Star Trek and Sacred Ground: Explorations of Star Trek, Religion, and American Culture
edited by Jennifer E. Porter and Darcee L. McLaren
State University of New York Press, 315 pages, $20.95, paper

Of the making of Star Trek books there is no end. Along with countless novels, memoirs and coffee-table books, the television and movie series has inspired an astonishing number of academic works—technobabble leavened with sociobabble. Some professors use Trek as a pedagogical aid: the physics, metaphysics, ethics, biology, and computers of Trek have been explored in separate volumes. Likewise, Trek's treatment of race and gender have been scrutinized, and reasons for the show's popularity have been posited.

Given that popularity, it seems safe to say that Trek embodies a contemporary myth, one that touches people deeply—from those still in their parents' basement to those beamed up to ivory towers. It's tempting to laugh at Trek's often obsessive fans, but tread carefully, for Trek covers sacred ground. Setting a story amid the silent, endless spaces ensures Big Questions will be raised. Accordingly, Star Trek and Sacred Ground fills one of the few remaining gaps in the literature with a look at Trek's take on religion.

Trek's take on anything, including the laws of physics, is famous for being adjusted to the needs of a particular episode. Yet there's a clearly discernable drift to Trek's treatment of religion, one which—not surprisingly for a popular phenomenon—runs parallel with our society's rising interest in spirituality during the past three decades.

Part one of Sacred Ground maps that flow. Classic Trek (1966-69) reflected creator Gene Roddenberry's inclination to leave religion in the wake of Progress with poverty, prejudice, ...

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