Synopsis: We all know CBS loves to milk the cash-cow of Star Trek, as often as it can. Whilst they’ll never get anywhere near the same revenues as Disney does for Star Wars (this applies pre Disney Star Wars era too), they like to take the opportunity to make the most of things when a new series hits, or a new movie. Their latest offering is a glossy “behind the scenes” style short book. Sci-fi Pulse takes a look at what it’s offering and decides if it’s worth it. So you don’t have to! You’re welcome.
Artwork & Illustrations
First things first: this is an occasion when it might just be alright to judge a book by its cover . . . The main image is of the man himself, Starfleet’s most rebellious Admiral; the great man, Jean Luc Picard. It’s an image of him from around ten years before the series, the time when Una McCormack’s wonderful novel Picard: The Last Best Hope is set (that Sci-fi Pulse also reviewed as well as speaking with the author ). It’s a stock image, and there’s nothing exclusive about it at all. It’s been around since the first concept art shots dropped.
Once you open the book there’s a lovely full-page photo-style illustration of Picard’s vineyards with the vines shaped into the Starfleet symbol, the same “A” shape that Communicators are (the same shape used as the A in Picard so often — used on the cover of this book). That’s pleasing to see and has a poetic quality to it that ties in with Picard’s story-arc and characterization nicely. It’s Picard who understandably in the first few pages, too. The shots offer a still encounter with some of the details you probably missed from the series, during the many action sequences.
For those who enjoy seeing pictures of the characters, each person who heavily features in the show has a large, portrait style shot in the section of the book that is given over to them. Again, there’s nothing really new to be seen, but it’s nice to see these much-loved characters standing on the sets of the show. The back-drops used have been well selected and let you see just how much has changed since last time they were on screen, in the Starfleet universe. There’s no shortage of available footage for the book’s creators to choose from, but they do choose some powerful shots and ones that seem to capture so much of what we love about these characters. Really though, the book is much about what you get to discover straight from those who depict the characters . . .
For a book that’s less than one hundred pages, there’s a good amount of content packed in here. Each actor gives the low-down on their character and discusses at length what they felt about returning, their fears, and aspirations. As a fan, you get to find out many details that you wouldn’t otherwise. Whist magazines and even websites may get granted the occasional interview by a star of a show, what this offers is all of the stars of the show, in one place. You can easily read through the whole thing in an hour or so. It reads like a magazine, and the conversational style and careful editing keeps the flow of the interviews smooth. As you’d expect it’s Patrick Stewart who gets the most pages given over to him. What’s good is that you also get to him talk about his role as an Executive Producer of the show, not just what he thinks and feels about deciding to make a return to the role that defined his on-screen career. Similarly, Jonathan Frakes talks as both actor and director, too. The rest of the new crew and those supporting roles talk about entering into the world of Star Trek. It’s interesting to hear how they prepared for their roles and their experiences of meeting one another.
Many fans will be pleased with the interviews with the current boss of the Star Trek franchise, chief show-runner, and others involved in the show. These include Alex Kurtzman. Michael Chabon and Hanelle Culpepper. What really shines through is that whilst all have their individual favorite memories and moments from making the show, all of them loved being a part of it. You really get the feeling that some of the magic they created was only possible due to collaboration. All tell of the deeply humble nature of the show’s out and out Star, Patrick Stewart. But they also talk of the newcomers and how hungry they were to get to grips with everything. Another thing that you realize by reading these interviews is the sheer volume of work that goes into a project like this. You get to hear about the talents of those who aren’t in the public eye. The set-designers and make-up artists, who make so much of what you see possible.
The book is akin to an annual, in format. The format of a hardcover works well and the weight of the item is satisfying when you hold it in your hands. A paperback just wouldn’t have been the same. The print quality is better than you get in a magazine and the paper it’s printed on thicker, too. The shine to the book when the light hits it proves that. More evidence of the good-quality paper, that you should expect from this sort of a product, is the shade of white of each page. It looks like a newly painted wall. There’s no hiding when you see the words on this sort of background. Inferior quality would show up, and the photography would be grainy and pixelated. These sorts of things matter to collectors; understandably so. They’ve shelled out and so want something for their money.
What’s in the interviews is of course also something buyers will scrutinize. There are anecdotes, reminiscing, candid insight into bringing back to life characters and much more. The layout makes for a decent amount of text to be included in the book. As a result of wanting to print a conversation with the show’s cast and three of the production crew, the lettering is quite small. There will be some who see this as an issue; if you want to include a good-sized amount of content, something has to give. Perhaps the text could have been a little larger, but that’s only nit-picking. It’s pretty much as you’d read in a magazine, only wordier. That’s not a bad thing. If it was over-sized text to make up for a lack of content that would be deemed a swizz. You can’t please everyone. Titan made the right choice with this. You get a lot of the low-down on stuff. That’s what matters most.
When you think what you can buy for around £10 ( Amazon price in the U.K.) this book seems fairly priced. Of course, what you’re able to buy at the moment is limited, so comparing it to a few cups of coffee or a couple of pints in a nice bar isn’t much use. Saying that they’re still a good reference point in as much as they’re temporary and you get to keep the book. You can go back to it again and again. If you want to know more about the show and get to understand what made so much of it possible then this is the product for you. There’s a good amount of reverence to and for the older fans, too, recognizing how important these characters are to so many fans, and have been for so long. It’s as well put together as most Star Trek products are, and is what you’d expect from a tie-in. No, it’s not essential for the show, and it isn’t necessary to understand aspects of the story that you wouldn’t, otherwise. It’s a nice thing to have though and will make a nice addition to any fan’s Star Trek shelf. It will be a nice piece to look back on in the years to come, too.