Charlie Jane and Annalee have some thoughts on Star Trek and its unlikely contributions.
Charlie Jane’s “What if Star Trek Had Never Existed?”
What if NBC hadn’t wanted another [Star Trek] pilot? Or if Roddenberry had been too busy producing the first season of Police Story to make one? In that mirror universe, the next 50 years of sci-fi TV and movies look much different. So does the cultural breadth of television casts. So does your yearly pilgrimage to Comic-Con International. Our lives would be very different without Trek—and we almost didn’t get it.
“Beyond science fiction, Star Trek also brought a lot more women (and men) into plain ol’ science. While Trek gets credit for inspiring gizmos like iPads and medical scanners, it gets far less credit for the amount of people it energized to pursue fields like space exploration—especially women and people of color, who saw a diverse crew and realized that they, too, could go to the final frontier. The presence of Lt. Uhura on the bridge, for example, famously inspired Mae Jemison to become the first black female astronaut in the US space program.”
Annalee’s “Utopia Ex Machina”
“I never really thought of ST:DS9 as a comforting show, or even a particularly brilliant one ... Yet in my darkest emotional hour, DS9 was what did it for me. I think that’s because the show combined everyday stories of awfulness and political meltdown with an aggressive hopefulness about the future. Call it Utopia ex machina.”
“Of course, we’re in it for the action and mirror universe Kira shenanigans, too. But fundamentally the appeal of DS9 or Star Trek at-large is that humanity has overcome petty prejudices, class divisions, and an addiction to waste. The idea is that we’re on the right path, even if Earth today seems like a shithole. That’s the kind of message that really does bring me hope, both on a personal level and as a member of Homo sapiens, a species I still love despite all our flaws.”