The Non Trekkie's Guide to Star Trek
Does your girlfriend secretly speak Klingon?
Star Trek. Depending on your point of view, those two words can rustle up very different emotional responses. For fans like myself, it can take your memories back to childhood bullying (yes it's true, I was a nerd even though it's hard to believe). To people like my wife who have never seen any of the shows, it will likely elicit a groan, and statements like "I don't know what the fuss is all about geeky boy!"
Like it or not, Star Trek has been a global phenomenom for decades. From those first tentative steps of Star Trek the Original Series (TOS), through Star Trek the Next Generation (TNG), Star Trek Deep Space 9 (DS9), Star Trek Voyager and even the relatively poorly received Enterprise, us trekies or trekkers (more on that later) have been spoilt by consistently high quality science fiction TV programs and movies.
Lets just suppose for a second that a non fan (shudder) decides to take the plunge and start to watch the shows and movies. Where do they start? What are the stand-out moments, and does the Star Trek universe hang together in any coherent way?
In the beginning
Our beloved Trek across the Stars kicks off in 2063. Zephran Cochran, a drunken scientist somehow in a moment of clarity designed and built the worlds first faster than light spaceship, the Phoenix (I know, it's a stretch to believe this but I promise it gets much, much more believable)!
Now, a little technobabble. In order to go faster than light speed, he created a "Warp Bubble" around the ship, effectively warping space around him so a journey that would normally take years, could now be done in minutes.
It was this warp field that discovered by a passing Vulcan ship (the guys with the pointy ears), and it was this event that became known as First Contact.
Here's where it gets a little complicated...First Contact would not have happened if not for the help from Captain Picard and his crew, who travelled back in time to stop the Borg (robot / human hybrids who steal and assimilate technology, think techno zombies).
After this it was all gravy, as humanity began to peacefully explore the stars under the watchfull eyes of the Vulcans.
Until they bumped into the Romulans (pointy eared with BIG shoulder pads). War followed and a Neutral Zone between was created to keep the warring aprties apart. Soon after, the United Federeation of Planets was born from Earth and several neighbors, and Starfleet was created to protect Planet Earth.
Just as things were returning to normal, we bumped into the Klingons, a big, angry warrior race obsessed by honour. Needless to say, this did not go well, and the Klingon Empire and the Federation existed in a state of perpetual aggression for many years to come.
All the while, a temporal "cold war" carries on with puppets on both sides being manipulated by mysterious benefactors. Not only that, but the Vulcans seem to be holding humanity back, but for what purpose?
Enterprise, the most recent series fills out so much of this early exploration, and I urge you to see it. It has come under a lot of criticism but I have to say that I enjoyed most if not all of the episodes, and it truly is worth it to flesh out the early years!
- Born in Iowa 2233.
- Only cadet to beat the Kobayashi Maru scenario in the Academy.
- By cheating!
- A man of action.
- Youngest Captain in Starfleet History.
- Ladies man, replacing long term with many many ladies.
- Hates and hated by Klingons (they did kill his son after all).
- Macho macho man, I wanna be a macho man!
The 23rd Century
Or the Kirk era! Captain James Tiberius Kirk (still trying to get my wife to allow the middle name for my next baby) started his now famous 5 year mission to ""Boldly go where no man has gone before" (TOS).
Kirk did things a little differently than the other Starfleet Captains we have grown to know and love. He was more like a Frontiers Cowboy, dispensing harsh justice with one hand, whilst romancing every green or blue alien hottie with the other! He was passionate, judgemental and occasionally wild, thanks goodness for the cold hard logic of Spock (Vulcan) helping to maintain balance on the bridge of the latest Enterprise.
During his early tenure he battled the Romulans (again with the the Romulans) in the Neutral Zone, despite their new cloaking technology, which allowed their ships to appear invisible. A chance encounter with a 20th century dictator called Khan nearly lost him control of the ship but the tight nit crew refused to mutiny under him. Given a choice of prison, or being abandoned on an empty world, he choose the latter. This chance given to him was to royally bite Kirk on the arse several years later, but would give us possibly the greatest Star Trek film of all time, The Wrath of Khan, which is just awesome!
