The Wrath of Khan and Classic Literature.
Nicholas Meyer, upon putting his stamp on the Star Trek universe with The Wrath of Khan, introduced classical human literature to the franchise in a way never before seen. Khan Noonien Singh's bookshelf on the wreckage of the SS Botany Bay displayed a host of significant texts—from Shakespeare to Milton—which spoke to his grandiose fate as one of the galaxy's most dangerous villains.
In this episode of Primitive Culture, hosts Duncan Barrett and Tony Black delve into the literature that Meyer brought to his first Star Trek film, focusing heavily on Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities and Melville's Moby-Dick, discussing how they connect with and reflect Khan and his nemesis: Admiral James T. Kirk. Along the way, it's Tony's turn to recount his Star Trek origin story.
Tony's Star Trek Journey (00:02:25)
What do books represent? (00:13:18)
A Tale of Two Cities (00:21:07)
Nick Meyer's Bookshelf (00:42:47)
Paradise Lost (00:52:37)
King Lear (01:01:24)
Final Thoughts (01:06:55)
Duncan Barrett and Tony Black
Tony Black (Editor and Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)
Star Trek and Fan Fiction. We consider Star Trek's role in the cultural phenomenon of fanfic, charting its development from the 'slash' stories of the 1970s through to the vast online archives of the twenty-first century.
Anne Frank and Counterpoint. We look at the influence of The Diary of Anne Frank on Star Trek’s screenwriters, considering how science fiction handles fascist and authoritarian regimes and the role played by ordinary people in resisting oppression.
Michael Piller, Joseph Conrad, and Star Trek: Insurrection. We look at some of the inspirations behind the script of the third TNG film, including Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness and discuss Piller’s book Fade In.
The British Isles in Star Trek. We discuss the portrayal of our homelands over a few synthales at the Grosvenor Hotel in London, and examine real-world independence movements and the effects of transporters on national identity.
Cinematic Influences on Star Trek: First Contact. We discuss the influence of Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg, and James Cameron on Jonathan Frakes and how their films inspired his big-screen directorial debut.
Gay Representation in Star Trek. We look at the franchise's fraught engagement with LGBT issues, from The Next Generation to Discovery.
Star Trek's Impossible Choices. We consider the influence of Sophie's Choice on Star Trek's storytelling and the dilemmas Starfleet captains are forced to face that the rest of us might consider impossible.
Voyager, History, and Nostalgia. We explore the show’s obsession with the past, debates around historical truth, the pleasures of nostalgia, and whether the homeward mission was inherently retrogressive.
A Christmas Carol and Tapestry. In this special holiday episode, we look at the influence of Dickens’s classic story on of the most popular episodes of TNG and the role Christmas plays in the secular societies we see in Star Trek.
Star Trek and Human Rights. To mark International Human Rights Day, we consider how Star Trek has engaged with real-world debates about human and animal rights, the impact of war on our most dearly held principles, and the Federation’s role in policing the future.