Kirk is missing, presumed dead. U.S.S. Enterprise 1701-A is retired. Spock has left Starfleet to be an ambassador. The old guard are gone or divided up. For the first time in twenty-eight years, the old crew of the Enterprise are gone. Hikaru Sulu and the Excelsior are the legacy of the old generation; John Harriman and the new Enterprise-B have a tarnished reputation that needs redemption. The Khitomer Accords have been signed. Azetbur is the Chancellor of the High Council after her father was assassinated. Who will step up to deal with what comes next? What happens from here?
Star Trek: The Interim Years is the story of what happened after the momentous events in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; the discoveries and evolution in attitudes and technology which took place between the era of Captain James T. Kirk and Cadet Jean Luc Picard. Amongst a renewal in exploration, discovery, diplomacy and colonisation, Starfleet is active on the final frontier on levels unseen since the Federation-Klingon War. The Tholians, the Breen, the Cardassians, the Ferasans and the Romulans: all are being studied or researched for contact and diplomacy. The cold wars of the last fifty years are not to be repeated. Twenty years after Khitomer, these are the voyages of Captain Nathaniel Hawkins of the Miranda class starship U.S.S. Sheffield. Whilst the famous explorer vessels and deep space cruisers like the Excelsior and Constellation class are well-known to the general officers and crews of Starfleet by the Next Generation, cultural and social sciences specialists like Commander Deanna Troi will know that explorers do a superficial study over a large area; the second-tier, mission-dedicated starships like Sheffield did the more detailed work.
The mission of the Sheffield is to study the Klingon Empire - and the worlds bordering it - in detail; culturally, social scientifically, diplomatically, militarily and astro-politically; to see how the Empire has changed in nearly twenty years and whether the catastrophic collapse Spock predicted on Stardate 9521 shows any signs of happening. On a superficial level, the last 19 years have not quite gone the way Starfleet intended it to; the optimistic start of 2293 soon floundered as the realism of the situation sank in. Some of the Klingon Houses rebelled against the "unilateral declaration of surrender that the the traitor Azetbur signed at Khitomer". The Klingon home world of Qo'noS needs rebuilding after Praxis, but Houses with territories further out have been unaffected by the explosion and are unhappy that their resources are being taken away to rebuild Qo'noS. The war of 2256 - 57 still plays heavily on the Federation and the pseudo-militaristic attitudes of Starfleet are taking time to remove. Admiral Hikaru Sulu, the previous Starfleet Commander-in-Chief, made great progress in reviewing Starfleet and directing it back to the great mission to seek out life and explore, discover and learn from the universe and the life that resides therein. His successor, Irina Khmelnova, will follow this up and set the course of Starfleet to explore the final frontier.
Applying Gene Roddenberry's vision, with inspiration from movies such as Arrival (2016), Avatar (2009) and television series such as David Attenborough's series Planet Earth II and Blue Planet II (2017),Will Smith's National Geographic series One Strange Rock (2018), Leonardo DiCaprio's Before the Flood (2016), Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth (2006) and An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (2017) and CBS Paramount's Star Trek: Discovery (2017), this is a re-imagining of Star Trek focussing on exploration, diplomacy, discovery and hope that sometimes has become lost in the Star Trek movies through the pressure for a summer blockbuster action movie. Equally games, both tabletop and computer, have to match up to the values of Star Trek; if the solution to the game is to shoot and destroy, rather than to explore, think, talk diplomatically and negotiate then it is NOT Star Trek. We're here to discover and learn, not to kill or destroy. This is about remembering what made Star Trek different to the other science fiction movies and TV series: hope, optimism, exploration and discovery, looking, listening and learning, negotiating and NOT shooting weapons, defensive and NEVER offensive; explorers, scientists, diplomats and the coastguard first and soldiers last, when there are NO alternatives left.
The Federation are samaritans: protecting and saving people, never invading, influencing, bullying or interfering in the cultures of others; the PRIME DIRECTIVE. A rule that we would sacrifice OURSELVES to protect OTHERS. The Federation knows when to save people and when they need to stand back and not interfere, no matter how hard that decision is (e.g. when Bajor was annexed by the Cardassians). The Federation is selfless, modest, whilst democratic, free, equal and promoting someone to be their best. It is these values and aspirations that others want to join the Federation for. My website and stories are to stay faithful to the values, characters, races and internal chronology of the franchise, this series of online stories seeks to apply the principals of verisimilitude, or naturalistic science fiction, to these stories to bring the Star Trek concept up-to-date. As with J. J. Abrams' vision with Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, I wanted to move the clock forwards twenty years and talk about what has changed in the universe.
