40 years of Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator.

Fair warning: It’s gonna get nerdy in here.

We’re good? Sweet.

Set the Wayback Machine for 1983, and me the wayward teen wandering into one of the numerous video game arcades taking up space inside pool halls or in strip malls, renovated fast food joints and other odd-sized buildings all over the city of Tampa. My pockets jammed with however many quarters and dollar bills I could scrounge, I move past such favorites as Tron and Tempest, on my way to the hot new game I’ve been dying to play:

Your mission, should you insert your quarter(s) and press the button for 1 or 2 players, was to pilot the U.S.S. Enterprise from “sector” to “sector,” defending varying numbers of starbases from varying numbers of Klingon battle cruisers. Some of the enemy ships concentrated on destroying the starbases while others were intent on destroying the Enterprise (and you).

Successfully defending the starbases meant bonus points after clearing a “sector,” so your first priority was taking out the Klingons attacking them. Docking at a starbase also was one means of repairing “damage” and replenishing your various “consumables” — warp drive power, photon torpedoes, and deflector shields. However, docking at a starbase reduced the bonus points it offered for your successful defense. So, the object? Destroy all the Klingons, defend all the starbases, and do so (if possible) without being forced to dock for emergency repairs.

Every five sectors or so, you entered a special “bonus” round where you faced off against the “Nomad probe,” which was busy deploying mines like a rabbit shot-gunning Red Bull. Taking out Nomad without incurring damage from any of the mines meant more sweet bonus points, after which you charged into the next round of “sector battles” with ever more angrier, faster Klingons.

Continue repeating all of the above until your ship is destroyed.

(Pic courtesy of the Sega Wiki)

A fossil by today’s gaming standards, Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator was pretty slick when it was released by Sega in January 1983. The vector graphics were typical of the era, but the game also benefitted from Leonard Nimoy and James Doohan supplying their voices for various snippets of dialogue throughout the game. Familiar Star Trek music and sound effects rounded out the presentation. The controls were pretty simple, with a “spin knob” to control direction and four buttons–one each for phasers, photon torpedoes, thrusters and “warp drive” to get you out of a tough jam, at least for a couple of seconds.

The game itself came in two basic configurations: the standard stand-up cabinet model prevalent in most arcades, and the deluxe “sit-down” model that partially enclosed the player in a “captain’s chair,” with the controls set into the arms. Of course, back in those days it was common practice to repurpose arcade cabinets by swapping out the innards and the exterior artwork, so finding an actual honest to goodness sit-down model is a pretty rare event anymore. That said, now you know what to get me for Christmas or my birthday if you chance across one. Until then, I have to make do with what I have:

My oldest child, teaching me how not to suck at this game, circa 2008.

In addition to the original arcade game version, the game also was made available for home console systems of the day–Atari 2600/5200, Commodore 64, the TI-99, and so on. Stop laughing. The Commodore 64 graphics actually were better than the arcade model. I said stop laughing!

Forty years after I first played it in that long-gone arcade, I still love this thing. I don’t play it every day, of course, but every so often the itch needs scratchin’, you know? The model which currently sits in my home office was acquired soon after we moved into our house, allowing me to cross one item off my Bucket List (“Own actual Star Trek arcade game.”).

(Sadly, “Own actual Tron arcade game” is still on the list, so remember: Christmas or birthday. I’m not picky.)

Happy 40th, Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator. Who’s got quarters?

Tuesday Trekkin’: Some new love for Star Trek Vanguard!

We’re careening toward the end of the year and while this is supposed to be something of a slow week (HAH!), I’m hoping I can try resuscitate this blog-type thing on some level during 2023. To that end, feel free to offer suggestions for things you might want to see more (or less) of around here.

Meanwhile, it’s Tuesday, which means it could possibly also be time for another installment of “Tuesday Trekkin’,” one of several irregularly recurring features you newcomers might find here. This one is really just a shoddy excuse for me to yammer on a bit about some nugget of Star Trek fandom. Most of the time, this means me babbling about some fondly remembered bit of goofy merchandise or collectible, anniversaries and “milestones” or important dates in franchise history, convention memories, or whatever else tickles my brain on any given day.

The “Tuesday Trekkin’” moniker is also a tip of the hat to Dan Davidson and Bill Smith, aka “The Hosts of the TrekGeeks Podcast.” Their fan group over on Facebook, Camp Khitomer, is devoted to all things Trek where all are welcome to join in their positive vibes and community. Sometimes, they also like to push a #TrekTuesday hashtag over there, inviting members to share updates, links, and/or pictures celebrating their fandom, so this feature is definitely offered in that same spirit.

