STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION
Alan D. Winegarden Marilyn Fuss-Reineck Lori J. Charron
St. Paul, Minnesota
A paper presented to the 78th Annual Convention of the Speech
Communication Association, Chicago, IL, October 29 - November 1,
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION %
More than thirty years ago Newton Minow, then chariman of
the Federal Communications Commission declared that television
was a "vast wasteland of mediocre programs" which were providing
a diet of "dulling sameness" (Defleur, p. 205). Television
programming has changed considerably in the three decades since
this statement. No longer are viewers restricted to one, two,
or even three network channels. No longer are viewers required
to stay by the television set at the very time a show is
broadcast. No longer is the television program instantly gone
while it is being watched. Today independent companies, new
networks, and cable transmission of television programming have
made the choices of what to watch almost unlimited. Video
recorders have made it possible to record a show and watch it at
a time and place convenient to the viewer. Video technology has
made reviewing portions of a television program possible and
easy. Most importantly this change and technology is readily
affordable to many viewers.
It would be futile to argue that television is not a
pervasive force in our society. According to A. C. Nielsen, by
the time a child reaches high school graduated, he or she will
have watched at least 15,000 hours of television which will have
included some 350,000 commercials and 18,000 murders (Waters,
1977). There is clearly some disagreement over what effect
television viewing may have on viewers of various ages, but most
would have to admit that something is probably happening.
A number of efforts to utilize movies for instructional
purposes have been reviewed by Proctor and Adler (1991). Others
have utilized a variety of analytical and critical approaches to
examine television program content and modeling. Dreibelbis
(1990), Larson (1990), Flayhan (1991), K. Leeper (1991), R.
Leeper (1991), and Bohlken and Braden (1991) critically examined
various aspects of The Simpsons. Analyses focused on family
interaction patterns, transitions, self-reflexivity and
intertextuality, discourse and social power, language, and Bart
Simpson as a charismatic hero. Getz (1992) examined racism and
military suspicion in an episode of Star Trek: The Next
Generation. Spaeth (1992) and Waldow (1992) utilized a cultural
and social values approach to analyze two other episodes of the
same program. Aden (1990) applied the concept of myth to the
Bundy's of Married . . . With Children. Hart (1990) looked at
The Tracey Ullman Show and Dilley wrote about the lessons of
Molly Dodd from a feminist reading. The list could go on, but
the variety of work done on specific television programs
indicates the wealth of content available to media
Television programming is more than valuable for critical
analysis at academic presentations and for publication. Popular
television programs are also a repository of instructional
materials for a variety of subject areas especially those allied
with the field of communication. In other words, while various
uses of media should be critically analyzed, these same media
offer excellent teaching tools in themselves. Popular television
programs can be used as instructional tools in themselves. The
purpose of this paper is to provide a rationale for the use of
popular television in the classroom and to provide selected
examples and applications from the syndicated television series,
Star Trek: The Next Generation. The paper will first list some
advantages as well as disadvantages of using television in the
classroom, in particular, the advantages and disadvantages of
using Star Trek: The Next Generation will be presented. Then
two particular episodes in the series will be used to
demonstrate how concepts in the programs themselves can be used
in classes in persuasion, family communication, and
communication ethics. Finally, several classroom activities
based on the two episodes will be discussed.
POPULAR TELEVISION IN THE CLASSROOM
Today's students, and many of their teachers, are
products of the television generation. Those under forty
probably cannot even remember not having a television in their
home. Many have more than one television and some probably
cannot remember black and white television. Students are very
accustomed to watching television with its living color and fast
paced action. Some advantages of utilizing popular television
can be listed.
