Star Trek: From The Ship’s Library

January 5, 2009

Warning: This post may contain a mild Star Trek movie spoiler.

I don’t read a lot of Star Trek books. I’ll pick one up if it looks interesting, but I’ve never been too fond of them. For one thing, they have a scary range of suckness; for every good one, there are a dozen poor ones. For another, until recently I kept my geekness tucked away neatly, and would never have been seen in public reading a Trek book (with their lurid, stupid covers).

That’s changing. For one thing, the newer books have nicer, more elegant covers (check out the Vanguard series as an example). For another, the books are getting better.

You might hear something about books on the next episode of the Starbase 66 podcast, coming soon. Or you might not. I’m not saying.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the books again today because of this interview Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zach Quinto (Spock) gave about the new Star Trek movie. For some reason, it’s in the Wall Street Journal, which, strangely, I don’t read. But it’s online now, and includes this odd quote from Pine:

Pine: “I’m not well-versed in the Trek canon, but we’re venturing into territory that’s only been covered in these paperback novels they sell. It’s definitely not going to please everyone. There’s a scene where my character is in a bar and he’s definitely inebriated and under the influence of his own arrogance. It’s him becoming the Kirk everyone knows. In my book that makes the journey a little more interesting. If he’s a clear-cut leader from the beginning, you don’t have anywhere to go.”

There have been hints from the producers before that this film will draw from the books, which I find interesting; the books aren’t canon, but are often entertaining and include key information about the characters. Read Enterprise: The First Adventure, for instance, to learn more about Janice Rand. But that stuff isn’t canon.

Now it might be. And if theories about alternate timelines and paradoxes are true, this film might just break down that old canon barrier and give fans of the books a chance to see their versions of the classic Trek characters onscreen.

Here are five Star Trek books you should read:

  • Prime Directive, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens: This Canadian duo brought us the final mission of Kirk’s five-year voyage. Very entertaining.
  • Strangers from the Sky, Margaret Wander Bonnano: This is the story of the first contact with Vulcan, a tale later contradicted by First Contact, but still a great read.
  • New Frontier: House of Cards, Peter David. Not the best in this exceptionally good series, but you should start with it.
  • Vulcan’s Glory, D.C. Fontana: I had to dig to find out the name of this book, the story of Spock’s first mission under Pike, as I haven’t read it in decades. But it was one of the first I ever read and has stayed with me.
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Gene Roddenberry: Better than the movie.

I’ve been meaning to read the new Titan series of books, following Captain Riker’s crew, but I haven’t had the time. Soon, though.

The Pine/Quinto interview is here.


  1. I’m a huge fan of ‘Spock’s World’ which I think should also be a “must-read” (and I read that the writers of the new film read it as well :):):)).

    I’ve read the others you mention but I’ve not read ‘Strangers from the Sky’ or ‘House of Cards’ so must check those out at some point.

  2. House of Cards will lead you into the New Frontier and the voyages of the Excalibur … it’s fantastic Trekness. And with Robin Lefler and Commander Shelby, no less. Check it out.

  3. I read Strangers From The Sky and Enterprise way back in the Miocene, and I remember really enjoying them. But as you say, the suck factor is vast in the Star Trek, and Star Wars for that matter, pulp universe. I will, however, check out Peter David’s stuff.

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