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Franz Joseph's Star Trek

The purpose of this article is to examine some of the ideas that floated around after the original series of Star Trek was cancelled. Specifically, the notions about the structure of Starfleet and the Federation which were used by Franz Joseph in his influential Starfleet Technical Manual. I don't claim to be any expert on this period (it did happen when I was a little kid, after all). So this is just my own thoughts on the subject, rather than any attempt at a comprehensive examination.

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After the original series was cancelled, Gene was very keen to keep the idea of the show alive in the mind of the fans. Possibly, he hoped for a revival of some sort - a massive fan letter writing and protest campaign had saved the show from cancellation at the end of season 2, and Gene probably hoped for something like that restarting trek. Which indeed did happen, eventually.

Part of those efforts was lending his support to Franz Joseph's work, the Starfleet Technical Manual. As Joseph himself described it :

Franz Joseph: : "I sent a copy of the T.O.'s for the Dreadnought and the Enterprise to Gene Roddenberry on June 3rd, told him what I was doing, and inquired about proprietary rights. I got a letter in reply immediately, stating there was no problem with the proprietary rights, that he liked what I was doing, and wanted me to proceed...So I sent him copies of some fourteen T.O.'s I'd made to date and I got a very enthusiastic letter back. He said he'd never seen anything like that before and he wanted to see more of it."

The book was the first of the Technical Manuals, and covered various aspects of Starfleet. As such, it was really one of the first efforts to flesh out the Trek universe in a well thought out way. What's notable is that it gives us a rather different take on the Federation and Starfleet than subsequent Trek has given us. Here's some of the things that occurred to me as I looked through it.

Joseph's Federation Was A Recent Thing

Stardates are notoriously disorganised and inconsistent in TOS, of course (see my article on that subject). So using Stardates is an indicator only, at best. But the show gives us dates ranging from 1300 to 5900, which covers three years. The FJ manual lists the "Articles of Federation" as having been signed on Stardate 0965. Arguably that would make the Federation's founding only a few months before TOS! Not realistic, IMO. But like I say, stardates back then were notorious for being one step away from being whatever number the writer made up that week.

However, check out the pages of the Technical manual that describing the ship unit runs. The Constitution page lists the original 12 ships of that class under the heading "The following ships of the Mark IX class were authorised by the original articles of Federation of Stardate 0965."

Even if we discard the idea that Stardate 0965 is shortly before the original series, the clear intent here is that the Enterprise and her sisters were built at the founding of the Federation. We don't know from TOS how old the ship is, only that it was more than nine years old since Spock served with Pike nine years prior to season 1 of TOS. There are later references to the age of the ship, such as Admiral Morrow's statement in Star Trek III that the Enterprise was "twenty years old" at that point - but remember, we're thinking about how things looked in the mid 70s, so such quotes are not available to us.

But during the Original Series it's unlikely that the ship, and so the Federation, was intended to be more than say 20 years old at the very most. And more likely no more than 10 or 15 years old. Which is a fascinating idea, because it means the Federation was founded during the lifetime of the main characters on the show. For the likes of Sulu and Chekov, the founding of the Federation would have been something that happened when they were a kid. For Kirk and Spock, it would have come around the time that he was a teenager. Contrast this to the version of Trek history we would later get, in which the Federation had already existed for more than a century when the original series was running.

The Federation Resulted From Axanar

From Whom Gods Destroy :

Kirk: : "I agree there was a time when war was necessary, and you were our greatest warrior. I studied your victory at Axanar when I was a cadet. In fact it's still required reading at the Academy. "
Garth: : "As well it should be."
Kirk: : "Very well. But my first visit to Axanar was as a new fledged cadet on a peace mission."
Garth: : "Peace mission! Politicians and weaklings!"
Kirk: : "They were humanitarians and statesmen, and they had a dream. A dream that became a reality and spread throughout the stars, a dream that made Mister Spock and me brothers."
Garth: : "Mister Spock, do you consider Captain Kirk and yourself brothers?"
Spock: : "Captain Kirk speaks somewhat figuratively and with undue emotion. However, what he says is logical and I do, in fact, agree with it. "

The implication here is that Garth wins a battle at Axanar; Kirk goes there some time later as a Cadet, on a peace mission. And it was from that mission that he and Mister Spock became "brothers". This certainly seems to imply that Kirk is talking about the founding of the Federation, though he doesn't outright say so. If so, it puts the founding of the Federation when Kirk was a cadet, i.e. when he was 18-22 years old. Which is right in line with the range of 10 or 15 years prior to TOS.

This is probably what Franz Joseph had in mind in making the Federation a very young organisation.

This is why Starfleet was so small!

The above also explains, somewhat, why the Original Series Starfleet was apparently so small.

