Thursday, September 23, 2021

Star Trek FAQ – Book Review

          This 2012 book by Mark Clark is a fine achievement.  I’ve read too many books about Star Trek to count, and edited a half-dozen (see the Jacobs/Brown website).  But Clark has done an admirable job of not only digesting (distilling?) tons of material relating to the show, its creators, and its stars, but presenting it in a fun, not-too-flippant way.  For a too-smartass approach to a Trek topic, read Sherilyn Connelly’s The First Star Trek Movie:  Bringing the Franchise to the Big Screen, 1969-1980.

            Now that I’ve raved, I’m gonna rant.  As is my wont, I’m compelled to compile.  That is, reel off a list of mistakes that should have been caught.

  • ·         In several places, instead of referring to sensors, the word “censors” is used
  • ·         On page 197, Clark says that Alexander Courage’s eight-note “fanfare” is bongo-driven, but the bongos don’t come in until much later, after Shatner’s narration ends
  • ·         On page 210, someone moves to a “Zen-like metaphysical plain” – the appropriate term for levels of existence is spelled “plane”
  • ·         On page 229, “how per powers work” should be “her powers”
  • ·         On page 243, we’re informed that Chekov said scotch was invented by a little old lady from Moscow – we all know that in “Tribbles,” Chekov says “Leningrad”
  • ·         On page 250, we learn that in “I, Mudd,” Harry Mudd is “monarch of a planet populated entirely by curvaceous female androids,” somehow overlooking the Norman, Herman, and Oscar series of male androids
  • ·         Page 253’s summary of “The Savage Curtain” mentions “the Vulcan hero Sarek” when it should be Surak, not Spock’s own daddio
  • ·         Page 332 refers to Star Trek “stationary,” not “stationery”
  • ·         348 mentions someone holding “the financial reigns” of Trekdom, not its “reins”
  • ·         Page 360:  It’s Kirk, not Uhura, who delivers the “too much of anything, even love” line in “Tribbles”
  • ·         Page 364 reports that Yeoman Rand says, “May the Great Bird of the Galaxy bless your planet,” when Sulu says it to her in “The Man Trap”

Clark’s schtick of using Trek-related phrases for chapter or sections titles seemed too self-consciously “precious” at first, but I warmed to it. For instance, Clark gives a nice précis of antecedents and inspirations for Roddenberry’s Trek vision in a chapter titled “Space Seeds.”

I would argue with him about the transporter sending a person’s atoms (along with their “pattern”) across space.  I think only information is supposed to be “beamed” here or there.

His chapter on goofs and gaffes that made it onscreen left out one of my favorites, from “Space Seed.”  When Kirk breaks the glass of Khan’s glass sleep unit, his phaser falls off.  McCoy notices and throughout the rest of the scene, De Kelley keeps glancing to the phaser on the floor,  At fadeout, McCoy is bending down to pick up that fallen weapon.

This is a fun potpourri of information and musings on that inescapable, ineluctable phenomenon Star Trek, which (like Julius Caesar) doth bestride the narrow world.

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