In 1979, at aged 8, I was taken to the movies by my mom, to see Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Before that point, I’d shown a clear preference to sci-fi but Star Trek itself was still something I wasn’t consciously aware of.
But when I left that movie theater, I was hooked and received on the subsequent Christmas a present I still proudly own today, albeit somewhat battered and love-worn: the Dinky Toys ‘Starship Enterprise’.
So I recreated the dry-dock sequence with some Lego and said toy (and the little Galileo shuttlecraft it came with) over and over. There was something about that one aforementioned sequence in TMP that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Was it the wonder of what that man, James Kirk, was about to discover? The unalloyed beauty of the ship that, clearly and even to my childhood-self, I knew he was obsessed with? Was it the music that accompanied Kirk’s rekindling of this romance? Whatever it was then, soon burgeoned into love and awe of the classic series, and I snapped up all the James Blish adaptations and watched the weekly reruns on British TV, my dedication flip-flopping between that and Doctor Who.
Then in 1982, I took my first step into this much larger universe that was labelled ‘Star Trek’: I went to see Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, immediately concluding there was nothing else even close to how these films and episodes made me feel. TWOK was also the very first film score I bought, so both James Horner and Gene Roddenberry I have much to thank for (or to blame, depending on your point of view!).
Star Trek shaped who I would become….
I cannot say that I didn’t have a good upbringing or a happy home: far from it. But as a child, and even as a young adult, I never mixed very well with other children (and young adults). I was painfully shy, far from sporty, bespectacled and skinny and was usually found on my own in my room or playing in the backyard.
So to an insecure little kid, watching Kirk save the galaxy and get the girl, and witness Spock, the tall, thin, unusual looking guy, be the cleverest and bravest of them all, and the one who everyone turned towards to solve the problem (even Kirk), it was magical, uplifting and on the whole, character-building. Could I be like Kirk? Like Spock? Could I do what they did, in my own way? I sure wanted to hope so.
And so they two became my heroes and they still are to this day. Yes, I’m older and (hopefully) wiser and no, I’m not that picked-on kid at school anymore, but their adventures, now joined by Captains Picard, Sisko, Janeway, and Archer and their respective crews, and by Burnham and Tilly and Stamets and Saru and co., still give me that sense of wonder, of the knowledge that I can do anything if I put my mind to it, to be brave and courageous. To boldly go.
For many of us, Star Trek is seen as a symbol of hope and of unity, of the future and of humanity – and hell, it’s darn-well entertaining, too! And that’s why I love this show, these shows, these movies. And to now be given the opportunity here to share with other fans and admirers of the franchise is something I am immensely grateful for and proud of.
So let it – and us – live long and prosper.