Monday, July 5, 2010

Quotable Star Trek

Quotable Star Trek
© 1999 ed. Jill Sherwin
374 pages
"...good words. That's where ideas begin." - David Marcus, The Wrath of Khan.

With over seven hundred television episodes and eleven movies constituting its 'canon', Star Trek has a lot to say for itself. Although a science fiction action-adventure series in which humanity explores the wonders of the universe, Star Trek has survived and flourished where Lost in Space and others have faded away because at its essence, it is about ideas -- about the human condition, philosophy, ideals, values, and beliefs. Star Trek and the shows that followed not only entertained, they provoked discussion: they challenged people to consider ideas.

As a show with an intellectual or philosophical bent, Star Trek relied upon good writing to give voice to discussion. Within the shows, there are grand speeches, witty retorts, lines drawn in the sand, gentle reassurances, and thoughtful musings aplenty. Those speeches and retorts are here, organized into diverse topics: the human condition, the search for knowledge, good and evil, love, humor, respect, justice, peace and war, politics, prejudice, logic and emotion are just a few. These are followed by a section of quotations wherein the characters refer to themselves, a section of the most memorable lines from the show, and the author's personal favorites. The collection does not draw from the later TNG movies or Enterprise given its publication date, which is a minor loss.

This book gathers together some of my favorite moments in Star Trek. I dearly love the series, chiefly for the way it affirms and celebrate humanity. Whether in fighting for justice or trying to be good friends, the Starfleet personnel in the series do their best to live up to humanity's promise. Quotable Star Trek brings together some of the best lines in Star Trek, neatly organized, and so I can recommend it easily.

A few favorites...

  • "Give me your hand ... your hand! Now feel that: Human flesh against human flesh. We're the same. We share the same history, the same heritage, the same lives. We're tied together beyond any untying. Man or woman, it makes no difference, we're human. We couldn't escape from each other even if we wanted to. That's how you do it, Lieutenant. By remembering who and what you are: a bit of flesh and blood afloat in a universe without end. And the only thing that's truly yours is the rest of humanity. That's where our duty lies. Do you understand me?" - Captain Kirk, "Who Mourns for Adonais?"
  • "Why does God need a starship?" - Captain Kirk, The Final Frontier.
  • "Sometimes, Number One, you just have to bow to the absurd...." - Captain Picard, "Up the Long Ladder". 
  • "You know, there are some words I've known since I was a schoolboy: 'With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.' Those words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie as wisdom and warning. The first time any man's freedom is trodden on we’re all damaged." - Captain Picard, The Drumhead
  • "Laws change, depending on who's making them, but justice is justice." - Constable Odo, "A Man Alone"
  • "My god, Bones -- what've I done?"
    "What you had to do. What you always do -- turn death into a fighting chance to live." - Kirk and McCoy, watching the Enterprise go to her grave in The Search for Spock
  • "There! Are! FOUR! Lights!" Captain Picard, "Chain of Command". 
  • "I'm no angel; but I try to live every day as the best human being I know how to be." - Miles O'Brien, "Tribunal". 
  • "Second star to the right...and straight on 'til morning." - Captain Kirk, The Undiscovered Country, giving the helm course orders. 


  1. I know of two people who would love this book. I am going to check on something else I know you'd be interested in. I forget the web address, but I'll ask and get back to you. Are you going to school for a masters in library science?


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