Captain’s log: Stardate sometime in 1990. An 11-year-old boy wants to go boldly into other galaxies to escape his preteen angst. Through identifying and cataloging the aliens of Star Trek: The Next Generation like a xenobiologist, he unknowingly writes a metaphoric diary of all his junior high misadventures through everything from Ferengi to space jellyfish.
SYFY WIRE caught up with Zachary Auburn, the brains behind A Field Guide to the Aliens of Star Trek: The Next Generation, because we just had to ask him what launched him on his strange, often hilarious, and surprisingly human mission. The cosmic forces that drew Auburn to the aliens of Star Trek: TNG range from the general weirdness of creatures like the dimension-defying Alpha Cetans and the Ferengi with their bizarre ear fetish, never mind their usually obvious contrast to humans, to the purgatory of being a misfit that so many of us trudged through in our teens.
Auburn admits that while DS9 is his favorite Star Trek, TNG had taken over his brain longer than Picard sat in the captain's chair. He found himself in a situation where he desperately wanted to do some sort of writing involving TNG that was definitely not fan fiction while being fixated with the idea of an angsty sixth-grader subconsciously telling the story of his life through life-forms with warped faces and extra appendages.
"Eventually I realized they were the same project," Auburn said. "I always wanted to know more about the Star Trek universe just off the edges of the screen, and decided that reviewing the aliens was the prefect angle: It allowed my young author to think about the show in ways that inevitably churned up all sorts of emotional crud within himself."
Auburn also sees humanity in that alien DNA. There is somehting essentially human about these characters, no matter how far from human they appear, and he wants his readers to see how transparent that is.
"Learning to recognize the 'humanity' in aliens is the most essential lesson that any Star Trek franchise has tried to teach," he said. "You might be an orange dude with giant nostrils who speaks only in metaphor, but that doesn't mean we can't bond over a shared appreciation of campfires and good stories!"
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