Wednesday, June 12, 2019

STAR WARS and "Star Trek" and Jessica and Me

For the last couple of days, Anna and Elyse have been camping at Stone Mountain. While they were gone, Jessica and I watched Star Wars (the real Star Wars, the one that came out in 1977 and blew me away when I saw it at the age of ten, which needs no colon and subtitle or episode number) and four episodes of "Star Trek" (the real "Star Trek," the show that came on the air before I was even born and which I really loved when I was in fifth grade, not long after I first saw Star Wars).

It was quite a triumph to get Jessica to watch them with me. She's been resisting Star Wars for years, though I knew, and assured her, that she would be captivated by it. She liked "Star Trek, " too, though the first episode, "The Man Trap," has that scary salt vampire creature that kind of freaked her out. I warned her, but she wanted to start at the beginning, so we did, scary salt vampire monster or not. That was last night; we watched three more episodes this morning. None of them had scary monsters, but the creepy kid in "Charlie X" has a pretty scary look sometimes.

I had forgotten just how much I was into "Star Trek" back when I was Jessica's age (or actually about a year younger). I had a worn copy of The Star Fleet Technical Manual, which I think I got—possibly stole—from someone at school, and which I used to pore over for hours at a time. I had a copy of David Gerrold's great The World of Star Trek, which I read in pieces (that is, not all at once, from front to back) over the course of a year or so, mostly concentrating on the episode guide which (if I remember correctly) was at the end, and the color pictures, which I believe were in the middle. I'd love to have that specific copy again; I do have the book, a trade-size paperback that came out in the mid-eighties, but the actual copy that I had in fifth grade, which was printed back when the original three-season series was all there was of "Star Trek," is lost to me; I think I loaned it to my friend Skipper and never got it back. I also had several copies of Alan Dean Foster's novelizations of the "Star Trek" cartoon series, but I don't think I actually ever read any of them.

I also started my own science fiction novel, which was a blatant rip-off of "Star Trek" except that I envisioned my ship's captain as looking like Lou Ferrigno, the body-builder actor who played the Incredible Hulk in the popular TV show of the time. Thankfully I never got past the first chapter of that novel.

I loved, and still love, not just the premise and story lines of "Star Trek," but the look of it: the Enterprise, the uniforms, all the reds and blues; the whistles and beeps of the ship's computer, the swish of the doors as they slid open; the style of the captain's chair, which I really wanted in our living room in Lilburn; the phasers and communicators and tricorders; every inside set that looked convincingly like a real starship bridge or sick bay or transporter room, but also like a TV studio set; every outdoor set that looked a little bit like a planet a landing party might be beamed down to, a lot like the planet the landing party was beamed down to last week, and even more like a studio set with props painted to look like boulders and sky and alien ruins.

I hope Jessica wants to watch some more "Star Trek." I do love it.