Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Sci-Fi

No Need For Trek Anymore 790

Posted by Zonk
from the where-no-one-has-gone-before dept.
dcsmith writes "In an article at the LA Times, Orson Scott Card says 'So they've gone and killed Star Trek. And it's about time.' SciFi blasphemy? Not really. Card makes several good observations about the growth of SciFi over the past 30+ years. The article also comments on several other genre gems, including Joss Whedon's Firefly." From the article: "...the hungry fans called their friends and they watched it faithfully. They memorized the episodes. I swear I've heard of people who quit their jobs and moved just so they could live in a city that had Star Trek running every day."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

No Need For Trek Anymore

Comments Filter:
  • by xmas2003 (739875) * on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @06:32PM (#12425979) Homepage
    Live long and prosper ...
  • by waynegoode (758645) * on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @06:33PM (#12425989) Homepage
    The outcome of this is clear. All we have to do now is wait to fill in the blank.

    Enraged Trekkie __________ attacked Orson Scott Card today and beat him senseless with a 1960s-vintage officially licensed Star Trek (tm) phaser. Other trekkies soon arrived in mass and quickly stoned the defenseless Card to death with their DVD box sets of TOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise.

    Card had made the mistake of making comments in a Los Angles Times op-ed piece about the Star Trek franchise that did not deify all people ever involved in the series, including bit-part actors who barely had speaking parts. He even went so far as to suggest that perhaps Star Trek was not the best TV series of all time.

    "He made some good points in the article," said a fellow sci-fi writer who feared for his life and did not want to be identified. "Too bad he had to make them about Star Trek. I'll miss him."

    • by ral315 (741081) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @06:36PM (#12426022)
      No way. They wouldn't take the phaser out of the box.

      The DVD Box sets, that's another story.
    • by Raul654 (453029) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @06:41PM (#12426079) Homepage
      ...And so the Trekkies were executed in the manner most befitting virgins - they were thrown into volcanoes -- Futurama
  • by hikerhat (678157) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @06:34PM (#12425992)
    I wasn't sure if it was OK for me to not like Star Trek anymore. If it wasn't for Card telling me what to think I would probably never make up my mind.
    • Star Trek has been soul food for people with open minds. It's always been a story of moral questions, even if it was under the guise of scientific mumbo-jumbo. Unlike Star Wars, where the adolescent view of evil dark side and the good light side fight, Star Trek always probed the grey areas where good/evil don't really make sense. It was always about how to be human when faced with radically new circumstances. Holographic doctors treated with dignity, just like the rest of the crew, fighting the Borg collec
  • In summary, he states that Trek has always sucked, Roddenberry was a hack, and the Klingon language is stupid. I've got some tar over here, anyone else got some feathers?

    Honestly, it's great that he doesn't like Star Trek. I'm happy for him. Really. But not everyone is looking to have their heads messed with when they watch Science Fiction. They don't necessary need to find the "deeper connection", "reveal the hidden truths", or "find another plain of existence". Sometimes people are happy addressing issues that are relevant today rather than issues from some dysotopian future. Star Trek did that. It used allegories (e.g. Klingons == Russians) and analogous situations (e.g. A Private Little War) to help put current issues into perspective. In addition, Roddenberry made Star Trek nothing more than a canvas for far more experienced writers to make their points.

    In short, people loved Star Trek because it was both thought provoking and accessable to people who aren't interested in "hardcore sci-fi" visions of the future.

    Side Note: Has anyone ever noticed that when Star Trek addresses a topic that some find to be a repulsive trait of hardcore Sci-Fi (e.g. telepaths), the blow is somehow softened to where the concept is easy to accept? Perhaps there's even more missing than Mr. Card realizes.

    "I wonder sometimes if the motivation for writers ought to be contempt, not admiration." -Orson Scott Card

    Well, that explains everything. :-/
    • by zerocool^ (112121) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @06:50PM (#12426190) Homepage Journal

      Yeah, I mean, star trek was a "Wagon train to the stars", as far as I knew. It wasn't supposed to be deep. Think about the next generation - random alien shows up, strange problem happens, strange problem stems from a problem with random alien, who is outwardly scary but inwardly kind and vastly misunderstood, enterprise makes friends, credits. But, you know what? It was good.

      If you enjoyed watching it, it was good. I'm not putting on ears and going to conventions, but come on - it's not cool to hate everything. Just like what you like, for your own reasons.

      ~Will
      • "Yeah, I mean, star trek was a "Wagon train to the stars", as far as I knew. It wasn't supposed to be deep."

