Entries from April 2013

The Transporter is Underused

Although I've certainly consumed and enjoyed a lot of Star Trek in my life, I have to admit it has many shortcomings as science fiction, that is, as fiction that takes for its starting point speculations about the future state of science. Although I don't doubt that the writers of the various forms of Star Trek are both competent professionals and talented artists, they've been burdened by difficult positions taken at the very creation of the original show, and ever since have had to decide how much of this past they can shrug off.

One of the more problematic legacies of the show's origin is the transporter (another, Star Trek's laughable treatment of economics, should probably get a whole treatise rather than just a blog post, but I'll leave that for another time), which is one of those technologies sometimes posited in science fiction stories that, for various reasons, writers fail to fully explore. One of the most common reasons is that some technologies (or, in the case of superheroes, some powers) are altogether too powerful, and the consequences of that power pose a problem for storytelling; if characters have godlike abilities at their command, what room does that leave for drama, for tension and its relief, for a satisfying plot?