Mr. Scott’s Guide To The Enterprise

Mr. Scott's Guide To The EnterpriseOrder this bookStory: On behalf of the 23rd century’s own Miracle Worker, the author guides us through external and internal schematics of the movie-era U.S.S. Enterprise, with a travelogue of the more interesting destinations on every deck of the ship, set photos where they exist, and illustrated guides to uniforms, weapons, landing party equipment, and secondary spacecraft such as the Enterprise’s shuttles and work pods. An appendix brings the book up to date with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Review: An interesting hybrid of text and blueprint, “Mr. Scott’s Guide To The Enterprise” is a throwback to a different day and age in Star Trek publishing. At the time, the only new adventures on the horizon were the movies, which appeared every two to three years, and a two-hour action-adventure flick every couple of years or so seemed unlikely to delve into the workings of the ship, so why not fill in the gaps a bit?

Only, as we know, the phenomenal success of Star Trek IV led to the gestation of Star Trek’s return to television – and this meant that, for 26 weeks of every year for the next 18 years, new mythology was bolted onto the Star Trek mythos at the rate of one or two hours per week. And those adventures did delve into the workings of the ship – granted, a different ship than the one on which this book focuses, but we learned enough about warp drive and shields to know that, more or less, every word of text in this book was invalidated by the time the fifth Star Trek movie came out.

The pictorial reference material within these pages is still great stuff – invalidated or not, no one has yet come out with a more comprehensive look at the (fictional) workings of the most beautiful (fictional) starship to bear the name “Enterprise” (at least for this reviewer’s money). The blueprints and floor plans are gold. Back in the day when I was into paper-and-dice role-playing games, and had a regular weekly session of FASA’s Star Trek RPG going with some friends, this book got some serious use.

The text, however, is what has been banished to the “non-canonical” corner: there’s discussiion of Starfleet defense contractors submitting competing phaser designs and photon torpedo designs. There’s discussion about how the new Enterprise 1701-A has a more streamlined and reliable version of Excelsior’s transwarp drive built into its nacelles. And there’s discussion of how that new Enterprise came to be, which contractors were involved (again!), giving it the authentic ring of reading the history of some kind of a naval fleet…but none of which is reflected in the body of “official” Star Trek lore. In a way, it’s not just a contextual cousin, but a spiritual cousin to Franz Joseph’s “Star Trek Starfleet Technical Manual” (1976), detailing the ships and equipment of the 1960s TV-era Starfleet. In both cases…who could’ve possibly known that more was on the way that would relegate each book’s content to “official” non-existence, even though quite a few of us fans swore by the stuff?

Even after Star Trek: The Next Generation hit the air, author Shane Johnson turned out another Star Trek non-fiction book, “Worlds Of The Federation” (1988), detailing the member worlds and species of the United Federation of Planets as of about midway through that series’ second season. That, too, was a role-playing gamer’s treasure trove, and was also later ruled unofficial. In 1991, Trek non-fiction entered a whole new realm as the “Next Generation Technical Manual” debuted, written and illustrated by the guys who actually worked on the show itself. It didn’t get much more offiicial than that, did it? Though several illustrations for “Mr. Scott’s Guide” were contributed by Andrew Probert, who had actually worked on the design of the movie Enterprise, and the updated reprint of the book showing display schematics from the 1701-A bridge showed the backlit graphics designed by Mike Okuda himself. It’s hard to set “Mr. Scott’s Guide” aside as completely unofficial.

Now that the voyages of another Enterprise have been curtailed, and fans face the prospect of no new filmed Star Trek adventures on TV or film for the first time in nearly two decades, it will be interesting to see if this peculiar species of not-quite-official-but-not-quite-unofficial Star Trek publishing returns.

Year: 1984 (revised edition first printed in 1987)
Author: Shane Johnson
Publisher: Pocket Books
Pages: 128 pages