        It was also made at a time when Scifi was virtually non-existent on TV. Roddenberry had a real difficult time getting Paramount to do it. For example: The rule about most aliens being basically humanoid with bumpy heads was a pitch to prove that the budget wouldn't need to be astronomical.

        Star Trek TMP almost didnt' get made because of Star Wars. It was felt back then that the market could only
    • by raehl (609729) <raehl311@yahooBOHR.com minus physicist> on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:04PM (#12426360) Homepage
      In short, people loved Star Trek because it WAS both thought provoking and accessable to people who aren't interested in "hardcore sci-fi" visions of the future.

      Emphasis on the WAS.

      The problem here is too many people view Trek as one big, indivisible thing. It's not. You can't have a rational conversation about "Trek is Good" or "Trek is Bad". Some Trek was good. The current state of Trek is bad.

      The worst thing that can happen to a piece of Sci Fi is for it to become commercially successful. The more commercially successful something is, the greater the temptation to extend the franchise just for the sake of profit. The more money a franchise is worth, the lower you can set your creative standards and still justify releasing a product.

      Why do half of the Star Trek movies suck? Because PAramount wanted to make a Star Trek movie, regardless of whether the script was any good. Sometimes they got good scripts, sometimes they didn't. But the people who get to decide whether a Star Trek movie should get made don't make that decision on whether the script is going to produce a good movie. They make that decision based on whether money in will be greater than money out.

      The Original Series was a ground-breaking series that only happened because Roddenbery believed in it and made it happen. Next Generation only happened because Roddenbery believed in it and made it happen. Star Trek XXXVJWII, Voyager, and Enterprise was made because if Paramount didn't churn out new Trek they'd be wasting this huge, profitable sci fi franchise they'd built.

      That can't go on forever though - eventually you produce so much crap just for the sake of making a buck that your franchise becomes worthless.

      Unprofitable or New Sci Fi will only happen if it's good. Profitable Sci Fi will happen REGARDLESS of whether it's good.

      If Star Trek hadn't been successful, it would have died after DS9 or earlier, and we'd all still think Trek is Good. But it didn't. But new trek being bad doesn't make old trek any less good.
    • and analogous situations (e.g. A Private Little War) to help put current issues into perspective.

      I don't want to watch Sci-fi to put current events into perspective. That is what The Daily Show [comedycentral.com] is for. I want series long plot development, not episode long one offs. When Enterprise started out I thought it kinda sucked. The season long story about the Xindi was good because it was continuous. This is why Babylon 5 was really good. Firefly looked like they were heading in this direction too, just

    • Great comments, I agree with everything you say here. I have enjoyed many episodes of all of the different series. The main problem I had with ST is the limitations placed on the producers by Roddenberry's will and the framework of the storyline. Let's face it, every TV series reaches a point where it is creatively exhausted. Trek can really be considered one of the most successful series ever if you take all of the series and consider them as one.
      Of course, ST might have lasted longer if they had fired
    • by Che Guevarra (85906) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:32PM (#12426708)
      Since when does Card write hardcore Sci-Fi? I didnt' find Ender's Game to be particulary technical. If you want hard sci-fi, read Eon by Greg Bear.
    • by netsphinx (619340) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:38PM (#12426777)

      Good point regarding the allegories...the technique is classic, and Star Trek (has been at times) one of the finest examples in popular fiction.

      Take issue A. Not everyone really wants to deal with issue A in a serious context all the time. And if issue A is something so divisive or ugly that people don't even want to consider it, you may be in danger of offending people in any discussion or scenario in a realistic setting. So take issue A and set it on another planet, (or in another country--Shakespeare was always lifting recent English politics into Rome/Italy/Denmark) where you can explore the bejeazus out of it without naming names or identifying your readers or viewers as villains.

      I'd have to say that science fiction used to be a prime place for this, particularly on highly-censored media like television. Frankly, though, television doesn't need to worry as much about offending anymore...can anybody find me a social issue that isn't dealt with in documentary or mainstream fiction these days? (Within a script-cycle on Law and Order, for one.)

      Also, with that breed of social sci-fi/fantasy has always been at risk--see Utopia, Erewhon, Planet of the Apes (the book, folks)--of becoming a preachy polemic on the author's ideals. Roddenberry and the original writers rode the edge well, for the most part, for their time, and they really made "ripping good yarns" out of some of the episodes. (Anyone wants to argue "all" is kindly asked to watch "Spock's Brain before posting).

      But I think that long-term interest--both the kind that makes the whole dorm show up for each new episode AND the kind that makes every succeeding generation turn to their kids and say, "Hey, you're old enough, read/watch this," have been lacking for a -long- time in too many of the shows.

