Royalty in Science-Fiction is a subject I have been asked about more than once but have been reluctant to address. For one thing, Sci-Fi fans tend to be a little on the dogmatic side and I really don’t know much about the genre. I liked “Quantum Leap”, “Battlestar Galactica”, “Dune” and the old “Star Trek” series (if there’s no Kirk, Spock or Scotty it ain’t Star Trek in my book) and I liked the old “Star Wars” films but that’s about it. So much of it always seemed too preachy, leftist, incomprehensible and, well, just silly for me to take seriously. However, in all fairness, I’ve also never been terribly fond of much of anything in the Fantasy genre which I know many monarchists absolutely love. I have heard many, many good things about “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Chronicles of Narnia” but I’ve just never had any interest in trying to get ‘into’ them. Lest any think I am being biased, most of the fantasy stuff I have liked (books or films) are ones that I either had to read back in my school days (z.b. “A Wrinkle in Time”, “The Neverending Story”) or watched with someone else when it was their choice. In fact, much of the same goes for Sci-Fi -I saw the “Star Wars” prequels but rest assured I did not pay a dime to see them, and I am thankful for that as I would have felt profoundly ripped off (my apologies to any fans).
Longtime readers will recall I have addressed monarchy in “Star Wars” before (here), so I will not be delving into that too deeply but will take a look at least at what Sci-Fi examples of dealing with monarchy that I am familiar with. Based on what little I have seen, I think there seems to be an assumption on the part of many monarchists that the Sci-Fi genre is more friendly towards monarchy than it actually is, perhaps because Sci-Fi is often lumped together with the Fantasy genre which, while I know even less about it, is probably more pro-monarchy than any other. It tends to be more ‘fairy tale’ in nature and fairy tales and monarchy absolutely go hand-in-hand. Sci-Fi, on the other hand, based on what I have seen, seems to be more hostile toward monarchy than not. In my experience, when dealing with royalty from outer space the norm seems to be that they are evil at worst, spoiled brats at best and, if they are female, very, very scantily clad. Even in the “Star Wars” spoof “Space Balls” the princess was portrayed as an immature, spoiled brat. This may be why those Sci-Fi selections I do like tend to have nothing to do with monarchy at all so say nothing negative or positive about it either way. One thing I do like is imagination and weirdness. That being so, there’s no better place to start than “Flash Gordon”.
|Emperor Ming the Merciless|
|How they bow & scrape on the death star|
Finally we come to “Star Trek” and, as stated, I can only really speak to the actual, original show. The rest I’m not that familiar with. I’ve been told that the Klingons got an emperor in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” but, based on a little poking around I’ve done for this write-up, if that’s true no one seems to have noticed. Anyway, one thing you need to know about “Star Trek” and probably most pop-fiction these days is that anything called an “empire” is bad. If there are bad guys, they have an empire. So, in “Star Trek” the most frequently recurring bad guys were the Klingons and the Romulans. Neither have an “Emperor” but they are both referred to as empires. Why? Because they’re bad guys and that’s all there is to it. As best as I can recall, we only ever saw one monarch in “Star Trek” and that was in the last season episode “Elaan of Troyius”. In the context of just that last season of the show, I have to say it comes off as very anti-monarchy.
|"Her Glory" The Dolman of Elaas|
Sadly, it gets no better from there. The Dolman of Elaas (played by France Nguyen) is basically a combination of the stereotypical sci-fi evil emperor and scantily-clad princess put together. Her preference seems to be to wear as little as possible, she is violent, spoiled, rude, petulant, vindictive and, well, rather dumb. She nearly kills the ambassador of her husband-to-be and tries to seduce Kirk into marrying her and using his starship to annihilate her enemies. Yeah, she’s a real peach. In the course of the episode we find out the Klingons are trying to thwart the mission by sabotaging the Enterprise and then showing up to blast it to bits after disabling the engines. The Dolman, totally unintentionally, helps to get the engines working again, allowing Kirk to smack the Klingons hard enough to convince them to give it up and go home. The Enterprise goes on and we are to assume the Dolman marries the ruler of Troyius and presumably everything works out thanks to Kirk teaching her that she has to treat people with courtesy if she doesn’t want everyone to hate her. As “Star Trek” goes, I thought it was one of the better episodes but it still manages to cram in every typical sci-fi prejudice against monarchy in under an hour.