Why I love the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek universe.

Look, let’s face it, while the Original Star Trek Universe has given us all decades of entertainment, a lot of laughs, a few tears, it’s kind of been written into a cul-de-sac. And by that I mean, they were seriously considering a series based around Worf. Worf people. You know, the guy who gets his ass kicked when they writers needed to show that someone was tough enough to actually bother fearing. (Yeah, yeah, I know he was frikkin’ awesome in Deep Space Nine, but still…no, just no) Besides with the launch of a new Trek universe the original is probably, at the very least from a studio point of view, dead as a doornail.

But where does that leave us?

Well actually it leaves us with an entirely blank slate. As of this moment the only thing the new Trek-‘verse has in common with the original is a handful of characters. That’s it, seriously. Don’t believe me, well consider the following points.

Kirk is captain of the Enterprise 10 years too early.

Christopher Pike is her captain for probably, allowing for crew assembly and equipping time, less than a year. Instead of his original five years, which are alluded to as being almost as legendary as Kirk’s two stints as her captain on five-year missions.

Robert April…is nowhere to be seen. Hang on a second. Robert April is nowhere to be seen? Hang on that can’t be right.

Ah but this is where we get to my utterly blank slate theory. Old Spock came back in time, created a parallel universe, and in so doing changed everything. He’s indirectly responsible for the destruction of Vulcan, as well as the almost destruction of Earth. He is directly responsible for bringing in to being new technologies and new concepts (the trans-warp transporter). Look reduced to brass-tacks he’s responsible for the destruction of the entire known future history of his universe.

He brought about a universe where George Kirk died thirty years too early, and so all the lives he would have touched, not least his sons, are irrevocably changed.

Kirk instead of launching the mission that will meet the actual God Apollo (Well sort of a god, it’s complex), Gary Seven (Which may explain Khan being met far too early, I’ll get to this), and will serve as inspiration for hundreds of subsequent future heroes; has instead launched on what should have been Robert April’s voyage. Have you even heard of Robert April? If you’re under thirty, and weren’t a hardcore Trek fan, probably not; but then neither apparently has Abrams.

So, Kirk will probably never end up back in 1960’s Earth, never meet Gary Seven, or his cat (sort of, again, it’s complex) Isis. So it’s possible that Gary Seven will, for all his extra-terrestrial technological and training advantages, die on that particular mission. Which (if you’ve read the Eugenics War novels) means that Khan will have faced far lesser foes. Which could well mean that he escaped an Earth that was rapidly slipping from his grasp aboard the Botany Bay far later than in the original universe. Which in itself could explain why he was found so much earlier…he simply hadn’t travelled as far from Earth.

Add in the destruction of Vulcan and suddenly we very likely no longer have the characters T’Pau, T’Pring, Saavik, Tuvok, or Valeris. Why? Well, they’re all probably dead.

With the destruction almost the entire of the Federations 2nd Fleet at Vulcan in the first Abrams movie, we probably lose a huge number of Next Generation era characters. Why? Well again, and again we meet characters in The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager who come from families with a legacy of Starfleet service. So, unless they were with the 1st Fleet they’re bang out of luck, possibly out of existence too.

But guess what folks? We’re just getting started because now we get to the head-wrecking time-travel stuff.

The Enterprise under Kirk is going on it’s first five year mission a decade too early. Which means it’ll likely be going a decade of exploration too close to Earth. So as I previously said, it’s likely there’ll be no trip to the 60’s, much less two of them. But with Khan well and truly on ice, will there be a Genesis planet? A battle with Captain Kruge? A Klingon Bird of Prey to use in a desperate flight back to the 1980’s in search of a Humpback…whale, not person, whale damn it!

And here we run in to another problem. Scotty gives someone the formula for Transparent Aluminium, you know kind of how Old Spock gave New Scotty his own theory of Trans-Warp Transportation…yeah, that won’t cause any problems to the timeline.

Oh and just to add salt to some canonical wounds, this might also mean no encounter with the Guardian of Forever, or at least not ’til much later in the new universes history.