      Anyway, returning to my main point...there are other shows out there visiting an allegory a week, and there have been for a while. Original Trek had to compete with Lost in Space--no contest. STNG owned the dial at our place (Dr.Who came on late Saturdays only). Since then, though, DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise have had to endure comparisons with B5, Stargate, Farscape, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, and Atlantis...none of which are or were saddled with as much backstory...and all of which were free (see parent sidenote) to look at the grimy side of the future and present in ways that Trek was not.

  • by dsanfte (443781) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @06:35PM (#12426004) Journal
    Star Trek gave many people a vision of a future much more peaceful and prosperous than the present day, and awakened who knows how many minds to the potential and wonder of the universe and science. I'm in the sciences today because of it.

    The hope that tomorrow can be better than today is what keeps all people going. Star Trek really connected with people on a level I've rarely seen.
    • Star Trek gave many people a vision of a future much more peaceful and prosperous than the present day, and awakened who knows how many minds to the potential and wonder of the universe and science.

      And it did it while dealing with the social and political issues of the day. It was that element which I think resonated so strongly with the people. Rodenberry used it as a means of social commentary, and it is that element which seems to be lacking in the most recent incarnations of Trek (for which I blame

    • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:04PM (#12426354)
      Star Trek gave many people a vision of a future much more peaceful and prosperous than the present day, and awakened who knows how many minds to the potential and wonder of the universe and science.

      The vision of the future in Star Trek is called ideal socialism: no currency (because everything is so well managed that no one needs to pay for anything, since it's essentially free), no personal possessions apart from the few toys and artworks found in rooms onboard the enterprise, a very flattened organization in terms of social ranks, despite the actual ranks onboard (i.e. Wesley Crusher can address the captain more or less freely despite being just a little brat) ...etc.etc...

      Not that there's anything wrong with socialism, aside from being a complete utopia :-)

      I'm in the sciences today because of it.

      I'm sure there are a lot of people at Nokia who got inspired by the communicator thing. And I'm quite sure there are a lot of people who went into the toupet-making business and the gay fashion industry after watching late ST1 episodes with Shattner.

    • by epiphani (254981) <{ten.lad} {ta} {inahpipe}> on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:37PM (#12426767)
      That accually reminds me of a story a friend of mine told me. He's in 4th year physics at Waterloo, and near the end of the class, as people were starting to pack up, the teacher made some reference to Patrick Stewart.

      One student in the class, who grew up in North America to an english speaking family, asked "I've heard a number of reference to Patrick Stewart in your class - who is he?"

      The room went dead silent. Another student goes "You're in fourth year physics and you dont know who Patrick Stewart is?", agast.

      And thats the end of my story.
    • by raehl (609729) <raehl311@yahooBOHR.com minus physicist> on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @08:24PM (#12427255) Homepage
      a future much more peaceful and prosperous than the present day

      Except, of course, when the federation is blowing up, or being blown up by, Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians, Ferrengi, etc.

      One of the things I thought made DS9 really good, especially in the later seasons, was precisely that even though the Federation was supposed to be this nice happy place, DS9 showed that the only reason everything was hunky-dory on Earth was that there were people at the edge of the federation holding back the things that wern't so hunky-dory.

      Even in the Star Trek future, peace and prosperity are only guaranteed by phasers and photon torpedoes. Star Trek just pushed the line between peace and conflict further away from home.
      • by sjames (1099) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @11:08AM (#12431928) Homepage

        Even in the Star Trek future, peace and prosperity are only guaranteed by phasers and photon torpedoes. Star Trek just pushed the line between peace and conflict further away from home.

        That strikes me as a recofnition of an unfortunate reality. Of course, without that reality, the whole show would be a lot less believable.

        There's nothing to be done about that reality n ow or in a more developed society. The hopeful part is quite interesting to compare to today's reality. It is thought provoking if (like anything thought provoking) the viewer allows the thoughts to happen.

        Notice that nobody frets about being downsized and how they will pay their bills? Nobody's concerned about being wiped out by unexpected medical bills?

        Career focus is on achievement and fulfillment rather than on pay.

        That all sounds rather idyllic compared to today's society. It's too easy to dismiss that entire aspect as fiction and focus on the action.

        Instead, what we should really be asking is why does that seem so unrealistic? Why is it that anyone can't afford food in a country that pays farmers to NOT produce? Why do people work such long hours in an economy that doesn't have as many jobs as there are people to fill them? Why do we have human beings doing the job of a robot? Any of that would be repugnant to the people of the Star Trek universe. Even a failed Ferengi (Oa society clearly modeled as a natural extension of ours today) has better prospects than a laid off factory worker.