It wasn't long before the Klingons started picking fights again, but before a war could kick off a benevolent race of energy beings called the Organians imposed a peace treaty on both sides, with all conflicts over star systems to be decided by who could develop them better, which obviously favoured the Federation with all its high technology. As a result, the Klingons were facing an economic downturn of cataclysmic results and hopped into bed with the Romulans. Technology was shared , most notably the Cloaking Device (shudder)! Now the Klingons could hide their warships in plain sight.
Enterprise Vs V'Ger
V'Ger and The Motion Picture
Ok, not a great film, but for the completest it is bearable... The crew re-unite to tackle an alien probe called V'Ger, an unstoppable and vast artificial intelligence on a crash course for Earth. After over two hours of metaphysical garbage mixed with a splash of 70's psychedelia Kirk rubbed some dirt of the NASA nameplate and realised that it was the Voyager space probe that had been altered beyond recognition by aliens (ooh, perhaps the Borg, more on them later).
! SPOILER ! So, instead of the usual Kirk style of shooting first talking later, they manage to communicate with it and send it on it's merry old way ! SPOILER !
Soon after, Federation scientists start causing moral dilemmas with their new creation, the Genesis Device, which leads us nicely into the 2nd feature film.
- Half Human, Half Vulcan
- Emotionless (apart from during that very special Vulcan time, the Pon Farr, Vulcan's rumpy pumpy time).
- An extreme intellectual
- God friends with Bones, or Dr McCoy to give him his proper name, despite Bones being an extremely emotional person.
- Died and came back to life.
- A great diplomat.
- A great scientist.
- Has pointy ears,
The Wrath of Khan
See, told you he'd be back to harass our manly hero. Khan escaped his prison planet, which was not quite the holiday he had anticipated, and discovered how whilst on the one hand, the new device could create life from nothing on a barren planet, it could also eradicate life on a populated one.
In a stand-out moment of the entire Star Trek Universe, he leads an attack on the Enterprise, crippling the ship and leaving it stricken. If not for the valiant sacrifice of Spock (and we all shed a tear or two, I can assure you) our crew would have perished there and there. Spock's body was launched onto the newly named Genesis Planet, and Spock was reborn, as witnessed in The Search for Spock, the third of the films.
Of course, the Klingons got word of this miraculous new weapon and dispatched a Bird of Prey to acquire the technology whilst Kirk and Co were searching for Spock's body. When the Klingon's board the Enterprise Kirk sets the Self-Destruct and we were forced to cry for the second time in two films as our beloved ship was destroyed. For this act Kirk was labelled a terrorist by the Klingon Government.
More Weird Alien Probes
Time for some time travelling. A probe approached Earth looking to communicate with some whales, but we had killed them all by this point. So kirk takes the Klingon Bird of Prey he stole in the last film and brought back two humpback whales who saved the day, and the oceans. Worth seeing this film only for Spock in 1980s headgear to hide his ears!
The Final Frontier came next, and was directed by none other than William Shatner, so I guess we should not have been surprised when the ending turned out to be Kirk Vs (a type of) god and guess who won? This film is not great to be honest, but it did pave the way for the 6th and totally brilliant film.
Kirk Vs god?
The Undiscovered Country
An environmental disaster of immense proportions forces the friendless Klingons to sue for peace, or face extinction when their primary energy facility goes boom on the moon of Praxis!'
With the sneaky Romulans nowhere to be seen, the Federation begins talks with a hope of everlasting peace. Apart from a conspiratorial core of people from several races in the Federation, who see this as an opportunity to see the Klingons destroyed or subjugated once and for all. Cue one successful assassination attempt on the Klingon Chancellor, which landed the blame firmly on our beloved Kirk's broad muscular shoulders. Ok, a bit of an exaggeration on that last point, as he is clearly wearing a toupee and getting a bit on the portly side...But I digress. Oh, and Bones was there too so by association is also seen as 's guilty of murder despite trying to save the Chancellor's life.
