As you know I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek TNG lately as Erin and I journey through our rewatch project. But I have to admit that it makes me a little bit sad. We’re watching events taking place in the prime universe. But the 2009 film Star Trek rebooted the franchise which means that the universe TNG takes place in, the prime universe, no longer exists. Well, actually I think it does exist. The new movies are just in an alternate timeline. But what happened to the prime timeline? What happened to MY Star Trek universe? Will we as the audience ever return to it?
This dilemma has lead me to do some research and some soul searching. I’ve
decided discovered that the prime universe is NOT dead after all! It lives on in novels, games, fan fiction, fan films, & comic books! I’ve never really thought of the these as being “my Star Trek” because they aren’t considered “canon”– something that as a young Trekkie was very important to me. but as I get older, I’m really starting to look at this whole canon thing with a different perspective. I mean, what is “The Star Trek Canon” anyway? Wikipedia has this to say:
The official Star Trek website formerly defined canon as comprising the television series Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise, and the motion pictures in the franchise. Later changes to the Star Trek website acknowledges that this definition is not set in stone, but that the notion of what constitutes canon in Star Trek is fluid, open to interpretation and debate. The most recent iteration of the website has removed all references to a canon policy.
Ok. It’s up for debate, so let’s debate it! I think the prime universe has lived on and here are a few example of where you can find it.
Star Trek Online (MMORPG)
Released in 2010 hot on the heels of the 2009 film this massively multiplayer online role-playing game makes it very clear that it takes place inside the prime timeline. The chart below explains all of that. When Prime Spock and Nero slipped into the singularity in 2387 and travel back in time, they don’t start to overwrite the original timeline but break off into their own new universe. This leaves our prime timeline to continue just fine (short 1 Vulcan and 1 Romulan of course). In this timeline the destruction of Romulus destabilizes Alpha & Beta quadrants and the Federation and Klingon Alliance breaks down in 2399. The game begins 10 years after that in 2409.
So there you go. The prime universe is alive and well online! I’m not a big gamer, but I do find some solace knowing that they have continued the narrative. They even have a new Enterprise.
Back in the 80’s & 90’s I read a few Star Trek Novels and enjoyed them. But I never really thought of these books as being “real Star Trek”. Each novel- or series of novels were stand alone stories that were independent of the TV shows and Movies. They couldn’t make any major changes like destroy & rebuild the DS9 space station because that hadn’t happened on the TV show. In 2015 that’s no longer a problem. The novels have taken over the timeline and are doing some great things!! Want to know what happened to Riker and Troi after they left the Enterprise and moved over to the Titan? I’m sure you wondered if Data’s consciousness ever surfaced in B-4 thus reincarnating him. Well read some books and find out! Check out the guide over at The Trek Collective for some pointers and this great chart. 🙂
Star Trek Countdown (Comic Book)
Star Trek hasn’t always done very well in comic books. But much like the novels, I remember reading the DC books back when I was a kid. Nowadays IDW has the license. In 2009 they published Star Trek Countdown. This 4 issue tie in to the 2009 film was based on a story by the film’s writers and is set in the prime universe. It serves as a prequel and tells the events leading up to the destruction of Romulus. We learn that by 2387 Picard has retired from Starfleet and is now Federation ambassador to Vulcan. Data (resurrected from B-4) is now Captain of the Enterprise E. Geordi has also left Starfleet and is a starship designer. It’s also interesting to point out that Data is wearing a uniform from the Star Trek Online game.
S0: THE PRIME UNIVERSE LIVES!!! You just have to decide how much you care about what is “canon” and what isn’t. Or really– does that even matter?? I think I’ll leave you with these words to ponder:
“…we believe quite firmly that the “real” Enterprise exists in the imaginations of our audience” – Rick Sternbach & Michael Okuda, Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual
“The Starship Enterprise is not a collection of motion picture sets or a model used in visual effects. It is a very real vehicle; one designed for storytelling.” – Gene Roddenberry