Making the Grade: Star Trek Gadgets

startrek-transporter
Transporters

I’m pretty sure this gizmo gets the most votes whenever the pointy-eared cognoscenti talk about stuff they’d really want, but I don’t get it. Basically, you’re here, then you’re there. Sounds great in theory, but think of the chilling possibilities. Parents and in-laws dropping by whenever they feel like it and without warning, even when they live halfway around the world. No more blaming traffic when you’re late for work. No more scamming free pizzas from your local 30-minutes-or-less franchise. No more hilarious sitcom episodes involving pregnant women trapped in enclosed spaces when they go into labour. In short, the foundations of our society slowly dissolving into a fuzzy blue light. Pass. C-

Replicators
Just say “Tea, Earl Grey, Hot” and out it pops. Every time. Exactly the way you want it… within certain parameters. Think of it as Henry Ford hiring Bill Gates to run a McDonald’s franchise: fast food exactly the way you want it, as long as the way you want it is the same way that everyone else wants it. On the other hand, anything that takes one more arrow out of my mother’s quiver of guilt (“I slaved over this replicator for three whole seconds to make this!”) gets my vote. B-

Phasers
Aside from the joy derived from calling them “ray guns” in front of rabid Trekkies and watching their heads explode, I’ve never really been impressed by them. I mean, we’re basically talking about guns with two settings: “stun” and “kill.” Pretty handy, I’ll admit, but every B-movie Flash Gordonesque stud is packing one. Where’s the imagination, people? Why not settings for “roast from the inside,” “tickle,” “throb,” “turn upside down,” “frappé,” “puree,” “fricassee” or “spin around in mid-air really, really fast”? So much for boldly going where no one’s gone before. B-

Holodeck
Tell you what. You all go have meaningful dialogues about whether Doom, Grand Theft Auto and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? are spawning a race of misogynistic little killing machines. Me, I’m going to go into this little room and play naked Slip’n’Slide with every supermodel, game-show hostess, and cheerleader I can cram into my hard drive. The day a guy like me can walk into a bare room and create anyone he wants to do his bidding is the day crack will look like plum pudding. A+

Emergency Medical Hologram (EMH)
Not that I’m against anything that’s programmed to save my life per se (a Latin phrase meaning “I know more Latin than you do”), but I always feel a touch of angst whenever I hear those words “Please state the nature of the medical emergency.” I mean, of course they’re going to make artificial doctors in the future. People need doctors, unlike, say, unpublished Web writers with delusions of grandeur. And the moment I realized no one will ever be programmed to say “Please state the nature of your metaphorical emergency…” well, it bummed me out. So, out of pure spite for reminding me of my own insignificance, C-

 

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