Section 8: HOLODECKS


Holodecks (hereinafter HDs) are less relevant to my theme, being an added rather than inherent flaw in Star Trek Universe plausibility, but I like lambasting them anyhow.  Now, given highly advanced forcefields, holography, and continuous use of imperceptible transporters, controlled by a super‐AI, I'll swallow the HDs as a feasible technology.  The obvious spin‐off applications are, as always, what make it preposterous.  HDs are too close to omnipotence, which (like Utopia – see 9.4) makes for low‐quality plots.

8.1 PSEUDOMATTER [see footnotes, postscripts]

Objects created by the HD are supposedly made of pseudomatter, which evaporates when removed from the holofield.  Pseudomatter is real enough to eat; real enough to fool Geordie's vizor; to reflect Krieger waves (“A Matter of Perspective”, ST:TNG3); to feel wet; to kill you; even to step out through the doors (“The Big Goodbye”, ST:TNG1)… but it's not “really” real.  Yet we know that orthodox Star Trek replicators could build a visually convincing “puppet” from spam!  Add holograms for detail, move it with forcefields and transporters; if it runs away, it drops dead.  So who needs the extra quasiscience involved in the idea of pseudomatter?

8.2 ILLUSTRATION PROGRAMS [see footnotes, postscripts]


If even Starfleet's guaranteed‐safe recreational HDs can kill, imagine the potential of a battleship with a HD built onto its hull: Holocaust class.  This “openplan HD” could easily provide:

Or if you can't swallow “openplan HDs”, how about… Holoheart class.  Gut a ship of all its contents bar HDs, then simulate the absent rooms.  Use the saved space for extra‐huge engines, computers, and guns; the crew (if not the “Away Team”) can contain as many geniuses and heroes as you like.  No need to tell them what's really going on…

1993 Footnotes

8.1 “Pseudomatter” is my own term, but the concept is clearly established in ST:TNG1 (it took several seconds for that holo‐gangster to evaporate), and come to that in “Practical Joker” (ST:TAS1 – ha, you thought I'd forgotten the animated series!)…
8.2 As the holo‐Turing would soon realise, a computer capable of emulating specific geniuses (!) deserves to be promoted to captain.

1997+ Postscripts

8.1 I notice HDs are also being changed in midstream to exclude the concept of pseudomatter, which would be an improvement if they could bear in mind the point that a purely holographic machine‐gun is no good for shooting Borg with – and contrariwise, one you can carry out the door is better than a phaser.
8.2 ST:V hovers on the brink of considering the questions I raise, but without ever quite managing it.