Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #431 - Star Trek 50th anniversary

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #431 - Star Trek 50th anniversary

Hi Mom, As you well know, I love Star Trek.

It was an after school ritual from 4th through 6th grades. From 4-4:30 p.m. Bugs Bunny, from 4:30-5 p.m., Gilligan's Island, and from 5-6 p.m. Star Trek. I could watch all this television as long as I was doing my homework. And then when the daily TV necessary TV viewing was over, we could have dinner. This was in the early 1970s.

Years later, in the mid-1990s, in a tough stretch of work I had taken on, research writing, I managed to get through it all by viewing episodes of Voyager and Deep Space Nine that had become back logged, ultimately re-watching the entire run of both shows as I caught up to the current broadcast schedule. Back then, it was possible to actually feel I was viewing the majority of the SF and comic book fare on TV and in movies. That's not possible anymore.

At college, which was between those other two anecdotes, I met some friends who had also watched all the Star Trek episodes. And now reruns played at night, so we would watch them together and quote ridiculous parts and laugh or criticize things that did not make sense or revel in our overwhelming geeky love of Star Trek, which was not a very cool thing to do back in the 1980s.

In the later '80s and early '90s, I decided to write a novel set in the Star Trek universe. I collaborated on the book with a friend. Maybe I will start serializing it here. We were quite proud of it, and though we got it on the desk at Pocket Books, we didn't close a deal.

Today's blog celebrates the 50th anniversary of the broadcast of the first Star Trek television episode, the not so amazing though amusing episode called "The Man Trap." Quite a little bit of Vagina Desalinate (that's a play on Vagina Dentata that few people will get).

I don't claim to be the kind of uber fan who knows insane trivia about Trek. In fact, my memory of lines from TOS has faded as I have not watched it in a while (though this is a project I may devote myself to). I have watched all the films and all the episodes of all the TV shows at least once each, and in many cases, multiple times. I may be one of the few people in the known universe who not only liked the Enterprise TV show but also liked the theme song, the only Trek TV show theme with lyrics and vocals.

Star Trek beer. I want some!

Though this blog may be short on original content, it serves as a repository for me to put good content about Trek and all my Trek related content. First a listing of my T-shirt blog posts with Trek features, most of which feature Trek shirts (one does not), and then the few posts from Sense of Doubt with Trek content, showing my cool ass Star Fleet Academy window art and my thoughts on the recent Star Trek film. Following these links are a couple of other links, including EW's review of "The Man Trap" because it's too cumbersome and complex to repost. Following those links, some cool republished content (with credit given), which serves as a place for me to save it and read it at my leisure, like tonight in bed on my tablet as the sleeping pill steals my consciousness.

Enjoy my Trek content!

Live long and prosper.

T-Shirt #4: Original Star Trek - Command - Gold

T-shirt #11: Star Trek Science Officer

T-shirt #13: The Unlucky Red Shirt

T-shirt #39: The UFP symbol: United Federation of Planets

T-shirt #72: Science Blue STNG

T-shirt #81: Starship Enterprise Schematics

T-shirt #118: WWKD: What Would Kirk Do?

T-shirt #131: Starfleet Academy

T-shirt #220: Star Trek Red Shirt Gift

T-shirt #219: Brooks White Sleeveless with Star Trek shirt and patches

T-shirt #334 - And the last TPTA Corporate Olympics Shirt

There has not been quite as much Star Trek content on Sense of Doubt, so far just

Weekly Comics for 1404.23

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #385 - Star Trek Beyond, Kubrick, and Trailers: Dr. Strange, Wonder Woman, Star Trek Discovery, JLA, King Arthur, Rogue One, and Fantastic Beasts

EW on the "desperately sad" first episode of Star Trek - "The Man Trap"

This is just here as a reminder... it doesn't have much to do with Trek other than some of the articles were published there.




