Tag Archives: Next Generation

Recurrent Themes – Computer Technicians

Recurrent Themes – Computer Technicians

Recurrent Themes – Computer Technicians
Ancient computers specialist and time travel agent Sheilagh Bernstein

In time travel in particular, someone will have to be able to deal with computers. They are such a pervasive part of our lives that I cannot imagine sending a time travel contingent to any time past about 1985 or so without giving them the ability to work with computer systems.

Further, Star Trek has always had a somewhat ambivalent relationships with computers and, truly, all forms of technology. The Original Series (TOS) in particular often showcases a dichotomy between over reliance on computers versus good old fashioned human know-how. In The Next Generation (TNG), Data is so human-like that there is a question about whether he should have the same rights as a member of a naturally evolving sentient species would.

Background

Amusingly enough (and highly reflective of the mores of the time), Original Series actors are shown really only using computers for work. DNA The same seems to be true for the Next Generation, except when it comes to the use of the fantasy-fulfilling holodeck. Then, it’s no holds-barred.

You need to get to Star Trek: Enterprise (ENT) before you start to see people using computers for leisure pursuits. In the Catwalk episode, a crewman does a crossword puzzle on hers. Jonathan Archer even seems to use his for reading (although Malcolm Reed appears to prefer paper books).

Appearances

Hoshi Sato

As in canon, Hoshi (with the help of T’Pol) is often tasked with not only handling the ship’s database, but also in interpreting aliens’ databases.

Charlotte Reed-Hayes Archer

In Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, it is Charlotte, a descendant of Jonathan, Lili, Ebrona, Jay, Malcolm, and others, who sends the first kick-back’s full database to Hoshi. This changes the second kick back in time’s experience rather dramatically, as people already know who they ended up with.  When the second kick back in time meets the prime timeline version, there isn’t enough time to load the entire database, and so the prime timeline is left with only knowing what we learned in canon, and never knowing that there were two involuntary trips back in time.

Sheilagh Bernstein

The specialist in ancient computers is a mid-level Temporal Agent working with Richard Daniels. In Another Piece of the Action, she ends up inadvertently insulting Spock a little, when she refers to his beloved computer system as being primitive.

Upshot

As we move closer to real-life Star Trek types of experiences, I fully believe we will use computers more and more. They will converge, probably, and smart phones and tablets will likely become more or less the same devices. Through it all, someone will need to handle them. I will undoubtedly write about more people just like this.

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Where Did it all Begin?

Meta

A Google search for “meta Star Trek” turns up all sorts of weird stuff, so I’m just going to put this image of various incarnations of the Enterprise up instead.

A bunch of Enterprises
A bunch of Enterprises

Just like no one is born knowing a language, I don’t suppose you’re born a Trekker. Trekkie. Something like that.

I think we’re made. Fandom is a product of the time and your environment. So let me let you, dear reader, of my environment and my time and I suppose you can then judge for yourself.

The ’60s

I could lie and tell you I was engaging in free love, protesting the Vietnam War and marching in Selma.

Or I could tell you the truth, that I was born in late 1962 and don’t really have a clear memory of any current events until about 1967 or 1968 or so as I rather vividly recall hearing on a radio that a heart transplant had been successfully performed. I also remember the Moon landing. We had horrible reception, so it was fuzzy and strange, and that made it all the more mysterious.

MTV on the Moon
MTV on the Moon

Seriously, I first saw a clear image of the Moon landing when MTV initially started broadcasting.

I also remember seeing the Vietnam War on TV, often during dinner. I don’t remember the specifics of it so much, and maybe I was shielded from them and certainly the worst of it wasn’t broadcast, anyway. But I do remember it, out there, naked, for all to see, and wonder about.

Star Trek in the ’60s

I remember watching TOS. Some of it was first-run, and some was in what were likely the first rounds of reruns. I was also watching Lost in Space at the time, and The Outer Limits (I recall having nightmares about one episode). I don’t think The Twilight Zone was in reruns at the time, in southeastern Pennsylvania, which is where my family lived then.

One rather big difference I noticed between Lost in Space and TOS was that the women on Lost in Space did laundry and cooked. There seemed to be an unending supply of space laundry. Will Robinson got to do cool stuff and have adventures (and get into trouble), and Penny did, too. But, in the end, Will got to tinker on the ship or talk to the robot. Penny did the dishes.

