51 years ago today the first episode of Star Trek: The Original Series aired in the US. It’s not exactly a secret that Star Trek has inspired many a dream, whether they be in science fiction, engineering or exploration. And I’m one of those. I grew up watching reruns of The Next Generation that morphed into actual episodes of Voyager. I wasn’t a super fan, nor would I categorize myself so now, but Star Trek nonetheless left an indelible mark on me. And it’s sort of interesting to see that the themes that Star Trek, in general, are also the kinds of themes that show up in my fiction, time and again. But that’s a post for another time.
To me, Star Trek still remains something I come back to regularly. You could make an argument about nonsensical plot lines, tropey situations and poor characterizations as well as bad acting. And you’d be wrong. Not totally wrong, mind you, but wrong nonetheless. Star Trek is so much more than the sum of its parts. Like any good science fiction, it explores what it means to be human but beyond that, I love the exploration of empathy. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good space battle and the various aliens the various crew encounter are always fun. But the thing that gets me coming back over and over again is the hope and empathy inherent in the series.
There’s this episode in Voyager, Faces. where B’Elanna Torres, the ship’s half human – half Klingon mechanic gets split into her component parts, one fully human and one fully Klingon. And it’s hard to describe the profound sense of loss that happens when the fully human part shows up. With the Klingon part, you’re concerned about the dire situation and the non-consensual medical experiments, but with the human portion, even while recognizing how much better Torres’ life might be without her more impulsive Klingon half that ït’s a massive loss to just suddenly not have part of you there anymore. There’s an element of self-love there as well, acknowledging that sometimes, we’re the harshest judges on ourselves.
What do you love about Star Trek?