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The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek-The First 25 Years

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This is the unauthorized, uncensored and unbelievable true story behind the making of a pop culture phenomenon. The original Star Trek series debuted in 1966 and has spawned five TV series spin-offs and a dozen feature films, with an upcoming one from Paramount arriving in 2016. The Fifty-Year Mission is a no-holds-barred oral history of five decades of Star Trek, told by This is the unauthorized, uncensored and unbelievable true story behind the making of a pop culture phenomenon. The original Star Trek series debuted in 1966 and has spawned five TV series spin-offs and a dozen feature films, with an upcoming one from Paramount arriving in 2016. The Fifty-Year Mission is a no-holds-barred oral history of five decades of Star Trek, told by the people who were there. Hear from the hundreds of television and film executives, programmers, writers, creators and cast as they unveil the oftentimes shocking story of Star Trek's ongoing fifty-year mission -a mission that has spanned from the classic series to the animated show, the many attempts at a relaunch through the beloved feature films. Make no mistake, this isn't just a book for Star Trek fans. Here is a volume for all fans of pop culture and anyone interested in the nuts and bolts of a television touchstone.


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This is the unauthorized, uncensored and unbelievable true story behind the making of a pop culture phenomenon. The original Star Trek series debuted in 1966 and has spawned five TV series spin-offs and a dozen feature films, with an upcoming one from Paramount arriving in 2016. The Fifty-Year Mission is a no-holds-barred oral history of five decades of Star Trek, told by This is the unauthorized, uncensored and unbelievable true story behind the making of a pop culture phenomenon. The original Star Trek series debuted in 1966 and has spawned five TV series spin-offs and a dozen feature films, with an upcoming one from Paramount arriving in 2016. The Fifty-Year Mission is a no-holds-barred oral history of five decades of Star Trek, told by the people who were there. Hear from the hundreds of television and film executives, programmers, writers, creators and cast as they unveil the oftentimes shocking story of Star Trek's ongoing fifty-year mission -a mission that has spanned from the classic series to the animated show, the many attempts at a relaunch through the beloved feature films. Make no mistake, this isn't just a book for Star Trek fans. Here is a volume for all fans of pop culture and anyone interested in the nuts and bolts of a television touchstone.

30 review for The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek-The First 25 Years

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alejandro

    Well, certainly I didn’t enjoy it as I’d expected. This book is the first volume (of two) covering the 50 years of “Star Trek”. OPEN HAILING FREQUENCIES I was so excited about this book that I didn’t think it twice once I saw it in the shelves of a local bookstore and I bought it. Maybe I should give it some thought. I am a Trekker, proudly for 29 years so far. I had watched some of the movies of the classic crew (The Wrath of Khan remains as my favorite movie in the franchise), but the origi Well, certainly I didn’t enjoy it as I’d expected. This book is the first volume (of two) covering the 50 years of “Star Trek”. OPEN HAILING FREQUENCIES I was so excited about this book that I didn’t think it twice once I saw it in the shelves of a local bookstore and I bought it. Maybe I should give it some thought. I am a Trekker, proudly for 29 years so far. I had watched some of the movies of the classic crew (The Wrath of Khan remains as my favorite movie in the franchise), but the original TV series wasn’t showed here, in my country, at least not during my childhood years (back then, the “big guns” in sci-fi TV, here, were Lost in Space and Space: 1999, along with the original Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century), so it was until The Next Generation that I heard my calling and become a Trekker (also, maybe that’s why that I’ve never being so thrilled of calling myself as “Trekkie”), but don’t get me wrong, once the Star Trek universe got inside my heart, I embraced the Original Series, and also the rest of TV spin-offs and the recent Abramsverse films. Currently, Star Trek is my number one favorite franchise. But, I am open minded (as any true Trekker or Trekkie should be… IDIC, remember?) and I am of those rare cases (or maybe not so rare) that I am fan of Star Wars too, its direct competition in popular culture. In any case, I am absurd fan too of The X-Files, Doctor Who, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, Re-Imagined Battlestar Galactica, etc… etc… etc… well you got the picture, all the usual suspects. So, you may wonder then, why the heck I didn’t enjoy this book that was supposed to make an account about the history of the Star Trek franchise since its beginning. I should be happier than Ferengi locked in a vault full of gold-pressed latinum, right? (Mmh… we are still in the Original Series years, I should pick a more adequate analogy, oh well…) Let me, explain you… HUBBUB… THE FINAL MADNESS I read in the title of the book the part of “Oral History”, and well, it was a paper published book, not even an audiobook, so I guessed that it was just a cool way to title it. Maybe I should guess again. Since the “Oral History” was quite adecuate to describe this kind of book. It’s not like you “hear” the book. That’s not logical! Even Spock could tell you that! However, it’s an “oral” prose, if such think makes any sense. The book is written using oral testimonies and comments made by hundreds of people that the authors got in previous interviews (even some made specially for this book). So, since they wrote down the spoken interviews of people about Star Trek, so technically it’s indeed an “oral history”. So… (Red Alert! Hubbub incoming!) …you have, then, hundreds and hundreds AND hundreds of people, all of them, “talking” about Star Trek, BUT they are just too much different opinions, each of them with their particular view about the franchise (in this case, focused in the Original Series years, along with the Animated Series and the theatrical movies with the original crew), but they are so many different opinions that it’s common to find a lot of contradictory statements… So… …if you haven’t a solid knowledge about the franchise (and trust me, I have a solid knowledge of the franchise and that didn’t help me much) you’ll get very likely lost and totally confused about the topic. Even, I didn’t like that some people interviewed had negative opinions about the following spin-offs in the franchise. I understand that this book is centered on the Original Series, but if you’re publishing a first volume in a planned project where the second volume will be focused on those spin-offs, well it’s not wise to publish those negative opinions in the first book. I hadn’t fully embraced since the first moment, each following spin-off, as in anything new in life, there has been an adjustment period, but sooner or later, I ended embracing each following spin-off, since all of them are truly example of what Star Trek means. Therefore, 50 years later, in a book which is part of the celebration of those 50 years of Star Trek, I consider distasteful to find negative opinions about the spin-offs of the franchise. Anyway… …getting back to the overwhelming “noise” made by hundreds of people, where in each chapter of this book, they “tell” you, their own opinions about Star Trek, I can assure you that faster than warp, you get awestruck quite soon, and it’s exhausting trying to make sense out of what all those people is babbling about, to form a coherent history account of the franchise. Live Long and Prosper!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gavin

    This was an entertaining oral history of the first 25 years of Star Trek. It told the story of Start Trek from the conception of the original series right through to the final Kirk/Spock Trek movie. A coherent story was told from a collection of interviews and comments from the people involved in building Trek over the years. I feel like the authors of this did a good job with that as this turned out to be an engaging and interesting book. I'm a Star Trek fan but must admit I've never been a big This was an entertaining oral history of the first 25 years of Star Trek. It told the story of Start Trek from the conception of the original series right through to the final Kirk/Spock Trek movie. A coherent story was told from a collection of interviews and comments from the people involved in building Trek over the years. I feel like the authors of this did a good job with that as this turned out to be an engaging and interesting book. I'm a Star Trek fan but must admit I've never been a big fan of the original series or of the early Star Trek movies. They always seemed a bit dated in appearance to me so my Star Trek was always the 90s TV shows. Despite that I still ended up loving this book as the history of Star Trek and the various different takes on the goings on made for a fascinating and entertaining story! From the various interview it is clear that everyone involved had a different take on things. If this book had a flaw it was the start and the finish. The foreword by Seth MacFarlane was excellent. The guy seems like a true Star Trek fan who gets what made the series so great. That is probably why The Orville ended up being such an awesome Star Trek show! The flaw at the start was the glossary list of people who's comments and thoughts made up the content of this book. I listened in audio and a 45 minute list was a bit much to take in at once. The problem with the ending was that it felt a little abrupt. One minute we are chatting Star Trek 6 and the next second the book is over. It felt like the story just cut off which was a little weird. I'd have liked a more conclusive feeling wrap. The should have offered some thoughts on the commercial and critical take on the 6th movie and then hammered home it was the end point for most of the original cast. Those were minor flaws though and on the whole this story held my attention and was a very enjoyable read. While it was great to learn more about the stars of the series like Shatner, Kelley, Nimoy, and the show creator Gene Roddenberry I really enjoyed the fact that we also got a lot of insight into what it was like for the writers, producers, directors, and some insight into what it was like dealing with the networks and studios involved. All in all this was a great read and I'm going to move straight onto the sequel that deals with the second 25 years of Trek's existence. Rating: 4.5 stars. Audio Note: The audio used a bunch of narrators and I felt like that was a smart choice as it gave the audio the ability to properly differentiate between the clips and interviews. It really worked well in offering separation between the multitude of small segments that made up the book. It also helped that all the audio narrators were of good quality.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Antigone

