With the holiday shopping season in full swing, we’re always wondering what to buy that special someone on our list. For those of us who are Star Trek fans, there’s no shortage of cool merchandise to scratch our fandom itch. Everything from games and toys or books and clothing to more unusual fare like themed booze, kitchenware and Bluetooth gadgets are ripe for the picking.
Rather than repeat myself with a retrospective of favorite gifts or a wacky Wish List for this latest column, I decided to conduct a little thought experiment on my Facebook page. I asked folks, “What one thing from anywhere within the Star Trek universe would you want as a gift?” Meaning, if they could receive a particular piece of technology or an alien artifact, or perhaps the opportunity to travel to a specific destination or meet an individual, and so on, what would they pick?
Sure, this ends up with my having a slightly different type of column this time around, but it’s the season for such gushy, mushy things, right? As for my little survey, there were a number of responses. Some of them were predictable, while others provided nice surprises. That’s what always makes these sorts of exercises fun. Want to see what they (and I, in a couple of cases) came up with? Read on:
Medical Technology (suggested by Michelle Ballin-Schmidt) – Star Trek’s depiction of advances in health care and the resulting life prolongation for humans in particular is pretty impressive. Wouldn’t it be nice to rid the world of cancer and other life-threatening ailments? Diabetes? Alzheimer’s? Name it, and get rid of it. That’s a pretty nice thought.
Universal Translator (suggested by Greg Cox) – Another righteous choice. We already have devices which can translate in something close to real time, though they’re certainly not intuitive and they still stumble when it comes to things like idioms, slang, or jargon and other idiosyncrasies of spoken language. With the almost magic-like tech we’ve seen and taken for granted over more than fifty years of Star Trek, we could push through that language barrier like one of those cheesy 1970s bead curtains. As a plus, these things are usually small enough that they’d make great stocking stuffers.
Transporter (suggested by Scotty Parker) – OK, this is an easy one. I mean, who wouldn’t want to purge the daily work commute from existence for all time? We could all sleep in! No more traffic jams or accidents on the highway. Of course, we’d never get to use weather or traffic as excuses for not coming to work, and would there be long lines at the transporter stations while people waited to beam home? Maybe we need to think this through a bit.
Memory Alpha – This is one of mine. I mean, come on! The entirety of Federation knowledge at my fingertips? No pesky cues for checking out stuff or having to return it by certain dates? No late fees? I just need to make sure it’s got a nice reading nook installed, along with bathroom and a kitchen, and I’m set. Of course, I wouldn’t need a kitchen if I also had a...
Replicator (suggested by Raymond Seavey) – Another obvious pick, and we’re not talking about the “food slots” we saw on Kirk’s Enterprise. Oh no, we need to version from The Next Generation era, where you just tell the thing what you want and... Whoomp! There it is! And we’re not limited to just food, either. With one of these things, you never need to shop for clothes or tools or household stuff ever again. What more could anyone ask?
Holodeck (suggested by David Young) – All right, I guess we can ask for more, and I can’t say I blame David for this one. Sure, we have virtual reality headsets and simulators that work to a point, but compared to this? Not even close. In the Star Trek realm, the holodeck seems like an ideal environment for wiling away free time while on journeys aboard starships that can take weeks, months, and even years to complete. That is, when they’re not malfunctioning or being taken over by non-corporeal life forms. Here on Earth, I think we can probably agree that the nanosecond this sort of technology is perfected, all meaningful human life and productivity will cease. We’ll be the Talosians in a week, but without the benefit of advanced telepathy and telekinesis. Game over, man.
A Vacation on Risa (suggested by Matt Giaquinto) – I don’t think we really need to a deep dive as to why this might be on anyone’s list. Vegas, the Caribbean, Hawaii or Fiji? Kid’s stuff. Risa is where it’s at, people, and what happens there... etc. Of course, I know I’d be that guy who packs books to read, at least until I get roped into an adventure featuring ancient artifacts and time-traveling goons. Hey, speaking of time travel....
The Guardian of Forever (suggested by Tony Healey) – What would you do if you had access to a time portal? Would you travel back and prevent a disaster or war from occurring? What about giving yourself stock tips or sports scores, you Biff Tannen wannabe, you? Some people might use it for more personal reasons like having more time with a long lost relative or friend. Tony himself seems to have an evil enough idea: Traveling forward in time so that he can come back and spoil future movies and television shows for people. I suspect that’s the sort of thing which really brought about the Temporal Prime Directive.
The Future (suggested by Matt Hamilton, with an assist by Matt Giaquinto) – As Matt H describes it, he’d like to see us jump to the point in time where Star Trek depicts us as having eradicated poverty, hunger, disease and war here on Earth. Add to that Matt G’s wish for energy independence and an economy unshackled from the hoarding of wealth and resources, which would allow us to do things like further science and medicine and explore the stars. It’s Star Trek’s optimistic future that tends to set it apart from a lot of science fiction TV and film, and its ideals are certainly worth pursuing. That’d make for a heck of a present, wouldn’t it?
A Walk Through A Favorite Ship (suggested by Michael Okuda) – A couple of people actually posted this idea, and the specific requests for a gander at different Enterprises or the Excelsior and even Deep Space 9’s Promenade. As for Mike, he knows where my heart is, and I’m guessing he had in mind the original Enterprise when he offered up his pick. While we can’t walk the corridors of the ship itself, I can suggest the next best thing: the Star Trek Original Series Set Tour in Ticonderoga, New York. It will blow your mind and then give you just enough time to cobble it back together before blowing it again.
Okay, that’s 10. While I admit to being taken with the broader choices like “The Future,” I’d also be lying if I said that trip to Risa didn’t sound cool. And throw in the transporter, since we’re here. All right, and the replicator, too.
Have an idea or a suggestion we missed? Add it to the comments below.
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Dayton Ward is the New York Times bestselling author or co-author of numerous novels and short stories, including a whole bunch of stuff set in the Star Trek universe, and often working with friend and co-writer Kevin Dilmore. As he’s still a big ol' geek at heart, Dayton is known to wax nostalgic about all manner of Star Trek topics over on his own blog, The Fog of Ward.