Altman & Gross Writing ‘Unauthorized Oral History’ Of Star Trek For 50th Anniv. + More Non-Fic Trek Announced


A couple of weeks ago TrekMovie previewed upcoming non-fiction Star Trek books, and now the list is getting longer with newly announced titles covering the history of the franchise, Trek fashion and even Trek ‘travel books.’ More details below. 

Altman & Gross ‘Oral History’ of Star Trek Franchise

The first newly announced non-fiction book comes from friends of the site Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross. Set for the 50th anniversary of the franchise in 2016, the pair are writing an epic hardcover ‘oral history’ of the franchise that will tell the inside stories as Star Trek moved from generation to generation.

Mark Altman told TrekMovie exclusively…

"For anyone whose read Tom Shales’ amazing oral history of Saturday Night Live, they’ll understand our approach to this book. Having been writing and producing for the last decade, it would have to be something pretty spectacular to get me to jump back in journalism but I think this book is really going to surprise people. If you thought you knew everything about Star Trek, think again. That’s certainly been the case for me in writing this book."

More info in the press release below.

Cover of planned ‘Oral History’ of the Trek franchise

press release



There have been many books written about Star Trek, but never a volume with the unprecedented access and insight of The 50 Year Mission: The Complete Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek by authors Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman. The hardcover edition will be published by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press and edited by Brendan Deneen, editor of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead novels and the head of Macmillan’s film and TV division. The world rights deal was brokered by Laurie Fox of the Linda Chester Agency.

Unlike other books which have been written by fans for fans, The 50 Year Mission is an incisive, no-holds-barred look at five decades of Star Trek, told EXCLUSIVELY by the people who were there, in their own words, sharing stories they’ve never told before. The authors have covered the franchise for over three decades and have assembled the ultimate guide to a television classic celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2016, and which serves as the final word on the first five decades of this unique pop culture phenomena.

The 50 Year Mission unveils the oftentimes shocking true story of the history of Star Trek and chronicles the trials, tribulations – and tribbles – that have remained deeply buried secrets… until now. The 50 Year Mission will include the voices of over 250 television and film executives, programmers, creators and stars (including every Star Trek captain) who were all a part of Star Trek’s ongoing 50 year voyage; a mission that has spanned from the original classic series to the animated show, the many attempts at a Star Trek relaunch in the 1970s, the feature films, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, and J.J. Abrams’ reimagined film series.

While there have been numerous books written about Star Trek, most have either been studio-licensed publications that glossed over the franchise’s real history, or books that have relied on the reporting of others. The 50 Year Mission goes inside the making of the franchise, in the words of the people who were actually there, who decades later are finally ready to tell the real story behind the making of an indelible television institution.

"We could not be more excited to be publishing this essential volume," says Deneen. "The 50 Year Mission is likely to be the final word on the first five decades of this incredible franchise with stories about the making of the series that will shock, surprise and thrill you."


MARK A. ALTMAN has been hailed as "the world’s foremost Trekspert" by The Los Angeles Times. In addition to having covered Star Trek for over a decade as a journalist for such magazines as Cinefantastique, Sci-Fi Universe and Geek, for which he is founding publisher and editorial consultant, Altman also wrote numerous issues of the Star Trek comic book for DC and Malibu Comics.

But Altman is probably best known to rabid Star Trek fans as the writer and producer of the beloved love letter to Star Trek and award-winning cult classic, Free Enterprise, starring William Shatner and Eric McCormack (Will & Grace), a film about two dysfunctional Star Trek fans who meet their idol, William Shatner, and find out he’s more screwed up than they are. The film won the WGA Award for Best New Writer at the AFI Film Festival and was released theatrically in 1999. A sequel is in the works.

Since leaving entertainment journalism, Altman has been a writer/producer on such hit TV series as ABC’s Castle and USA Network’s Necessary Roughness as well as the Executive Producer of HBO’s Femme Fatales, which Entertainment Weekly called "a badass-chick anthology series" and the Huffington Post hailed as "Pulpy Fun."

In addition, Altman produced the $30 million film adaptation of the bestselling videogame, DOA: Dead Or Alive, as well as well as House of the Dead, based on the videogame series from Sega.

Altman has spoken at numerous industry events and conventions, including the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, ShowBiz Expo as well as the Variety/Final Draft Screenwriters Panel at the Cannes Film Festival. He was a juror at the prestigious 2002 Sitges Film Festival in Barcelona, Spain and has been a frequent guest and panelist at Comic-Con held annually in San Diego, CA, and a two-time juror for the Comic-Con Film Festival.

EDWARD GROSS is currently the Executive Editor of Movie Magic and Life Story magazines, Contributing Editor to Geek and regular contributor to Sci Fi Now. In a career devoted to covering film, television and comics as an entertainment journalist, he has been on the editorial staff of such publications as Cinescape, Starlog, Film Fantasy, Femme Fatales, CFQ, Fangoria, Comics Scene, SFX, RetroVision, Not of This Earth and Vampires & Slayers. Additionally, he’s contributed to a number of magazines, among them Nightlife, Slaughterhouse, Total Movie, Premiere, Heroes, Monsterland, Sci-Fi Universe, TV Zone and official publications based on Smallville, Star Trek, Superman, James Bond and Alias.

Gross has authored many non-fiction books, including Rocky: The Complete Guide (2006, DK Books), Spider-Man Confidential (2002, Hyperion Press), Planet of the Apes Revisited (2001, St. Martin’s Press), The Unauthorized Star Wars Compendium (1999, Little, Brown and Company) and X-Files Confidential (1996, Little, Brown and Company).

