Your Board, Your Wave

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Tesral
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Your Board, Your Wave

Post by Tesral » Tue Aug 14, 2018 3:46 am

Since I said I consider these operating instructions I figured I best post it locally.

Your Board, Your Wave

Your-Trek-My-Trek and Canon

AKA Your Board, Your Wave -- AKA Your Mileage May Vary

-- By Jay P. Hailey

In 1980 I was first introduced to role playing games via Dungeons and Dragons. It could not have been a few days later that I thought “Hey! You could do that with Trek, too!” That's just the kind of Trekkie I am. By 1983, I had FASA's Star Trek the Role Playing Game, and multiple reference books, “treknical” resources if you will.

I started to make up my own Star Trek The Role Playing Game scenarios. When I joined Star Trek Fanclubs I was encouraged. They all made up their own ships and their own crews and their own stories. It was interactive Star Trek. It wasn't just sitting and watching, it was playing along, too. It has never occurred to me that Star Trek wasn't something that i as invited to play along in.

Well, when world building for a role playing game one starts off with a bit of set up, then one goes to the map. The map really informs a lot of the rest of what is going on. So I started a map of the Federation and environs for my RPGs. I had a lot of reference materials from the Franz Joseph technical manual, FASA's role playing game, the Star Trek maps. Right away I bumped my nose into a problem. The stated speeds of Warp drive were totally inconsistent with the distances and travel times.

When I was young and took myself too seriously I cursed Gene Roddenberry. He knew his audience were generally not astronomers and so used familiar star names willy nilly with no real regard from the true location or distance. He was no astronomer himself. But now I had to make a decision. I stared at pictures of the Enterprise and the early blue print drawings from fan based production houses and smoke poured out of my ears.

Then I hit a sort of epiphany. This game I was setting up didn't belong to Gene Roddenberry or Paramount. They weren't going to come and tell me what to do. This version, this vision of Trek belonged to me. And I could change things if I wanted. I had to be careful. I had to keep it “Trek” enough to keep people who liked Star Trek comfortable with it. But I could also reap benefits, like a consistent map. I could exclude stuff I thought was too stupid. I was building Jay's Version of Star Trek. Cool.

The results were mixed at first. But I Game Mastered Trek from 1983 until 2000, and improved as I went. The main benefit of building my own version of Star Trek is that I can show by example what makes a good Trek story and why I don't like some of the things that later incarnations of Trek did.

I believe that, on some level, everyone who is a fan of Trek has an internal view of Star Trek and how it should work. That internal view is why some people look at an episode and say “That's dumb” or “That sucks” What they're really saying is “That is not consistent with my internal view of Star Trek. That contradicts what I am seeing in my mind's eye.”

Notice how not everyone thinks that exactly the same episodes suck or rock. Because, while there's a good deal of overlap, everyone's internal view of trek is slightly different. You already have your own conception of what makes good Star Trek inside.

What about the Canon?

(Oh No! the C word! Boom!)
Can-non
From The : Merriam Webster On-line Dictionary

Main Entry: can·on
Pronunciation: 'ka-n&n

Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English, from Late Latin, from Latin, ruler, rule, model, standard, from Greek kanOn

1 a : a regulation or dogma decreed by a church council b : a provision of canon law
2 [Middle English, prob. from Old French, from Late Latin, from Latin, model] : the most solemn and unvarying part of the Mass including the consecration of the bread and wine
3 [Middle English, from Late Latin, from Latin, standard] a : an authoritative list of books accepted as Holy Scripture b : the authentic works of a writer c : a sanctioned or accepted group or body of related works <the canon of great literature>
4 a : an accepted principle or rule b : a criterion or standard of judgment c : a body of principles, rules, standards, or norms
5 [Late Greek kanOn, from Greek, model] : a contrapuntal musical composition in two or more voice parts in which the melody is imitated exactly and completely by the successive voices though not always at the same pitch synonym see LAW


In Trek, Canon is used in the meaning of definition 3 b and 3 c. Canon amounts to, if it's on screen it's real for Trek. Although there were exceptions, like TAS and Star Trek 5.

I believe the Canon was dreamed up and instituted by the Evil Richard Arnold who, in the mid 1980s was Gene Roddenberry's executive assistant.