    This was a great read...and not because it's a great book. I'm not even sure you can call it a book in the standard sense of the expectation. It isn't written so much as it's arranged, consisting of a multitude of quotes strung together as a sort of communal tale of woe. And that's something you should know. No one's happy here. No one's satisfied. Which tickles me all the way to Ceti Alpha V and back again. I loved this the way I love an old sweatshirt, a beat-up truck, the spatter of a sauce st This was a great read...and not because it's a great book. I'm not even sure you can call it a book in the standard sense of the expectation. It isn't written so much as it's arranged, consisting of a multitude of quotes strung together as a sort of communal tale of woe. And that's something you should know. No one's happy here. No one's satisfied. Which tickles me all the way to Ceti Alpha V and back again. I loved this the way I love an old sweatshirt, a beat-up truck, the spatter of a sauce stain on an old family recipe. It's comforting. It's just flat-out comforting to know that you can put a spectacularly innovative concept into the hands of a group of bozos and it's all going to turn out fine. It is. Throw in all the hubris you like; all the posturing, the sniping, the mania, the delusion, the bombast, the truckload of sour grapes - and the strength of the vision will out. It's Geoffrey Rush's Philip Henslowe shrugging his shoulders in Shakespeare in Love. How can this possibly end well? I don't know. It's a mystery. The Fifty Year Mission begins in the mid-1960s with the inception of Star Trek. We are carried through the fledgling run, the shift to syndication (where it found its powerful footing with fans), the growth of the franchise with fanzines, novels, comics, conventions, animation, and then straight on to the filming of each of the initial six motion pictures. From a Trek perspective, this is Old School domain - and while you may expect to be hearing primarily from actors Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley on that subject, they are by no means central to the telling of this story. Instead the core of the focus rests on the writers, the directors, the producers, the composers, the lighting guys, the special effects teams, etc., etc. These are, in fact, the contingent of bozos to whom I refer. The actors were, by far, the most rational and respectful of the contributors to take part (Shatner in particular). But hey, why take my word for it? Let's rip into some quotage: Fred Freiberger, producer - "The truth is, I've been the target of vicious and unfair attacks even to this day. The fact that at the end of the second season Star Trek's ratings had slipped, it was losing adult fans and was in disarray, carries no weight with the attackers. The dumping was all done on me and the third season. It seems it was now Star Trek law to lay everything on Freiberger. Every disgruntled actor, writer, and director also found an easy dumping ground on which to blame their own shortcomings. Whenever one of my episodes was mentioned favorably, Gene Roddenberry's name was attached to it..." Alan Dean Foster, writer - "The first thing they did was try to deny me screen credit. When the credits came out to be filed with the Guild, they read, 'screenplay by Gene Roddenberry and Harold Livingston, story by Gene Roddenberry.' I'm a very low-key guy. I'm a handshake-is-my-bond kind of guy. I called my agent and said, 'What's going on?'..." Harve Bennett, executive producer - "Any time a guy loses a command and is still hanging around, it's difficult. The fact of the matter was that Gene had already done that during the series; in the third year he had left to do other things..." Richard Arnold, archivist - "Harve said that Star Trek was a beached whale, one that he had rescued and breathed new life into. That really hurt Gene. When Gene said at one point during a disagreement, 'over my dead body!' Harve had said that that was fine with him..." Nicholas Meyer, writer/director - "The history of human endeavor has frequently (been) comprised of certain institutions which are based on two archetypes. There's the guy who comes along and, with a certain kind of messianic fortitude and charisma, conjures up a universe out of nothing, hot air, if you'll pardon the expression. He makes it happen. Usually, he never stays around to run it. "The task is always turned over to a can-do type who is distinctly lacking in messianic qualities, but is a very good organizer. Jesus Christ presumably founded the Christian faith. But it seems like it was either Peter or Paul who got the thing rolling as a business. Star Trek would not have existed without Roddenberry. There's no question about that. I have no wish in any shape or form to detract from the magnitude of his accomplishments, but I also think that nothing can stay the same forever. For things to grow, there have to be these Joshua types, of which I suppose I am one..." And that, as any major Trek fan will be quick to intuit, puts a thunderously entertaining spin on the old chestnut: What does God need with a starship? The second volume of this history - covering all the TV re-boots and Next-Gen movies - will be released in August. And all I've got to say about that is: Count me in.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Carol Storm

    Kirk, Spock, and McCoy -- they were the glory of their times! All right, I'm cheating in giving this mammoth oral history of STAR TREK a five star review. I only picked it up last night and I've only read the first sixty pages so far. But how can you possibly go wrong with an epic collection of interviews with hundreds of people who all gave their lives to make STAR TREK into a vast wellspring of art, entertainment and enlightenment? Everyone from the old gang is here, and the insights are startli Kirk, Spock, and McCoy -- they were the glory of their times! All right, I'm cheating in giving this mammoth oral history of STAR TREK a five star review. I only picked it up last night and I've only read the first sixty pages so far. But how can you possibly go wrong with an epic collection of interviews with hundreds of people who all gave their lives to make STAR TREK into a vast wellspring of art, entertainment and enlightenment? Everyone from the old gang is here, and the insights are startling. Gene Roddenberry comments that Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are really one perfect individual. I figured that. But then he points out that since they are split into three people, their dialogues can take the place of "stream of consciousness" inside the protagonist of a novel. There's a ton of detailed information on the business side, too. If you wanted to know exactly how much Leonard Nimoy was making per episode, it's here. (And boy was he underpaid!) There's an unforgettable portrait of Gene Roddenberry, capturing the bigger than life myth and also the paranoid, womanizing, self-promoting showboat behind the myth. It's almost impossible to believe such a petty man could conceive such a glorious vision. (There's also a hilariously ungrateful quote from Harlan Ellison that shows GR wasn't the only diva on the lot in those classic days.) And there's a lot of discussion on the nature of science fiction, and whether STAR TREK was good because it was good Science Fiction or great because it wasn't. (I hold to the latter view.) The only book you can compare this to is THE GLORY OF THEIR TIMES by Lawrence Ritter, which is an oral history of major league baseball from 1900 to 1920. But this book is even better because everyone in this book played for a championship team. And while every year there's a new team in the World Series, the glory of Star Trek's winning seasons is eternal.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Stevie Kincade

