Failure = secret success

>> Thursday, August 27, 2009

So... come here often?Last week I let myself get sucked into a little bonfire John Scalzi was playing with over Star Wars. Scalzi had promised to hit Star Trek next, and now he has. I read it expecting to be amused, and I was, although not in the way I expected; nor did I expect to write a response to anything in it, because, frankly, while I do actually love Trek and it was sort of my gateway drug to SF (I still fondly remember having a much-used View-Master disc from what would now be called "The Original Series" when I was in the single-digits and knee-high to a sehlat), I'm not really that devoted to Trek, if you know what I mean.

But then I read this (which I feel strangely compelled to point out contains plot spoilers to Star Trek: The Motion Picture even though ST:TMP came out thirty years ago (I cannot believe that's true), so if you haven't seen ST:TMP, don't) (I mean don't see the movie, you're fine reading the next paragraph):

In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, a Voyager space probe gets sucked into a black hole and survives (GAAAAH), and is discovered by denizens of a machine planet who think the logical thing to do is to take a bus-size machine with the processing power of a couple of Speak and Spells and upgrade it to a spaceship the size of small moon, wrap that in an energy field the size of a solar system, and then send it merrily on its way. This is like you assisting a brain-damaged raccoon trapped on a suburban traffic island by giving him Ecuador.

I just want to say that this paragraph almost--almost--salvages Star Trek: The Motion Picture while also postulating another movie that I want to see, one in which an extremely mad scientist gives Ecuador to a brain-damaged raccoon, preferably after outfitting the raccoon with a jet pack or maybe some kind of laser device.

I mean, seriously (sort of), I had not contemplated that that was V'Ger's backstory. I just thought the whole thing was kind of a dumb ripoff of all those Star Trek episodes featuring out-of-control ultra-powerful robots or computers (specifically, "The Changeling" from the second season, which was pretty obviously the source material for the pilot episode script for "Star Trek Phase II" that got stretched into TMP), though I always liked the idea (jokingly suggested by Roddenberry, I believe) that Voyager VI had crashed into the Borg homeworld.

But consider the scenario Scalzi unintentionally suggests: V'Ger, having survived the black hole without spaghettification (GAAAAH), is found by a couple of highly advanced, super-intelligent, drunk aliens with a bizarre ("alien," if you will) sense of humor.

"Grddnormnick, dude, you know what would be totally awesome? We should totally put it into a death-machine the size of a small moon and send it back to them."

"Oh, oh, oh--hell yeah, we could put a webcam in it, and a microphone, and tell 'em we're gonna blow up their planet if they don't, like, tell us the form of the creator and stuff. Or, like, make 'em think we'll destroy their whole civilization if they don't make an amateur porno for us."

"Oh, dude, this is gonna be the best thing since we reversed the polarity of Persei Omicron 6's magnetic core. Pass the Funyuns."

Or, y'know, maybe sending us a mentally-challenged computerized death machine was a punishment for littering.

"Dammit! First they spray the whole universe with electromagnetic radiation that turns out to be crappy mass-media 'entertainment' and now they're actually tossing junk into black holes as if that's what they're there for! I'm sick of it, Matilda, the damn cops keep telling me there's nothing we can do about a class III species and they're just semi-sentient and I should 'lighten up', but I'm frinking sick of it! I'm sending their crap back to them, get the box the Infinite Data Collator came in, I'll stick it in that and dump it on their doorstep, see how they like those apples!"

See, I thought the idea that V'Ger was being sent back to us was meant by the film's writers to just be a kind of cosmic semi-coincidence--sure, V'Ger was looking for Earth and the "creator," but it was just kind of an accident V'Ger had been turned into a super-probe with (speaking of bad design) a camera that just happened to record things by disintegrating them and zapping a big glowy copy into its vast supersized spaceship-engulfing innards. The idea that maybe somebody sent V'Ger back this way on purpose had not dawned on me. I like it. Now I want to remake Star Trek: The Motion Picture, only instead of the first five hours of the movie being about how Kirk's chauffeur can't find the docking ring and has to fly in circles around the Enterprise, I want the first five hours to be about drunk or pissed-off aliens deciding what to do with this hunk of junk that's ended up in their yard....

Design failure in Star Trek you say, Mr. Scalzi? Non! You just made Star Trek: The Motion Picture awesome... in my mind.

The real movie still kinda sucks, though.


Janiece Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 5:32:00 PM EDT  

The next ST movie should totally be about a Borg assimilated brain damaged raccoon. With jet packs.

ntsc Friday, August 28, 2009 at 6:12:00 AM EDT  

I'm fairly certain I saw that movie when it came out.

I think the raccoon would be more interesting.

John the Scientist Friday, August 28, 2009 at 1:16:00 PM EDT  

Make the alien a little old lady who gets junk from all the other Class III civilizations in the outer rim of the galaxy because her home is on the way to the nearest black hole. :D

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