Star Trek 101: James T. Kirk

Kirk is the quintessential Starfleet officer, a hero for the ages. His adventures are legendary.

Captain Kirk's regular column, Star Trek 101, serves two functions: succinctly introduce Star Trek newcomers to the basic foundations and elements of the franchise and refresh the memories of longtime Trek fans. We'll be pulling our entries from the book Star Trek 101: A Practical Guide to Who, What, Where, And Why, written by Terry J. Erdmann & Paula M. Block and published in 2008 by Pocket Books. An invaluable resource, it encompasses The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise, as well as the first 10 Trek feature films.

We started with the U.S.S. Enterprise, and today we open the dossier on James T. Kirk.

"Risk is our business. That's what this starship is all about. That's why we're aboard her." -- Return to Tomorrow.

Kirk is the quintessential Starfleet officer, a man among men and a hero for the ages. His adventures are legendary. He has earned the admiration of his peers, the grudging respect of his opponents, and a chest full of commendations for valor. Cunning, courageous and confident, Kirk is renowned for his ability to think outside the box, manipulating seemingly impossible situations like a master chess player. If he has one flaw, it's his tendency to ignore Starfleet regulations when he feels the end justifies the means. Kirk's unique style of "cowboy diplomacy" has served him well in countless close encounters.

Kirk was born on Earth in Iowa. He proved a very serious student at Starfleet Academy, remembered by a classmate as a "stack of books with legs." As a Starfleet officer, he is a study in contrasts. He depends on the state-of-the-art twenty-third-century technology that surrounds him but prefers resolving difficult situations with a hands-on approach --bare-knuckle brawling or bamboozling sophisticated computers with his glib tongue. Kirk openly despises humankind's ancient instinct for war and killing but has a deep-seated distrust of apparent peace and tranquility. He dreams of "a beach to walk on" with a beautiful woman but firmly believes that man wasn't meant to live in paradise. Although Kirk has quite a reputation as a ladies' man, no woman has ever come between him and his career; his passion for the Enterprise always comes first. His most serious relationship was with Edith Keeler, a forward-thinking but ill-fated social worker whom Kirk met when he traveled to Earth's past.

Key Kirk Episodes:

"You keep wondering if man was meant to be out here -- you keep wondering and you keep signing on." -- Kirk, The Naked Time

Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann are coauthors of numerous books about the entertainment industry, including—Star Trek 101; Star Trek Costumes: Fifty Years of Fashion from the Final Frontier; Star Trek: The Original Series 365; and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion. They currently are writing the latest in their series of Ferengi novellas, which (so far) includes Lust’s Latinum Lost (and Found); and Rules of Accusation. Their most recent non-Star Trek book is Labyrinth: The Ultimate Visual History.