Inspirations for Star Trek

Boaz

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#1
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I'm currently reading a book... I'll give you the title and subject later... and I'm currently casually watching some of the original Star Trek series. The thought that this book (with which I am only half way through) might be the single most important inspiration for Star Trek led me to start this thread.

Now a quick google search for Gene Roddenberry's inspirations shows the usual suspects...

Roddenberry served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in WWII.
Roddenberry was a commercial pilot.
Buck Rogers.
Flash Gordon.
Forbidden Planet.
Wagon Train.
Robert A. Heinlein's juvenile series... especially Space Cadet.
Horatio Hornblower.
Gulliver's Travels.

I'm sure I've missed many obvious sources of inspiration... and many not so obvious sources.

The book I'm reading details a mission of exploration. The mission was to be multi-year in nature. The mission was to journey until they could not go any further... and then return. The purpose was twofold: 1) to discover trade routes and indigenous peoples with whom to trade, and 2) to document every people, every plant, every animal, every insect, every waterway, every location, every temperature, every sunrise, every sunset, every rock, every change in soil... i.e. it was a scientific journey of discovery. The purpose sounds a lot like the opening narration to Star Trek, the very mission statement for the Enterprise.

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-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 I am reading is Undaunted Courage: Merriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West by Stephen Ambrose. Jefferson gave Lewis the best scientific education possible so Lewis could lead the expedition. Lewis was a tough guy, but he insisted on William Clark as co-captain since Clark was rough, stubborn, Virginia born, and army tough... and they'd have leadership backup in case one of them died. They took 30 men, armed to the teeth, on their exploration through Sioux, Arikawa, and Mandan territories. (They have not yet crossed the Rockies on their westward journey.) I'm sure they'll run into more natives along the way. Jefferson was negotiating terms to buy the land from Napoleon, but Lewis and Clark also had to deal with a French Governor, Spanish spies, British traders, and scouts from all three nations plus the natives. They have traded, bartered, bargained, bluffed, marched, rowed, sailed, walked, ridden, and camped their way from Washington, DC to the (current day) Rocky Mountains of Montana.

I'd love to say the names connected....
Scotty = Corporal Scott
Spock = Lieutenant Spock
Uhura = Uhurajewea, Shoshone woman
Chekov = Private Tchekoff
Starfleet Academy = Americanfleet Academy
Klingons = Klingakawa Tribe
Romulans = Siouxomulan Tribe
... but the only one that even comes close is ... Captain Kirk = Captain Clark.

I have no idea if Roddenberry ever listed Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery as a source of inspiration. But for me, the parallels are easy to see.

The set up for each story begins with the Captain's log/journal.
Negotiating with peaceful natives.
Negotiating with hostile natives.
Dealing with dissent from the crew.
One of the members gets suddenly sick and the doctor has to figure it out on the fly.
Transportation breaks down and they've got to find a way to get going before the solar flare/winter storms set in.
 

Brian G Turner

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#2
That's really interesting - I'd always thought a key inspiration was Homer's Odyssey. :)

Btw, for a moment I thought that list of names was real, rather than speculative. :)
 

Robert Zwilling

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#4
I haven't watched enough of the later Star Treks to know the overall occupations of the crew, just the leading characters. The naval scientific explorations of the world 150 years ago might also fit the pattern. Coincidentally, many of the explorations lasted a couple of years because that's how long it took to sail around the globe. As time went on the trips got shorter, lasting only a year. The crew on the ship or ships covered a wide range of occupations, science, military, engineering, medical services. Major powers in their own ships trying to out discover each other, great amount of attention to the physical world, many of the explorations probably had military underpinnings. I don't know the ratio of military to non military crew members in Trek crews. I've only seen the Lewis and Clark movie, so I only have a vague idea, that portrayed it as a highly adept military powered operation of exploration and documentation with no specimens. The Lewis and Clark members probably had a much riskier time of it than the people on the naval vessels. Not much knowledge of global conflicts 150 years ago so I don't know if the exploration captains and crews had a lot of military experience. I definitely don't see any cannons on Darwin's HMS Beagle.
 

