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Why Did The Stars Wars and Star Trek Worlds Turn Out So Differently? (marginalrevolution.com) 359

HughPickens.com writes: In the Star Trek world there is virtual reality, personal replicators, powerful weapons, and, it seems, a very high standard of living for most of humanity, while in Star Wars there is widespread slavery, lots of people seem to live at subsistence, and eventually much of the galaxy falls under the Jedi Reign of Terror. Why the difference? Tyler Cowen writes about some of the factors differentiating the world of Star Wars from that of Star Trek: 1) The armed forces in Star Trek seem broadly representative of society. Compare Uhura, Chekhov, and Sulu to the Imperial Storm troopers. 2) Captains Kirk and Picard do not descend into true power madness, unlike various Sith leaders and corrupted Jedi Knights. 3) In Star Trek, any starship can lay waste to a planet, whereas in Star Wars there is a single, centralized Death Star and no way to oppose it, implying stronger checks and balances in the world of Star Trek. 4) Star Trek embraces egalitarianism, namely that all humans consider themselves part of the same broader species. There is no special group comparable to the Jedi or the Sith, with special powers in their blood. 5) Star Trek replicators are sufficiently powerful it seems slavery is highly inefficient in that world.
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Why Did The Stars Wars and Star Trek Worlds Turn Out So Differently?

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  • The summary might actually be longer than this "article". Next we'll be seeing summaries of a single tweet.
  • Orion (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BlackusDiamondus ( 945259 ) on Saturday July 02, 2016 @08:34AM (#52432729) Homepage
    Yes, because slavery definitely doesn't exist in Star Trek...there's definitely no Orion Syndicate or Orion Slavers or slave girls.
    • Re: Orion (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This. Also Star Trek artificially separates various human traits into separate species. Like the Ferengi all being the "greedy merchant" types. Bajorans are all super religious. The list goes on. I think Star Trek is also a way to show how Communism was supposed to work. I.e. that everything everyone needs is available anybody can do what they like and still we'd not all just sit around and do drugs because we're bored. It all works because theres the replicator and warp drives and such.

      While I would love t

      • The best way to describe the Star Trek world is that everyone is retired at age 18. After that the jobs they do are more like hobbies that interest them. There's no money to work for, but prestige is still a limited commodity, and the Captain has nicer quarters than the yeoman.
      • This. Also Star Trek artificially separates various human traits into separate species.

        Star Trek's vision of an alien is a human with a funny looking forehead. Star Wars vision of an alien varies quite a bit, more like mixed animal traits.

        • This. Also Star Trek artificially separates various human traits into separate species.

          Star Trek's vision of an alien is a human with a funny looking forehead.

          I've stated that fact many times. Usually to some college-age person who thinks the various Star Trek series are the high mark of TV culture.

    • The "Slave Girls" Actually run the syndicate.

  • Why I thought... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Crc ( 151920 ) on Saturday July 02, 2016 @08:38AM (#52432741)

    Why I thought it was because one was science fiction and the other was science fantasy.

    Would have been more interesting to do a comparison between two science fiction universes.

    • by Barny ( 103770 ) <bakadamage-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Saturday July 02, 2016 @08:51AM (#52432793) Journal

      This. One is about science and philosophy, the other is about sword-fighting space-wizards. Neither is bad, but like the parent said, they are comparing mandarins to pears.

      • Re:Why I thought... (Score:4, Informative)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@@@world3...net> on Saturday July 02, 2016 @10:00AM (#52433123) Homepage Journal

        TFA is hopeless confused. For example, I calls Star Fleet an "armed forces", but it's not a military organization. It borrows some military structure but it's not a navy, it's a peaceful diplomatic and exploration organization that also handles defence when needed. At most you could say it's something like Japan's Self Defence Forces, the Federation being an entirely pacifist organization.

        • TFA is confused, but for a different reason. There is plenty of slavery and conquest in Star Trek. Most other major species (Klingon, Romulan, Borg, Dominion, etc.) are based on conquest and dictatorship. The Federation was the US proxy in a world of huge communist blocks and smaller dictatorships.

