Darkness and Wonder in the 23rd Century

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J.L. Wall

J.L. Wall is a native Kentuckian in self-imposed exile to the Midwest, where he teaches writing to college students and over-analyzes Leonard Cohen lyrics.

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240 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak says:

    Rodenberry’s ST was not without god or religion. Economics of ST has generally been avoided by all the shows. It was mentioned, once i believe, that they don’t use money in the Federation. However plenty of the individual species use money especially the Ferengi. So there is all that. Pendent mode disengaged.

    It is precisely the loss of wonder at the universe and hope that things might be wonderful or cool or good that frustrates me about the reboot( search for cash) of ST. The ST movies have almost all be poor and they have been mostly action flicks with a touch of ST. Dark dystopia sci fi is “in” now and that is boring. Most movies people call Sci Fi now are Die Hard in Space or Generic Dystopia with lots of Tech or Big Bad creature vs. Humans. Meh. In fact most sci fi movies don’t really have much Sci in them, they are just set in a fancy future. Did i say Meh yet?Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Ah, yes, but the Ferengi money can only not be replicated by Ferengi replicators.
      (This is what happens when you let an economist write fiction.
      I believe the other writers ignored this.).Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        *snickers* now if you brought up such a quandary to the Babylon 5 writer, the entire story would change. That guy has a mazy mind.Report

    • Avatar J.L. Wall says:

      No, no, the first reaction to a post comparing any of the original Trek series/movies with the Abrams ones should DEFINITELY jump immediately to nerd-fighting. The absence of religion on Star Trek nearly went into a long digression on Bajorans, but since I knew I’d need to cut it, I decided against writing it in the first place.

      Part of it may be that when there’s only dystopia, and little to compare it against, the dystopic loses a great deal of its bite. There has to be some vision of the future at risk or blotted out — not necessarily in the work itself, but in the air of the culture.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Nu? The Bajorans worship goatse. Or at least that’s how the original script went.
        Cleaned it up for television (thank God!).Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        The atheism of Star Trek I think is a bit overstated. In addition to the Bajorans, we have quasi-deific creatures ranging from the Olympian gods to Q, while everyone ranging from the Vulcans (the freaking Vulcans!) to Klingons all have religious-spiritual aspects. The Vulcans with their Katras, Klingons with all the stuff about sto-vo-kor and Kahless….Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        If you didn’t want nerd fighting you shouldn’t have talked about Star Trek….duh.

        Dystopia by itself is boring. If there is a message like in 1984 or Fahrenheit 451 than it can be a real kick in the gut bus most dystopia’s are just a setting for action.Report

  2. Avatar Matty says:

    I heard somewhere that these things go in cycles, optimism should be back in fashion any decade now.Report

    • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

      I agree that will be when the twenty-year olds will have been born after September 11th.

      There are three reasons that all of our future fiction is dsytopian at the moment
      1) the war on terror/Iraq/Afghanistan
      2) the war on drugs
      3) the 2007 crash if the economy combined with an obsession with deqling with debt before dealing with mass unemployment/loss of earning lifetime earning power for the young.

      All of these issues never responded to mass protest, gridlock is the order of the day and cynicism starts to feel like a smart way of life.

      Frankly I don’t think you can sell the image of a bright future to people 5-8 years younger than me.Report

  3. Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

    I always thought that Star Trek, the movieverse anyway, would be well served by having Earth get blown up or otherwise destroyed.

    JJ blew up Vulcan instead. I think that was the wrong choice. The Vulcans as nomads or “only-colony existing race” can occur without it even being mentioned as a plot point in future movies.

    Earth going kablooie? That would give you something to build a franchise around.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      I quite honestly agree.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      I agree but the suits would never sign off on something like that. Marketing would freak and the movie would either be a massive controversial money maker or worse, a bomb.Report

    • Avatar Pub Editor says:

      Earth going kablooie? That would give you something to build a franchise around.

      Joss Whedon tried. FOX cancelled that series mid-way through the first season.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      Earth going kablooie?

      To make way for a hyper-space bypass. You could build an entire career around that.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      Marvin the Martian has tried this for years. Bugs Bunny stops him all the time.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      “Earth going kablooie? That would give you something to build a franchise around.”

      Hmm, what an interesting idea.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          BSG is not really recognizable as human history. It’s more of an alternate history story than a post-armageddon story (although the destruction of the home worlds makes this a fuzzy distinction). Didn’t watch Earth 2, no opinion. Firefly kind of counts, but the “Earth got used up” part is relevant only in 2 seconds of overvoicing in the intro to the show; it’s not like “Earth was just destroyed” is part of the ongoing tension. Red Dwarf and Planet of the Apes are more “last man alive” movies than “destruction of the earth” movies (see also, “Omega Man”), civilization didn’t survive.

          In particular, though, I would be interested in seeing how The Federation – with the existing human colonies and the largely human-dominated governance arm – survives with Earth kablooied.

          Still, point taken, this is not an entirely original observation. It would be an original take on *Trek*, though.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            It would be really fun to see them keep the optimism, and the general with-it ness of the whole thing, as one of the key cards topples.
            A depressed trek, that I can see, but a pessimistic trek is not trek anymore.Report

  4. Avatar Matty says:

    2001 aside has anyone made a successful film of full on sci fi that wasn’t (insert other genre here) set in the future?Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      Yes.

      Hm, there might be a post here. Moon and 12 Monkeys both immediately spring to mind. If I wasn’t so busy trying to rip out my own eyeballs I could come up with a few dozen.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Dune, certainly. You can’t class that as anything other than science fiction.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        Dune the book, yes. Dune the movie was considerably less coherent and therefore much more just a “Messiah” movie.

        But it’s an arguable contender, sure.Report

        • Avatar Les Cargill says:

          There is a second “Dune”, and it’s long-form enough to cover the book quite well. The first one is awesome because it’s David Lynch, but it’s not much the book.

