Rick Sternbach On Prequel Design Challenges

By Christian
May 7, 2001 - 6:21 PM

After being involved with the Star Trek franchise for nearly a quarter of a century and designing ships such as Voyager and the Delta Flyer, illustrator Rick Sternbach won't be returning for Series V. In a new interview with Trek Brasilis, Sternbach said this wasn't by choice.

"I'm not leaving of my own decision," Sternbach told Trek Brasilis editor Salvador Nogueira. "I had heard that Eaves had been put to work designing for Series V before we shut down Voyager's art department, and I simply waited to hear if I was going to be asked to join the new show while finishing up work on 'Endgame.' When that word didn't come, I finished packing up and decided to move on to other projects. No one from the production office or the other art department made any contact with me about the new series, pro or con, which is disappointing only in the sense of a lack of professionalism on their part. Other members of the crew have related similar experiences. Technically speaking, however, I had been picked up for the final season of Voyager, and the company was really under no obligation to do anything further."

As he wasn't asked for the next Star Trek series, Sternbach also had not heard anything official from the producers about the contents of Series V, and said he just knew what everyone else was reading on the net. However, he was able to provide some thoughts on how he would handle a prequel Star Trek series, if he had to create the show's visuals again.

"I wouldn't characterize the design work as having any difficulties," he said. "To me, it would simply be a matter of finding out the time period involved, getting all the input from the production designer, the writers, and the producers, and tailoring the equipment and vehicles to fit the requirements. We already know the time is pre-TOS, so decisions have to be made about the capabilities of the vehicles, the displays and controls, com gear, weapons etc. I would work in a definite evolution of the design; that is, show recognizable elements from equipment we saw in TOS and what we might have today, and create a synthesis. It remains to be seen if they'll actually do that."

Over the past years, Sternbach hasn't just been involved in the on-screen incarnations of Star Trek, but also co-wrote books such as the TNG technical manual and its DS9 counterpart. According to Sternbach, we likely won't see any more of such books, but he will still continue writing about Trek. "Because Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books has shifted the focus of their Star Trek publishing to mainly fiction, it's unlikely I'll be doing any more tech manuals with them. I will, however, continue to detail some of my ships and discuss general Trek technical issues, not just Voyager, in 'Star Trek: The Magazine'.

Now that Star Trek is mostly behind him, Sternbach has begun actively looking for work in the film and television world, hoping for a job on a science fiction series. In addition, he will be working on a mainstream book about space exploration, 'A Spaceship for Earth.'

For more on that, as well as Sternbach's recollections of his long time on Star Trek, please read the full interview on Trek Brasilis.

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