A lucid article by Todd Seavey on why little mixups like the birthday of the archnemesis of CSI top sleuth Grissom (a critical plot point) or the gloryless destruction of Starfleet’s finest flagship in Star Trek Generations by Klingon webcam makes my blood boil.
Yes fellow geeks, we’re talking about the dreaded continuity error:
In normal movie parlance, a continuity error means one of those embarrassing moments when, say, the bandage on an actor moves from the right hand to the left hand between scenes due to a mistake by the makeup department. For science fiction fans, though, continuity refers to the overall logical and historical coherence of our beloved fictional universes.
For you see, any story must have a certain amount of internal coherence if we are to achieve suspension of disbelief. And we must achieve suspension of disbelief. For most people, that just means that a given fictional universe must hold together for the space of two hours: if the main character in a conventional romantic comedy, possibly some movie for girls featuring Meg Ryan or someone like that, says at the beginning that she is an only child, she should not have a sister present at her wedding at the end of the movie. Stories like that – about boring, conventional people with their petty love affairs and their tawdry sex antics, people whom one could not trust when the chips were down and an Imperial Battle Droid were attacking your spaceship! – are relatively easy to keep consistent. It is only the grandeur and majesty of a fictional universe the size and complexity of one like the Star Wars universe, the Star Trek universe, the DC Comics universe, or the Marvel Comics universe (and perhaps soap operas) that is truly difficult to maintain.
What can I say? I like precision in my fictional entertainment, just like in real life.