I was digging around in the Vault the other day, looking for some other materials which I planned to look through in preparation for a forthcoming writing project, and I came across this prized tome sitting on the shelf:
Published in conjunction with the then recently-released Star Trek: The Motion Picture, this book was one of several produced by Pocket Books (and its now-defunct imprint, Wallaby Books) tying into the new movie. For my money, this was the coolest of the tie-ins they produced for that flick (the refit Enterprise blueprints are decent enough, but they don’t hold a candle to Franz Joseph’s set for the original Enterprise even farther back in the day). Years before the concepts of timelines and “canon” would drive fanboys to the depths of rabid obsession, this nifty book laid out a comprehensive history of human space travel, from the earliest orbital pop shots to the brand-spankin’ new U.S.S. Enterprise (movie edition).
Filled with log entries, excerpts from news sources, mission reports, personal anecdotes, and whatever else the authors, Stan and Fred Goldstein, could conjure, the book made for a fascinating version of Trek “future history” long before Gene Roddenberry decided to (essentially) start from scratch when he began developing Star Trek: The Next Generation. What really makes the book sing is the artwork by Rick Sternbach, who of course has had a long and distinguished association with Star Trek over the ensuing decades. Mr. Sternbach provided all of the book’s illustrations, which feature “technical schematic” versions of every ship covered in the book as well as fully-painted beauty shots of many vessels, including both versions of the original NCC-1701 (No bloody A, B, C, D, E, or Abramsverse, yo.).
An abridged version of the book was released in the UK by Phoebus Books, including just excerpts from the timeline and the “fact sheets” for the more prominent vessels. Not sure what the backstory on this version is; I stumbled across a copy at a con one year.
Despite being mostly incompatible with “history” as TNG and the later spin-offs defined it in the Trek universe, the Spaceflight Chronology remains a favorite “old-school” Trek reference work for me.