Al Jackson

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#5
I have an interesting story. I went to the World Science Fiction in Cleveland in 1966. Roddenberry came and showed the first pilot ( I think this was the first fan exposure on the show). This was all SF fans, and the response was enthusiastic. The next day Roddenberry was standing in a hallway with a model of the Discovery.
No one was talking to him! So I went over and said I liked what he showed and that it felt familiar to me. Roddenberry said "It should!". He went on to tell me how he read copies of John Campbell's Astounding during his time in WWII. That he was influenced by Campbell's banishment of Brass Bras and Bug Eyed Monsters from prose science fiction and how much he appreciated the works of Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov. That he was an avid reader of Astounding in the 1950s. So modern prose SF had a great influence of Star Trek. (I don't remember him saying much about Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers a pulp type that he did not emulate.)
 

BAYLOR

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#6
I have an interesting story. I went to the World Science Fiction in Cleveland in 1966. Roddenberry came and showed the first pilot ( I think this was the first fan exposure on the show). This was all SF fans, and the response was enthusiastic. The next day Roddenberry was standing in a hallway with a model of the Discovery.
No one was talking to him! So I went over and said I liked what he showed and that it felt familiar to me. Roddenberry said "It should!". He went on to tell me how he read copies of John Campbell's Astounding during his time in WWII. That he was influenced by Campbell's banishment of Brass Bras and Bug Eyed Monsters from prose science fiction and how much he appreciated the works of Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov. That he was an avid reader of Astounding in the 1950s. So modern prose SF had a great influence of Star Trek. (I don't remember him saying much about Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers a pulp type that he did not emulate.)
You actually got to meet him Wow ! :cool:

I think that every every tv show and film that came Str Trek owes a debt to Roddenberry.
 

Al Jackson

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#7
You actually got to meet him Wow ! :cool:

I think that every every tv show and film that came Str Trek owes a debt to Roddenberry.
A bit of a fluke. At that convention , 24th, Tricon, nobody had ever heard of Roddenberry. He sure was nice , willing to meet fans, he did finally get to talk to a number of them.
I do remember him remarking that he liked Forbidden Planet but puzzled over why in the 10 years after Forbidden Planet (which came out in 1956) no one had done any space opera like it. It is a puzzle.
 

BAYLOR

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#8
A bit of a fluke. At that convention , 24th, Tricon, nobody had ever heard of Roddenberry. He sure was nice , willing to meet fans, he did finally get to talk to a number of them.
I do remember him remarking that he liked Forbidden Planet but puzzled over why in the 10 years after Forbidden Planet (which came out in 1956) no one had done any space opera like it. It is a puzzle.
There might have been a sequel or two to Fobidden Planet had it been a hit at the box office. It was a a very serious sconce fiction movie which in the 1950's was saying alot.
 

Al Jackson

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#9
There might have been a sequel or two to Fobidden Planet had it been a hit at the box office. It was a a very serious sconce fiction movie which in the 1950's was saying alot.
Forbidden Planet , by 1950s standards, did not lose money, still it was not a box office hit.
It sure was ahead of it's time.
As a story , in 1956, compared to the prose form of space opera , it felt a bit old fashioned. On the other hand it had more class than Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon. It was like an up-scale version of Space Patrol. I saw it real time when I was 15 years old. It is a problem solving story one could of found on the pages of Astounding in the 1940s. Of the three responsible for the story and screenplay , Cyril Hume, Irving Block and Allen Adler I once determined that Block was the most knowledgeable modern science fiction. Too much is made of the comparison to Shakespeare's The Tempest, when one can see John W Campbell , Doc Smith, Stanley G. Weinbaum , others, all over the story. This is the first appearance of a prose standby , FTL, never used in a film plot before that I know of. Interstellar distance correctly used (in film at least, Tom Corbett had done it earlier, and sometimes Space Patrol got it right).
 

