Story: The computer-generated, hand-painted and photographed images that have graced the numerous Star Trek: Ships Of The Line calendars through the years are collected in a single, large-format volume, each piece accompanied by a descriptive text placing the artwork in the context of the larger Star Trek universe.
Review: As much as I try to avoid reviewing what are essentially “picture books” here, this one was interesting enough to grab my attention. The artwork is impeccable. Featured here are the first full printed rendering of the far-future Enterprise NCC 1701-J, though the prize among the recent works may go to 3-D artist Gabriel Koerner’s impressive redesign of the original 1701, which stretches design elements of past (NX-01) and future (24th century) Enterprises together over the same basic silhouette of the original. Andrew Probert, designer of NCC-1701-D, gives us our first good look at the oft-mentioned but never-seen 1701-D Captain’s Yacht. And there’s a curious picture which ties the fate of the Columbia (NX-02, sister ship of Jonathan Archer’s Enterprise) to the era of the Dominion War (!). Each picture’s accompanying slice of text hints at a bigger story yet untold; few of the pictures attempt to visually “retell” existing stories. I like that – we have the HD remastered episodes of the original TV series for that. Most of the works in this book tell their own stories.
The book is divided up into “eras”, with the 24th century section discretely divided up among the various series covering that period of Starfleet history (Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and the 24th century movies). Fans who are looking for new visions of the Kirk-era Enterprise in action in her glory days should have no trouble finding just that. A few pieces of artwork even cover the evolution of warp drive vessels pre-Enterprise…and a few go beyond what we’ve already seen into the future. The reproduction of the artwork is stunning. It’s not a cheap book, but it’s worth the price tag.
Interestingly, my imagination is sparked more by these pictures, and a brief hint of a story, than by any of Pocket Books’ original novel-length fiction in recent years. Whether this says more about me or their prose fiction output, I’m not sure. There was a time, between 11 and 14 years ago as I write this, when I was completely engrossed in the world of Star Trek. This book takes me back to a less jaded time in my life when that was a good thing, and every new adventure had my imagination working overtime.
Author: Michael Okuda
Editors: Doug Drexler & Margaret Clark
Publisher: Pocket Books