Library Computer: Exclusive Preview of ‘Star Trek 101’ + Trek Companion Books Retrospective

Next month, Pocket Books returns to the world of Star Trek reference books with the release of "Star Trek 101," written by Trek insiders Terry Erdmann and Paula Block. TrekMovie has an exclusive preview of the book and we also take a look back at Pocket’s history of Star Trek ‘companion’ books. 

 

PREVIEW ‘STAR TREK 101’
by Terry Erdmann and Paula Block

Everything you need to know to start with Trek
"Star Trek 101" is part quick reference guide and part introduction to the entire Star Trek universe. The illustrated book covers every single Trek series (including The Animated Series),  as well as all the feature films. For each show you get a series guide (with descriptions of each episode), character bios, descriptions of the major aliens, planets, weapons, ships and a ‘menagerie’ of creatures. Each series section chooses ’10 essential episodes’ for any new fan to star with. Each of the ten feature films also gets its own chapter.  

Overall the tone of the book is less dry than previous companions. Erdmann and Block, who have written some of Trek’s best reference books in the past, tried to make this guide more entertaining and fun, with more humor thrown in as well. It even awards each series with a ‘Spock’s Brain Award’ for the one episode they could do without, except maybe for some comic relief. There are also ‘sidebars’ throughout covering various issues such as ‘why do some Klingons have smooth heads.’ The book is geared as fast reference for the harder core fans and a primer for those who are just starting out on Trek. Pocket see this as a great gift for your loved ones who you are trying to get into Trek.

Sample pages


TOS ‘Menagerie’ (click to enlarge)


TOS ‘Essentials (click to enlarge)

 


"Star Trek 101" can be pre-ordered at Amazon for $10.88
(Ships by September 23)

 

STAR TREK COMPANIONS RETROSPECTIVE

"Star Trek 101" joins a long history of non fiction Star Trek reference books from Pocket. "101" is more basic and covers all the series, but Pocket has also produced a set of episode and feature film guides for all versions of Star Trek except Enterprise. These "Companions" (or in the case of the TOS book, "Compendium") offer behind the scene photographs, trivia, episode summaries, and "could have been" story details of previous script drafts. Trekmovie.com now provides a retro review of these Pocket Book television and film companion books.

Each companion book is given a score (from 1 to 10) regarding the uniqueness of the pictures included, the quality of the Star Trek trivia, the detail of the episode summary, and the behind the scene information provided.

Star Trek Compendium
by Allan Asherman (Four editions: 1981, 1986, 1989, 1993)
Pictures: 4
Episode Trivia: 8
Episode Summary: 4
Behind the Scenes Details: 10

The archetype text of its kind for the Pocket Star Trek companion books, Allan Asherman’s text has some of the best episode trivia and behind the scenes information on the original 79 Star Trek episodes. Subsequent editions would include the animated Star Trek show and the feature films (from The Motion Picture to The Undiscovered Country). The photos are grainy, although to be fair, so were the televised episodes and the sources available to Pocket Books at the time. The summaries are anemic, although most fans were probably very familiar with the episodes during this era. The book though set the standard for providing details about both the trivia of the episode and behind the scenes information. Asherman includes commentary for each episode that helps to show the context of the narrative.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion
by Larry Nemecek (Three editions: 1992, 1995, 2003)
Pictures: 10
Episode Trivia: 10
Episode Summary: 7
Behind the Scenes Details: 10

The text started out as a fan publication by Larry Nemecek that wound up being utilized by the staff of the TNG show because of its comprehensive nature. Reedited for Pocket Books publication, the 2003 edition covers every filmed TNG adventure from television and the feature films. The pictures included are often previously unseen, and each episode has at least one photo making for an excellent reference. Every episode has trivia discussion, which helps to show how various episodes are connected. While the episode summaries could be more detailed, the reader is easily reminded about the specifics of the episode’s adventures. The text offers excellent behind the scene details, with comments from screenplay authors and directors. For fans of Insurrection and Nemesis, this book also provides some of the best behind the scenes information on these often ignored films. As a bonus, the cover of the 2003 edition offers a great picture of the Enterprise E crew.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion
by Terry J. Erdmann and edited by Paula M. Block (One edition, 2000)
Pictures: 9
Episode Trivia: 10
Episode Summary: 10
Behind the Scenes Details: 10

