What Ails You? – Doctors in Sci-Fi

Yesterday, I mentioned Odd Con and how I was trying to come up with ideas for a panel discussion at the con. Raelyn Barclay  suggested that since the theme of the con this year is Dr. Who, that I suggest a panel on doctors in science fiction.

Star Trek, as we know, always had a doctor in their various incarnations starting, of course, with the one and only Dr. Leonard McCoy from Classic Star Trek.

Next, we have Dr. Beverly Crusher, from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Dr. Crusher was not only the Enterprise’s doctor, but she was also a mother as her son, Wesley Crusher, was also a member of the crew.

After Dr. Crusher, the next physician to appear in the Star Trek Universe was Dr. Julian Bashir on Star Trek: DS9, Dr. Bashir initially started out as a young, eager neophyte when it came to exploring space and dealing with aliens, but he soon evolved not only into a genetically engineered human, but into a wise and seasoned doctor who was tempered not only by a galactic war but by his conflicting feelings regarding his profession and his affections for Lt. Dax.

When Star Trek: Voyager appeared on the scene, the audience had not only grown more accustomed to interacting with technology through our ubiquitous use of computers and soon, our own phones, the creators at Star Trek decided to give us a doctor that not only wasn’t human, but was actually a piece of technology. The Doctor, as he was known, was initially an Emergency Holographic Doctor who was only supposed to be used for emergencies and activated for only a short time. But when Voyager was thrown into the Delta Quadrant, light years from home, the Doctor was required to remain activated throughout the crew’s seven year voyage home and became, in his own right, a valued member of the crew and in my opinion one of the more interesting characters.

Star Trek: Enterprise featured the first non-human doctor (besides The Doctor, but since this was before Voyager’s time Phlox is, essentially the first)  to serve full-time on Enterprise. Dr. Phlox was an alien, a Denobulan who was more likely to cure whatever ailed you by using one of the many creatures from the menagerie he kept in sick bay. He was very much into natural medicine. I liked Dr. Phlox and thought it was interesting having an alien doctor on board a ship comprised entirely of humans, except for Commander T’Pol.  of course.

These, of course, are just the doctors featured on Star Trek. There are many other medical doctors in SF, such as Dr. Stephen Franklin from Babylon 5 or Battlestar Galactica’s cigarette smoking Major Sherman Cottle.

But I’m sure I could get enough of a panel discussion going just by focusing on the doctors from Trek. What do you think?


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