not going to be satisfied,” Takei oncernquipped, “until we’re all gone and herngets to do all our parts.”rnThe standard line is that Star Trekrnshimmers with optimism. “There seemsrnto be a compulsion among writers to picturernthe future as totally computerized,rninhumanly authoritarian, and coldly bigbrotherish,”rnRoddenberry complained inrnone memo. Not Star Trek, he boasted.rnYet the series is JFK New Frontier ColdrnWar liberalism in space: lofty sentimentsrnabout brotherhood float around thernbridge, and hey darky won’t you answerrnthat phone? The Enterprise crew is duty-rnbound to follow “The Prime Directive,”rnwhich proscribes “interferencernwith the normal development of alienrnlife and societies.” Yet in their planethoppingrnthey destroy gods and tear downrnsuperstitions and inflict the blessings ofrnreason and technology on benightedrnaliens, hnagine Ayn Rand as the Queenrnof Outer Space, killing mystics andrnre-educating eccentrics, and otherwisernsetting the universe free.rnRoddenberry’s outline for the episodern”The Return of the Archons” imagines arnstagnant planet becalmed by religion:rn”What can be seen on the street, thernhappy friendliness and tranquillity,rnmasks despair, dullness, almost a livingrndeath.” So Kirk and company demolishrnthe Archons’ god: things will be swell inrnno time, we are sure, though Star Fleetrnmay have to hunt down and torch a fugitivernwarlord or two. At these momentsrnStar Trek, though entertaining, gives usrnan armed Peace Corps of smug blunderbusses;rnkind of a best-case scenario of arnWorld Federalist future. That this universernwould be as inhospitable to GenernRoddenberry as it is to pious Archonsrnmay never have occurred to its creator.rnAfter Star Trek, Roddenberry’s own starrndimmed. He wrote and produced thernRock Hudson black comedy Pretty MaidsrnAll in a Row, a Roger Vadim flop. Hardrnup for money, he penned a screenplayrnfor an exotic band of British psychicsrnknown as “The Nine,” whose transworidlyrnsources informed them that in pastrnlives Roddenberry had been Moses’srngrandson, Peter’s father, and maybernJupiter himself. The things a skepticalrnhumanist has to do to put bread on therntable and coke up his nose. He was largelyrnexcluded from the production of thernfirst six feature films of the Star Trek franchise,rnthough they tickled his cupidity.rn(Like the series, the movies are bestrnwhen they feature swashbuckling andrnneedling camaraderie, and worst whenrnthey fog up in vaporing about the meaningrnof it all.) Roddenberry hit bottomrnwith the execrable Star Trek: The NextrnGeneration, the tediously didactic syndicatedrnseries which ran from 1987 torn1994. The 24th-century bores who populaternThe Next Generation “are not perfect,”rnconceded Roddenberry in the seriesrnbible for writers, “but their flaws dornnot include falsehood, petty jealousiesrnand the banal hypocrisies common inrnthe 20th century.” The man lamentingrnour foibles was recalled by LeonardrnNimoy (Mr. Spock) in this way: “Myrnbusiness dealings with him were alwaysrnmiserable. Gene always had an agendarn—his own. I didn’t see him step up tornbat and be the decent honorable humanistrnthat he portrayed himself to be.”rnGene Roddenberry died in 1991 atrnthe age of 70. Engel dismisses him as arntin-eared windbag whose eternal flamernwas his desire to be a writer while doingrnas little writing and as much fornicatingrnas possible. This seems excessively harsh:rna coeval biography, a pedestrian job by arnRoddenberry buddy, paints the subjectrnas a chummy and brilliant visionary, andrnthe affectionate recollections of Roddenberry’srnfriends—including Ray Bradbury,rnone of America’s finest living writersrn—suggest that for all his flaws he hadrnthe Spark.rnI had not seen an episode of Star Trekrnin probably a dozen years, but after finishingrnthese books I sat through severalrnhours of its comfortable exoticism: thernEnterprise’s engines lose power. Kirk seducesrnsuperlunary babes. Dr. McCoyrndrawls wisecracks, Spock arches his eyebrow,rnthe rainbow supernumerariesrnchirp about warp speed and hailing frequenciesrnand courses plotted, and I satrnmesmerized by the sweet familiarity of itrnall. Much as we might jeer at Moondogglesrnand military shuttles, space explorationrnstirs the soul, and in sending thisrnensemble out to strange new worids, orbsrnof ice and lava populated by mad scientistsrnand green wenches with remarkablyrnhuman contours. Star Trek was morernthan a pleasurable time-waster: it wasrnlovable. One hopes, for Roddenberry’srnsake, that the God he reviled shows mercyrnon Gene, and allows the poor sinnerrnto spend the afterlife in his cherishedrnvoid, where no man has gone before.rnBill Kauffman is the author of EveryrnMan a King, Country Towns of NewrnYork, and America First!rnBrief MentionsrnWith the Old Breed: At Peleliu andrnOkinawa. By E.B. Sledge (Novato, California:rnPresidio Press), 342 pp., $24.95rnDevil Dogs forced to watch their Corpsrnbecome a corporation—Total QualityrnManagement, affirmative action, sexualrnharassment awareness training—willrndraw inspiration from E.B. Sledge’srnbook, originally published in 1981 andrnsoon to be reissued. More than any tacticalrnmanual. With the Old Breed revealsrnwhat success under fire is all about: fortitude,rnloyalty, discipline, determinationrn—no matter what the odds. Thosernwho most need to read this book, however,rnare not marines but rather the politiciansrnwho have uttered the phrase “NewrnWorld Order” and meant it. Sledge’srnpicture of war as “brutish, inglorious, andrna terrible waste” might make the mostrncommitted empire-builder hesitate, ifrnonly for a moment, before he votes tornpack off another young man to a lonely,rndirty death: “The firing continued, andrnbullets hit the mark. The woundedrnJapanese subsided into the muddy littlernditch. He and his comrades had donerntheir best. ‘They died gloriously on thernfield of honor for the emperor,’ is whatrntheir parents would be told. In realityrntheir lives were wasted on a muddy stinkingrnslope for no good reason.” Now arnprofessor of biology at the University ofrnMontevallo in Alabama, Sledge served atrnPeleliu and Okinawa as an infantrymanrnwith the First Marine Division. Violent,rngraphic, full of “mud and maggots,” hisrnt:ale is not for the squeamish: “Kneelingrnin the mud I had dug the [fox]hole nornmore than six or eight inches deep whenrnthe odor of rotting flesh got worse.rnThere was nothing to do but continue torndig, so I closed my mouth and inhaledrnwith short shallow breaths. Anotherrnspadeful of soil out of the hole released arnmass of wriggling maggots that camernwelling up as though those beneathrnthem were pushing them out. The nextrnstroke of the spade unearthed buttonsrnand scraps of cloth from a Japanese armyrnjacket buried in the mud. With the nextrnthrust, metal hit the breastbone of a rottingrnJapanese corpse.” Learning aboutrnthe extraordinary endurance of ordinaryrnmen who lived from day to day in “hell’srnown cesspool” will shame anyone whorn36/CHRONICLESrnrnrn