Life lessons keep coming from Star Trek after 50 years

Posted July 31

ATLANTA — Captain James T. Kirk was a fearless leader, willing to go where no one had gone before.

Dr. Leonard McCoy knew his role. As he reminded his fellow crew members in various “Star Trek” episodes, he was a doctor, not a bricklayer, scientist, mechanic, magician or miracle worker.

Scotty, the starship Enterprise’s engineer, understood that a negotiator got further if he came in well armed.

“The best diplomat I know is a fully charged phaser bank,” he said during an early episode.

And everyone in the command center focused on his or her job.

According to Dave Marinaccio, author of "All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Watching Star Trek," that's just a small sampling of what a viewer could learn from watching the space voyagers of Star Trek, a story that began as a television show and has grown to include numerous books, multiple movie franchises and a mega fan base.

"Every episode has a lesson to it," Marinaccio said in a recent phone interview.

The original series, created by Gene Roddenberry, started in 1966. When it was canceled in 1969 after three seasons, fans continued to call for the show’s return.

Several TV series spinoffs followed, including "Star Trek: The Next Generation," which aired from 1987-1994; "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," which aired from 1993-1999; and "Star Trek: Voyager," which aired from 1995-2001.

"Star Trek Beyond," which hits theaters Friday, is the 13th movie based on the fictional show, and features younger versions of the star characters.

Marinaccio said he wrote "All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Watching Star Trek" in 1994 after he realized how often he used Star Trek references in his work as an advertising executive.

"People say something in Star Trek terms and everybody knows what you mean," he said.

Each of the approximately 60 sections in the 127-page book talks about a life lesson that can be learned from the franchise.

Lessons highlighted in the book include recognizing that every person — or species — has the right to live as they wish; the unknown is not to be feared but rather examined, understood and accepted; explorers and adventurers always answer a distress call; if something is messed up, the responsible thing to do is to make things right; and never wear red unless you want to die.

According to Marinaccio, the opening lines of "Star Trek" are actually a mission statement, a statement that is succinct and memorable.

The opening lines state: "Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its 5-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before."

"The book for me is just a way to jump into (the series)," he said. "I love the stories, the characters."

Marinaccio said he is thrilled to be swept along in the love of all things Star Trek.

His book sales surge with each new movie — he's currently riding the swell of interest surrounding "Star Trek Beyond," he said — and he's often invited to speak at Star Trek conventions and events. He said he's often asked for his autograph even with popular actors from the show, such as John de Lancie (Q), sitting nearby, and that William Shatner (Capt. Kirk) and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) have both told him during conventions that they like his book.

He said he hasn't seen the latest movie yet but will be in front row as soon as possible. He's expecting the same kind of story that Star Trek is known for: something fun, something unexpected, something imaginative.

"Star Trek offers a refuge to people," Marinaccio said. "It's really pretty amazing. It's something that has saturated the culture."

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at



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