Computers of Star Trekby Lois H. Gresh, Robert Weinberg
Pub. Date: 05/28/2001
Publisher: Basic Books
The depiction of computers on the various "Star Trek" series has ranged from lame to breathtakingly imaginative. This book covers the gamut, and makes lucid and entertaining comparison of these fictional computers with those that now exist or are likely to inhabit our future. Throughout its history, "Star Trek" has been an accurate reflection of contemporary ideas… See more details below
The depiction of computers on the various "Star Trek" series has ranged from lame to breathtakingly imaginative. This book covers the gamut, and makes lucid and entertaining comparison of these fictional computers with those that now exist or are likely to inhabit our future. Throughout its history, "Star Trek" has been an accurate reflection of contemporary ideas about computers and their role in our lives. Affectionately but without illusions, The Computers of Star Trek shows how those ideas compare with what we now know we can and will do with computers.
- Basic Books
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.22(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.62(d)
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Writing books about ¿The [Something] of Star Trek¿ seems to have become something of a fad ever since Lawrence Krauss's wonderful ¿The Physics of Star Trek,¿ whether that ¿Something¿ be biology, philosophy, religion, or, in this case, computers. This book becomes tiresome, or at least off-topic, largely because there is a dearth of primary-source material on the computers of Star Trek, meaning that there is unfortunately little for the authors (who are computer scientists) to analyze scientifically. Specifically, the authors' primary sources consist of a scant smattering of material from the television shows and movies and the ¿Star Trek: The Next Generation¿Technical Manual.¿ To quote the book, ¿The technical manual devotes only five pages to the Enterprise computer. Based on its vague and sketchy description, we've inferred [a] general design.¿ In other words, the book is based largely on assumptions and inferences, some of which are rather nonsensical. For example, in reference to the Star Trek memory storage unit known as a ¿kiloquad,¿ the book says, ¿it's easy enough to deduce...that a kiloquad equals 1,000 quadrillion bytes.¿ The only ¿evidence¿ given to support this conclusion is that ¿kilo-¿ means 1,000 and that ¿Checking a dictionary reveals that the only numerical term involving quad is quadrillion.¿ This kind of speculation would be mildly interesting if only a paragraph were devoted to it, but instead, the authors assume throughout the remainder of the book that this is the definition of a kiloquad, and analyze the plausibility of data storage space on this extremely tenuous basis. This is after quoting the following wise excerpt from the ¿Star Trek Encyclopedia:¿ ¿The reason the term was invented was specifically to avoid describing the data capacity of Star Trek's computers in 20th century terms.¿ This is one of countless examples. Much of the book seems to consist of the authors making unconvincing inferences, repeating themselves when they run out of source material, and making occasional (and unsuccessful) forays into philosophy and physics. The book is interesting when it makes a real point, but has too much filler material. There simply isn't enough source material for a 200-page book of this sort to be successful.
This is a very good book. The authors do a great job of comparing current level of computer technology to the kind of technology that is presented on Star Trek. The only criticism that I must mention regarding this book is the authors appear quite confident in claiming that our current level of computer technology is even greater than the technology of the Star Trek computers. I do not believe that to be an entirely accurate statement. While I do take well their point that there are computers today that are even smaller than some of the terminal we see in Star Trek, the series does portray a technology that we don't have. There have been episodes in Star Trek where some of the computer technology presented is considerably superior to ours. We are far from being able to create holodecks with that kind of sophistication. Even if Star Trek depicts a somewhat inaccurate technology when it comes to computers, it is still significantly superior to ours. In order to advance our computer technology to that level, new laws of physics have to be discovered. Perhaps the theory does exist on how to create those powerful super quantum computers, but we lack the necessary knowledge of Quantum Physics to be able to carry it out. Maybe in 10-20 years. Other than that, the book is excellent and highly informative, even for the expert reader. I would recommend this book to anyone.
This book is the perfect Christmas present for anyone interested in Star Trek, Computers or both. It has just been published and is available now. Here are just a few of the many terrific advance comments this book has received ---- 'For the computer illiterate, the Star Trek savvy and all combinations in between, The Computers of Star Trek is not only a painless examination of the history and future of computers but a highly entertaining one as well.' Walter Koenig --- 'The Computers of Star Trek is a fun-filled tour of the technology of Star Trek.'. Howard Frank, former chairman of DARPA (Department of Defense Advance Planning Agency) --- 'The Computers of Star Trek is a must for Star Trek fans and anyone curious about the future of computers.' Clifford Pickover, author of Surfing Through Hyperspace --- 'Gresh and Weinberg have written a funny and amazing book about a hidden world of Trek.' Matt Costello, author of The Seventh Guest computer game --- 'It's the first must-read computer manual.' Dr. E.C. Krupp, director of Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles --- Order it now for Holiday delivery!