I’d actually planned to do this one a couple of weeks ago for reasons which (hopefully) will become clear as I proceed, but December kind of got away from me with work, family stuff, the holidays, and so on, but here we are! Those of you who follow such things know that Harm’s Way, a new Star Trek novel penned by friend and fellow word pusher David Mack, was published back on back on December 13th. In addition to being an original series tale featuring Captain Kirk and the crew of the Starship Enterprise in their prime during their historic five-year mission, the new story also ties into one of my very favorite aspects of the Star Trek “expanded universe,” the Star Trek Vanguard novel series.

Continue reading “Tuesday Trekkin’: Some new love for Star Trek Vanguard!”

Holiday reading: A few old (and new!) favorites.

When I was a kid, this time of year usually meant a slew of Christmas specials on TV. Charlie Brown, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and the Grinch to name just a few folks who stared out from the family television all through the month of December. Nowadays, you can’t go a single day of the month without running into some channel airing something holiday related, and that’s without considering streaming/on-demand options or the really hard core folks who break out a Blu-ray, DVD, VHS or Beta tape, or LaserDisc.

(If you’ve got How the Grinch Stole Christmas! on LaserDisc, you are a holiday binge watching beast.)

Know what else is good to do this time of year? Curl up with a good book. Make it a holiday-themed book if you really want to be so sweet you break out with spontaneous diabetes. Would I ever write such a book? Sure, if I was able to conjure an idea. I thought I had the makings of a pretty decent one several years ago, but it turns out I wasn’t the only one with that same notion, and they beat me to the punch. Take a guess.

Until then, there are several books, old and new, I consider favorites for this time of year, each of them written by an author more capable than myself.

Continue reading “Holiday reading: A few old (and new!) favorites.”

Your Moment of TrekZen* – Classic Thanksgiving Edition!

We shall all sing songs of the Great Turkey Leg, on our way to the Stove O’ Kor.

Klingon Turkeys

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Here’s hoping you enjoy a restful holiday in the company of family and friends. For those unable to do so – servicemembers, first responders, doctors and nurses, and lots of other fine people answering a higher calling or simply having to work a job that precludes them from taking the day off – we thank you for your service and commitments and wish you a safe return home. And let’s not forget those who for whatever reason might be alone today, or who might need a helping hand.

(* = inspired by the “Your Moment of Zen” segments from The Daily Show)

Tuesday Trekkin’: Star Trek Halloween costumes!

Been a minute, huh?

Things have been busy here at the manor, forcing me to let idle things like this “irregularly recurring” feature that’s little more than an thin excuse for me to babble on a bit about some nugget of Star Trek fandom. Most of the time, this means me babbling about some fondly remembered bit of goofy merchandise or collectible, anniversaries and “milestones” or important dates in franchise history, convention memories, or whatever else tickles my brain on any given day.

The “Tuesday Trekkin’” moniker is also a tip of the hat to Dan Davidson and Bill Smith, aka “The Hosts of the TrekGeeks Podcast.” Their fan group over on Facebook, Camp Khitomer, is devoted to all things Trek where all are welcome to join in their positive vibes and community. Sometimes, they also like to push a #TrekTuesday hashtag over there, inviting members to share updates, links, and/or pictures celebrating their fandom, so this feature is definitely offered in that same spirit.

I’d actually been thinking about this one for a bit, given the season. We’re less than a week away from Halloween, so naturally my thoughts turned to the very oddball assortment of costumes that have come along specifically for engaging in trick-or-treat landing parties (or, “away teams” if that’s your kink). If we’re being brutally honest, Star Trek Halloween costumes have always been sort of a mixed bag. Not counting the really higher-end costumes that run into the hundreds of dollars, companies like Rubies II, which has been making affordable Halloween costumes and accessories since the 1950s, including various iterations of Star Trek. Their selection is, I imagine, decent for the price-range, though I suspect very few of us can make them look as good as the actors on any of the shows.

Are you more the do it yourself type? For years, the Simplicity Pattern Company offered back in the 1980s sewing patterns for both the original series and Star Trek: The Next Generation. They updated and rereleased those patterns in 2016 as part of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, accompanied by new patterns from TNG and the Star Trek films. Somewhere in my archives I have a set of the 80s patterns, though I never tried to make them, myself. I have a sneaky suspicions the final result would not look even as good as the photos on the original packaging.