        Those are the questions implied by the shows. The background of the show offers an alternative to the idea that if such conditions were made true, everyone would become a couch potato and society would collapse.

        Given the number of people in our society who are still inclined to screech about the evils of communism (promptly drawing examples from states that were communist in name only) the only way to even ask those questions and make those suggestions in mass media is under the cloak of science fiction.

  • New focus needed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @06:35PM (#12426012)
    Everythings become so staid or stupid in StarTrek. They need to get name authors to pen plotlines if they ever want to do Trek again. Perhaps if they set everything in the Mirror Universe, it would be good. Afterall, how many TV series set out to be evil all the time?
    • Re:New focus needed (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ddkilzer (79953)

      The last two episodes of Enterprise [imdb.com], "In a Mirror, Darkly", did just that! They even changed the show's theme (at both the beginning and end of the show) and the title sequence. I thought it was very well done, but then I'm also a Trek fan and hated to see the series end.

  • by mfh (56) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @06:36PM (#12426015) Journal
    ... people love discussing it's demise! Two "trek dead" stories in two days on /.

    I still say they should do a trek reality series that follows Romulan assassins weeding their way into Romulan culture and the Federation. 24 in space type thing...
  • Wow (Score:4, Funny)

    by Neil Blender (555885) <neilblender@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @06:37PM (#12426034)
    Who would have thought Star Trek would outlive Star Wars?
  • Ummm.... yea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Raul654 (453029) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @06:37PM (#12426040) Homepage
    Through-line series like Joss Whedon's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and Alfred Gough's and Miles Millar's "Smallville" have raised our expectations of what episodic sci-fi and fantasy ought to be.

    Fantasy, yes... science fiction, no.
  • by Moryath (553296) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @06:41PM (#12426072)
    Orson Scott Card is a gifted writer. Nobody denies this. Well, maybe a few.

    But let's be serious here. As far as "Sci Fi" goes, he's off the deep end. He's the sci-fi world's equivalent of some british royalty gimboid sipping tea from a saucer with their little finger sticking out, mumbling on about how the "unwashed commoners" don't truly appreciate horse racing, or polo, and how ghastly sports like soccer are.

    So he champions the hardcore sci-fi shows. That's fine. I've watched them. Some of them, I've actually enjoyed.

    I doubt if Orson Scott Card has seriously watched a Trek series, ever.

    I doubly doubt if he's paid attention to some of the absolutely amazing episodes Enterprise has had this year.

    And I really don't understand why anyone gives a shit what this ivory-tower sci-fi snob has to say on the subject.
  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @06:42PM (#12426096) Homepage Journal
    The problem though comes from a friend who doesn't have the money for cable or Satelite. Unless NBC starts carrying BattleStar Galactica, Enterprise is the ONLY current BROADCAST space-opera style sci-fi. When you consider that there will always be a younger generation of kids discovering science fiction for the first time, space opera still has a place. Maybe not Star Trek- which is particularily bad space opera- but space opera all the same.

    With Firefly and Enterprise canceled- and fewer stations than ever before carrying the syndicated version of Stargate and Andromeda (the second of which I'm sure Mr. Card would say suffers from the Roddenberry curse) what can step up to take the hole?
  • by Future Man 3000 (706329) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @06:42PM (#12426097) Homepage
    It drops you into a not-entirely-alien universe, first amazing you with how different things are then amazing you with how little has really changed. Then it ends at the end of one or two books or two seasons, wrapping everything up.

    The worst stuff just drags on and on, rehashing the same tired prejudices and routines with regularity until it's mercifully cancelled. You're not normally supposed to hate the protagonists and root for the end of humanity by raging alien hordes, but each Star Trek has gotten better at inspiring this kind of "hope".

  • by rewinn (647614) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @06:45PM (#12426132) Homepage

    From the article:

    Screen sci-fi has finally caught up with written science fiction. ... There's just no need for "Star Trek" anymore.

    I don't want to admit it, but Card is right. Star Trek was wonderful in large part because it was the first of its kind on TV. Now SF is not a gamble TV and is all over the place. That's a good thing since we can now concentrate on good story, characters and so on.

    This is perhaps a natural step in the development of a genre. Even Homer was great mostly because he was the first (have you every actually read the Illiad (even in translation?) It's not that good!)

    I still have a warm place in my heart for Star Trek that will never go away, but it must seem mysterious to those young whippersnappers who have never lived in a universe without Star Trek.

    • Now SF is not a gamble TV and is all over the place.

      Really? I can't name a single space-opera style show OTHER than Trek that has made it more than two seasons on broadcast network TV since Babylon 5 ended. Not everybody knows enough about sci-fi to spend money subscribing to a cable or sattelite service just to watch BattleStar Galactica on Friday nights.

