Star Trek: TNG is my Soul Food

When Canada’s Netflix picked up the series, I was pretty ecstatic.  I’d love to own the Blu-Rays, but that just isn’t sensible for us right now, so I happily settle in to watch it on Netflix instead.

Watching episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation is like eating soul food for me.  Watching them is like seeing old friends, visiting my hometown.  It’s nourishing, comforting, reassuring.

A bookmark with the face of Counsellor Deanna Troi sticks out of a copy of Orson Scott Card's novel Ender's Game

I sense that you might be troubled…

When the series originally aired, I didn’t really have anyone outside of my family who shared my passion, except for my best friend’s parents, but I think she thought that was awkward.  I always envied their VHS collection, though.  I thought that was pretty epic stuff.  When the series ended, I was fourteen years old.  I actually mourned the end of the series.  It was like this world, these people I had come to love were going away forever.  I still have a number of bookmarks floating around my apartment that are a testament to the retail therapy I used to cope!

Is the show perfect?  Of course not.  Its portrayal of women is mixed, for one thing.  On one hand, you have a number of female admirals (from a variety of earth ethnicities), but on the other hand, you have the two main female characters wearing every inch of 80’s-era makeup they could manage and still move their face.  I’m sure LGBT fans will also lament the fact that Star Trek was never quite daring enough to portray a true same-sex relationship, despite the often-mentioned sexual freedom of the 24th Century.

But the universe offered in Star Trek has a lot of beautiful things in it.  According to the lore, human beings have put aside their differences, eliminated poverty and crime, and even have done away with the kind of greed that arises from wrong-headed free markets.  Environmental destruction was turned aside at the brink, and humanity even recovered from nuclear war.

The United Federation of Planets is a conglomeration of forward-thinking space-faring cultures who have banded together for the purposes of trade, communication, protection from hostile species, and the sharing of knowledge.  There is a strong sense of cooperation, honour, honesty, and good-neighbour-liness.

And, of course, then there’s the technology!  Obviously, the ability to transcend the light-speed barrier is a pretty huge leap forward, allowing contact with other alien species.  There are replicators, creating matter from energy, making it possible to create almost anything seemingly out of nowhere.  There are matter transporters, allowing people to be moved almost instantaneously over mind-boggling distances.

There are the holodecks.  Oh. My. Word.  The holodecks.  The ability to create completely fictional places (or recreate real ones) and interact with them.  Stories and historical figures come to life.  The holodeck embodied everything a dreamer and a story-obsessed teenager could desire.

It makes me so happy that people like Gene Roddenberry and all the many hundreds of folks who were involved in creating this show were able to bring this world to life for us.  It makes me happy to know that other human beings were able to dream up this universe and then invite the rest of us in to share it.  A part of me will always live on the Enterprise NCC 1701-D.  Not only is that world an inspiration to me, but the creation of that world is an inspiration.  I can  only hope that someday I get to share one or two of the worlds that are spinning inside my own head and invite you to live in them, too.

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