Star Trek Guide

Friday, December 28, 2018

Late in 2018, Star Trek lost another of its original creators in John D. F. Black, a producer, story editor and writer and collaborator in Trek's earliest days.  He wrote the classic episode "The Naked Time."  He then repeated that formative contribution in the early days of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Many believe that the first season episode "City on the Edge of Forever" was the best of the original series.  Harlan Ellison wrote the script upon which that episode was based.  The outspoken and mercurial Ellison was a force of nature in science fiction from the 1960s onward.  In addition to his own prolific fictions (like the classic "A Boy and His Dog") his contributions included the Dangerous Visions collection of stories, and its sequel, which helped define the New Wave era in American science fiction.

Emmy-winning sound designer Douglas Grindstaff populated the Star Trek universe with many of its defining and memorable sounds.  Similarly, John M. Dwyer helped create the look of Star Trek as set decorator for the original series, a season of TNG and six of the feature films.

Richard H. Kline, cinematographer and Frank Serafine, sound director and editor, both for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, died this year.

Veteran actors did guest turns on various Star Trek episodes, including Joseph Campanella and Georgeann Johnson, who passed away in 2018.

Celeste Yarnall made a lasting impression with one role as Yeoman Martha Landon on the original series episode "The Apple."  After her TV and film career she again became part of the Star Trek family, appearing with other Trek alums in the independent film Of Gods and Men, produced by Sky Conway and directed by Tim Russ.

Also making a lasting impression with one TOS role was Roger Perry as the 20th century astronaut taken out of time by the Enterprise in "Tomorrow is Yesterday."

Perhaps the most tragic Trek-related death of 2018 was the suicide at age 33 of John Paul Steur, an actor and musician who was the first to play Worf's son Alexander in TNG.

Other guest actors who died in 2018 include James Greene,  Richard Merrifield (TOS), John Eskobar (TNG), Robert Mandan (DS9) and Yyonne Shoz (Voyager).  Donald R. Pike (Star Trek VI) and Ann Chatterton (Star Trek II) did stunts.  David Bischoff was a writer for TNG.

Among the guest actors during the decades of Doctor Who who died in 2018 were Peter Miles, Pamela Ann Davy, Helen Griffin, Jacqueline Pearce and Allan Bennion.  Also Who directors Derrick Sherwin and Bill Sellars.

Other contributors to science fiction classics on screen were actor Margot Kidder (Lois Lane in the Chris Reeves' Superman films,) Douglas Rain (the unforgettable voice of HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Gary Kurtz (producer, Star Wars), Al Matthews (actor, Aliens), Michael D. Ford (art director, The Empire Strikes Back), Michael Anderson (director, Logan's Run), Donnelly Rhodes (actor, Battlestar Galactica), and Kin Sugai (actor, Gojira/Godzilla.)

The crossover comics/s.f. genre lost two of its originators in 2018: writer, editor and impressario Stan Lee and writer Steve Ditko, who among other things, each co-created The Amazing Spider-Man.

The written word of science fiction lost one of its greatest in Ursula K. LeGuin.  Among her many classic works is the novella "The Word for the World is Forest", which first appeared in the second Harlan Ellison anthology, Again, Dangerous Visions, and won a Hugo. Her legacy continues to grow.

Other valued and remembered contributors include writer and elder Karen Anderson, Peter Nicholls (editor of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction), and writers Dave Duncan and Mary Rosenblum.

May they all rest in peace.  Their work lives on.