One of the fundamental flaws of the Star Trek series, and of a lot of science fiction for that matter, is that it's taken as read that the Enlightenment belief in the progress of humankind is essentially true and inevitable. So in the future (a mere 300 years) we not only get machines that solve the problems associated with travel – delays, having to talk to other passengers, being searched by customs – we actually get the human beings to match. In the future, being disassembled at the molecular level by a machine styled on a discothèque and operated by a poorly paid technician rarely troubles people. Transporter technicians never go on strike, and intergalactic agreements have been reached that transporter devices are out of bounds for industrial sabotage or terrorist protests. Similarly the users seem to fondly tolerate a catalogue of 'incidents' including the production of doppelgangers, the switching of travellers with themselves from and to parallel universes, possible childhood regression, and the production of Brundle Flies (even worse in fact: Nelix flies).
I?m not a luddite by any stretch of the imagination ? the assertion over at
StarTrek.com that ?When
technology crosses the line between being a tool for living and becomes a way of life, good rarely comes of it,?
fundamentally questions the value of my regular, day-to-day existence. However, even I can see that a future populated from a gene pool that
includes people who are mystified and confounded by the animation schemes in PowerPoint is going to contain a fair
amount of transporter anxiety sufferers.
The most terrifying thing about the transporter is that Scotty could be lurking in there somewhere, waiting to regale you with his engineering tales of the old days. Those of you still not convinced by the foolishness of transporter technology can make your own.