      For entry-level kid sci-fi, there is nothing on broadcast OTHER than Enterprise right now- and while I agree with the Bring Back Firefly or at least
      • MOD PARENT UP (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hellfire (86129)
        Okay I don't want to seem like a troll but the parent is right. Name a sci fi series that in the past 20 years has lasted more than two seasons on network (NETWORK) TV.

        To further this point, think about the ones that have. I can name "quantum leap" as one of these series, but how sci-fi was it really? It had a sci fi premise, but the theme wasn't steeped very deep in sci-fi. It was a great show don't get me wrong, but in order to be successful with sci-fi and the american viewing public you have got to
    • by daigu (111684) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:14PM (#12426479) Journal
      Even Homer was great mostly because he was the first (have you every actually read the Illiad (even in translation?) It's not that good!)

      Homer is great because he captured Greek culture and managed to pass down to posterity a story that express the goals, hopes and dreams of that culture. The Illiad is the closest the Greeks have to a Bible, and it is brilliant.

      Perhaps you read a bad translation. Try Lattimore [amazon.com]. You might also want to try a good commentary [amazon.com] (although, I haven't used this particular one). For other suggestions on what else you might read to really appreciate Homer, try The New Lifetime Reading Plan [amazon.com] which suggests good translations and sources for literary criticism, historical background, and other information.

      The New Lifetime Reading Plan is - without question - the most important book I have ever owned. It can help you to appreciate Homer just at it helped me to read what I thought was unreadable - James Joyces' Ulysses. The key tip is that Ulysses should be read with the help of Stuart Gilbert [amazon.com].

      • by Dun Malg (230075) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:35PM (#12426742) Homepage
        Homer is great because he captured Greek culture and managed to pass down to posterity a story that express the goals, hopes and dreams of that culture. The Illiad is the closest the Greeks have to a Bible, and it is brilliant.

        And don't forget the Odyssey. Have you ever seen a "military guy gets revenge on his enemies and slays them all single-handedly" scene in a movie that came anywhere near the one at the end of The Odyssey? Man, when he strings that bow and those jackass suitors realize it's him and then find out all the doors are locked? Fantastic!

  • I agree. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jd (1658) <.moc.oohay. .ta. .kapimi.> on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @06:47PM (#12426162) Homepage Journal
    We need more depressing series on TV - Terry Nation's "Blake's 7", or his "Survivors" series (where almost everyone dies of a horrible genetically-engineered disease in the first episode and many others die horribly later on).


    Let's face it. These are far more realistic than Star Trek, and present a much clearer understanding of politics.


    Maybe someone should get the rights to produce a prequel of "The Prisoner" (set in The Village, but not with No. 6), or something based on the Quatermass series (where the only way to succeed is to perish in a horrible, ghastly manner).


    Science Fiction has plenty of utopias AND plenty of dystopias. I would agree with the idea that having only one of these is not truly representitive of Science Fiction as a whole, but I would NOT agree that a series is "bad" merely because it happens to be on one side of said fence.


    IMHO, we need the extremes and even some examples of Universes between those extremes. Science Fiction ceases to be interesting the moment it stagnates on a single formula. Stagnation is the problem, not the brand.


    It would be good if American TV were more adventurous, looking at possibilities on where to go next, rather than trying to live on past dreams. The past fades, no matter now good it was back then. It's good to KEEP the past (NOTE TO THE BBC: This applies to you!!!) but it is not good to assume that you can live in it all the time, forever and a day.

  • by alexwcovington (855979) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @06:48PM (#12426166) Journal
    Yes, Sci-Fi has grown up over the last 30 years. I love Firefly and Stargate. But that doesn't mean old ideas are inherently worse; the new Battlestar Galactica series is fantastic. The problem is that since Star Trek: The Next Generation made it OK for shows like Quantum Leap to take to the air, Star Trek itself has had closed-in ideas and stagnant leadership. Deep Space Nine was alright, Voyager was decent, but Enterprise just got worse as it went along. They didn't realize it until it was too late. Manny Coto might have done a lot for Star Trek. He may yet have the opportunity. What's needed is a new vision. When legends like J. Michael Straczynski are lining up to reboot Star Trek, something is up. Maybe something great. If only Paramount would shake off the stranglehold Rick Berman has on the franchise, they could really make progress.
  • by mblase (200735) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @06:54PM (#12426237)
    It's puzzling, to me, that Card (a writer whom I respect greatly, BTW) spends his entire column arguing that the "Star Trek" series(es) should be cancelled because ST:TOS was a bad show.

