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The Universe of Star Trek [with analysis]

August 19, 2013

——

I was watching an episode of TNG last night, the one where Data tries to evacuate colonists from a planet about to be lit up by guys in robes who use luminous xylophones to drive their ship, and I suddenly wondered:

Where the hell is Tao Signa 5?

Followed by:

Where the hell are any of these planets?

Later I went online and searched ‘where the hell is Tao Signa 5 star trek tng?’ and pretty soon I was staring at a giant map of the Alpha Quadrant.

It was not what I expected. Did you know the Klingons and Romulans are actually from the Beta Quadrant?

I didn’t.

But now I’ve studied it a little, I can share info on who’s where, who’s got what and why the Cardassians are full of shit.

Let’s start with:
———
1] The Federation

The largest territory in the Alpha/Beta Quadrant.

If you look at the map, it seems like the Federation is split into two large segments, with the Klingon Empire bang in the middle. Then you remember what Spock said in Wrath of Khan: ‘He thinks in 2-D, not 3-D.’ So…a Federation ship could just fly around the edge of Klingon Space to get to all those Beta Quadrant sex planets.

Isn’t it just the Terran Empire?

Yeah, pretty much. The humans are so arrogant they put Earth at the centre of everything.

Does it have a future?

It depends on:

a] if they stick to their principles and the Prime Directive

b] if member planets don’t get bored

If half their members decided to leave and go their own way, what would the Federation do?

What if the Klingon Empire started to dissolve and the Klingons asked for help in subduing rebellions on conquered worlds?

Both questions are interesting, and it would be great if a new TV series could address this point. It probably won’t though, not with Abrams at the helm. You know why? Because there’s still a back catalogue of 650 other plots they can rip off…not to mention other sci-fi that isn’t big or popular enough to fight back…really, why make something new when you can just bring back Gary Mitchell and team him up with the bitch from ‘Catspaw’?

2] Klingon Empire

It’s pretty damn big, but not as big as the Federation. Most of the planets have been conquered [going on the info given in TOS and some of TNG] which can only lead to short-term gains. As scary as the Klingons are, they are beatable, especially if one of the conquered planets sided with the Romulans or staged a drawn-out guerrilla war.

Aren’t Klingons ruthless?

They were, but not so much now. I think they mellowed a little after their moon exploded…since then they’ve met and fought beside the Federation, the Vulcans, the Bajorans…even the Romulans. The days when Kor would march into town and shoot 200 peasants are surely long gone.

Does the empire have a future then?

Not really, no. It’s directly comparable to the Soviet Union…they can still be a powerful species, but they’ll have to let go of a lot of those conquered worlds eventually. Their empire will be split in half, but they’ll get used to it. They’ll probably become a quiet semi-member of the Federation, in the same way the UK operate in Europe now. They keep their independence but are still part of a larger group.

3] Romulans

They posture more than they conquer.

The Romulan Star Empire is pretty large, but still smaller than the Klingon’s stash of planets. It’s never really delineated on screen, but I’m pretty sure the Romulans operate the same way the Klingons did in TOS…they conquer everything nearby and then make them wear military grey.

The problem with the Romulans is: they’re utility bad guys. They’re pretty versatile…they’re well organised, have decent technology, make devious plans…but they’re not the best in the quadrant in any of these areas. The Federation has equal or better technology/resources, the Klingons have a stronger ‘always say die’ spirit and the Cardassians are just that little bit more devious.

And that’s not the only problem.

They’ve got no friends.

The Klingons and the Federation are fairly tight.

The Ferengi don’t like them much because they’re rigid and dull [actually, Quark doesn’t like them very much, the other Ferengi might be more amenable].

The Cardassians had one joint operation with them that was a complete fucking disaster. They probably won’t be calling each other again.

Who else?

The Children of Tama can’t even speak properly; they’re no good as an ally.

The Breen don’t talk at all.

There’s just no-one for the Romulans to hang out with and expand their territory. And in the end, their empire will probably fall apart like the Klingons, but the difference is: they won’t have anyone to turn to for help/spare change.