    The Fifty-Year Mission: The complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek Also known as: Gene Roddenberry was a hack and a horrible human being who took almost all of the credit for the good work of others On a recent episode of the Bruce Prichard podcast he was asked about a "hatchet job" documentary he contributed to. He answered words to the effect of "It wasn't a hatchet job, if you interview 25 people for your documentary and 24 of them can't find anything nice to say abou The Fifty-Year Mission: The complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek Also known as: Gene Roddenberry was a hack and a horrible human being who took almost all of the credit for the good work of others On a recent episode of the Bruce Prichard podcast he was asked about a "hatchet job" documentary he contributed to. He answered words to the effect of "It wasn't a hatchet job, if you interview 25 people for your documentary and 24 of them can't find anything nice to say about your subject, then you get what you get". Sadly this book shattered all of my illusions about Roddenberry as the genius behind the lofty humanist ideals of Star Trek, the man responsible for so many breakthroughs on television from the first interracial kiss to the idea of non interference with other cultures. Happily, this book gave me 23 hours of solid entertainment as it took me on an intimate behind the scenes of the highs, lows and dumpster fires of the first 25 years of Star Trek. I have never watched more than a handful of original series episodes. I have seen all of the movies and I absolutely love oral histories. I was really more excited for the 2nd half of this book on the next 25 years of Star Trek and my beloved TNG and DS9. I ended up learning more about Roddenberry and the birth of the franchise then I could ever care to know. Like a lot of "casual" Star Trek fans I assumed Gene Roddenberry was a fearless visionary who fought for his enlightened vision of the future and battled the network to present it. From the accounts of multitides of contributors, Roddenberry had a good initial idea (Horatio Hornblower in space) but it was Gene L Coon who actually supplied most of what we could consider iconic about the series. Roddenberry was a lech who is quoted as saying things like (to his secretary) "You can go from the front to the back but not from the back to the front. Just ask my wife she has one hell of a rash". He battled with everyone he ever worked with constantly and was really only present for the first season and a half of the original series. He constantly interfered with and opposed everyone he ever hired, demanding credits he didn't deserve and maliciously leaked scripts and story details he didn't like. It is apparent that a lot of people had an axe to grind with GR but the sheer volume of people who seem to have been screwed by him literally and figuratively point to a control freak in constant conflict, with everyone. It is hard to see Roddenberry in the same rosy light after we get a detailed breakdown of GR's own idea for the first Star Trek movie, a script called "The God Thing" that climaxes with a fight scene on the bridge of the Enterprise between Kirk and Jesus. Yes really. One of the delights of the book is hearing a recounting of all of the wacky ideas that did not get made. Mr Spok being the shooter on the grassy knoll being another potential GR contribution to Star Trek canon. There are too many astounding stories and anecdotes to recount, from how Lucille Ball financed and was financially ruined by Star Trek, to the social impact of the Original series to memorable quotes. Fred Frieberger after watching series 1 "Oh I get it - tits in space!". The incredible initial after life after the cancellation of the series in conventions and fanzines. The depressing, endless saga of trying to get the first feature made. This was a fascinating and horrifying journey I listened to at every available moment. Feel free to skip through the 90 minute recounting of all the interviewed subjects in alphabetical order though!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    This might be fun to leaf through in paper, but as an audiobook it was just way too much trivial content. It was like a deep fat fried Twinkie. The first hour was nothing save a list of who's who - great to skim & refer to in a paper book, but bewildering & finally torturous in audio even when well narrated & this was. It was actually a cast, so many times we heard the actual people telling us what they thought & I expected it to get better. The next hour had about 15 minutes of content I wanted This might be fun to leaf through in paper, but as an audiobook it was just way too much trivial content. It was like a deep fat fried Twinkie. The first hour was nothing save a list of who's who - great to skim & refer to in a paper book, but bewildering & finally torturous in audio even when well narrated & this was. It was actually a cast, so many times we heard the actual people telling us what they thought & I expected it to get better. The next hour had about 15 minutes of content I wanted to listen to. For instance, Ming-na Wen was tickled to meet William Shatner, but her gush was one of a half dozen or so in rapid succession that added nothing to the story of the Star Trek franchise. Even the better content was pretty vapid. I listened for a few hours & still had 31 to go. No. Hell no.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    There must have been a last-minute title change on this book, because the original title had to have been The Big Book of Star Trek Egos: The Early Years. It’s common knowledge that there was no little bit of conflict on the TOS set, due in part to Gene R.’s unsurpassed talent for making enemies wherever he went. Somehow the format of the book-- frequently contradictory quotes from many interviews-- amplifies the tensions to the point that it seems amazing they got anything usable on film. Once t There must have been a last-minute title change on this book, because the original title had to have been The Big Book of Star Trek Egos: The Early Years. It’s common knowledge that there was no little bit of conflict on the TOS set, due in part to Gene R.’s unsurpassed talent for making enemies wherever he went. Somehow the format of the book-- frequently contradictory quotes from many interviews-- amplifies the tensions to the point that it seems amazing they got anything usable on film. Once the book progresses to the post-TOS years, the parade of swelled heads really gets going, as producers, writers, studio execs, and occasionally actors fight about who was at fault for abortive attempts at a new Trek series. No wait, a new movie. No—no, a series. No, it’s definitely going to be a movie. Maybe. Once the movies start production, the writers come to center stage and let us know that their script would have made the movie perfect, and it was that other guy whose crap they used instead who messed everything up. If credit grabbing were an Olympic sport, the gold would be determined by thousandths of a point. I particularly loved the writer who said he was the perfect person to write Star Trek, because he’d never seen it before & wasn’t a fan, so he wasn’t afraid to break the rules. The producers and actors (who also became writers, directors, and basically any other screen credit they could grab that was more prestigious than Head of Craft Services) also shoved the medicine ball of blame around like pros. Nick was upset with Harve who was upset with Leonard who was upset with Gene who was upset with pretty much everyone. If the first 6 movies were an ice cream shop, the flavor of the day would be Bitterness. Don’t get me wrong. I have a lot of love and respect for many of the people quoted in the book. (But not you, Fred Frieberger. Sorry.) Again, it’s the nature of the book—direct quotes from the people involved, juxtaposed in a way that magnifies very different viewpoints of the same events. Both of those people were there, and yet one saw a blue and black dress, and the other white and gold. There’s also a pretty good trickle of fan-loathing running through the book. “Oh, those darn fans. If they had just shut up and gone away, we could have made the best movie EVER.” One quote mentions wanting to make a Trek movie for non-fans. Yeah. That’s why the franchise has been a cash cow for fifty years. All those non-fans. I can’t end without mentioning the horrendous errors in pronunciation in the audio version. I mean, seriously. If you don’t know how to pronounce Majel, as in Majel Barrett Roddenberry, get the heck out of my audiobook. One reader gets it right, but the female reader actually reading Majel’s words repeatedly puts the emPHAsis on the wrong sylLAble. A reader faced with the usual abbreviation of DeForest Kelley’s name-- De Kelley (pronounced Dee)— thinks that the entire character string is a surname (like du Maurier, I guess), and pronounces it Duhkelly. Uncle George does not escape unscathed. For the last time, people, it’s ta-kay, not ta-KIGH. Devra Langsam is transformed into Deevra Langsam. In the print version, they get Langsam wrong—they spell it Langsham. Not quite as egregious, but still annoying, is the reader conveying the text “Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott” in a fashion that makes it sound like the character’s surname is Scottyscott. There were more, but you get the idea. This all kind of sounds like I hated the book. I didn’t. There was a substantial amount of information I’d never come across before. I particularly liked the author’s idea of interviewing the secretaries of key production staff. When I started listening, the disjointed nature of disparate quotes drove me a little nuts, but I grew accustomed to it, and by the time the narrative got to 1977, it felt perfectly cohesive. I don’t think I’ll be reading part two, because I don’t have much interest in behind the scenes doings for TNG, DS9, Voyager, etc. Although it might be worth a peek at the end to see if they include the 2009 reboot.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joel

    A bit repetitive, and not just because I knew a lot of this from reading Shatner’s various memoirs and other Trek books. Entertaining, even if I don’t love the oral history format, but basically an amuse bouche for volume two, which will be fresher content for me.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Scott Williams

