Prepare yourself for for the experience of someone else’s lifetime because we’re remembering “Memorial”!
New York Times and Sunday Times best-selling author James Swallow returns the show this week to discuss an episode of Star Trek: Voyager that reminds us of the importance of memorializing tragedy. When certain crew members begin to experience flashbacks to an alien massacre, they wonder if they could have participated in its execution. But when Voyager discovers a strange monument memorializing the tragedy, Janeway will be forced to judge the value of another society’s guilt and grief.
The world of the Federation represents in many ways the magnification of the ethics we value today, principles like non-violence, non-interference, and respect for other cultures. But the men and women of Starfleet often find themselves serving as the arbiters of dilemmas they could have never predicted or prepared themselves for, and Starfleet captains specifically must make decisions about our interactions with alien cultures that would confound a score of enlightened diplomats. On this episode, we discuss the ethics of the memorial that Voyager encounters, the way that real-life memorials and conflicts inspired the story, the way we try and often fail to understand and appreciate other cultures, the responsibility of those who survive to remember and prevent tragedy from repeating itself, the episode’s parallels to the Vietnam War and its memorials, the effects of PTSD on Starfleet officers, and the that hopeful sci-fi like Star Trek presents the crooked journey from dark to light.
We also discuss James’s initial concept for the episode and his work with Bryan Fuller and the Voyager writing staff in bringing it to the screen, the dark delusions that fill many Voyager tales, the ethics of beaming things into people’s heads, the abbreviated yet deft storytelling of weekly TV, British sci-fi nihilism, Voyager as a road movie, the sports fans of Trek, having a terms of service on your memorial, vaporizing evidence, baseball as a Bajoran sacrament, the pandemic-like life of Voyager’s crew, old-ass remote controls, and why Kirk and Picard might have pulled the plug.
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Listen to “Season 6, Episode 2 “Memorial” (VOY) with James Swallow” on Spreaker.