Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Has the time boldly gone?

While I loved the original series of Star Trek, for me the ultimate was Star Trek, the Next Generation. With better acting, more depth of characters, much better visuals and some excellent storylines it was a transformation of the Star Trek theme. I mean, come on, Patrick Stewart as captain? What's not to love?

So I was rather excited to have a chance to review a book called On Board the U.S.S. Enterprise by Denise and Michael Okuda, which is a detailed exploration of the NCC 1701-D, both in the pages of the book and on an accompanying CD-ROM with a graphic reconstruction of various parts of the interior.

I suppose I should have realized I was setting myself up for disappointment. Part of the reason for this is that if you watch an STTNG episode now, frankly they can be a bit creaky. So it's not entirely surprising that the same applies to the book. Just as graphically the TV series now looks rather fuzzy, badly coloured and crude, so do the images, mostly taken from screenshots, in the book. Yes, we are told quite a lot about the ship - but there's nothing there you wouldn't have picked up if you hadn't watched the series. And if that was the case, you wouldn't want to read the book. It really doesn't extend what was there already. It's not enough, for instance, to tell me about dilithium crystals - I want to know where they come from, how they work...

Similarly, the graphics on the CD-ROM are quite good, though at each location you are limited to viewing from two or three places in the scene, but the end result is strangely empty feeling, rather like those graphics you want to skip through on DVDs that come before you choose an episode.

My biggest problem with this book is who it's for. An STTNG fan will not get anything more than a whiff of nostalgia - there's certainly nothing new here. Perhaps the best person to buy this book for is a youngish person, discovering the series for the first time and not yet immersed in the Star Trek universe.

I'm sorry not to be more positive - of course if you are the kind of total fan that collects everything to do with STTNG you will want this. But for the mild fan who hasn't got the complete boxed sets but enjoyed it very much at the time, this was a let down. Do, however, feel free to see for yourself. The book is available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

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