Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ayn Rand and Star Trek

Ayn Rand was a fan of Star Trek. As surprising as that may be, it is understandable. First, she knew about the show because it premiered in the TV season 1966-1967. Rand was at her height, deeply involved in popular culture, and commenting on it. The Objectivist Newsletter had become The Objectivist magazine. Those forums carried her essays on aesthetics, which became the anthology The Romantic Manifesto. Star Trek was and remains an example of romantic fiction. It is also true that Gene Roddenberry was fan of Ayn Rand.

Ayn Rand coined the phrase "bootleg romanticism." It is the title of a chapter in The Romantic Manifesto. The label identifies works of art that may have some technical flaws, but which present a heroic sense of life in which good triumphs over evil in a battle defined by chosen values. The early James Bond novels and the first film versions are examples of that. Star Trek also fits the definition, and perhaps rises above the unconscious or “intuitive” choice of an author or artist to present a heroic struggle because Roddenberry read The Fountainhead several times and had read Atlas Shrugged. Roddenberry supposedly named Yeoman Janice Rand as a nod to Ayn Rand. Some years after Star Trek: the Original Series was cancelled, Gene Roddenberry read The Romantic Manifesto.

"In Gene Roddenberry's sci-fi series, Andromeda, there is a colony called "The Ayn Rand Station" founded by a species of "Nietzscheans."
"The Illustrated Rand" by Chris Matthew Sciabarra,
The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, Vol. 6, No. 1,
Centenary Symposium, Part I:
Ayn Rand: Literary and Cultural Impact
(Fall 2004), pp. 1-20
"While I do not know if Rand and Roddenberry ever met, it has been established through two sources that Gene Roddenberry read much of Ayn Rand's work, including reading Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead ("four or five times") and the Romantic Manifesto. Two of his proteges, Myrna Culbreath and Sondra Marshak, became authors and are unabashed Objectivists. STAR TREK" LIVES!, by Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Sondra Marshak, and Joan Winston, (New York: Bantam, 1975), reviewed by Gary McGath for Ergo (November 19, 1975), archived here: http://www.mcgath.com/stlives.html 

J. Neil Schulman interviewed Ayn Rand for the New York Daily News.
“We spoke on the phone for another four hours. Rand initially would not agree to let me interview her, but by the end I brought her around.
            She interviewed me during that phone call as much as I interviewed her.
             She told me that she watched Star Trek and Spock was her favorite character. “
J. Neil Schulman: "I Met Ayn Rand"

Another writer in the Star Trek Universe included Ayn Rand's works in a "Mirror" novel about Dr. Carol Marcus and her son (by Kirk), David:
(I believe that that work, The Sorrows of Empire (2007/2010) was still under the nominal approval of Paramount. They controlled the Star Trek universe closely for many years. For one just thing, they needed to prevent fanfic Kirk-Spock romances from becoming canon.) 

Comments by Barbara Branden and others here:
“Ayn Rand and Gene Roddenberry”

Comments by Matt McKeever here:
“Gene Roddenberry and Ayn Rand”

Back in the 2oth century, I attended a trekker con in Livonia, Michigan. Armin Shimerman (Quark) was the Guest of Honor. The Ferengi were as close as Star Trek ever came to honoring merchants. Harry Mudd and Cyrano Jones were not heroic. Quark had potential. I asked Armin Shimerman if he ever read anything by Ayn Rand and he said that he read The Fountainhead in college and in preparation for shooting the next season, he was going to read Atlas Shrugged.

Quark: I think I figured out why Humans don't like Ferengi.
Sisko: Not now, Quark.
Quark: The way I see it, Humans used to be a lot like Ferengi: greedy, acquisitive, interested only in profit. We're a constant reminder of a part of your past you'd like to forget.
Sisko: Quark, we don't have time for this.
Quark: You're overlooking something. Humans used to be a lot worse than the Ferengi: slavery, concentration camps, interstellar wars. We have nothing in our past that approaches that kind of barbarism. You see? We're nothing like you... we're better.
See also http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Ferengi

Armin Shimerman played Dr. Potter from the State Science Institute in Atlas Shrugged Part I.


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