What do I mean by "small"? Well, in Tomorrow Is Yesterday, we get this quote from Kirk :

Christopher: : "Must have taken quite a lot to build a ship like this."
Kirk: : "There are only twelve like it in the fleet. "

Taken at face value, all this really means is that there are a dozen Constitution class starships in Starfleet. However, quite a few people, including many of those who write Star Trek novels, chose to assume that this constitutes almost the entirety of the fleet. There are Starbases and shuttles and even transports and such, but when it comes to Starfleet's exploration and combat power, twelve Constitution class Starships are it. I've never found that too credible myself - it seems too much of a jump from twelve total ships in the original series to the dozens in the Next Generation and then suddenly thousands in the Deep Space Nine era. But one could certainly make the argument, based on Kirk's quote.

Franz Joseph didn't quite go this far. He wanted to flesh out the fleet somewhat, and he designed a larger ship, the Dreadnought, plus a Transport/Tug, a Destroyer, and a Scout.

He did stick with the idea that there were a dozen Constitution class ships, which he describes as having been ordered in the original founding of Starfleet at the dawn of the Federation. But the listing goes on to say :

T0:01:04:11: : "The following ships of the Mark IXA class were authorised by the Starfleet appropriation of Stardate 3220"

...and then lists another sixteen ships. Judging by the Stardate, this would be late in the TOS series. Well after Kirk made his "only a dozen like her" comment, so there is no contradiction with that line. It represents a huge increase in Starfleet's Capital ship power, well more than doubling it.

Then we get :

T0:01:04:11: : "The following replacements for the Constitution class were authorised by the Starfleet appropriation of Stardate 4444"

And get four ships listed - Constellation II, Intrepid II, Farragut II, and Valiant II. Presumably this was intended to replace those lost during TOS. (Constellation to the Doomsday Device, Intrepid to the space organism. Farragut might be a reference to the crew killed by the cloud vampire thing, though that presumably wouldn't destroy the ship. Valiant may be a reference to the ship lost at the edge of the galaxy, though of course that was a century earlier. It may be that they were replacements for the ships lost/damaged by M5, though not on a name for name basis. All this would have happened a year or so after TOS. But then we get :

T0:01:04:11: : "The following ships of the Mark IXB class were authorised by the Starfleet appropriation of Stardate 5930"

...and then a list of no less than one hundred and eleven ships! Yep, that's right. After more than doubling the size of Starfleet in double-quick time, the Federation then increased it by tenfold.

The conclusion is obvious. In Joseph's mind the Starfleet of Kirk's era was a newborn thing, barely a decade or so old, and compared to the size and production capability of the Federation it was TINY. It would grow massively in the following few years. This to me implies that the Federation's founding was probably at the lower end of that "no more than 15 years" timespan. The Federation could have been less than a decade old in TOS, and the Starfleet we see was a fledgling organisation, more a "proof of concept" organisation than the force the Federation actually wanted and intended to build.

Incidentally, as well as building those 120+ Constitutions, during the same period Starfleet was building 35 destroyers, 25 Scouts, 125 tugs, and 20 Dreadnoughts. Oh, and back at Earth, during Kirk's time, there was a starbase/spacedock about a mile and a half wide.

The Federation Was The UN in Space

The Technical Manual actually has a copy of the Federation Constitution - the "Articles of Federation" - in it. Article 2 states :

T0:00:01:01: : "Nothing within these Articles of Federation shall authorize the Federation to intervene in matters which are essentially the domestic jurisdiction of any planetary social system, or shall require the members to submit such matters to settlement under these Articles of Federation; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII."

Notably, this was given canon support in The Cloud Minders.

Kirk: : "I am here to get that zenite. If these will help me get them, I'll use them."
Plasus: : "And I forbid it. Your Federation orders do not entitle you to defy local governments!"

And again :

Plasus: : "We will get it for you, and in our own way. Remove the prisoner to confinement quarters. You will return to your ship at once or I shall contact your Starfleet command myself and report your interference with this planet's government!"

The novels set in the TOS era also hint around this a little. Interestingly, it's almost always depicted in a negative way. There are occasions when we hear of Federation planets where certain groups are treated as little more than slaves, planets where there are refugee camps described as "a horror story of mismanagement and malice in the middle of a systemwide disaster", and so on. Apparently the Federation had a lot of planets with extremely different social systems and government types, some of which were really not very nice.

In later iterations of Trek, the Federation is much more like a United States of America in space than a United Nations in space. It pretty much seems like you can go anywhere in the Federation and it's little different than going from one US state to another.

This isn't really a contradiction as such, because we can just assume that the Federation changed over the years. We've seen how the European Union has morphed from a trading block into a group of nations with some degree of shared sovereignty. It's certainly possible that twenty or thirty years down the line it could merge into a US-style Federal state. I can see this happening to the Federation between TOS and TNG.

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© Graham & Ian Kennedy Page views : 39,061 Last updated : 1 Oct 2021