Book Review: Star Trek - The Next Generation 365 / Author: Paula M. Block, Terry J. Erdmann, Ronald D. Moore (Introduction) / Publisher: Abrams / Release Date: October 1st
Contrary to its back cover blurb, which confidently calls itself the “definitive guide to all 178 episodes,” pretty much the only notable thing about this book is the fact that you could probably murder someone with it. Not that we’ve tried or anything, you understand.
Star Trek 365: The Next Generation is the second book in a series of coffee-table books (possibly the only case of a coffee-table book weighing more than an actual coffee table would if it was the same size) that cover the various incarnations of Star Trek, featuring interviews with cast and crew and a guide to all 178 episodes as mentioned above.
Oh, and the pictures. Can’t forget the pictures. See, as part of its concept, the book gives half of its page count to full-page pictures of models used for the show, or stills from the episode. In reality, the book is about 730 pages long. These pictures frequently don’t really add anything but are still nice to look at (and if you’re not that excited by them, it only takes a second to turn the page).
What really rankles with the reader is the fact that the episode guides are nowhere near definitive. In fact, you can get much better ones by going to the Memory Alpha website; although I appreciate it wouldn’t have been practical to cram those in the book. But it would’ve been nice to read a synopsis of the entire plot, rather than just the teaser that the writer would’ve pitched it to the executive with. It’s a bit worrying when you read a guide for an episode you’ve seen and are still baffled about what happened in it. Generally, people read episode guides to remind themselves of facts about certain episodes (airdates, for example) or where they fall in a season, a problem that’s exacerbated by the fact that the book doesn’t even have a table of contents.
Reading this review, one might get the impression that this is a terrible book that should never have darkened our door, and that’s not the case at all. It is crammed full of genuinely interesting information and you really do get a hell of an insight into the creative process (it’s also never boring, keeping you turning the pages for hours on end).
The trouble is that when you’re reading it, it’s like you’re experiencing one of those Star Trek episodes where they see a better parallel reality and then have to return to their own world. You’re sitting there and you get a strong sense of what could’ve been.