Canon is an interesting concept, as far as it goes, but what use is it? Mainly it's good for establishing a baseline for discussion, a baseline for continuity. But note that even GR couldn't reconcile it all, which is why TAS, parts of some movies and all books and secondary materials are considered non-canon.

Personally I accept Canon as a base line for discussion, but it's not much other use to me. Canon says that I am not allowed to play along with Trek. It reduces it from an interactive form of entertainment to a passive one. It reduces me from a Trek player to a Trek watcher.

I don't mean to denigrate people who find just watching Trek plenty of entertainment without going to all the effort that I have. I don't want to dictate anyone else's joy or fandom to them. I am talking about me and what I do. Being a passive consumer of Trek is no fun for me, so I elect to move ahead with my own toy.

For me, everything in the Trek canon and everything outside canon is metaphorically a Lego block that I can either use or set aside as suits me for Jay-Trek. I can even add conceptual Lego blocks from other shows, movies and books to my conceptual toy, Jay-Trek.

The point of this is that Jay-Trek is specifically NOT canon and so not binding on anyone else. It is, in fact an invitation for you to make up YOUR-Trek. Everyone has their own ideas of what works and what doesn't. I am saying that we're all allowed to have our own interpretation of the canon and other materials, just so long as its a voluntary game we're playing. Sometimes I discuss Jay-Trek but I always try to label it as such and point out that it's not binding on anyone else.

I like to hear about other people's views of Trek. It allows more perspective and different points of view about it, which enhances my own conceptualization of the thing.

So off I go to see if I can find and add some more metaphorical pieces of Lego to Jay-Trek, either by fashioning them myself in terms of role playing background and characters or in terms of writing fan-fiction. Or maybe I can find a neat piece in another show (maybe Firefly, maybe SeaQuest, maybe SG1)

The point of this whole exercise is fun. Long ago I realized that being a Trek fan for me centers around having fun. If I am not having fun there is no point. I hope that you are having fun as well.
Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
"I saw it done on Voyager" is no excuse for anything, even breathing.

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Re: Your Board, Your Wave

Post by kobayashimaru » Tue Aug 14, 2018 4:04 am

Is this an open fora, for reflections/feedback and 'academic contemplation'? :D
I look forward to discussing the concept of "Canon, Apocrypha and 'continuity'...

|reserved for reply|
-----
I assume folks are familiar with; :borg:
Capote, Orwell, Dennett,
Roland S Barthes, Baudrillard, Magritte, Hume, McCloud, Moore, Korzybski etc.
(there are ~480+ authors at least on the subject, as Joseph Campbell alludes to some in "The Hero of a Thousand Faces",
continuity appears a 'universal touchstone"; I selected a subset of authors on Continuity :borg:)
The main point is that, 'continuity is the stuff catechisms are made of".

Pluralism and detente make it possible for more meanings and approaches to coexist,
though it is on many levels as "generational copying lossy process" and a ship-of-theseus paradox...
so, it can be approached as "Gerrymander (of storage media) to the power of Gerrymander (of demography)" with respect to time.

I think most folks "know continuity when they see it".
they discern for themselves, from amongst continuities.
I think most folks can discern between "apocrypha, slash/shipping, and effacement vs the quelle exegetical".

Its that effacement part which is intriguing,
usually arising from a series of Is/Ought impositions.

Of course, syncretic pastiches are possible,
though such pastiches often delineate "Quelle" from surfactant etc.
Last edited by kobayashimaru on Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Your Board, Your Wave

Post by Tesral » Tue Aug 14, 2018 6:18 am

kobayashimaru wrote:
Tue Aug 14, 2018 4:04 am
Is this an open fora, for reflections/feedback and 'academic contemplation'? :D
I look forward to discussing the concept of "Canon, Apocrypha and 'continuity'...

|reserved for reply|
Like the bit said, for you it is anything you want. Your head canon is for you. I need accept it only if I choose to partake of you creations built around that head canon.

For me Trek is a Lego set. I don't have to use all the pieces. "Spock's Brain", "Shades of Grey" even entire series of Trek like Enterprise, DS9, and Voyager don't ,make it.*

Better yet I can include pieces that didn't come with that set as well. If I want Sherlock Holmes and Horatio Hornblower to be real people in Epiphany Trek it is no skin off anyone else's nose.

So if the content of a given novel intrigue me I can add them. "Spock's World" comes to mind. Likewise fan fiction or publication that fit my idea of Trek.

