Robert Greenberger – Published by Voyaguer Press
Anyone attempting to document the history of a cultural phenomenon like Star Trek needs to have a unique perspective or the solid backing of the show’s creators to ensure that the journey of Star Trek can be suitably illuminated.
Given the word ‘unauthorised’ in the title of this book it is safe to assume that the show’s creative team have chosen not to involve themselves with the work done by Greenberger. However what this history lacks in Paramount-approved images it more than makes up for in a personal account, fueled by a fan’s love for a show which constantlyreinvents itself and has been a mainstay of global television culture.
The book details Gene Roddenberry’s journey to bring his vision of ‘Wagon Train to the stars’ into the homes of millions of Americans. Though much of the story has been told before where this book sets itself apart is in its examination, and detailed illustration of, the cultural artefacts Trek has inspired over the years. Books, comics, promotional 7 inch singles, playing cards with trivia snippets, cookie jars (yes…) and so much more. Conventions and other fan based excursions into the twenty-third century are all given pride of place here and the enthusiasm is infectious.
What Greenberger has done is make the best of a lack of official backing for his project and has made the best out of this situation. What you get is a thoroughly joyful catalogue of the show and its enduring legacy. It’s not a social commentary, nor does it look at the political dimension however it’s great fun to join the author on his own personal journey with some routes and detours you may never have otherwise come across.
Paula M. Block and Terry J.Erfmann – Published by Abrams
This book is described as the definitive guide to all 178 episodes of the second live-action TV incarnation of the Star Trek universe. While it does run through each of the shows it distances itself from the wikia listings of facts and categories and instead takes a look at one specific area of production pertinent to the show in question.
Characters such as Guinan and Q are given then due, as are the various threats to the Federation. It is by no means as definitive as it claims but it’s really the wrong perspective to have on a book like this. The wealth of behind the scenes images and access makes this book very engaging.
If you want to see the alternative designs for the new Enterprise, or pour over the choice of logo for the series then this is the book for you. Dozens of production stills litter the book and surely the highlight is the sight of Patrick Stewart in full Star Fleet regulation uniform and a wig, something which was done at the behest of Roddenberry who couldn’t see a bald captain at the helm of the Enterprise. The studio approved Stewart but declined the wig.
This book is full of these surprising moments and is highly recommended as a peek behind the curtain rather than an episode guide.
Scott Tipton – Published by Aurum Press
This luxuriously adorned collection is the opposite end to Robert Greenberger’s Unauthorised history in that it is covered with official production photos and images, detailed reproduced oddities and riddled with the sort of miscellany you can imagine which will be poured over by Trekkers in their droves.
Taking each of the incarnations of the shows (Original Series, Animated series, TNG, Movies and so on) this book is relatively light on commentary, though what is here is clearly well researched and free from hyperbole and gushing fan love. Also pointed out for special consideration are the series’ in-jokes and staples, so the Red-shirts get their day in the sun (before being evaporated due to over-exposure).
Books of this kind include a number of reproductions from the long history of the show, so you can have your very own Star Trek colouring book (with the artist’s peculiar rendition of the crew) or you can take pride in owning the schematics of Picard’s Borg arm, or daub your walls with the Japanese poster for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
Stickers, iron-on transfers and all manner of merchandise are included, as are pronunciation guides for some of the films (Klingon names are a speciality here). For a behind the scenes look this is hard to beat, and all three books on offer here benefit from their own perspective on one of television’s most lauded franchises.