Trek vs Wars

With the new Trek film out, I ran across another Star Trek vs Star Wars debate post the other day. Except for a few bad films, I found both franchises entertaining. Trek influenced me more because I started watching when it was first on television, just over a decade before Star Wars hit the silver screen. My siblings and I set up an Enterprise bridge in the barn, with a big black blanket stretched across an upside down mantelpiece as the viewscreen. Star Wars happened when I was already out of college. I appreciated the gritty, dusty aspect and the references to older movies, but I never played Star Wars.

When I was young, I actually believed that our future could resemble the Trek universe. But even though I was just watching a Canadian guy sing A Space Oddity from the International Space Station while DS9 was on Netflix, I no longer feel that we are nearly as close to colonizing space as it seemed in the 1980s. Also as I look at international imperial politics, the various Federation characters look as hopelessly idealistic – as “sweet and cloying” – as aliens Quark and Garak once noted.

In a new post, John Michael Greer just noted:

The imaginary future worlds conjured up by the mythologies of progress and apocalypse, in turn, are pallid reflections of an older and more robust conception, the belief in a heaven of immortal bliss to which the souls of true believers ascend after death. … when the concept of reincarnation came back into circulation in alternative circles in the Western world in the 19th century, … What made it “disgusting” and “repulsive,” … was precisely the suggestion that human souls after death would cycle right back to the same world they had just left and live with the consequences of their own choices.

In that sense, waking up in a Star Trek universe would be like going to a civilized and technological heaven while waking up in a Star Wars universe would be more like being reincarnated into another complicated geopolitical great game, but with cooler weapons.


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