First, popular television programs are current. One of
the disadvantages of using films provided by commercial
producers is that the become outdated very quickly. Those fine
films produced by McGraw-Hill CRM films, Barr Films, Phoenix/BFA
Films, and GPN/UMA during the late seventies and early eighties
draw laughs and snickers from students whent hey see the hair
and clothing styles. Popular television programs are aired
weekly and rerun frequently. Star Trek: The Next Generation is
in its sixth season and has over 130 episodes. It is also set
in the future which keeps hair styles and clothing styles from
becoming outdated too quickly. Issues dealt with in the show's
content are issues that currently confront individuals and
society. Technology and special effects are continually updated
so that the show can grow with its audience. This popular
television series has been and remains current.
Second, popular television shows, by their very nature,
are dramatic. That is to say that they get and keep the
interest and attention of their audience as well as any media
can do. Since students are used to high intensity and action
packed programming, this quality is highly desirable in any
visual media used in the classroom. Star Trek: The Next
Generation is very dramatic and weaves the main plot with a
B-plot, and sometimes with a C-plot. Several lines of action
are going on at the same time. This leads to a third advantage
of using popular television in the classromm, especially Star
Trek: The Next Generation. The quality of the production and
writing is usually very high. Very often the main plot and the
subplot(s) deal with the same issue or concept, thus,
reinforcing the primary thrust of the episode. Acting is very
good, variety of themes is great, technical production is fine,
and special effects are just enough to keep the show interesting
without detracting from the storyline.
A fourth advantage is that popular television programs
are usually quite familiar to students in college classrooms.
Star Trek: The Next Generation. According to Coit (1989), the
new Star Trek has "reached across class, age, sex, and race into
the hearts and souls of many Americans" (p. 88). The new Star
Trek reaches a larger audience than the original. Davis (1991)
pointed out that Star Trek: The Next Generation is second only
to L.A. Law among males 18 to 49. It has also appeal to more
women because it has changed its sexist preamble and given more
authority to women. If students have not seen the show, they
have certainly heard about it. In addition, episodes can
usually stand alone. Viewers do not need to be followers of the
series to understand the plot of a single episode.
A fifth advantage of using popular television in the
classroom is that unlike feature movies, television shows are,
for the most part, less than an hour long. In fact, most hour
long shows are only about 45 minutes long without commercials.
This is true for Star Trek: The Next Generation. With the
exception of the two-part programs, these episodes run
approximately 45 minutes each. With skillful editing of the
plots, a complete subplot can be reduced to about 20 minutes.
these easily fit into a standard class period and also allow for
introduction and discussion.
A classroom instruction aid would be of little use if it
were not available. A Sixth advantage is that current episodes
are readily available for off-air recording and immediate
classroom use. Later use will require some investigation into
copyright observance. More importantly, however, is that
episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation are coming out on
home video for purchase at video stores. As of October 1, 1992
the first 18 episodes have been released for sale to the public.
The purchase cost leads to the seventh and final advantage of
using this popular television series in the classroom: cost. As
episodes are released, the cost runs about 15 or 16 dollars per
tape. This is less than the rental rate of most films available
through university film rental libraries. It is also possible
that video rental stores will begin stocking titles in the
series for rental use. Cost will clearly not be a hinderance to
the use of Star Trek: The Next Generation in the classroom.
However, few innovations come without some pitfalls and
drawbacks. The list of disadvantages can get quite long. First,
and probably most important is copyright infringement. It is
quite illegal to record programs off the air and continue to use
them in the classroom without getting permission to do so in a
reasonable amount of time. On the other hand, episodes are
being released at the rate of more than one per month. At this
rate many very appropriate episodes will be avialable for
purchase and legitimate classroom use. The question of using
current episodes will probably require writing the copyright
owners for permission to use them. More difficult may be
getting permission to edit subplots out of episodes for use in
A second disadvantage of some popular television programs
for use in the classroom is that many porgrams contain
considerable violence, sex, and language which can be a problem
for church related schools, faculty whose values preclude their
use, and students who might be offended by their use in required
classes. Fortunately, Star Trek: The Next Generation is, by
almost any standards, mild in its approach to violence, sex, and
language. Some values expressed may offend some but can also
serve as springboards for discussion.
A third disadvantage is that some students just do not
like the televison series being shown. Even Star Trek: The Next
Generation does not appeal to everyone. There is really no way
around this anymore than there is a way around dislike of an
instructional film or course unit. However, the disadvantage is
Other disadvantages include preparation time, if editing,
quantity of episodes, costs if buying several episodes,
electronic equipment, expertise in video, and last, but not
least, storage. Just like the small computer disks, video
cassettes beging to add up in number and require storage space.
Fortunately, selective screening and purchase can reduce the
costs and storage problems. Electronic equipment is usually
available and editing equipment is often available on university
campuses. For smaller institutions, a small video editing unit,
if desired, can be assembled for less than $5000.
While there are some significant disadvantages to
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION %
utilizing popular television in the classroom including
copyright, violence, sex, language, disliking, preparation,
costs, equipment and storage, there are many more significant
advantages to using popular televison in the classroom,
especially Star Trek: The Next Generation. These include
timeliness, high dramatic quality, familiarity, time frame,
availability, and low cost.
Use of popular television in the classroom clearly has
some great benefits to the teacher. Specific applications of
Star Trek: The Next Generation to communication studies will be
discussed next followed by specific activities for two episodes.
Star Trek: The Next Generation offers many possibilities
for teaching family communication concepts. This section focuses
on family patterns, family roles, and the impact of ecosystems
on family life. Family communication applications will focus
primarily on Episode Number Sixty-Four: "The Offspring" which is
summarized in the Appendix.
A family interaction pattern is "an ordered and
repetitive sequence or connection of events" (Stierlin and
Simon, p. 260). A communicaiton pattern is "an organized
repetitive sequence of communication exchanges that tends to be
repeated" (Yerby et al. 1990, p.318). Patterns are important
because they provide a means by which families regulate
themselves and maintain equilibrium. They provide significant
clues for understanding and interpreting behavior (Galvin and
Brommel, 1989, pp. 37-38). Learning to recognize patterns is an
important analytical skill for family communication students.
When students gain an outsider perspective of positive and
negative effects of patterns in families, they can then identify
and explore consequences of patterns in their own family
One way an instructor can facilitate development of
pattern recognition is to make comparisons across a number of
family systems. For example, the family systems depicted in two
films probably familiar to most readers, The Great Santini and
On Golden Pond, look quite different on the surface. The
enmeshed and rigid family in The Great Santini runs according to
the military model. The family in On golden Pond is less
structured and less cohesive. One of the patterns that both
systems share is a pattern of mother explaining and justifying
the father's behavior to the child. Comparing systems that
might look very different on the surface can aid students in
recognizing underlying patterns that are similar.
Star Trek: The Next Generation provides a rich source of
different types of family systems. Abord the "new" Enterprise,
the crew have their families on board, creating a large colony
ship. For example, Dr. Beverly Crusher (human), Worf (Klingon),
and Data (android) are all single parents who are challenged
when their children do not "fit" with their peers ("The
Offspring," and "New Ground"). Students can compare the
parent-child interaction in each of these systems and look for
similar/dissimilar patterns. Other episodes depict interaction
between crew members and their families of origin. for example,
Picard ("Family"), Data ("Brother"). and Worf ("Sins of the
Father") all have conflictual interactions with their brothers.
In "Haven," Deanna Troi experiences conflict between her
Betazoid mother and potential in-laws over a Betazoid or Earth
style wedding ceremony. Comparisons can be made of the conflict
between these two family systems and the Irish and Jewish system
depicted in the "The War of the Worlds" episode of Brooklyn
Bridge (1992). The setting and circumstances are different, but
the loyalty to traditions is similar. After identifying
patterns, students can discuss what behaviors are functional or
non-functional within the systems.
