Orci & Kurtzman: Star Trek Very True To Canon – Even Books

Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have a lot of things going on right now with their new show Fringe, the new movie Eagle Eye (opening next weekend), the next Transformers movie and a little thing called Trek. The pair talk about all of it in a new interview with Crave, and regarding Trek, they make some interesting comments about canon.


Excerpts from Crave Interview

Crave Online: When you write a Star Trek script, how awesome is it to see J.J. built the set?

Alex Kurtzman: It’s insane. It’s just insanity. The fact that somehow we’ve inherited that mantle is insane. It’s such a responsibility. We take it so seriously and between all of us, Bob and me and Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk and J.J., there are different degrees of fandom and different degrees of knowledge and different perspectives on what Trek is. It’s a really good mix of people because I think it will ultimately allow us to stay very true to canon and also bring something new.

Crave Online: Are you tempted to write in dramatic pauses for Kirk?

Alex Kurtzman: [Laughs] No, because the tricky part about it, and this is actually hard I think on all the actors, is the actors who played those parts in the original series and established those characters, are legendary. Everybody knows those actors and everybody knows those characters. So you have to be consistent with that if you are going to cast new people in those roles and yet, you have to bring something new to the mix. So the actors were walking this very tricky line of not giving a cartoony performance that’s really mimicking the original actors, and bringing their own thing to the table.

Crave Online: J.J. was marveling at how you established Kirk and Spock’s bond

Alex Kurtzman: It’s the most gratifying thing I think for us about the movie is watching that.

Crave Online: How did you conceive of it and how was it never explored before?

Alex Kurtzman: We did a lot of reading of the books. I think we consider the books canon to a large degree so it’s very important to us to stay consistent. But there is a bit of a hole and there’s actually different mythologies about their history so it’s a matter of staying consistent but also figuring out how you can play around a little bit anchored by the rules

Much much more from the pair on Trek, Transformers 2 and Fringe at Crave.

Unlike Star Wars, the Star Trek books have never been considered part of the official canon, but this is not the first time the subject of how the books relate to the film has been brought up. In an interview with TrekMovie last year (before filming started), Orci talked about how important the books are to him. Here is the exchange

TrekMovie.com: In another interview you mentioned Trek books. So have you read many of them?

Roberto Orci: Tons of them. I have them all in my room.

TrekMovie.com: Is that because Paramount sent you all of them?

Roberto Orci: No no no, these are things I have read for pleasure. Some of them I have read many times, never imagining I would be a part of it. When I found myself being paid to re-read those books – you don’t get luckier than that. That is a blessing.

TrekMovie.com: So what are a couple of your favorites?

Roberto Orci: My favorite one is "Prime Directive" and I would say "Spock’s World" is my other favorite. I saw your interview with Judith and Garfield Reeves Stevens and I think they are great. I have read "Prime Directive" three or four times and I think it is one of the best Star Trek stories ever…period. Here is an interesting tidbit. In casting we have to give sides out to actors [scenes from scripts]. But since we are being so secretive we don’t want to give real scenes from the movie so a lot of the scenes we have been using are from their books.

TrekMovie.com: Of course the books are not officially part of Star Trek canon, but as fans of the books are you guys going to grab any elements and give them little mentions in the film…essentially canonizing them?

Roberto Orci: We are actually still pouring through and we are going to do stuff like that for sure. Because it would be an homage to my and Damon [Lindelof]’s view of Star Trek.

There is actually already evidence influence of the novels on the film. Jennifer Morrison is playing James T. Kirk’s mother and her name ‘Winona Kirk’ was established only in Trek novels.

Kurtzman and Orci at at the TV Guide Fall Preview parties – Fox at the Paley Center on September 5th (WireImage)


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Thanks for the article, Anthony.

On the lighter side…’MORE’ tag, where are youuu? ;-)

I am so encouraged by this news. Sheesh, these guys are harder core fans than many of us!

Since they’re incorporating the books, one has to wonder whether McCoy’s ex-wife and daughter, Joanna will be mentioned or even featured in the film

My saying of the day:

Don’t think about canon so much…. just make us feel Star Trek!


The books probably contain many different ideas as to how things started or played out.

I’m not a fan of the books personally, and don’t consider them Canon.

Wherever the inspiration comes from, lets just get a good story on the big screen.

Even books? Oh no!

Cool, Making Canon out of something that isn’t Canon or even comeing up with Ideas from the books…


Hey. These guys are real Hard core trek fans. I have read over 150 Trek Novals and i loved all of them. I consider my self to be hard core as well and I also loved the Book Prime Directive. Though there are some differences in that book and First Contact. But thats ok. These guys are true Fans of the show and if anyone says trek is in trouble then we need to get the guys in white coates because you need your head examined.This is going to be fantastic. Long Live The Terran Empire.

This is the first thing I have heard about the movie that has actually made me feel like it is in good hands.

