The man who saved Star Trek has died

We live in the greatest nerd era of all time. For millennia, nerds were punched or a punchline while men of action had epic poems written about their heroics; later they played football and hooked up with the hot girl and ate pencil-necked geeks for breakfast. Sci-fi was considered juvenile; sci-fi films were usually "B" movies with rubbery monsters and plastic spaceships and wooden acting.

Enter 2001: A Space Odyssey. And Star Wars. And Close Encounters. And at the same time the economy began shifting from manufacturing to tech-based, computers, chips, robotics. The scientists and engineers became ascendant just as nerd culture became ascendant. Fuck yeah!

At the cusp of all that change was Star Trek. TOS straddled both eras. Sure it had the crummy effects and old-fashioned macho dudes throwing fists. But it also had fantastic world building, a powerful vision of a future without racism or poverty, and a sense that cool tech would be key to that future. Mixed in with the phasers and photon torpedoes was a political statement that to thrive we must be open to new cultures, new ideas. Radical.

This leads me to an obituary posted on John Trimble died at the age of 87. You may not know who he is, but, incredibly, Trimble and his wife Bjo almost single-handedly saved the Star Trek franchise in 1968.

Star Trek and fandom as we know it all stems from the efforts and passion of John and his wife Bjo Trimble, the couple who launched a grassroots letter writing campaign to Save Star Trek following NBC's cancellation of the Original Series, resulting in a third season. With enough episodes then, Star Trek was able to enter syndication, propelling it into a phenomenon that warranted an animated series in 1973 and big-budget feature in 1979.

Without him, the whole franchise almost certainly would have disappeared, a forgotten show like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea or Time Tunnel. Instead, we have a zillion Trek iterations, and conventions and video games and Mr. Spock action figures. And the Complete Set of the 12 Authentic Blueprints of the Fabulous Starship Enterprise, which was gifted to me on my 12th birthday and which I spent many hours poring over.

Thank you, John Trimble, for your service to the galaxy.

Previously: Brilliant Star Trek vs. Star Wars trick in the New York Times crossword puzzle