    The publishers sent me an ARC in exchange for a fair review. I've read pretty much everything that's ever been published about the making of Star Trek and I've been to many conventions and heard all the stories a hundred times so I was skeptical that this book would reveal anything new. I'm so glad I read it! I expected a straightforward, narrative history of the franchise because I missed the words "Oral History" in the subtitle. After some brief introductions by the authors and Seth MacFarlane, The publishers sent me an ARC in exchange for a fair review. I've read pretty much everything that's ever been published about the making of Star Trek and I've been to many conventions and heard all the stories a hundred times so I was skeptical that this book would reveal anything new. I'm so glad I read it! I expected a straightforward, narrative history of the franchise because I missed the words "Oral History" in the subtitle. After some brief introductions by the authors and Seth MacFarlane, this book is laid out in brief statements by those involved in the history of Star Trek. Innumerable interviews with cast, crew and critics come together to form a unique and wonderful history of the franchise. At first, the format threw me off but I quickly became engaged in the story. Each segment is thoughtfully chosen to add a new piece to the puzzle. After a few pages I found it nearly impossible to put down and I spent the entire day with the book until I had finished it. It left me wanting more and gave me a keen desire to pop in some Trek movies on Blu-ray! It's true that I didn't learn much of anything new about the original series -- but there were some tidbits! Interviews with Gene L. Coon's secretary were especially revealing. For me, where the history became really interesting was in the 1970s. This book does a great job of uncovering the history of the early Star Trek conventions and fanzines. It also provides a cohesive and logical account of the confusing period leading to The Motion Picture. The latter half of the 1970s and the road through Phase II to TMP have always been sort of muddled but Altman and Gross do a wonderful job of clearing up the timeline and making clear the motivations of Paramount in bring Star Trek back. From there, the journey through the remaining TOS films is fairly quick but you get a very solid picture of the events and the major players involved. We read quite a bit from Walter Koenig and a bit from James Doohan but very little from George Takei and Nichelle Nichols. Perhaps this is because Nichols and Takei have already told their own stories fairly comprehensively in their own memoirs. The book doesn't really tell the whole story of the first 25 years of Trek. The Next Generation is barely mentioned in passing. Instead, the authors have devoted this first volume to the original series and its films. I expect the second volume will tackle TNG from the beginning. I recommend this book highly and cannot wait to read the second volume! I expect this will become the definitive account of Trek's history. It should be required reading for those who are interested in in the production history of the franchise.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tom Rowe

    When I was in jr high, I bought a book from the school book fair called "The Making of Star Trek." I picked it up because it was full of great photos and sketches from the TV show. As the name reveals, it was about the making of the TV show Star Trek. I loved that book. This book runs along a similar vein, but it tells the history of the first 25 of the first 50 years, covering the creation and run of the original series, the animated series and the first six movies. It too is awesome. It draws When I was in jr high, I bought a book from the school book fair called "The Making of Star Trek." I picked it up because it was full of great photos and sketches from the TV show. As the name reveals, it was about the making of the TV show Star Trek. I loved that book. This book runs along a similar vein, but it tells the history of the first 25 of the first 50 years, covering the creation and run of the original series, the animated series and the first six movies. It too is awesome. It draws from a diverse cast of actors, producers, writers, fans, and directors. It not only looks at the making of the show, but also the influence of fandom on the show. It is a thoroughly delightful book. I recommend for Star Trek fans. There is a follow up book that I am starting that covers the other series and movies through the second 25 years.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Ever since William Shatner committed his memories about working on Star Trek to print, it seems like there have been a lot of books pulling back the curtain on what went on behind the scenes of the original series. And if you were to take the time to put together all those various accounts of what went into creating Star Trek, whether it be from the technical, creative or personal side, you’d probably get a fairly good idea of how the original series came to be on our screens. But if you don’t ha Ever since William Shatner committed his memories about working on Star Trek to print, it seems like there have been a lot of books pulling back the curtain on what went on behind the scenes of the original series. And if you were to take the time to put together all those various accounts of what went into creating Star Trek, whether it be from the technical, creative or personal side, you’d probably get a fairly good idea of how the original series came to be on our screens. But if you don’t have that much time or shelf space, you could simply pick up Edward Gross and Mark Altman’s new book The Fifty Year Mission, The First 25 Years: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral Historyof Star Trek. Weighing it at close to 600 pages, this first installment of two this year from Gross and Altman covers the history of the original crew of the starship Enterprise, from the initial vision by Gene Roddenberry to the cast literally signing off at the end of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Taken from interviews with dozens of people associated with the creation of Star Trek, The First 25 Years gives a great macro view of the original series. Gross and Altman have interviewed as many of those associated with the original series as was possible, from creator Gene Roddenberry to the actors who brought these characters to life each week to the creative team, guest stars and fans who had an impact and helped create what Star Trek is today. Gross and Altman offer connective tissue to the recollections, allowing the various personalities to share their side of the story. This gives the book an interesting perspective on some of the more vilified and praised players in Star Trek’s history. Polarizing figures like Roddenberry, William Shatner, Fred Freiberger, Nicholas Meyer and others have their positive and negative sides laid bare with little or no judgment. Instead, the reader is given the chance to decide for himself or herself where the truth lies (probably somewhere in the middle). One thing I came away from this book wishing was that Altman and Gross had started their research earlier or had found some previously undiscovered notes or interview with producer Gene L. Coon. While we get a lot of memories of Coon and his tenure in helping shepherd Roddenberry’s creation from a good one to a great one, there is little straight from Coon’s legendarily fast typewriter. Alas, Coon passed away before Trek really hit its stride in terms of popularity, study and journalistic endeavors and has been, sadly, silent. (The closest we’ve come is Marc Cushman’s three volumes featuring memos from Coon to the production staff). This book purports to be a definitive look at the making of all aspects of classic Trek. And while it offers a great overview of things and hits the broad strokes, it falls just short of being definitive. If you’re an avid Trek fan (like I am) this book could be paired with Marc Cushman’s These Are the Voyages volumes that takes a look at the original series episode by episode. Putting these volumes along side Cushman’s will give Trekkers the definitive look inside the making of the original series. It just makes me eager to pick up the next volume in the series that examines the backstory of the modern Star Trek series.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    This is a long book: 500 plus pages of behind the scenes drama gleaned from new and historical interviews from the cast, crew, and creative minds behind the making of Star Trek for the first twenty-five years of its history. It didn't really read like that long of a book, though. I've always loved behind the scenes stories, and oral histories are a particularly good format for that. So much room for conflicting opinions. Lots of insight and drama. Lots of gross stories about Gene Roddenberry. (P This is a long book: 500 plus pages of behind the scenes drama gleaned from new and historical interviews from the cast, crew, and creative minds behind the making of Star Trek for the first twenty-five years of its history. It didn't really read like that long of a book, though. I've always loved behind the scenes stories, and oral histories are a particularly good format for that. So much room for conflicting opinions. Lots of insight and drama. Lots of gross stories about Gene Roddenberry. (Pro tip, Gene: Nobody wants to hear about your sex life with Majel.) And there's a ton of that here. Honestly, my first reaction is it's a wonder anything got made at all. Some people might not actually want to know how the sausage gets made, or whatever, but I find it absolutely fascinating. How just the right confluence of events and people and ideas make something great, or how those same things can turn out something awful. It's also a great way to look at larger than life figures like Gene Roddenberry, who was a complex man, as this history lays out. For every story about him being a petty, narcissistic child and leaking plot points to the press, there is a story about him doing the right thing at cost to himself (i.e. going after NBC with the NAACP when they refused to air an episode he wrote about racial discrimination in the military, even though he knew it would mean cancellation). He's certainly never boring to read about. My favorite bits were reading about the making of the original series, and my two favorite of the TOS movies, Wrath of Khan and The Voyage Home. It was also entertaining in a car crash kind of way, reading about the making of The Motion Picture. But really, the whole book is entertaining. My only complaint is that there are no attributions or dates for the interviews, so you never know whether something is being said present day, or in the 1960s, or somewhere in between. I'm very much looking forward to reading Vol. 2, which follows the next twenty-five years, including the making of TNG, all the way through the Abrams movies (the first two, I think). A note on the format: The first thirty pages of this book are skippable. They're just endless pages of brief biographies of everyone interviewed for the book, and they're really only useful as a reference. I'd imagine you'll want to skip them entirely if you're doing the audio. They really should have been put at the end.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jarrah

