Maybe We Need a Letter from God: The Star Trek Stamp, a recently-released book written by Bill Kraft, chronicles the campaign to get the U.S. Post Office to release a Star Trek-themed stamp.
The campaign to get a Star Trek stamp began in 1985, and Kraft hoped that one would be issued in time for the twentieth anniversary of Star Trek which was to take place in 1986. But Kraft and his Star Trek Stamp Committee quickly found out that the Post Office was less than enthusiastic about the idea of a Star Trek stamp.
Undaunted, Kraft and the committee continued their campaign to get the stamp; contacting those in education, politics or the sciences who could help convince the post office. Maybe We Need a Letter from God includes eighty endorsement letters received from those contacted by Kraft and his committee.
Maybe We Need a Letter from God includes articles written during the campaign for newspapers and magazines, including the Los Angeles Times, Science World, The Kansas City Times, The Chicago Sun-Times, USA Today and Time Magazine.
Finally, in 1998, Kraft finally received word that a Star Trek stamp was one of the stamps under consideration for the Celebrate the Century stamp series. Kraft and the Star Trek Stamp Committee then turned their attention from letter writing to encouraging fans of the proposed Trek stamp to vote for the Star Trek stamp. Finally in 1999, the Star Trek stamp, featuring the USS Enterprise, was released by the Post Office.
The topic itself is an interesting one for a Star Trek fan. How did the Star Trek stamp come about? The problem is, the book focuses on the letters written by those supporting the effort, almost to the exclusion of all else.
Kraft begins by explaining his love of Star Trek and describes how he heard about the campaign to get a Star Trek stamp. But soon, abruptly, he is leading the campaign and the reader has no idea how he got from hearing about it to spearheading the campaign to get the stamp released.
The book suffers from a lack of a cohesive logical narrative. Basically, there is no story; just words around the letters, which in and of themselves aren’t really compelling. What would have been interesting would have been the story of how Kraft became involved with the project and ultimately took charge, and what happened along the way. In spite of the many letters in the book, Kraft fails to share any of the letters (form letters or not) from the Post Office. Was there ever a glimmer of hope along the way, or was the response always negative? How did Kraft and his committee take the inevitable set-backs? What made them go on? Kraft is silent on the matter and so the reader never knows.
From Kraft’s account, it appears that out-of-the-blue, the Post Office decided to include a Star Trek stamp on the ballot for the Celebrate the Century stamp series. Apparently, this was a total surprise to Kraft, who heard the news from a friend who knew of his campaign, and not directly from the Post Office. One never finds out if Kraft’s tireless efforts had finally borne this fruit or whether it was just coincidence. The Post Office, as it has been throughout the book, is utterly silent.
So if the reader is looking for the full story of how Kraft and the Star Trek Stamp Committee got the Post Office to release a Star Trek stamp, he won’t find it here. Kraft chose to emphasize the letters from a variety of supporters (and he did a dandy job getting support from notable people including government officials and sci-fi authors) but he left out what should have been the most compelling part of the saga, the actual story of the campaign to get a Star Trek stamp released.
It’s a pity because had Kraft shared the story, it would have been an interesting read, and reminiscent of Bjo Trimble‘s campaign to get Star Trek back on the air. A collection of letters, no matter who wrote them, is just not very compelling without the story behind them.
Selling for $18.95, Maybe We Need a Letter from God: The Star Trek Stamp can be purchased here.