About the Author:
Gene Roddenberry worked as an airline pilot before creating the science fiction TV series Star Trek in 1964, going on to serve as Producer for the series, as well as its ensuing movie franchise.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
4 out of 5
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
The novelisation of a screenplay by Harold Livingston and a story by Alan Dean Foster. Three years after the end of their original five year mission, the crew of the Starship Enterprise are once again called on to deal with a mysterious alien entity. Admiral James T. Kirk reclaims command of the newly refitted Enterprise and takes it to intercept a mysterious energy cloud of immense proportions and unimaginable power, which is on a direct course for Earth.
The first Star Trek movie is not well-regarded, even by Trek fans, for a wide number of entirely valid reasons (although I'd rather sit through it than J. J. Abrams' noisy, unsubtle reboots any day). However, this novelisation represents the only Star Trek novel ever written by the series' creator himself, giving it a significance beyond that of the film.
The book follows the plot of the movie predictably closely but the screen version was filled with sub-par acting, shoddy special effects and a visual sense of being a poor imitation of Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey' (although I think the Star Trek film did a good job of capturing how boring a lot of '2001' is). What we get here, built out of Roddenberry's easy prose and our own imaginations has none of those failings and you actually get to enjoy the clever and thought-provoking concepts that are at the core of the story but which were overshadowed by all the movie's failings. It's a glimpse of what could have been if the story had been brought together on screen more coherently and I found myself very much enjoying it.
However, it is Roddenberry's unique perspective on Star Trek that sets this book apart. Here you get a real sense of what he intended when he created the show; a vision of a future where the greater good is the primary motivator for the protagonists and where humanity has moved beyond our current limitations. Roddenberry was a true progressive visionary and here you begin to see that in the Original Series, for all he put a black woman and a Russian on the Enterprise bridge during the 1960s, in America no less, that his vision had clearly been toned down. The best example of how progressive and inclusive Roddenberry's vision for Trek was can be found in Admiral Kirk's preface to this book, which matter-of-factly addresses the rumours that he and Spock were lovers. Kirk simply points out that, despite the strong bond between him and Spock, he actually prefers women. That is a wonderfully inclusive and forward-thinking approach to the subject of homosexuality from way back in 1979.
Far superior to the messy film, this book is a glimpse into the real vision behind Star Trek.
4 out of 5