Star Trek @ 50

I seem to be confining my musings to significant cultural anniversaries at the moment. But this one certainly doesn’t deserve to pass unmentioned. Anyone unfortunate enough to know me during my teenage years will remember that Star Trek was, if not an obsession, certainly a preoccupation. The feature photo probably shows all that you need to know about my bespectacled, train-tracked glory years. Those with a passing familiarity to all things Trek will recognise John de Lancie – better known as the mischievous Q in The Next Generation (TNG) – a lovely, courteous man who didn’t in the least mind being accosted by the lifts by my friend Carina just as he was about to escape the baying mobs of a Star Trek convention in Bristol. Ok, it was a bit more laid-back than that, and more of a generic sci-fi gathering than specific to Star Trek (if memory serves, Jon Pertwee was the keynote speaker), but he was very nice, and as you can see, smiled gamely for the camera.

Similar to the writer of this article, my obsession gradually waned as the teenage years drew to a close, but Star Trek retains a lingering place of affection as a welcome and unjudging companion, and, in many cases, a facilitator of enduring friendships. In the words of Lester Bangs – the great Philip Seymour Hoffman – ‘the only currency you have in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.

I re-watched The Wrath of Khan last year after the death of Leonard Nimoy, and found it to be a genuinely moving eulogy on the passing of time, the value of friendship, and coming to terms with death. It was a fitting tribute to an actor and a character who, for many, epitomised the complexity and, yes, emotionality of the series.

So Happy Anniversary, Star Trek. Let’s see what you’re still made of.

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