I’m not kidding, people: I’ve been waiting to read this book since I was 12 years old.
Back in 1979 while writing for Cinefantastique, Preston Neal Jones conducted interviews with the cast and crew of Star Trek: The Motion Picture for what originally was intended to be a cover story for that magazine. Due to the various troubles plaguing the film’s production as everyone involved headlong toward the film’s set-in-stone release date of December 7th, and owing to much Jones’ article had grown beyond the scope of a single magazine article (he ended up interviewing 60 people), the piece never ran, and he decided to expand his efforts to book length.
The result was to be Return to Tomorrow, a book which was never published.
This is one of those lost tomes that people talk about like it’s Bigfoot or a UFO. Within the Star Trek realm, there are a handful of such books. Another prominent example, which also has ties to The Motion Picture, is The God Thing, a novel Gene Roddenberry had intended to write as an adaptation of the story he originally had put forth as the basis for what would become the first film. That book also seems to exist only as folklore or a campfire tale.
As for Return to Tomorrow, rumors about its pending publication were circulated for years, then decades. There were two previous attempts by Jones to complete the task he had begun so long ago, each derailed for different reasons. However, as the saying goes, the third time is indeed the charm. The book exists. I know this because my copy arrived today, missing the 35th anniversary of the film’s original release by less than a week.
And it’s ginormous.
In excess of 650 pages, this book is a weapon. It can keep your car from rolling down a hill, act as ballast for a submarine, and perhaps even hold down your house in a tornado or hurricane. I have no desire to put such theories to the test however…at least not until after I read it.
Like the book’s tag and back cover copy reads, Return to Tomorrow is a time capsule; an oral history of the film’s production, recorded as it happened. I’ve only just been able to flip through the thing, but Mr. Jones appears to have left the manuscript as he originally laid it out during his first attempt at publication, preserving the entire “You are there!” aspect of the work.
I can’t wait to read this frappin’ thing.
Those interested in Star Trek‘s production history would do well to check this bad boy out for themselves, but I warn you that quantities are limited. You can learn more about it at the publisher’s website:
Don’t let this one get past you, my fellow Trekkies.