Star Trek Fashion Book + Star Trek Travel Books

And there are three newly announced officially licensed Star Trek non-fiction books coming from Insight Editions: "Star Trek: Dressing the Final Frontier," followed by "Star Trek Travel Guide: Vulcan" and "Star Trek: Travel Guide: The Klingon Empire."

 Here is the official blurb for Star Trek: Dressing the Final Frontier

This deluxe book will showcase the unique costumes featured in the Star Trek franchise, from Mr. Spock’s staid Starfleet uniform to Uhura’s alluring mirror universe outfit. The book will feature a dazzling gallery of wardrobe designs, which explores the beautiful and innovative fashions that appeared in the various different versions of Star Trek, in both film and television, including the many different iterations of the iconic Starfleet uniforms, exquisitely designed alien garb, and much, much more. Every costume will be examined in intimate detail, tracing the design process from preproduction sketches to the stunning realization of the final outfit. Exclusive interviews with costume designers and experts will put the images into context. This unique visual treat will delight Star Trek fans and fashionistas alike.

"Star Trek: Dressing the Final Frontier" will run 208 pages, measure 9.25" x 12.75" and cost approximately $60

Mock cover for "Star Trek: Dressing the Final Frontier"

TrekMovie will have more information (and reviews) on all of these books as they approach their publications.


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Hmmmm, I wrote a post involving Seven of Nine and oral history. It got deleted.

Well, blow me away!

A transcribed Oral History, what will they think of next?

Well, the costume book looks fascinating! Frankly I hope they put Theiss’s beautiful costume for Leslie Parrish in “Who Mourns for Adonais” on the cover. Trek’s genius costuming-on-a-strict-budget has always been an area of great interest to me.

What exactly is 50 years of “Uncensored! Never before heard! Oral histories!” gonna tell us that is in the least little bit new?

wouldn’t surprise me if these guys really deliver the goods. Look at all the neat finds in those unauthorized CAPTAIN’S LOGS books or the good work Gross did on his unauthorized volumes late80s/early 90s.

I think the TOS end will be toughest, given how few of the tech folk are left. But maybe some is culled from 90s era interviews?

@1. Harry Ballz,
“Well, blow me away!”

Wishful thinking Harry?

I will certainly buy and read “The Fifty Year Mission” compendium of oral history, but I would much prefer another book of the quality of Mark Cushman’s “These Are the Voyages” season one and season two which have researched the history and tried to reconcile the written and oral histories into a single balanced history which as closely as possible reflects the historical truth.

I have spent much of the last year re-reading or listening to audio recordings of a number of Star Trek historical records including “Inside Star Trek with Gene Roddenberry”, Herb Solow and Robert Justman’s “Inside Star Trek: The Real Story” as well as William Shatner’s “Star Trek Memories”. I have observed that frequently the oral histories are faulty or have become greatly embellished over time. Gene Roddenberry’s oral history is often highly embellished with only a passing resemblance to the truth, Solow and Justman did a better job substantiating their recollections, but still lean in favor of their subjective views, and William Shatner’s Star Trek Memories ought to be retitled “The Star Trek Mythos” because it is largely a collection of the most entertaining and highly embellished stories that make up the Star Trek Mythos.

Where oral history recollections differ (and there are many such cases in TOS history alone) I defer to those that can be substantiated by written records such as letters, memos, production schedules, etc. Only careful comparative research using available written records, contemporary audio and video interviews, written interviews from newspapers, magazines and periodicals, video documentaries, etc will be able to discern the truth about the history of Star Trek.

“The Fifty Year Mission” may be entertaining and may even shed some new light on some subjects, but will ultimately be a collection of highly subjective oral recollections of events. I don’t expect to find much reliable information there, but I will read it with an open mind.

@3. Marja,
“Well, the costume book looks fascinating!”

Agreed. The costumes are at least as important an aspect of Star Trek as the ships, and makeup.

I’ve been fascinated by them ever since I learned the “command gold” uniforms were actually the same lime green color as Kirk’s green wrap-around tunic, but just looked gold under the lights.

“What exactly is [it] gonna tell us that is in the least little bit new?”

What do you wanna bet it tells us George Takei has some negative things to say about Shatner … LOL I agree, it’s an ambitious project that can’t really offer much new and still appeal to a broader audience who has never read most of the other stories. Maybe a Volume 2 that includes all the other stories that have been edited out of these books over the years, which only the true core fan base will be even remotely interested in …

5. sunspot

Agreed. we’ve seen many collections of interviews over the years. Many of the interviews done years or even decades after the fact. The Cushman books are the only ones which include excerpts from the actual notes, memos and letters from the time. The story of TOS is definitively told in the Cushman books. The ‘Altman book *may* shed some new light on the later series, though.

7 Curious, I wonder why the wraparound showed as green — did they use different lighting or something? That’s weird.

What I wouldn’t give to have seen Nimoy in a tunic like that. Mmmm, mmm, mmm!

8. Anthony Thompson – I agree, and hope that their new book sheds some new light onto aspects of Star Trek not previously explored and documented… but I am very skeptical.

Altman and Gross have written and published about Star Trek before. Several books which come to mind are: “Charting the Undiscovered Country” (about the making of that film), “The Making of the Trek Films” (about the making of the Trek films up through Generations), “Captains Logs” and “Captains Logs: Supplemental” (about the making of each of the Star Trek series up to Voyager) and most recently “Trek Navigator”. Unfortunately “Trek Navigator” seems to largely be a repackaging of much of the same content as “Captains Logs” and “Supplemental”, and I worry that this new book will do the same thing.

I hope that “The Fifty Year Mission” has something new to add and not mostly just a repackaging of some of the material from all of the earlier books (which collectively cover all of the Trek series and films). I hope that there is substantial new content in “The Fifty Year Mission”, or I will just feel that they have taken advantage of eager fans.