          I like them both. Movies are derivatives works and should stand on their own.Report

      • Avatar Pub Editor says:

        How is Dune not set in the future?Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          oh, it is. Matty’s asking if anyone made a film that counts as pure sci-fi, (or at least mostly), and not an admixture and primarily another genre. (Kinda like Cowboy Bebop is a cop-drama with noir detectives in Space).

          Ein!Report

    • Avatar Pub Editor says:

      The Andromeda Strain. It’s up there with 2001 as an example of hard sci fi that’s as far from a Die Hard-style sci fi action movie as is likely to be produced.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        The Andromeda Strain is also the only M.C. book that doesn’t devolve into madness.Report

      • Avatar Barry says:

        Contagion would match that (especially as the science in ‘The Andromeda Strain’ really stank).Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          I haven’t seen Contagion yet, which is a very odd anomaly given that I love apocalyptic fiction and Virus was one of my huge favorites for years.Report

          • Avatar Barry says:

            See it. Do *not* expect an action thriller; somebody must have had blackmail photos on upper management, because there are no doctors or scientists leaping from roof to roof with the magic serum, or anything like that. The hot female doctors and scientists remain fully clad throughout the whole movie (and I mean *fully* clad; Minnesota winter and biohazard level 4 dressed). There are I think 2-3 gunshots, which are seen at a distance.Report

    • Avatar Shygetz says:

      Star Wars wasn’t set in the future, but is still sci-fi. “A Long Time Ago…” Okay, maybe that’s cheating. Gattaca was pure sci-fi, and pretty successful. Not sure if you could call Contact anything other than sci-fi.Report

      • Avatar Pub Editor says:

        I call Contact awful, but that’s not a genre or category description.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        Star Wars is a kung-fu movie.Report

        • Avatar Shygetz says:

          But it’s not set in the future, as per the original question.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

            Right, but it’s not really sci-fi at all. It’s a kung-fu movie with laser swords and rayguns instead of katanas and longbows.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

            What about Battlestar Galactica? Never seen either of the incarnations, but wasn’t it implied that they’d eventually find and settle on prehistoric Earth? (One of the awful cliche plots of Golden Age SF was a couple from what appears to be the future being lost on an uninhabited planet, whereupon we find out their names are Adam and Eve.)Report

            • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

              It wasn’t even “implied” in the RDM version, it was explicitly stated.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                So, also in the past. Thus not SF?Report

              • Avatar Shygetz says:

                SF doesn’t have to be futuristic, it just has to represent plausible alternative paths for society that include futuristic elements. So, you can have alternate universe sci-fi, or “past-as-future” sci-fi.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Wait, are we agreed that past-as-future is sci fi? I The Dragonriders of Pern Sci-Fi?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                There was a real vogue back when the first Pern stories were written for SF that’s “Forgotten planet reverts to medievalism”. You can see it in the Hugo winners: Pern, Silverberg’s Nightwings, Vance’s The Dragon Master and The Last Castle, Anderson’s The Longest Voyage, etc. But it’s all SF based on interstellar flight and thus set in the future. (It’s true Pern becomes softer and softer SF: telepathy, time-travel, etc.)Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                There’s a lot of that reversion to Bucolic Paradise hooey in STNG, too.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Yeah don’t forget the Marjopore series, very much a similar theme.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Fair enough, now on to my follow-up. For those of you that have read it, is The Prince of Nothing sci fi?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Aw jeez, Majipoor. I can say without a doubt, Silverberg’s Majipoor series was among the most satisfying run of novels I ever picked up.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Blaise is Wrong! Wrong ! Wrong!

                Which is to say that I find the Majipoor stuff really dull. And it’s a damned shame, because up until then, Silverberg in all of his incarnations had been one of my favorite SF authors.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                By the way, any Jack Vance fans here? Like, would anyone be interested in an MD post about what it was like working on the Vance Integral Edition?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                I really liked Majipoor! Silverberg wrote consistently good stuff.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                I fall between you two on Majipoor. I enjoyed it a lot but I can admit it sure did drag at times.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Pern got published in Analog. Thus scifi.
                The editor of Analog wants more “softer scifi” like that, too (in case folks are looking to write around here…)Report

        • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

          I’ve never heard this before, but I’m immediately classifying it alongside “Star Wars isn’t really sci-fi” as a thing that convinces absolutely no one who actually needs to be convinced of anything.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

            That’s okay, I’m aware I’m frequently Wrong.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

            It won’t convince anyone who’s a Star Wars fan, and SF readers already know it.Report

            • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

              For certain, utterly insane values of “know”, I suppose. More importantly, if you’re having a conversation with someone who has ever been outside of their basement, and you tell them that a movie with spaceships and laser guns isn’t sci-fi, you almost certainly need to be put in a mental institution for a basic inability to interact with reality.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                You just don’t understand what sci-fi is, that’s all.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                I look forward to the day my bookstore has a section for “kung fu stories with laser swords”.

                Except for the part where who shops at a bookstore any more?Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Classifications have to have meaning. And when it comes to literature, the classification has to be thematic, not cosmetic.

                Science fiction is literature where the fiction is about the science, and its transformative power on the human condition. If the literature is fundamentally about something else, it’s not science fiction.

                It’s something else, with technology added for eye candy.

                Nothing happens in Star Wars that can’t be paralleled in another genre, just by changing the scenery.

                Which is okay, that’s still thing. Nothing wrong with it.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Well, then, cowboy bebop is science fiction.
                Oh, I forgot Ghost in the Shell Standalone Complex.
                My personal pic for Best Science Fiction in Cinema.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                I’ll note that Tod agrees with me, therefore I win.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                The classic example is to ask what you get when take a Western and substitute spaceships for horses.

                He saw the enemy scout-ships and pulled hard on the retrorocket lever, bringing the ship to a hard, whinnying stop.

                It an’t SF.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Once you’ve got Tod on your side…Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                I don’t give a good Toddamn about WHO your co-pilot is…Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                Does this, in some sense also apply to “Sci-fi” that is essentially “Napoleonic Naval Fiction in Space”?

