Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Scotty's Been Beamed Up

James Doohan, who played Montgomerey "Scotty" Scott on the original Star Trek, has passed away from complications from Alzheimer's.

This one brings out some really mixed emotions. On the one hand, Doohan was a good actor, and like the rest of the Trek actors, one of the nicest guys. Before his illness took him out of the public eye, he was a staple at conventions, and a real treat for the fans. So a good man is gone, and we mourn.

On the other hand, his was a fairly early Alzheimer's death, and both he and his family were spared the indignity and pain that accompanies long-time cases (like that of Ronald Reagan, which may have begun while he was still in office). In that way, it's a kind of blessing, especially to his loved ones. Not that they feel that way at the moment, of course.

I never met Doohan, or read his biography. I liked Scotty, though, both in the show and movies and in the various novels, as he went on to head the Starfleet Corps of Engineers. And "Relics" remains one of my favorite episodes of TNG. I remember especially the scene with him and Picard on the holodeck-recreated bridge of the original Enterprise. The way he described the first ship he served on as chief engineer like a first love stuck with me. Over a decade later, I've had a first love, and am in the middle of my first editing job, and I kind of get it now.

There won't be any transporter miracle for James Doohan, no temporal nexus or Genesis planet to cheat death. We'll have to get on by without him. But Scotty will still live on, and the lessons he taught us. Always inflate your time estimates by a factor of four. Never trust a machine to do a man's job. You can't defy the laws of physics (but you can damn well bend 'em). Stay true to your friends, up to and including violating Starfleet orders if necessary. If something's important, make the time.

Energize, Mr. Scott.

No comments: