Star Trek. It started a cultural phenomena like no other franchise in history. It paved the way for science fiction to become mainstream. It inspired and continues to inspire 50 years later.
But why? What makes Star Trek so special? People have been trying to boil down what makes Star Trek special for nearly as long as it’s been part of our collective consciousness. I’ve even written branding marketing papers on it, in an attempt to answer this question. I manage a Star Trek community of 30,000 people and it’s very difficult to come up with some type of consensus.
Ten years ago, Boarding the Enterprise: Transporters, Tribbles, and the Vulcan Death Grip in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek was published. Now, in preparation for the 50th anniversary of arguably the most influential franchise in history, it is being re-released with an updated introduction by Robert J. Sawyer and a forward by David Gerrold.
Boarding the Enterprise contains a series of unauthorized essays (meaning the studio did not prepare, approve or license them) written by people directly involved in the creation of Star Trek and those who were influenced by it. These essays attempt to dissect a franchise that was supposed to fail and examines not only the role of the unsung heroes–known as the writers–but also the social commentary that makes up a huge part of Star Trek. These essays also attempt to explain why it didn’t fail and why it has influenced and continues to influence people to this day, despite a studio that continues to not understand their own property.
I was given a review copy and I found the essays to be fascinating. Not only for their content. Not only because it made me re-examine some of the social commentary found in Star Trek. But also because I found the authors of these essays to be very representative of the different types of Star Trek fans. There is an essay by what some may consider “the smug fan.” There is an essay by what some would call “the analytical or critical fan.” There is an essay that fondly remembers some of the more fun times. And over and over again, these essays pay tribute to all the fans in their Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations who have kept this series alive for all these decades.
When reading the re-release of the book, it is very important to remember: It is a re-release and the essays are 10 years old. When I was reading the book, I kept forgetting that and would be pulled out of the topic whenever “40 years ago” was mentioned. The essays are still worth reading 10 years later. The age of these essays also makes for extra fascination. In one essay, the author talked about how there is nothing currently on the horizon for Star Trek but they suspected that the franchise was far from dead. And here we are, 10 years later, with the third movie in a new timeline about to be released and a new television series due to be released in 2017.
Speaking of the diverse fans, there is one type of fan who will enjoy these essays and another type who will not. If you are the type of fan who loves to sit down and talk about and systematically explore the intricacies of Star Trek, Boarding the Enterprise is for you. If you are the type of fan who just wants to sit back and enjoy the show and not think about what it is Gene Roddenberry was trying to accomplish with Star Trek and why it has managed to endure the way it has, then this book is not for you.
Boarding the Enterprise is set for re-release in July of 2016. GeekDad has two copies to give away, courtesy of BenBella Books. BenBella Books will be shipping the book directly to the winners once it is released. This giveaway is open to residents of the United States and Canada.
The giveaway begins now and ends on Sunday, June 5, 2016 at midnight PDT. Two random winners will be chosen the following day and winners will be notified in the comment and this post will be updated.
Congratulation to Samuel Hozman and Penny Young for winning a copy of Boarding the Enterprise. You will receive your copy of the book sometime in July.