There is no single over arching right way to do this. Those that will fight to get everyone to see it their way are doomed to utter misery.

*Why are Enterprise, DS9, and Voyager out of the Epiphany Trek canon? Not from any degree of perceived quality. I started writing it before they were filmed and the Epiphany Trek history and those of the three series do not match. Not simultaneous. With any "game" world you have to take a point in time and own it. Thereafter it is yours and you decide what goes in. I have DS9 on my shelf.
Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
"I saw it done on Voyager" is no excuse for anything, even breathing.

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Re: Your Board, Your Wave

Post by slawton » Tue Aug 14, 2018 2:14 pm

I agree. It would be very difficult to be 100% consistent and it would put writers in an ever-shrinking box to try to create new material. That being said, it is difficult to swallow needless flagrant inconsistencies. So, its best to be more like "u-Trek", take what you think is good and leave out the bad and make your own canon (including other material - books, FASA, etc. that you want). You'll be happier for it.

Trek is full of parallel universes, so there's infinite possibilities where everything you see/read has really occurred somewhere/sometime.
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Re: Your Board, Your Wave

Post by Tesral » Tue Aug 14, 2018 4:58 pm

slawton wrote:
Tue Aug 14, 2018 2:14 pm
I agree. It would be very difficult to be 100% consistent and it would put writers in an ever-shrinking box to try to create new material. That being said, it is difficult to swallow needless flagrant inconsistencies. So, its best to be more like "u-Trek", take what you think is good and leave out the bad and make your own canon (including other material - books, FASA, etc. that you want). You'll be happier for it.

Trek is full of parallel universes, so there's infinite possibilities where everything you see/read has really occurred somewhere/sometime.
I have watched someone drive themselves over the edge of sanity trying to reconcile everything seen on screen*. It is not possible. You need to grant yourself the ability to step out of the universe, state "that was a continuity error" and choose your personal path. It is after all a show, fiction that in the greater sum of things is a toy we amuse ourselves with, not a thing to base your life on. That way lies madness, and I have seen it.

Another statement I have seen needs to be taken to heart. "The point of argument is progress, not victory." Frankly arguing on the internet does not change minds. The reason for the discussion is to learn things, even about ourselves and our point of view. If something you say teaches me something about how I feel and think about something, then progress is made. We have both benefited.

To that end, the discussion must be polite and open. Disagree all you want, but be polite about it. There is great truth in the Mother statement "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything."


*Hence the statement: "I'm a Star trek fan, I can rationalize anything."
Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
"I saw it done on Voyager" is no excuse for anything, even breathing.

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Re: Your Board, Your Wave

Post by WarpNein » Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:07 am

This reminds me of my Vs. Debate days. Star Trek vs. Star Wars and everything in between. The arguing ran the gamut from well reasoned and researched to outright sophistry and it was both hilarious and exasperating. Anyone who has ever been a part of it will well recall the Attack of the Clones Incredible Cross Sections and its ludicrous assertion of 200-gigaton yields for the Acclamator's main batteries, which didn't even appear on the actual model of the ship.

Within the canon of Trek itself it was always an amusing diversion to try and reconcile the various examples of firepower, shield strength, superluminal speed and the stated and observed capabilities of the ship's systems. For example, ships onscreen almost always fight within visual range of each other (and I'm talking eyeballs, not sensors). Yet certain episodes like TNG S4 "The Wounded" gave us weapons ranges of several hundred thousand kilometers, with torpedoes covering those distances in about a second while they never move that fast on screen. Or the fact that Voyager, a much younger and supposedly faster ship, was projected to average 1000c over the course of her journey, while in TNG S1 "Where No One Has Gone Before," the Enterprise travels to Triangula 2,700,000 light years away and Geordi projects their return time as over 300 years. Assuming that's between 300 and 400 it produces a constant speed of between 6750 and 9000c. Why the older, slower Galaxy class would be able to average nine times Voyager's average makes for some interested discussion. Voyager got the hell kicked out of it by the Caretaker's displacement wave, including microfractures in the warp core for which they had no spare. So Voyager would probably have had to take it slowly, yet Kim's projection is based on maximum speed. Perhaps he was factoring Voyager's damage into the statement. We also know from a later episode that space has a variable Cochrane factor that impacts the effectiveness of the warp field. The Enterprise-D was undamaged by its trip, and being a larger and more capable vessel its endurance would have been greater even if its maximum speed was slower. I liken it to a sprinter vs a long distance runner. Voyager's slower average was confirmed in several places where she was observed going far less than her max 9.975. In S3 "Distant Origin" the ship is going Warp 6.2 when Gegan and Veer come across her.

