I'm sure I'm not the only nerd writing about Star Trek today, but reading these memories from other fans of the franchise on its 50th birthday got my warp plasma flowing.
I didn't grow up with TOS, but rather, TNG. Thanks to my dad, I was lucky to be the kid who watched Reading Rainbow and wondered what Geordi La Forge was doing there, rather than the other way around. I remember Riker without a beard, though whether it's from initial viewings at 5 years old or later reruns, I can't tell you. I definitely recall with terror and wonder first contact with the Borg, whose soulless assimilation has informed my understanding of true villainy to this day.
I was of the tender generation who never found Wesley Crusher to be obnoxious, but instead a character who created a space for somebody like me on the bridge of the Enterprise.
As I grew up, other series attracted my interest, most notably Voyager and Enterprise, the latter of which I will not tolerate any bitching about unless you've actually seen it in its entirety. As a writer, I found their plot lines and character dynamics the most compelling, and resistance to my love of this series is futile. Voyager I watched on Netflix well after it aired, and it gave me the female captain I hadn't known I'd always wanted - and a bit of a grudge against my dad for not introducing me to Janeway when I had been a teenager much in need of a boss lady bending the Prime Directive under duress.
One of the most powerful sentiments I read regarding the franchise was this:
"The show delivered good news: there might be a future that included peace, hope, and bold adventure, and it came in bright colors, featured space travel, and was fun!"
This has always been the thing that I have loved best about Star Trek, that human beings could overcome all of the nonsense, violence, and bigotry to be better, to be a force for peace and friendship in the galaxy. I appreciated seeing the trope of invading alien species uniting us against them turned on its head, with humanity's first contact with the Vulcans instead revealing all that we could be and aspire to, rather than disparage and fear. I grew up with a series that embodied what a society fully entrenched in this kind of noble stability could look like, and to this day it is the utopia that appeals to me the most. It's what I hope for when I see people doing good for the sake of doing good, making sacrifices for others without recognition or compensation, when our ugliest impulses as human beings are forgotten in moments of compassion, creativity, and selflessness.
We have the opportunity now to be bolder than ever, 50 years later.