    Why should that even matter? ST:TNG was (by the third season, anyway) a far better series, and DS9 was better still, despite stealing ideas left and right from "Babylon 5". It's the last twenty years of Trek that's being cancelled, not the first three.

    Postscript: Now we finally have first-rate science fiction film and television that are every bit as good as anything going on in print. If only....
    • Exactly.

      You can't attack, for example, DS9 on the same grounds as ST:TOS.

      The only conclusion I can reach is that OSC is speaking out of bitterness...maybe he has been burned one too many times by television or something. Really, his article is simply a statement of his inability to understand why TOS became such a cult hit and inspired such extreme fan loyalty. I've read better assessments of ST shortcomings on fan sites.

      And then he really goes overboard by calling Being John Malcovich one of the greatest

  • by DumbSwede (521261) <slashdotbin@hotmail.com> on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @06:58PM (#12426293) Journal
    OK maybe I'm just showing my age here, but I think some episodes of TOS hold up extremely well and are well written. Yes the original series was not episodic, though the movies were.

    I hold Mr. Cards books in high regard, but not necessarily his role as film critic. He makes some points, but not all of them are well founded. I would concede that TOS is like short fiction and later TV Sci-Fi like novels. Short stories are not by definition worse or more lowbrow than books. I would argue the same for this comparison of these two art forms (episodic versus non-episodic).

    Production values are much higher these days, but that can sometimes be a detriment to story telling. Try viewing TOS and viewing it as a Play rather than a Movie and you might find its exaggerated acting holds up better.

    Most off track is Card's indicating TOS could have benefited from the great writing talents of its day. It did. Several episode were penned by guests writers, well known Sci-Fi novelists of the day -- not so coincidently some of the best episodes. (I'm sure some other post will list the episodes and authors).

    I wouldn't deny that TOS had some clinkers, but come on, compare it to "Lost in Space" or the hardly known "Star Lost" I'd say it took TV Sci-Fi twenty to thirty years to catch up where Star Trek had boldly gone.

    Card, why you gotta be hatin'?

    P.S. I have never been to a ST convention or worn vulcan rubber ears.

  • Mr Card... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Dun Malg (230075) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:04PM (#12426352) Homepage
    "Mister Card, you should know better than to speak against Star Trek"

    "Your Agonizer, please"

  • by Gondola (189182) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:16PM (#12426503)
    As geeks, we LOVED Card because he wrote about Ender Wiggin; a very bright young boy who could not get along with his peers because of his intellectual capacity. C'mon, this is Slashdot. If you read Slashdot, and you've read Ender's Game, you identified with Ender to some extent.

    We all like to believe that we are special. Geeks like to believe they are smarter than the average person. Is it so crazy to believe that maybe it wasn't Card's extraordinary writing and plot that made Ender's Game so popular -- perhaps it was because Ender's Game was the ultimate braniac dream? To be smart enough to save the world, and get the accolades that go along with it.

    His blatant religious proselytizing in his other books, most notably the Alvin Maker series, choked me with its sickly-sweet taint. I enjoyed the series at first because it was well written and fun, but it soon turned into a carousel of reptition. Alvin did and said the same things over and over, Card using him as a hand-puppet to express his Love Thy Neighbor and Turn the Other Cheek platitudes until I was racing through to the end of the novel not out of enjoyment and eagerness to see what happened, but just to be able to put the book down and go wash the veneer of his homophobic Christianity from my hands.

    Card is not a saint. He wrote something that we all very much wanted to read; that we were alienated from our peers as children for a reason. There's a destiny waiting for us so we can use these big brains. We were humiliated on the playgrounds in grade school, but we'll show them! Someday!

    Card gave us this pipe dream. But it's time to let go of the security blanket, Linus. You're smart, but you don't need a writer to give you a raison d'etre in a science fiction fairy tale.
    • by LionMage (318500) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @08:23PM (#12427245) Homepage
      [...]but just to be able to put the book down and go wash the veneer of his homophobic Christianity from my hands.

      Some of us would contend that it's not even really Christianity. Card is, after all, a conservative Mormon apologist. This is the guy who wrote a now infamous article when I was an undergrad, in which he opined that it was a good thing for government to retain laws which proscribe homosexuality. Even though I wasn't as cravenly PC as my classmates, I found Card's thesis objectionable.

      The man does not believe in the separation of Church and State. (My ex-Mormon friends assure me this is endemic to Mormonism, though that is entirely another topic.) He mixes religious themes freely into his Science Fiction, which in my humble opinion brings it closer to the realm of Fantasy than SciFi.