    The Fifty-Year Mission bills itself as "the complete, uncensored, unauthorized oral history of Star Trek," with Volume 1 spanning the making of The Original Series, The Animated Series, and the first six movies. What the authors mean by "oral history" is that the vast majority of the book is made up of succinct quotations drawn from three decades of interviews. You hear differing perspectives, from key players on-screen and behind-the-scenes, "superfans" like Bjo and John Trimble, as well as from The Fifty-Year Mission bills itself as "the complete, uncensored, unauthorized oral history of Star Trek," with Volume 1 spanning the making of The Original Series, The Animated Series, and the first six movies. What the authors mean by "oral history" is that the vast majority of the book is made up of succinct quotations drawn from three decades of interviews. You hear differing perspectives, from key players on-screen and behind-the-scenes, "superfans" like Bjo and John Trimble, as well as from people involved with the franchise later (e.g. Ronald Moore, Bryan Fuller, and Rod Roddenberry) looking back on the events' significance. The effect is that every chapter reads like the ultimate convention super-panel: what you'd imagine if you got everyone you ever wanted to talk about - say - the making of Star Trek V up on the same stage. That's extremely cool. However, the book would be much more useful as a reference, and much more enlightening overall, if the authors had chosen to include interview dates with the quotations. Trek fans will know that people such as Gene Roddenberry changed their opinions about Star Trek over their decades in the franchise. But because the interviews have no dates, the audience can't be sure whether a particular quote from, say Leonard Nimoy, is from 1986 or 2010. It creates the illusion that a particular quote represents the singular, eternal opinion of the speaker. As someone particularly interested in the role of women in Star Trek, I was disappointed the volume did not include more women's voices. I understand there was a strong gender imbalance both behind the scenes and on-screen during the years covered, but the authors appeared to have sought out new external interviews (for example, with American Studies professor Thomas Doherty and actor Chris Pratt), and that could have been an opportunity to bring in more women's perspectives. The one exception is the section devoted to the growth of the Star Trek fandom post-TOS. In this part, the authors include the voices of several women who organized conventions, published fanzines and more. Overall, Volume 1 of The Fifty-Year Mission is an accessible, entertaining and intriguing look at the first 25 years of Trek. Disclosure: I requested and was provided an advance review copy of this book by the publishers.

  14. 5 out of 5

    M(^-__-^)M_ken_M(^-__-^)M

    Popular culture is pure escapism and imagination with the emphasis on imagination. Such a utopian outlook on human kind what's not to love about this. Concentrating on the first 25 years with a wide mix of interviews from cast members writers from famous to not so famous these interviews were interesting beyond anything some so positive and others so negative, which just added to the wow factor for. I loved it. Something that stuck with me was how Kirk Spock and McCoy complimented each other to Popular culture is pure escapism and imagination with the emphasis on imagination. Such a utopian outlook on human kind what's not to love about this. Concentrating on the first 25 years with a wide mix of interviews from cast members writers from famous to not so famous these interviews were interesting beyond anything some so positive and others so negative, which just added to the wow factor for. I loved it. Something that stuck with me was how Kirk Spock and McCoy complimented each other to form a triubritive, no way home of them could do without the other. Scientific analytical Spock with humanism feelings of McCoy and Kirk kick ass analyse it later if ever. It was so much fun listening to this will wait in the que to borrow it again.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amy Sturgis

    I’m off to read the next volume, which covers the second twenty-five years of Star Trek.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael Hicks

    As most Trekkies likely know, there was as much, if not more so, drama behind the scenes than ever made it to screen. The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years recounts all of the various conflicts that went into creating this franchise from the people who witnessed it all first-hand. On the one hand, thanks to plenty of hindsight and having grown up in a world permeated by the existence of Star Trek in some form or another, it s As most Trekkies likely know, there was as much, if not more so, drama behind the scenes than ever made it to screen. The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years recounts all of the various conflicts that went into creating this franchise from the people who witnessed it all first-hand. On the one hand, thanks to plenty of hindsight and having grown up in a world permeated by the existence of Star Trek in some form or another, it seems downright foolish that there was ever any reticence in bringing Star Trek to screens both big and small. On the other hand, given all of the infighting between studios, producers, creators, and actors, it's almost miraculous the TV incarnation ever got made, let alone moved onto theatrical productions. The Fifty-Year Mission presents an unvarnished view of the creation of the initial episodic series back in the 1960s, which ran for three seasons before being cancelled, and its leap to the silver screen a decade later. Through decades' worth of interviews, we get a sense of the people involved through their own words, as well as reflections from others. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry is, of course, a large part of this narrative's initial focus, and although he may have been the Great Bird of the Galaxy he was also his own worst enemy. We see here a man of extraordinary progressive vision, a vision that has infused and shaped Star Trek over the course of now fifty years, but also a man whose hubris and ego often got in the way of his own creative efforts, as well as those around him. His rewriting of scripts was often to the detriment of those stories, and he made more than a few enemies, including well-known science fiction author Harlan Ellison, whose interview segments do nothing to dispell his status as sci-fi's biggest curmudgeon. As with any long-running franchise with so many people involved and so many moving parts, there is going to be a fair share of ups and downs. The Fifty Year Mission does not shy away from tackling both the good and the bad, and there is an appreciable level of candor from the parties involved as they air their frustrations and their successes. Twenty-five years is also a long period of time to cover, and this audiobook's runtime of nearly 23 1/2 hours represents the creation of Star Trek as a television series, and its redevelopment as a theatrical franchise, culminating with Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the final voyage for the entire original crew of the Starships Enterprise. Production-wise, this is a fairly basic affair and while it is solidly done, I wouldn't have minded a few extra bells and whistles to curb some of the narration's dryness. A handful of narrators tackle the readings of the various interview sources collected here, and I can't help but think it a shame that we never get to hear any of the original recordings these interviews originated from. I suppose such an undertaking would have been too prohibitive, but for a book curated to celebrate the fifty-year milestone of such a beloved franchise it seems a few extra steps could have been taken to make this a more special and engaging listen. Keep in mind, too, that title is dubbed an "oral history," for very good reason. The story of Star Trek is told entirely through first-person accounts, with snippets of interviews, thoughts, and recollections from the various creatives involved pieced together to create context and a narrative framework. The book's authors, Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman, should be credited for piecing all this together, but their footprint as story-tellers here is very small, and they provide very little input to the proceedings aside from a foreword from each (along with Seth McFarlane), taking a backseat to the curation of the Star Trek legacy itself. I might also add that, once past the forewords, listeners can skip the multiple chapters devoted solely to dramatis personae, which involves more than an hour's worth of one narrator dryly listing the names and credentials of those interviewed in subsequent chapters, information which gets repeated numerous times throughout the course of the book's oral history. Since this is only the first half of Star Trek's fifty-year history, the audiobook finishes with a To Be Continued note, but for fans of The Original Series their part of the story is sufficiently self-contained. For hardcore Trekkies, there are still 25 more years to cover, and plenty more Star Trek to explore in the subsequent volume, The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years: From The Next Generation to J.J. Abrams.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kirk