Yerby, Buerkel-Rothfuss, and Bochner (1990) define family
roles as "describing a set of behaviors that family members of
particular positions are expected to perform in relationship to
each other, based on the rules established for specific
relationship" (p. 327). In the family, roles emeerge from and
are sustained by patterns of social interaction. Family members
negotiate their mutual expectations of each other and make
adjustments. However, family members do not learn roles solely
by interaction, but also learn roles by observing and imitating
role models. sources of role expectations include the media,
daily life within a community, cultural groups, significant and
complementary others, and each person's self understanding
regarding a "fit" with a role (Galvin and Brommel, 1989).
The varied family systems aboard the enterpreise
provide an excellent opportunity to explore the influence of
cultural groups on family role expectations. For example, in
"New Ground" (Episode Number 110, 1/6/92), Worf's parental role
expectations are shaped by Klingon beliefs that harsh discipline
is good for a child. These beliefs influence his decision to
send Alexander away to a Klingon school. This decision is
modified by his interactions with others, most notably,
Counselor Deanna Troi and Alexander.
Data and Lal in "The Offspring" (Episode Number 64,
3/10/90), provide an example of how they learn parent and child
roles by imitating humans. A touching example of this is shown
in the scene in which Data discusses the struggle to be human
and suggests that the struggle is what is most important. The
scene ends with Data and Lal holding hands, an action Lal has
observed humans associate with expressing affection.
Data also discusses different societal expectations for
the parental role, reporting that his reading revealed much
confusion over appropriate parenting. He suggests that there
are two major philosophies: a traditional "Spare the rod and
spoil the child"; and a more liberal attitude. Data allows Lal
to choose her own gender and appearance and displays a fairly
open and supportive parenting style. Data's approach to
parenting contrasts sharply with Worf's philosophy in "New
Ground." Students could discuss the consequences of these
different parenting styles and also find examples of them in
television programs depicting human families.
The major controversy in "The Offspring" revolves around
family definition and whether Data and Lal constitute a family.
One way of evaluating this argument is to have students assess
whether or not Data fulfills parental functions. In the episode,
Data teaches Lal about her environment and social skills,
praises her when she learns, corrects mistakes, works with her
motor coordination, sends her to school, and to Ten Forward to
interact with other systems. he even displays a loss of
patience with Lal's relentless "Why?" questions. In class
discussion, students could evaluate whether Data fulfills
Coleman's parental role responsibilities of "providing love and
acceptance, supplying structure and discipline, encouraging
competence and self-confidence, presenting appropriate role
models, and creating a stimulating and responsive enviornment:
(Pearson, 1989, p. 192). Students can develop their own role
descriptions of what it means to be a parent.
Ecosystems and Family Life
Family ecosystems refer to the hierarchy of syustems
which both comprise and surround the family, including
subsystems to macrosystems (Yerby et al.). The family units
aboard the Enterprise are expected to follow both the ship's and
the Federation's regulations, illustrating the interdependence
of systems. When the various systems interface, conflict can
result, as depicted by the family definition controversy in "The
Offspring." Data considers Lal his child and says to her, "We
are a fimily, Lal." Picard, the ship's captain, is initially
bothered by the parent-child relationship aspect and criticizes
Data for not consulting him prior to creating Lal. Data
responds that he had followed Starfleet instructions and had not
observed others on board requesting permission for procreation.
Admiral Haftel, the Federation representative, does not
recongtize family ties between Data dn lal, viewing her as an
object needing his own supervision at Galor Four. He not only
questions Data's judgment as a parent but insists that since the
two androids are the only ones in existence, they should not be
kept on the same starship. Students can discuss implications of
family definitions held by members of the different ecosystems
(See Exercise in Defining Family Communicaiton, Appendix ____).
"The Offspring" can also be used to discuss
responsibility associated with mutual dependence between the
family and other social systems. Data makes a passionate speech
(for an android) in which he explains his motivations for
parenting. He explains that he has received so much from
Starfleet that he wanted to give something back. Even though
Admiral Haftel is telling him that he should give up Lal for her
own good. Data insists that he cannot give up his child. It is
his duty to guide and support her as she learns to contribute to
society. He states that "No one can relieve me of that
obligation." However, when Admiral Haftel directly orders Data
to turn Lal over to him, Data immediately rises to comply.