There are four generations from Kirk to Picard: Hikaru Sulu followed on from James T. Kirk, learning from the lessons of the 2260s and 70s, John Harriman was the young Kirk contemporary from the 2280s who commanded the Enterprise-B before the nineties legacy of Demora Sulu and Nathaniel Hawkins. Next will come the generation of Jean-Luc Picard and finally the young Will Riker in the 2350s. Each generation learns from the last and passes on the lessons from 'Cowboy Diplomacy' and quick-draw phasers of the Nicholas Meyer, Leonard Nimoy and Harve Bennett movies up to the opening events of Gene Roddenberry's Next Generation: Encounter at Farpoint and the diplomacy of Captain Picard.
Star Trek: The Interim Years uses the latest developments from Star Trek: Discovery; the richness and diversity of the Klingon Empire and its people, the re-imagined other races of the Federation. Seeking out new life is very different to how it's been portrayed in previous Star Trek series and movies: Life is a rarity in the universe, complex life is even more rare and intelligent life - well that's the rarest find of all. All life is sacred. All Starfleet personnel are passionate about their field of expertise, whether it is artistic, scientific, engineering, medical and protecting its people. Every member of Starfleet is a tool in the toolbox of trying to solve the mysteries and puzzles of the universe. Taking into account great books like Deep Life: The hunt for the hidden biology of Earth, Mars and Beyond by Tullis C. Onstott, Goldilocks and the Water Bears: The search for life in the universe by Louisa Preston and Spaceman by Mike Massimino help shape the Star Trek universe and how it will really be. Not always as it's always been shown.
An average ship with an average crew...
The make-up of Starfleet crews and the Federation. Something Star Trek has never got right, mainly for budgeting and make-up resource reasons. What we've seen, like on the Flashback Excelsior and Enterprise is a cast of mainly white human actors. In reality, for every 100 crew there will be about 15 humans (2 from Earth), similar numbers for Vulcans, Andorians, Tellarites (ie the founder Federation nations) and a smaller number of Rigelians, Deltans, Betazoids, Caitians, Saurians, Trill and sprinklings of Aaamazzarra, Aenar, Grazerite and other species.The Federation - and Starfleet- is a MELTING POT of species and civilisations, NOT a SALAD BOWL of homocentric starships with ships like the Intrepid in the Original Series with an all-Vulcan crew. Do we not get on after a century or something??! Do we still have to have our own native starships despite being a UNITED Federation of Planets? I DON'T see the need for human-only or Vulcan-only or Andorian-only crews etc. The STRENGTH of the Federation is in its DIVERSITY. This is about a mixed crew not just in terms of human ethnicities, but also in terms of alien species. This ratio extends as far as the senior crew/ main characters. So I reduced the humans on the Sheffield bridge to just Hawkins and Peers. The rest are non-human. 125 worlds and colonies in the United Federation of Planets at this point. It needs to stop feeling like the "homo sapiens-only club" that Azetbur spoke of in Star Trek VI. The bridge should be a mix of Humans, Vulcans, Tellarites, Andorians, Caitians, Orions, Bolians and mixtures of the other Federation species in Star Trek. This will ensure both a move away from Earth being the centre of ever story and to give the true scope to the Federation and its peoples. More Humans will be born on other planets and colonies away from Earth than on Earth itself. Izar, Terra Nova, Deneva, Rigel Colonies, Sherman's Planet - all of these are human colonies with colonies of Vulcans, Andorians and other species best suited to their climates. Human crew members from Earth will be a rare thing indeed. This will give unique viewpoints to all of the characters. Through the Universal Translater, we'll be able to speak to and understand the languages of the other crew. This will make Star Trek have more of a feel of the Cantina Bar on Tattooine from Star Wars, than most of the Earth humans in Starfleet seen in most of Star Trek TV series and movies. I want this to be a REAL FEEL Star Trek universe. Federation News Network and Federation News Service will help to give the peoples of the Federation a sense of identity across the nation. Whilst the homeworlds will have predominantly native species on them, the colonies will be a rich and diverse mix of Federation species making up the population.
