This is a long book: 500 plus pages of behind the scenes drama gleaned from new and historical interviews from the cast, crew, and creative minds behind the making of Star Trek for the first twenty-five years of its history. It didn’t really read like that long of a book, though. I’ve always loved behind the scenes stories, and oral histories are a particularly good format for that. So much room for conflicting opinions. Lots of insight and drama. Lots of gross stories about Gene Roddenberry. (Pro tip, Gene: Nobody wants to hear about your sex life with Majel.)
And there’s a ton of that here. Honestly, my first reaction is it’s a wonder anything got made at all. Some people might not actually want to know how the sausage gets made, or whatever, but I find it absolutely fascinating. How just the right confluence of events and people and ideas make something great, or how those same things can turn out something awful. It’s also a great way to look at larger than life figures like Gene Roddenberry, who was a complex man, as this history lays out. For every story about him being a petty, narcissistic child and leaking plot points to the press, there is a story about him doing the right thing at cost to himself (i.e. going after NBC with the NAACP when they refused to air an episode he wrote about racial discrimination in the military, even though he knew it would mean cancellation). He’s certainly never boring to read about.
My favorite bits were reading about the making of the original series, and my two favorite of the TOS movies, Wrath of Khan and The Voyage Home. It was also entertaining in a car crash kind of way, reading about the making of The Motion Picture. But really, the whole book is entertaining. My only complaint is that there are no attributions or dates for the interviews, so you never know whether something is being said present day, or in the 1960s, or somewhere in between.
I’m very much looking forward to reading Vol. 2, which follows the next twenty-five years, including the making of TNG, all the way through the Abrams movies (the first two, I think).
A note on the format: The first thirty pages of this book are skippable. They’re just endless pages of brief biographies of everyone interviewed for the book, and they’re really only useful as a reference. I’d imagine you’ll want to skip them entirely if you’re doing the audio. They really should have been put at the end.