passed through the galaxy rescuing
primitive cultures which were in danger of extinction and seeding them,
so to speak, where they could live and grow.

MCCOY: I've always wondered why there were so many humanoids scattered through the galaxy.

SPOCK: So have I. Apparently the Preservers account for a number of them.

Sure, there could be an entire advanced species (or "super-race") devoted to such an activity.  But it seems to me that they would not have renamed their species to correspond to what they were doing.   Ergo, the Preservers likely had an actual species name.   And while I won't outright reject Spock's accuracy of translation (given that it did later enable him to operate the deflector, despite his two months without adequate food or sleep), I will say that the markings were obviously written by the Preservers themselves.

We do not know of any other Preserver-assisted "primitive cultures", though a variety of incidents occurred within centuries of their presumed appearance in the 1700s (such as several whole species dying out) that one would think they might've done more than just pick up some low-tech Earthlings.   So the concept of the Preservers as galactic busybodies seems off.

Worse, if you are rescuing primitive cultures, it does not make sense to screw them up.   Specifically, Spock notes that the Amerind colony appears to consist of Navajo, Delaware, and Mohican tribal characteristics.  While some convergent cultural evolution may have occurred and there weren't really that many tribes originally picked up, nevertheless it seems that the Preservers apparently mixed them, creating an amalgam of the cultures anyway, thereby preserving very little, even beyond the simple act of taking them away from their natural and social environment.

And, of course, we know that the Preservers are not the source of all the humanoids in the galaxy, per "The Chase"[TNG] which shows that it was, instead, largely a matter of guided (or perhaps better put as 'roadmapped') evolution.   Were the Preservers the cause, we would instead expect a number of planets with exactly similar species populations on them, something akin to what is seen in Stargate SG-1 (with various planets seeded over thousands of years by the Goa'uld with humans).   So there would be multiple planets with humans, planets with Vulcans, planets with Klingons, et cetera.  And per the Trek Stagnation Theory, these planets would show almost exactly what life was like on the homeworld when the people were abducted.  

We do not see that sort of thing at all.  Oh sure, we see a lot of species that look just like humans, but almost invariably they are their own species with their own evolution and long history on their worlds.   Instead, all we see of the transplantation is that on one world, Amerind, there are some American Indians. 

Thus, I do not personally think the Preservers were a super-race that did a lot of Preserving.  I think the note upon the Obelisk was simply to say that the abductor species was more advanced, took the American Indians who were in danger, and seeded them on that world.  Why they were interested in the Indians is unclear . . . rather North America-centric of them, really, since I'm sure other groups around the planet (in Africa, for instance) could've used the help, too.

That North America-centric position brings us back to "North Star".  Could it be mere coincidence that members of the same culture which endangered the American Indians were made slaves on another world?   Could it be mere coincidence that around the same timeframe, two groups along with local plant and animal species were taken from North America and transplanted elsewhere?  

I don't think that seems very likely.  Why would the Skagarans, if they were really just interested in slave labor for a new colony, bring along alien plants and animals, too?  If they meant to build a colony, would they not have brought their own?   And if they had transporters, phasers, and a starship large enough to carry hundreds of humans and a wide assortment of lifeforms away, why didn't they just conquer Earth?   The 1.3 billion Civil War-era humans of Earth weren't exactly in a position to kick their ass, after all . . . we didn't even have aircraft.

I think the Skagarans were the Preservers, and that the Skagarans were not quite as fully evil (nor the Preservers as fully good) as has been believed.  Instead of a century-wide gap between abductions, I think they occurred at the same time.  And I think the Skagarans made a moral judgment about the events in North America at the time (perhaps even thinking the slaveholding South was going to win, which would put their visit prior to 1864), and took parts of both of the groups they were interested in for two colonies.

The first colony was the most livable, but also the most dangerous due to asteroids.  The American Indians they sought to save and perhaps even co-exist with upon a possible return to that more lush environment.  With the deflector in place, that colony could do well.

The second world was, I presume, nearby.   The Americans they intended to punish and force into labor were placed there to start working on the colony.  It was safer, but the environment was not as good.

However, the Skagarans were overthrown and most of them wiped out just six months in to the building of the second colony.

Who were the Skagarans and why were they in this area anyway?  Who knows.  If the theory is correct, their ship was at or beyond 23rd Century Federation technology.  Their ship was large enough to carry the hundreds of humans that must've been needed for the Skagaran Colony, along with horses, cattle, and plant species, as well as the Skagarans themselves.   With 1000 or so Skagarans on Skagara Colony, after most were wiped out centuries prior, we must assume a large crew, perhaps even on par with a Galaxy Class Federation ship.   But with no other Skagaran lifeforms in evidence, we must presume one of two things:

1.  That it was a colony ship which had a problem of some kind, resulting in the death of their plants and animals and perhaps some people.
2.  That it was not a colony ship at all, but a ship that had to choose to make a colony.

