Rick Sternbach is a legend in Star Trek circles thanks to his efforts as a designer and/or senior illustrator for The Motion Picture, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Nemesis, and for his work as author of several popular Trek technical manuals. Sternbach will return to the Trek universe next month when Haynes Publishing releases the Klingon Bird-of-Prey Owners’ Workshop Manual, which includes cutaways, CGI renders and other diagrams that detail the assorted model and key technologies, plus technical data cleverly interwoven into a history of operational roles. StarTrek.com recently caught up with Sternbach – whom we profiled in detail last October; click HERE and HERE to read the two-part interview – for a chat about Klingon Bird-of-Prey Manual.
What challenges did Klingon Bird-of-Prey Manual present for you?
Sternbach: It was a challenge, a fun technical challenge looking into the guts of a ship that you didn’t personally design. Not only was it a fun challenge from the standpoint of it being a ship, but a Klingon ship. I’ve had some experience with things like the Vor’cha, but mostly from the outside. With the Bird-of-Prey, I went crazy designing pieces and parts that nobody had ever seen, including the engine room.
How much like a Klingon did you have to think in order to pull that off?
Sternbach: It’s getting into the heads of a lot of Klingons over a very long period of history and sticking to a different type of engineering style, a very different type of engineering style. We know what Starfleet equipment looks like. We know what some Klingon hardware looks like based on the things that were built for the Bird-of-Prey interior sets, from other Klingon hardware that’s been developed, especially the weapons. It came down to, how would the Klingons build an engine? How would they build an anti-matter pod? How would they construct a torpedo launcher?
How freeing was it in the sense that no one can really say, “You’re wrong…”?
Sternbach: Well, the wonderful thing about the fans is they WILL discuss this, at length, which I think is fabulous. Keep the discussion going. Talk about the hardware. Talk about the possible back stories for how this stuff came about. As I say, it was a wonderful engineering challenge, but just from an artistic standpoint, it was a great opportunity to work in a different style. Most of the things that I have designed over the years have been Starfleet equipment, and Starfleet I can do in my sleep. It’s a certain set of lines and rounded corners, and with that sort of style I could go and work for Apple. But with the Klingon hardware, it’s much more angular. It’s a different color palette and different textures, and that was just a ton of fun.
How much did you actually collaborate with (co-author) Ben Robinson?
Sternbach: Because of the relatively short amount of time we had to get this project rolling, I just tore into the hardware. Ben found himself working on a lot of the Klingon history, which I really didn’t know that well, except for what I’d read online or things I’d seen in the stories on things like DS9 and TNG and the feature films. I did not have that sort of thing in my head, but I did have the technical stuff in my head. So I think that Ben and I naturally gravitated toward different areas in order to be able to get this thing done in the time we had.
How pleased are you with the finished product?
Sternbach: Oh, I’m ecstatic. I’m thrilled. I’m astounded that we got it all done. Very much like doing the TV productions, it’s a lot of work, and you just work at it and work at it and, finally, it appears as a real, physical thing. And that’s an indescribable feeling. It’s like, “Oh my God, it’s finished. It looks fabulous.”
What do you do for an encore? Are you working on anything else at the moment?
Sternbach: You’d have to talk to Derek Smith at Haynes. I’m throwing some ideas out to Derek. Not a lot to talk about right now, but I’ve got some ideas for future projects.
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