Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Genius Simplicity of The Borg Cube

"resistance is futile"

The Borg Cube, a vital part of Star Trek history, first making an appearence in the episode, Q Who, of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The Borg was an enemy that practically scared a lot of people, myself included. It was an enemy that could not be defeated easily. And when they were, you could not help but breathe easy.

I thought about this a lot after a Skype conversation with my father this afternoon. Basically, he decided to write off his car recently (after a minor kerfuffle on the streets of Manchester) and buy a new one. And on the visor above the passenger seat hung a keyring of a Borg cube he bought from Forbidden Planet years earlier. It is one of his many possessions that I hoped to inherit when he died (along with his Make it So keyring). But he has recently just realized that he left it in the car. He joked that it had been "assimilated into the Volkswagen"... no Dad, not funny! I may not forgive this ;-) Except for the fact that this keychain was 1 inch each way, it had all the detailing of something so small! Right down to the outter "tubing". And to think this thing was being held together by blue-tack...

This got me thinking about the genius of it. It is just a cube, with tubing attatched to the outside! While all these Starships looked like toilet seats and lady parts (sorry Janeway, had to be said!), the cube was the simplest of designs from the minds of Maurice Hurley and designed by Rick Sternbach. While writers/directors/designers of various science-fiction shows and movies all over the world are scratching their heads as to what the next cool design would be, the absolute straightforwardness of this nailed it perfectly! The simplicity of this got Star Trek going at a whole new angle. A lot people will say that where the Cube really kicked some arse: Best of Both Worlds parts 1 + 2, are the best the TNG ever got, and I agree with them. It is also the backstory for the start of DS9. I was so excited to finally see the Battle of Wolf 359. And then there was no more Borg in that programme :( but we got The Dominion instead so all is good again :)

It was also really big! hehe. I mean, the Enterprise D was a big ship, but as you can see from the picture, the cube makes it look like a little fly that needs to be squashed. And the colour makes it sinister as well. But, obviously, one does not see the whole sinister side of the Borg until Picard becomes one.

The Borg, as an enemy, became so popular that it became a movie: Star Trek: First Contact, which is my favourite of all the movies. And my favourite bit is the battle between the Starfleet ships and a cube, with the Cube kicking the arses of every single ship, until the Enterprise E comes along for the ride. In fact, I love that bit so much, I uploaded it to youtube.

My boxset "Star Trek Borg Fan Collective" remains a favourite in my collection. And my 6 inch tall Locutas that my father got me a few christmasses ago (complete with little podium with Borg insignia AND removable Borg arm :D) is one my favourite sci-fi related items on my windowsill, next to Apollo + Apollo, TARDIS, Millenium Falcon and Serenity.

So this has really become more about The Borg itself than the Cube. I really didn't like it when they make all sorts of shapes and sizes like they did in Voyager. I prefer the Cube, or the Sphere.