Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Making of Star Trek

As a final entry for my little tribute to Leonard Nimoy and Star Trek, here’s a sorta review I did about two years of the book The Making of Star Trek.  If you were a little kid in the 70s and you were a big Star Trek fan, well, then, when the bookmobile drove into town you did like me and picked up this famous picture-laden paperback:

* * * * *

© 1968 by Stephen E. Whitfiled and Gene Roddenberry

Way, way, back, when Star Trek was just beginning syndication and we had just wrapped up the moon landings, wee little Hopper stepped up into the Bookmobile visiting my school and bought Mr. Whitfield’s book. That (and a hot-off-the-presses Logan’s Run) was my first real book I bought, to the best of my knowledge, and I picked it up primarily for that picture of the Enterprise on the cover and the two sets of picture series within it. Over the course of a year or so it was a constant companion. I never read it through start to finish (it was probably a bit above my reading level at this point), but I studied those photos intensely and read just about every Gene Roddenberry memo reproduced within its pages.

Well, something like 35 years intervened and a gazillion people, events, experiences, interests, classes, jobs, books, movies, and a gazillion other miscellaneous came into and out of my life.

The Making of Star Trek was stored away in the deep part of one’s brain where long-term but never-retrieved memories are sentenced to life imprisonment in solitary confinement.

Until a few months ago when, surfing through my online used book store’s archives, it found me again and asked to be freed.

I bought it. Now I’m reading it.

Yes, it’s light, it’s fluff, it’s a lot of stuff I’ve read or heard in other places now that Shatner and Nimoy are firmly in their 80s. But you know what? I’ve been reading Ayn Rand for six weeks. Before that it was a few books on the Civil War, and before that it was a few on World War II. I deserve something light and fluffy, don’t I?

Now, I’m not a Trekkie. True, I’ve seen every episode and every movie of the original series. Later series, not so much. Maybe a quarter of the Next Generation, a dozen of Deep Space Nine, one of Voyager and none of that retro Trek show, forgot its name. But the original series was part of my youth, and it influenced me in many ways growing up. Heck, my first novel, unfinished at 80 pages and written at age 11, Star Rats, is fifty percent Star Wars and fifty percent Star Trek, only with cats and mice. Some episodes scared the living C-R-A-P out of me (“Devil in the Dark”), some filled me with wonder (“The City on the Edge of Forever”), some made me want to be a writer (cf, all the first and second season episodes and half the third). Some, with all them scantily-clad 1960s babes, well, you can imagine what that did to my pre-adolescent mind.

I’m also a useless trivia buff. The book is filled with lots of behind-the-scenes back-story stuff that satisfies that buff in me.

What were some names considered for Kirk before they settled on Kirk?

[January, Flagg, Drake, Christopher, Thorpe, Richard, Patrick, Raintree (!), Boone, Hudson, Timber (!), Hamilton, Hannibal, Neville, and North]

How many starships are there in Star Fleet? What were their names?

[12 – Enterprise, Essex, Excalibur, Lexington, Yorktown, Endeavor, Eagle, Constellation, Hornet, Wasp, Lafayette, Saratoga]

What common kitchen item became McCoy’s medical instruments?

[salt shakers]

What critter kept Shatner from filming the first episode – but third aired – for three full days?

[A wasp stung him on the eyelid on set]

What is the most interesting Vulcan name ever considered?

[Spxyx, in my humble opinion. Also, Spork]

And on and on and on.

Bottom line: half-way through it and the perfect antidote to the Randian angst I’ve been wallowing in – due to a pre-election promise to myself – since November 12. Ergo, I cast off any guilt or shame from immersing myself in this book!

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