The Art of Star Trek: Discovery
By Paula M. Block & Terry J. Erdmann
Hardcover | $49.95
Published by Titan Books | 208 Pages
For their new coffee table book, The Art of Star Trek: Discovery, veteran writing team Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann interviewed over two dozen artists who worked behind-the-scenes to create the show’s first two seasons. And they found that all of them had one big thing in common.
“Everyone we interviewed is just a die-hard Star Trek fan,” Erdmann told TrekMovie in a recent telephone interview with the authors. “They’re so proud of being part of it. And they’re deeply hoping that they’re doing the right thing for Star Trek, for they love the entirety of the franchise.”
“In other words, they’re really into it,” Block said. “And we were surprised, because just about everybody we talked to said, ‘I want to make this right. Yeah, we’re making a phaser, and, yeah, we could do anything we want to at this point, because technology is advanced so much beyond the sixties when the original show was made. But we want it to look like that.’”
“They talk about reverse engineering all the time,” Erdmann added, “because they’re doing something for the future, but they have to make it prior to the 1966 look. So they reverse engineer it so that it’ll fit into the timeline. I mean, they really put a lot of effort into doing it correctly.”
Putting in a lot of effort is what Block and Erdmann have done for decades. They’ve written numerous books, including Star Trek 101, Star Trek: Costumes, and the classic Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, but this new book had one distinct advantage.
“CBS gave us a list of the people they thought would be able to give us the best information about various aspects of production,” said Block. “They gave us the phone numbers and the email addresses. So it was pretty good. I mean, it was a ton of work, but at least they made it easier for us. We didn’t have to track people down.”
“They found everybody for us,” agreed Erdmann. “On many of our books, Paula has gotten deep into searching for art – the Smithsonian Institute or the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences library or TV Guide, all kinds of places like that – looking for artwork because the studio doesn’t have it. But on this, because it’s going on right now, the artwork was available, and there was way too much of it.”
“They gave us access to this library and let us take anything we wanted from it,” said Block. “As a result, I ended up having to buy more space for my computer because it kept saying ‘too much, too much.’ And it just wasn’t ready for that many gigabytes.”
Along with choosing representative art from across many departments, the authors had to actually write the accompanying text. And for that, each brought their own complementary styles. Erdmann, for instance, tries to think like a teacher.
“I really like showing things and getting people interested,” he said. “I always think there’s a kid in some little Midwestern town, who has no opportunities to get away from maybe being a farmer or working at the grocery store or something like that. And I always try to explain something that will get that kid interested. So I always try to make our books educational. It just makes me feel good to do that.”
Block likes to add puns and other wordplay. “I always wanted to be a writer, from the time that I first went to a library as a little kid,” she said. “And I try to make the text fun, you know? It’s very conversational. I like to put some fun and interest in it, and make people want to keep reading and turning the page.”
The project began in early 2019 with writing wrapped up by that fall. And though the book was scheduled to come out in June 2020, Covid-related shutdowns pushed publication to the gift-giving season. The result is a truly beautiful book.
“Titan, the publisher, went all out to make this book as pretty as possible,” Erdmann said, praising the high quality of the paper and the color processing.
Block said that the beauty of the Discovery artwork is exactly what drew them to the project in the first place.
“The first time we saw Discovery, and I saw the opening credits, I just loved them,” Block recalled. “And I said, ‘I hope somebody does an article about why they picked those images.’ I really liked them.”
“Paula wanted to read an article about making the credits. And she got to write the article she wanted to read,” Erdmann said. “That’s part of the fun of doing this.”
Available next week
All of the images above are taken from The Art of Star Trek: Discovery by Paula Block and Terry J. Erdmann. The 208-page hardcover coffee table book will be released on December 8 and can be pre-ordered on Amazon for $34.79.
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