Among nerd circles, you run into rivalries between various fandoms or ships or theories. One of the most persistent is the Star Trek versus Star Wars one.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I hung out in a Trek-related community in middle and high school, and we would occasionally go over to the Star Wars chat rooms to troll the people there. But in my defense, it wasn’t because I disliked Star Wars, it was because the people there got hilariously upset by the whole thing, and it’s really hard to escape being a teenager without trolling somebody.)
I’ve always liked both. Trek more, certainly, but I enjoy Star Wars, have seen all the movies, read most of the “required” extended universe books, and can tell you the difference between a clone and a storm trooper. If I was forced to choose sides, I’d pick Trek, but I’m here to tell you that the whole thing is silly and we should let it go.
When it comes down to it, the main reason that the Trek vs. Wars thing is ridiculous is that they’re not even the same subgenre of science fiction.
It’s like comparing apples and oranges. What do the two series have in common? They both take place in space. The end.
Star Wars is space opera. It contains the classic hero journey. Its technology is more fantasy than technobabble. It has a clear main character with other characters in supporting roles. Ignoring the Clone Wars animated series (which I will for the sake of this argument, because I find most people who strongly subscribe to the whole Trek vs. Wars thing are older fans who have probably never watched it), the series is mainly represented by movies.
Star Trek is a mix of scifi genres, none of which is space opera. And it depends on the series. (DS9, for example, falls under military science fiction in the latter half, but I wouldn’t say most of the series do.) People have written books on the physics, the engineering, the biology of Star Trek–science is an important aspect to the overall franchise. It is always a composite cast, with most characters being of equal importance in terms of story-telling. It’s mainly delivered through television shows, which I think we can all agree are quite different than movies.
I think a lot of this stems from earlier, when the two were really the only big scifi series in town. But now we’ve got Babylon 5, Farscape, Firefly, Stargate, Battlestar Galatica…many of which have more in common with one or the other than they have in common with each other.
But I still run into people who feel like if they like one, they can’t like the other, which is just silly. I had a friend the other day who’s recently started watching DS9 tell me that she felt guilty about enjoying it (or even watching it) because she’d always been a Star Wars girl.
How many other people haven’t given something they could really like a chance because of some silly line drawn in the sand long ago?
Let it go, friends, let it go, and enjoy all the good science fiction you can.