(Roughly) Daily

How to boldly go where no man has gone before…

 

As American readers prepare to head for the multiplex for the premiere of Star Trek- Into the Darkness, they might want to take a brief detour down memory lane:  Harvard’s Houghton Library has released excerpts of a 31-page photocopied writers’ guide for the original Star Trek series, written in 1967, that was meant to help writers for the then year-old show—as well as prospective writers working on spec scripts—nail the tone and content of a typical “Trek” episode.

The pages list characters and their attributes (Captain Kirk is “a space-age Horatio Hornblower, constantly on trial with himself, a strong, complex personality”), outline dos and don’ts of costuming (no pockets; no space suits), and suggest places where writers working outside the studio can seek technical advice (ask nearby universities, “your local NASA office,” or anyone in the “aero-space research and development industry”).

Coming at the tail end of a decade and a half of science fiction television of variable quality, “Star Trek” was eager to establish itself as a new breed of more realistic space opera. The third page image below describes a scenario in which Captain Kirk comforts a female crewmember as an alien vessel attacks. The guide asks readers to identify the problem with this “teaser.” The answer: “Concept weak. This whole story opening reeks too much of ‘space pirate’ or similar bad science fiction.” Captain Kirk would never hug a fellow crewman as danger approached; he’d be too busy trying to solve the problem.

It’s clear that the guide’s anonymous author knew that those in charge were asking a lot of their writers. At the end of a list of Frequently Asked Questions appears this one:

Q: Are you people on LSD?

A: We tried, but we couldn’t keep it lit.

Read the full story– and read more Writer’s Guide pages– at Slate’s new history blog, The Vault.

More?  Check out the ten most under-rated episodes from the original series.

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As we set phasers to stun, we might spare a thought for Frederick Walton; he died on this date in 1928.  The scion of a British rubber processing family, Walton was a prolific inventor.  While he patented (among many other things),  flexible metal tubing,  artificial leather, and a process for waterproofing clothing, he is surely best remembered as the inventor of linoleum.

 source

Written by LW

May 16, 2013 at 1:01 am

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