STAR TREK: MARK TWO
Justin B Rye [MAIL] 1992–1998

Section 5: XENOBIOLOGY

5.0 MAJOR RACES (see footnotes, postscripts)

I thoroughly approve of the inconsistent revised Klingons; forget all those fan theories about Klingon/Human hybrids, I'll accept them as an improved visual effect.  Tlhingan is the best made-up language I know of – Esperanto sucks; trust me, I'm a linguistics graduate.  But:

5.1 PANHUMANISM (see footnotes, postscripts)

However hard the Enterprise tries to boldly go where no man has gone before, it always finds people already there.  Terran colonists on the planet Norma Major are fair enough; but how does everyone else, e.g. all the various stagnant computerised societies, come to look so humanoid?  The excuses given are as scrappy as ever, and come in two main flavours:

  1. Parallel evolution – a supposed natural trend towards humanoidism, as used to explain the Vulcanoids in Who Watches the Watchers? (ST:TNG3) or those (English-speaking!) paraRomans in Bread and Circuses (ST:TOS2).  The idea is that sentient races become similar due to sharing a niche – as have sharks and dolphins.  But these latter began with common design features (spine) and restrictions (streamlining), while ETs share little beyond a need for manipulatory appendages.  Starfaring elephants, squid, and centaurs might be expensive but their absence needs a better excuse.
  2. Prehistoric tampering by aliens; e.g. the Preservers who spread Earth humans (like the Amerinds of The Paradise Syndrome, ST:TOS2) through the galaxy millennia ago, or the DNA-graffitists who interfered in various primordial soups four billion years before (The Chase, ST:TNG6).  Neither of these oneshot revisions explains why Ferengi should look so much like Vulcans despite their underlying biochemical differences.  What the Star Trek Universe needs is well established Ancients tampering millions of years ago.

5.2 CROSSBREEDS: HOW? (see footnotes, postscripts)

Spock's father Sarek is an ET; his ancestors spawned in a different ocean (ST:TOS1, The Man Trap).  Amanda has better chances of having kids by a horseshoe crab – it may have copper-based blood, like Vulcans, but unlike the average alien it at least has a DNA-based genetic code (the medium, let alone the language)!  If she manages to conceive, how can a green-blooded mongrel baby gestate in a human womb?  Yet we saw Spock's birth in The Final Frontier (ST:TMP5), with no sign of biotechnological jiggery-pokery.  Nor is he the only healthy, seemingly fertile hybrid in the Star Trek Universe.  We've met…

What next – a Gorn/Ferengi?  A Tholian paternity suit for Riker?  This is all inconceivable, to coin a phrase.  The simplest revision would be to downplay the differences between pseudo-hominids (e.g. no green blood; and pale blue was likelier, anyway); blame them on the Ancients' genetic experiments.  Contrariwise, the non-humanoid races should be as varied as the effects budget can handle (I for one want to see Muppeteers!).

5.3 CROSSBREEDS: WHY? (see postscripts)

Spock's dilemma (repress his human emotional half, or have fun?) was dramatically justified.  But ST:TNG crossbreeds seem to be there largely to illustrate the very right-wing doctrine of Genetic Determinism.  Some races are innately rational, or dull-witted, or vicious; and if you are half Klingon, like Keylar, then efforts to resist your sociobiological programming are futile; you'll still be a belligerent sadist at heart.

In the case of a fictional interstellar hybrid, it may be true.  But weren't all those cooperating alien species originally a metaphor for tolerance between the different earthly races?  Aren't they implying that these also have genetically enforced psychological peculiarities, such as (say) duplicity, or aggression, or a natural sense of rhythm?  …Well, if not, then what are they trying to tell us?  (See section 9)


1993 Footnotes

5.0 One more question: have they standardised on the stereotype that alien nomenclature is always simple, or did Spock really have an unpronounceable first name?  My reasons for disliking Esperanto are a bit technical, but if you're genuinely interested, see Ranto.
5.1 Norma Major is in fact the wife of our glorious leader [now ex-PM], but she certainly ought to be a planet.  For a start, yes, there is a constellation called Norma.
5.2 That's Muppeteers in the Larry-Niven-meets-Jim-Henson sense.  Remember, they don't necessarily have to share scenes with live-action oxygen-breathers!

1997 Postscripts

5.0 B5's dozen-odd recurring races are all pretty good, and the Pak'ma'ra are classics.  All we need now is some non-bipeds…
5.1 Notice that the USS Voyager, way beyond the reach of the ST:TNG6 Kilroy-was-Hereans, still meets races that look like bad-hair-day Klingons.
5.2 I'm not joking about horseshoe crabs; they have a copper-based respiratory pigment (haemocyanin in place of haemoglobin).  If you think that's weird, sea cucumbers have yellow-green blood (vanadium-based).
5.3 ST:V has introduced another human-Klingon hybrid.  Why oh why?  Xenobestiality is a very bad idea; if conception is at all possible, ET-STDs are a certainty!  Should your plot need hybrids, the Valen triluminary device is a better approach.

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