A recent interview with Bryan Fuller, who only thinks about a new Star Trek series in a wishful-thinking sort of way, revealed who he would like to cast as the captain. He put forth names like Angela Bassett, who he initially mixes up with Angela Lansbury, and Rosario Dawson for the second officer.“Star Trek, She Wrote”
Unfortunately for Fuller, with Abrams being at the helm of the new reboot movies and having television experience, it pretty much assures him the franchise and it is unlikely that Fuller (who has written for Star Trek in the past) will have an influential role. Though, it does seem strange that Fuller is speculating at all, which can cause copyright issues in the future if he’s not tied to the project, even if the project ever happens.
Still, it’s fun to speculate, so I figured, as the resident Star Trek writer here at ScienceFiction.com, why not me too?
Now, I’ve long been a proponent of making The New Frontier series by the incomparable Peter David into a television series, but I’m willing to think a bit more outside the box. Though, if we’re going to be quite candid, part of the reason I love the books so much is because they have a variety of characters like Star Trek has never really indulged in before, and that includes alternate sexualities and characters with pasts that made their loyalty to all things Federation somewhat circumspect.
And that’s what I want out of a Captain. I want someone or something that is going to challenge both today and tomorrow’s norms.
The strange thing about thinking about who should be the next captain is how strange it is to think about it in terms of minority representation. Though their sex and ethnicity still matters in the future, it’s a matter of background and not handicap. After all, with Janeway and Sisko, never once was their race or sex mentioned, despite it being the item almost everyone in the media focuses on. Even now.
Thus, if the most positive portrayal we can give a woman, or a black character, on Star Trek hinges on the fact that these attributes don’t make up the entirety of their personality, then don’t we think it’s about time for a gay captain?
Truthfully, though, when it comes to captains in Star Trek, choosing ones that represent anything than white males is actually in the minority. It stands to reason that whoever the next captain will be, it will probably be another white dude. Perhaps I’m hoping for too much.
I have linked the list of Starfleet Captains here for your perusal, in case you wonder just how strong the case for more representation really is. There are a few notable exceptions, one of which being Geordie LaForge’s mother, Silva, and Hikaru Sulu (who manages to take three seasons and six movies to get there).
So, with that in mind, not only would I like to see a captain that represents an underrepresented minority in our own world, but I think as an alternative that it would be pretty nifty to have a non-human captain, and I don’t mean a Vulcan or a Betazed (though a Vulcan captain and a Betazoid first officer would be an interesting combination). I mean something that barely looks human.
Why? Firstly, because there is a undercurrent of latent racism in Star Trek that I’m not really sure people are overtly aware of, and it might be good to fix that. It has been noted by many, not the least of which Armin Shimerman (Quark), that the less human a species looks, the more horribly/comically that species is treated. Also, there is a suspicious lack of visibly non-human captains on the show, and when they aren’t humans, they are very human-like, I.E Vulcan. Canon Star Trek sort of suffers from Star Wars syndrome. In a world full of aliens, did we ever see an Empire commander that wasn’t human? Just in the way Timothy Zahn brilliantly comments on this in the Hand of Thrawn trilogy, it may behoove Star Trek to do it too. It would be a fascinating concept, needless to say. Why not have a captain that faces adversity from within as well as from without?
Secondly, and far more importantly, it would be interesting to see what sort of take a non-human would have on the missions the Federation generally undertakes. Some of my favorite scenes in Star Trek are between aliens discussing how weird the Federation is.
For those who can’t watch video, Quark and Garak discuss how easy it is to keep drinking the Federation kool-aid despite not liking it. It’s a gem of a moment that realizes that maybe the Federation really isn’t everyone’s ideal, and I would love to see more of the Federation’s tactics questioned with an outside perspective.
All in all, who knows if we’ll get another series in the near future? If we do, what sort of road will the series take? All we can do is speculate, and hope to generate enough discussion on the topic that we may influence the creators.
So ask yourself, if you could choose someone to be the next captain, who would it be? Is it a specific actor? Or are you interested in a diverse representation in Starfleet?