Time Travel makes for an interesting plot, and might come up a lot in science fiction with high levels of technology. If the essentials are there, what’s to stop someone from traveling through time? Then, added fun, what’s to stop someone from doing it again?
When your time machine is your starship, and there are lots of those, well… the timeline can get interesting. And when you only use time travel in emergency situations, those emergencies can start stacking on each other in such a way that things could very easily fall apart.
As the Doctor might say, history is in flux, and time can be rewritten. So what does that look like in the world of Star Trek: The Next Generation?
Why Next Generation
There’s a lot that could be said about paradoxes, alternate timelines, parallel worlds, and such, just from the new Star Trek movie. And hey, we may do that some time. But I want to talk about something different, though still largely from the movies.
But even moreso, I want to discuss the thread that is introduced by author Gene DeWeese in the novel Engines of Destiny.
First, if we want a quick book review, I find the underlying premise of the book fascinating (and will talk about it here), and the writing to be only okay. It’s one of those books that makes me happy and feel like I can write books too!
This book ravels through the time travel situations laid out by the plots mainly of Generations and First Contact, wherein, if the events of Generations had not gone like they had, then major paradox world is formed during First Contact. Bwaaa?
Engines of Destiny
So you may recall from Next Gen, Scotty is found in a transporter signal, alive. So that’s a cool cameo. However, what’s he up to then? DeWeese’s theory is he would look up the old crew, and find out what happened. He finds out that Kirk “died” in the maiden voyage of the Enterprise B. And he knows how to travel through time – they did it in the Original Series movies, after all.
So, he knows how and where to go. And hey, if Kirk dies, he might as well transport him out, and save him. For all he knows, this is what he’s already done, right? No body was found. So he does.
Knowing what we do from Generations (spoilers?), Kirk didn’t die. He was sucked into the Nexus – and is pulled out almost immediately (subjectively) by Picard decades later, to save the crew of the Enterprise D and several planets. Hero’d! Except now, Scotty saved him. So that doesn’t happen.
Chain of events: The Enterprise D, crew and all, is destroyed. Heck, we watch this happen in Generations, it just gets un-done by Picard. Oh, I guess Picard hangs out in the Nexus. Okay so far.
The Borg show up a while later. Nobody knows what their nefarious plan is, without Picard listening in, and a Borg sphere escapes into the past. Boom, the Human first contact with Vulcans is stopped by the Earth being assimilated. And a new Borg empire is formed on Earth.
And this is the world that suddenly appears around Scotty and Kirk when Scotty “saves” Kirk: a world of Borg. And so the plot of Engines of Destiny goes from there.
So, in terms of Time Travel, this is clearly a case of the events caused by the time travel not being the world that their future selves were living in – which is consistent with other time travel in Star Trek, like the reboot movie. Alternate universes are a very Star Trek thing, and it’s how they do most of their Time Travel. This one just happens to be a very unhappy alternate universe – don’t go there if you can help it.
Just goes to show, best intentions and time travel do not mix. Warning heard!
So, there’s a series of Trek books that also use Time Travel as a bit of the plot, and which I think current Trek events have an interesting effect on. That’s the Star Trek: Destiny series by David Mack. So, let me just say now: he finally gives us a reason and means that the Borg were created. If you want to know this, but don’t want to read me talking about it but instead want to hit the books, consider this your spoiler warning!
So, there’s three books worth of plot, and lots of ships involved, and flashbacks, and crew in the past, and a super powerful alien race, and the Borg, and shenanigans. Boil down to the big reveal, however, and the Borg are a combination of the technology of the super powerful alien race, and a few early-days Starfleet officers. So humans become cyborgs.
Meaning that, buried in their underlying programming, somewhere in the collective unconscious of the Collective, is an instinctive knowledge of and hatred of humanity. Meaning, regardless of Q’s actions in Next Gen, the Borg were always coming.
Okay, so here’s my Engines of Destiny-style theory. I am carrying these thoughts on into the alternate universe of the reboot. On their current trajectory, I don’t think that Kirk is going to end up on the Enterprise B in the same way and time and won’t end up in the Nexus. Then again, the future crew of the D might also not need him to save them. Regardless, the Borg already exist, and already know about humanity. Only now, they may not have Picard and crew to stop them. Meaning, at some point in the future of the reboot universe, the Borg may win.
Alternatively: Awesome movie we never got to really see before: Original Series versus Borg. There we go, I’ve got your movie three plot. If you’re looking for someone to write it, I’m available…