SET PHASE RS TO STUN

Where ev­ery­one has gone be­fore

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews - Ian Ber­ri­man

re­leased OUT NOW! 281 pages | Pa­per­back/ ebook

Au­thor Mar­cus Berkmann

Pub­lisher Lit­tle, Brown

SFX read­ers may not be the ideal au­di­ence for this overview of 50 years of Star Trek. That’s be­cause, as au­thor Mar­cus Berkmann says in his in­tro­duc­tion, it’s aimed squarely at the gen­eral reader, not “the deranged Trekkie” ( guilty as charged). And there are some is­sues with that.

For one thing, it fo­cuses on the orig­i­nal se­ries, the movies, and The Next Gen­er­a­tion, on the grounds that un­til JJ Abrams came along, the fran­chise’s au­di­ence dwin­dled. If you’re a fan of the later spin- off shows, you may be ap­palled at what short shrift they’re given. DS9 gets three and a half pages. Voy­ager gets four. En­ter­prise is dis­missed in one and a half, with the au­thor con­fess­ing that he gave up af­ter two sea­sons. This ex­plains why, early on, he grum­bles that Trek has never ex­plained why Klin­gons had bumpy fore­heads in the movies but not on TV. Er, yes they did – En­ter­prise sea­son four ded­i­cated a whole two- parter to plug­ging this con­ti­nu­ity gap.

With the ex­cep­tion of orig­i­nal se­ries writer DC Fon­tana’s ded­i­ca­tion, there are also no fresh quotes. At times, as Berkmann cher­ryp­icks from the likes of Star Trek Mem­o­ries or In­side Star Trek you may won­der if you’d be bet­ter off read­ing them in­stead.

How­ever, he’s very good at min­ing his bib­li­og­ra­phy for spicy quotes ( par­tic­u­larly when it comes to bit­ter for­mer col­leagues slat­ing Gene Rod­den­berry) or quirky nuggets of trivia. His crit­i­cal judge­ments ( as he high­lights stand­out episodes) are gen­er­ally sound; when skew­er­ing Trek clichés he has a nice line in snark; and a per­sonal per­spec­tive – as, for ex­am­ple, when he di­gresses to lament the day he took all his Next Gen VHS tapes to the dump – makes his prose very wel­com­ing. So even if you are one of those “deranged Trekkies”, you’ll find your­self en­ter­tained. And if you’re not, this is a very ser­vice­able in­tro­duc­tion.

Un­til last Oc­to­ber Mar­cus Berkmann was The Spec­ta­tor’s pop critic for 28 years, writ­ing a stag­ger­ing 345 monthly col­umns.

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