Oh, Those Deltans and Their Mathematical Naughtiness…

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14 Unintentionally Amusing Passages from DC’s Who’s Who in Star Trek

1. “Andorians will not hesitate to kill, but they must have a reason for committing the deed. They do not kill out of instinct or for pleasure like the huge warriors of Rigel VII or the Megasoids of Cygnus IV.”
Back in the mid-1980s, just before Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted, DC put out a two-issue mini-series that introduced Trek characters and alien races to the comic-buying masses. Produced in the same style as DC’s Who’s Who series, each entry contained an illustration of the subject, some personal data (height/weight/first appearance/etc.), and a detailed history that drew from classic TOS episodes, the first three Trek movies and the then-current DC comic. In theory, it was a fine enough way to introduce casual fans to the franchise; in execution, the writing sometimes left something to be desired. Take these sentences, written in the entry for the blue-skinned Andorians, whom Trek fans first met in the TOS “Journey to Babel” episode. Not only is it rather useless to compare Andorian tendencies to those of two other completely fictional races that aren’t even referenced anywhere elsewhere, but… well, it seems rather un-Trek-like to make blanket statements like this about entire races, don’t you think? What happened to “infinite diversity” and all that? Saying this in a profile of an entire race is kind of like saying, “Humans are not murderous by nature, but they can and do kill for profit, and they would almost never kill someone just for fun, like the Squibbidydoos of Alpha Centauri IV.” I mean, I know nuance has never been in high demand in the Trekverse, but… come on, people.

2. “Oh, there was no doubt I was doing something worthwhile. The young must be kept healthy, or they’d never live to grow old. But it was so boring. The last children’s epidemic on Earth was over a century ago; now it was all head colds and stomach aches, over and over.”
One of the odd editorial quirks of Who’s Who in Star Trek is how the biographical articles are written as if the subjects were personally interviewed to provide background details for the book. Here, Dr. Philip Boyce, the chief medical officer from the TOS pilot episode “The Cage,” explains why he switched from planetside pediatrics to a Starfleet medical position.  I found this amusing because, first, I’d like to know which specifics diseases are considered the cause of a “children’s epidemic” and second… well, isn’t every third or fourth Trek episode about some new disease we’ve never heard of doing something life-threatening to one of the cast members? And with all the inter-alien mingling on 23rd-century Earth, we’re supposed to believe no extra-terrestrial bacterial strains are getting passed along to Earthling children? Riiiiight.

3. “Dr. Christine Chapel was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Christine’s ancestry is mixed, and includes Swedish and Cherokee.”
Now, I have nothing against Cleveland or people with both Swedish and Cherokee roots, but this line made me chuckle a bit. I know the hardcore Trek fans tend to be a little too… let’s say engaged in the lives of their favored fictional characters, but why was it so important that we know this information, and why was it so important that was placed at the start of Chapel’s entry? Was there an episode I missed in which Chapel performed a life-saving massage while defending her land from encroaching settlers?

4. “At Starfleet, Decker scored well in academic and athletic courses of study. ‘I don’t know how he did it,’ his late wife later recorded, ‘but he also found time for the ladies.'”
Oh, I just bet he did.

5. “The most important facets of life on Delta V are art and mathematics (with almost everything enjoyed and interpreted in a sexually suggestive manner).”
Sexy mathematics, you say? Well, now that I think about it, “integer” does sound a little dirty…

6. At that time, one powerful brigand leader, Kahless the Unforgettable, united the warring tribes with the sheer force of his brutality and his motto: ‘Everything we find is ours; everything we find is ours to rule.'”
Apparently, copywriting was not among the more revered talents in ancient Klingon culture.

7. Thomas Kyle was born in Adelaide, Australia. His father was a traveling salesman with one of the largest transportation companies on Earth, so “…we travelled around…,” Kyle recalls. “I remember living in Sidney [sic] and Perth in Australia, Hobart in Tasmania, Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand, among other places.”
Whoa, settle down there, you crazy nomad, you! You say you lived in Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania during your childhood years? I don’t know why, but I just find this a very amusing quote, given how we’re dealing with a fictional future in which people are routinely travelling to other star systems and calling that a “work commute.” Somehow, moving from one side of Australia to the other doesn’t sound like such a big deal compared to that.

