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One of the hallmarks of any entry in the Star Trek franchise is the new technology they create. But how does a series set prior to the other entries create anything we haven't seen before? Star Trek: Discovery will be setting out in just a couple of months to tell a story set just prior to the events of the original Star Trek series, which would seem to indicate that most of the technology that we will see in the new series will be more or less on par with that part of the timeline. However, in a press conference for the series which I attended during San Diego Comic-Con, co-star Anthony Rapp revealed that the show will be introducing some new tech, via his character's particular area of interest, fungus. According to Rapp...
I can't spoil why, but I'm a scientist with a weird field of study which is astromycology and that has some interesting applications in science on Star Trek. I'm allowed to say that, so yes, there are some new things explored that are because of space fungus and mushrooms and mycelium.
For the uninitiated, mycology is the study of fungus, so astromycology, would be the study of space fungus. It was a fairly odd specialty for a character in a Star Trek series to have, to be sure. Now, it appears that the science officer's focus was specifically chosen because it will have a direct impact on some key elements of the new series. While Anthony Rapp wouldn't go into detail, because spoilers, it appears that somehow space mushrooms will be able to be utilized in some unique way in order to create technology we have not previously seen in Star Trek.
Needless to say, the idea that space mushrooms are going to play an important role in the new Star Trek is one of the oddest things I heard at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend, and while I can't even conceive of how the fungus will be important, at a basic level it makes some sort of sense. Any new technology that Star Trek: Discovery creates for itself needs to also create a justifiable reason while we never see it again in any of the other Star Trek series or films that were made previously, but are all set afterward chronologically. If there is some particularly rare strain of space mushroom that has a finite supply or is difficult to properly cultivate, that might end up being the reason the tech doesn't survive this particular series. Perhaps the crew of the Discovery use up all the mushrooms. Insert psychedelic joke here.
We'll all have to wait and see how astromycology factors into the events of Star Trek: Discovery when the series debuts September 24. The premiere will air on CBS prior to the rest of the series being available exclusively on the CBS online platform CBS All Access.