When William Shatner traveled to space in October 2021, Star Trek's 91-year-old Captain Kirk says he was left with a feeling he didn't expect: "Grief."
Variety has published an excerpt from his new book, Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder. In it, Shatner explains that once he and his fellow travelers reached the weightlessness of space in the Blue Origins craft, he headed right to a window "to stare into space."
"I love the mystery of the universe. I love all the questions that have come to us over thousands of years of exploration and hypotheses," the actor wrote. "[B]ut when I looked in the opposite direction, into space, there was no mystery, no majestic awe to behold … all I saw was death."
Shatner added, "I saw a cold, dark, black emptiness. It was unlike any blackness you can see or feel on Earth … Everything I had expected to see was wrong."
He mused, "It was among the strongest feelings of grief I have ever encountered. The contrast between the vicious coldness of space and the warm nurturing of Earth below filled me with overwhelming sadness. Every day, we are confronted with the knowledge of further destruction of Earth at our hands: the extinction of animal species, of flora and fauna … things that took five billion years to evolve, and suddenly we will never see them again because of the interference of mankind. It filled me with dread."
Shatner summarized: "My trip to space was supposed to be a celebration; instead, it felt like a funeral."
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