Cultivating Memories of Star Trek
In 1987, I was six years old and living with my mum when Star Trek: The Next Generation began. She had been a Trekkie from when The Original Series had first aired on UK television, but that show was no longer broadcast at all in the UK by 1987. Nonetheless, my mum invested in me a love of not only Star Trek but also writing and reading. She was a writer of her own published stories and wrote in several different genres. I’ve been planning to write my own Star Trek story as a tribute to my mum. Thus, this article is my tribute to both her and the seeds of Trek fandom she planted in my mind.
Although I’m sure we would have watched Star Trek: The Next Generation from the very start of that series, the earliest Star Trek episode I can remember ever seeing is the sixteenth TNG episode, “Too Short A Season”. During it, the Enterprise is ordered to transport an aged Starfleet Admiral to hostage negotiations. Captain Picard realises the admiral has taken an overdose of an illegal deaging drug and is going to die, jeopardising the entire mission.
It was my mum who introduced me to The Next Generation. I remember sitting in the lounge of our house, watching the episodes on our small TV screen, with my mum by my side. I can’t remember what I felt, in those pre-teen years, about many of the early TNG episodes we watched together, just that I wanted to watch more of them. I loved how the Galaxy-class USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D was gigantic and could easily support her 1,000 person crew while exploring the galaxy.
Sadly, my mum and I had to stop watching The Next Generation after she was diagnosed with cancer. I can’t remember how long she was ill for or exactly when we had to stop watching, but we probably ended our watch-throughs sometime during TNG’s second season. I know that, whenever it was we stopped watching, she wasn’t showing symptoms of being seriously ill… at least, not yet. After living with friends for a while, I moved in with my dad. Over the years my mum & I had gotten to watch TNG, we’d rarely missed an episode.
One of the highlights of watching The Next Generation was the amazing “The Best of Both Worlds” (TNG’s Season 3 cliffhangar finale and Season 4 opener). Even though I didn’t get a chance to watch any of that particular two-parter with my mum, her passion for Star Trek had of course taken root by then, in me.
Since I first watched TNG with my mum, I have watched every Star Trek series and film, read many novels, played several games, and built numerous models of the various ships from Star Trek. I have watched the original USS Enterprise, having been refitted into a beautiful design, be introduced in The Motion Picture in one of the greatest scenes in Trek history; I’ve seen James T. Kirk’s greatest enemy make a return in what is probably the greatest of the Star Trek movies (The Wrath of Khan); and I’ve watched the destruction of the original USS Enterprise in what I think is the saddest scene in Trek history (in The Search for Spock).
On 20th May 1991, my mum passed away from cancer and made her own journey to the stars. Every time I hear of some new Star Trek series, movie or book being released, I feel sad, as I can only think how much she would have loved it. She never got to see the end of The Next Generation, the first female main character take the centre seat as captain of a starship (Captain Kathryn Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager) or see one of her favourite actors, Quantum Leap‘s Scott Bakula, become the captain of the first starship Enterprise (NX-01), in Star Trek: Enterprise.
Each time I have seen a Star Trek movie in cinemas, I have thought of how I would have probably been going with my mum if things were different. She would have thoroughly enjoyed seeing Captain Kirk working with Captain Picard in Star Trek Generations, watching the USS Enterprise-E make her debut in First Contact, and observing Riker and Troi get married in Nemesis. All these things and more have shown me how much I know my mum would have loved them and how much I too love Star Trek.
Out of all the Star Trek series, my favourites are The Next Generation, Voyager, Enterprise and Discovery. Of all the modern Trek shows (Discovery, Picard, and Lower Decks), I am not a fan of Lower Decks or Picard, but I do love Discovery.
My fondness for Star Trek: Discovery is not just because the USS Discovery is a simply gorgeous ship. I think my favourite thing about the show has been how they’ve linked in people, things and details from The Original Series, including the USS Defiant (from “The Tholian Web”) and the Mirror Universe (from “Mirror, Mirror”) in Season 1, Captain Pike’s fate (from “The Menagerie” two-parter) in Season 2, and even footage of Leonard Nimoy as the elderly Spock (from TNG: “Unification II”) in Season 3. Also, ever since I first saw Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike at the start of Discovery‘s second season, I’ve loved his performance.
When the soon-to-be-released Strange New Worlds was announced during the UK’s first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, I became excited about it, especially as it will star Anson Mount returning full-time as Captain Pike and will be set aboard the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701). I’m aware I’ve said it numerous times, but I know full well that this upcoming show is one my mum would have been very excited about.
I will always be grateful to my amazing, wonderful mum for introducing me to this franchise which, as it continues to grow, I never get bored of, will never stop loving, and have very fond memories of.
Thank you, Mum.
A forty-year-old Star Trek fan, Rick has spent a lifetime imagining himself travelling among the stars ever since he first heard the words, “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise, it’s continuing mission to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no-one has gone before.” With a collection of more than 250 Star Trek books, Rick hopes one day to write one himself, even if it is never published.