Thanks to work things this weekend, no Star Trek for me, which I am not sobbing hysterically over but as we have delayed double deployment at the end of hte month, it's more exhaustion than anything that's keeping me from doing so.

However:

FF_A thread on the Star Trek Prime Directive reminded me of my favorite almost-great-but-not-quite Star Trek novel, Star Trek: Prime Directive by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens (NOTHING LIKE THE TNG MOVIE EVEN LIKE A LITTLE). It has the distinction of being a very SJW take on the Prime Directive before SJW as concept or acronym was a thing on the internet (Social Justice Warrior) and takes great, great care to hit you over the head like a lot on why the Prime Directive is Awesome Like a Lot Seriously Why Don't You Get This Let Me Tell You Again, Really, but luckily, there's a lot of plot, so you can pretty easily skip the lecture portion of the show (it could be a 101 course, not kidding), and it does, in all fairness, make a vague half-hearted attempt at why the PM is bad using idealistic college students and single mother activists. Yeah.

Okay, leaving that off, it brings up two very interesting things that I'm pretty sure canon never bothered to throw out and turned out useful and obvious. One is a cultural scale model for pre-warp cultures, which assumed a crystal-growing type of development curve--all culture develop like this in this order, more or less, with the curve adjusted for population lifespan and I think worked differently on humanoid/non-humanoid/sentient slime-like species/incorporeal-who-the-hell-knows populations (keeping in mind Diane Duane to this day is the only one that had a sentient ensign rock and meetings involving Debians and non-humanoids, so detail is sketchy). It also emphasized, unfortunately, the powerful level of paternalism involved, which on one hand it is, no like--WE MUST PROTECT THOSE LESS ADVANCED--without leavening it with the much less skeevy Unintended Consequences model, which the story actually does for itself on reading, so maybe it's better that wasn't part of the lecture.

Reading for story, however, not lecture, you do get a very vivid and very precise explanation of what could happen if you're not truly hand to God--literally speaking--God and know where each single sparrow is and when it's falling. The use of the culture model that decides when a civilization is truly ready for pre-warp is shown as badly flawed but the best they have to work with, hence the requirement for warp technology. Humanity is still arrogant--and by humanity, read "all lifeforms in existence, probably mostly sentient but who the hell knows"--but the first rule to abide is Thou Shall Not Assume You Know Shit About Anything, Dumbass, even though you really think you do, and pretend at all times that you're likely going to be wrong until proven beyond all reasonable doubt otherwise and then take it to committee if possible because you gotta be sure. Which is, in a lot of ways, the basis of the prime directive; the mistakes you make when a civilization is at stake, not just their development, but their actual literal existence (see: nuclear winter, genocide) aren't the kind you can fix and even if you could, will they still be themselves after in their uniqueness, and what would you be saving, so to speak, if you destroyed all they were beforehand?

(Interesting point in the story is based on that; the Prime Directive uses the cultural model to bolster it's pre-warp-no theory, even though the cultural model is flawed because of the Prime Directive, because chicken, see egg. They know the model is flawed and because of that the Prime Directive is very much a best-guess at the safest possible save point--warp technology--because the model itself has to use that as the standard as well. It could be safe to establish relations earlier--it's likely, actually!--but they don't know because the cultural modeling is only perfectly accurate after they get to contact the culture. It's not a live model, it's observational up until that point. This could be fixed very probably if the Federation was willing to just give up a few pre-warp civilizations for cultural experimental purposes and try this at earlier and earlier points and learn from their failures (civilization one: contacted at pre-industrial era: blows self up: Fail! civilization two: contacted at medievalish era: thinks we're gods, genocide, ten people left on planet; REALLY FAIL! civilization three: not yet into the bronze thing, maybe we should....: BEARS ALERT RAPTORS RUN FUBAR BEARS FAIL BEARS LIONs BEARS!). They're not willing to risk that, however, any earlier than the first safe point, so you see how this is just academic hell.)

In the book itself, because it was Captain Kirk I was totally fine with the ending, but I would also argue that it was luck that it turned out well, and not just luck, but really one-time only cannot replicate this particular cultural development (story backs this up; this was very unique to this culture and what was happening to it) luckyity luck-luck by ten. I'd also argue that this is far less an exercise in anti-colonialism--though it is--and even less a bootstrap modeling of culture--though yeah, there is some of that--but a pretty sophisticated understanding of risk, when the risk is how on earth can anyone say no when you're the one carrying a nuke to a rock fight--you can't lose, there's just no way, the fact you brought it at all is the deciding factor, not that you wouldn't use it, so don't come at all.

...yes, I am re-reading everything Star Trek related so the sobbing doesn't go into effect. I hate work right now like you have no idea.

Note: I like the Bears alert model. The Raptors and Lions and Bears alert model however, is my variation, as raptors and lions are by nature funny and will also eat you in non-stuffed-animal form.)
dragovianknight: closeup of a green dragon (Default)

Date: 2013-05-19 07:21 pm (UTC)
Damn you, now I want to read Prime Directive. I haven't read a Trek novel in DECADES.
dragovianknight: closeup of a green dragon (Default)

Date: 2013-05-19 07:35 pm (UTC)
*shakes tiny fist of rage* You! YOU, with your enabling!
jesse_the_k: Ultra modern white fabric interlaced to create strong weave (interdependence)

From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
Date: 2013-05-19 07:23 pm (UTC)
Good.

Haven't read the book in question; will find it now.

Does it explain why The Hainish the Federation couldnt't insinuate some undercover anthropologists into a pre-warp culture?