4] Children of Tama

Actually, I’m not sure how far their domain stretches. Could be bigger than Federation Space, though you’d have to feel sorry for the planets sucked into that mess – sorry, what? The walls did what? Huh? Are you on meth?

5] Breen/Elorg Bloc

Quietly going about their empire building business until for no real reason they sided with the Dominion. Their Energy-draining weapon made them feel smug for 2 episodes, but now they’re back to being men in rubber suits again.

And what the hell is the Elorg Bloc?

6] Cardassian Empire

It’s really not that big, which makes all their posturing pretty fucking hilarious. Though you’d still watch your back around them; like North Korea and Albania they put all State money into the military [and the shoulder pad industry].

How did they take over Bajor?

By being ruthless bastards, I suppose. Also, I think their technology was more advanced at that stage as the Bajorans were more interested in feeling each other’s ears and bowing a lot.

Also, there was a war between the Federation and Cardassia sometime during or before TNG. When I saw the map of the Alpha Quadrant and how small Cardassian territory was, I wondered how they could’ve coped with a war with a much bigger force.

Then I saw Garak.

Imagine that guy being your enemy? If even a hundred Cardassians were like Garak then it would have been a nightmare fighting that war…

As well as this, there was a Season 5 episode of DS9, where a Klingon talked about how devious the Cardassians were compared to the Jem H’dar. Everything is a trap within a trap within a trap leading to another trap.

Both of these pretty much nail the point: The Cardassians are devious, ruthless pricks. Avoid.

7] Ferengi Alliance

Kind of pathetic, really. But don’t underestimate them…they must have business ties all over the quadrant, with every species.

Actually, if they wanted to, they could probably cripple a lot of other species’ economies…especially the Klingons who seem to binge-spend on weapons and technology they’re too stupid to invent.

No, that’s too harsh…there are Klingon scientists too. Only the soldiers are big and dumb.

But still…the Ferengi probably wouldn’t try anything on the Klingons. They’re just too feeble to stand up and fight their corner…
…which means they’ll never be a truly major force in the Alpha Quadrant.

8] Gorn Hegemony

Still embarrassed after the Kirk encounter. Furious with the Organians for leaking video footage of the fight to CBS. Their empire is not huge, but it’s something to build on, especially as they’re seven feet tall, super strong lizard people.

9] Zenkethi

A footnote, really. Used as phantom bad guys in the Season 3 finale of DS9, but not much since.

10] Borg

They got nothing. Ha. Serves them right for only sending one cube to conquer an entire quadrant. They do take up a huge chunk of the Delta Quadrant though, which is both obvious and puzzling at the same time.

Think about it:

i] The Borg have been around for at least 2,000 years [I think it was referenced in an episode of Voyager…I could be wrong, but I’m sure the Borg Queen said something like, ‘we’ve been doing this shit for 2,000 years, baby.’] which means they should have a large chunk of territory. But then if they had been active for so long, why wouldn’t they have the whole quadrant under their control? This is a race that adapts to anything…you could argue that their technology was limited 2,000 years earlier and they gradually got better…but really, that’s bullshit. Humans have been in Space for just over 200 years and they’ve already adapted their tech to the same level as the Vulcans and some areas of the Borg. By definition, the Borg can adapt faster than humans and have the advantage of a hive mind…so why would they not have more empire?

ii] And the reverse of this…why would they have anything if there are races like the Voth around? Remember the big lizards who evolved on Earth before humans and then flew off to the Delta Quadrant and could beam Voyager into their hangar bay at will? Surely they’ve come across the Borg…and surely the Borg could have done nothing but be blown up into little metal pieces.

Perhaps the Voth are isolationists and just don’t care enough to stop the Borg?

I don’t know.

11] The Kazon

Ha, they’ve only just discovered spaceships.

