What Is a Book? Star Trek Edition, Part 3

The Doctor working on his holonovel.

Are holonovels books? In our final Star Trek-themed episode, we discuss holonovels, the creative process, and briefly touch on copyright and AI authorship. “Author, Author,” which is Season 7, Episode 20 of Star Trek Voyager, is our inspiration. The Doctor, or Emergency Medical Hologram (EMH), writes a holonovel about his experience on Voyager. His work is published before he can finish editing (the crew is unhappy with how they are portrayed in the narrative and ask the Doctor to make changes), and he must go to court against the publishers in order to recall publication. Don’t worry, Tuvok helps to win the trial.

Listen here to learn our verdict on whether or not a holonovel is a book and play along with our version of Kiss, Marry, Kill – Take to Risa, Trapped in the Delta Quadrant, Out the Airlock!

Images taken from: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Recap/StarTrekVoyagerS7E18AuthorAuthor; https://intl.startrek.com/article/remembering-guest-star-joseph-campanella-1924-2018; https://intl.startrek.com/news/tuvok-was-voyagers-secret-weapon

3 thoughts on “What Is a Book? Star Trek Edition, Part 3

  1. Can the doctor be seen as the embodiment of the concept of intertextuality? (Which is nonsensical of course since the doctor, as a hologram, has no body… but still.) He is a programme. He was programmed by someone. The programme has access to the database of the starship and I assume that the “holonovel” offers narratives that are exclusively based on the ‘text’ within this database. So the text’s meaning is completely shaped by another text, namely Voyager’s database. Am I making sense? Or is being an AI the element which makes it transcend mere intertextuality? If that is even possible…


    1. You *are* making sense. And I think it could be argued that he, at least this AI especially, “embodies” the concept of intertextuality, because his learned behaviors and creativity are taken from the knowledge the starship computer possesses.The problem is, I’m still not sure what I think about AI, and the influences on AI that would then influence what the AI creates. I think Natalia had a good point about us all being “created” in some way, and obviously there are a host of things that would influence how any single individual would create what they create. But, one also has to make a decision about the “identity” of AI. I think it comes down to the same discussion that was had in Next Generation about Data’s individuality. Me personally – I tend towards the side of AI for various reasons, because I do think that could be one way for humans to really evolve. However, I’m not there yet in reality, only an idealized reality.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s