Star Trek: Voyager: My Secret Shame

I wrote this post nearly a year ago and never got around to publishing it. Why? Who can know the mind of the aberrant writer? Why is this a secret, and why is it a shame? These secrets and more are not revealed below. In fact, I don’t even know what is there, because I’m just going to post it as is and find out if I was sane several months ago based solely upon any community response.

Star Trek: Voyager recently celebrated its 20th anniversary of the first episode airing, so it seems like a decent time to drag this one out of the cellar. Be kind, rewind, and be sure to leave a comment about how Neelix no doubt left Roddenberry warping in his grave.

(Featured image a Minecraft build of the U.S.S. Voyager by Maravrin on reddit)

The post, if you please:

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By and large, the geeky community is (becoming) a rather accepting place. You have your passion and I have mine, and that’s great. Yes, there are standout voices, bullies who make themselves heard and as such seem like the majority, but that is not the case. It is okay for anyone to like pretty much anything.

Except when it is NOT okay. For example, basically the entirety of Star Wars fandom want to burn the new trilogy off the face of human history. (Like Darth Whiner’s scars, those movies will define our shared existence until Lucas repents. And we all know that is not particularly likely to happen.) If a person liked Star Wars before THE PHANTOM MENACE, then you can bet they hated the movies that came after.

Hating the newer Star Wars movies is not a risky position to take. Liking the newer Star Wars films puts you at risk of raising the ire of the collect semi-conscious of the nerd continuum.

(For the pointless record, the first achievement I unlocked in the STAR WARS LEGO: THE COMPLETE SAGA was “Crowd Pleaser,” for breaking the Jar Jar Binks minifigure so many times.)

Star Trek fandom is a bit more of a mixed bag, possibly because there is so much more there to judge. With a semi-continuous array of franchises across half a century (holy carp, I just realized that number), a little divide in fandoms is to be expected. From a loose guess / complete fabrication of data, I’d say that an even mix of fans prefer either TOS or TNG, with a decent following for DEEP SPACE NINE, and even those brave enough to admit they enjoyed the recent retrospective ENTERPRISE.

It seems to me, however, that no one (who is willing to speak up in public) likes STAR TREK: VOYAGER.

But you know what? Out of all of them, out of each series that was, by certainly completely objective fact, superior to it, VOYAGER is my Star Trek.

There. I said it. My shame has been revealed. I liked VOYAGER and have my fondest Trek memories of that particular series.

As the various Trekkies turn their eyes away from glassy-eyed fans of the new movie franchise and point their pitchforks in my general direction, let me explain.

VOYAGER was the series that was on when I was a kid. TNG aired while I was alive, but I did not really have the capacity to appreciate it at that age. I caught some episodes of DEEP SPACE NINE from time to time, too, but without any continuity to track, the show suffers. (DS9 relies on a longer, overarching story that can only be appreciated with extended viewing, as far as I can tell. An individual episode was fine, but lacked the impact a viewer might get if said viewer had not seen the past five episodes.)

On the other hand, VOYAGER was on each week. I watched it with my dad and sister. We followed the overarching plot and talked about it and suffered through the bad episodes and appreciated the good moments. We did it together, as a family, and that counts for a lot.

It matters.

While I recognize that my Trek has its major flaws (easily noticed when I watched a few first season episodes with my wife), those are MY flaws. Er, I mean, my Trek’s flaws. When I see / hear / *feel* someone ragging on the show, it feels like they are ragging on me.

Having watched a few episodes, as I mentioned, I understand that some of my fond memories are refracted and distorted through the gleaming lens of nostalgia. Stuff like that just tends to be better in memory than in reality.

This is especially true when the lens is now covered in scratches, grime, and life experience.

Hey, back then, I was just a kid who did not know better than to hate this show that his dad wanted to watch with him. (For a few years, I even got to go to bed an hour late once a week just so I could watch the show. Win!) I did not understand that the characters were inconsistent with the Star Trek continuum, that the writers messed with core Trek doctrine, nor that Neelix was pretty annoying.

But STAR TREK: VOYAGER was probably my first significant introduction to the world of science fiction, and, for better or worse, the show shaped how I think about sci-fi. Those tropes they played to death, I had never seen, so it was all fresh and new to me.

And my sister and dad watched it with me.

My not-so-secret-now shame is that I appreciate STAR TREK: VOYAGER for what it was to me.

That makes me think that we should, perhaps, consider what a story, show, book, musical piece, painting, comic book, whatever means to someone before ostracizing them for liking it. I have a sneaking suspicion that, somewhere in here, there’s a life lesson, but I’ll just leave you with advice from a Star Trek veteran, Wil Wheaton:

Don’t be a dick.

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