I was recently given this assignment: write something, about why I love STAR TREK. I don’t know if this will be an easy task, as there are probably more reasons than you care to know about, but…I’m going to try to give it my best shot. I mean, what have I got to lose? (Besides readers…) It can only help me, to learn more about who I am, and-it gives you (unfortunate audience), an opportunity to find out what makes me such a geek. So, hey, fellow-nerds, (if you are reading this, then-yes, the ‘red shirt’ fits), here’s the low-down…
My ‘love’ started, I guess, when I was a 3-month-old baby, as STAR TREK premiered in Sept. 1966; that’s the year I ‘premiered’, too. I started this article, by calling my Mom… (Why not? She was there, plus-it gave me another chance to let her know she raised a nerd…right?) My mother says she wasn’t a big fan of that kind of thing, (she loved soap-operas; DARK SHADOWS was more her ‘bag’), but she does remember watching ST in-passing; (she told me she remembers Shatner and, “…that other one-I can’t remember what his goofy name is, Eric. The Vulcan, or-whatever he is…” being in it. I don’t know if she meant Nimoy or Spock and, I didn’t press the issue). She seems to recall, also, my late-father watching ST in my first-years of life, as well. Mom worked evenings in the gift-wrapping dept., at JC Penney, and Dad was in the NAVY; so, he was quite-often, doing tours-of-duty in the ‘Med’, aboard the USS Shangri-La. (Dad had to have loved ST, being on a ship, himself… Right? Plus, one of the last birthday gifts my Dad gave me, was an oversized TV GUIDE ‘Collector’s Edition’, with Kirk, Picard, Sisko and Janeway on the cover; ST: VOYAGER had just-started its first season.) Because of their schedules, though, we stayed-over at my Uncle Lester and Aunt Evie’s house, a lot, and, I can see my Uncle Lester being a geek, as his garage had the biggest Lionel train-set, I’ve ever seen, (well-besides the one in Superman Returns, that is). So, it is conceivable that ST was on the TV, every week, at their house. I mean, come on, it had to’ve been ingrained into the gray-matter of my young mind somewhere in those first-few years?
I don’t remember ‘watching’ Kirk, Spock and Bones, and the USS Enterprise NCC-1701, myself, until the early 70’s; you see, that’s when ST: TAS came out. I do remember, vividly, watching those Saturday-morning STAR TREK cartoons, at our house on Riverdale Road, in Jacksonville, Florida. I was only 6-7 yrs. old, but-WOW, I was glued to that set, ya know. STAR TREK and Super Friends, Speed Buggy, Scooby Doo, The Shazam/Isis Power Hour…they were constants, for me. I couldn’t get enough of ’em! That was right about the time that The Six Million Dollar Man premiered, too, (and, I know for a fact, Dad watched that, with Mom; (she had loved Lee Majors, as Heath Barkley, on The Big Valley, and then, more-still, as “Steve Austin, astronaut… A man barely alive…”) I was right there, with them, as well…riveted. “I AM Steve Austin!” Er…I was, then, at least. Now, I could use quite-a-few BIONIC replacements…
It wasn’t until I graduated from high-school, that I became enamored with ST: TOS. It came on every weeknight, at 6 o’clock. Yes, it was cheesy and, the costumes and makeup were horrible, but…I was hooked! I loved everything about it, including, the cheesiness, ridiculous costumes and makeup! The stories were superb, mostly well-written and highly provocative in their social commentary. (Besides, what guy doesn’t dream of hurtling through the stars in a tin-can, with a bunch of ‘hot’ mini-skirted space babes, eh..? For all of his over-acting, Shat always always got the girl.) All I knew was, we were ‘out there’, boldly-going ‘where no man has gone before’! Seeing those aliens and those ‘strange new worlds’, only reinforced my beliefs, that we are not alone in this big-ol’ universe. That, yes, we can overcome our petty squabbles and wars, end disease, poverty, racism and greed; we can become a better society, and evolve to the next level. It’s only a matter of time.
