A New Generation Takes the Helm: Looking at the Legend of Star Trek

Geek Culture


Photo: Paramount Pictures

My parents aren’t geeks, but they have always loved Star Trek.

That early exposure, starting from the age of five, may have been the starting point of geekdom for me, as it’s the first evidence I have of the effects of science-fiction on my overactive imagination.

While I’ve never considered myself a Trekkie, the original series is very dear to me, being the first television show I actually recall watching. DeForrest Kelley might well have been my first crush, and I can remember being absolutely terrified by the episode “The Man Trap.” I mean, I had nightmares for years.

By now you’ve probably read a dozen, if not more, reviews of the new film. Or you’ve seen it, and you liked it; or you didn’t. However, this isn’t a review of the film, and there’s no spoilers, so don’t worry. Rather, it’s a brief commentary on the franchise.

See, for years I studied legends—romances—the oldest stories in the English language. In graduate school, that was my thing. And now, as a writer, I look at stories—even visual ones—very differently.

And that includes the voyages of the USS Enterprise.

As I watched the newest incarnation of the Star Trek franchise, I felt a thrill as I was re-introduced to each member of the crew. I immediately thought that this must have been what it felt like to hear a new version of Robin Hood or King Arthur. For me, Star Trek is one of the closest things to oral tradition I have.

Naysayers may think I’m being a bit over-arching and purists might call it sacrilege. While some would argue that Star Trek is nowhere near the kind of story that Malory or Tennyson or Shakespeare wrote, I disagree. It is, in fact, strikingly similar. It’s good vs. evil, it’s a cast of familiar characters and it’s inextricably linked to the time in which it’s told. Love him or hate him, J.J. Abrams is a storyteller of our times. Just like Ron Moore, the people behind “Legend of the Seeker” or the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies guy.

You don’t have to like the remake (don’t get me started on the most recent King Arthur movie). Even some “canon” writers got flack for their takes on beloved tales. But no matter what we do, stories change over time and not always for the better—it’s part of the process. Stories have to change to stay relevant, to endure beyond that first generation.

What strikes me about J.J. Abram’s particular re-telling, however, is how respectful it is to the original series, how it both pays homage to and re-imagines the story. It really feels like the passing of a torch. Not to mention it’s also a really good movie.

Within fifteen minutes of the film, not only was I hoping for a sequel, but I was fantasizing about sharing it—and the original series—with my parents and my son.

I can only imagine what the next generation will bring to the legend.

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