If there’s one thing that all Star Trek series have in common its the invulnerable crew member. Whether it was Spock, Data, Odo, the Doctor, Seven, or Phlox there was always a character that was unaffected by the threat of the week.
This was used most in TOS and TNG. Given all the times that Spock or Data saved the ship it’s a wonder any other starship survives. As Riker once said “Fate: Protects fools, little children, and ships named Enterprise.” Contagion – TNG
For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to write stories. I don’t remember ever wanting to write Star Trek per se but I did want to write stories in my own universe.
I wanted a mixed crew, humans and aliens, and had four basic races. Two of them were, essentially, human with funny foreheads, that could have been achieved with tattoos; then there was one with a spherical head, and another with four arms. I was thinking in very narrow terms. Star Trek aliens are, for the most part, humanoid. While this may be scientifically implausible it is a necessity for a television show. Leaving aside the fact that CGI wasn’t even a thing in the 1960s it is still much easier for actors to act against a real person than a tennis ball on a stick that will become a creature. CGI vs actor in prosthetic is a discussion for another time – for now I just want to go in a slightly different direction.
So I had my crew and amongst the senior staff all but one of those races were represented. I however wanted to consider the whole crew. In TOS Spock is the only Vulcan. Why? Why are there no Tellarites or Andorains on Enterprise? So I had lots of aliens, or non-humans if that’s more PC, aboard.
This presented a bit of a problem. I needed to know who they were.
There was a joke, I think it was on The Generation Game, where a contestant was quizzed on Star Trek. He was asked how many crew the Enterprise had, the D by the way, and he said 1,014, he was then asked to name them and was promptly gunged when he couldn’t.
This was where it all started for me.
Not the gunge thing the naming thing.
I wanted to be able to name all the crew of my ship. Originally it was called Capable but I renamed it Sovereignty – on the grounds that Capable is a bit wishy washy. The idea was that when I’d got the story I could look at my spreadsheet and know the names, ranks, and positions of all crew. Therefore when the Amadors were the invulnerable ones I’d know how many there were aboard and what they did.
I’m aware that this is a rather ridiculous level of information to want but there you have it. It turned out to be, and still is, a major headache though – which I’ll discuss next week.
Incidentally a friend at work was doing some spreadsheet work a while back. She was having a bit of difficulty and I tried to help. She asked how I knew about spreadsheets. I didn’t tell her that I’d wasted/used hours trying to work out the forenames, surnames, gender, rank, position, and nationality of the crew of a star ship. I think I just mumbled a vague statement about having used them.
She already knows me to be odd so that fact could only make it worse.