Today we have a special Library Computer chock full of Star Trek book goodies. First John catches up with a review of the latest Peter David New Frontier novel, "Treason". Then we have a first look and more details on the limited edition hard cover from the Star Trek movie adaptation. Finally we have excerpts from Ed Gross’ reissue of "Trek Classic: The Unofficial Making of the Original Series,"
REVIEW: STAR TREK: NEW FRONTIER -TREASON by Peter David
[review contains spoilers for this and other past Star Trek books]
review by John Tenuto
The crew of the USS Excalibur faces challenges from within and without in the newest New Frontier adventure. On board, the once loyal Dr. Selar (from Star Trek: The Next Generation) has become desperate to save her son (who is half Hermat and half Vulcan) from his medical condition of aging too quickly. Selar betrays her crew and Starfleet by stealing a patient and Robin Lefler’s infant son Cwansi in what she believes is an attempt to help her own son. Meanwhile, the crew and its current and former shipmates deal with outside threats such as attempted assassination, treachery, aliens with a unique yet dangerous goal, and personal intrigue.
In sociology’s functional theory there are the notions of manifest (intended) consequences and latent (unintended) consequences. The idea is that social policies have a duality, intended effects and unintended effects. The same could be said of the New Frontier books by Peter David. They were intended to create a line of Star Trek books where there could be lasting consequences because it involved either minor characters from the television shows, or original characters such as Captain Mackenzie Calhoun. David would be freed from the constraints of resetting everything at the end of the book which was the norm for traditional Trek texts, at least until more recently. "Treason" shows this notion in abundance as there are lasting repercussions to the characters. One beloved character dies. Another original character from the novels dies and a well known TV show character is disfigured. Characters such as Robin Lefler and Selar experience conversions and changes to their
All of these repercussions are amid a good narrative which features both personal and galactic intrigue and has plenty of adventure and action. While Peter David has written what is my favorite Star Trek book of all time (Imzadi), his texts recently have shown a tendency for too much humor at inappropriate times. Frankly, some of the books have been almost self referential and congratulatory pats on the back (for example, the way Captain Kathryn Janeway’s death was treated by David in his book "Before Dishonor"). However, I am happy to report that none of this is present with Treason. It is David in perfect form and readers will laugh and cry as he takes them on an emotional adventure.
However, like everything, there are latent features to the New Frontier books, and that, too is true of "Treason." The New Frontier books, and especially "Treason," are more Star Wars than Star Trek. Calhoun is definitely Han Solo meets Starfleet (perhaps he should be renamed Calhan?). The banter between Kalinda and Calhoun’s smart alec pirate son is so reminiscent of Han and Leia that it is distracting. There is too much Obi Wan Kenobi type symbolism (including a character named Cwan…ObiCwan?). It isn’t that "Treason" is devoid of Star Trek themes or ideas. It is that characters talk and act as if they belong more to the universe of Lucas than Roddenberry. Somethings go well together, but Star Wars and Star Trek and not peanut butter and chocolate. This problem is abated somewhat by the fact that many of the characters are likeable despite their flaws and there are nods to Star Trek’s history.
All of that being said, "Treason" is definitely recommended as it is exciting and intriguing. Not to be proverbial, it is a book that is difficult to stop reading because of the way David weaves the narrative together. There is a very interesting conclusion to the book and there are threads here for good sequels. For those who have not read a New Frontier book before, there are enough "pointing arrows" to help navigate this unusual version of Star Trek, although you may want to engage the IDW New Frontier comic books to get visual references for some of these characters. It is a good book to read as a "first" in the line or for those who have been fans all along. In summary, David has shown again why he is arguably the best Star Trek author, even if his New Frontier world skews to the Force. This is a recommended title.
"New Frontier Treason" (available now)
SIGNED "STAR TREK" ADAPTATION BOOK & BOX AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER
In our ‘dueling reviews’ of the Alan Dean Fosters adaptation of the new Star Trek movie, we announced that a limited edition signed hard cover was coming out in June. Each book is signed by the author and comes in a leather box. All are numbered and have a letter of authenticity.
The ‘collectors edition’ of "Star Trek" is available on June 8th and costs $35. You can pre-order the book now at premierecollectibles.com.
