I watched an episode of Star Trek: Voyager last night, where the holodeck characters became self-aware and decided that the crew of the ship were demons, devils, sprites, fairies etc…It was bizarre and typical of the sorts of conflict a science fiction genre program would introduce during the time frame in which the show was produced. If anyone is curious, the episode in question was Episode 237, Spirit Folk. I find it interesting how two of the best episodes, at least in my opinion, in the series (One Small Step and Blink of an Eye) were in this season, but was followed by and interlaced with all of the bizarre holodeck weirdness that is The FAIRHAVEN Program.
This episode got me thinking about just how often the holodeck malfunctions in the Trek Universe. I wonder what percentage of holodeck characters in the Star Trek Universe become self-aware at some point during the execution of their program? Sounds like an opportunity to do some content analysis.
First off, we’re limited to the Star Trek Universe. While it may be interesting to look at other worlds and novels, I believe that would only cloud the data.
Second, we have a relatively small sample size here, culled from only three, perhaps four television series’ and four feature films. Remember, The Original Series didn’t have a holodeck; they had a Rec Room and a promiscuous captain. I’m certain there is a list of episodes over at Memory Alpha.
Finally, I wonder how common the trope of a malfunctioning holodeck really is. I’m sure TVTropes has some information on the subject, but I don’t know much about that site, so I’ll let the reader decide for themselves. Also, why would humanity put themselves at the mercy of a series of light and force fields that can hurt them? What sort of research questions could we come up with based on this type of content analysis? These are the mysteries of Sci-Fi. If anyone is interested in helping tackle this just for the heck of it, feel free to let me know!