The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years is the first of two books chronicling the behind-the-scenes story of Star Trek, from its very beginning to the most recent Kelvin Timeline movies.
Written by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman, and featuring a foreword by Seth MacFarlane, The Fifty Year Mission is chock full of interviews from those associated with Star Trek over the years, including directors, writers, producers, writers, actors, assistants, authors, designers, studio executives, artists, technical personnel, fans and more. Some of the comments in the book are new while others come from long-ago memos and interviews.
The book is set up chronologically after the foreword by MacFarlane and introductions by Altman and Gross. A helpful guide to those interviewed in the book is provided after the introductory chapters by the authors.
The story begins with the creations of the pilot and moves on to the original series, continuing on through Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Trek that might have been is also addressed such as Star Trek Phase II, In Thy Image, and a Starfleet Academy series.
The book concludes with author acknowledgements and a short bio about the authors.
This book is not a quick read. It’s chock-full of interviews and at five-hundred-and-seventy-six pages, it takes a while to get through it. This is not due to the writing or even the length, but the sheer density of information contained within the book.
It has been, uh, forty years since I read my first Star Trek behind-the-scenes books (The Making of Star Trek, The Trouble With Tribbles, The World of Star Trek) and this takes me back to those days of curiosity when I wanted to know *everything* about Star Trek. In The Fifty Year Mission, the reader gets a peek at the past, and hears voices that are now silent as well as those still with us who worked on the various series and movies.
It’s particularly interesting to read accounts from various players when there was some sort of a conflict. The reader can read more than one explanation and get a fuller picture of why some things happened (or did not happen) and how things were resolved. Comments by a number of people on a particular person give one a fuller picture on how that person was perceived by those around him.
Another interesting part of the story is how scripts in the movies evolved to become the finished product and it’s fascinating to see how a movie might have turned out had a different road been taken. In some cases, it was a good thing, but in other cases, one wonders “what if?”
All of the kinds of things one might expect to hear are in the book – personalities, conflicts, money woes, the influence of the fans, comments from those only with Trek for a short time, hirings, firings and the lot.
As someone who didn’t know much of this (or has forgotten it from long ago), it was a fresh look at Star Trek. People long gone or long forgotten come to life again in The Fifty Year Mission. Reading the book was the next best thing to having been there in person.
I can’t wait for the next volume, which will pick up from the era of The Next Generation through modern-day Star Trek.
Authors: Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman
Pages: 576 pgs
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
To purchase: click the link: The Fifty-Year Mission.