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Justin Snead

The Spore Drive Thread

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Everybody's favorite character has a thread, so I thought I'd start one for DSC's most important character: the spores.

Here is my blog post on this: The Necessity of Star trek: Discovery's Spore Drive

For those that don't want to read the full essay, here is the essential point:

The act of spore jumping, and the limitless possibilities of this type of travel, opens the viewer’s mind to a sense of wonder and unknown possibility each week. Fifty and thirty years ago, TOS and TNG were able to do this simply by warping into planetary orbit each episode. But that kind of space travel came to feel routine by the end of TNG--in the same way Americans who were awestruck by the Apollo missions became bored by the space shuttle launches. In both cases, we needed a higher dosage of wonder.

TNG all but admitted this in its final episode, with the “All Good Things” Q Speech:

“Is that all this meant to you? Just another spatial anomaly, just another day at the office. We wanted to see if you had the ability to expand your mind and your horizons, and for one brief moment you did. For that one fraction of a second you were open to options you had never considered. That is the exploration that awaits you–not mapping stars and studying nebulae, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence.

allgoodthings1377-300x229.jpg

Star Trek cannot merely tell us we are witnessing this unfold on our TVs, it has to show us with a mix of physical settings and plot events, hence the importance of continually revising the Exploration Premise. “All Good Things” accomplished this with a temporal anomaly that evolved backwards through time and linked Picard to three different phases of his life. DS9 took us inside a wormhole inhabited by beings who exist outside of linear time. Discovery shows us by taking us into the Mycelial Network, which is depicted like we are traveling along synapses of the Universe’s brain. Since we are told and shown how this network connects all points in space and links all life, the show’s writers will not have any trouble making us believe we are experiencing Q’s “unknown possibilities of existence” on a regular basis. This is why, even though the spore drive cannot continue to operate during the other Trek time periods, it will and must continue to operate for the rest if Discovery‘s run. The Mycelial spores are this show’s most important characters.

I know that this discussing will quickly get pulled into the debate that DSC should never have been written as a prequel. I have ideas about how DSC can protect canon, which I will post later. First I just wanted to make the case for why DSC needs to keep its spore drive for its entire series run.   

 

  

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9 ways the Spore Drive can be made right with canon

TOS Fix:

--using the SD damages the Mycelial Network

--useing the SD damages the navigator

--Genetic merging of human and Tardigrade DNA is banned after Stammets

--Starfleet shuts down the project (for any of the above reasons, or other political or philosophical reasons)

 

VOY Fix:

--Tardigrade DNA is never found again 

--The Mycelial Network has consciousness and stops travelers from using it

--Starfleet classifies or even destroys all records

--DISCO crew destroys the SD and all record.

--Q

I just came up with these in a few minutes. Im sure what the writers actually do will be more interesting. 

 

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I don't think they will fix canon. They won't bother to explain why we don't see it in TOS or any 'future' series. They will just use it for Discovery, and when the series is over... *shrug*

If they can't be bothered to even keep the characters consistent with their TOS counterparts, why would they do back-flips to explain away the Spore Drive?  In After Trek they said (to paraphrase) 'you don't get a Maserati and then just keep it in the garage.' I think the Spore Drive will be a thing throughout the series.

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8 hours ago, Hammer said:

I don't think they will fix canon. They won't bother to explain why we don't see it in TOS or any 'future' series. They will just use it for Discovery, and when the series is over... *shrug*

If they can't be bothered to even keep the characters consistent with their TOS counterparts, why would they do back-flips to explain away the Spore Drive?  In After Trek they said (to paraphrase) 'you don't get a Maserati and then just keep it in the garage.' I think the Spore Drive will be a thing throughout the series.

And I’m okay with that, since (IMO) DSC is a separate universe within the Trek multiverse.  They didn’t undo the previously unheard of Klingon war/occupation of the Federation either, so...

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18 hours ago, Sehlat Vie said:

And I’m okay with that, since (IMO) DSC is a separate universe within the Trek multiverse.  They didn’t undo the previously unheard of Klingon war/occupation of the Federation either, so...

