Sunday, October 12, 2014

Captain Kirk Lives!

On September 8, 1966, Star Trek made its debut on NBC. Star Trek was not simply a far-out science fiction program- it was a science fiction program that reflected the America of the 1960's.  Throughout the series, characters, themes, motifs, and of course, individual episodes made strong comments on sexism and feminism, racism and improving race relations, as well as militarism and peace, all major social issues during the late 1960's, and to a different degree, social issues of today.

I admit, with no shame, that I was a “Trekkie” during  the first incarnation of the show. I had an immense crush on Captain Kirk (a.k.a. William Shatner). He became the yardstick by which I measured every man I knew.  The problem was that he set the bar for sensitivity, integrity and leadership so high that no man (or woman) could measure up to it. He was like Martin Sheen’s president in The West Wing - above reproach and much wiser than those around him.

Captain Kirk saw the world as it should be. He wasn’t threatened by women in leadership roles. He didn’t seem to notice that his crew included not only women, but also those of different races and ethnicities.  He wasn’t shocked by the grotesque appearance of space aliens. He simply accepted them all as individuals.

His “mission” was one of peace.  As an explorer, he had an intense curiosity about civilizations and beings that were different, but he did not judge them as inferior because of those differences. He looked first for common ground upon which relationships could be built.

The major plot line of The Stone House Legacy follows closely the social and political events unfolding in the early part of the 1960’s. I have tried to focus on how these events affected the lives and relationships of ordinary people and not just the ones who managed to procure their fifteen minutes of fame on the emerging monster that has become “live TV”. 

But in fiction, there is a fine line between creating a character and creating a caricature. As I began to work through rewrites of the chapters it suddenly dawned on me that I had reincarnated Captain Kirk as my protagonist! The difference is…my hero is plagued by a fatal flaw. I think this makes him more real and hopefully more human. I hope you think so too.

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