There are two ways to think about Star Trek: Lower Decks. On the one hand, it’s the most accessible version of the franchise, because a new viewer needs to know almost nothing to start watching. It’s also possibly the least accessible Trek, because at least half the jokes reference some kind of existing lore. With its fourth episode, “Moist Vessel,” Lower Decks is trying out something different. The non-Trekkie material made it funny, fresh, and less reliant on the larger scope of the Final Frontier. Spoilers ahead.
The primary plot conflicts in “Moist Vessel” revolve around three fairly common science-fiction tropes:
A Generation Ship (a spacecraft that contains multiple generations over a long period of time)
Terraforming (changing a planet’s biosphere to make it inhabitable for people who don’t normally live there)
A human who ascends to become pure energy (Self-explanatory.)
Each of these concepts alone is enough entire science fiction novel work. For example, the Larry Niven book Ringworld is almost entirely devoted to the concept of a generation ship, which is also a giant planet. That said, if you look at it from a certain point of view, Snowpierceris also a kind of generation ship, just not one that operates in space. Meanwhile, terraforming is probably most famously explored in the Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars books, while the Iain M. Banks Culture novels have an ascension process called “Subliming” that makes a little more sense than other similar stuff you see in different sci-fi, and also, has nothing to do with the band Sublime.