Friday, September 28, 2012

The Kirk Statue

So, I really like this idea of a Star Trek RPG. Heaven knows, I'm probably never going to be able to run it, but I love the idea and I'll love it until I quit watching reruns of The Next Generation on Netflix and something shiny comes along (Last week I got flack from a woman in her 40's for not having seen Firefly yet, so that probably.).

Anyway, in a setting where humanity isn't around, but Starfleet and The Academy are, it occurred to me that there should be a damned statue of James T. Kirk around somewhere. What would a statue of Starfleet's most notable member be without an inspiring quote? 

"How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life."

Quite possibly the most memorable Kirk quote from the only Star Trek movie considered interchangeable with The Bible*. Ultimately though, whatever quote I choose has to sit alone on a plaque below his date of birth, the hastily scratched out original date of death, and his penciled in date of actual death. From there, it has to inspire Academy cadets and embody the values of Starfleet, or at least what made Kirk great.

And this? It's nice. It sounds deep. It's true. But it doesn't stand well on it's own. In fact, I think it's a better catchphrase for a funeral planning business than for the future of space exploration or an encapsulation of the galaxy's boldest captain.

"Risk...risk is our business."

That's inspiring. It's minimalist, and invites exploration of the larger quote. It encapsulates so much of what Starfleet is. They do a dangerous job exploring the because, well, really because the galaxy is there. It's good. 

"Man stagnates if he has no ambition, no desire to be more than he is"
From Return of the Archons. No video available.

Despite the human-centric, male-centric nature of some of his quotes (You can always translate "man" as referring to sapient life in general, much to the rightful chagrin of feminists), a general exhortation for "something better," is the right kind of vague while still providing direction. Of course, we now begin running into the problem of sourcing these quotes in-universe. I mean, I don't know who was taking notes when Admiral Farragut ordered an advance into Mobile Bay past Confederate mines, but that quotes exist from any field commander ever before live recording means that I've got a wide latitude in which quotes I use and how faithful they are to the original sources.

"We're beings with the blood of many savage years on our hands. We can admit that we are killers, but we can choose not to kill. Not today."

A good example of how one of Kirk's longer quotes can get cut down to plaque-sized, if just barely. However, the very pacifistic language at the heart of it may not be appropriate for the setting I've got in mind.

"By the last tally, only twenty five percent of the galaxy's been chartered... I'd call that negligent. Criminal even – an invitation. For people like us, the journey itself... is home."
Apocryphal. Star Trek (2009)

Funny story; according to rumor, this was going to be a holographic letter from Kirk to Spock that old Spock passes along in the 2009 reboot movie. Eventually, they scrapped it without filming it, cutting out a farewell from Shatner that dwarfs "Oh my." From Kirk's perspective, it's bold. It's something an ambitious man would say. It tells us about the man himself. It's strange (though it shouldn't be, but [insert obligatory knock on quality of recent Star Trek productions]) that the last--albeit apocryphal--dialog written for Kirk by the franchise would actually be a good line such a concise summation of the man himself  not shitty.

Still a tough call. Leaning towards the last one, but part of the fun of exploring the continuity is having pieces your players recognize, and no one would recognize that one. Granted, I don't think my players would recognize anything but the very first quote and "Beam me up, Scotty," which won't be used for reasons to numerous and obvious to list. Ideas?

*According to South Park and Seinfeld


SkilTao said...

Considering how latter generations of Star Fleet idolize Kirk (Sisco gets his autograph), a setting with humanity around should have a statue.

The first quote, "How we deal with death etc," works if you write Kirk an appropriately meaningful death to go along with it. The circumstances of such a death could make a conveniently dramatic point of departure for a humanless universe. Whatever changes you make to post-humanity starfleet would then have an air of "how they deal with death [of humanity]," as well as being a more practical reaction to whatever the circumstances were which killed Kirk specifically.

I've no new suggestions. Been too long since I've watched Kirk, and I doubt I can soon fit him into my nowadays schedule.

VanVelding said...

Aw, man! I hadn't even thought of that double-meaning.