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Strange New Fantasy
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Despite our reservations following the second episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, we returned for a third.

Which sat well with us except for the science.

Science-Fiction versus Fantasy

Especially since beginning this job we've had to consider the question of what delineates sci-fi from fantasy.

Season 3 of of DC Titans exemplifies the worst quality of fantasy - writers playing "magic" as a get-away-with-anything card.

A bomb explodes and kills a lot of people.

Never mind. The Titans magic them all back to life.

We don't want to see everyone die but if any story development can be potentially undone with magic, none of them have any weight.

Science-fiction has to be careful in this regard and also in relation to scientific credibility.

In STN's second episode one character proposes increasing phaser frequency to cause resonance and shatter shields.

That doesn't make sense in relation to what we know about shield technology in Star Trek.

It's like someone unfamiliar with the franchise has plucked a bunch of sci-fi sounding words out of the air and strung them together.

Their ridiculous proposition was agreed to by the captain as a "good plan" but not attempted and didn't matter for the story because the Enterprise was attacked first.

So it was silly but inconsequential.

In episode 3 we see something even sillier but it's central to the story.

Gene Magic

No we don't mean Roddenberry.

We learn that second in command Una Chin-Riley played by Rebecca Romijn is genetically enhanced - which is illegal in the Federation.

Our first sign of this is her glowing intensely as she purges a particularly nasty infection.

It's very flashy. More along the lines of what you'd expect in fantasy but barely acceptable for sci-fi.

But wait. There's more.

In close proximity to another crew member she receives a massive dose of radiation which causes her genetically enhanced immune system to get flashy again.

And it magically cures the other crew member of their nasty infection.

We had previously been told that Una herself carried no antibodies because her genetically enhanced defenses don't create any.

Dr M'Benga: And that is consistent with what I know of Illyrian biochemistry.

Dr M'Benga: You don't create antibodies that lie dormant.

Dr M'Benga: Your immune system literally burns out new infections immediately.

Dr M'Benga: Which means I have nothing left to synthesize an antidote from.

Una: So I'm protected but I can't help anyone else?

Dr M'Benga: Perhaps if I was there at the moment you were infected.

Here's a fun fact. Even today standard blood tests check for antibodies which can persist in the blood for decades.

Una's complete lack of any antibodies should have instantly given her away as genetically enhanced after any medical exam.

Here's another fun fact. If her body contains no antibodies then she can be instantly repeatedly reinfected by anything and everything - including the nasty infection which is going to kill everyone else.

They're standing in a sick bay full of infected people who the doctor could use to reinfect her.

After later magically curing the nearby crew member, Nurse Chapel pipes in with an explanation:

Christine: Her proximity to the commander created chimeric antibodies in her system. I was able to synthesize them into a cure before they set.

The commander's own immune system doesn't create antibodies but the process of burning out radiation somehow enhances someone else's completely differently functioning regular human immune system to beat the infection.

No that makes no sense.

Radiation isn't an infection.

Radiation is energy.

It doesn't make sense for her body to fight them in the same manner.

If she possessed any defence against radiation it would be to expel.

Which would then have hit the nearby crew member and increased their exposure.

Not cured them of an infection.

"Chimeric antibodies"?

It sounds like more plucking random sci-fi sounding words out of the air and smashing them together, but in this case chimeric antibodies are a thing.

Though not what's described here - rather they're an antibody formed in one species (eg. mice) and modified for use in humans.

Those modifications being alterations which prevent the human immune system from identifying the antibody as foreign.

Una's body doesn't generate antibodies.

Even if we could believe her antibodies flying through the air and making their way into the other crew member's system and modifying themselves to not be rejected.

And what does Chapel mean by "set"?

Antibodies aren't jelly.

Seriously we sat there at the end of this episode desperately missing The Expanse and also looking forward to The Orville.

Or Prodigy for that matter.

The Star Trek cartoon made for a children's network is far better science fiction than Strange New Worlds.

[ Main Image: Star Trek Strange New Worlds - Rebecca Romijn. Credit: Paramount via IMDb.com. ]

References

TV Show Transcripts. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds - S01E03 Ghost of Illyria. (viewed May 21, 2022)

Wikipedia. Fusion protein. (viewed May 21, 2022)