Friday, July 06, 2007

This is the sort of thing that keeps me up at night.*

...the sort of thing I'm always thinking about obsessively. In the Star Trek episode "Miri," the Enterprise (back when ships used to be all called the Something and not just Something) visits an earth-like planet overrun by a deadly virus which has killed all the adults and extended the lifespan of the kids. How Earth-like? how about Earth-freakin'-identical?!?:

Now, I do know why so many of the planet surfaces that Kirk and his merry crew visited looked like Earth, or more accurately, the backlot of Desilu Studios or canyons in the outskirts of Los Angeles: sheer economics of television production. (Also the same reason most aliens had two arms, two legs, and maybe, if we were lucky, a funny nose). There's also an in-universe explanation of this: Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Planetary Development, the idea that cultures across the universe evolve in similar ways, which is why you could spend Stardate 3972.2 on the Cowboy Planet and then warp over to Nazi World by Stardate 4001.9, making only a quick detour to Roman Planet on the way. Star Trek: The Next Generation backed this up with a story that made canon the long-discussed in-universe belief that each of the major galactic races was seeded by a group of superbeing meddlers, spreading similar beings across the far reaches of the galaxy much like you or I leaving our action figures in the back yard after a rousing afternoon playing "Infinite Crisis on Ultimate Secret Civil Wars." Whoops, that reminds me!

(sprinting out into the yard, retrieving my Captain America figure before the sprinklers come on, running back to the computer)

None of that, in or out of universe, however, explains why Miri's planet looks like Earth II: The Next Generation:

It's only commented on in the pre-credits tease of the episode when Uhura gasps and Kirk says in "Another earth...another earth!" Well, yes, Jimmy T., that is what we're looking at. But once y'all beam down to the planet and play with some tricycles and Yeoman Rand shows you her legs, everybody seems to forget this planet out in the middle of nowhere has an Africa and an Australia and a Bay of Biscayne, although they're probably all overrun with annoying little pre-teen twerps going "bonk bonk" in various languages.

So, my question, the thing I muse about at night, is this. I know that the episode itself never explained why this planet is a duplicate of Earth. Nor did any episodes of any of the follow-up shows: Star Trek: The Next Generation, or Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, or Star Trek: Hey Look, We Have a Borg in a Silver Catsuit or Star Trek: We're Not Going to Call Ourselves Star Trek, Oh Wait, Now We Are. Sheesh, we even had a Star Trek episode devoted solely to explain why some Klingons have bumpy foreheads and why others didn't. But although I know they're not "canon," did any of the Star Trek novels, of which there appear to be approximately one gazillion, try to explain it? Maybe as a parallel universe Earth that slipped through a wormhole? Trick of Trelane? Trick of Q? Giant alien race who copied the Earth for kicks? Cunningly-placed space mirrors? The world, well, just I, really, really want to know. And then maybe I'll sleep better at night.

After I figure out why we always see starships facing each other oriented on exactly the same plane, of course.

*Also, my fear of night-flying vampire bats.


Erin Palette said...

Speaking as a Floridian.... why yes, we ARE America's wang. It's especially Freudian, what with all those rockets we're constantly shooting.


Then I realize that makes California "America's Butt", and I am happy again. :)

Sleestak said...

One of the Trek novels went into why the various crews are always time traveling and it turned out to be some plan by a Q. I imagine that the identical Earth was something similar.

Unknown said...

Cunningly-placed space mirrors?

I like that excu... reason!

Actually, perhaps that planet isn't the copy but the original? Earth is actually an illegally pirated copy of their world. And here come the Intergalatic Copyright Protectors to impound the terabit-torrented copy and give the Q a rather hefty fine for infringing Pegasus Galaxy Copyright laws.

Spock to the rescue! He points out that the Pegasus Galaxy's copyright doesn't apply to the Milky Way and so everything is fine. And Kirk gets off with some woman in bright purple make-up.

Tom Bondurant said...

It seems like the Shatnerverse novel Preserver mentioned Miri's planet, but I can't remember for sure.

I do know that Miri lived in a parallel version of Mayberry, North Carolina....

Marionette said...

I had this idea that they thought they were traveling in space when in fact they were traveling through different dimensions. So they never got much further than Earth orbit and consequently kept arriving at alternate versions.

googum said...

Maybe it's Marvel's Counter-Earth. That damn thing's appeared and disappeared so many times, I don't know if it's still there or not.

Siskoid said...

Ok, after doing some research, here's the answer: The William Shatner novel "Preserver" featured a return to this planet, which was revealed to have been duplicated from Earth on a subatomic level by the Preservers.

Other tidbits uncovered on Miri's Planet:
-According to the novel "The Cry of the Onlies", this planet was called "Juram V". The quasi-canon book "Star Trek: Star Charts" substantiates this.

-The reference work The Worlds of the Federation by Shane Johnson had a similar explanation duplication (although without mentioning parties responsible), but also included a comment revealing that 24th century theologians of the "Judeo-Christian" faiths considered it to be a simultaneous creation by God.

-The novel adaptation of "Miri" ignored the duplicate earth stuff and just made it Earth-like.

Hope that helps!

Bully said...

Siskoid, did you ever know that you're my hero? Yes, you are the wing beneath my wings.

(Thanks for the great, well-researched answer! I knew there musta been a Trekfic explanation somewhere!)

Anonymous said...

Eh, when it comes to "Miri", I'm inclined to blame The Doctor.