Star Wars VS Star Trekon Friday, February 20, 2009 at 1:50 pm
Perhaps this is the most common thread of argument running between the hardcore fans of science fiction over the last 30 years, and I wish to launch my opinion on this matter into the foray of geekdom.
First of all let me say that I have no particular allegiance for either side of the fence here. I did grow up with a fundamentalist bias for Star Trek, and still maintain the opinion of Star Wars such that any universe with people that can cross the galaxy in a matter of hours, with the incredible level of science required to do that, and the energy required, while at the same time solving all their problems with primitive violence, believing in the magical religion of the force, and carrying special ‘laser swords’, is quite absurd. In addition to this, the incompetence of it’s creator George Lucas, only adds to my intellectual distaste for it.
I’ve since come to conclusion that I dislike Star Trek for the same reason. It’s a universe based on an interplanetary version of tribalism. The peoples of earth blindly follow an ignorantly proud philosophy, believing themselves to be “enlightened” beyond the ways of the 20th century “stupidity”, and vastly superior to humans only a few short generations previous. It’s a universe in which humanity lives in a global dictatorship, a planet-wide government that runs everything, that sees everything, and knows all. An unquestionable and unanswerable Big Brother to it’s people. Sure, it might be cool when you’re flying around the galaxy in a starship on an endless adventure, but I wonder how the guy driving a Federation dump truck feels about it?
I have to concede that Star Wars is more compelling, and although I shudder to think this to be true, I can’t help but agree that one has the clear upper-hand in any honest comparison. Even if you take something incredibly powerful like the Borg from Star Trek, and place them squarely in the Star Wars universe, there is no real competition here. Sure, they COULD drop out of trans-warp right on top of the Empire, they could manage to launch thousands of boarding parties before the Empire reacts, they might even manage to get hundreds of thousands of drones on board the Death-Star, but even if you grant several years before this event for them to prepare, any tactic no matter how good from the Star Trek universe, is certainly doomed to failure.
The reason here isn’t one of which you prefer, or circumstance, it’s simply a matter of technological achievement. Most of my fellow geeks simply fail to notice, but the two simply don’t share the same level of technology. Arthur C Clarke managed to explain this as four distinct levels of technical achievement. The first being a species only capable of controlling chemical energy, the second is the energy of the atom, the third an whole star, and the forth being an entire galaxy. While Star Trek describes a people that sit comfortably on level three, the Star Wars universe looms overhead at level four. Any incursion may allow Star Trek to win battles on a one-to-one basis, but any true honest confrontation, even if successful for Star Trek in the short-term, would surely mean annihilation in short order, by the overwhelming force that the Star Wars universe contains.
My only remaining thought here is to guess why they took Firefly off TV… I still can’t believe it.