This year, Star Trek: The Next Generation turned 25. The occasion was popularly celebrated with theatrical screenings and Blu-ray releases, but I wanted to commemorate the milestone personally as well, for this year marked the 25th anniversary of my introduction to the franchise. And I wanted to thank the person responsible for that turning point in my life: my father.
There exists a company called Fan Mosaics which operates on a tried-and-true theory: include your fans in your product, and their ego will guarantee a sale. I've previously and happily supplied my contact info to Paramount and CBS, and Fan Mosaics must've collaborated with them, as they reached out to me with an invitation: provide them with a photo, and they'd include it in a mosaic of the starship Enterprise NCC-1701D, absolutely free. Thousands of other fans had previously provided the photographic material for Fan Mosaic to assemble images of Kirk, Spock, and the original Enterprise, so I'm sure they felt confident letting me know that, if I wanted the final print, it'd be only $19.95 plus shipping.
Although the software to create photo mosaics is nothing extraordinary, I was charmed by the prospect of a visual representation of the community that has formed around Star Trek. My father made me a member of that group, and though he may not participate as enthusiastically as I do, he too belongs in that pantheon. It seemed appropriate for us to be included in the mosaic. I submitted a photo taken of us and my oldest brother at the opening of J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movie. Although it does not show any one of us close up, it is the most thematically appropriate photo I could think of to submit.
Just a month later, I received word: the final print was complete.
Using Fan Mosaic's online tool, I was able to pinpoint our placement: just below the port nacelle.
"Your photo(s) may appear in more than one place," users are reminded. "However, this search tool will only point out one location." Finding other instances would require manual investigation of the literally of thousands of accepted submissions.
With the help of a Darkwing Duck magnifying glass and a flashlight, I was able to show my father his place in the universe. He seemed impressed by the gift, even without anyone pointing out or acknowledging the timing of the 25th anniversary of that starship's launch.
The best gift was my father being present to receive this gift. Healthcare still has a long way to go before we're on par with what Drs. Crusher and Pulaski can administer in sickbay, but even modern medicine can work miracles. I'm grateful that my father and I will be able to board the Enterprise together again on May 17. Perhaps in the meantime he'll find a place to hang this mosaic, to serve as a reminder of the many adventures the universe holds in store for him.