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Primitive Culture: A Star Trek History and Culture Podcast

Nov 14, 2017

Time Loops in Star Trek.

Time’s up! Or is it? For those Starfleet officers unfortunate enough to find themselves trapped in a temporal causality loop, the mental strain of repeating the same moments again and again can be hard to bear. And for the writers and directors faced with the challenge of making a deeply repetitive story exciting, the logistical problems are significant. Nonetheless, time-loop stories have become a science fiction staple, running the gamut from comedy (Groundhog Day) to action thriller (Source Code). Within Star Trek, “Cause and Effect” (TNG) and “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad” (DSC) share a structural similarity. But while one is a dramatic ensemble mystery, the other is a quirky character drama. The time loop proves itself to be anything but repetitive.

In this episode of Primitive Culture, recorded live in London’s West End, hosts Tony Black and Duncan Barrett explore this unique storytelling device, both within Star Trek and beyond. From the 1973 short story “12:01 PM” by American writer Richard A. Lupoff right up to the eighth episode of Star Trek: Discovery, they consider the role time-loop stories play in science fiction, asking whether there is more to these tales than simple entertainment? What are the darker issues at play when the loops begin to unravel, and what can they tell us about our own distinctly linear lives?

Intro (00:00:00)
“Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad” (00:05:10)
“Cause and Effect” (00:08:09)
General Discussion (00:16:21)
Timings (00:31:21)
Loopy Morality (00:35:20)
Groovy Futility (00:39:27)
The Eternal Loop (00:44:14)
Circles of Hell (00:47:15)
Final Thoughts (00:50:42)

Tony Black and Duncan Barrett

Tony Black (Editor) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Amy Nelson (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)