Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Star Trek Insurrection and another evolutionary Fairy Tale

Watched a Star Trek movie on TV last night, ‘Insurrection’. Interesting plot, if quite clichéd. Could have managed without Picard, Worf and Data singing from HMS Pinafore, but never mind. As I watched, I wondered how long it would be before they introduced an evolutionary theme. About a quarter of all the Star Trek episodes I remember watching included an evolutionary theme, and of course all space alien sci fi is based on evolutionary assumptions about life originating as a matter of course all over the universe. Star Trek originator Gene Rodenberry of course was a New Ager. I didn’t have to wait long.

Without doing a full film review, the Baku (I think) were living an idyllic pastoral life, very Garden of Edenish, and some decrepit aliens were spying on them and planning, with the aid of a corrupt or perhaps idealistic but naive Star Fleet admiral, to steal their planetary paradise from them. The bad aliens were all wrapped up like mummies, their sores bleeding through artificial skin, heavily dependent on life support machines and prosthetics and mention was made of their accumulating genetic disorders. So far, so genetically entropic, but what of the Baku?

Caution plot spoiler!

Well, it turns out the crumbly bad guys from another planet are close relatives form the original home world. Turns out the Baku had settled on a planet with some marvellous rings that concentrated a special kind of radiation (not ordinary radiation, you know the sort that causes harmful mutations) and as a result they don’t get old. In fact, the anti-ageing effect sets in at maturity, very convenient or else they wouldn’t grow up. Sounding like a fountain-of-youth Fairy Tale? The Enterprise crew found themselves feeling younger, with ‘firmer boobs’, re-growth of baldy Jen-Luc’s hair and all sorts of friskiness. We weren’t told how the Baku didn’t overrun the planet with population growth, what with there being no death, but let’s not worry about that. Several solutions can be suggested.

Anyway, the bad guys want to take over the planet so that they could soak up some of those healing rays and see their accumulated genetic faults reversed, a sort of anti-ageing deep clean. Interesting plot. Just one small problem. Naturally occuring radiation of whatever imaginable kind is just a  flow of raw electromagnetic energy. Whether particles, waves or wavicles, electrons, neutrons, isotrons, positrons, bosons, tacheons, quackons or mekons, radiation bombards DNA and smacks it up. That’s how you get cancer and other stuff that goes wrong with originally good DNA. No possible way round this, not with all the science fiction writer’s licence you can muster. You can't fix something complicated that's bust by chucking dumb energy at it.

But its all good background evolutionary brainwashing. Hey, life can’t originate or improve itself spontaneously on earth, but perhaps in a distant part of this or another galaxy, a special planet with pretty rings will focus special radiation so that life ‘could …may have…must inevitable…’emerge. Sorted.

I hear an ‘I can hardly doubt…’ coming on.

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