Monday, June 9, 2008

Yes, I actually sit and think about stuff like this

John Scalzi recently had a post on an interesting subject: What sets off your urge to nitpick ?

Here’s mine, and it’s a weird one. One of my “gateway drugs” into science fiction was Star Trek: The Next Generation. Unfortunately, I now find Star Trek somewhat bothersome due to the fact that, as it is usually portrayed and described in the show, the transporter doesn’t actually move your body from one point in space to another- it destroys your body and assembles a new one at the target site. It doesn’t even have to be the same matter- remember the episode where it turned out that Commander Riker had a clone produced by a transporter mishap? No one on the show ever acknowledges the disturbing implications of this: Taking the explanation for the transporter at face value, most of the characters are killed several times a season, sometimes several times an episode, and replaced by a newly created doppelganger with the same memories as the original.

In fact, we’ve never actually seen the real Jean-Luc Picard- he was killed years before the series began. Perhaps his constituent atoms were absorbed into the ship’s replicator system- which is said to incorporate transporter technology- and turned into the very cup of Earl Grey tea that his replacement unwittingly consumed later that day.

Damn it, why couldn’t Gene Roddenberry just bite the bullet during the original series and pay for a few seconds of shuttle landing footage when the crew goes to a planet, instead of throwing the transporter in at the last minute? I ought to be able to relax and ogle Marina Sirtis in the comfort of my own home without having to deal with the sort of unspeakable metaphysical horror built into the very foundations of the Star Trek universe.

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