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08 Sep 2016

50 Years of Political Messages in Star Trek

50 years ago today, on September 8, 1966, the very first episode of Star Trek, "The Man Trap", aired on NBC. Although this TV production was ambitious and accordingly expensive for its time, no one would have anticipated the long success story of the franchise. Star Trek is the yardstick for intelligent science fiction on television still today. Leading scientists and engineers tell us Star Trek has been an inspiration in their career. And looking beyond the merely scientific or technical aspects of the show, to this day Gene Roddenberry's creation is unrivaled within the genre as a vision of a bright and desirable future. We could say that Star Trek's positive prospect is so powerful that no television producer would dare to enter a competition with the clear market leader in the field of utopian science fiction.

These days, columnists like to muse about what Star Trek would be if Gene Roddenberry were still alive, which they interpret in a way to either praise or criticize recent developments. Would Roddenberry like the Abrams movies? A gay Sulu? Bryan Fuller's still unaired "inclusive" series Star Trek Discovery? I don't like to engage in such speculation, so I rather look back at the political messages I see in Star Trek, and ahead at what I expect from it in the future.

Read the full essay.

Bernd Schneider


Recent EAS Updates
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  • 11 Feb 2017
    Regarding the alleged Klingons on the leaked photo from the Star Trek Discovery set, I will further comment on it once I have an official confirmation.
  • 11 Feb 2017
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Latest Comments on EAS Articles
  • 25 Mar 2017

    I was always under the impression that there were different size ships of the same basic design, the B'rel being a scout/escort type, the K'Vort being a frigate or destroyer type...etc.
    This goes well when you consider that the Klngons have been using the same basic D7 design for over a century.
    Like they say, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

  • 16 Mar 2017

    I see now, thanks for the post!

  • 16 Mar 2017

    Wondering which pages appear in my favorite episode, "Cause and Effect"?

  • 22 Feb 2017

    Cool find. Thanks for the hint!

  • 21 Feb 2017

    I was just rewatching DS9's "Circle trilogy" again and those black boxes flanking the viewport (with the five white lights flanked by two amber) looked awfully familiar. I think I just placed it: they were originally radiation alarms on the Soviet sub in "The Hunt for Red October" (another Paramount production, so it's conceivable Star Trek's art department could have scavanged them from wherever stuff like that goes when sets are struck but not necessarily trashed).


    Perhaps something for one of your re-used set decorations articles?

  • 15 Feb 2017

    This lower pod is definively not from a jet fighter. The base of the
    "wings" is not shaped aerodynamically. This is the part from an Ecelsior
    where the warp pylons are connected to the hull. Two of these parts are
    flatened and glued together. Then they were cut at the front. I
    recreated the exact look with a 3D model of this part.

  • 14 Feb 2017

    No argument there. In general some of the things we see in TOS are already outdated (multiple gadgets for what can nowadays be done with one smartphone).
    That said, I much prefer a show set in pre-TOS era than a show set in an alternative universe. Inconsistencies can be tolerated, but trying to rewrite history is inexcusable.

  • 14 Feb 2017

    It's the same thing, in both cases; if they want license to redesign, there are eras or alternate universes that allow that. But choosing a universe and point in time with an established aesthetic, and even a continuity that explains that aesthetic in the case of Klingons, and then ignoring just comes off as incredibly sleazy.

    'We can get more fans if we tie it to the most famous one. Let's do that. And people are clamoring for a return to that prime universe, that'll get even more viewers- let's do that. Oh, but that popular thing we're using to get all those viewers has designs and continuity we don't like, so... let's ditch that.'

    Hopefully, as we all keep qualifying with, that won't be the case. It's just what that's feeling like.

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