Story: Herb Solow, a Paramount executive who helped to get Star Trek off the ground, and Robert H. Justman, the original series’ co-producer and confidant of Gene Roddenberry, dish every available particle of dirt in this well-illustrated and well-written book, brimming with copies of memos and behind-the-scenes photos.
Review: I’ll say this upfront – I liked this book a lot. I’m just saying this first to dispel any opinions to the contrary as I launch into my many misgivings about this kind of book.
It’s fascinating, and at the very least, it does have the ring of verisimilitude to it. Bob Justman has long been known as one of Star Trek’s fondest founding fathers, though he’s never been afraid to criticize the weaknesses of the series. Or, in this case, the other people who worked on it.
That’s what brings me to my one misgiving about this book. So many books have been written by the people who were there at the dawning of the first age of Trek-kind. And virtually all of them conflict on some points of the story. In William Shatner’s “Star Trek Memories” books, he and fellow actor Leonard Nimoy single-handedly kept the show going, preventing the series from falling victim to the excesses and misjudgements of its own egotistical creator and producers. In this book, in the other hand, Solow and Justman take turns saving Star Trek from the brink of disaster, preventing the series from falling victim to the excesses and egos of its actors (and, again, a certain Mr. Roddenberry). (And let’s not forget, in Harlan Ellison’s “City On The Edge Of Forever” book, Harlan single-handedly tried to save Star Trek from all of the above at the same time!)
My problem here is that, with all of the conflicting versions of events emerging as more and more of Star Trek’s creators and actors put pen to paper, we may never actually get to see an unembellished and truthful account of the story behind the show. So many things have been made up and have achieved the status of “urban myths” (a la the cock-and-bull story that Proctor & Gamble must be involved in devil worship because of its stylized corporate logo), that even the people who were present begun repeating them because, like Hitler’s Great Lie, if you repeat it often enough and loudly enough, they’ll believe it, and it becomes the post facto truth. I don’t know which of these books to believe, if any of them.
That said, Solow and Justman at least present their story well, even if they do fall into the common Trek biography trap of dissing the dead who aren’t there to tell their side of the story. Also included is a very interesting “Where are they now?” section revealing the most recent known activities of the many people who worked behind the scenes, an idea borrowed by Stephen Poe for his similar book on the making of Voyager. If you’re interested in the story behind Star Trek, which itself is almost more outrageous than science fiction, you’ll probably enjoy this book.
Authors: Herbert F. Solow, Robert H. Justman
Publisher: Pocket Books
Pages: 458 pages