Calling All Trekkies - Kirk = Cook

Published by Kathy Abbass on Monday, 11th February 2019 - 12:00PM

The original Star Trek opening credit.


© RIMAP 2017

Fifty years ago every school child knew about Capt. James Cook because he explored more of the world than anyone else in history. When his name was mentioned, people recognized his importance. Today most younger folks don't know who Cook was, but they do know about Capt. James T. Kirk and the Star Trek television shows and movies.

The classic portrait of James Cook, pointing to a chart. Greenwich Maritime Museum.

Captain Cook and his explorations of the world were the model for Gene Roddenberry when he created the first Star Trek television show in the 1960s. 

William Shatner playing James Kirk. Note the pointing finger, similar to the Cook portrait, above. Wikipedia.

There are many similarities between Cook and Kirk. James Cook was the son of a Yorkshire farmer in England. As a Royal Navy officer in the 18th century he explored the Pacific Ocean three times in the sailing ships ENDEAVOUR and RESOLUTION. 

The Star Trek TV character James Kirk was also a farmer's son, but from Iowa in the 23rd century. He explored galaxies in the star ship ENTERPRISE. 

The ships. ANMM and Wikipedia.

Both captains had scientists on board. Cook sailed with the naturalist Joseph Banks on the ENDEAVOUR. Kirk on the ENTERPRISE carried Vulcan Science Officer, Mr. Spock.

The scientists. Wikipedia.

Both used the cutting-edge technology of their times. Kirk had fictional weapons, replication and communication equipment, and versions of these are now available 50 years after the first Star Trek show aired. The historic Cook used newly reliable time pieces to establish the ship's location by celestial navigation on his 2nd and 3rd voyages. Although the Harrison chronometer may seem simple to modern eyes, it was state-of-the-art in the 18th century. 

The technologies. Wikipedia.

Both Cook and Kirk served their governments on missions of exploration and diplomacy, and both captains met fierce peoples. Cook met the Maoris of New Zealand, and Kirk met the Klingons, who became Star Fleet allies in later versions of Star Trek.

The peoples. Wikipedia.

Capt. James Cook and Capt. James Kirk were both daring but careful heroes. At the beginning of the first Star Trek television series, Capt. Kirk says the following: "To boldly go where no man has gone before."  This is a paraphrase from Cook's journal, where he wrote that he would travel "... farther than any man has been before me, but as far as I think it is possible for a man to go."

The RIMAP booklet, a special gift for the 2016 members. Now out of print. © RIMAP 2016.

RIMAP has shared the Cook=Kirk story in its publications, classes, and we have even had a booth at the 2015 Providence ComiCon! 

RIMAP may find Capt. Cook's ENDEAVOUR in Newport but we won't find Capt. Kirk's ENTERPRISE !

Rhode Island Comic Con Logo.

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