Are you ready for a fun Star Trek book? One that's ideal for both longtime adult fans and kids, too? Then, get ready to beam up Fun with Kirk and Spock, a Fun with Dick and Jane parody book due out July 29 from Cider Mill Press. The 64-page hardcover is a Prime Directive primer, written by Robb Pearlman, that sends Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the rest of The Original Series crew, along with Klingons, Khan, Romulans, Andorians and the Gorn, through a series of laugh-filled adventures. StarTrek.com has an exclusive First Look at pages from Fun with Kirk and Spock, and we also recently caught up with Pearlman -- a veteran author and editor who has also worked on Stuck on Star Trek and the Star Trek calendar program -- for an interview. Here's what he had to say.
First, how much of a Star Trek fan are you?
PEARLMAN: I've never lived in a world without Star Trek, so there was never a time when I wasn't aware of and drawn to it in some way. When I was a kid, I loved watching it for the aliens, adventures, and action. And all that tech was fascinating. Carrying a phone on your belt or talking to someone on a screen? The future was going to be crazy. As I got older, I really came to appreciate the movies and the different series on entirely different levels. The layered storytelling, the interesting characters, and of course the allegorical and groundbreaking statements it made over the years about class, race, age, gender, the environment, and, well, I'm sure I'm leaving something out. Nothing's perfect, but I'd be hard pressed to think of another pop culture property that's tackled so many issues over so long as Star Trek. I’m a fan of what Star Trek says as much as how it says it. As someone who works in the publishing industry, it was a huge thrill for me to edit the Stuck on Star Trek book and oversee the Star Trek calendar program. Fun with Kirk and Spock is the first time I actually get my name on a Star Trek project, though, and I can't help but smile every time I see my name on the cover. I mean, set phasers to stunned, how cool is that?
Did you approach Cider Mill with this idea or did they come to you?
PEARLMAN: I came up with the idea. I was meeting all these people at ComicCons and book and comic book stores and just in every day life who had these deep personal connections with Star Trek. How the show had gotten them through a tough time, or how they related to one character or another or even just loving a certain episode or movie. So many of these stories started in childhood, and I was really struck by the idea that Star Trek, like a beloved children's book, could be a formative force in children's lives. I thought that in their own way, Kirk and Spock were like Dick and Jane- each showed kids how to live and explore. Well, those were two great tastes that tasted great together, and I started writing little stories for my own enjoyment, just to see what I could do with the concept. A year or so later we have a book.
For those who haven't yet heard about Fun with Kirk and Spock, how would you describe the book?
PEARLMAN: It's a Star Trek-set parody of the classic Dick and Jane stories. So instead of seeing Spot go, we see the Enterprise going boldly, and instead of seeing Sally look at a something, a well or a turnip or whatever Sally looked at, we see Scotty look at a Jefferies tube. It’s a new, simplified, and fun look at some iconic moments and characters from The Original Series. I don’t mean to sound like marketing copy, but it’s great for fans of any age, and a totally accessible introduction for kids new to Star Trek.
You've done plenty of amusing books before, including 101 Ways to Kill a Zombie and Nerd Haiku. How much fun did you have parodying some of Star Trek's most iconic bits -- and which bits, like Vulcan stoicism, the fate of red shirts or the Prime Directive -- did you get the biggest kick out of poking fun at?
PEARLMAN: It was a blast. I wanted to make sure that I was celebrating the series, but also acknowledging some of the sillier aspects of it, so I watched and rewatched each season of The Original Series to come up with different ideas for each of the episodes and the characters themselves. One of the challenges in writing the book was figuring out what not to include. I never heard a red shirt joke I didn't like, and I even slipped one into my 101 Ways to Kill a Zombie book, but too much of a good thing can be too much and that’s not a good thing, so I had to limit the amount of red shirt peril. It was great playing with the rest of the crew and some of their key traits. The show wouldn't have been the same without Bones, Uhura, Scotty, Chekov, Sulu, and Chapel. Even Pike, Rand, and M’Benga are important to me, and I couldn’t leave any them out. There was too much potential in talking about Rand’s hair or Sulu’s swordsmanship. And though it took a lot of rewriting, I was really happy finding my own take on Bones’s grumpiness and classic “I’m not a blank...” line. But I have to admit that one of my favorite stories is about the Gorn. Love him or hate him, he made quite an impression in his one episode and it was a lot of fun taking my own swipe at him.
You started to touch on this, but how challenging was it to craft the book in such a way that it could appeal to young kids/fledgling Trek fans and also their parents, who we'll assume are major Trek fans?
PEARLMAN: I figured if I, and my inner child, laughed at the same thing, then readers of all of those ages could, too. This is a parody, sort of a children’s book for adults, so the biggest challenge was to distill an episode, character, or situation that had so many different things going on into a brief story that would also fit within that style. I've written some children's books before, and my first drafts are always way longer then they should be. I spend a lot of time whittling and pruning the drafts down into something that still retains the central ideas and story beats, but in a language that kids can understand. But since Fun with Kirk and Spock needed to get picked up and bought by adults as well, I was able to add back in some broader humor and subtle winks at the reader. Some of the stories, like the one based on "The Savage Curtain" episode, work on a few levels. Kids may think it's just a silly conversation between Uhura and Abraham Lincoln, but adults will understand, in a completely different way, what's being said, and not said. And people of all ages will relate to some of the stories, like the one about Trelane, or the one with the ensign who’s trying to wrestle his fingers into the traditional Vulcan hand gesture. There’s something universal about those that everyone can identify with.
If this book takes off, could you imagine a Next Generation follow-up, a la Fun with Picard and Number One?
PEARLMAN: Absolutely. The “See the Borg. See the Borg Assimilate.” story is already written.
Fun with Kirk and Spock will cost $14.95 in the U.S. and $16.95 in Canada. Click HERE to pre-order the book.