As soon as the news hit--on the internet, of course--the message boards started buzzing. Some were upset, some were vindicated, and most--well, most didn't give a shit. Last Wednesday's news that the fifth Star Trek series, Enterprise, had finally gotten cancelled--after four years of low ratings and critical flagellation--didn't really surprise anyone. While the loyal Trekkies at vowed to keep fighting, and snarky swipes at Trek writers bounced about on, the real repercussions of Enterprise's cancellation will be felt in TV and film in the years to come.

Don't believe me? Fair enough. But if one genre's become increasingly important to pop culture, it's sci-fi. And if sci-fi's ever had an institution, it's been--for better or worse--Star Trek, which began in 1966. From the burgeoning ratings of the SciFi Channel to the increasing revenues of comic book movies, there's been a gradual but undeniable pop cultural shift; largely due to Trek, sci-fi has gone from underground pulp fiction to an enormously profitable genre of multimedia entertainment.

So Enterprise's cancellation goes beyond vitriolic Trekkie blogs--hopefully, the franchise's absence will allow some breathing room for better sci-fi. There's Spielberg's promising War of the Worlds, Lucas' final Star Wars, and the SciFi Channel's lauded Battlestar Galactica (or their much-loved--but terrible--Stargate franchise). There's also ABC's massively popular Lost, or Serenity, the big-screen adaptation of the brilliant and short-lived TV series Firefly. ''s Darren Aronofsky returns to sci-fi with The Fountain, and Richard Linklater takes on Philip K. Dick with A Scanner Darkly.

A lot of those are remakes of one sort or another--but since Trek regurgitated the original series' characters and plotlines for decades, maybe some new(er) blood telling new(ish) stories is the most that audiences can hope for. Regardless, Star Trek's absence leaves a big chunk of pop culture up for grabs--and it's anyone's guess as to who'll grab it.