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With this week’s episode of Strange New Worlds focusing on so-called “Ghosts of Illyria”, I decided to do a brief interview with Phyllis Strong, the writer of the Enterprise episode “Damage”, in which the Illyrians first appeared.

Hi, Phyllis. Was the species name “Illyrian” a completely original name or did you take it from somewhere?

“Illyrian” is a completely original name, but it sounds like it belongs in Homer‘s Iliad or Odyssey.

Can you tell us a bit about the Illyrian makeup?

We knew we wanted something simple to make them seem much more humanoid (like us) to deepen the conflict of having to force a trade with them.

What was your original concept for the Illyrians? Were the Illyrians in “Damage” to have originally been another race, or even be another original species but with a different name?

The Illyrians were created for the episode “Damage” and were always meant to be the guest stars of that episode. They were conceived as having simple prosthetic makeup to convey their alien-ness, but also to show them as close to humans so the idea of betraying them was more dramatic. Also, they were conceived as explorers, like ourselves, who were just beginning to reach out into the galaxy to study astronomical events first-hand.

How do you feel about Illyrians being portrayed in future Star Trek productions? This week’s episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is called “Ghosts of Illyria”, for example.

I think it’s fantastic and totally unexpected. Star Trek: Enterprise took place 100 years before Kirk and Spock, so these Illyrians are 100 years past the event with Archer and crew. It will be interesting to see if that history is played at all in the SNW episode.

Do you think all future portrayals of Illyrians should be exactly like those in “Damage”, or would you be fine with them radically changing how the species is depicted?

For continuity’s sake, I would prefer for them to resemble the earlier Illyrians, but one could always argue that not all of their species look the same, which could satisfy the reason for physical changes. As for where their civilization is now, it’s quite possible they’ve caught up to us by Pike’s time.

Thanks to Phyllis Strong for this brief interview.

4 thoughts on “Phyllis Strong on Illyrians

  1. Illyria as a place is absolutely NOT made up. Maybe don’t take credit for something easily Googled to have existed as a place name for centuries. “Illyria, northwestern part of the Balkan Peninsula, inhabited from about the 10th century BCE onward by the Illyrians, an Indo-European people. At the height of their power, the Illyrian frontiers extended from the Danube River southward to the Adriatic Sea and from there eastward to the Šar Mountains.”

    • You do realize the name could be completely coincidental, right?!

  2. So Illyrians first appeared on ST Enterprise but why this article has no mention to Vulcan´s Glory, novel where the number ones Illyrian origin first show up?

    • Firstly, because “Vulcan’s Glory” is not canon. Secondly, because only the episode’s name (“Ghosts of Illyria”) had been publicly revealed when this interview was posted, not the reveal pertaining to Una.

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