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.
No need to go into gender politics here. When I was a kid, I didn’t feel left out by that “man” anyhow. I knew the voice (which seemed like the voice of god) spoke to me too. I was already leaning into my wandering self. The explorer. The adventurer. Yearning to venture out of my rundown neighborhood and away from the older bully girl who lived down the street. By the time I discovered Star Trek, I already had a vibrant inner storytelling life.
For example, I’d make Barbie and Ken have monkey sex in the back of the Barbie airplane even though I didn’t know what sex was exactly. But it felt elicit and thrilling and scary. And then Dawn would get in on it and tie Barbie up because she was jealous. I knew that was almost-perverted because they were still naked (gasp), but I didn’t care. I was telling a story. (Sugar and spice, I was not. I was destined to write crime fiction.)
So, yeah, I inhabited a pretty strange frontier, and somehow Star Trek made that OK. As I grew older, I watched The Next Generation and the rest of the Star Trek franchise. Always, the crew was off on some new jaunt, seeking out new life and new civilizations — all those undiscovered lands. I continued pushing against my tiny known universe and exploring my undiscovered inner lands until one fevered night during high school I penned my first poem. That was it. I was a goner.
To me, the final frontier isn’t space. It’s the human brain. Our big noggins with their billions of synaptic circuits firing off signals that lead to grand feats like writing novels. And sometimes it’s downright scary inside my head as I’m developing a new story idea. It’s a good thing Star Trek taught me that when entering Klingon territory, do it with thrusters on full and Scotty manning the warp core.
That’s not all Star Trek taught me:
When the token black guy beams down to the planet with the team: foreshadowing!
When Kirk puts on his boots while sitting on his bed: subtext!
When Spock battles his emotions: character development!
When the blond chick with the braided bouffant appears: subplot! (Maybe that was only my imagination. I thought for sure there was a romance brewing between her and Kirk.)
When McCoy argues with Kirk, or Spock, or Scotty: conflict!
When the Klingons fire on the U.S.S. Enterprise and the crew tilts in their chairs: crisis!
When Kirk has a nice little chuckle at the end of it all: denouement!
When you think about it, when we start new stories, we’re boldly going where we’ve never gone before, where no one else but us could go. It always feels like the final frontier all over again. But we’re bold, so we go.