'Star Trek' 50-year mission: to show the best of humanity

Frankie Taggart


Los Angeles (AFP) - It launched with a five-year mission "to boldly go where no man has gone before," but half a century on "Star Trek" has become a visionary blueprint of humanity at its very best.
As the multi-billion-dollar cultural phenomenon, adored by fans the world over, marks its 50th anniversary on Thursday, it is being held up as a utopian masterplan for an inclusive society free of prejudice and hate.
When the show debuted on September 8, 1966 the concept was a three-season television show following the crew of the starship Enterprise as they ventured into the galaxy to seek out new civilizations.
An inauspicious first episode, "The Man Trap," told of a shape-shifting alien that attacked members of the Enterprise to harvest their salt.
Little did NBC know it would snowball into a touchstone in entertainment spawning six shows with a combined 725 episodes and 13 movies, and turning its stars into household names.
"To be talking about the 50th anniversary is insane. I was born the same year that Star Trek was," veteran filmmaker J.J. Abrams, the creative force behind the new "rebooted" trilogy, told a convention in Hollywood in May.
"I know how old I feel, so the idea that this thing endures is incredible."
The original series starred William Shatner, now 85, as the suave Captain James T. Kirk and Leonard Nimoy, who died last year at the age of 83, as his stilted sidekick -- a half-human, half-Vulcan science officer named Mr Spock.
Gene Roddenberry wrote the pilot in 1965, the same year as the first US spacewalk, and pitched the show as "a wagon train to the stars," figuring that westerns were popular in Hollywood at the time.
- Helping the team -
Fans say Roddenberry examined earthly social issues with an unparalleled sensitivity, presenting television's first truly multiracial cast, and the first televised interracial kiss.
"When I was a kid, sci-fi movies and TV shows were about humans beating -- or being beaten by -- monsters," astronomer Phil Plait told Air and Space, a bimonthly magazine produced by the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.
"The original series episode 'Devil in the Dark' showed that who was the monster isn't always that clear-cut, and that had a deep effect on me."
NASA space shuttle pilot Terry Virts recalled his excitement at going to see the first 'Star Trek' movie with his dad.
"We actually studied leadership via 'Star Trek' at the Air Force Academy. There were a lot of practical lessons to learn about decisiveness versus being too rash, or performing your specific role well to help the team." he told the magazine.
Korean-American actor John Cho, who plays Starfleet Officer Hikaru Sulu in the rebooted trilogy -- including the 50th anniversary film "Star Trek Beyond" -- describes multiculturalism as one of its "defining features."
"I really believe theoretically in 'Star Trek' movies. It's a good cultural product, in my opinion. I wanted to be a part of something I felt was an important, positive cultural contribution," the 44-year-old told AFP ahead of the movie's July release.
The franchise has attracted a devoted global cult unified by their affection for the Roddenberry vision, and today "Trekkies" are the only fan group listed by name in the Oxford English Dictionary.
- Respect -
"Unbelievable!!!!!," a feature-length sci-fi parody of the franchise, premiered in Hollywood on Wednesday, in what organizers described as possibly "one of the largest historic gatherings of former 'Star Trek' actors."
The movie follows the exploits of four astronauts -- one of whom is an animatronic marionette resembling Kirk -- who travel to the moon to rescue missing comrades.
Around 28 former actors from the five series and two of the films hit the red carpet for "Unbelievable!!!!!," including its stars Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura in the original series, and Walter Koenig, who was navigation officer Pavel Chekov.
"We wanted to create a unique and original film that sci-fi fans can watch again and again, celebrating their love for this iconic TV show," said Steven Fawcette, who made the film with his wife Angelique.
A new series, which begins filming in Toronto this month ahead of a premiere planned for January next year, will be the franchise's first new outing in more than a decade.
US television network CBS announced at San Diego Comic-Con in July that it would be called "Star Trek Discovery."
"I think 'Star Trek' in general has been about individual rights and about respecting everyone, no matter who or what they are," said Brent Spiner, who played the android Data in the "Star Trek: The next Generation" television and film series.
"A lot of our politicians and our fellow citizens could take a page from 'Star Trek' and have a bit more respect for each other and for all of us," he added.

