SFX Issue 84

November 2001

SFX historical note: This extract was from a larger piece celebrating 35 years of Star Trek, and features Nick Setchfield lyrically drunk on nostalgia


Nick Setchfield tells us why for him , the original Trek will always be the best Trek

I remember the first time that I ever saw Star Trek in colour. It was on the shelf of a newsagent’s in a briny Welsh coastal town. A photograph on a puzzle book, or a colouring book, cheap woodpulp pages concealed by a shiny cover. A picture of Kirk, Spock and Uhura. I was transfixed by the colours. They were the colours of a stranger, brighter, altogether more extraordinary universe, brilliant reds and golds and blues. Until that point Star Trek had been as black and as white as the starfield that filled my television screen each week. I had never imagined these colours. These colours were a revelation.

And so, when the pages inside were killed by crayons, I took a scissors and cut out that photograph with a kid’s ragged care. And I kept it safe. And it’s still safe, a lifetime on. It’s my own, personal slingshot effect. I look at that clumsily trimmed picture and I remember the pure wonder-rush that came with the first, oddly lonesome notes of the theme, before the Enterprise flashed and tore through the stars. The final frontier where marvels and horrors waited in equal measure. At six, Star Trek was a glimpse of a huge, unfathomable, habitually terrifying cosmos, one that would never fail to blow my mind before bedtime.

I saw strange new worlds, cities on the edge of forever, mirror universes, monsters, ancients. The hand of a forgotten god stopping a starship. Nazi worlds, gangster planets. Beautiful robot girls. Evil Kirks. A billion alien faces pressed against a window. An electric web in space. A doomsday machine that was, for long nights, the very definition of terror for me. And then, when the tales were done, those familiar, cryptic names – D C Fontana, William Ware Theiss, Alexander Courage – would play over images of adventures I had never seen and the universe remained vast and unknowable.

Sometimes I stumble across Star Trek now and it seems a perfect piece of pop culture candy from a distant world that cared that there were men on the moon. Still remarkable, still fizzing with imagination. Sometimes it just seems dumb and gauche and a little embarrassing.

And sometimes… sometimes all I can see are the colours.