Fifty years ago a phenomenon was born we all know as Star Trek. It was the dream of one man, Gene Roddenberry, a dream of the future where mankind had put all their many differences behind and had managed to build a better and brighter society. This dream took the form of a weekly TV show which was revolutionary for its time.
I remember watching the first episode on BBC, it was a Saturday evening and a replacement for Doctor Who which had Jon Pertwee playing the title role, my favourite Doctor of all incarnations. I was mortified that the BBC had taken off Doctor Who and replaced it with this unknown American TV series. I soon changed my opinion though, around ten minutes into watching it I was hooked.I couldn’t get enough, I waited for the next episode with bated breath and every episode that followed. I made sure my time was free when it aired because back then we had no video recorders or DVR’s so if you missed the first showing there was no telling when it would show again, if ever. When the first season finished I was gutted even though they showed the new series of Doctor Who in its place I was still overwhelmed by the loss. Even though the show only ran initially for three seasons it was picked up by cable networks which ran the episodes endlessly. It became ingrained in everyone’s mindset. It was innovative and inspiring, without this show technology wouldn’t have advanced at the pace it has and we wouldn’t have things such as the mobile phone or e’readers or tablets like the iPad. It shaped almost everything in the modern world. It had a huge impact on TV shows, technology, ideology almost everything was touched by his vision. It inspired and shaped how sci fi was written and is still doing today. When I first started writing everything came out as either a clone of Star Trek or had touches of Star Wars in it. It was incredibly difficult to come up with anything new because that show had covered it all.
It’s been widely reported that Star Wars saved Star Trek from obscurity and I can see the validity in that claim but it is also true that without Star Trek there probably wouldn’t have been a Star Wars.
We have long since passed the dates he stated for the events that would shape some of his vision of the future and we are no nearer to reaching it than we were back when the series first aired but I for one remain hopeful. Roddenberry’s vision of a brighter, more peaceful and prosperous future for us all is not out of our reach. It is an attainable future but it’s one that will take a lot of hard work if we ever want to see it. The only thing standing in our way, as ever, is us.