Star Trek is more than a television, film, and book phenomenon. It has entered into the American national consciousness and culture. Analysis of the plots must acknowledge this extreme and fascinating social effect.
Fans of traditional science fiction scoff at Star Trek as being simplistic in its technology, plots, characterizations, and philosophy. Many critics justifiably point to a history of sexist scripts. Other critics and even the original production staff note that Star Trek is, in the spirit of the Western, a wagon-train story. The series also has many points in common with the Saturday afternoon serials popularized in movie theaters in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
Star Trek presents scripts and struggles that can be compared to classic Greek dramas, especially Oedipal and primal horde myths and stories of the apocalypse. Thus the human drama is primary, but the scientific detail often is sketchy. Philosophical, sociological, anthropological, and religious questions are raised repeatedly in the series. These questions, moreover, are answered by a humanistic and optimistic view of the future. Star Trek thus answers a need for adventure, optimism, and meaning in an unknown future.
Despite criticism by fans of “serious” science fiction and “high art” critics, Star Trek has employed respected science-fiction authors and innovative, experimental ideas. Many aspiring...
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