Almost 15 years ago, I started a website called SyFy World (later SyFy Portal, and even later after that Airlock Alpha). It was a science-fiction entertainment news site, but its primary focus was on Star Trek.
In 1998, we had two television series going — “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Star Trek: Voyager” — as well as a new movie, the Jonathan Frakes-directed “Star Trek: Insurrection” on its way into theaters.
For me, science-fiction was Star Trek, and Star Trek was science-fiction. Yes, there was Star Wars, comic book films, various other sci-fi properties, and even “Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict,” but Star Trek was always my great focus.
So today, on my birthday of all days, we are launching a great new site. Inspired by the USS Enterprise itself, we call this 1701 News, and we hope that it will soon be every Star Trek fan’s first stop on their Internet journey each day.
But why would I want to do this? The answer is simple: I still love Star Trek, and I feel that a site covering broad science-fiction like Airlock Alpha simply could not be the right home for such an amazing franchise. We needed to bring our style of news to its own area, and we’re doing that with the family that started it all in the first place — the Roddenberrys.
For years, we have kicked around the idea of starting a Star Trek site, but we just didn’t want to do it and that’s it. We wanted it to be big, bold and exciting. We wanted something that would be instantly recognizable, and be something no one else had. Never before has the Roddenberry family partnered in a news site about Star Trek. That is until I walked up to them and said, “Come on, guys. Let’s do this.”
Yes, Eugene Roddenberry is not Gene Roddenberry. He’s not creating television shows. He’s not writing scripts. He’s not going convention to convention giving moving and future-looking speeches to packed houses. But he’s been absolutely amazing to Star Trek over the years, especially to its fans, keeping the Great Bird of the Galaxy’s philosophy of Star Trek alive.
Some of my earliest memories are of Star Trek. My dad would watch reruns of the original “Star Trek” series all the time, and before I even started kindergarten, I could tell you my address, phone number, who my parents were, and who was captain of the Enterprise.
In 1996, I attended my first-ever Star Trek convention. It was a Vulkon event in Orlando, Fla., with special guest Kate Mulgrew of “Star Trek: Voyager.” My dad went with me, wearing a shirt that had nothing but Mulgrew’s gigantic face on it. When Mulgrew looked up from where she was doing autographs at my dad’s shirt, she almost fell out of her chair.
My first real forays into the world of Star Trek took place with “Star Trek: Enterprise,” a show I still miss even eight years later. Soon after “Enterprise” ended, Paramount Pictures had decided to hire Emmy-winning actor Erik Jendresen to pen a prequel movie. By some freak set of circumstance — I think started by me blasting the idea of doing a prequel film on SyFy Portal — Erik and I would find ourselves on the phone together almost every day. I was his Star Trek expert, the guy who would give him direct insight on what Star Trek fans were looking for — and what would be canon.
The last thing he wanted was fanboys like me saying, “Hey! Picard wasn’t bald in the Academy!” There was one four-hour phone conversation where he was reading me this exciting battle between Earth and the Romulans (which was the first volley in the fabled Federation-Romulan War). He was so excited sharing what was an amazing and breathtaking battle. He shared every nuance, every photon torpedo blast.
Erik got to the very end, and was waiting for my reaction. And it was simple: “Where are the nuclear weapons?”
“The what?” he asked.
“The nuclear weapons,” I said. “Spock, in ‘Balance of Terror,’ called the war a nuclear war. So you need nukes.”
After some grumbles and choice words I don’t want to repeat here, Erik went back and added nuclear weapons to that epic battle. We never got to see Erik’s script made, since Paramount changed guard and went with J.J. Abrams. And trust me, I loved the 2009 movie, but there is a huge part of me that wishes Erik’s movie would get made someday. It was awesome.
In recent years, I’ve had the honor of talking with many people in Star Trek, and it’s been great. Whether it be the amazing George Takei, the beautiful Chase Masterson, the talented Brent Spiner. Heck, one day while I was eating lunch, my phone rang with a number I didn’t recognize. I sent it to voice mail, and when I checked it later, I heard, “Hello, Michael Hinman, please. This is Leonard Nimoy calling.”
Star Trek has always been a part of my life, right into my DNA. When Gene Roddenberry died in 1991, I cried — and I never even met him. I cried for Rod and Majel, and I had never even met them. If you told me 20 years later I would be sharing that tidbit, I would run and hide.
The Roddenberrys have not really been a key part of Star Trek for a very long time, but that doesn’t negate everything Gene, Majel and in his own way even Rod, have put into this franchise over the decades. Star Trek would not be Star Trek without them, and to me, 1701 News would not be 1701 News without them.
Enjoy the new site, ignore the dust while we continue to bring more special features on line, and look for exciting new things coming up. We are working on an extensive convention area that is not just there to tell you about upcoming events, but also gives you a chance to become a reporter for 1701 News as well. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and there is still something special about seeing your name in print on a byline.
What do you like? What do you think we can improve on? What are we missing? Reach out to me directly at [email protected]. Yes, our new email address for 1701 News are coming soon.
In the meantime, enjoy the site! Tell your friends! Tweet us! Share us on Facebook! And, if nothing else, come back every day. Because you never know who Leonard Nimoy might be calling during lunchtime next.