Notable is that despite their technology, advanced to no less than 22nd Century levels (ignoring the North Star Paradise Theory) as early as 1865, no one has heard of the Skagarans in the 22nd-24th Centuries.  This suggests that the Skagarans weren't from Earth's area anyway.

I would thus submit that the Skagarans were on a ship very, very far from home (intentionally or otherwise), and that they were damaged in some way, perhaps even near Earth.   Visiting Earth for supplies at some point, they became interested in North America and took people, but they were not interested in (or simply unable to achieve) conquest of the planet.   With their situation hopeless, they kept searching for a good place until they entered the early Delphic Expanse area, which may or may not have had a barrier around it at the time, and whether intentionally or not they ended up selecting planets there.   The American Indians they set down and built the deflector, with some Skagarans intending to return.   In the meantime, the other colony had to be set up, so everyone went to the Skagara Colony planet, where in a flagrant display of incompetence they had their asses handed to them by a bunch of cowboys.

The idea is not without problems, and there are undoubtedly some aspects that could be tweaked, but I don't think it has any major holes.    It reduces the number of Earth-visiting species (which is still terribly high, but still). 

I also like the irony.  The American Indian colony dwellers called the Preservers "the Wise Ones".   Yet on Skagara Colony, their defeat means that they forgot everything they knew about who they were.

Now if you really want to get some interesting ideas going, suppose that the Skagarans of 500 years ago (as counting from circa 2370) were some of the last survivors of the species the Klingons called the Hur'q, who apparently originated in the Gamma Quadrant, and who had sacked Qo'noS circa the 1300s . . . .


Drexfiles DS9TM Runabout Pics

The Danube class is one of my favorites, bar none, save for the silly strap things.

Though I strongly approve of this concept of the runabout (and would’ve loved to have seen deposited modules somewhere), it would have been great if the interior and exterior design had matched up better with it. (But, alas, it was only TV . . . yet so much matched up so well.)   Such a notion would make the runabout similar to the Sikorsky Skycrane, but with swappable modules for the underside.

As it stands, however, I don't think the runabout's interior as seen matches up with the concept of either a U-shaped cargo pallet thingy (as seen in some production sketches) or the nifty room-to-go modules that Drexler shows us in the link above.

For help imagining this a bit better, from Amberwolf are some excellent pictures of a runabout model built without the
center section in place.  As you can see, the cockpit module and aft
section would attach to the spine, though the model builder did not know of the central hallway idea from the production sketch and Drexler DS9TM renders and thus left it out. 

Externally, this design concept is somewhat unsatisfying.  The underside of the ship's aft section does not appear to have any
connection of the underwing impulse and end-of-wing warp drive system
to the ship, save for at the very top of the wings.  While Star Trek technology would certainly allow for such adventurous designs, it makes the runabout seem quite fragile, especially when you ponder incidents like the tractor beam from the lower aft section in "Paradise"[DSN2].   Less subjectively, however, we have Sisko’s impulse drive modifications in “Blaze of Glory”[DSN5],
when he
enters a Jefferies tube out of a small hallway or closet of some kind
(all we see is a doodad-covered wall).  

Why is this a problem?  Because for the Sikorsky runabout idea to work, we need a central corridor that connects the fore and aft compartments while also providing access to the special cargo/work modules.  

But the presence of Jefferies tubes throws that out of whack, because their existence requires a
few things.   First, that there is a full deck-height area for the
closet (which prevents us from imagining this Jefferies tube up along
the spine).   Second, that if the tube is going into the wings (e.g.
sideways from the center section toward the warp drive nacelles), that
there must be a second Jefferies tube on the other side.  But instead
we see doodads and not another access hatch, so therefore the hallway
must be on the side of the ship.   Alternately, the tube runs fore to
aft (or vice versa), requiring two tubes running along the side of the
ship, but still we lose the cargo module in that case, since it would
still have to be integrated with the ship and not a removable component.

Then there are internal issues.  Most notably, we have “Timescape”[TNG6] which shows a big wall with doodads (referred to at Ex Astris as the pentagonal console wall) right where the central corridor should be.  To move forward toward the cockpit, you apparently have to cross the door threshold and go left, on the port side of the ship.  The TNG people never go right.  While not proving the lack of hallway or other access, it also means there is no proof they exist.

And of course in all the DS9 episodes generally, the aft part of the cockpit has no central corridor.  Instead it featured the pentagonal console wall either behind the door or in place of it (suggesting that it may move, because otherwise it was completely blocking access to most of the ship).  Later DS9 even moves the transporter there, and the hallway on the starboard side is visible.  ("Timescape" shows Picard and Troi cross in front of the pentagonal wall from the port side, implying that a portside hallway should also exist.)