      Mr. Card has a very specific view of what constitutes Science Fiction, and it doesn't mesh with mine. His opinions of SciFi are therefore suspect. It's not just that he chose to slay a sacred cow (Star Trek); his arguments are specious and slanted. Maybe he's suffering from Hemingway syndrome (i.e., wrote all his best material first). Part of me thinks his Ender series is just a cynical exploitation of empowerment fantasies shared by most geeks. But I never felt that Card was legit; I always felt that he was a poseur, that he never really "got" the genre he was writing in. I'd say this LA Times article is proof.
    • As geeks, we LOVED Card because he wrote about Ender Wiggin; a very bright young boy who could not get along with his peers because of his intellectual capacity.

      Actually, "Ender's Game" reminded me of Heinlein's juveniles. And his idea of military strategy is a joke.

      Armchair generals talk strategy. Real generals talk logistics. Read "Moving Mountains", by Gen. Gus Pagonis, the head logistician for Desert Storm. If you can get most of the right stuff to the right place at the right time before th

  • by geekotourist (80163) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:21PM (#12426576) Journal
    Because
    "What George Lucas may have seen as eternal in his "Star Wars" blockbusters, science fiction writers have tended to see as antique"
    SF writers look forward to it finally finishing, according to Episode VII Revenge of the Writers [nytimes.com].
    It started out 30 years behind," said Ursula K. Le Guin. "Science fiction was doing all sorts of thinking and literary experiments on a totally different plane. 'Star Wars' was just sort of fun."

    "It takes these very stock metaphors of empire in space and monstrously bad people and wonderfully good people and plays out a bunch of stock operatic themes in space suits," she said. "You can do it with cowboy suits as well."

    If truth be told, sci-fi writers say, their work and "Star Wars" never had much in common.

    Like science itself, science fiction has evolved since the days of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Since the end of World War II, the genre has shifted its focus from space and time travel to more complex speculations on how the future, whatever its shape, will affect the individual.

    That shift has only accelerated in recent years, as biotech and genetic engineering have moved to center stage in science and captured writers' imaginations, and as the lines between science fiction and other genres begin to blur. . . .

    One problem with "Star Wars," science fiction writers say, is that it is not, ultimately, concerned with science, but rather with a timeless vision of good and evil. . . .

    I've written that media SF has often been a good few decades behind written SF, especially movies [slashdot.org]. They quote Richard Morgan in the NYTimes article ("That's the past of science fiction you're talking about, . . .It's just such a huge shame," he said. "Anyone who is a practitioner of science fiction is constantly dogged by the ghettoization of the genre. And a lot of that comes from the very simplistic, 2-D Lucasesque view of what science fiction has to offer."). Star Wars and Star Trek do capture the look and feel of written SF of the 30s and 50's (respectively). But I can't imagine either franchise being able to capture a fraction of the feel or ideas in the first few pages of Morgan's Broken Angels [slashdot.org]. Digital human freighting, sleeves, future warfare...

    The literature is filled with writing by Greg Benford [authorcafe.com], the 'how to empathize with ordinary deathless people' [netspace.net.au] writer Greg Egan [netspace.net.au], Ken Macleod [blogspot.com], Richard Morgan [infinityplus.co.uk], Ian Banks, Cory Doctorow [craphound.com] , or Charlie Stross [antipope.org]. Movies haven't made it past the 70's (Bladerunner, the Matrix) other than perhaps 'Eternal Sunshine' (similar to a few 80's stories), and T.V. shows have only tentatively reached the 80's or early 90's (some Outer Limits and Twighlight Zone episodes). With Star Wars and Star Trek out of the way perhaps there'll be more room for the average media SF to catch up to at least the 80's.

  • by SimHacker (180785) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:31PM (#12426692) Homepage Journal
    "I swear I've heard of people who quit their jobs and moved just so they could live in a city that wasn't full of Homophobic Mor(m)ons like Orson Scott Card running the place."
  • by joeldg (518249) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:41PM (#12426808) Homepage
    As much as I like his books (at least ones that are not trying to turn me into a drooling mormon) he is a dispicable human and an outrageous bigot:
    See
    http://dir.salon.com/books/feature/2000/02/03/card /index.html [salon.com]
    and his actual views
    http://www.nauvoo.com/library/card-hypocrites.html [nauvoo.com]
    Those articles will turn you off on that guy.. or at least stop purchasing his books.

    (this was originally buried in another thread, but reposting here as OSC is really not a nice guy, so does not surprise me that he would turn on a large segment of his fans.)
  • What a jerk (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GrouchoMarx (153170) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @07:55PM (#12426953) Homepage
    Well, having read TFA, I can say I have no interest in reading anything by Mr. Card, ever. It's rare that I see such pure arrogance. The last time I saw it was in my high school short story lit book, which talked about "mature readers" wanting deep, moving stories and only "immature readers" cared about actually enjoying the story.

