The Null Device

Good riddance, Star Trek

Scifi author Orson Scott Card on why it's more than about time that Star Trek was scrapped. The gist of his argument is that Star Trek is really a very poor excuse for science fiction, shapes up poorly next to both scifi literature and more recent film and television productions, and has only been kept alive thanks to a lot of rather sad people in pointy ears who don't know any better:
The original "Star Trek," created by Gene Roddenberry, was, with a few exceptions, bad in every way that a science fiction television show could be bad. Nimoy was the only charismatic actor in the cast and, ironically, he played the only character not allowed to register emotion.
Here's what I think: Most people weren't reading all that brilliant science fiction. Most people weren't reading at all. So when they saw "Star Trek," primitive as it was, it was their first glimpse of science fiction. It was grade school for those who had let the whole science fiction revolution pass them by.

There are 8 comments on "Good riddance, Star Trek":

Posted by: memphet http:// Tue May 3 23:48:46 2005

what an absoulutely AWFUL thing to say. i am appaled.

Posted by: Alexander Wed May 4 01:56:42 2005

Bah, what a load of bollocks. Star Trek's concept and plots were based on a premise only possible in sci-fi. It also had the virtue of presenting characters so diverse they must have shocked most of 60's USA (which was probably why it was so unpopular when it first aired). In a time of unrest and Civil Rights causing disturbances all over America, Roddenberry got a black on TV, and not just that, it was a black officer... and the-cherry-on-top, the black officer was a woman. You also had a Russian and a Chinese person working side by side with the rest of crew, at the height of the Cold War. Now if that isn't years ahead of its time, I don't know what is.

Posted by: gjw Wed May 4 12:23:48 2005

What saddens me is how pathetically boring modern Star Trek incarnations are. Old-school Star Trek at least had adventure, monsters, excitement. A recent Star Trek episode I caught seemed to be half an hour dedicated to indepth analysis of some alien diplomatic meeting. Every other episode appears to be entirely about Data discovering he feels some new human "emotion".

Posted by: acb Wed May 4 14:24:40 2005

Then again, I imagine that, with Card being a conservative Mormon, he mightn't be as keen on diversity, and may be concentrating on hard-scifi ideas.

Posted by: mark Wed May 4 15:52:18 2005

When /Star Trek/ is good, it is very, very good. Better than anything else that's been filmed or written. When it's bad, it's utterly abysmal. Whether you like /Trek/ or not really depends on whether you're willing to put up with the abysmal episodes (I thought I was, until I ran across /Voyager/ and /Enterprise/).

I'm not sure what Card's on about when he complains that /Trek/ doesn't worry about "deeper issues". Perhaps he's talking about hard sf issues, rather than social commentary.

Posted by: Graham Thu May 5 03:45:49 2005

I can't wait for "Greg Egan's Fantastic Stories Of The Subatomic" series on TV myself.

Posted by: liz Fri May 6 13:10:09 2005

scuse me, mark and acb: I don't know much of card's work, but he mentions ursula le guin favourably, and well, she's pretty damn "soft" as science fiction writers get. she's all about intriguing social and philosophical concepts with little of the outward trappings of "hard" sci-fi.

personally I'm not a star trek fan, but I can appreciate that others may like it for their own reasons. but to ignore the vastly better things that have been filmed or written over the years? I can't swallow that. it *may* have been vastly ahead of its time, but...that time was forty years ago.

Posted by: acb Fri May 6 15:14:29 2005

Social and philosophical concepts are part of sci-fi, or at least of good sci-fi. Though the key is exploration; good sci-fi asks the question of what-if. AFAIK, Star Trek did little of this, and was mostly an adventure serial set in space, more concerned with homilies and motherhood statements than deep philosophical questions.

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