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Mark Clark | Star Trek FAQ (Hal Leonard)

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book star-trek-faqEverything Left to Know About the First Voyages of the Starship Enterprise

 

Given the large and loyal fan following Star Trek enjoys, it’s sort of remarkable to reflect on the fact that it only ran for three seasons, wasn’t all that popular at the time, and almost didn’t get on the air in the first place. Seriously, I just googled “Star Trek” and got 115,000,000 results. (By way of comparison, “Battlestar Galactica” returned a paltry 38,400,000 results, so take that, Commander Adama!)

Naturally, quite a few books have been written over the years to feed that market, but Mark Clark’s Star Trek FAQ has found a niche and filled it admirably. This is a book written for the moderate fan who likes Star Trek but doesn’t need to know every last thing about it, and who would enjoy reading a book about the show that is both informative and engaging without trying to be exhaustive. In his introduction, Clark calls it a “distillation” of the multitudinous writings already available on Star Trek, and that’s as good a description as any of this book.

As the subtitle suggests, Star Trek FAQ is only about the television program (a second volume in the FAQ series will cover the subsequent movie and television incarnations). Clark takes an historical approach to his subject, with a little analysis and criticism thrown in. He begins with pre-Trek careers of Gene Roddenberry and the major cast members, and then covers the first run of the show, its second life in syndication, and its legacy, including books and other merchandise, and the influence of Star Trek on popular culture. Clark keeps this wealth of information digestible by organizing it into self-contained chapters that encourage nonlinear consumption, otherwise known as “browsing” (so it’s a great airplane book, among other things).

Even the chapter titles are enticing. Who could resist “Brief Lives: Untold Tales of Star Trek’s ‘Redshirts,’” “‘Beam Me Up Scotty’: The Quotable (and Misquotable) Star Trek,” or “What Are Little Girls Made Of? The Gender Politics of Star Trek”? All in all, this is a fun book to read, and it’s a great reference if you are trying to remember, say, in which episodes Uhuru sang, or the characters voiced by James Doohan when he wasn’t playing Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott.

Star Trek FAQ is part of the FAQ series edited by the pop culture historian Robert Rodriguez and published by Hal Leonard. You can read more about Star Trek FAQ and other volumes in this series on the publisher’s website. | Sarah Boslaugh

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