Family patterns, family roles, and family ecosystems have
been presented to illustrate family communication applications
from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The program's varied and
culturally diverse family systems as well as their environmental
interactions facilitate many more applications.
Communication ethics is another area in which Star Trek:
The Next Generation can be used for pedagogical purposes. There
are a number of episodes which can be utilized, but two episodes
are espcially pertinent to communication ethics. "The
Offspring" and "Ethics" (Episode Number 116, 3/2/92) both
present ethical dilemmas in which all sides are presented. The
focus here, as in the previous section, will be on "The
Offspring" episode. This episode can easily be used to
investigate various ethical perspectives. for example,
Johannesen (1990) presents seven ethical perspectives. Each
perspective can be applied to the episode to present a variety
Johannesen's "political perspectives" uises one's
political system's ideologies and values as the base for ethical
reasoning. For example, in the United States the democratic
philosophy undergirds many ethical decisions. The use of a
"political perspective" to analyze this episode would challenge
students to not only delineate key democratic values and ideals,
but also to investigate the intercultural implications of this
perspective. That is, what if the ethical struggle involves two
different political systems? How does one decide whether to act
against one's own value system when within a different political
value system? Condon (1981) addresses some of these issues.
This type of discussion is especially pertinent within
intercultural as well as interpersonal and mass communication
This perspective might also utilize Karl Wallace's (1955)
four "moralities" or guidelines that are within the framework of
a democratic political perspective. Within Wallace's
perspective, the "habit of respect for dissent" is supported. A
discussion on Captain Picard's decision to go against Admiral
Haftel's orders to release Lal could be disucssed as a possible
utilization of such a "habit." Wallace also promotes a "habit
to prefer public to private motivations" which may justigy
Picard's dissent. During such a discussion, it is important
that students discuss and understand the possible consequences
of Picard's decision.
The "human nature" perspective could bring about a
different kind of discussion than that of the politcal
perspective. Within these perspectives, a key factor is that
the characteristics of human beings be utilized and respected
when making an ethical decision. having androids as key
characters within this episode allows for an interesting
discussion on what attributes make a "human" person. Wieman and
Walter (1957) present the characrteristics of being human as
having symbol-using capacity and a unique need for needing one
another. Would one then describe data and Lal as human? Is it
important that they are or are not human? Analyzing human
attributes in this manner will allow students to understand the
importance of the differences of opinions within each
perspective as well as the perspective itself.
Another possible application using this perspective might
be Immanuel Kant's (1949) "categorical imperative" in which he
posits that human beings inherently possess the ability to judge
moral laws. Within this perspective, as Johannesen points out,
a lie is always a lie because "the moral imperatives are right
in themselves, no because of their consequences" (p. 45). Kant
presents two forms by whci to assess an ethical decision. One
form asks whether the decision is one that should become a
universal code. Students learning this perspective might be
asked what would happen if all Starfleet captains disobeyed
direct orders. Also, what is Starfleet had the power to make
decisions which counteracted all individual's rights? Kant's
other form of his "imperative" is that communicaiton should
never be used solely as a means to an end. One might ask how
Data and Lal are being used as a means to an end within the
episode? Could Picard also be described as using them as means
to an end? Once again, utilizing a variety of theories within a
perspective can yield a fruitful classroom discussion.
The "dialogical perspective" is most often associated
with Martin Buber's (1970) philosophy which promotes an "I-Thou"
relationship that focuses on being "present" in communication.
With its focus on empathic interpersonal communicaiton,
discussion could focus on examples of observed dialogical
communication or how one listens with empathy to all sides of an
issue and still stays committed to one ethical decision. The
empathic ship's counselor, Deanna Troi, can present some
interesting insights into this perspective. How does one fully
empathize with Captain Picard and Admiral Haftel and still come
to a clear cut conclusion? For a thorough and interesting
discussion on this idea, Keller's (1981) article, "Interpersonal
Dissent and the Ethics of Dialogue," could be assigned reading
for students as a catalyst for discussion.