This Is Our Work: What Star Trek Asks of Us

“It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it.”—Rabbi Tarfon
I was tremendously lonely my first year in high school. My parents had insisted I go to a prep school they could barely afford instead of going to the local high school with all my friends from elementary. The girls at Miss Porter’s seemed alien to me—most of them came from far more wealth than I did, the sorts of families that endowed buildings and wore trendy clothes I couldn’t even recognize, much less afford. Those girls often spent spring break in the Bahamas; I spent mine at home, babysitting my little sisters.
And of course, I was a brown girl, born in Sri Lanka, raised in Connecticut, at a school that was overwhelmingly white. After classes, I took refuge in the library, waiting for my dad to come pick me up (there was no bus service, of course, since most of the students were boarders). The adult librarian was probably my closest friend at school that year; she always had a kind word for the short brown girl with glasses who curled up in a wing chair and steadily worked her way through the stacks of paperbacks from the spinning wire racks.
Until one day, something magic happened—I forgot my copy of Diane Duane’s Star Trek novel,The Wounded Sky, in English class and one of those blonde girls, Lisette, picked it up and told me, excitedly, she loved that book. We traded our other favorites: The Final Reflection, Uhura’s Song, The Romulan Way, Dwellers in the CrucibleIshmael, The Prometheus Design, Triangle. Many of our favorite Trek novels shared similar themes: attempting to understand alien cultures, to find ways to connect and avoid the lurking potential for violence. Lisette quickly became one of my best friends. It’s a very Star Trek story—two people from different worlds, coming together in shared delight. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations.
I’m now a college professor, which means my summers tend to be less scheduled than the rest of the year. In between trying to write books, I usually end up rewatching one of the Star Trekseries; this year it was Enterprise, which I had somehow gotten interrupted watching the first time around. That series has its flaws, certainly—they all do, in one way or another. Enterprisewas perhaps the weakest of them all. But still, I find it valuable, immersing myself in the Trekuniverse. I laugh; I sometimes cry. I’m reminded of the values I hold most dear.
Star Trek is my comfort TV, my comfort stories. Like Terry Pratchett’s work, and Lois McMaster Bujold’s, like the Arthurian saga, the Trek universe is one of my touchstones. It’s work I return to when life is feeling too hard, too dark, whether personally (as in my last two years of cancer treatment) or more broadly (as in the various challenges facing our planet—environmental, economic, racial, gendered, etc., and so on). When the news on my Facebook feeds seems an endless stream of death, callousness, horror, and more needless, greedy death. When I can’t bear to listen to NPR anymore, for fear of breaking down in tears on the highway—that’s when I need these works most desperately.
Comfort does not mean simple escape. This is not work that centers on running away from the world’s problems to some lovely place where they don’t exist. Often, there is just as much darkness in these stories as in our own world. But! Those very different works all share a certain angle of vision. They feature characters who value integrity highly, who struggle to do the right thing, even in the face of overwhelming difficulties, even at great personal cost to themselves. Sometimes they fail, because they are only human (or Vulcan). But they keep trying.
Much of the credit for that approach in Star Trek is due to Roddenberry’s vision; he crafted a universe which holds darkness and even evil, but centers on a bright dream—a galactic Federation where species can come together in exploration, in community. It’s there in the original show. Even when the crew was engaging with the monster of the week, when each episode had to be finished off with a neat little bow and a joke (due to the network priorities at the time), the community and camaraderie were there, between diverse races and even species, facing the darkness together. The friendship between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy was strong enough to withstand everything, even death. I have been, and always shall be, your friend.
And even though Starfleet is a quasi–military organization, even though they too sometimes fail to live up to their own bright ideals (I’m looking at you, Section 31, secret police)—it mattersgreatly that their primary purpose is exploration. To seek out new worlds and new civilizations.There is space within Starfleet for individual judgment, for bending or even breaking the rules when it’s the right thing to do. Some things do transcend the discipline of the service.
In 1969, Star Trek: The Original Series was cancelled, in what was later called one of TV’s greatest blunders. A brief animated series was offered in 1973–1974, and we were given four movies between 1979 and 1986. There were novelizations of the original show and a host of new novels. But there is something particularly powerful about having a live–action series on television; it reaches a massive, broad audience, people flipping channels and landing on a starship inhabited by a shockingly diverse crew. It would be 18 dire years before ardent fans succeeded in their letter–writing campaign to bring a live–action show back to TV, with Star Trek: The Next Generation premiering in 1987.
The original series opened with the words “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five–year mission…” That five–year mission was truncated. But because enough people cared, because they poured their time and energy and hearts and words into fighting for Trek, they brought it back, for all of us. I am so grateful. When I watch Next Gennow, the words have changed slightly. Patrick Stewart tells us, “These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission…” Continuing. That word brings tears to my eyes because for so long, we feared the TV show would never come back.
If we want to shape a brighter, better future, the future of Roddenberry’s vision, we must continue to fight for his vision—not just in the fictional realm, but in the real world as well. We must hold onto integrity and complexity and nuance, letting go of our prejudices and preconceptions. We must struggle to understand the Other, no matter how different their origin or point of view.
Though each Trek captain approached the universe’s problems very differently, they shared the same goal—a universe where diverse people could come together in peace. Jim Kirk might charge in boldly, relying on charm and luck and sheer courage. Jean–Luc Picard asked us to reflect, to think deeply before we act. Benjamin Sisko offers quiet power, the certainty of a man who knows where he comes from, deeply rooted in his people’s history and culture. Kathryn Janeway sometimes struggled to find space for her personal life as a woman, but she never compromised what she needed to do as captain; in the end, she brought her crew safely home.
As for Jonathan Archer—he was perhaps the most suspicious of the Other, the captain nearest to us in time and spirit, and with the furthest to go. But eventually, Archer came to embody the best ideals of Roddenberry’s universe, and it was his actions that made it possible to finally found the Federation. If he could get past all of his preconceptions and prejudices, then maybe we can too.
When I am overwhelmed by the world’s grief, when the work of fixing even a small part of it seems more than one small person can encompass, Star Trek lends me strength to continue. I am not in this alone—just as Trek brought me and Lisette together in those high school years, Trekhas brought together a host of ardent fans who share that vision of infinite diversity in infinite combinations. When I look forward into the future, I feel them by my side. I feel Kirk and Picard, Sisko and Janeway, and yes, even Archer, looking over my shoulders.
Oh captain, my captain. Let us build a world you can all be proud of. This is the work we have been asked to do.


