Growing up I was a Star Wars fan. If you were a kid in the late-80s/early-90s and liked sci-fi/fantasy, you were either a Star Wars adherent or a Star Trek fan; there was none of this modern nerdy ‘coexist’ stuff.
I knew of Trek, of course. I had caught the occasional episode of The Next Generation (TNG) or Deep Space Nine (DS9), but never made it a point to tune in on a regular basis. At least not until Voyager (I know, I know… hey, it was the show that was on when I was finally old enough to appreciate Trek). It was during this time in secondary school when I really drifted away from the fantasy of the Force to the slightly more science-based fiction of the Federation (George Lucas had a lot to do with that, as well, of course. So far as I’m concerned, there are currently only three Star Wars films, with a fourth being released soon-ish. And Han Shot first!) Anyway, by the time I entered university as an undergraduate, I was starting down the Trekkie path.
I had caught some of the original-cast films either in reruns or in the theatre — I distinctly remember going to see Generations on the big screen and think it was probably my first Trek film at the cinema. I had seen any of The Original Series (TOS) or, honestly, liked the cast much when I was younger. I knew who Kirk, Spock, Scotty and Bones were, of course, but I had no real connection with them. It wasn’t until the past year or so that I even watched TOS at all, so I was struck by my emotional resonance at the death of Leonard Nimoy last week.
Now, I’ve never met him. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who’s met him. He’s had no real direct impact on my life. Yet somehow he was always just there. Whether it was the idea of Spock that permeated all the sci-fi that I later read, or his other acting, voice-acting or directing work, or his writings that I almost invariably saw during my time working at a book store, somehow Leonard Nimoy was always around. Or maybe it was the influence that Star Trek as a whole had on society, from inspiring people to get into space exploration and the sciences in general (see this NASA picture from the launch of Enterprise) to helping us humans believe a better future was possible. Indeed, in my final year of secondary school I used the Klingon idea of Sto-vo-kor in a talk about the afterlife, and at uni I was arguing the idea of the Federation as the ideal Communist society, living together in peace and harmony working for the greater good. Somehow, without me ever realising it, Spock — and Nimoy — gave me comfort. Now that he’s gone, I’m truly saddened.
My life was enhanced just by him being in the world. I guess that’s the mark of a true icon. He did truly live long and proper. I can only hope to do him the honour of trying to follow a similar life. Perhaps Kirk actually said it best in Wrath of Khan, ‘Of my friend I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels his was the most human’. In the meantime, I found this JoBlo tribute video a touching summary. Leonard Nimoy, you will certainly be missed.