The original Star Trek, like most science fiction from decades ago, often postulated a variety of technological advances and milestones as occurring in our “the far off future” of the 1990s or early 2000s. Back in 1960s, the 21st century did indeed seem quite a ways off. With the dawn of the Space Age and the race for the Moon gripping everyone’s attention, surely we would be living on space stations, lunar colonies or perhaps even Mars within a few decades, right?
Though the original Star Trek fell into this trap a couple of times, this practice was largely avoided by the ensuing spin-off series. Still, infrequent references to something taking place in the early to mid-21st century still popped up now and then. Now, while we all know that Star Trek’s future isn’t really ours, it’s still fun to consider that possibility. One of my personal favorite coincidental references comes from the 1967 Star Trek episode “Tomorrow is Yesterday,” when it’s said that the “first manned moon shot” will be launched on a Wednesday. The Apollo 11 mission was launched on Wednesday, July 16th, 1969, and the episode only missed the actual launch time by less than four hours. Pretty cool, huh?
So, yes, it’s fun to imagine that Star Trek might well be portraying our future, but we can’t really do that unless we note that some of its “futuristic” predictions (or historical references, if you prefer) usually didn’t always pan out for us here in the real world. For example:
We didn’t send a manned mission to Saturn (Star Trek, “Tomorrow is Yesterday”) –NASA just can’t catch a break, can it? Sadly, there were no astronauts named Shaun Christopher, Alice Fontana or Marcus O’Herlihy on the rolls, and no spacecraft for them to pilot to Saturn. In the 1996 edition of the Star Trek Chronology by Michael and Denise Okuda, this mission originally was purported to take place in 2009, conjecturing a 35-40 year old Christopher as the son of Captain John Christopher from “Tomorrow Is Yesterday.” In Greg Cox’s Star Trek novel The Rings of Time, Trek history is modified to place the mission as taking place in 2020, so there’s still a chance!
And there you go. As always, this isn’t meant to be any sort of definitive “Top 10” list or “Best of” or anything like that. The purpose of these columns is simple entertainment and reminiscing, and I’m absolutely hoping you’ll add your favorites in the comments section.
Special thanks to “Moxie Anne Magnus,” super-cool Trekkie to the Mox, for suggesting this topic. If you’ve got an idea you’d like to see explored here in a future “Ten for Ward” column, feel free to share that, too!
Dayton Ward is the author or co-author of numerous novels and short stories, including a whole bunch of stuff set in the Star Trek universe, and often working with friend and co-writer Kevin Dilmore. He’s also written (or co-written) for Star Trek Communicator, Star Trek Magazine, Syfy.com, and Tor. com, and is a monthly contributor to the Novel Spaces writers blog. As he is still a big ol’ geek at heart, Dayton is known to wax nostalgic about all manner of Star Trek topics over on his own blog, The Fog of Ward: http://daytonward.wordpress.com.