Although I was old enough, I didn’t watch Star Trek from the moment it first aired – I caught up with the series in syndication a few years after it went off the air. I watched all of the episodes of the original series and a few episodes of The Next Generation (mostly because I wanted to write an episode of it for my sister). And…that’s about it. Oh, and all of the movies. And that really is it. Although I remember enjoying the show, I can’t say I was ever a fanatic about it; I don’t think I’m wired to have that kind of devotion to a fictional world. Nonetheless, my life has periodically intersected with Star Trek in odd ways.
For example, my mother tells the story of the time she met William Shatner at a party. Apparently, he was shorter than she had expected.
Or, the time I interviewed James “Scotty” Doohan for my university newspaper; he was doing promotion for the release of the first Star Trek movie. (In truth, the interview had been arranged by a friend of mine at the newspaper who graciously allowed me to tag along and ask a couple of questions.) I was dumbfounded by the fact that Doohan didn’t actually speak with a Scottish accent.
Or, the fact that I am now a Klingon. I’m not a very good one: my costume isn’t elaborate (just the basic gold vest), and I don’t have a forehead ridge (yet). I do attend events as a member of the Crimson Knight Fleet of the Klingon Assault Group (at which we often raise funds for the Kids’ Helpline, a worthy charity), and am slowly being assimilated into the Klingon way of life. But it is very slow.
Truth is, I did not seek out a Star Trek fan club to join. When I started going to science fiction conventions to promote my writing, I would periodically run into Klingons, and we immediately hit it off. One year, I was invited to their annual feast (with copious amounts of food in the form of traditional Klingon dishes, blood wine and a Star Trek trivia contest); at one of these, I was asked to join. And, I liked the people so much (Klingons are – surprise surprise – some of the kindest people I know), that I said yes.
How do I feel about Star Trek at 50? Unlike some fans of the original series, I am not forgiving of its flaws (for a show that was supposed to be about inclusion, for instance, its frequent portrayal of women as sex objects was quite jarring – and, yes, I am aware that this problem was addressed in later series). However, at a time when science fiction seems to be dominated by military porn and endless variations of apocalyptic scenarios, Gene Roddenberry’s bright, generally hopeful vision of the future is very welcome.