OK, I’ve just purchased Prime Directive at Amazon…. :)


I’m getting tired of hearing them hype this film up to become the second coming in Hollywood… Can’t they just for ONCE tell us when to expect the Trailer that will make us decide that everything they’ve been saying might be right or wrong?

Take that, haters! Awesome to read this. The Reeves-Stevens are a Trek national treasure. Having the ‘supreme court’ heap such praise upon them makes my day.

I used to read a lot of Star Trek books when I was younger, they had a lot of good stuff in it, but after a while all the contradictions and plot holes got to me and I never looked back.

PS Reeves-Stevens have brought a lot of great work to Trek!

11. The Insider –
I’m getting tired of hearing them hype this film up to become the second coming in Hollywood… Can’t they just for ONCE tell us when to expect the Trailer that will make us decide that everything they’ve been saying might be right or wrong?”

Oh relax. They don’t have any control over when trailers are released. They’re *writers* not in marketting!

11. The Insider –

And just how can we decide — from a friggin’ 30-second spot — “that everything they’ve been saying might be right or wrong”?

Damn it, I’ll say it: I have a total “I’m not gay but I wish I were” man-crush on Roberto Orci.

The genies out of the bottle – I can’t take it back!!!!

I’m glad there’s a little ‘book influence.’ Among my fondest childhood memories is regular trips to a local bookstore during the time when James Blish was novelizing the TOS scripts, or when his thought-provoking ‘Spock Must Die’ original novel came out. When I couldn’t get there on my own, I’d scrape up 60 cents from my allowance and have a buddy pick up the latest tome because the school bus dropped him off right in front of the bookstore. : )

Granted, Blish’s work was based on canon Trek, but he took liberties here and there — sometimes for dramatic license, sometimes because he was working from early drafts of the scripts. It will be fun to see how much ‘written Trek’ shows up on the big screen.

The guys behind Star Trek 11 have a lot of canon to research. 40 years of canon. Even though I want their jobs, something like that sort of turns me off.

At least they didn’t say they think the Peter Pan records are canon.

Diane Duane!

I am so excited to see Eagle Eye. I can’t wait for it to come out next week. I find that I like Bob & Alex’s writing style. And seeing these interviews just make me more excited for May 2009.

Any chance for a trailer during Eagle Eye? They say the movie will be in the can within a couple weeks. They must have a trailer by now. It doesn’t have to show much from the movie, but be a teaser with the cast would be great.

As long as they aren’t incorporating any of the slash fiction I’m good…
\not that there is anythin wrong with that. :)

Roberto Orci: “Tons of them. I have them all in my room.”

Time to move out, Bob!

I am sure you must have more than enough money for a bigger place. Perhaps one with a library? ; )

@ 15 & 16

First of all, I’m relaxed unless you’ve been gulping a barrel of your usual coca cola, I don’t see why you’d consider me as being tense.

All I’m saying is that it would be NICE to hear some news about the trailer… and while you think you know what it is to be in the movie business, I can tell you that they know full well when to expect the trailer, but probably isn’t allowed to say so. You’re partly right in that it’s got something to do with the marketing dep. They need to assess which movie would fit the bill. So… that’s correct, but for them NOT knowing anything about it is wrong. They are a very big deal of this picture, unlike in the old days when the writers more or less exited the project when it began, here they are on from day one to the final release date.

@ 16…

And what we can decide from a TRAILER (you must be talking about a TEASER which is in fact nothing but a 30 or less teaser)…

Anyway what we can decide from a trailer is the scenes which would add to the texture, feel, acting, style, effects, overall atmosphere… etc. But I guess you don’t much understand trailers. You can make a dumb trailer or an intelligent one… Trust me… this one will be worked on so that it will say more than most do… This trailer will probably run for about 2 min and will have to have enough info and meat in it to keep the fans calm but at the same time very excited. After all… you seem to have forgotten that the movie was pushed to next year and not this year… this also adds to what they need to show in order to ensure the hype lasts that long.

They can’t be spending all their time answering rumors… They’ll release a trailer that will make people happy, excited and it will serve as a cure for all the tense anticipation on this film.

I’m sure I’m wasting my time telling you this anyway…

I finally feel that this project has been in good hands.

Bob has read some great old-school Trek books. Hopefully, “How Much for Just the Planet?” made the cut.

I just have more and more faith in this team, I I cannot wait to see the damn thing!

Interesting! Prime Directive is one of my favorite books too, so that’s a good sign to me.

I’m very glad to hear that the writers are so into canon, especially after reading JJ’s statement about how he wasn’t all that into sticking perfectly to canon. But these statements give me some hope.

I for one, am hoping to hear the Romulans call themselves “Rihannsu” for once. That’d be enough to make the movie worth my money.

SPOCK’S WORLD is one of the best ST books I’ve ever read–and I’ve read about 80% of what was written before the mid 90s.

