A Fear of the Heavens
Original Premiere: September 01, 2003
“A Fear of the Heavens” is the kind of Star Trek episode that appeals very strongly to the emotions—and I think it really took people by surprise. A few weeks prior to the episode, I sneakily mentioned that there would be a death in the series. Immediately, the fans started to speculate, and though they had absolutely no idea who was going to die, one thing seemed certain—it was going to be some sort of heroic death in a vast theater of war. But along came this quiet, introspective look at humanity, and it really surprised everyone.
The average episode usually comes into existence in one of three ways—either I’m inspired by something I read or see on TV; it’s a natural progression of an earlier episode; or it’s just pops out of the depths of my mind. However, “A Fear of the Heavens,” was actually inspired by the readers. During the yearly STUPID SURVEY, many people suggested I focus more on the relationship between Alan, Erin, and Angela. And over the course of the year, I did that, but no episode crystallized the family unit better than this one. And believe it or not, this simple tale was perhaps the single most difficult episode of TFF I have ever written. Indeed, I have claimed many other episodes to be thoroughly hellish and evil during the writing process, but none of them managed to approach the level of difficulty posed by “A Fear of the Heavens.” While the primary struggle in writing episodes like “Twilight of the Gods” and “Checkmate” was sorting through the incredibly vast plotlines and perhaps those massive battles, the big battle in “A Fear of the Heavens” was purely emotional. Much like Alan and Erin, I have a cat whose company I enjoy thoroughly, and though my dearest Babacaddon didn’t croak, the notion really hit close to home. As it did for many other people; I received countless messages from people across the globe who could sympathize with Erin (or “Erin’s family” or something along those lines. Nobody seemed to give a rip about Alan, for some reason. I guess he should take it like a man next).
The more spiritual side of this episode was something I had wanted to deal with for a long time—not because I’m a religious zealot or anything, but because aside from the occasional episode of Deep Space Nine, religion and spirituality has not played much of a part in Star Trek. Apparently by the 24th century, just about everyone has resolved to the fact that they’re going to rot in the ground once they die (or be roasted or vaporized or vacuum desiccated and sold… or whatever). Now, I guess this probably isn’t a very realistic view of the future; religion has been around for centuries, and I highly doubt it’s going to just vanish overnight. So this is my attempt to show that there is still some sense of faith amongst the denizens of the 24th century—even if it’s to the minor extent demonstrated by Erin and Alan.
This episode also featured a visit to Coridan, a planet originally mentioned in the Original Series episode “Journey to Babel.” While “A Fear of the Heavens” did little to expand the mythos surrounding Coridan, we did learn that it houses some ancient Chodak ruins—a species that some may recognize from the excellent TNG computer game “A Final Unity.” While the game wasn’t the most intense play experience I’ve ever seen, its plot was so good that I just had to incorporate some of its elements into The Final Frontier. The Chodak and the Garidians are both prime examples of this, as are many of the planets and sectors mentioned throughout the series—Alanor, the M’Kieru Sector, the Beremar System, all of them had roots in “A Final Unity.” I would recommend the game, but since it’s probably a good ten years old, you’ll never find it in any stores—and even if you did, its system requirements are so very low that it won’t run on your computer.