Discovery and Stardates

Discovery and Stardates? Ha, Ha, Ha!

The first two seasons of “Star Trek: Discovery” have reached a close. It is probably the prettiest “Star Trek” I’ve ever seen (including the flashy new movies) but from a stardating and chronology viewpoint, it’s a complete nightmare. I can’t say I wasn’t expecting that.

The Facts

“Star Trek: Discovery” got off to a blazing start by announcing in the very first story DCY “The Vulcan Hello” that S.D. 1207.3 is Sunday 11th May, 2256. This date also seems to be when the Battle of the Binary Stars takes place.

Later, in DCY “Into the Forest I Go”, Tyler specifies that he was held captive by the Klingons for 227 days. I’m assuming that’s accurate, otherwise it would be a huge giveaway of future thrilling developments. That puts his escape in DCY “Choose Your Pain” on Wednesday 24th December, 2256.

An unspecified time after this, although it can’t be less than a week, DCY “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad” gives two stardates: S.D. 2136.8 and S.D. 2137.2; these seem to apply to the two days of the story.

The very next story DCY “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” has a stardate on the first day, and it’s S.D. 1308.9!

At the risk of spoilers, Discovery then pops into the Mirror Universe for a while. A display screen in DCY “Vaulting Ambition” places the events of ENT “In a Mirror, Darkly” on S.D. 0141.7. The “Star Trek: Enterprise” story dates itself to January 2155, and I think this specific date would apply to Tuesday 14th January, 2155.

DCY “What’s Past is Prologue” is also stardated, S.D. 1834.2. At the end of this story they get back to the right universe, only nine months late. That means it has to be at least 18 months since DCY “The Vulcan Hello”? In effect, it can’t be any earlier than October 2257 by this point, although that would put the stardate in January 2257.

Then we get to DCY “The War Without, the War Within”. We don’t find out what the date is, but Admiral Cornwell mentions some particularly damaging Klingon attacks from the last nine months:
S.D. 4789.6: Klingon vessels launch hypothermic charges at Kelfour VI.
S.D. 4851.5: A cloaked raider tails Saratoga into spacedock at Starbase 22, then ignites its antimatter supply in a suicide mission.
Yes, that’s quite a jump, isn’t it?

Finally, the series ends with DCY “Will You Take My Hand?” Perhaps for the best, there are no stardates, but it is established that it’s roughly a year since DCY “The Vulcan Hello”. That can’t be right, since eighteen months at least have gone by. My guess is that it’s still 2257, and the meeting with Enterprise is probably in November or maybe December 2257.

Yes, But What About the Stardates?

They are absolutely canon, insofar as they jump about all over the place with no discernible pattern to them at all. Out of all the possible options, it does seem to be the best one to go for, although it’s really frustrating for my attempts to force stardates into a pattern.

Oddly enough, there might actually be something hiding here. If 11th May, 2256 corresponds to S.D. 1207.3, then it might be intended to match up with the fact that the lowest stardate in the original show was S.D. 1312.4, referring to TOS “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. That story was first broadcast in September 1966, but is usually supposed to have happened sometime earlier, to explain the differences in the sets, uniforms and the starship model. Although the later “low” (less than 2000) stardates don’t fit too well, S.D. 2136.8 from DCY “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad” would seem to match up vaguely with TOS “The Squire of Gothos”, first broadcast in January 1967. My vague theory then flies out of the window, because S.D. 4789.6 and S.D. 4851.5 from DCY “The War Without, the War Within” would have to be in early 2268 to match the S.D. 4770.3 in TOS “Return to Tomorrow”, first broadcast in February 1968. That doesn’t fit with the “a year ago” reference in DCY “Will You Take My Hand?” to DCY “The Vulcan Hello”, but the events of the series don’t sit very comfortably with that, anyway.

My Provisional Conclusion

My guess is that the first season of “Star Trek: Discovery” covers the period from May 2256 to late December 2257. I have assigned my dates accordingly, and pretty much ignored all of the stardates as used, except for the one in DCY “The Vulcan Hello”. For the time being, it’s too clear a link-up between stardates and the conventional calendar for me to just ignore it, although as events develop, I might decide that there’s no point making stardates so much more complicated (and arbitrary) for so little practical result.

“Star Trek: Discovery” Season Two

If I thought things couldn’t get more confusing, I was wrong. Here’s a table showing the stardates used in the second season:
Story Stardate given later Stardate in Story
DCY “Brother” 1025.19
DCY “New Eden” 1027.32
DCY “Point of Light” 1029.46
DCY “An Obol for Charon” 1834.2512
DCY “The Sound of Thunder” 1035.86
DCY “If Memory Serves” 1532.9
DCY “Through the Valley of Shadows” 1048.66
DCY “Such Sweet Sorrow” 1050.8 1051.8
DCY “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2” 1201.7

It would be wrong to say that there’s no pattern discernible at all. There does seem to be a vague sequence of dates from 1025 to 1201. They don’t fit at all with the stardates used in the first season of “Star Trek: Discovery”, let alone anything else.

Just taking the Red Burst dates provided in DCY “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2” doesn’t really lead anywhere. Yes, they are in a sequence, but if a stardate unit is equivalent to a day, then the last burst is only 25 days after the first, and yet the gap between the first and last stories has to be several months, according to statements made by characters in the show. If you assume that they’re “reboot movie” style stardates, and it’s the numbers after the decimal point that indicate the days, it does stretch the length of time between the first and last bursts to around five and a half months, but that raises the problem that the first few stories happen in quick succession. From DCY “Brother” to DCY “An Obol for Charon” seems only to be a week or two, and yet the stardate gap between the first two stories alone would be 13 days.

Perhaps there’s a pattern that I just can’t see lurking in these dates, but only the people making the show know what it might be. Once again, the numbers seem pretty random to me, and I’m stumped as to how they could be interpreted as dating clues.

My Provisional Conclusion for Season Two

Whilst I did try to get some matches between the stardates and conventional dates in the first season, since a direct equivalence was given in DCY “The Vulcan Hello”, I haven’t even tried this time. I’ve listed the stardates at the relevant story entries and otherwise ignored them. The whole season has been flagged up in red. The only really solid clue is that the main action of the series takes a “few months” and then there’s an extra 124 days before Spock wraps things up with a log entry. I’ve placed the stories between December 2257 and March 2258, with the coda in July. Now Discovery has vanished off into the future the problem should be resolved for now, but goodness knows what’ll happen if the rumoured “Emperor Georgiou” or “Captain Pike” shows are ever made.

2251 to2264

by StrauchiusStrauchius on 28 Feb 2018 08:58, last updated on 30 May 2019 10:46