The original Star Trek series was one of my very first introductions to science fiction–and to science fiction fandom. When I started going to conventions in the late eighties, I was delighted to discover that a group of fan performers, headed up by the redoutable Julia Ecklar as Captain Kirk, had done a couple of live musical parodies of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. They used, respectively, West Side Story and South Pacific–giving us Wrath Side Story and Spock Pacific.
Dara digitized our old copies of these, and you can find them on her YouTube channel here.
I mention this because to this day, Dara and I still periodically break into song snippets from these performances, and I always DID love the opening number in particular: “WHAT AIN’T WE GOT? WE AIN’T GOT SPOCK!”
Now that line’s got a brand new poignance, since I am seeing the Internet explode with the news of the passing of Leonard Nimoy. The New York Times has an article here. Tor.com covers the story here. John Scalzi has a post up here.
I started watching Trek in my mid-teens, and at that age, I was totally bowled over by Captain Kirk. But as I grew older I developed much more of an appreciation for Spock, and a couple of my very favorite episodes of the series–“Journey to Babel” and “Amok Time”–are Spock-centric episodes. His ongoing struggle between his human side and his Vulcan side makes Spock, for me, a truly compelling character. And it’s played so beautiful in his contentious relationship with his father, from whom he gets his dry Vulcan snark QUITE honestly. Moreover, the way Spock’s face lights up when he realizes he didn’t kill Kirk after all at the end of “Amok Time” is beautiful.
Trek is a strong current in the filk music I came to love as well, particularly the songs by the aforementioned Julia Ecklar. Julia has a wrenching song in particular about the destruction of the Enterprise, one which makes me tear up every time I hear it. But she’s also got a delightful one from McCoy’s point of view: “He’s Dead Jim”. And yet another about the resurrection of Trek fandom when the movies came out. Trek meant a LOT to her in her music, and this shone through into my own development as a fan of Star Trek. I came to admire Spock as a character even more when I saw the hints of an early romance between him and Uhura in the initial episodes–and when I realized he was a musician as well.
So I may be a Kirk fangirl, but Spock is right behind him in my affections.
We lost DeForest Kelley in 1999, and now we’ve lost the second of the triad of the characters that were the heart of the original Star Trek.
But I think I speak for every Trek fan in the world when I say that all of us will be happy to stand in for Doctor McCoy, and provide a place for Spock’s katra to live forever.
Rest in peace, Mr. Nimoy. You lived long and prospered. We will miss you.
I leave you with this rousing chorus:
We’ve an admiral brave and daring, he’s the best the fleet has got!
We’ve a helmsman who’s named Sulu and an engineer named Scott
A Russian navigator and a slightly schizoid doc
But what ain’t we got? WE AIN’T GOT SPOCK!
There is nothing quite like Spock!
Nothing in the world
There is nothing you can grok
That is anything quite like Spock!
Editing to add:
And I also leave you with this.
Speaking of Julia Ecklar, here’s that song I mentioned above about the destruction of the Enterprise. This is “Fallen Angel”, from her album Divine Intervention. It brings me to tears every damn time I hear it, and I’m crying today as I transcribe the lyrics. And the solemn French horn that comes in at the line “there are stars before my eyes”, evocative of the Star Trek theme, particularly kills me.
You can find the album on iTunes, or from Prometheus Music here.
My god, what have I done? Is this what I had to do?
I paid to save six lives–was it worth the price of you?
I would take your spirit in me, to make you live again
But your fire dies across the sky
My god, is this the end?
My steel-and-stardrive lady, my soul’s death is at your hands
As your own death was at mine, love
Though even I can’t understand
Why we gods can’t live forever–why should legends have to die?
As you wail to sleep in glory, my heart still seeks the sky
There are stars before my eyes
But they pale to your dying
You swore we’d outlive time
Oh my love, were you, too, lying?
What’s my life without your singing?
When I’m naught but flesh and bone?
Where have I damned my lover’s soul
To wander all alone?
But this death I can’t deny, as you fade to distant ember
My need to steal from death cost you, love, but I’ll remember
And I long to burn there with you, to never live again
Forever we would light the sky–my god, is this the end?