SMoST: Picard is Wimpy Scum

From the "Some Mistakes of Star Trek" series ...

We all know Picard was written as the weakest captain ever in Generations … to the point that the testosterone-free Kirk of "The Enemy Within" seems like a veritable strongman dictator by comparison.   The justification is supposed to be his grief over the loss of his brother and young nephew at the start of the film.

However, when given access soon after to a means that enables him to go "anywhere" and at "any time", mere moments after seeing his nephew in an anomaly-induced mind-trip, he seemingly doesn't even give a thought to his recently-departed family.   This remains the case even while he's hearing Captain Kirk discuss his own empty house, brought about by too much duty and not enough living.


Space and Orbit

I followed a link to my site back to this spiffy post from a like-interested fellow.  In it, he discusses the energy that a Star Destroyer would have to dump when de-orbiting to crash as in the new film trailer.

I rather liked the cut of his intellectual jib, but the flaw of his calculation was pointed out by a commenter.  The simple fact is that Star Wars ships are rarely seen in what we would call an orbit.  Sure, they're often in space above a planet at orbital altitudes, but that's not the same thing.


New Post Series - SMoST

SMoST stands for "Some Mistakes of Star Trek".  I have composed many such posts over the past couple of months which you'll see soon, and there are more coming in this new series.

This won't be the usual bashing of Voyager and such, but instead aims to be notes pointing out certain philosophical failings, characterization errors, world-building flops, certain tech issues, and that sort of thing.  "Writing fails" would be a way of putting it, but I am thinking of "concept fails" more generally.  Ideally, this is stuff that isn't usually covered by the normal Trek-hate crowd.

One example is something I already covered in the first half of this post about Picard's mistake at Galorndon Core.  But hey, that one's pretty boring, in some ways.

How about this one, then? ... Ben Sisko is a racist.


Real Aircraft Belly Landings

Just mentally comparing here the low-velocity, tangential-angle crashes with planets seen in Generations, "Jedi Crash", or the Rako Hardeen arc of TCW with some real world examples.

First up, a test of an F-16, one of the smallest modern fighter jets at 15m:


Modern Revolver vs. Phaser

Another SciFights oddity, still on the phasers versus tanks stuff, with a little fun about how Brian Young fancies himself the only person to have ever gazed upon a firearm in real life.

In fairness, this is probably at least partially true given the number of Californians, Europeans, and other undesirables involved in the debates.  (Just kidding, Europe. I'd never insult you by comparing you to California.)  But while I am sure he's probably a better long-range shot than I am, the simple fact is that he is no more a firearms expert than I am.


Raising Ship By Raising Shields

Y'know, shields are wonderful things.   One thing we have never seen anyone use them for, however, is lift-off.

Inspired by Buckminster Fuller, I was thinking the other day of using shields in a Cloud Nine fashion, making a big enough shield bubble to let minor air temperature changes float the ship.

But, vacuum would work better, even if it was a bit more taxing to the shields due to pressure difference.   Start with skin-tight shields and then expand them outward laterally and upward, leaving a vacuum in their wake.  At a quoted lifting force of 1.28 grams per liter (based on the displaced mass of air at sea level), my math suggests that a 700,000 tonne starship like Voyager could be lifted by a vacuum volume of 546,875,000 cubic meters.

That's a sphere of 1,014 meters in diameter, or a hemisphere of about twice that depending on how you fit the ship in exactly.

We have seen the Enterprise extend shields to protect a ship at a stated range of five kilometers, IIRC, so in principle it might be doable.  And that doesn't even bring subspace mass-lightening into the equation.

Certainly it would be an interesting way to soft-land a starship rather than crash*, assuming you can figure out how to drop the shield gently on touchdown.   I can't imagine a sudden shut-off, producing a mad rush as air tried to fill a kilometer-wide void, would be healthy for any ship that needed to be using the technique in the first place.

(* In the case of the E-D saucer, of course, it seems this wouldn't be useful as the shields did not seem to be online. )


Admissions of Stunning Calibre

Vince of GalacticEmpireWars.com (who I commonly have referred to as Clonetrooper Vince as his site often seemed to be an HTML text version of Young's video arguments) has made a startling post at StarfleetJedi.Net.


Tarkula Rasa, Pt. II: The List

Following on from the Tarkula Rasa post about the Star Wars reboot, let me just point out that the big logical defense of this I am polishing off is getting a good re-write thanks to the recent release of the "Ultimate Star Wars" reference book, which proves the point I was making to the letter.  Suffice it to say, I picked a great time to announce the rejection of the new Disney mish-mash universe as a break with the Lucas universe rather than a continuation.

Case in point, the old EU idea of Darth Maul's TPM vessel having a cloak has reared its ugly head, despite (a) "no ship that small having a cloaking device", (b) no evidence of it in the film, script, or novel, and (c) all the trouble Filoni described regarding getting a design for the cloaked ship from "Cat and Mouse"[TCW2] through Lucas, if even the other way around.  Had Maul's ship been intended to cloak, Lucas would've made it so.

In other words, the new universe is rewriting the "immovable objects" of the Lucas canon to match the defunct universe of the EU, creating a new hodge-podge universe of technical and logical inconsistency that would make Voyager proud to exist.  The inmates are running the asylum.

Sure, it isn't all bad ... they get the Death Star sizes right ... but that strikes me as more the luck of a stopped clock (thanks to prior lobbying by the Death Star manual guys per an old Chee tweet) than a reasoned conclusion.

