Love Your iPhone? Thank a Trekkie!
August 10, 2011
Many people enjoy sci-fi and fantasy, but some people are not content to simply enjoy their favorite books, manga, TV shows, and movies. They want to bring these fictional worlds to life. Some want to become characters in their favorite fictional "universe." Some want to create their own artistic works within that "universe." Others gleefully bring the disparate "universes" together in mash-ups. These people are known as "fans" or "fanboys" and "fangirls." The world of fandom spans a wide spectrum from anime cosplayers to Harry Potter fanfic writers to steampunk fashionistas, but the oldest aspect of serious fandom is the Trekkie phenomenon.
While the original Star Trek series only lasted 3 seasons, it spawned a worldwide fan movement, five television programs, 11 feature films, and scores of books, comics, manga, and games. While often derided in the wider culture as hopeless basement-dwelling nerds, Trekkies created the template for modern fandom: conventions, costuming, fan fiction, and a sense of belonging to a tight-knit group of like-minded enthusiasts.
Only Star Wars, Harry Potter, and The Lord of the Rings have had a similar impact on the wider culture. In fact, I think Star Trek has profoundly influenced the development of technology, especially since fandom and the sciences seem to go hand-in-hand. Stephen Hawking, arguably the world’s greatest living scientist, is a fan and has even made a cameo appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I would argue that the modern smartphone was directly inspired by Star Trek’s communicators and tricorders.
The name of the first space shuttle? The U.S.S. Enterprise. Originally to be named the U.S.S. Constitution, a massive Trekkie write-in campaign succeeded in changing the name of a future iconic space vehicle to that of a fictional iconic space vehicle.
"Set phasers to stun!" It's no coincidence that the Taser, used to incapacitate criminals, rhymes with phaser. But what if the stun setting isn't enough? Witness the homebuilt phaser.
"Set phasers to kill (balloons)!" Only a true Trekkie would look at a toy phaser and say "Gee, I wonder what would happen if I put the laser from a Blu-Ray player into that?" An EPIC WIN, that’s what would happen.
Let's not forget the social sciences. Klingon has become an actual language, complete with grammar and vocabulary. Work is under way to translate the Bible into Klingon, although I think you'd need to be a very brave missionary to go to Qo'noS, the Klingon homeworld. I think the greatest achievement of Klingon scholars is Hamlet performed in the original Klingon.
Live long and prosper,
Starbase: Grandview Branch
Photo credit: Flickr user Jason Scragz via Flickr's Creative Commons.Tags: Star Trek, science fiction