Mary Anne Mohanraj

Mary Anne Mohanraj is author of Bodies in Motion (HarperCollins), The Stars Change (Circlet Press), and twelve other titles. Bodies in Motion was a finalist for the Asian American Book Awards, a USA Today Notable Book, and has been translated into six languages. The Stars Change is a science fiction novella, and finalist for the Lambda, Rainbow, and Bisexual Book Awards. Previous titles include Aqua EroticaWetKathryn in the CityThe Classics ProfessorThe Best of Strange HorizonsWithout a MapThe Poet’s Journey, and A Taste of Serendib (a Sri Lankan cookbook). Mohanraj founded the Hugo–nominated magazine, Strange Horizons, and was Guest of Honor at WisCon 2010. She serves as Executive Director of the Speculative Literature Foundation (speclit.org), has taught at the Clarion SF/F workshop, and is Clinical Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. www.maryannemohanraj.com


All True, Especially the Lies—Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Cardassia

I was a Babylon 5 fan. Absolutely, unconditionally, and no surrender. Nothing would induce me to watch Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9). It was a rip–off. It was the same story, but not as good. It was a different story, so not as good. Worst of all it was… Well, it was Star Trek, and we all know what that means, don’t we?
These kinds of arguments burned brightly across the internet during the late–90s, remembered now only hazily, like the first Shadow War, and indeed they figured largely in discussion whenever my friend A. came round for tea. A. was very keen for me to watch DS9. I’m not sure why. Maybe he thought I’d like it. Anyway, very grudgingly, I eventually agreed to watch a few episodes. What harm could it possibly do? The next time he came round I could explain to him over our fish and chips how dreadful it all was.
A. is a clever man. He didn’t try to win me over with season 1 of DS9 (there’s much to admire in that season, but it’s not representative of where the show goes). No, A. wanted to win this argument, so, fittingly, he loaned me “The Way of the Warrior.” Klingons, I thought, with a deep sigh. How long have we been friends? Still, it was Worf, and the truth was that I had been something of a fan of The Next Generation (TNG) as a teenager, not that I would ever admit this to my cool new friends on the internet.
So I put the tape into the VCR (stop sniggering, younglings) and started watching.
You know, it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t bad at all. Quite exciting, once you’d got past the theme tune (still don’t like it, sorry). Also, there was this character having breakfast with Odo…
Hang on, who is this character having breakfast with Odo? He’s funny…
Oh dear, the Klingons have started punching him…
And he’s wisecracking back at them…
To say that little hearts were now appearing in my eyes would be something of an understatement. You need to imagine roughly a million hearts and about a thousand arrows fired by a whole company of Cupids. You have to imagine orchestral swell.
I’d met Garak.
I’ll come back to Garak, in a minute. Garak is quite important to this story, although he’s not the only thing about DS9 that I love. Meanwhile, A. came for tea again. I returned the videos. He’d brought more, “Just in case.”
I watched these.
I ordered him to bring more, immediately.
He brought more.
I watched “Home Front” and “Paradise Lost,” a two–parter, pre–dating 9/11, which examines what happens when we trade liberty for security. I had no idea Star Trek could do stories like this, or would even consider doing stories like this. TNG had always been upright and careful;DS9 was as baffled about the world as I was, trying to make sense of it all, trying to do its best with imperfection. Season 4 wore on and, by the time the Dominion War broke out, I was utterly absorbed in the lives of these characters: lovelorn, exiled Odo; bright and brilliant Jadzia; fearless, truthful Kira. Jake, trying to live his own life while struggling with the expectations of those around him. Nog, the same, in reverse.
And most of all Garak: enigmatic, witty, deeply troubled, and, like a Greek chorus, providing jaded commentary on everything happening around him. I was hooked by the time season 6 started, of course, and then I put on “In the Pale Moonlight,” in which Garak gently but relentlessly corrupts Sisko and turns the whole of Star Trek upside down. This show wasn’t feel–good. This show, while certain about its storytelling, wasn’t certain about Federation imperialism. This show was afraid of what power could do. I was utterly bewitched by the whole thing.