8. “Dr. Carol Marcus, an intelligent and attractive 46-year-old geneticist, is respected throughout the galaxy for her many discoveries including the Genesis Effect.”
Let it be noted that nowhere else in this two-issue series is any Star Trek character referred to as “attractive.” It seems like such an odd thing to have to point out. Are most geneticists in the 23rd century considered hideous? Are ugly people in the future driven into the study of genetics by a combination of public pressure and their own personal demons? Are we trying to make Dr. Marcus feel better by saying, hey, you may have lost your son and your life’s work, but at least you’ve still got your looks?

9. “David’s proficiency in higher mathematics was the subject of a two-part article in the Federation science journal, in which he revealed ‘So far the best thing I’ve gotten out of it is the grand prize of the Terran Bridge League.’ His excellence in the complex card game was an immense source of pride to David, who enjoyed matching wits with his mother and other fellow scientists in bridge tournaments whenever he could arrange them.”
That’s David Marcus, by the way — the impetuous young lad introduced in Wrath of Khan as the son Kirk never knew. Let that sink in for a moment. The son of James Tiberius Kirk playing bridge with his mommy and her friends instead of… well, doing whatever you’d expect Kirk’s progeny to do with age-appropriate playmates. Then again, if David was being a typical teenager and rebelling against everything his dad stood for, “playing card games associated with Florida widows” would certainly do the trick.

10. “As the historian assigned to the USS Enterprise (see Enterprise), Marta had little to do except further her reading, painting and sculpting portraits of conquerors.”
So… why have her on board, then? Marta, by the way, was the young woman who fell in love with the 20th-century despot known as Khan, back when Kirk and crew found him and his followers floating in space in their suspended-animation tubes (“Space Seed”). Meeting a guy you’ve spent your career studying would be pretty cool, but it still seems slightly sexist to have her throw away her career and put her crew in mortal danger just for the chance to “entertain” some guy she once read about. All that aside, you still have to wonder: why was she even there in the first place? It’s not as if the Enterprise went out into deep space anticipating meetings with 20th-century historical figures. And even if someone in Starfleet HR screwed up and placed a historian on the ship by mistake, isn’t it possible someone on board would have found something for her to do that was a little more operations-oriented than sitting in her cabin and sculpting all day? Sentences like this are why I’m not as big a Trek fan as I used to be.

11. “There were more immediate troubles as well: due to the Halkans’ refusal to deal with the ‘Empire’ (the Starfleet of that dimension, see Starfleet (Actually, the Empire would be the equivalent of the U.F.P.), Kirk’s orders were to destroy their cities.”
Nothing amusing here, unless you like to see obvious editor’s comments make it into print. That’s the sign of a quality publication right there.

12. “Shortly before she became a lawyer in Starfleet, she met James T. Kirk (see Kirk). ‘He was between assignments,’ Areel remembers, ‘and our time together left us both with some pleasant memories.'”
I’ll bet. How much you want to bet assignments weren’t the only things Kirk got in between back then…?

13. “When Kirk, his crew, and the whales journeyed into the future, Taylor was with them. Once there, she volunteered her services to Starfleet (see Starfleet) and told Kirk: ‘You’re going to your ship, and I’m going to mine — science vessel Clarke. I’ve got 300 years of catch-up training to do.”
Okay, this is more of a plot-hole thing than a ha-ha funny thing, but… this is from the entry about Gillian Taylor, the marine biologist introduced in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. You might recall she jumped into the transport beam at the last instant and ended up traveling into the future with Kirk and crew. Okay, fine, so maybe her 20th-century life sucked and she had no one at home who would wonder where the hell she went. It could happen. But… would you let someone who lived 300 years ago and brought to the present just last week climb on board a modern-day aircraft carrier and start pushing buttons? And what value does a whale researcher in a universe with a grand total of two whales bring to a freakin’ starship? These are the thoughts that kept me out of the really good schools.

14. “Tellarite law is as harsh as Tellar’s climate, with many capital offences including theft, fraud and cutting a Tellarite’s fur. Tellarites execute their criminals by shaving their fur and casting them out of the nearest walled city.”
Whoa, harsh. So not only could you get thrown out of a city for, say, lying on your eHarmony profile, but they would shave you first. Come to think of it, getting shaved and tossed over a wall sounds a lot like the first week of my freshman year in college…

 

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