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Mork Calling Orson….Mork Calling Orson….

Orson Scott Card puts up an LA TIMES screed today about the end of the StarTrek saga… for now… called Strange New World: No ‘Star Trek’ [1]

As science fiction, the series was trapped in the 1930s ? a throwback to spaceship adventure stories with little regard for science or deeper ideas. It was sci-fi as seen by Hollywood: all spectacle, no substance.

Which was a shame, because science fiction writing was incredibly fertile at the time, with writers like Harlan Ellison and Ursula LeGuin, Robert Silverberg and Larry Niven, Brian W. Aldiss and Michael Moorcock, Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov, and Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke creating so many different kinds of excellent science fiction that no one reader could keep track of it all.

Little of this seeped into the original “Star Trek.” The later spinoffs were much better performed, but the content continued to be stuck in Roddenberry’s rut. So why did the Trekkies throw themselves into this poorly imagined, weakly written, badly acted television series with such commitment and dedication? Why did it last so long?

Here’s what I think: Most people weren’t reading all that brilliant science fiction. Most people weren’t reading at all. So when they saw “Star Trek,” primitive as it was, it was their first glimpse of science fiction. It was grade school for those who had let the whole science fiction revolution pass them by.

Low and outside for a ball.
I would point out it was hardly the first. Everyone alive prior to the Trek pilot, doubtless saw several examples of the genre of the day.. the Sci-Fi movie. … or read the sci-fi book… Say, “War of the Worlds”…”The day the earth stood still” and so on.

James over at Outside the Beltway has a thing or two to say to Card [2], as well…

Episodic programming has to step outside its genre. “Star Trek” would have worked just as well, with rather minor changes, as a Western. A novel can subsist mostly on plot. A television serial depends on characters that the viewer wants to spend hour after hour with. Can anyone imagine “Eternal Sunshine” as a series? About two hours with Joel Barish and Clementine Kruczynski is about all I could take.

As a Western? Why sure… What do you think Roddenberry MEANT by “Wagon Train to the Stars” [3]. anyway? (A hint for those who don’t know their Television History…. Wagon Train was among other things a TV Series.. and a quite popular one, at that [4].) Star Trek, as Roddenberry envisioned it was the Wagon Train series without the spurs and the Cowboy hats.

In any event, James points up precisely why the other forms of Sci-Fi Card holds in so great a regard, wouldn’t make it in TV the way Trek did; The Episodic nature of the TV series. “War of the Worlds” [5] for example, was rather final in it’s ending… not much series potential there… Something perhaps H.G. Wells and his editors never considered. How many times can one cause the end of the world before you run out of series potential?  (OK, Planet of the Apes is a possible avenue for that, but I digress)

As for Card’s complaint of Trek having little regard for science…. That’s the living breathing definition of Sci-Fi…. Is Card really proposing limiting Sci-Fi to mere Sci- reality? Science fiction is by definition, fantastic and incredible. It is the offspring of the more fertile imagination? imagination, of course is of course where ideas come from. To try and limit Sci-Fi to mere reality is to remove it?s soul.

Needless to say, I think Card way off the mark here, and I wonder if his disappointments that his own writings didn’t receive a Trek-Phenom-Like reception isn’t the bug up his backside. If so, Card is engaged in mere grave dancing.

Sorry Orson… I’m not impressed.
Mork signing off.