                I mean, one sees huge Hornblower parallels, moreso in Picard than Kirk in Star Trek. (I think this is more of a function of the actor being familiar with CS Forester than anything related with characterization, by the by)…

                Then there’s stuff like David Weber’s Honor Harrington, David Drake’s RCN series…

                And one might argue that the best “Star Trek” movie in recent times is actually Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

                Replace the Acheron with a Romulan bird of prey (ala “Balance of Terror”), the Surprise with the Enterprise, while Jack Aubrey/Stephen Maturin work out to something akin to Kirk/Spock/McCoy….Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                “Space Opera” is the long-accepted tag for “science-fictiony sorta literature that is basically Swashbucklers in Space or Pirates in Space or Privateers in Space”.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Mote in Gods Eye (which is space awesome — and if I’m saying anything nice about a Pournelle book, you know it’s good) has a lot of “age of fighting sail” in it too.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                I think we just reinvented hard versus soft sci-fi.

                What I vaguely recall from literature is that something is ‘sci-fi’ if the plot, conflict, or core concepts are driven by techology or science.

                Which makes Frankenstein one of the earliest examples of Sci-Fi. 🙂 It also means Jurrasic Park is sci-fi.

                In general use, we also add “Set in space” as carrying the debate as well. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Frankenstein and JP are indeedy both science fiction.

                So is most of Crichton’s stuff. It’s just largely not *good* science fiction. Readable, though. I give him that.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Patrick,
                Unless you’re from Japan, where some aspiring wit thought “Space Opera” … actually meant that.

                Damn fine music, that.Report

              • Avatar Mo says:

                Better would be to explain rather than to make a claim. Star Wars (Episodes IV-VI) does have more of the tropes and qualities of a fantasy movie than a science fiction one. If we stick solely to the universe of the original trilogy, you have a young orphan who is found by an old wizard, taught the old ways of “magic” by this wizard and goes off and fights a great evil to save a princess. Along the way, he battles strange and fantastic creatures. It relies heavily on unexplainable mystical forces as what allows our hero to do extraordinary things. Because the driver is “magic” rather than science, Star Wars is a fantasy that takes place in space rather than science fiction with fantasy elements.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                Fair enough. This more or less accurately susses out the argument.Report

              • Avatar Shygetz says:

                By that measure, Dune is fantasy. A ton of Star Trek episodes are fantasy (Q, the Vulcan mind meld, the Crystalline Entity, etc.). Hell, Foundation is fantasy (the Mule, the Gaians, Second Foundation’s mental powers). I disagree that any story that includes key elements that are not fully explained must be shunted into the “fantasy” category. Star Wars is in this category–just because the Force is not explained fully, the notion that it is now fantasy that just happens to have a planet-destroying space station strikes me as overly reductionist.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                And hell, half a dozen fantasy worlds explain their fantasy.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                The point I made on the thread that Tod linked to is that the presence or absence of magic or technology aren’t what make fantasy and sf.

                Whether or not the magic/technology follows rules and causes people to act differently than the do without the magic/technology is what makes sf and fantasy different.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Star Wars is SF for people who know nothing about SF beyond simplistic ideas about its trappings? I could go along with that.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                This comment is best read in Comic Book Guy’s voice.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Except that it’s true. Seriously, it’s like calling the lyrics of “The Final Countdown” an epic poem.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Apropos of nothing other then a Sci Fi/ Star Trek thread, this is Warp Speed Space Awesome with a super sized helping of Awesome Fries:

                Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Oh, I wasn’t disagreeing with you, at all. The “Science” part (even if speculative) has to drive or inform the “Fiction”, and Star Wars ain’t got that, except incidentally.

                Yr comment just had the right snooty cadence, that’s all (tip: insert a beat between the sentences for full effect).

                And thanks a lot for getting “The Final Countdown” in my head. Grrrrr.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                I like that song. OK, it’s genuinely horrible, but it makes me picture Gob Bluth fishing up yet another magic trick.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              I consider myself a starwars fan (decent movies. pretty set, good cast).

              But Red Dwarf was better.Report

        • Avatar Mo says:

          I think you mean a samurai movie.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        Gattaca and Contact are solid, though.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        Armageddon (or potential Armageddon) fiction is certainly speculative fiction, but I dunno if you’d call it sci-fi.

        Even if the agents are space aliens.Report

      • Avatar Michelle says:

        That was one of the most unintentionally hilarious movies I’ve ever seen.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Off the top of my head:
      Minority Report is actually a pretty decent movie that took a sci fi concept and explored it.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

      Farscape?

      It wasn’t set in the future, at least…Report

  5. Avatar North says:

    Personally I blame NASA and physics. We (both specifically the experts and also the populace in general) know so much more now about space and physics. We know now how astonishingly mind bend vast space is; we know now how dangerous, poisonous and cold it is. Worse, we know a great deal about the gears underlying space. We know now how very difficult it will be to move even up to, let alone past, the speed of light.

    The old Star Trek was born in an age where we could be gloriously optimistic about our vector. Man had recently been to the moon, Mars was next and from there where next? Now we haven’t been to Luna in decades and with the Higgs-Bosun project resolving we’re beginning to face the alarming prospect that the somber unspectacular current theoretical models may have plausible explanations for most physics stuff.

    The rebooted McCoy (casted and acted perfectly I might add) put it well when he groused “Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence”. We understand the next frontier a lot more now and we’re a lot more pessimistic about our ability to defeat it.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

      This is oversold, I think. In that in the past few years we’ve also had confirmation of how much possibility and wonder there will be in space with the discovery of all sorts of amazing exoplanets.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        Getting there is sort of a logistical problem.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        That just makes it worse. We can see the wonders and dream of the possibilities but between us and all of them is eleventy billion light years of darkness, death and silence.Report

        • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

          I feel like science has answered all the big questions broadly and the remaining work is sussing out the details with math I will never comprehend.

          Origins of the universe: complicated math describing the Big Bang and the highly likely possibility that going further in the explanation just isn’t going to happen.

