Saturday, 27 August 2016

Ships of Discovery

Chris Groves with some tech help from Rob Gibson looks at the possibilities that could be flying into Discovery in 2017.

For the first time in 16 years we will be returning to the Star Trek Prime Universe, back home where we belong.

Bryan Fuller has confirmed Discovery’s setting as being (approximately) 2255 (10 years prior to Kirk’s five year mission) and this starts to raise questions about what we can expect from the show. One that will have fans really piqued will be the prospect of new starships. The teaser showed off the The Planet of the Titans inspired USS Discovery (design not final) but what else might we see coming out of the Federation stable?

By this point the Constitution class has become the perfected standard for Federation starships at this time but there must surely be a varied collection of ‘pre-Constitution’ vessels that could be included. Could there even be a glimpse at the NX refit?

The design of the Discovery itself, whilst other proven vessels are available, is a seemingly unique design, a secret vessel perhaps? With a moniker such as the one carried by this ship you would think it would be a vessel for exploration but does that more severe finish indicate a darker and more military purpose?

Also by 2255 a Starfleet captain named Christopher Pike will have been in command of a well known starship for some three years taking over from Robert April. I would imagine that to feature the USS Enterprise would be a little too over the top, that being said, all of us would be happy for a passing reference to establish the all important familial link.

Fuller has only teased a few details, but one notably stood out; ‘New Crews’ was stated in the initial announcement teaser. Are we truly going to have a cross-crew Star Trek story and if so can we really hope for multiple starship joy?

I think we will be seeing lots of crews in the story. One of the things that is exciting for me is that we are telling a 'Star Trek' story in a modern way” (Bryan Fuller)

It seems we will be seeing a new kind of storytelling from that which we are used to, instead of weekly partitioned stories. Fuller has hinted at a serialization of sorts and has stated on more than one occasion that the new show would be ‘modern’ in style.

This could explain the multiple ships theory and perhaps how a central ‘incident’ maintains the focus of the actions of several starships and crews.

"There’s an incident, an event in Star Trek history in the history of Starfleet that had been talked about but never fully explored." (Bryan Fuller)

The crews in question could be drawn from across the Alpha Quadrant’s major players, Klingon, Romulan, Federation, even Tholian or Gorn may be thrown into the mix and who is to say that we won't be getting a perspective from an alien race, Anyway this is an exciting possibility and aside from the story opportunities, it means seeing a varied collection of ships in play.

The only form of Federation ship ever really shown in The Original Series in its broadcast form was the Constitution class (The Doomsday Machine, The Ultimate Computer...). Later in the re-mastered episodes we eventually saw ships like the Antares in Charlie X. Non-canon publications (such as FASA) have postulated a huge number of alternate designs for the period and so there are these to draw upon if CBS needs a selection of Starfleet types.

Could there be a disregard for Roddenberry's "even number of nacelles" demand (that gets ignored anyway...), might we have more compact ships in line with Enterprise and Intrepid from the prequel series for example rather than the style of The Original Series?

There are many of these wonderful examples that would look amazing on screen but with so many seasoned designers and artists available, CBS will most likely demand its own dedicated starship models. However there's one that does beg an appearance if only to marry in some form the two Houses of Star Trek in Paramount and CBS - the USS Kelvin. Given that the series is ten years before Kirk's mission it would place it roughly 22 years after his birth and perhaps place that ship at the end of its operational career.

Including the Kelvin would acknowledge it's existence in the Prime Universe and give some form of cohesion between the two productions but I'm not saying it's essential here - just a possibility although it's design might be radically different to the way that Fuller's Star Trek ships appear to be heading. Could another specific ship to pop up be the USS Ares or whatever craft CBS want Garth of Izar to be commanding? 

As I noted, CBS are more likely (sadly) to want to have the designers come up with their own identity and range of ships for Discovery. There are exceptions to this of course (we hope); the classic Klingon D7 battle cruiser is an icon of the Star Trek universe and it would be a travesty to not include these but then they could curve-ball in a D6 just for the hell of it. Also the work done by the Enterprise Design department from 2001-2005 already introduces several ships to the canon, (especially Klingon, Vulcan and Andorian craft) that could be reused as they would still be available options to these races post-Archer.

The era in which Discovery is set has been the subject of a lot of controversy, (although to be fair that would be the case no matter what CBS had decided upon). Storytelling will be the key to both the success of the characters themselves and the starships (who are in many ways as much characters as those on board them)

The scope of the new series seems to be a broad stroke across many worlds;

We're telling a 13-chapter story in this first season. It's nice to be able to dig deep into things that would have been breezed past if we were doing episodic and had to contain a story to an episode." (Bryan Fuller)

We are left with only guesswork until January 2017, a mere five months ahead an important month for the future of Star Trek as a whole. May all our Trekkie dreams come true?

What ships would you like to see in Discovery? What new designs might we get or what influences do you think we will see?

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