There have been several questions — for good reason, I might add — dealing with a couple of inconsistencies in the Prime Trek timeline, surrounding the Federation's first contact with the Borg.

I intend to ask a question that is orthogonal to those other questions. First, some background:

In the TNG episode "Q Who", Picard's Enterprise makes first contact (in 2366) with the Borg, as a result of an intervention by Q. The Enterprise crew show no recognition of the Borg whatsoever, and the computer does not make any kind of automatic identification of the Borg or their vessel (suggesting no such records exist). In this episode, it is revealed that Guinan's culture was decimated by the Borg. It is clear from her conversations with Picard in the episode that she has never discussed the Borg with Enterprise crew members on any prior occasion.

In "The Best of Both Worlds" (part 1), Fleet Admiral J.P. Hanson tells Picard that Starfleet has been preparing for a year for the eventual encounter with the Borg. He and Lt. Cmdr. Shelby both make statements that imply that the only information they have to work with are the sensor logs recorded by, and damage inflicted upon, the Enterprise during the "Q Who" encounter. This suggests that Starfleet has no data from any prior encounter with the Borg. This also suggests that neither Guinan nor any other El-Aurian refugee (e.g. Tolian Soran) living in Federation space had discussed the Borg with Starfleet or any official representatives of the Federation. (This is consistent with their reclusive nature.)

However, the first inconsistency with this appears in the Voyager episode "Dark Frontier" (part 1). Magnus Hansen, a Federation exobiologist and the father of Seven of Nine, says the following in a flashback:

MAGNUS: Field notes, U.S.S. Raven, Stardate 32611.4. It's about time. The Federation Council on Exobiology has given us final approval. Starfleet's still concerned about security issues but they've agreed not to stand in our way. We've said our goodbyes, and we're ready to start chasing our theories about the Borg.

Chronologically, he made these remarks in 2356, ten years before the events of "Q Who".

The next discrepancy occurs in the episode "Regeneration" of Enterprise. In 2153, human scientists at an arctic research station discover functional Borg drones who survived the destruction of the Borg sphere that went back in time to the 21st Century in First Contact. Captain Archer and his crew subsequently encounter the Borg in space. In particular, Dr. Phlox is exposed to Borg nanoprobes and almost becomes assimilated. He experiences brief periods of the Borg "hive mind". Surely, these experiences would be included in their logs and reports. Although the word "Borg" is not used, they do hear the catchphrase "resistance is futile", and they have enough data to make accurate records regarding the appearance of the Borg, about the assimilation process, and about the Borg's ability to adapt technology to fit their purposes (namely, their modifications to the simple transport ship that they used to escape Earth, which had a top speed of warp 1.4, which they increased to higher than warp 5).

Furthermore, they do research and find that Zephram Cochrane had made explicit reference to cybernetic creatures in a speech given in the 21st Century. His coworker, Lily Sloane, learned the term "Borg" for these creatures. (She remarked that it sounded "Swedish").

While the Bynar are another cybernetic race known to Starfleet, the unique assimilation techniques of the Borg, their rapid adaptation, and their collective consciousness and hive nature would certainly mark them out in future encounters, e.g. in "Q Who".

Here is my question:

Is it possible that the inconsistencies in "Dark Frontier" and "Regeneration" are not actually inconsistencies, but rather the result of a new timeline formed by the events of First Contact? Is this what was intended by writers and producers and, if so, is there a source that confirms this?

The theory would go something like this:

When the Borg went back in time, they shifted their own "first contact" with humanity to the 21st Century. In the 22nd Century, they encounter Archer's Enterprise, and concrete data is collected for the first time regarding a species of advanced cybernetic organisms called the Borg (a named known to Lily Sloane and likely Zephram Cochrane) that can "assimilate" human beings and other species, and which function with a collective consciousness (all experienced firsthand by Phlox). In the 24th Century, Federation scientists Magnus and Erin Hansen follow up on this by requesting the use of the Raven and following the course plotted by the transport ship from the 21st Century (and also working on the suspicion that a subspace message was sent from that ship in the direction of the Delta Quadrant).

This theory also has the following consequences:

The events of "Q Who" either did not occur in the new First Contact-induced timeline, or occurred differently. For instance, if Q had still flung the Enterprise into the path of a distant Borg cube, the crew may not have had to rely purely on Guinan for knowledge regarding the Borg. Also, the events of "Best of Both Worlds" may have been slightly altered.

Is there any canonical information that runs counter to such a theory? Is there any information that supports it, including anything in the Extended Universe?

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    It's almost like they wrote the Borg into episodes that were filmed later, but set earlier. – Valorum Jan 29 '15 at 2:01
  • Since your theory is based on pure supposition, there's nothing to confirm or deny it. – Valorum Jan 29 '15 at 2:02
  • @Richard : It's certainly pure supposition on my part, but it is something that may have been supposed by others. Has this explanation appeared elsewhere? I'm also interested in the Extended Universe. I'll edit accordingly. :-) – Praxis Jan 29 '15 at 2:04
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    @Izkata : Also, neither the question you answered nor your response to it address "Dark Frontier". You postulate reasons why information from Archer's ship may not have been consulted in "Q Who". But what about the Hansens in "Dark Frontier"? Also, wouldn't have records been consulted in the time between "Q Who" and "Best of Both Worlds"? – Praxis Jan 29 '15 at 3:03
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    @Schwern - Nice try. You're not getting away that easily :-) – Valorum Jan 29 '15 at 9:04

Maybe we can say, Starfleet decides on what information Starship computers should contain.

The case of "Q who" episode we can say that Starfleet messed up and decided that data/information (of the Regeneration episode or about the Hansen's) would not be relevant for the 24th century Enterprise computers.

After the events of Wolf 359, we can say that by Janeway's time, Starfleet decided that all information about the Borg, no matter how inconsequential, should be included on all Starships.

It does raise another question would a Starship data center have the same information capacity as a planetary data center?

  • Intersting thought. But why would Admiral Hanson and Lt. Commander Shelby not bring up previous Borg encounters during the briefings with Picard in "The Best of Both Worlds"? – Praxis Jan 29 '15 at 20:54
  • @Praxis Let's assume Shelby knew about the Regeneration events but considered the events low to middle priority since it happened in 2153. Shelby could be concentrating on current tactical data. Shelby did make the wrong assumption basing it on current data (Q who) "I thought they weren't interested in human life forms, only our technology." Only after Picard's rescue (Best of both worlds 2) did Starfleet realize that the 2153 data was still relevant (after a debriefing of Picard experiences as a Borg). – tls Jan 30 '15 at 2:56

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