          Origins of man: evolution

          Origins of life: chemistry

          Going faster than light: stop do not collect 200 dollars and go back to start.

          We are trapped on a planet we are making harder to live on while waiting for a giant rock to smash into us and light the air on fire. Makes my natural optimism seem foolish the more I reflect on it.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            Well colonization without our solar system is plausible. Technological development that transcends the needs for a planet is a stretch but also not implausible. Once you get to that stage then you can posit humanity escaping our solar system but not on whooshing space ships so much as on massive space cities/generation ships that creep between the stars over the span of centuries.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          I’m not sure why the doom and gloom. Hasn’t anyone else noticed that it no longer takes a government to make a rocket that will launch a payload up to the space station? Low earth orbit flights (for the rich, of course) are now within our reach. We may never be able to zip quickly between solar systems using warp drives and wormholes, but these factors demonstrate a significant reduction in the cost of getting into space, and there’s no reason to assume we’ve hit the wall on that yet. If not my kids, then likely my grandkids will see a world where middle-class families can choose to spend a couple days in space instead of going to Disneyland.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        And we still sit here at the bottom of this damned gravity well, spending a fortune to loft even modest masses into LEO… Over the last decade in particular, I have noticed that even moderately-hard sci-fi recognizes this and the authors invent some sort of “then a miracle occurs” technology leap to get to LEO.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Agreed.
          My own assumption is that we’re waiting on the composites and economics to catch up.
          We know that material exists that’s strong/light enough to build a space elevator. We just can’t cheaply mass produce it. We know that massive resources exist out of LEO but we don’t have enough scarcity on earth yet to incent us to prioritize reaching them.

          If I were to guess I’d say space exploration will tic up again once half of the world’s population or more is living in first world or near first world conditions.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            Last I heard — from a group of people actually involved in a real attempt to engineer it, there were two basic problems remaining (besides, you know, paying for it).

            They couldn’t make carbon nanotubes long enough — they were up to about three inches and needed them to be a foot long to be woved into the ribbon. That’s actually the ‘small’ problem as they’d seen steadily increasing lengths over the past decade, and had basically already gotten order of magnitude improvements in length to get to three inches. So they felt that was just a materials and manufacturing problem that was solveable fairly quickly.

            The second — and their current big show-stopper — is there is a lengthy period of vulnerability during the construction phase when the ribbon is large enough to make micro-meteorite strikes likely, but too small to handle the hit and be repaired by the next crawler up.

            Once past that critical phase, hits won’t phase it — it’s repairable. And once the first one is in place, it’s probably easier and cheaper to lower them from space then build them up.

            There’s a couple other large problems — space junk, radiation, all sorts of stuff — but they all have potential solutions and it’s more engineering than radical discovery.Report

            • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

              I suppose we need to start tying this into DOD appropriations.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              Wow, that is fascinating!

              That second one is a hum dinger. I’d absolutely hate to have that woven ribbon actually be developing and then some tiny spec busts it apart and billions of bucks crash to the earth. Still, it doesn’t sound unsolvable or even, if the need for one is urgent, impossible to just muscle through.Report

            • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

              Grow it in a clean room (in orbit, probably) and wind it up on big spools until it’s thick enough to withstand the rigors of space.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Sounds plausible but without an elevator lofting that much mass into space would be brutal expensive wouldn’t it?Report

              • Avatar NoPublic says:

                The first time. Then you haul it up on the one you lofted.
                Bootstraps.Report

              • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

                Carbonaceous asteroids. Craploads of free energy in the form of sunshine.

                Which isn’t to say it wouldn’t be expensive and difficult, but there’s a reason we want to get out there in the first place and resources is a big one.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                This.

                You don’t build the space elevator from the top down. You orbit a spider in geosync orbit and spin it from the middle out to either end. And you build the spider with stuff that’s already outside the gravity well.

                There’s lots of raw materials in the asteroid belt. Go plunk a solar sail on them and slingshot them around something and back into earth orbit.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain says:

            If I were to guess I’d say space exploration will tic up again once half of the world’s population or more is living in first world or near first world conditions.

            Of course, we don’t have a clue about how to generate and distribute enough reliable electricity to make that possible on a capital budget that the world can afford. Will you entertain a small wager? In order to reach a point where half the world’s population is living at (or very near) current first-world conditions — measured broadly, but including climate-controlled living space, reach in transportation, powered conveniences, available foodstuffs, medical care, entertainment, water and sewage treatment quality, and so forth — massive depopulation will be a much more important factor than any technology breakthroughs.

            Of course, the Social Security actuarial tables only give me another 25 years. I won’t live long enough to see how it turns out :^)Report

            • Avatar North says:

              In order to wager against you I would first have to disagree. The global population will probably have to decline and economies and technologies advance in order to bring half the globe’s population under first world living conditions.

              Being the optimist that I am I can foresee that happening quite easily; the birth rate has plummeted in first world countries. Bring about women’s suffrage, education and near legal or social equality and population growth rates invert. If the globe can continue to maintain open trade networks, if global peace continues to persist, if stable developed countries remain developed (they generally do) and if poor unstable countries eventually move towards becoming more stable and developed (a small but non-trivial stream of them do) then I would expect that in time more than half of us will be living under first world conditions AND there’ll be a lot fewer of us through purely natural attrition. The sooner the better I’d say.

              Or, if I wanna be cynical, you can write off the most impoverished, backwards and poorly governed sectors of the world (the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa leap to mind) and you can still get to over half in first world conditions if the rest of Asia, Europe, the Americas and Oceania make it. That doesn’t seem impossible to me.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                I cheerfully admit to having become more pessimistic about it over the last decade. I think the next 50 years requires making a lot of right decisions, and some of them will be unpopular. Electricity is my main concern, because contemporary tech is just flat impossible without it, and in large quantities. Over the next 30 years, despite changes in birth rates, the population is headed to 385M (per most recent Census Bureau projections); essentially the entire nuclear fleet will have to be retired; and if we’re going to do anything significant about carbon dioxide emissions, we have to do something about coal. The effects of providing sufficient generation is going to particularly tough on the eastern half of the country, as they have the very large majority of reactors and most of the coal consumption. If we’re forced into electrifying a bunch of the transportation system… well, there’s another chunk of demand to meet, at the same time that supplies are already strapped.

