“Well, I’ll be damned. It’s the gentleman guppy.”: The Ambergris Element
|“…part of your wooooooooooooooorld…“|
Some episodes I have a really hard time building a post around. It’s not that they’re especially terrible, it’s just there’s not a lot of content there for me to really grab hold of or find new and interesting things to say about them. Thankfully, Margaret Armen wrote this one so that won’t be the case here.
And I really wanted to like this one too. When I was planning this project I did a cursory scan of all the episodes I hadn’t seen or didn’t remember all that well, and this one looked fascinating. The Enterprise is conducting research on a planet that’s almost entirely ocean due to persistent underground tremors causing the continents to fall into the sea. The crew hope they information they gain will be helpful in providing aid to other planets with similar geological activity. One of the things I love most about science fiction is its ability to depict wondrous and fantastic spectacles of worlds that exist far out in the deepest realms of outer space. It goes back to things like Georges Méliès, the hauntingly evocative spacescapes dreamed up by the Golden Age science fiction artists and the fist glimpses we saw of the Lunar surface from the Apollo missions. Few things stir my imagination quite like a well-done bit of space art. Indeed one reason, if not *the* primary reason, I don’t despise Star Trek is how fantastic Star Trek: The Next Generation and early Star Trek: Deep Space Nine were at evoking this kind of imagery: The visual design alone is enough to get our minds racing to imagine what life in the sort of world those shows depicts must be like. And animation is a medium essentially custom-tailored for precisely this.
One of my greatest loves, obviously, given the way I’ve structured this project, is the ocean. When I was young one of the things I thought I might grow up to be was some kind of oceanographer or ocean explorer. I developed my love of the ocean and my love of outer space roughly at the same time, I suppose because both seemed like universes unto themselves and we knew next to nothing about either. In hindsight, this makes a lot of sense given the Polynesian belief in the intertwined world, with the realms of the Earth, Sea and Sky all interconnected. Many variations of the Polynesian creation myth even claim that the world was created out of the sea, and often that the world exists within a giant clam shell in the middle of an even larger cosmic ocean.
At one point, I naively fancied myself some kind of professional astronomer and was involved in a project to detect extrasolar planets. It was my unspoken hope that at some point I’d be able to see a planet like the one described in this episode: One comprised almost entirely of ocean. I’ve also long had a fascination with Neptune in our own solar system: Although it’s named after a Western sea god, Neptune is in fact a gas giant and even though it’s thus more properly described as a planet made entirely out of sky, I still think it would be an incredible sight to visit a place like that.…