the romulan star empire

Protecting John from huge spoilers : ENT “Shockwave Part II”


- What’s gone? -
- The monument. It was right here on the same street as the library. It was obviously never built. -
- Why is that a problem? Who did it commemorate? -
- Not who. - 
- Then what? -
- An organisation. The Federation. It doesn’t exist for you, not yet. -   

What Star Wars meeting Star Trek Could be Really Fun

A Jedi: I can’t seem to read his mind. What are you?

Lt. Commander Data, my son, my child: I am an android, sir.

Some Clone in the background: That’s the strangest clanker I’ve ever seen.

Jedi: Are you part of the Separatists?

Data, doing that head tilt thing: Query, seperate from whom?

Jedi, beginning to get annoyed: The Republic.

Data: Ah, so you are part of the Romulan Republic?

Jedi: …The what?

Data: The Romulan Republic is a breakaway state of the Romulan Star Empire that formed following the Hobus supernova of 2387–

Jedi: Enough, Droid. Are *you* part of this Romulan Republic?

Data: No, sir. I am part of the Federation, and my name is Data.

Clone: Oh osik, he works for the toads.

Trek for Newbies, Part One: What Is A Star Trek

(The other Trek for Newbies posts can be found here.)

What is a Star Trek?

Star Trek began as one of the first science fiction TV shows, and went on to become one of the most beloved and influential television franchises of all time. Modern science fiction television, modern television in general, even modern fandom have all been enormously influenced by Star Trek, not to mention the legions of scientists, engineers, astronauts, etc who cite Star Trek as a direct inspiration.

As of 2016, there have been five live-action Star Trek TV series; the first began in 1966, with a sixth series scheduled to begin next year:

The Original Series (1966–1969)
The Next Generation (1987–1994)
Deep Space Nine (1993–1999)
Voyager (1995–2001)
Enterprise (2001–2005)
Untitled series (2017–)

There are also twelve movies, an animated series, and god knows how many books, comics, video games, and so forth.

Ok, so what’s the premise?

In the future, the human race has developed faster-than-light travel and begun to explore the galaxy, which is also home to countless other intelligent species. Humans and several other species have formed the United Federation of Planets (‘the Federation’), a utopian post-capitalist society.

The Federation operates an armada of starships, called Starfleet, which carry out missions of exploration, research, peacekeeping, and humanitarian aid. The first four series of Star Trek focus on the highest-ranking Starfleet crew members of one Federation spaceship or space station as they carry out their missions. (The fifth series is set just before the formation of the Federation, but is structurally the same.)

Wait, a utopian post-capitalist society? Is Star Trek far-left propaganda?

Yes. It’s awesome.

You can’t separate Star Trek, even modern Star Trek, from its origins in 1960s America. You’ve got the Cold War, with the memory of World War II still fresh in everyone’s mind; you’ve got the Vietnam War and the draft; you’ve got the struggling civil rights movements and associated crackdowns; and at the same time, you’ve got the very first humans travelling into outer space.

The original Star Trek took all that in and presented an optimistic vision of the future. In the Star Trek universe, the human race is part of a peaceful, egalitarian, diverse society working for the greater good. The message was: things might be bad right now, but they’re going to get better. Humanity is better than this, and someday soon we’ll grow past it, stop fighting each other and oppressing each other, and we’ll explore the stars together. I’m not crying you’re crying.

That’s not just a post-hoc interpretation – it was the stated goal of Star Trek’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, to make a show with a progressive political agenda and a diverse cast. That philosophy has continued inform the various series of the show, to greater or lesser degrees. Many episodes of each Star Trek series are allegories for contemporary cultural and political issues, which the heroes try to resolve through humanism and optimism.

At pretty much every step of the way, progressive moves by the various series have been opposed and sometimes blocked by the networks, because of course.

Tell me more about this utopian post-capitalist society.

Humans develop faster-than-light travel, or ‘warp drive,’ in 2063, and begin encountering intelligent alien species (most of whom, yes, happen to look almost exactly like humans, we’ll get into that later). In 2161, humans invite several of these other species (including the Vulcans and some other guys you haven’t heard of) to join together as the United Federation of Planets, which is pretty much explicitly Space United Nations. Over the years, new species apply for membership in the Federation, and by the 2300s it has over 150 member planets with thousands of colonies.

According to the Federation charter, they operate based on the principles of universal liberty, rights, and equality, and they share their knowledge and resources to further the goals of peaceful cooperation and exploration.

Federation worlds have no class divisions and money essentially no longer exists. The show is sometimes frustratingly vague about how this works in practice.

Skip the Space United Nations stuff and get to the spaceships.

The Federation operates Starfleet, a fleet of spaceships whose primary mission is to explore deep space and look for new forms of life. They also engage in scientific research and conduct peacekeeping, diplomacy, and ‘defense operations’ aka torpedoing people who are really asking for it.

Starfleet is the setting for most of Star Trek. Three of the five Trek series (The Original Series, The Next Generation, and Voyager) take place on Federation starships which run around exploring cool new planets and getting in fights. Enterprise is a prequel set before the Federation formed, but it’s basically the same thing. A typical episode of one of these shows would involve a visit to a new planet or encounter with a new lifeform. Deep Space Nine is the exception – it takes place on a planet-orbiting space station under joint Federation control, and is more heavily serialized. (Eventually they also get a spaceship.)

Each series revolves around an ensemble of Starfleet officers including the ship’s captain (or station commander) and various other high-ranking officers. There are also non-Starfleet characters, as well as an unspecified number of nameless Starfleet grunts who are constantly catching lasers to the gut (‘redshirts’).

Wait, how can these shows possibly have any conflict if they take place in a utopia?

There are lots and lots of non-Federation alien species, too, and they do not have classless utopias. Some of those species are major powers which sometimes come into conflict with the Federation, including the Klingon Empire, the Romulan Star Empire, the Cardassian Union, the Borg, and the Dominion.

There are also untold hundreds of unaffiliated alien civilizations, which fall into two categories based on how technologically advanced they are. Some alien species have invented faster-than-light travel (they are ‘warp capable’) and have discovered the existence of other intelligent life forms. Others haven’t developed space travel (they are ‘pre-warp’) and have no knowledge of other intelligent life.

In dealing with non-Federation aliens, the Federation follows a guiding principle called the Prime Directive. The Prime Directive is a huge deal throughout Star Trek. It forbids interference in the natural development of any pre-warp civilization – meaning, don’t let them find out that aliens and space travel exist. This leads to dozens of episodes in which Our Heroes have to throw on alien peasant garb and pretend not to be from another planet. The Prime Directive also says you can’t interfere with any warp-capable civilization without the consent of its leaders, leading to dozens of episodes in which something is horribly wrong and Our Heroes can’t really do anything about it.

Ok, so that’s the basic premise and setting. What are the differences between all the shows? Who are the characters? What is the future technology like? What are some good episodes to start with?

Oh my god, this is going to require a lot more posts than I thought.

Next Up:

Alien species: Vulcans, Klingons, non-corporeal godlike beings, etc

Star Trek tech: replicators, tricorders, holodecks, etc

The basics of each of the five TV series: premises, main characters, good intro episodes, fan reception

The cultural influence of Trek: why we have iPads, slash fiction, and Whoopi Goldberg

Bryan Fuller and Star Trek