          In Star Wars, the speed allows direct continuous pacification of the entire galaxy. It fell from within, ala Hitler's Germany and other nominally free periods (ancient Greece and Rome) all of which gave up eme

          • You don't even need the prequels, BTW, to know that about Star Wars. They just flesh it out.

            A New Hope opens with "The Emperor has just dissolved the Senate," recall.

        • TFA is hopeless confused. For example, I calls Star Fleet an "armed forces", but it's not a military organization.

          Yes it is... if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck...

          They have battleships (Enterprise), cruisers and destroyers (Voyager and Defiant), fighters, etc...

          They are just a soft, pretty military that doesn't look scary, but the differences are minor...

      • Which is which?
    • It is probably that one is set in the past while the other is set in the future. Starwars reflects our history or a vision of it and star trek reflects a vision of what someone wants our future to become.

    • No. One is space opera and the other is fantasy. Neither is science fiction.

      • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

        I think it's narrow-minded to not call them science fiction. A movie can be many things at the same time and there are science fiction elements in both.

        • When a franchise just asks you to suspend disbelief at every turn, it's fantasy. Lazy fantasy.

          Science fiction asks you to suspend disbelief about a few things, then constructs consistent stories in that world.

          Space opera's are just adventure stories with special effects.

    • It's because Lucas is a bigger hack writer who took bits from all over the place without giving it more consideration than "cause it's cool and I like it".
      When he finally got around to try to consolidate all that stuff and make it make sense - we got midichlorians.
      All Lucas knew was what it was supposed to be LIKE.
      I.e. Like 1920s pulp serials, like Kurosawa's samurai movies, like WW2 dogfights, like the stuff Joseph Campbell wrote, like Buddhism...

      Roddenberry on the other hand had strict guidelines for the [myzen.co.uk]

  • by berchca ( 414155 ) on Saturday July 02, 2016 @08:39AM (#52432743) Homepage

    Episodes of Star Trek were quite often, if not always, morality tales, and a relatively peaceful, morally advanced society provided a good backdrop for those tales. Star Wars was a tale of high adventure, and those sorts of stories are best served by heroes dealing with unseemly characters and places, by power-mad leaders, and by huge imbalances of power.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 02, 2016 @08:39AM (#52432745)

    The writer(s) made it so.

  • The Q (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jon Abbott ( 723 ) on Saturday July 02, 2016 @08:40AM (#52432757) Homepage

    There is no special group comparable to the Jedi or the Sith, with special powers in their blood.

    What about the Q?

    • Or, more commonly, the Vulcans with their "mind meld" and the Betazoid with their ESP?
    • What about the Q?

      They're NPCs, who exist to move the plot along. They have special rules that prevent them from interfering overmuch, unless it's important to the plot.

      • Plot complications...the writers needed a way to tie up all the lose ends in the last 10 minutes of each episode. Take the 'tie it up' crap out of the ST universe and it makes slightly more sense.

    • or that 1 being that destroyed an entire civilization because they killed his human wife.

  • by aepervius ( 535155 ) on Saturday July 02, 2016 @08:41AM (#52432759)
    or more simply 5) because the folk started with how the universes should look like, then applied their own preconception on what then should be the power, social, and military structure. After all this is not history but two made up stories.
  • by Martin S. ( 98249 ) <Martin,Spamer&gmail,com> on Saturday July 02, 2016 @08:45AM (#52432769) Homepage Journal

    Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas have very different world views.

    • The works say a lot about the authors and the culture or perspective of each time and place. Look at horror movies throughout the decades to see what americans feared at any time. That is one reason re-imaginings are so popular they take a new perspective on an old familiar work.
  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Grim Reefer ( 1162755 ) on Saturday July 02, 2016 @08:56AM (#52432821)

    It's pretty simple, because they both came from the imagination of two different people.