This is an important thing for the Interim Years and Star Trek as a whole: to reflect modern times and the diversity that we experience in the 21st Century already. In 1966 the Enterprise had a diversity of humans and a token Vulcan as representing the alien diversity of the Federation. The villain Klingons were swarthy Mongolian types with beards and a bad attitude. This harks back to the days of Westerns with the white cowboy as the heroes and the ethnic native Americans as the villains. Clean-shaven steel-jawed heroes with black-faced swarthy bearded villains. Even in the liberating, revolutionary days of the legendary Original Series of Star Trek in 1966, there were still very human stereotypes at play. By the Animated Series in 1973, there were now three non-humans on the Bridge with Spock joined by the Caitian Lt. M'ress and the tri-limbed Edoan Lieutenant Arex. By Star Trek: The Motion Picture we were back to Spock as the non-human (well, partial human). Kirk asking for a Vulcan at the Science station and Commander (formerly captain) Decker replying "None Available" was both racial selection for a position on a starship as well as nonsensical in saying you can't have a Vulcan as Starfleet clearly crews entire starships with them. Dramatic necessity creating dialogue insanity. Formulaic Star Trek continued into the Rick Berman era with the 'Outsider' figure being the non-human e.g. the android Data, the changling Odo and the Vulcans Tuvok and T'pol. Betazoid Deanna Troi, Trill Jadzia Dax and Neelix all added to the alien diversity. However this was usually only a couple in a series. The rest? humans. Even by JJ Abrams' 2009 Kelvin-verse there was a heavily human crew, although the alien extras multiplied to a much more healthy level. Star Trek: Discovery has continued this trend, however it's be nice to see more non-humans as the actual main cast. Star Trek: The Interim Years is taking this action and making the changes. With no budget or make-up requirements, I've no excuse not to show the 'real' Star Trek universe in all its rich diversity.
To seek out life and new civilisations...
Starfleet uses a fusion of planetary sciences, life sciences and social sciences to find life. Especially in the case of intelligent life, this gestalt approach is greater than the sum of its parts; using probes, signals, intelligence and by working in unison, these schools of knowledge can help to shortlist locations for finding life and locating intelligence in the universe, studying and learning from it. Deep space explorers like the Constellation and Excelsior class starships so a cursory two-week survey of worlds, laying claim to first-footing on that worlds. Secondary starships like Miranda and Oberth class then follow-up for a more detailed, directed study afterwards. A planet and its atmosphere must be assessed for risk to the away team just from being there; the appropiate uniform or pressure suits must be selected for the mission and the protective arm of security has to be there keeping watch, with medical in the wings. Starfleet missions have pre-mission preparation, ethical guidance (especially the Prime Directive), operations centres on starships run the away teams and security operations have oversight. Safety comes first and Starfleet has a duty to ethical exploration and contact with life, studying planets in an environmentally sound manner and cleaning up afterwards. No pollution of the environment by detritus or cultures by ideas.
Inspired by the courage and insights of the astronauts and cosmonauts of NASA, ESA, Russian Space Programme, Chinese Space Programme, Japanese Space Programme and the myriad of space probes and missions sent out into space; Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Soyuz, Skylab, Mir, Mariner, Viking, Pioneer, Voyager, Lunokhod (to Moon), Venera (to Venus), Galileo (probe to Jupiter – 1995 – 2003 including Shoemaker-Levy collision 1994), Juno (to Jupiter), Space Shuttles, Cassini-Huygens (to Saturn), Dawn (to Vesta and Ceres), Chang'e (Chinese Moon probes), Hubble space telescope, Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous – Shoemaker: NEAR Shoemaker (to near-Earth asteroid 433 Eros), Stardust (to comets 81P/Wild (sample collect), 5535 Annefrank, Tempel 1), Mars Exploration Rovers, Rosetta and Philae lander (to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko), Hayabusa (to near-Earth asteroid named 25143 Itokawa), New Horizons (to Pluto), Dawn (to the asteroid belt; the protoplanet Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres), Hayabusa2 (to near-Earth asteroid 162173 Ryugu) have all given information on the wonders of space that were unknown before the age of Star Trek. For the style of writing I want us all to remember Star Trek is not just a soap opera about the characters of a space ship but it is about SPACE and the WONDERS that are out there. One Strange Rock by National Geographic is my touchstone for this wonder. Star Trek is NOT "Hornblower in space"; that analogy is purely to inspire Summer blockbuster movies. Star Trek is about James Cook and the Endeavour, Adventure and Resolution, about Charles Darwin on the Beagle, Robert Falcon Scott on the Discovery, Ernest Shackleton on the Nimrod, the astronauts and cosmonauts who have gone up in rockets, shuttles and space stations and the exploits of people like David Livingston, Henry Morton Stanley, Richard Francis Burton, Sir Edmund Hillary, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Robert Ballard and David Mearns. This is about the HUMAN ADVENTURE EXPLORING SPACE and OURSELVES, what it means to be HUMAN. Not melodrama or space soap opera.
