The Good: Excellent Photography, Some anecdotes
The Bad: Writing/reading level, middle-of-the-road anecdotes
The Bottom Line: Rare photographs and the occasional witty essay aren't enough to make this "history" interesting to anyone who has been on the Trek scene for long.
With the debut of the last Star Trek spin-off, Enterprise, which was positively horrible, I decided to pull off my shelf the coffee table book Where No One Has Gone Before A History In Pictures. This was basically a fairly expensive book chronicling the history of Star Trek and its spin-offs that came out some years ago and I had impulsively bought it when a book club offered it inexpensively.
Needless to say, the photography wasn't so amazing that I couldn't not let it sit on the shelf for five years. The truth is, since the first time I leafed through it, this is the first time I've opened the tome.
J.M. Dillard, an otherwise competent and engaging novelist draws the reader into the history of how Star Trek and its various incarnations came to be on television. Her uncharacteristic use of simplistic language makes the book appropriate for anyone over seven, I think. I was able to complete the reading in less than four hours and I felt somewhat cheated. I'm not a fast reader, instead usually remarkably precise in my reading.
The strength of this book is in its anecdotes on the casting for the different shows. In that respect, how each of the actors landed their jobs on each of the shows through Star Trek Deep Space Nine, the book is rewarding. Worth the cover price? Not at all.
Many of the pictures, especially the rare black and white photographs contributed by Star Trek archivist Richard Arnold, are interesting and a gem in themselves to the serious Trek fan. I've been to many a convention where I've seen someone getting this particular book autographed by the star present at the con.
But therein lies the problem. Some of the pictures are typical, appearing on postcards, 8X10s, trading cards, plates, what have you. Moreover, the uniqueness of some of the photographs is lessened by the writing. About 90% of the issues or anecdotes written about have been recorded or reported ad nauseam in other sources, most often by the actors themselves.
Perhaps the most rewarding item in the book are the essays by Isaac Asimov and I find myself smiling as I write that; I've never enjoyed any of Asimov's science fiction writing. Yet, his essays on Star Trek conventions and the attraction to Spock are both articulate, interesting and engaging.
This book was marketed toward fans of the series who loved Trek for years and years, but in truth there's nothing to recommend this book to those who are already devout fans, they've heard most of it. This book is the perfect gift for your grandson or granddaughter when their parents complain that they're getting into Star Trek. The odds are, they will enjoy the stories and the photographs and it's a good entre into Trek. It's not for the seasoned Trekker.
For other Star Trek reference books or novels, please check out my reviews of:
The Star Trek Compendium - Allan Asherman
The Klingon Dictionary - Marc Okrand
Star Trek: The Motion Picture - Gene Roddenberry
For other book reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011, 2001 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.