Star Trek, so what’s the big deal?

I am a Trekkie

But what does that really mean?

Star Trek is a huge franchise with a lot of different types of fans. This is the story of my personal journey with Star Trek and becoming a Trekkie.

What kind of science fiction is Star Trek? For one thing, it definitely leans way more towards fiction than it does towards science, and most of the aliens aren’t very alien-y, they’re mostly people with pointy ears and wrinkly faces. In many ways, Star Trek is more Space-Fantasy than it is Science Fiction.

However, it’s sci-fi enough and has enough “reasons” within the show to explain why all the aliens are so similar (and enough other science fiction tropes) to make it legitimate sci-fi. That said, if Vulcans aren’t space-elves, and the Klingons orcish space-pirates and the Ferengi aren’t Dwarves/Goblins, then I’ll eat my magic wand, I mean phaser.

Let’s start at the beginning: mine, as well as Star Trek’s

I recall seeing episodes of The Next Generation and Voyager as a kid growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, and quite possibly Deep Space Nine, but that I’m less sure of. I was always aware of its existence and knew of Trekkies and so forth, but mostly it was in the background.

Then one day I got Netflix (a glorious day) and amongst the things I watched was For the Love of Spock, a documentary about Leonard Nimoy. After watching that, and enjoying it immensely, Netflix recommended The Original Series, and I’ve been watching all the shows and movies ever since.

The original Star Trek is extremely special to me, but first, let me give some context. I’m a lifelong sci-fi fan, and vintage science fiction as written by the likes of H.G. Wells is a great love of mine. I appreciate what they were going for in their time (like steam-powered alien vehicles) and I really enjoy the “alternative histories” those writers created when they imagined possible futures.

So back to TOS, I watched it many many years after it’s conception, and had no nostalgia attached to it (as it was way before my time). Yet I still absolutely love it. There’s an artistic quality about it, the colours and lighting, very dramatic and expressive. Like a stage play. The relationships between Spock, Kirk and Bones are especially enjoyable for me. Leonard Nimoy’s Spock is my all time favourite character, but I enjoy Shatner and Kelly’s characters immensely as well.

So yeah, it is true that there are some really terrible episodes and some very terrible outfits, but nothing so terrible that it outweighs everything that is awesome about it. On a side note, apparently the first movie was a bit of a dud when it came out, but I really loved every minute of it (after watching it for the first time after having just watched the show for the first time).

I didn’t enjoy it as much, but it’s still Star Trek, I don’t really have a lot to say about it. It’s difficult to watch, but it is very old, and there’s a vintage charm about it.

TNG was released in 1987, two years after I was born, it was woven into the fabric of my childhood, something I took for granted as just being around. Watching the entire thing again recently I found it hard to get into at first but found myself really absorbed by the time the Borg were introduced.

The Borg: my all-time favourite Star Trek protagonists; machine-organic hybrids forming a collective, assimilating creatures and technology as they expand into the universe. This is the kind of concept that solidifies Star Trek as a serious science fiction show (as opposed to space fantasy). Captain Picard and Data (an artificial lifeform) are also superb characters with fantastic story arcs.

Then there’s DS9, my least favourite of the TNG spinoffs, mostly due to me not being such a huge fan of the Ferengi, or the Cardassians (I found them overly stereotyped, even though I did like Garrick), but what really kept me watching was Odo and the other shapeshifters, who, like the Borg, are a great science fiction concept. Even though their “reasons” for being such huge dicks was never really clear to me. I also enjoyed the concept of the Dax symbiote, a lifeform that lives on from one willing host to another.

Voyager actually does have some nostalgic appeal to me, watching it reminds me of childhood holidays, but what I really like is how similar their voyage feels to that of TOS, even though their reasons are much different, also, I like the Borg a lot, and they are featured often.

I also like a larger amount of the individual  characters more than any other show (if I had to choose an all-time favourite crew it would still be TOS though) Captain Janeway, the rehabilitated Borg 7 of 9, the Vulcan Tuvok, and the human Paris with his holodeck adventures, as well the holographic EMS Doctor, are all very enjoyable to me.

I kind of hate ENT, but I also kind of don’t, similar to my experience with TAS, I don’t enjoy it as much, but it’s still Star Trek, and I’d like to see how it plays out. I haven’t finished watching as of writing this post, I don’t find the characters very memorable, and the sexy Vulcan lady is not my favourite portrayal of a Vulcan, but you know… it’s Star Trek, and I will eventually watch all of it.

I absolutely loved DSC, everything about it was amazing, I just gobbled it all up. I know a lot of people took issue with the Klingons, but if I’m honest, the Klingons never really did it for me. I found them becoming increasingly goofy and pirate-like as the shows went on, pulling more towards space fantasy than science fiction. That’s why DS9 is a bit so-so for me, it’s definitely the most hocus-pocus one with the Pah-wraiths and all that magic pretending to be sci-fi nonsense. Discovery is an amazing show, an amazing sci-fi show, and an amazing Star Trek show. TOS will always be my all-time favourite Star Trek show, but Discovery is right up there for me.

The Movies

I’ve watched all the movies, First Contact and The Voyage Home are my all time favourites, but I like most of them. I also think the JJ Abraham reboot was pretty cool, even if it’s very different from the original that I love. That’s because before I’m a Star Trek fan, I’m a sci-fi fan, and sci-fi is about looking into the future.

The Fans

I have some hypotheses about the different kinds of Star Trek fans, but there are two types that I want to refer to here. The type that like Star Trek because it’s funny in a weird campy way, and those that like Star Trek because it’s science fiction. I fall into the second category.

More than anything I like TOS because it’s sci-fi. And yes, as our scientists discover more about the universe, the more rapidly older sci-fi inadvertently becomes space-fantasy. But the intent was always science fiction. I think I’m going to have to do a post exclusively on TOS at some point and move on for now, as there is just too much to cover in one post.

To boldly go where no one has gone before!

And that’s the big deal with Star Trek. It’s BIG. There are countless comics, books, games, and anything you can imagine. It’s a smorgasbord of sci-fi. From campy to fantasy to hardcore science fiction. And the ships are crazy awesome. The vehicle design is top notch. One thing I have to give DS9 is that I did enjoy the different tech in there, especially the Cardassian user-interfaces.

I love Star Trek, but there are bits of it I don’t like, and that’s how the whole fandom is. You get people who only like the old stuff, the ones who like the canon, the ones that like the funny stuff, the categories are vast, and then there are the ones like me. I love science fiction, and Star Trek is most definitely that.

Spock and the crew of the USS Enterprise 1701 have a very special place in my heart and I doubt any other Star Trek show will ever feel quite the same, but that said, I don’t want more of the same. The more Star Trek stays the same, the closer it gets to being space fantasy, and I don’t want that kind of sci-fi show.

Keep on Trekking

Here is a list of all the shows and a key to the abbreviations I used in this post. (shamelessly lifted off of Wikipedia).

TOSStar Trek: The Original Series1966–69TV
TASStar Trek: The Animated Series1973–74TV
TMPStar Trek: The Motion Picture1979film
WOKStar Trek II: The Wrath of Khan1982film
SFSStar Trek III: The Search for Spock1984film
TVHStar Trek IV: The Voyage Home1986film
TFFStar Trek V: The Final Frontier1989film
TUCStar Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country1991film
TNGStar Trek: The Next Generation1987–94TV
DS9Star Trek: Deep Space Nine1993–99TV
GENStar Trek Generations1994film
VOYStar Trek: Voyager1995–2001TV
FCTStar Trek: First Contact1996film
INSStar Trek: Insurrection1998film
NEMStar Trek: Nemesis2002film
ENTStar Trek: Enterprise2001–05TV
ST09Star Trek2009film
STIDStar Trek Into Darkness2013film
STBStar Trek Beyond2016film
DSCStar Trek: Discovery2017–TV
STStar Trek: Short Treks2018–TV

I highly recommend you give Star Trek a try, and I’d love to read your opinions. Expect more Star Trek posts in the future, in the meantime: live long and prosper!


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