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Stand by to be beamed up to the starship Enterprise

PUBLISHED: 09:47 10 April 2017 | UPDATED: 09:47 10 April 2017

The original crew of the Starship Enterprise. Cast members from left are DeForest Kelley, Leonard Nimoy, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, William Shatner, George Takei, and James Doohan.  Picture: AP PHOTO/PARAMOUNT

The original crew of the Starship Enterprise. Cast members from left are DeForest Kelley, Leonard Nimoy, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, William Shatner, George Takei, and James Doohan. Picture: AP PHOTO/PARAMOUNT

Unless you are a die-hard Trekker, you may have missed First Contact Day. Assuming she is not unexpectedly beamed up by Scotty, Lynne Mortimer pays tribute to the phenomenon that is Star Trek.

(l-r) Uhuru, Spock, McCoy and Kirk in the Original Star Trek. Picture: LIBRARY (l-r) Uhuru, Spock, McCoy and Kirk in the Original Star Trek. Picture: LIBRARY

Although First Contact Day was not a feature of the original series – its first airing was in the Star Trek: Voyager series –, I make no bones (pun intended) about starting this at the beginning.

In the beginning we had, of course, the most famous split infinitive of all time when the Starship Enterprise undertook its mission to BOLDLY go. Being a bit of a grammar pedant (let’s hear it for Bristol’s apostrophe man) I suppose I should be outraged but the phrase is so much a part of the Sci-Fi psyche I cannot imagine it put any other way even if “boldly to go” would probably please grammarians.

Fans of the sci-fi series Star Trek celebrate First Contact Day on April 5 to mark the day in 2063 when humans make their first contact with the Vulcans. It was first celebrated 315 years on from the first contact.

For true aficionados and I do not claim to be among them, the motion picture Star Trek: First Contact revolved around this first meeting but, slightly confusingly, it did not spawn First Contact Day. And even as I write these words I am conscious that a true Trekker will subject this piece to intense scrutiny and pounce upon the slightest inaccuracy. If I were bolder, I might point out that it’s only pretend but I am not bold and thus accept this is no excuse for getting anything wrong.

Actor Simon Pegg demonstrates the Vulcan greeting gesture. Picture: AP PHOTO/GERO BRELOER Actor Simon Pegg demonstrates the Vulcan greeting gesture. Picture: AP PHOTO/GERO BRELOER

Star Trek was created by Gene Roddenberry. The first television series in the franchise debuted in America in 1966 and is now known as The Original Series. It followed the adventures of the crew of the starship USS Enterprise under the leadership of Captain James T Kirk. The series arrived on BBC television in 1969, settling into the 5.15pm Saturday time-slot vacated by Doctor Who. At the time, I barely noticed the feather-light boulders that fell on to the crew of the Enterprise. In retrospect, I note them but I am more impressed with the inter-galactic respect Earth’s space travellers showed to the inhabitants of other planets.

The Enterprise is a 23rd-century spaceship of the United Federation of Planets, which is a federation of more than 150 governments from different planets. The Federation as it is popularly known was created in 2161.

The Vulcans are a humanoid race from the planet Vulcan, which is about 16 light years from Earth. Vulcans are considered to be masters of logic who have found ways to suppress their violent emotions. Commander Spock is one of the most well-known Vulcans in the Star Trek universe.

• In celebration of Star Trek and its contribution to interplanetary relations, why not make cheese pierogi (a dish of Polish origin) – which featured as one of the dishes made by characters celebrating the day on the TV show – and present them to friends with the traditional Vulcan salute, which is (wait for it): raise your hands with your palm facing outwards, and your thumb away from your hand. Part your middle and ring finger such that the index and middle finger are together and your ring and little finger are close to each other.

Captain James T Kirk with a weapon Captain James T Kirk with a weapon

Captain Kirk’s opening narration in full:

“Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Top Star Trek lines:

First Contact Day - the celebration of humans' first contact with Vulcans - made its first appearance in spin-off series Star Trek Voyager. First Contact Day - the celebration of humans' first contact with Vulcans - made its first appearance in spin-off series Star Trek Voyager.

Live long and prosper

Highly illogical

Beam me up, Scotty

I’m giving her all she’s got, captain

Warp speed

Course heading, captain?

Set phasers to stun

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