09 July 2014

To Infinitive and Beyond

Image Credit: Screen Grab from UtopiaPlanitia.info header
I spent 10 minutes today comparing various Main Engineering set diagrams for various incarnations of the starship Enterprise (and the good ship Voyager) so I could make an informed decision before voting in this week's StarTrek.com poll. I don't vote in the poll every week, but there the call to action was in my Facebook timeline (sorted by Most Recent, of course; algorithm be damned) and I felt compelled to weigh in, but when I sat there staring at my options (NX-01, NCC-1701-A, -D, -E, aforementioned Voyager), I realized I could not properly differentiate in my head, so off to Google I went for a quick hop over to the Utopia Planitia site to look at the various illustrated and annotated set diagrams. This was not an easy choice, people.

The D will forever hold a dear place in my heart. Sure, I watched TOS as a little kid, but TNG is my show. Remember, I can tell you the episode title and plot of just about every episode of TNG within ten seconds or less. This is why I am not further along in my career (my day job, not my writing, though one wonders). But the Engineering set suffers from what most of the -D set suffers in that it feels too much like a cruise ship and not nearly enough like an Engine Room.
What about the E, you say? F--- the E, that imposter. I'm aware of the shooting concerns of using a TV set meant for old school SD shooting to film a movie (thus all the crappy lighting in Generations). I am simply and honestly not a big fan of the E. Killing the D was a dumb move, but it is also ancient history (from THE FUTURE) on which I have already wasted too many words. Not that I have a limit in words, but surely your patience must.
Jumping back, the A set was fine, but we saw precious little of it. Pretty sure we saw more of the Bounty's engine room than we ever did of the A. I have not done the requisite film study to confirm that assertion, but I bet someone has. Or will, now that I have asserted thus.
Voyager, that (I will not say "intrepid") plucky little ship, tenacious wedge in the far flung reaches of the galaxy, Ship of Doom that she was to so many, her engine room was a scaled down re-hash of the D set. Functional, Trek-logical, but still a room in which you might feel comfortable having tea, coffee, or raktageno in an uncovered mug. No, this is not the best.
But lo, what is the best? An engine room ought to feel like there is power thrumming through it, contained only by the efforts of the individuals who strive every hour of every ship's day to keep it contained and balanced and decidedly not blowing the whole thing to Hell. An engine room is a space where you expect to have to crawl under -- or into -- things to fix them, swapping out components and getting whatever passes for lubricant in the future on your hands. Where your sleeves are rolled up and if you bring a cup of liquid into the room you damn well better have a lid on it, or else BOOM (see re: not blowing the whole thing to Hell). Which leaves us with my choice, the only real winner: The NX-01 herself.
Whatever my issues with the show might be, they got a lot right with the sets and the uniforms and the general feel of being in space (thank you and screw you at the same time for the decontamination gel scenes). The engine room of the NX-01 is what I described in the preceding paragraph, and if you are comparing them on the basis of which one feels most like a working engine room, then there is only one correct option. Work tables and levers and sparks and replacing injectors and people crawling under and into things to keep her flying (not "straight and steady", I never liked that much) true.
Hell yeah.
Where do I sign up?

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