As I recall, by the time season seven started, I was the one buying the video tapes and lending them to A. That was how far I’d come. And by now I had defined my chief interest in the show: Cardassia, in all its gloomy glory: a civilisation of great cultural sophistication and vast ethical failure. We are explicitly asked, I think, to read the history of the Second World War onto the Dominion War (no doubt as the writers of the show considered the experiences of their grandparents), and with the Cardassians we are, I think, asked to reflect upon the tragedy of twentieth–century Germany: how did such a cultured nation fall into the hands of barbarians? Any intelligent European must reflect upon the war–torn centuries of their continent, the last century the worst of all. When I watched Dukat’s rise to power, when I saw Garak forever put aside the better angels of his nature in the name of patriotism, when I saw Damar’s struggle from swaggering bully to man of conscience, I was being asked to consider the blood–stained history of my continent: how this had happened, what could be done to stop it ever happening again. Watching Garak stand in the rubble of his burning civilisation, lamenting his and their crimes, moved me tremendously. Something in this story spoke deeply to me.
I am a fanfiction writer by history and inclination, by which I mean my instinctive response to a text which affects me in some way is to move into the space of that text, inhabit it as entirely as possible, and start writing from within it. I had barely finished watching “What You Leave Behind” before hitting the keyboard. I had to write about this: about Garak’s remorse, Ziyal’s murder, Damar’s sacrifice. I found—thank my lucky stars—a beta reader of great skill (a professor of English literature, no less), who coaxed from me my first novel–length piece of writing, an alternate universe story in which Enabran Tain successfully destroys the Founders and Garak returns triumphantly to Cardassia… for a while. I read deeply into the history of the rise of Nazism, particularly Gitta Sereny’s outstanding biography of Albert Speer, and some of what I learnt fed into my stories of Cardassia, and the architects of her ruin.
And then, I had a massive stroke of luck. My stories were getting some nice attention—complimentary reviews and some fan awards. It was all lovely and I couldn’t believe people were enjoying them so much—they were pretty bleak! Then, out of the blue, came an email from the editor of the Star Trek books range at Pocket. My writing had been recommended to him. The tenth anniversary of DS9 was coming up. Would I like to pitch a story?
We’ll skip my undignified squeals and cut straight to my polite, “Yes, please, that would be great!” I came up with some ideas and pitched them, and these, eventually, became my first novel, Hollow Men, a follow–up to that episode which had blown me away so much, “In the Pale Moonlight.” In this novel, Sisko and Garak go to Earth together, and there is much merry hell. I wrote other stories too, one set in post–war Cardassia involving Garak and Miles O’Brien and much merry hell. And a short story about Kira, Damar, and Garak, fighting the Dominion on Cardassia Prime. There’s less merriment in that one.
I’ve kept writing for the Star Trek books range since then. My two favourites of my own books are The Never Ending Sacrifice, which tells the story of the Dominion War and afterwards from the perspective of an unusual young Cardassian living unwillingly on Cardassia Prime. And there is The Crimson Shadow, in which Picard and the Enterprise visit post–war Cardassia Prime, where Garak is fighting the good fight against the rise of nationalism and an unpleasant demagogue. Stories like these are always sadly timely.
It’s nearly fifteen years since I started watching DS9, and I can’t believe my luck that this show came to me at exactly the right moment, when I was ready for it, and ready to shift my writing from hobby to profession. I’ve been able to take characters and settings I adore and shape their future histories. My books have been best–sellers and my publications got me a much–wanted job teaching creative writing at university. And I still don’t feel these stories are done. Every so often, I hear a polite clearing of the throat behind me, a gentle tap on my shoulder, and I hear Garak murmur “Now, my dear, where did we leave matters…?”
And round we go again, for Cardassia.
In the end, then, I have to be grateful to my friend A. for pressing those tapes onto me. Certainly he won the argument hands–down—although, now I come to think about it, I’m not sure he’s ever watched Babylon 5
(Editors’ Note: Una McCormack is interviewed by Deborah Stanish in the Uncanny Magazine Podcast Episode 12A.)


