Oracle of the People

Oracle of the People

The Oracle of the People was the name for the central computer of the Yonada worldship built by the Fabrini. The inhabitants of Yonada revered the Oracle as a deity. The High Priestess accessed the Oracle at the Oracle Room, which contained the physical representation of the Oracle, a tall pilaster decorated with a stylized sunburst. The center of the sunburst contained a round crystal that glowed when the Oracle communicated with its chief worshiper. The Oracle Room also contained a kneeling platform, which served to place the priestess in a properly respectful position, and to attract the machine's attention. These facilities formed an access point or terminal that permitted natural language interaction with the Oracle. There is empirical evidence that the Oracle did not pay attention to this access point until someone knelt on the platform. That action drew the machine's attention, signified by an increase in the ambient lighting and illumination of the central crystal, but the machine did not speak until spoken to. It is unknown whether this interface supported interaction other than that of worshiper and deity, but it seems unlikely, since the USS Enterprise crew had to enter the control room and make adjustments there in order to correct a system fault. The Oracle room contained a number of triangular slabs affixed to the walls, that bore Fabrini writing. It also contained a stele that housed the Book of the People.

Within the Oracle Room, the machine had two chief defensive mechanisms. It could direct electricity sufficient to stun up to at least three Human-sized individuals simultaneously. It could also operate heating elements concealed within certain of the carving panels that could raise the temperature of the room to lethal levels in very short order. Outside of the Oracle Room, the machine enforced its will through the use of the instrument of obedience.

The Oracle concealed the entrance to the control center of Yonada. Using the Book of the People, Spock discovered that applying pressure to the central crystal of the Oracle for several seconds opened this concealed door – the Oracle itself slid open to reveal a small trapezoidal hatch. The same operation opened a sliding door covering this hatch. On the other side of the hatch was the main control room.

During the course of Yonada's voyage, the computer had malfunctioned and diverted the ship's course toward Daran V. Instead of being a world for the population of Yonada, the vessel was on a collision course that would kill all on board and the people of the planet. In 2268, Captain James T. Kirk, Commander Spock, and Dr. Leonard McCoy successfully disabled the computer and corrected the worldship's course to its originally intended destination. (TOS: "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky")

The voice of the Oracle was provided by James Doohan. (Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. 2, p. 109))
The Oracle plays a part in the novel Ex Machina, in which a group of Yonadans, still believing in the Oracle – as their society had no concept of computers, they assumed that all computers were gods rather than dismissing gods as machines – attempt to use Spock to reactivate and improve the Oracle after his encounter with V'ger, seeing V'ger as evidence of their beliefs.
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