TTransferring matter has always been a valuable egg for a science fiction writer. Curt Newman’s 1958 film The Fly conjures up horrific images of horror when the protagonist finds his subatomic particles cut up and cubed with insect particles after interfering with untried technology. But it also included a horrible plot hole: Why did the machine divide our world into a tiny fly-man and a gigantic fly-man, with both parts of the hybrid appropriately sized to match, if it was just a swap over a few atoms?
David Cronenberg partially solves this conundrum with his agonizingly terrible 1986 remake, in which eccentric scientist Jeff Goldblum finds himself merging at the genetic level with a passing housefly and slowly begins to transform into a giant insect. However, this version also had its problems: given the huge number of non-human microorganisms that live on each person’s body, it is likely that the poor man will end up as something much more complex than a mere hybrid of a man and a fly.
Star Trek has always been careful about the details of their transport technology. We assume that every time a machine moves a human from one place to another, it saves a copy of that person before downloading it to a new place. Occasionally, as in an episode of the original series The Enemy Within (and Second Chances from Star Trek: The Next Generation), the quirks of matter transfer have been used to indicate that it is possible to inject multiple copies of the same human via the same device. But if that’s the case, why didn’t Kirk download a healthy new version of Spock after the latter succumbed to radiation exposure in 1982’s The Wrath of Khan? Instead, they had to go through all that doomsday bullshit on the Genesis planet in the sequel to The Search for Spock to bring back the venerable Vulcan, and none of us would ever get those two hours of our lives back.
It seems that the deeper you go into these Star Trek steps, the more difficult the matter becomes. So maybe it’s a good thing that Rings of Power creators J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay didn’t get their script for the now-abandoned Star Trek movie in which Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth were set to play James T. Kirk and co-star. Long live my father George. For the book duo, it finally revealed how they suggested bringing the latter back from the dead (after he was killed in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot while trying to fend off rogue Romulans). And yes, you guessed it… the plan was to revive the Starship pilot with the magic of the carrier.
“There’s an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called Relics where they find Scotty trapped in a tanker for two decades, and they’re able to have a great adventure with him,” Payne told Esquire. Our egos were, ‘What if before Kelvin was affected by that huge mining ship, George Kirk tried to transfer himself to his wife’s shuttle where his son, Jim Kirk, was born? And what if the ship didn’t explode completely – what if it left some space junk? Think about the time you send a text message and you typed it in, but didn’t quite hit send. On the other side, they see those three little dots that someone wrote. It’s as if the carrier has absorbed its pattern into the pattern buffer, but hasn’t spit it out on the other side. It was actually a saved copy of it that was on the computer.”
MacKay added, “So the adventure is that Chris Pine and the crew of the Enterprise must search for the shipwreck on which his father died due to a mystery and a new villain. On board, they found his father’s pattern. They took him out and he had no idea that no time had passed at all. and that he looks at his son. Then the adventure moves on from there.”
Given how hardcore Star Trek fans have reacted so fiercely to ludicrous plot holes in 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, you have to wonder how well this brilliant idea worked, even if it wasn’t more than some episodes of the original series. Wouldn’t that lead to fans asking more awkward questions about transmission technology? If every machine kept a copy of every human that passes through, wouldn’t enemies capturing Union ships be able to unleash entire crews, complete in some cases with dangerous military secrets? How will Kirk deal with a version of himself being tortured by Klingons on one of those giant space screens, or even worse, living, breathing and looking like one of his beloved crew members?
All of the sudden transportation becomes not just a convenient way to descend to the planet below without spending a fortune on special effects (which is why Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry originally created it) but the terrifying vehicles of total human destruction. Civilization! Scarier than waking up to find out you’re a little fly man about to be devoured by a gigantic, hideous spider. Even the prospect of a quirky cosmic friend starring Chriss as Kirks’ father and son wouldn’t be worth it.
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