                I’m not saying it’s impossible to get through things. I do tend to think that if/when we get through, and for a very long time thereafter, the world won’t be in a position to try a trillion-dollar experiment on a space elevator (not picking on the elevator in particular, just using it as an example).

                And maybe I’m completely wrong. Maybe South Korea is going to embarrass the hell out of everyone and actually build a working gigawatt fusion reactor over the next 15 years. But it doesn’t seem like the way to bet.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                “Nuclear fleet” meaning the 104 commercial power reactors.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                I don’t see why the entire “fleet” can be expected to be retired. I would assume they’ll build newer even better nuclear reactors to replace them.

                As to replacing coal, well we’re already doing that right now. Natural Gas is replacing it all over the place, especially in North America thanks to frakking.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                well, yes supplies are strapped if you take out coal and nuclear reactors. I figure we can get the NIMBY monster to shut up with enough brownouts.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP says:

        Apropos to nothing. It’s certainly been true for me, anyway. The future I imagined and what came to pass over time has exceeded my every expectation.Report

    • Avatar J.L. Wall says:

      No one else (I think) decided to latch onto this thread of your comment, but: McCoy is pretty close to perfectly done. Of COURSE he’s drunk and (I think?) sipping from a flask when we first meet him — because he’s terrified of space but voluntarily going into it.Report

  6. Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

    I think this is a general problem with JJ Abrams works, he doesn’t really like to engage with social issues and as a result it ends up isolating his work from the potential connections it might have with the present.

    I have to admit, I’m hoping they get rid of him in favor of someone else post-Into Darkness. The first reboot movie had a sense of wonder/majesty to the space scenes, but was different in that I think they simply gave up on Vulcan, which feels wrong to me. In any other series or Trek movie they’d have gone to great lengths to keep Nero from destroying it in the first place.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      Star Trek has a consistently had a horrifically stupid inconsistent approach to time travel. In that sense, the JJ reboot fit right in.Report

  7. Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

    Was the first Abrams movie particularly dark? Obviously destroying Vulcan was kind of rough, but I thought the movie was generally upbeat in most other ways.

    Also, how does Deep Space 9 fit into all of this? I’d say the Abrams film(s?) fit pretty well in a universe that contains DS9, and DS9 is easily the best of the Trek shows.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

      For all the war themes, DS9 still stuck to some of the core elements of Starfleet/Federation culture/ethics, despite having rogue elements like Section 31 cropping up.Report

      • Avatar Zach says:

        I think this is why it was such a landmark iteration for the franchise. It was a rigorous deconstruction of Roddenberry’s utopian vision that still functions well within the universe.
        Yes, the Federation is wonderful, and Earth is a paradise, but as Sisko notes, “it’s easy to be a saint in paradise.” It’s much harder to be a saint on the periphery, where you’re tasked with being caretaker to a devastated species, and neighbour to a recent enemy.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Well to clarify… DS9 post Gene dying was the best of the Trek shows. DS9 pre Gene dying was easily one of the worst (but not worse than the excreable Enterprise).Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Other than a couple bad episodes, it really wasn’t that bad.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          I’m sorry, I loathed gas station in space. They even sent Q in to try and fun the place up but it sucked so bad he left and never returned. Also Sisco punched him in the snoot.Report

          • Avatar James K says:

            That’s Sisko for you, even gods are afraid of him.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Q got “asked” not to return. Well, the actor did.

            The actor was more of a jerkass than William Shatner
            (we’re talking harassing the women on set type jerk).

            Q seemed to be a great excuse to write TOS stories for TNG actors.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        DS9 is my favorite Trek show. I heard this makes me weirdReport

      • Avatar Alan Scott says:

        Pretty sure he died before DS9 was ever on the air. DS9 got good when Ira Stephen Behr replace Michael Pillar as showrunner.

        But I’d say there’s a lot of nostalgia or rose colored glasses driving your assessment. Season 1 DS9 still beats season 1 TNG any day.

        I’d argue it even beats original Trek, In the sense that the guy standing on the shoulders of a Giant is still higher than the giant. The original series has a lot of pacing issues, hokey plots, and poor production values for no other reason that that it was made in the sixties.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          At the very beginning of DS9, I thought we were going to get a “black cat” star trek captain (one scene I remember is convincing the Ferengi to stay…). Sadly, that bit of his characterization seemed to, um… vanish.Report

      • Avatar Zach says:

        I don’t think it’s possible to top the sheer awfulness of most episodes of the first two seasons of TNG. “Angel One” and “Code of Honor” are downright repulsive, and many of the other episodes felt dated at the time, let alone now.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        Gene Roddenberry really never had anything to do with DS9. He was dead and buried before Sisko was confirmed as the Emissary, IIRC.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          Roddenberry being gone was one of the reasons DS9 was good. Rod had many great ideas and but some of the things he stuck to were serious problems for TNG. He was didn’t want to much intra-character conflict so many of the main characters had bland relationships or couldn’t develop into full, complex characters. I think he was also against story arcs which really hampered TNG.Report

          • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

            I think DS9 was the higher quality product overall, in that it had very good episodes from start to finish, but I do think TNG at its best (“Best of Both Worlds” + “Family”, “Darmok”, “Yesterday’s Enterprise”, “The Inner Light”) was some of the finest television ever filmed or conceived.

