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Updated: July 12, 2012 21:22 IST

Trekking to a new world

Harshini Vakkalanka
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Rod Roddenberry, son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, brings to TV a film that looks at his father’s vision and features interviews with fans and stars

As a young boy, Eugene Wesley “Rod” Roddenberry, Jr. didn’t really know Star Trek. In fact he hadn’t even watched it then. Ordinarily that wouldn’t mean much, but then (as is obvious from his name, even those remotely familiar with the series would know) Rod is the son of the Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry (Eugene Wesley Roddenberry, Sr.)

It wasn’t until Gene Roddenberry’s passing, when his son was 17, that Rod really started thinking about Star Trek “At my father’s memorial service, I heard a story about how Star Trek impacted someone’s life and that’s when I decided to go on a journey. I spoke to fans and asked them what made the series special,” he recalls, in a telephonic interview.

One of the most important aspects of the series, Rod found, was that it presented a future where everyone worked together for the greater good, looking past all differences.

“That was the world these fans wanted to live in. I heard this message from so many people around the world. These people were coming from different ethnicities, political persuasions, genders and they all believe in this future. I was inspired by them to carry my father’s message the best way I can.”

Rod then filmed the journey he took, resulting in the documentary Trek Nation that goes into the world of Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek, and its creation, and features interviews with fans and stars.

Humanising him

“I didn’t want it to be a documentary that spoke of how great Star Trek was. It was important to do something real. I saw that many people revered him like a God. But it’s hard for a son to identify with a God-like personality. So I wanted to humanise him. I needed to find a story that had good, bad and ugly,” he explains, clarifying that the documentary is not destructive.

“It was someone I could then identify with and love. And I want fans to say that he was someone they could respect and admire and someone who inspired them to do something amazing.” Rod is the chief executive officer of Roddenberry Entertainment that now brings out and works with science fiction productions including television and film projects, merchandise, publishing, comics and graphic novels, underwater adventures and philanthropy. But it does not stop there.

“Millions want to live in the vision of the future that he created and I’m one of them. I’m trying to make that vision a reality with the Roddenberry Foundation,” he explains, talking about how it works with “cutting edge” ideas to solve problems in four areas of science and technology, the environment, education and humanitarian advances.

Rod insists that his father’s vision is his vision and hopes that Star Trek and the Roddenberry vision will continue to inspire people, though he insists that carrying his father’s name does not weigh him down.

“Of course there is pressure. But I believe that it’s up to me to handle it and the only pressure I feel is the pressure I put on myself. I’m not trying to fill my father’s shoes. I’m taking the next step of converting the future he envisioned into reality.”

Trek Nation premieres on Discovery Science on July 14 with a repeat on July 21 at 9 p.m.

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