12] The Dominion

The Changelings rule most of the Gamma Quadrant and to be honest, I haven’t seen a map of this area so I don’t know how vast this empire is. Like the Borg, they’ve been operating for 2,000 years [Weyoun said so in ‘To the Death’, I watched it two days ago] so it makes sense that they’d have a lot of planets under their gooey brown fist. But what about other planets in that quadrant? There must be other species which have advanced beyond the Dominion’s level…remember the Dominion’s tech wasn’t that much better than the Federation’s…

How is that possible?

Well, this is typical Trek, isn’t it? If the Borg and the Dominion truly dwarfed the Federation in terms of technology/firepower, which they really should considering the longer amount of time they’ve had to develop their shit then it wouldn’t be much of a fight, would it? The Dominion War would’ve started and ended in Season 3 of DS9, and the Borg would’ve assimilated everything anyway.

Is there a counter to this?

Perhaps. If you look at Earth, China was an ancient land [can’t be bothered typing ‘civilisation’] but after 2,000 years of sitting on their asses being threatened by no-one but themselves, the Europeans came and sat on them.

How?

Obviously, the Europeans were industrial, had big boats and better weapons, so they could do what they wanted, but why hadn’t China progressed in the same way?

I’m not sure…the only answer I can think of is…European nations were close to each other and in a constant state of war and competition…which led to constant, urgent demands for better technology.

It’s an old one, but true. Necessity is the mother of invention. China simply didn’t need to make anything new and scary until it was too late.

So, this could be true of the Dominion too. They got complacent because they dominated so completely.

But the Borg…it doesn’t make sense for them at all. They were in a constant state of war and adaption…there’s no way the Federation should’ve been able to catch up to their level.

13] Bajor

They’re still celebrating that solar wind ship they built once.

Actually, it’s interesting…the Bajorans are too passive and backward to be a major force in the Alpha Quadrant, but they value their independence now they’ve freed themselves from Cardassian occupation, so what does the future hold for them?

Will they try and build a buffer-zone of planets/colonies to protect them from ever being shat on again?

Could this lead to friendly empire building?

Or will they just slip quietly into the Federation and keep praying to the wormhole aliens?

Also noted:

Sheliak Corporate

Small and easily offended. Bureaucratic. They travel on ships with stage lights and xylophone control panels.

Talarian Republic

Tiny, somehow fought a war with the Federation once…their main tactic was to send out distress calls from empty ships then blow everything up when Starfleet got close enough to patronise them. Stupidly aggressive for such a technologically under-developed species, this attitude will ultimately get them burnt.

Adraxian Alliance

Stuck on the edge of Cardassian/Breen Space, can’t remember them ever being in an episode of Trek.

Tholian Assembly

Mysterious, defensive and clever, they take up quite a lot of Space, but generally keep to themselves. If they’re not careful, they’ll forever be known as ‘those guys with the web trick.’

Garidian Republic

Never heard of them, but they have as much area km cubed as the Romulans. There must be some interesting tales to tell on that side of Space…

Velora Aggregate

Who?

North Korea

An island of one.

Fen Domar Theocracy

Iran in Space

Darsaean Alliance

Known in small Beta Quadrant circles, but still looking for their big break.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. LEE permalink
    December 29, 2013 11:38 am

    blah blah blah, btw the Romulans have the Garidian empire as allies. They appear to occupy more territory than the Romulans.

    • LEE permalink
      December 29, 2013 11:39 am

      blah blah blah = you didn’t do much research, how can you miss such an super obvious fact that the Garidian were allies of the Romulans?

      • Altstartrek permalink
        December 30, 2013 2:25 am

        You’ve replied to yourself, saying the same thing twice.

        I’m an amateur fan of Trek…I only watch the shows and the movies, I don’t read the books because I tried one once and it was shit. Far as I know, the TV shows never mentioned the Garidian Empire at all, though I could be wrong.

  2. LEE permalink
    December 29, 2013 11:42 am

    FYI, you analysis & analogy between china & Dominion was HORRIBLE, plz look up some basic history before you make such foolish statements in the future.

  3. Altstartrek permalink
    December 30, 2013 2:23 am

    You seem angry, man…you know this is just analysis from looking at the map, right? I’m not a professor.