One theory: I believe SPOCK’S WORLD describes a connection between Uhura and Amanda Grayson–that they both developed the technology behind the Universal Translator. Kevin Smith’s remark that they’ve made Uhura interesting actually made me think of this the other day.

Isn’t there also a mention of education by injection in this book–McCoy gets a shot of Messenger RNA that gradually fills his brain with the Vulcan language?

Can anyone confirm this or offer up memories of SPOCK’S WORLD?

‘Prime Directive’ is definitely a good one.
These interviews make me very impatient to see the final result.

#28 – Wouldn’t the universal translator automatically translate “Rihannsu” to “Romulan,” though?

I’m more of a “Federation” guy than a “Prime Directive” fan, but the fact that they’re fans of the Reeves-Stevens and Diane Duane is good. Personally, I’d love it if the new movie takes something from Mike W. Barr & David Ross’ DC Comics Star Trek Annual #1 (A version of Kirk’s first mission on the Enterprise). If that happens, I’ll have a geekgasm right there in the theater. :)

#31 – No more so than it automatically translates “Qapla’!” into “Success!”. It seems to somehow realize when the actual word needs said in its native language.

I sooooo cant wait to see this,,



true ta’ canon be it?
maybe this time they blow up tha’ death starrr a might quicker…


I’m glad they are staying true to canon I suppose, but I really don’t get all upset over it. If it’s a good movie, I wouldn’t care if this was a complete reboot with no connection to old canon or not.

“Alex Kurtzman: We did a lot of reading of the books. I think we consider the books canon to a large degree “

;…Just as long as it’s not the original version of Killing Time!

If Chris Pine doesn’t have dramtic pauses as Kirk…won’t Nimoy as Spock think the captain is possessed by Janice Lester or some such??

Books? Gene Rodenberry is prolly flipping in the grave.


I remember buying all the old Bantam ST books when they came out. I haven’t bought any in years. I think the last I bought was “The Eugenics Wars”, which I really liked.

As I recall, the Blish books were almost like a Readers Digest version of the episodes. Very compressed.

I also enjoyed the novelizations of the animated series episodes by Alan Dean Foster (Star Trek: Log 1 – 10). I found it amusing that the first books in that series had several episodes. As the series went along the author was forced to stretch the episodes out. But he did an excellent job IMHO.

Logs 1-6 featured three episodes, while 7-10 were one episode each.

In the early 70’s I was working at a Texas radio station and attended a Star Trek convention in Dallas (featuring David Gerrold, George Takei and Ted Cassidy). I remember interviewing Gerrold and asked him how he felt about Foster novelizing his TAS episode “More Tribbles, More Troubles”. His initial response was he didn’t think anyone other than the original author should novelize an episode.

He later tracked me down and asked that I not air that particular response and I obliged.

Those were the days. I think I still have that interview (and Takei’s) on cassette some where.


I’m glad he mentions ‘Prime Directive’, I actually think that and ‘Probe’ are two of the best Trek books written. I didn’t care much for ‘Spock’s World’ but I know it’s a fan favorite.


The mention of PRIME DIRECTIVE is the most encouraging thing I’ve heard so far about the upcoming film.

FEDERATION and THE ASHES OF EDEN are also favorites.

I totally loved Trek books as a kid.

I hope that for future generations, those books are translated into full digital medium. Maybe, putting ALL the books on a DVD or BLUE Ray disc wouldn’t be a bad idea. I know I’d certainly dish out a few bucks for an easy to handle index of Trek literary works that I could take on a plane and throw on my laptop or other media device.

Maybe even adding the audio books as well.

That would be a nice gift for any Trekkie.

@29 – Yeah, McCoy took a chemical learning course in Vulcan in “Spock’s World.” Said it made him sicker than a dog.

Well, if more and more books find some way into canon like ST:XI, I just might start to find interest in them…..

But only if they transform all that plain text into say…….moving pictures… …and also how’bout…..sound

“Prime Directive” is superb. There are many excellent Trek novels, but I agree with these writers and with many of you here that “Prime” is among the best Trek stories ever (on page or screen).

A modified version of it would make a heck of a movie too…

My Faveroite is the Invasion series. Make 4 movies based on the invasion series. The first is called Invasion first Strike from the tos series. . The second is from tng called Invasion The soldiors of fear. The 3rd is from ds9. Invasion Times enemy. The 4th is from voyager and is Called Invasion The final fury. This is the best of all the Books on Crossover of the 4 series. (This was before Enterprise) Now that would be a great series of Movies with 4 Of the series on The Big Screen.

If you have not read these books then you should. Very entertaining books.

@ 37. Jeffrey S. Nelson: Nice.

Hey Mr. Orci,

Have you read Federation by Judith and Gar Reeves Stevens? That was a good one too.

I always thought if they decided to do a DS9 direct-to-video or TV movie, the Millenium books by the Reeves Stevens would provide a great basis for a storyline.