How the 1988 Writers’ Strike Forever Changed the Borg

Anyone familiar with #StarTrek probably knows who the #Borg are: a fictional race of #cyborgs governed by a hive mind with no individuality whatsoever. While they were introduced in the second season of “#StarTrek: #TheNextGeneration”, were the Borg as we know them the same as what had been originally conceived? No, they weren’t.

borg-display

The late producer & writer Maurice Hurley (1939 – 2015), who worked on TNG during its first and second seasons, had something very different in mind for the Borg. His original idea was partially captured in the final episode of the show’s first season (entitled “The Neutral Zone”). He originally intended that episode to be the first part of a two-part ark that would then open the show’s second season. But that ark never happen. Instead, only part of Hurley’s original idea was used: the Enterprise travels to the Romulan Neutral Zone to investigate the mysterious disappearance of several outposts, where the Enterprise encounters the Romulans (their first appearance in TNG), who are also investigating similar disappearances.

What happened with Hurley’s original idea? The writers strike by the Writers Guild of America happened in 1988.

Writers Strike 1988

Image from the 1988 Writers’ Strike

“The Neutral Zone” episode aired on May 16, 1988, two months after the writers’ strike began on March 7, 1988. The strike didn’t end until August 7, 1988, five months later and three months before the first episode of the 2nd season of TNG aired on Nov. 21, 1988. That episode (entitled “The Child”) was delayed due to the strike and was completely completely unrelated to the events in “The Neutral Zone”.

Had Hurley’s original idea been filmed, it would have had the Federation and the Romulans join forces to fight an aggressive insectoid race with a hive mind that was supposed to be responsible for the disappearance of the outposts on both sides. However, before the final first season episode was filmed, Hurley had to get the episode written quickly as the writers’ strike was widely viewed as being imminent.

So, Hurley took a fan submitted story by Deborah McIntyre and Mona Clee and used that as the basis for the episode along with part of his original idea. McIntyre & Clee’s idea was that the Enterprise would encounter three people from the 20th century who were cryogenically frozen centuries earlier, revive them, then have them adjust to life in the future.

Later in the second season of TNG, Hurley got to revisit his original idea for “The Neutral Zone” from the first season in the episode “Q Who”. But, his insectoid race (which probably wasn’t called the Borg at the time) never came to fruition primarily due to budgetary concerns. It was initially replaced with a reptilian race design, but that was also abandoned and replaced with the cyborg race that we know today as the Borg and was designed by costume designer Durinda Rice Wood:

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What survived of Hurley’s original insectoid race idea in the Borg was the hive mind.

So, thanks in part to the 1988 writers’ strike, the Borg because one of the most powerful recurring foes in the “Star Trek” franchise. They’re appearances include the following:

“The Next Generation” Episodes:

  • “Q Who” (Season 2, Ep. 16)
  • “The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1” (Season 3, Ep. 26)
  • “The Best of Both Worlds, Part 2” (Season 4, Ep. 01)
  • “I, Borg” (Season 5, Ep. 23)
  • “Descent Part, 1” (Season 6, Ep. 26)
  • “Descent Part, 2” (Season 7, Ep. 01)

TNG Movies:

  • “Star Trek VIII: First Contact”

“Voyager” Episodes:

  • “Unity” (Season 3, Ep. 17)
  • “Scorpion, Part 1” (Season 3, Ep. 26)
  • “Scorpion, Part 2” (Season 4, Ep. 01)
  • “The Raven” (Season 4, Ep. 06)
  • “Drone” (Season 5, Ep. 02)
  • “Dark Frontier, Part 1” (Season 5, Ep. 16)
  • “Dark Frontier, Part 2” (Season 5, Ep. 17)
  • “Survival Instinct” (Season 6, Ep. 02)
  • “Collective” (Season 6, Ep. 16)
  • “Child’s Play” (Season 6, Ep. 19)
  • “Unimatrix Zero, Part 1” (Season 6, Ep. 26)
  • “Unimatrix Zero, Part 2” (Season 7, Ep. 01)
  • “Imperfection” (Season 7, Ep. 02)
  • “Endgame” (Season 7, Ep. 25)

“Enterprise” Episodes:

  • “Regeneration” (Season 2, Ep. 23)

References

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When Science Meets Science Fiction: Planet Found Orbiting 40 Eridani A

The home to one of science fiction’s most iconic characters is a planet named Vulcan supposedly orbiting the star “40 Eridani A”, which astronomers refer to as HD 26965.

