Having been a Star Trek fan since the days of the original program (yes, internet, I’m that old), I hate to say that I don’t remember much from the original broadcasts (I was a wee one, but I do vaguely recall watching a certain pointy-eared Vulcan in the shows final season).However, like all true Trek fans I really scarfed up the show when it dropped into TV syndication.I grew familiar with each and every episode, and – as a young man – I followed with great delight many of the SciFi trade publications that often times featured interviews with the show’s stars and even its creator Gene Roddenberry.Recently deciding to recapture some of those moments from my youth, I decided to pick up a used copy of some of the early Star Trek adventures in book form, and STAR TREK: THE NEW VOYAGES was the first read.
Now, I’ve come to understand that there are multiple books bearing nearly the same name (for some curious reason), so let me clarify that this particular NEW VOYAGES is essentially an anthology of fan fiction drawn from that era just after Star Trek had pretty much ended on the small screen and was only just morphing into silver screen adventures featuring the original crew.This book was originally published by Bantam in 1976 but had enjoyed nearly twenty reprints through 1988.
As for the stories?Well, I hate to say that they’re largely forgettable.One – in particular – draws a direct inspiration from one of Trek’s earliest hourly adventures, and it sadly ends up feeling mostly like a clone of the same said episode.Instead of being something fresh and/or “all-new” as the cover suggests, many of these short stories do play out like typical fan fiction, meaning that they aren’t exactly very good nor are they particular noteworthy.They were obviously written at a time by a die-hard Trek enthusiast who wanted or hoped to bring these seminal characters to life once more when it looked like Kirk and company were no more.
What is particularly special and the single greatest reason to give these NEW VOYAGES another look are the ‘extras’: the collection comes with an intro written by Roddenberry (one heavily fueled by nostalgia), and each story bears an introduction written by one of the program’s central TV stars.And that’s where the real magic is because these were clearly crafted at a time when the stars were in-between Trek – when there were only inklings that they’d be asked to ‘suit up’ once more in what was originally supposed to be a TV show called ‘Star Trek: Phase Two,’ a property that eventually gave Paramount Pictures a clear path to STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE once George Lucas’s STAR WARS ignited our cultural consciousness for more and more journeys ‘out there.’
What comes across in each of these introductions is a wide-eyed astonishment by all involved with the enduring qualities of (dare I say?) a TV show.There’s a sense of “we thought we were doing something special, and now we know it” that pervades most of these; and there’s only an undercurrent of understanding of the richness to the legacy these stars had only begun creating.Sure, some of these intros (like Majel Barrett Roddenberry’s) might read a bit more tongue-in-cheek, but even then there’s this hint of deep appreciation for what the fans had done, continued to do, and now even decades later still carry a torch.
Even though I probably won’t recall much of the fiction between these covers, I’ll quite probably never forget the few words of wisdom offered up with genuine gratitude from perhaps Science Fiction’s most revered ensemble.Each has something unique to say about Trek’s heritage, and each clearly appreciates the opportunity to share their observations – whether bloated or succinct – about going boldly where no one had gone before.
RECOMMENDED.Methinks only hardcore Star Trek fans from the program’s original days might be drawn to the magical sentiments weakly at play in STAR TREK: THE NEW VOYAGES.While the stories are largely forgettable, what makes the short tome really come alive are the introductions to each work, ones penned by such Trek luminaries as George Takei, Leonard Nimoy and even big Bill Shatner himself.
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