Where Science Fiction Became Science Fact

A British science fiction fan remembers what an American TV show meant to him.

With the 50th anniversary of Star Trek – a series I grew up with – I was moved to briefly express what the show meant to me as a boy living at the advent of man’s first steps into space.

Think about it. 1961 saw Yuri Gagarin venture into space. The Apollo missions followed hot on his heels. A world still recovering from the effects of an international conflict that affected the lives of millions was looking to the future with a keen hope of something better. And perhaps, nowhere was that reflected more than in the popular TV programs of the time.

As a child in the UK, we had Gerry Anderson, a guy with brilliant ideas about what the future might hold. I was enthralled by such things as Supercar, Fireball XL5, and Stingray.

But when Star Trek came out – wow! What a difference. A ‘real live’ show with actual people and aliens and futuristic gadgets that so often gave us a glimpse into the science fact of tomorrow, as it addressed the ideals of exploration and discovery, and the forging of closer relationships in the face of adversity.

Well, little did I realize the lifelong friendship that would develop from the moment Captain Kirk uttered the immortal lines, “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise…”

And it’s been a friendship I’ve been happy to continue through the decades as each spin-off series emerged and attached itself to my heart. I know I’m not the only one who is as thoroughly enthralled today – as I was when younger – by the adventures of those who boldly went where mankind hopes to be at sometime in the future.

And what about those gadgets I mentioned earlier? Tricorders, swishing doors, handheld communication devices capable of spanning the world, hypo sprays and bio-beds. Yes, I’m one of the few who can say that, in my lifetime, science fiction became science fact.

If only I could have lived a couple of hundred years from now. I’m sure I’d be thinking…how did Gene Roddenberry know?

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