Una McCormack

Una McCormack is a The New York Times best–selling author specialising in TV tie–in fiction, particularly Star Trek and Doctor Who. She holds a doctorate in sociology, and is lecturer in creative writing at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge.



On Its 50th Anniversary, Star Trek Must Recommit Itself to “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations”

“Infinite diversity in infinite combinations.” That is one of Star Trek’s most prominent mottos (even if it was ultimately created out of a desire to sell merchandise). That is what the spirit of Trek is meant to embody. The wonder of the universe wrapped up in a statement of inspiration and acceptance, a promise to pursue that which we do not understand; to embrace it with optimism and open minds.
They are captivating words that Star Trek has worked hard to advocate, with varying results. But if Trek intends to be relevant long into the 21st century, those words could use re-examination. Showrunner Bryan Fuller has promised a return to this idea, this motto, in his new show Star Trek: Discovery, and some vague (but heartening) promises have been made in that direction. Still, the question stands: in this day and age, how can Star Trek renew its commitment to infinite diversity? What should this bright, shining future show us fifty years after its inception?
Star Trek been held up as an example to aspire towards since its creation. The performers, writers, producers, and directors involved have long understood the impact of what they were helping to build. Actors to astronauts have cited Trek as the reason that they believed there were no limits to what they could achieve. It is a legacy that Star Trek fans are rightly proud to be a part of.
But Star Trek hasn’t always been a perfect embodiment of these ideals. Though it was quite progressive for its initial audience fifty years previous, the Original Series is painfully tame by current standards. That’s down to the passage of time—what seemed progressive in 1966 was old hat during Trek’s resurgence in the 1990s, and in turn what seemed progressive then is behind what seems forward-thinking now—but there are many areas where Trek never quite bothered to push the envelope. Up until the present moment, certain topics have been seemingly off-limits on Star Trek: discussions of human faith, of gender and sexuality, of deeply rooted prejudices that we are still working through every single day as a species, and more.
If Star Trek wants to continue its mission to elevate us, to showcase the best of our humanity and what we can achieve, it needs to be prepared to push more boundaries, to further challenge assumptions, to make people uncomfortable. And doing so in an era where viewers can instantly—and loudly—share their opinions will undoubtedly make that even harder than it used to be. But without a willingness to be a part of the present-day cultural conversation, Star Trek loses its relevance, and its legacy stops here.
There’s a lot left for Star Trek to explore, so where can the series go in its next 50 years? Here are just a few ideas to keep in mind.

LGBT+ is More Than Just the LGB

Star Trek, DS9, Dax
Bryan Fuller has already enthusiastically stated that Discovery will have a gay crew member. This excited many fans who have been pushing for better queer representation in Trek for decades, and is undoubtedly exciting for Fuller as well; when he made the announcement, he added that he still has a folder full of hate mail that the writers received during the run of Star Trek: Voyager, when rumors spread that Seven of Nine was going to be a lesbian. As a gay man, it is understandable that Fuller is eager to have final word in the argument of whether or not Trek’s future has a place for queer people.
Problem is, western culture has moved beyond that question in the past couple of decades. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters are a consistent part of mainstream entertainment now (especially in television), and have been visible in that arena for quite a while; a fact that Fuller himself is aware of, as he cited Will and Grace as the point of “sea change.” Helmsman Hikaru Sulu was depicted as a gay (or possibly bi) man with a family in Star Trek: Beyond. Granted, it’s true that despite the headway, queer characters are frequently mistreated in fiction, mired in stereotypes and then murdered just for daring to exist. But it doesn’t change the fact that, at this point in time and after such a storied history, having a gay crew member on the Discovery is the absolute leastthat Star Trek could do. It’s the bare minimum, a temporary patch on something that should have been fixed long ago.
What about the rest of that alphabet? Where are the asexuals in Trek? The trans and non-binary folks? Intersex people? What about the people who practice polyamory? Sure, we had Doctor Phlox on Enterprise, but he was an alien whose entire species practiced polyamory, thereby preventing any exploration of an example on the human front. (Having Phlox encounter a human who also practiced polyamory would have been a fascinating opportunity to compare and contrast, and would have also prevented polyamory from being put down to “an alien thing.”) Moreover, we never encounter his culture in any meaningful way to see how that polyamory functions in practice. So how do we examine and internalize these differences? If the answer is “well that was handled in one episode on TNG via another species”, that answer is not good enough anymore. These groups are full of people being maligned and ignored, and for many of them, that ignorance is costing lives. Having a gay crew member in Discovery will be wonderful, but there are still so many people who deserve to be represented in the future Trek creates.

