Like many of us here at Trek Mate, I grew up with Star Trek. I remember catching some of the first run of the Original Series in 1968 when I was five, and I watched the syndicated re-runs regularly from the early 1970’s onwards. I also enjoyed The Animated Series.
After I got my first tape recorder, I recorded the audio of every episode, both live-action and animated, while watching it on TV. It took quite a bit of convincing to keep my family quiet in the living room! I played the cassettes over and over until they wore out, and then recorded more.
I have a pronounced scoliosis, and was teased and insulted daily for it while growing up. In addition, my family life was anything but perfect. When things got particularly bad, I would shut myself in my room, put in my earphones and immerse myself in my favourite adventures. They helped me get through even the most awful days, but more importantly, they gave me hope.
Spock was my hero, and my first childhood crush. He’d also been teased and bullied as a child, and had a dysfunctional relationship with his family, yet with logic and emotional control he made it through. In the end he found his career and personal calling in Star Fleet, and a new home and family aboard the Enterprise. He gave me hope that no matter what happened to me, I could get through it too.
I saw Leonard Nimoy give a live talk at a nearby university in 1976, and even got to ask him a question! I don’t remember what it was. I was so nervous that I nearly fainted, but I was in “7th heaven” for weeks afterwards. They also ran the blooper reel and the full, never-aired pilot “The Cage”, both of which were an absolute delight.
I was ecstatic when “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” came to the cinema in 1979. Though it wasn’t the best of the films in retrospect, seeing Star Trek on the big screen for the first time was an unforgettable experience. Afterwards I wrote a lengthy essay on Spock’s emotional development. Since then I have seen all the movies and TV show episodes many times. Recently I’ve also read several novels and have begun exploring the world of Star Trek comics.
By the time “The Next Generation” debuted, I was already living here in Germany, so my first exposure to all the newer Star Trek TV shows was in German. Only when I got them on VHS and DVD did I hear the English. By then I was so accustomed to the dubbing that the original took some getting used to!
Several years ago, I had to go through a battery of tests over many weeks, to rule out a serious illness. Jesus’ comfort and the loving support of my friends and family got me through it. But on days when I felt incapable of thinking or doing anything, I would immerse myself in Star Trek, so it, too, helped keep me sane during that time. It was then that Deep Space Nine became my favourite Star Trek series, because I finally had time to watch entire story arcs consecutively on DVD, and gain a fresh appreciation for the show’s unique depth of story-telling and character development.
In 2010 I began listening to Star Trek podcasts. Getting involved in them by email, forums, and most recently Twitter, has opened up a new world of contacts and friendships that have enriched my life in ways I can’t begin to describe. And being part of the Trek Mate writing team is a great honour and privilege.
Star Trek addresses very real social and political issues, but the sci-fi element allows us to step back and look at them from a different perspective. It also tells wonderful stories, has great
characters, and gives us hope for the future. These are some of the characteristics of great science fiction. I’ve enjoyed J.J. Abrams’ films, and look forward to seeing where this new re-boot will take the franchise as a whole.
For me personally, Star Trek “has been, and always shall be” a trusted friend… a friend that has been with me throughout all the ups and downs of my life, and has led me to meet many other new friends along the way. It’s been a friend without whom I would not be the person I am today.