            That is to say, DS9 was more consistently good (an average rating of 7, let’s say out of 10) but TNG is the series that hit 10 several times during its run despite having some really terrible episodes, too.Report

        • Avatar Zach says:

          Yes. Roddenberry was dead for two years when DS9 came on. And he had already been stripped of most of his creative control by Paramount by 1989 or so. There is simply no way that he would have allowed DS9 as it was presented if he was still in control. DS9 thrived on interpersonal conflict. Many of the characters were written as initially unlikeable to allow for character development. Roddenberry never believed in imperfect characters.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Odd.. for some reason I’d picked up an (apparently urban myth) that right after Gene died they kicked off the Dominion wars.Report

    • Avatar J.L. Wall says:

      I’m also a DS9 fan — but I think they successfully come at the “wonder at space” aspect from a different angle than TOS or TNG: a different sense of there-are-things-we-don’t-understand-but-can-marvel-at-for-now, plus a Walker-Percy-watching-the-Acropolis-under-heavy-shelling kind of perspective, at times.

      (There’s also like a 99% chance I’m over-reading everything here, as with any of my comments about pop culture.)Report

  8. Avatar DBrown says:

    Great post on the differences.
    As it turns out the old Star Trek got it exactly right (the warp) and it is rather easy compared to what was thought even a few years ago when the idea for a ‘warp field drive system’ was shown to be valid.

    And yes, it involves antimatter (to create the energy hungry negative energy states to anchor the interface with the ‘warp’ field. Yet provides a four to five fold speed increase over light speed yet you stay within normal space – never thought that was possible until I read the paper. Details are a long story but is basically just compressing space in front and it stretching it behind the spacecraft.)

    As for Sci Fried of late, the Babylon 5 stories had religion, economic theory and practice, and believable motives (money, culture and racial issues as well as nationalism relative to a species/world.) Orders of magnitude better over the current Star Trek dribble.Report

    • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

      I enjoyed B5 for what it was. It was much darker than most things Star Trek has ever produced, though, so I’m not sure it’s much of an antidote to all this. It’s also really, spectacularly cheesy.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        B5 is one of those series that has NOT aged well.

        Contrast to TNG, which has aged almost brilliantly in the interim.Report

        • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

          TNG is a really great show if you ignore the first two seasons and virtually every holodeck episode. I think a general lack of holodeck episodes is enough all by itself to solidify DS9’s lead, but Tasha Yar seals it.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Tasha Yar was great in Yesterday’s Enterprise.
            And the second season had one episode with an awesome, awesome soundtrack (it was the one with the rogue Klingon).Report

            • Avatar North says:

              She never shoulda left. Then after leaving she sure as heck should never have come back.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                She even recently came back via Star Trek Online.

                Speaking of which, in terms of Expanded Universe/novel content, Trek beats the crap out of Wars. The past ten years of Star Trek literature has actually been quite superb, particularly the more hard sci-fi-ish stuff explored on Titan.Report

          • Avatar NewDealer says:

            Our Man Bashir was the best use of a holodeck that I have ever seen. I think the holodecks worked better on DS9 because it emphasized the Boonies and how there might not be much to do with your free time.Report

          • Avatar Pub Editor says:

            The holodeck was the weakest part of the entire Trek franchise. It became a lazy writer’s crutch and an excuse to dress the cast in period costumes. Further, this weakness extends across the different series in the franchise (recall the baseball episode of DS9), reaching the apogee of silliness on Voyager, where they had one episode late in the run where a Federation arbitrator considers the copyright interests of writings made by holographic programs. 😛Report

            • Avatar Barry says:

              A gamer I played with would always get henchmen to do his PC’s work; the DM called it ‘NPC’s for his PC’. To me, the holodeck episodes were generally like that, except it was due to lack of creativity. Frankly, they were embarrassing.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              … Which baseball episode? Piller would greenlight anything with baseball in it.
              (yes, I do know a star trek writer).Report

          • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

            Uh, DS9 made a whole recurring character/theme out of the holodeck. Remember Vic?Report

            • Avatar NewDealer says:

              I liked those episodes.Report

            • Avatar Alan Scott says:

              I never got Vic. Some good episodes revolved around him. (Only a Paper Moon and Badda Bing Badda Bang were great). But they were great despite Vic, not because of him. He was annoying and I never understood why the DS9 crew appreciated him.Report

              • Avatar NoPublic says:

                He was annoying and I never understood why the DS9 crew appreciated him.

                We all have friends like that. Or regulars at our local watering hole. Or both.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Yes, there’s some serious irony there. TNG came in for some well deserved mockery by having the various ships essentially just sit still and occasionally flash weapons or shields at each other. Not a ton of zipping around. Ironically those statuesque shots of the Enterprise model age pretty decently over time while stuff like B5 where low budget polygon ships zip about more realistically look like absolute garbage.Report

          • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

            I kinda think it’s really the opposite. Ships fighting eachother at distances of millions of kilometers will look pretty much standing still compared to one another. As opposed to zooming around at close range at speeds that seem roughly equivalent to WW2 fighter craft is not particularly realistic.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              Oh I’m not saying I -agreed- with the criticisms. I have always thought that Star Trek’s computer targeting > light craft maneuverability has always made more sense than Star Wars zippy zoo zah fighter battles.Report

        • Avatar Zach says:

          The difference in production values between DS9 and B5 is glaring. The DS9 sets weren’t aesthetically pleasing, but they always looked real – the station had a lived-in, claustrophobic and seedy look to it. The sets in Babylon 5 by contrast look like something out of a 90s talk show – lots of plastic, panels, and overuse of the colour blue.Report

          • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

            Yeah, well the plastically look was all over TNG and Voyager as well. That’s one reason I actually preferred Enterprise. That and much less polyester.

            But the BSG reboot totally nailed the look and feel of the interior of a naval vessel. Those telephone handsets were stock-standard what our Navy uses NOW.Report

            • Avatar Zach says:

              I don’t think the Voyager sets looked that bad, at least compared to B5 . And in both Voyager and TNG, there was a certain physicality to the sets that B5 lacked – I always got the sense that one mishap and the entire B5 set would collapse.

              Something else: the ambient noise in Star Trek was superb from TNG onwards. You can always hear the ship engine, the computers, etc. It may not be realistic, but it conveys a sense of realism that B5 lacked.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        I think of B5 as a show that featured writers who were really good with ideas, and shockingly terrible with dialogue.

