′ Star Trek has been subject to a lot of scrutiny by literary and cultural critics ... The bad conscience that many have about serious discussion of popular culture means that Star Trek can still be read simplistically, as a stalking–horse for denouncing the modernity of the American century. The Barretts are more subtle. A television series is a product of a variety of creators and so, inevitably, a rich complex of signs, hints and idealisms. There is no final reading of Star Trek; just an endless journey.′ The Independent ′There are only a handful of book length surveys of Star Trek, and this mother–and–son collaboration is a welcome contribution to those. It provides a valuable overview of the programme from its original appearance 35 years ago, tracing the ways in which successive series have reproduced and challenged the original "liberal humanist" ethos of Star Trek.′ New Formations ′As we stand on the threshold of the age of human cloning, the leading question asked by this engaging book–– What is human?––could hardly be more timely. The Barretts offer persuasive answers in their thorough analysis of a media phenomenon that has touched virtually everyone who lives in a technologically advanced society.′ Andrew Ross, Director, American Studies Program, New York University Star Trek: The Human Frontier goes a long way toward explaining the enduring success of "the franchise" without succumbing to naive celebration. It explores Star Trek′s strengths and flaws, its continuities and discontinuities, its intertextualities and its contextualities. The two Barretts explore Star Trak′s ambivalent relationship to modernity, to nautical exploration (and colonial empires), humanism, and ultimately, post–modernity. Moving effortlessly from Homer to Foucault, from Orwell to Butler, they manage to give substance to many of the intuitvely experienced, commonsensical assumptions about Star Trek. And they have produced a book that is a delight to read. If this is what intergenerational authorship can accomplish, we should all start writing with our kids. Lawrence Grossberg, Morris davis Professor of Communication and Cultural Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
From the Back Cover
In a world that has been shrunk by modern communications and transport, Star Trek has maintained the values of western maritime exploration, and the discovery of "Strange New Worlds" in space. This ′Starry Sea′ has become a familiar metaphor in the thirty–year history of Star Trek , providing a backdrop to the relentless questioning of human nature. The progressive politics that underpinned the original programme is still very much a part of Star Trek′ s overall philosophy. The earlier series of Star Trek shows a faith in science and rationalism, and in a benign, liberal leadership. This ′modern′ order is now in decline, as we can see in the introduction of religion, mental illness and fragmented identities in Deep Space Nine and Voyager . This book addresses these issues in philosophical, literary, historical and cultural contexts, bringing together an unusual combination of authorial expertise. Written to appeal to those who don′t know Star Trek from Star Wars , as well as those with the ferociously detailed knowledge of the true Trekker, it explains the ideas and ideals behind this significant cultural phenomenon.