Luckily this was all exposed by Spock, with the help of the now Captain Sulu and some really cool homing photon torpedoes!
- An intellectual, more likely to use diplomacy than his fists / phaser.
- Slow to engage with women, but when he falls, oh boy!
- Hobbies include music, archaeology and Earl Grey tea.
- These things alone make him the total opposite of Kirk.
- Was kidnapped by The Borg in a stand out moment in science fiction and used to destroy half of Starfleet
- Likely to say "Make it so" or "Engage!"
- Played by amazing British Shakespearean actor Patrick Stewart (also seen in American Dad as head of the C.I.A)
Star Trek Generations
Lets be honest, by this point the old crew were, well, kinda old and in some cases, a bit fat (Scotty, we are talking about you)! With the Next Generation well under way, it was time to hand over the big captains chair to the new guys.
The Enterprise was also a bit outdated, so a new version was commissioned and Kirk and Co were in attendance on its shakedown voyage. Which is luck as the skeleton crew was about as useful as a chocolate teapot! Kirk saves the day when they attend a distress call, but is presumed lost in space due to the colossal hole in the side of the Enterprise-B. In reality (so to speak) he had been taken into the Nexus, where all desires become reality.
Now, here is where we take a break from TNG for reasons that will become clear, hopefully. Needless to say, it all becomes a bit "timey wimey" from here on in, so bear with.
24th Century and another new Enterprise
Whilst still trying to reach a lasting agreement with the Klingons, the Enterprise-C responded to a distress call from the Klingon outpost Narendra III. The Romulans had attacked, and the Enterprise valiantly took on 4 Warbirds. It was destroyed in the process, but the Klingons saw this sacrifice as the ultimate act of honor and brokered a full peace with the Federation.
What no one realised was that the Enterprise-C actually disappeared through a time rift into the future, and here is where it might get a little tough to follow, but please bear with, as it it really, really cool!
So, they traveled 22 years into the future, but having missed the attack on the outpost and failing to stop the Romulans attack had dire consequences. The Klingons never brokered a peace and war between the two factions soon broke out. The Enterprise-D (Picard's Chariot) was suddenly no longer a ship of exploration, but was a full on Battle Cruiser, kicking ass and chewing gum. The war had been raging for twenty years and the Feds were losing. Further more, Tasha Yar was still alive. Who is she you may well ask? Well, she was the Security officer in Season 1 of TNG, and died meaninglessly at the hands of a giant slime monster (no, really).
Still kind of with me? Good! Because this is confusing the hell out of me trying to make sense of it...
So, the Crew of Enterprise-C realise that they have to go back in time and die horribly in order to save the timeline as it should be. Tasha asks Picard to be transferred to help, as she wants her death to have some kind of meaning.
Funny Star Trek Moments
Correcting the Timeline
So, Enterprise-C with Tasha trot off to 22 years in the past to meet their certain doom and save the lived of countless millions. The story doesn't end here for Tasha though, oh no, it certainly doesn't!
She was taken prisoner by a Romulan commander who fell in love with, and then married her. They had a child they called Sela (same actress). Unfortunately, raising her on Romulus was to prove fatal for poor old Tasha, as her daughter shopped her in after an attempted escape. Being raised as a Romulan child made Sela incredibly devious and evil.
So, either way, Tasha ended up dying. Time has a habit of correcting itself where possible! Sela went on to become a powerful officer in the military, and a royal pain in the arse for Picard later on.
Extra Extra, read all about it, Humanity put on trial by omnipotent god like being (with a funny hat)!
