I spent part of last Tuesday getting a laser shot into my right eye. And how was your Tuesday?
It was for purely medicinal reasons. I have glaucoma; it’s a disease, can be hereditary, by which the fluid in the eyeball doesn’t drain out well. This increases pressure within the eyeball which erodes the optic nerve which can and does lead to blindness. Usually, you get it when you’re older but I think I was still in my twenties when I was diagnosed with it. It can be controlled with medication or sometimes with surgery.
And, yes, marijuana has a medical use here. Whether or not it would be of any help in my case and worth all the hassle that would come with it, I don’t know.
My case is advanced and I know I’ve lost some vision (my heat vision is shot all to hell and don’t get me started on my X-ray vision). In the past few months, I’ve started to develop an allergic reaction to my eye meds. It can happen. That can result in meds having to be dropped, eyeball pressure going up, and blindness coming sooner.
So we go to plan B: surgical solutions. The most extreme one of these, and one I will face at some point, is having new surgical drains inserted in my eyes. Laser work, however, is less expensive and less intrusive and that’s what we’re trying now.
Actually, ophthalmologists are using lasers more often these days, including procedures that permit their patients to do without glasses. In my surgical procedure, they shoot a green laser into the back of the eye, creating small holes in the spongy area back there, allowing more fluid to drain. I first had it done early in the treatment maybe 25 years ago and it was something a tad more experimental at the time. Now it’s commonplace, being done in the doctor’s office in less than hour. This once would have been the stuff of science fiction; now it’s just another procedure.
While I was in the doctor’s office, preparing for things to begin, I had to get my blood pressure taken. We’ve all done that. Cuff strapped around the arm, pumped up, nurse listens to the heartbeat and counts, and so on. My eye doctor’s office had a new device – the cuff velcros on. There’s an electronic gizmo attached to the cuff that automatically inflates, does the count, and then deflates. It looked a little like aStar Trek doohickey of some kind – I kept calling for Scotty with it to the mild amusement of the nurse. We had a few problems getting it to work right and I borrowed Scotty’s phrase, “Cap’n, I canna get more power!” The nurse seemed less amused. I have that effect sometimes.
There’s no denying the effect Star Trek has had on our culture. The snap open cell phone is really a replication of the old Star Trek communicator because, dagnab it, when we saw that on the TV series, we all wanted that! Well, we more or less got it and then some. For all the dropped calls, et al, our cel phones now seem able to do more than the Trek communicators could. They take pictures, send text, and don’t get me started on what the iPhone can do. Our present, in some ways, has caught up with their future and made it look a little shabby.
Think about Geordi’s visor on Star Trek: The Next Generation. That was supposed to be future tech. It gave sight to the blind. Except it was clunky. Extrapolating from our own technology, Geordi’s blindness could have been compensated for in so many other, better ways. They had to invent a reason why it didn’t and, in the later movies, they finally gave him what he should have had in the first place – artificial eyeballs that worked just fine.
I know that the original series had a limited budget and that’s why there was a limit as to what they could do visually. Even on Next Gen, they sent down “away teams” to the planets and then relied on essentially radio reports – their technology didn’t beam back visuals. We’ve got the two Rovers on Mars that sent back LOTS of pictures of that planet, using small equipment. That’s using our technology. On Trek, they can travel faster than light, at warp speeds, but they can’t transmit visual data from the ground to the ship overhead which, by the way, can do technical scans of the entire planet.
The problem with some of Trek technology is that it’s not extrapolated from what we have now and what we can do now but from Trek “tradition.” I’m sure that, somewhere, some fan can cite some reason given why they can’t do what they should be able to do. It’ll all be hooey. The premise of the series is “to boldly go where no one has gone before” and that should include the technology. I accept the financial limitations of the original TV show and the smart way they had of dealing with it. They still had a future tech that was “wow.” Its several decades later and they need a “wow” upgrade.
Will the new movie be it? Like many of you, I’ve seen the teaser preview. Some of the casting sounds intriguing. I’ll undoubtedly go see it and, yes, I hope that it’s big hit and re-ignites the franchise. There is, however, a big problem with it by my view.
We’ve been here. We’ve seen these characters. We’ve essentially seen this future.
IMO, they should be doing what they did with ST:TNG. Drop kick the franchise down the timeline. Make the future new again. New crew, new tech, new Enterprise, new menaces, new political situation in the galaxy. The original Star Trek influenced astronauts and engineers and ordinary people. Don’t dip into the show’s own past; boldly go where no Trek has gone before. I can only wonder if the failure to do that is a failure of vision or a failure of nerve. Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek’s creator, didn’t seem to have either.
The teaser for the new movie tells us that, on the date the new film is released, “the future begins.” Wrong. That happened on September 8, 1966, when the TV series first debuted and which, by that point, will have been forty-two years ago.
Forty. Two. Years.
We have a present where I can go into my eye doctor’s office and have itsy-bitsy holes burned in the back of my eye by a laser. The present is catching up to the future that Star Trek represents and that makes their future redundant.
So, you folks controlling the fate of Star Trek, my suggestion to you is to think about the future so more. See if you canna get more power out of your imaginations.
John Ostrander writes GrimJack: The Manx Cat, new installments of which appear every Tuesday here on ComicMix, and much of Munden’s Bar, new installments of which will reappear anon here on ComicMix. Both for free. His new Suicide Squadmini-series is out there from DC Comics, and his Star Wars: Legacy is out there from Dark Horse, both at finer comics shops across the galaxy.
John Ostrander started his career as a professional writer as a playwright. His best known effort, Bloody Bess, was directed by Stuart Gordon, and starred Dennis Franz, Joe Mantegna, William J. Norris, Meshach Taylor and Joe Mantegna. He has written some of the most important influential comic books of the past 25 years, including Batman, The Spectre, Manhunter, Firestorm, Hawkman, Suicide Squad, Wasteland, X-Men, and The Punisher, as well as Star Wars comics for Dark Horse. New episodes of his creator-owned series, GrimJack, which was first published by First Comics in the 1980s, appear every week on ComicMix.