    Also, I’m not an expert on Chinese History, it’s true, but a lot of my students are [they are from HK and learn it at school – perhaps not experts, but I’m guessing they know more about it than you or I], and from what they tell me China had nothing but civil wars until the Europeans came. Also, there were a lot of Emperors who allowed misguided spending, especially the woman behind the emperor in the 19th century [i don’t know her name], which led to a lack of development in resources. They were rarely attacked by other nations.

    I will admit, the comparison of Dominion/China was a bit of a reach – the only thing really comparable is: the slow rate of technological development over such a long period of time compared to the Europeans/Federation. Obviously, it’s not my intention to imply anything else.

    Not sure which part of this is ‘horrible’ or ‘foolish’…maybe you’d like to use your Wikipedia knowledge of Chinese History to clarify?

    • March 8, 2016 3:26 pm

      it’s been 2 years since i left the above comment, and since then i’ve read more on Chinese history and would like to say I was wrong about 2,000 years of doing nothing, it seems to be more like the last 300 years of imperial rule where China fell behind, and even then during the Ming dynasty they had a golden age, domestically at least. So the angry guy above does have a point in terms of the time period of China’s ‘falling behind-ness’ [if that’s what he was referring to with his ‘horrible comparison’ criticism], it wasn’t as long as the Dominion, though I still believe the comparison has some validity and that the above guy is still a dick, ha.

      signed

      Altstartrek/Oli

      Now for the many other articles on here where I typed without turning my brain on…

  4. Ryly permalink
    April 2, 2014 8:56 pm

    I know I’m a bit late to the Party here but I wanted to throw my two cents in on this because I found your article to be both an enjoyable read and interestingly informative.

    First off, the map you used sucks. Sigh, every map I’ve seen sucks, partially because there isn’t any good cannon description of where everything is. (For instance, in TOS the Klingons were in the Alpha Quadrant and the Romulans in the Beta but then they switched and then, somehow, both were in the Beta by Voy.)

    This gets really rediculous when you realize that according to the most cannon Warp Speed chart, (http://trjlive.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Warpspeedchart.gif) it would have taken YEARS for the USS Enterprize-D to fly from the Romulan border to the encounter with the Children of Tama and then to DS9 to drop off Mr. O’Brien. Simply put, they must’ve cloned Picard and company because logic says ‘no’.

    Sadly, to quote JMS of Babylon 5, “Star ships move at the speed of Plot.”

    Anyway onto my thoughts on the next major powers.

    It was established in the TNG episode “Darmok” that the Children of Tama were actually, while much smaller than the Federation, equally as powerful if not slightly more due to their more condensed nature and forces. One Tamarian Cruiser was able to stand toe-to-toe with the Enterprize-D, aka the darling child of Star Fleet. While it isn’t clear if the Tamarians have conquered any client species, their position on the outward side of the Galaxy seems to indicate that their territory is somewhat sparse and is likely only populated by them and them alone. This would explain their frankly bizarre culture and language but would also put them into your “China” category. So take it as you will.

    The “Elorg Bloc”… The more I’ve looked them up, the more I find conflicting information and fan speculation. It seems they were a power some 200,000 years ago, but as of late are… well… dead. Their connection to the Breen is unclear .

    Speaking of the Breen… The Breen are legitimately something to be afraid of. They’re not the biggest and baddest kids in the playground but they’re mean SoB’s and not afraid to get their hands dirty. REALLY DIRTY. They were referenced in TNG as being BAMFO’s and even the Klingons are scared pants-less of them. That said, they seem to be perfectly content just sitting in their space being feared… Perhaps there’s a bit more ‘bark’ than ‘bite’ behind them in reality.

    The Talarians: Oh the Talarians. They really do have so much potential to be major powers. They’re warriors, willing to fight tough, and have even shown themselves to be more than the average dumb brutes like the Nossicans and the average Klingon Warrior. Then they go an mess it up by being cartoonishly aggressive and foolhardy. Or maybe that was Gene and his belief that anyone who wasn’t in the federation was either jumping for joy at the prospect of joining… or was cartoonishly aggressive…

    The Borg?

