I was watching the TNG episode ‘First Contact’ for the seventeenth time yesterday and after replaying the final scene a few times, I felt curious enough to check on the progress of Malkorian Scientist Mirasta Yale in the Trek verse.
First port of call was Memory alpha, which is basically the Trek bible [far as I know].
Her name was listed in the episode profile, but it wasn’t hyperlinked to anything, and there were no references at the bottom to other work she was in.
After looking around a bit, I found another Trek site which seemed to have a database of all the Trek novels and shows. Again, it had references to her, but it also didn’t mention what happened to her after the episode.
Then I checked the forums, where people just speculated as to what she ended up doing. No one knew for sure though. I think one guy said that there was a reference to a Malkorian Scientist in one of the novels and assumed that was her as she was the only Malkorian off her planet. Another said that she married the blue alien from Ten Forward as she looked impressed when she walked in and saw him…
It’s possible, but she also seemed impressed by Data. And it’s not clear if she really believed in marriage, or close family relationships, as she left her planet without hesitation. Now I think about it, how did the Chancellor explain her sudden disappearance? A job for Krola perhaps?
Back to post-episode stuff: what did happen to her?
What reasonably could’ve happened to her?
Okay, carrying on from where we left off in the TNG episode, she got assigned quarters, after which she was probably dropped off at the nearest star base. Knowing how curious she was, she would’ve spent a lot of that time on the Enterprise chatting to others in Ten Forward and going through the archives. As she’s a scientist, she would’ve focused on technology/science, but how far would she have got?
In the episode, the chancellor mentions the warp program achieving light speed, which is a bit confusing to me as warp doesn’t really have anything to do with light speed…does it? From what I’ve read, the warp drive warps space i.e. forms a bubble around the ship then contracts space behind the ship while at the same time shrinking the space in front. Shrinking probably isn’t the best word. What’s the opposite of contract?
Okay, I messed that up. The space in front of the ship contracts [shrinks] and the space behind expands. That’s what Isaac Arthur says. Or what I think he said…I watched the ‘warp drive’ video almost a week ago, could be wrong. Can’t believe I didn’t know what contract meant…
So the ship is, technically, never going anywhere near the speed of light. The better comparison would be distance i.e. the ship’s velocity.
E.g. Voyager is stuck 70,000 light years from Earth, but it’ll only take 70 years to get back at maximum warp.
Therefore, warp is not connected to light speed, it just, in effect, allows velocities faster than light, so it’s not clear what Mirasta Yale invented. Maybe the Chancellor just made a mistake? Maybe I’ve made a mistake. Science was never my strongest subject [see: ‘contract’].
But then…Picard says that when a culture is about to use warp for the first time, they will drop by and say hi, so…it must be a warp drive that she’s invented or he wouldn’t say ‘warp’.
Also, in the Trek Universe [as well as the observable universe we’re paddling in], isn’t it impossible to physically travel at the speed of light, and that’s why they have to use warp to get around it?
No, it must be a warp drive she’s got. Has to be.
Okay, so the main point is, she’s probably on the same level as Zefram Cochrane; she has enough fundamental knowledge to understand developments/upgrades that the Federation has made. E.g. If you know how Warp 1 works, Warp 9 should be comprehensible to you too. It might take Mirasta a few years of intense reading to catch up, but she would eventually.
Other tech, specifically stuff the Malkorians hadn’t conceived of yet?
She was dazzled by the transporter, but not overwhelmed. Again, as a scientist, she would understand the workings of it relatively easily, in the same way that Isaac Newton would be able to understand Black Holes if he came back to life now. There would be an adjustment period, but in the realm of science, he would be able to cope.
The real problem is the social evolution.
Newton might look at the world and think like a Republican [the lunatic kind]. He might carry prejudices based on class and gender. Or, conversely, he might be happy that he doesn’t need to pretend anymore, after all, there have always been people in history untethered to the dogma of their day, or ahead of their time, and Newton could’ve been one of them. Who knows?
