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Designer of our Utopian Future

image by Veronica V. Jones

Wah Chang

Wah Chang with lamp sculpture
Captain Kirk holding a phaser, as designed by Wah Chang.
Mr. Chang's phaser
Lt. Commander Spock holding a tricorder, as designed by Wah Chang.
Mr. Chang's tricorder
A Talosian from Star Trek's original pilot
Mr. Chang's Talosian
The original Gorn, as designed by Wah Chang.
Mr. Chang's Gorn
The alien puppet Balock, as designed by Wah Chang's studio.
Mr. Chang's Balock puppet

The world of Star Trek is a troubled, but ultimately utopian world of interspecies collaboration and peace, a stark counterpoint to the tumultuous 1960’s in which it was born. Thankfully, Paramount’s newest series, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds remembers its utopian roots, and has even revisited the Classic Trek episode “Balance of Terror” in its first season finale. TOR.com’s biography of Wah Chang reminds us that all the iterations of Star Trek to this day rely heavily upon the vision and work Mr. Chang exhibited over fifty years ago.

As a technology driven utopia, Star Trek relies on countless forward-looking devices, creatures, and vessels  to fully realize its particular future. During the first two critical years of the classic television series, Mr. Chang was responsible for many of these iconic creations, including many precursors to our actual modern technology: the communicator, tricorder and the finished iteration of the phaser.

Many alien races were also born in Mr. Chang’s studio, including the lizard-like Gorn and the voracious yet fluffy Tribbles. He even created the original Romulan bird of prey, which alone has influenced Star Trek ship designs for generations — including that recent ST:SNW finale. Let’s hope the new interpretation of the Gorn prove equal to Mr. Chang’s slightly stiff, but iconic realization.

Written by in July of 2022. Last edited July 2022.

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