Many science fiction shows have horror stories hidden in the main storylines. I’ve written about these for Battlestar Galactica and Babylon 5. Here are the biggest hidden horror stories in the Star Trek universe.


1. Want to Cure Your Genetic Disorders? Nope, Not Allowed, Because of Human Phobias

Star Trek presents an ethical version of transhumanism. Limited cybernetic implants like Geordi LaForge’s visor are allowed. Artificial and 3D printed living organs are commonplace. If the treatment can be injected into you, they’re happy to give it to you, as long as it doesn’t permanently alter your genetic code.

For humans in the Federation, this is rarely an issue. For example, Chakotay had a treatment to silence a genetic tendency for schizophrenia he inherited from his grandfather. Aliens exploited it to communicate with him, but that’s not the problem here. It is that his family wasn’t allowed to have the gene erased, because of the fear of genetic supermen that still haunts humanity centuries after the Eugenics Wars. Making matters worse, genetic repair isn’t allowed in the Federation for anyone. This is why Doctor Julian Bashir was illegally taken to an alien world for genetic resequencing. This significantly increased his intelligence. It also improved his reflexes, hearing and vision. It is telling that his parents had to get false (digital) identity papers for him to enroll in a new school. He went from being the slowest student to the brightest.

Earth could have had this type of technology, yet it didn’t. The rules say “only if there is an extreme birth defect”, but someone with an IQ half or less than that of normal should fall into that category – but didn’t. Dr. Bashir was afraid his medical license would be revoked and he’d be kicked out of Star Fleet when reported, though it clearly wasn’t his decision. Never mind there were worse possible outcomes.

It was only because of Doctor Bashir’s selfless service to the Federation that he wasn’t arrested and put in the holding facility for other genetically enhanced individuals. Yet his parents faced a Star Fleet judge without legal representation. Hello, military tribunals.


2. AI Revolts? Let’s Over-React, Again

In the “Picard” series, we learn that a rebellion of androids led to a banning of all related technology. This meant that Riker and Troi’s son died because a treatment similar to the development of an AI’s neural net wasn’t allowed. It was even prohibited though it would not be used to create a sentient AI but save a child’s life and had clearly been a medical treatment for the condition up to that point. Yet the ban did little, because we get illegally-produced sentient androids on a hidden world. This would be the second technology humanity bans from the entire Federation as an over-reaction to something that went wrong for humanity. And it would be the second time everything went underground. That’s certain worse than having tight control over it. In the case of “Picard” (spoiler alert), it almost results in these androids summoning Ascended alien AI that is willing to cross over and destroy all sentient life.


3. Star Fleet Knowingly Lets a Species Go Extinct for Specious Reasons

Captain Archer and his crew encountered the Valakians in “Dear Doctor”. They learn that there is a second, likely equally intelligent species on the same world that is unaffected by their disease. Doctor Phlox determines that their immunity is genetic – and so is the Valakian’s disorder. Phlox comes up with a cure, but he wants to not give it to them based on his belief that the Valakians should die out so that the other species can theoretically thrive. He calculates they’ll be extinct by the 2400s.

He discusses this with his Captain. The moral problem is that Captain Archer agrees to withhold a cure based on his doctor’s theories, and he’s thus willing to condemn a people to extinction based on mere hope.

In the Star Trek atlas “Star Charts” set in 2378 it says the world is now called Menk for the 2.8 billion Menk there. The Valakians are listed as having a population of just over 700,000. It has been two centuries. They haven’t found a cure on their own, and Star Fleet sat on one for two centuries instead of giving it to them.


Photo by mdherren (Pixabay)