22nd Jul2009

dijoo stop making sense!? (#35)

by jerad.formby

romulans stardates and space of star trek

40 Years of Star Trek is a lot to keep straight. I don’t envy a single writer involved. I probably feel worst for the especially nerdy writers like Ronald D. Moore and Manny Coto.

I certainly don’t envy Micheal Okuda –the man in charge of keeping it all-straight and publishing his findings for all nerds to consume.

star trek at a glance

It’s messy. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

analyze trek is that really how you wanna waste yer time

There are a number of things that are inconsistent in the Star Trek universe and Hey Star Trek!’s always thought that it was possible all fans could see, excuse, or make excuses for all of them. There are some issues that most will take issue with. One of my favorites is the Stardate.

“Captain’s log, Stardate” – something awesomely and so specifically Star Trek. This was invented, obviously to fill in certain plot points or gaps in the storyline in a quick and non-expensive way. It’s also become almost as iconic as a Klingon or a phaser.

The numbers that follow those immortal words are nearly impossible to nail down, but we know a little bit about it and thought it might be time to share (and if not, explain just how it is that these numbers are so inconsistent). Also a brief utterance about why the heck we need Stardates anyway.

Stardates make time all across given space consistent, no matter what your sun is or which side of a given planet you happen to be rotating on. It makes for a good, consistent measurement of time.

Of course, that’s where the consistency ends. To Captain Kirk, Stardates were mostly random numbers that were jotted down by writers and producers who weren’t interested in a level of continuity or consistiency. They were just numbers with a point 5 or a point 2 behind them to make them sound more impressive.

the truth of captain kirk and stardates

We here at Hey Star Trek! believe that the point numbers are there to indicate what time of day it might be –A.M. being numbers closer to zero and P.M being closer to nine. That has yet to be authenticated anywhere, so it’s just a theory.

What is not a theory is that Captain Picard, Captain Sisko, and Captain Janeway all work within a similar and very consistent use of these numbers. Given the popularity of Star Trek when TNG was just beginning, someone early on –have no idea who, proposed a consistent numbering system for the Stardates and daggnabbit they make sense!

Star Trek: The Next Generation began with Stardate 41153.7. and ended with Stardate 47988.1. It ran for seven years. Surely you see this reflected in the numbers, no?

this pattern was first brought to my attention by a childhood nerd friend couldn't believe the formula worked

The show finally surpassed Stardate 49 something and was forced to move into Stardate 50. But before that point, The Next Generation could be read (quaintly) to be Stardate 4 (24th century) 1 (first season) . . . and etc etc. I have no idea why DS9 didn’t end with a significant Stardate . . . but Hey Star Trek thinks it had something to do with Ira Behr wanting to be different.

This is the formula I used to determine what Stardate Star Trek: The Experience closed for Chad Boutte’s ending speech. When writing the speech, I assumed that our exhibit opened January 1999 and closed September 2008. The Experience worked under the assumption that a parallel chunk of time was operating in the 24th century.

I grabbed a Stardate from the episode of Voyager that was running in January 1999 (on or around the fourth). That gave me an opening date of (give or take a day or two) 51374.9 and then built off of the end of Voyager to arrive at the closing date of: 62135.6. As nerdy as it all sounds, I wanted Star Trek: The Experience to reflect what I could glean and understand from existing canon.

don't mean to blow my own horn but if i don't who will

Inconsistent Trek is an ongoing plague. In edition to Stardates, there is the matter of space relationships seeming to be wrapped in convenience.

How big is our galaxy? It is huge! And it’s divided into four Quadrants. Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Gamma. The Federation exists in what is known as the Alpha Quadrant. The Beta seems to be largely populated by nobody of consequence. The Delta is known for Borg dominance, the Gamma is the Dominion from Deep Space Nine.

space the final relationship we will never understand

It’s those Alpha Quadrant adventures that seem to confuse all of the distances and get in the way of logically enjoying Voyager.
Trekcast’s David Ivy and Darren Benjamin have often speculated about the distance in space and its logic.

Characters seem to be able to zip all the way out to the Klingon homeworld, run by earth, and be back at DS9 in time for some sort of crisis. This sort of thing could go on ignored forever, but there’s that pesky Voyager not getting the same advantages of speed and travel.

Maybe you could argue that everything in the Alpha Quadrant’s a lot closer together, but it still seems awfully handy that James Kirk has seen both the Galactic Barrier and the Great Barrier without being over 70 years old. I’m just putting it out there.

some aspects of nerdom are tiresome and just keep coming long after the audience has left

But heck, I’m not here to enjoy Trek for its logic. I’m here to enjoy Trek for the sake of Trek. Inconsistent Space and inconsistent Time measurements. I don’t care about these things, I just notice them.

These things are the direct result of a very long and uneven tapestry. Star Trek is the result of dozens and dozens of contributors. There are Producers, Staff Writers, Freelance writers and each of them have done something somewhere that resulted in a T not getting crossed or an i without a dot.

And I don’t care.

I love Trek, warts and all. I don’t care if nobody’s researching closely enough. I don’t mind when someone calls a Klingon ship a “warbird” when we all know they are supposed to be called a “bird of prey.” That’s been misspoken so much that it’s almost become canon in and of itself! It doesn’t matter.

The only consistency I ask for is of its characters, because that’s why I watch in the end is to see those characters rock it. From Kirk to Janeway to Archer. And everyone in between.

Inconsistent physics run rampant all over the five shows and various movies. The physics themselves are ignored when it serves a story.

Star Trek is a story and not some new reality or religion.

That’s why I prefer it not be written in stone.

dont mess with the classics unless you have to


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  • http://chicana_tigre@yahoo.com D Kleparek

    I just emailed Trekcast last weekend and asked about Stardates. The dates of TNG, DS9 and VOY all stay relatively consistent, but when you try to compare them to TOS it just gets messy. The writers of the first episode of TNG should have just done some quick calculating to figure out a nice Stardate calculator. It really wouldn’t be that hard, I’d think.

  • Steve

    I have always found it interesting that Arthur Conan Doyle, writing the first Sherlock Holmes stories by himself, couldn’t keep straight where Watson’s war wound was.

    Add 600+ stories by many different authors and you see just how daunting consistancy can be.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mistervogel Shaolin Kenobi

    Holy cow! Is there some sort of telepathic ability in those Ferengi lobes? (If there is it may be another inconsistency) I was JUST wondering about star dates this week… and oddly enough for the first time despite decades of Trek watching. I love how nobody of consquence seems to inhabit the beta quadrant! I also seem to remember some science guy saying at one time that a “quadrant” itself is a bit of a misnomer when it comes to deep space…. Michio Kaku perhaps. ANYWAY… it’s called suspension of disbelief, and it is key to my happiness!

  • April Hebert

    Nobody of consequence in the Beta Quadrant…hmm…so T’Pril and Tahryn are both unimportant…hmm…Vulcan and Andoria are both in the Beta Quadrant (albeit very close to the Alpha Quadrant where all the important races live)….just sayin’…Oh, and by the way one of my pet peeves has always been that Trek divided up the galaxy with Earth in the center, at the intersection of all the Quadrants…of course I know the universe revolves around me, but really …

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