While Nemecek had to write the beginning seasons of the TNG companion from afar as a fan, Terry J. Erdmann was there at the DS9 set from the start. Pocket Books editor Kevin Ryan gave Erdmann the assignment of authoring the DS9 Companion in 1993 as the show began, and it took seven years for the text to be published. This incredibly detailed book is arguably the best of the companions. The photos are good, although a criticism is that nearly every picture is from the episodes with very few behind the scene pictures (except for Erdmann’s text about the concluding episodes). The trivia and behind the scenes details are amazing, as people like Ron Moore and Ira Behr comment throughout the book. Amazing details are provided as to "what could have been" with the episodes and the Erdmann celebrates the various artists of Star Trek. The concluding chapters about the episode finale is a must read for fans.

Star Trek Voyager Companion
by Paul Ruditis (1 Edition, 2003)
Pictures: 4
Episode Trivia: 10
Episode Summary: 10
Behind the Scenes Details: 10

Although lacking in behind the scenes photos (there are plenty of episode pictures here, though), Paul Ruditis’ text is a marvel of behind the scene information and trivia. Each episode includes lists of "Sensor Readings" (science featured in the episode), "Damage Reports" (what damage is suffered by the U.S.S. Voyager), "Delta Quadrant" (what the episode teaches about the Delta Quadrant), "Alpha Quadrant" (how the episode is connected with the Alpha Quadrant and how close the crew is to home), "Personal Logs" (what the episode teaches about the characters), "Episode Logs" (generic trivia about the episode), and other fun discussions. The text includes the original Star Trek Voyager’s guide which shows how the characters changed from their original designs. Tuvok, for example, was supposed to be a Yoda character, much older and a calming influence on the crew. Each of the crew is given a few page tribute with quotes from the actors about their characters and how that character thought of other characters. This is a great book for fans of Kathryn Janeway and her crew.

Enterprise Companion?
The only Trek show without a companion is Enterprise. Even though shows with similar audiences, like Monk and Smallville, have companions and Enterprise fans would pick it up, it appears Pocket Books has no plans for one (beyond what is covered in "Star Trek 101"). Such a companion could cover the episodes, behind the scenes, the changes in seasons three and four and possibly even Manny Coto’s plans for the fifth season that never was. And might I suggest that Enterprise writers Juidth and Garfield Reeves Stevens would be perfect for it, so hopefully, Pocket Books will continue the companion book line with Enterprise. 

Other companions and reference books
This article did not cover books such as "The Star Trek Catalog" edited by Gerry Turnbull (Grosset & Dunlap publishers) or "The Star Trek Concordance" by Bjo Trimble (Ballantine Publishers) because they are not Pocket Books texts. These and other Star Trek non-fiction guides will be covered in future articles.

 

 

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I’m glad to see reference/resource books making a comeback. I hope they continue.

Some of my favorites were the technical manuals and I really miss those.

These are a great resource (101 pocketbooks) for your friends who don’t understand Star Trek from Star Wars. I think I’ll be making these stocking stuffers this year! I do hope they eventually do an Eneterprise companion.

This book already has a spot reserved on my Trek reference shelf. I love the Trek reference and non-fiction books Pocket has published over the deacdes — much more even than the novels. I agree that an ENT Companion is long overdue and the Reeves-Stevens’ would be a natural choice to write it. C’mon, Pocket! Hopefully the new film will renew interest in Trek and we’ll see more of these books updated in the future, especially the Encyclopedia, Chronology and the addition of ENT and VOY Technical Manuals. Plus possibly a new Technical Manual for the reimagined 1701 around next May.

I miss those tech manuals as well. It was just something fun to look at, and good for those people who always say, “I wonder how that works?”

The TNG Tech Manual is still one of the greatest Trek books I’ve ever read. I still have it, dog eared and all, sitting on my desk right next to me. I just pick it up once in a while to flip through it.

I liked the old Franz Joseph TOS Tech manual as well, and own multiple copies, but it’s a little dry when compared to the TNG manual, IMO.

I found one of those BJO Trimble concordances at a con one time with the wheel for under 50 bucks. You bet I bought it. Great book.

When will the Star Trek Encyclopedia be updated?

Does anyone know the name of the Star Trek book that was released and had all the mistakes/bloopers for every TOS show (maybe some TNG) and I believe the first 6 movies? It was an awesome book, I used to have it, lost it and can’t remember the name!

Dont know about a blooper book. But I once rented a TOS blooper tape from a local video store. Turned out to be a double feature — after the last shots of the Enterprise flying upside down and Spock bursting into hysterics, it cut to a naked woman rubbing vaseline all over herself.
Outtakes from a vaseline commercial, I suppose

No joke.

That’s crazy. I guess it wasn’t really a blooper book, as I recall it went through the episodes and the movies and pointed out all the filming goofs. Like if in a certain episode the door didn’t open all the way or something.

8. They were a series: The Nitpicker’s Guides. They had one for TOS, one for TNG seasons 1-6, a second volume which included missed nits from the first six seasons and Generations, one for the first (three I think) seasons of DS9 and even one for the first few seasons of The X-Files.

They were authored by Phil Farrand who has a website at http://nitcentral.com . I believe he had to stop from some kind of legal problems involved with publishing the books.

Yeah, the nitpickers guides were fun. I’ve been rereading through mine. Great companions to the DVDs.

Thanks, I appreciate it, it was really bothering me!

I have half of these books and they are AWESOME!! :-)

“Horta… looks like a cross between a lava flow and an extra-large pepperoni pizza” Cute humor.

DS9’s is indeed the best. A lot of text, cast & crew references, explanations and the pics from the last episode “party”. Niners Rules!
And ENT deserves one too, no doubt.

If I miss one thing from the days when “Star Trek’s” popularity was at its zenith, it’s the companion book. Fortunately we got one for most of the series. But I regret that “Enterprise” never got one. Methinks that series had a lot going on behind the scenes that would be interesting to hear about years later.

I also wish there was something similar for “Star Trek Remastered”. Maybe something showing the decision process behind what each show would improve on/not improve on; budgetary decisions, i.e. “Doomsday Machine” gets more money, “Alternative Factor” does not.

I think the DVDS kinda killed the companion books. Also, the net.

I’m surprised by the high rating for behind-the-scenes details on the VGR Companion. Unlike Erdmann, Ruditis didn’t have behind-the-scenes access, and the book contains virtually nothing in the way of interviews or information about the writing and production process. The information it has is more “in front of the scenes” — it does a good job of compiling details and trivia from the episodes themselves. But it doesn’t have the production insights offered by its predecessors.

” also wish there was something similar for “Star Trek Remastered”. Maybe something showing the decision process behind what each show would improve on/not improve on; budgetary decisions, i.e. “Doomsday Machine” gets more money, “Alternative Factor” does not.”

Absolutely, yes. A book that would sort of be a hybrid between the companion-style books and something like “The Art of Star Trek”, showing both the nuts and bolts side of how the project came together and how it worked from a production standpoint, but also included a lot of production artwork, stuff that was used and stuff that wasn’t, with a nice big section of full color images of those gorgeous digital mattes. Yeah, I would spend money on that.

Bones, Thugs and McCoy

I still have the first Star Trek Compendium I bought in 1988 – it looks like it’s been through the battle of Wolf 359

I have TOS compendium that has the first three seasons and TMP in it.

