How Star Trek Super-Fans Helped Write The Last Movie

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

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Even though it was a box office disappointment that killed the Kelvinverse, Star Trek Beyond is an amazing entry in the long-running Paramount franchise. The movie has all the big action and crowd-pleasing moments of a modern blockbuster, but it also stays remarkably true to its characters and the lore of this universe.

A great example of this concerns the necklace Spock gives Uhura: as SlashFilm reports, writer Simon Pegg turned to Dan Carlson and Harry Doddema, Star Trek experts and founders of the Memory Alpha wiki, to get the details on this galactic jewelry just right.

Uhura’s Necklace

Early on in Star Trek Beyond, it doesn’t look like the necklace will be all that significant to the plot: we see Uhura break up with Spock and try to return the necklace, but Spock insists that she keep it. But it turns out the necklace is made from a Vulcan mineral known as Vokaya, and Spock is later able to use the low-level (and completely safe) radiation from the mineral to find Uhura after they crash onto an alien planet. 

Super-Fans Help Simon Pegg With Vulcan Lore

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Even though film co-writer and Scotty actor Simon Pegg was already a Star Trek expert, he decided to get some help when it came to the Vulcan lore surrounding this necklace. That’s when he turned to Memory Alpha founders Dan Carlson and Harry Doddema, and they quickly proved Pegg made the right call.

He couldn’t reveal the full plot of Star Trek Beyond, so he gave them only the barest details of what he was looking for. According to Pegg, “three hours later I got a full etymological breakdown of the word and the history of the thing,” which is why they are thanked in the film’s credits.

Later, Carlson revealed that Pegg had specifically asked if there was “a Vulcan mineral with some unique properties: a stone or gem used in jewelry, which transmits a harmless energy field that could be detected by a scan, and was uniquely identifiable to Vulcan.” Obviously, Pegg was hoping there would be some offhand reference from a Trek movie or TV show he could use. However, this Star Trek Beyond plot point almost stalled out because it turned out there was nothing in the franchise’s deep lore to match what Pegg wanted.

Coming Up With Vokaya

However, Carlson and Doddema then did the next best thing: utilizing their knowledge of the Vulcan language and the history of the fictional planet, the two of them began devising the lore behind the Vokaya necklace in Star Trek Beyond. According to Carlson, Doddema thought there should be a Vulcan equivalent to “’trinitite,’ a real-world radioactive mineral created during the Trinity atomic bomb test that was briefly used in jewelry.”

The two reasoned that since Vulcans were once a warlike species, they might have had something similar to trinitite and that they might utilize it in jewelry as a reminder of how far they had come as a species.

Coming Up With The Name

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Before this bit of jewelry could become canonized in Star Trek Beyond, the two Treksperts had to come up with a name that was consistent with Vulcan etymology. To do this, they took the Vulcan words “vokau” (which means “remember”) and “heya” (which means “mountain”) and smashed them together. Even this step was super nerdy: “vokau” was mentioned in one episode of Star Trek: Enterprise (“The Forge”) and “heya” was mentioned only in Diane Duane’s seminal novel Spock’s World.

The Greatest Fandom Of All Time?

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We loved learning these details about Star Trek Beyond, and the story behind the creation of the Vokaya necklace is a powerful reminder that Star Trek stays connected with its fandom in ways that other franchises don’t. For example, can you imagine Kathleen Kennedy letting hardcore Star Wars fans have any say whatsoever in the next Star Wars movie? Fortunately, Trek’s creators are constantly letting fans know what a dying Spock once said to Captain Kirk: they have been, and always shall be, our friends.