I moved-on to the movies, after that. I was ‘fascinated’ with those big-budget treks. (Well-mostly…I tolerate TMP, but-it’s growing-dearer, with time). To this day, I still get teary-eyed with Spock’s death, in WOK, and-I’ll admit it…I like WOK‘s sequel, The Search For Spock, equally. To me, The Voyage Home is just, ‘ok’… Despite its flaws, I like Shatner’s The Final Frontier, too and, I will defend it to the bitter end! (It’s STAR TREK, for ‘God’s’ sakes! Get over it, haters!) I’ve even had the rare opportunity to see the first-six movies, in a back-to-back marathon, on Utah’s once-largest wraparound screen, in Salt Lake City. It was my first-time seeing any STAR TREK movie, on the big-screen! It was a great, once-in-lifetime experience and I had a blast!
I went on a trek to Georgia, with Dad, in 1987, (to visit his brother’s family). It just so-happened, that ST: The Next Generation premiered, while we were there. (My Uncle John was watching it and, he was a career ARMY-man… Hmmm…) Needless-to-say, I fell in-love with STAR TREK all-over, again. Looking-back, I can see that those first couple of seasons of TNG weren’t great, but-I didn’t care, at the time. To me, it was new and the effects were brilliant! I remember the omnipresent Q and how we mere-mortals overcame the power he wielded; (I remember the bad acting from some of the cast, as well…) But-damn, there was a Klingon on the Enterprise bridge, not-to-mention, a blind man was steering her! Plus-the Enterprise could separate into two pieces! Holy shit! When Picard ordered Riker to manually put his ship back together, man-I was spellbound! That was impressive! (The guys in miniskirts, however, were not… Who’s idea was that?)
In 1990, I moved to Utah. In my meager belongings, were the first-five ST movies; videos-tapes, mind, before the ‘Directors’ Cuts’, even came out. These were the original-release VHS versions. Up ’til this point, I didn’t know anything-else existed; just the TV shows and the movies. Then, I met and, fell in-love with, my future wife, Pat. Her sister, Susan, was part-owner in a new/used bookstore, called Buy The Book… On Christmas Eve (of that first-year, here), two phenomenal life-altering events happened: I asked Pat to marry me and, my soon-to-be sister-in-law gave me three amazing gifts. Susan, not-only gave me my very-first STAR TREK novels: ‘Rules of Engagement’ and ‘The Pandora Principle’, but, she gave me the best gift of all; she opened-up my eyes to a whole-new realm of STAR TREK…literature.
Well-Hell…you might as well’ve just taken me to the moon, ’cause-that was all she wrote, folks! (Okay, bookstores, Walmart, Dragon’s Keep Comics…for the rest of this life, just go on ahead and take my damn money, would ya!) They have, too; now, almost 23 yrs. later, I have (in STAR TREK, alone) 500+ paperbacks, 50+ hardcovers, a couple-dozen trade-paperbacks, 300+ ST comics, as-well-as, (Thank you digital-era, ’cause, now, I’m shelling-out double, for something I swore I’d never read, as long as they had bookstores, Walmart, Dragon’s Keep…), 21 ST ebooks/novellas and 38 ST e-comics! I can’t even begin to guess, how many thousands-of-hours I’ve spent reading ST books, or, how many millions-of-words I’ve put these eyes upon, but-I’d like to take a moment here, and say: “Thanks, Gene ‘The Great Bird of the Galaxy’ Roddenberry, for bringing us STAR TREK in the first-place and, Thanks, Susan Jackson, for those first-two books, you gifted-me…and, Thank you, also, to every writer who’s ever put a pen to paper or, pecked those keys, ’til their fingers have bled, writing these wonderful, imaginative adventures, ‘for me’. You have ALL changed my life, in no-small measure, forever.”
In these past 23 years, STAR TREK has seen some spectacular changes. My favorite, however, was watching the premier of DEEP SPACE NINE, in Jan. 1993. I remember, just-being, totally blown-away, by it! It was TREK with a whole-different spin, ya know. Sisko’s crew wasn’t going to strange new worlds and seeking out new life. No, sir. The aliens and cultures were, now-coming to Sisko and company, and to this amazing, jewel-of-a-station, out in the middle of nowhere! Plus, we were seeing the rise of alien-species we’d only-glimpsed, briefly, prior to this thought-provoking new enterprise. And, Sisko had a kid! (Sisko’s love for his son, Jake, still resonates with me. I’ve even tried to raise my kids, using his template.) He didn’t mind showing his disdain for our hero, Captain Picard, either. I mean, who the hell was this guy, anyway?! Where did he get off, in speaking to Picard in such a contemptuous manner? But…I loved it! I thought: “Hell yeah!”