    This book was like crack for me, an oral history of Star Trek. I love the oral history format and I'm a Trek geek from way back. Crucially, it lives up to two of the words in the subtitle, uncensored and unauthorized. This is no Trek hagiography, it shows you how the sausage gets made. And given the various egos involved, there are many counter-narratives and some score settling. One of the stellar qualities is that the authors don't take a side, they hear from everyone, some events become Rasho This book was like crack for me, an oral history of Star Trek. I love the oral history format and I'm a Trek geek from way back. Crucially, it lives up to two of the words in the subtitle, uncensored and unauthorized. This is no Trek hagiography, it shows you how the sausage gets made. And given the various egos involved, there are many counter-narratives and some score settling. One of the stellar qualities is that the authors don't take a side, they hear from everyone, some events become Rashoman-like and the readers can decide for themselves. The thoroughness here is admirable and exhaustive. and it gives you first-person accounts from many who have passed away. Let's go. [note: "the first 25 years" means 1966 - 1991, but it leaves ST:TNG for the second book, which I haven't read yet but assuredly will. This covers the original show + the first six movies.] The Creator...of a Television Show Gene Roddenberry is perhaps the most fascinating and enigmatic figure here. He'd been a wartime pilot, a civilian pilot, an LA cop (who ended up writing speeches for the chief of police) before working in television. You hear from him in these pages alot, and get opinions about him from dozens of others. Some of these revered him, some fairly loathed him. He comes across as breezy and confident, someone who could walk into a room and own it. He was genuinely idealistic, and really did forge the values of inclusivity and diversity you find in Star Trek. He was also imperious and didn't work well with others. He recruited noted science fiction authors to write for the show (Theodore Sturgeon, Robert Bloch, Norman Spinrad, Jerome Bixby, Frederic Brown, and most famously Harlan Ellison) and then rewrote their stuff (with some justification, actually). For the 1960s he passed as a feminist (the Enterprise crew of 430 was supposed to be half women, and ended up being one third women only at the insistence of NBC) but he was also a liberal sexist. The ridiculous short skirts? That wasn't NBC, that was Roddenberry. It's very easy now to look back and say Roddenberry knew what he was doing. He didn't know, but the collective* knew...It was a wonderful thing to be involved with--except when you were there and then it was terrible. -John D.F. Black, executive story consultant * Black, associate producer Robert Justman, writer and story editor Dorothy Fontana That Which is Shatner Star Trek caught a lucky break in getting to film two pilots. NBC rejected the first but saw something there and ordered a second. The first pilot, "The Cage" starred Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Pike, and while Leonard Nimoy's Spock was there, the first officer was Number 1, played by Majel Barrett (Roddenberry's wife). I only know Hunter from this and The Searchers, but he was a typical mid-20th century leading man, handsome, square-jawed, and a bit cardboard. Based on "The Cage" there is no way Trek becomes a phenomenon. The cast lacks chemistry, it's all a bit dry. So alot of changes were made. Sadly for Barrett, she got demoted to a recurring character, Nurse Chapel. While you can blame NBC, apparently the real villains were women in test audiences; they hated her. Spock is promoted to first officer. DeForest Kelly replaces the original doctor. And the lead role becomes James Tiberious Kirk, played by Canadian William Shatner. And the chemistry is born. There's no doubt that the casting of Kirk, the reimagining of Nimoy's role, and all the other new actors made the crucial difference...Honestly, can you see people watching decade after decade of Star Trek reruns featuring the cast of "The Cage"? I can't. -George Pappy, director All of the movies and all of the episodes hold together because Shatner holds it together. Spock is only good when he has someone to play off of. -David Gerrold, writer, "The Trouble With Tribbles" Alot is said in the book by and about Shatner, and as with Roddenberry, their are many differing opinions. He was a talent and he was a huge ego, an insecure actor x 1000. As someone says, he would grab any dialogue that wasn't nailed down. He literally counted lines, and if anyone (read: Nimoy) had more lines than he did, that had to be rectified. James Doohan hated him, and in later years George Takei would feel the same. Nimoy's Spock became a fan sensation, which only exacerbated things. In the beginning, there was the word and the word was 'cooperation'. But then they started reading the fan mail. -Joseph Pevney, director, "Amok Time" Things got worse, and eventually Roddenberry wrote a blistering memo to Shatner and Nimoy (who was using his new popularity to make increasing demands) laying down the law. The book quotes it at length, a great fly-on-the-wall moment. The interesting thing about this 'feud' is that it somehow remained mostly internal. By all accounts there were no on-set tantrums and everyone was professional. Also Shatner and Nimoy had a genuine friendship which lasted for many decades. For all the hits to Shatner's reputation through the years, he appears to be a blend of affable and insecure. Walter Koenig sums it up: I think Bill's difficult. He's the epitome of the star in many of the negative ways...He can be congenial and enormously seductive. It's very difficult to dislike him if he decides he wants you to like him. He has incredible charm. In fact, I have to keep slapping myself. -Walter Koenig, Chekov The Other Gene One reason I love this book is it highlights an unsung hero of the original show, Gene L. Coon. Sadly you don't hear from him directly as he died young in 1973, but many attest to his contributions. He was brought in mid-first season as a writer and producer and general fixer. By all accounts he was a tremendous hire, a workhorse without ego who had an innate understanding for television writing. Coon wrote some of the best episodes and did rewrites on many others, not always credited. He worked through most of the second season and then burned out and abruptly resigned. The tone of what people remember as the best of Star Trek, the character interaction, the humor along with the moral drama, many attribute to him. One of the few, along with DeForest Kelly, about whom no one has a bad word to say. When Harlan Met Gene You also get the story of Harlan Ellison's episode, "The City of the Edge of Forever", cited by everyone (including me) as one of the best. And you get Harlan kvetching that Roddenberry ruined it with his rewrites ("It destroyed the art; it destroyed the drama"). Sorry, but no. It's easy to wonder if Ellison's original script would have been even better, and to note that surely he's a better writer than Gene. He is, but as others note, Roddenberry may have been a good not great writer, but he was a great rewriter. The episode's director opines that Roddenberry saved the episode. We can't know for sure, but I suspect he is right. The Third Season: "Brain and brain, what is brain?" (Actual dialogue from "Spock's Brain", which is as bad as the title indicates). Roddenberry left as what we now call a showrunner for the third season after a dispute with NBC, replaced by Fred Freiberger. The show had been cancelled then saved by a letter writing campaign, but no one was happy, the per-episode budget was slashed, and the quality took a nosedive. "The Way to Eden", "And the Children Shall Lead", "The Mark of Gideon"--it wasn't pretty. One thing this chapter does, though, is make clear that Freiberger is Star Trek's Yoko. Through the decades he's been blamed for killing the show, but it's clear the writing was on the wall no matter what he did. Fred, it wasn't your fault. But I have to be honest. I thought the worst experience of my life was when I was shot down over Nazi Germany. A Jewish boy from the Bronx parachuted into the middle of 80 million Nazis. Then I joined Star Trek. I was only in a prison camp for two years, but my travail with Star Trek lasted decades. -Fred Freiberger, producer Four Out of Six Ain't Bad Then we come to the movies. What can be said about Star Trek: The Motion Picture except that it's terrible, godawful, and so so boring? And I was in denial about it. One has to understand that in those pre-franchise, pre-internet days an actual movie of Star Trek seemed the holy grail, and impossible. And though 1979 was only ten years after cancellation, it seemed forever at the time. So the buildup, the anticipation was off the scale. Then my best friend and I saw it. And it was just full on cognitive dissonance. A Trek movie couldn't be bad, that wasn't possible! So our brains rejected that reality. We rejected it so much that we went back and saw it two more times. We were like Donald Trump going around saying, "I won the election!" What finally broke this fugue state was that the third and final time we saw it, it played as a double bill with Alien which came out the same year. That did it. We went with my best friend's mom and her boyfriend, and on the drive home the boyfriend was saying how bad it was, and I suddenly found myself saying out loud that I agreed. The spell was broken. Well, this book lets me know that we weren't alone in our reaction. I was one of those guys who was in denial. I was running around saying it was great...We were fanatical, and we convinced ourselves that it wasn't as bad as it really was. -Manny Coto, executive producer, Star Trek: Enterprise Me too Manny, me too. ST:TMP was also the only film in which Roddenberry was heavily involved, and let's just say his ideas weren't great. For the remaining films Paramount and the producers finessed a way to sideline him. Of course Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan righted the ship in 1982, a sequel to a first season episode, "Space Seed", and brought back the guest star Ricardo Montalban to play the villain Khan, and he killed it. It was also nice to have confirmed that Montalban was the class act he always seemed to be. So they kill Spock but lack the nerve to stand by that and bring him back in the third film (as I remember it, entertaining if a bit clunky). Then Nimoy has the inspired idea to do a lighthearted film centered around whales, and he directs it and it's great, everyone loves it, and it makes more money than any of them. But then Shatner decides it's his turn to direct, and (oh no) he decides the Enterprise is going to find God, and we get another cinematic atrocity. No denial this time, I saw it once and have mostly succeeded in blotting out the memory. Mostly. Some actual dialogue: "What does God need with a starship?" I saw Star Trek V on the day it came out...What the hell was that? It was embarrassing. "Row, row, row your boat."..."Jim, please, not in front of the Klingons." I mean, c'mon, it was bad. I walked out of that movie with my phaser between my legs. -Scott Mantz, film critic Fortunately they brought back Nicholas Meyer, who directed the second film and wrote the fourth, for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, a great swan song for the original cast and the most adult and intricately plotted, a riff on the fall of Communism with a Klingon version of Gorbachev. I think the first half of the book is the strongest, when the focus is on the original series, but in 560 pages it rarely flags, and the hundred or so voices really do make a fascinating mosaic. I look forward to reading the second book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gary Beauregard Bottomley

