THE KINDLE ENCOUNTER
Captain’s Log: stardate 20090524.5
A remote probe has detected a weak signal in the KDX quadrant. Starfleet Command has asked the Enterprise to investigate. Our sensors have indicated a small, previously unknown planetoid as the source.
Science Officer Spock has identified the signal as being eerily similar to a type used on Earth in the early 21st century.
I am leading a landing party, consisting of Spock, my Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, Chief Medical Officer Leonard McCoy, and Security Sub-chief Camisa Roja.
Also in our group: Historian 3rd Class LOLie Poster, an expert in internet era culture. While she has never been on a field mission before, I believe her expertise may prove helpful.
EXTERIOR: WE SEE THE LANDING PARTY MATERIALIZE ON WHAT APPEARS TO BE A TYPICAL 21ST CENTURY AMERICAN SMALL TOWN STREET. THERE IS NO MOVEMENT, NO SIGNS OF LIFE. SPOCK IS USING HIS TRICORDER.
Kirk: Have you identified the source of the signal, Spock?
Spock: Uncertain, Captain. It appears to be a non-localized carrier throughout this entire area.
Kirk: That doesn’t help us much.
Spock: I shall continue scanning.
McCoy: Well, Jim, I’m picking up quite a few life signs, but they’re very faint. I’d say there’s something in every one of these buildings, but I don’t what it is. I guarantee you, though, we’ve got company.
Spock: On further analysis, I’ve found the signal is not entirely consistent. At irregular intervals, the signal is stronger in different domiciles.
Scotty: It’s just a short burst, and then it’s gone.
LOL: Captain, if I may make a suggestion?
Kirk: That’s why you’re here, historian.
LOL: The generalized signal may be an Internet of some kind, while the short bursts would be people downloading information.
Scotty: Aye! Like a data transporter!
Spock: While your analogy is imprecise, Mr. Scott, it does convey the essence of what I can determine with the data we have accumulated so far.
Kirk: Well, gentlemen, let’s see if we can’t get Mr. Spock some more data. Phasers on stun: it’s time we see who’s at home.
McCoy: I don’t think we’ll need the phasers, Jim. These life signs are about as a sleepy as a Kentucky hound dog on a mid-summer day.
Kirk: It pays to be prepared. Historian Poster, pick a building.
LOL: These all seem to be single-family dwellings…there could be people in any of them.
Spock: A burst of activity is just completing…there.
LOL: That could mean a download has just finished.
Kirk: Then that’s our first stop. Phasers drawn.
INTERIOR: AN ENTIRELY WHITE ROOM, WITH BROWN CARDBOARD BOXES STACKED EVERYWHERE. A BLOBBY HUMANOID IS SEATED IN A WHITE CHAIR, WITH A SMALL DEVICE WITH A SCREEN PROPPED ON A PLATFORM NEARBY. MCCOY IS EXAMINING THE HUMANOID WITH A MEDICAL TRICORDER.
Kirk: Is he alive, Bones?
McCoy: If you mean is he breathing, yes. His vitals are all below normal limits, but they are there. It’s his mental activity that concerns me. It’s there, but it never seems to change.
Spock: That would suggest, doctor, that he is in an altered state of consciousness.
McCoy: I know what it means, Spock, but whether he’s sleeping or in a coma or communing with my Great Aunt Tille, I can’t tell you.
Kirk: Can you wake him up?
MCCoy: I could, but I don’t know what it would do to him.
Kirk: What is it, Lieutenant?
LOL: I think he may be on-line. I’ve read about it, but I’ve never actually seen it before.
Kirk: Perhaps you’d care to enlighten the rest of us?
LOL: Oh, sorry, Captain. After receiving information from an Internet, a user…that’s what they called them back then…would have to interface with it in some way.
Kirk: How long would that take?
Spock: Based on my analysis of the accumulation of dust in this room, I would say he has been in this condition for approximately two hundred and twenty-seven Earth years.
Scott: But didn’t that energy burst just happen? It hasn’t been more than two centuries!
