This phrase means something completely different to me now than it did when I first heard it nearly four decades ago. As I recall, in the early 1970’s “Star Trek Lives!” was a rallying cry; an almost defiant exclamation by a large segment of the public that our beloved Star Trek couldn’t be killed by an entity as insignificant as a mere television network. Thanks to a less than accurate Nielsen rating system, the execs at NBC put an end to production of new live-action episodes in 1969. However, within a few short years people were clamoring for more – and we ate up anything we could get: TV reruns in syndication, paperback books, magazines, photos, models, toys, and more.
I even had the good fortune to attend some of the earliest conventions and I witnessed first-hand the effects we, the fans, had on keeping the Star Trek universe alive. By September of ’73 people my age (and, yes, even older ones) could see new adventures on TV, albeit in a half-hour, Saturday morning animated format. The important thing though was that the quality of the storytelling and the optimism of the show’s creators was still evident. Then there were the books – novelizations of the original ’60’s TV episodes, collections of short stories, new full-length novels, looks behind the scenes – enough to fill the bookcase in my bedroom. But it got better still. When the Federation Trading Post opened on 53rd Street in Manhattan, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven! By 1976 or ’77 all manner of Trek merchandise and memorabilia was available. It was only a matter of time until the “Star Trek Lives!” mantra would result in the fulfillment of every fan’s dreams – new live-action Star Trek with the original cast intact!
Fast forward 30 years. It’s fair to say that Star Trek has reached its saturation point. After 11 theatrical films, 4 new television series, hundreds of books, and dozens of video games old-timers like me are forced to wonder if there is anything fresh and new to be brought to the Star Trek table. And yet, even if there is not, Star Trek lives! As far as I can tell, there are still millions of people around the world whose appreciation for, and devotion to, the Star Trek universe is unwavering. And although there are undoubtedly those who would disagree, I think that’s a good thing.
In a little over a month, I’ll be attending Creation Star Trek – Las Vegas with my 13 year old son in tow. We’ll be celebrating with thousands of others the 45th anniversary of the sci-fi juggernaut we both love so much…and it really doesn’t matter to us if there is ever another new Star Trek TV show or film. Heck, my son wasn’t even alive when the bulk of the Star Trek stories we now enjoy were released. Yet, in the Star Trek universe as it stands now there are so many good stories, so many morals worth living up to, so much blatant optimism for our future – it’s a legacy well worth celebrating. In many ways, I am reminded of the means by which we mere mortal humans manage to live forever… by creating great memories with our loved ones and passing them down through generations. The phrase “Star Trek Lives!” may have a different meaning now but the optimism, understanding, tolerance, hope, and love which continues to be shown by its newest legion of young fans speaks volumes!
Star trek Lives!