Boldly Go: Celebrate Space Travel on Star Trek's First Contact Day
Did you know that April 5 is First Contact Day? Probably not because it hasn't actually happened yet! Technically, it won't happen until 2063.
In the Star Trek universe, First Contact Day celebrates the first time that humans have contact with an alien race. Humanity's first successful attempt at achieving warp drive attracts the attention of a Vulcan ship, proving that Earth might be a more interesting planet than the Vulcans first thought. On April 5, 2063, the Vulcans landed in Bozeman, Montana. The rest, as they say, is history...or, more accurately, it's the future!
In honor of First Contact Day, it seems only right to highlight Star Trek materials that feature Starfleet's favourite Vulcan: Mr. Spock! And because we are rapidly getting to the point where science fiction is no longer fiction, I've also included some non-fiction books about the real life space travel that may one day take us out into the final frontier.
The Movie That Started It All
Originally released in 1996, Star Trek VIII: First Contact is the film that really cemented First Contact Day as a celebration in the Star Trek fandom. In this film, Captain Picard and the Next Generation crew of the Enterprise travel back to 2063 to prevent the Borg from interfering with Earth's first contact event.
Created in time for Star Trek's 50th anniversary, this documentary looks at the enduring legacy of both Spock and the man who brought the character to life, Leonard Nimoy. Directed by his son, Adam Nimoy, the documentary also features interviews with fellow actors whose lives and careers have been touch by Leonard's influence, including Zachary Quinto who took on the role of Spock in the newer Star Trek films.
I am Spock by Leonard Nimoy
Written by the man himself, I am Spock recounts Leonard Nimoy's experiences portraying the infamous character. His memoir is filled with lots of anecdotes and insider information about the world of Star Trek.
Nimoy's debut album, originally released in 1967, is a truly out-of-this-world listening experience. He recorded the album as his character, Mr. Spock, and the songs are all outer space themed, complete with 1960's era science fiction sound effects.
Star trek: Spock reflections by David Tipton
The Star Trek universe doesn't just exist on film; it also extends to books and comics. This particular comic, available as an ebook, provides insights into Spock's shocking decision to leave the Federation and live on Romulus.
Another Star Trek film, this time featuring Captain Kirk and the original crew of the Enterprise as they face off against the revenge-seeking, genetically engineered Khan. Without giving anything away, let's just say that Spock gets a pretty dramatic story arc in this film.
It would be remiss of me not to mention that Spock isn't the only prominent Vulcan character in the Star Trek universe. The crew of the USS Voyager have their own resident Vulcan, tactical office Lieutenant Commander Tuvok. Along with providing logical observations and some unintentional comic relief, Tuvok serves as a trusted adviser to Captain Kathryn Janeway during the crew's decades long journey through the Delta Quadrant.
With each new technological advancement, humanity is getting ever closer to the day when the types of technology in the Star Trek universe become reality. We might not have achieved warp drive yet but the experts have a lot of say about the current state of space travel and what they think the future might hold.
In his characteristic "informal but informative" style, Dr. Michael Wall explores answers to common questions about the possibility of finding other lifeforms in the universe, the implications for life on Earth and what it might be like for humans to live in space. He includes commentary from experts such as NASA scientists, science educator Neil de Grasse Tyson and space enthusiast Elon Musk.
Who better than a physicist and futurist to discuss humanity's inevitable journey into outer space? Michio Kaku posits that humans will eventually be forced to move beyond Earth in order to survive. He explores the technological advancements that may one day enable us to successfully terraform Mars, as well as the laser beams that might soon carry nanoships to stars outside of our solar system.
The realities of life in space are about more than just spaceships and high speed travel. They also include the same everyday issues we deal with on Earth. How will we grow food? How will we keep our bodies fit and healthy? What will it be like to sleep? With answers to these questions and more, Stuart's illustrated guide to life in space is lighthearted and amusing but still grounded rigorous scientific research.
I'm definitely not an expert and I'm probably not going to volunteer for the first mission to Mars, but I'm enough of a nerd to be fascinated by the possibilities of space travel. I'm curious to find out how far humans will travel in my lifetime but, for now, I guess I'll just have to wait and see. And so, there is only one thing left to say. In the words of Vulcans everywhere:
Live Long and Prosper!