Star Trek Magazine #33 will transports readers into a reflective, contemplative realm upon its release on March 29, examining oft-seen themes in tremendous depth with articles penned by people very familiar with those themes. Dayton Ward, for example, considers at the many ways in which members of Starfleet have made the ultimate sacrifice. And then there’s David A. McIntee, who pays tribute to some of the unsung heroes of Star Trek - the often-overlooked members of Starfleet Security. StarTrek.com has an exclusive preview straight from the editor’s desk. Check it out:
The Ultimate Sacrifice
While selfless deeds have commonly been held in high regard throughout the history of civilization, a place of even greater veneration often is reserved for those who act with full knowledge that they are without doubt sacrificing their very lives. When soldiers die in the line of duty, they are said to have made "the ultimate sacrifice." President Abraham Lincoln referred to it as "the last full measure of devotion" during his famous Gettysburg Address speech in 1863. Beyond the ranks of the military, other such noble acts might come of fire fighters who race into burning buildings to rescue victims, or police officers who place themselves in the path of danger in order to protect others. And what about an ordinary citizen, such as an anonymous passerby who jumps into raging flood waters to pull a child to safety?
It is courage of this sort that we usually consider when it is displayed by individuals in times of crisis, though it also is not uncommon to observe such conduct as carried out in accordance with a societal belief. For some cultures, such as the Romulans or the Vorta, or even the Orions, ending one's own life in order to prevent capture and exploitation by an enemy is considered to be well within the strict call of duty. Taking such a notion to an extreme were the warring planets Eminiar VII and Vendikar, people of which were born into a culture where the interplanetary conflict was waged as an abstraction via computers, allowing the worlds to "fight" for generations without suffering the effects of actual warfare. As a consequence, their citizens had been conditioned to surrender themselves for disintegration whenever they were designated as "casualties" by the very machines which acted to preserve their civilization. Only after their war computers are destroyed and faced with the specter of resuming genuine conflict with real weapons does the leadership of Eminiar VII consider the unthinkable: peace (TOS, "A Taste of Armageddon"). The people of the planet Kaelon II, upon reaching an age equivalent to 60 Earth years, end their lives so that society is not burdened with their care as they become elderly. (Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Half a Life").
The Thin Red Line
Everyone's heard the riddle, everyone agrees with it, and everyone knows Ensign Ricky is wearing a red shirt, and is probably a security guard. In fact it's such a prevalent meme that other TV shows, such as Stargate SG-1 and Family Guy, reference it. Indeed, Gene Roddenberry reportedly chose to switch the command and security colors on the TNG uniforms so people would know that this time the guy in red - the boss! - would be coming back.
How do we even know whether a security guard is a security guard? In TOS, they're burly guys who carry only a phaser, whereas everybody else who ever went on a landing party, regardless of shirt color, carried a tricorder. Guy in a red shirt with a phaser: dead by the end of Act One. In the movies, they get leather and vinyl tabards and headgear, doubtless intended as a form of body armor. What good leather armor is supposed to be against energy weapons is quite another matter, and it doesn't help that the new protective gear serves only to make the movie-era security guards look rather like surly cyclists.
It sounds like the worst job deal in the Federation: show up, get sent to explore behind a rock, or escort an intruder to the brig, die in a painful and frequently silly way. Such is the lot of an expendable ensign. Why would anybody sign up for the job if it was so suicidal? There are only two likely answers: the pay is insanely good, or the job isn't actually the guaranteed suicide post that everybody thinks it is.
You can read these articles in full in Star Trek Magazine #33, on sale March 29, available from all good retailers and specialist comic stores.
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