Don’t feel like going all in with the whole costume? I suppose you could just get by with a mask. Trick or Treat Studios carries among their sizable inventory a few Star Trek masks that are bit pricey, but maaaaaaaaaan do they look cool.

Star Trek masks, L-R: The Gorn, the Balok puppet, and the Mugato.

On the other hand, the less said about this one, the better.

The infamous Michael Myers mask as seen in the Halloween movies, and the William Shatner mask which served as inspiration and point of departure.

However — HOW. EVER. — no discussion about Star Trek Halloween costumes is complete without the king of them all: the Ben Cooper jobs based very loosely on the original Star Trek series. Now this was my Halloween experience as a young, single-digit proto-human in the 1970s. Look at the stunning on-screen accuracy, the near-total lack of ability to breathe let alone see, and if you’re thinking the entire thing is one stray match away from total walking miniature inferno, well….you’re not wrong.


Trick or treat, yo.

To read much more about these little packages of insanity, check out these articles from Trekker Scrapbook and Plaid Stallions, which is where I found the above Ben Cooper costume photos. Ben Cooper has recently gotten back into the costume game, offering “nostalgic” costumes for grown-ups modeled after the original designs. So far, they’ve released costumes based on Star Wars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and superheroes like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Flash. Can Star Trek be too far behind? Let’s hope not.

All right, friends! Armed with newfound vital knowledge on this #TrekTuesday, which of these are you planning to wear for Halloween?

Pics or it didn’t happen.

New Star Trek: Discovery novel coming May 2023…from me!

FINALLY, IT CAN BE TOLD.

For a while now, those of you who read my little toy-filled corner of the internet have been reading about an “Untitled tie-in novel” that’s one of my current works-in-progress. Indeed, my monthly writing wrap-up posts usually had something annoyingly vague like this to say about the book:

There have been some rumors and such about what this is, but I can’t really say much as nothing’s been formally confirmed or announced. I can say that the placeholder title I’ve seen bandied about is not accurate. It’s what they stuck into my contract at the time, before I’d even written an outline. Suffice it to say there’s a different title on the pages I’m looking at right now.”

Then there were the mysterious listings on Simon & Schuster’s website, which offered little in the way of actual info, because a delay in publication (see below) meant they weren’t yet ready to share any details about the book until the time was right. For example, curious knowledge seekers checking out the latest happenings in Star Trek publishing land might’ve come across a listing with a cover image like the one shown here.

This along with what was essentially “template data” is what fed out to the various book retailer sites. Meanwhile, I didn’t say much, instead waiting for the publisher and Paramount to approve the public release of any promo info about the book, which is my cue to start yammering about it.

So, yammer I shall!

As of today, I can officially announce that my next novel will be Somewhere to Belong, a Star Trek: Discovery novel set between the show’s third and fourth seasons. What’s it about, you ask? Well, allow me:

Captain Michael Burnham and the crew of the USS Discovery are finding that each day is a critical adjustment to their new lives and new missions in an Alpha Quadrant more than nine hundred years in the future. It’s here that Discovery is reconnecting with various worlds where the cataclysmic event known as “the Burn” has decimated Starfleet and, with it, the United Federation of Planets. There’s been precious little time for the crew to truly come to terms with their present reality, as their devotion to duty hides the emotional stress that could impact their effectiveness, and even threaten themselves or others.

After a successful journey to yet another planet cut off from the Federation, Discovery picks up a distress signal located in a nearby star system—a plea that harbors roots from their past lives in the 23rd century, and which may now lead to an entirely new crisis, plunging them all into mortal danger….

And there you go.

I actually delivered the manuscript back in April, but supply chain issues affecting the availability of paper and thereby forcing printer scheduling issues saw to it this book – originally slated for release in late 2022, was instead pushed into next year. Naturally, this affected the timetable of various things baked into the book’s development life cycle, including everything from when it was sent to a copyeditor to when I received galley (typeset) pages to when a cover might be commissioned. Also impacted by the rescheduling was the timeframe when I could actually announce and begin soft-promoting the thing. As it happens, today’s the day!

When I was asked to write the book and while talking with my editor as well as friend Kirsten Beyer, as my story ideas started to take shape I realized I wanted to spend at least some time with the characters in the aftermath of the Season Three events. Basically, Discovery and its crew arrived in the 32nd century and hit the ground running, with almost no time to acclimate to their new “home” let alone contemplate their place in it.

Star Trek: Discovery season four key art. This won’t be the cover, even though I think it fits the book’s overall theme very well. Stay tuned for that!

Once I learned there would be a time gap between those events and the start of Season Four, I started thinking about the crew’s reactions to the decision they made to jump with Michael Burnham to the future. How are they adjusting? Are they adjusting? Anybody having second thoughts, regrets, wondering if they made a terrible mistake or they simply feel homesick? Plus, there were a few interesting threads left dangling at the end of Season Three that lent themselves to playing in this space.

Along with this, I also just wanted to put these characters through something closer to a “traditional” Star Trek adventure. No crazy galactic crises or threats of war, but instead maybe a first contact situation and a chance to see how Burnham and her people can adapt to the way things like this are handled in the here and now of the year 3189 vs. 2258. Unlike Drastic Measures, which I wrote as a prequel set ten years before the events of Discovery‘s first season, here I was writing within a more strict set of parameters. As this story is set in that narrow gap between seasons, I had to work within the constraints that implies, but hey! Welcome to writing tie-in fiction for a show that is currently in active production. 🙂

As I write this, the book is scheduled for publication on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 and is currently up for pre-order from all the usual places. It’ll be available as a trade paperback and an eBook, as well as an unabridged audiobook. I encourage folks to patronize and support their local independent booksellers if at all possible, but if that’s not an option you can also find links here: Star Trek: Discovery – Somewhere to Belong.

Let’s fly, y’all!

Happy 35th Anniversary, Star Trek: The Next Generation!

“YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH, DAYTON!”

Sorry, folks, but it’s true. 35 years ago tonight, the 24th century began.

Star Trek: The Next Generation opening title

I’ve told this story before, but on the evening of September 28th, 1987, I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s premiere episode, “Encounter at Farpoint,” in the TV room of my barracks at Camp Pendleton. The room was stuffed with Marines, and maybe it was because of the beer, but we all stayed to watch the whole thing.

Our first look at the U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-D, from the opening credits of “Encounter at Farpoint,” which for the premiere ran before the opening scenes.

It was a new era, with a new captain and crew aboard a new Starship Enterprise, something all but unthinkable just a couple of years earlier. “What’s that? It’s not Captain Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the gang? BLASPHEMY!”

:: ahem ::

While “Farpoint” certainly had its problems, it was Star Trek, by golly. And, it was new Star Trek, and little did we know at the time what that really meant, or would come to mean.

Anybody remember this bit, which ran before the episode?

Man. How time flies.

So, yeah. The show got off to something of a rocky start, and took a while to find its footing. Still, even with this first episode, it was easy to see the potential in this new show. A big part of that is due to Patrick Stewart, who carried much of the load that first year and who as Captain Jean-Luc Picard brought a gravitas to the series which helped us forgive some of the hokier storylines. The other actors soon settled into their roles, of course, in time becoming a comfortable ensemble and even a family. By its third season, the show cemented itself as a worthy bearer of the Star Trek torch.

Seven television seasons, four feature films, a return of the cast early next year with the third and final season of Star Trek: Picard, and merchandising out the wazoo, including a whole bunch of novels published by Pocket Books. As one of those responsible for foisting more than a few of those on an unsuspecting reading public, I’ve always enjoyed my time spent with Captain Picard and his merry band. Here’s hoping they let me do a few more.

Happy 35th Anniversary, Star Trek: The Next Generation. Go. Go see what’s out there.

Star Trek: The Next Generation season 1 cast publicity photo

AMT’s U.S.S. Enterprise model at 55!

It’s not the sort of anniversary that a lot of people would notice or care about, and even within the vast Star Trek fandom it’s likely something only a segment of people would even recognize let alone take time to observe. However, for that special subset of fans for whom models in general and Star Trek models in particular are something they enjoy? Yeah, 2022 is a bit of a milestone, all right.

I guess I’m one of those people, at least to a degree.

While I can under no circumstances call myself a particularly skilled or accomplished model hobbyist, I’ve assembled my share of models. Most of these efforts were undertaken during my youth, of course, but I’ve also gone through phases as an adult where the challenge of building a model enticed me to spend more than a few late nights tinkering with this or that. As a kid in the mid to late 1970s, I built things like the Batmobile, the Eagle transport from Space: 1999, figure models from The Six Million Dollar Man or Planet of the Apes, Star Wars X-wings and TIE fighters, and — yes — several Star Trek models.

Star Trek models with 1970s-era packaging: the “Exploration Set,” the Bridge diorama, and Spock (with snakes!)

