Earlier in the week, my partner in literary mischief, David Mack, was informed that one very hip history professor out at San Diego State University was incorporating various aspects of Star Trek into his curriculum. In particular, Dave’s own rather choice novel from 2004, A Time to Heal, is a key component of the course “Star Trek, Culture, and History,” as taught by Professor John Putman. As the good professor tells it in an interview from 2014.
“As I became more engrossed and interested in Star Trek, I realized that the series had something to say about American society. Not only did I hope that students would gain a greater appreciation for Star Trek, but I also saw it as a different and unique way to examine post-World War II history in the classroom.”
As for A Time to Heal, its inclusion in the course syllabus stems from its allegorical link to the United States’ occupation of Iraq in 2003. That’s perfect, as Dave really knocked it out of the park with this novel.
Then I find out yesterday that I needed to wait! Because there’s more!
It seems that my own little Star Trek tome, From History’s Shadow, is also getting some love. The novel is the focus of an optional paper opportunity Professor Putman has made available to his students. That’s right, folks! If you need extra credit, I’m apparently your guy. Check it out:
Read Dayton Ward’s Star Trek: The Original Series: From History’s Shadow, which is a novel that ties post-World War II American history to the Star Trek universe history. Using time travel and storylines/episodes taken from several Star Trek series, Ward connects these fictional stories with real events, issues, and places that marked the dark and mysterious, if not conspiratorial, side of cold war history. In your 7-8 page paper discuss how Ward successfully exploited postwar American history to form the foundation of his novel. Be sure to indicate the real event and issues that he references and how he tied these to Star Trek.
Caution: This assignment may demand pretty good knowledge of Cold War American history, though you may also need to look up particular events or issues the author describes or references. Please be sure to consult writing guides handed out in class and those available on course website for advice on writing a formal paper.
If you are not well-versed in Star Trek, you might want to watch some of the episodes that he uses as the basis of his novel.
Star Trek TOS: “Assignment Earth”
Star Trek TOS: “Tomorrow is Yesterday”
Star Trek DS9: “Little Green Men”
Star Trek ENT: “Carbon Creek”
That is pretty danged cool.
As I told Professor Putman in an email last night, it’s obviously very gratifying to hear back from readers and how they enjoyed reading one of my books, but it’s something else entirely to see them used in such fascinating ways. I can only hope that this exercise proves worthwhile for him and his students.
Oh, and it’s definitely one way to make a lowly author’s day. 🙂