My name is J. Fortune and I am addicted to Star Trek. There I said it. From my first exposure to The Next Generation at the age of 13, I have been completely, hopelessly hooked. Through 5 TV series, 10 movies and hundreds of novels, I followed the adventures of various Starfleet personnel from any number of timelines and alternate timelines in their exploration of the final frontier.
In degrees of fandom, I guess my interest would be considered passing by a great many. I have never attempted to bring my adoration of the escape that the Star Trek universe provides into the plane of reality. I have never been to a convention or worn a Starfleet uniform (though I did own one for a while. Oh, the many things one can find in a thrift store). I have never written a piece of fan fiction, nor read one for that matter, but I think I would be open to it.
Recently a crop of documentaries about Star Trek have been produced. These films are varied in their focus and subject matter. Two documentaries by Star Trek elder statesman William Shatner fixate on…well William Shatner. The Captains follows Shatner as he interviews the lead actors from each of the series and even a few from the movies. In Get a Life Shatner tries, often in vane, to understand Star Trek fandom. Like the Trekies films of the late 90s and early 2000s, Get a Life is a bit exploitative and often does not give a good representation of Star Trek fans.
The most interesting of the recent documentaries is 2010’s Trek Nation. In the film, Eugene Roddenberry , the son of Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry tries to understand the impact his father and the universe he created has had on science fiction and society as a whole. From the first frames of the film, we understand that Eugene was not a Star Trek fan. The younger Roddenberry begins on a path to understanding his father and his father’s choices. Sounds like a Worf storyline from TNG.Through interviews with writers, directors and producers who worked closely with him, Eugene is given a more complete picture of who his father really was and what his legacy is. The information is not always favorable. Eugene seems to listen to each participant and take in all of what they have to say.
Roddenberry even get the opportunity to sit down with Star Wars creator George Lucas. Lucas makes time while filming Episode 3 to explain that in some ways without Star Trek there would have been no reception for something like Star Wars. Star Wars was a phenomena that even Roddenberry Jr. was swept up in as a lad. A picture from one of Eugene’s birthday parties shows him in a Star Wars t-shirt cutting a cake decorated with the Millennium Falcon.
In the end the story of Trek Nation was a perplexing one. A lot of fathers don’t communicate their thoughts on their work or their life with their sons. Too often this leads to unanswered questions after the passing of a family patriarch. Eugene Roddenberry has the unique perspective of someone with a famous father. He resents characters and father-son relationships his dad has written, but then wonders if the idealized interactions were what his father wished he could have provided to him.
In Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry created an ideal future: one in which the societies, of not just one planet, but of the entire galaxy, could put aside their differences for a greater good. Trek Nation left me wishing that this father and son could have done the same. Still, it is without a doubt that Eugene Roddenberry has come to better understand his father’s role in history