So, here’s a bit of news: I write Star Trek books.
Specifically, I write Star Trek novels. I make the occasional detour toward other kinds of books, but novels are where I earn most of my bread and butter. I’m also a book collector. I love all kinds of books, from novels to books about history or film or the space program, to comics and graphic novels and whatever other bits of weirdness I can find bound, printed, and stuffed on a shelf.
And yes, I also collect Star Trek books of various flavors. A lot of them, really. I mean, it’s probably a diagnosable condition of some sort, but it keeps me off the streets.
Over the years, a particular book comes along that is so much fun or is just so well executed that I actually find myself feeling a teensy bit envious for not having written it. I don’t harbor any ill will toward such books or their authors, of course. Some of these people are friends, after all, and I celebrate their success and enjoy their creations, but every so often I learn about a certain title and just think, “Aw, man! Why didn’t I think of that?”
What are we talking about? Well, here’s a list of just some of the Star Trek books I wish I’d written:
Star Trek: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, by Paula M. Block & Terry J. Erdmann – As a child of the 1970s, I bought a ton of non-sports trading cards. Though I no longer have most of those cards, books like this are a fabulous way to revisit fondly remembered sets like the one Topps created in 1976 for The Original Series. I love the very idea behind books like this, which showcase entire card sets in fantastic high-res imagery, and Paula and Terry knock this one out of the park. Maybe they’ll let me do one for the Star Wars cards, or the sets for Planet of the Apes. Oh, wait.....
What Would Captain Kirk Do? Intergalactic Wisdom from the Captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise, by Brandon T. Snider – I’ve long championed the idea of more Star Trek books aimed at younger readers, whether we’re talking about fiction, activity books, character biographies or “Star Trek history,” and whatever other neat stuff we can come up with. Books like this are a fun way to introduce our favorite characters to a younger audience, so it’s probably a good idea that they didn’t let me do this one. Otherwise, they’d have gotten Captain Kirk’s Interstellar Seduction Manual, or something, and we kind of already have that one, anyway.
Make It So: Leadership Lessons from Star Trek: The Next Generation, by Wess Roberts and Bill Ross – I thought it was inspired to marry Captain Picard’s command style, experience and philosophy into an actual, workable guide to leadership. Better still was the idea of it being written by two gentlemen who each possess considerable business and management credentials. There are a lot of gimmicky books in this vein, but Roberts and Ross were able to create a legitimate, thoughtful and entertaining guide to growing into an effective leader.
Trek or Treat, by Terry Flanagan & Eleanor Ehrhardt – Decades before the internet would make memes and other funny pictures a bedrock component of our everyday online lives, there was this tome from 1977. Photos taken from TOS episodes get humorous captions, most of which are admittedly silly, but I DON’T CARE. This is an idea that demands revisiting and updating, by golly, and I’m your guy. So far as I’m concerned, this is the ONLY canon Star Trek book.
Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology, by Stan and Fred Goldstein with Rick Sternbach – Published at the time of Star Trek: The Motion Picture’s premiere, this was one of several books tying into the film’s release, and the one I absolutely had to have. Its mixture of log extracts, news reports and other anecdotes trace the beginnings of our real-world space program (as it was known in the late 1970s) and pushing forward into Star Trek’s imagined future. Rick Sternbach’s technical drawings and paintings provide magnificent views of a slew of spacecraft spanning centuries. Though its contents have largely been superceded by later films and television series, this remains one of my very favorite Star Trek “reference works.”
A Very Klingon Khristmas, by Paul Ruditis with Patrick Faricy – Look, it’s basically the Klingon version of The Night Before Christmas. What’s not to love? The text that so perfectly mimics the original poem’s structure is accompanied by truly wonderful illustrations from artist Patrick Faricy, including a couple that are laugh-out-loud funny. This book needs to be on shelves every holiday shopping season next to How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas and The Polar Express. That’s right, I said it.
Captain Proton: Defender of the Earth, by Dean Wesley Smith – Captain Proton is one of my favorite things to come out of Star Trek: Voyager, and the idea of writing stories based around the character and his adventures is something I’ve been itching to do from the jump. This book of Captain Proton stories is presented in the style of the science fiction magazines of the 1940s and 1950s, and Dean Wesley Smith is totally on point as he channels several of those great pulp SF writers of yesteryear. I still want a new one of these every month.
The Starfleet Survival Guide, by David Mack – One of the best “inside the box” Star Trek reference books, this book is crammed with all sorts of ingenious improvisational procedures and tricks for Starfleet equipment like phasers and tricorders. Also included are guides to exotic or dangerous alien life forms and other tips for getting by if you find yourself marooned on an alien world. The premise is played completely straight, never breaking character while presenting itself as a book you’d expect to find in the footlocker of any eager Starfleet officer.
Star Trek/Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive, by David and Scott Tipton, with Rachel Stott and Charlie Kirchoff – Kirk and the Enterprise travel to another dimension and find themselves on an Earth of the far future... from the 1968 Planet of the Apes film. While it might be a comics miniseries instead of a novel or other book, it still goes on the list, by golly. Why? For one thing, Rachael Stott has become one of my favorite comic artists working today, particularly for her work on various Trek titles. Also, I’ve wanted to write a Star Trek/Apes crossover since I was 10 years old. Maybe I can cross these particular streams in novel form. Hmm...........
The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Books I and II, by Greg Cox – Yes, it’s a twofer, but I’m going rogue. Though arguably not one of the best TOS episodes, “Assignment: Earth” and its premise of advanced humans working behind the scenes to protect humanity is something that’s always intrigued me, and I’ve always wanted to see more done with it. Friend Greg Cox scored a dream job when he set out to write these two novels, large portions of which unfold on Earth of the 1970s, 80s and 90s as Gary Seven and Roberta Lincoln hunt Khan in a bid to prevent him and his genetically superior brothers and sisters from taking over the world. Greg pulls off a master stroke here, and these two novels are definitely on my all-time favorite list.
All right, that’s 10, though the list could be a lot longer. What do you think? Something I should’ve listed, but didn’t? Or, maybe there’s a Star Trek book you wish you’d written?
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Dayton Ward is the New York Times bestselling author or co-author of numerous novels and short stories, including a whole bunch of stuff set in the Star Trek universe, and often working with friend and co-writer Kevin Dilmore. He's also written (or co-written) for Star Trek Communicator, Star Trek Magazine, Syfy.com, and Tor.com. As he’s still a big ol' geek at heart, Dayton is known to wax nostalgic about all manner of Star Trek topics over on his own blog, The Fog of Ward. His latest Trek novel, Star Trek: The Next Generation: Headlong Flight, is available now via Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books as a mass market paperback, unabridged audio download and eBook priced at $7.99 (and $10.99 in Canada). Go to www.simonandschuster.com to purchase it.