In the Year 2889

For at least a decade I've been pointing out that the Vs. Debate has only a limited lifespan . . . or, as I put it elsewhere:
Another potential pitfall is that, even today, there are many elements of even the most recently-produced Trek and Wars which seem almost anachronistic . . . as if societies hundreds of years more advanced had suffered technological regressions somehow.  Of course, the truth is that there were often simply technological breakthroughs which were not known to the writers or else were ignored for "dramatic necessity".  However, for the most part we can simply assume that both Trek and Wars technological history would include Earth-level technologies of the present-day (though I rather doubt that this sort of rationale can be maintained with a straight face much beyond circa 2025).   Suffice it to say that in fifty years the Trek and Wars produced in the 20th Century will, for the most part, look as backwards to mankind as 30's-era Buck Rogers looks to us now.
But really, I'm not sure that's the best way of viewing the situation.

Consider the work attributed to Jules Verne called In the Year 2889.   It's a short story, so feel free to go read it . . . I'll wait.

 . . .

Right, so if you noticed, there are more than a few things that might seem entirely silly to us now.   The concept of a mean lifespan of 52 years is presented as a wondrous achievement, newspapers have been replaced since 2869 by people physically reading the news to them (and even then only that which is of interest) owing to the enormous development of telephony since 2789, solar power is only a couple of centuries old, and a large planet a ways beyond Neptune has had its orbit located.  Moreover, space travel seems entirely absent from the picture, as determination of whether there's life on the moon seems still to be a question and, moreover, ascertaining if there's any on the back side is completely challenging!

Some of these bits are insightful insofar as being predictors of future developments beyond 1889, when the work was written, but much of it had already happened a mere 100 years later, not 1000.

So if we take this story as the canon of this universe, what are we to do with such absurdities and evidence of slow development?

Well, we have to accept them, that's what.

So, let's say there's a prequel set in that universe in the year 2600 or so when, evidently, a lot of the high technology that had only been developed after 2689 or so wasn't around.

Sure, this was what might be called a "mature civilization", to borrow the inflationist phrase, but clearly we could not apply our modern technological understanding to it . . . they didn't have solar power, for crying out loud, and apparently don't know what's on the back side of the moon!   You can hardly assume that NASA can send a space probe there in your prequel story.

Put simply, we have a glimpse of the rules of the universe, as it has presented to us through its canon.

As soon as you start assuming extra things based on the development and culture of modern Earth, you move away from discussing that universe and into making up your own universe.

(And of course, here we dovetail into another recent post about the dangers of making up your own universe and calling it Star Wars, as our inflationist friends are so inclined to do.)

So, what to do with Star Trek and Star Wars now, when we know that even today some of what we see is so anachronistic?   Well, we have to accept them as they are, that's what.  

Sure, we can still work toward some rationale as to why a certain seeming failing could be a strength, and that's fine . . . I've referenced the whited-out model windows and carrying of padds to deliver reports as an example of eavesdropping-prevention, for instance . . . but there are certain things that scarcely make sense now, and will make even less sense in the not-too-distant future, and even the best inflationist-level mental gymnastics aren't going to allow you to divine a way to have them make sense.

Even now, for instance, snipers can use remarkable computer technology to assist in making their shots.  It wouldn't be surprising to see snipers using heavily computerized, almost self-aiming weapons in the future, and for this technology to eventually drop down to the normal troops.   It might take 200 years . . . it might take 20.  But either way, battle droids and stormtroopers that can't hit the broad side of a barn already don't make much sense, and will make even less soon enough.

Sure, we can try to make up things about jamming and other ECM that somehow prevent advanced systems from working, but it's obvious that the battle droids can still *see*, and see well enough to walk, so it isn't like we can claim they're blind.   They're just bad shots, as they themselves will admit.

Are we to ignore the bad aim in the canon, or simply accept that this is the world they live in (oh-OH-oh) and that those are the poorly-aiming hands they're given?

I think we have to do the latter.   Some prefer the former . . . especially inflationists if they think they can use it to wank out Star Wars.

Avoid that mentality . . . it's a disaster of illogic.


Psi1 said...

Star Wars has some rather interesting excuses for the Schizo Tech in that the Republic seems to have made contact and offered membership with any species they found no matter the tech level, but never bothered to educate the species to the Galactic average. This results in members of the Republic who can barely use technologies given to them, and live in grass huts and are barely stone age.

I'm not sure ECM explains certain things well. Take Vader during the tench run in Episode 4. He could have just done the old spray and pray with his T.I.E. and killed Rebel fighters that he was trying to target because they were directly in front of him in, and he had a perfectly clear line of sight, but instead he seemingly pointlessly waited for a lock on from his targeting computer. Maybe Vader was actually trying to get the Death Star destroyed by giving the Rebels every chance he could?

Triarii said...

That's the same reason Warhammer 40K is so Schizo Techy.

As for Star Trek, I've always felt that our real world and the world of Star Trek begin to diverge right after World War II ends, and any differences or (what we would consider) anachronisms on ST's part simply come down to the people of that universe having taking a different path to the one we took. For one thing, the Earth of the ST universe had a substantial setback in its technological development in the form of WWIII, which in our reality hasn't happened yet and may well never happen...

Guardian said...

Nevermind about 20 years or 200 years for computer-controlled rifles . . . they're looking at 2020, actually:


Psi1, the training issue is perfectly valid, but not for their military.

Hell, the best shots we've seen were from Tusken Raiders popping pod-racers.

There's something to be said for lifelong training, like a kid in the backwoods, versus training that occurs only upon joining a military force. I imagine it's more common now for the Army to have to train on basic shooting skills and concepts than it was a hundred or two years ago, and as time goes on this problem will only increase. (That kind of follows on from the old TNG Space Hippies concepts.)

As for TIE spray and pray, inflationists are making some really weird claims about that these days . . . I'll cover that as soon as I can.

Triarii, I wouldn't be so sure about WW3 never happening, but your point otherwise is well taken. It's tricky to get things "just so", though, in any event.