EXCERPTS FROM "TREK CLASSIC" REISSUE
Also just released is the book "Trek Classic: The Unofficial Making of the Original Series," a revised edition written by TrekMovie.com contributor Edward Gross that goes behind the scenes of the ‘60s series. Excerpted and revised from the out-of-print Captains’ Logs, Trek Classic presents interviews with a wide variety of producers, directors and writers, among them Robert Justman, Joseph Pevney, David Gerrold, Dorothy Fontana, Norman Spinrad, Fred Freiberger, Stephen Kandel, friends and associates of Gene L. Coon, John D.F. Black and many more.
The book not only provides a look at the making of the show in general, but it goes behind the scenes on each episode of its three-season run. For example:
On "Where No Man Has Gone Before"
Associate Producer Robert Justman: “Gene Roddenberry was very happy to get Bill Shatner, who was highly thought of in the industry… The network seemed to feel that Jeff Hunter was rather wooden. He was a nice person, everyone liked him, but he didn’t run he gamut of emotions that Bill Shatner could do….”
Director James Goldstone: “This one just seemed to have the potential to establish those characters on a human level. The only gimmick is the mutation forward, the silvering of Gary Mitchell’s eyes, and it works because it’s simple, as opposed to the growing of horns or something. Ours was a human science fiction concept, perhaps cerebral and certainly emotional.”
Writer Samuel Peeples: "Gene and I were trying to avoid the space cadet cliché. We were both very concerned about it being an adult show. One thing, as later episodes proved, was the problem which never should have existed: the bug eyed monsters. We both discouraged the idea, believing that we should keep things as realistic as possible. If a person was different physically, then explain the reason for that difference. In a particular atmosphere, he might have a larger lung. If it was a planet with an extraordinarily bright sun, he would have different eyes. We were actually trying to project reality against an unfamiliar background. In other words, we would deal with reality according to the environmental background we encountered."
On "Balance of Terror"
Writer Paul Schneider: “Creating the Romulans was a matter of developing a good Romanesque set of admirable antagonists that were worthy of Kirk. I came up with the concept of the Romulans, which was an extension of the Roman civilization to the point of space travel, and it turned out quite well. It holds up remarkably well. I had the concept of this battle in space and this battle over a neutral zone, and I sat there with Gene and developed it with him. Gene said, ‘Take it this way, that way,’ I added my bit and a story came out of it. I’ve forgotten how many times I revised the story, but I think a couple of times before it went into teleplay."
Director Vincent McEveety: "They were very heroic characters pitted one against the other, and it dealt with the length to which people would go for their honor. It was a morality fantasy play, but terribly gripping. I thought that Mark Lenard’s performance was brilliant, as was Bill Shatner’s. It was a two-people show that I felt was real strong. I had, incidentally, seen THE ENEMY BELOW, but I didn’t notice the similarity until later, when somebody told me about it. Obviously it’s the same story."
Story Editor John D.F. Black: “I remember that one was tough… We were dealing with the Romulans and the Spock relationship to them, and that was something that needed very special handling, as was the case any time Spock met with aliens. It was important not to blow the Spock character and not to equate him to somebody who sucks salt out of somebody else’s body. We had to keep him Spock. Then it became a habit and subsequently when I saw the episodes I wasn’t involved with, Leonard, by the time I was gone, already had a lock on what he wanted to play as Spock and he was right. He made Spock his own character and so he survived that way. I don’t think he ever said an out of character line on the show. At the very beginning it was because of care on our side, and then it became Leonard protecting the character. If you notice the takeoffs, the comics are never able to pull off a spoof of him. They can use what became the clichés of the character, but they can’t catch Spock.
Leonard had him, and the character just somehow survived from script to script."
The book costs $15 and is highly recommended for any fan who wants to know the inside scoop on the making of Star Trek The Original Series. It is a great companion for those who are reviewing TOS again on Blu-ray this year. You can order it directly from the Media Geek Store.
Reviews from for the next month from TrekMovie include the upcoming TOS novel “Troublesome Minds,” by Dave Galanter and we also need to catch up with a review of the already released TOS ebook novella anthology "Mere Anarchy".