    Mr. Card, perhaps you were not aware that Trek, when it's good (meaning not when Berman is running things), offers some of the best and most insightful social commentary and discussion you'll see on film. There is a group where I live that gets together monthly at a Unitarian Church to watch an episode or two and then discuss the social, ethical, and moral implications thereof. It's been meeting for about 6 years, I think. Are there any groups that do that with Firefly? Or Smallville? I didn't think so.

    Just because more people like Star Trek than like your books is no reason to declare them all immature grade schoolers. That's very grade school of you.
  • by Glomek (853289) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @08:37PM (#12427354)
    Star Trek is optimistic. It shows us a vision of the future where humans live in peace not only with each other, but also with multiple alien races.

    People slag Star Trek for having every alien be humanoid, but that is deliberate. Roddenberry wanted people to see the humanity in every character.

    Personally, I don't watch much Sci Fi because most of it shows a future which sucks. Star Trek shows a future that I want to believe in.

  • by LionMage (318500) on Tuesday May 03, 2005 @09:20PM (#12427701) Homepage
    The Slashdot article suggests Card makes some good points about the development of SciFi over the last 30+ years. I'm not entirely sure, because based on what Card holds up as paragons of good SciFi, it's pretty clear to me that his definition of SciFi doesn't match mine. (Another poster echoed this sentiment, stating that many "examples" were more Fantasy than SciFi.)

    To be clear: Science Fiction is fiction in which, when you remove the science element, it no longer makes sense. Science is integral somehow. Mary Shelly's Frankenstein is SciFi; without the premise of reanimation with electricity, it just wouldn't be the same story. (I can just hear the Fantasy apologists chiming in with the "Fantasy is indistinguishable from SciFi" argument, by claiming that magic is indistinguishable from technology. I don't want to get mired in this debate, however. Good fantasy requires some kind of self-consistency on some level, just like good SciFi, but fantasy doesn't have to square with conventional reality in any way. Even "far out" SciFi concepts are usually extrapolations of current ideas or trends or technologies.)

    By this definition, most space opera is not SciFi. Star Wars, minus the SciFi trappings of spaceships and futuristic weaponry and droids, would be a Western with some metaphysical overtones. Now, it's true that Star Trek was sold to NBC as a "wagon train to the stars." This was because Westerns were the popular milieu of the day; most of the successful TV shows at the time were Westerns. But there were still stories being told against that backdrop that had real science fiction in them.

    Orson Scott Card's LA Times article does a lot of name dropping. He mentions Larry Niven and Robert Silverberg and Harlan Ellison. And yet, many of these writers wrote episodes for Star Trek. (Ellison's script won an award, even though Roddenberry rewrote it for the screen. The episode was "City on the Edge of Forever," and won a Hugo. Ellison's original script won a Writers Guild of America award. Niven wrote for the animated series.) Some young SciFi authors got their start because of Star Trek -- remember David Gerrold? He wrote "The Trouble with Tribbles," and is now a respected SF author in his own right.

    What is Card's problem with 1930's SciFi? Not all of it was episodic pulp crap or low-budget moviehouse serials. Some of the best SciFi I've read has come from the 1930's and 1940's.

    He's right that later incarnations of Star Trek were better acted, and wrong that the content stagnated. At least with ST:TNG, many thought provoking stories were told, and would actually qualify as "real" SciFi by my test above, providing you're willing to forgive Star Trek physics and some of its consistent inconsistencies with real physics. Even the mundane backdrop trappings of the Star Trek universe were the subject of fascinating books [amazon.com].

    I will grant that Card's right about one thing: Star Trek popularized Science Fiction. Some would say Trek diluted the pool of good stuff by filling the airwaves with mediocre material. This is an opinion I do not share.

    I would also argue that Card's wrong about the quality of modern SciFi on television and film; I disagree that it's every bit as good as what's in print, if only because there are many things that can only be approximated with special effects, things that the human imagination is much more adept at rendering. (But then, I have long believed that Card simply doesn't "get it," and wouldn't recognize truly good SciFi if it bit him on the ass.)

    While the recent incarnations of Trek have been painful to watch (with season 4 of Enterprise being what the show should have been all along, but too little, too late), I don't think the "need" for Trek has diminished. Trek was more than just a vehicle for telling stories in a SciFi milieu. Trek was more

A morsel of genuine history is a thing so rare as to be always valuable. -- Thomas Jefferson

Working...