September 8th, 1966. Fifty years ago, tonight:
No, I wasn’t there. I wouldn’t even be a fetus for another month or so. As such, my earliest memories of Star Trek were of the reruns of the original show as broadcast every day after school, the Saturday morning animated series, the odd comic book or collection of episode adaptations penned by James Blish, the AMT U.S.S. Enterprise model or their “Exploration Set” with phaser, communicator and tricorder, my Mego Captain Kirk and crew action figures, and those tracer guns that spit little spinning discs of doom.
But make no mistake: Those reruns grabbed ahold of me very early on, and they never let go.
Star Trek has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My obsession with those old episodes never waned, and in fact only deepened as the age of home video dawned and I could watch my favorite installments whenever I wanted, either by buying the VHS tapes or LaserDiscs or renting them from places like Blockbuster Video (remember those?). Tapes gave way to DVD and later Blu-ray and streaming. I have the entire Star Trek TV and film library at my fingertips and thanks to my smartphone, I can carry my favorite episodes around in my pocket. Then it gets crazy when we start talking about things like music and games and comics and books……..
Oh, yeah. Right. The books.
At some point, I was able to channel my Star Trek love into a short story that somebody bought and published in a book. Then they did it again, and again. Eighteen years later, I’m taking a break from finishing my 20th Star Trek novel so that I can jot down these rambling, disjointed thoughts. I literally feed my kids thanks to Star Trek. How crazy is that?
Pretty damned crazy.
So, while I’m not quite as old as Star Trek, we’ve been joined at the hip pretty much from the jump. It’s given me so many friends, afforded me so many opportunities, and just been a tremendous amount of fun. I remember thinking, back during the 25th anniversary celebrations in 1991, that maybe we’d reached “peak Star Trek.” The death of Gene Roddenberry less than two months later seemed to strengthen that notion.
I’ve only rarely been so happy to be proven so very, very wrong.
Is there a future for Star Trek after 50? A gander at the Magic 8-Ball tells me “Signs Point to Yes.” A new television series is set to debut next year. There’s talk of yet another feature film. There are comics and games and toys and all sorts of crazy collectibles out there. Oh, yeah, and those books. Keep buying those, would ya? I’d like to keep writing them, and indeed I will for as long as fate allows me the good fortune to do so.
And all the while, I’m watching those favorite episodes and movies and reading those books, eagerly awaiting all that new stuff to get here. I’m still a fan. Always have been. Always will be.
Happy 50th Anniversary, Star Trek. You wear your age pretty damned well.