I’ll admit, in some ways I’m a bit of a late blooming nerd. I may have been playing video games since I was in kindergarten, in the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System, and I’ve been a fan of science-related things (especially anything related to the solar system) since my dad brought home the Adventures in the Solar System book and book-on-tape combo when I was six. (And yes, that link takes you to the same audio book I listened to as a kid, although with a different book cover. Oh, the nostalgia…) But I’d never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer until 2013. I hadn’t read Ender’s Game until I was in my late 20s. And I hadn’t seen any Star Trek, aside from Generations when it was in the theaters (it was my first date ever!) and the reboot movies, until very recently. Despite having a mother who really enjoyed Star Trek, though, I never really got into it.
Ross, however, grew up on Star Trek. He can rattle off the specifications of half the ships in the show, and tell you about all sorts of connections between the various series of Star Trek. Heck, he just flopped down next to me with the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual and is reading it while I’m writing this. And me, being the curious person I am, and looking for something new to watch, and having enjoyed the reboot movies and shows like Firefly and Farscape, figured I’d see what Ross enjoyed so much and jump in with Star Trek: The Next Generation. The only knowledge I went into the show with was that there was an android in there named Data, that Patrick Stewart played Jean-Luc Picard and was generally pretty damn awesome, and that LeVar Burton was in it (I watched a lot of Reading Rainbow as a kid, and was pretty excited to see him in something else). And Whoopi Goldberg was in there somewhere. And that they were all on the USS Enterprise. But that was it.
Now, a couple months after watching my first episodes of The Next Generation, I’m following the entire cast of TNG on Twitter. All my alert noises on my cellphone are various alert tones and computer noises from Star Trek. (I get very confused when the Enterprise gets hailed when I’m watching TNG, as I’m not sure if the ship’s just received a message or if I have) I watch at least an episode a day, if not more, and I’m almost halfway through season six of The Next Generation – and I just started season two of Deep Space Nine. I’m seeing what pulled everyone else into the world of Star Trek.
The biggest thing I’ve noticed about watching Star Trek is that some of these episodes really tug at your feelings. I’ve become attached to the characters, and care about what happens to them. I freaked out when Dr. Crusher mysteriously disappeared for the entirety of Season 2 of TNG, and was incredibly relieved when she came back for season 3. I watched Wesley grow up from a whiny little teenager and enter Starfleet Academy. I felt so many feels every time Data would long to be human, and would try his hardest to emulate human behaviors to become more like his crewmates. I eventually grew to like Counselor Troi, and I can even tolerate her ridiculous mother now. (Barely.) Watching Worf deal with the fact that he’s got a son, and watching him be a parent, is equally touching and hilarious. (I may have recently watched Too Many Datas, and spent half the episode laughing…)
And there’s more to it than the feels I get when watching particularly good episodes. I’ve gotten sucked into the fandom. I spend time poking around on subreddits dedicated to Star Trek, and enjoy reading through new fan theories and interesting discussions. I watch ridiculous videos of You Tube captions failing horribly when it comes to captioning video from a Klingon video game. I make up lyrics to the opening theme songs. (Just ask Ross. They’re ridiculous, and change almost every time I watch an episode…)
And I realized, once I run out of episodes of The Next Generation, that doesn’t mean that I’ve run out of Star Trek. I still have all of the original series to watch, and Deep Space Nine, and Voyager, and Enterprise if I’m feeling desperate (I’ve heard it’s not very good), as well as all the movies. And there’s even more than that. There are books, and websites, and even more to go explore. And it’s ridiculously exciting. I feel much like I did when I discovered Sailor Moon, or My Little Pony – absolutely hooked. I may be a nerdy late bloomer, but I’m glad I discovered my passion for Star Trek when I did. I think I’m enjoying it more now than I would have had I tried to watch more than one episode on my tiny black-and-white TV as a kid. You have no idea how excited I am to watch more episodes of the show, read more crazy fan theories (like the one where Guinan is apparently a time lord), talk about what I’ve seen with friends, and learn all there is to learn. Ultimately, the Star Trek fan in me is what grew out of the little girl who used to sit in her dad’s den, listening to Adventures in the Solar System on the surround sound, looking at the brightly colored pictures of the planets and listening to the somewhat sci-fi-esque adventures of a little boy and his robot that can turn into a spaceship. That little girl loved learning about space and the planets, and daydreamed about going out there herself someday – and this grown-up woman, well, she still dreams about it, and while she can’t exactly hop on a spaceship and go fly around the galaxy, she can lose herself in the stories of characters who do.