Particular favorites from the final frontier included the “Exploration Set,” the Enterprise bridge diorama, and the Spock (with snakes) model. Though I never successfully completed the latter, I did build the version of that kit retooled to tie into the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, with the three-headed snake removed and Spock’s uniform now made to resemble his ensemble from the film rather than the original TV series. Yeah, it didn’t really hit home the way the original version did.

And, of course, there was the Enterprise itself.

As a kid, I can remember building the bridge model twice. Same with the Exploration Set (both sets became casualties of playing outside…damn those things were fragile), but the Enterprise? Probably a half-dozen times, and then a couple more later on.

That Enterprise model was created by a Michigan-based company, Aluminum Model Toys or “AMT.” It was created and first released in June of 1967, just a couple of months after the last new episode of Star Trek‘s first season aired on NBC. It’s been around pretty much since then. As years passed, AMT’s Star Trek line expanded beyond the original series to include models from the feature films and spin-off television series. Along the way, the Enterprise model was released and re-released who-really-knows-for-sure how many times over. It was even updated (addressing some long-standing structural and accuracy issues) and released to pretty decent fanfare in 2016 as part of commemorating the original TV series’ 50th anniversary, and was re-issued yet again just last year in time to celebrate the original series’ 55th birthday.

I want this tattooed on my thigh.

And now, 2022 marks the model’s own version of that latter milestone.

Related: Tuesday Trekkin’: The original AMT Star Trek models

Author and one-time NASA chief historian Glen E. Swanson wrote a wonderful article about the original AMT Enterprise model for a 2021 issue of Michigan History magazine. I heard about the magazine and Mr. Swanson’s article through the Facebook/Star Trek grapevine and it was enough for me to purchase a physical copy from the MH website.

To celebrate the 55th anniversary of the model as well as AMT’s enduring connection to Star Trek, Mr. Swanson penned a series of new essays, drawing inspiration from his original article. In addition to hosting these on a site he maintains, Liftoffworks.com, the essays are also being shared on CultTVman, the absolutely off-the-charts awesome website devoted to all things science fiction and monster models. Seriously, if you are at all interested in this topic, you need to bookmark this site. The sheer width and breadth of essays, build walk-throughs, reviews, and other information about models old and new is – in my mind, at least – unmatched. Plus, I don’t mind saying they’ve managed to separate me from more than a bit of my money over the years. You can read all of Mr. Swanson’s Enterprise essays by following this link:

CultTVman.com: AMT’s Enterprise at 55

AMT Enterprise model. Photo credit: National Air and Space Museum

Like a lot of people, building this particular model fired my imagination as a young kid. It fueled an interest in the original series that went beyond just watching those reruns every day after school. Having my very own Enterprise — along with those super groovy Mego action figures — drove me to create my own adventures for Kirk and the gang. It’s not at all a stretch for me to draw a line from those childhood imaginings to the Star Trek stories I now get to write as an alleged adult.

I don’t know about anyone else, but reading all this stuff and seeing the pictures of different people building and enjoying their models makes me want to break out the tools, glue, and paints and see what sort of trouble I can cause.

Happy Birthday, Gene.

Today would’ve been Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s 101st birthday.

“I would hope there are bright young people, growing up all the time, who will bring to [Star Trek] levels and areas that were beyond me, and I don’t feel jealous about that at all….It’ll go on without any of us, and get better and better and better. That really is the human condition–to improve.”

– Gene Roddenberry, 1988

Thank you, Mr. Roddenberry, for giving us such a wondrous sandbox in which to play and dream.

Tuesday Trekkin’: Favorite “Behind-the-Scenes” Trek books!

Yep, it’s Tuesday.

A check of my blog tells me it’s been a little over a month or so since my last entry in this stuttering, staggering, “irregularly recurring” feature that’s little more than an excuse for me to babble on a bit about some bit or bob of Star Trek fandom. This usually translates me to waxing nostalgic as I recount a fondly remembered bit of oddball merchandise or collectible, anniversaries, “milestones,” or important dates in franchise history, convention memories, or whatever else tickles my fancy on any given day.

As for the “Tuesday Trekkin’” moniker, it’s a salute of sorts to Dan Davidson and Bill Smith aka “The Hosts of the TrekGeeks Podcast.” Their fan group over on Facebook, Camp Khitomer, is devoted to all things Trek where all are welcome to join in their positive vibes and community. Sometimes, they also like to push a #TrekTuesday hashtag over there, inviting members to share updates, links, and/or pictures celebrating their fandom, so this feature is definitely offered in that same spirit.