That character, Spock (from the #StarTrek franchise created by the late Gene Roddenberry), may have an actual home world after all as astronomers from the University of Florida (UF) and Tennessee State University (TSU) have discovered a super-Earth #exoplanet in orbit around 40 Eridani A.

Lead astronomer Jian Ge from UF described the planet and it’s host star as follows:

“The new planet is a ‘super-Earth’ orbiting the star HD 26965, which is only 16 light years from Earth, making it the closest super-Earth orbiting another Sun-like star.”

Ge also said,

“The planet is roughly twice the size of Earth and orbits its star with a 42-day period just inside the star’s optimal habitable zone.”

Astronomer Gregory Henry from TSU said,

“Star Trek fans may know the star HD 26965 by its alternative moniker, 40 Eridani A.”

Henry said further,

“Vulcan was connected to 40 Eridani A in the publications ‘Star Trek 2’ by James Blish (Bantam, 1968) and ‘Star Trek Maps’ by Jeff Maynard (Bantam, 1980).”

In a letter published in the “Sky and Telescope” periodical in July 1991, Gene Roddenberry (the creator of Star Trek) along with Sallie Baliunas, Robert Donahue, and George Nassiopoulos of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics confirmed the identification of 40 Eridani A as Vulcan’s host star. The 40 Eridani star system is composed of three stars with Vulcan orbiting the primary star. The two companion stars “would gleam brilliantly in the Vulcan sky,” they wrote in their 1991 letter.

Artist’s Conception of Vulcan

The 40 Eridani Star System

References

Sir Patrick Stewart to Reprise Iconic “Star Trek” Role in New Series

Sir Patrick Stewart will reprise the role of “#StarTrek: #TNG” Captain Jean-Luc Picard on the franchise’s new series to air on #CBS’ #AllAccess streaming service in the fall of 2019.

The much-beloved actor said,

“I feel I’m ready to return to him for the same reason — to research and experience what comforting and reforming light he might shine on these often very dark times.”

Sir Patrick Stewart tweeted,

“It is an unexpected but delightful surprise to find myself excited and invigorated to be returning to Jean-Luc Picard and to explore new dimensions within him. Read my full statement in the photo.”

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Sir Patrick Stewart

Sir Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard

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RIP Harlan Ellison

#RIP #ScienceFiction author Harlan Ellison, who wrote the Emmy Award-winning #StarTrek episode “The City on the Edge of Forever”. He was also a creative consultant on #Babylon5 and wrote 2 of its episodes, as well as #TheTwilightZone TV series and #TheSixthSense TV series. (He also wrote several Twilight Zone episodes.) He also created the short-lived TV series #TheStarlost under the name “Cordwainer Bird” and wrote one of its episodes. He also wrote several comic book issues of #Daredevil along with an issue of Detective Comics, and contributed ideas to several #Avengers stories written by Roy Thomas. He also curated Harlan Ellison’s Dream Corridor, a comic book anthology series which adapted his short stories.

May he rest in peace.

Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison (1934-2018)

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RIP Stephen Hawking

#RIP: we are very saddened to report that the brilliant physicist & cosmologist Sir Stephen Hawking has passed away at the age of 76. He played himself in #StarTrek #TNG, #BigBangTheory & more. His contributions to the understanding of the #Universe will never be forgotten. Condolences to the family, friends, colleagues, fans and every member of the human race who knew what a brilliant man he was. Godspeed Sir Stephen Hawking. May he rest in peace.

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking (1942-2018)

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RIP: David Ogden Stiers Has Died

#RIP: actor David Ogden Stiers has died at the age of 75. He played Timicin in #StarTrek #TNG, Oberoth in #StargateAtlantis, Kamaji (voice, English version) in #SpiritedAway, the announcer (voice) in #THX1138, & much more, including a lot more voice work. He also played the character Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester, III in the long-running sitcom #MASH.

Our deepest condolences to his family, friends and fans. May he rest in peace.

David Ogden Stiers

David Ogden Stiers (1942-2018)

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RIP Jon Paul Steuer

#RIP: actor Jon Paul Steuer has died at the age of 33. He was the 1st actor to portray Alexander Rozhenko (Worf’s son) in #StarTrek #TNG. He was also known as the musician Jonny P. Jewels in Portland, OR, where he formed the band Soda Pop Kids. Our condolences to his family, friends & fans. May he rest in peace.

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