10 Things You Should Probably Know About Star Trek
Tara O'Shea is a Chicago-area web developer and freelance journalist. Her essay collection "Chicks Dig Time Lords", co-edited with Lynne Thomas, is forthcoming from Mad Norwegian Press.View all articles by Tara O'Shea
1. Vulcans have emotions. They just do not express them. Humans don't always get this. Some humans choose not to get this. It's an issue.
2. Pon farr is a cyclical mating cycle, where every 7 years upon reaching maturity, Vulcans are biologically driven to return to Vulcan to take a mate, like salmon swimming upstream to spawn. It's the mother of all "shag or die!" stories. Vulcans do not talk about pon farr or anything even vaguely related to pon farr. Ever. Not even with each other. It's like Fight Club. It's not common knowledge. It's never going to be common knowledge. Not even by 2370, when Tuvok totally lies to Janeway about having the "flu", so he can go hole up in his quarters and dream about his wife and "meditate" until the EMH programs the holodeck to help him out.
(For the purposes of this entry, I'm pretending that convo in "The Cloud Minders" didn't happen. Or Spock was high. Or the chick had serious pheromones. Or something.)
3. Ships crews are assigned to either Command (gold uniform tunic, star in the delta insignia), Sciences (blue uniform tunic, overlapped circles in the delta insignia), or Operations (red tunic, spiral inside the delta insignia). For example: Scott & Uhura: Operations. Kirk and Sulu: Command. Spock and Bones: Sciences.
4. Until the ginormous Galaxy Class ships in Star Trek: the Next Generation, there were no families or civilians aboard Starfleet vessels. They were for exploration and defence. People got married--but they did not bring their children aboard. The original 5 year missions Pike and Kirk went on were deep-space exploration.
5. The founding members of the Federation were Vulcan, Andorian, Tellarite, and Human. Starfleet existed before the Federation, but became the UFP's peacekeeping branch when the UFP was formed. From Star Trek II onward, they went out of their way to make sure nearly every Starfleet admiral we ever saw was a woman or a minority or both, to sorta try and balance the White Dood From Iowa Saves The Day!-ness of TOS.
6. Not everyone is an officer. There are enlisted ranks. Not everyone is in it to captain a ship someday. Lots of folks are in it to become top in their field/department, or just to get a job and an education and see the stars. Unless they're in a gold command tunic, make no assumptions about career goals.
7. Science Officers aren't always first officer. First officers aren't always the science officer. Spock wasn't Pike's XO in the original timeline--a woman called "Number One" was.
8. If you're only going to watch 6 eps of TOS and want to pick up on the big character stuff for Jim/Spock/Bones, the episodes I think you so totally ought to watch are:
"The Cage" and/or "The Menagerie"
"Where No Man Has Gone Before"
"The City on the Edge of Forever"
"Journey to Babel"
"For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched The Sky"
9. If you're going to watch the films, you want to watch Wrath of Khan, Voyage Home, and Undiscovered Country. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WATCH STAR TREK V. NOT EVEN FOR DAVID WARNER. I mean it. It will only make you weep bitter hot tears, and you will never get those two hours of your life back. Not even if you slingshot around the sun.
10. If you want to read novels, there are some AWESOME ones, so long as you understand that they are also EXTREMELY CRACKY and OF THEIR TIME. As in, there is crackfic out there that is less cracky than How Much For Just The Planet? is cracky.
TOS authors/novels I love which you might too:
D.C. Fontana (Vulcan's Glory)
A.C. Crispin (Sarek, Time For Yesterday, All Out Yesterdays)
Janet Kagan (Uhura's Song)
Diane Duane (Spock's World, My Enemy, My Ally and the rest of the Rihannsu novels)
John "Mike" Ford (The Final Reflection, How Much For Just The Planet?)
Julia Ecklar (The Kobayashi Maru)
Diane Carey (Final Frontier)
Margaret Wander Bonanno (Strangers from the Sky)
Some of this are Out of Print. Some of these were reprinted to celebrate Trek's 40th anniversary. Check your local second-hand bookshops. They usually have a zillion of them, cos a lot of these were best sellers in the 1980s.
BE WARNED: Whether you go for the entire novel range, or just the stuff I have listed above, you will encounter Mary Sues of the good kind (Tailkinker!) and the not-so-good kind (Piper.) and occasionally the want-to-stab-people-in-the-face kind (Anything Peter David's ever written that doesn't involve Q and Lwaxanna). There might be kidfic (ZAR!). AND THERE WILL BE MUSICAL NUMBERS. Do not judge the idea of musical numbers harshly, because TRUST ME, it's so awesome and so cracky, it's as awesome as that Torchwood book where Ianto wakes up a girl that one time, due to the aliens who came to Cardiff just to improve the gay clubbing scene.
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