After yet another two weeks of spending free time running my Star Trek: Online character into walls, getting her decimated by Klingon hordes and accidentally having her run into and getting torched by friendly plasma fires, I found it was time to write another column.
At first I was finding it a little difficult to find something semi-interesting to write about. Trek news tends to come in waves, and there seemed to be a slight lull in the rumor mill.
Yes, there are a lot of articles and blogs, and heck, even a couple of television shows revolving around how Star Trek has inspired legions of technologists to recreate the devices seen on the show. But, just humor me, all right?
The universal translator seen in the link above, along with the recent development of the iPad (which still totally should have been called iPadd in my opinion) as well as recent articles Ive seen about medical tricorder-like devices have put a smile on my Trekkie-girl face.
I realize how lucky Ive been to have been born in the era of black and white televisions, which required you to get off your rear to change the channel (of which there were only six, plus a couple of UHF channels); before the advent of the personal computer, and when space travel was in its true infancy.
Ive personally seen how the world has changed because of the explosion of technology, the Internet and all of the telecommunication tools that we so blithely take for granted now.
When I was in elementary school, we had pen pals. These were complete strangers in another country that we wrote (yes, with a pencil and paper) letters to. We would ask them questions about their country and about how they lived and in return we reciprocated by answering their questions about how we lived and what we knew about our country (as limited as a fourth graders understanding could be.)
I participated in the pen pal program for a few years. I wrote to three people — one girl in Mexico, one boy in the Philippines and one girl in Japan. Of the four of us, I was the only one who didnt have to learn a new language to communicate. They used the correspondence to learn English, and I got to experience a life outside my own which broadened my own mind.
It was last night when I signed onto Star Trek: Online and realized how truly remarkable things have become over my lifetime.
You see, I joined a fleet a couple of weeks ago; the United Federation Armada. A fleet is a group of people who join together to share in game-play. While STO can be played solo, there are missions that require more than just one player or ship to accomplish. In those circumstances, you are teamed with other players.
This isnt such a bad thing, but there are times when strategy is useful to overcome the tasks, and if you cant talk to your teammate, youre hoping like hell that they are at least thinking the same way you are. Oftentimes, that simply doesnt happen and the mission becomes twice as difficult because of it.
Now that I have joined a fleet, I have the ability to team with people I can actually speak to. And here is where my appreciation for technology has been cemented.
Last Saturday, I participated in our first planned fleet action. (Well, I tried to participate in it – what really happened will be told on my personal blog.) Starbase 24 had been attacked and invaded by Klingons. Our fleet mates met outside the starbase and I fired up my vent, which is the audio communication tool that we use to actually speak to each other.
Imagine my grin of pure satisfaction when I looked at my computer screen and saw eight other starships hovering next to mine and hearing the voices of the captains of those ships in my headset as we discussed our strategy for the forthcoming space and ground battles. We agreed to team leaders and tried to assure that each team had a good mix of tactical, engineering and medical officers. Then we entered the war-zone.
Thats right, me and eight people from all over the world met, talked and shared in something pretty damn fun. My teammates were on the west coast of the United States, the east coast; the United Kingdom, Canada, Greece :
I was playing a game with a person in Greece!
Seriously – do you really understand how freaking cool that is?!
Less than four decades ago, I used to have to wait for weeks for a letter from a stranger from another country. And now Im meeting and befriending people from numerous other countries within seconds!
I actually hear their laughter as my character gets annihilated by a Klingon Dahar Master, and talk with them about how Trek affected their lives and I find myself utterly : gobsmacked by the whole damn idea of it.
What would make things even better would be to have the ability to use that universal translator thingy” that is being worked on so I could get to know people who dont know my language.
So after sitting down last night and appreciating how remarkable something like that is, I realized that something needs to occur. Im not sure if the time is right and Im not sure that the world is quite ready for it, but maybe in a couple years :
I think we need a new Star Trek series on television.
I think we need a new generation of writers to come in and pull crazy, wacky, unbelievable technological ideas out of their collective butts and make us say Ooooh, wouldnt that be cool to have? Wouldnt that be a nifty trick to pull off? Wouldnt that be groundbreaking?
So – join me in the Airlock Alpha forums if you can. I want to hear what you think about the viability of a new Trek series.
Are we ready for one yet? Do you think that the industry as its currently positioned has the capability to let a Trek series survive? Do you think that maybe it would survive in a different medium (i.e., Internet downloading?)
Personally, I think the studio could probably do something decent in the next three to five years. Im not sure that the public is ready for a new version of Trek just yet, but the timing is getting pretty close.
And as for any future technology a writer could dream up for such a series? I dont care how crazy the ideas would sound. Make it far-fetched, unfathomable, bizarre and wondrous because :
… there was a time 35 years ago when, as I scribbled a letter to a young girl in Japan wishing there was a way to actually talk to her, that I thought Kirks communicator was a pipe dream too.
Please let me know what you think!