For over 42 years now, Star Trek spawned novels, video games, comic books, toy lines and loads of other related merchandise lines. Of all of them, the Star Trek reference books and novels are perhaps the most pervasive and enduring. With a good portion of titles regularly appearing on the New York Times Bestseller list, Star Trek’s literary legacy is as popularly received as its television and film progenitor. Since its inception in 1966, there have been hundreds of Star Trek books of every type and on every facet of the science fiction juggernaut. Listed here are some of the best written, most informative and just plain fun books from the Star Trek universe.
Inside Star Trek: The Real Story (Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman)
Written by original series producers Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman, this comprehensive look behind the scenes at the original series starts off where it all began in Gene Roddenberry’s sci-fi TV series produced by Desilu and airing on NBC. Lucille Ball’s studio Desilu formed with husband Desi Arnaz from mega hit I Love Lucy gave the world Star Trek. Chock full of rarely seen photos and confidential memos regarding the fabled production, this informative volume is not only a detailed look at the birth of one of America’s most successful entertainment properties, but doubles as a primer on the struggles of bringing a complex show like Star Trek into existence.
Gene Roddenberry: The Last Conversation (Yvonne Fern)
A volume in the Portraits Of American Genius book series and with foreword by friend and fellow science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, this book delves deep into the fertile mind of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Roddenberry invited author Yvonne Fern to come live with him and his family to truly get to know and understand him. After Roddenberry read Fern’s work, he enthusiastically approved. Reading the book it’s clear Fern achieved an intimate and revealing look at such a creative soul as Roddenberry.
The Star Trek Compendium (Alan Asherman)
This pioneering reference book influenced many to follow. Alan Asherman catalogs original Star Trek nicely with a detailed episode guide and also includes all 22 animated episodes and the six movies. Behind the scenes facts and bits of trivia about stars like William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley along with production personnel make it a true insider’s guide to the most popular science fiction television show ever.
Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (Larry Nemecek)
Similar in format to the Star Trek: Compendium, The Next Generation Companion delivers a great episode guide and more. It will be forever close to my heart as it was here where I learned Star Trek: The Next Generation was one of the only Hollywood television shows to accept scripts from any writer, even those without agents. I wrote to Mr. Nemecek, pointing out a few errors in the first edition of the book and asked him about the process of submitting a script to the show. Upon getting his friendly reply, I was armed with contact information. I submitted a teleplay, which to my surprise was soon purchased and produced. As being instrumental in launching my professional writing career, this extremely detailed book is easy to endorse.
Star Trek: Prime Directive (Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens)
There are scores of Star Trek novels out there, but this focuses an important and familiar theme – the Prime Directive. Simply put, Starfleet’s Prime Directive forbids starship crews to meddle in affairs of primitive life forms, which they encounter in their travels. It seems a reasonable rule, however even a casual Star Trek viewer recalls instances where if Captain Kirk’s Enterprise didn’t intervene regarding an alien world, tragedy may have ensued. That sticky moral dilemma is explored at length in the book and like the better Star Trek novels, it reads as exciting as one of the episodes or feature films.
Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future (Michael Okuda & Denise Okuda)
Available in soft or hardcover, this massive encyclopedia is a fan’s one stop shopping for nearly everything Star Trek. Listing every episode – up to publication – film, animated episode and more, this book written by husband and wife Mike and Denise Okuda is sweeping in its detail. The Okudas worked on most of the shows and many of the films, so their scholarship is official. Spread throughout the book are wonderful photos, diagrams and colorful computer rendered illustrations, which gives the guide a true futuristic feel.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Continuing Mission (Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens)
This is a loving 10th anniversary tribute to the Star Trek spin-off by the prolific husband and wife writing team. Chronicling production from the show’s inception onward to the feature film Star Trek: Insurrection, this glossy, photo filled retrospective is full of cool anecdotes, interviews and trivia to delight even the most well informed Trekker or Trekkie. Highlights include photos of sets being built from scratch and early make-up tests of the creepy Borg Queen.
Star Trek: The Next Generation: All Good Things ( Michael Jan Friedman)
Based on the last episode of the series, this novelized finale delivers a poignant swan song. Penned by one of the most popular Star Trek novelists, Michael Jan Friedman, the novel brings more perspective to the last televised voyage of Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s Enterprise and also contains a nice photographic stills gallery from the last 2 hour episode.
Star Trek: Science Logs (Andre Bormanis)
From Star Trek’s staff science consultant and writer, this fun book explores the science behind the stories. Clearly written for those with even the most rudimentary science background, Andre Bormanis covers Astronomy, Space Medicine, Exobiology and much more, providing real world science facts to support or cast doubt on a multitude of Star Trek tales. As a scientist, Bormanis is the real science deal, since he was trained in physics and worked for NASA.
The Making of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens)
Running over 300 pages, this reference guide on Deep Space Nine, Star Trek’s 2nd spin-off, is detailed and full of production photos. Everything from casting decisions, daily call sheets for episode shooting and interviews with cast and crew can be found here. Often called the darkest chapter of Star Trek mythology because of its reliance on serialized, complex story telling and focus on the ravages of war, Deep Space Nine is given great loving treatment here by the writers who are both experts and themselves loyal fans. Recently a writer/producer of hit sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica commented that Deep Space Nine’s influence is felt on his own show and in some ways probably couldn’t have been created without it coming first.
Star Trek: Q’s Guide To The Continuum (Michael Jan Friedman & Robert Greenberger)
A thin, but fun read, this is a fantastic trip around the cosmos with tour guide Q. Q, first introduced in the pilot of Star Trek: The Next Generation is played by actor John DeLancie. He’s a supremely powerful alien being, but comes across like a bullying, immature child. Although he cautions Picard, Captain Janeway and all Starfleet crew he comes across that humans must wake up and grow up to survive amongst the stars, we get the feeling that Q’s race still could do a bit of maturing themselves. This guide is like a photographic joke book or stand-up comic routine and fans will find some real knee slappers.