Starship voyages of discovery in the 23rd and 24th Centuries is not like a voyage to the Moon, a space shuttle mission or even time in the International Space Station. This is back to an earlier era of exploration like Christopher Columbus, James Cook, David Livingstone, Henry Morton Stanley, Robert Falcon Scott, Ernest Shackleton and Sir John Franklin; this is the age of boldly going where no one has gone before; beyond the supply lines, beyond the real-time communication limits and any hope of help. You're on your own. If your starship is crippled, you'll literally be years away from help. The starship needs to be self-sufficient in every respect. The pressures, both mental and physical, of voyages lasting five years or more are greater than even the longest duration on the ISS. As with those early voyages of discovery, journeys across the continents or to the poles, there are losses. Every year, starships and personnel are lost in the line of duty. Often the circumstances are unknown; a starship goes silent and only after a probe or other starship gets in range can the fate of the lost ship can be investigated. This is a time of renewed exploration, discovery and learning. The achievements and losses are just as great; the risks are worth it. THIS is what it means to be STARFLEET. This is about the PEOPLE and their COURAGE and CURIOSITY that helps to expand our knowledge and make new friends. What needs to be conveyed in Star Trek is REMOTENESS and VASTNESS of space. These starships are not around the corner from starbases like a petrol station, they are MONTHS or even YEARS away from the main infrastructure of the Federation. You may not even see any colonies or signs of other life for MONTHS. Communications relay-laying is a continuous process along with stellar cartography and planetary reviews. Communications are rarely real-time and the only colonies out on the FRONTIER are small homesteads or mines that have been set up. Small populations and no advanced recreational facilities for crews to enjoy; that's all the propaganda for colonialism and the best entertainment is either enjoying the raw, untamed planet and its occupants, or on the starship you came on. The holodeck is a creation of the late-24th Century and many decades away; even then it's entertainment for a small number of the crew and not entirely a match for REALLY escaping the starship and EXPLORING. LONLINESS and ISOLATION are very real factors out on the final frontier, this is one of the reasons that selection at Starfleet Academy is so rigorous and uncompromising. Starfleet life makes a person very INSTITUTIONALISED; the same daily routine, same activities on the starship at the same time: even the same clothing in the form of the Starfleet uniform. You don't need to think for yourself a lot of the time - especially lower down the ranks. Star Trek Beyond dealt with this with reference to the TV series but it'll be a very real factor. You need the right temperament; you have to get on well with the same people around you day-in, day-out for years. Claustrophobia is also very real on a starship that is small compared to the vastness of outdoors on any planet. Like the Royal Navy, this is why you need SUPPORT SHIPS like the Royal Fleet Auxiliary backing you up and keeping your ships functional. Starfleet will be the same with repair ships, tankers and freighters sent ahead with the explorers to keep them fighting fit and running well. STAR TREK: THE INTERIM YEARS is about conveying the REALISM of what DEEP SPACE EXPLORATION is like; the BOREDOM, the PRESSURES and the EXHILARATION of DISCOVERY. Doing PERSONAL PROJECTS both partly to stave off boredom and keep you occupied but also to create insight into your overall MISSION. The little picture building up to the BIG PICTURE and the multiple LEVELS of operation on the starship.
Building on the established lore of Star Trek, with contemporary organisations such as the British Antarctic Survey, US Coastguard, NASA, ESA, Russian Space Agency, UN Ambassadors and the Royal Navy's HMS Echo and HMS Enterprise (2002 - ), HMS Protector (2011 - ) and Endurance (1967 - 1991, 1992 - 2008) amongst the models for the future Starfleet. The nature of the Federation and the other races will be re-examined as the Sheffield continues Star Trek's 50+ year mission "to boldly go..."