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A Suggestion for Your First Star Trek Book

Books, books, books. So many books about Star Trek, from technical manuals to novels to short stories to comics; it is all out there. Since the inception of Star Trek, there have been over 850 different publications written about it. With so many to choose from, where do you begin? I have that answer for you. And it is a book I have enjoyed and shared with others. It is Star Trek: Federation – The First 150 Years (first edition: October 2013), authored by David A. Goodman (who has written a number of TV scripts, including for Star Trek: Enterprise, and the Star Trek-themed Futurama episode “Where No Fan Has Gone Before”).

Why this book, you may ask? With the aforementioned knowledge of 850-plus publications out there, why choose this as your first Star Trek book? The book caught my eye when it was first published in 2013, due to how it was packaged – in a beautiful display with an audio recording of Sulu giving an intro to the book. (You can hear the recording on YouTube.) There was an option to purchase the book without the display, which I did; it was the book I wanted.

The book and its stand (47North/becker&mayer!)

I did not have any preconceived notions of what the book was to contain, when it arrived. I opened the publication and discovered it to be not a novel of the events of the first 150 years of Star Trek but a detailed account that seemed more like a history book someone might receive in school.

The book is broken down into chapters that cover various eras of Star Trek history. Each era is covered in detail with drawings of events or documents to support the text for each chapter, created by artists such as Joe Corroney, Mark McHaley, Cat Staggs and Jeff Carlisle.

The book begins with a prologue covering in detail the events leading up to Cochrane’s development of warp drive and the events that followed it. Did you know that an eight-year-old Jonathan Archer first met Cochrane at his home and confused him with a refrigerator repairman? The chapter ends with Cochrane, near the end of his life, leaving Earth forever to points unknown (we learn about his whereabouts in the TOS episode “Metamorphosis”).

Chapter 1 covers the entire four seasons of Enterprise, so we all know what happened, but it is a nice recap.

Chapter 2 is the story we all wanted for the last three seasons of Enterprise: the Romulan War. This is the story I wanted to know about. The chapter covers the events of the war, from an attack on Starbase 1 to a treaty of peace between Romulus and Earth.

The start of the chapter about the Romulan War (47North/becker&mayer!)

For a more detailed account of the Romulan War, I highly recommend the two Enterprise books about the war: Beneath the Raptor’s Wing and To Brave the Storm. After reading this chapter, I looked up those books and purchased them. However, I do also recommend reading the books The Good That Men Do and Kobayashi Maru beforehand, to learn the events that lead up to the war.

Chapter 3 covers the creation of the Federation, Starfleet Command, the building of the Constitution-class of starships and our beloved Enterprise NCC-1701. It tells us about who Robert April was and how he became its first captain, how the second Constitution-class ship was launched first under his command, and that he invited only one guest to the event, Jonathan Archer, aged 133. According to this account, April was proud of the exploits of Archer and wanted him to be there at the launch, but sadly, the next day, Archer passed away.

Chapter 4 covers the years leading up to the birth of James T. Kirk. Much of the first part of the chapter covers a lot of the events of April’s tenure as captain and that of the man to follow him in the center seat, Christopher Pike. It then covers the early parts of Kirk’s career in Starfleet and then as captain of the Enterprise.

One of the illustrations, showing Captain Pike with a couple of his senior officers (47North/becker&mayer!)

The last chapter covers the events as seen in TOS from the TV series and the films, ending with Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. There is a beautifully written eulogy to Kirk in the book and it ends with the words, “I am happy to have had him as my friend.” It does not indicate who reads it, but from those words, I believe it was said by Spock at his funeral. It does not go into details of his death, as the characters in TNG are not covered in this book.

The book ends with Solkar, who was there to meet Cochrane on that faithful day, April 5th, 2063, saying that he and Cochrane had established a link when they had first shaken hands. Solkar still believes that the link continues to exist, as if Cochrane never died in space (again, a link to the episode “Metamorphosis”).

As with any good history book, there are selected bibliographies listed in the back that support the writings in the five chapters. Of course, the listed sources don’t actually exist, but it still gives credence to what is written in the book.

Rating: 4.5/5

My overall opinion of the book is that it is a wonderful way for a beginner to appreciate all that is Star Trek. My regret is that this is only the first 150 years. I had hoped that a follow-up book would be created in the last eight years since its original publication. There is so much more history to be covered after the death of Kirk, in a book like this. Until then, we have TNG, DS9 and Voyager to watch and enjoy and to help a beginner learn more about the other history of Star Trek.

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