Friday, December 12, 2008

Orci Talks Star Trek Canon has posted part two of their interview with Star Trek writer Roberto Orci (summary of part one here). In this interview the focus is on how the movie fits into existing Star Trek canon and the real science behind the movie. Below is snippets from the interview, the entirety of which can be found here. Spoiler warnings just in case as the discussion get heavy on time travel and quantum mechanics.
Now it has been revealed in the Entertainment Weekly article that Nero goes back in time and attacks the Kelvin, and JJ also talked about this during his previews. So the big question is: Is the destruction of the Kelvin, the canon reason why everything is different?
Bob: It is the reason why some things are different, but not everything is different. Not everything is inconsistent with what might have actually happened, in canon. Some of the things that seem that they are totally different, I will argue, once the film comes out, fall well within what could have been the non-time travel version of this move.

Anthony: So, for example, Kirk is different, because his back story has totally changed, in that his parents…and all that. But you are saying that maybe Scotty or Spock’s back story would not be affected by that change?
Bob: Right.

Anthony: Does the time travel explain why the Enterprise looks different and why it is being built in Riverside Iowa?
Bob: Yes, and yes.

Anthony: So then is time travel, and the alternative timeline, just a way to do a BSG-style reboot, while still remaining canon?
Bob: In some one else’s hands, maybe, but, again, much of what you will see could conform to classic canon, and thus we were not relying it as an excuse to change everything.

Anthony: OK so let’s call the timeline Nero left, as ‘the prime timeline’, so that means that the USS Kelvin, as designed and seen in the trailer, that is also in the prime timeline?
Bob: Yes

Anthony: So what happens with the destruction of the Kelvin is the creation of an alternative timeline, but what happens to the prime timeline after Nero leaves it? Does it continue or does it wink out of existence once he goes back and creates this new timeline.
Bob: It continues. According to the most successful, most tested scientific theory ever, quantum mechanics, it continues.

Anthony: And you believe that the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics is the Star Trek interpretation, based on "Parallels." (In the TNG episode summed up the theory as "all possibilities that can happen do happen" in a parallel universe.")
Bob: Yes. I would argue that at the very least, if we are going to do our Star Trek, it has to conform to the latest scientific theories and the most advanced and complete, and right now that is quantum mechanics.

Anthony: And even though they are all very similar, that we are up to something like the 57th* timeline when we get to Nemesis due to all the previous time traveling.
Bob: If we take Data’s description of the most current and awesome scientific theory to heart, then there is no prime timeline. If everything that can happen, does happen, who is to say what the right timeline is.

Anthony: But elder Spock and Nero come from the last known Star Trek timeline, which is the post-Nemesis, Next Generation era, right?
Bob: Right, that is where they are starting, yes.

Anthony: And that timeline lives on after they leave?
Bob: Yes.

Anthony: Traditionally in time travel plots from "Yesterdays Enterprise", "Star Trek: First Contact" and "City on the Edge of Forever" to the Back to the Future and Terminator series, the goal of the protagonists is to protect or restore the original timeline. Is that also the case in this movie? Is Spock’s mission to restore his original timeline?
Bob: No comment, I can’t give everything away [laughs]
All the Quantum Mechanics discussion aside, Orci is really employing the "Mirror Universe" (MU) idea to the Star Trek movie. In the Mirror Universe, the human race was out to conquer rather then explore space. The divergence began from the end of Star Trek: First Contact, where Zefram Cochrane killed the Vulcans rather then make peace. The result of was the "Prime" Star Trek Universe we know and love and the MU idea that runs parallel to Prime that was explored in several Star Trek episodes and books over the years.

For Abrams' Star Trek movie, now a third parallel history is being created that is started with the destruction of the USS Kelvin. That event didn't occur in the Prime STU so that destruction creates Star Trek 2.0 universe where the history of James T. Kirk has been altered by the loss of his parents. Since the destruction of the Kelvin only impacts those that lost families on that ship, you can infer that Scotty, Spock, Uhura etc remained on the same Prime path, at least until they meet Kirk.

From this, which Orci strongly hints at, there is no timeline for Spock to repair. The Prime universe, like it always has as seen in TNG, DS9 and so forth, it just that at a point post TNG, Nero (nor I assume old Spock) cease to exist because they traveled back in time and "created" the 2.0 universe, which is where the movie is actually set. I assume this makes it possible to revisit classic Star Trek moments with new twists reflecting the changes brought about in the 2.0 universe (something books and comics will probably do).

To bring all this to a close, by the movies end, I am betting that the Star Trek as we know it will be comprised of three main parallel universes - Prime, 2.0 and MU.


  1. I think they should create a new TV Series following the events after Voyager and Nemesis. The "Prime" Universe makes incursions into the MU all the time, so this new show could make incursions into the 2.0 Universe now to interconnect all the shows and movies. Plus, I'd be curious to see the TNG era in this 2.0 Universe.

  2. This whole 2.0 universe is so weak. Everyone making this movie knows that if you put Star Trek in the title and say "re-imagined" that it will make money. It will be entertaining but will lack any of the substance of the original. The new enterprise looks terrible and the bridge looks awful.