Thursday, October 4, 2012

GUEST POST: Brian @ Babbling Books Discusses Star Trek (TOS), Part II

Star Trek, especially
The Original Series,
has gathered countless fans
throughout the years!
It has influenced SF writing,
producing Star Trek-related novels,
as well.

has written a very interesting
essay on how this beloved show
has influenced his life,
as well as reading tastes.
Here's the second and final post!
You can find the first post
by clicking

Thus, TOS had a big influence on me as well as on my worldview. It was such an early source of ideas! There were a few themes and concepts that have remained with me throughout life. The benefit of trying to understand others who are different, whether the differences were cultural, physical or philosophical, was constantly expounded on the show.  To this day, whenever I encounter folks who seem unusual or a belief system that diverges from my own, I try to go into the Star Trek mode of understanding.

A wariness of overly strong ideologies and regimented thought systems was also a very important part of the Star Trek message. Episodes often centered on societies controlled by oppressive leadership that went wrong by trying to overemphasize a belief system or by attempting to overly protect a population from real evils. What is particularly impressive is that the Star Trek ethos did not promote the overly cynical view that all authority and people in power are constantly lying, oppressive or incompetent. Instead authority systems on various planets were sometimes okay, even if they made mistakes. However one needed to be wary as sometimes authority and people’s blind acceptance of it ran out of control. This line of thought has greatly shaped the way that I look both at the world and at the multiplicity of philosophies out there. I often refuse to join the masses when most everyone finds something popular or believes in something. While there are many reasons for my tendency to be an iconoclast, Star Trek was a major early source.

Another important idea was the importance of understanding things through the lens of rationality and science. Again and again, superstitions and unexamined thought systems in alien societies as well as within our heroes’ minds themselves were shown to be faulty.  Usually, science and rational thought eventually yielded the truth. This view was tempered, however. Again, these old shows impressed by advocating the nuanced view that this scientific analysis and logic needed to be infused with healthy doses of humanity and intuition. This balance was particularly prominent in the interaction and, at times, conflict between our three heroes.  Mr. Spock, of course, represented logic and rationality, Leonard “Bones” McCoy embodied emotionalism, and our Captain took on the role as final arbiter. Once again, this worldview very much reflects my own. I am essentially a rationalist who believes in humanist virtues.
The Star Trek saga helped to ignite my interest in science and technology. Unlike many other fantasy and science fiction stories, the episodes actually took place in a Universe based upon the laws of science. Technology was utilized by humankind to better itself in almost utopian ways.

Perhaps more importantly, as most episodes contained an underlying theme or philosophy, TOS taught me to look for underlying meaning in fiction. Admittedly, sometimes the themes in a one-hour episode were a little on the simplistic side and can be described as ‘fortune cookie philosophy.’ However, this was a good start and a lot more than I was getting from most other media sources. In addition, my interest in Shakespeare and other literature was partially sparked by myriad references to both the Bard and other great writers throughout the series. One episode, “The Conscience of the King,” was actually centered upon an intergalactic troupe of traveling Shakespeare performers.

I must admit that, though I would not say that I have moved beyond Star Trek, on some level I have moved into movies and books that are deeper than these early roots. However, there is still much to learn from this old television show. It will always have a very special place in my heart.  I will certainly always love these shows. To one degree or another, I have liked most of the television and movie sequels, though I often have certain issues with the newer creations.

For those unfamiliar with the original Star Trek series, I urge you to give it a try. Please do try to remember that much of what is commonplace today, both in fictional stories as well in the real world, was groundbreaking and even invented by this show.

Live long and prosper!

I'd like to thank Brian for
sharing his thoughts
on a science fiction universe
that has spawned
further series, and legions
of devoted fans!
May the galaxy bring you
lots of adventure,
and fascinating alien cultures!


  1. Great guest post. Star Trek was definitely more than a TV show for me too. Its amazing how "current" the topics on the show are regardless of how many years have past since they were first aired.

  2. Hi, there!

    So glad you enjoyed reading Brian's post!! He writes wonderfully! In these two posts, he eloquently points out just why this show is such a beloved one. Yes, it is indeed amazing how very current the topics dealt with on the show are. It has certainly endured the test of time!

    By the way, I have seen the new STAR TREK (TOS) movie, and, although it was excellent in terms of production, I didn't like the acting at all. The original actors are just too iconic. I never get tired of watching the old episodes! To me, Shatner, Nimoy, and the rest of the gang ARE the characters they were portraying. And those characters are eternal!!

    Thanks for commenting!! : )


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