While looking at my Facebook news feed, I saw an advertisement for a book that really caught my eye. It said that Leonard Nimoy called it “astounding” Well, if it is good enough for Nimoy, then I knew it would be good enough for me. Good enough? It is indeed astonishing and if you are interested in seeing behind the scenes of Star Trek and how it got it’s start, I would have to say that this is the definitive story.
Previous to reading this book, I thought that the best book about the making of Star trek was a book by Herb Solow and Robert Justman called Inside Star Trek. I am not now saying that Solow and Justman’s book is not definitive, it remains another one of the best books about Star Trek I have ever read. But it is from the point of view of the authors.
What sets Cushman and Osborn’s work apart from the many other books about Star Trek I have read is that this one is from the perspective of the research done. While These Are The Voyages was not authorized by CBS or Paramount, it was apparently endorsed by Gene Roddenberry and Robert Justman to be a “definitive history of the first Star Trek” according to Memory Alpha, the Star Trek Wiki.
Inside the book, you will get not only the story behind original series Trek, but you get an indepth look at how a television series is produced with all the ins and outs of developing the concept, casting, choosing directors, and getting the show aired.
The opening chapters discuss Gene Roddenberry’s biography, how the show was pitched, and how the concept was developed, including ship design, costumes, etc. Next is the filming of the first pilot, and how Roddenberry was given an unprecedented opportunity to make a second pilot. The chapters that follow are a breakdown of every aspect in the production of each episode of the first season. In these pages you will learn about how the feud between Gene and Harlan Ellison began. One will also learn why that while Star Trek received top ratings every week, why it was never deemed a hit by NBC.
One of the aspects that I personally most enjoyed reading was how the authors put the episodes into historical perspective by discussing what other television shows were being aired at the time, what movies and music were popular, and many historical events that were taking place at the time. All of this really resonated with me because I was eight years old when Star Trek hit the airwaves and can remember much of the history. Another aspect that amused me was how many of the sets used for episodes such as City On The Edge Of Forever and Return Of The Archons were the same ones used for The Andy Griffith Show; Some of Star Trek actually took place in Mayberry! Classic!
These Are The Voyages is a must read for Star Trek fans who enjoy the history and would like to know the real story behind the first season as it is mostly devoid of opinion (the author does once in a while get a small quip in here and there). Based chiefly on research and interviews it is the story behind the story.
I highly recommend this book as a Star Trek book, and a how to guide for producing a television show.
Well, there it is…