Thursday, March 11, 2004

Space...the Final Frontier

I have a little Hallmark Christmas ornament on my desk at work. It's amazing to me that anyone wants to hang these overpriced figurines of movie characters and endangered species on a Christmas tree; somehow, the Hulk just doesn't look right in the glow of Christmas lights. And neither does Captain Jonathan Archer of the Starship Enterprise, which is why he sits quietly on my desk as I work.

I admit that this little figurine, sitting in his captain's chair on the bridge, is a strange desk companion. And I laugh about it from time to time. But I don't understand why everyone seems to think Star Trek is so ridiculous.

The future has been an obsession of mine for as long as I can remember. The present is exciting largely because of what might be. Besides, the future is the only portion of time we can manipulate. Speculation on the future is a large source of hope. We can't pretend life is just fine today, nor can we deny what's in the past. But we can make the future whatever we want--and if we work toward the future we've dreamed about, we come closer to making that future a reality.

I don't buy into everything about Star Trek. I'll be honest; I'm somewhat pessimistic about the supposed moral and ethical progress humanity makes by the 24th century. I don't understand physics enough to recognize the impossibility of warp engines, but I realize that most scientists regard it as a ridiculous notion. But then, maybe we're just not there yet.

But it's not just the futuristic element of Star Trek that intrigues me. As a writer--and as a viewer--I love its characters. The creators of Star Trek know very well who their characters are, where they've come from, and what they want in life. Although Star Trek is known for having too many main characters, I enjoy watching the depth of each character unfold. I like it that Jean-Luc Picard's first officer isn't just a flat yes-man. And Enterprise's Trip (Commander Tucker) is much more than an engineer; he has interests, weaknesses, and a personality all his own.

Well, even if people laugh at the far-fetched notion of warp engines and alien species, Captain Archer's staying on my desk.