BAYLOR

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#10
Forbidden Planet , by 1950s standards, did not lose money, still it was not a box office hit.
It sure was ahead of it's time.
As a story , in 1956, compared to the prose form of space opera , it felt a bit old fashioned. On the other hand it had more class than Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon. It was like an up-scale version of Space Patrol. I saw it real time when I was 15 years old. It is a problem solving story one could of found on the pages of Astounding in the 1940s. Of the three responsible for the story and screenplay , Cyril Hume, Irving Block and Allen Adler I once determined that Block was the most knowledgeable modern science fiction. Too much is made of the comparison to Shakespeare's The Tempest, when one can see John W Campbell , Doc Smith, Stanley G. Weinbaum , others, all over the story. This is the first appearance of a prose standby , FTL, never used in a film plot before that I know of. Interstellar distance correctly used (in film at least, Tom Corbett had done it earlier, and sometimes Space Patrol got it right).
I think your right about FTL in film , I never heard it mentioned in any film prior to Forbidden Planet that ive seen. Ive never seen an episode of either Tom Corbett or space Patrol but have seen some episodes of Rocky Jones which really look and sound dated.
 
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Nozzle Velocity

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#11
The similarities in 1966 between Star Trek and Germany's Raumpatrouille are remarkable. There's been speculation that one stole from the other, but I don't think that's possible. Just another instance of artistic convergence.
 

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#13
What about van Vogt's Voyage of the Space Beagle? It was originally published in Astounding, too, then came out as a book in 1952 (but under a different title). The storylines in the four sections that make up the book sound very Star Trekky.
 

Al Jackson

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#14
The similarities in 1966 between Star Trek and Germany's Raumpatrouille are remarkable. There's been speculation that one stole from the other, but I don't think that's possible. Just another instance of artistic convergence.
Raumpatrouille , boy, had to look that up. Never had heard of it.
From the description , apparently Space Patrol.... in the name... hmmmm.
Well since they appeared almost simultaneously I would say both derived mainly from the prose form independently of each other.
 

BAYLOR

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#15
What about van Vogt's Voyage of the Space Beagle? It was originally published in Astounding, too, then came out as a book in 1952 (but under a different title). The storylines in the four sections that make up the book sound very Star Trekky.
It's also been described as one of the inspirations for how 1979 film Alien. The Black Destroyer.
 
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BAYLOR

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Raumpatrouille , boy, had to look that up. Never had heard of it.
From the description , apparently Space Patrol.... in the name... hmmmm.
Well since they appeared almost simultaneously I would say both derived mainly from the prose form independently of each other.
It was produced around the mid 1960's you can see episodes of it on youtube . For it's time the series productions and effects looked pretty good. The show proved to be too expensive to produce.
 

Nozzle Velocity

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#17
What about van Vogt's Voyage of the Space Beagle? It was originally published in Astounding, too, then came out as a book in 1952 (but under a different title). The storylines in the four sections that make up the book sound very Star Trekky.
I always felt that Star Trek had more than a little Jack Williamson with the multi-national crew. It was seen as daring at the time, and it certainly was in 1966, yet Williamson was doing that in the 30s with his Legion of Space stories. (Don't get me started on Williamson.)
 

Nozzle Velocity

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#18
From the description , apparently Space Patrol.... in the name... hmmmm.
They're fun to watch. It's much more open in a 60s European way at showing the captain's "relations" with women. He tends to stay in trouble with his superiors and solves problems with aliens and bad guys by thinking outside the box. It's really weird, but given their schedules, there's no way these production companies were spying on each other.
 

Robert Zwilling

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#19
I looked up Raumpatrouille having never heard of it. Making it black and white probably added to realisticness of the show. The main idea they have in common is patrolling space. For me, ship and crew size, bases, off duty life, character roles, props, makes Raumpatrouille independent and parallel to Star Trek. I would have to see it but Raumpatrouille seemed to be more around Earth, while Star Trek was always far out in space. Both shows produced a large number of books.
 

Nozzle Velocity

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#20
For me, ship and crew size, bases, off duty life, character roles, props, makes Raumpatrouille independent and parallel to Star Trek. I would have to see it but Raumpatrouille seemed to be more around Earth, while Star Trek was always far out in space. Both shows produced a large number of books.
Hmm, didn't know there were Raumpatrouille books. That could be iffy. But the show is entertaining. You're right, it's more earth-centered with smaller ships. Lots of time back at the post-nuke underwater base with drinking and dancing in the lounge. The production design is the real star, reminescent of the Italian/East German sf flicks of the time.
 

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