To the long running debate about warp speeds must be added the glaring outlier of Star Trek V, much as we might wish to decanonize it (or defenestrate it, whichever.) There were some interesting lines of dialog at one point in a Voyager episode that suggests the writers tried to do that to the execrable Voyager S2 episode "Threshold." At least the makeup in that episode was pretty good. Everything else was preposterous.

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Re: Your Board, Your Wave

Post by Tesral » Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:22 am

All that can really be said is that Trek gives bare lip service to the idea of consistent warp speeds. Heck one of the first thing they did was to go to the "edge" of the Galaxy, some 20,000 ly away.

All you can really do is decide what you are going to do and be consistent with that. I don't even see it possible to reconcile the various statements in the film canon. Film canon is a jumble of contradiction.
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"I saw it done on Voyager" is no excuse for anything, even breathing.

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Re: Your Board, Your Wave

Post by WarpNein » Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:18 am

kobayashimaru wrote:
Tue Aug 14, 2018 4:04 am
I assume folks are familiar with; :borg:
Capote, Orwell, Dennett,
Roland S Barthes, Baudrillard, Magritte, Hume, McCloud, Moore, Korzybski etc.
(there are ~480+ authors at least on the subject, as Joseph Campbell alludes to some in "The Hero of a Thousand Faces",
continuity appears a 'universal touchstone"; I selected a subset of authors on Continuity :borg:)
The main point is that, 'continuity is the stuff catechisms are made of".
Now those are names I've not heard in a long time. A long time.

In seriousness, Dennett's philosophy of mind (and philosophy of mind in general) was illuminating reading when I was deep in the atheist movement. As I transitioned out of it I started gravitating more towards Chalmers and Searle. The interaction problem cannot be tidied neatly away no matter how much eliminative materialism wants it to be.

Crafting an epistemological frame to hang a semi-coherent interpretation of Trek canon off of isn't even an Herculean task, it's a Sisyphean one. But it's great fun all the same. So what should our basis of evaluation be? Where can we tolerate inconsistency? For the technological side of things, do on-screen graphics take precedence over dialogue? Are on-screen graphics expected to be an accurate depiction of events or more a symbolic representation of them, given that more primitive special effects cannot accurately reproduce what an occurrence should look like. Does an obvious firecracker effect really represent a multimegaton explosion?

Sometimes the powers that be deign to lift the penumbra of conundra under which we toil. (Penumbra of conundra? God I'm supercilious). It was nice of them to fix Darmok for the BluRay release so the phaser beam came from the array and not the torpedo launcher.

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Re: Your Board, Your Wave

Post by Tesral » Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:53 am

I don't even try to get all philly shophical. It is just not that deep. Sure you can drill that deep, but for my money you have punched out the other side and left the show behind. Bill was right on SNL, it's a ghodd damn TV show.

And it isn't. You can take the frame work of Trek and within find the Human condition. Why? Humans have crafted it and when done well that is deeply reflected. When done poorly it is the long parts between the commercials.

You do not need flash and special effects to tell a compelling story. I saw Metropolis when I was 18, I was enraptured. Black and White, SILENT, yet the story shown through. It held me for three hours in its monochrome grip. Friz Lang was a genius.

I learned early not to judge a given thing by the technology that produced it. Writing will show through. Casablanca is a low budget film and still worth the watch.

What I do see about Star Trek and by extension Science Fiction in general is it more a reflection of the time in which it was made than any supposed future. TOS is a child of the 60s, filled with hope,and dread. TNG is very much a creature of those times and so forth. It comes down to not judging a book by the cover.

For the era TOS had good effects. How much computer power did they have? Nada, zip, zero. Every special effect in Star Trek TOS was done, by hand. The optical compositor. A guy, with a film machine run by hand and eye. It was much more expensive then than now. On one hand I despise ILM for greebling my starships, but they invented things like motion control and were early adopters of CGI. If anything the quality of effects we have now makes TOS look more amazing for their sheer lack of tools.

Wandering all over here.
Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
"I saw it done on Voyager" is no excuse for anything, even breathing.

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