Haynes Manuals are famous for providing the finest, best illustrated guides for Do-It-Yourself-ers eager to repair and/or explore the inner workings of cars, motorcycles and bicycles. In recent years, Haynes has successfully broadened their horizons to include manuals on classic historic aircraft, such as the Spitfire and the Lancaster, and even Apollo 11. Eager to cover even more terrain, the folks at Haynes are now venturing – say it with us – where no man has gone before. Yes, the U.S.S. Enterprise Owners’ Workshop Manual is on the way, set for release in the coming weeks. Written by Ben Robinson and Marcus Riley, with Michael Okuda on board as technical consultant, the Enterprise Manual will include illustrations, cutaways and detailed technical information about everything relating to the NX-01, NCC-1701 and NCC-1701-A to NCC-1701-E, and more. StarTrek.com caught up with Derek Smith, editor at the Book Division at Haynes Publishing, who provided some insight into what’s in the Enterprise Manual, what’s not, and what sets it apart from any previous books of its kind.
There have been other Trek technical manuals in the past. So what, to your thinking, sets this Haynes Manual apart from its predecessors?
Smith: There have, but not for some time. What sets Haynes Manuals apart is that they take complex subjects, such as fixing your car, and make them understandable for the non-expert. You don’t need to be a mechanic to fix your car; Haynes shows you how. The Haynes Enterprise Manual covers the various Enterprises – some in more depth than others – at a level that is accessible to anyone. So it was really about getting the level of technical detail just right. What’s also important is that the book shows how the design of these ships evolved from NX-01 through to NCC-1701-E. Along the way we go into more detail about the key technologies used on board. People want to know how warp engines work. We explain that. People want to know how transporters work. We explain that.
How exciting/complicated/challenging was it to break down Trek ships in the style and tradition of Haynes' car manuals?
Smith: Well, it just wasn’t possible to do a complete strip down and rebuild of each ship like we would for our car and motorcycle manuals. For a start, most of the Enterprises have been destroyed, but I think workshop space would have been tight in any case. Also, to go into that level of detail would’ve produced a pretty big book on just one ship, let alone several ships. So, like I said, we wanted to keep the level of detail sensible, accessible and relevant. However, what we did have was access to drawings, plans, designers and technical expertise, all of which enabled us to piece things together. But it was very challenging, particularly when it came to the cutaway illustrations.
How much of a Trek fan were you, and what was your inner fan-boy most excited to see in this book?
Smith: I grew up on reruns of TOS and the early movies, and then Next Generation started when I was in my teens. I still think TOS had the best stories and the production values in Next Generation were just phenomenal at the time. I even had the role-playing game based on TOS. So I thought I was a big fan. And then a short way into this project I realized I knew nothing next to the guys I was working with. What I looked forward to most in the book was seeing the technical subjects, such as warp travel, tackled in a way that made it understandable to a wider audience. Everyone should know about these things!
What are we talking about on the 160 pages? Is it the Enterprises and also shuttlecraft, weapons and tricorders, etc.?
Smith: We take each ship in turn, so starting with NX-01 and ending with NCC-1701-E, and we have a full-ship cutaway of each one, gorgeous elevation renders, plus renders of key internal locations such as the bridge, transporter room, sickbay and so on. Each ship has a comprehensive systems overview and we discuss key developments that feature in its design compared with its predecessors and successors. We cover defensive systems, deflectors, shuttles, computer systems, crew facilities – pretty much every onboard system. Sadly though, we had to draw the line somewhere, and so we don’t cover things that aren’t nailed down. So no tricorders and no personal weapons, unfortunately.
Word initially was that this manual would span as far as the Enterprise in the J.J. Abrams reboot film. It doesn’t…
Smith: It doesn’t, at least not in any depth. The Abrams Enterprise, as we all know, is very obviously different externally and much less is known about it internally. There are perfectly valid reasons why the creators would not want anyone to invent or extrapolate based on what has been seen in just one movie. We had to respect that. But also, it’s a different timeline and this meant we had to think very carefully about how we handled it in a book that is firmly rooted in the prime timeline. However, we have a section in the book dedicated to Parallel Universes, in which we discuss alternate realities of which this is one.
What plans are there to include the "current" Enterprise in a follow-up manual?
To be honest, we haven’t really discussed it. Maybe people would want to see it in the same book; maybe they wouldn’t. It’d be great to know more about the Abrams Enterprise, though, and we would love the opportunity to look at it more closely and see what we could do. Perhaps a separate book would be better, I just don’t know. But I’m sure everyone would like to see a detailed technical description of it at some point in the future.
What did Robinson and Riley bring to the table as your writers?
Smith: Ben and Marcus worked on the Official Star Trek Fact Files a few years ago. They were known and trusted (authors) and therefore came highly recommended. They shaped the content of the book at the earliest stages, and they seemed to grasp the concept of a Haynes Enterprise Manual right from the start. So they understood exactly what we were trying to achieve: a technical manual with solid content that was comprehensive and yet down-to-earth and accessible. Ben also introduced me to ex-Trek VFX artist Robert Bonchune, who provided all the elevation renders. Without those, the book would look nowhere near as good as it does.
Mike Okuda was on board as a technical consultant. What did having his blessing mean to the project, and what input did he provide?
Smith: As Ben put it when I told him I was hoping to appoint Mike as Technical Consultant, “If you’ve got Mike onboard, then everything will be fine.” I’d already spoken with Mike at the very beginning, just to get some advice on how to approach the book, and he shared some of the lessons he’d learned while working on the TNG Technical Manual with Rich Sternbach. Our book needed to be different, and Mike’s advice was really useful, even at this early stage.
I cannot count the number of things Mike advised on over the course of the project. He went through the manuscript and then the finished pages and provided pages and pages of genuinely helpful suggestions and corrections. But more than anything, his help with the illustrations was invaluable. He was able to provide insights and reference material that just weren’t available elsewhere. Remember that nearly all the art in the book is brand-new, and getting it right, or at least right enough for Mike, was a mammoth task. Mike worked some very late nights to get it all done and for that I am extremely grateful.
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