In the future, a heroic captain and his crew explore the Galaxy in a really fast spacecraft. The crew's standing orders are:
"...to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before."(tm)
Simple, straightforward -- that's Star Trek.(r) So what's all the fuss? Why do news crews always seem to find someone, somewhere dressed up in a Star Trek costume? What could be so interesting to so many people?
Star Trek 101 is the answer. You'll learn just a little about the heroes (Captain Kirk believes that man wasn't meant to live in paradise), the villains (Klingons have a thirst for conquest), and the important aliens (Vulcans live their lives by logic). In the handy recaps for all things Star Trek, you'll discover that the television shows and movies run the gamut from action-adventure to comedy. Just want to sample? The ten essential episodes are offered for your consideration. Star Trek 101 is a quick primer of the television shows and movies that carry the Star Trek name.
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Pocket Books/Star Trek
September 21, 2008
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Excerpt from Star Trek 101: A Practical Guide to Who, What, Where, and Why by Paula M. Block
79 hour-long episodes, 1966-1969
"Wagon Train to the Stars"
A few hundred years in the future, a heroic captain and his crew explore the galaxy in a really fast spacecraft known as the Starship Enterprise. The crew's standing orders from Starfleet are recited by the captain at the beginning of each episode:
Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.
The U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 is an interstellar spacecraft with a crew complement of 430 men and women. The ship is powered by warp-drive engines that allow it to travel many times faster than the speed of light, covering great distances within a practical time frame. (You don't really need to know this to enjoy the show; just assume you'll be visiting an average of one planet per week.)
Because the ship is large and a bit ungainly, the Enterprise never lands. It wasn't designed for it. Whenever the ship arrives at a strange new world, it stays in orbit while a "landing party" either pilots a small craft down to the surface or uses the transporter to "beam" there (this will be explained later). The transporter, like warp drive, is a great time-saving device; Starfleet clearly employs a lot of efficiency experts.
THE MAIN CHARACTERS
JAMES T. KIRK (William Shatner), captain
Risk is our business. That's what this starship is all about. That's why we're aboard her.
-- "RETURN TO TOMORROW"
Kirk is the quintessential Starfleet officer, a man among men and a hero for the ages. His adventures are legendary. He has earned the admiration of his peers, the grudging respect of his opponents, and a chest full of commendations for valor. Cunning, courageous, and confident, Kirk is renowned for his ability to think outside the box, manipulating seemingly impossible situations like a master chess player. If he has one flaw, it is his tendency to ignore Starfleet regulations when he feels the end justifies the means. Kirk's unique style of "cowboy diplomacy" has served him well in countless close encounters.
Kirk was born on Earth in Iowa. He proved a very serious student at Starfleet Academy, remembered by a classmate as a "stack of books with legs." As a Starfleet officer, he is a study in contrasts. He depends on the state-ofthe-art twenty-third-century technology that surrounds him but prefers resolving difficult situations with a hands-on approach -- bareknuckle brawling or bamboozling sophisticated alien computers with his glib tongue. Kirk openly deplores humankind's ancient instinct for war and killing but has a deep-seated distrust of apparent peace and tranquillity. He dreams of "a beach to walk on" with a beautiful woman but firmly believes that man wasn't meant to live in paradise. Although Kirk has quite a reputation as a ladies' man, no woman has ever come between him and his career; his passion for the Enterprise always comes first. His most serious relationship was with Edith Keeler, a forward-thinking but ill-fated social worker whom Kirk met when he traveled into Earth's past.
Key Kirk Episodes
- "The Enemy Within"
- "Court Martial"
- "Shore Leave"
- "The City on the Edge of Forever"
"You keep wondering if man was meant to be out here -- you keep wondering and you keep signing on." -- Kirk, "The Naked Time"
SPOCK (Leonard Nimoy), first officer
I have a human half...as well as an alien half, submerged, constantly at war with each other...I survive it because my intelligence wins out over both, makes them live together. -- "THE ENEMY WITHIN
The first Vulcan to enlist in Starfleet, Spock (he has a first name, but it's unpronounceable) is the Enterprise's science officer as well as its first officer, and the only man Kirk trusts to second-guess him on all major decisions. Why? Well, for one thing, Spock is probably the smartest man in Starfleet -- quite possibly the galaxy. His cerebral abilities are so renowned that they once inspired a group of aliens to invade the Enterprise to steal his brain. (He got it back.)
