Review: Star Trek 365 Photo Book September 3, 2010by John Tenuto , Filed under: Art,Books,Review,TOS , trackback
Abrams Books (no relation to Star Trek’s JJ Abrams) has released a great new Star Trek coffee table book, "Star Trek: The Original Series 365". The book features 365 photo spreads, including many rare or never-seen-before images, along with text by Paula M. Block with Terry J. Erdmann. TrekMovie provides this review of the photos, text, and design of this latest in Trek’s long history of coffee table tomes.
REVIEW: Star Trek The Original Series 365
Star Trek 365 is both a coffee table book of photos and a history of the original Star Trek. At more than 700 pages long, the book features 365 different spreads with at least one image for each spread (taking up the right side) and text on the left (with an occasional additional photo). The "365" is an Abrams books tradition, with past books including “Star Wars 365″, “Grateful Dead 365″, etc. For “Star Trek 365″, the photo spreads span each of the 79 original episodes, with multiple photos from each adventure of the 1960s crew. In addition, there are behind the scene photos, costumes, props, storyboards, a few photos (for comparison’s sake) of the feature films, pictures from early Star Trek conventions, and merchandise. The photos are a celebration of Star Trek, both on the television and in the real world. Some of my favorites are the closeups of guest stars such as Matt Decker (page 180) and Joan Collins (page 145). Clean and crisp, even familiar pictures seem anew in this format. Other favorites are on page 132, a beautiful picture of James Kirk sitting alone on the Enterprise bridge just as the dangerous flowers of Omicron Ceti III ("This Side of Paradise") releases its pollen, and page 359, which has Spock, Kirk, and McCoy in their civilian jean outfits from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. It, like many of the photos, is hard not to remove from the book for framing.
Photo spread from "Space Seed" section of "Star Trek 365"
Besides photos directly from the episodes, there are many other kinds of pictures featured. Early conventions are given a nice treatment over several pages which really show the excitement of those bygone days. While props and costumes are not necessarily my main interest as a fan, I know that for many fellow fans, there is great enthusiasm for the tech of Trek. There are many photos of phasers, tricorders, communicators, Gorn costumes, guest star outfits designed by William Ware Theiss, and other tech, with an especially cool x-ray image of the inside of the real Enterprise model now located at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The real world of Trek, from a photo of Leonard Nimoy’s appearance on the Carol Burnett show in costume as Spock (page 228) to pictures of early fanzines and fan fiction writers, demonstrate the influence of Star Trek on culture.
Photo spread from fanzine section (between season 1 & Season 2) of "Star Trek 365"
Paula M. Block and Terry Erdmann are no strangers to Star Trek books. Block started as a fanzine writer in the 1970s, eventually running Star Trek book publishing for Pocket Books, and writing some of her own texts. Husband Terry Erdmann wrote previous books detailing the making of Star Trek: Insurrection and the amazingly detailed "Deep Space Nine Companion." Their love of Star Trek and knowledge is visible in the text which explains the photo on the opposite page. The two have done their research, and there are many interesting facts that even the most serious fans may not know.
Photo spread from "Plato’s Stepchildren" section of "Star Trek 365"
Here is where Star Trek 365 adds that little extra that helps make the book special. Firstly, the book is organized historically, beginning with the preproduction of the show, all the way to its cancellation and rebirth. Along the way, the text is part history book, part episode guide, with some trivia here and there for good measure. It is fun because the books takes appropriate diversions from the episodes when real world Star Trek events occur such as the protests by fans against NBC’s second season cancellation. These real world diversions also help celebrate the contributions of the artists who make the show and the fans who contribute much to Star Trek’s staying power.
The fact that the pictures are not marred by page numbers or any kind of text whatsoever really shows the beauty of many of the episodes and is a wise design choice. The page numbers are found on the left side, nicely placed above and below the text. The page numbers are color coded so that when the book is closed they form blocks of yellow (first season photos), blue (second season), red (third season) and black (preproduction or real world photos) which make it easy to navigate when looking for a photo (the book is also indexed).
Also nice is its size. Star Trek 365 is very thick at 700+ pages, yet Abrams Publishers wisely kept the book a reasonable 6.5 inch by 9.5 inch design. This means the book is big enough so the photos are impressive, yet small enough to be manageable.
New "Star Trek 365"
Who will like this book
While most previous Star Trek non fiction books might appeal more to specific audiences (tech manuals for prop fans, "Star Trek 101" for mostly new fans), "Star Trek 365" is a nice gift for any fan who enjoys the original show. There are photos here that are beautiful, some of which haven’t been printed in decades or if ever. For those new to Trek, it is an excellent history and episode guide. For those more experienced fans, there is something fun about revisiting old friends, yet seeing new photos and learning new details in the process.
Bottom line: "Star Trek 365" is easily the best non-fiction Star Trek book in over a decade, and it is highly recommended.
Photo spread from "City on the Edge of Forever" section of "Star Trek 365"
Star Trek 365 was released this week and is available at book stores and Amazon.com.
Abrams book supplied TrekMovie staff with review copies of the book.