    Gene Roddenberry imagined what he thought was as close to the most perfect universe as could possibly exsist. In the case of TOS, he also tried to use fictional races and themes to make people think about how silly we are as a species too. Basically to make its viewers think about being better people.

    George Lucas created a universe out of themes from various genres he probaby enjoyed as a child. He wanted to create a universe full of awe and spectacle. The story was the framework for presenting it. George was more artistic and wanted people to leave the theater thinking, "wow, that was cool".

    There's nothing wrong with either, they are just different. And both franchise had their ups and downs. The current Star Trek movies have been more about being shiny than they were in the past. And I don't think I need to say much about the prequel Star Wars trilogy.

  • I can't - the Stormtroopers are all wearing helmets, so I can't tell their gender/ethnicity. But I'm sure Lucas put a representative sample of humanity in there. I bet he even has some transgendered Stormtroopers and you won't find that in Star Trek no siree. Man, that George Lucas thought of everything!
    • Aren't stormtroopers clones in the later versions of the mythos? Not sure, I don't think I stayed awake through any but the first 3.

      • According to Wookipedia, You've got your clone troopers, [wikia.com] (clones of Jango Fett), you've got your Imperial Stormtroopers [wikia.com] (described as "the ultimate evolution of clone troopers") , and you've got your First Order Stormtroopers. [slashdot.org]

        Imperial Stormtroopers were originally clone troopers, but their accelerated aging process caused their physical skills and abilities to deteriorate so they were replaced by non-clone volunteers and conscripts.

        First Order Stormtroopers composed the army of the junta that arose out

        • ...weird, slashdot futzed up that link to first order stormtroopers.

          http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Stormtrooper_(First_Order)

      • by iCEBaLM ( 34905 )

        No, they're conscripted childen stolen from their parents.

  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Saturday July 02, 2016 @09:08AM (#52432863)
    Because they are different STORIES written by different AUTHORS. Anyone who reads any more than that into them is either a little crazy, a humanities major, or both.
  • by readin ( 838620 ) on Saturday July 02, 2016 @09:09AM (#52432869)
    In Star Trek we see good government in the form of the Federation. Promotions are by merit. Large undertakings are done for the betterment of the entire Federation. But we never see how that is achieved. How is the leadership of the Federation selected? How incentives in place to prevent corruption, to prevent factionalism, to prevent special interests from gaining too much power? Why doesn't a Ferengi of questionable character ever become the leader and make himself a dictator? Roddenberry just wished those problems away! We see from most Star Fleet officers a certain desire to serve and to better themselves (there is the famous episode where Picard claims that people are no longer motivated by money). If that isn't limited to Star Fleet, then how are people's human instincts suppressed? Is it indoctrination when they're children? Drugs? Medical procedures? Again Roddenberry just wishes for it and it's there! Of course as a work of fiction, that's what we expect. Faster than light travel? Maybe some future technology will make it possible. A large happy prosperous communist society? Maybe some future technology will make it work. We suspend our disbelief so we can enjoy the story. That's why it's called 'fiction'.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      How is the leadership of the Federation selected?

      I seem to recall that it is a democracy, somewhat like the European Union where member planets send representatives. It's not clear if they representatives elect a leader or if that is by a popular vote... Or it could even be a mix of the two, as some races might not practice that kind of democracy for various reasons.

      Star Fleet leadership is presumably appointed, much like most current militaries, although it's not a military organization. It serves the elected government, anyway.

      Why doesn't a Ferengi of questionable character ever become the leader and make himself a dictator?

      Because they are not membe

      • A large happy prosperous communist society?

        Well, most of the best places to live in the world are socialist. Sweden and other northern European countries are very far to the left of the US and yet have a better quality of life, less poverty and more happiness. It seems to be the way the human race is heading as most societies become more socialist as they develop.

        Scandivia _had_ more happiness until it was overrun by Klingons. You know, a warrior race that believes the greatest honor is in losing your life while battling the enemy, whose most holy figure is a warrior, whose weapon of choice is the sword, and whose favorite tactic is attacking from ambush, without warning.

