Rod Serling’s “Death Ship”

We live in a world of patterns, some of them good, some bad, and others, like birthdays, depend on the beholder. Some of those patterns repeat, like holidays, renewing your technical journal subscription, and New Year’s Day.

One writer who used patterns extremely well in his work was Rod Serling. And, to me, one of his best episodes dealing with repeating patterns was the Twilight Zone episode, Death Ship.

Death Ship, which aired February 7, 1963 in the fourth season featured two big-name actors, Jack Klugman and Ross Martin, who along with a third crew member were aboard Earth flying saucer E-89 to explore new worlds for colonization.

I have often referred to this story as a metaphor for repeating the same failed steps over and over again without succeeding and a feeling of being doomed. We’ll reorganize the department, so there is no overlap and everyone will work on a product team. Or, a department reorganization might change from product to technology focus. From my experience, inevitably the customer always lost out.

Death Ship also points to denying mortality and not realizing when you are at the true end of something. I do not believe the end has to mean the end of your life.  That is why, even though technology portrayed is the stuff of science fiction spoofs, the story itself is very satisfying.

Hopefully this year, there will be some time away from Earth ship E-89. But then, I hope for that every year.


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