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August 24, 2016

Beam Us Up!

A tantalizing Star Trek tell-all unfurls in Fifty-Year Mission.

Paula Hendrickson
  • Paramount Pictures/Photofest

Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek television series, Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman’s new unauthorized, two-volume oral history, The Fifty-Year Mission, seeks to transport readers into the behind-the-scenes world of the iconic franchise.

The authors do so through uncensored direct quotes from hundreds of cast and crew members of all six Star Trek TV series and twelve feature films — even the 1970s animated series.

It is perhaps the most comprehensive compendium of Star Trek knowledge you’ll ever find,precisely because it invites all perspectives.

Want to know what James Doohan or Walter Koenig really thought about William Shatner? Or what Nichelle Nichols and George Takei had to say about Leonard Nimoy? It’s in volume one, The First 25 Years. It’s here that original cast members discuss their enduring loyalty to the franchise despite the constant ups and downs and fear of cancellation that beset the original production.

Fifty-Year Mission also explores how and why Star Trek visionary Gene Roddenberry worked to keep the idea alive long after the original series was canceled and the role fans played in sustaining the franchise.

The authors quote Herbert F. Solow, Star Trek’s executive in charge of production, as saying: “I maintain all along that if it wasn’t for Gene being a genius at self-promotion and having a massive ego about his work and about Star Trek, it would have died. It would never have come back to life in syndication, it never would have made other series, other movies. It would have faded away.”

The second volume, The Next 25 Years: From The Next Generation to J.J. Abrams, picks up with the creation of Star Trek:The Next Generation and continues through the first two films in Abrams’s reboot.

A bonus for readers: in some cases, the decisions and compromises made in bringing these series and movies — even specific episodes — to life are even more fascinating than the final products.


This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 7, 2016

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