If you don’t know who Peter David is, you’ve still probably read or seen something he wrote. A self-proclaimed “Writer of Stuff”, David’s work includes novels (such as Star Trek, Dinotopia, Battlestar Galactica, etc.), comics (including Aquaman, Captain Marvel, Hulk, Spider-Man, and Supergirl), television (Space Cases, Babylon 5, Ben 10: Alien Force, and Young Justice, among others), video games (Shadow Complex, Spider-Man: The Edge of Time, Marvel Future Fight), and film (Oblivion and Backlash: Oblivion 2 as well as Trancers 4 & 5). With the opportunity to play in so many sandboxes, he’s clearly made a lasting impact on nerd culture. With that power, of course, comes great responsibility. So where does he see our story going, and how is he helping to shape the future?
I sat down with Mr. David in the middle of Dragon Con, early one morning while everyone else was scrambling to their places to march in the parade. I wasn’t sure what to expect, of course, and hoped that my questions were good enough to prompt Mr. David to share and expound on his life and career as one of the most prolific writers for nerdom.
We sat down and began discussing Star Trek, as I wanted to know his thoughts about Gene Roddenberry’s vision (a somewhat idealistic version of the future), his own writing (the New Frontier novels and the Captain’s Table Series come to mind), and his thoughts on the new Star Trek show airing on CBS’ website later this year.
Of course, anyone who knows anything about Mr. David will agree that he has an opinion and is always willing to share. I asked if he’d watch the new Star Trek show. “Everybody wants to know that,” he said. “I don’t want to pay extra money to CBS when I already have to pay a cable bill every month!” Point taken. We had a good laugh at their expense (I’m hoping they will transfer the show or at least show current episodes for free). We also talked about the idea that Star Trek’s original run was set in an idealistic universe, as Gene Roddenberry hoped it would be someday. Although as Mr. David pointed out, it certainly wasn’t his version of utopia, and he wasn’t always able to push things past the censors (such as a relationship between two males).
We speculated on whether or not the new show would be a drastic change from The Original Series (or even Deep Space Nine), or if there were still things that Brian Fuller would have trouble getting past the network executives. It remains to be seen, but I think we’re both hopeful.
When asked about the future and whether he thought the world was going in a positive direction, Mr. David answered in the affirmative. Any progress is progress, and steps toward making the world a better place are often slow. Culture and art, however, have the responsibility of pointing out the way we could be in order to galvanize us to create that vision of the future in reality.
What I really loved about our interview, however, was that by the end of it, once we’d exhausted the topics of Star Trek, comic books, manga, video games, film, and future projects, I asked Mr. David what gave him hope for the future, and what he hoped to leave the world.
He didn’t talk about his writing, or his ideas, or the time he’s spent crafting worlds for us to enjoy. He didn’t talk about himself, or the opportunities he’s had. His answer to what makes him hopeful for a better world? “My grandchildren”.
If Mr. David is any indication of the wisdom and experience he’s passed on through his children and grandchildren, I believe we are in luck. Children are our future, and if the stories they read and see today fuel their vision of the future, we have only ourselves to blame if the future does not look as bright as we’d hoped. This is why stories matter.