I have the 1986 edition of the Star Trek compendium, which was the Star Trek 20th anniversary edition covering the first three seasons, the animated series, and the first three movies, with a sneak peek photo of the yet-to-be-released Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

My favorite books are the episode guides/behind the scenes books by Mark A Altman. Those are full of juicy little articles detailing how the behind the scenes personalities and rivalries led to some great moments in TNG and DS9.

I have my old Cinefantastique Trek cover issues safely sealed up in polybags. Yes, I’m just that nerdy. But their Trek issues were always terrific and Mr. Altman was a big part of that, back in those dark, pre-interweb days.

The DS9 Companion is truly a colossal work of extraordinary magnitude. I wish there was something so indepth and comprehensive about the original series. Which is not to say there isn’t a ton of books about the original series – obviously there are – but it would be nice to have one book that really put it all together in significant depth.

Having said that, my favorite companion-style book is the 1981 version of Allan Asherman’s Star Trek Compendium. It had fewer pictures than the later editions but it had more content. The later editions appeared to drop some interesting bits of information and trivia in favor of more photos. Whatever sells I guess.

I think Allan Asherman worked at DC Comics in the ’80s.

I love these companion and tech books. An ENT companion is highly desired by me. A Remastered companion, too.
But my conjecture is that publishers think such books won’t sell any more because you can find any conceivable information on the net, particularly on Memory Alpha. Maybe they are right! I would buy at once, of course, but I’m 34 and I still prefer holding a book in my hands over reading from a screen.

Enterprise!
Enterprise!

say it with me…

We want an Enterprise companion book!

I want to know why Berman and Braga decided ti kil off Trip… and why they weren’t willing to lo let the show go to either the Sci Fi Channel or go syndicated where NG found its niche.

I truly convinced the show would have gone a full seven seasons if it hadn’t been on the wanna-be fowl UPN. Tell me, what network in its right mind would cancel its first, second or third top rated progam… what imbeciles!

and

I agree, the Reeves-Steven husband-wife writing team would be the perfect choice, as would be Christopher L. Bennett.

#27:
Because B&B wanted him to make a noble sacrifice, and ended up making it something other than a noble sacrifice.

Enterprise, per usual, is the poor stepchild. Unless one is to argue that the show was totally irredeemable, there really should be a companion for the series. I’m absolutely certain there would be a market for it.

There needs to be an update to The Star Trek Chronology!!!!!

Star Trek 101 is in Black and White?!?!?

For any DS9 fan, I highly recommend that Companion Book. Simply a must have.

The DS9 Companion is “arguably” the best? No. It is the best. It has the most behind the scenes information, the most involvement by people involved with the show, the most candor from those people, and, hell, you can read it cover to cover, not just use it as a reference books. It’s in the top five Star Trek nonfiction books of all time.

The Voyager Companion, on the other hand, has nothing to distinguish it from the unauthorized episode guides that have been published over the years, except for the fact of being complete and published by Pocket.

The DS9 book is candid about problems the show faced over the years, but Voyager, which faced considerably more challenges, has never had a book that really discusses any of that. Enterprise could use one even more, but that’s not likely to happen.

As for Star Trek 101, it looks more lightweight than I expected, though it’s hard to judge from a few page scans.

The Star Trek Compendium was my first Star Trek reference book – I had the one that finishes up with Star Trek III. I’d love it if they brought out a new edition in a year’s time, featuring TOS: Remastered and the new movie, along with colour pictures!

I have all these books & will definately get the new one.

The computer version of the Next Generation Tech Manual is really great too.

I remember when it first came out, the Mac version was available a few weeks before the PC version. PC users including me were extremely irritated.

“Irritation? Ah, one of your Earth emotions.

34: A wonderful idea! I’d buy it. (I have the white companion ending with Star Trek VI.)

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