The Holodeck is a wonderful place for storytelling, especially in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The characters of the Star Trek world immerse themselves in another fictional world – and take the viewers with them into the fictional world within the fictional world. This process, even if you forget the world around you when reading a book, for example, is called immersion.
Nevertheless, the boundaries between our world of recipients (commonly referred to as reality) and the imaginary world of fiction are strictly set and visible. You can literally travel between worlds, but as soon as you take off your VR goggles, the lights come back on in the movie theater or theater, the TV is turned off, or you close your book, you return to the real world. But now the holodeck is the place of the future, where recipients are immersed in a fiction until they return to the “real” Star Trek world.
Now, if the holodeck can create such imaginary worlds to such an extent that the boundaries between reality and fiction become invisible, what happens? When the simulation of a world seems so real that we can no longer tell the difference? Are we ourselves trapped in a simulation and just don’t realize it?
Based on two sample episodes, the lecture Tales from the Holodeck by Dr. Sebastian Stoppe at FedCon 32 aims to show how the holodeck works as a storytelling medium and where the dangers of this total immersion lie.
Dr. Sebastian Stoppe is a media scientist and consultant for online communication at the Saxony-Anhalt State Institute for School Quality and Teacher Education in Halle (Saale).
He received his doctorate from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg with a thesis on the television series Star Trek as a political utopia and previously studied communication and media studies, political science, and medieval and modern history at the University of Leipzig. In addition to numerous works on Star Trek, he has also published research articles on film music and computer games. Sebastian is a sought-after expert on Star Trek and is a regular guest on radio features, podcasts, and television on the subject. His new book Is Star Trek Utopia? was published in English by McFarland Publishers in 2022.
Sebastian lives in Leipzig, Germany.