Friday, July 27, 2012

Star Trek and Post-Nationalism

Monday the 30th:

Lozanda, "Star Trekking in China," in Religion and Science Fiction
   In what might be the strongest essay in our textbook, Eriberto Lozanda compares science fiction in America and China.  His look at Chinese culture and sci-fi puts our own values into some relief, especially our assumptions about the future of the nation state.  Read this essay slowly- it will be worth your careful attention. 

"The Chase," TNG: Season 6, Episode 20 (Netflix)
   "The Chase" is Star Trek's origin story, explaining how it is that aliens across the universe all have human-like forms.  It plays into the ancient aliens hypothesis a bit, but also tells a morality tale about why human(oids) shouldn't let petty differences get between them.

RP4b Due
   If you didn't write a paper for Friday, this will be your very last response paper!  Here's the prompt:

What are "scientism" and "nationalism," and how do these themes tie into Chinese history, culture, and science fiction?  How does this compare to the American sci-fi we have explored so far?

Looking forward to your comments!


  1. On the Star Trek Episode:
    This could have been its own Trek Film. Its a more sprawling and complex plot than the 48-minute format can allow.

    It reminds me (again) of Arthur C. Clarke. Much of his work explored the concept of this same theme. 2001 is about the discovery of a "marker' found buried on the Moon which seems to be a key to understanding the origins of life across the universe, similar to how the proto-humanoids left clues within DNA structure to decipher the message of our existence. Its a good idea worthy of expansion, so ultimately this episode felt rushed and incomplete.

  2. I enjoyed this episode, and it's filled me with a desire to watch some more TNG next time I have a free moment, which I believe I will act upon. It was interesting to watch for me because, in my fairly limited experience with TNG, Picard is generally quite the stalwart, decisive individual. Watching him agonize over his decision was an interesting character moment, and is interesting to contemplate.

    What I found of particular interest was the moment when the ancient alien appears to the humanoid races, and explains their origin, the reaction of the other races. Immediately, one makes another inflammatory remark towards another, almost insulted at the very idea of being related, despite this proof in front of them... It reminded me, yet again, of the conflicts between Creationists and Evolutionists, that refusal to believe even when presented with convincing evidence, or to even comprehend the idea of the other being correct... and in addition, the actions of the Romulan at the end of the episode, that potential bridge of understanding and acceptance that occasionally appears in the real world.

  3. What i enjoyed most about this episode was the idea that everyone is essentially the same being, with one origin. The discovery of this knowledge upsets some of the races. The idea that they are similars makes them feel less...but in truth, the fact that they worked together (as the first humanoid had hoped) proved that the races work better together and can obtain peace. This is an idea that even today, we are still struggling to obtain.

  4. I loved this episode of ST! And i enjoyed this article as well. To understand a changing culture you have to understand its history. I enjoyed Lozada's conclusion "China is recreating for its self a modern "middle kingdom". Given the state of the world, I am eager to see how China continues to change. I am still upset over the invasion of Tibet, but after hearing some of the Dalai Lama's words on the subject I feel better.

    Michael McCarthy
    (i figured better late than never)