Out There (Star Trek: TNG story)

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Star Trek TNG Fanfiction
Title: Out There
Author(s): Matthew Jones
Date(s): 1996
Fandom: Star Trek: The Next Generation
External Links: online here

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Out There is a Star Trek: TNG gen story by Matthew Jones.

It was the winner of an ASC Award.

Reactions and Reviews

I must say that "Out There" was definatley a thought provoking story. I can't imagine waking up in a future where there were no potential partners for me. And to find out that the "trait" had been bred out of the population as un-desirable...heartbreaking. [1]
I grew up loving Trek. I loved the humane-ness of it, the idea that there was room for all sorts of people and all sorts of situations in the universe... and that *all* of them had value. TOS had flaws, and lacunae, but for its time it was *brave*. When TNG came out, I was ecstatic, expecting more of the same courage. Over time I came to realize that the *courage* was gone... or at least fading. The idea of infinite diversity, and passionate discovery, not only between races and cultures, but between individuals, was being swamped with a drab, uniform, "polite" professionalism, where the PD was assumed, but seldom seriously explored, the idea of the IDIC ceased to be mentioned entirely, the sense of the complexity and worth of real people struggling to work though real differences was more and more often reduced to formula...

The delight in diversity, the *exploration* of diversity seems gone. Nowadays there doesn't seem to be any place for diversity among Star Trek beings except as an excuse for starting a war. The difficult discoveries between people are either non-existent, or reduced to impersonal platitudes, or looked at from a safe distance of professional detachment and cultural conformity. Ok. There are episodes where that isn't the case, but overall, the PTB seem to have decided that the only thing the viewers really want from Star Trek is a never ending space opera, and the bland, reasurring certainty that the Federation is *always* right, the Captain is always right... and that the bland, utopian culture of the Federation where, in the end, "nice" and "featureless" rules the day, and difference has more to do with hair styles and facial ridges, is all there is to think about.

When I was kid I used to think Trek was a place, a time, a fiction I would love to be transported to... a place where people would seriously care about each other, and try to accept each other *in the face of intense difference*. Now I find more and more often that the thought of living in the Trek universe repells me... the differences not explored, but suppressed, the variations ignored or forgotten, the conflicts submerged and buried, rather than being examined and resolved, or accepted as inevitable, unresolvable... and no less important because they are unresolvable than they would be if there were an "easy answer" that could be summed up in three self-satisfied lines at the end of an episode.

Trek has often been cited for its optimism. But I have a hard time believing that "optimism" about the future means that in time differences will disappear into a blanketing, suffocating, uniform culture with little variety, little uncertainty, little need to examine one's soul and try to reach out to others to *understand* who they are, because you can relax in the smug certainty that, when it comes down to it, the "civilized" ones are all just like you... and have been trained to be that way. A world in which there is no continuing need to *work* to achieve understanding... and no victory when that understanding is achieved in the face of staggering odds. Optimism, to me, is a world of sparkling differences, honestly faced, and honorably lived with and surpassed. IMHO I see that less and less often on Trek properties.

Me, I'm straight. So what... I was able to read your story and feel the same pain I feel watching the shows nowadays... the pain of knowing that the ideal of Star Trek is becoming not diversity and shared respect, but conformity and assimilation... and that that world is less and less often one in which I would be happy... or welcome. If the story pertained specifically to gay reality and the worth of gays as individuals and as a sub culture, it applied by extension to *all* the div [post cuts off here]. [2]


  1. ^ comment at ACS Awards: TNG Story, February 1997
  2. ^ comments by Peg Robinson at Fiction: Out There, March 1996