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The Trek Nation - Boarding the Enterprise

Boarding the Enterprise

By Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at August 12, 2006 - 1:55 PM GMT

Title: Boarding the Enterprise
Editors: David Gerrold and Robert J. Sawyer
Release Date: August 2006
Format: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 1-932100-87-3


For forty years Star Trek has been a trail blazer on many levels in many different ways becoming part of the public consciousness in ways both subtle and obvious. On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the series, BenBella Books is offering a new title in their Smart Pop anthology series, Boarding the Enterprise: Transporters, Tribbles and the Vulcan Death Grip in Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek, a wonderful collection of fourteen essays of various lengths that provide insight and commentary on Star Trek's influence on our culture and society.

The collection is edited by Hugo award winners David Gerrold and Robert J. Sawyer. Gerrold is the writer of "The Trouble With Tribbles" and other Star Trek scripts. The line-up of contributors to Boarding the Enterprise is a nice balance of writers, theorists and scientists who all have one thing in common; an appreciation for the tremendous influence Star Trek has had on not just the science fiction community, but society as a whole.

Within the pages of Boarding the Enterprise you'll hear from some of the people who worked on Star Trek. People like writer Norman Spinrad ("The Doomsday Machine") whose contribution "Star Trek in the Real World" examines how Star Trek's influence created a mass audience for science fiction both literary and cinematic. In D.C. Fontana's entry "I Remember Star Trek..." the writer of the classic episode "Journey to Babel" shares her memories of working on the series and in "Being Better" Howard Weinstein (TAS "The Pirates of Orion") places Star Trek in its historical context, explaining why Star Trek is more than just a television show and why it is still relevant today.

The bulk of the essays though, are contributed by folks inspired by Star Trek in some way. Folks like Hugo award winning writer Allen Steele who looks at the critical importance of the writers in developing a fictional science fiction universe with staying power in "All Our Tomorrows" and philosophy professor Lyle Zynda asks, "Who Am I?" in a piece that examines how Star Trek demonstrates the wide variety of philosophical opinions on personal identity.

Author and scientist Michael Burstein's "We Find the One Quite Adequate" examines Star Trek's ambiguous relationship with religion and the sources for the series attitudes towards religion, while Eric Greene's offering "The Prime Question" looks at the contradictions within the series by examining how the Prime Directive is often touted but rarely followed.

In "To Boldly Teach What No One Has Taught Before", Dr. David DeGraff, the chair of physics and astronomy department at Alfred University, looks at the inspiration that Star Trek has provided to two generations of scientists, engineers and educators by opening their minds to new possibilities while author Don DeBrandt's "What Have You Done With Spock's Brain" is a humorous look at the Vulcan's, and fan misconceptions about the species and Vulcan culture.

Another very witty entry, "Lost Secrets of Pre-War Human Technology", is contributed by Hugo award winner Lawrence Watt-Evans who reports on how the Federation lost basic safety devices and medical technology in the 23rd century.

Research scientist and writer Robert A. Metzger's "Exaggerate With Extreme Prejudice" debates who is the most critically important crewmember while having a bit of fun at the characters expense, and science fiction writer and academic Adam Roberts hypothesizes that if all the money invested in science fiction films in the last thirty years had instead been channeled into NASA we'd have a moon base by now in "Who Killed the Space Race?".

Fan-fiction writer Melissa Dickenson's "Alexander For the Modern Age" examines fan-fiction, an institution as diverse and widespread as fandom itself, and media theorist Paul Levinson explains in "How Star Trek Liberated Television" how Star Trek revolutionized the television industry and how the series success in syndication helped to end the networks stranglehold on programming.

The individual essays in Boarding the Enterprise each address different subjects but they all have one thing in common; each celebrates Star Trek and Star Trek's influence on our lives and the diverse voices that have penned the essays ensures that as you read, the subject never becomes stale.

"The chord struck by Star Trek forty yours ago still resonates today." Howard Weinstein declares. When you read the commemorative essays contained in Boarding the Enterprise you'll understand why.


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Jacqueline Bundy reviews Star Trek books for the Trek Nation, writes monthly columns for the TrekWeb newsletter and the Star Trek Galactic News, and hosts the Yahoo Star Trek Books Group weekly chat.