The LA Times went for set visit to JJ Abrams' current sci-fi TV series The Fringe a couple of days ago, and managed to get Abrams' and his Fringe co-producer Roberto Orci talking about Star Trek.
No plot details yet, but some indication of the tone and direction they're thinking of taking for Star Trek 2. "The first movie was so concerned with just setting up the characters that in many ways a sequel will have a very different mission," says Abrams. "It needs to do what Gene Roddenberry did so well, which is allegory."
Orci chimes in with "we’re starting to circle around some ideas. We got a lot of critical response from the first one, [so] we’re trying to keep [the sequel] as up-to-date and as reflective of what’s going on today as possible." When The Times asks about torture and terrorists and politicised Klingons, Orci's response is "Those are the kind of issues we're talking about... That's the way we're thinking."
Allegory is one of the things sci-fi does best, obviously, and it's a big part of the original Star Trek series, although it's also one of the things that dates it.
It's hard to quite see the primary-coloured sixties-homaging Abrams Star Trek getting down and dirty with a story inspired by Guantanemo Bay, for example, or getting as gritty as the Battlestar Galactica TV reboot, which very much ran along those lines. But that does seem to be the thrust here. It's intriguing, and not a little ironic, since Battlestar partly came out of Ronald D. Moore's frustrations at his time on Star Trek: Voyager.
Trek has always been slow to adapt and develop (arguably even the ace DS9 only got good in response to Babylon 5), but it looks as if we may be boldly going in a very interesting direction...