Dude, 1991 was the year when I re-fell in love with STAR TREK. From mid-1989 to the end of 1990, me and my parents had been living with my grandparents, George and Lavina, my Dad’s parents, in Santa Monica. My Grandmother grew resentful that we were in her house for so long. My parents bought a house in Lancaster, 70 miles North, near the Mojave desert, and we moved as soon as possible.
During the time we lived with the grandparents, I had little to do with STAR TREK. I became obsessed with “Batman” and threw all my energy into catching up with the Dark Knight. Sure, I caught an episode or two of THE NEXT GENERATION (TNG), but that was about it. I started to gravitate away from TREK and towards “Dick Tracy”, “Back to the Future” and “Batman”.
But it was during the Summer of 1991 that I rediscovered TREK and became obsessed all over again. It started with hearing a scrambled version of TREK V on HBO while cleaning the house. I’ve also covered the night of TREK 1, 3 & 5, when I stayed up late watching THE MOTION PICTURE, THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK and THE FINAL FRONTIER. There was a preview of THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (TUC), calling it the final film for the original TREK cast.
I anticipated the release of TUC in December.
In the meantime, several things happened.
1) I started reading all the TREK books I could get my hands on.
2) I started watching repeats of TNG as often as I could.
3) Gene Roddenberry, STAR TREK’s Creator, died on October.
First, reading was always a habit. I had loved reading and writing from a young age. Finding TREK book was easy. I went to three places. There was Best Books, a Fine Used Book Store on Avenue K. I loved that store. Books were about half the cover price. The store employees were particular about the condition of the books. I started to acquire a Pocket Book TREK collection for almost nothing. Two dollars a pop got me a lot of book. There was also a small chain called Readmore. This was a first-hand book store, but you could find books dirt cheap.
See, once Readmore bought books, they sat on the shelf until they sold. I could find TREK books from 1987 for $3.50, a dollar or more less than if I found the current printing at B. Dalton or Waldenbooks.
The final place I loved to haunt was this thrift store on Division and Avenue J. It’s long gone now. I think it was a supermarket before it was a thrift store. It was huge. The books lined the longest wall and they ranged between 95¢ and around two dollars. They had a huge selection. As the years went on, this became my first choice to find the latest John Grisham or Michael Crichton novel. They always had an influx of TREK books.
In 1992, I found Michael Jan Friedman’s novelization of “Relics” for 95¢ about two weeks after it hit the book stores. I was in Heaven with this find, I can tell you.
So, I started reading. This awoke the need to write, but that comes later.
Now, it became easier to find repeats of TNG. It was syndicated and KCOP-13 started to show them five times a week, mixed with the new episodes on Wednesdays. I started to see the third season eps. For the uninitiated, Season 3 was the start of the Golden Age in TNG’s history. The first season was a clear example of a show trying to find itself. Season 2 tried harder, but missed the mark a lot.
Season 3, under the watchful eye of TREK legend Michael Piller, became a fully realized show. It hit its stride and the storytelling was phenomenal. I got caught up in “The Best of Both Worlds” and wished I had lived it in the summer before. I started to get involved with TNG, despite being somewhat opposed to it at the beginning.
But now is not the time for that story. I’ll save it for a later post.
And then there was the death of Gene Roddenberry. I heard about this from the afternoon news on KABC-7 in Los Angeles. It had rained that day and the news reported on that before breaking word about the Great Bird.
I knew of Gene Roddenberry. I saw his name in every episode of STAR TREK. I saw his intro at the beginning of the VHS version of “The Cage”.
In the aftermath of his death, I learned a lot more. I got the current issue of STAR TREK: THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE (from Dan Madsen) and I read it from cover to cover. The issue covered a lot of ground about Roddenberry and I started to mourn for a man I had never met.
I’m somewhat sensitive. I still feel a loss when the news reports a big celebrity passing. As I write this, it is a week after Mary Tyler Moore and I feel an overwhelming compulsion to binge watch her show or “The Dick Van Dyke Show”. Just something to remember her by.
So these events lead up to me seeing TUC in theatres that December. And getting the Peter David comic book adaptation.
My love of TREK was re-ignited and I was loving it. This was the gateway that lead me to find the audiobooks, specifically to “Prime Directive” by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens.
Seeing TUC on the big screen was a little overwhelming.
I couldn’t believe it when Kirk and McCoy were taken prisoners by the Klingons. Or that there was a Bird-of-Prey that could fire while cloaked. Valaris was a traitor? People in Starfleet are xeno-racist? Kirk was retiring? The Enterprise-A was to be decommissioned? It all culminated with the end credit sign off after the 1701 flew off into the sunset.
Perfect, just perfect.
Of course, being the reading nerd I am, I asked for books and money for Christmas that year. I got several books – The novelizations of “The Addams Family” and “Hook”, as well as the TREK VI adaptation by J. M. Dillard. With the money I got, I bought a few audiobooks. I got the aforementioned “Prime Directive”, as well as TUC read by James Doohan.
Heading for 1992, I knew this would be the STAR TREKKIEST year ever.
And I would be right.
But that’s a story for a different post.
What TUC did for me was to make me appreciate the movies. I anticipated the next one. And when I started to hear more about STAR TREK VII, I started gathering as much info as possible. That’s what got me into publishing.
NEXT TIME: Captain of the Enterprise, huh?