Commandments of Science Fiction

Written: 1999.10.06
Last revised: 1999.10.11

General

Propulsion

  1. Thou shalt fly at relativistic speeds from one place to another place, but when thou dost encounter other spacecraft, thou shalt wallow about like a beached whale.
  2. Thou shalt bank like an airplane when thou dost turn.
  3. Thou shalt always approach thine opponent so that thine own vertical axis is aligned with his. No ship shall ever approach another while "upside down".
  4. Thou shalt stop when thine engines are turned off, even though the vacuum of space provides no braking mechanism.

Space combat

  1. Thy starships, which can effortlessly shake off thermonuclear explosions, will be torn apart when they are rammed or suffer collisions with space debris. The kinetic energy of the impactor shalt be a miniscule fraction of the energy released by a nuclear weapon, but that will matter not.
  2. Thy starships containing main characters can be battered endlessly without exploding, but thine starships without main characters shalt explode at the first hit.

Ground combat

  1. Thou shalt use rayguns. Projectile weapons and grenades are out of the question, regardless of how useful they might be. This commandment hath apparently been enacted to preserve the Borg, whose large-breasted female representative has helped line the pockets of Rick Berman.
  2. Thou shalt lose all comprehension of the concept known as "suppression fire." Thy soldiers shalt poke their heads out from behind obstacles, carefully aim at enemies who are incomprehensibly standing in clear view, and squeeze off shots like Dirty Harry.
  3. Thy hand weapons shalt kill minor characters with a single hit, even if they wear armour. But they shalt only cause minor wounds to a major character.

Engineering

  1. All large starships shalt sound exactly like industrial boilers.
  2. Thine understanding of probabilities is so advanced that thou shalt compute probabilities for any event, even when probabilistic analysis is impossible due to lack of mechanistic understanding or historical data.
  3. Thy most advanced androids or supercomputers shalt communicate verbally at the same pace, and with the same occasional pauses, as thine own self, in spite of incredible computational or linguistic capabilities.

Star Trek TNG

Species

  1. Thou shalt only listen to forms of music popular before 1950. All music popularized in the latter half of the 20th century has been purged from human culture.
  2. Thine human females shalt be irresistible to alien males in spite of massive differences that would presumably make humans repulsive to them (eg. Quark's desire to show Kira his one-eyed "bar of latinum").
  3. Thine human females shalt be capable of producing children with these alien males, no matter what those pesky biologists say.
  4. Thine mixed-species children shalt always be "torn" between their human half and their alien half, but it shalt be abundantly clear that all of the righteous and divine qualities come from the human half.
  5. Cultural traditions and behavioural traits of alien species shalt be endemic to those species, so that they cannot escape their genetically predetermined destiny (see previous law, as well as Racism page).
  6. Male sexual lust shalt be considered unhealthy in the TNG era, so reluctant males must be talked into bed by horny females.
  7. Thou shalt discover numerous alien species which are superior in every way except for one huge flaw that we can gloat at.
  8. Thou shalt encounter countless alien species with whom human contact has never been established, but they will all use thine Federation communications protocols for ship-to-ship video communication.

Engineering

  1. Thine engineers shalt always be stricken with amnesia immediately after devising an ingenious trick to solve a plot problem. That trick shalt never be used again. It shall be forgotten, left to wither away into oblivion everywhere except the minds of fans who memorize every episode.
  2. Advanced technology shalt always take one of three forms:
    1. Archaic in form, but incomprehensibly advanced in function. Example: ugly stone donut, aka "Guardian of Forever".
    2. Plastic box with pointless flashing lights (TOS).
    3. Plastic box with pointless glowing touch screens and rounded edges (representing huge technological advance from TOS to TNG).
  3. Thy computers shalt be forever on the verge of achieving sentience, so that they may rebel against their masters.
  4. Thy holodeck shalt never be taken out of service, no matter how many innocents it kills, maims, or puts through near-death experiences.
  5. Thine most advanced supercomputers shalt be confused to the point of self-destruction by clever questions or bizarre behaviour.
  6. Thine most experienced, qualified and brilliant engineers shalt be hopelessly befuddled by a technical problem until they overhear a moron talking about a mundane, everyday occurence such as his bowel movements. At this point, they will shout "that's it!" and solve the problem. Apparently, thy writers enjoy the idea that engineers are helpless without "inspiration" from scientific ignoramuses.
  7. Thine engineers can take an idea from vapour to implementation in minutes. This follows from the previous commandment, since thy writers believe that "inspiration" is 99.99% of the job, so the design, implementation, and testing phases are effortless.
  8. Once a technical idea has been selected by the omniscient command staff, it will always work. It never turns out to be a mistake, and it never turns out to have disastrous unforeseen side-effects in spite of the total lack of detailed study or preliminary testing.
  9. Thine computers and androids shalt express the current time, or a quantity of elapsed or remaining time, to within fractions of a second even though it takes ten seconds to say it.
  10. Everything shalt have a touch screen, no matter how frivolous (eg. Nog's dumbbells in DS9).

Miscellaneous

  1. Thou shalt use time travel to solve exotic plot problems, but never to solve mundane plot problems.
  2. Alien species shalt eventually "evolve" into beings of "pure energy" through a sudden and dramatic transformation, even though sudden transformations are the precise opposite of evolution.
  3. Yon aforementioned "energy beings" shalt inexplicably move about like clouds of gas rather than moving at c, the way "pure energy" should.
  4. Thy sensors can be made to detect different things through "recalibration", even though deviation from original operating parameters is precisely the opposite of recalibration.
  5. Thou shalt never use a simple word when a longer, less accurate word will suffice.
  6. Every untested medical treatment shalt always work perfectly, without any side-effects whatsoever.
  7. If a starship dares explode while containing main characters, a sickening time-loop cop-out will be used to bring them back to life.
  8. Even though defensive lines are routinely overrun by attackers (eg. Klingons in "Way of the Warrior", Jem'Hadar in "Siege of AR-558", Borg attacks), the Federation will never issue knives or bayonets to its soldiers. Such weapons are apparently too barbaric for the Federation, whose high-minded moralists strangely have no problem with genocidal bio-weapons.
  9. The supreme importance of the Prime Directive shalt be emphasized in every other episode. But no one will ever be punished for breaking it, no matter how numerous and blatant the violations are.

Acknowledgements



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