I don't know, calling it a separate universe is kind of a cop-out. They get to say it's Prime universe *wink* and if anything inconsistent arises, we let them off the hook and just say that it's par for the Sandbox that they are playing in. If they are calling it prime, they should be held to it. If it's another universe, they should say so, so that the fans aren't trying to fit this in with 80's and 90's Trek. I agree that the inconsistencies are too important to simply ignore, and a parallel universe would of course explain it, but that's not what the producers said. They wanted Prime, probably because they know the fans wouldn't take it as seriously if they came out and said this was just a sandbox universe.

What they are doing is moving the goalposts. "It's Prime and it's all consistent" "Hold on, it will all make sense" "Okay, it doesn't make sense, but we are forging a new direction" They want to have creative freedom, while locking themselves into a rigid continuity; they are trying to have the best of both worlds. They want 26th century tech in the more iconic 23rd century and to forge a new creative direction while staying consistent with the stories that were written half a century ago. They put themselves in this position; didn't really answer any questions and now for the next year fans are going to wonder just where this series fits.

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1 hour ago, Hammer said:

I don't know, calling it a separate universe is kind of a cop-out. They get to say it's Prime universe *wink* and if anything inconsistent arises, we let them off the hook and just say that it's par for the Sandbox that they are playing in. If they are calling it prime, they should be held to it. If it's another universe, they should say so, so that the fans aren't trying to fit this in with 80's and 90's Trek. I agree that the inconsistencies are too important to simply ignore, and a parallel universe would of course explain it, but that's not what the producers said. They wanted Prime, probably because they know the fans wouldn't take it as seriously if they came out and said this was just a sandbox universe.

What they are doing is moving the goalposts. "It's Prime and it's all consistent" "Hold on, it will all make sense" "Okay, it doesn't make sense, but we are forging a new direction" They want to have creative freedom, while locking themselves into a rigid continuity; they are trying to have the best of both worlds. They want 26th century tech in the more iconic 23rd century and to forge a new creative direction while staying consistent with the stories that were written half a century ago. They put themselves in this position; didn't really answer any questions and now for the next year fans are going to wonder just where this series fits.

You’re right; what that amounts to is a moving of the goalposts.  But then again, that’s kind of what we do with each new ST prequel anyway, right?   Trying to reconcile DSC into the clunky ‘60s incarnation of ST is an insurmountable task; there are just too many inconsistencies. 

As for the producers being less than truthful?  Well, Alex Kurtzman was a writer/producer on the BR films, and those were the guys who ‘assured’ us that Khan Noonian Singh was NOT the villain in STID; denying it right up to the premiere date.   To say I don’t take them at their word is a bit of an understatement.  ;)

And there is also a certain mental freedom that comes with the viewer not trying to so feverishly make it all ‘fit.’   Everyone can believe what they wish, of course.   And if viewers want to make themselves believe that this will all magically fit somehow?   Well, lotsa luck with that.  

For myself, I prefer cutting loose those strings and simply enjoying the show for what it is, free of the shackles of previous continuity.  They may find some super-clever means of explaining why we never hear of the spore drive ever again (I can think of a few off the top of my head...Starfleet’s ban on genetic engineering, for one) but most likely, they would’ve perfected it by the late 24th century and we would’ve seen these things all over the fleet.  

Janeway would’ve almost certainly reopened the book on spore research to get her crew home in VGR (this was the same woman who would one day break the temporal prime directive and undo 25 years of a timeline all for the sake of TWO people).

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56 minutes ago, Sehlat Vie said:

You’re right; what that amounts to is a moving of the goalposts.  But then again, that’s kind of what we do with each new ST prequel anyway, right?   Trying to reconcile DSC into the clunky ‘60s incarnation of ST is an insurmountable task; there are just too many inconsistencies. 

As for the producers being less than truthful?  Well, Alex Kurtzman was a writer/producer on the BR films, and those were the guys who ‘assured’ us that Khan Noonian Singh was NOT the villain in STID; denying it right up to the premiere date.   To say I don’t take them at their word is a bit of an understatement.  ;)

And there is also a certain mental freedom that comes with the viewer not trying to so feverishly make it all ‘fit.’   Everyone can believe what they wish, of course.   And if viewers want to make themselves believe that this will all magically fit somehow?   Well, lotsa luck with that.  

