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The act of allowing someone to experience life as you do is a very powerful idea. Think of all of your experiences, likes, dislikes, or passions. You can try your best to describe them. Writing about them, drawing them, even recreating them in a visual medium like film or paint. But there are many aspects of a single experience, much less a lifetime of them that are functionally impossible to convey.

Now take this idea and imagine that you could allow someone to fully experience every defining moment in your life, every non defining experience, and everything in between. This, alone, would be enough of an interesting premise to make an entire episode of your average Sci-Fi.

This is where Star Trek flexes its writing acumen, take the concept and drop Captian Picard into a situation where he has to live the final years of a dying race’s struggle against a cataclysmic disaster that ultimately claims the lives of all of the residents. 

Now, take the citchy “escape the simulation” premise and remove it. Let Picard settle into the life of a specific resident and cut off his connection to the Enterprise. Allowing pure immersion. Now explore the narrative of the resident that Picard now is inhabiting, while introducing things Picard is uncomfortable with, like kids, then Grandkids. Then let him walk through the slow vertical downhill burn of the terror from those who run the society all the way down to the residents. The deniers, the scientists, the children all facing this ultimate end. Then boot him out right after telling him,  

Now we live in you. Tell them of us… my darling.

This race of people knew they couldn’t escape this terrible fate, but in the face of it wanted their story to be known. So they built a probe that pulled someone into the life of someone in the society and let them experience their legacy. The only way they knew how too ensure they wouldn’t be forgotten.

Then wrap up the episode with Picard back on the ship, playing the flute, all alone in his quarters, that the resident learned to play. A somber reminder of the life he experienced. A literal reminder of the figurative weight and memories he now carries. In a small way keeping the memory of this civilization alive in Picard’s Memory.

When I talk about the powerful storytelling that sci-fi has, this is what I mean. What other medium can claim to have this storytelling power?