        B5 might be the only series in the world where I might enjoy reading episode synopses, but would rather never had to see it performed.Report

      • Avatar Rod Engelsman says:

        At the time it was great. One of my favorite B5 moments was a throw-away scene in a courtroom. A human has lodged a complaint against an alien claiming that the guy abducted his grandfather and performed medical experiments on him, resulting in grievous harm or some such (I forget the exact details).

        The judge asks for a response and the camera cuts to a standard-issue, Whitley Strieber-style, Grey alien. To answer the judge, the little dude just holds up a white card with a circular-ish symbol that looks like a crop circle. The judge, of course, understands his “language” and accepts the response.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      If you’re talking about what I think you’re talking about, you also can’t steer, see where you’re going, or potentially stop.

      Admittedly since it was first proposed in the 90s the theoretical energy yields have dropped from ridiculous (a mass of antimatter roughly the same as the universe) down to merely crazy (a small planet’s worth). I suspect refinement might one day bring that down to a number the human race could, theoretically, one day amass. 🙂Report

  9. Avatar Barry says:

    Back to the original post – my impression from the trailer is of the last Batman film, in both theme and imagery.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Have you seen the Superman reboot or for Fish’s sake the Ironman 3 preview? Hollywodd is sprinkling The Dark Knight brand dark sprinkles on -everything- right now.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I think that much of the huge response to superhero movies in the last decade or so is due primarily to the whole 9/11 thing… and then the whole Afghanistan thing… and then the whole Iraq thing… and then the whole aftermath thing…

        And superhero movies are the only movies that really deal with the themes with a narrative attached (as opposed to movies such as Stop Loss, In the Valley of Elah, and so on, which had a story that was in service to a baldly political message which went over as well as most movies that have stories in service to a baldly political message).

        We’ll see, of course, but I imagine that the Superman movie will be, ultimately, about the importance of having high standards for oneself and one’s society. A rebuke, though a mild one, to the recent Batman movies.

        We’ll see.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          I think the huge response to superhero movies is more about CGI, form fitting costumes and big budgets.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            From 2012 movies with CGI, form fitting costumes, and big budgets: Battleship, John Carter, and Dredd 3D. (Note, those last two were pretty good, actually.)

            From 2011: Green Lantern, Cowboys and Aliens, Conan The Barbarian

            From 2010: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (which was seriously good), Jonah Hex, The Last Airbender, Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief, and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice…

            I suppose I could keep going back but I hope that there are enough counter-examples in there for me to say “no, both plot and theme are really, really important. As important as CGI, boobage, and big budgets.”Report

            • Avatar greginak says:

              I don’t understand, are you claiming plot and theme were important to Hasbro Game Movie, Decades Old Geek Books Nobody Under 40 Had Ever Heard Of and whatever the hell Dredd was.
              The Last Air Time Anybody Will Trust M Night Again was what? Was Jonah Hex a serious reexamination of the struggles of a southern CW veteran fitting into society?

              Plot and theme are nice add ons to blockbusters but Hwood is aiming for bigbux.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Pardon me. I edited, re-edited, and left out the part about how each of those movies were *BOMBS*.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                ummmm so. Lots of movies fail. Hwood has been trying to churn out summer blockbusters since Jaws. Plenty of them miss. They have made three transformers movies and making a fourth.Report

      • Avatar Barry says:

        No. I guess that it’s a ‘Dark Knight’ of the trailer soul 🙂

        (yuck yuck yuck, i am so funny………………….)Report

  10. Avatar George Turner says:

    I’m shocked that no one has mentioned Obama uttering the phrase”a jedi mind-meld” last week. How can any President be so out-of-touch with reality?Report

  11. Avatar NewDealer says:

    Rodenberry’s Star Trek was meant to be largely Utopian and fitting on his liberal politics. He wanted to show humanity putting aside all differences of race, nationality, etc and joining together for a common purpose.

    I think a lot more people felt this kind of optimism during the 1960s.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Well yeah. What is odd is during the 60’s in the middle of the Cold War people felt optimism and now that the Cold War ended people are less optimistic about our future. There are certainly other factors involved but in that one area people are far less upbeat despite something really good happening.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I think it is more than just the cold war. Interestingly Star Trek started during the prime strife of the 1960s or when it was really starting. But:

        1. People felt good economically

        2. It was still the golden age of post-WWII consensus on the New Deal and America largely being a full-middle class nation.

        I think it was more the economics of the time than the cold war that gave people faith in government and united. Plus Rodenberry was a Boomer and fully remembered The Great Depression and the New Deal. The real conservatives were not in the Greatest Generation but in the generation between the Greatest Generation and the Boomers.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          Oh there is far more to it that the Cold War. There was an honest and deeply felt belief in progress at the time. That tech and science would make a wondrous future for us all. We now live in that wondrous techy future. Of course tech doesn’t change human nature so teh belief that science/tech would make a happy world for everybody was always misguided even though they might do great things for us.Report

        • Avatar Barry says:

          “Plus Rodenberry was a Boomer and fully remembered The Great Depression and the New Deal.”

          According to Wikipedia, he was born in 1921 (the first birth year that I’ve ever seen used for Boomers is 1942). That puts him squarely in Greatest Generation, and is why he’d remember the Great Depression and New Deal. Boomers would not.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Yeah, there was the Cold War threat, but in some ways it was remote. But at the same time there were shiny new things like the Interstate and rockets to the moon and computers and cheap color television. We were trying to take big steps on racism and medical care for the elderly and the poor. Environmental awareness was growing.

