It’s the 50th anniversary of Star Trek this year, and I’m celebrating. Since I was 8 years old when the original Star Trek premiered, you can do the math and find out how older-than-dirt I really am.
Why did the original Star Trek work so much better than its television successors or the movies? In large part because the original Star Trek was written for a mass audience. Not only that, a mass audience of the 1960s, when Western television shows that didn’t violate Judeo-Christian values were the most popular form of entertainment, and the three networks had strict rules to keep swearing and sex out of the public’s living rooms.
One thing that made the original Star Trek beloved is that the Enterprise was a military space ship— you can tell by the military ranks and command structure, and the fact that the ship had state-of-the-art weapons and defenses. Military was something that a lot of men in the audience could relate to in 1966. Some had served in World War 2, and others in the Korean War, and military service was something people did proudly. It was not until a bit later that the anti-Vietnam-War movement convinced large segments of the people that military veterans were people to be spat upon.
The original Star Trek gave us an optimistic vision of our future. Perhaps the most optimistic, for me, is the sheer number of times the King James Version of the Bible was quoted by a Star Trek character. Probably unintentionally, Gene Roddenberry let me know there was a place in his future vision for a Christian like me.
Contrast that to the most popular vision of the future we have on the small screen today: The Walking Dead. The message seems to be that if you are one of the lucky few to not become a zombie, you can have a good time killing zombies for a while. Then Negan will beat you to death with his pet ball bat, Lucille. Not my favorite view of the future (though I’m a zombie prepper anyway.)
My own private Star Trek universe:
I’ve been making up stories in my head about starships and the Enterprise crew since about 1966. Still do, some of the time. By the time I was a teen I began to realize that my versions of the Enterprise crew were beginning to drift away from the original concepts.
By the time I became a Serious Writer, I began to think of making a Star Trek universe of my own with characters who belonged to me. In the past couple of years I’ve been working harder on it, and have come up with the Starship Destine universe.
The Starship Destine is at the center of the universe’s stories, so far. It is a massive spherical ship that only rarely lands on a planet. At the core of the ship is a forest— transplanted tree by tree, plant by plant from a forest plot owned by an Amish farm family and sold to the Fleet.
The starships of the Destine’s time are not the massive government funded exploration ships of the Star Trek universe. A major role of the starships is to facilitate interplanetary trade, and to engage in trade themselves to pay the bills.
The starship Destine is a new starship, which was landed on the planet Sackett on the grounds of the Fleet Academy. During an attack on the planet Sackett by unknown forces, cadets and instructors from the Academy and neighboring Amish farmers took refuge on the ship. One almost-graduated cadet, deemed captain of the ship for the purpose of a training exercise, became captain for real when the Destine escaped the attack on Sackett and began a search for surviving Fleet authority figures….
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The first book I ever bought for myself.