Star Trek: The Complete Unauthorized History
256 pages $40.00 list price ($24.34 on Amazon)
Star Trek: The Complete Unauthorized History, a new book about the history of the Star Trek franchise, spans a time frame from the early 1960s, when Star Trek was still only an idea in Gene Roddenberry‘s mind, to the present-day J.J. Abrams reboot.
The foreword for Star Trek: The Complete Unauthorized History was written by Shuttle Astronaut Thomas D. Jones (STS-59, 68, 80 and 98), a fan of Star Trek from its 1966 debut. Inspired by Star Trek in the form on the 1980s films, he joined the astronaut corps in 1990.
Almost half of the book focuses on the original series, including the Animated Series, beginning with Roddenberry’s dream and his efforts to get his show on the air. The Next Generation gets the next largest page count, and then the three spinoffs and the new rebooted Star Trek each get roughly a dozen pages to tell their stories.
The book finishes up with Star Trek‘s place in history, and the future of Star Trek.
Although the book is an unauthorized history, that has benefits, as author Greenberger was able to get the “real stories” about various incidents as opposed to sanitized versions. And here is where the book shines – Greenberger has found just the right balance between an “homage” book and a “tell all” book. For example, Gene Roddenberry is shown as a human being, neither fully saint nor fully sinner. Roddenberry’s flaws are acknowledged, yet Greenberger doesn’t dwell upon them; they are merely presented as part of the package that made up Roddenberry the man. There are stories in Star Trek: The Complete Unauthorized History that were new to this reviewer, a fan since the early 1970s.
Greenberger reached out to fans to get their stories and Star Trek fandom is explored, including fanzines, books, magazines and conventions. Many Star Trek authors of today began as fans of the series, and it was fans who began the conventions which thrive to this day. Greenberger agreed with his editor that the “fan element [had] never been properly integrated with a history of the franchise,” and he sought to remedy that lack of attention, beginning with the foreword by Thomas D. Jones.
One group of fans who suffered from a lack of attention however in Star Trek: The Complete Unauthorized History was the Star Trek online community. It was rather surprising that this modern-day virtual convention of fans got so little notice as online fandom is an important part of the continuing Star Trek fan experience.
Star Trek: The Complete Unauthorized History is richly illustrated with photos on almost every page. There are the expected photos; cast photos, books and such, but most of the photos in the book are of Star Trek merchandise items and it was enjoyable to look at them all; seeing which ones one has in one’s own collection and discovering others that somehow were missed along the way. From stickers and drinking glasses to figures and ship models, there are many examples of the large treasure trove of Star Trek merchandise that has been released over the years.
For fans of any of the Star Trek series, but especially those of the original series or The Next Generation, or for new fans brought in via the new Star Trek movies who are wondering what went before Abrams-Trek, this is a splendid book to have in one’s collection.