Also Kirk has lucky luck vortex larger than your average black hole. The shit that man gets away with!

From: (Anonymous)
Date: 2013-05-19 09:19 pm (UTC)
As far as I remember, Pen Pals and Who Watches The Watchers were the TNG episodes which dealt most with the Prime Directive and its consequences for pre-warp cultures.

Pen Pals was a deliberate and extended communication between Data and one girl from a dying pre-warp planet, whereas Who Watches The Watchers had the accidental contact between anthropologists and a proto-Vulcan species. Ultimately, Sarjenka from PP's planet is saved and she's mind-wiped - by committee decision; in WWTW, only once the mind-wipe doesn't take all the way do they go about actually trying to unfuck things.

It feels like they wanted to bookend PP with WWTW, but when you're talking about a species advanced enough to broadcast into space, communicate with, and understand a non-typical example of...sentience versus Bronze Age proto-Vulcans who only have enough comprehension of warp cultures to conceptualize them as gods-- I'd have thought there would be a different protocol with regard to patching up the Prime Directive.

(Dr Pulaski pioneered the mind-wiping technology in PP; this in itself raises a lot of questions about how the Prime Directive was enforced and its relevance by TNG. When your - socially and technologically advanced - community decides that the least morally objectionable option is to erase the last eight weeks of a child's memory, and this is adopted as standard procedure under entirely different circumstances, maybe you need more contact with pre-warp cultures.)

Basically: warp's a, heh, logical jumping point (and the Prime Directive is the best solution everyone's got in Star Trek, as you said), but the lack of damage control and synergy after the Prime Directive is broken - which it has been and will be, inevitably and repeatedly - drives me up the wall.

From: (Anonymous)
Date: 2013-05-19 10:41 pm (UTC)
However, to be fair, TNG did once mindwipe themselves for an alien species who didn't want to be found. Twice, even.

Yes! I think the reason I'm very biased about the whole mindwipe pre-contact'ers thing (as opposed to Starfleet personnel, who - while still pretty new at this exploration thing - are taught to expect, survive, and respond to the unexpected) is because I like my idealistic sci-fi plausible, and my dystopian sci-fi scarily plausible. Clues is definitely in line with TNG being idealistic; Pen Pals until the mindwipe is as well. (I'm writing this as someone who can't really read tone of voice or expression well, and as a result I have a habit of taking most things presented to me at face value. Which is where I'm getting the TNG = idealism Trek.)

If we were talking mirror!verse TNG I could believe wholeheartedly in mind-wipes as SOP: so much more humane that, after intelligence is gathered for the coming invasion, they have a few days of peace.

...you've inspired me to have a summer rewatch now :)
fleurrochard: A black and white picture of a little girl playing air-guitar and singing (Default)

From: [personal profile] fleurrochard
Date: 2013-05-19 07:48 pm (UTC)
Hm, I've read that one (must have, since I have it), but it's been ages and I don't remember it at all... of course the book isn't here right now, but still at my parents' (as pretty much all my Star Trek novels.)
Maybe I should buy it as an e-book...
green_grrl: (Default)

From: [personal profile] green_grrl
Date: 2013-05-19 10:19 pm (UTC)
Wow, are sure you haven't seen the movie? Because I just got back from it and you are CHANNELING a couple issues that are explicitly brought up. I hope you do a big, thinky meta post when you do see it, because so far I'm seeing a lot of one-line reactions to a movie I think has a lot of interesting topics.
green_grrl: (Default)

From: [personal profile] green_grrl
Date: 2013-05-20 02:38 am (UTC)
If only there was a way deployment could come faster with the testing magically done! At least you have ducklings.
neotoma: Spock explains rocks to McCoy (Star Trek)

From: [personal profile] neotoma
Date: 2013-05-20 12:40 am (UTC)
I'm pretty sure I read that when it came out, and I don't remember it at all.

Darn it, now I'm going to have to haunt the used bookstore until I find a copy...
out_there: B-Day Present '05 (Default)

From: [personal profile] out_there
Date: 2013-05-20 04:35 am (UTC)
This could be fixed very probably if the Federation was willing to just give up a few pre-warp civilizations for cultural experimental purposes and try this at earlier and earlier points and learn from their failures (civilization one: contacted at pre-industrial era: blows self up: Fail! civilization two: contacted at medievalish era: thinks we're gods, genocide, ten people left on planet; REALLY FAIL! civilization three: not yet into the bronze thing, maybe we should....: BEARS ALERT RAPTORS RUN FUBAR BEARS FAIL BEARS LIONs BEARS!)

*giggles forever* If not for those pesky morals, the Federation would have a much clearer idea of where the risk line should be set. (But in the process, they'd probably accidentally destroy the Federation. Scifi risk factors seem to work that way.)
grammarwoman: (Star Trek OT6)

From: [personal profile] grammarwoman
Date: 2013-05-20 03:50 pm (UTC)
I love Diane Duane so much, in no small part due to her Trek novels. Spock's World, fuck yeah! And Herb Tanzer and his AI Moira. Though my favorite will always be Janet Kagan's "Uhura's Song" and Tail-Kinker to-Ennien.

I may still have a shelf full of TOS and TNG novels. :)
metanewsmods: Abed wearing goggles (Default)

From: [personal profile] metanewsmods
Date: 2013-05-26 03:58 pm (UTC)
Hi, would it be okay to link this at [community profile] metanews?
metanewsmods: Abed wearing goggles (Default)

From: [personal profile] metanewsmods
Date: 2013-05-26 05:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'll add your name to our blanket permission list for future reference.

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