    Sigh, I blame Voyager for the accursed neutering of Star Trek’s greatest villain.

    The truth is, originally, one Cube could’ve done it. One cube could have assimilated the entire Alpha quadrant. It was only luck, smarts, and skill that saved the day.

    And now… Sigh.

    The Cardies, Romulans, and Klingons?

    their day has come and past sadly, although it is important to note that the Romulans are still fairly strong and their alliance with the Garidian Republic is still intact. I just can’t see them ever being a major threat again, especially because after the Dominion War everyone is all “Bubby-buddy” now. Any continuation involving them would likely be titled “Star Trek: Faffing About!” as there’s not much left to do with them.

    So who are my bets?

    The Tholians: Ohhhhh the Tholians… there are some good stories locked away in their little Crystalline claws that have me drooling at the jowls to see.
    Despite Enterprize’s best attempts to neuter them, they’re still an ABSOLUTELY AND UTTERLY TERRIFYING SPECIES when you think about them. They literally can transcend time and space and reality barriers to move objects… through time and space and reality barriers. They really do have the potential to be a truly ‘Lovecraftian’ nightmare for the Federation. I just don’t know if they’ll ever be utilized in such a way in our lifetimes… Such a shame.

    The Talarians perhaps some day but not anytime soon.

    Some new big baddie? Most likely the choice. It just fits with the modern portrayal of Trek these days.

    Anyway, like I said I just wanted to throw in my two cents. I hope my post doesn’t bore anyone and I hope everyone who reads this has a good day!

    • Altstartrek permalink
      April 10, 2014 2:43 pm

      That’s a lot of info, man, thanks. I didn’t know almost all of it…only that starships move at the speed of plot and Voyager killed the Borg as bad guys. In fact, the whole transwarp conduit thing ruined it all…the Borg could have sent a few more cubes to Earth in a few minutes, yet…it doesn’t make any sense at all. The Queen goes on and on about humans resisting the Borg, but doesn’t send any more cubes to Earth? And that’s without getting into the ‘humans are the only ones who can resist the borg, they’re special’ plot which all Trek is guilty of now and then.

      Btw, if you ever want to write something on Trek or any other sci-fi for this site, just send me an e-mail. I enjoyed reading your comment a lot.

  5. July 14, 2014 9:19 pm

    Awesome commentary. I agree with a previous post about the lack of decent maps. I’ve seen a couple of different versions running around that especially mess up galactic geography with regards to some issue like the location of Tholia and the region formerly the Delphic Expanse.

    The map you’ve used is one of the better ones I’ve seen. If you take a look around, I bet you can find a copy of the Stellar Cartography charts from around 2002 – they have some very decent info on the path of the NX-01 and Voyager, good maps of the Delta quad and an alright one of Gamma.

    Also, in reply to the comment regarding the Tholians…As I understand it, their back story leaves much to be desired as a credible enemy. They are refugees from a distant galaxy and barely understand how to work their own technology. It seems like they are just trying to keep everyone away from them and survive (I think their xenophobia has more to do with fear than anything else – I mean they fled their own native galaxy out of fear of becoming extinct).

    The points regarding the Borg are also very valid. I was excited about the prospects when Voyager was airing. What a shame. Though they did an okay job turning the Krenim into some nasty baddies – The Year of Hell was decent. I only wish they would have taken it further. Honestly, Voyager shouldn’t have gotten home with it’s entire bridge crew.

    • July 7, 2015 1:51 am

      Thanks, man. This is probably a year too late, but how did you find out about the Tholians? Tie-in novels? They actually sound quite interesting the way you describe them, but i just can’t get past the writing style of those Trek books, so bland [though I know the authors have their hands tied with what they can and can’t write].

      You’re right, Voyager had so much potential. Episodes like ‘The Void’ really pissed me off as the concept was so good and they did nothing with it. They even put in a montage at the end instead of making it a 2 parter, the bastards.

  6. December 22, 2014 2:04 pm

    Hate to tell you this, but the only mention of the Elorg, is on a Star Trek Fanfiction site. It’s possible that this is meant to work with the series.

  7. August 19, 2015 9:00 pm

    The Fen DoMar were refrenced once or twice in the last season of Voyager. Befre Granny Janeway came from the future she took the long way home and went through their space. There a bunch nasty fuckers who operate ion the edge of the beta quadrant and just inside the delta quadrant. They kill Seven of nine and a bunch other Voyager people, Chekoty cries loads then dies a broken man Thats when Granny janeways changes history and gets Voyager to take the short cut home with the help of a Borg Transwarp Gateway.

  8. Tianci Guan permalink
    January 3, 2016 11:30 pm

    I know I’m pretty late to the conversation, but the map you found is for a fanfic called Star Trek: The Final Frontier. It’s a really interesting series if you get past the first few seasons’ cringe-worthy writing. Basically, this map was adapted to the person’s fan series, so most of the places that you don’t know about don’t actually exist. These are the more important ones:
    Elorg Bloc: A really advanced and ancient species from subspace, the main enemies to the Federation in the fanfic.
    Garadian Republic: Used to be a subjugated race of the Romulans, it has since then become a separate empire, but still with the same Romulan secrecy.
    Velora Aggregate: Xenophobic race with really good warp drives. They are essentially “allergic” to aliens and basically enslaves everyone.
    You can visit sttff.net for the fanfic and the map along with some notes. I would recommend it, it’s among some of the best writing I have found. (Well, at least the later seasons.)

    • October 18, 2016 2:14 am

      I was wondering if i’d missed all these other races in the TV series [maybe mentioned off-hand in one of the episodes I skip in rewatching]. Now I know. Thanks, man.

  9. Boris permalink
    October 17, 2016 10:59 am

    Well this seriously undersells both the borg and the dominion. The Borg came surprisingly close to successfully destroying the federation with that one cube and personally I think the only reason they didn’t send more was because the writers realised they’d painted themselves into a corner by creating a powerful species and didn’t want the federation to be destroyed. Other more feasible reasons include borg philosophy. They generally only bother conquering races with sufficiently advanced technology and most likely they simply decided that the federation just aren’t significant enough. Also they probably had their hands too full with species 8472. The dominion don’t actually seem concerned about conquest for it’s own sake, they conquer because they feel threatened by disorder, if it wasn’t for the wormhole creating a connection to ‘chaotic solids’ they would probably not bother. You also get the impression that their solid power was far greater than we see as most of their fleets never got to the alpha quadrant. Also I doubt the Cardassians are more devious to the Romulans, the idea that there’s more than 1 cardassian like Garrak is just silly, if that had been the case then lets be honest the dominion would’ve won the war. For Romulus deviousness is basically a cultural trait, which is why it’s impressive when specific individuals (like garrak) can outwit them. Basically they’re the gold standard of machiavellian thought

    • October 18, 2016 2:25 am

      good points, especially on the uniqueness of Garak, though I remember a character in DS9 [Odo, perhaps?] saying the Obsidian Order were better than the Tal Shiar. And the Klingons stressed a couple times how devious they were. Who knows? Maybe it’s just their militaries/secret police who are sneaky, and the normal citizens are open books?

      I would love to know if there’s a book that explains the Borg/Dominion situation, and how they developed. I think Trek writers wanted to enlargen the awe of them both, hence ‘they’ve been around for 2000 years’, and, as a result, put themselves in a hole. The Borg seem obsessed with humanity at times, especially in Voyager, yet they only sent one cube. It just doesn’t make much sense to me, unless the first cube was just a tester? But then why didn’t they send more through their trans warp conduits? I thought species 8472 started attacking them around season 2-3 of Voyager [and introducing us to their fight at the end of season 3]. Is that wrong? Like I said above, I only know about the main TV series, nothing else.

      I’m probably holding the writers up to too high a standard. It must be almost impossible to sustain complete logic in such a huge universe, where the Federation can’t die.

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