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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