Thank you, Spock, for inspiring my life-long devotion to sci-fi, fantasy

By Rene Pastor

For a 10-year-old kid growing up in Manila, it was a show that appealed to the nerd in me.

“Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise…”

It took me away to the stars that I could see twinkling in the night sky. Series creator Gene Wesley Roddenberry had this optimistic view of the future of humanity.

The cast featured an African-American, an Asian, a Scotsman and someone just completely alien – Spock played by Leonard Nimoy.

In this universe, human beings get along. The pursuit of wealth is not the end-all of existence. The Earth is part of a galaxy-wide federation of planets that includes the Vulcans and other sentient races. Even the Klingons who are arch-enemies eventually became allies.

“Star Trek,” not “Flash Gordon” or “My Favorite Martian,” ignited my life-long love for science fiction and fantasy. Before I had graduated from high school, I had devoured the “Foundation” series of Isaac Asimov. I am still in thrall at the first “Dune” book by Frank Herbert.

“Dune” is a book that I first read while listening to my physics teacher in 1978, utterly fascinated by a novel that meshed together a feudal universe held together by a powerful geriatric drug called mélange, mentat assassins and a quasi-religious order of women called the Bene Gesserit.

I still have a gradually deteriorating copy of “Dune,” and occasionally I would flip to passages I know almost by heart, including the Litany against Fear.

“Star Trek” gave that to me, an appreciation of the possibilities in an infinite universe and a love for the writers and shows which featured planets far, far away. I was thrilled beyond words when “Star Wars” came out in the 1970s, and then they began making “Star Trek” movies. The best is probably “The Wrath of Khan” where Spock dies and gets resurrected in subsequent flicks. It wasn’t even remotely Oscar material and just plain campy.

But that was the genesis and from there, you go onto “The Matrix,” “Alien” and all the fantasy films from the old universe of DC and Marvel comics that have made it into the large screen. You can even throw in the “Harry Potter” series for the sheer fantasy of dementors and magic wands.

The list I can recall is endless. “Terminator” and “Avatar,” “Hunger Games” and “Blade Runner.” Who can forget “Lord of the Rings”? Or the wacky insanity of “Men in Black.” Nothing still beats Hugh Jackman breaking out those knives from his hand as Wolverine. Really cool. I still hum the songs from the soundtrack of “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Now Spock is gone, joining Bones and Scotty in passing on from our world. President Barack Obama said it simply and eloquently: “I loved Spock.”

When “Star Wars 7” pops into movie theaters in December, I hope they insert a nod to remember the sci-fi icons that are now gone with Spock right up there. They inspired my devotion to the fertile minds which imagined worlds so different from our own and yet so familiar.

That was the seed planted by “Star Trek” all those years ago as I sat before the small box of a television set in my home in Paranaque. One of the threads that runs through my life is this devotion to sci-fi and fantasy simply because they nurse that sense of wonder I still have, embracing the variety of a universe here and beyond Earth.

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