    • There are Star Trek episodes that deal with corruption in the federation, and even with martial law and a dictator plotting to take control of the federation (DS9: Paradise Lost).

    • If that isn't limited to Star Fleet, then how are people's human instincts suppressed? Is it indoctrination when they're children? Drugs? Medical procedures? Again Roddenberry just wishes for it and it's there! Of course as a work of fiction, that's what we expect.

      I think a lot of what you call "human instincts" are profoundly shaped by society around you. Yes, people have natural urges, and many of them can be self-destructive or even destructive to an idealistic society if not "kept in check." But social mores can be powerful.

      Yes, we all recognize that "human" traits like lust and envy and greed have always been around, but the kinds of behavior we view as acceptable in the pursuit of them have changed radically over time. Look back at the murder and violent c

    • by PJ6 ( 1151747 )
      I agree that how one arrives at the social and economic structure of Star Trek is left to the imagination, but some of the presumably enabling elements, namely, the technology, are shown front-and-center. What will happen when everyone has access to a replicator that can make all the necessities of life - food, shelter, clothing - in as much abundance as anyone would ever need?

      Maybe that will result in disaster the likes of which would strain the imagination... but maybe not.

      Whatever the outcome, I'm p
  • I always tend to think that the levels of energy contained in a single seat spaceplane with hyperdrive or a teleporter are huge enough that everyone is carrying around machines that could blow up like a dinosaur-killing meteorite, if the energy were to be "accidentally" released.

    The phaser ray even has interesting properties, in that in disintegration mode it can make an alien vanish in a close quarters, enclosed space. So, where it did go? Perhaps it turned into transparent or invisible matter, but it did

  • ...Compare Uhura, Chekhov, and Sulu to the Imperial Storm troopers...

    You can't compare them. Uhura, Chekhov, and Sulu are officers and Storm troopers are foot solders. You have to compare TOS Red shirts with Storm troopers. They both die like flies and they both have terrible aim.
    • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

      RIP Star Trek, You will be missed.

      And Star Wars, Disney is flogging it to death. Time for some new _sci _fi_ universes - preferably ones that are creative commons from the outset so some corp like paramount can't use it's grubby influence to limit the possibilities in the stories.

      • RIP Star Trek, You will be missed.

        And Star Wars, Disney is flogging it to death. Time for some new _sci _fi_ universes - preferably ones that are creative commons from the outset so some corp like paramount can't use it's grubby influence to limit the possibilities in the stories.

        You might be interested in Orion's Arm [wikipedia.org]. A collaboratively developed hard SF universe originally heavily based on Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep, it has since branched out, picking up elements of Ian M. Banks' Culture universe and David Brin's Uplift Universe, plus generated new material. Two short story collections have been formally published in paper. Unfortunately, the main website [orionsarm.com] is broken at the moment. Interest in the project has been waning for some time. Apparently it has reached a fairly

    • Red shirts don't have terrible aim. They usually hit their target, then discover their target isn't damaged by phasers, and then angry target vaporizes them.

  • Remember: All we see are the myriad propaganda films that paint the Federation in the best possible light. We never see the vast slave gulags back in the Federation hinterland. "Look, our society is perfect! No one is ever jelous, enraged, power-hungry, greedy, or ambitious! Starship Captains never abuse their positions to accumulate vast wealth!"

    It's set in a magic fantasy world where communism works and people never have personal conflicts with each other. It's Potemkin Villages all the way down...

    Star Wa

    • Remember: All we see are the myriad propaganda films that paint the Federation in the best possible light. We never see the vast slave gulags back in the Federation hinterland.

      There are no such slave gulags because the Federation enjoys cheap energy. There is a sleazy underbelly, though, which we see bits of in the least-popular series, Enterprise.

  • The Jedi and the Sith don't have any special powers in their blood. Midichlorians, you say? Sorry I can't hear you, LA LA LA LA LA LA LA...

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Saturday July 02, 2016 @09:29AM (#52432975) Journal

    Star Wars is fantasy, with princesses and emperors and weapons mimicking swords. Star Trek is science fiction. That is the difference.

