Fan Blogger--Rick Dostie from Treks in Sci-Fi
Treks in Sci-Fi
"How Star Trek helped make me who I am"
Wow, has it really already been forty years of Star Trek? It's hard to believe its been around that long already. I have been a fan of the show almost my entire life. I started watching when the original series was in syndication and haven't stopped since. Star Trek shows a vision of the future that gives us all hope and examples of tolerance and equality that we all can learn from. The show also gave me hope when I needed it most. You see, my father passed away when I was quite young. It was a difficult time for me. A few years after his passing I happened to discover a Star Trek rerun on television. I think it was the episode "Tomorrow is Yesterday." I remember being quite taken with the show right from the start. I especially enjoyed the interplay between the three main characters of Kirk, Spock & Dr. McCoy. They seemed to really care about each other even though they sometimes disagreed on things. With my father gone I think I sort of adopted the Trek family as sort of a surrogate group that I could learn from. As I started to watch all the episodes over and over again in syndication, I was able to learn many important things about what it means to be a good human being. From Kirk, I learned to be decisive and to listen to my instincts. From Spock, I learned to be analytical and to keep my emotions in check when necessary. And from Dr. McCoy, I learned to be caring and to speak out against things that are wrong. I think there is a Star Trek T-shirt someone made that says something like I learned everything I need to know from Star Trek. It's sort of cliché but that is somewhat true for me.
As time passed I started to really embrace the show even more and this led me to others that shared my passion for the series. I met a small group of friends in school that also enjoyed the series very much. We would get together often and discuss the various episodes and comment on what we would do in those situations. Since Star Trek was still only in syndication with the original three seasons, we started to come up with our own storylines for episodes. At this point we decided to create our own little "spin-off" ship called the Aurora. We wrote several scripts for our own episodes and recorded them on to audio cassette tapes. It was a huge amount of fun getting together with everyone and doing the recording sessions. I, being the techie and science guy in the group, got to play the science officer on the ship, of course. I remember trying to gather sound effects off various televised episodes and inserting them into our recordings. This was back in the days before CDs, computers, mp3 files and so forth. So it was quite a chore to edit the shows together simply using a couple of tape recorders. In the end, we came up with six episodes all of which I still have to this day.
Another area which Star Trek inspired me to get involved is in model and prop making. There was very little around in terms of collectibles that you could buy from Star Trek during that era, so I decided to make my own. Using very little reference material—except what I saw many times on the TV—I created my own props such as the classic phasers and communicators from the show. I made these out of whatever I could find around my house. Paper, cardboard, plastic, wood, etc. were all used in various ways to create the many devices seen on the show. I became a very good model maker, carpenter, and electrician just from my desire to recreate these items that were not available anywhere at the time. It was lots of trial and error; and I spent many summers building and creating Star Trek merchandise of my own in my basement growing up. I even ended up building mockups of the bridge helm console and Spock's station. It's amazing what some Christmas lights, wood, switches and contact paper can accomplish. I think my mother still wonders where our Christmas lights kept disappearing to year after year.
I also started to do a little costuming during this time and began going to Star Trek conventions. The cons back then were much smaller than today, and I miss that aspect of them now. My brother and I even won a costume competition in Toronto way back then. My friends and I would visit the dealers room looking for little things we could buy with our limited funds. I remember very well seeing a fan made phaser for sale with a strobe light in the tip back then. I was in awe of it. I think it was selling for $100, which was a small fortune for me back then. But I examined it and used some of what I learned to make my own replicas better. After I returned home, I then started to buy electronics books in order to learn how to wire more elaborate circuits into my creations. Star Trek really sparked my desire to learn a variety of different and useful skills in order to build things I had seen on the show.
As time passed, most of my friends moved on a bit from Star Trek, and I also did to a degree. We still loved the show, but other things in life started to take up more and more of our time. As I moved through college I still would watch the reruns and catch the movies as they came out. I made some new friends in college that were also fans of Trek. It was interesting, because it was starting to seem (as time went on) that many more people than I thought were into the show. I always think it was that hope for the future that was one of the best and most appealing aspects of the series.
Eventually, I got married, had some kids, and "settled down" so to speak. I've always kept up on all the various Star Trek series and still go to the occasional convention. About a year ago, I started to listen to these new Internet audio talk shows called podcasts. I've always enjoyed computers and technology and had a small web site that I tinkered with to learn html and so forth. I began to look around for a good Star Trek podcast with intelligent discussions about the show. There were a few around but nothing that really was what I wanted. I decided to create my very own podcast. I used the name of my web site for the show. It's called Treks in Sci-Fi. It's a weekly show (sometimes two a week) about Star Trek and other science fiction movies and TV that I enjoy. Most episodes I do a commentary on a particular Trek episode. This can be an episode from any of the various series, although I do tend to cover the original series a bit more since I know it best. It's mainly a solo podcaster type show, but I do group shows from time to time with members from the forums and listeners discussing a particular subject. Each podcast is usually around one hour long and takes quite a bit of work to put together. But it's tons of fun! I've met many great new friends by doing the show. Anyone that wants to give my show a listen stop on by. I encourage anyone interested in a particular subject to listen to podcasts about it and maybe start your own if you are interested in that. It's a great way to take your passion for something and share it with the community on the Internet.
In closing, I just want to thank Gene Roddenberry for creating this wonderful TV show and really the whole Trek universe. It helped me through a time in my life when I needed hope and role models to look up to. It also encouraged me to learn many skills I know I would not now have if it weren't for my love of the show. I'm a much better person from watching and learning from a simple TV show than I would have been without it. Thanks Star Trek and Happy 40th anniversary.
Follow these links to check out the Treks in Sci-Fi website and podcast: