Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Antiques of the Future

Turn the clock back to 1992, I had left school and begun an apprenticeship as an engineer. This meant I was earning a real wage for the first time. Not that I hadn't been paid before, but the pennies I got as pocket-money or for my part-time market job came and went quickly.

Now with more money than I could practically spend1, I could afford something substantial. Something that would bring me both great pleasure and be a sound financial investment: Antiques of the Future!

Of course for a true sci-fi geek2 there was only one obvious choice: Star Trek - The Next Generation on VHS!

I had watched the original series and the first two seasons of TNG on the BBC, but now the series was moving to SKY TV. Satellite television was height of luxury at the time, reserved for those families who's dads drove BMWs and who's mums owned sun-beds. This meant I would have to wait months, maybe even years for the new episodes to be repeated on terrestrial telly; a cruel starvation diet that my geek metabolism could never survive.

The timing was fortuitous too. The BBC had stopped showing the series after the Best of Both Worlds episode, the turning point in terms of the general quality of TNG episodes, which meant that I had suffered through those awkward early episodes for free and now every double-episode cassette I bought would be TV gold.

Everything was going great for years. I gained much kudos from my friends as their Star Trek pimp. Eventual I left my job as an engineer and started working at Virgin Megastore which gave me a 25% discount on the new releases. A new series about a certain Cardassian space station started meaning I could now buy twice the Trek!

But all good things... as they say. TNG came to an end, DVDs gained popularity and I convinced my mum that paying to have the equivalent of a wok bolted to the outside of our house was a good idea. So, I stopped buying the videos three seasons into DS9 and thanks to the regular repeats of the old episodes on SKY 1 the tapes were relegated to a dusty shelf.

Flash forward. After moving homes several times, each time lugging around 60+ Star Trek videos which I not opened in a decade, I decided something must be done. I tried eBay3, but the last VHS boat had sailed and probably sunk tragically long ago. It seemed my antiques of the future had become the ballast of the present.

I could donate them to a charity of course, but I had an emotional as well as financial investment in these bricks of plastic and pleasure. I've always been a want-to-be writer so I mulled the idea of using the tapes to pen my own Star Trek guide book; a mixture of review, personal analysis and British wit. Sadly the main trait of a want-to-be writer took hold and the idea never progressed beyond the mulling stage..

So for a couple of years it swam around the To Do pool at the back of my mind. Which where Wil Wheaton, and his damn Traveler intellect, must have found it!

I have been reading Mr Wheaton's blog words since before it went into Exile and frequently linked across to his Next Gen reviews on TV Squad. So when he announced he would be collecting and expanding the reviews into a book called Memories of the Future I couldn't be more pleased. Lets face it, any Trek related book written by the former Wesley Crusher is sure to be more entertaining and insightful than anything I could have done4.

So my Antiques of the Future have become Wil's Memories of the Future. I suggest you check out some of the working previews he has posted on his blog and wait patiently with me for its imminent release.

Now I just need to figure out what to do with these damn tapes:

1 Strangely I could draw out less than I got paid on my first cash card.
2 The earliest I can remember watching is re-runs of B&W Buck Rogers on weekend afternoon telly.
3 I did sell an whole season, 13-tapes, for £1, Yay!
4 Not to mention more likely to be finished.

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