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The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years Hardcover – June 28, 2016
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“Breathtaking in scope and depth, this is a must-read for Star Trek lovers as well as anyone who wants a better understanding of how television and film production works.” ―Booklist, starred review
“An absolute must for any Star Trek fan.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“As a lifelong fan, I thought I knew everything there was to know about Star Trek. Thankfully, I was wrong. Thanks to revealing, honest and ― dare I say it? ― fascinating interviews from the insiders who were really there, The Fifty-Year Mission is an epic tome that's full of so much fantastic information, I felt like I was discovering the incredible behind-the-scenes story of Star Trek (and Hollywood, for that matter) all over again. It's a page-turner in every sense of the word, and I could not put it down.” ―Scott Mantz, Access Hollywood
About the Author
EDWARD GROSS has an extensive history of covering film and television as a member of the editorial staff of a wide variety of magazines, including CINESCAPE, STARLOG, CINEFANTASTIQUE, SFX, FEMME FATALES, MOVIE MAGIC, LIFE STORY and SCI-FI NOW. He has written numerous non-fiction books and, along with THE FIFTY-YEAR MISSION coauthor Mark Altman, has written more about Star Trek over the past 35 years than just about anyone else.
MARK A. ALTMAN has been hailed as "the world's foremost Trekspert" by the LOS ANGELES TIMES. Altman is a former journalist for such publications as THE BOSTON GLOBE, CINEFANTASTIQUE and GEEK. He is also the writer/producer of the beloved romantic comedy, FREE ENTERPRISE, starring William Shatner and Eric McCormack as well as the hit TV series AGENT X, CASTLE, NECESSARY ROUGHNESS and FEMME FATALES.
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Though this book claims to focus on “the first 25 years”, it cheats a bit. It would more accurately claim to be the book that covers the series of the original cast. Thus, it covers the original series and the movies through Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country but it ignores Star Trek: The Next Generation, which I assume is covered in the second book even though it began broadcast in 1987. It’s a sensible division to make.
Assuming that the person reading this is interested in Star Trek to begin with, there are two things that will likely determine whether or not this book is enjoyable. First, do you like reading lengthy interview excerpts from various people? Second, how much do you worship Gene Roddenberry?
Essentially, this book is a giant collection of interview excerpts of people both major and minor in the history of the series. This has become a popular approach to the history of pop culture products, having previously been done for SNL and MTV, for example. It has its pleasures, giving a multitude of voice to people who were there and involved, sometimes bringing to the fore people wrongly forgotten and sometimes doing the same for people better left forgotten. It’s surprising how little there is from the cast, however. But it does feel like a series look behind the scenes.
Also, Gene Roddenberry comes across very poorly in this book. He has his fans, obviously, but many of the voices here drive home how difficult he was to work with and how close he often came to destroying Star Trek. Though the idea for the series was definitely Roddenberry’s, there is a lot of commentary on how many of the best development was done by Gene L. Coon and others. Many people point out that, despite a long career, Star Trek was Roddenberry’s only real success and he used it as a cash cow for most of his life. It is a blow to people who think of Roddenberry as a giant.
Still, if you keep in mind that this is a book of mostly opinion and little fact, it is illuminating on how Star Trek came to the screen and kept coming back over and over despite being on the verge of disappearing forever many times. It is definitely worth a read.
The book was not quite what I expected. Instead of a narrative, it is told in a series of quotes and anecdotes from various people who were involved in the show. I was expecting a more cohesive narrative, but once I got beyond that, I found it pretty interesting, particularly the parts dealing with the movies, because I'm not as familiar with the behind the scenes stuff about the movies.
This is a good read for fans of the series as well as for anyone who is interested in the production of a TV show. I enjoyed it.
Discussed in great, sometimes painful detail are:
• The Original Series
• The Animated Series
• The unfilmed Phase II live action series
• Star Trek: The Motion Picture
• Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
• Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
• Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
• Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
• The unfilmed The Academy Years prequel (later used by J. J. Abrams)
• Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
For the dedicated Trekkers (like me) or Trekkies who are open to the good and the bad. I found it interesting to see the honesty among many, as well as those who were more circumspect due to their continuing work in the entertainment business. I’ve already bought the sequel and look forward to reading about the Next 25 years. Most definitely a 5 out of 5.
Top international reviews
The authors tell the STOS story by a judicious choice of quotes (mostly a couple lines to a paragraph or two) from the actors, writers, directors, producers etc. This seemly unstructured format builds into an in-depth and fascinating history of the making and makers of Star Trek.
Being mainly a fan of the original I hadn't planned on buying the 2nd volume on the next 25 years STNG and onwards, but I'm so impressed by this volume I think I will.
A must for the dedicated Trekkie or Trekker..