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Imagination Connoisseur, Julian Mushkin, recalls how Star Trek has always been a part of her life and how the franchise’s optimistic outlook on the future still shapes her views.
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Greetings again to you, Rob, and my fellow Reservationists.
First, I would like to let you know how much I enjoyed Episode #480 and your commentary on Erik Jendresen’s Trek script, “In the Beginning.” Also, as a devoted fan of The Inglorious Treksperts as well, I really liked how the two episodes could be linked in tandem. I hope we can look forward to more such endeavors.
One of the reasons, I enjoyed the two shows so much is because, of all the Sci-Fi Fandoms I love, Star Trek has always been my First Love. While Conan would always fall back on the ‘Discipline of Steel,’ for me it has always been the ‘Tradition of Trek.’ Perhaps because my father is also a Sci-Fi Fan, my first memory of seeing Trek on TV was watching it with my Dad. We only had a black and white set but every time my grandparents would go on a long trip out of town we would house sit at their place on Mercer Island. They had a big console color TV.
I loved being able to see episodes of Star Trek and UFO on that color set. It is a cherished memory, of my dad and I sitting on the white, plush, deep shag carpet, watching Trek together. I think the highlight of those early Trek memories was Christmas of 1975. That year I received a Donmoor-produced Star Trek styled top with the black knit neck and Command Delta Insignia on the breast and the Franz Joseph Star Trek Technical Manual. The manual is still a cherished part of my Trek collection. The shirt, which I sadly would outgrow some few years later, was the command coloring but it was orange rather than gold, keeping more in line with the coloring used in the Animated Series.
A few years on and opportunities to watch Trek with my dad had dried up. My parents had divorced, with my sister and I staying with our mom out in Allyn, Wa. while my dad moved to Bremerton. I had to watch Trek, and now, Space 1999, on the black and white set again.
By the Summer of ’78 my sister and I moved in with our dad in Bremerton and I had access again to his now burgeoning collection of Sci-Fi and Fantasy books. I was now formally introduced to the works of Heinlein, Asimov, Herbert, Niven, and Ellison. With the new school year came new friends, and among them, some who shared my love of Trek and Sci-Fi.
When STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE (imdb) came out in ’79, it was my dad and my friend John Kono who sat with me in line for the first showing of the movie at the Admiral Theater in Bremerton. By this time, John and I had amassed quite a few genre magazines, like Fantastic Films and Star Log so we had a lot more of the scoop on some of the production issues and story then the average movie goer. I remember my dad getting upset with us because he didn’t want to hear anything that might be a spoiler. Apart from the sheer spectacle and the mere existence of such a movie, I came away thrilled with this continuation of a world I loved. The Refit Enterprise, for me, remains to this day one of the most beautiful star ships ever.
Over the following years as successive Trek movies came out, to varying degrees of quality, I was usually seeing them with my friends now. It was difficult to arrange times to see the movies with my dad. Notable in this period was crossing the Sound to catch the premier of Star Trek IV at the Cinerama. I remember our group was interviewed by either KOMO or KIRO radio, I can’t remember which station, and they asked us all sorts of questions about what drew us to Star Trek. I remember shooting off all the stock quotes about “a positive future” and “Humankind working together towards a more inclusive world.” At one point someone had a toy phaser or something and the sound of a forced chamber explosion happened and everyone around shouted out “Phaser on Overload!” That feeling of group commaraderie infused the air, something I would rediscover when I started going to conventions like Norwescon some years later.
With the revival of Trek on TV in the incarnation of Next Generation, I found a larger group of Trek enthusiasts to hang out with. We were so involved that for a time we were actually part of the fan organization Star Fleet International. Our chapter ship designation was the U.S.S. Advantageous. The running joke was that our ship was too small to have a Holo-Deck so we had to make do with Holo-Bathrooms. Through my involvement with the Advantageous group I made some life long friends and took up a lot of peripheral interests as well. Several of the group owned firearms so many side activities involved trips to the range for target practice. Many of us also became involved in the Society for Creative Anachronism. We also went to several day cons where we saw William Shatner, James Doohan, and Michael Dorn. This eventually led to attending Norwescon on a regular basis and several Westercons as well.