Like must Vulcans, Spock worships at the altar of logic. His decisions are always "flawlessly logical." Kirk feels safer about Spock's guesses than he does about most other people's facts. That's because Spock doesn't let emotions cloud his judgment. In fact, Spock has no emotions. Or so he says.
Spock is only half Vulcan. His father, Sarek, was a Vulcan diplomat; his mother, Amanda, a human schoolteacher from Earth. He was raised on his father's world, where the inhabitants are trained from birth to lock away their feelings and lose the key.
Growing up, Spock was torn between the stern discipline of his father's Vulcan teachings and the free-range emotions of his mother. The Vulcan children tormented Spock at school. His father didn't speak to him for eighteen years because Spock opted to join Starfleet rather than attend the Vulcan Science Academy. And Spock's fiancee, T'Pring, spurned him at the altar in favor of a more traditional Vulcan.
Spock is married to his career, which is just as well since he claims to be immune to the charms of women. He has experienced romantic yearnings only under unusual circumstances triggered by alien spores and Pon farr.
Key Spock Episodes
- "The Naked Time"
- "This Side of Paradise"
- "Amok Time"
- "Journey to Babel"
LEONARD "BONES" McCOY (DeForest Kelley), chief medical officer
He's dead, Jim. -- "THE ENEMY WITHIN"
Given half a chance, Leonard McCoy is far more likely to explain what he isn't than what he is. He's not a bricklayer, psychiatrist, escalator, engineer, coal miner, or moon-shuttle conductor. He's "just an old country doctor" who happens to know a lot about twenty-third-century medicine. Born in Georgia, on Earth, McCoy still retains a touch of the charming Southern gentleman about him, which balances out his often cantankerous nature.
More than a little old-fashioned, McCoy isn't convinced that humankind should be gallivanting across the galaxy in a warp-powered starship. He loathes having his atoms "scattered back and forth across space" via the transporter, and he is disturbed by the fact that neither computers nor Vulcans have a clue about compassion. As might be expected, Spock's slavish devotion to technology, logic, and statistics drives McCoy crazy, and he's constantly trying to punch holes in Spock's cool Vulcan reserve. However, Spock is just as good at getting a rise out of McCoy, playing the good doctor's emotions like a concert pianist.
If Kirk represents the soul of the Enterprise and Spock the mind, then McCoy is undoubtedly the heart. The good doctor's insight provides the captain with a touchstone to his own humanity. He's the guy Kirk seeks out when he needs to let his hair down, generally over a drink.
Key McCoy Episodes
- "Shore Leave"
- "The City on the Edge of Forever"
- "Friday's Child"
- "For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky"
"I signed aboard this ship to practice medicine, not to have my atoms scattered back and forth across space by this gadget." -- McCoy, "Space Seed"
MONTGOMERY SCOTT (James Doohan), chief engineer
I can't change the laws of physics.
-- "THE NAKED TIME"
Montgomery Scott -- known to one and all as "Scotty" -- is the ship's miracle worker. He's also its chief engineer, but those titles might as well be one and the same when you have a fellow like Scotty keeping your starship ship-shape. There's no one you'd rather have at the controls of the transporter when you're ready to beam up.
Born in Scotland, Scott retains a bit of the highlanders' Gaelic lilt in his dialect. He refers to the ship's engines as his "bairns" (children) and is prone to calling junior personnel "laddie" or "lass." Scott's affection for the Enterprise may be a bit stronger than his devotion to the captain. He once started a brawl because someone likened the NCC-1701 to a "garbage scow." The fact that earlier Kirk was described as "a swaggering, overbearing, tin-plated dictator with delusions of godhood" hadn't bothered him.
Although he enjoys an occasional nip of Scotch, Scott generally prefers an evening with a technical manual to a night on the town.