To this day, DS9 remains my absolute favorite, of all of the series. Don’t get me wrong, here, I love every one of these series, but…the characters of DS9 were so-well fleshed-out, different from anything we’d seen previously. For one, they didn’t all get-along, there was lots of friction and animosity and, their stories were fantastic, amazing. True, it was a bit dull the first couple of years, (especially, those Bajoran arcs), but, then-so was TNG. DEEP SPACE NINE got really good, to me, when Sisko shaved his head and became Captain Benjamin Sisko. The addition of Worf to the crew and the Klingon/Federation tensions, the added-bonus of the Defiant, as-well-as, the increasing-number of Garak appearances and story lines, only amped-it-up to a whole-new level. When Jadzia was killed by Dukat, at the end of season 6, I felt like I had lost a family member. It ripped my heart out. But, I couldn’t wait for the next season to begin, either. Ezri Dax took some getting used-to, but she has really come a long way; especially, since the relaunch of the series, in the books. Sadly, though, DS9 ended, just as it was really starting to hum; and, it was a bittersweet time, for me.
The same was true for TNG when it ended its 7-yr. run. We (my wife and close friends) had a party for that brilliant series finale and we thought it went out in extraordinary style. It had gone full-circle: Q putting humanity on trial and Picard beating him at his own game. It just made me love STAR TREK all-the-more. Another terrific spinoff from TNG, is Peter David’s ‘New Frontier’ series. I absolutely LOVE these books! And, yes-I put them right up there with DS9. Peter David’s mind never ceases to astound me. I would love to see ‘New Frontier’, with Capt. M’k’n’zy ‘Mac’ Calhoun and crew, in a television series. ‘VANGUARD’ and ‘TITAN’, would be great, too.
That being said, I’d be remiss, if I didn’t mention ST: ENTERPRISE… Oh-kayyy…
When VOYAGER premiered, my daughter, Erica, was 6-months-old; three-months-older, than I was, when the original series came out. Of course, she won’t have to question whether her ‘old-man’ liked ST, ’cause, it’s been a constant her entire life. (Back-then, I was recording every episode on the VCR, too.) My collection of books, comics and memorabilia has ‘grown-up’, right-along, with her. (We recently shared our first father/daughter TREK experience: I took her to the big-screen presentation of ‘The Best of Both Worlds’, as-well-as Into Darkness.
My late-son, Kent, also-shared my love of STAR TREK. It was our father/son thing; we premiered all of the ST movies (from Undiscovered Country to JJ’s STAR TREK), together and, he loved it! To him, it was a holiday from school, that no one else had and we shared some really good times. He passed-away on May 1st of this year; ironically, it was the very same day, that I had purchased our tickets for ST: Into Darkness. (That was a very-‘dark’ day, for me, let me tell ya…) But, I know, too, that he was excited, he was really looking-forward to going to see it with me. Man, I’m not going to bullshit-ya about it, it was hard-as-hell going to that theater without him… I’m not sure if I could’ve gone alone; I’m glad Erica was at my side.
Yes… I love STAR TREK. Writing this, I find that I can’t pinpoint one particular-reason for my obsession, with it, either. It’s just a part of me; it always has been and, I can’t ever see it changing. I suppose, if you put a phaser to my head and demanded one reason, it would have to be that, STAR TREK gives me ‘hope’. I can see humanity’s potential, its greater purpose, whenever I turn-on one of these adventures; or…whenever I can escape into the pages of one of its hundreds of books, trekking-away at warp-speed, from the confines of this mad world, in which we ‘hew-mons’ inhabit. It’s knowing, also, that the writers and artists, (some of whom, I now call friends), ‘share’ my hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow, too. I love STAR TREK because it’s given me new ‘friends’, all-around the globe, that I, otherwise-never would’ve met, because of new technologies that wouldn’t have existed, without its influence on our culture, and our society, as-a-whole and… I love STAR TREK, for this: the opportunity to write (badly, mind you), about something that I hold dear in my heart. STAR TREK HAS changed my life, no question. I can’t imagine what my life would be like, without STAR TREK. Can you..?
My question, to you, I guess, is…
Why do YOU love STAR TREK?
This assignment, now-complete, I’m going back to STAR TREK: THE FALL | ‘Revelation and Dust’, by David R. George III; (I mean, it IS DEEP SPACE NINE, after all… See y’all, ‘out there’.
Eric G1 🐊