Star Sailors** and New Beginnings
There, I’ve said it. Right from the first series through the Movies, TNG and several of the spin offs, I have been an excited and loyal fan. I have sat and watched as Kirk fought off more women than aliens and Picard fought the memories of being Locutus of Borg. Now, I’m being thrilled by the new set of actors portraying my old favourites and impatiently awaiting every morsel of news about Star Trek 2, salivating over the possibility of a new Khan.
What is it about this American scifi show that thrills me so?
Star Trek was the creation of Gene Roddenbury and premiered on NBC on this date, September 6th, 1966 with the pilot episode The Cage. Since then, Kirk and his successors have been boldy going where no one has gone before, their original five year mission being redefined as ‘ongoing’ as the years passed by. The Constitution Class starship U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701 and its crew of 430 have flown in and out of danger in a multitude of alien worlds and time zones, seeking peace with a universal translator and an armoury of photon topedos.
Roddenbury had such an optimistic view of the future and we should remember that this show was made right in the middle of the Cold War, when the west in general and America in particular was obsessed by the threat from terrestrial aliens in the shape or Reds or Commies. Yet we have Pavel Andreievich Chekov as the Enterprise’s navigator. Racial segregation was still prevalent across the States in the 60s and Star Trek had the first televised inter-racial kiss between Kirk and Uhura, the African-American Comms officer. Clearly, Roddenbury had a vision of the future that was very different to the society he was living in.
The sixties were such an exciting time for science and space. We knew it would be only a matter of time before Kennedy’s brash promise of landing a man on the moon (and bringing him home again) would come true and space began to rush towards us, filled with alien worlds, rockets and hope.
Roddenbury picked up on all of this and channelled it into his Star Trek universe, showing us that aliens were challenged, compromised creatures just like us.
I can remember watching the original series with my dad. We didn’t do much together and we found that like the disparate characters aboard the Enterprise, we could come together and watch the adventures together, finding perhaps more in common with each other than we originally thought.
Like their mission, my love affair with Star Trek is ongoing. I recently watched (again) the new movie and was very impressed at how well the cast of young actors caught the essence of the old characters, yet made them their own. And now, as before, Spock is my favourite. To watch the conflict between his human and Vulcan sides – clearly a metaphor for the emotional and logical parts of we humans – is exciting and heart-breaking. Or maybe that’s just me.
If you have any Star Trek memories or favourites, I’d love to hear about them. After all, I am a Trekker and proud of it.
** Star Sailor is a literal translation of the word Astronaut (from the Greek)
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