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To boldly go… errr… go boldly?

Captain James T Kirk

Captain James T Kirk

Here’s a bit of a confession – I am a Science Fiction nut.  (OK – the Twilight Zone Blog back in November was probably a bit of a hint).

It’s therefore not surprising that a few nights ago, I was seated in the balcony of a New York theatre – watching William Shatner’s one man show.  I grew up watching Star Trek… although, to be perfectly honest, it was actually Spock I really fancied.

I was just a little bit in love with Spock - showing my geek tendencies even at a young age.

I was just a little bit in love with Spock - showing my geek tendencies even at a young age.

And yes, I know there was a grammatical error in that famous opening line – but I didn’t care.

The thing about Sci Fi is that it’s not about the science. Not good Sci Fi anyway… it’s all about the people (or little green men or Wookies or whatever).

The science is just a way of putting the characters in places and situations where they are tested. The real story is about the characters and their journey.

The first Sci Fi novel I read was Robert Heinlein’s Farmer in the Sky… written in the early 1950’s. It was the story of a boy who escaped crowded Earth to join a farming colony on one of Jupiter’s moons.  Growing up in a small town in the middle of a farming community – I could identify with everything in the book – especially the desire to break free and find adventures….

I kept that tattered old paperback. I read it and re-read it until it was falling apart. A few years ago, Webmaster John borrowed it and left it on a train. Divorce was prevented by his subsequent purchase of an early hardcover version – although I do miss my old paperback.

First Edition cover of Farmer in the Sky

First Edition cover of Farmer in the Sky

So – back to Broadway and William Shatner. Although the stories are pretty dated by today’s standards, at the time  Captain Kirk was a Hero with a capital H. Flawed, of course, as the best heroes are, but still a hero.

My all-time favourite episode was written by the great Harlan Ellison and stared an innocent, young and very beautiful Joan Collins. McCoy travels back in time and saves a young women’s life – thereby altering the future. Kirk and Spock must reverse that change – by allowing the woman to die. Of course, to complicate matters, Kirk has fallen in love with her. To cut a long story short – Kirk watches the woman he loves die in order to rescue the whole future of mankind.

The science was irrelevant – what mattered was Kirk’s pain – and Spock’s inability to comfort his best friend because of his own lack of emotion.

On his Broadway stage, William Shatner talked about a career that has seen many, many highlights (Boston Legal anyone??)  but said that if he was remembered for his work on Star Trek – he would be happy with that.

All I can say is – Thanks Jim.

Jim Kirk and Edith Keeler - I still cry when I watch the episode.

Jim Kirk and Edith Keeler - I still cry when I watch the episode.

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2 Responses to To boldly go… errr… go boldly?

  • I loved Star Trek and as it was endlessly repeated on BBC we used to have a game to see who could guess the episode first each week. Although it’s dated now and its sexism is a tad uncomfortable to watch it has to be credited with opening the door for the great sci-fi series that followed such as Stars Wars, Babylon 5 and Farscape and the son of star trek in the Next Genration, Deep Space None name but a few, and of course the brilliant parody of Star Quest. Thanks for reminding us of where it all started with Wiliam Shatner in his yellow shirt.

    • Hi Jean,
      It was a fab series – and yes, it is terribly dated now, but at the time it was ground-breaking. Kirk and Uhura are credited with the first inter-racial kiss on US network TV… which was a big deal back then.
      William Shatner’s theatre show was really entertaining – it was almost as if he was sitting in the living room just chatting. He’s a very funny man – which I guess those of us who watched Boston Legal already knew.
      My first attempts at writing short stories were Sci Fi – none of it was ever published, but I got some good comments from editors (yes- the editors who didn’t publish it). One of these days I may have another go!

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