That said, I thought it might be best to share the list of what's in, in rough order of precedence, using as our starting point the old "Putting it All Together" list from CanonWars:
And so, we come to the following way of understanding the layers of the canon, as a sort of "rule of thumb":
Media History Status
The Films I-VI
The Clone Wars
(See note 1)
The films created by George Lucas from his screenplays, but based directly on his vision.  Special Editions created to conform more closely to that vision.
The Clone Wars, initially intended to be a separate animal, was quickly graced with constant story, script,  and editorial oversight by Lucas.
The Supreme Canon, absolute and inviolable, with Lucas also noting he made no distinction between TCW and the live-action films.

To coin a phrase, this is the real story of Star Wars.
Screenplays I-VI Created by George Lucas;  his roadmap to the films.  SE versions conform more closely to his vision. Excellent guides to the absolute canon, with high canonicity in their own right.  Effectively inseparable from the films.
Novelizations I-VI
(See note 2)
Written by other authors with Lucas's guidance and definitively known line-editing in the case of the prequels, based on scripts and film production and pre-production materials "Very accurate depictions" of the absolute canon; generally play the role of very accurate and fact-filled 'historical fiction' regarding the events compared to the 'documentary' of the films.
NPR Radio Plays IV-VI
(See note 3)
Written by Brian Daley, based on the films, scripts, and novelizations, with liberal sprinklings of original and EU creations Expanded version of the absolute canon, but with far less canonicity. 

There are assorted caveats and details to ponder, so let's ponder them below:

1.  This includes the pre-Disney Blu-Ray versions of the films as the highest canon, though earlier efforts may be cited as part of commentary on changes.  Also included is The Clone Wars movie and series.  Differences do exist between the broadcast version of the TCW episodes and the Blu-Rays, but one would think the Blu-Rays should take precedence.  I have not yet reviewed the Netflix versions with the thought of determining which version they match.

Note that TCW includes the completed episodes that were shown on Netflix instead of Cartoon Network, known as "Season 6" or "The Lost Missions", as well as the not-quite-complete arc shown on StarWars.com in 2014, known as the "Crystal Crisis on Utapau" story reel arc.

However, none of the TCW stories currently known as being shifted to other formats (e.g. Darth Maul comics or the Ventress novel) are included.  And, much as I enjoy the previews of the Rebels second season that shows the future of a dozen TCW characters, I cannot consider it as anything more than a possible future in another universe.

2.  Quoting from CanonWars re: the 'historical fiction' idea:
"Thus, the novel's description of what Han said is, indeed, very accurate, but not perfect . . . but this does not render the rest of the canon (i.e. that which is not the absolute canon of the films) in error.   And, it means that we can still accept the officially-recognized canon of the novels as such.  For instance, take a look at the novel's additions to Han's comments to Luke.  It is filled with minor technical details . . . the ship is "back in normal space", there's mention of the "nav'puter" and "galactic atlas" in matters of navigation, "one planetary diameter" as a safe hyperspace exit point, and there's the interesting reference to "wild energy" (radiation?) and a sufficient amount of remaining solid matter to suggest a planetary amount of material after the Death Star's destruction of Alderaan.   These are facts that we are not told in the film, and though we know Han did not make these comments to Luke, it is probably safe to accept these as historically accurate facts, worked in as part of the "very accurate depiction" of events, unless there's reason from the films to dismiss the probability.   Similar occurrences from the radio plays would involve a lesser safety factor . . . those are not referred to as "very accurate depictions", and often aren't."
Let's also ponder the Karen Traviss novelization of The Clone Wars film.  In 2014, in a tweet following up from the Disney announcement, Del Rey stated that the novelizations of the films were still canon. but in a twist they also included the Traviss novel.  Unlike the other prequel-era novels, this one did not get the Lucas treatment of editorial oversight, but was instead treated as an EU work.  As such, it is also out of bounds.

3.  As noted at CanonWars, the radio play treatment is historical, grandfathered in from early canon statements and in honor of their importance to early Star Wars history.  But as noted when I wrote that a decade ago, I had no wish to have Brian Daley's contributions outweigh those of Lucas insofar as hours of content.  The ANH radio play almost outweighed the original trilogy, by that score.

As such, the CanonWars designation in the chart above had included this restriction:  "Mildly useful as a clarification tool, but not for the original (i.e. non-film) material.  May not override or add significantly to higher canon."

However, that's no longer as much of a concern.  With The Clone Wars, the Lucas-helmed canon now far outweighs Daley.  As such, I am willing to relax the prohibitions a little.  Still, even though Daley and the gang had unprecedented access to Star Wars resources, including scripts, notes, production materials like notes and drawings, the novelizations, and even sound design, the fact is that one thing Daley did not have access to was Lucas himself.
"AN: Jasman asks, "Did you get to work with George Lucas directly on any of you projects?"
BD: No, although I always received guidance and overview from his organization. When you realize that Geroge is running a business empire, doing his own projects, trying for some kind of personal life and standing at the center of a universe of tie-in projects, it's not surprising that he's busy frying his own fish. What I've heard from him and others about his reaction to my various works has been very positive, however-- very gracious."
Thus, it seems fitting to apply a twist on the normal EU Completist "canon unless contradicted" logic and consider the Daley work as a low level 'canon, unless contrary'.  Or, to rephrase it as per the novelization caveats above, "it is probably safe to accept these as historically accurate facts {...} unless there's reason from the films ..." or novelizations "... to dismiss the probability."   However, arguments entirely based on the radio dramas without additional backing from the higher canon are still to be avoided.

More on all this is probably sure to come, so stay tuned.