    The authors use an oddly captivating way to tell a story. They use snippets from each of the players who had something to do with making of the the show or the first six movies and let them tell their story in less than one minute or less vignettes. It means that as with everyone when they tell their own story they will always be a hero within their own narrative and sometimes the truth of what really happens gets obscured because the authors aren't editing the story, but, are rather, presenting The authors use an oddly captivating way to tell a story. They use snippets from each of the players who had something to do with making of the the show or the first six movies and let them tell their story in less than one minute or less vignettes. It means that as with everyone when they tell their own story they will always be a hero within their own narrative and sometimes the truth of what really happens gets obscured because the authors aren't editing the story, but, are rather, presenting the story in each player's own version of what reality was to them. As for me, I grew up loving the original Star Trek, and the book acted as a form of psycho-analytical sessions and helped me learn a lot about myself and why Star Trek meant as much to me as it did. One of the vignettes by a writer mentioned how he was taking a course on Joseph Campbell and it made him realize how important the creation of myths are for the proper functioning of individuals in civilization, and, for some, Star Trek helped us understand the world through the mythical world that it was creating. Clearly, for fans of the original series, this book will not only giver insights about the making of the show, but also insights into oneself.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Crystal Bensley

    An interesting book but I didn't love the snippets of quote style. Still a good read. An interesting book but I didn't love the snippets of quote style. Still a good read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    This book starts off a little dry and clinical but once it begins to delve into the issues surrounding the creation of the show and movies it gets interesting. It's not a tell-all bitchfest or anything but it's refreshing how open and honest a lot of the major players are. For the most part everyone involved is quite civil, but I got a definite vibe that Star Trek's nominal creator Gene Roddenberry was somewhat of an ego maniac and a bit of a prick. He was jealous of anyone else getting the sligh This book starts off a little dry and clinical but once it begins to delve into the issues surrounding the creation of the show and movies it gets interesting. It's not a tell-all bitchfest or anything but it's refreshing how open and honest a lot of the major players are. For the most part everyone involved is quite civil, but I got a definite vibe that Star Trek's nominal creator Gene Roddenberry was somewhat of an ego maniac and a bit of a prick. He was jealous of anyone else getting the slightest amount of credit, insisting on rewriting almost all scripts from the original series, usually to their detriment. He even went to the extreme of leaking Spock's death in Wrath of Khan because he was essentially excluded from production (to the benefit of the final product). Of course he deserves credit for creating the show, for having such a nice vision of the future, he also deserves credit for some very valid criticisms and suggestions of the films that were ignored. At times he comes across as incredibly insightful. Unfortunately he ultimately comes across as a massive piece of shit. But hey, at least I've spent two hundred words talking about him, so he'd be happy about that. The best part of this book is learning about the many people involved who share responsibility for Star Trek becoming the phenomenon it is today. I'm a pretty big Trekkie, but there were a few revelations to me in terms of people I'd barely heard of who deserve credit for co-creating the brand. People like Gene L. Coon, Robert Wise, Harve Bennett, Nicholas Myer and many others have at times received some measure of credit, but perhaps not as much as they deserve. I'd recommend this to anyone who considers themselves a Star Trek fan, as it's not only about the creation of the show and movies but also the fan reaction and subsequent build up of fan conventions. I'd also highly recommend the audiobook version. It features multiple narrators and it helps make it feel more like a conversation than a single person reading a book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Juliana

    Great listen for a carload of Trekkies on a trip. Or several in our case. This is a huge Studs Terkel-style oral history of those involved in the making of Star Trek and the Trek phenomenon. What I learned--Hollywood has always been a mess. It is a miracle they accomplish or make anything. They also have a horrible track record of missing what is obvious to fans. Gene Roddenberry was kind of an a**hole and difficult to work with. Sometimes difficult creative people need their ideas taken away an Great listen for a carload of Trekkies on a trip. Or several in our case. This is a huge Studs Terkel-style oral history of those involved in the making of Star Trek and the Trek phenomenon. What I learned--Hollywood has always been a mess. It is a miracle they accomplish or make anything. They also have a horrible track record of missing what is obvious to fans. Gene Roddenberry was kind of an a**hole and difficult to work with. Sometimes difficult creative people need their ideas taken away and worked on by others. And Star Trek VI is the worst Star Trek movie. I really didn't need that last one confirmed, but nice to know. We will most likely pick up the next volume. But right now--I need a break.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bernd Schiffer

    15% into the audiobook, I had enough of it. I skipped several chapters to get to some kind of narrative. There is a section in those early bits where they list all (?) the credits of 50 years of Star Trek. For. 40. Minutes! Thanks, but no thanks. And even later in the book it's a full patch work of snippets voiced by different narrators, just giving pieces of information without any coherent story. I found that boring. 15% into the audiobook, I had enough of it. I skipped several chapters to get to some kind of narrative. There is a section in those early bits where they list all (?) the credits of 50 years of Star Trek. For. 40. Minutes! Thanks, but no thanks. And even later in the book it's a full patch work of snippets voiced by different narrators, just giving pieces of information without any coherent story. I found that boring.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Yossi

    Once you get used to the way this book is structured, it becomes an interesting read. Essentially this is a written documentary, with the plot driven by quotes from people involved in the making of the Trek franchise. The most surprising thing is that Trek was actually able to become the cultural phenomenon it is today when you see all the egos, bickering, and plain stupidity of the people involved - From Gene Roddenberry and on.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sabrina

    It read like a round table discussion and considering that half the people they interviewed are dead it made it a bit awkward. The formatting was odd but made it a quick read. There are no citations for past interviews or possible magazine interviews. I did learn a lot about the behind the scenes on what it took to put everything together.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Robertson

    VERY INTERESTING TO LEARN WHAT WAS GOING ON BEHIND THE SCENES OF SHOWS I'VE BEEN WATCHING FOR THE PAST 40 YEARS. VERY INTERESTING TO LEARN WHAT WAS GOING ON BEHIND THE SCENES OF SHOWS I'VE BEEN WATCHING FOR THE PAST 40 YEARS.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

