Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Fifty Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years by Edward Gross and Mark Altman

Our final Star Trek review in Star Trek's 50th anniversary month!
 This is the first in a two-volume set of interview collections, released in conjunction with Star Trek’s 50th anniversary in 2016. Editors Gross and Altman are long-time journalists, specializing in pop culture, who have each written extensively on Star Trek for a variety of publications over the past several decades. They combine quotes from past interviews with dozens of new interviews with ANYone associated with the production of Star Trek over the years — from the actors, writers, producers and network television executives, down to “best boys”, “grips”, public relations staff, significant fans, and many more. This book looks at the origins of the creation of Trek, through the movies featuring the original series cast, to the period just before the premiere of Star Trek the Next Generation. There are interviews snippets from 203 different people in this book — there’s actually an index at the front of the book, identifying who they all are with little biographies! The tone of most of the interview portions is pleasant and supportive of the positive impact Star Trek has had, but there are a few people with less-than-stellar things to say about the process of making Trek, and the people involved behind-the-scenes. While some of those harsh statements make me wince a little, as an unabashed fan of the Star Trek franchise, I also appreciate that the editors did not attempt to whitewash the commentary to only include “positive” and “upbeat” opinions.

I have found the reading of this to be a real pleasure — my only real complaint is that I wish the editors clearly identified the original time/date of the interviews each quote comes from. In the case of several of quotes from several cast members who are no longer with us (DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Majel Barrett, etc.), it would have been nice to have had just a little note to say “from a 1997 interview with…”. Otherwise, I highly recommend this volume to anyone who considers themselves a true Trekkie/Trekker/Treknologist, and I look forward to getting the second volume, covering The Next Generation up to today’s reboot movies, which is due out in early September 2016.

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try The Star Trek Interview Book, edited by Allan Asherman] [ The Fifty Year Mission entry at Memory Alpha ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New reviews appear every month on the Staff Recommendations page of the BookGuide website. You can visit that page to see them all, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually over the course of the entire month. Click the tag for the reviewer's name to see more of this reviewers recommendations!

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