    You might as well ask why the world of The Wizard of Oz turned out differently than the world of Joe Haldeman's Forever War.

  • ...in a galaxy far far away vs. in our galaxy.

  • Next up: Who's gonna win the fight, Green Lantern or The Flash?

    Really, /.? Really?

  • not an attempt at sci-fi.

    i mean if you want to accuse star trek of being pulpy or unrealistic or whatever, all i can do in defense is shrug my shoulders, but star wars wasn't even remotely interested in the future of humanity. it just wants to tell a story about wizards and knights and royal family lineage ... in space.

    • by pezpunk ( 205653 )

      addressing the article, it's pretty ridiculous to pretend the stories ended up the way they did because of the properties of the tech in those worlds. the truth is obviously the opposite -- the tech of each franchise was engineered to fit the narrative purposes of the story. this is such an obvious point i can't believe i'm even spelling it out.

    • Star wars would have been better if it was a court drama? A western? A soap opera?

      I'm not defending Star Wars, but Trek was no more Science fiction then Wars. There were maybe 2 episodes of Trek that qualify as Science Fiction.

  • by silas_moeckel ( 234313 ) <silas@@@dsminc-corp...com> on Saturday July 02, 2016 @10:19AM (#52433205) Homepage

    Star Trek if you notices they are not concerned about power in the ability to do work. Transporters and their replicator brethren make it practical to produce nearly anything at will coupled with abundant energy. If you notice the big driving issue for strife is expansion space for people to spread out.

    Star Wars is a much more populated place with scarce resources.

  • by Tony Isaac ( 1301187 ) on Saturday July 02, 2016 @10:25AM (#52433225) Homepage

    While the Utopian vision of Star Trek doesn't actually exist, there are many nations where people have good, stable lives, and where the government makes an attempt to do the best for the people. There are also places where tyrants reign, where bribes are normal, and the biggest bully wins. The difference is all in what lens you look through to see the world, and where you live.

    • There are also places where tyrants reign, where bribes are normal, and the biggest bully wins.

      TRUMP 2016

      (...Okay, okay, both major party candidates are locked into the "bribes are normal" idea... and the U.S. seems to be heading down that inevitable Platonic path [wikipedia.org] from democracy to tyranny. But Trump does seem to be running for the "biggest bully" award.)

  • by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <.maxomai. .at. .gmail.com.> on Saturday July 02, 2016 @10:44AM (#52433329) Homepage
    Star Trek is a world of continual technological progress, whereas Star Wars is a world in technological and cultural decline.
  • Star Trek has replicators and limitless power. At that point, everyone is effectively a billionaire, so concepts like poverty and hunger disappear. Instead, "wealth" is gained through recognition, military rank, etc.

    Star Wars is a more realistic and traditional economy, albeit a very large one. Hence, there's an aristocracy, a middle class, a lower class, etc.

  • ... is how conflict resolution works in both worlds. In (at least classical) Star Trek, it's a process of diplomacy and negotiation. In Star Wars it's a process of suppression and force.

  • Starwars as anyone fucking knows is space fantasy. So its like the lord of the rings in space. Its elves, fairies, wizards, etc in space. You have a dark lord. You have a quest. There is some epic struggle between good and evil.

    Star Trek whilst hardly being hard science fiction with technology that is viable in actual science... STILL takes from the cultural tradition of science fiction. Its about exploration... it has a flavor of the golden age of American science fiction in that its hopeful... there are b

  • You see one happened a long. long time ago and the other happened in Gene Roddenbarry's fantasy land where people don't go out of there way to accentuate their differences to get control of resources. Both in this universe.

  • Why the difference?

    Because they are two different works of fiction written by two different (groups of) people telling two completely different bunches of stories.

    Why the hell would you expect them not to be different?

    Next up: why are Canada and North Korea so different? Isn't that weird?

    By the way it's "Star Wars", not "Stars Wars". Sheesh.

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