I try to make a point of just reading, not posting to, Star Trek messageboards; there’s some fun stuff that gets said there but I just don’t feel like I have the time or patience to get involved.
However, after I watched the latest Enterprise episode (Anomaly) – which was unusually entertaining and well done, I thought it’d be worth seeing what other people felt. As I expected, everyone else seemed to like it although there were a few people who said that the episode was highly derivative.
To be precise, the episode featured a kilometres-wide sphere that contained several fusion reactors; the sphere appeared to be generating a number of bizarre spatial anomalies and wasn’t working properly – and by the end of the episode, it still wasn’t explained (as it should be! Some things are better left unexplained, at least at first).
A few unimaginative folks latched on to two facts – it was a big sphere. Therefore, obviously it was a ripoff of either a Dyson Sphere, or a Death Star, both of which have obviously been in science fiction before. The simplicity of this thinking of just astounding; it’s as if it doesn’t matter what’s inside the sphere, or what it does, or its history – if it’s a big sphere, then it’s a ripoff. And never mind the fact that Dyson Spheres were not, in fact, invented by Star Trek, but Freeman Dyson – or the fact that there have been big spheres in space in SF since the beginning of last century.
Thus enraged, I wrote a long reply enumerating all of this, and more, and was then asked by one wag, ‘Name one SF story that has featured big spheres in space before.’ Just one? I could name half a dozen, beginning with Doc Smith’s Lensman.
There are a lot of things to criticise Enterprise on, but claiming that it’s ripping off other shows and stories because it has a big sphere in it is unbelievably shallow. There’s more to science fiction than Star Wars and Star Trek – if only people would bother looking for it.