Disabilities Don’t Need to Be “Cured”

Star Trek, TNG, Geordi
Seeing Geordi LaForge on Star Trek: The Next Generation was a big deal over twenty years ago. Trek had depicted blindness before on the Original Series (in the episode “Is There in Truth No Beauty?”) but having a main character in a television series with such a clear disability was just as rare then as it is today. What’s more, Geordi was never defined solely by that disability, and had one of the most important jobs on the Enterprise (D and E!). All of these things were groundbreaking. The only thing was, due to his VISOR, Geordi could effectively see (in some ways even better than your average human).
To a certain extent, this makes sense. Star Trek occurs in the future, and medicine has leapt ahead by centuries. Its limits are defined by technology and morality rather than economy. More to the point, even now doctors and scientists are coming up with ways to fix issues in ways that were once unthinkable, transplanting organs, limbs, and even faces, and making rapid progress in creating controllable and flexible artificial limbs. (Perhaps it would make more sense to see Starfleet officers who look like the Borg, with cybernetic implants and robotic limbs aplenty.)
But as some diseases are cured, new ones always arise. And Trek has a strange track record in that regard, as it often runs the gamut between extremes when it comes to health and wellness; either you have a problem that can be easily amended with the use of tech and/or the right medicine, or you have a debilitating disease that is going to kill you. There is very little in-between. As a result, we find few characters living with disabilities in Trek. And the exceptions—such as Melora in her eponymous DS9 episode—frequently leave something to be desired, as they rely on the “medical model” of disability; meaning the idea of disability as something that should be solved or cured. Not only is this unhelpful in a broader sense, but it ignores the value of disabled lives by making it seem as though people who have disabilities are inherently missing out because they are not traditionally able-bodied.
If Star Trek were to key into the “social model” of handling disability, then we would see people with various disabilities—both mental and physical ones—working side by side with non-disabled friends and shipmates. Accessibility would be built into starship design, considerations made in prepping for away missions, text rendered in different fonts for officers with dyslexia, and so forth. We would see people with disabilities simply living their lives, and take that concept to heart going forward.

Focus On Current Issues

Star Trek, Chekov and Uhura
This is basically a given, but as Star Trek was a response to the politics and issues of its time, new incarnations must look to the current landscape and comment on the problems we now face. Nichelle Nichols has famously told and retold the story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. asking her not to leave the role of Uhura midway through Star Trek’s original series run, due to how important her presence was in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. Having Pavel Chekov on the bridge during the Cold War was a deliberate move on Gene Roddenberry’s part to suggest that peace would triumph. The Cardassian occupation of Bajor detailed in DS9 brought issues of terrorism and the lives of refugees to the fore at a time when the Oslo Accords had just been signed. Star Trek has always looked to the here and now, and used our current conflicts as an example to promote hope rather than fear.
Nicholas Meyer thankfully gave confirmation of that same intent during the Star Trek: Discoverypanel at Mission New York, saying that commentating on present events is built into Star Trek (and then citing how the end of the Cold War was a springboard for the plot of Star Trek VI). Given the wealth of social, political, and environmental strife in the world, it shouldn’t prove any difficulty to find material for a Star Trek series today.