The "situational perspectives" focus on the idea that
codes and rules cannot be used to make ethical decisions because
the situational elements are, in and of themselves, the key
determinants. These perspectives have interesting applications
to Star Trek: The Next Generation because of the plethora of
"situations" the starship encounter! However, it is important
to remember to present the perspectives in a manner that allows
students to examine how well the situational ethic works when
appliying it to their own lives, as well as to the starship
A discussion or paper could focus on Rogge's (1959)
situational persepctive in which he suggests that ethical
criteria change according to the person's leadership style and
persuasive goals as well as other communication elements. In
this perspective, communication tactics which are usually
identified as unethical, such as lying, using excessive
emotional appeal, or name-calling, in certain situations, may be
ethical. Students may be able to discuss what other persuasive
tactics could have been used by Captain Picard, Admiral haftel,
or Data to persuade one another, but were not. A discussion of
the consequences of those other choices would probably prove to
be beneficial. Fletcher's (1966) situational ethics, which
focuses on a Christian ideology, could also be used to
facilitate learning about this perspective. Fletcher's idea,
presented simply, is to analyze the situation and choose the
most "loving" response. Students, after learning about this
perspective, could then ask themselves how one would make the
decision whether or not to transfer Lal under fletcher's
approach to ethics. What specific situational elements are the
deciding factor in the decision? How does one decide what is
"loving?" In doing so, students may be able to understand the
benefits and drawbacks in utilizing a situational ethics
Other perspectives that Johannesen presents are
"religious," "utilitarian," and "legal." Each can lend itslf to
analysis using Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes.
Veenstra dn Kooi's Christian perspective could be used to draw
attention toward what they term the "genuine needs" of those
involved. J. Vernon Jensen's (1990) stress on the importance of
analyzing religious perspectives in communication ethics
classrooms should be remembered whenever selecting ethical
perspectives for use in the classroom. A "Utilitarian
perspective" may prove to be quite interesting when one promotes
the idea of "the greatest good for the greatest number."
Perhaps Picard is wrong in his conclusion in trying to keep Lal
on board ship. What is the ship were, as the Admiral suggests,
to be unexpectedly destroyed? Using a legal perspective may,
again, allow for an intercultural perspective to be integrated.
As one can see, the possibilities of application and
extrapoloation of the concepts within communicaiton ethics are
endless. All one needs is a video player, time, and creativity!
One word of caution should be presented, however. There is
concern within the area of communication ethics that the insight
and knowledge students receive in class be directly applicable
and relevant to students' lives and not only focus on the
abstract (Flint, 1924; McCaleb and Dean, 1987; White, 1990).
Although the character's emotional and psychological states are
ones to which students can relate, there is a degree of
"non-realness" to Star Trek: The Next Generation. (It seems
unlikely that students will encounter a Klingon within the next
few years.) Therefore, it is imperative that this tool be used
in conjunction with some realistic, relevant, and "earthly"
situation. This will allow students to understand and be
interested in communication ethics through the use of popular
television while also applying it to their own lives.
EPISODE SIXTY-FOUR: "THE OFFSPRING"
Written by Rene Echeverria
Directed by Jonathan Frakes
Guest Cast: Hallie Todd, Nicolas Coster
Air Date: 3/10/90
Data has been working on something in private ever since
he attended a cybernetics conference. He unveils it to Troi,
Wesley and Geordi: he has built an android like himself, which
he has named "Lal." Lal, a humanoid without distinct features,
calls Data 'father' and chooses the form of a young human woman
for her permanent appearance.
Picard is a bit perturbed not to have been informed, and
finds the father/daughter aspect of the androids' relationship a
bit disturbing at first.
