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Yesterday, I ran into a physical copy of something that I saw online…geez, I think I was still in college. It was the original writing guide for Star Trek scripts. It's something I originally recalled in the context of the whole Hugo & Puppies thing — yes, even I, someone who can barely read, saw problems with the claims they staked regarding the history, purpose, and proper judging criteria of science fiction.

What follows are the first two pages of the third revision, dated 1967. The full document can be found online.


CAN YOU FIND THE MAJOR STAR TREK ERROR IN THE FOLLOWING "TEASER" FROM A STORY OUTLINE?

The scene is the Bridge of the U.S.S. (United States Spaceship) Enterprise. Captain Kirk is at his command position, his lovely but highly efficient female Yeoman at his side. Suddenly and without provocation, our Starship is attacked by an alien space vessel. We try to warn the alien vessel off, but it ignores us and begins loosing bolts of photon energy-plasma at us.

The alien vessel's attack begins to weaken our deflectors. Mister Spock reports to Captain Kirk that the next enemy bolt will probably break through and destroy the Enterprise. At this moment we look up to see that final energy-plasma bolt heading for us. There may be only four or five seconds of life left. Kirk puts his arms about his lovely Yeoman, comforting and embracing her as they wait for what seems certain death. FADE OUT.
(END TEASER)

PLEASE CHECK ONE:

(   ) Inaccurate terminology. The Enterprise is more correctly an international vessel, the United Spaceship Enterprise.

(   ) Scientifically incorrect. Energy-plasma bolts could not be photon in nature.

(   ) Unbelievable. The Captain would not hug pretty Yeoman on the Bridge of his vessel.

(   ) Concept weak. This whole story opening reeks too much of "space pirate" or similar bad science fiction.

NO, WE'RE NOT JOKING. THE PRECEDING PAGE WAS A VERY REAL AND IMPORTANT TEST OF YOUR APPROACH TO SCIENCE FICTION.
HERE'S WHY.

(   ) Inaccurate terminology. Wrong, if you checked this one. Sure, the term "United States Spaceship" was incorrect, but it could have been fixed with a pencil slash. Although we do want directors, writer, actors and others to use proper terminology, this error was certainly far from being the major STAR TREK format error.

(   ) Scientifically inaccurate. Wrong again; beware if you checked this one. Although we do want to be scientifically accurate, we've found that selection of this item usually indicates a preoccupation with science and gadgetry over people and story.

(   ) Concept weak. Wrong again. It is, in fact, much like the opening of one of our best episodes of last year. "Aliens", "enemy vessels", "sudden attack" and such things can range from "Buck Rogers" to classical literature, all depending on how it is handled (witness H. G. Wells' novels, Forrester's sea stories, and so on.)

UNDERSTANDING THE RIGHT ANSWER TO THIS IS BASIC TO UNDERSTANDING THE STAR TREK FORMAT. THIS WAS THE CORRECT ANSWER:

( x ) Unbelievable. Why the correct answer? Simply because we've learned during a full season of making visual science fiction that believability of characters, their actions and reactions, is our greatest need and is the most important angle factor.


(I do want to stress that the correctness of that answer has nothing to do with the social inappropriateness of treating women in an unprofessional manner and everything to do with how unbelievable it would be for a decorated, veteran officer in active command of a military vessel to stop and hug someone in the middle of a battle. Roddenberry was certainly one of the highest-profile SJWs in SF history, and Star Trek was his mouthpiece, but that's not what's going on here (except possibly surreptitiously).)

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