Things were not like that on the NCC-1701. And while Uhuru was, in many ways, a glorified receptionist, and Rand was a glorified secretary (and Chapel the RN was in another traditionally female role), at least they did things. I’m still not so sure how their space laundry was done, but none of them seemed to be in a hot hurry to take care of it at the end of a day. And they generally did not cook for, or serve, the captain or Mr. Spock, etc.

I was surprised to see Uhuru working under a console and fiddling with wires that sparked. She was doing repair work, and Spock even said she was the best person for the job! What the hell?

The times, as they say, they were a-changin’.

The ’70s

This was the era of the rerun. We moved to New York at the start of the decade, and TOS competed for my attention with such offerings as an afternoon movie. The Planet of the Apes films would be shown, one after another, all week during a typical week. They were cut to fit a two-hour window and I would watch from 4 to 6 PM, folding laundry or starting dinner or otherwise helping with chores during the commercials. My brother and I were latchkey kids, so someone had to do the rather down to earth wash.

Our mother, of course, wasn’t the only woman in the workforce. I had more and more friends whose mothers worked, at least part-time. I had friends whose parents were divorced. And I was in the last class year in my junior high where the girls were required to take Home Economics while the boys were required to take Shop.

At the end of the decade, I took Advanced Placement English and the teacher required a creative writing assignment that she would read to the rest of the class. I did it, and was pleasantly shocked that I did not actually die from embarrassment.

Star Trek in the ’70s

I got to know this old friend even better.  When I attended a wilderness summer camp, a fellow camper brought a cassette tape recording of an episode – it might have been The Trouble With Tribbles. I’m not sure. I recall being struck by the use of so many sound effects. I suppose I was beginning to understand, a little bit, about how the whole thing worked as a production.

The ’80s

My life changed quite a bit during this decade. I spent the first few years in college and then Law School, and the mid part was devoted to finishing Law School, with the end to practicing law, which I hated. However, during Law School, a boyfriend suggested to me – I bet you could write something if you put your mind to it.

And so I did.

The stories (there were a few) were not great. They were murder mysteries taking place in Boston. My Miss Marple-type character was a Midwestern Philosophy student at my alma mater. While she was not a Mary Sue type of character, I can honestly say now that she was mainly not too terribly believable. But I did come up with two character names that I have grabbed for my fan fiction – Thomas Grant and Shelby Pike.

At the end of the decade, I met my husband, who has always been there for me, for writing and everything else.

Star Trek in the ’80s

I recall, in 1991, going with my family and then-fiancé to see Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. It was not planned, and I cannot remember what we were supposed to be watching instead; perhaps the competing film was sold out. I do remember liking it very much and just thinking, yeah, I like this stuff.

But when The Next Generation began to be aired, I didn’t watch it, and it all kind of fell off my radar. Some of this was due to the show not starting off too well, some was due to so many changes happening in my life.

The ’90s

In 1990, I up and quit practicing law. I had been miserable for far too long. But it was hard to find other work, so I instead concentrated on planning the wedding. In 1994, we moved to Providence, and then in 1995 we moved to Boston, and into our house in the middle of that year. I took a job auditing and traveled around the country, and was away for a good 200 – 250 days every year. I had little time for anything, let alone Star Trek. The center obviously could not hold, and I was transferred to different work and finally left that role at the end of the decade, for more lucrative pastures as a data analyst.

Star Trek in the ’90s

For me, it was nearly nonexistent. While others were watching TNG, and then Deep Space Nine and Voyager, I was, well, working. A lot. One show we watched, pretty religiously, was Quantum Leap. And we did see Star Trek: First Contact in a theater. And then in ’97, we got a computer with Internet access.

The ’00s

We were settled in a happy home life when 9/11 happened and the bottom dropped out of, well, everything. The financial services market collapsed, and took with it my job. My parents had a neighbor who died in the Twin Towers. It was personal, and it was scary.

A ray of hope was knowing that there was going to be new Star Trek. My husband and I vowed to watch it.

Star Trek in the ’00s

From the first scene of a young Jonathan Archer playing with a model starship, to the three starships signing off at the end of the series finale, we were hooked. It was must-see television, so far as we were concerned, and I even joined the campaign to save Enterprise.

And then, on February 26th, 2005, I wrote and posted my first fan fiction – More, More, More!, also called the disco Trek story.

I had a few bursts of creativity that year and then shelved everything for five years, returning to it on October 21st, 2010, with Reversal, a story that I spun out as I was posting it, with no plans whatsoever.

What about now?

That, gentle reader, is for the next meta blog installment. Stay tuned.

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