Despite this, he takes Data's side when a Starfleet
Admiral expresses his intent to remove Lal from Data's care and
take her away for study, going so far as to contradict a direct
order from the Admiral. He feels that the Admiral is not
recognizing or respecting the rights and liberties that the
androids possess as sentient beings in the Federation. Ironies
build up: Picard himself has never had children, but the
Admiral, who is a father several times, seems, at least
outwardly, to be quite heartless in this matter, and promises
Picard that his stand may cost him dearly.
Lal is learning more daily, both from experience and from
a series of neural transfers from Data's brain, and she is
becoming more and more aware of her difference from other
beings. There are signs that she has, in some ways, surpassed
her father. One is her self-developed ability to use
contractions in her speech, something Data cannot do. The other
change becomes evident when she realizes that the Admiral
intends to separate her from her father and the Enterprise. She
runs to Deanna's quarters -- not to Data's, as her programming
would have her do in times of malfunction -- and reveals that
she is actually feeling fear. She has achieved real emotion,
but only as her systems begin to fail. Data and the Admiral
strive to repair her, but her neural pathways shut down faster
than Data can restore the. the Admiral is shaken by the
experience, realizing much too late that there was more involved
here than mere cybernetic devices. Data informs Lal that he
must shut her down permanently; she thanks him for her life, and
tells him that she loves him. Data cannot truly tell her the
same, for he cannot feel love, but love is evident in his
actions even though he does not realize it.
In the end, Data transfers all her memories to his brain;
Lal, whose name means "beloved" in Hindi, will remain with him
forever (Van Hise, pp. 114-115).
EPISODE FIFTY: "THE ENSIGNS OF COMMAND"
Written by Melinda M. Snodgrass
Directed by Cliff Bole
Guest Cast: Eileen Seeley, Mark L. Taylor, Richard Allen
Air Date: 9/30/89
After 111 years, the Federation receives a communication
from the mysterious Sheliak. They have discovered humans on Tau
Cygna V, a planet ceded to them by a treaty, and demand their
removal so they can colonize. The Federation has no knowledge of
humans on that world. It is blanketed by heavy hyperonic
radiation, which is fatal to humans. It is possible that humans
could adapt, however, and the Enterprise is sent to investigate.
The Sheliak regard humans as inferior beings, and will
exterminate them if their deadline is not met.
Sensors, affected by the radiation, do sense life forms,
but transporters and phasers are completely useless. Data, who
is unaffected, shuttles down, where he finds a thriving community
of 15 thousand settlers.
It would take over four weeks to shuttle them all up to
the Enterprise, and there are only three days until the deadline.
Even worse, Data cannot convince Gosheven, the colony leader,
that there is a threat. Gosheven is proud of the colony and its
accomplishments, especially its water system, and will not
consider leaving these monuments.
Ardrian McKenzie, a young woman interested in cybernetics,
offers to help Data. They discover that not everyone agrees with
Gosheven, but still, few are interested in leaving.
Picard hopes to find a loophole in the treaty, which
required 372 Federation legal experts to negotiate, but the
Sheliak refuse to talk. With a Federation colony ship three
weeks away, Picard decides to intercept the Sheliak colony ship
and delay it.
Gosheven calls a meeting, which Data attends. the android
uses various arguments, which provoke much thought, but Gosheven
rallies his people again. Still, there are dissenters, and they
meet at McKenzie's house. Gosheven intrudes, and shoots Data
with an energy weapon. The meeting breaks up.
With McKenzie's help, and his diagnostic circuits, Data
revives, and decides that words are not enough. He rigs his
phaser, using parts of his neural processor, to work despite the
radiation, and sends a message to Gosheven telling him that he
plans to destroy the acqueduct. Data finds the area protected,
but stuns the armed guards, and sends a maximum-power phaser
burst up the waterway, demonstrating his power. If one android
can do this, he tells them, think what the Sheliak can do. This
finally convinces the colonists that evacuation is a good idea,
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