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Ulysses and The Next Generation

Updated: Nov 4, 2022

Hailing all frequencies, are there any Jame Joyce fans out there in the Trekkie universe?

I watched an old Star Trek Voyager episode from the early 2000s and as the captain and her crew fell in love with a romantic version of Ireland in the Virtual Reality Holodeck programme/episode called Fair Heaven, I couldn’t help but wonder if future Generations will look back at Ireland through the eyes of James Joyce and his image of Ireland.

Joyce’s Dublin might be more of a dirty old town compared to the version of Ireland filmed in California on Parmount's backlot at Universal Studios but he certainly did map it out. Literally.

I am sure they would have had difficulty recreating Joyce’s universe as the rights were probably not available back in 2000 and Star Trek had already encountered problems with their Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes Holodeck programme, and they had to wait a few seasons before they could continue the Holodeck programme, when the rights to Sherlock Holmes actually expired.

I guess they could have argued star dates as the Next Generation was clearly in the 24th Century between 2364 and 2370AD.


Data’s Professor Moriarty would go on to take over the Enterprise a few seasons later when the rights to Sherlock Holmes expired, and when it comes to Ulysses, I don’t think the rights were up until 2011.

The reason I imagine Joyce’s Ulysses universe easily existing as a holodeck programme is because of some of the unusual comments made by both James Joyce and his father.

Joyce proudly stated, When I die, Dublin will be written on my heart.

I don't believe this to be some kind of tramp stamp tattoo with "I love Dublin" written on it but that every fibre of his being knew the people of Dublin and that the map of Dublin could have been written on the back of his hand, if not his heart.

When you look at his father, Stanislaus Joyce's unusual comments about his son, he said. "If that fella was dropped in the middle of the Sahara, he'd sit down and make a map of it."

This nice titbit comes from Senator David Norris' book Introducing Joyce, A Graphic Guide.

Talk about combing through the desert, I imagine Joyce would make a map of every speck of sand in the Sahara and then write about it for a few decades.

Senator Norris' book goes on to say that Joyce was asked, would he ever return to Dublin? and he replied "Have I ever left?" "

"When I die, Dublin will be found engraved upon my heart."

He also stated that, "If Dublin were ever destroyed, it could be rebuilt from the pages of my books." Now doesn't that sound like something straight out of science fiction to you?


You can know an area well but Joyce knew Dublin intimately and wrote about it from European cities long after he had left. Dublin was written on his heart but tragically his body wasn't even granted permission to return to Ireland for burial, when he died in 1941.

Today the Irish Navy has a ship named after Joyce and Irish Ferries named a ferry MV Ulysses and I predict both names could as easily become space ship names in 100 years.

Ulysses is about to turn 100 years old so it is not actually much older than Captain Kirk actor William Shatner who was born in Canada on star date March 22nd 1931, and who incredibly flew into space in 2021 at the age of 90.

In fact Ulysses was still banned in America when the Captain Kirk star was born.

Anything is possible and it’s not like Ulysses hasn’t already been imagined in a space setting as a French Japanese cartoon called Ulysses 31 hit our tv screens in 1981.

Ulysses 31 was based of course on the more classical version of Homer’s Ulysses rather than James Joyce’s version but never the less, Ulysses seems kind of timeless whether you set Joyce’s Dublin on a holodeck or turn Homer’s version of The Odyssey, from ship to space ship.

Ulysses is just turning 100 but it will be interesting to see how it is imagined and reimagined by The Next Generation in the next hundred years or two. Captain Kirk, the fictional character, will be born in Iowa on the 22nd of March 2233 but let's not get ahead of ourselves here and let's just celebrate 2/2/2022 first when Joyce turns 140 and Ulysses reaches an epic new milestone.

Ulysses, is not so old even though it depicts Edwardian Dublin from Joyce’s days in Ireland, before he moved to Europe but what about the future when it turns 200 or 300 years old or 400 and 500 years old, like Miguel de Cervante´s Don Quijote for example or William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, what will people think about it then? That is if reading books is still even an option for the masses in the future who will probably have their own issues with Holodeck addiction like Barclay had in the tv series, The Next Generation and Voyager.

The A-Team actor Dwight Schultz who played Howling Mad Murdock didn't always play the role of a team player, as his character Lt Reginald Barclay had difficulty adjusting to reality.

This was from a tv series that started in the late 80s but had already predicted the potential difficulties of virtual reality long before we embraced VR headsets, Social Media or even the Internet. Today kids live on a healthy diet of TicToks, social media feeds and Tinder.

Captain Janeway creating a dating profile.

But looking at the ideal Quiet Man style Irish life of these "Fair Hevan" episodes, I can’t help but wonder if James Joyce hasn’t already half-written future Holodeck programmes, and Holodeck novels like Tuvok and Paris, through his characterisation of Dublin's Fair City.

Joyce wrote much of his work after leaving Ireland and mapped out a city that will be celebrated in early February 2022 as much as it might be in 2233.

Just a thought but maybe I need to unplug for a while and finally finish reading the book.

Supported by

UNESCO City of Literature

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