    I clap my little hands with glee!!! Pre-ordered this book, and have LOVED reading it. The premise is fascinating (!), all interviews that Edward Gross and Mark Altman have made with directors and actors and producers (and others) involved in Star Trek across many many years have been organized into chronological chapters. Interviews are interleaved between people based on topics, so it is like sitting in a room while everyone around you talks and discusses people and events. Rather like a family I clap my little hands with glee!!! Pre-ordered this book, and have LOVED reading it. The premise is fascinating (!), all interviews that Edward Gross and Mark Altman have made with directors and actors and producers (and others) involved in Star Trek across many many years have been organized into chronological chapters. Interviews are interleaved between people based on topics, so it is like sitting in a room while everyone around you talks and discusses people and events. Rather like a family gathering, with drunken uncles and cousins "with a past" discussed and analyzed! Things I didn't know: After "Star Trek: The Motion Picture", Gene Roddenberry pitched a script for the next movie that involved time travel (like "City on the Edge of Forever") except this change in the timeline involved JFK's assassination. To correct the change in history that allowed JFK to live, Spock returns and is the man on the grassy knoll who has to shoot JFK. Thankfully, this script was rejected and rejected totally! Hurt and angered by the rejection of his script and the studio's move to make him "executive producer", Gene Roddenberry personally leaked the script of "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan" with the plot information about Spock's death to fans. This generated tremendous negative feedback to the studio. The scripts were all individually "coded" so if one WAS leaked, they would know who did it. When the leaked script was shown, it was Gene Roddenberry's personal copy. I look forward to the 2nd volume, which will be the next 25 years! My only criticisms: 1) no index in the back. I want to know where these interviews were held, and when. 2) no references. I want to have the list of articles and books and documents that are referenced. **************************** Ok.... so I'm re-reading the book. And I just finished it! I'm writing my own index of quotes that I find interesting, and doing some interview comparisons. Just alot of fun! The best summation of Gene Roddenberry and the Star Trek legacy can be summed up by Nicholas Meyer (see pg. 434 - 435). Meyer wrote and directed STII and STVI and cowrote STIV with Harve Bennett. " The history of human endeavor has frequently [been] comprised of certain institutions that are based on two archetypes. There's a guy who comes along and with a certain kind of messianic fortitude and charisma, conjures up a universe out of nothing, hot air, if you'll pardon the expression. He makes it happen. Usually, he never stays around to run it. The task is always turned over to a can-do type who is distinctly lacking in messianic qualities, but is a very good organizer. Jesus Christ presumably founded the Christian faith. But it seems like it was either Peter or Paul who got the thing rolling as a business. Star Trek would not have existed without Roddenberry. There's no question about that. I have no wish in any shape or form to detract from the magnitude of his accomplishments, but I also think that nothing can stay the same forever. For things to grow, there have to be these Joshua types, of which I suppose I am one, who pick up the burden and carry it. Maybe we carry it clumsily.... or in the wrong direction... but we f***ing carry it." Most sizzling section, Roddenberry's ultimatum to Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley on August 17, 1967 (see page 169-172). Morale was deteriorating on the set, actors were fighting for lines (Shatner usually trying to claim all lines for himself), actors were stepping in to exert creative control over their character (Spock would never do that!), and the series was in serious danger of failing. Roddenberry wrote a letter to the three actors that succeeded in making them work as a team again. This letter is worth the price of the book!!! "No, William, I'm not really writing this to Leonard and just including you as a matter of psychology. I'm talking to you directly and with an angry honesty you haven't heard before. And Leonard, you'd be very wrong if you think I'm really teeing of at Shatner and only pretending to include you. The same letter to you both: you've pretty well divided up the market on selfishness and egocentricity. Of the three, it goes to DeForest to a lesser extent, but even you have shown signs lately of wanting to join our Child Star Club. ......."

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paul Dinger

    Okay, a lot of this book is crap. It starts off with a very overlong cast of characters and worse of all for we audio listeners, it starts with a frustratingly long list of dedications. I really thought I was going to hate it at this point. The surprise is that this is actual a very objective story of how Star Trek got on TV, how and why it was a success despite bad acting, horrible special effects, terrible scripts, and a meglomanical producer who was probably the full reason it was cancelled. Okay, a lot of this book is crap. It starts off with a very overlong cast of characters and worse of all for we audio listeners, it starts with a frustratingly long list of dedications. I really thought I was going to hate it at this point. The surprise is that this is actual a very objective story of how Star Trek got on TV, how and why it was a success despite bad acting, horrible special effects, terrible scripts, and a meglomanical producer who was probably the full reason it was cancelled. You do see who the real bad guys are here, and despite the attempts to stop and praise this person or that guy who seemed like a jerk, it still commands your interest and tells a compelling story. I remember loving Star Trek as a kid as well as Lost in Space, they were on around the same time during the day on syndication, but Star Trek has aged better. You do go back and see that something very interesting was being played out, the stories are good. You watch the movies and they were good or bad, but never a total waste. To me the first movie was forgettable, the second awesome, the third meh, the fourth great, the fifth while not very good isn't as bad as people say it is, and the sixth was good in parts but strained to make Christopher Plummer another Khan. I agreed with McCoy, I too would have paid real money to shut him up. I even watched the animated series which tried to bring back Trek only with bad and inexpressive animation. I guess it is hard to write about this without your feelings being involved, that is why I did like this book despite its very real flaws.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Richard Guion

    If you are any kind of Star Trek fan at all of the TOS (The Original Series) and love behind the scenes stories, this book was made for you. I loved every gossipy minute of it. Gene Roddenberry is possibly the most insecure creator of a franchise ever. He had the initial idea, sold it to a network, defended his idea went the networks tried to water it down, did two pilots, supervised a handful of episodes and then turned it over to Gene Coon, who ran the rest of the first and second seasons. And If you are any kind of Star Trek fan at all of the TOS (The Original Series) and love behind the scenes stories, this book was made for you. I loved every gossipy minute of it. Gene Roddenberry is possibly the most insecure creator of a franchise ever. He had the initial idea, sold it to a network, defended his idea went the networks tried to water it down, did two pilots, supervised a handful of episodes and then turned it over to Gene Coon, who ran the rest of the first and second seasons. And from that point on, Roddenberry was best left in the back seat giving notes, but he comes back time and again, initially in the third season and later during the first movie, almost ruining the franchise with his ideas. The people that saved Star Trek as a movie franchise were Harve Bennett, Leonard Nimoy, and Nicholas Meyer. The book covers all the stuff that happened in between the cancellation of the TV series, the rise of Trekkie fan conventions and fanzines, to the aborted Star Trek: Phase II tv series and the production on all 6 Star Trek feature films. The Next Generation stuff is covered in the next book The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years: From The Next Generation to J. J. Abrams: The Complete, Uncensored, and Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alvaro Zinos-Amaro

    Hate to be a buzzkill with my meager three stars for this. Here's the deal: The content of this book is excellent. Must-read for anyone interested in the history of Trek. No doubt about it. But the lack of attributions referencing where each person's comments come from--the lack of sources, in other words--is hugely problematical. As is the fact that people's comments have been placed in a certain flow where the context reshapes their meaning; you have recent comments being followed by decades-o Hate to be a buzzkill with my meager three stars for this. Here's the deal: The content of this book is excellent. Must-read for anyone interested in the history of Trek. No doubt about it. But the lack of attributions referencing where each person's comments come from--the lack of sources, in other words--is hugely problematical. As is the fact that people's comments have been placed in a certain flow where the context reshapes their meaning; you have recent comments being followed by decades-old observations, live people intermixed with the dead, etc.. And no index of who speaks on what page, making it a hassle to try and go back to certain quotes. And no index of the people or episodes etc. being referenced *by* the speakers. For me those are huge omissions, sorry. My full review here: http://www.intergalacticmedicineshow....

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I've read a whole lot about Star Trek. I've read every main actor's memoir who wrote one. I've read Shatner's Star Trek Memories and Star Trek Movie Memories several times. This is definitely far more complete and covers every possible perspective you could. It was fascinating to see Harve Bennett's thoughts about coming in after The Motion Picture, Robert Wise's experience directing that film, and the perspective of various writers, producers, and techs. It's like attending a dream convention p I've read a whole lot about Star Trek. I've read every main actor's memoir who wrote one. I've read Shatner's Star Trek Memories and Star Trek Movie Memories several times. This is definitely far more complete and covers every possible perspective you could. It was fascinating to see Harve Bennett's thoughts about coming in after The Motion Picture, Robert Wise's experience directing that film, and the perspective of various writers, producers, and techs. It's like attending a dream convention panel where no one feels the need to be polite. It's fantastic. Even the stories I've read about before were fun to read. So if you think you know it all you probably don't and you won't mind reading about it again. Perfect for the Trekkie in your life.

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