New Star Trek Movie Takes Place In Alternate Timeline

Man... I love it when I'm right - and this makes twice in one week for me. :-P

Over the course of the last few weeks I've read small comments by Roberto Orci over at the TrekMovie site which led me to believe that yes, Star Trek "canon" issues (how this film fits into the overall Star Trek history) would be addressed in the new movie.

Today we not only confirmation of that - but exactly HOW these apparent inconsistencies will be addressed.

In an discussion over at TrekMovie, Anthony (who runs the site) finally asked the question that Trekkies have been wanting the answer to:

"OK, now let’s get really into it... the big question is: Is the destruction of the Kelvin, the canon reason why everything is different?"

Will the following answer be satisfying? I'll leave that up to you to decide. I'll include bits and pieces of the interview, you can head over to TrekMovie for the whole thing (which is quite long and technical and will be a joy to read for real Star Trek fans).

Roberto Orci: It is the reason why some things are different, but not everything is different. Not everything is inconsistent with what might have actually happened, in canon. Some of the things that seem that they are totally different, I will argue, once the film comes out, fall well within what could have been the non-time travel version of this move. So, for example, Kirk is different, because his back story has totally changed, in that his parents...and all that. But you are saying that maybe Scotty or Spock's back story would not be affected by that change?

Roberto Orci: Right.

Anthony: Does the time travel explain why the Enterprise looks different and why it is being built in Riverside Iowa? Yes, and yes.

So J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movie takes place in/creates an alternate timeline/version of the Trek universe we know and love. He talks a lot about quantum physics and the new way of viewing time travel (if it were actually possible). According to Orci, the old time travel paradox question of whether you can go back and kill your own grandfather has been answered - and the answer is: Yes.

The idea is that event would exist in an alternate timeline in which you would never be born. In that timeline you're a guy who came from nowhere and killed the man who was to be your grandfather. In that timeline you will never exist. According to this theory there is NO WAY to go back in time and change events that will affect the timeline you started from.

The problem with even this explanation is that it goes against what has been established in previous Star Trek episodes and movies: In prior Trek time travel DOES repair problems and the crew returns to the "fixed" future they left. Examples of this include the TNG episode "Yesterday's Enterprise" where a starship was sent back to fight a crucial battle and it set the existing timeline straight, and the film "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" where Kirk and Co. went back in time to bring humpback whales back to the future to avert the destruction of humanity.

The reasoning given is that at the time those were filmed there was a different view of time travel. Actually the version of time travel they're using in the new film goes all the way back (in movies, anyway) to the first Back to the Future film, where Dr. Brown explains the splitting off of an alternate timeline to Marty as a possibility if something went wrong.

Anyway, here's the summary of the whole thing in bullet point form:

  • Q: Why do some things appear different in the new Star Trek movie?
  • A: There is an alternative timeline created by Nero traveling back in time.

  • Q: Is everything different in the alternative timeline?
  • A: No, some things remain the same.

  • Q: Does this alternative timeline wipe out the original timeline (from TOS - Nemesis)?
  • A: No, quantum theory says they both co-exist.

  • Q: Does the original timeline continue?
  • A: Yes, again as explained by quantum theory.

  • Q: Does this quantum theory approach conform to ‘Trek science?’
  • A: Depends on the episode, but it is explicitly cited by Data in the episode “Parallels.”

So there you have it. What do you think? Are you satisfied with this explanation of why and how they were able to update and change things in the movie?

Star Trek opens on May 8, 2009

Source: TrekMovie via AICN

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