Of course, the entire area inboard of the tiny winglets is part of the room behind the cockpit, which later got the transporter placed within it (though curiously, we do not see the second, smaller set of windows even then).  So while there's enough extra room on the rear end of the cockpit module to allow for central corridor access if we assume that the port and starboard corridors beside the transporter or pentagonal console wall merge again, this solution is somehow unsatisfying . . . why waste what little space the ship has with so much walkway?

Most of the solutions that allow us to keep the cargo modules as such thus seem very inelegant, and I don’t know what the solution here would be. Two hallways along the exterior around a central space seems odd, especially given the strap-thing on the outside of the runabout hull. And if there were such a large central space, one might be tempted to assume it was engineering, and place the warp reactor there and upright, barring contradictory Okudagrams.

We could presume a peculiar S-shaped hallway, except there's no evidence for that at all.   Or we could presume that there is somehow a central hallway that takes a number of jigs and turns for no apparent reason in such a small ship.  But for most of these, you have a ship that’s “hard coded”, if you will, with only the rollbar allowing mission-specific modules. That’s fine, but not as satisfying a design as the Sikorsky-esque model.   After all, if the ship does not have swappable modules, why the devil does it have the strappy thing?

My preferred conclusion?  Well, I think there's gotta be some sort of use for the strappy things . . . e.g. that something is removable.  I also see no reason to require the ship to lift off in order to dislodge any removable item, because that seems silly even given antigrav tech.   I also don't like the notion that the various parts are connected only by the spindly spine. 

Ergo, I would argue that the wings and aft section are joined together much more.  If you're looking at the underside image of the Amberwolf model, I would say the aft section extends further forward and makes contact with two-thirds or so of the underwing structure, allowing additional integrated (i.e. permanent) space.  This would be the location for the Jefferies tubes, from hallways on each side.  (Note that I don't think the starboard hallway extends all the way, which is why Picard and company always went port.)

You can get a sense of my aft section size preference by looking at this image from MFI.  I would have the aft integrated section extending all the way up to the "science lab"/"crew module" boundary in that image, or nearly so, with the modules listed on that image being the swappable modules.

I would also argue that the cockpit is connected by much more than just spine, but that instead there is some central access and walkway accessible from the cockpit, whether via port or starboard (though hopefully only one at a time, with the other side being toilet or some other useful space as in the MFI image).  And that instead of four Drexler-esque modules, there are two, and they can be dislodged by turning the front outward and sliding them out between the nacelle and potentially-movable winglet, with the ribbed section just behind the winglet serving as a seal and swinging space for when the modules are being turned.   These modules would end just behind the intake-looking part of the wing, just in front of the vertical feature going between wing and upper reactor cover.

As for the number and orientation of the warp core(s), I'm not married to any particular idea.  However, it would make sense to me if the reason that Picard and company had to make a left turn was because of a nice slim vertical reactor on the other side of the wall.  We already know that there are separate port and starboard antimatter pods, though, so I could live with multiple cores . . . but that topic will have to wait for another posting.

Is my conclusion canon?  No.  Since we don't see the underside of the runabout much if at all, there's no way to tell precisely what it really looks like under there, and therefore what might be removable.   However, I find it compatible with canon, and probably a bit more compatible than most alternatives.

(Personally, I always fancied the idea of the rear section being capable of swap-out, too, up to and including the crazy notion of a shuttlebay-esque module for vehicle/probe launch and recovery.  But, alas, I think my present conclusion might be imcompatible with that.  Oh well.)

(Note:  This posting needs pictures in it, and I'll try to edit them in later.)



All this time, I thought the redhead from the Army Wives ads was actually (Louise) Robey from Friday the 13th: The Series.   I remember seeing that show and the big bouffant red hair hotness way back when, though I don't think I ever made it through an entire episode.  Not enough her in them, you understand.

I was impressed when I (thought I) saw her still acting recently.   I mean, sure, I knew she must've aged well, but she was young then, and the hair color and face was the same.   But, alas, come to find out, it's a different cute redhead altogether, Brigid Brannagh.  At least, unlike "Robey" (as she was credited on 13th, however absurdly ... I never could get past that), she uses both of her names.


WW2 Starships

The existence of the Japanese show Space Battleship Yamato has always bothered me on some level.  While I don't think they ever fought Americans or anything in the show, there's something in the very concept of resurrecting a sunken WW2 Japanese warship and wanking it out into a flying warship that gets under my skin, especially considering the reports of some unique perspectives on WW2 being taught in Japan's schools not too long ago.

(Presumably it's the same sort of reaction as the one I have to those select individuals in the southeastern United States who proclaim that "The South Will Rise Agin!" . . . a mixture of pity, disgust, and instant boredom.  "The Yamato will rise agin!")

All that having been said, I was pleased to note that someone has responded quite adequately to the challenge of Space Battleship Yamato.   May I present Cliff Vestergaard's "Space Ship B-17" . . . or, if you will, "Space Battlefortress B-17".

It's equal in wank factor, sure, but at least it's from the right side.