To Boldly Imagine Extra-Human Bodies

What do Betazoid women wear to their weddings?
What is the name of Worf's son?
Where is the Borg from?
What (human) crew member on the Enterprise D has an artificial heart?

These questions appear in a quiz that accompanies the Lilly Library's display of part of its Star Trek collection. If your "Trek Quotient" is high, you would have answered that Betazoid women wear nothing at all to their weddings; that Worf's son is named Alexander Rozhenko; that the Borg is from Delta Quadrant; and that Captain Jean-Luc Picard is the only human crew member of the Enterprise D with an artificial heart.

The Lilly's Star Trek display includes Gene Roddenberry's original prospectus for the series, which he sold to DesiLu Productions in 1964. A writer for the westerns, Roddenberry envisioned the series as a version of the popular western series Wagon Train--a Wagon Train of the stars that would travel intergalactic frontiers rather than those of the American West. But DesiLu was unable to sell the new series to NBC because network executives thought Roddenberry's original conception of the show was "too cerebral." As a consequence, Roddenberry had to develop a whole new cast of characters for the series. He kept only the "extra-human" Vulcan Science Officer Spock from the original prospectus.

The Lilly's collection includes all eighty of the original screenplays, as well as scripts for each episode of the Next Generation series. Jeri Taylor, executive producer of the Next Generation and an Indiana University alumna, provided the Lilly with a full set of the Next Generation scripts. Patrons can also peruse Star Trek comic books, the Writer-Director Guide for the original series, and several press kits for Star Trek movies.

The Star Trek comics are not an anomaly in the library's collections. The Lilly counts among its holdings a representation of classic comic books that would inspire envy in any private collector. "In fact," says Director William Cagle, "the library owns a full set of Marvell comics." Cagle tells a story about visiting scholars from the Bibliothèque Nationale being more impressed with the Lilly's first issue of the Fantastic Four than with its copy of Les Grandes Chroniques de France--the first book ever published in French. X-men leader, Professor X, who uses "the most powerful mutant brain of all time" to combat the forces of darkness; the web-swinging Spiderman; and the Incredible Hulk are among the heroes of popular culture featured in the comics in the Lilly that present variations in the theme of extra-human embodiment.

The Star Trek Writer-Director Guide enclosed in the Lilly's display cabinets describes the character that has become known to a generation of fans as the essence of extra-human embodiment. In his guide for writers and directors, Roddenberry explains how Spock's blended human-maternal and Vulcan-paternal heritage accounts for his yellowish complexion and "satanic, pointed ears." He then goes on to point out that "the main and most useful point of difference [between Spock and more completely human crew members] is an incapacity for emotion and an almost computer-like turn of mind. On his own planet, to show emotion is considered the grossest of sins, comparable to a human fornicating at high noon in his town square. We will suspect occasionally his half-human heredity results in some feelings, but he will make every effort to hide this weakness."

Most people who come to study the Lilly's Star Trek collection are interested in script writing, says Cagle. But many scholars of popular culture also take advantage of the library's Hollywood artifacts or pulp comic collections. Cagle comments that "people tend to think of a rare book and manuscript library as a very serious, very scholarly place. And while the Lilly certainly is that, its holdings include a wide range of materials intended to appeal to the diverse interests of IU's faculty, students, and visiting scholars."

--Susan Moke