Phasers on Stun!
Written by Ryan Britt
Published by Plume
Phasers On Stun! is an entertaining read with a mix of both the old and the new, much like Star Trek itself. Author and journalist Ryan Britt had a daunting task: He looked at the franchise as a whole, from the origins of The Original Series to the Kelvin movies and the ongoing series in production. This is a pretty tricky proposition, trying to cover the franchise in a way that will work for both longtime fans who have already steeped themselves in production lore and newbies who want to get a wider perspective on the whole Star Trek universe. And this is where Britt excels with his nifty balance of zoomed-in details, a big picture vantage point, and an understanding that even first-person reports aren’t always spot-on in terms of accuracy. He’s also a huge fan with a sense of humor about the universe he loves so much.
The book spends the biggest chunk of its time on the creation of The Original Series, which is perhaps its flaw; that’s definitely the show that already has the most chronicled history, and it’s the subsequent series and all the movies where old-school fans would want a deeper dive. But Britt’s writing is crisp, concise, and clever, and he manages to tell well-known stories quickly enough to avoid boring the old pros, sprinkling in details that help round out familiar history and sometimes provide something new.
Most of all, the book isn’t just a chronicle of Star Trek’s history. It excels as an analysis of the meaning of Star Trek and of the progress it’s made. There’s a whole chapter about its eventual acceptance of LGBTQ+ characters and stories—more on some of its failings would have been welcome here—and nice dives into other topics like Janeway breaking into the boys’ club, the recasting of Saavik, the emergence of the new shows, and the shift after the Kelvin movies, all of which benefit from Britt’s research and many original interviews he’s done with the cast and creatives as a journalist.
This book is a good read for Star Trek newbies, confused friends, and relatives of Star Trek fans, actors and creatives working on the new shows who are new to the franchise, and yes, even us big-time fans, who will enjoy a well-written exploration of what ties all the iterations of Star Trek together.
Phasers on Stun! How the Making (and Remaking) of Star Trek Changed the World was released on May 31. It is available now on Amazon in hardcover for $24.49, or Kindle ebook for $15.18. It is also available as an audiobook on Audible.
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