        Now, a lot of the darker themes from science fiction seem to be happening. The giant corporations are clearly winning. The super-bugs are winning. At a much more subtle level than in the 1960s, pollution is winning. Theocracy seems to be winning. Everyone routinely runs into examples that the infrastructure is crumbling. If I had to choose between the most common outcomes from automation taking over most jobs that have appeared in sci-fi over the decades — the utopia where everyone gets to be a student and artist and world traveler, or where a large permanent underclass gets some minimal allocation of living space and food — I’d bet on the underclass. Heck, I’d even say that regionalism in the US is greater than it was — more people in more different parts of the country are willing to at least the entertain the though of some sort of US breakup.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          The problem is i think is many ways things are much better now and i don’t agree with the negative aspects of today that you bring up. Pollution: well in some ways things are far far better now. Acid rain, rivers catching on fire, chemicals spewing out into the air… in most ways we are much less polluted. There is that darn global warming thing though. Superbugs aren’t winning. There are some that are a concern, but the only reason a superbug can be a concern is due to the regular drugs doing well. Theocracy…hell we are getting more atheistic all the time. Don’ t even start to talk about how much better it is for women, gays, blacks, etc. The military now looks like what Roddenberry was dreaming about 50 years ago.

          Now is great in many ways and for many people despite the problems we have.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain says:

            The military now looks like what Roddenberry was dreaming about 50 years ago.

            Force make-up in terms of race, gender, so forth? Absolutely. Mission? I have to disagree. We are much closer to getting The Mote in God’s Eye than we are to Star Trek and the Federation, who barely seemed to bother with marines, let alone an army. Iran may well be a test case. The Federation would send in a gifted diplomat who would balance the desires of all the parties and produce a lasting peace. The Empire of Man, OTOH, says, “We don’t have the resources to slug this out on the ground. Surrender and accept a governor; or refuse and we’ll bomb everything outside the cities to slag and come back in a decade.” What was the civilian death toll in Iraq/Afghanistan? Did a brief occupation really change anything in either place? Do we have the resources to spend a generation (or two) forcing the population to fit the mold we have in mind for them? Or even to blockade them and let the current order collapse and then go pick up the pieces?Report

            • Avatar greginak says:

              I was speaking solely in terms of race, gender, etc. Mission no of course not, but we don’t live in the Federation unfortunately.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                I’m glad we don’t live in the Federation. Their spaceships frequently had to return to base to repair battle damage, and because they’d expended their vast store of onboard nuclear weapons in combat, often against parties unknown. So far, the pre-Federation Earth has used two nuclear weapons in anger in 75 years. On Star Trek they use four per spread, four or five spreads per engagement, one engagement every three or four episodes, and that’s per ship. Star Fleet as a whole must’ve fired over a thousand nukes a month, making them about a million times more violent than we are.

                But every episode would include some Starfleet officer saying “We come in peace” or “We are peaceful explorers” and the fans would believe it, despite what was right in front of their eyes. I imagine lots of Germans in WW-II thought they were bringing peace by stopping outside aggression, too.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                Roddenberry’s ideas about naval warfare all seemed to be taken from movies about WWII submarines. Nothing appeared to be armed beyond a cruiser or destroyer. IIRC in the movies, photon torpedoes had been downgraded in effective power to the point that unshielded ships could survive a hit. Where the hell were the carrier- and battleship-equivalents, with comparable weaponry?Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                In Star Blazers.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                But really, I couldn’t remember what Roddenberry did during the war, so I looked it up: B-17 Flying Fortress pilot. (It was Hubbard & Heinlein that were the Navy guys) That does seem like a bit of the combat model used in original series. Though I was always under the impression, but possibly from reading too many novelizations as a kid, that Enterprise *was* the equivalent of the battleship, or in any case the flagship of the ships of the line.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            10 steps away from Monstersanto destroying civilization as we know it. (as of 2009).
            10% chance that BP Disaster would destroy the world’s life (via destroying ocean life).
            We may have escaped the potential for Nuclear War between India and Pakistan (someone upgraded them from eniacs. Go USA! Go USA!)

            Now is great. Tommorrow? I worry about tommorrow…

            Someone I know is predicting the demise of the Japanese race maybe a hundred years from now. What other geno/phenotypes are at risk?Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          I know where my money is going.Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

      I think you’re kind of overselling the optimism of the 60s.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        Perhaps.Report

        • Avatar dexter says:

          New Dealer, Unless one moves the dates for boomers back a couple decades Roddenberry wasn’t a boomer. Second, in the sixties we weren’t optimistic, we were naive.Report

          • Avatar NewDealer says:

            1. I know

            2. Different words, same resultReport

          • Avatar Michelle says:

            Optimism and naivety often partner. And they did in the 1950s and the first part of the 1960s. Look at JFK’s inaugural address as an example. Underlying the calls for sacrifice was the belief that America could drastically reorder and improve the world. We were dreadfully ignorant of the limits of our own power (in a lot of ways, we still are).Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      And the thing TOS Star Trek also did, like so many other spec fiction pieces did right up till the end of the Cold War, was postulate a time of tribulation and/or holocaust in the lifetimes of those that were watching it. (see also, Buck Rogers & Thundarr the Barbarian)Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        When you think about it, the late 20th century postulated by Star Trek (and later TNG) wasn’t particularly optimistic.

        A genetically engineered superman evidently starts a world wide conflageration in the 1990s, some crackpot colonel conducts mass attrocities, (Colonel Green), there are race riots and “sanctuary districts” in San Francisco, and to top it off there’s a World War gone nuclear in the 2040s.

        I think the thing about Trek is that it still tried to be optimistic DESPITE the fact that humanity epic fails in the late 20th/early 21st century. That humanity is resilient and can always find a way forward.

        It’s a very Whiggish point of view, but it wasn’t necessarily naive.Report

  12. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Is Star Trek one of the prequels or part of the original trilogy?Report

  13. Avatar James K says:

    I think a lot of the reason grimmness and darkness are so trendy in movies right now is that these days movie theatres are the domain of teenagers and that means movies are made primarily with teenage sensibilities in mind.Report

  14. Avatar Shazbot5 says:

    “Then we played Dungeons and Dragons for three hours, and then I got slain by an elf.”

    http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=qPq3TwWfKYs&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DqPq3TwWfKYsReport