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  • Invisible Star Trek Library January 16, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary , trackback

    memory alpha

    ***Dedicated to Larry***

    The Invisible Library tag is dedicated to those books that have never existed outside the human imagination. Today Beach turns with some excitement to Memory Alpha, a planetoid in the Alpha Quadrant, in the Star Trek universe. Memory Alpha, which appeared in the third ‘Kirk’ series, was truly an invisible library, it just happened to be planet-sized and was the Federation’s repository of knowledge (I was going to write ‘wisdom’ but thought better of it). Librarians scurried around attending to suspiciously chunky looking computers and bringing up information on the mating pattern of juvenile zwarks or the diplomatic history of lesser Klingon clans or, if memory serves correctly, the Raymond family tree: for yes this was a paperless foundation (a dream just kicking off in the late 1960s), a truly universal library of Alexander though without parchment mites to make the staff itch. Those who think sand is a superior medium to paper might take note that Memory Alpha too met its nemesis: the Zetar, an invisible race, penetrated the complex, took over the brains of the librarians and then wiped most of the databases; the sci-fi equivalent of that degraded degrading evil little schmuck Caesar destroying the Mouseion.

    Memory Alpha sounds better on paper than it actually was on the screen: constipated Borges rocking from side to side on bad sets. Perhaps a more attractive Star Trek library was that found by the original Enterprise crew (also in the third series) on the planet Sarpeidon. Sarpeidon had two important things going for it. First, it was about to be destroyed by a sun going super-nova (what a way to go) and, second, its sole remaining inhabitant, the anal Mr Atoz, ran a library. Mr Atoz didn’t have the Zetarians to contend with but he had made life interesting by creating within the library the Atavachron, a time-travelling machine that, in some strange way, depended or perhaps fed off the books around it. He had then funneled his fellow Sarpeidons into said time machine to escape the impending destruction of their world. They took up various interesting vocations in the planet’s past including witch-hunter general and an ice-age maiden: what an alumni get together this would have been! In that brief plot device there is all the worst that libraries have to offer, a solipsism that sucks the surrounding universe into its dreadful bookish maws and spits out paper-maché. Sometimes Star Trek came surprising close to horror.  Any other sci-fi libraries for the invisible collection? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com

    16 Jan 2014: Tacitus from Detritus writes ‘Imaginary libraries seem to be a recurring way to link sci fi collections of short stories.  I recall reading a nice set of Fred Saberhagen “Berserker” stories unified by the conceit of a narrative from an alien xenolibrarian.  See also Poul Anderson’s “Earth Book of Stormgate” in which an alien scribe tells tall stories of inscrutable humans.’ thanks Tacitus!