Q developed an obsession not only with humanity over the next 7 years of TV, but especially with Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D. Picard of course persuaded Q as to humanity's worth, but it was not enough to stop Q sending the ship light years further into space than ever before, where they were confronted by The Borg! After a great battle it became clear that even the almighty Enterprise was no match for them, and many lives were lost. Worst still, the Bog had accessed the computers and knew where earth was. Q saved the Enterprise and sent them home, but it would only be matter of time before the Borg arrived at Earth for a smorgasbord of tasty assimilation treats!
- The Kirk of The Next Generation.
- Ladies man.
- Macho macho man, I wanna be a macho man.
- First officer on the Enterprise-D
- Doesn't want the big Captain's chair, content to stay with Picard.
- Has a cool beard.
- Has a brother, who is an evil genius!
- Did I mention his brother is his identical twin thanks to an encounter on an alien world.
- Was given god-like powers by Q just for a laugh.
- Got to be first officer on a Klingon warship, in a kind of exchange student thing!
- Destroyed the Enterprise-D in a forced crash landing, well done brains...
Oh dear me, Starfleet had year to prepare before The Borg finally reached Federation Space, but it just wasn't enough.
"Resistance is Futile." - Some Borg or another. They all look the same to me!
The fleet was decimated, Picard was kidnapped, assimilated, Borgified (new word) and used to threaten earth. William Riker took command of the Enterprise-D and managed to defeat the Borg, but it was an experience that would continue to haunt those who took part in it for years to come. Picard would even have to take a holiday in order to come to terms with the violation he underwent.
It would also take a long time before Starfleet could rebuild and retrain it's many lost ships and crew.
This 2 parter, called The Best of Both Worlds was the pinnacle of great writing, coupled with amazing special effects, simply a must watch story even if you don't like Star Trek.
I am Locutus of Borg
- Worf is the first Klingon to serve in Starfleet.
- He replaced Tasha Yar as security officer on the Enterprise
- Later in his career he became second-in-command on Deep Space 9
- He has commanded the Defiant against the Borg
- He loves Klingon Opera
- He has always struggled to reconcile his Klingon nature with his human duties
- He accidentally killed the boy when he was 13 and since then has learnt great restraint and patience
- He is an extremely honorable man and and a loyal friend
- He was raised by adoptive human parents
Civil War on the Horizon
Worf is a Klingon. So, that means he is big, hairy, honorable and angry most of the time. Still, if you heard Klingon opera you would be angry too! Moreover he is conflicted, as a Starfleet Officer on the one hand and as a proud warrior on the other.
This came to the forefront more profoundly than ever when he becomes mixed up in a political crisis on the home world of Kronos. His father was accused of being a traitor who led the Romulans to the Khitomer outpost, however Warf found out that the traitor was none other than the father of Duras, a powerful member of the high Council.
Worf was forced to choose. If he told the council he knew it would most likely cause a civil war, the only alternative was to do the unthinkable and betray his family on for the sake of his race. He chose to preserve the Klingon Empire in all its glory and sacrifice his own honor. In doing this he faced exile from his people for the rest of his life.
Of course, as is so often the way in Star Trek these things have a habit of coming background and biting you on the arse, and this happened when the Klingon Chancellor discovered that he was slowly dying from poison. In his mind there are only two people who could replace him as high Chancellor, Duras and Gowron. The problem was one of these two must also be the would-be assassin.
Picard was asked to investigate this matter as a Klingon who kills without showing his face would be without honour and thus unworthy of leading the Empire. It turned out to be Duras, his father of course was the one responsible for the previous massacre. In order to try to cover his tracks he ended up killing Worf's lover which cost him his life. His sisters wanted revenge and sought counsel with the Romulans in order to put Duras' son in place as the Chancellor instead of Gowron.