Complexities of Faith

Star Trek, DS9, Bajoran Vedeks
Star Trek has worked hard over the years to offer detailed and fascinating faith systems for many of the aliens encountered by the franchise, including the Klingons and the Bajorans. But when it comes to humanity… there’s an odd absence. Some of this comes down to creator Gene Roddenberry being an avid atheist—he explicitly prevented stories about religion from being told while he was running the show, and whenever the Original Series encountered gods, they inevitably proved to be false. To whit, there’s an infamous treatment for the Star Trek motion picture where Roddenberry had Captain Kirk fighting Jesus.
But faith, in one form or another, is a long-standing part of humanity, in many ways irrevocably intertwined with culture. While some aspects of religion have divided humanity over time, faith can be truly beautiful and uplifting, and is needed by many as a source of comfort and community. And at a point in time where religions themselves often get demonized in place of the radical groups purporting to endorse them, showing these faiths alive and well in Star Trek would be a remarkable gesture. Religion is still often a cause for conflict among humans, but here there lies an opportunity to show how faith can create connections between people, and perhaps create dialogues between humanity and other alien races. Showing characters who live so far in the future engaging with faith in the interest of exploration and friendship is an example that humanity could use.
Faith as a construct is arguably as central to humanity as aspects that we cannot control, such as sexuality or ethnicity, and does not always apply to us in a religious sense; faith informs a large part of our various worldviews, regardless of whether or not it is attached to a deity or system. Without an acknowledgement of that, Trek’s vision of human beings is incomplete.

Handling All Forms of Prejudice

Star Trek, TOS, Spock
The initial concept of Star Trek was meant to show (during the height of the Cold War, no less) that humanity would not disappear in a nuclear winter. We would survive, learn from our mistakes, thrive, and work together toward a better future. When Star Trek tackled themes of prejudice, it typically used an alien scapegoat rather than a human one—the xenophobic terrorist organization Terra Prime, Picard’s fear of the Borg after his experience being assimilated, or the ways in which members of various Enterprise crews showed disdain and bigotry toward Spock and T’Pol. The idea was to suggest that humanity had gotten past the issue of internalized prejudice where its own species was concerned, yet still directed that impulse outward from time to time.
But by acknowledging that those prejudices still exist—even if they are focused primarily on Vulcans or Klingons—it becomes impossible to suggest that humans won’t ever aim those prejudices at other humans again. The spirit of Star Trek is not about humanity advancing to the point of perfection, it is about us striving for a better ideal. Which means that Trek must continue to show people making mistakes on account of internalized biases and learning from those mistakes. The utopian leanings of Star Trek are not due to a lack of conflict—they are due to people being enlightened enough to own up to their own shortcomings, to consider other perspectives, to work harder in the future.
All of this means that Trek must continue to acknowledge and display prejudice, between humans as well as alien cultures, and then set the bar when it comes to handling that conflict and moving past it. This was something that Deep Space Nine excelled at in particular, but doing the same on a Starfleet vessel will create a different atmosphere. The chance to explore the true difficulties of existing side-by-side on a starship with several hundred of the same faces for years on end will receive the consideration it deserves.

With all this in mind, where does that leave Star Trek’s luminary future? With us.
Star Trek is optimistic at its core, and loves to ruminate on what makes humanity so wonderful, often presenting us with a myriad of examples that other characters are meant to take to heart—Spock, Data, and Seven were constantly learning about what made humans unique and formidable as a species. And the answer Trek gives us is typically: we’re incredible because we’re imperfect. We are passionate, we blunder through, we are messy. It’s a good lesson to be sure, and a comforting take on human nature.
But what if there is more to us than that?
“Infinite diversity in infinite combinations.” These words are a cornerstone of Vulcan philosophy, but they are pointedly an apt description of the entire human race. The spirit of Star Trek is exploration, and the universe it resides in posits that humans will be the natural ambassadors of the Federation’s message of unity and discovery. That we are poised to enter the galaxy with our arms outstretched, and that others will want to join us. Based on what, though? Our charm, our creativity, our business acumen? Let us hope not. Let us hope instead that it is because we are so intricate as a species—so infinitely diverse—that we are perfectly equipped to handle what’s out there. That is the bright future we’re looking for. A point somewhere in the not-too-distant future when we are so interested in understanding each other’s differences, in honoring and respecting one another, that it is only natural for us to extend that exploratory spirit outward.
Fifty years later, it’s the only ongoing mission that truly matters. And it’s one that Star Trek—with any luck—will always uphold.
Emily Asher-Perrin is a staff writer with Tor.com. You can bug her on Twitter and Tumblr, and read more of her work here and elsewhere.


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 433 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1609.10 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.
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