Science Fiction Film & Television

The inertia of tradition in Star Trek: case studies in neglected corners of the ‘canon’

Science Fiction Film & Television (1970), 9, (3), 347–370.

Abstract

This article argues that the development of the Star Trek canon bears striking similarities to the development of scriptural canons, focusing on the monotheistic scriptural traditions that have most influenced Western societies. After establishing this parallel, it demonstrates that the Star Trek tradition displays the same dynamics that can be found in religious canons by pointing out the surprising influence of three of the least-loved corners of the Star Trek canon – the ‘Spock’s Brain’ episode from the original series, The Animated Series and the prequel series Enterprise – on later productions. It will show that concepts from the history of religions can provide useful tools for students of popular culture, and that the study of popular culture traditions can be beneficial for students of religion.

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Kotsko, Adam