‘Star Trek Discovery’ failed to do what good sci-fi does

This article contains mild spoilers for the first season of 'Star Trek Discovery'. At its best, science fiction does more than just entertain, or ensure its cliffhanger is strong enough that you come back next week. The cool spaceships and robots are just the framework through which we explore the anxieties and morals of our society at large. And we're at such a febrile point in history that we need sci-fi to ground us in what's coming in the not-too-distant future. I've been preaching patience for a while now, but I don't think that I can defend Star Trek Discovery any further. The conclusion of its debut season has shown that, for all the promise of its raw material, it's been a big disappointment. The show lacked soul, and a theme, to the point where it has devoted its running time to celebrating its own coolness rather than exploring any sort of idea.

Sci-fi is everywhere right now, and the small screen has become a welcoming home for so many great sci-fi shows about so many things. Altered Carbon, which debuted last week, comes with the structural question about if it's right to use science to achieve immortality. Black Mirror continually asks questions -- and preys upon our anxieties -- about humanity's relationship with technology and inf...