The Shadow of Utopia

I have a weird relationship with Star Trek, as a franchise. I like more bits of it than I dislike, on the whole, but something about the Rodenberry ideal always grated. Something about the Federation always put my hackles up, though I can’t really explain why.

Maybe I’m just more of a Harry Mudd than a Jean-Luc Picard, you know? Gimme a ship and a dream, and I’d just wind up selling one or t’other to some poor slob on another planet at a sixty percent mark-up.

Which reminds me: if I ever wind up getting to write a Star Trek novel, it’s damn sure going to have some Harcourt Fenton Mudd, O.G., in it, possibly pulling some Ocean’s Eleven-style shenanigans. Also, there’ll be a Gorn in it, because who doesn’t love giant lizardmen?

In any event, of all the Star Trek stuff, Deep Space Nine was the one that I enjoyed most. So many characters, so much conflict, everything layered in brass and gray. It was the only series that really showed how much damn work a utopian ideal like the Federation would require, and how it could be skewed, stretched and even broken, despite (or because of) the best intentions of those who fought in its defense.

You had politics, espionage, moral dilemmas, war, religion…just a grab-bag of interesting ideas, explored interestingly, with repercussions that were felt across entire seasons. Good stuff.

Plus, Sisko punched Q right in the damn mouth that one time. That’s high quality television right there, I don’t care who you are.

Anyway, I say all that by way of pointing you to this swell write-up of Deep Space Nine by Max Temkin, ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in 82.5 Hours’. It pretty much captures my feelings on the series, and if you’ve even a passing interest in such things, I recommend that you check it out.

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4 comments

  1. I loved Star Trek as a child, but even back then the whole Utopian vision of Roddenberry’s. I believe that by the time humanity gave up war et cetera we would need rename ourselves since we would be human anymore.

    DS9 was my favorite series too. A lot of Star Trek fans disliked it because it got away from Roddenberry’s vision. Personally, I always thought Star Trek succeeded despite Roddenberry not because. Producers Gene L. Coon and, more importantly, writers like Theodore Sturgeon or Harlan Ellison had more to do with it.

    1. I agree somewhat on the ‘succeeding despite him’ angle. Roddenberry was an auteur, with all the benefits and flaws that implies. But a singular vision, no matter how powerful, is just that–singular. It needs the attentions of other artists to allow it to potentially become something more.

      1. Well, I might have been too critical of Roddenberry. At the very least, the show would not have even been made without him.

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