And then there’s Tasha Yar and her time onboard the Enterprise C…mmmmmm Tasha Yar…*sighs*…*coughs* anyway. We know that Tasha Yar becomes another linchpin of her own universes timeline when an alternative version of her goes back in time to fight with the crew of the Enterprise C during their Thermopylae moment against the Romulans. The means she’s captured by a Romulan commander, who fathers her daughter Sela, and then kills her for trying to escape. Leaving Sela to become one of the hottes…I mean nastiest recurring villains in The Next Generation era. (and in the extended universe one of the people fighting for the Romulan Imperial throne. But yeah, only real geeks know about that…or Robert April, so moving on.)

And then there’s the Dividians in America during the lifetime of Samuel Clemens. Hmm I wonder what happens with them in the new timeline, maybe they eat Guinan. (Well that should spark some truly filthy fan-fiction.)

But what about Sisko and his jaunts to the past? Let’s ignore for a moment the fact that there’s currently no real reason for the station K-7 to exist, much less for Kirks Enterprise to wind up there with Kirk still in command in around 12 years time. Instead let’s ask ourselves is there even a Sisko to go back, and fanboy all over Kirk? We’re assuming he exists in the later timeline here. But with the changes Old Spock has created is there even going to be an Enterprise D? Will its crew who are really, truly unlikely to include any familiar faces, be similar enough to the original version to push Q’s buttons the same way, meet the Borg, and trigger the battle which leads to Sisko being in command of Deep Space Nine when the Wormhole is found? Or instead, assuming he exists in the future of this new universes timeline, will he instead be a starship captain of little note.; thereby saving the Alpha and Beta quadrants from the ravages of the Dominion War. And remember Sisko is also important to his universes history because he plays the part of Gabriel Bell, who admittedly he is partially responsible for the death of, and right about this time my head explodes from trying to figure out timelines and temporal paradoxes.

Will Voyager ever exist? And if it does without Tuvok (remember he’s probably dead) will it end up in the Badlands so it can find itself in the Delta Quadrant (Fuck that’s far away! They wanna go home.). This is kind of important, remember they had at least ten episodes based around time travel. Most of which must have left some changes in their wake.

Anyway.

Yeah. Where did I start with this? Oh yes the blank slate.

The original time-line was frankly awesome. It’s probably the single largest continuous storyline in television and movie history. It covers centuries. But it’s also become very restrictive. Look at the last thousand words for evidence. All of those things happened, and have to be worked around to tell new stories. And while the various series of books have done sterling work explaining and exploring a lot of the under utilised plot devices (New Frontiers take on Apollo being a brilliant example.) they were also rather hamstrung by being written into a universe with a solidly established storyline. And in fact this has only gotten worse as various writers have filled in the blanks.

Abrams universe took the Star Trek rulebook, tore it up, set it on fire, and then pissed on the ashes.

No more Vulcan.

A Kirk who is FAR too young for his position.

A Federation which is far more aware of it’s vulnerabilities.

And best of all, no known future history.

Sure there might well be a Captain Picard in the new universe. But with the changes he’s just as likely to be the producer of the finest red wines in the Alpha Quadrant. Or a history professor in the Academy. Or a street sweeper.

Nothing in the new universe is set in stone. There’s no reason that Abrams can’t take old storylines (Gary Seven being my favourite  prime example.) and run with them, giving them the time, and polish they deserve. But there’s nothing stopping him, and his successors, from ignoring them completely.

And that’s why I love both the original and Abrams universes equally. The original gives me stories I know and understand. I get the setting, and after a lifetime of watching, and reading can see most of the connecting strings between episodes, books, comics, and films. It’s a tapestry, sometimes loosely, and sometimes tightly woven. But I know it. And that’s both comforting, like an old fairytale, and in its own way exciting.

But the new universe is just pure adventure, for everyone. Everyone who watches it is experiencing it, more or less, for the first time together. It’s an opportunity for new writers, new storytellers to tell their Star Trek story on a relatively fresh and new sheet of paper. The basic rules still apply. Kirk is still, more or less, Kirk. Spock is still logical. Scotty is Simon Pegg…ummm ya *happy dance*. And the Enterprise is still the badass of the fleet. But beyond that, who knows. Who knows what changes have extended from the distant into the (future)past of this new universe. Who knows what dangers were swept away by the new timeline, only to be replaced to newer, deadlier foes.

Well someone knows, they’re sitting behind a laptop right now, wondering how to tell that story. And probably wondering how you write in lens flare.

So in memory of the original universe, Voltaire. *Riotous applause*

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