The “Star Trek Universe” is among the most diverse in all popular culture, with hundreds of different ways of telling one type of story — exploration. From the start of the franchise in the 1960s, “boldly going” was baked into the DNA of “Star Trek” and would prove to be one of the main reasons why the shows, movies, comic books, novels, and all other media have proven to be so popular.
Thanks to our massive galaxy — and ultimately, the infinite universe beyond the Milky Way — there’s always another planet to explore. This formula worked incredibly well for William Shatner and “The Original Series” and the cartoon and films which followed. Same for “The Next Generation,” where Patrick Stewart’s Picard served as an intergalactic mediator who solved problems and moved onto the next world.
This changed a bit with “Deep Space Nine,” as the explorers came to the space station’s crew rather than the other way around. Later, fans got a different take on the theme, as the crew of the U.S.S. Voyager was essentially “Lost In Space” and had to survive and travel 70,000 light-years to Earth.
“Voyager” put humanity into different situations and exposed the crew to new ideas and concepts. Among the ways in which “Voyager” was different from previous incarnations of Trek was that the ship had a female captain (Kate Mulgrew), an artificial doctor (Robert Picardo), and an enemy like no other serving as part of the crew. The presence of Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), a Borg, was like having a Klingon on the bridge, only a thousand times more dangerous.
Lisa Klink on Trek.FM
The minds who toiled to create the mythos of the trip back from the Delta Quadrant had a few core tenets to stick to. A big one was Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s desire to show an evolved humanity who worked together. While some might chafe at restrictions and guardrails for storytelling, often, that is what makes a good show great.
Among the team of talented writers who labored behind the scenes on “Voyager” was Lisa Klink. Originally, Klink wanted to be a director, like Kathryn Bigelow of “Zero Dark Thirty” fame. But she got into writing instead, which suited her better. Thanks to an internship that landed her with the staff at “Deep Space Nine,” she learned the craft and even produced the episode “Hippocratic Oath” in 1995. That episode, according to the late Rene Auberjonois, “stood out” to him among so many other great stories from the DS9 library. Auberjonois both directed and appeared as Odo in “Hippocratic Oath.”
From there, Klink was recommended by DS9 showrunner Ira Stephen Behr to the crew over “Voyager,” which was just getting started. Klink worked for producers Rick Berman, Michael Piller, and Jeri Taylor on “Voyager” as a staff writer and story editor. Eventually, she worked as the executive story editor for the show. She wrote over a dozen episodes of “Voyager” and was a big part of why the show was as successful.
An Animated ‘Voyager’
Heavy caught up with Klink and spoke to her about “Star Trek” and why her show is suddenly so popular again, two decades after it aired its last episode.
“It just amazes me that people are still interested in talking about ‘Voyager,’” said Klink. “A show that happened 25 years ago. I find it actually really gratifying that people still find it relevant.”
A few reasons “Voyager” is “relevant” could be because a few of the show’s stars have returned to Trek after all those years. Mulgrew reprised her role as Captain Janeway for “Star Trek: Prodigy.” Her story on the Trek show for kids also involves her first officer and possible love interest — Chakotay (Robert Beltran). His appearances on “Prodigy” were short and mysterious. Perhaps younger fans are returning to get more details on this hologram tutor and the first captain of the U.S.S. Prodigy.
The other big name back on television is Ryan, whose Seven character played a big part in both seasons of “Star Trek: Picard.” While Seven is undoubtedly capable of acting as a stand-alone character, her backstory is intriguing. And it’s available to watch on “Star Trek: Voyager.”
Klink also thinks a few other things are adding to the discussion, including a new documentary that goes behind the scenes of “Voyager.”
“It really seems to be in people’s minds,” said Klink. “I mean with all the funding for the ‘Voyager’ documentary, and there’s a couple of podcasts, like ‘Treksperts Briefing Room,’ and the ‘Inglorious Treksperts.’”
“There’s a podcast called ‘The Delta Flyers’ that Garrett Wang (Harry Kim) and Robert Duncan McNeil (Tom Paris) do as a rewatch of Voyager. It just seems to be an audience for it.”
Characters like Janeway, Seven, and Kim are often so well-created and fleshed out that they seem to ooze personality. Writers can place these people into situations and imagine what they might say before putting pen to paper. Those are the best type of characters to write for, said Klink.
“I think the ones that I enjoyed the most are the ones that had the really distinctive voices,” said Klink. “The ones that you could hear what they would say and the actor really brought a lot of specificity to that character. So that there you wouldn’t confuse their dialogue with anybody else’s dialogue.”
“The character that we really enjoyed on ‘Voyager’ was the Doctor,” said Klink. “Everybody would like writing for him because he had such a funny voice, and Robert Picardo would just knock it out of the park.”
“I also really enjoyed writing for Tuvok (Tim Russ) because the Vulcan voice was really specific to me,” said Klink. “And Seven was kind of fun because she got to be sort of rude and, and not Starfleet, which was a lot of fun to experiment with.”
After her time with “Voyager” ended, Klink continued to write for genre shows like “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” Roddenberry’s own “Earth: Final Conflict” and many others. She became a champion on “JEOPARDY!” which she said was “amazing.”
Klink on JEOPARDY!
Klink recently wrote two stories for the “Star Trek: Explorer” magazine and has even written a few Batman comic books. Even after all of her success, Klink said that she owed a lot to Ronald D. Moore, who worked with her while she was interning on DS9, and especially Taylor of “Voyager.”
“She’s the one who hired me on,” said Klink. “She was a really good mentor for me. She really tried to try to take care of me as a young writer. That was my first professional job. [Taylor] really had my back.
“I think she showed me by example, what it was to be a good showrunner, and to really bring out the creativity in other people and to harvest the best ideas and the best work from everybody on the staff,” said Klink.
While she’s busy with numerous projects, Klink did admit that she would consider returning to Trek should she get a call in the future. There are still two or three Trek shows in development — “Starfleet Academy” and “Star Trek: Section 31” — which could certainly use an experienced writer who knows her Trek.
“I think I would,” said Klink. “I mean, it would depend on who was running the show. And who was on the staff and that sort of thing. But I imagine [that] I would.”
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