Now, here's where it gets cool as the Romulan they asked to help was none other than Sella. See! I told you she turn up again like the proverbial bad penny. of course because of all the Timey Wimey" stuff that happened with the Enterprise-C Picard had no knowledge of what had happened to Tasha. Sela took great satisfaction in explaining how he had sent her mother back in time to her death, which let's face facts must have been a little bit of a shock!
in order to prevent a civil war from escalating further Federation forces were deployed across the board between the Romulan and Klingon territories, and by using some really cool technology managed to stop the supply of arms and weapons to the Duras family. without the Romulans aids the sisters were soon defeated and wharf had an opportunity to kill this 12-year-old son of the traitor to the Empire and regain his honor. Of course he spared his life as he was unable to take the life of a child.
- Commander of Deep Space 9
- DS9's Kirk!!
- Macho Macho man, I wanna be a macho man!
- Likes to go in with the headbutt as an opening move!
- Religious Icon to the people of Bajor, who call him "The Emissary"
- Talks a bit like Kirk, lots of pauses but hasn't released any albums yet (thankfully)
- Loves good ol' Creole cooking, as tought by his Pa.
- Lost his wife fighting the Borg at Wolf 359, has never forgiven Picard for his role in the massacre.
It's all kicking off on Deep Space 9
One could say that first contact with the dominion didn't quite go according to plan. but wait I'm getting ahead of myself. Deep Space 9 is a large space station in orbit around Bajor. It was a Cardassian station when Bajor was under occupation. When they left the Federation took over in order to make sure that the population was safe.
One of the reasons the station was so important was that it overlooked a wormhole to the Gamma quadrant. This wormhole would allow new trade opportunities and increase growth for the region. It was also a source of religious fever for the Bajorans.
So, after a chance encounter with the Dominion, the Federation is threatened with oblivion if they don't give in to the many demands laid at them. The station commander Benjamina wormhole in wormhole Sisko was thought to be lost behind enemy lines, and the Enterprise-D's sister ship was sent to mount a rescue. Big mistake, and the ship was lost along with all hands...
Granted the Defiant, Sisko used the tough little ship to find out the puppet masters were a race of shapeshifters, and everyone immediately became a suspect! These Founders as they were known soon decided to impose their will on the rest of the galaxy as soon as possible, setting the stage for war.
The Klingons thought that wiping out the Founders allies, the Cardassians would be a great starting move, but when Starfleet refused, Gowron (remember him) instead attacked DS9 and was barely held off before a ceasefire was called.
Shortly thereafter though DS9 was lost back to the Cardassians and the Dominion, and it took the combined fleets of Starfleet and the Klingons working together to take it back. If you like giant space battles, this is the series to watch!!
Now, around the same time as all this was going on, the USS Voyager was sent to the Badlands to hunt down some terrorists. The ship was thought lost, but was in reality transported by a strange and powerful entity to the Delta Quadrant. The journey home would take them 7 years, and a collaboration with the Borg, but they soon discovered that the Starfleet way was not always the best way when so far from home.
Again with the Borg?
One single ship. That is all it took. One Borg Cube fought its way to Earth, despite being confronted by a massive fleet. New tactics and ships such as the Defiant inflicted terrible damage on the cube, thanks in no small part t Picard's insider information and a new quota of Quantum Torpedos.
However, the Borg launched a sphere, capable of travelling through time back to 2063. Having no choice, Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-D followed them through the vortex where they of course bumped into Zephran Cochrane who was busy drinking and building the Phoenix (see the first paragraph)!
Earth Vs the Borg!
Well, that took a lot longer than I anticipated, and ended up being a massive undertaking. I really hope that you have enjoyed reading this. Of course, i have had to miss out huge parts of the history, and it really was beyond the scope of this Hub, there are several more films and a lot of Voyager that I have missed but hopefully I have hit most of the key points, and coming full circle to 2063 seemed as good a place as any to stop for now! Who knows, maybe I will come back and fill in the blanks but I must admit to being a little burnt out after watching so much Star Trek and trying to make it all fit!!
Feel free to leave me some feedback and thanks for reading. Peace and respect, Zakkers