A Brief Guide to Star Trek

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Brian J. Robb
is a writer and biographer whose previous books have included a
New York Times
Sunday Times
bestselling biography of
star Leonardo DiCaprio;
Screams & Nightmares
, the definitive book on horror director Wes Craven;
Counterfeit Worlds
, exploring the life and work of Philip K. Dick; and a series of acclaimed film star biographies. For over ten years he was the managing editor of
The Official Star Trek Magazine



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Constable & Robinson Ltd

55–56 Russell Square

London WC1B 4HP



First published in the UK by Robinson,
an imprint of Constable & Robinson, 2012


Copyright © Brian J. Robb 2012


The right of Brian J. Robb to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988


All rights reserved. This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.


A copy of the British Library Cataloguing in
Publication data is available from the British Library


ISBN 978-1-84901-514-1

eISBN 978-1-84901-822-7


1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2


First published in the United States in 2012 by Running Press Book Publishers, a Member of the Perseus Books Group


All rights reserved under the Pan-American and International Copyright Conventions


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US ISBN 978-0-7624-4439-7

US Library of Congress Control Number: 2011933252

E-book ISBN 978-1-84901-822-7


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Digit on the right indicates the number of this printing


Running Press Book Publishers

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Philadelphia, PA 19103-4371


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For Paul Simpson,
whose valuable feedback and
Star Trek
brainstorming sessions
helped immensely to focus and shape my thinking.


: The Storytellers


Chapter 1
Star Trek
Gene Roddenberry


Chapter 2
     First Flight: The Two
Star Trek


Chapter 3
     Where No One Has Gone Before:
Star Trek
’s First Year


Chapter 4
     Too Short a Season: Consolidating
Star Trek


Chapter 5
     Timeless: The Birth of a Franchise and Fandom


Chapter 6
     Persistence of Vision: The Original
Cast Movies


Chapter 7
     Far Beyond the Stars:
The Next Generation


Chapter 8
     Future’s End:
The Next Generation


Chapter 9
     New Ground:
Deep Space Nine


Chapter 10
   Business as Usual:


Chapter 11
   Yesterday’s Enterprise:


Chapter 12
   Hollow Pursuits: Unmade
Star Trek


Chapter 13
   Future Imperfect:
Star Trek


Chapter 14
   Legacy: Can
Star Trek
Live Long and Prosper?





The Storytellers

The job of
Star Trek
was to use drama and adventure as a way of portraying humanity in its various guises and beliefs
. Star Trek
is the expression of my own beliefs using my characters to act out human problems
.’ Gene Roddenberry


Whether you are relatively new to
Star Trek
, having enjoyed the J. J. Abrams blockbuster movie from 2009 or the sequel, or a fan of the show who’s been following the various series and movies since the US debut of the original in 1966, it is clear that this iconic television show that struggled through its first three years on air has – to adapt the worlds of the Vulcan Spock – ‘lived long and prospered’.

The phenomenon of
Star Trek
has been much studied, from features in the popular media and in-depth academic analysis to fan commentary and internet flame wars. The forty-five-year history of the ‘franchise’ has been dissected every which way in an attempt to discover the reasons for its success, longevity and cultural impact – why has
Star Trek
been so long-lasting when other science fiction TV series have fallen by the wayside, and why have its various iterations on screens large and small been so popular?

This is not an academic tome, but a critical cultural history of
Star Trek
. It’s an in-depth look at how the various series and movies were made, the creative forces driving them, what their cultural impact was and what it all means. The book will
examine how
Star Trek
changed through the decades and how it perhaps eventually failed to change enough with the times to escape ossification and irrelevance, requiring a dramatic re -invention to save it. It will also look at what the future might be for the
Star Trek
concept, assess what the series’ impact has been on viewers, and consider the unstoppable growth of
Star Trek

Star Trek
now spans five distinct television series (six, if you include the often overlooked early-1970s
Star Trek: The Animated Series
) and eleven movies, from 1979’s
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
to J. J. Abrams’ 2009 reinvention, which has led to a new series of movies to take the franchise through the next decade and maybe beyond.

While many have pointed to the way
Star Trek
has reflected and critiqued the ethical, social and philosophical issues of our times and attempted to depict progressive gender, class and racial representations – so offering a hopeful and positive vision of the future of humanity – the secret of the success of the series is much simpler: it’s all down to great storytelling.

The genius of Gene Roddenberry in creating
Star Trek
was to tackle those serious and important issues through well-told science fiction action-adventure tales that appealed to a mass audience. It was the unusual stories and unforgettable characters that first attracted curious television audiences in the 1960s, while the forward-looking ideas presented by the series turned many of those viewers into lifelong fans.

Legend elevates Roddenberry – known to fans as the Great Bird of the Galaxy – to the status of sole creator of
Star Trek
. However, while his important role as the instigator of the series and author of its concept should not be undervalued (three times, no less: in its original 1960s incarnation, its reinvention as a series of movies and its return to television in the 1980s), Roddenberry himself wasn’t necessarily the most successful
Star Trek
storyteller. In fact,
Star Trek
has enjoyed more success when under the control of other storytellers, as this book sets out to demonstrate.

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