In the Original Series of Star Trek there is an episode called “The Devil in the Dark”. The Enterprise is called to help with a problem on a mining planet. For some time there have been mysterious deaths and damages to the mining equipment. The crew arrives to find a creature lurking around in the caves (spitting extraordinarily corrosive acid to make new caves really fast) and killing the mining personnel. First they realize that this creature is actually a life form very different from their own – life based on silicon. Second, they manage to communicate with the creature by using Vulcan mind meld and then learn that the creature is the only living representative of this highly intelligent race and the reason why she killed was to protect the eggs of the next generation of their race (that the miners were breaking). And then, they made a treaty with the creature – the creatures make the caves and the miners collect the minerals.

There’s a whole bunch of reasons here to love Star Trek. This is something that would never happen in any other series or movie. Let me explain why I think it is so significant.

1. Silicon-based life

This might not be very unique, but still, it was a very adequate guess at what a completely different life-form would be like. These days it’s really not that special any more, but in 1960s they were the real pioneers.

2. Communication with a creature

In no other sci-fi movie have I seen anyone attempting to communicate with a creature like that. To even try, is very impressive. Of course its ever too convenient in Star Trek with their universal translator and a Vulcan who is able to connect with almost any kind of mind. But still, this is something I would like to see more everywhere.

3. We are the devils

An ugly monster can be an intelligent life-form too. I love the way this plot reversed itself when we realized why the creature (called Horta) actually killed the people and when she said to Spock that “the devils in the dark were destroying their eggs” and you understand that what you had been watching before as a typical monster-story, is actually completely reversed – the humans were reckless and evil and the monster was the victim to feel sorry for.

Anyway, watching that episode made me think about our good nature again and how eager we have been to destroy those who are different from us before in history and how this eagerness probably hasn’t dissapeared from us.

And I think it is only logical to end this post with a Stephen King quote:

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too.
They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”

Stephen King

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