A “Star Trek” fan muses on why the show has remained appealing through the decades, and lists some of her “best-of” episodes and movies.

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The starship Enterprise first zoomed across our TV screens in 1966 on “Star Trek,” Gene Roddenberry’s vision of space exploration in an optimistic future. Unlike other popular sci-fi dystopian scenarios of zombies, Death Stars and evil aliens, “Star Trek’s” stories of discovery, adventure and friendship depicted a time in which humanity has overcome many of its challenges.

As a grade-school science and space geek, I was captivated by Star Trek’s idealistic stories of space exploration — stories that included the intriguing, believable alien Spock (fabulously portrayed by the late Leonard Nimoy), and that were without the silly aspects of “Lost In Space ”and other sci-fi of the era. The original series set the foundation for Star Trek’s later and best incarnations, TV series “The Next Generation,” “Deep Space Nine” and “Voyager,” and the rebooted movie series that started with 2009’s “Star Trek.”

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Roddenberry’s idea of the future has flourished for 50 years, inviting everyone from casual fans to avid Trekkies/Trekkers to join the crew through five TV series, 12 movies (the 13th is coming this summer), novels, comic books and video games. The big 50th anniversary Star Trek Convention is Aug. 3-7 in Las Vegas, but unless you already have a ticket, you’re out of luck; the 12,000 hotel rooms and the daily tickets have been sold out for months. (You can visit our local celebration at EMP, “Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds,” which runs May 21-Feb. 17, 2017.)

The original “Star Trek” series ran only three years, but lives on forever thanks to cable TV. The episodes have been enhanced by digital remastering while keeping their sometimes-dated charm. Roddenberry insisted on a multiethnic crew for the Enterprise — unusual for the time — including an African-American woman, Uhura (Nichelle Nichols); a Japanese American, Sulu (George Takei); and the half-human, half-alien Spock, along with Capt. James T. Kirk (William Shatner), representing the United Federation of Planets. After her Enterprise voyages ended, Nichols went on to work with NASA to recruit minority and female applicants. She is cited by many, including astronaut Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to travel in space, as an inspiration. In his post-“Trek” career, Takei has become an advocate for LGBTQ rights and a voice for Japanese-American citizens who were interned during World War II, as he was.

My best-episode list from “Star Trek” includes “City on the Edge of Forever,” a time-travel story full of moral quandaries and emotion; “Balance of Terror, ” introducing the Romulans and cloaking devices in a tale about the folly of prejudice and war; and “The Trouble With Tribbles,” a clever story about cuddly creatures that get out of control. Some, like “Arena,” featuring Captain Kirk’s battle with a snarling Gorn, are iconic for their cheesy special effects and Shatner’s over-the-top persona.

My other favorites:

“Star Trek: The Next Generation” (“TNG”), 1987-94, had the highest ratings of any “Star Trek” series. Commanded by Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), TNG’s excellent cast and interesting stories make it a cable-TV constant. Popular episodes include “The Best of Both Worlds,” an epic encounter with the fearsome Borg; “The Inner Light,” a space probe that has Picard experience a lifetime as a resident of a dying planet as a way for the lost world to live on; “The Measure of a Man,” ethical and moral questions about the android Data (Brent Spiner); “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” an alternate-reality drama; and “All Good Things … ,” the series finale.

“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” (“DS9”), 1993-99, never had the ratings to match TNG, but is a favorite of many Trekkers. Notable “DS9” episodes include “Trials and Tribble-ations,” a 30th anniversary tribute to the original Star Trek with “DS9” characters digitally inserted into “The Trouble With Tribbles”; “Little Green Men,” the clever revelation that two Ferengi landed in 1947 Roswell, N.M.; and “Far Beyond the Stars,” Captain Sisko’s (Avery Brooks) vision of himself and his crewmates as writers at a 1950s era sci-fi magazine, where Sisko’s alter ego creates stories about life on the station Deep Space Nine that can’t be published because they defy the era’s racial stereotypes.

Star Trek’s other TV series are an animated show that ran 1973-74; “Voyager,” 1995-2001; and “Enterprise,” 2001-05.

The choice of best “Star Trek” movies is hotly debated; mine are “The Voyage Home,” featuring the original cast returning to the 20th century to save the whales; “First Contact,” which pits the “Next Generation” crew against the Borg; and “Star Trek Into Darkness,” the second in the J.J. Abrams-directed series reboot with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto ably carrying on the Kirk and Spock saga, with Benedict Cumberbatch as a formidable villain.

Here’s to Star Trek’s next 50 years and beyond — live long and prosper!