In an unreleated but welcome bit of synergy, today is also National Book Lovers Day, so now I’ve got a perfect excuse to roll out some fannish observations about a few of my personal favorite Star Trek books. For this exercise in full frontal nerdity, I’ve opted to take a look at a handful of my favorite “Behind the Scenes” from various corners of the Trek franchise. You can do that sort of thing when you’re an alleged adult. People dont even look at you weird when you check these out of the library or plonk them down on the counter at a bookstore. Go figure.

First up? The daddy of all such tomes devoted to the care and feeding of the Final Frontier: The Making of Star Trek. It doesn’t get any more “You Are There!” than this, written by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry and published in 1968 while the original series was still in production. It chronicles the show’s creation and development through its two pilot episodes and transition to weekly series, and recounts various production highlights through the conclusion of its second of three seasons. This very much makes it a time capsule from that period, not just as a Star Trek reference but also an insider’s look at just how a television series of the late 1960s was made.

Considered by fans as a companion piece to The Making of Star Trek, The Trouble With Tribbles is David Gerrold’s in-depth recounting of the development and production of one of the franchise’s most memorable episodes by the man who wrote it. Featuring initial concept notes, script drafts and revisions, as well as notes and insights as his story was put before the cameras, told from the unique perspective of someone who was there as it happened. This wonderful morsel of Star Trek production history is currently available in electronic format from Mr. Gerrold’s website, along with another book he wrote which is also a favorite of mine, The World of Star Trek. These books along with The Making of Star Trek, which I first encountered while still in elementary school, ignited an interest in the show’s production that fascinates me to this day.

Though written as a retrospective, Inside Star Trek: The Real Story still makes for a nice bookend with The Making of Star Trek to round out a history of the original series. This first-person tale recounts the show’s genesis, production, and enduring legacy, presented by two of the three men who were there from “Day 1,” Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman. Despite a few factual errors – likely misrembrances owing to the passage of more than 30 years from the show’s production to the book being written – the insights offered from people in the trenches makes Inside Star Trek is still one of the better entries in this category, and does its own bit of fueling my continued obsession with the production of the original series.

The most recent of the books I’m calling out here, Star Trek: The Motion Picture – Inside the Art and Visual Effects is an absolutely gorgeous, oversized coffee-table tome brought to us by authors Jeff Bond and Gene Koziki. Published to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the film’s theatrical release, the book takes a detailed look at the unleashed imaginations and artistic brainstorming of the numerous people who guided the first (and, arguably, still the most ambitious) Star Trek feature film from concept to reality. Of course I had my copy pre-ordered the nanosecond I heard about it, which ended up being about a year ahead of the book’s publication.

Sticking with the current theme, I have tip my hat to Chekov’s Enterprise: A Personal Journal of the Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Walter Koenig (who’s definitely no slouch as a writer, either) presents a very candid diary from the perspective of Lieutenant Chekov himself. Like The Making of Star Trek, there’s a definite “There on the set” vibe permeating the book’s every page, offering a lingering look at the daily grind of the film’s production. Mr. Koenig gives us welcome insight into the process of the cast “re-learning” how to do Star Trek after so many years away from their roles, along with the numerous obstacles face by Gene Roddenberry, director Robert Wise, and the entire crew to bring the film to fruition. It’s not all roses and unicorns, but you can’t beat the insider perspective Mr. Koening provides.

To close out this installment, I’m stepping away from the original series to salute not just one of the best Star Trek behind-the-scenes books but perhaps one of the best such books written about producing television, period. I refer to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, published in August 2000. Working from notes and interviews compiled as the series progressed from initial concept to its final episode, authors Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block offer us as complete a history of the series’ seven seasons as we’re ever likely to see. Worth the price of admission all on its own is the collection of anecdotes and interviews from the production staff, who give us a no-holds-barred look at the show, episode by episode and never shying away from telling us what they thought worked and — more interestingly — what they thought fell short….in some cases, very short. As a sort of companion to the Companion, Erdmann and Block along with DS9 visual effects supervisor Gary Hutzel wrote The Magic of Tribbles, an e-Book exclusive which details the development and execution of “Trials and Tribble-ations,” the show’s wonderful 30th anniversary tribute episode to the original series.

Okay, I suppose that’s enough babbling for one day. There are, of course, numerous other titles I could’ve included in the mix, but then we’d be here all day. No, I didn’t forget your favorite but feel free to share it down in the comments. Happy #TrekTuesday, and Happy National Book Lovers Day!

(Note: Some of this material repurposed from an article I wrote for StarTrek.com in 2014.)