For myself, I prefer cutting loose those strings and simply enjoying the show for what it is, free of the shackles of previous continuity.  They may find some super-clever means of explaining why we never hear of the spore drive ever again (I can think of a few off the top of my head...Starfleet’s ban on genetic engineering, for one) but most likely, they would’ve perfected it by the late 24th century and we would’ve seen these things all over the fleet.  

Janeway would’ve almost certainly reopened the book on spore research to get her crew home in VGR (this was the same woman who would one day break the temporal prime directive and undo 25 years of a timeline all for the sake of TWO people).

Yes, the Bad Robot films had the same problem, but they came out and told the viewers in script that this was another timeline brought about by Nero's incursion. They haven't given any nod to the viewers that I could see that would foreshadow why this drive disappears from the history books, or if it does.

I suspended disbelief to buy the concept of the show, or else I would have tapped out when they mentioned an instant travel enabling drive in the 23rd century. I enjoyed having any Trek back on TV. I like the concept of the spore drive, I just don't think the setting is logical. It means that they either never explain why it disappears, or they admit that Enterprise was their Prime reset and they are just continuing from that. If they did that, I'd cut them some slack, although I'd be a bit disappointed that they couldn't make it fit with the other 4 series.

Janeway would have used it of course if she had access to it. No doubt that she would have taken the injections herself. It's likely that Seven would have already known about the network too. It's also highly unlikely that the Federation would have access to such a drive in the 23rd century, yet leave the Delta, Gamma and large chunks of the Alpha and Beta quadrants unexplored by the late 24th century. A wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant would be no big deal at all if you could just pop over with your spore drive.

The Mycellial Network and the Spore Drive were great ideas. I thought it was very creative although very hand-wavy of course. It's not quite as well understood of a concept as warping the fabric of space time to get to your destination faster than light. There are so many possibilities with it. I just think that they can't call this a TOS prequel if the intend to reset it and only try to capture the spirit of the original and not the letter. 

Edited by Hammer

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1 hour ago, Hammer said:

Yes, the Bad Robot films had the same problem, but they came out and told the viewers in script that this was another timeline brought about by Nero's incursion. They haven't given any nod to the viewers that I could see that would foreshadow why this drive disappears from the history books, or if it does.

I suspended disbelief to buy the concept of the show, or else I would have tapped out when they mentioned an instant travel enabling drive in the 23rd century. I enjoyed having any Trek back on TV. I like the concept of the spore drive, I just don't think the setting is logical. It means that they either never explain why it disappears, or they admit that Enterprise was their Prime reset and they are just continuing from that. If they did that, I'd cut them some slack, although I'd be a bit disappointed that they couldn't make it fit with the other 4 series.

Janeway would have used it of course if she had access to it. No doubt that she would have taken the injections herself. It's likely that Seven would have already known about the network too. It's also highly unlikely that the Federation would have access to such a drive in the 23rd century, yet leave the Delta, Gamma and large chunks of the Alpha and Beta quadrants unexplored by the late 24th century. A wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant would be no big deal at all if you could just pop over with your spore drive.

The Mycellial Network and the Spore Drive were great ideas. I thought it was very creative although very hand-wavy of course. It's not quite as well understood of a concept as warping the fabric of space time to get to your destination faster than light. There are so many possibilities with it. I just think that they can't call this a TOS prequel if the intend to reset it and only try to capture the spirit of the original and not the letter. 

I thought the idea of an organic drive system had a marvelous “Dune”-ish quality to it; like the space-folding melange spice mined from Arrakis.  

And the character of Paul Stamets is named after a real-life Dr. Paul Stamets, who is a mycologist who advocates in fungus for use in biodiversity restoration (the terraforming scene in E14 made him very happy, no doubt...), so there’s a neat, real-world connection to the show’s use of mycology. 

As for a mycelium network connecting space?  That’s a lot more fiction than science at this point, but then again, so is warping space with ‘exotic matter’ (Alcubierre’s ‘warp drive’), ‘dilithium' crystals (a magical ‘new’ element?) and transporters that can somehow overcome quantum uncertainty (which makes true mass teleportation impossible).  

I’m more than willing to give the spore drive a pass in the interests of a good story, just as I do with a lot of the funky-loose science of Star Trek.   If nothing else, perhaps it can inspire future scientists to think outside of conventional norms, just as prior Star Trek inspired such out-of-the-box innovations like iPads, flip-phones, etc. 

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