Saturday, May 09, 2009

Star Trek

I have just seen the new Star Trek movie. Not to give too much away, but it does involve stripping away nearly the entire Roddenberry Universe and starting over from scratch. Seriously. Roddenberry's ashes must be spinning in his grave.

In the process, of course, the groundwork has been laid for a whole new series of movies, and maybe even a new TV series. This movie is an attempt, in other words, to attract a whole new generation of Star Trek fans. To attract the "Twitter" generation.

The movie also employs the time-travel/Alternate reality theory. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, let me cite an extreme example: Suppose a time traveler went back in time to 1939 and supplied the Nazis with the designs and lists of materials needed for the Atom bomb. Nazi Germany conquers the world in days. Our world is changed forever.

This scenario, and variations of it,has been explored at length in any number of movies, TV shows, and books, from Back to the Future to It's a Wonderful Life. They even dealt with a variation of it in the original Star Trek series ("City on the Edge of Forever") and in Star Trek: The Next Generation (Yesterday's Enterprise)

Of course you always run into the problem of the time-travel paradox as well. For example: The grandfather paradox. You travel back in time. You happen to meet your own grandfather. You have a violent argument. You kill him. Thus you will have never been born. But if you were never born, how do you travel back in time to kill him?

Of course both can happen at once. Take this: A man travels back in time. He hands the lookouts on the Titanic binoculars. They see the iceberg in time to warn the bridge. The ship never hits the iceberg and never sinks. No movie is ever made about it. As good as it Gets rightly wins Best Picture that year. However, as a result of the safe voyage, the time-traveler's great-great grandmother never meets his great-great grandfather on the ship that would have rescued her. Thus, the time traveler is never born. But if so, how did he go back in time to save the ship?

It's usually at this point where my head explodes.

But in this new movie, they have taken the concept to the extreme level. The alternate reality and the time paradox theories have taken the Gene Roddenberry Star Trek universe out into the courtyard, tied it to a post, given it a blindfold and a cigarette, and executed it with a full firing squad.

It will be interesting to see what comes next.

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