Thursday, January 10, 2019

Weird Revisited: The Pulp Core of Trek

I was once again talking about how I might run a slightly alternate ST:TOS game with fellow fan, Jason Sholtis, the other day, which reminded me of this post from 2012...


While I've enjoyed all the Trek series (well, maybe not Voyager) to one degree or another, my favorite has always been the original. It's very much of it's era which gives it a cool design sense and adapts a lot of Golden Age and pulp science fiction elements. The "core canon" for my game would be the original series.

(As an aside, I'd say that a lot of later accretions on the Trek universe have served to downplay the old school science fiction feel. Genetic supermen and a interplanetary sleeper ship coming from the 1990s does not suggest the 20th century history of space travel in Trek played out like it did in our history, but rather more like the imaginings of Werner von Braun and Willy Ley.)


I mean, what would Trek be without Rigel II cabaret dancers?


I wouldn't leave it there, though. The now-noncanonical animated series adds the Kzinti (among other stuff) to the mix. Got to have these guys:


James Blish's novelizations of the original episodes give them a subtle sci-fi lit spin: I think Trek is better with a mysterious Vegan (VAY-gan, alright?) Tyranny in it's past than without it. Always early fan documents add a lot of stuff. The Starfleet Officer's Manual and Star Trek Maps are definitely in--as are parts of the totally out there on its on but well illustrated Spaceflight Chronology.


12 comments:

John Till said...

I've been using Kzinti in my mostly-Original Series era Star Trek Adventures games, although I have also been running games in the slightly prior Discovery era.

Allandaros said...

It's amusing thinking of Prime Directive, which is forced to take the "only series and early fan works" perspective, but goes a different direction in tone and aesthetic than what you're referencing (because it was 100% developed further by folks like younger me, who were really salivating for Babylon 5 or even Lensman-esque Gratuitous Space Battles).

I'm going to have to check out those Jamse Blish novelizations again - I devoured them as a kid, but it's been ages and it would be interesting to go back and see the extra details he added in.

I'd love to hear more about how you see golden age SF (esp the WIlly Ley angle) as influencing your take on the Trek setting.

Finally, where did that last image come from? It's pretty darn sweet!

Billy Longino said...

I've been thinking about this, too, after playing some of the new Mophidius game, but that was set during TNG. It was fun, but it didn't capture the tone that I wanted, and all of the other players are huge into Star Trek canon, so it would be difficult to divorce it from our game.

Maybe, however, a Trek-like setting that expands on those tones might be in order.

Trey said...

Exactly. That pretty much was what Jason and I were talking about.

Trey said...

@John - That's a nice, wide open era.

Trey said...

@Allandaros - Yeah, the Star Fleet Battles Universe definitely ups the military sci-fi aspect, but has a lot of cool stuff. The last image is from the _Spaceflight Chronology_.

Knight of Roses said...

Yes, the original series hits all my sweet spots, action, adventure, the limitless vistas of science and space, exploration, freedom. Just such a good show and remarkably watchable even after all these years.

Anne said...

Have you seen the recent Star Trek posts on Land of Nod? I think he appreciates similar things about the old series.

https://landofnod.blog/2018/12/20/my-trek-part-1/
https://landofnod.blog/2018/12/31/my-trek-part-2/

Trey said...

I had missed those posts by Matt. Thanks for bringing them to my attention!

UnlikelyLass said...

The breathless exclamation of “We’ve broken the Time Barrier!” in The Cage, as well as the Khan episode, clearly suggest a widespread period of STL colonization which is quite unlike a lot of the later conceptions. Actually, the Zephram Cochrane episode rather does, as well, IIRC.

Warp Drive may have been a very different beast in the minds of at least some of the early writers, I suspect.

Trey said...

@UnlikelyLass - Agreed. The location of Valiant ("Where No Man Has Gone Before") and the time of its presumed launch is another one suggesting a longer period of space exploration than would later become "canon."

Jay Dugger said...

I suggest Scott Nicolay's essay on the influence of A. E. van Vogt's short stories on Star Trek and others.