One Trek Mind #17: Star Trek Anomalies
Imagine a world where time is elastic, where seemingly implacable units of measurement will sometimes shift. Like, say, the span of a year will, I dunno, tack on a day every four years, just to mess with you.
And thus we enter the anomaly that is Leap Day.
Luckily we Trekkies need not feel anxious during this or any other February 29th. Peculiarities of space-time is our stock in trade. Following the continuing missions of our friends in Starfleet have us prepared for any sort of unexpected anomaly.
With that, on this most anomalous of days, let's take a moment to remember the 10 best anomalies on Star Trek.
10 – The Galactic Barrier
Star Trek may have a mandate to go “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” but they should've also added “just not into the neighbor's yard.”
Like Mom saying you can ride your bike to the busy road, then you have to turn around, Trek's creators decided this Galaxy was enough to keep them busy. The Enterprise was forbidden to cross into the next one, lest the crew suffer the consequences of enhanced ESP powers and accompanying delusions of godlike grandeur.
The Galactic Barrier is actually more like an “envelope” covering the disc of the Milky Way and has “negative energy.” Of course, the Kelvans of the Andromeda Galaxy eventually made their way through, but at great cost.
Due to intense tetryon particles in the Hekaras System, the only safe passage through the area is via this narrow, 12-light years-long region at warp. Well – safe for who?!? For the ships, sure, but, as the events of “Force of Nature” shows us, the repeated use of warp drive in this one location is doing enormous damage to area's space-time fabric, putting the indigenous planets in jeopardy.
Oh, why won't Congress support the electric starship?
8 - The Delta Triangle
In The Animated Series episode “The Time Trap,” this strange area of space wreaked havoc on starship sensors, eventually capturing ships and sending them to the pocket universe of Elysia. Here there lived a starship graveyard (awesome) and a super-slow passage of time leading to virtual immortality (awesome if you brought enough books to read.) Best about the Delta Triangle and Elysia was imagery from the “ruling council,” giving Trek fans their first glimpse at a Gorn since “Arena.”
7 - Subspace Sandbar
Luckily, we only know of this existing way out in the Delta Quadrant, so don't get too worried just yet. Still, as seen in the Voyager episode “Bride of Chaotica!,” running aground of this layer of subspace can cause an awful lot of trouble. Should you find yourself occupying the same space as an inter-dimensional rift, your tactical systems and core computer programs will all go on the fritz – yes, including the replicator! A drag for engineering, but fun for everyone else who has to run around in the Holodeck playing Buck Rogers to try and free the ship from photonic life forms.
Here's an early lesson for our brave explorers of Enterprise: you wanna be a hero, half the battle is getting there.
In an attempt to show the Xindi who's boss, the NX-01 had to take a dangerous, multi-episode journey through a giant region of space littered with thermobaric clouds and spatial anomalies powered by transdimensional, hyper-gravimetric spheres.
Sound scary? Just wait til you see the Zombie Vulcans within!
5 –The Nexus
Imagine if Halley's Comet were actually a ribbon of intense energy that might destroy all your surroundings but could whisk you away to an inter-dimensional realm where all your dreams came true. Here you could ride horses all day and attend Christmas dinners all night. Careful, though, because if you leave the Nexus you'll either spend the rest of your life trying to get back in or you will be killed by a falling bridge.
We've seen it happen and it isn't pretty.
4 - Murasaki 312
An electromagnetic phenomenon with quasar-like effects that'll redirect all snooping shuttlecrafts to the nearest barbarian-filled planet.
In “The Galileo Seven,” the Murasaki 312 formation is depicted as a green cloud. It is up to the viewer's interpretation to determine if any of the anomalous effects could instill near-mutinous feelings in otherwise fine Starfleet members. (Don't worry, Mr. Spock, there's no one I'd rather be trapped in a doomed shuttle with than you.)
3 – Chaotic Space
As if the Delta Quadrant wasn't tough enough, poor Voyager had to run afoul of Chaotic Space.
Not only do traditional laws of physics not apply, but the peculiar nature of this anomaly allows the indigenous life to rearrange the neural pathways of certain prone travelers. In other words: this place will make you nuts! Case in point, see the episode “The Fight,” in which Chakotay thinks he's a boxer.
Chaotic Space exists in 18 dimensions (hey, just go with it) and can be escaped if you reroute the sensor array through the deflector dish to induce a paralateral rentrillic trajectory. Did I really just say that? Yeah, you'll be reading about this again when we list our 10 best technobabble moments.
2 – Temporal Causality Loop
Thanks to Frasier Crane getting sucked into a time distortion and reappearing seconds away from the Enterprise-D, we now know what it will look like when all of our TV best friends explode. The destruction was close enough to the initial distortion that it caused a loop. So now we get to see our friends die again and again. Luckily, the eerie feeling of deja vu is something Data can put his positronic mind to, enough that he can send a warning to his future self (or is it past self? Or alterna-self?) and break the cycle.
1 – Bones Gets The Last Word
If there is one constant in the Universe, it is that Kirk and Spock will conclude an episode with some zings at Dr. McCoy's expense. With any luck it'll include a raised Vulcan eyebrow.
But things never quite went as planned on the “Journey to Babel.” Both Kirk and Spock (and Sarek, for good measure) are confined to bed rest in sick bay, and on the receiving ends of some serious medical “Shhhh!”s from the Enterprise's chief surgeon. In the moment closest to Trek breaking the fourth wall McCoy says to nobody, “Well, what do you know? I finally got the last word!”
It's a big galaxy out there, folks, so I'm sure I missed some of your favorite anomalies. Be sure to let me know what I warped past in the comments below.
Jordan Hoffman is a freelance writer, critic and independent film producer living in New York City. He fell in love with Star Trek through TOS reruns just as TNG was getting ready to launch. On his BLOG, Jordan has reviewed all 727 Trek episodes and films, most of the comics and some of the novels. He has a funny story about the one time he met Leonard Nimoy. Click HERE to follow him on Twitter.