In 1986, Ronald D. Moore '86 received an honorable mention for his entry on "Star Trek" literature in Cornell University Library's student book collection contest. His quirky interest in collecting such fare has led to a stellar career writing and producing first for "Star Trek" and now for Sci-Fi Channel's hit TV show "Battlestar Galactica."
And the book he received as an award for participating in the contest, complete with its Cornell-related Arthur H. Dean Book Collection Contest bookplate, still graces his office in Los Angeles.
Moore's love of science fiction and all things "Star Trek" began in the 1970s when he was a teenager watching reruns of the program. Then he discovered the novels by James Blish that were based on the original TV series and devoured them "voraciously" as well as any other books he could find about "Star Trek."
"Anytime we were in any kind of bookstore or any kind of store that had books, I always stopped and looked through them on the off chance that I would find a 'Star Trek' book," Moore recalled.
And so began his "Star Trek" literature collection, which includes everything from a first edition of Star Trek Enterprise blue prints published in the 1970s to the book, "Star Trek: New Voyages," one of the first collections of short stories written by fans who loved the show. Moore dabbled in fan fiction himself as a teenager, he said, but never did anything with his essays beyond handing them in as high school writing assignments.
"I was very familiar with the 'Star Trek' universe, with the mythos about how the show was made and mythology within the show," he said. "When I had a chance to write for 'Next Generation,' I brought all that with me."
That chance came just three years after graduating from Cornell, where he studied political science. Moore sold one of his first scripts to the TV series "Star Trek: The Next Generation." This led to a prominent role for him in the 'Star Trek' universe, and in the decade that followed, he served as a writer and producer for "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and "Star Trek: Voyager." He even co-wrote the screenplay for the film "Star Trek: Generations," in which Capt. James T. Kirk dies.
Moore still has his book collection, but since he joined the professional science fiction world, he stopped adding to it.
"I was living there in the 24th century all day long, and when I went home my interest in acquiring more and reading more about it quickly waned," he said.
But don't think that means Moore doesn't love books or that he doesn't value libraries.
"I'm always sort of saddened by the idea that the printed page might go away. 'Star Trek's' view of the future of libraries was always very digital and very boring. It was always just a computer voice that sort of would answer you, and then text would appear on your screen wherever you happened to be," Moore said. "There's something about the smell and feel of books sitting on shelves. I hope that in the future ... even when [books] get digitized and are readily accessible from all points of the globe, that you still have the ability to walk into a place that's filled with the volumes themselves and just kind of roam around."
To hear an interview with Moore in the podcast series Shelf Life, go to http://libecast.library.cornell.edu/. To register and for more information about Cornell's student book collection contest, visit http://www.library.cornell.edu/bookcontest/.
Chris Philipp is a staff writer and editor for Library Communications.