Or, if Jane Austen wrote Star Trek…

As had happened before, Mr. Data attempted to amuse his fellow officers on the bridge with what he took to be a well-timed joke.

And, as had also happened before, and too many times to count (unless one has a positronic brain), Commander Riker grinned in a way which seemed to say, he was not so much amused by Mr. Data’s wit, as he was by his epigrammatic clumsiness.

“I see what you think of me,” Data told Riker gravely–“I shall make but a poor figure in your log to-morrow. I know exactly what you will say: Commander’s Log, Star Date 47457.1; Mr. Data embarked upon another jocular assay, to little effect.”

“Indeed I shall say no such thing.”

“My dear sir,” said Data, “I am not so ignorant of the ways of human beings as you wish to believe me; it is the human habit of recording such unimportant and clearly biased information in Starfleet logs which accounts for the easy style of speaking for which your species are so generally celebrated.”

Mr. Riker shrugged his shoulders with a modest grin. “I should not think the superiority was always on our side.”

“As far as I have had the opportunity of judging, Mr. Riker, it appears to me that your own style of speech is faultless, except in three areas.”

“And what are they?”

“A general deficiency of subject, a total inattention to sense, and a very frequent ignorance of grammar.”

“Upon my word! I need not have been afraid of disclaiming the compliment. You do not think too highly of me in that way. Very well, now that you are in a mood to tell me my flaws, do not hold yourself back: how do you feel about my appearance?” And his grin seemed to say that, whatever faults Mr. Data might find in his speech, in the matter of comeliness, even the most emotionless android must concede William Riker’s superiority.

“It is very clear to me,” said Data, gravely examining Mr. Riker’s face, upon which a beard had abruptly appeared the day before, “that I am but a poor judge of such quintessentially human matters. Else I might declare that your chin resembles nothing so much as a well-used breeding ground for tribbles.”

For earlier installments of Austen Trek (which NBC would have cancelled after season two, had they known of it), just click on the link below which says “austen trek”…

And be sure to join us next Tuesday, December 4, when our Jane Austen Movie Club discusses the most recent version of Pride and Prejudice, a.k.a. the one with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen.

Cara King, who finds Data’s inability to use contractions to be as baffling as Catherine Tilney’s complete cluelessness