Thursday, November 19, 2009

Star Trek: Eras 104 - Tough Decisions

With Star Trek: Eras' latest release, Tough Decisions, Jim, Ken and the production group at TWERP have given us a good adventure drama with considerably more action than their previous episodes. Its a 'bottle show', which helps new listeners, whilst at the same time bringing back characters from previous shows which helps to fill out their back-story. So, if you haven't listened to an episode of Eras before now, this is a good place to start!

However this time around there's an even stronger reason for me to urge you to listen to this episode. It is one of the most striking speculative fiction episodes I've seen to date in a Star Trek fan production and because of that you will either love it or hate it.

I define good speculative fiction as something that makes us think about the world around us by drawing fictional parallels, such as the way that Tolkein was perceived to be commenting on English society in Lord of the Rings.

Trek fan productions rarely deal with the hot topics of our real life world, although there are notable exceptions of which Tough Decisions is one. As a paper-thin portrayal of the Iraqi conflict in a Star Trek context, I applaud Jim and Ken for their courage in putting it on the line for us. The allied involvement in Iraq is controversial because of its origins, its conduct and its outcomes and Jim and Ken have their own take on the moral and sociological aspects of it.

Did they get it right?

Define "right" for me.

They made me think, so - yeah, they got it right for me. Because making you think is what it is all about, not convincing you that their take is the right take.

I think it would be short-sighted to get caught up in arguments about this as a commentary on current affairs though, because the issues are much bigger than that. I can see this episode as opening up avenues of dialogue about a half dozen philosophical and ethical issues, not the least of which is the question of the universality of personal values which is so important to Star Trek.

Haven't you ever wondered about the paradox of how the Roddenberry dream can espouse IDIC - Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations - and yet the quadrant is ruled by a federation that must, for its very survival, have fixed, core values that all the members must respect? Doesn't this say: we love your diversity as long as you are not diverse in ways that we disagree with? What about the right of a member planet to constitutionally recognise canibalism? Ritual suicide? Could the Klingons ever be recognised because of their tradition of hegh'bat?

I urge you to listen to Tough Decisions, enjoy it as entertainment and then think about this... where do your rights end and mine begin? Are there some absolute values in ethics that should be enforced across all cultures? Is this showing strength of convictions or is this a conviction of strength?

Your answer to the questions might tell you a lot about yourself and your own values.

----------------batlHa' vangIu'taHvIS quv chavbe'lu' ---------------
------ One does not achieve honour while acting dishonourably ------
-------------------------- Kirok of L'Stok -------------------------