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I have been doing some research on the Internet today trying to find out if J.R.R Tolkien had been a fan of the original Star Trek series, which ran from 1966 to 1969. Since Tolkien died in 1973, it makes me wonder if he had watched the original series and whether he may have given his opinion about the program.

Was J.R.R. Tolkien a fan of the original Star Trek series?

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    I am not certain when STar Trek was first shown in the UK, so I don't know whether Tolkien had many opportunities to see it at friend's houses. Nov 13, 2022 at 6:56
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    @M.A.Golding - It was shown in 1969 on the BBC. There was ample time for him to have seen the first couple of seasons as he was retired from teaching at this point in his life.
    – Valorum
    Nov 13, 2022 at 7:21
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    If he ever was, he probably wasn't after this
    – Machavity
    Nov 15, 2022 at 14:14
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    @Machavity - That's a really good point. Tolkien supposedly asked his publisher to look into whether this song breached his copyright, so clearly he was aware of it (and maybe Leonard Nimoy) in general terms
    – Valorum
    Nov 15, 2022 at 16:59
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    @RonJohn, I just thought that since Tolkien was a writer of epic fantasy novels, he may have been interested in Star Trek since it is also an epic fantasy.
    – user143126
    Nov 15, 2022 at 23:11

1 Answer 1

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Probably not. Tolkien didn't own a television and wasn't really interested in modern culture, preferring to attend the opera, lectures on poetry, and listen to occasional programs on the wireless. He certainly watched some TV (when visiting his brother's house he noted that they had watched the cricket and tennis while drinking whisky) and while there's no evidence that he didn't watch Star Trek on someone else's set, it seems unlikely.

He never spent money carelessly; he and Edith did not install any electrical gadgets in the home, for they had never been accustomed to them and did not imagine that they needed them now. Not only was there no television in the house, but no washing-machine or dishwasher either.

JRR Tolkien: A Biography

He described the radio in extremely disparaging terms.

Only in one way was I better off: wireless was not invented. I daresay it had some potential for good, but it has in fact in the main become a weapon for the fool, the savage, and the villain to afflict the minority with, and to destroy thought. Listening in has killed listening.

Tolkien Letter 61 (to his son, Christopher)

I think we can be reasonably sure that if he was even aware of Star Trek (noting that when introduced to film megastar Ava Gardner at the height of her fame, he hadn't heard of her, let alone seen one of her films), that he would have had little or no interest in watching it.

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    He was almost a Luddite in his personal philosophy. Asimov noted that he depicted morder as using almost industrial technology, creating pollution in their wake. Asimov saw this as part of Tolkien's misguided obsession with Master/Servant rural English life that had disappeared. Nov 13, 2022 at 23:02
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    @MarkRogers I think a clearer example of Tolkien's distaste of industrialism comes from the Scouring of the Shire, rather than Mordor! Nov 14, 2022 at 9:07
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    Another point worth mentioning, is that all the known instances of Tolkien watching sports on other people's televisions are from 1972 and 1973, after his wife died, and after Star Trek finished airing.
    – ibid
    Nov 14, 2022 at 13:55
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    Much as we all love TOS I suspect it wouldn't have interested a real story teller any more than any of the rest of the TV wasteland .... (maybe Twilight Zone though?)
    – davidbak
    Nov 15, 2022 at 0:45
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    "or dishwasher either" - I find that an odd thing to specifically call out, as while not necessarily uncommon, a dish washer is still far from a given in a British household even today. You were considered privileged if you had one in the 1990s...
    – Moo
    Nov 15, 2022 at 4:14

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