Spock: Correct, Engineer. Logically, he is not processing the most recent emanation.
LOL: That’s right. They could keep getting information even though they haven’t finished the last one. It could even be an automatic update.
Kirk: Update to what?
LOL: I would say that device on the table.
Scott: Aye. It’s some kind of a receiving console.
Kirk: Can you get it going?
Scott: That I can, Cap’n. She’s set up for universal voltage…I’ll have her going in a jiffy.
SCOTTY WORKS ON THE UNIT. THE FACE OF EMILY DICKINSON APPEARS ON THE SCREEN.
Roja: Captain, look out!
ROJA FIRES HIS PHASER, WHICH BOUNCES OFF THE SCREEN AND HITS HIM IN THE CHEST. HE SCREAMS AND SLUMPS TO THE FLOOR. MCCOY RUNS TO HIS SIDE.
McCoy: He’s dead, Jim.
Kirk: I knew his second cousin twice removed.
McCoy: Knew her, or knew knew her?
Kirk: Now is not the time, Bones. Dammit, that thing just killed my crewman!
Spock: I would say not. It appears to have passively reflected the phaser blast.
Scotty: It has a shield? That wee thing?
Spock: Not a shield as we know them, engineer. It does, though, have some kind of screen protector.
LOL IS CRYING HYSTERICALLY
Kirk: Pull yourself together, Historian! I need answers!
LOL: Sorry, Captain. Yes, Mr. Spock is right. They often had some kind of film over the screen. But that was to protect it from scratches! This…this is horrible!
Kirk (hugging LOL): Thank you, Lieutenant. That’s what I needed to know. Thanks to you, we won’t be using our phasers again.
LOL: Thank you, Captain.
Spock: If Mr. Scott would assist me, I believe we can induce it to reveal its contents.
Scott: Aye. If we reverse the polarity, and cross circuit to B…
Spock: I believe this switch may accomplish that same task.
McCoy: It looks like a list of book titles.
Kirk: Pick one, Bones.
McCoy: I’m a doctor, not a librarian!
Spock: It may be unwise to open them on the device. While I am sure Mr. Scott has done his typically commendable job, the device may not be able to take reactivation after this long a period in stasis.
Scott: Aye, Cap’n. I canna hold her together much longer.
Kirk: Then we’ll take it with us. Enterprise, six to beam up.
INTERIOR: THE ENTERPRISE BRIDGE. SPOCK AND SCOTTY ARE WORKING AT A COMPUTER STATION. THE DEVICE FROM THE PLANET IS CONNECTED VIA A CABLE. KIRK STANDS NEARBY.
SCOTTY SHRUGS AND LOOKS AT SPOCK
Spock: We have failed to open any of the books.
Kirk: what’s wrong?
Spock: My analysis indicates that the books are keyed only to be used on that device. Despite Mr. Scott’s best efforts, we have been unable to supply sufficient power to it. We are in a quandary: we can neither power the device for which they are intended, nor open them on another device. Logically, there are no other alternatives.
Scotty: Reading Klingon is one thing. Hacking DRM…that’s hard.
Kirk: Thank you for your efforts, gentlemen. I guess we’ll just have to “close the book” on this one.
EVERYONE LAUGHS. END CREDITS
Note: I originally published this parody in the Amazon Kindle forum. It is available in my Kindle store title, ILMK! (I Love My Kindle!): Being an Appreciation of Amazon’s E-Book Reader, with Tips, Explanations, and Humor (Revised Edition) , along with other Kindle humor.
The Star Trek characters are used under the Fair Use provision of United States copyright law, as reported in The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law, and cited by the Copright Office here:
use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied
is listed as one of the “…examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use”.
I recommend the original Star Trek series to you, and support the rightsholders ongoing production of (and control over) non-parody commercial works, like this summer’s new movie. While poking a little fun at the series in this piece, I’ve done my best to capture the flavor of the series and the characters that I respect and that I’ve enjoyed.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.