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Copernicus Briefly Chats With Orci And Kurtzman About The Science Of Abrams' STAR TREK!! Lindelof Talks Internet Message Boards At Hero Complex!! And More!!

This is a follow-up to last week's 'Copernicus on the Science of J.J. Abrams's STAR TREK!!' article, which cou can find HERE!

Man, it was incredible seeing WRATH OF KHAN and STAR TREK again on the big screen at the Hero Complex Film Festival.  It is a shame WRATH was seemingly a Blu-ray – it certainly wasn’t a film print, but I’ll take what I can get.  I have not seen it projected on such a huge screen in decades.

It was also great hearing Nicolas Meyer holding forth on WRATH and various Trek-related things.  He’s a really intelligent guy, and he seems full of grand ideas.

But I was most interested in hearing Bob Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof talk about their experience on STAR TREK and seeing if they might let anything slip on the sequel.

I started to transcribe my recording, but I see that has the highlights.  I believe the Hero Complex Blog is going to be posting the full video later this week.  Of course they didn’t give away any plot details about the STAR TREK sequel, but they said a bit about how they are approaching it.  They want to move it towards more familiar territory.  They said Spock was pretty emotional in the first one, but that’s because he’s young.  Kirk didn’t have much respect for the chain of command, but “he’s not there yet.”  But at the same time they said they want to cover new ground – they don’t want to “play cover songs and classics.”

There was one interesting bit relevant to the discussions here.  Geoff Boucher asked the writers if they read message boards on Star Trek to see what the fans are thinking. 

Lindelof:  “I’ve had a little bit of experience with message boards.  And the truth of the matter is, I do care what they’re saying.  And although I should probably avoid it, as someone who basically went on them and posted stuff before I was making stuff myself, I kind of feel like I’m not allowed to ignore them, I kind of need to process it.  Ultimately its more or less a toxic experience because there’s just not that many people out there who are basically saying some of the kind things you guys have said here tonight, like  ‘You know what, I think Trek was really cool and awesome, I’m gonna go post that.’  You know, it just doesn’t work that way.  And as far as helping your process, there’s a lot of ‘I hate it, don’t do it, I didn’t like that.’  And there’s almost none of, ‘This is what we should do instead.’  ‘This is what we should do instead,’ at least offers some sort of constructive idea for us to steal!  Instead its more like, by the time you’re getting to it the work is already done and all it can really do is be relatively crippling.  But that being said, I guess, you know, I’m a glutton for the abuse.”

Orci:  “And I read it all, I take it all in.  All information about the subject is relevant.  It’s up to you to sort it out.”

Lindelof: “When I first met Bob I said, ‘Hey there’s this guy on the Ain’t It Cool News who calls himself boborci and he, like gets into fights on the message boards with people who don’t like your stuff.’  And he was like, ‘That would be me.’”

Copernicus back again.  I had some firsthand experience with that!  In the VIP lounge before they went out on stage I got a chance to briefly chat with both Kurtzman and Orci.  I talked to Alex first – he was very nice – I asked him a few questions about the science.  In particular I asked him how the bit of dialog about Titan came about and whether they had asked Carolyn Porco, credited as a science consultant about it.  He said he had never met or talked to her, so we guessed she had the credit because she probably consulted on the look of Enterprise rising out of Titan.  He did say that the exact moon they hide in or behind changed during the various drafts.  He couldn’t remember how the line about magnetic distortions from Saturn’s rings came about, but he said that Bob Orci was the real science expert, so he called him over. 

I asked Bob and he said, “Did you read that on the internet today?”  I said, “I wrote that on the internet today.”  He asked what I would have done, and I said I would have left it at the magnetic field of Saturn and not involved the rings, which have nothing to do with it.  This is from memory, but I believe he said JJ thought it was more cinematic to invoke the rings.  Even if I disagree with the result, I can understand that – I work on a science show and quite often decisions are made above my head to make something “cool,” even if it is kind of fast and loose with the science (though I try to catch and change any real errors).  The point is, it isn’t always up to the writers.

Bob said he thought I contradicted myself in the article when I said that they should have still used a supernova even though a black hole can’t necessarily contain a supernova.  I agree that part could have been clearer.  I explained that it is true that black holes are created in supernovae, and the supernovae still happen, but if you add mass to the black hole, it could stop a supernova.  I said I assumed that’s how Red Matter works. 

Bob got called away to go on stage before we could finish our conversation.  But to expand on the supernova point, we aren’t sure of the mapping between which kinds of exploding stars create neutron stars and which create black holes.  We are fairly sure that the supernovae (sometimes called hypernovae) that create Gamma Ray Bursts create a black hole -- see the collapsar model.  But in other cases, the core collapse of a star could create a black hole so strong that there is no supernova at all.  How would we know?  You’d have to monitor millions of stars and look for one that just disappeared. People are trying this now.

Bob seemed pretty pissed about my article!  Fair enough, in rereading it, I should never have used words like “lazy” or “Sarah Palin writing.”  In trying to make a point I went past being constructive.  And I can imagine my dig at Michael Bay could have been construed as a dig at Orci and Kurtzman.  It wasn’t – to be honest, I had actually forgotten that Orci and Kurtzman were writers on TRANSFORMERS.   I have been hating on Michael Bay movies long before they had anything to do with them!

Anyway, I was glad to see Bob Orci posting his take on the science of STAR TREK in the talkbacks.   I don’t agree with everything he said, but he’s clearly a thoughtful guy who has considered the issues involved.  I really like his take on the alternate universe / alternate timeline presented here.  It is very much in keeping with some ideas from quantum mechanics.  I’ve always thought that I was writing a time travel movie that’s what I’d do too.  And he cares enough about what the fans think to be having a conversation with us – that is very cool.  I’ll try to respond to what he said and some questions other readers had in a “Part 2” article if I have the time before heading off to a conference I’m co-organizing in Sydney later in the week.   In the meantime, I’d be happy to give Bob space in a real article to rebut or give his take on anything I said.

Nice to see such an interesting Trek discussion all around.  And Talkbackers, let’s try to keep it constructive.  I speak from experience when I say that personal attacks are no fun and really just take away from the point you are trying to make.  Thoughtful debate is great fun to read though, and that is the kind of thing that will keep the creators of the movies we love paying attention.


-Andy Howell  aka Copernicus

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