SET PHASE RS TO STUN
Where everyone has gone before
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.