The Trek for Star Trek
Jules Verne is considered the father of science fiction. At a close second: H.G. Wells. There is an abundance of science fiction authors who are deserving of this title; however, Gene Roddenberry (who is rarely mentioned, surprisingly, in the world of sci fi) is by far the most influential of this time. His biggest hit, Star Trek, has changed the world in many outstanding ways.
Roddenberry was born in Texas on August 19th, 1921. Before Star Trek, he survived three plane crashes—most people in the United States have never been in one, let alone three. Shortly after, he began writing screenplays for movies and TV shows. Most of them did not end up making it, but he did not give up. When he came up with the idea for Star Trek, no studio would buy it except for Desilu Studios, which is famous mostly for “I Love Lucy”. At the time, Desilu was suffering greatly, for they had not had a big hit in a long time aside from the previously mentioned series. The first pilot of Star Trek did not go over well with the audience, so another one was made with an entirely different cast—a diverse group of men, women, and various races. This combated the racist and sexist views of the time, and it may have been a leading factor in getting to where America is now. On the bridge of the show’s set they had not only an Asian actor (George Takei, who played Lt. Sulu), but, shockingly, an African-American woman (Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura).
The second pilot episode of Star Trek went much better, but that is not where Roddenberry’s problems with the show ended. Not only was the show gathering poor reviews, but the main character, Captain Kirk (played by William Shatner) wasn’t seen as the main character. Fans seemed to prefer Vulcan first officer Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy. The solution to this issue was recommended by Isaac Asimov, a fellow science fiction author, who suggested Kirk and Spock come in a pair to direct audience more towards the actual main character. The alien/human relationship, paired with the interracial couples on the show opened the minds of many.
Star Trek: The Original Series unfortunately did not make it as big as anyone hoped. They had a very inconvenient time slot that had ratings and views dropping like flies. The show was cancelled after three incredible seasons. It wasn’t until after its cancellation that it really began to pick up. Though it had a fairly large fan base, now it was growing exceptionally. Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted in September of 1987, followed by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and then finally, Star Trek: Voyager. There were also 6 Original Series sequel movies, and four Next Gen films to follow. Clearly, Star Trek had exploded all over the world. Each series embraced ever race, gender, type of alien, etc. and showed the world that, in the end, life is a very precious thing—which ever form it may take. Millions upon millions of peoples’ lives were changed by this beautiful idea, and it continues to change more.
Thanks for reading! (: