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The Computers of Star Trek
Lois H. Gresh & Robert Weinberg
Basic Books, 168 pages

The Computers of Star Trek
Lois H. Gresh
Lois H. Gresh is a freelance computer consultant and writer. She designs and codes corporate websites and CDs.

Lois H. Gresh Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Termination Node

Robert Weinberg
Robert Weinberg has written more than 15 books, including the Masquerade of the Red Death trilogy for White Wolf, and he has edited more than 120 anthologies. He is also the co-owner of Weird Tales and the V.P. of Argosy Communications Inc, which owns the rights to numerous pulp magazines. He was a two-time Vice President of the Horror Writers Association and has won the World Fantasy Award twice.

Robert Weinberg Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Jonathan Fesmire

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For many, Star Trek gives hope of a bright future, exploring the possibility that we may yet get through our global environmental, social, and economic problems. But is it realistic? Well, I think it's safe to say that the Star Trek future as presented on the various shows is not likely to become reality. That's not to say that the future will necessarily be bad, just that it will be different.

In The Computers of Star Trek, Lois H. Gresh and Robert Weinberg explore Star Trek technology and explain what they see as more likely to be the future of human technological advancement.

As the authors explain, the Star Trek programs have extrapolated future technology based on current technology. If you look at the computers of Star Trek (the original series), they were very much like the computers of the 60s: they easily overheated, evidently were made with vacuum tubes, and were not to be trusted.

With Star Trek: The Next Generation, we saw a shift to more powerful computers with incredible storage capacity, capable of interacting well with crew members, and they were mostly stable and trustworthy. The thinking at the time of the series had changed. However, even now, the computers of Star Trek are essentially out of date! They're based on a central model, one core computer on each ship, while even now the computer industry has gone beyond this to a distributed, network model.

The Computers of Star Trek also points out errors in various episodes, but the most interesting part of the book is when the authors speculate about what the future might really be like. And I must say, their view is a little frightening.

Imagine a world in which everything is computerized, in which microscopic nanites and computer chips fill your body, allowing you to think to other people, to your furniture... to wonder who was the fifth president of the U.S. and for the computer components in your body to connect to those of other people to download the information to your mind.

Starting to sound familiar? In Star Trek, they call that "The Borg." Personally, I don't even mind so much the idea of having nanites that let me interact with anything in my house. It's the possibility of doing that with thoughts that I find frightening. On the positive side, such nanites might be a cure for viruses, as they would be able to adapt more quickly than a virus and therefore actually wipe out viral infections, something that modern medicine cannot do.

What does the future look like? I'm not sure I want to know definitely. Right now, I prefer to stick to Star Trek.

Copyright © 1999 by Jonathan Fesmire

Jonathan Fesmire has travelled to France, Germany, Estonia, Finland, and Ireland. He enjoys speaking French and learning bits of other foreign languages, but most of all, he loves writing, and has sold fiction to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, SpaceWays Weekly, Jackhammer, and others.


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