By 2009 life had changed significantly for me, having married, bought a place, and bringing our beautiful daughter in to the world. My wife is also a Trek fan, DS9 being her favorite, so we still occasionally attended Norwescon to hang with our friends and soak up the con atmosphere. When Star Trek ’09 came out I was certainly ready for some new Trek as Nemesis had been dismal and Enterprise had seemingly been snuffed just as it was getting good.
I will be honest I liked the new movie. I still enjoy many things about it and saw a glimmer of what could have been a wonderful rejuvenation to the Franchise. Unfortunately, JJ Abrams and the other producers associated with it were not the people to enable that. At the time though, I enjoyed it enough to want to see it with my dad. The last time we had been able to do a Trek thing together had been going to see Galaxy Quest in ’99, which we both thoroughly enjoyed. Star Trek ’09 gave us a chance to share some Trek time together at the movies.
At the end of ’09 my daughter, wife, and I moved to San Diego for my wife’s career. We started attending San Diego Comic Con in 2012 and always looked forward to it. In 2014 we were unable to purchase badges for SDCC so my wife asked me if I had any interest in trying to go to a Star Trek Convention. I replied, “That might be fun.” while inside I was thinking, “Are you kidding me! Does a person need air to survive? Of course I’d be interested!”
In 2015 we attended our first Star Trek Las Vegas convention. By this time, our daughter Alexandra was a seasoned pro at attending conventions, having gone to several Condor Cons, Gaslight Gatherings, and Comic Cons. Alexandra had also already shown that Trek was a favorite of hers. The Trek convention was truly a family event. Since 2016 would be the 50th Anniversary of Trek we decided it was imperative that we come back the following year for that event. After that we made plans to try and attend every other year.
2018 saw us back in Vegas for the Trek convention. It was a bonus for my wife Cynthia because that was the year DS9 celebrated its 25th Anniversary. In addition to the normal panels, photo ops, and autographs, we were able to get in to a special 30 Minute Meet and Greet with Terry Farrell, who had just recently married Adam Nimoy, who tagged along with his new wife to the event. There was also an evening Mixer with a lot of the stars from DS9 that we attended. I count myself fortunate that I had the chance to chat with Rene Auberjonois and Aron Eisenberg before their sad passing last year.
The core of Trek has been that gem of a Genre Franchise that multiple generations of families have been able to enjoy t
ogether. And while my wife and I really enjoy being able to share this with our daughter, I felt there was still something missing. I started working on my dad to try and persuade him to come to a Trek convention with us. The thought of three generations of Trek enthusiasts together at this convention was a dream I almost saw come to pass this year. My dad and stepmother were making plans to join us this year in Las Vegas at the convention, which would have been this week if not for the pandemic. And while the convention has been postponed til December, its new date will not work for us this year. Hopefully we will have the chance to try again in the near future.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I’m sorry if it was a little long. But while I have you here Rob, I have question about that Jendresen Trek script. How does the early revelation about the Romulan origins square with TOS canon? If this happens shortly after events of ST Enterprise, how can the reveal of Romulans being related to Vulcans be such a surprise in Balance of Terror, as it clearly is based on the crews reaction, Spocks in particular? It is plainly stated in the episode that they don’t know what the Romulans look like. Spock is able to make the connection only after seeing what they look like. I do like the bits of the script you revealed to us and see lots of possibilities in it. But, and I am not asking for details, I just want to know, from our Viceroy of Verisimilitude, the Arbiter of Artistic Accuracy, if the script eventually somehow squares with this bit of TOS canon?
Thanks again and to you and everyone in the Post Geek Singularity, Live long and Prosper.