A Beginner's Guide to Star Trek
Looking for a special something for the Trekkie in your life but don’t know where to start -- or what a Trekkie even is?
We have you covered.
What IS Star Trek?
is an American science fiction franchise created by Gene Roddenberry that spans multiple television series, movies, and other media. While each series focuses on a different set of characters, spaceships, and planets, the core theme remains the same: a diverse and close-knit crew of humans and aliens travel through space under the banner of the United Federation of Planets. Their mission: explore the galaxy, establish diplomatic relations with other planets, and “boldly go where no one has gone before.” Famous for its sci-fi concepts, social commentary, and optimistic vision of the future, Star Trek gave rise to a dedicated fanbase known as “Trekkies” (though many prefer the term “Trekkers”)
What are the Different Series?
aka “Classic Trek"
(1966 to 1969): The first and most famous series follows the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk
, Vulcan first officer Spock, and their racially diverse crew. It gave rise to six sequel movies and a spin-off animated series.
(1987 to 1994): Set a century after the Original Series, TNG follows the crew of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D
, led by diplomat Captain Jean Luc Picard.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
(1993 to 1999): Set near the end of TNG, this series focuses on a strategically important starbase – the titular Deep Space Nine – and the mix of Starfleet crew, Bajoran
militia, and civilians that live there under the leadership of Captain Benjamin Sisko.
Star Trek: Voyager
(1995-2001): Set in the same time period as DS9, Voyager
follows the titular ship, helmed by Captain Kathryn Janeway, after it gets stranded in a distant quadrant of the galaxy and must find its way home.
Star Trek: Enterprise
(2001-2005): A prequel set a hundred years before the Original Series, Enterprise
follows Captain Jonathan Archer and the crew of the first Enterprise prototype.
aka Star Trek 2009
(2009-present): Directed by J.J. Abrams, this movie restarts and reboots the Original Series with a storyline involving time travel and parallel dimensions. It was followed up by a sequel, Star Trek: Into Darkness.
What is Starfleet?
is the “military” arm of the United Federation of Planets (which is basically the United Nations in space). While Starfleet has a command structure similar to the navy and engages in combat when needed, its main tasks are scientific research, diplomacy, and exploration of the galaxy.
What is the Enterprise?
is a Galaxy-class starship and the flagship of Starfleet. Its distinctive features include a large saucer section, wing-like engine nacelles, and the registration number NCC-1701. Most of the Star Trek series take place on one of these ships
. There are also a number of other classes of Enterprise ship in the Federation fleet, including the NX, Constitution, Excelsior, Ambassador, and Sovereign classes.
What is a Tricorder?
The tricorder is a small device used for scanning areas, objects, or people (usually medical patients). In the Original Series, the tricorders
were large and boxy; later versions fit comfortably in a pocket or in the palm of a hand.
What is a Phaser?
This is the term for the laser-like weapons Starfleet uses for personal defense. The basic phaser is just a small handheld device, but it can be mounted on a pistol attachment for added firepower. Phasers can be set to stun, kill, or even vaporize opponents.
What are Communicators?
In the Original Series, away teams communicated with the ship and each other using handheld devices with flip-top lids
, a bit like cell phones. By TNG, however, these were upgraded to badges
that could be activated with a tap and a voice command.
What are Tribbles?
Small fluffy aliens from the Original Series, Tribbles
reproduce at an explosively high rate. They trill softly when stroked, but shriek whenever a Klingon gets near.
Who are The Klingons?
A warlike race of bumpy-headed aliens obsessed with glory and honor. The Klingons were originally enemies of Starfleet but later became allies. Their ships are known as Birds of Prey
and can hide themselves with a cloaking device.
Who are the Bajorans?
The Bajorans are humanoid race known for their intensely devout culture and ridged noses. Much of DS9 focuses on the Bajoran people, their religion, and their recovery after a horrific military occupation.
Who are the Vulcans?
Vulcans are a peaceful, pointy-eared alien race who repress and reject emotion in favor of logic and intellect. Spock
is the most famous Vulcan in any Star Trek series.
Who are the Romulans?
Romulans are an offshoot of the Vulcan race; while Vulcans embraced logic, Romulans embraced passion. Regular antagonists of Starfleet, Romulans prefer deception and cunning over brute force.
Live Long and Prosper?
A traditional greeting among Vulcans, usually accompanied with a V-shaped hand sign.
The Prime Directive?
Starfleet’s most important rule – never interfere with the natural development of alien civilizations. Depending on the series, our heroes either bend over backwards trying to obey this rule, or stomp all over it.
A large Klingon blade shaped in an arc and wielded with either one or two hands. Bat'leths are often used in ritual combat.
A form of galactic standard time measurement, always stated at the beginning of the captain’s log: “Captain’s Log, Stardate 4982.6.”
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