So apparently the Bleeding Cool news/gossip site has uncovered a scoop – IDW Comics will be releasing a Doctor Who/Star Trek: The Next Generation crossover in the near future. This is big – two of the three big sci-fi franchises getting together in a full-on, officially sanctioned get-together is an awesome piece of news. All the best to everyone involved.
And yet I can’t quite see how it’s going to work. Despite superficial similarities – aliens, spaceships, random acts of time travel – the two franchises are actually quite different.
Star Trek, for instance, exists in a techno-utopia, where science has helped eliminate some of humanity’s darker angels. The technobabble used by the show is largely meaningless, from what I hear, but an effort is made to at least use the right words. Combine that interest in progress with a fundamental optimism, and you’ll find many people working in science, engineering and computing were inspired by Trek – heck, look at some of the show’s gadgets and compare them to mobile phones and iPads.
Doctor Who exists at the opposite end of the spectrum – while science is important, it’s more about a way of thinking, a celebration of intelligence and imagination over conformity and homogeneity. It’s not exactly a metaphor for the Enlightenment getting us out of the Dark Ages, which is more Trek‘s deal; rather it’s the fire that gets us safely out of the haunted forest in a child’s fairytale. It’s more about the story and storytelling – look at how many Doctor Who stories are rip-offs of other stories and genres. And so, if Trek inspires scientists, Who inspires writers – look at how many people working in TV, novels and comics got their start in Doctor Who fandom and fanfic.
Star Trek is the culmination of the American Dream; Doctor Who is about beating childhood nightmares. It’s hard to see how they’ll fit together.
And yet, when I saw this piece of art, I smiled a big geeky smile and all my worries went away…