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Paul D Spence

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The Making of Everything Called Star Trek

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2018-09-14

#Audible1

Growing up in the seventies, I fell in love with Star Trek watching the reruns on TV. Even after the success of Star Wars, I was always a Star Trek guy. This book claims to be “the complete, uncensored, unauthorised oral history of Star Trek”.

Though this book claims to focus on “the first 25 years”, it cheats a bit. It would more accurately claim to be the book that covers the series of the original cast. Thus, it covers the original series and the movies through Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country but it ignores Star Trek: The Next Generation, which I assume is covered in the second book even though it began broadcast in 1987. It’s a sensible division to make.

Assuming that the person reading this is interested in Star Trek to begin with, there are two things that will likely determine whether or not this book is enjoyable. First, do you like reading lengthy interview excerpts from various people? Second, how much do you worship Gene Roddenberry?

Essentially, this book is a giant collection of interview excerpts of people both major and minor in the history of the series. This has become a popular approach to the history of pop culture products, having previously been done for SNL and MTV, for example. It has its pleasures, giving a multitude of voice to people who were there and involved, sometimes bringing to the fore people wrongly forgotten and sometimes doing the same for people better left forgotten. It’s surprising how little there is from the cast, however. But it does feel like a series look behind the scenes.

Also, Gene Roddenberry comes across very poorly in this book. He has his fans, obviously, but many of the voices here drive home how difficult he was to work with and how close he often came to destroying Star Trek. Though the idea for the series was definitely Roddenberry’s, there is a lot of commentary on how many of the best development was done by Gene L. Coon and others. Many people point out that, despite a long career, Star Trek was Roddenberry’s only real success and he used it as a cash cow for most of his life. It is a blow to people who think of Roddenberry as a giant.

Still, if you keep in mind that this is a book of mostly opinion and little fact, it is illuminating on how Star Trek came to the screen and kept coming back over and over despite being on the verge of disappearing forever many times. It is definitely worth a read.

The Expanse Universe Continues to Expand

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2018-09-14

#Audible1

As with the other books in this series, I looked forward to picking it up daily and continuing to read. There are fun ideas, personalities that have become warm friends, and a string of challenges for the crew of the Rocinante to (mostly) overcome, though the ever-strong Roci is sadly bridled and in stocks more than I wanted in this installment. Still, if you have read the prior books in the series, you should definitely read this one too.

I must say, though, that there are a couple of cracks In the bulkhead that are starting to show up for me. Several times reading through this book, I felt like the authors’ pace had slowed down too far. It felt like there was filler I shouldn’t have to wade through ... like they were turning one book into two for the sake of sales. There was plenty of detailed painting of the flowers on the wall of the moment, and not the fast advance through the story that was the hallmark of the prior books.

Enough so that I am starting to tire of this journey. The wait for the plodding insurrection on Medina station to have a meaningful impact on moving the story was truly starting to drive me nuts, as was the inexorably slow wait for the space battle between the trade union and the invaders. I yearned for the quick moving machinations of Avasarala, who - both in, and like the book - has become long in the tooth.

The tragic character of the occupying governor on Medina station also weakened the story for me. The character was too obviously flawed and doomed from the beginning. It was painful, not in a good way, to have to process this as part of the story arc.

On the plus side, it was nice that the book makes us examine the moral dilemma posed by being subject to a benevolent dictatorship. It is an interesting idea to develop in the context of actual politics and governance on planet earth in the year 2018. Some of the best science fiction in history has served to highlight what it might mean to wield ultimate power without checks and balances. I hope the next book will rise to the challenge of greatness regarding this, and be a great commentary on the governance of the human situation.

Finally, I simply find myself wanting to see how the story is going to end. After the cliffhanger of an ending in this book, I’m sure I will read the next one.