Note: just saw an ‘Atheist Experience’ vid that said Isaac Newton was a Christian; not sure if he saw science as proof of God or something [somehow] separate, but his religious baggage would probably make it harder for him to adjust to modern society. The Trek verse should theoretically break him, especially the transporter, though religious people are incredibly resilient/adaptable with their beliefs [‘Your soul flies with you.’ ‘How does it know where your body will re-materialise?’ ‘It knows.’ ‘How?’ ‘Metaphysics.’]
As for Mirasta Yale, her actions in the episode show her to be reasoned and empathetic, and frustrated with the backward conservatism of the people like Krola. Not to disparage conservatives, [some of my best friends are conservative ha], a healthy pragmatism is fine and necessary at times, but Krola is basically far right, isn’t he? He’s not interested in any change, whereas most conservatives I know…okay, there are only three that I know in real life…they feel that change is necessary, but it must be slow, responsible change. That might be a bit too generous…ideologically, they can be intractable, especially when it comes to the poor and taxes and immigrants and…actually, I’m British, so our conservatives are a bit different from the American ones…or they were…
In short, politicians are unprincipled pieces of shit.
Except some on the left and one or two libertarians.
EDIT: Got a message from a Trump supporter which made a good point [after whining a bit] – American conservatives aren’t against space travel per se, nor are the far right, so the character of Krola is a bit of an anomaly in this respect. Maybe the episode should’ve had him excited at DOMINATING space until he discovered other, more advanced aliens were out there…then he becomes fearful and xenophobic…that might be a more accurate depiction. Though, again, Krola is far right, not regular right.
Anyway, politics is depressing, back to Mirasta…
It appears that she’s adaptable to social and scientific changes in the Federation, so the question becomes, what would she do with her life?
Which planet would she choose for her acclimatisation period? Earth?
I’m guessing it would be Earth as it’s the centre of the Federation and she already knows Picard…maybe she would choose France, or Russia if she was hanging out with Worf in Ten Forward?
There would be culture shock, of course, but as she’s so adaptable, it would be something joyful instead of something terrifying. When I left the Isle of Man for the first time, just to go to University in Liverpool [the nearest city], I felt depressed the first night. In fact, I’m pretty sure I cried and said what the fuck am I doing?
Now, I live in Hong Kong and thank god my mum talked me into going to University. I can’t imagine how different my life would’ve been if I’d stayed on the Isle of Man…not just different event-wise, but different in the way I think…my world would’ve stayed small and my concept of other cultures and languages would’ve been backward…I still would’ve liked Star Trek, and the idea of space exploration, but my life would’ve been limited, repetitive and dull [now, it’s just repetitive and dull].
Can you imagine Mirasta Yale’s mindscape as she landed on an alien planet and started living there? Going from warping over to the Garth System to suddenly having access to a whole quarter of the galaxy? Talking to people with fingers?
That’s why the episode is so strong, and that’s why her character is so relatable. I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting follow up on her story, so why has no one done it? Or if they have, can someone give me a link to it?
I would guess that she would’ve joined a survey ship and gone to the Gamma Quadrant, as that’s where the next frontier was, at least until the Dominion revealed themselves.
Let’s work out the timeline:
First Contact was midway through Season 4.
DS9 started at the same time as season 6 of TNG [I think].
The Dominion showed up overtly at the end of season 2 of DS9.
If we suppose each season of Trek is roughly equivalent to a year, and Mirasta Yale would’ve been studying for 3 years, that puts her arrival at the wormhole just as Sisko is coming back from his camping trip with the Jem H’adar.
Okay, perhaps she would’ve focused on travel around the Alpha Quadrant. It did feel that in the episode, her pursuit of science was a means to an end, as in she just wanted to get out into space and explore and becoming a scientist was her way of achieving that.
Maybe she loaded up the mythology books and went to check out the Children of Tama?
No bigger mindfuck than them.