Sex. No other three-lettered word has as much impact on the psyche, with its promise of tawdriness and taboo-breaking potential. It’s counterpart, the four-letter word, love, hints at a more tender and nurturing experience. While Star Trek Sex, penned by author Will Stape, uses the three-letter word to sell the publication, it really is a thoughtful analysis of how both words impacted viewers, the show and its characters.
Including sex in its title may have been Stape taking a subliminal cue from the book’s inspiration, Howard Stern, but it proves to be a perfect gateway to not just explore the sexual impact of specific episodes, but also examine how love and romance affected character motivations and decisions in The Original Series. One thing Stape does exceptionally well in Star Trek Sex is demonstrate how much of The Original Series’ episodes centered around relationships between men and women.
Offering quick sexual situation bullet points prior to each episode’s examination, Stape’s summaries do not always fully discuss those situations. Instead, he presents them as a way of tapping into what it means to be a teenager in puberty, like in Charlie X or Miri, or as in the case of Mudd’s Women and What Little Girls Are Made Of?, prostitution and objectification of women. His most thoughtful reviews come when discussing lost loves and potential relationships.
Analyzing Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country is the book’s shining moment, as Stape provides a thorough inspection at several sexual moments, including Kirk’s continued success with the opposite sex as well as the forcible rape of Valeris at the hands of Spock, who may or may not have had a relationship with the younger protege. Stape examines the intimacy of the Vulcan mind meld, how what Spock did to Valeris in order to obtain information was a very aggressive act, while also providing readers with other mind meld moments from The Original Series. Sadly, this in-depth examination was not provided for all 39 episodes and films the author explores (a number which accounts for 46% of the stories produced with the original crew).
There are other nuggets unearthed as in the case of the submissive relationship between Khan and Marla McGivers in Space Seed or that The Cage was actually rejected for being too sexy not cerebral. While the book is 95% analysis of The Original Series’ episodes, Stape also dedicates a chapter to the onscreen bromance of Kirk and Spock, as well as the sexiest girls and starships in the galaxy. He also includes an interesting exploration of Uhura as a sexual strategist before wrapping up to a dedicated section on the earlier mentioned Stern.
It’s surprising to think that no author has tackled the subject of sex in Star Trek before Stape, especially when considering The Original Series was written during the sexual revolution of the 1960s and its creator’s own and well-documented appetite when it came to the fairer sex. Also, those episodes may have deliberately presented those situations onscreen as a ploy to lure the coveted male 18-34 audience.
Romance and love, may be a more appropriate theme for Star Trek Sex, but including those two in the title might not be enough to tempt casual readers to give the book a look. In the end, sex sells and that angle should draw enough interest, which will ultimately allow readers to think about the thoroughly developed ideas Stape presents.
You can buy Stape’s book here.