Interview With The Captain
In the after hours of interviewing our Captain, admittedly I sat with a real sense of quiet awe and hope. There was a distinctive feeling of being part of something unexpectedly important both the interview itself but also being a part of the USS Cú Chulainn. The quote from Jason Schwartzman came to mind. ‘What I think is so great about interviews, is when people cite inspirations’. Not only did Captain David Chapman cite inspirations in his crew and franchise. In his own measured and modest way, incited inspiration and renewed unarticulated thoughts we have all had about Star Trek fandom, SFI and in our chapter.
Fleet Captain David Chapman, commanding officer to the USS Cú Chulainn; a very simple response to tell us about yourself and the weight of which was not as of yet known to me. We chatted briefly about his life and as often as he could he steered us back to the Cú Chulainn.
A member of SFI since 2011, however prior to this, a very recognisable experience to many of us. Captain Chapman did not have a group or an outlet to talk trek and meet likeminded people. Unbelievably at that time, there was no USS Cú Chulainn and there was in fact no Irish chapter at all. Humbly he then explained, how he was a founding member of our ship and was our first captain at only 19 years of age before Admiral O’Shea took the helm. It is difficult to explain the grace with which he shared this new information, certainly news to me, and how unassuming he was about his role in the commissioning of the Cú Chulainn and creating this haven for us.
He described feeling the need for having in person events and really giving people a chance to be ‘in the room’ together; a safe place to be in our fandom. Attributing a lot of the success of our chapter to the focus on these face-to-face social interactions, ten years of success in fact. As the chapter is to celebrate its tenth anniversary this year, we discussed what the next ten might hold. He assured us he will be with us, as well as hopefully expanding how we keep in touch. However, and he would agree, more importantly we would keep to the core values of the chapter. It really is summed up by his words remaining – a social group, a Star Trek family, being all about our members and enjoying our fandom together, supporting one another and making real friends.
The conversation turned unsurprisingly to Star Trek itself and a discussion about captains that he would like to emulate. Janeway is certainly an admirable character for anyone to match never mind as a captain. Much like Janeway, Captain Chapman sees being available to and getting to know personally the members or crew, as essential. However, it seemed to me as we chatted and he patiently waited through my vigorous notetaking that he does already embody this warmth and openness with ease.
Digging deeper into his Trek fandom, it was lovely to hear about the slow and steady love affair that was his start with Trek. At the age of 15, not knowing the franchise, watching his first episode of Voyager. Subtly funny too, that after watching episode after episode in no particular order at he mentions that at some point along that journey he fell in love with Star Trek.
We veered hard to starboard and to why it is such an important franchise and why its so important to Captain Chapman. It was interesting that his answer was for the collective rather than for himself. Star Trek as he says is the search and embodiment of the best of humanity. It’s what we can achieve if we put our petty differences aside, focus on the common good……star trek is something we should be striving for….it gives us a sense of hope for the future.
In that way Star Trek itself has always been ahead of its time for its positive outlook and also as Captain Chapman states a trendsetter. All of what is going on in the world – events, progress etc will be integrated into the franchise to grow and stay relevant from the point of view of content. However, it is so true that he states if Trek retains the core ideas and ideals – the best of humanity, inclusivity and community it will remain timeless no matter which direction it travels.
Throughout the interview there was one word that resonated and that was Hope. Star Trek we can agree is hope for the future not yet seen, the USS Cú Chulainn is a safe dock that gives hope to lost fans like myself and as it seems our Captain too. But more than that, Captain Chapman embodies the hope, the kindness and the vision of a continued chance to be who we are in our fandom and on our great ship.